Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's Welcome a New One to the Fraternity

Ladies and Gentlemen, your humble li'l blogger has found and confirmed only the third known other Jesse Wozniak in the world. Well, technically in Google, but I'm pretty sure they'll own the world fairly soon anyway, so it's more or less the same thing.

As I've mentioned here before, I only know of two other Jesse Wozniaks. The first is the son of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers and who is coincidentally pretty close to me in age. Switched at birth? Possible. My mom and Steve Wozniak had a torrid affair shortly before Apple took off and she and her now bastard child were denied any of his newfound wealth and glory? Probable.

The other Jesse Wozniak is a apparently a pretty respected ATV racer whom I was once mistaken for in college. He once found my blog and left a comment about finding out about me in much the same way. He also complimented the short plays I used to write at the time, and I felt like a compliment from a Jesse Wozniak that wasn't me meant more than from most. I have no idea why, but I think that makes me vain.

For a period I though there was a third JW that was a photographer, but the aforementioned ATV racer's comment seemed to imply that he was one and the same with the photographer JW, so I had to put photographer guy on the "maybe a Jesse Wozniak" list.

But now a well-intentioned self-googling (I don't remember the number of my office at school -- I just know where it is. So I always have to google myself when I fill out forms because it's the fastest way of finding my office number. Call it obtuse, but I call it adapting to today's technologies) turned up a gem.

Announcing the third Jesse Wozniak:

Hailing from the bustling metropolis of Ferndale, Michigan, this Jesse Wozniak plays multiple instruments and has been in such luminary Ferndale psychedelic bands as Corpse Smoke and Blue Black Hours. Having listened to a few tracks from BBH's MySpace page, on which this JW plays the drums, I can't say they're necessarily my cup o' tea (though "Space Lightning" ain't too bad a track), but they have over 20,00 page views, so the good folks of Ferndale must be behind them.

Let's all please welcome our psychedelically drumming Michagander to the flock, for he is:

A Jesse Wozniak.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Procrastination = Better Than Work

Check out the Notre Dame marching band giving tribute to Mario Bros:

Astute Mario fans/people with no life growing up will note that they appropriately form fish for the underwater level music, and make a castle for the finale music. The only thing missing is the giant Mario shooting a fireball at the goomba while they play the underground level music. Still though, easily the best marching band routine I've seen in a long while, which technically doesn't mean much, but its impressive nonetheless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Bully With No Power

Though I am both politically and morally barred from ever feeling pity for President Bush, he really does look like the kid who just found out that everyone didn't love him, they were just scared of him. And now that they don't have to be scared anymore...well, the video says it far better than I could:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm On The Air Waves

The Contexts Podcast is finally here! Go to the website and download it.

The Contexts podcast serves to bring you cutting edge sociological research, in-depth interviews, and general social science smartness, all delivered in the relaxed and sonorous tones of your humble li'l blogger and his broadcast partner Arturo.

Go to the website to download/subscribe or search the Itunes store for "Contexts."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yes Axl Can!

Over at the AvClub, Chuck Klosterman reviews the long-anticipated Chinese Democracy. I don't mean to call it the most-anticipated album of my life time, but I've been waiting for this one since it was cool to like GNR un-ironically. And it turns out the album isn't that bad, either, at least according to Mr. Klosterman.

In this day of downloads and free corporate music, might I be actually compelled to go purchase Chinese Democracy? I'm not sure I'll go that far, but it would be like owning a piece of history...

