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Karl Marx is STILL right
05.15.2012
03:26 pm

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Class War
Economy
History
Politics

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Nobel economist Michael Spence, working at the behest of the Council on Foreign Relations, has co-authored a startling new paper with NYU’s Sandile Hlatshwayo. The two did an enormous amount of number crunching and analyzing of how the US economy has been structured for the past 20 years, and in particular, they examined employment trends. It was not a pretty picture that emerged from all of those details.

Well, I guess that would all depend upon which side of the fork you’re on, wouldn’t it?

As the output and productivity of the American worker increased—a LOT, I should add—during the past two decades, jobs still continued to be outsourced to other countries with cheaper labor pools, and fewer opportunities for economic advancement presented themselves for many Americans. All the while, the $$$ for all of that increased productivity didn’t go to the worker bees themselves, it went to the top, to the capitalists and investors class. To parasites like Mitt Romney and his buddies at Bain Capital.

The CFR report’s conclusions are particularly grim for people who have found themselves slipping out of the middle class towards precarious lives and who feel hopeless to do anything about it, but it’s Marxism 101 for the economic literate.

It’s a race to the bottom and “tag” you’re it!

From Reuters:

The take-away is this: Globalization is making U.S. companies more productive, but the benefits are mostly being enjoyed by the C-suite. The middle class is struggling to find work, and many of the jobs available are poorly paid.

Here’s how Mr. Spence and Ms. Hlatshwayo put it: “The most educated, who work in the highly compensated jobs of the tradeable and nontradeable sectors, have high and rising incomes and interesting and challenging employment opportunities, domestically and abroad. Many of the middle-income group, however, are seeing employment options narrow and incomes stagnate.”

Mr. Spence notes the benefit to consumers of globalization: “Many goods and services are less expensive than they would be if the economy were walled off from the global economy, and the benefits of lower prices are widespread.” He also points to the positive impact of globalization, particularly in China and India: “Poverty reduction has been tremendous, and more is yet to come.”

I’m sure Americans living in “right to work” states are just jumping for joy to be competing with wage-earners in China and India.
 

 
Free trade and the free flow of capital means lower prices for the consumer, true, but when someone in China or India is doing that very same computer programming job that used to be your job in the midwest—information workers will have the most precarious jobs of all moving forward—it’s not like you’ll be able to afford much more than rice and beans at the Wal-Mart anyway.

Yes, there’s a high cost to low price. The two are pretty well interconnected, as we’ve seen, but this is what the “free market” is supposed to do, silly. And don’t forget, it was Wal-Mart that put the local shops out of business to begin with.

Karl Marx predicted all of this. ALL of it.

He’s the most accurate prophet in history, with a record a helluva lot better than Nostradamus!

And to all of the naysayers who claim that a “command economy” doesn’t work, I present to you Wal-Mart itself, the most successful example of a command economy the world has ever seen!

Mr. Spence’s paper should be read alongside the work that David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been doing on the impact of the technology revolution on U.S. jobs. Mr. Autor finds that technology has had a “polarizing” impact on the U.S. work force — it has made people at the top more productive and better paid and hasn’t had much effect on the “hands-on” jobs at the bottom. But opportunities and salaries in the middle have been hollowed out.

Taken together, here’s the big story Mr. Spence and Mr. Autor tell: Globalization and the technology revolution are increasing productivity and prosperity. But those rewards are unevenly shared — they are going to the people at the top in the United States, and enriching emerging economies over all. But the American middle class is losing out.

It may seem surprising that it takes a Nobel laureate and sheaves of economic data to reach this conclusion. But the analysis and its provenance matter, because this basic truth about how the world economy is working today is being ignored by most of the politicians in the United States and denied by many of its leading business people.

Here’s where it gets much grimmer, as the article’s author, Chrystia Freeland (who has been the Global Editor-at-Large of Reuters since 2010) tells of a recent breakfast at the CFR that she moderated. The speaker that morning was Randall Stephenson, chief executive of AT&T.

If this is the mindset of the leaders of corporate America today, we’re doomed:

One of the Council of Foreign Relations members in the audience was Farooq Kathwari, the chief executive of Ethan Allen, the furniture manufacturer and retailer. Mr. Kathwari is a storybook American entrepreneur. He arrived in New York from Kashmir with $37 in his pocket and got his start in the retail trade selling goods sent to him from home by his grandfather.

