August 31, 2007

The Good News is Rock and Roll

Last weekend, Sarah and I went to the Caribbean Festival at the local community college. The first tent we came up to was a prayer tent. That's weird and not very Caribbean I thought. The next tent had people donating and picking up clothes. In the large, tent after that people were picking up free hamburgers. Then, another prayer tent.

Turns out we went to the I Love the Church of Whatever Festival across the street by mistake. You know what finally tipped me off? Rock music. To be more specific, Christian Rock Music.

The term Christian Rock has become redundant since rock ceased to be a part of popular music a long time ago. All new rock is Christian Rock. Leave it to churches to consistently remain at least 20 years behind the musical mainstream. I guess all popular musical styles from classical to folk to rock can expect a late boom in the Christian music scene. One of the days, we'll get to enjoy Chrisp Hop and Christian Indie.

August 30, 2007

Free Drug Trade

Scholars of the British Empire tend to display simple amnesia: the systematic omission of subjects that are impossible to square with the idea of "liberal imperialism." For example, both Niall Ferguson and the Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire skip lightly over the fact that the empire operated the world's largest and most successful drug cartel. During the nineteenth century, Britain fought two wars of choice with China to force it to import opium. The Australian scholar Carl A. Trocki concludes that, given the huge profits from the sale of opium, "without the drug there probably would have been no British empire."

That's a quote/paraphrase from Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis, a highly recommended read.

I remember being very confused about the Opium Wars in high school. This was during the height of America's so called drug war. I found it hard to accept that Britain fought wars in order to force people to buy drugs. It's like something out of a bad Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. In the final fight scene, Van Damme does the splits and punches a snickering mustachioed Britain in the balls.

Carl A. Trocki - Opium, Empire and the Global Political Economy

Niall Ferguson - Empire

August 29, 2007

The Truth Can't Set You Free

Reification is the fallacy committed by ascribing physical or human characteristics to abstract entities. "Love is gonna getcha" is one example. Love, being just a concept, can't "get" anything and especially not me as I am rather fast and love is rather slow. "The world is going crazy" would be another example.

Now, before you run about wielding reification like a cudgel to rhetorically bludgeon your peers pointing and screaming FALLACY at every poet you meet, let me tell you about my whole problem with it. In order for reification to work as a fallacy, you need to accept that there are uniquely physical or human characteristics which abstract entities are incapable of having. But how would you prove that gravity isn't a harsh mistress? Even some people can't prove that they're capable of love and other human characteristics. You know the ones I mean (said in the voice of hedonism bot). The two ways to make the fallacy valid are: hand waving and insisting on the strictest of definitions.

In the end, it isn't much more than a way of promoting concrete thinking over more metaphorical modes of thought.

Math Angel

When Renee Descartes was 21, he was visited by an angel (or had a vision in which he was visited by an angel, if you want to be a doubter). The angel confirmed all of his hopes saying that the world is fundamentally mathematical in nature. Descartes went on to lay the foundation for the scientific world view that reality is mathematical and objective.

For some reason, science hasn't accepted the angel as one of its founding myths the way it accepted the persecution of Galileo and the falling apple of Newton.

(Simone Cantarini Saint Matthew and the Angel via ARC)

August 28, 2007

Clean Sleep

Last night, I dreamt I took a shower in my pajamas.

That was the entire dream.

August 24, 2007

Point of Origin

Weapons from Iran are showing up in the hands of Iraqi insurgents? Well, weapons from the US are showing up in the hands of Turkish insurgents.

If the parallels weren't close enough, this quote comes from terrorism expert Professor Ihsan Bal, "quite a number of [Turkish] people are ready to believe that America might have directly [given these] weapons to the terrorist organization."


I'm not accusing the US of purposely supplying weapons to insurgents (They are and some weird stuff is happening around it but that's another issue). I don't think the mere fact that US weapons turned up in Turkey means that the US purposely planted them there. Yet, the US military claims that Iran is planting weapons in Iraq and uses the mere fact Iranian weapons are found as evidence.

I'm really interested in is how the perceptions of populations create the need for more or less evidence backing up an accusation. When US weapons show up in Turkey, the Turks blame the US and the US blames the Iraqi police. When Iranian weapons show up in Iraq, the US blames Iran and visa versa. Americans don't need evidence to suspect Iran and the Turks don't need evidence to suspect the US.

The parallel quote from media expert Professor So and So would be, "quite a number of Americans are ready to believe that Iran might have directly given these weapons to the terrorist organization."

August 23, 2007

Nazi Pigs in Space

While some conspiracy theories should be taken seriously, most are low on substance but high on imagination and entertainment value. Here's one of my favorite. They pulled together the Nazis, aliens, the illuminati, the Masons all into an fun if somewhat confusing tale.

The New Barney Miller

I just finished watching one of my favorite tv shows. The Wire. Kudos to the whole show. It's well researched well written, well cast and often well acted. Definitely, the most real and engaging show on television. I don't know how many more seasons they can keep it up at this level but I'll bet they have at least one more in them.

