Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dominant 7th Chords

Scales: whole tone off the tonic, diminished off the flat 2nd, minor/melodic off the 2nd (the relative minor in the I chord), minor/melodic off the 6th. Twist that to get some blues. The basic scale and its arpeggiated structures. And its passing tones of course which can pivot to other keys depending on melody or dramatic tension.

What's Going On Within the Egyptian Military ?

Just saw on twitter:

Unconfirmed reports: high ranking Mutiny in the Army by a senior general due to refusal to shoot protestors. Unverified as of yet.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Obama in 2009: Mubarak Not Authoritarian

Justin Webb (journalist): Do you regard President Mubarak as an authoritarian ruler?

President Obama: No, I tend not to use labels for folks. I haven't met him. I've spoken to him on the phone. He has been a stalwart ally in many respects, to the United States. He has sustained peace with Israel, which is a very difficult thing to do in that region. But he has never resorted to, you know, unnecessary demagoging of the issue, and has tried to maintain that relationship. So I think he has been a force for stability. And good in the region. Obviously, there have been criticisms of the manner in which politics operates in Egypt. And, as I said before, the United States' job is not to lecture, but to encourage, to lift up what we consider to be the values that ultimately will work - not just for our country, but for the aspirations of a lot of people.(1)

1BBC interview regarding Cairo speech

Friday, January 28, 2011

Good News From Tunisia

Facing mounting public pressure and the demands of a powerful labor union, Tunisia's interim government named 12 new ministers to the Cabinet late Thursday and removed those with ties to ousted authoritarian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.(1)

This shows control of the streets is absolutely decisive, as is working class power, when organized.

1'Tunisia names 12 new ministers to Cabinet' - LA Times

Thursday, January 27, 2011

People Power Revolution

The mass protests in the Egypt now, following Tunisia, remind me somewhat of the People Power movement in the Philippines which culminated in the overrun of the Malacanang in 1986.

In that case, business elites who had been shut out of power during the Marcos period were able to stage a counter-revolution, leaving the country miserably poor to this day. This is mostly because the Communist party - as the most visible representative of the Left - boycotted elections in 1986 which would have seen them probably gain a plurality of the vote. Keep in mind, the party's military wing controlled most of the countryside and had a strong presence in the slums of the major cities at that time. What exists now is less than a shadow. The US backed Marcos nearly until the end just as they are backing Mubarak now. The big question is whether factions of the business elite will be able to stage a counter-revolution when Mubarak steps down - as I believe he will have to. Or if the system is toppled and something much more humane put in its place.

Biden: Mubarak Not A Dictator

On the PBS News Hour, today:

“Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

1'Joe Biden says Egypt's Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn't step down...'

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Suez 1.26

Protesters Control the Streets

Police Headquarters Burns

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tear Gas, Made in America, for Egyptian Protesters

Violence Against Humans = Violence Against Property ?

The Times does it with style, writing about Egypt:

But early Wednesday morning, firing rubber bullets, tear gas and concussion grenades, the police finally drove groups of demonstrators from the square, as the sit-in was transformed into a spreading battle involving thousands of people and little restraint. Plainclothes officers beat several demonstrators, and protesters flipped over a police car and set it on fire.

The notion that violence against humans is equivalent to burning up a car is part of the context of our society. Property of the wealthy and their hired thugs (police) is sacrosanct in advanced capitalist countries.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Striking Detroit Symphony Musicians in Concert

This series has been historic. I know of nothing quite like it, and to sustain it through a series of concerts over many months is impressive. Glad to see maestro Kiesler participated; I played under his baton many years ago. There has been strong support from the larger academic musical community, with perhaps the realization that if the Detroit Symphony falls, or other major professional cultural institutions, then eventually the fine arts departments in Michigan (and everywhere) will be whittled to the bone as well. We are too close to barbarism.

Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), on strike since October 4, performed at another sold-out support concert Saturday in the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Woods. The concert featured DSO Concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert performing two Beethoven romances for violin, No. 1 in G Major and No. 2 in F major. It concluded with Camille Saint-SaĆ«ns’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor, the “Organ Symphony.”

