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A Letter To #OccupyWallStreet…

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2011 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , ,

Dear #OccupyWallStreet,

I write with the purpose of explaining why despite my admiration for the rather broad, abstract cause I gather to be your rallying point, you do not represent me as a member of the “99%” nor do I think you’re accomplishing as much in your crusade as you seem to believe.  First off let me be clear in that I am politically moderate, but tend to lean towards the left in my belief system.  I am also well experienced in having to defend an unpopular ‘leftist’ point of view having attended a high school most notorious for producing Bill O’Reilly and a college whose student body more resembled a J.Crew catalog than the idealistic youth typically associated with higher education.

On the other hand, in your defense I should also acknowledge that my opinion is that of an amateur, and that I don’t have a fix all for the current shitstorm we’re in.  I can not lay forth a plan to guarantee you a job or bring justice to the Gordon Gecko worshipping Wall Street elite still bringing in bonuses worth more than the majority of us make in a three-year span, but what I can do is tell you why I think you’re misguided and what I think would be a more effective way of accomplishing what I interpret to be your end-goal.

My biggest question is, what exactly are you trying to accomplish?  I know I’m not the first person to bring this point up, but how are you going to accomplish anything without a clear stated purpose?  I get it that the catchphrases thrown around with #occupy (inequality, greed, discrimination) are all inter-related and probably come together to form your goal, but if shouting about a series of things you’re unhappy with is the plan, you will never change anything.  I have read what you pass off as a “mission statement” and I think it reads more as a list of every complaint ever uttered against a government than a clearly stated mission of intent or ideological summary.  So what does that tell us about your goals?

So far you’ve interrupted the 99%’s way of life more so than that of the 1%.  I want to know how sitting in Zuccotti Park and all the satellite “Occupy” locations is actually going to help our country.  I want to know the reason that the Zuccotti Park Greenmarket, something that seemed to be a beacon of the sort of place you would want to live in, had to be disrupted for you to “occupy” the area?  If you’re going to take down the best sort of movements that the “99%” have, you damn well better have a clear stated intention of what you’ll be doing for those people you claim to represent, and how the inconvenience will benefit them in the end.

Another flaw often pointed out in your “movement” is the lack of leadership.  I know you claim to be a “leadership-less” movement, which is cute, but to me that’s really just blind idealism.  You need leadership.  Any group of people who have successfully made a difference has had clear leaders to represent them.  What you’re talking about seems to be more like a lot of people who grew up idealizing the movements of the 1960s, currently unhappy with their lot in life, acting out a “safe” way to be able to eventually tell their own story of their days as a revolutionary.  There are people coming down to the protests like it’s a tourist attraction, and meanwhile the people who you’re trying to gain the attention of, your nemeses, are only mildly annoyed by your presence.  You’re the dirty hippy classmate that these wall streeters brush by in the hallway going to class and then laugh at once they’re sitting at the lunch table.  The people involved in the civil rights movements that you are trying to imitate were dangerous.  Not in an outwardly violent way, but in the way their opinions and their GOALS were clearly sinking into the overall mindset of the American people.  That clear goal and the way they delivered their message is what led to the success of their own tasks at hand.

That brings me to my next point.  Just as our country is desensitized to war and violence, we are equally so to mass protest.  In essence, the whole #Occupy movement is little more than a trending topic.  Sure its getting plenty of tweets and the occasional celebrity appearance, but what is it really accomplishing?  While you tweet about how many other people are tweeting about what you’re doing and how “occupy” events are spreading across the country, your movement is still an afterthought to the majority of the country.  It shares equal memory in your average American’s mind with #Glee, #ConradMurray and #ThisisWhyImSingle.

Even worse, Wall Street is continuing on with little more than a quick quip at the water cooler about you.  Here’s your proof of how much effect you’re really having at the moment.  We live in a new time where the amount of information transferred every minute has turned us into a generation with unbearable A.D.D.  If you want to make a difference, you have to figure out a way to move past trending.  There has to be the sort of element to your campaign that makes you dangerous without being violent.  I wish I knew the answer as to how to accomplish this.  I don’t.  Maybe if you guys had an organized leadership and not just an ongoing party, they could deliberate on what that next level of protesting evolution should be, and how you could use it to advance your cause.  There is a lot of highly educated individuals in this movement.  Why aren’t you taking advantage of that fact?

Being that this is the age of A.D.D., I promised myself I would keep this diatribe at, or around 1000 words.  I am already over my allotted count so in closing, I would like to apologize if this came across as an attack on #occupy or acceptance of “corporate greed”.  The intention of this letter is to let you know why I don’t consider myself well represented as a member of the 99% you claim to be fighting on behalf of.  I view your movement as unorganized, unmotivated and ineffective.  I would love to remove the “un’s” and “in” from that statement, but until you have as much of a damaging effect on Wall Street’s day-to-day operations as you do on the Zuccotti Green Market’s, I will never be able to fully understand what it is you hope to accomplish.

Regards and Best of Luck,

.001% of the 99%

- RJN

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Update

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2011 by Two Barbers

Dear Reader,

After about 6 months of cutting our teeth here and learning what blogging is all about we’ve decided that its time for a change in the Two Barbers world.  We’ll still be posting here a couple times of week to satisfy our jonsin’ to write, but we’ve established a grander, ‘easier to find what you want’ vision of Two Barbers and over the next few months we will be focusing mostly on bringing this idea into fruition.  Expect more contributors, a broader topic range and more multimedia aspects once the site is ready.  Please be patient as we promise it will be worth the wait!

