Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Monday, May 31, 2004

Bit of an update on Raznor's excursion in Europe

Visiting Dresden right now, and will be going to Prague either tomorrow or the next day, and then after that to Budapest. I found this to be true last time I was in Germany about a year and a half ago, but it is remarkable how similar, aesthetically and culturally, Germany is to the United States. (Germany is historically a militaristic and independent nation, it's like they're the US's long lost twin!)

Anyway, not much more to say right now, if you haven't read Al Gore's recent speech, as well as August Pollak's comment on it which is dead on. Have fun, Raznor readers.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Yep, Raznor is in Europe

Not much time to write this, that's the problem with internet cafes. Only so much time before my Euros run out. I'm in the Hague now, and heading east tomorrow. Still not keeping up much with the news, I guess. Checking out Josh Marshall's site from time to time, other than that, just moving around a lot. Still have 31 days left here. Ha ha ha.

Until then, sit tight, Raznor fans.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Yeah, that's moreorless where I'm at

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Yeah, posting's been light, and will continue to be so

This week has been spent on the road. I'm now in LA, and from here I leave with my brother on Monday for a five-week Europe trip. I'll try to post from time to time while there. I'm going to avoid news that'll get me pissed off about Bush so long as I'm not in the country for as long as I can. Need a vacation in every sense of the word.

In the meanwhile, I got a Graduate Teaching Assistantship from NAU, meaning I'm going to be going to school and making money. Holy fuck! I'll spend a year at NAU and try to get into a better math school for 2005. We'll see. Still hoping for Berkeley.

Monday, May 17, 2004

E-mail change

You notice above that my e-mail's changed. I was getting too much spam from this site, so raznor@reed.edu will no longer reach me.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Soo, what's next?

Sorry, it's been light posting for a while as I've been working on packing up my room for my final leave of Reed. Commencement is tomorrow. Wow.

So what's next? I'm heading to Europe next week with my brother. Then I'll be in Flagstaff for a year. Unfortunately, while I did get into UCSD and University of Maryland, neither gave me any aid, and I'm already way in debt from Reed. So I'll probably take classes at Northern Arizona University for a year, and retake the GRE so I can do better (last time I was 51st percentile) and reapply to grad schools for fall 2005. So there's still hope for Berkeley. But we shall see. We shall see.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I'm done

With college.

Commencement is monday.

Holy fuck.

More music for you

The Seatbelts are a semi-fictional band that provides most of the soundtrack to Cowboy Bebop episodes. If you have never seen Cowboy Bebop, it is an anime series that can only be described as sci-fi western. And the music is excellent.

So with that in mind, take a listen to Blue which is the song that plays over the end titles of the final episode of Cowboy Bebop.

Update: I should really check these links before I post them, the above isn't the entire song Blue, but only a 10 second sample that really doesn't capture how good the actual song is - you really need the opening and ending for the full effect. I'll see if I can find a better link.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Disney and Nazis

I'm working on a paper on German film during the Third Reich, and the Walt Disney hating part of me got a kick out of this paragraph from David Hull's Film in the Third Reich:

[Leni] Riefenstahl went to the United States in 1939, an exceedingly inappropriate time, with the idea of selling the Olympia film to an American company. She visited Hollywood where she was roundly snubbed by everyone except Walt Disney, who greeted her publicly.

You know how Disney loves those Nazi propagandists.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

When all you got is Fox News

Ted Rall gives a damning post about the so-called liberal media:

Still, I have to hand it to the conservatives: they're willing to confront ideas and people they find uncomfortable. Which is a lot more than I can say for the so-called liberal media, which generally has nothing to do with true progressives. I've been listening to Air America for the better part of a month, every day, and have yet to hear them interview anyone to the left of Al Gore. MoveOn.org didn't even invite me to their big shindig in New York City, where I live, a few months back. And I can't even get The Nation to review one of my books.

And this is the actually liberal media we're talking about. Not the bogeyman "liberal media" that's not liberal at all, like New York Times.

The fact that liberals in this country are turning so far to the right should be a concern. I mean, shouldn't it?

More on Bush and History

In the comments to my previous post, Valentine catches a gaping hole in my historical analysis:

You can't forget the antiintellectualism of the fundamentalist movement, which has its roots in a peculiarly American Protestantism that arose as, during westward expansion, people took with them their religious fervor but not the educated clergy of New England. On the frontier, American values of independence and self-reliance led to a strain of folks who wanted the chance to interpret the Bible for themselves, without being told how to do it by elitist Yanks or hidebound Europeans. The deep suspicion of being told how to think and of intellectualism in general by the people on the frontier, who had to worry about livelihoods over education, only contirbuted.

