Friday, October 31, 2008

More 1974

You can't get any more 1974 than Gordon Lightfoot, I don't think. Ah, what is the answer to this mystery that is 1974?

Some of you may be wondering why I keep putting up stuff from 1974. Well, the reason is that I think something happened in 1974, some earth's-destiny-changing event, like Aramazd going up against Ahriman in a battle that would decide the fate of the cosmos. I'm not kidding. I don't exactly know what happened, but I think Nixon had something to do with it, but, say, a rabid dog running down the street might have just as well been the cosmos-redirecting event, too--nobody really knows. But the point is that something unusual happened in 1974, and that is why I am a bit fascinated by it. If you've ever read Philip Dick's VALIS you know what I'm talking about.

If you haven't read the books, then here's what I'm talking about. (And, by the way, I don't necessarily see the world the way Dick did in that book, but I certainly dig[g] the way he soldiered through it). Life is a monolith, a thing, an ontological fact. Life is an inexplicable something. If you took this monolith, this thing, and you put it up in front of Confucius, Socrates, and all the philosophers from then until now, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and, yes, Derrida, and you asked them to try to explain it, to understand it, to say just what is it, they would come up with an answer, a characteristic answer. Would the answer have anything to do with the thing, the monolith? Why, no. But it would be a characteristically human answer. The answer would explain not the monolith, but it would speak volumes about humans. See where I'm coming from?

(And, by the way, saying that Being is an a priori concept that we humans bring to the world, a la Kant, still doesn't explain why things are a priori.) What is this thing? What is being? Explain it.

In 1974, human answers were happening. People were coming up with answers, with art, in a way that hasn't happened since then, for 34 years. I don't know why. The monolith stays the monolith, but the human attempt to explain it intensifies periodically.

That was 1974. And it is happening again this year.

UPDATE: While I was writing this post, something started itching in the back of my mind, like right around where the cerebral cortex meets medulla at the spine, if it does...well, you know what I mean. So I scratched the itch, that is, paid attention to it, and I remembered that Something Happened, Joseph Heller's book, was published in 1974.

If I remember correctly, standing in front of a door and being simultaneously horrified, terrified, and enraptured by the idea of opening it was the matrix that the story grew out of. Here is Wiki's bullshit take on it. Kurt Vonnegut had a lot more interesting things to say about the book. Here they shoot the shit about things.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clarification about Dashnaks.

Someone, an anonymous person, sent me an email that impugned that I was a Dashnak hater. I don't hate the Dashnaks; I just don't agree with them. I want to clarify what I think about them.

I am 3rd generation Dashnak. My family is mostly Dashnaks, and it always has been. My grandparents were card-carrying members of the Dashnak party. They held Dashnak posts. I'm not kidding or exaggerating about this, mind you. They really were.

So, understand, if I criticize the Dashnaks, I criticize them as one who comes from a Dashnak background. You see, the Dashnaks, back in the day, were a very viable party. They did a lot for Armenians. They built schools, they built churches, they spread awareness about Armenian issues.

Sometime, around the mid 70s, the Dashnak leadership decided to go, um, let's say, Franco, on everybody's ass--as in fascistic. That's when the problems started. That's when about half of my family and the Dashnaks parted ways. I am with the side that broke with the Dashnaks. I think that they are approaching the Armenian reality from an entirely wrong direction. I criticize them, I don't agree with them, and I think that they should either change or end.

But let me make one thing clear: The Dashnaks are no "baby killers." The Dashnaks that I know don't send rape and death threats. That's not what they are about. So, for the record, the Dashnaks are an obsolete, bureaucratic bunch of repeaters of early 20th century national socialist boilerplate, but they are no "baby killers."

If you want a real crazy Marxist-Anarchist, that would be Armenaker Kamilion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hatspanian kicks some Dashnak ass.

[Photo by Onnik Krikorian]

Impudent, interruptative (there isn't such a word) Dashnak, versus literate ass-kicker, Hatspanian.

One of the many interesting things about this debate is that they are both Western Armenians, judging by their--very slight--accents. In any case, the highlight of the clip is how Hatspanian pwns the Dashnak towards the end.

Full disclosure: Probably, the most traffic that my site has gotten from a post is from my translation of Hatspanian's account of March 1st.

One more thing: notice that the camera favors the Dashnak (guy on the left side of screen [but on the right side of the ideology])

(Thanks to Tzitzernak for picking up on this and translating key parts of the discussion. Tzitzernak always picks up on all the interesting stories, really.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Misses" Palin

Russian-American art students?

Lessons from the US.

We're constantly hearing about how Armenia, a "third world country," has a serious problem with voter fraud. Well, here are some lessons from the US in how to perpetrate voter fraud that Serj might want to pay attention to:

Voter fraud does happen in the US, it is real, and it is going to happen on Nov. 4th. So, two things:

1. Stop pretending that the US is the democratic standard that all nations should be measured against: The US is a voter-fraud shit-hole that is rapidly becoming a second-world country.

