Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Listening Project - American Football - American Football

Part 6 - American Football - American Football (1998, Polyvinyl Record Company)

One of my concerns about doing this project is that there is a lot of music in my iTunes that I've never listened to.  That I, in fact, have no idea what it really is at all.  American Football was one of those bands, hanging out in my music library, a couple of songs had been nicked in shuffle-mode, but I had not a single clue what they sounded like.  But I kind of thought I didn't like them.

What's great about me, outside of my modesty, is I can admit a mistake (sometimes).  So I plug them in on my walk through the neighborhood to get to school last Wednesday (?!) and am greeted with the aural equivalent of the perfect fall day that was Wednesday morning.  Best. Fall. Album.  I love music that has a season, and American Football is fall in this really wonderful way.

Their sound is incredibly delicate and rich, like a really good creme brulee.  The way the melody weaves through guitar and vocals dapples like October sun through just-changed maple leaves.  This is a break-up album, but manages not to be maudlin or, worse, make me cry.  I liked it, in short, a helluva lot more than I expected.

Favorite Track - "I'll See You When We're Both Not So Emotional"
Least Favorite - "Stay Home" - it's a good song, but maybe not an 8 minute good song.

next up - Amnesiac - Radiohead (2001)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why a lack of school funding will bring down the American Empire

Hawaii schools to move to four-day week in state cost-cutting measure | World news | guardian.co.uk

So there are a few problems with this strategy, long term and short term. And several implications in terms of race, class and gender. But basically, we're shooting ourselves in the collective foot. I mean, I can foresee nothing but the END OF THE DAMN UNIVERSE if we continue down this path. Seriously, there'll be horsemen and zombies and WHO KNOWS WHAT ELSE.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Listening Project - Almost Killed Me - The Hold Steady

Part 5 - Almost Killed Me - The Hold Steady (2004, French Kiss Records)

The problem with having gone to the Pitchfork Music Festival 3 years in a row and not knowing jack about music is that I have a lot of false memories about who I saw, when.  I am positive that I saw the Hold Steady, but it might have been Oxford Collapse, or I might have meant to see them but saw someone else instead.

It's all very complicated.

At any rate, the Hold Steady is a good example of the paradox of my musical tastes.  For those of you listening along at home, you may have noticed that I really like unusual male voices. And Craig Finn has an unusual voice, a kind of strained talking-at-you-in-a-rhythm sound that, apparently, I really like.  And yet, cannot stand Tom Waits or Bob Dylan.  Weird, I know.  Almost Killed Me is not a very challenging listen.  It's a nice straight-forward album that doesn't try to be something it's not.  How nice.  It's the sort of album that makes for good listening when writing or doing other things.

Favorite Track - "Killer Parties"
Least Favorite - "Positive Jam" - dudes, I'm so over the "We Didn't Start the Fire" intros.

next up - American Football - American Football (1998).  Oooh, emo.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Listening Project - Alligator - The National

Part 4 - Alligator - The National (2005, Beggars UK/Ada)

I found The National.  Which is cool because as the time I was dating that guy.  You know, the guy that knows all of the most obscure music, has seen all the bands, really likes Guided By Voices.  It was really intimidating to be that girl, you know, the one that doesn't know jack about music, last went to R.E.M.'s Monster concert, really likes wizard rock.  But The National, I found 'em in this record shop in Holland, MI.  And they're awesome.

Alligator is a good listen.  They aren't a fast sound, but a heavy one.  Even their sad songs (of which there are at least two on this album that I can't listen to with out tearing up, at least, but I'm a sap) have a weight to them.  Live they are surprisingly angry, but this album is a little gentler.

Favorite Track - toss up between "Daughters of the So-Ho Riots" and "Karen"
Least Favorite - Seriously, this is exactly the sort of music I love.  There are no least favorites here.

next up - Almost Killed Me - The Hold Steady (2004)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teaching Woes

So I'm teaching two sections of medical ethics this semester. And it's pretty interesting, a lively debate where lives are actually potentially on the line makes for more rigorous thinking. And it's much more interesting now that we're done doing things like confidentiality, truth-telling and the like.

