Saturday, July 18, 2015

Moving Through Some Changes

So what I think is, this whole Donald Trump presidency thing, it's important.  It means something.

I think we can all take it as read that Trump is a buffoon.  The thought of him being President of even a local bingo league is horrifying in extremis.  According to current polls, however, he is--if not actually leading in the Republican primaries--then at least near the top.

If you haven't been following his candidacy--and if that's the case, then I'm sorry for you, because it's been excellent--the highlights are too many and too uproarious to even name.  I'd urge you all to go to the Jon Stewart homepage and watch some of his dissections of Trump's various appearances and media hits.  They're very excellent.

In brief, he's already stated that most, if not all, Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists; that John McCain, by virtue of being captured during Vietnam, and not having escaped, is not only not a war hero, but maybe a coward; and that, despite having a surefire, secret plan to defeat ISIS utterly, he can't tell us what that plan is, in case someone steals it.

Oh, and also, that he's very very smart.  That comes up a lot.  And also, that he's very rich.

What interests me about Trump is that he represents a sort of reductio ad absurdum of a certain growing strain of Republicanism.  I'd call it Fox News Republicanism.  Which is, essentially, the strain of Republicanism which believes that being conservative means being "free-thinking," and that being free-thinking means denouncing, as idiots, anyone else who's been in power.  Mostly, that means saying that Democrats are corrupt and venial idiots, but if a certain stripe of Republican gets close to public office--Mitt Romney, John McCain, Jeb Bush--they can be defamed as well.

The logic, such as it is, goes like this: most politicians are stupid.  Therefore most of their ideas are stupid.  Therefore, most of the ideas and laws we've been given are useless.  Therefore we need all-new ideas and all-new laws!

The emotion at the core of this view is anger.  But the assumption at its core is that the world, despite is apparent complexity, is in fact very simple.   Right and wrong are easy to differentiate, and [candidate in question] is able to do without any problems.

The Fox News aspect of this view lies in its inherent TV-friendliness.  It's a view that's ready-made for television.  It's a view that trades in controversy.  It's a view that thinks in sound-bites.  It's a view that loves the immediate and the simple, that rejects complexity or subtly as the province of liars and Europeans.  All candidates have to kowtow to this way of thinking, of acting, to an extent, but Trump's genius, such as it is, has been to locate it at the center of his campaign/

And here's the interesting paradox.  Fox News is clearly the organization, above all others, that should and does love Donald Trump.  He is a never-ending goldmine of bullet-point discussion topics.  Are all immigrants criminals?  Why are our politicians so stupid?  Why does (that whinging moderate) McCain get treated with such kid gloves?  Where are our leaders?

And yet, even as he gives them, on a day-to-day level, everything the network needs, he is, obviously, a toxic poison to the Republican party.  Can you imagine how happy Hillary Clinton would be to have Trump as her opponent?  (I actually heard a serious roundtable radio discussion yesterday in which a number of people opined that Trump had been paid off by the Clintons to wreck the Republican nominating process).

So what does Fox News do?  On the one hand, Trump makes great copy.  He's far and above the most TV-friendly candidate.  A whole network dedicated entirely to what he did and said could probably not only survive, but make real money.  And yet, he's a death-wish for the party as a whole.  So what does Fox News do?  Continue to stoke the fires of extremism, which stoking has made them so rich over so many years?  Or develop some kind of patriotic conscience, and try to purge the party of a known toxin?

It will be interesting to track.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Say You Don't Want To Chance It

A large part of me, at this point, is inclined to do nothing but post Yes videos for, like, the next twelve posts.

Because, I mean, I'm not joking.  The more I watch that "Leave It" video, the more my deep love for Yes is rekindled.  And I feel, kind of, that people who hate on Yes, are going to be destroyed when the Revolution comes.

At least, I hope that'll be the case.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

We Had The Same Intrigue As A Court Of Kings

First things first.  This is important.  And good.  If you do not find it good, you are wrong.  I cannot be persuasive about it, but it is so.  Trevor Rabin!!! (Or is it Nigel Tufnel?  They look a lot alike).

And obviously, the glorious departed Squire.  The second-best rock bassist ever??

I love this song unironically and unabashedly.  This video I also love, though I'll confess to a small smidgeon of irony in that love.

At what point did rock musicians decide that wearing wristbands and/or headbands was a good idea?  Forgetting all the other assaults on fashion manifest in this video, the headbands and wristbands--they stand out.  Especially because many, if not all, of them seem to involve glitter.


But no more on that.

What of my car wreck?  

Well, it was a wreck.  My first, as it happens.  Never before been in a car accident.  As they go, this one wasn't bad.  I was driving, a car ahead of me stopped--rather abruptly, I'd say--at a crosswalk (relevant because there's no light or other signal to alert people that a stop is imminent).  I stopped about two feet behind him.  

BAMMM.  A car behind me slammed into my back, ramming me forward into the car ahead of me.  Both ends of my car were deeply crumpled, the back especially.

Cut forward through various non-thrilling parlays with kindly-enough Insurance folks and the result was: Insurance decided my car was a total loss.  The amount of damage done was about 9k and the car was worth 11.5k.  So, I got a check for 11.5k, and I had to get a new car.

Now the story of me getting a new car--there hangs a tale.  I mean, I want to go into that.  I do.  But at this very moment I'll put that off.  The summary is: I have a new car.  A McLaren SX.  Retail: 450, 500.   And it can teleport!

No no.  I have another Honda.  But the thing that's funny is--I love it!   I's not really funny, but it is, to me, surprising.  How much I like it.  I loved my first car, deeply--a Honda Accord (LX 1990).  Probably, though, that was because it was my first car?  But I deeply loved that car.  Then, after it logged about two million miles, I replaced it with another Honda.   And that car…I thought I loved.  Or at least liked.

It turns out I did NOT love that car.  It's like, if you've spent all your life drinking Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, and then one day you drink a 2002 Mersault--that's what it's like with my new car.  Well, maybe it's not a 2002 Mersault.  But a Macon Villages, at least.  

Which is another way of saying that, I didn't realize how mediocre my last car was.  And, not realizing that, it's been wonderful to see how great cars these days have become.

Because I had no interest or desire for a new car, viewing this whole thing as nothing more than a massive hassle.  I was perfectly happy with my last car (I thought)--a 2005 Honda, which served all my necessary needs.

But, as it turns out, it did NOT serve my necessary needs--or at least, not as well as I thought.  Because driving this new Honda I find myself so unexpectedly happy.  I mean, it's a great car!  It handles well, accelerates, brakes--it has real zip.  And gets great mileage.  And has a bluetooth system!  And, can decrypt classified Nazi codes!  

Also, now that my entire iphone is suddenly available to my (much-improved) speakers, that's...just, a new frontier in joy.  Being able to instantly go to any album I've ever owned, in the car, or to talk on the phone, to all my brokers in Hong Kong and Sri Lanka--it's incalcuably great.

But now as I write this, the familiar darkness comes on me and I think: who cares?  Vanity, saith the preacher, all is vanity.  And I am drinking a mediocre Grenache, and the river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf clutch and sink into the wet bank.  The wind crosses the brown land, unheard….

Should I go watch that Yes video again?  I think so!

BONUS SIDENOTE: As some of you may notice, I change the quote in the header every time I post. Usually I pick a fairly well-known song.  This time I did not.  Anyone who can identify the song from which the quote above is taken will win....a million dollars!  And my respect!  Or, one of the two.