Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The (Western) Human Cost of the War on Terror

The easiest way to get people to support a war is to hide the dead. Witness the first gulf war, which was so popular because there were "only" several hundred U.S. deaths (of course, there were hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, but who gives a shit about them?). This would also be the reason it was illegal for so long to photograph the caskets of U.S. service members. After all, if people were to actually see the fact that kids no older than 18 or 19 were dying for the constantly-shifting rationale of the war, it would be hard to swallow.

Well, to bring it all on home, the Daily Mail over in the UK has a fascinating article on the Western deaths in the war on terror. For example, here's a google maps image of where the U.S. soldiers and contractors who have died came from:

And this handy map links where they came from to where they died:

Just a nice sobering thought for your morning. Maybe you want to forward it on to your elected representatives who still won't end this pointless and illegal war...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Case You Missed It...

The Talcott Parsons Project EP is here!

If you like hard-rocking, mystical-creature-centric shred-metal, then this is the album for you. If you don't like those things you are a loser and dead to me.

Either contact me for the whole shebang (artwork, jewel case, etc.) or download your free copy here.

Warning: This album may result in socks being rocked off and asses blown out

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Basking in the Glow of Student Reviews

Teaching can be a maddening process. Of course, it can also be a very rewarding process, but it seems like the rewarding moments are sandwiched between multiple disappointing or frustrating moments.

I get where this comes from. I'm only a few years away from having been a college student myself, so I understand the blank-eyed stares and not wanting to talk in class, and I'm a guy who really enjoys talking. The only problem with this is when you get to the other side of things, it's hard to tell if the blank stares are just part of being a teacher or if the students are not understanding a thing you're saying. Or listening to a thing you're saying.

And it can start to wear on you. Class after class of slack-jawed, dead-eyed students quietly staring at you (ok, that may be a slight exaggeration) leaves you questioning not only how good a teacher you are, but your life trajectory in general.

Ah, but then come those rewarding moments, and there you are again, all wide-eyed and filled with optimism about the power of knowledge and educating future generations and blah, blah, blah (not to undermine how important I think education is, I just assume readers of this blog get that point by now). One such moment came today as I finally got the student reviews from the spring semester.

Once again, no one had anything negative to say (though maybe the people who hated me didn't show up that day or bother to fill out the form...), and there were a few pretty touching comments. Without falling too much into solipsistic ramblings, I'll just point out my favorite. One fella (well, I'm guessing it's a guy from the hand-writing) said something about me being a good professor (not technically a prof yet, but who am I to correct him?) and then wrote "please don't get burned out and become really boring like the rest of them."

Can't guarantee it, but enough rewarding moments like these and I should be ok...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's So Bad in Iran It's Almost St. Paul!

The great thing about television news is that it doesn't need to make sense. 24 hours is a lot of time to fill with news, so no one seems to bother to see if what they're saying makes any sense at all as they desperately try to fill far too much airtime.

For example, they show scenes like this from Iran:

And then they talk about how repressive the Iranian government is that it would call out riot police simply because freedom-loving citizens were protesting the election of an abusive, reactionary government. Certainly this means the Iranian government is corrupt and beyond contempt -- after all, what kind of sick government abuses its own people when all they are asking for are democratic rights to speak out and be heard?

Of course, just under a year ago they were showing scenes like this from St. Paul:

But these were accompanied with stories about dangerous anarchist protestors intent on destruction and those poor police, who despite being heavily armored and carrying nearly a half-dozen weapons each, were afraid for their safety against these unarmed people and reacted like anyone would when faced with the menacing threat of hippies carrying poster board.

Just an interesting little example of how a simple change of location seems to make certain behaviors suddenly perfectly fine (like protesting an abusive government) while others oddly become suddenly deplorable (like beating and mass-arresting innocent protestors).

Monday, June 22, 2009

On Being a Minnesota Sports Fan

Baseball fans know that Tony LaRussa hit win number 2,500 as a manager last night, a feat only surpassed by two other people and unlikely to be touched again for a long time (the next closest active manager is Bobby Cox, and he's a couple hundred games away and heading to retirement soon).