See, I thought, sweet, I'll do medical ethics while there's this health care debate raging around us and we'll make the class interesting and topical! And, because I cannot help but be a political philosopher we'll look at issues like race and gender and poverty and medicine. Awesome pants!

So we're starting in on that section, with a general topic of "is health a right?," and I did anticipate there being some disagreement, some healthy and full engagement with the topic. And in one section, I have that.

The other, however.

Monday, October 12, 2009

There is something wrong with these people.

Talk:Essay:Quantifying Openmindedness - Conservapedia

I've been meaning to write about Conservapedia for a while. There is something truly amazing about this site, what with the Conservative Bible Project and their list of the best conservative terms (going back to pre-restoration England if I recall correctly) as well as their concerns about the Homosexual Agenda corrupting pure terms for sexually deviant uses (oh the horrors of the closet!). Now, I'm not as must as a linguistic prescriptivist as I claim, but I do think that words mean something (damn it!) and this sort of helter skelter willingness to play fast and loose with facts and fairness astounds me, but that's my filthy liberal leanings showing through.

But in the link, on the talk page, Andrew Schlafly is vehemently and aggressively arguing against Newtonian geometry. That Newtonian gravity is not grounded in inverse squares. His comments are amazing. People try to explain what is happening and he returns to claiming that science is close-minded, and only anti-science is open-minded.

That is, claiming that you have a scientific (observable) model for the world that does not require an infinite amount of miracles makes you close-minded.

These people are literally opposed to facts. In a way that the corrupted vision of postmodernism everyone's always throwing at the left can't ever even hope to touch.

They hate facts.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Listening Project - Aldhils Arboretum - Of Montreal

Part 3 - Aldhils Arboretum - Of Montreal (2002, Kindercore/Polyvinyl)

My love of Of Montreal may have bounds, but I've yet to really find those bounds. There is something great about a band that will cheerily sing about old people in cemeteries being sad.

I've also been able to catch them live twice, and it is a helluva show. I love Of Montreal live the same way I love Goths. Kevin Barnes, the lead singer, needs a lot of attention and is willing to do what it takes to get that attention. Luckily for those of us who long for a musical and performative heir to David Bowie's glam rockiness - a lot of that attention needing is found through chipper, chirpy music, filled with melody and art and a show that involves inflatable suits, jello, and Kevin stripping down to his Tim-Curry-Is-Dr.-Frank-N-Furter lingerie. It makes me so happy. Definitely what was called for on a day like today.

Favorite Track - "Kid Without Claws"
Least Favorite - I have no memories of "A Question for Emily Foreman"

next up - One of my favorites! Alligator - National (2005).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dear Al Franken - I <3 you!

This is just a quick hit, as I'm furiously finishing my thesis this week, AND, ZOMG, Elizabeth Minnich is coming in for the Philosophy Department Conference and busy, busy, busy . . .

At any rate - every once in a while there is a news story that on the one hand seems to talk about the progress society is making toward not being horrifically misogynistic, which is nice what with all the talk about domestic violence being a pre-existing condition, women losing access to reproductive health care under the health care reform, pretty much everything attached to the health care debate really just emphasizes how much this society hates women, like a lot! However, I habitually over-think things and wind up instead feeling a little sad that this is even under debate.

(Trigger warning)

The Listening Project - Aladdin Sane - David Bowie

Part 2 - Aladdin Sane - David Bowie (1973, RCA)

I refuse to believe that there is a single person out there in the universe who doesn't want to make out with David Bowie, particularly in the early 70s, covered-in-glitter, deliciously crazy, David Bowie of Aladdin Sane.

I mean really, it's amazing.

The boys have been less than excited about this listening project ("But Hypatia'sGirl - why would you want to listen to music that sucks?") and were somewhat resistant to participating when I told them that I wanted to listen to the next in my series on the drive up to Ann Arbor. Until they realized it was Bowie. I'm really just in love with this whole album, it's fun, it's playful. It's everything that I love about glam rock and great guitars. And David Bowie's voice.