He asked Mr. Stephenson: “Over the last 10 years, with the help of technology and other things, we today are doing about the same business with 50 percent less people. We’re talking of jobs. I would just like to get your perspectives on this great technology. How is it going to overall affect the job markets in the next five years?”

Mr. Stephenson said not to worry. “While technology allows companies like yours to do more with less, I don’t think that necessarily means that there is less employment opportunities available. It’s just a redeployment of those employment opportunities. And those employees you have, my expectation was, with your productivity, their standard of living has actually gotten better.”

HUH? Redeployment of employment opportunities? What the fuck IS this guy talking about?

I recently heard a radio report that indicated that there is ONE factory employing around 15 people in Japan that’s responsible for nearly 80% of the world’s output of a certain sized HD screen. Consider how many people would have worked at a Magnavox television plant in the mid-fifties. Where were those employment opportunities ultimately “redeployed?”

Cinnabon?

Bob Evans?

Starbucks?

7-Eleven?

With advanced automation, robotics and so forth, the American worker always was going to become obsolete in the long run, but the speed with which it is happening has gone from a trot to full gallop since the early 90s. Stephenson’s contention that standards of living have improved is ludicrous. Perhaps for him and for all the Cuban cigar-smoking fatcats at the country club in Westchester, but what about the rest of us?

Maybe the all-powerful, wise and benevolent free market will help us?!?!

(Sorry all of that cigar smoke is making me *cough*)

Mr. Spence’s work tells us that simply isn’t happening. “One possible response to these trends would be to assert that market outcomes, especially efficient ones, always make everyone better off in the long run,” he wrote. “That seems clearly incorrect and is supported by neither theory nor experience.”

Not to take anything away from Mr. Spence and Ms. Hlatshwayo, but there was this famous book written by a Mr. Marx and a Mr. Engels—two of the most dangerous minds in history—a hundred and fifty-some years ago that predicted all of this shit with amazing, laser-like accuracy.

Mr. Spence says that as he was doing his research, he was often asked what “market failure” was responsible for these outcomes: Where were the skewed incentives, flawed regulations or missing information that led to this poor result? That question, Mr. Spence says, misses the point. “Multinational companies,” he said, “are doing exactly what one would expect them to do. The resulting efficiency of the global system is high and rising. So there is no market failure.”

Okay, stop for a second. Read that last paragraph again, won’t you? Now read it a third time.

Mr. Spence is telling us that global capitalism is working, but that the American middle class is losing out anyway.

Yep, exactly like a certain Mr. Marx predicted would happen. What remains to be seen is how long it takes for the average American to wake up to what’s going on, when the elites are so hellbent on trying to keep them as confused as possible. Less sophisticated people can be forgiven for falling for conspiracy theories, when the REAL action is right out in the open: No one ever thinks to look there!

Mr. Spence admits he has no easy answers. American politicians are focused on a budget debate that is superficial, premature and ultimately about something pretty easy to figure out. Instead, we should all be working on the much bigger problem of how to make capitalism work for the American middle class.

Karl Marx had the answer to that, too…
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Listen to Joey Ramone’s entire new album right now!
05.15.2012
03:14 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

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Rolling Stone magazine’s website is streaming the new Joey Ramone album, ya know?. It’s his second solo release and consists of tunes that he wrote during the last 15 years of his life. On first listen, it sounds good to me - a little slick and tamer than The Ramones, but still a worthy addition to the long glorious history of one of punk’s pioneers.

Check out ya know? here. The album hits the streets on May 22nd.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Sarcastic Fringehead ain’t messin’ around
05.15.2012
12:52 pm

Topics:
Animals

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The sarcastic fringehead fish is one ferocious, territorial motherfucker. I had never heard of a sarcastic fringehead before and after watching this video, I’m not too sure I ever want to again.

According to Wikipedia:

When two fringeheads have a territorial battle, they wrestle by pressing their distended mouths against each other, as if they were kissing. This allows them to determine which is the larger fish, which establishes dominance.

 
I watched the whole video through. But if you want to get to the horror, it starts at the 2:09 mark.

 
Via JWZ

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
This Charming Remix: The Smiths in dub
05.15.2012
11:59 am

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Music

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Various editions of “This Charming Man” single release (including the Francois Kevorkian remixes on the left) courtesy of Share Some Greased Tea With Me.
 
