I opine

Megapuss – “Adam and Steve”

Posted in music by jaeminuf on November 13, 2008

Caveat: Not quite an opinion issued forth here. At least not of the sort I usually do.


“Adam and Steve” Video
Director/Producer: Amy Jo Diaz
Editor: Buzz Pierce
Filmed at: Draw Pictures Studio
Directors of Photography: Eric Johnson/Craig Olsen

Devendra Banhart, Greg Rogove, and Fabrizio Moretti in this video remind me of some people I used to hang with way back when.

Strange to realize that this way-back-when was more than fifteen years ago. Through my then bestfriend Holly, I began to hang out with a crew from Gurnee, IL. Free spirits, the whole lot of them, but the central figure was likely Todd who once explained that the smoke rings he blew were made by a little gnome tossing smoke pies like pizza dough and punching holes in them like donuts.

We used to cruise for hours with the Dead jamming from the car stereo while various passengers took turns sticking their limbs and torsos out the windows to embrace and howl at the wind rushing into and past us. We stole down ravines to private beaches on Lake Michigan, started bonfires, and skinny dipped in the pitch black waters. We drove and drove in search of good coffeehouses in Waukegan, only to end up at Denny’s in Vernon Hills where we often ran into Spenser on his way to a rave. I even remember – and if you haven’t already found this trip down memory lane saccharine enough, you ought to ready yourself for some serious queasiness – a lazy late afternoon, lolling around amidst tall, golden reeds awash in amber sunlight. Sarah was there. Jordan was there. Angelic Sean who moved away to Florida was there.

Then there was the night when I unsuccessfully manuevered a 3 point turn and drove my car into a muddy ditch. I had been following Todd’s Bug, but poor night vision got in the way… Really. I had thought it was a paved driveway. Long story short, though we were many, we were all pathetically inept: we were a bunch of tie-dye and doc marten wearing punk hippie waifs with compromised lungs. So, we called 911, concocted a ridiculous story about me getting driven off the road by some arsehole with high beams, and even managed to get the police officers to hang out with us for a bit.

Some serious fun was had by all. And yeah, Megapuss. Absurd but lovable boyish insouciance. How can one not love. Oh, and especially the nods to Wham, George Michael, 80s hair metal, and Right Said Fred.

Wham – “Careless Whispers”

George Michael – “Faith”

80s Hair Metal (Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again” though there is no guitar solo performed atop the backseat of a convertible; instead there is Tawny Kitaen and that ought to suffice as substitute)

Right Said Fred – “I’m Too Sexy”

“eldritch”: Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Word of the Day

Posted in music, words by jaeminuf on October 28, 2008

Today’s word of the day is “eldritch,” meaning “weird” or “eerie.”

The Word of the Day for October 28, 2008 is:

eldritch • \EL-dritch\ adjective

: weird, eerie

Example Sentence:

Christina accompanied her ghost story by playing a recording filled with creaks, howls, and other eldritch sound effects.

Did you know?

“Curse,” “cobweb,” “witch,” “ghost,” and even “Halloween” — all of these potentially spooky words have roots in Old English. “Eldritch,” also, comes from a time when otherworldly beings were commonly thought to inhabit the earth. The word is about 500 years old and believed to have come from Middle English “elfriche,” meaning “fairyland.” The two components of “elfriche” — “elf” and “riche” — come from the Old English “ælf” and “rīce” (words which meant, literally, “elf kingdom”). Robert Louis Stevenson wasn’t scared of “eldritch.” He used the term in his novel Kidnapped: “‘The curse on him and his house, byre and stable, man, guest, and master, wife, miss, or bairn — black, black be their fall!’ –The woman, whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch sing-song, turned with a skip, and was gone.”

 

When I saw the word and the definition, a lightbulb went off.

During my teenhood, I was more than a wee bit into gothic rock (or what kids these days call “goth”). And of course, I loved the Sisters of Mercy. Who could not love Dominion/Mother Russia?

But why am I going on about the Sisters of Mercy in relation to “eldritch,” today’s Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary Word of the Day? Andrew Eldritch, the lead singer of the Sisters of Mercy. How apropos for the last name of one of goth music’s leading figures to mean “eerie” and “weird.” Of course, I realize that this was no mere coincidence, but that’d make me heart Andrew Eldritch even more.

