Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Future

future

This week, aaron.Jacob and I look to the future of hoverbikes, robots, augmented reality and bio-hacking. Forecasts and predictions exceed our wildest imaginings, but will they prove realistic or surrealistic?

Try not to get too future shocked as we set the dial on our experimental time machine and hope for the best… tomorrow!

PLAYLIST
In The Hall Of The Mountain King (Terramix) – terraon
Future Shock – Curtis Mayfield
“The Daleks” (Serial B): TARDIS Computer – Brian Hodgson
Past Present and Future – Demon Fuzz
Tank! (TV Edit) – Seatbelts
Robot Parade – They Might Be Giants
2014 – The Unicorns
Idioteque – Radiohead
Violent – The Faint
Remember The Future (part 1-2) – Nektar
Buffalo Stance – Need New Body
In The Bio Burbs – PASSAGE
Energy Traffic – The Mole
We Are the Future – Non Phixion
Virus – Deltron
Seventeen Years – RATATAT
Friends 4 Ever – Girl Talk
IBM MT/ST The Paperwork Explosion (instr.) – Scott, Raymond
Uske Orchestra – Pel-Pun
Polka Electronic Death Country (Otto Von Schirrach remix) – Mochipet
Laser Eyes Clip – Sifl & Olly
Cyborg Control – Man Or Astroman
Look Back And Laugh – Minor Threat
Jetson’s Theme – Man… or Astroman?
The Future – Leonard Cohen

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-02-23: The Future by The Stranger on Mixcloud

In the not-too distant future, political scientists have reason to suspect what the major issues of the next few years will be. Climate, Drones and Terrorists, Pentagon Spending, Agriculture/Energy, and Campaign Finance Reform.

This all seems a little optimistic to me. But as we’ll soon see, these wonks aren’t the only big dreamers.

The World Futurist Society has released their forecasts, and they are impressively grand. Some seem inevitable, others outlandish, but all of them progressively more challenging, and some beneficial, to mankind.

  1. Electric cars powered by fuel cells earn extra cash for their owners
  2. Open-source robot blueprints cut the cost of robots by 90%
  3. Smart phones help spur political reform in Africa
  4. The world’s oceans may face “mass extinction event” by 2050
  5. The “cloud” will become more intelligent, not just a place to store data
  6. 3-D Printing Revolutionizes manufacturing
  7. India may eclipse China in population and innovation by 2028
  8. Robots may become gentler caregivers in the next 10 years
  9. A revolution in smart materials creates a new energy boom

Idealistic indeed, as those of us who see their gadgets more as personal adversaries than helpful widgets.

“Technology that promises to remove small annoyances of one kind introduces small annoyances of another.” ~Pamela Haag

But there is the tendency to hope for the Best of All Possible Worlds,
in science-fiction, in science fact, and in augmenting our very reality. Soon people will be able to purchase Google Glass and make immediate (if superficial) improvements in their worldview. It gives new meaning to the concept of ‘rose-colored glasses’. I personally can’t wait for Super Saiyan mode, They Live mode, and Cyclops mode.

But the fact of the matter is, you can’t predict how new technologies will change the world until they become part of the commoner’s usage.

Tim Maughan argues in a fascinating new interview about augmented reality with the Huffington Post:

Technology becomes the most effective — and thus potentially the most damaging— when it passes that novelty stage and becomes mundane and commonplace. The way smartphones have radically changed the way we lead our daily lives is perhaps the most recent example. It’s been an incredibly short six years from revolutionary product launch to utterly mundane ubiquity.

And few of us have had time to pause and think about the effect it has had on us, either as individuals or society. When it comes to judging how technology effects us there’s an understandable tendency to look at the bleeding edge, at first adopters and hackers, those that take the plunge and dive in. I think it’s a tendency in part by academics and journalists to want to be seen as ‘cool-hunters’, finding the latest trends and speculating about what they could develop into.

The truth is until it becomes commonplace and in the hands of a massive range of people we can’t tell how it will be used. I don’t want to bruise anyone’s geek-pride here (okay, maybe I do a little) but being an early adopter only makes you special for a short while, and on your own you’re not going to make any paradigm shifts. By definition you need everyone else with you to do that.

Many people just don’t know what to do with the future transforming reality around them. It makes them uneasy, even panicked; Future-Shocked. And others worry that the technocratic digerati will forge ahead, leaving other classes behind; an ageless human problem for every era, none better than the rest.


Can Futurists even make a difference? Does science-fiction and those rosy-eyed optimists benefit the scientists in hot pursuit of tomorrow? Do they create a Utopian vision for which we aim? Or can they do more damage than good? Or are we all just way off the mark?