So there I was, casually browsing through some Johnny Marr-plays-guitar videos on YouTube, when the thought struck me that remixing the Smiths in a dub style (essentially stripping Morrissey’s warbling right back and pushing Marr and the rhythm section up to the front) would be a wonderful thing.

You see, I may rag on the Smiths a lot (to me they represent everything that can be deemed wrong about “indie” or “alternative” music) but there’s a niggly wee corner of my teenage heart that will always belong to them. Those years we spent together were beautiful indeed, around the age of thirteen or fourteen, but then I grew up a bit and discovered sex and drugs. And a whole bunch of other music that was way more exciting, dramatic and sexy.

As the years have gone by, on the odd occasions that I feel brave enough to confront my embarrassing teenage angst and revisit the Smiths, I have fallen more and more in love with Johnny Marr’s incredible playing (in direct relation to falling further and further out of love with Morrissey’s “unique” vocal style.) Hence the idea of the Smiths in dub - a silly, facetious notion for sure, taking one of the whitest bands of all time and daring to process them through a hash-clogged Black Ark desk.

You can imagine my surprise then to find out that this actually once happened.

The acclaimed New York-based dj and producer Francois Kevorkian produced two dub remixes of “This Charming Man” for a limited edition release at the tail end of 1983. Unsurprisingly Morrissey hated the mixes (“hang the dj” and all that) and apparently so did Marr (though I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt: after all he later went on to form the dance supergroup “Electronic.”)

Thanks to that miracle of the modern age, the Internet, once this was brought to my attention I was able to go online and track these elusive remixes down straight away. Both have been uploaded to YouTube by TheStaticAirwaves, who adds some more info in the description box:

In December 1983, DJ François Kevorkian released a “New York” mix of the single on Megadisc records. Kevorkian geared the song for nightclub dancefloors, and the track was intended to be pressed in limited numbers for New York club DJs.

However, Rough Trade boss Geoff Travis liked the mix and gave the release wide distribution in the UK. Morrissey publicly disowned the mix, and urged fans not to purchase copies. Travis later claimed, “it was my idea, but they agreed. They said ‘Go ahead’, then didn’t like it so it was withdrawn.” He also said, “Nothing that ever happened in The Smiths occurred without Morrissey’s guidance; there’s not one Smiths record that went out that Morrissey didn’t ask to do, so there’s nothing on my conscience.”

How exactly this record escaped my notice I don’t know. Francois Kevorkian (aka Francois K) is a legend in disco and deep house circles, both for his early remix work for the classic Prelude label, but also for his own tech -and-house productions for his own label Wave. That’s not even mentioning his legendary all-night dj sets that are a fixture of clubs around the world.

While I can’t really imagine what clubs this would have been played in at the time, I can easily see the “New York Instrumental” remix of “This Charming Man” closing a classic John Hughes 80s-teen movie that never was.

Apparently John Peel once played this version of the song at the end of his Festive Fifty (a show where the public voted on their favourite songs, and “This Charming Man” had been voted number one song of the year.) Needless to say the Smiths fans were not amused.

But then, are they ever?

The Smiths “This Charming Man (Francois Kevorkian New York Instrumental Mix)”
 

 
The Smiths “This Charming Man (Francois Kevorkian New York Vocal Mix)”
 

 
Thanks to Neil Francis

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Name 10 Things That Aren’t Skrillex
05.15.2012
11:40 am

Topics:
Amusing

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Maybe turn the volume down for this one?

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Brian Eno
05.15.2012
10:47 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Pop Culture
Television

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brian_eno_1973_birthday
 
Happy Birthday Brian Eno, who is a Beatles song today.

Born Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno on the 15th May, 1948, Eno almost has a job description for every one of his names as a musician, a composer, a producer, a visual artist, a writer, a collector of pornography and an innovator of different musical forms. But Eno is more than the sum of his parts, he is a great inspiration to go take a-hold of life and do as much is as is possible. As he suggested in the documentary Another Green World:

“All of the encouragement from modern life is to tell you to pay attention to yourself and take control of things.”

Though he does go on to say we can also surrender, get by, and transcend, I prefer to opt for the starring role, rather than being an extra in the crowd scene or exiting stage left, chased by a bear. And so should we all, for this is your movie, and you are its star.

For me, that’s what I like best about Eno - he’s a concept to do better, to try different, to learn more. And perhaps to be a little nicer on the side.

Brian Eno: Another Green World is a profile of Eno, made for the BBC’s Arena series.

