Monday, March 30, 2009

This past weekend

We played a show in Philadelphia on Friday at the Adobe Cafe. In our previous encounter, it was the scene of a strange convergence of a large number of drunk, angry and militantly apathetic people mostly wearing the same thing. This time around was quite different. No one was belligerently wasted, people watched bands, and not everyone was decked out in the same costume. Playing a show in a siege situation, such as our first appearance at the Adobe Cafe, is fun, but it's stressful. This was a welcomed change.

We got to see lots of friends, like Remainder and their tour entourage, as well as people like Jerry, with whom Todd and I used to play in a band, and Sarah, with whom I went to Rutgers the first time. Now Todd works with her and I know her again. It was really good to see these people, even though we didn't really spend much time together, with it being a show and all.

I really liked playing that show. I had a good time playing and felt confident about it. Our equipment sounded really good. Aside from the fact that we have good equipment, we recently repaired a bunch of it, so that helped us sound even better. It was nice having a p.a. that did something. We brought friends with us as well. The atmosphere was totally enjoyable and satisfying.

It's good to see Mikey, Jack and Welch playing music together again. They're quite good at it. I love Attrition, I loved seeing them, and it's been a long time since they played. Remainder is definitely not Attrition, but they definitely are good. I'm really glad I finally got to see them, as I was not able to make it down to their first couple of shows. They will be back soon, and I will go. Also, I predict us playing shows together.

Last night, half of us (Chris and Phil) plus our friend Aaron (Raza, Enron, Ron) went to see Converge at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. The initial plan was to get vegan cheesesteaks from Gourmet to Go and then hit the show, as we didn't care about the first two bands playing. We got there a bit late (6:30, the show started at 5), so we went to the show first to see what was going on. One band had played already and the second was about done. We immediately ran into friends Carni and Andy from DC. It was so rad and unexpected to see them there. We proceeded to hang out for the rest of the show.

Ceremony played third. Phil and I were pretty excited for this. They were bad. Real bad. I've seen them three times. The first time, they were sick. The second time, they were pretty good. This time, what the fuck. I don't even know. I own the band's entire recorded output and I did not recognize most of the songs they played last night. They still didn't replace the other guitar player and this is the third bass player I have seen in the band. He looks like Kim Thayil from Soundgarden. Ceremony were legit jamming on songs on stage. The singer said yesterday was his first day sober on tour. The guitarist was playing the star spangled banner at one point, for at least twenty seconds. Judging by what I could identify, they seemed to have played almost entirely newer songs.

After that, we dejectedly went to get our cheesesteaks. They were really good.

We came back in time for Converge to play. They played really well. They are pros. What can you say? They have basically the sickest drummer. Their set was comprised almost entirely of post-2000 songs, save for the requisite performance of "The Saddest Day." At least the songs they chose were mostly good, relying heavily on their last LP. And they didn't play that awful Ozzy song.

The show was over by 9:30, which was pretty rad, so we ran to catch Todd finishing up his shift at the Wooden Shoe. We hung out there for a bit, till they started closing up. Then we took off and were home by about 11:30.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'd love to slap these people around

Another Discover article, this one about dogs dying in the Iditarod race. 45 degrees below zero. Over a thousand miles.

Rookie musher Timothy Hunt received the coveted Red Lantern Award for winning the 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race yesterday, but the mood wasn't entirely festive at the finish line. Officials continue to investigate why six dogs died during or shortly after the grueling 1,049-mile journey from Willow to Nome, Alaska.

An average of around three dogs die each year during the race, though five were lost in 1997.

Chas St. George, director of public relations for the Iditarod, told Discovery News, "we must go through a process to investigate the deaths, and that is still taking place."

"Our goal is no deaths," he added. "There is nothing worse than to lose a dog, and we are all very sad about the losses."...

It's suspected that two other dogs, Grasshopper and Dizzy, died from hypothermia in -45 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Musher Lou Packer, who owned the dogs, told the Anchorage Daily News that he felt ice forming under the skin of at least one dog before it died, but he said there was nothing he could do to help the animal.