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-02-23: The Future by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

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Love and Destruction

heartPLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Funk United
Light My Fire – Minnie Riperton
The Atmosphere Routine – Mr. Dibbs
Love And Happiness – Al Green
Do Your Thing – Isaac Hayes
Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On – Leonard Cohen
New Comer – W. Rockman
Munchies for Your Love – Bootsy’s Rubber Band
Velvet Voyage – Klaus Schulze
Why – Gemini (Birthday Song)
Take It All Away – CAKE
I Blame You – They Might Be Giants
Debonair – Afghan Whigs
Djed – Tortoise
You To Thank – Ben Folds
Spent on rainy days – Bright Eyes
Options – Pedro The Lion
Hogin’ Machine – Les Baxter
The Dean And I – 10CC

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-02-16: Love Songs by The Stranger on Mixcloud

It’s a good thing Fox “News” credibility has been steadily dwindling, falling by 9 percent in three years, and is now at a four-year record-low. These are the idiots are are trying to kill jobs, keep the minimum wage low, and encourage the toxic philosophy of companies laying off employees to dodge taxes.

 makes an excellent point about those long lines in stores when the fat cats decrease hours and increase layoffs to avoid paying fair wages and health insurance:

Were they being “penny-wise and pound-foolish” and costing themselves business today as well as in the future?

Because this misunderstands taxes. Taxes are not a “cost” as Marco Rubio said. Taxes are on profits. A company pays taxes after all costs — including wages and salaries — are deducted from revenue. The fact of the company paying a tax at all means they have the right number of employees serving their customers and meeting demand so they make a profit.

It is the poorly-managed companies that employ too few people who are not going to do well enough to pay taxes. (I doubt very many companies are employing too many people. What are they doing, having them sit around reading the paper?)

Obviously being profitable — which means that they pay taxes — does not cause a business to lay people off or reduce hours. When Rubio says taxes make companies “pass the costs on to their employees through fewer hours, lower pay and even layoffs” he is just wrong.

For the minimum-wage employee an increase means an immediate increase in demand at all the places he shops. Millions of people with a bit more money to spend because of a minimum-wage boost would certainly mean more hiring, because more customers would be coming through the doors. A well-run business employs the right number of people, period.

And while the Republicans are so interested in the drummed up controversy over the public debt, it ignores the debt that Wall Street hasn’t paid back to the American taxpayers, despite their astounding bounce-back and profits. Of course they face no criminal charges, but what about the$245 billion of TARP funds spent on banks, with only $26 billion received in settlements. 

And while their predatory practices effect the poor, and people of color, the most, governments and private enterprise seem all too willing to collude on bringing back debtor’s prisons.

Via In These Times:

A 2010 report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lays out the breadth of this problem. Titled “In For a Penny: The Rise of America’s New Debtor Prisons,” the report examines how “day after day, indigent defendants are imprisoned for failing to pay legal debts they can never hope to manage. In many cases, poor men and women end up jailed or threatened with jail though they have no lawyer representing them.”

Meanwhile, Obama is increasing domestic drone surveillance, and clamming up when asked any questions about these (or related) policies or programs.

Via Mother Jones:

During a Google+ “Fireside Hangout” Thursday evening, President Barack Obama was asked if he believed he has the authority to authorize a drone strike against an American citizen on US soil.

He didn’t exactly answer the question.

“First of all, I think, there’s never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil. And, you know, we respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counterterrorism operations outside the United States. The rules outside the United States are going to be different then the rules inside the United States. In part because our capacity to, for example, to capture a terrorist inside the United States are very different then in the foothills or mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan.

But what I think is absolutely true is that it is not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we are doing the right thing. I am the head of the executive branch. And what we’ve done so far is to try to work with Congress on oversight issues. But part of what I am going to have to work with congress on is to make sure that whatever it is we’re providing congress, that we have mechanisms to also make sure that the public understands what’s going on, what the constraints are, what the legal parameters are. And that is something that I take very seriously. I am not someone who believes that the president has the authority to do whatever he wants, or whatever she wants, whenever they want, just under the guise of counterterrorism. There have to be legal checks and balances on it.”

Even with Rand Paul on the job, so serious questions are being asked of John Brennan in his confirmation hearings, despite concerns about civil liberties killing Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA in 2008.

  • Why Did the President Kill a 16-year old American Teenager?
  • Are there ANY Qualifications for Authorizing Death Sentences?
  • Why did the Obama administration wait until election season to codify rules for assassinating people?
  • Do you see a problem with “signature strikes?”

So why didn’t Obama just say, “no, the president cannot deploy drone strikes against US citizens on American soil”? Because the answer is probably “yes.”

Even so-called “liberals” like Dianne Feinstein are dead wrong on the issue, both morally and factuallyShe stated that civilian casualties caused by U.S. drone strikes each year has “typically been in the single digits.”

According to an extensive report by researchers at NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School, disputed the line coming from the White House and from Feinstein on Thursday. The report cites statistics from the U.K. based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which found that from June 2004 to September 2012 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan killed between 474 to 881 civilians, including 176 children. The BIJ relies on newspaper accounts and its own independent researchers in Waziristan.

