"cancel culture" letter (cry me a river)


An open letter published by Harper’s magazine, and signed by 150 prominent writers and public figures, has focused attention on the apparent dangers of what has been termed a new "cancel culture."

The letter brings together an unlikely alliance of genuine leftists, such as Noam Chomsky and Matt Karp, centrists such as J K Rowling and Ian Buruma, and neoconservatives such as David Frum and Bari Weiss, all speaking out in defence of free speech.

But, Mondoweiss notes:

...the rightwingers and the centrists... are interested in free speech for themselves and those like them. They care about protecting free speech only in so far as it allows them to continue dominating the public space with their views -- something they were only too used to until a few years ago, before social media started to level the playing field a little.

Max Blumenthal believes that such centrists and rightwingers

[are] part of a growing establishment “hyper-liberal” cancel culture that sidelines vital issues including class struggle; promotes reactionary projects like Russiagate by co-opting righteous causes [e.g., Kamala Harris claiming Colin Kaepernick was a Russian tool --tm]; and supports the cancellation of foreign countries via aggressive U.S. foreign policy.

Blumenthal gives examples of the cancel culture letter's signatories' previous efforts to "cancel" the careers of critical voices such as Joseph Massad, Steven Salaita and Matt Taibbi. For various reasons, Mondoweiss thinks

[Noam] Chomsky might have been better advised not to have added his name [to the letter], however much he agrees with its vague, ostensibly pro-free speech sentiments.

That's all you need to know.

he came back as a public defender

Hey, Tom,
In the last election you helped Trump by writing mean things about Hillary Clinton between her nomination and election day. You say she was corrupt, whatever. This time around, the Democrats have put forward a really excellent candidate who I hope you will support. The health and happiness of our nation depends on it! Here is an example of a Joe Biden speech [hooktube] that I urge you to pay attention to, I think it's really eloquent:

"...that made me aware when I was in law school, proudly for Holloway, proudly for your Dad, first African American state senator in the state of Delaware. And everything about... And by the way, you know, I sit on the stand, and it get(s) hot, I got a lot of, I got hairy legs that turn... that turn... blond in the sun, and the kids used to come up and reach in the pool, and rub my leg down, so it was straight, and then watch the hair come back up again. And they looked at it. So I learned about roaches, I learned about kids jumping up on my lap. And I love kids jumping on my lap. And I'll tell you what, the man -- they're now all men -- the guys I worked with down here -- and they were all guys at the time. They're all good men. And most of them made an awful lot of themselves. And Earl Larkin had a rough time. Some of you knew Earl. And I came back as a public defender!"

Surely you can see why former President Obama and the Democratic leadership want this man to be President!
[emailer's name omitted]

riot opinion (from my RSS feed)

Who is actually rioting here? Police trying to sabotage the protests by making them seem more violent? There is some (disturbing) video evidence of that. "Young White Men"? Hollywood liberals urging "burn it down"? It would be helpful to have some numbers breaking down who is in the crowds (or supporting them). Nevertheless, everyone has gotta have an opinion so here we go:

Young White Men Abuse George Floyd Protests For Violence And Looting, Bernard from Moon of Alabama (right wing militia types)

The Minneapolis Putsch, C.J. Hopkins (Hollywood liberals and the "resistance" of disappointed Clintonites)

Coronavirus, Rioting, and the Privatization of Morality. Benjamin Studebaker (as long as we are fighting about whether it's seemly to riot we aren't challenging the system that has put pressurizing conditions in place)

The Federal Reserve's Coronavirus Crisis Actions, Explained (Part 7), Nathan Tankus (riots may actually be the only thing that makes Republicans and "austerity Democrats" in DC nervous -- see quotes from back in the 1970s).

Jerry Hunt update

jerry hunt performance

Added to other sites (blogroll): a page dedicated to the late Texas-based composer Jerry Hunt.
The page has been mentioned here a couple of times but it seems to have expanded over the years with more content, including some amazing interviews and a full, up to date discography/videography.
Bandcamp has an audio excerpt from a Hunt performance available for seven bucks, which includes a nice PDF brochure with photos (such as the above) and explanations.
I think about Hunt frequently, after having seen him perform three times in the early '90s. The Hunt website gives some helpful background on his methods, which I was far from understanding at the time, and am still not completely clear about, if anyone is. His stage persona sticks in the mind: an unlikely, conservatively-but-carelessly-dressed quasi-shaman moving erratically about the stage, picking up an array of strange sculptural objects, shaking them, or pointing them meaningfully at the audience. Yet his real interest was in a flow of unpredictable musical events, with the physical gestures (and the objects in his hands) acting as focal points, or as he put it, seeds for audience attention. As for the unpredictability of his gestures, he says:

Every piece I've ever done has involved what I regard as a rational translation of something that's happening in the space (picked up through sensors) into a consistent rational schedule of changes. I don't do direct translation, which I think is vulgar after three minutes. It's fascinating to watch somebody go like this (wave arm) and hear a sound connected with it for a minute or two, but then it becomes compositionally appalling after a while. It's like watching etch-a-sketch, you know, it's wonderful for a few minutes and then it limits itself. It becomes so self limiting that no matter what you do in way of effects, it just gets increasingly self-defining until it just keeps getting tighter and tighter and after 30 minutes you're almost ready to scream, because you say, I got the idea. Oh hey, he did a new sound. I got the idea. Oh hey, he did a new sound. I got the idea ... (etc.) That's all you can think of at a certain point. So, I wanted to stay away from that.

As an antidote to this, Hunt developed systems, originally for tape cassettes and later digitally, for how certain sounds could be triggered at certain times (or not triggered -- accidents were built into the process) as he moved around the stage. In the interviews he goes into detail about how he used time codes on the tapes, and external randomization sources such as alchemical texts, to achieve this. In his formal writing about the pieces he relied on scientific-sounding jargon to mystify the proceedings, but in the interviews he is much clearer, and very entertaining with his Texan gift for gab.

some editing after publication