JP124: Jury Duty

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The 124 on Jury Duty

It’s been a busy few weeks, honest! First it’s Easter and now I have this jury duty summons! But excuses are like assholes, right? Or maybe that’s opinions. . . anyway, going to have to walk back my commitments to doing 124s on Terrorism and Israel/Palestine for the time being. Turns out they’re rather daunting and all time management problems aside, I’d like to devote a little more time to those two topics regardless. This week: The Roundup, Unknown Minstrel Week 5, and some baqia.

Weekly Roundup

“In Indonesia, pious “punks” promote Islam”, Tommy Ardiansyah, Johan Purnama, Kanupriya Kapoor, and Nick Macfie, Reuters

My knee jerk response to this headline was to remember the Christian Rock garbage I was encouraged to listen to at summer camp, the sort of music to which Hank Hill famously opined “You’re not making Christianity better, you’re making rock and roll worse!”. But comparative religions is risky business and I’m not here to be a critic. Interesting contrast to the Orientalist image.

Ahmad Zaki, one of the movement’s founders, believes the genre of punk is often associated with a “tendency towards misbehaviour” but he wants to change that.

“We can redirect ourselves to better, more positive things,” he said.

“The Airline Industry Is a Starving Giant That’s Gnawing at Our Economy”, Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

When the Carter administration began deregulating the airlines in the late ’70s, it did so in the name of fostering price competition. Sure, relinquishing public control might jeopardize smaller, rural cities’ access to convenient air travel, but free-market competition would also make flying more affordable for the vast majority of Americans.

But thanks in no small part to lax antitrust enforcement by President Reagan and his successors, deregulation ultimately turned a public quasi-monopoly into a private one.

War and Peace

“What We Do Best”, Patrick Blanchfield, n+1

Last night, on the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, President Donald Trump authorized the launch of fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles against a Syrian government military base. There has been no call for mass mobilization, no avuncular injunction to report to your local recruiting station. Donald Trump can launch $94 million of cruise missiles from the comfort of Mar-a-Lago; he does not Need You to do anything. But that won’t stop us.

“Trump’s Indonesian Allies In Bed with ISIS-Backed Militia Seeking to Oust Elected President”, Allan Nairn, The Intercept

Associates of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in a campaign that ultimately aims to oust the country’s president. According to Indonesian military and intelligence officials and senior figures involved in what they call “the coup,” the move against President Joko Widodo (known more commonly as Jokowi), a popular elected civilian, is being impelled from behind the scenes by active and retired generals. . . .

. . . Like many officials I spoke with, Kivlan said that the current army-backed street movement and crisis began as a result of the Symposium, a 2016 forum organized by the Jokowi government that allowed survivors and descendants of ’65 to publicly describe what had happened to them and to discuss how their loved ones died. For much of the army, the Symposium was an intolerable outrage and in itself justified the coup movement. One general told me that what most outraged his colleagues was that “it made the victims feel good.” The Symposium, of course, had nothing to do with Gov. Ahok or with religious questions of any kind. It was about the army and its crimes.

Discrimination and Hate Crimes

“Chechen police ‘kidnap and torture gay men’ – LGBT activists”, Laurence Peter, BBC

Gay men are fleeing brutal persecution in Chechnya, where police are holding more than 100 people and torturing some of them in an anti-gay crackdown, Russian activists say.

Poverty and Class Struggle

“Investors are paying college students’ tuition — but they want a share of future income in return”, Frank Chaparro, Business Insider

Melissa Gillbanks is no fan of student loans, so when she was looking for a way to pay for her senior year at Purdue University, she was happy to sign away a portion of her future income in exchange for a very different way to raise cash for college.


“Oligarchy in America”, Andrew Levine, Counter Punch

Ironically, though, over the same period, income and wealth inequality and other problems associated with plutocracy have gotten worse; voting hasn’t helped with that at all.   Indeed, many less well off voters nowadays vote for candidates and policies that make the problems associated with plutocratic rule worse.  So much for expropriating the expropriators through the ballot box!

There are many reasons why this has happened: false consciousness comes immediately to mind; it is surely part of the explanation.  For evangelicals and others with retrograde social views in the United States, so is “values voting.”

But the most important part of the explanation, in the American case, is the lack of a real opposition party that the system in place does not thoroughly marginalize.  The Democratic Party is useless for that.  To be sure, even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been known to mouth off about the evils of inequality.  But you don’t need a bullshit detector to see that they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.


“Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails begin hunger strike”, Nidal Almughrabi, Ori Lewis, Jeffrey Heller, and Alison Williams, Reuters

Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on Monday in response to a call by prominent prisoner Marwan Barghouti, widely seen as a possible future Palestinian president.

Unknown Minstrel Week 5
By Daniel Suhre

Back at it again this week, this time returning to my PNW roots to pay homage to Kind of Like Spitting, a project of Ben Barnett that started around 1995 and lasted 10 or so years (with occasional releases/tours after 2006).

A friend introduced me to KOLS only last year, and what I found was a lot of music, probably created under less-than-ideal circumstances (though not without a sense of humor. Take a look at the cover of Professional Results:1999-2014 for instance).

What I like so much about Ben’s songwriting is he seems perfectly at home channeling Leonard Cohen as Death Cab for Cutie, and doesn’t get mired in purity struggles. On The Thrill of the Hunt we hear covers of much loved classics by Big Star (‘Thirteen’) alongside Dean Martin psuedo-deep cuts (‘Lay Some Happiness on Me’), all in an endearing bedroom folk configuration.

It’s telling that Ben chose to make an entire album of Phil Ochs covers. It was central to Phil’s music never to bow to the ideological demands of the folkies (Take, for example, the infamous Gunfight at Carnegie Hall album, a joyous romp of Elvis medleys and songs by Merle Haggard and Buddy Holly, complete with a telephone bomb threat, Phil smashing the box office window, and a three hour second set ended only by Carnegie Hall cutting the power).

I hear Ben’s music as somewhat of a continuation of Phil’s legacy. Class politics come through subtly on many KOLS releases, perhaps most pronounced on In the Red from 2005 (not coincidentally, this is my favorite KOLS album).

Around 2009, Ben started releasing songs with the band Blunt Mechanic, so more recordings to check out there. For now, listen to Sherriff Ochs (presumably about Phil Ochs, though I can’t verify that) from In the Red.

“There’s more to life than lovers and chores / there’s more to life than an office at the top floor”


Jury Duty

In 10 minutes I’m going to sign in for my jury duty summons. While the timing is inconvenient, I’ve looked forward to jury duty since my 1st grade teacher Ms. Swenson was summoned in the spring of 1995. I hear it’s boring, but I’m also sappypleased to be doing my civic duty.

In honor of this life landmark, I’m posting the trailer to Pauly Shore’s Jury Duty, easily one of the funniest movies ever made about jury duty.

. . . thank you for scrolling

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