The Stanford/NYU study backs up such figures with evidence of the trauma of living under drones strikes, based on “interviews with victims and witnesses of drone activity, their family members, current and former Pakistani government officials, representatives from five major Pakistani political parties, subject matter experts, lawyers, medical professionals, development and humanitarian workers, members of civil society, academics, and journalists.” Even if the BIJ’s lowest estimation of 474 civilians in Pakistan alone were accurate, Feinstein’s figures would still be far off the mark.

Washington Post offers data from the Web site Long War Journal, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen killed a combined 31 civilians in 2008, 84 in 2009, 20 in 2010, 30 in 2011  and 39 in 2012.

The New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, says that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone killed at least 25 civilians in 2008, 25 again in 2009, 14 in 2010, six in 2011 and five in 2012.

Hell, let’s give the drone pilots medals while we’re at it! They might get sore asses from sitting down all day!

Among self-described liberal Democrats, fully 77 percent endorse the use of drones against terrorist targets. On the question of killing Americans in drone strikes, Democrats approved of the use 58-33 percent, as did liberals, 55-35 percent.

A separate Pew study from October 2011 found that 87 percent of Americans support “increasing the use of unmanned drones,” including a majority of Democrats who said it was a “good thing.”

This is due to the false dichotomy of the blind theology set up by militant drone hawks. Either robot death from the skies, or boots on the ground?

“Drones are a lot more civilized than what we used to do. I think it’s actually a more humane weapon because it can be targeted to specific enemies and specific people.” ~Sen. Angus King’s (I-Maine)

[Drone strikes] inflict fewer civilian deaths than bombing campaigns, boots on the ground or any practical alternative.” ~New York Times columnist David Brooks

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes calls the other alternative.

“We can be a nation that declares its war over, that declares itself at peace and goes about rigorously and energetically using intelligence and diplomacy and well-resourced police work to protect us from future attacks”

But the dogma doesn’t allow for such creative problem-solving when singular destruction is narrowly employed. And secret, no less!

All the more reason that Yours Truly can’t wait for our civilization to be destroyed by alien life, life-destroying asteroids, or rather, exploding meteorites.

At least that wouldn’t be politically-motivated. It would be a mercy. A labor of love. Ahh.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-02-16: Love Songs by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

14 INSULTING LOVE SONGS

heartThis Valentine’s holiday, remember to take special care for the thoughts and feelings of your spouse or significant other. And also be careful to ensure that your words, actions and gestures can’t be taken as backhanded compliments, mixed signals, or even veiled threats. Many a promising affair has been aborted too soon by an unseemly, often unintended, insult.

This list of derogatory love songs isn’t necessarily about couples fighting, arguing, exploiting, cheating, breaking up, breaking hearts, or falling out of love. Each of those topics do cross over, of course, but could fill entire lists of their own. I believe I read some statistic somewhere that something like 152% of all songs written are love songs, so there was bound to be ample evidence of disparaging or downright offensive lyrics, whether intentional or not.

For the sake of brevity, I haven’t included any hip-hop songs, though their declarations of love are storied with unfortunate metaphor and sexist symbolism.

  1. It’s All Right With Me

Ella Fitzgerald’s song about ‘the other man’ is sort of about cheating, but she’s not addressing her devoted partner, but that secret lover that one would find so tempting.

There’s someone I’m trying so hard to forget
Don’t you want to forget someone too?

As someone who has been ‘the other man’ before, it is pretty disrespectful to be told that you are playing second-fiddle, or perhaps the rebound, or the distraction, for the head honcho who’s officially claimed your lover’s heart. Whether or not the subject in the song is aware of his role in this infidelity makes some small difference, but the insinuation is hurtful either way.

And hey, what do you mean by strangely attracted!?

  1. A Fine Romance

Surely an example of one of the first sarcastic love songs, this 1936 Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields song was used in the Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers film Swing Time.

These two are essentially discussing the difficulties of their “relationship”, but we all know how much Fred and Ginger (in-character) are really head-over-heels for one another. The sniping would’ve been pretty cute, if it didn’t reveal some tawdry innuendos about their lackluster love life.

A fine romance, with no kisses

So far, it has all the passion of a Rodney Dangerfield one-liner…

…you’re as cold as yesterday’s mashed potatoes
A fine romance, you won’t nestle
A fine romance, you won’t wrestle

I– never mind.

I might as well play bridge
With my old maid aunt

Damn, dude. Just– damn.

A fine romance, my good fellow
You take romance, I’ll take Jell-o
You’re calmer than the seals
In the Arctic Ocean
At least they flap their fins
To express emotion

Hey, maybe she’s into that. Ew.

In the film version, their ‘fine romance’ also has the complication of previous engagements, compulsive gambling, lies, a love quadrangle, missed connections and procrastinations. Who would ask for any other convoluted love story to tell the grandkids?

  1. I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good

It’s all in the title.

