Bush never existed. I have to remind myself of this every once in a while.
Manufacturing jobs have been declining for decades, however. There is no evidence that a Romney presidency will change this trend.
It’s also interesting that there were no dramatic gains during Reagan, who is credited with loosening regulations and cutting taxes. Both Bush and Reagan saw steady drops in manufacturing. The only time there has been any stability in the manufacturing sector was during Clinton.
It is even more interesting, that Bush’s manufacturing decline after the collapse of the tech bubble saw neither gains nor a flattening of job numbers, but rather an uninterrupted drop.
I feel as this wasn’t an issue in the election of 2004. It’s debatable as to how much power a President has to determine the state of the economy but the idea that there haven’t been gains in jobs under Barack Obama is just outright fantasy.
Today, I’m sitting in on the Permanent Seminar on Histories of Film Theories symposium, a research dissemination event bringing film scholars working in the field of East Asian cinema.
While I don’t speak the same academic language as many of the presenters, it’s enjoyable to be here and see so many people working diligently on a subject as obscure as East Asian cinematic history. It is fascinating to sit and listen to discussions of Japanese colonial cinema, the philosophy of Maeda Ai, and Chinese literary giant Lu Xun’s “amateur” analysis of an obscure Japanese writer’s 1941 work on Democracy and cinema. Wow.
As always, I am struck as the paucity of discussions of modern cinematic and artistic history. I remember when I was an undergrad, studying German literature and cinema, being frustrated by the seeming reluctance of academics to work with current literatures and cinemas. While it is certainly safe to work in spaces where philosophies and criticisms are recorded, accepted and preciously interpreted, academic thought cannot progress by resting forever on the laurels of Foucault, Derrida and what academic libraries are willing to provide shelf space for. Admittedly, this impression is entirely based on the limited number of presentations I have seen to this point and likely not fair to those whose work I am not so familiar with, but this impression is what sticks.
Orignally, I had intended to go to graduate school in the humanities, specifically in Japanese film studies. Life, of course, got in the way and things turned out differently. I am most satisfied with the ways things turned out, but I am happy to have a background in the humanities. I often question to utility of segregating academics into the disciplines, the borders between which are often artificial and created for reasons other than academics. I find that we have much to offer one another, though little opportunity to interact. For someone as intellectually schizophrenic (if that can be considered a positive) as myself, I think that’s a shame.
Tonight, Ozu’s Tokyo no Yado, a Japanese silent, will be shown to live musical accompaniment and dialogue performed by a practicing benshi. Before talkies, silent films in Japan were narrated live. Often the narrators (benshi) were more popular than the movies themselves. Kataoka Ichirou is one of 15 practicing benshi in Japan and is visiting Ann Arbor for the next six months. I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly last night. Hopefully I will be able to interview him before he leaves.
And I’m still reeling. Tonight, I’ll be giving a haphazard lecture on the problem of rising food prices and the issue of agricultural commodity financialization for NWAEG (New World Agriculture and Ecology Group) here at the University of Michigan.
Mark was kind enough to interview me for the event, vastly overstating its relevance (my talk, the issue is very relevant).
Unfortunately, though, Mark is going to forego to the event to watch comedian and former Republican hopeful, Herman Cain.
You can find the interview here.
I was making dinner tonight and put my MP3 player on random. On comes a tune, and I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, this guitar player sounds great!” 10 minutes later, I realize that the person playing guitar is myself.
Erik Talley is a violinist and luthier from North Carolina. If you listen to the tunes, you will hear how good he is.
Adam Autry is one of the craziest drummers alive and used to play in the legendary Olneyville Sound System. Both Adam and Erik live in Providence, RI. Both are far better musicians than me.
Rounding out the group was Scot Nydegger of Sikhara/Radon Records fame. For some odd reason, we had him playing bass (he normally plays percussion).
We recorded this in either late 1999 or early 2000 at my warehouse space in Providence, “the Bulb Clubhouse” where we used to host live bands and spontaneous recording session. I probably hadn’t listened to this since the day we recorded it, but it still sounds great. The guitar player is less impressive to me, after realizing that he’s me, but it still makes some great cooking music. Enjoy.
You can download it here:
Single zip file of all mp3s and artwork
or just listen to it here:
Late Night Break In
A Jeweler’s Nightmare
I have been following the recent row between China and Japan over a small set of islands north of Taiwan. While most of the rhetoric publicly available from the Chinese side is pretty standard nationalistic nonsense (“Kill all Japanese!”), the following was an intriguing twist.
The sign reads:
No medical insurance, no social security, yet the Diaoyu Islands must be in your heart.
Even if the government does not take care of the elderly, we should recover the Diaoyu Islands.
No property rights, no human rights, but [our nation] contends for the sovereign rights of the Diaoyu Islands.
[We] can’t buy a home, can’t build a tomb, but we contest every inch of ground with the Japanese.
It made me think of similar nonsense at home, but clearly their situation is much worse. Senseless violence over territory and blind ideology is pretty useless if a country can’t even take care of its own people.
Last night, I received the graphic to the left from a conservative friend of mine. It took me while to decide whether it was worth blogging about. After waking up this morning and finding that I was STILL thinking about, I caved.
Right wingers seem to spread these graphics around like mad. In my experience, left wingers send out simplified graphics, too, but the subject matter is somewhat more diverse (Monsanto is a common theme, however).
Originally, I had written a point by point criticism of this one graphic, but the post got so long as to be unreadable. That’s the problem with trying to respond to these type of messages: your day quickly disappears. It’s like trying to stop flooding in New Orleans by throwing handfuls of sand at the levy.
Political discourse in the United States has reached a tipping point of reductionism. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the current set of Republican political campaigns. Strategies center on simplifying issues, and where reductionism and simplification don’t work, candidates will just make up their own reality. Voters have shown time and again that facts do not matter. Vilification of perceived enemies, in this case college students, teachers, academics and liberals is, sadly, de rigueur.
Sadly, America no longer embraces that which it should be the most proud of, namely, our Universities. It is our very best offering to the world, unmatched in scale by any country on the entire planet. Yes, excellent universities exist outside the US, but there is no country which can match the sheer number of excellent schools that the United States has.
At one time, going to college was a badge of honor, particularly for the working class and the poor. I fear that this current trend of anti-intellectualism will continue, and what was once a pathway for the otherwise marginalized to become engaged citizens (of any political bent), will become a badge of suspicion.
If we are to be derided as “Marxists” let it be. I’ve read Marx. I doubt that the creator of this graphic, nor the individuals spreading it have taken the time.