Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

A couple interesting items

From The Onion AV Club's best albums of 2003 article I thought these two items were interesting.

First, Josh Modell on Eliott Smith's untimely death:

An alarming amount of chatter immediately following Elliott Smith's October suicide had the same strangely arrogant message: "Didn't you see it coming?" The answer: "Of course not." Smith's music connected not only because it was often immaculately despairing, but because of the between-the-lines message in its delivery. Songs of exceptional, harrowing beauty were born from his depression, but they served as therapy both for their writer and for his audience. Why not think that the music he created right up to the end—a double album he was finishing will likely come out in 2004—would continue to sustain him? Here's hoping that Smith will be remembered more for his stunning songs than for the horrific way he died.

And Stephen Thompson on the sad state of country music:

The debate over war in the Middle East yielded abysmal songs on both sides of the issue's ideological divide, but no single track was worse than Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?", which vaulted the opportunistic country-music obscurity from roadhouses to arenas virtually overnight. The song doesn't explicitly state that Saddam Hussein attempted to acquire uranium from Niger, but it's packed with distortions: It creates the false choice between going to war and "backing down," and it crafts arguments against positions no one has taken. "And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout bin Laden"—who ever said that? In 2003, mainstream country music's widespread rejection and blackballing of the Dixie Chicks illustrated one more factor contributing to the genre's creative bankruptcy: Where the greats once challenged authority, today's self-proclaimed "outlaws" (Toby Keith, et al) attack dissenters while defending the establishment with a maniacal, censorious fervor.

In the meanwhile, blogging will continue to be slow for some time. I'll be going to the Grand Canyon this weekend and spending the night at Phantom Ranch, so that should be enjoyable. Anyway, happy whatever. As a non-practicing Jew, this just becomes the season of random gift giving whenever it's damn convenient.

Take that Kringle!

Check out this XQUZYPHYR and Overboard Christmas toon.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Seven Semesters Down, One to Go

Holy living fuck.

So as I'm going through the process of procrastination/packing (I always turn this into an all-nighter so I can be as lazy as possible) I realize my undergraduate career is almost over. 7 semesters goes by so very, very fast.

Also we approach the one year anniversary of Raznor's Rants. An anniversary steeped in some level of semi-prestige, mostly thanks to my comments and my being linked to at Alas, A Blog. But then there are others who have linked to me, even if I can count them on one hand, and I so do thank.

Nathan Newman has a link to me when his blogroll is up, which hasn't been in sometime, but thanks anyway. Wonderfully talented Oregon Cartoonist Kevin Moore has a link to me. He hasn't been updating his blog as much of late, but if you're unfamiliar with him, definitely check out his comics page. Oh, and don't forget Sheldon. (If he gets around to updating it again. Kevin, I hope you're reading this and get on the ball) Although I haven't read that much of Blunted on Reality there is a link to me at that page that's been up a long time. And more recently, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Echidne of the Snakes has linked to me which is great since, I figure, once the Goddess of the Snakes is on my side, nothing can stop me. Aside from Zeus. Damn you Zeus!

Sure it's not much, but it raises my blog to some amount of respectability, and that's great. Originally, the main purpose of this blog was for convenience, so that if I came across an article or something else online that is of great importance, I wouldn't have to e-mail it to everyone I know who might care about it, I could just post it here, and then those I know, my parents, my brother and a few friends, could read it here as opposed to waiting for it in their e-mails. But now I have greater responsibilty than that. I have a readership, if small, and that's great.

I've received an e-mail recently from Lauren of Feministe asking me when I'd add a comments section, and that got me thinking that maybe I should. I've avoided a comments section in the past out of fear of becoming depressed by a dearth of comments, without the comments section I could at least pretend that I have a huge readership that just never e-mailed me, but that illusion could be wiped out by the harsh realities of a comments section. But now I feel my blog has increased in respectability to the extent that a comments section should be quite interesting, so look for that in the near future, perhaps.

Anyway, I'll be going home for 5 weeks starting tomorrow. This means no classes, so quite possibly more time to be blogging. But it'll also mean no more fast internet connection, which could mean less blogging. I guess we'll see how things play out. But if blogging is in short supply these next few weeks, any of those blogs linked to above should provide some interest for all you.

And now, to finish packing. Catch you on the flip side.

Postscript: And speaking of my brother, don't forget to check out Wild Things 2 which he co-wrote. (my brother being Ross Helford, not Andy Hurst) Apparently it turned out pretty good, which is fortunate since Marines was such a travesty.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Rennovations ahead?