Songs about negligent and/or abusive loves who don’t treat you ‘sweet and gentle the way they should’ could fill an entire catalogue of their own. But when you’re so deeply in love, and yet somehow still lucid enough to realize that it’s a bad situation to be in, you need to accept some outside help.

And when she says:

He don’t love me like I love him, nobody could…

Does she mean that no one else has the potential for a love as monumental as hers (including him), or that she’s the only one foolish enough to fall for such a loser?

  1. Use Me

So while I actually do find this Bill Withers song pretty endearing (not to mention steamy), in which a man fends off the criticisms of his friends and family about his lady love, the underlying theme is one of masochism, and possibly a dangerously co-dependent relationship (see also: any Annette Hanshaw song).

…my answer yeah to all that ‘use me’ stuff
Is I want to spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up

Eeew. Listen, if I’m your brother, I do not want to hear about how your girlfriend *ahem* used you.

He doesn’t even defend his special lady from these allegations, because he doesn’t disagree with their shit-talk at all. He just happens to enjoy the things that others, in their misguided wisdom, see as twisted and wrong.

It would be one thing if the context of hot, hard use were relegated to kinky bedroom activities, but he seems to allow and even get off on being treated ill in every-day social settings:

Oh sometimes yeah it’s true you really do abuse me
You get in a crowd of high class people and then you act real rude to me
But oh baby baby baby baby when you love me I can’t get enough

Notice that he doesn’t put up with her abuse because she has an otherwise effervescent personality, or a brilliant mind, or she’s a misunderstood monster, or even rude to him in particular but kind to children, animals and waitstaff… no, it’s specifically her naughty nighttime skills that make all this pain and suffering worth it.

…but it all depends on what you do
It ain’t too bad the way you’re using me

Could it be sexy Stockholm syndrome? Sounds like somebody needs to read 50 Shades of Grey instead.

  1. Love the One You’re With

Proving that the progressive movements of the nineteen-sixties were not without their own forms of misogyny, Stephen Stills belted out this free love anthem to hundreds of thousands of mud-covered fellow travelers, many of whom had trekked to Woodstock without getting a ticket for their freaky mama or man.

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talking to

Like, woah, man, I wonder why that might be?

…your baby is so far away

This is what’s known as “rationalization.”

And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with

Well, heck, any old person will do! That’s what love is all about, right, Charlie Brown? Just reach out and touch someone! The next lines at least establish the parameters of consensual love:

…a girl right next to you. And she’s just waiting for something to do…

‘I’m bored, wanna fuck?’ Now, the song doesn’t necessarily advocate cheating, per se. The ‘one you love’ in question may just be an unrequited crush, or imaginary ideal, or even Jodie Foster. But that means that the ‘one you’re with’ is simply a hole for your temporary amusement. Well, she may even be fine with this arrangement, but to frame her as a consolation prize… I mean, I don’t know any woman who is turned on by the words ‘Eh, you’ll do.’

Turn your heartache right into joy
Cause she’s a girl and you’re a boy

Yep. That’s all it takes. Unless you’re in the LGBT community. Or also, y’know, have standards.

By the way, I don’t even want to know what “rose in the fisted glove” means. Yeesh.

  1. Run for Your Life

Old blues and country standards are known for men professing their love for a woman with such romantic gestures as threatening to fucking kill her. You’d think that by the ’60s and ’70s we might have overcome our baser urges. And though this Beatles song from Rubber Soul was most likely a tongue-in-cheek tribute to that trope, I feel as though most people enjoy the jaunty ditty without ever acknowledging the horrifying lyrics.

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man…

Personally, I’d rather see her happy than dead, but what do I know?

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl

At least the potential homicidal maniac is self-aware of his little foibles:

Well you know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line

Because if you can’t make your woman toe the line, she’s broken and must be murdered.

And in case you had any question to the sincerity of his words (they are, after all, a little hyperbolic):

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you dead

  1. You’re The One For Me, Fatty

Not only does he belittle his beloved repeatedly in the song with his economical lyrics, in typical Morrisey fashion he also makes the issue about himself by getting all needy and self-doubtful:

Promise you’ll say
If I’m in your way
You’re the one for me, fatty

I didn’t include ‘Fat Bottom Girls‘ because a) he’s not idolizing any one fatty, but all the fatties of the world, b) I’m pretty sure that no girl, fat or not, would have been Freddie Mercury’s cup-o-tea, and c) that song is clearly a genuine and sincere appreciation of big-bodied women. They do indeed make the rockin’ world go ’round.

  1. Amie

I can see why you think you belong to me
I never tried to make you think
Or let you see one thing for yourself

So here’s a guy who has given mixed messages to his girl, both putting down her ability to think on her own and admitting that he was controlling her in some way. That is Pure Prairie League, man.