Fuck every one of these people.

I have an idea on what he could have done to "help the animal." LEAVE IT ALONE. Don't force it to pull your stupid ass through the snow. Assholes.

Kill us while there is still time

What the FUCK. From

It does a good job of killing termites and keeping bugs away from corn. But the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride is even better at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

A new study revealed that the pesticide lingers in the atmosphere for 36 years -- about eight times longer than scientists previously suspected. What's more, the gas is 4,800 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at holding in heat.

Make now, don't worry ever. That's the human policy. And it's ingrained in us.

Here's my impression of the human thought process:

"Oh wow, this stuff kills bugs real good. Let's use it to kill some bugs. On food. Yeah, let's spray it on things we're gonna eat. Then there won't be bugs on our food. Then we can eat food without bugs."


No concern, because we are profoundly shortsighted and in effect, fucking stupid. How could it possibly be so that putting insecticide all over the planet, on our food, on so many plants, into the soil, into the water, into the air, would be ok? How could that not come back at us? Would you spray Raid on your dinner every night? No, that's insane!







Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The twentieth anniversary of the Exxon Valdez crash/spill

March 24th, 1989 - the drunk captain of the oil tanker Valdez "left the bridge" of the ship under his command. The ship hit a reef and spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. Eleven million. 11,000,000. From Environment News Service, today:

The Exxon Valdez spill was one of the most worst environmental disasters in history. The spill covered over 10,000 square miles of Alaska’s coastline. Oil spread along 1,300 miles of shoreline, fouling a national forest, two national parks, two national wildlife refuges, five state parks, four state critical habitat areas, one state game sanctuary, and many ancestral lands for Alaska natives.
It killed hundreds of thousands of birds, marine mammals, fish, invertebrates; and disrupted the economy, culture, and livelihoods of coastal residents.
The cleanup took four summers and cost approximately $2 billion, according to a report by the state and federal governments...
In its newly issued 20th anniversary Status Report, the state and federal Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council lists only 10 of the 31 injured resources and services they monitor as “Recovered.” Ten more, including killer whales and sea otters are listed as "Recovering." Populations of Pacific herring and pigeon guillemots are listed as “Not Recovering.”
The most important species that is still experiencing significant problems is Pacific herring, an ecologically and commercially important species in Prince William Sound. They are central to the marine food web, providing food to marine mammals, birds, invertebrates, and other fish. Herring are also commercially fished for food, bait, sac-roe, and spawn on kelp.
Due to the decreased population, the Status Report states, the herring fishery in Prince William Sound has been closed for 13 of the 19 years since the spill and remains closed today.
So that's a bit of what the crash/spill did to the environment, as well as what it's still doing today.

What did it do to people? Ruined a lot of lives. What has Exxon done about that? Fought tirelessly to ensure that they do nothing to help anyone. About four months ago, they started paying out money to some of the 33,000 people who had sued them for remorselessly fucking up their lives. From the Anchorage Daily News, December 8th, 2008:

The millions of dollars Exxon Mobil Corp. has surrendered as punishment for the Prince William Sound oil spill have started hitting the streets, nearly 20 years after the disaster.

Several commercial fishermen who joined in the lawsuit against Exxon reported receiving direct deposits in their bank accounts Monday. Paper checks are expected to go out in the mail in the next week.

The payments mark the beginning of a process to distribute $383 million among nearly 33,000 commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and Exxon continue to battle in court over whether the oil company owes interest on the punitive damages award. If so, the interest could roughly double the total payout.

$383 million to 33,000 people. Well, that sounds like a lot, yeah? No. An average of $11,600. A piss in the fucking ocean, that is. From the New York Times, June 26, 2008:

“This decision is a giant cold slap in the face,” said Garland Blanchard, 59, a third-generation fisherman who said he lost his marriage along with his two fishing boats, house, cat and dog to financial pressures caused by the spill. Mr. Blanchard expects to receive less than $100,000 from the settlement, down from the $1.2 million he had previously expected.