LaRussa used his post-game conference to give a shout-out to some other managers he said would also be in his place if they had the chance to be a skipper on the clubs he has. One of those was longtime Twinkies skipper Tom Kelly, much to the surprise and amusement of the Sports Center crew, which is typically the reaction they have when reminded that people who don't reside in major media centers are capable of doings things well.

And it got me ruminating, as I often do, about what being a sports fan in Minnesota teaches you. As I've mentioned before, it definitely teaches you to have lowered expectations, which is good thing to learn in life. But this is a great example of the humility it teaches you. Tom Kelly never had the talent LaRussa had -- his big names were Jack Morris, Kent Hrbeck, Kirby Puckett, Gary Gaietti, Dan Gladden...all good players, but certainly not the superstar household names like MacGuire and Pujols.

And yet, with a fornt office rarely willing to spend money and a playing and living environment unlikely to tempt big-time free agents, TK managed to win two World Series Championships, which is no small feat in any market. Yet Larussa's mention of him as one of the best managers in the game is met surprised laughter.

But that fits well with the type of values we like in the Midwest, anyway -- you work hard and it doesn't matter if anyone rewards you for it wth praise and adulation. Or more cynically, it teaches you another great life lesson -- you can work really hard and accomplish great things, but usually no one really cares...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sorry About The Nonexistent Blogging

Spent the past two weeks moving into, painting, and fixing a new house. It is never-ending, but I have proclaimed today a day off. Well, a day off from house work, which I conveniently get to spend doing school work. Blogging to resume normally next week...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Love in the Club, Showbiz Pizza Style

Again, although I hate to be the "lookie what I found on the internets!" guy...well, lookie what I found on the internets (or more specifically, look what Gutter the bus driver showed me on the internets):

There's a whole variety of hits and standards as performed by the Rock-afire Explosion band, so please do waste your entire morning giggling at childhood memories as filtered by some dude with an internet connection and a lot of time on his hands...

Friday, June 05, 2009

Welcome to Reality, Mr. Cheney

Well, Richard "Call me a Dick" Cheney has finally admitted there's absolutely no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Of course, what he fails to mention is that this was clear all along to anyone with a second-grade education or higher and that he intentionally lied about it to go back to a war he'd been itching to finish since he started it with Daddy Bush a decade earlier.

And, of course, despite the hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of people who have died because of this very intentional bald-face lie, he will never be punished in any way at all. Nice work if you can get it...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

How To Talk You Way Out of Torture, in Just a Few Easy Steps!

Via Digby:

To help you keep track of all the morally duplicitous arguments for why it's ok that we're torturing people, here's a handy flow chart. To see it in a larger, more readable, format just click n the picture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Continuing to Ignore Actual Terrorism

The funny thing about the government's incessant spying on leftist groups in the name of preventing terrorist attacks is that there is no known terrorist activity involving a left-wing group since the weather underground some thirty-odd years ago.

However, if you take a moment or two on the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, you can see the dozens upon dozens of right-wing terrorist attacks this country has seen in the past 10 years. And let us not forget that the single biggest domestic terrorist attack, the Oklahoma City bombing, was carried out by a group of staunch right-wingers.

Well, once again the right wing has attacked and killed an abortion-services provider. And now all of the "mainstream" anti-choice groups are up in arms about how they're being unfairly persecuted just because they suggest you should kill abortion doctors and abortion doctors keep coincidentally getting killed.

It's funny how I've earned a FBI file for suggesting that we shouldn't kill people (and been quite ignored in my suggestions) and yet those who encourage violence which is then carried out are seen as fine, upstanding citizens. The kind of citizens who, in reaction to a man being brutally murdered in cold blood, react by saying "well, he didn't really deserve to live. Let's go get some beer and chicken wings!"

Monday, June 01, 2009

R.I.P. Northland Poster Collective

One of Mpls' great labor institutions, the Northland Poster Collective, is now going under. A sad reminder that while the companies who started this whole mess are getting billions in free money and will most likely continue on with little to no problems for their executives (cough, GM, cough), the people who have been fighting against this insanity are faltering left and right.