But now you’re off with someone else and I’m alone
You see I thought that I might keep you for my own

Oh, now I get it. Now that she’s with somebody else, our protagonist realizes what life is like without her. He just wants what he can’t have! It’s not even about her at all! He doesn’t spend one second of the song praising her personage, intellect, humor, or even her beauty (which is what most love songs go for).

Amie, what you wanna do?
I think I could stay with you
For a while, maybe longer if I do

I mean, Iunno. Whatevs. Leave that other guy for me and I promise you that I will commit to sort of liking you sometimes and showing up at your place at my convenience. There’s nothing a woman finds more attractive than wishy-washiness in a man. It doesn’t help that they end the song with the repeated refrain of:

I’d keep fallin’ in and out of love with you

Gee, what a lucky goil.

  1. Ruby

Ruby, don’t take your love to town

I can’t think of anything more special than immediately insinuating that your special someone is a whore.

So, right of the bat, I do feel bad for this guy. He just came back from that ‘old crazy Asian war’, or more accurately ‘atrocity-filled and unnecessary Vietnam police action.’ He tells this girl, who may or may not have been waiting for him, it seems, that he’s “not the man I used to be.” And with all the PTSD and ‘Nam flashbacks, I don’t think this is the best sweet talk. He grouses and moans about nobody wanting a mutilated amputee veteran, and pathetically opines that he just “needs some company”.

It’s hard to love a man
Whose legs are bent and paralysed
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age
Ruby, I realize,
But it won’t be long, I’ve heard them say, until I’m not around

Jeez, okay, we get it. You’re not exactly Casanova right now. Do you think it might not be your handicap, but your attitude? I missed the part where pity was supposed to be foreplay. And while I feel awful that society and the wretched U.S. government leaves its veterans out to dry, just because he’s done his “patriotic chore”, that doesn’t mean that Ruby’s “patriotic chore” is to pleasure or service your demanding ass. And if you really did realize the ‘wants and needs of a woman her age’ (shades of the chauvinistic assumption that weak-willed women are slaves to their hormones), then you’d step– *erm* –roll aside and let her live her own life!

This– this is where the song takes a sudden turn.

And if I could move I’d get my gun
And put her in the ground
Oh Ruby
Don’t take your love to town

Oh, country music. You old reprobate, you! How I wish that The Gambler or perhaps even The Coward of the County would show up and teach this old horny toad a lesson or two in the mannerly way to treat a Lady.

  1. Until the Real Thing Comes Along


So, Dean. What have you got for us?

‘d wait for you

Good so far…

I’d slave for you

That’s a tad extreme, but fine…

I’d be a beggar or a knave for you

Um, not really sure that’s necessary, but okay…

If that isn’t love, it’ll have to do

Aww, kind of sweetly modest…

Until the real thing comes along!

Wait– What? So… you’ll do anything for this woman, literally anything… unless a woman to be determined later comes along that you end up liking more? That is… fucked up, Deano. Is she just, like, your place-holder, or something? What about all the other words? Were those all lies??

I’d lie for you

Did those words mean NOTHING?

With all the words, dear, at my command
I just can’t make you understand

At this point it just sounds like a lot of empty promises and sweet nothings, in an overcompensating attempt to convince some woman that he is committed.

My heart is yours
What more can I say?

  1. If You Wanna Be Happy

This one speaks for itself:

If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.

A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall.
As soon as he marries her
Then she starts to do
The things that will break his heart.
But if you make an ugly woman your wife,
You’ll be happy for the rest of your life,
An ugly woman cooks her meals on time,
She’ll always give you peace of mind.

Don’t let your friends say
You have no taste,
Go ahead and marry anyway,
Though her face is ugly,
Her eyes don’t match,
Take it from me she’s a better catch.

Now look. If this song were about accepting and loving somebody regardless of their appearance, or appreciating them for their inner beauty, it might still be a little insulting, but still a well-meaning message overall. Instead, this song manages to be superficial and shallow to both attractive and unattractive women. Pretty girls will hurt you, and ugly girls have no hope of finding better, so they’ll stay at home and cook for you. As if it would be impossible for an “ugly” girl to commit adultery, or have a bad personality. As though there are no “pretty” women who are kind, generous, witty, caring, or faithful.

Say man.
Hey baby.
Saw your wife the other day.
Yeah?
Yeah, she’s ugly.
Yeah, she’s ugly but she sure can cook.
Yeah? Okay.

And what makes you so great, asshole? You don’t really seem like the most self-secure man on the planet.

  1. Different Drum

I respect any consenting adult’s decision to explore open relationships, to honestly play the field, or just be a generally ethical slut. But this classic Linda Ronstadt tune from 1967 reads more like an excuse to blow off some pushy sycophant.

Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

I’m more into guys who are… you know… kind of… whores.

Yes, and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

Hey, it’s not you, it’s me! Really! I’d be no good for you! I just can’t be tied down right now! I don’t need some needy little pissant trying to get with me. Get it?