2. Go here.

Update: They nixed the last link to the segment I linked to on You Tube. I've got a new link up to the same segment. Hope it stays there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Double "Hmmmm..."

Nikol Pashinian is back, sort of. He gave an interview to RFE/RL about a week ago, or at least October the 16th is when the interview was released. The English RFE article about it is here. The Armenian audio is here, and here are the Armenian transcript and its translation into English.


Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm not a believer, but I love Armenian church music. I've been hunting around for YouTube clips of good music, and I came across Hovig's Ter Voghormia, or God Have Mercy:

He never goes off key.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

1973 - Martik and Googoosh

There are a bunch of Martik songs in the Googoosh repertoire. Here he shows up in hairy person. Go, Martik!

(Ignore that 9821 ad.)

1974 - Piss Factory

This song was banned in 1974. 1974...

Saturday, October 11, 2008


The beginning to the end of the war.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Young Republicans

Have you ever come across a Republican guy who just can't stfu?

The thing is, if you actually picked up, say, a book on English grammar, and you bashed their heads in with it, you'd have to face a murder trial.

Here is another robot: the one for Norm Coleman, a most repulsive Republican Senator from Minnesota who only won his seat because his Democratic and extremely respected and supported opponent named Paul Wellstone--died in a mysterious plane crash with his family.

To put it charitably, Coleman soundly defeated a dead man.

Here is Coleman's talking minion, today:

Notice the propensity for repetition that these trained, formicidae-level Republican propagandists have. In any case, Norm Coleman, of winning a dead opponent fame, is, nowadays, running against Al Franken. If you know Al Franken from Saturday Night Live, then you know how unusual is this contest for the Senate seat in Minnesota. Here is an example:

Yeah, the candidate's wife talking about being an alky in his own, Franken's--campaign ad. Could people like John McCain's heroin-addicted wife (the perfect example of the rich nut-case that I wrote about, btw) ever come out like this? I don't think so. They'd just smile aloofly and seem unapproachable, like Cindy McCaine did at the second Presidential debate.

In any case, Norm Coleman, an insect trying to pretend it is human, tried to destroy George Galloway, the anti-war ass-kicker of the Arab district in England, one who's held his views for 30 years (long before Christopher Hitchens, etc.) and the one who got kicked out of parliament because of his opposition to the war in Iraq. Little would one expect that a British MP would have to answer to a Senator in the US. But he was asked to, and he did, probably against the expectations of the one(s) doing the asking. He kicked Coleman's ass up-and-down and called him a sissy, and here is the video:

[Go to minute 6 if you want to skip over the boring bureaucratic bullshit from Coleman.]

Watching Coleman get pummeled by Galloway, a former professional boxer, is a pleasure, per se, in and of itself. Galloway made money writing a book about it. (Too bad Carl Levin, someone who's been on Biden's side, a little, had to be there, next to a worm like Coleman.)

One more, just to irritate the Republicans:

"No British government would have bombed West Belfast and said that it was actually targeting the IRA who lived there. That's an actual event, never mind the hypothetical about Scotland developing weapons."

"...Israel is the only country in the Middle East which actually does have Nuclear Weapons, and hundreds of them... My point is that Israel is in not in any danger at all!"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Palin, the Bully.

The Bully with the smile and the toss of her head.

There is a wealth of precious Palin You Tube videos. This is one of my favorites:

"Who are hurtin' because the economy is hurtin'"

"Whatever we can do. Whatever Todd and I can do, in, in, realizing whatever their [red state poor] challenges in that state are, as we [the Palin family] can relate to them and connect to them and promise them that we won't let them down in the administration--I wanna get back to Michigan and I wanna try."

She wants the chance to convince the red-state poor to vote for Wall Street.

What a self-sacrificin' reader of all and any newspapers.

You can't make this shit up.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Consumer Demand

It is rarely mentioned, but the single-most important factor that drives the economy is demand. Deflation takes place when demand drops, and that is what happened during the Great Depression. Perhaps the reason it is not mentioned is that to do so would be to let the public know that its buying habits rule the world, which might put ideas in their head, ideas like boycotting.

Demand has gone through a mutation in the United States. You can confirm this through a visit to the supermarket--or B-52 hangars loaded with useless crap in all colors near you, same thing. Here are a few examples. The other day I went to the supermarket to buy a pen, just one pen. I went over to the stationary department and started looking. And looking. And looking. It was hard to believe: it was impossible to find just one pen. There were packages of ten pens, or four pens, or three pens, but a single pen for sale did not exist in that supermarket. Was it because the producers couldn't conceive of a person needing only one pen? No, they were making too many of them and needed to force consumers to buy more than what they need. Agglomeration appeals to the reptilian brain of the American consumer, anyway.