Kenneth Kiesler, director of orchestras at the University of Michigan, conducted. The concert was broadcast live from Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church via a webcast to audiences across the US and globally.
DSO Musicians have announced five support concerts for February. The first will take place February 5 at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church in Bloomfield Hills. Another concert is set for February 8 in Clinton Township featuring the L’Anse Creuse High School Choir. A February 16 concert in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham will feature Groves High School student Margaret Starr as violin soloist. A February 20 concert in Bloomfield Hills will feature renowned pianist James Tocco. On February 26 the DSO ensembles Cut Time Players and Cut Time Symphonia will perform in Royal Oak.(1)

1'DSO support concert broadcast live via webcast' - WSWS
2'Musicans Website'

Friday, January 21, 2011

They Lie, They Steal

The whisper campaign to go the route of State bankruptcy seems to be gathering pace. Which will be a way for states to abrogate contracts with their own workforce 'legally', most especially the looted pensions. The super-wealthy that run the United States can't afford more taxes. Nevermind the promises, the contracts. If it serves their needs, the ruling class will toss aside that as so much garbage. As should we, in our relations with them. (Or is that where the police come in ?)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

English Language Tunisian Blog

Most descriptive English language blog on Tunisia I've found so far. Written by an American.

'Tunisian Scenario'

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Great Day, But It's Not Over

It's a great day anytime one of the many cowardly thugs running this planet (and they are mostly cowards) shows his true colors and flees. They can't answer to the masses for their crimes.

But, it's not over. Reports on Twitter have insinuated that the prisons have been emptied and the security services are running wild tonight. This may be an unorganized fit of rage or an excuse to 'establish order' at a later time.

From the Financial Times:

Many Tunisians on Saturday said they suspected that gangs affiliated with Ben Ali were bent on sowing chaos and destabilising the transition to a new order.

Angry Arab concurs about the security services:

It seems from live coverage that the secret militias of Bin Ali, along the lines of Fida'yyi Saddam, are terrorizing the population at night. The military-intelligence apparatus--with full US and French support--would not give up easily on power.

One scene of the looting, the van reads "Police".

1'Celebrations in Arab World After Tunisia Government Toppled' - National Journal
2Dima Khatib, Al Jazeera Latin American Correspondent
3Sidibouzid Twitter
4'English Language Blog from Tunisia'

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do We Hate Teachers or Love Them ?

I suppose the correct answer is that 'we' love good teachers and want 'accountability' for bad teachers.

The whole mainstream public debate is rather quixotic; on one hand teachers are overpaid and have too generous pensions (even if they don't pay into or receive Social Security) which are bankrupting the nation, and on the other, we need to improve our education system because we have mediocre teachers

How to get better teachers then, if that is the socially agreed upon supposition ? (Not mine.) By offering lower wages ? While it's true money isn't everything or a sole motivator (it's not all about Benjamins) one needs to have fixed teeth and a car than is newer than ten years old. And absent social respect and given constant social attack, money becomes even more important.

And it's true that a significant strategy of the ruling class is to offshore education costs to the developing world and then steal the best and brightest from, for instance, India and China. But this doesn't seem like a good long term solution, people generally want to stay close to home and many developing countries have rapidly improving living standards.

And recent OECD testing reveals that pay is a top factor in getting quality teachers, and that public schools do as well as private when factoring out other variables.

Even on the accepted construct of supply and demand, one can go to the national job search websites and find many hundreds of mid year openings for math and science teachers. Overpaid doesn't seem to quite fit.

It adds up to some deep ideological flaws in the US ruling class; an ideological bent that may have worked on its own inscrutable terms when there was a middle class to be strip mined - like in 1975, but not now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's All About the Benjamins

An extraordinary supposition underlying this statement by Krugman:

The first thing one should say is that our system does reward hard work, up to a point. Other things equal, those who put more in will earn more.

Therefore: wealth is the ultimate arbiter of who is right and moral in our society. Our only current weakness is that there is not some measure of 'equality of opportunity' in determining that rightness.