So good-bye I’ll be leaving
I see no sense in this crying and grieving
We’ll both live a lot longer
If you live without me

So, go on now. Scoot. Go find a girl that will put up with you. Because you can’t handle this.

  1. Better Man

I hesitated to add this song, of course, because it’s so tragic and beautiful. But the implication of not being able to find a better man is pretty psychotic, when you think about it. She’s most definitely denigrating her own prowess (she really can’t do any better?), but it’s not a great vote of confidence for the man, either, that she thinks he couldn’t handle the truth about her nagging doubts and feelings.

She lies and says she’s in love with him… can’t find a better man

That’s a pretty horrible secret to keep from your boyfriend. And it doesn’t say much for either of your relationship or communication skills. He can’t intimate her emotions at all, and she’s more content living a lie than upsetting his fragile confidence.

She loved him, yeah, she don’t want to leave this way
She feeds him, yeah, that’s why she’ll be back again

This might be why she can’t find a better man. Most people wouldn’t put up with that shit.

  1. My Funny Valentine

I wouldn’t actually find this sort of thing that insulting, really. I mean, if you appreciate somebody for their weaknesses, quirks, or eccentricities, that’s much more meaningful than simply having an unrealistic ideal of your loved one (which is what most songs, poetry, and romance fiction is interested in). If you have a deeper understanding of that person, you’ll appreciate them every day, for every wrinkle, freckle and dimple. You want to find someone who doesn’t want to change you, but loves you just as you are.

In the above clip, however, Ole Blue Eyes just lays it on so thick as this poor, hapless girl just sits there and takes it. And what can she do? He’s the Chairman-of-the-freaking-Board! Even if she did muster the guts to find fault with, say, his drinking, or his family matters, or his portrayal of Pvt. Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity, he’d probably have just hauled off and slapped her.

Some people, you see, are not capable of love.

So the next time you’re putting together a playlist for your sweetheart, don’t just simply compliment their eyes and breasts. Tell them how much you deeply, sincerely, genuinely, truly, honestly appreciate their eyes and breasts.

Happy V.D., y’all!

Worst 90s Show

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The Stranger is joined by old friends to fill our time with only the very worst that the 1990’s had to offer. A challenging proposal to fit into a mere two hours, but we hope you’ll be excruciated, nonetheless.

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Erasure
Pump Up The Jam (1990) – Technotronic
What Is Love? (November 1993) – Haddaway
Meet Virginia (1999) – Train
Don’t Speak (1996) – No Doubt
Smooth (1999) – Rob Thomas & Carlos Santana
Children of the Korn (1998) – Korn
Man! I Feel Like A Woman! (1997) – Shania Twain
Achy Breaky Heart (1992) – Billy Ray Cyrus
Macarena (July 1996) – Los Del Rio
Ice Ice Baby (October 1990) – Vanilla Ice
I Wanna Sex You Up (1991) – Color Me Badd
Miami (1998) – Will Smith
Wannabe (1996) – Spice Girls
Hit Me Baby One More Time (1998) – Britney Spears
Space Jam (1996) – Quad City DJ’s
Believe (February 1999) – Cher
Butterfly (1999) – Crazy Town
This Is How We Do It (1995) – Montell Jordan
Tootsie Roll (1994) – 69 Boyz
Step By Step (1990) – New Kids On The Block
Coming Out of Their Shells, T05 Pizza Power (1990) – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Mortal Kombat (1995) – The Immortals
I Like To Move It (1994) – Reel 2 Real
Sweet Dreams (1996) – La Bouche
Better Days (May 1999) – Citizen King
Pretend We’re Dead (1992) – L7
Naked Eye (1999) – Luscious Jackson
3 Strange Days (1999) – School Of Fish
Do Right (1999) – Jimmies Chicken Shack
We Like To Party! (1999) – Vengaboys
My Heart Will Go On (1997) – Celine Dion

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-02-09: Worst 90s Show by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Austere Warnings

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Danger signs abound reminding us of the context of our austere, violent, unequal world. Politically-motivated reasoning disenfranchises voters, consumers, workers, people of color, the impoverished, whistleblowers, dissenters, journalists, and any citizen who wants their free civil rights.