Which makes me wonder -- between the election of a bi-racial president and the actual, honest-to-goodness release of CD, is this the most historical year in recent memory? I like to think so. I like to think that someday, when people are accepted regardless of their skin color and crazy conceptual hair-metal albums are released without restrictions on the "creative" process, we'll all look back on 2008 as the year that made it happen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My New Time Wasters

The best thing about working on a big project like your prelims is that you end up spending a great amount of time finding stupid things on the internet. My two most recent favorites:

Sleeveface, a website in which people carefully position album covers to look like they're part of the actual photo. Here's the best I've found:

And I feel like this one's already made the internet rounds, but I also quite enjoy Indexed, a collection of 3x5 cards that help explain life:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stand Up Against H8

See below the call for action in Minneapolis as part of the national day of protest against Prop 8:


Saturday, November 15
Outside Government Center
350 S. 5th Street, downtown Minneapolis

While celebrations erupted Tuesday night over the election of the first African American president, many also watched in sadness as California, Arizona, and Florida voted down marriage equality for LGBT people. Since then, tens of thousands have taken to the streets to oppose this discrimination and declare that the right to marry the person you love is a fundamental human right, regardless of sexual orientation!

Saturday, November 15th has been called as a National Day of Action in support of LGBT rights (see www.jointheimpact.com). Tens of thousands will protest all over the country, in every state, declaring our opposition to all forms of discrimination and demanding an end to homophobia – and to help launch a new civil rights movement, for full equality for gays, lesbians, and transgender people.

This is an issue of equal rights for all Americans! Stand up and make your voice heard! Join us in pressuring the California government to overturn Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some National B.S. Becomes Local

Do you remember that girl from a Pittsburgh suburb who claimed she was attacked and beaten by Obama supporters for the crime of wearing a McCain button? The pictures were pretty terrible, and a for a few days, the right-wing media was all over the story. But then do you remember how it came out that she faked the whole thing and is now facing charges of fraud and filing a false police report?

Well, it turns out my own little neighborhood has its own version of this bullshit story. An Augsburg College first-year is claiming some unidentified black people beat her up election night for wearing a McCain/Palin button.

Now, the fact that this story is an exact replica of its more famous fake predecessor should probably be enough to let you know it's fake, or at least make a major metropolitan newspaper put a little more investigation into the story. Or so you might think.

But of course, you'd be wrong, because it was a giant spread in this morning's paper. What's most interesting about this girl's story is how she and her parents try to frame it as a minority's rights thing -- because everyone in the Twin Cities is a liberal they just can't stand the poor minority viewpoint of conservatives. I'm a bit confused seeing as how their entire platform is that minorities should have no rights what-so-ever, but I suppose it's different when you see yourself as the minority.

But even if the story was true, are we really to feel bad for this girl? Ok, that may be too harsh. Certainly, no one deserves to be beaten up for their political views. But what about those who support a candidate who built his entire campaign around racist attacks and vilifying all who are different? What about a campaign that used rhetoric so harsh the Secret Service has accused it of prompting death threats to Obama?

You know, conservatives love to stick it to anyone who ever claims discrimination and say they should quit whining about how the world is unfair, suck it up, and not blame their problems on other people. They vote against gay marriage and affirmative action because even recognizing the humanity of those different than them is beyond their capability. But then when the tables are turned, look at how quickly they run crying to Big Government to protect their sad widdle chiwdwen who are being picked on...just because they're different...


Sometimes I feel like this is all part of a grand scheme to destroy irony and all forms of satirical humor by making reality far more ironic than any sarcastic late-night pundit ever could...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Feel Free to Feel Old

Remember the controversial naked baby from the cover of Nevermind? Well, he's 17 years old now (and apparently kind of a douche).

For a visual comparison:

Current Season Weather Warning and the Culture of Fear

Several years ago, USC sociologist Barry Glasner wrote a book called The Culture of Fear, in which he essentially argues that most major institutions in America now use fear as a way to manipulate and direct people (though he obviously is a bit more nuanced in the book). I couldn't help but think about it this morning as the radio announced a "winter weather advisory."

Now, I'm sure this phrase actually means something specific, but just think about it as it is. Winter. Weather. Advisory. So let's see, it's the current season (winter) doing something that happens every day (weather) coupled with a blandly perplexing warning (what exactly are we advised to do?). They are essentially telling us that winter means there is bad weather, and you know, be careful about all of that. Because we all need a warning that the weather gets worse when frozen rain falls from the sky.