I have no real great story about this album, aside from my slavering love of David Bowie . . . and how great a glam rock theme party can be!

Favorite Track - "Panic in Detroit."
Least Favorite - I absolutely refuse to try and tease out which I like least.

Next up - Aldhils Arboretum - Of Montreal (2002)

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Listening Project - Adam and Eve - Catherine Wheel

My goal is to actually listen through my iTunes collection. I've decided to go through by album, just to keep the spice of variety in there.
Now, I'm not some crazy person with 40 days worth of music, just 9.9 days.
The first on the list - Adam and Eve from Catherine Wheel. (1998, EMI/Chrysalis)

What will always make me giggle about Catherine Wheel, is that I have this perfect memory of checking them out when I was in high school and finding them to be ZOMG so hard. Of course my musical listening in high school consisted of music for ballet, musical theater (whatever musical I was performing in at the time) and the lesbian musicians my dad listens to.

There is something incredibly satisfying to my ears about that mid-90s rock sound, and surely no fuller example can be the quasi-ballad rock of Catherine Wheel. Adam and Eve is a surprisingly good album to write to, the constancy of their sound doesn't require a helluva lot of attention, the songs fade pretty seamlessly into one another, so if it's wide variety of sound you're looking for, I would suggest you look somewhere else, but for a kind of satisfying reminder of the pop rock music of my late high school career, it's hard to go wrong with this.

Interestingly, to me, there is something about the voice of the lead singer, Rob Dickenson, reminds me of my current favorite band, The National.

Favorite track - "Satellite" - just a kind of solid song.
Least Favorite - "Phantom of the American Mother" - a little too ballady for my tastes.

Next up - Aladdin Sane - David Bowie, 1973 (oh goody!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The problem of language

I have a lot of interesting conversations. It's kind of a hobby of mine. As in, it kind of replaces breathing for me most days.

The conversation I had on Friday (just before seeing Capitalism: A love story) and the spirited debate I'm in right now seem related to me. And seem related to another item that's been in the news recently, that is actually the reason why I really for really wanted to start a blog, and did!, this time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

This is why we can't have nice things

Being in a philosophy graduate program is interesting, especially if you do political philosophy, and particularly if you are a political philosopher trying to teach medical ethics while there is a health care reform debate raging around in the background. You wind up having a lot of arguments in the offices. Which is nice, it distracts you from the fact that you are inhaling new forms of mold with every breath.

This current health care debate is a fascinating peek into what has happened to politics and political thinking in America. I wasn't able to put a finger on what the difference was until discussing nationalized health care with a fellow grad student on Wednesday.

What struck me in the conversation is the different understandings of the role, in fact of the ontology, of the government in the lives of the people. We have a peculiar sense, it seems, that the government is against the people, rather than the government being part of the people. Now, this is not necessarily a mistaken sense. One need only look at the difference between the desire of the people to have a public option (however that is understood) and the willingness of the politicians to utterly ignore that desire and instead vote it down to further the interests of their corporate sponsors.

A Shot Across the Bow: or, a friendly introduction

Beginnings are difficult.

It's this first post that's kept me from blogging until now. How to set the ton
e properly, to establish purpose and direction, to justify doing this and not writing my thesis as we speak . . .

In short - how do I introduce myself when I know that most of those who will read this will already know me?
Look how meta I am!

At any rate, I am a political philosopher, with a deep and abiding love for Hannah Arendt, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Giorgio Agamben. I'm finishing my thesis so that I can have my Master's, so that I can go on to a Ph.D. program so that I can get a job to pay off the student loans I need to get my Master's. Also my B.A.

This blog will focus on those aspect of pop culture, current events, the mere facts of living in a world with other people that leave me cross-eyed and ranting. Only now I won't have to just rant at the boy and the roommate, and I won't be limited to the few words Facebook allows you to add to links. Hooray!

Also, my kitties are adorable.
This is Appie - she's an adorable idiot.
This is Alex, he's too smart for his own good. Or, more likely our own good.