From the schoolboy who would cycle to the seashore to look for fossils, Eno has been driven by the search for the connections between things. Here, he gives an insight into his fascinating and unique take on the nature of music today. Eno discusses what music means to him, and how he uses it to create an alternate reality, as well as the influences of modern technology in changing the way we are able to understand and develop both music and sound.

You’ll learn bits and bobs from this documentary, though it never really seems to get much further than dusting the surface of this complex and talented man.
 

 
Bonus clip of Brian Eno interviewed on ‘The Tube’ from 1986, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Trippy Sixties film soundtracked with ‘I Am The Walrus’ time-stretched 800%
05.15.2012
12:36 am

Topics:
Drugs
Movies
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:


 
Sixties short film Vertige by Jean Beaudin mixed a time-stretched version of The Beatles “I Am The Walrus” results in a spooky ambient experience that has a decidedly lysergic feel to it.

Thanks to AngelMusification for the The Beatles’ time-stretch.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
R. Kelly pisses off fans in Austin by doing a 75 second concert
05.14.2012
09:06 pm

Topics:
Current Events
Hip-hop
Music

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This past weekend in Austin, Texas, R. Kelly performed for 75 seconds to a packed-house of people who payed up to $950 each to see what can only be described as a massive rip-off.

My wife and I almost went to see this “show” - out of curiosity more than anything else. The buzz around town was generally skeptical as to whether the show was legit or not. The venue where it was scheduled to take place, The Mansion, flies under the radar of the local music press, so there was little advance hype. But a lot of people ended up going and were, in my opinion, treated like shit.

Considering R. Kelly’s past karma, this whole debacle doesn’t seem like a smart way to get right with the cosmic powers that be…or your fans.

Here’s a first-person report from Devon Tincknell as it appeared in the Austinist:

Last night, I went to see R. Kelly at the Mansion, a strip club in North Austin, and it was one of the biggest scams I’ve ever experienced. Sure, there were moments leading up to the show where I wondered, “R. Kelly is playing at a strip club I’ve never heard of and general admission tickets are only 30 bucks? That’s almost too good to be true,” but I never expected it to be as worthless as it turned out. Being led into an alley by a hand drawn cardboard sign that promised a “Free R. Kelly concert” and then being beaten with a brick and robbed would perhaps have been more satisfying; at least you could file a police report.

Like most modern frauds, this story begins online with an Eventbrite page selling tickets for “An Intimate Night w/ R. Kelly (Mothers Day Weekend).” Tickets ranged from $30 for general admission all the way up an escalating price scale caste system of VIP and celebrity room statuses to the ultimate baller package of $950 for a super-duper-ultra-pimp-VIP bottle service table accommodating eight people. It was a little odd that the R. Kelly of “Space Jam” soundtrack fame-and-acclaim would be playing a remote strip club rather than say, the Frank Erwin Center, but it seemed plausible. Maybe people had finally lost interest in the plot line of “Trapped in the Closet” and Kells couldn’t pack the house like he used to. I mean, if they’re selling $950 tickets it’s got to be a real R. Kelly concert, right?

My stomach dropped a little when we showed up at a swanky strip club near the junction of 183 and 290 and right past the entrance was a sign proclaiming “NO REFUNDS.” My fellow concert goers and I joked that they were just going to play us some R. Kelly music videos, but once we saw the room we were too excited by the idea of seeing R. Kelly perform up close and personal to really believe this could all just be a rip off. R. Kelly’s legend is so great that Aziz Ansari does a bit where he simply describes going to an R. Kelly concert. And here we were, about to watch the man perform on a stage five feet from us. A stage with stripper poles on it.

Doors opened at 9 p.m. and we arrived around 10. We camped out a few feet back from the lip of the stage and danced to a DJ playing the generic rap mix you’d hear at any inner city middle school prom. We were excited as fuck. Of course, as 10 became 10:30, then 11, then midnight, without R. Kelly live and in person wowing us with his R&B styles, that excitement diminished. From time to time, a hype man yelled at the crowd, “You people ready to party?! You don’t seem like you’re excited enough for R. Kelly to come out yet!”