In a way, it's much like the terror alert level. Every time I've been to the airport in the last two years, the threat level has been "orange." Not only is orange completely devoid of any meaning as a category, it would do me no good even if I knew what category it represented. What am I going to do, single-handedly foil a terrorist attack because I now know to be on the lookout for it?

In much the same vein, the U has a text message program that lets you know every time a crime has been committed on campus. Again, in what way does this serve anyone other than to make them afraid? Oh, ok, a robbery happened outside the library...now I never go the library again? What conclusion am I supposed to draw from such a random piece of information?

So I guess we can argue all day over how intentional this fear-creation is and to what ends it is being used, but it's hard to argue that we do indeed live in a culture of fear...

Monday, November 10, 2008

You Can't Spell "Relaxo" Without "Relax"

Well, I finally finished the prelim (well, the first draft) and got it send out to my committee. After doing pretty much nothing else for the past two months, I decided it's time to finally relax a little bit. So what did I do this weekend? Pretty much nothing productive. I did, however, watch a great amount of t.v. and imbibe at levels appropriate for doing nothing. Oh, and I played a game of flag football.

So, in other words, I had pretty much the perfect weekend...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Visiting the Home of Walt Whitman, Poet and Noted Queer

For fans of the State and/or Stella and/or surrealist semitic comdeia del 'arte, David Wain has a new weekly internet sketch comedy show aptly entitled Wainy Days. It's pretty much what you'd expect from David Wain, plus a lot of celebrity cameos (well, celebrities of the absurdist comedy world). If nothing else, it beats doing work:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My $.02 on Barack

So it was indeed an historic election last night. Of course, this didn't much help me sleep, as the folks in my hippie/immigrant neighborhood were out literally dancing in the streets into the wee hours of the morning.

And you know, I wish I could feel that elated. Don't get me wrong, this election turned out pretty well. Obama is clearly going to be a much better president than McCain, he'll probably get some worthwhile stuff done, and if nothing else, there's great satisfaction to be found in the Republicans losing an election in which they banked so heavily on fear and racism. It says at least a few good things about America.

But I can't help but feel Obama is the standard Democrat -- far better than the Republican alternative, but not really what I want. I couldn't help but feel a twinge of irony last night as people whooped and hollered over his statements about the war when the man campaigned on increasing troop levels, which is hardly what you do when you're ending a war.

And I'm not too cynical yet that I don't believe it's a big deal to finally have a president who is not white. It's a big step for this country, and I think it signals a great deal to the rest of the world (I have a whole different rant about how Obama's election really means more for our standing in the world than anything else).

Yet at the same time, let us remember that the entire point of the civil rights movement was that the color of a person's skin makes them neither inherently good or bad. Much as you should never look down at a person of color because of their skin tone, you can't say Obama's going to be any different or any better based on a bunch of rhetoric and his skin. Let us remember how much "better" England got when they finally got a female head of state...

In the end, like all presidents, this one is going to have to be pushed and pushed and pushed every day if we expect him to make any truly meaningful changes. So go ahead and celebrate and make orations about the historical significance of this moment, but be ready for January when we have to start work to hold him to everything he's claimed he's going to do...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote Convict 9653

"I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don't want and get it"
--Eugene V. Debs

If you're in the Twin Cities and someone's trying to mess with your vote, call 1-866-687-8683, and tell your friends. Phones will be answered in English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.

Monday, November 03, 2008

R.I.P. Studs

As most of you are probably already aware, Studs Terkel died last friday at the tender age of 96.

A journalist, skilled interviewer, labor organizing, sports broadcaster, and all-around rabble rouse, Terkel was an inspiration to many. As a researcher who attempts to understand and interview people, I can only hope to be half as good as Studs was in getting to the marrow of the issue with everyone he spoke to.

I don't have the time to write the kind of post a guy like Studs deserves (though here's a good one), but I'll never forget reading one of his most famous interviews with a former member of the John Birch Society, a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic companion to the KKK in which the fellow describes how he came to understand that such racial divisions were just made up by the powerful to separate us from one another and the power we have when we organize and work together. Only a guy like Studs could bring that out of people.

He'll be missed.