“Our lives and businesses have been destroyed, and we get basically nothing,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

Local radio stations were just breaking news of the decision as Alicia Jensen opened the Killer Whale Café in Cordova, Alaska, at 6:30 Wednesday morning. Just as it has nearly every day for two decades, the spill and the legal case dominated customers’ conversations.

“This has been the primary focus of this town for most of my life,” said Ms. Jensen, 33, who owns the cafe. “I’m glad that it’s over, and everybody can get on with our lives.”

The City of Homer was prepared to place the $4 million to $5 million it was to receive in an endowment to help pay for social services, said Walt Wrede, the city manager. Now the city will receive a fraction of that amount.

Originally, Exxon was ordered to pay $5 billion, back in 1994. But their army of heartless lawyers worked very hard with corporate sympathizing judges to put off actually doing anything and have succeeded in continually reducing the payment to $383 million. I'm sure they feel like they lost, since they have to pay any amount at all. From the Anchorage Daily News, August 27th, 2008:

The Exxon case has been the source of soaring hopes and dashed dreams ever since an Anchorage jury in 1994 determined Exxon should pay $5 billion in punitive damages for the nearly 11 million-gallon oil spill.

Ever since the jury verdict, lawyers for the plaintiffs and Exxon have engaged in an marathon, ping-pong legal battle that went to the highest court in the land. Along the way, thousands of original plaintiffs have died waiting for payment.

Exxon argued all along that it paid billions of dollars to clean up the spill and compensate fishermen for their actual damages, and that billions in punitive damages weren't warranted.

Hey, Exxon already PAID money, man! Why are you trying to make them pay more, huh Karl Marx?? From the Anchorage Daily News, December 8th, 2008:

Exxon long held that it didn't owe punitive damages, arguing it already had spent $3.4 billion as a result of the spill including compensatory payments, cleanup payments, settlements and fines.

First, you cannot put a price on the destruction of the planet. You cannot put a price on ruined lives. You cannot put a price on direct responsibility for death. Those fucks should have been taken for all they had. Fuck this sham legal system. Who has been served here? Corporate capitalist interests, big fucking surprise.

Second, Exxon made $45.2 billion last year, destroying its own record for highest ever corporate profit, which it set way back in 2007, pulling in $40.6 billion.

The only reason this has happened is because we let them sleep safely.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beating down free speech in Philadelphia

Brutal silencing of protestors at a Philadelphia city council meeting this past Wednesday. It may seem boring at first, but the length shows the escalation from relative calm to official violence. It really turned quickly. Some pig tries to push the guy's "Throw Nutter in the Gutter" sign away, the guy holding it resists, gets choked and pushes the pig off of him. One of the cops or whatever they are really loses it around 3:19. So violent. Now these two guys are in jail with felony charges against them for assaulting the police.

The Uhuru site says:

PHILADELPHIA, PA — On Wednesday, March 19, 2009, police attacked members of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in the gallery of the City Council during the City Council session where Mayor Nutter was announcing his 2010 budget. International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement members were holding signs protesting Mayor Nutter’s budget, which cuts essential services for the African population while spending more than one billion dollars a year for police and prisons attacking the black community. Subsequent to the police attack, InPDUM international organizer Diop Olugbala, (aka Wali Rahman), and member Shabaka Mnombatha, (aka Franklin Moses), were brutally arrested and are being charged with aggravated assault on police!

As the meeting started, some of the many InPDUM supporters present were holding up signs saying "Unite Philadelphia through Economic and Social Justice", "Jail Killer Police", "Stop the War on the Black Community", and other demands upholding the rights of the impoverished black community.

The meeting began with a resolution to recognize the unbeaten Frankford Chargers youth football team. The Chargers were wearing black armbands in memory of their teammate, 14-year-old Sharif Lee Jones, who was murdered by Philadelphia police on August 24, 2008.