So I'm done with finals and such, and only 4 and a half hours until I'm totally watching Return of the King. I'm thinking I may be rennovating this blog in the near future, so that I can add a blogroll, maybe comments and so long. So that's something to look forward to for all you Raznor fans. But then I was going to do something like this over the summer, and then didn't. Oh well, so we'll see.

Monday, December 15, 2003

New Get Your War On


Update: Here's my favorite of the new ones:

Kind of cool

The Strong Bad E-mail this week is kind of disturbing, and very funny.

Aaron McGruder stole my idea!

The latest Boondocks:

The thing is, this is what I was saying since the election of the Gropenfuhrer. Really. Ask any of my friends. It's totally true!

Of course McGruder did put it in more awesome, comic form.

Passing thought on Saddam as I take a break from writing a history term paper

You know what? I said earlier I have no sympathy for Saddam whatsoever. Fuck Saddam. Fuck him right in the ear. If they decided to bring Saddam in front of me, I'd have no problem giving him a huge gut punch. I hope he rots.

But you know what? At this point, the capture of Saddam is incidental to our problems in Iraq. He wasn't in charge nor central to the organized resistance, so we won't see any less of guerillas taking more and more controle of urban areas. If I'm wrong, then great. But the guerilla war is going to just get worse and worse as more people join the insugents and they become more and more organized.

To me, this all just illustrates the problem with the neo-conservatives' view of moral ends justifying the means. In a vacuum, since Saddam is bad, a world without Saddam is better than a world with Saddam. But we don't live in a vacuum. And in the real world deposing of Saddam just leaves instability and chaos. We'd be better off now with Saddam in power and all things normal than caught in a seemingly endless guerilla war with Saddam behind bars. If you can't get the job done right, don't do it.

Sometime in the near future I'll post on what I would do if I was suddenly put in charge of Iraq.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Who's a Hypocrite?

You know, it's been a while since I read Margaret Cho's blog, but this post is well worth the read.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Mmmmmmmmm, coffee

Curmudgeonly Clerk has a good post about the infamous McDonald's coffee suit. It's well worth the read.

Interesting development

Atrios links to this article, that I found quite interesting:

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - A county judge approved a divorce for a lesbian couple who obtained a civil union in Vermont, saying he didn't realize he was signing a settlement for a same-sex couple, but ultimately decided to let his decision stand.

Iowa is one of 37 states whose law bans same-sex marriage.

It's kind of funny, but it's as significant that a judge allows a same-sex couple a divorce as it would be to allow a same-sex couple to marry. To grant a divorce is to say that the marriage was legitimate and is now over.

I'd be interested to see if this goes anywhere.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

New cartoon by August

It's quite funny. Go check it out.


Echidne of the Snakes posted this quotation by Eleanor Roosevelt:

Long ago, there was a noble word, liberal, which derives from the word free. Now, a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word....We must cherish and honor the word free or it will cease to apply to us.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

A Cold Draft

Ted Rall lets us know why men under the age of 26 shouldn't be voting for Bush.

Frankly this type of stuff scares the hell out of me.

Yes Ruben Bolling is Great

New Get Your War Ons

Right here!

Monday, December 08, 2003

What a Wolfowitz resignation means for Reed

Via Atrios there's this little tidbit:

Word is that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz may bow out as soon as February. Replacement requirements: a strong manager, one who can repair relations with the military and could take over for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Several names have bubbled up, including Deputy White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, a former Pentagon assistant, and NASA boss Sean O'Keefe, a former secretary of the Navy.

I find this immensely interesting as a Reedie. Here's why:

Wolfowitz's son (I think it's his son) went to Reed and really enjoyed it. So Wolfowitz has been wanting to speak here, but has been too busy what with the war in Iraq and all. If this is accurate, and Wolfowitz resigns in February, then he could be coming on campus sometime in March or April.

At the risk of understatement, that should be quite interesting.

This economics lesson brought to you by Ted Rall

Friday, December 05, 2003

Bad sign

As you can see.

This image brought to you by the Bush background generator. Go on, have fun.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

How we overlook things

In all the hubbub arguing about the Sharon cartoon, I forgot to post a link to Ampersand's latest, most excellent cartoon.

Schilling's Farewell to the Valley

As a D-backs fan, I found this very sweet. It's full of typos, but I kind of like that. It shows he was just writing straight from his heart on this.

I'll miss seeing him in an Arizona uniform, but I much prefer seeing him in a Boston uniform than on the Yankees. Red Sox should be a pretty interesting team next year.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

More on Sharon, anti-semitism and Saturn

Ampersand has posted as response to my last post in which he says this:

I don't follow Raznor's argument here; because the image is based on Goya, he is saying, it can't also be anti-Semitic. Why not? It's as if Raznor believes that it is impossible for a work of art to reference two things at once; the cartoon draws from Goya, therefore (Raznor concludes) it cannot also draw on the anti-Semitic blood libel myth.