By the time Europe managed to export Higher Criticism to the US--with its ability to reconcile Christianity with the difficult questions raised by critical looks at Scripture--American Protestants were already primed to reject it for a system of strict literalism and removal of the Good Book from any kind of historical context, hermeneutics, or scholarly/theological precedent. If someone didn't like your reading, you could just schism and go home.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Fundamentalist strains of the various denominations, failing to purge the influence of progressives and liberal Christians from their churches, seceded and became a movement in earnest. They very quietly built an infrastructure of schools, Bible colleges, homeschool programs; funded smallscale political candidates and lobbies; and printed out Bibles with built-in commentaries that would encourage any reader to believe that their interpretation was the only correct one. They organized, and did it well. And when they saw an opening, they used all that preparation to explode onto the political scene as what we now think of as the Religious Right. You combine -that- movement with the roots of the neoconservative movement you theorize, and you have...well, G-dub.

(Ahh comments, what did I ever do without them)

While thanking Valentine for helping give a more complete analysis of recent history, I should mention that any historical analyses I write on this blog should be taken with a grain of salt. I don't really do research for them, they are merely insights that are based on what historical knowledge I have at the top of my brain, which I'd like to think is enough to make substantial posts. If anyone when reading such posts can think of anything I missed, like Valentine did, or if I'm just getting something way, way wrong, please correct me.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Bush's idiocy in historical context

Noting that Bush is clearly incompetent, Kevin Drum wrote the following:

So what's my point? I don't know. I'm rambling, and the question of how George Bush ever managed to become president is one that's gnawed on me for a long time. I still can't figure it out, though. He's such an obvious airhead, so plainly unqualified, that I can't figure out why the Republican party nominated him or why so much of the American public still supports him. I suspect that in the future, when histories of this era are written, historians won't even try. Rather, George Bush's presidency will just be considered some kind of weird, unexplainable aberration.

Now, from what I've been reading in my history classes I very much doubt that historians won't try to explain why Bush was nominated and ultimately elected president, even if it's considered some kind of weird aberration. Maybe most of the population won't care, but the question of "why" is central to any historical study.

So with this in mind, I thought I'd get a jump start on those historians and offer my own theory of how Bush's presidency fits in the historical context.

First of all, let's take a look at American politics. American politicians have, for the past 100 years at least, not been as elite as one would expect in, say, European parliamentary democracies. This may be good or bad depending on your outlook, but the result is that American legislators are typically more or less everyman types of people. Compare this with Britain, where relatively recently everyone in the House of Commons was classically educated. In the 20th century, this requirement of a classical education became less important in the British system, but still Latin phrases are thrown around in legislative hearings, something that is unheard of in Congress. (the closest I can think of is when Senator Byrd quoted Livy in a speech, but if this was British, he'd do it in original Latin)

In any case, the point is that political trends in America lend itself to a political government lead by everyday sorts-of-people, as opposed to the intellectually elite.

(side note: Notice I say "political government", which is the part of the government that is run by politics. Most people who work in the government work outside of politics, but that aspect of the government isn't important to this analysis)

But what we have in contemporary politics is more extreme than a simple preference in the voting public for everyday-sorts-of-guys over intellectuals. What we have now is an adamant anti-intellectualism that is becoming increasingly mainstream.

So where does this anti-intellectualism come from? Probably it mostly originated from the left-wing. Specifically within the anti-war movement in the 1960's. This is an important and oft-overlooked point. People take a look at student protests at Berkeley and other college campuses in the 1960's and '70's and view the anti-war movement as being an extension of academia, when in fact the students were often protesting their academic institutions' support of the war. My Vietnam War teacher was teaching at Berkeley at the time, and would often tell us about the standoffs between faculty and students that occurred all the time.

This stemming anti-intellectualism from the left is what caused many academics of the time to abandon the left, and started what is termed the neoconservative movement. Such academics included the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Henry Kissinger and many others. Ironically, however, it was this exact neoconservative movement that helped lead American politics further toward anti-intellectualism, with that paragon of neoconservatism - Ronald Reagan. The fact that the Soviet Union collapsed during Reagan's administration led to the current myth that moral clarity, rather than logic or knowledge, is all that is needed to ensure victory for American values.

So there you have it, a context of anti-intellectualism that can help lead to Bush's nomination, despite the fact that he's clearly unqualified for the presidency. This doesn't fully explain Bush, but it puts Bush in a context that makes his nomination and presidency seem like something less than an aberration.

Cheat Commandos!

Rock, rock on!

Six degrees of separation

Here's a fun puzzle for you.

If you don't know the rules for this game, you take two film actors, and try to link them in less than 6 steps by costars in what films they've been. For example, if we want to link Al Pacino with Jared Leto in two steps we'd do:

Al Pacino was in Angels in America with Ben Shenkman.
Ben Shenkman was in Requiem for a Dream with Jared Leto.