There is something deeply disfunctional in this world view. It drains the concept of inspiration from all human activity.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So For Trenchant Class Analysis (in the Mainstream Press), One Has to Turn to A Tory Rag ?

Apparently so.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in : Deepening crisis traps America's have-nots

The US is drifting from a financial crisis to a deeper and more insidious social crisis. Self-congratulation by the US authorities that they have this time avoided a repeat of the 1930s is premature.
Extreme inequalities are toxic for societies, but there is also a body of scholarship suggesting that they cause depressions as well by upsetting the economic balance. They create a bias towards asset bubbles and overinvestment, while holding down consumption, until the system becomes top-heavy and tips over, as happened in the 1930s.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Center of US Political Power is Shifting

In the 1960 U.S. presidential election, New York state had 45 electoral votes. In the 2012 election, it will have 29, or fewer than at any time since 1824, and the fewest in terms of proportion ever.

Since the 1960 election, states which are now categorized as 'open shop' states (i.e. right-to-work) have gained a net of 34 electoral votes. Open shop states are usually Republican dominated, they have to be to get that sort of legislation passed.

During that same time, the traditionally unionized and industrial states of of the upper Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio - have lost 32 electoral votes.

Interestingly, the gains in open-shop states are concentrated in Texas, Florida and Arizona, and mostly because of Hispanic immigration, who have not yet translated population into electoral muscle at the state level.

1U.S. Electoral Map widget

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hiding in the Basement Waiting for the End of the Dollar

According to the BIS, the US dollar made up 84.9 % of currency turnover in 2010, down from 89.9 % in 2001. The yen also declined.

The Australian dollar, acting as the international currency best representing growth in Asia, went from 4.3 % to 7.6 %. The renminbi is at 1%.(1)

Given its internal poverty and disparate geography, the centralized control of currency value is a matter of survival for China from the perspective of the CCP. A currency float and a liberalized financial sector would probably break up the Chinese banking system and with it the power of the party.

As Kenneth Rogoff writes: "Clearly capital flows can be used as an excuse, as they are in China and India, for financial repression – to protect domestic financial services sectors from competition and retard their development".(2)

(i.e. let Goldman Sachs be free.)

How much longer effective capital controls can last given China's integration into the trade of goods and raw materials is an open question. Internal and external political pressures would seem to building in the other direction.

1'Triennial Central Bank Survey' - BIS
2'Tensions Rise in Currency Wars' - Financial Times
Note: Currency turnover percentages add up to 200.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Elected Union "Bosses"

How to shape impressions (unions=corrupt and bad) by manipulating and standing meaning (elections=democracy and good) on its head.

But it is good the workers have the common sense to elect someone who is as despised by sports ownership as Fehr is. He must be doing something right.

1'Donald Fehr takes over as NHLPA boss' - ESPN

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wrongly Convicted Man to Get "Generous" Benefits

Says Reuters:

Under Texas compensation laws for the wrongly imprisoned, Cornelius Dupree is eligible for $80,000 for each year he was behind bars, plus a lifetime annuity. He could receive $2.4 million in a lump sum that is not subject to federal income tax.

The compensation law, the nation's most generous, was passed in 2009 by the Texas Legislature after dozens of wrongly convicted men were released from prison. Texas has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates through DNA since 2001 — more than any other state.

Wow, what a lucky guy to get such generous benefits. But how can we afford it as a nation, with all these innocent prisoners ? If there continue to be so many, we will have to make cuts.

We all need to tighten the belt and make sacrifices with the deficit being what it is.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Nuttiness of America in Two Headlines



Or is this a case of saying one thing , but doing (and meaning) another ? What else is American society based on but consumption ?

Pollution In China

A series by photographer Lu Guang

This one could be a scene straight from Victorian England.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Homeless Man Freezes to Death

A friend's uncle. 3 years ago he was married with two kids, a job and a house in a middle class area of the Peninsula south of SF. It was well known in the family he had a history of mental instability, but medication had softened the problems. Over the course of three years his wife died of disease, he lost his job, his house was foreclosed, his kids moved in with an aunt, he lost his ability pay for medication. Last week they found his body in the backseat of his car, dead from cardiac arrest, after the recent cold snap.