 

A Christian Sacrifice

Posted in Uncategorized by jaeminuf on October 14, 2008

On October 10, 2008, Father Geoff Farrow was suspended as a priest and removed as pastor of the Newman Center, which still lists him as pastor, for speaking out against California Proposition 8, “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” I thank and applaud him for speaking out even though he knew he would be rejected by his church and lose the life to which he’d dedicated himself. His immense and noble sacrifice hopefully will not have been in vain, for in making his sacrifice he is truly following in his shepherd’s footsteps.

a question arose which has haunted me: “At what point do you cease to be an agent for healing and growth and become an accomplice of injustice?” By asking all of the pastors of the Diocese of Fresno to promote Catholics to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, the bishop has placed me in a moral predicament.

there are TWO ends to marriage: 1) Unitive and 2) Procreative. The unitive end of marriage is simply a union of love and life. The Procreative end is, of course, to create new life. It is important to understand that the unitive end of marriage is sufficient for a valid marriage. The Church sanctions, and considers a sacrament, the marriage of elderly heterosexual couples who are biologically incapable of reproduction. So, if two people of different genders who are incapable of reproduction can enter into a valid marriage, then why is that two people of the same gender, who are incapable of reproduction, cannot enter into a valid marriage.

I do not presume to tell you how to vote but I do ask that you pray to the Creator of us all. Think and consider the effects of your vote on others, especially minorities in our society who are sitting next to you in church, and at work. The act of casting a vote takes you a few minutes but it can cause other human beings untold happiness or sorrow for a lifetime. It can grant them hope and acceptance, or it can cause them to lose civil rights. It can be a rebuff to bigotry and hatred, or it can encourage bigotry and hatred. Personally, I am morally compelled to vote “NO” on Proposition 8. It is my hope that the people of California will join with those others around the world such as Canada, Europe and South Africa who welcome their gay and lesbian family members fully into society by granting them the civil right to marry.

I know these words of truth will cost me dearly. But to withhold them, would be far more costly and I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” He didn’t promise that it would be easy or without personal cost to speak that truth.

-Father Geoff Farrow’s blog post

From My Senator on the Bailout of Wall Street

Posted in economy, politics by jaeminuf on September 27, 2008

Senator Feinstein‘s veeeeeeeery long response to a letter I submitted to her office. Her key points are:

  • Necessity for a bailout
  • Phased funding of bailout
  • Paulson plan thumbs down because too much power in one person. Entrust responsibility not just to one person. More oversight/accountability necessary.
  • Legislative reform of the financial system in the first quarter of 2009
  • Protection for tax payers in the form of warrants/stock/etc. Learn from the Swedes.
  • Cap on executive compensation for firms that participate in bailout. If executives balk, let them sink or swim on their own.
  • Mortgage relief

Dear Ms. XXX:

Thank you for your letter expressing concern about Congress’ consideration of a plan to meet our Nation’s credit crisis with financial help from the Federal Government. This is a difficult situation for which there are no perfect solutions, and I would like to share my thoughts and concerns about this issue with you.

On September 19, 2008, Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson, Jr. announced a legislative proposal to use $700 billion to purchase illiquid mortgage-related assets from ailing financial institutions. Secretary Paulson’s three-page proposal was a non-starter, and without critical changes it has no chance of approval from Congress.

This proposal would have given a blank check to an economic czar who would have been empowered to spend it without administrative oversight, legal requirements, or legislative review. Decisions made by the Treasury Secretary would be non-reviewable by any court, agency, or Congress. The proposal also lacked a requirement for regular reports to Congress on the status of the program. This was simply untenable.

Since this announcement, my offices have received thousands of comments from Californians like you concerned about how this action will affect them. Yet, I believe prudent action must be taken. The bill should include the following principles: a phase-in of funding; oversight, accountability and transparency; a mechanism allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to modify mortgages to prevent additional foreclosures; and a precise cap on executive compensation.