My guess is that Raznor is confusing the cartoonist's intent with the cartoon itself; if the former isn't anti-Semitic, then the latter must not be anti-Semitic either. But I don't think this is always how things work.

This is the problem with posting late at night, my thoughts aren't fully explained. Whereas I wrote that noting the original Goya painting made the cartoon seem not anti-Semitic, I didn't really explain why. So I will here.

I started out with my gut-instinct with this. As a Jew, I wasn't offended by the comic, so I conjectured that it wasn't anti-semitic. But if I was to go beyond conjecture to argument, my whole point is that Sharon's religion/ethnicity here is incidental, so I have to concede my being a non-offended Jew is similarly incidental.

Also I'm refraining from discussing the quality of the piece. I like it, others don't, but lot's of stuff win awards that don't deserve it - Dontrelle Willis won Rookie of the Year over Brandon Webb, Roberto Benigni won Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film for Life is Beautiful (aka a bar bet that paid off big time), and Christina Aguillera (Britney clone #1A) won a Grammy for best new artist. I'm just saying there's always a level of abitrariness to who wins an award, if "arbitrariness" is indeed a word. Besides, people criticizing this cartoon aren't too concerned with the quality, rather the content. So I'm going to do a simple analysis of content.

Also, as Amp goes on about author's intent, I don't think anyone is arguing that Dave Brown is himself anti-semitic, only the cartoon is. So I'm going to take that as a given, and argue based on the image alone.

First, consider the mythology about Saturn (in Greek, Kronos: I'm refering to Greek names here since I don't know all the corresponding Latin names). Uranus (the sky) has children with Gaea (the Earth), but is constantly afraid of his children destroying him, so when Gaea begets a child, Uranus eats them. When Kronos is born, Gaea wants revenge on Uranus and hides Kronos, and when Kronos is old enough he castrates Uranus, and kills him, freeing all his brothers and sisters. But then Kronos starts having children with Gaea (these are Titans, incest is no big deal for them) he is afraid of suffering the same fate as his father so he too eats his children. But because he is so concerned about suffering the same fate as his father, he seals his own fate as Zeus then rises up and destroys him. (mind you it's been since Freshman year since I read Hesiod's "Theogony", so I'm a bit rusty on this. No, not that Hesiod, dammit)

So the central theme of the cartoon is that Sharon is Saturn. He has suffered some injustice to be sure, as have all Israelis who have had to live with terrorism for far too long. But once he has his power, he no longer concerns himself with what injustices exist, but rather on maintaining that power at any cost, and the result is a further devastated Palestinian people and the further suffering of the Israeli public that elected him. This is the central theme of the cartoon, the greedy Sharon in the center maliciously devouring a person as pro-Likud propaganda spouts around him.

As for the anti-semitic interpretation, you have the fact that the cartoon seems to show Sharon eating a Palestinian baby, hence bringing up the too-old, too-common blood libel myth that has been used as justification to persecute Jewish people for centuries. Notice I said "seems to" and I say that because Sharon isn't eating a baby. It doesn't look like a baby. The arm is too thin, the torso is too wide, and those two details override the stumpy legs. The only real indication that it's a baby is the unfortunately placed word bubble of Sharon saying "What's wrong . . . you never seen a politician kissing babies before?" The only reason I can see for the cartoonist adding this line is because of the prejudice that cartoons have to be funny, as opposed to just haunting. The intended joke, I think, is that Sharon is simply equating eating his own children to ensure his continued power with cliched and standard political practices. But this is unnecessary, we already see enough of the image with the Apaches calling out "Vote Sharon" and Sharon's nudity covered with a "Vote Likud" ribbon. And all the word bubble does in the long run is invite the anti-semitic interpretation of blood libel.

But thinking about this intellectually, should we let the one detail override the remainder of the cartoon? I don't mean that rhetorically, this is the major problem I have in interpreting the cartoon. As I've already made clear, I don't find that the detail makes the cartoon anti-semitic, but at this point, I can't argue in more detail than that.

Is it anti-semitism?

Over at The Comics Journal Dirk Deppey has a post about the cartoon The Independent has bestowed with Cartoon of the Year. From the Independent article:

In the cartoon, published on 27 January, Sharon says 'What's wrong? You never seen a politician kissing babies before?' as a loudspeaker from a helicopter gunship chants 'Vote Sharon, Vote Sharon' overhead. The cartoon was based on Goya's Saturn Devouring His Children and was penned after a pre-election raid by Israeli missiles on Gaza City. The prize was presented after a vote by the members of the Political Cartoon Society and national newspaper cartoonists. It was presented by the former cabinet minister Clare Short on Tuesday night at the headquarters of The Economist in London.

