Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wisdom of Markets

I tweeted on this this morning and probably it came out trollish, but I'm somewhat genuinely puzzled by the fact that conservatives proclaim deep faith in the wisdom of markets and yet, completely contrary to what the market is alleging, conservatives are also trying to stir up deep panic about the US debt. If the markets, the wise, omniscient markets, are shrugging off such concerns, why aren't conservatives? Not that it's such a starting claim, but if forced to hypothesize, I'd say it's evidence that this "panic" about the debt has lots to do with politics and very little to do with economics.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

On the "he was only joking" defense

Louis CK defended Tracy Morgan's anti-gay ranting last week, noting that his own comedy routine includes a potentially offensive joke trivializing and justifying rape.  He argues, among other things, that Morgan wasn't serious, he was just joking around.

I think good comedy is often comedy that will say things that shock or that involve some departure from norms. But that doesn't mean, I don't think, that comedians have carte blanche, that there's no accountability for what they say because they're comedians and these are jokes and none of it is true. If comedy routines were nothing but fiction reflecting nothing of actual beliefs, they'd cease being funny. Comedians are funny insofar as they speak the truth or point to something that is true. They make us laugh because they are speaking the truth clearly and bluntly, or saying things that we'd never dare say but sympathize with to some extent, or because they say things that are obviously false but, as such, thereby illuminate something that is true. This is the huge difference between Louis CK's rape joke and Morgan's "kill my gay son" joke. In the case of CK, the rape joke is obviously absurd and thereby illuminates the stupidity of a rape mindset, i.e, the notion that somehow one's desire for sex trumps another's personal security. But Morgan wasn't articulating a position that was obviously false and funny because it illuminated the absurdity of the position he was articulating, it seemed to those in the room that he was being quite serious. It also failed because it didn't have a ring of truth, it wasn't a dark place but one that we'd also been to. We didn't think, "yeah, i'd never say it out loud, but I'd want to kill my son too if he were gay and started talking effeminately." Rather, we, or most of us, I think, thought, "wow, that's really terrible and disgusting and sad, and if that's your dark place, you need serious help."

In any event, here's a good interview with CK: link. And here's a great discussion of it from Ta-Nehisi Coates: link, which makes, I think, similar points to the ones I'm making. And finally, here's a discussion of whether CK really should get away with a rape joke: link.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A review of Google Music

I asked for a tryout for the Google Music Beta and just recently received my invite. I really like the basic idea of the system, i.e., storing music on "the cloud" rather than on your laptop or on some external hard drive or a stack of CDs filled with mp3s in your basement, and then going through the transfer process with a new computer, etc. Google Music also doesn't require syncing a phone and computer and music player as one has to do when using Itunes on an iPod or Iphone and on a computer.
Another nice feature is that they offer a nice selection of free tunes as well, if desired.

However, the initial description isn't completely forthright, and feels like a bait and switch. The earliest description had led me to believe that I'd simply be able to store my music as mp3s and download them  to any device I wanted and use any software that I wanted. However, it seems that that's not the case. Rather, one can download to other devices but they have to be Android devices, and, unsurprisingly, I guess, there's a limit to the number of devices. One can also download to a computer, i.e., laptop or desktop, but it seems that on your laptop only the Google musicplayer can be used to play the downloaded music. So, it seems that  Google Music commits users to Google software or a Google OS. As such, insofar as one doesn't want to make a lifelong commitment to using Google products, it offers no solution at all as a storage medium, I'll still have to store all my MP3s on a hard drive somewhere. I guess they're not being evil, but they're no better than Apple's nearly useless proprietary music software and formatting.

(oh, and one other odd glitch, gtalk won't display the current song title when one is playing music with the Google music player.)