"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, December 11, 2004

This Monkey's Gone to Heaven

Rap and Metal are two of the lumpenproles' main "(sub-)cultural expressions" in these days of late capitalism. Both lost iconic figures this year. First to go was Ol' Dirty Bastard, formerly of the Wu Tang Clan. As the Onion writes, "Hip-hop's irrepressible id, Ol' Dirty Bastard lived his life like it was some sort of gonzo performance-art piece. Onstage and off, he always played rap's deranged court jester, a role that no doubt felt like a straitjacket at times. ODB turned self-destruction into a sublime art form, and while it's not surprising that he died, it's still terribly sad."

Flavor Flav was a court jester, too.

Former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was gunned down 30 seconds into a show in Columbus, Ohio, this past week.

"Despite a drizzle and temperatures in the 40s, more than 200 people turned up for a vigil Thursday night in the club's parking lot.

Shawn Sweeney, 22, played "old-school Pantera" on an acoustic guitar and a half-dozen young men held a blue tarp over his head and sang along.

"This is beautiful, this is absolutely beautiful," Sweeney said, referring to the growing crowd.

At one point, a naked young man stood in the middle of the street, arms raised, repeatedly cursing [shooter] Gale. The crowd cheered boisterously, and the man took off in a full sprint across the parking lot as four police officers gave chase.

He was soon tackled and a man in the crowd yelled out, "We got your bond, dude!" as the streaker was led off in handcuffs."

His death devastated fans of metal.

Doug Sabolick of the metal band A Life Once Lost noted, "Dimebag was the one who inspired me to pick up the ax, the bottle and the joint."

All Your Base Are Belong to Us

My repeated links to pieces by establishment commentators like Tom Friedman and Fareed Zakaria makes me uncomfortable, but they're understandble given the situation - a practically nonexistent left, a regnant late capitalism, and a massive civil war in the Muslim world.

Recently, Friedman proposed a deterministic materialist, or rather liquid, theory about the oil base of the global political economy and its relation to the political superstructure. An energy-independent America or Europe is probably a pipe-dream, but Friedman suggests we give it a go anyway. It is notable that he has failed to mention how Iraq's oil supply will undermine the Saudis' status as top dog.
"You give me an America that is energy-independent and I will give you sharply reduced oil revenues for the worst governments in the world. I will give you political reform from Moscow to Riyadh to Tehran. Yes, deprive these regimes of the huge oil windfalls on which they depend and you will force them to reform by having to tap their people instead of oil wells. These regimes won't change when we tell them they should. They will change only when they tell themselves they must.

When did the Soviet Union collapse? When did reform take off in Iran? When did the Oslo peace process begin? When did economic reform become a hot topic in the Arab world? In the late 1980's and early 1990's. And what was also happening then? Oil prices were collapsing.

In November 1985, oil was $30 a barrel, recalled the noted oil economist Philip Verleger. By July of 1986, oil had fallen to $10 a barrel, and it did not climb back to $20 until April 1989. "Everyone thinks Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviets," said Mr. Verleger. "That is wrong. It was the collapse of their oil rents." It's no accident that the 1990's was the decade of falling oil prices and falling walls."
So Clinton's ballyhooed "economic miracle" was a result of low oil prices also?

Fareed Zakaria writes about the U.N., which is embroiled in a scandal about oil. He also discusses Paul Rusesabaginan, an "ordinary" Rwandan, a hotel manager, who was able to shelter and save more than 1,200 people—Tutsis and Hutus—in the midst of the Rwandan genocide.