The current credit crisis affects all Americans. If action is not taken to stem the crisis, Americans risk losing their homes, jobs, personal savings, life insurance and more. Banks will cease to lend to businesses and homeowners, and credit will be increasingly difficult to come by for average Americans. I strongly believe that the consequences of failing to act now would be greater than not acting at all.

Attached please find a statement I recently made on the floor of the Senate expressing my feelings on this issue. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind as this situation unfolds.

Once again, thank you for writing. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (more…)

RIP Cool Hand Luke

Posted in Uncategorized by jaeminuf on September 27, 2008
There aren’t enough accolades to shower on Paul Newman.

Paul Newman, a Magnetic Titan of Hollywood, Is Dead at 83The New York Times

Cool Hand Luke Poster

 
Tagged with: ,

Free Radio!

Posted in politics by jaeminuf on September 27, 2008
  I don’t listen to Pandora much. However, I do listen to:

  • Last.fm,
  • Songza,
  • and other platforms that can be construed as internet radio.

The idea of Clear Channel – clear because it’s vacuous – quashing internet radio deserves a major thumbs down. Save internet radio! Contact your congressional representatives or call John Campbell: 202-225-5611!

Last.fm logo

 

Hi, it’s Tim from Pandora;

After a yearlong negotiation, Pandora, SoundExchange and the RIAA are finally optimistic about reaching an agreement on royalties that would save Pandora and Internet radio. But just as we’ve gotten close, large traditional broadcast radio companies have launched a covert lobbying campaign to sabotage our progress.

Friday, Congressman Jay Inslee, and several co-sponsors, introduced legislation to give us the extra time we need but the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which represents radio broadcasters such as Clear Channel, has begun intensively pressuring lawmakers to kill the bill. We have just days to keep this from collapsing.

This is a blatant attempt by large radio companies to suffocate the webcasting industry that is just beginning to offer an alternative to their monopoly of the airwaves.

Please call your Congressperson right now and ask them to support H.R. 7084, the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 – and to not capitulate to pressure from the NAB. Congress is currently working extended hours, so even calls this evening and over the weekend should get answered.

If the phone is busy, please try again until you get through. These calls really do make a difference.

Representative John Campbell: 202-225-5611

Thanks so much for you ongoing support.

Tim

And They All Fall Down

Posted in economy, ethics by jaeminuf on September 25, 2008
Front Cover of The Predator State by James K. Galbraith

Glad to get confirmation that my years as a financial analyst weren’t for notta. A few days ago, I wondered aloud whether it would be feasible and helpful to create a federal entity with oversight for home loan refinancing, an entity modeled on federal student loans program. Well…

James K. Galbraith, the author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too and the son of renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, questions whether the bailout is necessary and proposes a new Home Owners Loan Corp., which would rewrite mortgages, manage rental conversions and decide when vacant, degraded properties should be demolished.

All five big investment banks have disappeared or morphed into regular banks. Is this bailout still necessary?

The point of the bailout is to buy assets that are illiquid but not worthless. But regular banks hold assets like that all the time. They’re called “loans.”

With banks, runs occur only when depositors panic, because they fear the loan book is bad. Deposit insurance takes care of that. So why not eliminate the pointless $100,000 cap on federal deposit insurance and go take inventory? If a bank is solvent, money market funds would flow in, eliminating the need to insure those separately. If it isn’t, the FDIC has the bridge bank facility to take care of that.

Next, put half a trillion dollars into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. fund — a cosmetic gesture — and as much money into that agency and the FBI as is needed for examiners, auditors and investigators. Keep $200 billion or more in reserve, so the Treasury can recapitalize banks by buying preferred shares if necessary — as Warren Buffett did this week with Goldman Sachs. Review the situation in three months, when Congress comes back. Hedge funds should be left on their own. You can’t save everyone, and those investors aren’t poor.

With this solution, the systemic financial threat should go away. Does that mean the economy would quickly recover? No. Sadly, it does not. Two vast economic problems will confront the next president immediately. First, the underlying housing crisis: There are too many houses out there, too many vacant or unsold, too many homeowners underwater. Credit will not start to flow, as some suggest, simply because the crisis is contained. There have to be borrowers, and there has to be collateral. There won’t be enough.

