2004-11-16

Tweedy Interview

Wired interviews Wilco band-leader Jeff Tweedy.

It may help that I'm a Wilco fan, but I think Tweedy's attitude towards their audience and file-sharing could hardly be healthier. The rest of the music industry would do well to follow his example. Here's the best bit:
Treating your audience like thieves is absurd. Anyone who chooses to listen to our music becomes a collaborator.

People who look at music as commerce don't understand that. They are talking about pieces of plastic they want to sell, packages of intellectual property.

I'm not interested in selling pieces of plastic.

2004-11-11

Phil. Prof. Quote

"Stipulation can do a lot for you."
—Galen Strawson, 9 Nov. 2004

Indeed.

2004-11-10

America... the purple?!?



Purple always was one of my favorite colors!

2004-11-07

I have wounds. . .

. . . is this what it feels like to be sexy?

Or maybe this is just what it's like to experience god's sense of humor first hand: I'm supposed to go on a date tonight!

Short version: Another guy on a bike turned in front of me — didn't see me, he said — I couldn't avoid clipping his rear wheel, at which point my face had a brief encounter with the pavement. I didn't hit my head, I still have all my teeth and — thank god! — my bike wasn't damaged. Hey, my scrapes heal for free, but the bike doesn't!

2004-11-05

Cultural division in America

The FT quotes Mark Mellman, Kerry's chief pollster:
A class-based politics, which was the feature of our politics since the New Deal, has been almost completely replaced with a culture-based politics. We have a country that is very importantly divided on the basis of culture.
Reading this, it occurred to me that part of why the current political environment is so much more polarized may be because, unlike class, cultural division is not something people aspire to transcend: People do aspire to raise themselves in the class hierarchy and believe they will succeed in doing so, and support the desire of others to do the same, thereby leaving their old class position behind; this is wholly unlike cultural commitments, where people wish to convert, rather than become, those on the other side. This makes for a divide more entrenched, as people see no purpose in trying to adopt the perspective of their opponents (those they wish to become, or those they wish should join them): instead the goal is to show them that they are wrong. At this rate, the american political environment will resemble the secular-religious divide in Israel before long.

2004-11-03

Where has the political center gone?

Regardless of the election results, I have to wonder where the political center has gone in America. Since 1992 the Democrats have moved to the center, an approach which brought electoral success (and has brought electoral success elsewhere as well). Kerry as well has tried to position himself towards the center and, arguably, he would be considered center-right in most countries around the world. Bush, on the other hand, has made little effort to portray himself as a centrist; he has adhered to the record of his administration which has, by all accounts, been well to the right.

It can be hard to define the nature of political polarization under the Bush administration. It strikes me, though, that one way to characterize the nature of Bush's polarizing effect on the political climate might be that he has succeeded in opening at least as great a gap between the center and the right as used to exist between the right and the left, effectively eliminating the electoral advantage of the center, namely the ability of the center to draw support from both the left and the right. Not terribly insightful, I know, but it is a bit more helpful that describing polarization as an increase in the volume level of political discourse.

The real question is how was a strategy of polarization pursued and why did it succeed? I have to wonder if polarization would have been possible without the contentious outcome of the 2000 election to fix the divisions of that election across the political spectrum, creating the divisive basis which Bush could exploit to get polarization to take; without that divisive basis, I doubt the polarizing project could have got a toehold: those on the center-right would have moved to the center in the face of such an attempt. Ironically on this suggestion, even as the 2000 result didn't provide a mandate for Bush's rightward move, it provided the ground on which Bush could polarize the political climate to pursue a rightward move without jeopardizing his reelection chances. Or so's my intuition.

2004-11-02

Serene confidence

My prediction: Kerry's got it locked-up. Things may be close enough that absentee and provisional ballots need to be counted before a final result can be released, and that might allow some litigation to get started, but I'm confident that litigation will be made irrelevant once the final tallies are shown to be beyond "the margin of litigation" . . . or so I predict at any rate.

See the exit poll numbers and analysis from Slate, as well as comments (with numbers) from the Lockhart of the Kerry campaign. Also have a look at www.electoral-vote.com and election.princeton.edu for more reasons to think Kerry's got it.

As usual the major networks are filling airtime will what are now largely irrelevant preliminary returns. If there was ever a time to dump the news coverage in favor of a rerun marathon, this is it. Law & Order of Buffy anyone?


UPDATE: Looks like I may have to break out the backup plan: righteous indignation, welcome back my old friend.