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Duke Ellington
Sunshine Of Your Love – Ella Fitzgerald
Other Planes of There – Sun Ra And His Solar Arkestra
Pinetops Boogie Woogie – Pinetops Perkins
Big Chief – Professor Longhair
I Smell A Rat – Big Mama Thornton
Drunk – Jimmy Liggins & His 3D Music
RL Burnside – Boogie Chillen
Bass Solo – Larry Graham
What About You (In The World Today) – Co Real Artists
fruitman – kool and the gang
Acid Lady – San Francisco T.k.o.’s
Message From 9 To The Universe – Jimi Hendrix & friends
Get Off Your Ass And Jam – George Clinton & Parliment Funkadelic
Look What You Can Get – Funky Nassau
Symphonic Revolution – Mandrill
It’s A New Day – The Skullsnaps
Do The Sissy – Albert Collins
Sunset – Yusef Lateef
Goodmorning Sunshine – Quasimoto
Crosshairs – DANGERDOOM
Chemical Calisthenics – Blackalicious
Spiritual Healing – Dälek
Bounce – Jay Dilla
Lazy Confessions – The Moldy Peaches
Lonlon (Ravel’s Bolero) – Angélique Kidjo

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-02-02: Austere Warnings by The Stranger on Mixcloud

Even the jobs numbers belie the myth, with Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz noting that “the jobs deficit—the number of jobs lost since the recession officially began plus the number of jobs we should have added just to keep up with the normal growth in the potential labor force—remains nearly nine million.” With certain politicians stamping out that growth to the labor and middle classes, the labor market will not fill that gap until the end of 2021.

The conservative-led drive in Congress for more federal budget-cutting will reduce demand, stifle growth and choke off job creation, at a time when we need much higher levels of investment and jobs growth.

This jobs deficit is directly affected by the blind austerity hysteria (or austeria, eh? eh?), with our U.S. economy lagging in response to the declining markets in Europe, suffering a costly recession inflicted by misguided austerity policies.

I can’t repeat it enough: cutting government spending in a weak economy costs jobs.

Via The Campaign for America’s Future:

  1. Austerity costs jobs. More than 20 million people are in need of full-time work.  While corporate profits are at record heights as a percentage of the economy, wages are at record lows and falling.  cuts in government spending and hikes in taxes on working people cost jobs.  Government workers and contractors get laid off.  Small businesses feel the pinch as the afflicted tighten their belts.  Interest rates can’t go lower; business doesn’t get any more confident.
  2. More austerity is already being inflicted. Last quarter’s decline took place before the tax hikes agreed to in December’s “fiscal cliff” deal.  The increase of tax rates on the top 1 percent will have little effect on demand, since someone making over $400,000 can afford the hit.  But the end of the payroll tax holiday cost the typical family 2 percent of their income, with the change visible in their January paychecks.  For a family earning $50,000, that represents a $1,000 loss of income
  3. Even more austerity will soon come. House Republicans devoted their retreat to reordering the fiscal hostage crises they have planned for the next five months. – the sequester, they believe, will give them greater leverage to extort deep and unpopular cuts in spending, particularly Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
  4. The deficit hawks are delusional. Out-of-control inflation hasn’t broken out.  Investors are not panicked.  They are still willing to park their money in U.S. bonds for essentially no real return. One reason is that the deficit isn’t out of control.  As the Congressional Budget Office reports, the annual deficit is down by 25 percent since 2009.    It is coming down faster than any time since the demobilization at the end of World War II.   Our mid-term debt is essentially stabilized as a percent of gross domestic product.  Our long-term debt projections are completely a question of fixing our broken health care system.
  5. Stop the austerity hysteria. Stop paying tribute to the austerity lobby. return to sensible governance.  Repeal the sequester – deep across-the-board cuts are idiotic. Commit to growing our way out of the hole we are in. Invest in areas vital to our economy and to our people.  Pay for those commitments in ways that makes sense.  Put people back to work and watch the deficits come down.  Crack down on overseas tax dodges. End the obscene subsidies to Big Oil, Big Pharma and Big Agra.

But Obama is not and will not be our savior on this subject. He has flip-flopped enough on the issue of Too-Big-to-Fail banks and money in politics enough to appear entirely culpable.

Like many presidents before him, he is using the guise of ‘nonprofits’ to turn what was once lucrative campaign cash into unlimited corporate donations. Just as he has ‘devolved’ on SuperPACs, Citizen’s United, special interests, and other contributions. At this point, it is no longer questionable or dodgy to call him a Wall Street co-conspirator, as the President rakes in massive Wall Streetcontributions and paying back donors with immunity from prosecution.

He hasn’t prosecuted a single banker and has appointed a scandal-plagued Wall Street defense lawyer to head the SEC. He has whined that he has been blocked by the intransigent Congress, but still refuses to exercise executive function (you know, his fucking job) in areas that he does have direct influence.

Via Salon:

A president, for instance, has the unilateral power to at least propose tough Wall Street regulations, even if Congress is too corrupt to pass them. A president, likewise, has the unilateral power to nominate genuinely independent regulators, even if a Wall Street-dominated Senate might try to halt such a nomination. In short, a president has the unilateral power to at least force a serious fight over these issues — and Obama has refused to even do that. Instead, he championed bailouts and a Wall Street “reform” package that let the banks off the hook, and he has appointed Wall Street pals like Lanny Breuer at Justice andMary Jo White at the Securities Exchange Commission.

The ‘President is weak and blocked’ defense doesn’t make much sense either in the context of one of the most powerful presidents in recent history, on leveraging reforms, increasing the surveillance state, national security and foreign policy.