In Texas, recovery from the 1980s oil bust took seven years and the pull of strong national economic growth. The present slump is national, and it can’t be cured that way. But it could be resolved in three years, rather than 10, by a new Home Owners Loan Corp., which would rewrite mortgages, manage rental conversions and decide when vacant, degraded properties should be demolished. Set it up like a draft board in each community, under federal guidelines, and get to work…

- James K. Galbraith – A Bailout We Don’t Needwashingtonpost.com

For a review of Galbraith’s book by The Journal of Economic Issues, go to the Economist’s View, a blog by Mark Thoma, Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon. More information on Galbraith’s book can be found at:

 

Nigerian Scam?

Posted in economy, ethics, politics by jaeminuf on September 23, 2008

Forwarded to me today.

>Dear American:
> I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship
> with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
>
> I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My
> country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer
> of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this
> transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
>
> I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my
> replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator,
> you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation
> movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
>
> This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need
> the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these
> funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly
> under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look
> for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin
> so the funds can be transferred.
>
> Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund
> account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to
> wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your
> commission for this transaction. After I receive that information,
> I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will
> be used to protect the funds.
>
> Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Wall Street on the Dole

Posted in economy, ethics, politics by jaeminuf on September 23, 2008

Someone tell me why that $700 billion can’t be put to actually helping out individuals rather than Wall Street.

The Feds will need to create some administrative infrastructure that will handle doling out – yes, I am using the rhetoric of welfare intentionally here – $700 billion to Wall Street. There will be some wrangling over how many cents to each dollar of debt to be acquired. Blah blah blah.

How much more difficult would it be to set aside that money, create the administrative infrastructure by which mortgage owners who are suffering can apply for re-financing from that pot of money? The banks will get their loans back, homeowners would be able to keep their homes (presuming that a majority will be able to afford discounted mortgage rates), and the fed will get its money back over time, and bankruptcy laws wouldn’t need to be changed?

And really, I can’t be the only person who thinks this may be feasible and far preferable than what Paulson, Bernancke, and the Bush administration are demanding, oops, “proposing as necessary to avoid financial meltdown, global economic crisis, a recession, Armageddon (choose your pick).” Other than that this may be impolitic, why can’t this work?

And tell me again, why ought the US Treasury include foreign investors in the bailout? Nevermind why Wall Street can’t pull itself up by its bootstraps.

I’m asking, not being rhetorical. Sarcastic, but not rhetorical.

Dr. Pan for POTUS!

Posted in ethics by jaeminuf on September 22, 2008

Yes. Obviously I’m being hyperbolic. Besides, yes, I know. He’s ineligible since he’s neither an American citizen nor a natural born one. But find out why I would feel impelled to nominate him for POTUS.

White-headed langurs are born canary yellow. Here, a newborn langur clings to its mother.

Need a break from trying to decide whether or not the boy who cried wolf is crying for real this time? From trying to decide whether to laugh or cry at the sheer embarrassment that is the American federal government, primarily the White House but the other two hallowed halls aren’t so sacrosanct themselves?

Our leaders can learn a thing or two from Dr. Pan Wenshi, one man who is singlehandedly saving a species from extinction, a village from the poverty that had driven them to cannibalize their natural resources, and humanity’s tenuous faith in its own perfectibility which Mencius propounded.

Read on and enjoy the warm fuzzies! You’ll need it to get back to watching the tragicomedy that is becoming an epic by the day.

A breakthrough in protecting the species came in 1997 when he helped local villagers build a pipeline to secure clean drinking water. Shortly thereafter, a farmer from the village freed a trapped langur and brought it to Dr. Pan.

“When you help the villagers, they would like to help you back,” he said.

As self-appointed local advocate, Dr. Pan raised money for a new school in another village, oversaw the construction of health clinics in two neighboring towns and organized physicals for women throughout the area.

“Now, when outsiders try to trap langurs,” Dr. Pan said, “the locals stop them from coming in.”

- It Takes Just One Village to Save a Species:
By helping a Chinese village out of poverty, Pan Wenshi protects the endangered langur

- The New York Times

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