(Note I include made-for-TV movies and miniseries in this. This has the added benefit of linking Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove)

But the real fun of this game is when you can link people who aren't known for their movie acting. Sometimes it's easier than you'd think.

With this in mind, here's your puzzle, Raznor readers, link Gore Vidal with David Bowie. It can be done in three steps. (for answer, read the comments)

Sunday, May 09, 2004


Blogger's gone all new on me. That's odd. I'll have to get used to this. Oh well.

It is kinda annoying. I liked the old format where I could look at what I was writing up top and my posts at the bottom. But what can you do? (change to Movable Type, I guess)

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Mein Gott, zwei kilogram!

A friend of mine sent me this link about German toilets. It's quite hilariious.

Coming up later, a look at Bush's idiocy and historical context. Right now I'se gots work to do.

Say's it all, doesn't it?

David Horsey's latest:

Some afterthoughts (May 9): As I look at this comic more, I don't really like it. Besides the overly stereotyped Ay-rab, I don't see why the whole "Al qaeda will use this to recruit terrorists" is such a big deal. Because, (a) Al qaeda already has plenty of recruitment material without this and (b) this is quite disgusting enough without havine ng to bring how other people will interpret it. Who cares what a bunch of insane extremists, who are going to hate us no matter what we do, think about us? What should concern us is that America should be standing for freedom and democracy, and here we are torturing human beings. We are acting in a way that should make any decent Americans want to barf when they look in the mirror. That's the problem. Not how extremists view us.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

And so long as I'm on the subject of toons . . .

You must check out Amp's latest project, Hereville. It should be fun.

Mikhaela Reid rocks!

It's been a while since I've linked to one of Mikhaela's toons, but her new one is excellent. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


I was in the midst of a long post, contemplating how we could win Iraq by going about it as enlightened imperialists, but that sort of thing disgusts me too much right now when I read things like this:

U.S. soldiers who detained an elderly Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey, Prime Minister Tony Blair's personal human rights envoy to Iraq said Wednesday.

The envoy, legislator Ann Clwyd, said she had investigated the claims of the woman in her 70s and believed they were true."


"She was held for about six weeks without charge," the envoy told Wednesday's Evening Standard newspaper. "During that time she was insulted and told she was a donkey. A harness was put on her, and an American rode on her back."

Clwyd said the woman has recovered physically but remains traumatized.

"I am satisfied the case has now been resolved satisfactorily," the envoy told British Broadcasting Corp. radio Wednesday. "She got a visit last week from the authorities, and she is about to have her papers and jewelry returned to her."

(Via Josh Marshall)

I will add how this hurts our efforts in Iraq. This is disgusting, and I hope the soldiers involved are court-martialled. But this isn't their fault. This is the fault of the military leadership and pentagon that doesn't train our soldiers to treat these people like human beings, and just from a practical standpoint, if you want to occupy a country, you have to have respect for the locals. Otherwise you get increasing and increasing insurgency. When you have an occupying army that treats the indiginous people as less than human, those people will rebel. I should hope they rebel. I should hope human nature includes enough dignity to not stand for such treatment.

And if the military didn't officially treat Iraqis as less than human, there is no chance a soldier could get away with riding a 70 year old woman like a donkey.

So forget a "how can we win" post. It'll do no good. It won't change the military treating Iraqis as untermenschen, and as long as that happens, we can't win. The longer we're there the worse it'll be. So fuck national hubris. We need to get out of Iraq. Now.

Hurray for me!

Just finished my thesis orals! Now only a few minor edits and I send it to the library for posterity!

Monday, May 03, 2004

Some Renn Fayre photos for you

The only Renn Fayre photos I found online from this year so far come from fellow Reedie Lucas Carlson. I'm probably somewhere behind the crowd in the bottom photo, burning early drafts of my thesis, drinking Pabst and getting champagne poured on my head.

Well, Renn Fayre's over

Now time to prepare for my orals. For which I can't think of anything I can do other than get the ingredients for the tortas I intend to make my orals board.

Anyway, I have to relay to you the most awesome thing about Renn Fayre this year that I could possibly explain to a non-Reedie - The Minibosses! That's right, the Minibosses performed, live, in the quad Saturday afternoon.

For those who don't know, the Minibosses are a rock band, two lead guitars, one bass, and a drummer, who play exclusively music from Nintendo games. Check the link above, and listen to the Megaman 2 music.

Overall, it was a great weekend. I highfived Reed President Colin Diver during thesis parade, and had a bitchin' good time. And, holy shit, I'm graduating in two weeks!

Ahh life.