In fact, this Treasury Department has approved excessive salaries for the very same executives of the very same financial firms that received taxpayer funds as part of the 2008 economic bailout of Wall Street.

The news comes in a report authored by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which said that “Treasury approved all 18 requests it received last year to raise pay for executives at American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp. and Ally Financial Inc,” according to the Associated Press.

14 of the requests for executive pay raises were over $100,000, and the biggest raise was $1 million. All this while employee and consumer protections are set adrift and ignored, or worse; the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are set upon and impugned by cruel Republicans. The unemployed are even cannibalized by the major banks taking their cut wherever they can get it.

Via AllGov:

A new report (pdf) from the nonprofit group National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) says Americans out of work are paying millions of dollars in unnecessary fees as part of receiving their unemployment payments. This is because many states encourage or even require the jobless to use bank-issued payment cards to access their funds.

The NCLC found that many states, like Arizona, make it difficult for residents to sign up for direct deposit with the state government. And in at least five states—California, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland and Nevada—direct deposit is not an option at all.

The consumer group contends that this situation is illegal under federal law prohibiting states from requiring benefits recipients to open an account with a specific bank, such as JPMorgan ChaseU.S. Bancorp and Bank of America.

But ignore the hypocrisy. Congress does whatever it wants, breaking the very laws it legislates, or at least, exempting themselves at the expense of the fleeced classes.

And while those Chief Execrable Officers in Congress “battle“, they hope to silence large swaths of the voting population. It isn’t enough that they overlook the poor and favor those who can afford hefty bribes, they still want to entirely disenfranchise the hated plebes with voter ID laws. There is much that can be done to prevent this tampering, but injustice is frequent.

Because the status quo machinery cannot be stopped. Even when outspoken cogs decry the monstrousness of it, they make such admonitions within the context of authoritative paradigms.

Via Danger Room:

Ben Emmerson wants to be clear: He’s not out to ban flying killer robots used by the CIA or the U.S. military. But the 49-year-old British lawyer is about to become the bane of the drones’ existence, thanks to the United Nations inquiry he launched last week into their deadly operations.

Emmerson, the United Nations’ special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism, will spend the next five months doing something the Obama administration has thoroughly resisted: unearthing the dirty secrets of a global counterterrorism campaign that largely relies on rapidly proliferating drone technology. Announced on Thursday in London, it’s the first international inquiry into the drone program, and one that carries the imprimatur of the world body.

If the facts show that the US is committing war crimes, then so be it, that is what he will unearth.

And AlterNet:

A military judge overseeing September 11 pre-trial hearings revealed Thursday the government had censored them from outside the courtroom, and angrily ordered that this stop immediately.

The proceedings at the high-security, high-tech courtroom due to host the trial of five alleged plotters in America’s worst terror attack are heard in the press gallery and in a room where human rights groups and victims’ families sit, with a 40 second delay.

This is done so a court security officer, or CSO, sitting next to the judge can block anything deemed classified.

On Monday part of the proceedings were censored when the discussion touched on secret CIA prisons where the suspects were held and abused.

The judge said he was surprised and angry that the censoring mechanism was activated from outside the court, without his knowledge.

And the only official who has been officially punished for the illegal CIA torture program was the whistleblower who talked about it.

Via Glenn Greenwald:

John Kiriakou is not a pure anti-torture hero given that, in his first public disclosures, he made inaccurate claims about the efficacy of waterboarding. But he did also unequivocally condemn waterboarding and other methods as torture. And, as FAIR put it this week, whatever else is true: “The only person to do time for the CIA’s torture policies appears to be a guy who spoke publicly about them, not any of the people who did the actual torturing.” Despite zero evidence of any harm from his disclosures, the federal judge presiding over his case – the reliably government-subservient US District Judge Leonie Brinkema – said she “would have given Kiriakou much more time if she could.” As usual, the only real criminals in the government are those who expose or condemn its wrongdoing.

This is why whistleblowing – or, if you prefer, unauthorized leaks of classified information – has become so vital to preserving any residual amounts of transparency.

“when our sources are prosecuted, the news-gathering process is criminalized, so it’s incumbent upon all journalists to speak up” 

~the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer

“People are feeling less open to talking to reporters given this uptick. There is a definite chilling effect in government due to these investigations.” ~Washington Post

“the president’s crackdown chills dissent, curtails a free press and betrays Obama’s initial promise to ‘usher in a new era of open government.'” ~Bloomberg report

So the powerful call for more cyber-warfare, more government surveillance of the citizenry, and to privatize that surveillance state the way they are privatizing everything else in our rapidly corporatizing fascist nation.

The comfy relations between the private sector and law enforcement poses a risk to the rights and freedoms of the individual. But authoritarians accept government power as inherently valid and government claims as inherently true. It’s easy for them to accept the secrecy, and to punish defiers as traitors.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-02-02: Austere Warnings by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net