Word is that all of Baltimore shuts down when this show is on.

(Photo is "Birds on wire, evening, Manzanar Relocation Center" by Ansel Adams via the Library of Congress)

August 20, 2007

As Above so Below

In my dream, it is night and I climb up the side of a long embankment the size of a mountain. I get to the top and look out over a lake greenish and deep like Crater Lake in Oregon. The only sources of light are thousands shimmering yellow and white stars. I walk out on a long perch over the lake and look cautiously over the edge to see large dark moving shapes in the water far below me. I feel small.

I can't get a sense of depth beneath the water so it's difficult to tell exactly how large the circling shapes are. As I look down, I turn my attention to the lake's rolling surface and notice small points shifting back and forth with the waves. I look closer and realize that the points are yellow and white flowers catching the dim light of the stars. Then, I see the reflection of the stars in the water too. The stars and the flowers are sometimes distinct and at other times blend and transform into one another. It kind of looks like this video I took of the reflection of Christmas lights off a canal in Delft.

I get the sense that I'm supposed to jump. Part of me is to scared and walks back off away from the edge but another part dives. As I fall towards the surface of the water, I see my reflection rising up at me from the depths. When I hit the water, I go under and my reflection jumps out.

August 17, 2007

LSD Edumacation

Honestly, what did she expect the answer to her question was going to be?

"Yes Beth, people are being uptight about those freaky chromosomes."

I'm amazed the teacher didn't walk over and punch her in her smart hippy mouth.

For more on LSD, and the terrifying world of "bummers", check out part 2.

August 16, 2007

Venerable Premier's first post

I want to make my first post funny so naturally I'm posting video from a Japanese prank show. Make sure you watch until the end.

This next prank was too funny not to post



I've fallen in love with this song.

Here's my attempt at cultural triangulation of the Avett Brothers.

The Beatles : Hank Williams : Wilco

August 15, 2007

Supreme Court Chronicle

I feel the need to give a proviso to right wing nuts who frequent this blog (mainly myself and Premier Keith Kumar): I don't like the idea of burning American flag, I don't plan to burn it after I post, and I think anyone who chooses to do so strangely damns an institution that gives then the freedom to engage in such political speech. However, the right to political speech not suppressed by government action represents the foundation of the bill of rights. Now, I realize that the constitutional convention almost forgot about individual rights but their recognition of its absence should demonstrate its importance.

Now, the real reason I posted was to share a source of inspiration. Often, I read Supreme Court decisions as others would read a novel or even poetry. Regardless of their judicial philosophy, supreme court justices often have an uncanny ability to espouse their judicial rational (yes even Scalia). So, without further delay, I present a paragraph from the Texas v. Johnson decision authored by Supreme Court Justice William Brennan...Enjoy

"We are tempted to say, in fact, that the flag's deservedly cherished place in our community will be strengthened, not weakened, by our holding today. Our decision is a reaffirmation of the principles of freedom and inclusiveness that the flag best reflects, and of the conviction that our toleration of criticism such as Johnson's is a sign and source of our strength. Indeed, one of the proudest images of our flag, the one immortalized in our own national anthem, is of the bombardment it survived at Fort McHenry. It is the Nation's resilience, not its rigidity, that Texas sees reflected in the flag -- and it is that resilience that we reassert today....

"And, precisely because it is our flag that is involved, one's response to the flag-burner [a witness to the flag burning eventually took the remains and buried them] may exploit the uniquely persuasive power of the flag itself. We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than waving one's own, no better way to counter a flag burner's message than by saluting the flag that burns, no surer means of preserving the dignity even of the flag that burned than by -- as one witness here did -- according its remains a respectful burial. We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.

Say Anything

That was ten years before Iraq War II and it would be funny if it wasn't tragic on a global scale.

Thanks to the internet, it's much easier to catch politicians doing what they do best: saying whatever it is that you want to hear regardless of what they think or know to be true or even if they're being recorded. I call it pulling a Gonzales since he seems to be the most blatant abuser with nearly hours of video footage of him contradicting himself. I wouldn't be the least surprised if this was part of a transcript from a recent senate testimony.

Senator: Mr. Attorney General did you kick that baby down the stairs?
AG: Yes, I did.
Senator: Really? You admit to that crime then?
AG: I don't believe I've admitted to any such crime.
Senator: But you just said...
AG: No. I don't remember saying that.
Senator: Am I taking crazy pills? I asked about your alleged baby kicking and you confirmed it.
AG: Yes, I did ... Not. No. The question was vague and my aid answered it, not me.

(Cheney the profit/prophet via Taytv)

Taxiing Through Your Neighborhood

I had a dream last night that I was traveling to some exotic island paradise with a bunch of my friends. We all met at my parents house and climbed on to a 747 that was sitting in the front yard. The plane proceeded to taxi at high speeds along the tight swerving back roads of Bedford Hills presumably on it's way to the airport.