I went to get some laundry detergent, the kind that doesn't have any perfume added to it. Again, it couldn't be done. You can get detergent with an allergen fighter added to it, but you can't get a detergent that doesn't have that cloying chemical perfume added to--in the first place. Marketing rules state that products should always be "with" something and "30% More!" Marketing tactics and advertising play on the average American's psychology. To sell things nowadays takes playing on people's most primitive instincts, utilizing their greed and fear against them, to get them to stuff that last extra hot dog down their throat, squeeze it down into that millimeter of space left in their processed-meat-filled stomachs.

Once I was in a department store looking at washing machines. I was looking them over quickly; I wanted to get it over with and leave, get out of that overly bright whorehouse filled with wild-eyed customers groping around for the best products at the cheapest prices while the same soundtrack that they'd heard since the 1970s glorified their values and infused the meaninglessness of it all with deluges of sentimental emotion: "And it seems to me, that you lived your life like a candle in the wind/ never knowing who to turn to, when the rain set in." I don't know how many times I've heard that lugubrious couplet walking into a grocery store, all about a boy's identification with Marilyn Monroe, an emotionally intense one, which is why it's strange that its a staple of the soundtrack played for people buying chewing gum, or making a left turn onto a freeway, or eating Kung-Pao chicken at a moderately priced restaurant. All pop songs are as ubiquitous in everyday American life as they are melodramatic. They have to be; they have to be so melodramatic as to be able to overwhelm the mundane, like heroin or crack.

In any case, it was going relatively smoothly in that environment of noisome sweetness. I was evaluating and rejecting each whore/washing machine at a good pace, until I came upon this one washing machine that broke my rhythm. Everything was normal about it: top loaded, average-sized motor, large capacity, and so on. But when my eyes fell on the instrument panel, something seemed wrong, something that, in the beginning, produced a barely conscious feeling of irritation in me that blew into a conscious anxiety when I suddenly realized that I had been staring the panel for a good few minutes, perplexed. Perplexed, I thought, What could be perplexing about a stupid washing machine?

I began very deliberately reading the labels of the switches and dials, looking for the culprit causing the confusion, and I found it: it was the load-size dial. It read: "Small, Average, Medium, Large." Apparently, my mind had unconsciously picked up on the "Average, Medium" measures of the scale and gotten stuck on them, trying to determine just what the difference between average and medium is. Because there really isn't one. Don't we mean by "medium height," for example, that height which occurs most frequently and is, therefore, "average"? The only possible, remotely logical explanation is that the manufacturers were thinking about the difference between median and mean. Perhaps autistic people doing their laundry might know and distinguish between the most frequently occurring load size in the United States from the mean load size (i.e., the load sizes of all 100 million households in US added up then divided by 100 million), but I'd say the average person doing his or her laundry doesn't give even a medium-sized flying fuck about that question.

Having noticed this one ridiculous marketing gimmick, I wondered if there were others. And, yes, there it is was: the chime signaling the end of the wash cycle had an on-off switch. You see, if you are like the average person and are lulled to sleep by the sound of a 50 pound motor churning 40 gallons of water back and forth and, therefore, like to sleep next to your washing machine, you have the option of turning the chime off so it doesn't suddenly startle you awake at the end of the cycle. It's like a little bell signaling to terrified captives in a high-rise that Godzilla has now stopped breathing fire into their faces. And, imagine: You can turn this bell on and off--how convenient for "you."

Because "you" is what these marketing campaigns are all about. In their effort to get people to buy shit that they don't need, marketers have striven to convince "you" that, yes, indeed, the entire world does revolve around "you," and so especially does the corporation that they work for. Really? About me? Do they mean that the CEO of their corporation regularly gets up at the end of meetings with share-holders and says, "Well, we took a 50% cut in our profits this quarter, but that's OK because we made life more comfortable for Armen." You want to meet me in the back seat because you "really love" me, do you? Vulgar people, these marketers.

And if it is not about "you," it's "simple." The whole thing started with one or another ibuprofen peddler, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, NSAID as they call it, that turns your stomach into a mini-Hiroshima. The ad that they aired was, "Little, Yellow, Different." Three words to characterize a product. "Keep it simple, stupid," the ad did. "K.I.S.S." was a rule formulated in a way that stupid people could remember, encouraging them to make their adds as stupid as possible, and it worked. After that, commercials started talking about how "simple" their products were: simple cellphone accounts, simple banking, simple food, simple life. Life wasn't about complications, but about simplicity; it was about falling in love with a product the way you fell in love when you were 12. Simple. In other words, if the commercial was about, say, picking a bank, then the decision to do so did not involve wondering what the dozens of PhD economists that the bank had hired to find out in what elaborate ways it can take advantage of "you," the center of the universe, no, it was about a "simple" realization that everything is OK, nothing to doubt, nothing to be weary about--like banks and their dealings.


More later. I'm calling it a night.