As the team left the chambers, civil affairs police gathered behind the InPDUM organizers and demanded they immediately sit down and stop protesting. A Civil Affairs officer put Diop Olugbala into a chokehold. When Diop and the entire audience protested this attack, the police threw Diop and Shabaka down and arrested them.

During the violent attack, the police threw at least two elderly people to the ground, and another member of InPDUM, an elderly African woman, was taken to the hospital with a broken hip.

These cops, they aren't out of control. They're doing their job. That's why they're here.

Yesterday's deaths involving police

Did you hear about the four police who were shot in Oakland yesterday? Probably. If not, you will. As we've been told, this is an extraordinary, unthinkable tragedy:

The gunman was also killed Saturday, capping a day of violence that the Oakland Police Department said was the worst in its history. Never before had three police officers died in the line of duty on the same day.

"It's in these moments that words are extraordinarily inadequate," said Mayor Ron Dellums at a somber news conference Saturday night...

Grieving officers at the police station hugged and consoled each other. People left four bouquets of white roses under a granite memorial wall inside the building lobby that lists 47 officers killed in the line of duty. The wall shows the last officer killed in Oakland was in January of 1999...

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger planned to fly to Oakland on Sunday from Washington, D.C., to meet with police and Mayor Dellums, the governor's office said.

Also, yesterday, a drunk cop in Missouri, driving on the wrong side of the road, plowed into a car carrying five people, killing four of them instantly. Maybe you won't hear about this one. Don't worry though, the driver is in fair condition. Only the passengers died.

That is a profound tragedy - four people dying for nothing, dying because someone had to drink and drive. No provocation, no involvement, just traveling somewhere when they met the fullest force of irresponsibility.

The police who were shot in Oakland will surely be lionized, as you can already see. They are heros, they are servants, they are protectors, they will be names on an eternal wall of honor.

Will the police officer who took four lives and ruined a fifth, not by any accident, be derided as a massive piece of shit? Not by anyone who has a public voice, that's for sure. Just as the police in Oakland console themselves, will the police in Sunset Hills viciously lambast Chrissy Miller for her utter lack of concern for the public she swore to protect? She committed one of the ultimate betrayals of her stated duties, but here we see the police chief defending her.

The people who died in that car, they will be ashes in a wall, caskets in a cemetery. We'll forget them tomorrow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Speaking of banks and finances, this will never get old.

Do you have a problem with welfare?

I do. Those lazy welfare cheats get too much of your paycheck, huh? Yeah. Sitting around all day, doing nothing, getting paid for it. They live better than you and me man, I tell ya. They are so irresponsible. They just expect people to hand them money. Even worse, they're right! They make bad decision after bad decision and get rewarded for it. It's so insulting. Count the numbers.

AIG - $170 billion (some older articles reference $85 billion, but that was just round one)
Wells Fargo - $25 billion
Bank of America - $45 billion
JP Morgan Chase - $25 billion
$310 billion, the bulk of it since October. Billions more to come, out of that $787 billion bailout fund. What do people get a year? Real people, people on government aid because they don't have money, because they can't afford food, because they can't find jobs, because there simply are no jobs for them to find? In 2006, the federal government paid out about $20 billion dollars in cash and non-cash benefits through its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program to around two million families. Families, not individuals. Wow, an average of ten thousand dollars a year. Per family. That's some get rich quick shit right there.

Here is where your money really went this year:

Vikram Pandi - Ceo of Citi. He looks happy.

Recent AIG CEO Robert Willumstad, before he was removed by the fed. Looks happy for 114.

John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, with his wife Ruth. They look so happy.

Here's Ken Lewis, head of Bank of America. Nice smile there, yeah?

James "Jamie" Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase. He smiles like Bill Clinton.

For fucking nothing. And no, they don't create jobs. They ship them overseas or mechanize them so they can rake in even more.

This is just what the financial sector got recently. Loads of other corporations, like oil, agribusiness, the auto industry, etc., get constant supplies of money but I don't have time to tend to that now. Later.

Still hoping for that change?