Sometime after midnight, he starts yelling things along the lines of “R. Kelly is in the building!” We’ve been standing around for hours but we muster all the enthusiasm we can. The strip club staff begins to clear out the VIP room for R. Kelly. Wow, okay, now it’s looking like R. Kelly actually will show! Finally, at 12:43 in the morning, R. Kelly and his posse take the stage to a medley of his hits. Kells grins at the cheering crowd, everyone loses their shit and starts taking photos with their phones, while R. Kelly just stands there smoking a cigar. Then he walks over to the VIP area and touches more hands and stands there. He is not singing. This parade goes on for a worrisome amount of time.

Finally, he finds a mic and sings a very brief a capella ditty. This is followed by a lazy rendition of “Ignition (Remix)” sung over the album version with his vocals still on it. Then after he invites all the pretty ladies to the VIP section to party with him, he moves over there and sits down. It becomes very obvious that this is it; this is the R. Kelly “performance” we just waited hours for. A moment later, R. Kelly gets on the mic again and DEMANDS that pretty ladies come party with him in VIP or “he is going to be up out this bitch.” Up out this bitch? But you just got IN this bitch, Mr. Kelly!

With the VIP area packed to the gills by a flood of ladies - so much for those exclusive hundred dollar tickets, I guess - my friends and I decided this was total bullshit and left. We didn’t pay 30 fucking dollars to party in the same room as R. Kelly’s VIP section.

If you pay for an “intimate night” with R. Kelly and it takes place in a public venue, not in a hotel room with a tarp laid over the bed, do you have a right to expect a musical concert? I believe so. When I go to the zoo, I don’t expect the tigers and polar bears to sing “Bump-n-Grind” for me. Thus, when I go see R. Kelly, a man who is famous for performing music, I don’t expect him to stand there sleepily and have his photo taken. If you are a musician and the event does not specifically say “an appearance by” or “autograph signing” or “LIVE… and drunk and not performing, just sitting in VIP,” I believe the audience has a right to expect an actual concert.

In the end however, what really bothers me is that R. Kelly is a musician supported by fans who stood by him AFTER HE PEED ON AN UNDERAGED GIRL. People that like R. Kelly’s music know he peed on a girl and have forgiven him for it! And then how does he repay that loyalty? By tricking people into buying expensive tickets for a Mother’s Day “concert,” making them wait on their feet for over three hours, and then performing a sub-par karaoke at Beerland rendition of “Ignition (Remix)?” Happy Mother’s Day, R. Kelly. I feel like I just got pissed on.

Too drunk to funk? After reading another account of Kelly’s behavior at the club, I wonder if he was too drunk to perform even if he had wanted to.
From Austin360 :

Around 1:30 a clearly loopy R. Kelly came back out and said he wasn’t contractually obligated to sing - so what he had done was a favor, of sorts - and that he was there to get drunk and if the crowd would chill out and let him do so (from the looks of him by that point, no one had had much luck stopping him) he might come back out and do some more.

These photos of Kelly at The Mansion kind of tell the tale. His performance seems to consist of chomping on a big fat Cohiba while blessing the swooning multitudes.

In this video, the crowd starts booing as a surly DJ explains that R. Kelly don’t do shit for less than $250,000.
 

 
Update: Ticket sales website Eventbrite is offering refunds to the folks who bought tickets to R. Kelly’s Austin “show.” They acknowledge that the promoter misrepresented the event. Eventbrite should be given kudos for doing the right thing. What about the event promoters Exit Black? So far, they haven’t been heard from.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Led Zeppelin: Rocking the Gladsaxe Teen Club for Danish TV in 1969
05.14.2012
06:30 pm

Topics:
History
Music
Television

Tags:

led_zeppelin_scandanavia_1969
 
Roughly 6 months after their first gig (where they were billed as ‘The Yardbirds med Jimmy Page’) this is Led Zeppelin giving a hint as to why they will dominate venues and stadia across the world during the 1970s.

Recorded at the Gladsaxe Teen Club, Denmark, for TV Byen / Danmarks Radio on March 17, 1969, Led Zeppelin perform “Communication Breakdown”, “Dazed and Confused”, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”, and “How Many More Times”. Impressive and tight, this was what I considered as “grown-up Rock ‘n’ Roll” when I was young - the kind of music you studied after achieving good grades in Bowie and Bolan - and forty-three years on, it is still a cracking masterclass.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jesus, Freddie Mercury and Gay Marriage
05.14.2012
06:16 pm

Topics:
Art
Politics
Queer

Tags:


 
This provocative masterpiece by Mr. Fish, found via The Cagle Post, where reactions have been widely varied…

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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