Sunday, September 28, 2008

Einging alspilkur groobin takoodan biflorglorenborgi niffle

They say that seeing a show at Red Rocks is something that one must do if one lives in Colorado. I live in Colorado, so I did this. Sigur Ros (currently my favorite band, recently nudging Beirut out of that position) played there last night, and it was outstanding. 

A friend and I took 93 south from Boulder all the way to Red Rocks. It is an astoundingly pretty drive. Almost too much for a flatlander like me. Peaks to my right, big rocks to my left. Steep drops, long hills... It was grand. The whole place is built into this natural amphitheatre thing, and it's outside, too, which is nice. Parachutes opened the show, and they were pretty cool. It was like the kid version of Sigur Ros. They sat down on the stage at one point. I did not understand this.

But then THEY came on. They played a bunch of my faves like Heysatan, Inni mer singur vitleysyngur, Ny batteri, Vid spilum endalaust, and a whole slew of other good things. At times, it was astounding how much sound was coming out of such skinny boys. I watched the lights of the Front Range Metroplex sparkle behind them and wondered what it would look like if the world ended like that, with some unbelievably thick Icelandic rock music surrounding me.

I can't imagine what they would sound like if Jonsi was singing in English.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In the Grand Scheme of Things

"The chronicles of Jerusalem are a gigantic quarry from which each side has mined stones for the construction of its myths and for throwing at each other." 
The above quote comes from Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem. It reminded me a bit of an exchange that I had with a former professor when I informed them about an upcoming trip to Turkey. It went a bit like this:

ME: Yeah, I'm going to be hanging around Istanbul and we'll go down along the coast then inland through Konya and then finish up outside Ankara. It's gonna be sweet!
PROFESSOR: Isn't Turkey full of Muslims? Aren't they a bit violent? I heard they have a lot of terrorism issues there.
ME: It'll be fine. Seriously.

A year or so later, I was working with my boss to organize a student trip to Jerusalem and I ended up discussing the trip with the same professor:

ME: Yeah, I'm working to put together this student trip to Jerusalem. We'll tour through the Old City and see the Temple Mount and then go touring through Bethlehem and maybe even visit Ramallah in the West Bank. It's gonna be sweet!
PROFESSOR: Yes, it totally does sound sweet. I'm sure you'll have an awesome and inspiring time!
ME: Umm...yeah. You know that...oh forget it. Thanks.

I have a greater chance of being crushed to death by a vending machine than I have of being killed by a terrorist, anywhere. I fear heart disease, cancer, credit card debt, drunk drivers, and bad decisions by leaders.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Morning Noises

It's 4:15 am Central Time right now. I went to bed a smidge after 12:30 am. As I was dozing off, I heard that familiar furniture-moving noise from the floor above. A few minutes ago, I heard it again. Now there's a perfectly good reason for me to be awake right now (my flight), but what on earth is going on up there? My friend suggested a few moments ago that maybe it was "one of those vacuum robot things." 


Of course...the vacuum-robot...Roomba...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Re: Machiavelli

Machiavelli is a Romaphile, of this much I am certain. He charts the relative successes and failures of all three states/republics/empires/whathaveyou from their earliest development. Sparta was "granted" its strong constitution and laws by Lycurgus. Under this system, class roles were highly prescriptive. Everyone knew where they were going and how they were getting there. The populace was very limited in its exercise of power. In Athens, on the other hand, the system set in place by Theseus and his successors did not clearly state where people "ought" to be in society. There was no "proper" role for strongmen or aristocrats. Because of these problems, Athenian democracy was very messy, and led to a great many fallings-down. 

In Rome, though, the original governance style was that of a kingdom; there was no place for laws detailing freedom and democratic representation. When liberty came, a rush of new laws followed it. These laws were then augmented to reflect changing situations. The republic developed organically. Plebeians were allowed certain leadership positions in the military and market, but otherwise the bulk of power was in the hands of the Senate and the patricians. This set Rome up for class conflict, but Machiavelli points out that it was just such conflict that provided the impetus for growth and change. Political crisis forced the evolution of the Roman state into a highly-functional and pragmatic machine. Power was added to power, and it was never really allowed to slip down to the populace in the form of full enfranchisement. 

Rome eventually expanded as a multi-ethnic empire, which forced it to involve all sorts of other folks in the governance process. They had to flatten their control. Athens was more localized in its endeavors, and when it did send itself out to gain land, it failed. Sparta had the same problem. Their expansion proved foolish, for their concentrated power was best at just that: being concentrated. Rome was the more perfect state because it was more willing to adapt and learn from its mistakes. It did not overly appease, nor did it overly oppress. It was, as one student noted in her response, the embodiment of "The Prince." 

Intern Much?

First post up at The 1010 Project's social network: