Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Age of Blah

There is something else which I was thinking about as I thought about the Microsoft Chinese worker abuse... The fact that nobody seems to give a crap one way or another. A hundred years ago, the world was on fire with these ideas - human rights, exploitation of the working class.. Countries toppled, millions died. The Cold War, which shaped all of our lives was the result of these monumental world view disagreements. Now it's purely a consumer world - everyone is buying iPads, drinking Starbucks and tweeting.

Reversion to the Mean

I came across this picture a few days back. It's a bunch of workers on a Chinese assembly line making headphones or mice for Microsoft. They work 15 hour shifts 6 or 7 days a week, and try to take naps during their 10 minute breaks.

I guess what struck me as particularly ironic about this image is that China is ostensibly a Communist country, yet this sort of abuse of fundamental human rights of workers hearkens back to the Age of Industrialization. The outrageous abuse of the working classes was really the impetus for the revolution in Russia as well as the worker's movements in Europe and the US that ultimately reigned in the capitalists. How bitterly ironic that the only major Communist superpower is abusing their own constituents in its climb to become a capitalist nation.

As I've mentioned before, reading Doug Rushkoff's "Life, Inc" really affected me in a way that few books have. However, his main argument is that corporations have taken over our world and if we only recognize this and disengage from the corporate model, we would all be better off. And this is where I think he is missing the boat.

The corporations are just ONE way that human nature expresses its need to further one's interests at the expense of others. Rushkoff's argument is the tail wagging the dog. People will find ways of taking advantage of others - if not through the corporate mechanism than through other means. It is the most bitter form of betrayal of humanity - and it happens in all spheres, politics, business, religion. I know it is an old argument - is human nature in its essence good or evil - but I really have trouble seeing how you could argue that it is not evil. Sure there are outliers, but statistically, whenever large numbers of people are involved, human nature seems to revert to the mean, and I mean we are "mean".

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bluesy Music Monday

Another song by the Russian hippie Umka - actually a very nice duet on guitar, and she has a very pleasant voice...

Monday, April 19, 2010

George Brassens Music Monday - Carcassonne

This song always reminds me how much I'd love to see the Riviera some day... A propos, Carcassonne was the site of the the famous massacre of the Albigensians where the phrase "Kill them all, God will find his own!" was uttered.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Icon of Orthodox Christian Chinese Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion

Friday, April 16, 2010


Why do my customers' CIOs always request meetings on Friday that ruin my entire weekend?

In other notes - got called a 'Yank' by one of our New Zealand based partners.

Also, am thinking that the Music Monday thing is getting a bit old - does anyone click on those videos?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses...

Found an article on this 130 foot statue of Genghis Khan on top of a mongolian museum...

Finnegan's Wake

I've been thinking about it lately. The song, not the novel. The one about the Irish drunk who has too much of the "pure stuff" one morning, falls off his ladder and breaks his skull. Then, a fight breaks out at his wake, they spill whiskey on his corpse and he wakes up.

This is something I've always struggled with. The song hides a somewhat profound symbolism - whiskey means "water of life" - and in this case, it is both the cause of his death and his revival. What I am curious about, is whether this symbolism was intentional, added by the author, or whether it is something which was recognized later, by the eggheads doing analysis on James Joyce.

And if it was intended by the author, can we assume that some guy who came up with a street song in Dublin was clever enough to imbue it with such subtle symbolism?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bessie Smith Music Monday

Thursday, April 08, 2010

State of Affairs

I finished reading the Cassuto book on the DH and I hope to write up my detailed analyses of each lecture soon - I am still catching up on Pesach induced workload.

My overall impressions are as follows - in general, I think the people who call Cassuto's analysis crap are not being fair. I think he presents a fairly comprehensive framework for analyzing the Tanach which is an alternative to the DH. However, my problem with Cassuto is that he seems to think that by presenting alternatives he is somehow demolishing the DH. What I saw while reading his book is that he present a bunch of ideas where some of them fit better than the DH and some of them don't quite work and in my opinion he really kvetches them. So in my mind, this is not very different from the DH approach.

I am tempted to read his detailed treatment of the subject, but I am not sure how much time I can devote to it - it is also quite expensive...

On a different topic, I read Douglas Rushkoff's Life, Inc. and it made a very profound impression on me - I am not sure the last time I felt this way after reading a book. Specifically, two things really unsettled me: the first was that I kept expecting him to propose a solution to the problem which I could attack, yet he was too smart to engage me. The second was that most of what he talked about, I had known superficially, but he managed to tie it all together in a very powerful way.

However, I am not convinced if he didn't twist the facts a little to make his points more powerful, and I really should follow up on some of the ideas he mentions to see if he presents them faithfully...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Samson et Dalila Music Monday

Danse Bacchanale - fantastic piece of music...

Friday, April 02, 2010

Separated at Birth?

John Waters and Karmann the wombat