Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nineteen Years

Today is my 19th wedding anniversary. It seems almost impossible that it has been that long. There are people born on my wedding day who are now high-school graduates and who probably think of themselves as real, full-grown human beings. They can vote and drive. When i was married the Internet was the Arpanet and nobody had thought of HTML yet. Ronald Reagan was president. Ronald Reagan! That was two George Bushes ago!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dixie Chicks

There's a news story out about how the Dixie Chicks are seeing slow ticket sales in some markets for their latest tour, apparently due to fans who are still unhappy with their comments disparaging President Bush. Some folks think this is a triumph of "vote with your wallet" politics, though their album had fairly brisk sales in its release week. Personally, i think it's an indication that a bunch of country music fans are brainless goobers who have replaced rational thought with regional group-think.

Dixie Chicks have produced some of the best music in mainstream country over the last decade, and their new album (Taking The Long Way) is very, very good. It's not musically groundbreaking, and it's not overtly political in some Peet Seeger-esque folk music tradition. But all of the songs are very solid, and some are excellent. The track "Not Ready To Make Nice" has some of the angriest lyrics since whenever the last Rage Against the Machine album came out, but it's also a personal and sincere anger, not just a diatribe.

Country music has produced a number of jingoistic anthems in recent years (even before 9/11). I can dig the sentiment, but the music has consistently sucked (though i sort of like Toby Keith's "boot in the ass" song). The point is: country music fans can't have it both ways. Either this style of music is just a vehicle for propaganda and commercial jingles, or it's an earnest attempt to make something interesting or beautiful. As a fan, i think it's the latter; but if so then you can't dismiss the music simply because it doesn't match your ideology.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Al-Zarqawi was an evil bastard and i'm glad he's dead (now if only we could direct two 500-pound bombs on to Fred Phelps). However, i found it really strange that they had a large, framed photograph of al-Zarqawi at the press conference. I understand that it's important to present proof that al-Zarqawi is dead, but the photo was kind of creepy. Had they shown the image digitally or given it to the news organizations to show in an inset, it would have seemed less strange i think. The poster-size, framed photo they were using in the press conference was the modern day equivalent of mounting the enemy's head on the top of your keep wall. Which, i'm sure, was the intent. But still.

There's probably a certain psychological benefit in killing al-Zarqawi, both within Iraq and here in the states. But can anyone really believe that it makes a significant difference? Does anyone feel that the Iraqi insurgency was organized along the lines of a typical military establishment or nation-state, so that killing the leader disrupts the whole organism? Perhaps i've been reading too much Global Guerillas, but to think that this was like killing Hitler or even Saddam seems mistaken. John Robb on GG calls Zarqawi a "violence capitalist", an idea that i can understand. He wasn't like the CEO of a multinational corporation; he was like a venture capitalist who directed resources and ideas toward people who were already willing to undertake the work. Eliminating him will definitely leave a temporary void in the enterprise of terrorism, but you can't spur chaos where chaos is the method of choice.