Of course the cartoon has been decried as anti-semitic. I won't get into the specifics of these allegations, Dirk does a good job of outlining it. But what he doesn't do is offer a comparison between the cartoon and the original Goya that it's based on. So I think I'll go ahead and do that.

Here's the cartoon in question:

And here's the Goya painting:

Notice the comparison. Sharon's stance is almost exactly that of Saturn's, and the baby is in the same exact shape as Saturn's child. The main difference (besides the background) is that Saturn is replaced with a caricature of Sharon. But caricatures are always embellished, so if the caricature happens to have some stereotypically Jewish features, I don't see where that's anti-semitic. So I'm not buying the whole cries of anti-semitism here. It's not even anti-Israel, it's anti-Sharon and anti-Likud.

And besides which, I'll go a step further and say it deserved the reward. It's a very chilling image, showing the brutality of Sharon's government. And you can't really say he hasn't been brutal, Sharon has increased military activity in the occupied territories since taking charge, and this cartoon specifically criticizes that. And it does so with an image that is both simple and haunting. In other words, it's everything that a great editorial cartoon should be.

If there's any criticism it's that Dave Brown is assuming too high and specific a level of education of his readers. I'm not sure I would have thought of it as anti-semitism if I didn't know about the Goya painting, but if I hadn't I may be obliged to give in to the argument that a picture of a Jewish man eating a baby is nothing but an old anti-semitic stereotype. But borrowing from great pieces of art is a common technique in cartooning. Usually it's a piece of art or photography that's more in the public conscious than Goya, but hey, Goya's good too.

Update: The original picture I linked to the image changed to this making it not useful in the overall post. Instead I used The Indepent's archived picture, which is not as high quality a printing as I originally had, which is too bad, since that makes arguing for the quality a bit harder.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Excuse me as I indulge in some thoughts about baseball

Well, it looks like after trading Schilling to the Red Sox, my favorite team just picked up Richie Sexson. First of all, simply getting Sexson is a huge plus for the D-Backs, and softens the blow from losing Schilling, as the Diamondbacks need as premiere power hitter much more than they need a premiere pitcher at this point.

But what interests me more is the details:

To acquire Sexson, who hit 45 home runs last season, the Diamondbacks dealt infielders Craig Counsell, Junior Spivey, pitchers Chris Capuano and Jorge De La Rosa and catcher Chad Moeller and first baseman Lyle Overbay.

Giving all these players excites me greatly, as it means this will be a very busy offseason for Joe Garagiola, Jr. (he being the D-backs GM, for those who didn't know). But let's look at it in depth.

Chris Capuano is nothing to the Diamondbacks right now, he's a pitcher with two games of Major League experience in an organization that last season turned out to have a plethora of young pitching talent, with potential young starters in Oscar Villarreal, Stephen Randolph, Andrew Good, Edgar Gonzalez and that doesn't even mention the amazingly talented Brandon Webb. Jorge De La Rosa is also of no importance. He's a minor league pitcher acquired in the Curt Schilling deal and probably wasn't officially on the Diamondbacks 40-man roster for an hour before this trade went through.

It's kind of a shame to see Overbay go, but this is a critical time in his development and he'd probably not get much better unless he could be a regular starter this season, and that just is not going to happen with Sexson on the team now. And let's face it, Sexson has a much, much better upside than Overbay.

Chad Moeller as part of the deal is what they call addition by subtraction. Let's face it, the Diamondbacks last season platooned two backup catchers, and that leaves a hole in the lineup. Without Chad Moeller that means one of three things, either the Diamondbacks are going to call up Brad Cresse and try him out, which is highly doubtful, or they'll make Robby Hammock into their starting catcher, or they'll bring in a starting catcher through trade or free agency (Ivan Rodriguez anyone?). But since Craig Counsell is also part of the deal, I'd imagine they're going to keep Robby Hammock as their utility player, meaning the third option is the most likely.

That leaves the only part of this deal with something like a sting, and that is the loss of Junior Spivey. But even this has an upside for the Diamondbacks. Spivey is a free agent after this season, so getting rid of him now means not having to deal with him later. The Diamondbacks already have Matt Kata who's cheaper if slightly less effective than Spivey, and losing Spivey clears up some room for Scott Hairston as soon as he's ready to come up, which could be as soon as sometime this season. Seeing as Hairston is the most talented prospect in the Diamondbacks organization, clearing up a spot for him is always a good idea.

So overall, this was a great deal for the Diamondbacks, and Garagiola should be proud. I'm not sure how good it is for the Brewers, but really, who cares about that?

[edited for clarity]