That's cool. Let me know when it comes, k?
A Harvard law professor wrote an opinion piece in today's New York Times on what separates the current and former presidential administrations' handling of their detainees, "enemy combatants," "terrorists," others confined in Guantanamo Bay and those who will find themselves in similar situations. Here are some highlights:

HAS the Obama administration changed the legal rules for detaining suspects in the war on terrorism, or is it continuing in the footsteps of the Bush administration?

We got a clue last week when the Justice Department filed an important document “refining” the government’s position in lawsuits over those held at Guantánamo Bay...Cautious and modest where George W. Bush was ambitious and brash, Mr. Obama still claims the authority necessary to sustain almost everything his predecessor did.

Perhaps what’s most important here is what Mr. Obama’s lawyers do not say. The Bush White House long insisted that the president had inherent power as commander in chief to do whatever it took to defend the country — including overriding American and international law. The Obama filing, however, is silent on the topic of inherent executive power. Indeed, the magic words “commander in chief” never even appear.

Technically, the Obama lawyers have not abandoned the argument for broad presidential power, just implied that such authority is unnecessary to get them what they want...

The upshot is that the Obama approach is potentially broad enough to continue detaining everyone whom the Bush administration put in Guantánamo in the first place. The legal theories are subtler, and the reliance on international law may prove more attractive to our allies...

The true test of whether Mr. Obama has improved on the Bush era lies in how his administration justifies its decisions on the 241 remaining Guantánamo detainees, whose cases will now be evaluated internally and reviewed by the courts. If the new legal arguments actually affect who goes free and who stays in custody, then they will amount to meaningful change. Without real-world effects, though, even the most elegant new legal arguments are nothing but words.

It seems as though president Obama will be taking the route of doing shitty things and not speaking of them. That way, he feels better about himself, more liberals/progressives/civil libertarians will support him and the American image abroad improves, at least for a while. I think that a lot of people really want to believe that this guy is a real departure from the past and have so far convinced themselves that since he speaks differently and chooses to verbally address and engage different agendas than the former president, than he must be. I haven't seen it.

Scott Weiland - Reel around the Fountain

This is Scott Weiland performing a Smiths cover live. It is legit one of the most depraved, soulless fucking things I have ever seen. Scott Weiland embodies every filthy shred of rock excess and pompous posturing - his relentless drug habit, involvement with a horrid "supergroup" (Velvet Revolver), bloated solo career (his new record is apparently a double album), money grubbing reunion tours, performing with cigarette in hand for aesthetic reasons and dreadful fashion sense. Cowboy hat. That's it. That's all you need to know about him. He wears a cowboy hat full-time.

Look at his band. Look at the people responsible for helping him to deliver this atrocity to the world. Stage left - Rick Rubin on guitar. And he can't stop soloing. Why? Then there's Scott. Yeah, wow, you shake your leg just like the Elvis impersonator on drums behind you. On bass, wasn't that guy in the Cult? I like how he remembers once in a while that he's supposed to look "into it" and tries to "groove," but most of the time he just stands there, bored as fuck that he's playing such a decidedly non-rocking tune. Finally, we get the guitar player who was probably recently fired from Jet and needed a new "gig." Sick bell bottoms, bro. He mostly looks lost and is trying to play keep-up with the rest of the band.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Touring Israel and Palestine

Not us. No, no, no. I am talking about a band called Hello Bastards. They are a band in England, but none of them is from England. The members are originally from three continents, but all live in London now. They recently toured Israel and Palestine, playing shows and participating in demonstrations against Israeli occupation.

One of the people who accompanied them wrote about it in a couple of myspace blogs. The first one is an account of arriving Israel, initial impressions, playing some shows, and going into Palestinian areas. The second entry is an intense telling of their experiences in Palestinian villages, including a rather extensive recollection of supporting Palestinians in protesting an Israeli wall about to be built through their land.

I don't know of any band who has done this before. I know bands have gone to Israel, but not like this. A lot of this shit is fucking crazy and I get worked up just reading it. That reality seems so far removed from what we live. So scary. But it's millions of people's lives. Every fucking day.