Every once and a while ,on a relative straight away, the plane would fire up its engines and try to take off. It was a mix of my fear of flying dreams and my "I'm back on the bus to school" dreams. Scary.

Turtle Boy Rides Again

I didn't realize until recently that the turtle boy clip comes from Portland's local news coverage of the Rose Festival this year. Ah, sweet sweet land of roses. Because I'm an avid follower of the child zombie, I'm posting another mash up.

I admit that I'm a serious connoisseurs of the inane as per the Post article.

August 14, 2007

Football and the Other

I got to see the US soccer team trash New Zealand 6-1 on ESPN the other day.

No not the men's team, the woman's team of course. US woman's soccer is consistently among the best in the world and hopefully we'll get to see them do well at the up coming The Woman World Cup in September. I'm hoping to catch some of it myself.

Down Time

I'm excited to have figured out how to embed sound links in a flash player on my blog. Go ahead and see if it works.

Ah, Devo.

I know that it doesn't seem like I'm doing much blogwise but just so you know I've been laboring behind the scenes just like your favorite sports team does in the off season. Setting up deals, training up key players, stealing the other team's playbooks and such. Let's just say that I've got my proverbial finger in many pies. Let's also just say, I feel like one of those jugglers trying to keep two balls in the air at once. It's hard work.

Due to space constraints, I've removed the old Odeo flash player and just embedded live version of the song from boomp3.

August 10, 2007

How Do It Work?

I wrote this short article about my experiences answer a simple question for a local magazine. Hope you like it.

How does acupuncture work? As an acupuncturist, I’ve answered that question for many years in the classroom, in my office, and even at parties so I speak from experience when I say that the question is not nearly as straightforward as it sounds. If you were to ask a hundred different acupuncturists and the scientists who study acupuncture that same question, you would get at least twenty unique answers. Some of these experts would talk about endorphins, others about activity in the brain, and still others would use terms like qi and the harmony of yin and yang. How could it be that there are so many different answers to the same basic question?

The main reason for these differences is that acupuncture actually works in many different ways. In some circumstances, acupuncture causes the body to produce endorphins. At other times, it affects specific centers of the brain. In addition, it can modulate the immune and endocrine systems. In the traditional system of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture affects other qualities of the body too such as yin, yang, qi and the meridians. All of these ideas can be considered correct descriptions of how acupuncture works. If it seems confusing, think about what would happen if you asked a surgeon the general question of how surgery works. A cardiac surgeon performing open heart surgery would discuss the operation as it concerns the heart while a neurosurgeon and a plastic surgeon each preforming their own surgeries would focus on something else. In the end, their answers might sound quite different.

When I answer the question of how acupuncture works, I try to skip over the technical scientific details and the unfamiliar Chinese terms. Instead I say that acupuncture works by stimulating the innate healing mechanisms of a person’s body, mind and spirit. With this broad explanation, there should be no surprise that there are many perspectives about how acupuncture works. It is because acupuncture does nothing in itself. It merely attempts to enhance what is already there and what is already there is the rich and profound variety of the human body and mind.


Pomeranz B, Chiu D. Naloxone blockade of acupuncture analgesia: endorphin implicated. Life Sci. 1976 Dec 1;19(11):1757-62.

Cho ZH, Chung SC, Jones JP et al. New findings of the correlation between acupoints and coreesponding brain cortices using functional MRI. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 1998 Mar vol 95:2670-2673.

August 8, 2007

Too Hot to Think

Yup. Call me a crybaby but it's been too hot and humid to think. And, thus, I haven't even tried to write anything substantial for the past few days.

(poster via NYPL)

August 4, 2007

The Fall

I've been waiting a long time for the US media to give a decent sounding explanation for the collapse of the World Trade Towers. Up until now the only convincing story that I had seen was the controlled demolition hypothesis as described by "conspiracies". The other day, I found this BBC (mental note: not US media) documentary that has given some plausibility to the idea that the planes brought the Towers down.

Now, at least, there's more than one horse in the race but I'm still wondering when someone will try reasonably explain WTC 7.

August 3, 2007

Sway Back Machine

One reason that I like cats is that they respond to most queries the same way a normal person would. For example, if you ask a dog, "Hey, where the hell did I put my keys?" the dog runs up to you and wonders with a curious excitement why you said his name. Which is nice...but not very human.

Cats, on the other hand, will respond to the question, "Hey, where the hell did I put my keys?" by looking at you with an expression that plainly says, "What the hell are you looking at me for. This has nothing to do with me." That's humanity.

Vague indifference and feigned interest are the hallmarks of a human conversational companion and as you may have guessed I end up talking to my cats a lot.

Robot Overlord With Sweet Dulcet Tones

It's about time we had a kinder gentler robot overlord who treats us with a kid gloves voice. The kind of robot that loves bunnies and puppies and slave labor.

and yes, Kristen Schaal is Mel the fan base for the flight of the conchords. and the animator Scott Bateman apparently hates turtles which unintentionally puts this post directly at odds with the previous one.

If the video doesn't work for you, link to it here.

(via video dog)