Monday, February 23, 2015

The Bleat Goes In, # 3: Some Semiotics

Criminally Cold?

The early, influential French semiotics guy, Roland Barthes, made something of a career of apprehending fleeting cultural phenomena and interrogating them to attempt to reveal the deeper systems of signification they both convey and constitute. 

That the police in the metropolis of Harlan, Kentucky, had issued an arrest warrant for Elsa, the cartoon character from the Disney hit Frozen, in connection with the unprecedented, freezing, snowy winter weather in the region is such a phenomenon, I think. Barthes might have been intrigued. In his vocabulary, the arrest warrant is a symbol of the present wish to dispel winter, but of a deeper awareness and denial of complicity in the complaint..

First, probably,  he'd have noted the ubiquity of Disney imagery in the landscape of our general popular imagination, it's given-ness, and perhaps speculated upon the corpoRat colonization of the mind's collective eye. Eco, too, has commented on the implications of such immersion; he called it "Disneyfication" in Travels in Hyper--Reality.

And then he might have turned to the 'joke': the deliberately comic conceit that 'the weather' might be capable of being arrested. it being a subtle allusion to the charge that is is ONLY weather that is changing, and the extension of the false equivalence, frequently indulged in by the deniers, that climate and weather are the same.

Which, our deceased semiotician might have postulated, could be seen as a trivialization of the severity of the changes that impending, and apparently faster approaching catastrophic climate change than had previously been indicated, would certainly include. 

He might then have digressed: We never tire of naming the elements; to name them, we think, is to exert some control. We call the wind Mariah; now the cold is called Elsa. 

And then he might have concluded by suggesting that--if not the--at least some of the real culprits for the recent climactic plagues to befall the region--Harlan County, KY--could be traced directly to the coal that provided the livelihoods (and identities) to so many of those whom the cold now so sore afflicted.

I know some folks'd say that reminds 'em a little of Karma...We can chat about it when i see ya at the beach. Paz, hippies.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Bleat Goes On, #2: The Dis-Education President

On the whole, yer ol perfesser detests the current incumbent SLIGHTLY less than his predecessor, on a number of grounds. There is ample reason for fierce criticism of ThePrez.
But, if there is one thing for which I shall bear Prez. Shamwow F. Lowbar an eternal and undying enmity, it will be his treatment of the nation's schools and students. 
It is also that area, schooling, in which he most clearly betrays his servile,corpoRat bona fides.
Obama may have had generous intentions, but he if so, they were still-born when he installed and has KEPT that flaming, cortpRat douchebag, Arne Duncan, as SecEd...
Duncan has been the leader of the swarming hordes of corpoRats, privatizers, real estate tycoon, testing grifters high techers, and other smarmy opportunists looking to extract as much of the public treasure as they can from the country's public schools, to get it while the getting is good.
Under the Lowbarry/Duncan regime, it's gotten better and better.,..
Duncan, a corpoRat lawyer with only distant relations to the nitty gritty of schooling, has been a leader of the pack of jackals snapping at teachers' heels, accusing and abusing them for the systematic---and systematically engineered--failures within the institution. Teachers can no more be blamed for their students' successes or failures, measured by occasional tests, no matter the stakes, than can dentists be blamed for their patients' personal hygene between visits..
For 30 years, schools and teachers (unions) have been targets of legislative and corpoRat efforts to provide the impetus for the wholesale privatization of schooling, and Lowbar and his ass-hole hoops-playing buddy have opened the door and unlocked the safe.
Teachers are NOT responsible for the conditions that produce bad educational outcomes, when the single variable most correlated with school success is the child's residential Zip code. But, by his silence towards Duncan's calumnies, the cowardly President encourages the kinds of arrant nonsense spouted by the 'reformers.' 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Last Stand of the Po' White Trash: "FUCK NO!" To A Con Con

Sarah Palin and her slattern/round-heeled, drunk daughter, Bristol, are in the forefront of a movement to call a Constitutional Convention to reverse 'liberal' successes in race relations, etc, and roll back Government regulation.
And it's what yer ol' perfesser's scared the shit outta by, if you get my meaning. It is really scary, because it is VERY possible they might succeed.
No, really!
Forget that the she-bear and her twunt daughter are involved. That's just window dressing, to bring in the yokels, proles, and drones. There is a very REAL danger that the Righturds can garner enough support in State legislatures to force a ConCon.
Which would be the worst KIND of a disaster from the perspective of a democratic citizenry.…/sarah-and-bristol-palin-want-to-rewr…/
Don't dismiss this just because Caribou Barbie and her teen twunt are at the point. They're very attractive to a certain segment of the populace. What you have to remember is that the essential feature of this appeal is the embedded, racial message.
This is the :Last Stand" of White People--people who's first source of identity is their whiteness.
They are going to try to use their (declining, but still substantial) status as the racial majority to preserve their fading privileges by rewriting the Constitution to if not expressly favor their interests, at least to prevent their 'enemies' from using it to project MORE threats to 'em.
See: It's not a "crazy" strategy.  The States can demand a constitutional convention if 3/4 agree.  They need 38 States to convene a ConCon. They have 30, with at least three more teetering toward the Darkness. 
This is exactly why the Kochs and the rest are spending so much money in the states on 'local' elections. Wackloon/cristoid/fundie/teahadists (i.e., the GOPhux) now are in the majority in a MAJORITY (at least 30) States' legislatures. They could take NM; they almost did, last time. Time and Citizens United are on their side. It's even MORE insidious on the state level than in Federal elections, and it's easier to corrupt the locals.
You might think a convention to rewrite the Constitution would be a good idea. And I would wonder at your sanity.  Who does anyone imagine would direct the institution, organization, management, and outcome of such an undertaking if NOT the very oligarchs who have worked and spent mightily for the past 60 years to accomplish what they now enjoy?

I cannot think of a single way to have a ConCon and prevent it from becoming the ratification of the Corporate State.
They need only capture EIGHT more states.