Empire and university

Back in the day, the Empire was run by the Oxbridge crowd.  The uniformity of opinion was stultifying and self-satisfied, and eventually came to look ridiculous when the whole affair was overtaken by history.

In the more recent past and present, the Empire is run by the Ivy League crowd.  Again, uniformity of opinion, self-satisfaction, inability to understand the world shifting.

(edit: OK, a little harsh.  But the parallels are interesting.)

This is the time where we blow everything up

I’ve figured it out.  Brexit, Trump, #MeToo, …  it’s the year (five years?) of Fuck It.  Nothing was working, everything was grinding to a halt.  Everyone was proposing changes around the edges for longstanding problems that nobody was really addressing.  Gridlock.  Sand in the gears, no progress.  People tried the polite protest, but no go, no improvement.  Women still earning 70c on the male dollar.  Climate not being addressed.  Huge economic inequality, some people making out like bandits and most people going backwards.  Not to mention the Endless War of occupation for ill-defined and discredited principles that we can’t extract ourselves from.

So everyone collectively said: to hell with it, we’re going to blow it all up.  Everyone understands there’s a cost: women publicly exposing their hurt, despite the cost to their career or respect from the world, because it’ll finally cost the perpetrators more.  Republicans knowing that Trump’s a dangerous ass, but hoping he’ll destroy politics-as-usual.

So they did. No idea what’ll happen next.

Let the man run

Republicans voted for Roy Moore in the primary. Let the man run. Meanwhile, if there’s criminal behavior, let it be investigated. If there’s unethical behavior, let it be discussed in public. In a democracy, this man is the voice of (some of the) people. Resorting to trickery to remove him from Republican consideration, or hide him away from the electoral process, is undemocratic.

He represents a tiny minority of citizens. He (and they) have a right to participate, and we-all have a right to point, condemn, and laugh at their behavior.

Two things

Two things:

Ian sent me this: https://gizmodo.com/us-homeland-security-will-start-collecting-social-media-1818777094. DHS says they’ve been doing this for a while, just thought they should get it clear on the record.

And, the new guy in the Senate: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/the-muted-gop-response-to-roy-moores-anti-muslim-prejudice/541461/. I assumed he’d be completely ineffective, a crazy hand-grenade that wouldn’t be able to do anything in the Senate except go off at a tangent.

Wrong again.


It’s my birthday today.  I wasn’t feeling particularly celebratory: I’m going to NZ in a couple of weeks to visit my parents and try to arrange a rest home for Dad, so I’m wading through pamphlets, websites and forms; Mum said he’s practically catatonic most of the time, and he’s become totally paranoid; I’ve got to put the gutters back up before the rains become constant; people are waiting on me for things at work; and this morning Shelley found out that her Mum has gone into hospice and stopped eating.  She’s been worrying all day and making plans to go to MT.

But we had tickets to see a musician tonight at DjangoFest, Eric Vanderbilt-Mathews, a guy that I’ve known since he was in middle school, one of the best musicians I know, so we roused ourselves and went out.  In the reception area, I kept running into people wishing me a happy birthday, people I wouldn’t have expected to know I had a birthday.  We took our seats, and in a few minutes one of the staff came around with an envelope to “Robert Marsanyi in seat C5″.  I opened it, and it was a birthday card with every scrap of space signed by people in the audience: friends, people I knew, people I didn’t know, masses of people.  I brightened up, and settled in to listen to a truly beautiful set.

Eric put together an unusual quartet: acoustic guitar, piano, bass, winds.  In a lot of situations, the piano and guitar would be fighting, but as the set unfolded it made sense.  The tunes were selected from Django, bop, originals.  The pianist, a monster player with a light touch, played a traditional bop role, interjecting with complex harmonies with the occasional stride, and he also doubled as a secondary melody instrument in the role of a trumpet or second saxophone.  The guitarist played traditional Django-style rhythm and soloed in the same style.  Monk with a rhythm guitar carrying the beat.  Django with bop rhythmic interjections.  A Dolphy tune over the Django guitar, with piano and saxophone both starting their soli from the same phrase.  The bass player held it all together, and Eric floated over the top.

So, in a good mood at the end of the set.  At which point, I hear Eric’s Dad call out over the audience applause “Happy Birthday, Robert!”