In the meantime, please subscribe to the blog so you can still get the posts we do put up sent right to you!

best,

Rich & Matt

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Vital Information

In Vital Information, words/lexicography on January 5, 2011 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Different Uses for Freedom

In Garner’s Modern American Usage, by Bryan A. Garner, you can find eight terms derivative of the word ‘freedom’ and they all appear on one page: 367.

The first is the suffix “-FREE“, where Garner simply draws the distinction in spelling between those ‘-free’ words that are “established” and those that are not and denote only the absence of some quality or component usually attributed innately to the word, such as caffeine-free coke or germ-free environment (no guarantees on its physical possibility though, or whether it even is as favorable as it sounds at first, opposed to eerily, shroud-of-death-ish unnatural), and always uses a hyphen. The former “established” words are meant to denote those that are more singular in their definitions, such as the example given by Garner, “carefree,” which signifies something more like ‘unburdened’ than ‘lacking cares that should otherwise be expected’. A carefree person does lack care, most of the time, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect that he wouldn’t, nor would you go so far as to make that judgement having not met or interacted with him and, anyway, it’s not to say that he’s careless.

In the next entry it is listed in the broadest form able to be tapped, to wit, ‘free’, but applied in its most narrow, material sense. As in “free; for free“, the latter being technically incorrect since ‘free’ is an adjective and if you’re going to put a preposition in front of something it should be a noun, such as “nothing” (again, Garner’s example). But remember what Kris Kristofferson said about freedom, that it’s “just another word for nothing left to lose”.  And nobody cares if he/she loses nothing, because ain’t nothing for free, especially not freedom (see bumperskickers). But the way Garner would put it would be to call it a “casualism”, meaning, in his own words “the expression is far to common to be called an error.” (Garner’s descriptivist sympathies are revealed here. What that means is, believe me, something you don’t care to know in full detail right now, but suffice it to say it’s one of two ideological schools of thought in the linguistics academia, neither of which does anybody really ever claim but, rather, are dubbed with by other writers, because nobody sees their POV as anything but the right POV, and therefore not moniker worthy.)

Garner also accounts for the difference between ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’, which he says has “connotative distinctions.” “Freedom is the broader…term” and it “carries positive connotations” and ‘liberty’ is “slightly less emotive” and refers more to the “removal of restraints on specific freedoms”. Except in the Declaration of Independence.

In the case of “Freedom of’ vs. freedom from“, both are ok, as long as you make sure not to cross the negative with positive, such as -of hunger and -from expression. As long as you got that down, feel free to attach whatever suits you as you go.

Then there’s “free gift” which is a redundancy, since all gifts are given for free and, according to Garner, was used initially by advertisers, who really don’t care about language anymore than a car thief cares about the car he just stole, because, apparently, their philosophy is ‘why lie in one word when you can use two and get paid more for it’ (my summary).

Free rein” is spelled without the letter ‘g’, because it alludes to horses, and not a free kingdom through which you can roam rein-less.

If you look up the term ‘freethinker’, the entry prompts you to “see atheist“. As in “freethinker. See atheist.” However, it’s snarkiness breaks down when you actually flip back to atheist, where the latter gets widdled to the former, which is really nondescript sounding, and surprising that it’s even attributed directly to religion, that makes you wonder if Garner initially meant to be snarky but his conscious shrunk his balls as he fleshed it out, or not at all.

And last, but not least, the bee’s knees of all these different variations on freedom, one of the broadest, most comprehensive concepts we have,- “free will” (which can also be written as one word) can be used to refer to the lofty philosophical question or a simple description of basic, meaning less action, such as getting up one day and watching TV for 14 hours while eating cereal, then Dominos, and then chips for dinner, which, let’s be honest, if we’re to cut through all the philosophical musings and equivocations, is what most of us ultimately do with our free will, if not a sufficient analogue.

Bryan A. Garner on lawprose.com

I’d like to go ahead and apologize to Garner and anyone else for any subtle or glaring grammar or usage errors, malapropisms, or just any cringingly irksome choices in attempting to set up this little playground for the word “freedom” but, this shit’s for free, so what do you expect? And that’s the most prominent problem with freedom of speech. In, admittedly, very crude terms, any jack ass can take something and completely, or just in specifica ways that vital to the thing, mess it up.

Madison wrote, “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an ailment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” Now, you could point to qualifiers such as “political”, or the specifier, “faction”, on which the entire statement hinges, and argue that I’m reaching a bit to connect it to the pontificating of a superficially educated dumb ass. And for that, I have nothing…I am retort-free.

…Too bad Madison didn’t have a copy of Garner’s book to see he was using liberty incorrectly (in his defense though, words do stretch and change through time.)

-Matt

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This Week’s Article

In David Foster Wallace, Matt, Tuesday's Article on January 4, 2011 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on David Foster Wallace-10th Installment

Discussing Suicide Part 3

I wouldn’t venture into the forest of trying to synthesize some meaning for suicide (or Wallace’s suicide, in particular, either) out of Wallace’s fiction and essays (we’ll leave interviews out of this for now, for reasons that will become more obvious in a bit) if it didn’t seem like a necessary, albeit trapdoor fraught, step, and won’t do so without first establishing caveats. Both concerns, fortunately, can be handled nicely by this quote from an episode of Charlie Rose, from May 17th, 1996.

“I think part of the fun for me was being part of some kind of exchange between consciousnesses; a way for human beings to talk to each other about stuff that we normally can’t talk about…like we’re sure not going to be able to talk about this stuff here…” 

Which also should reveal why interviews will be disregarded. Wallace said it in during the show’s second half segment, that was a panel discussion on the purpose of fiction among which included two other authors, Mark Leyner and Jonathan Franzen.

Now despite the overall attempt to view suicide with a new, less sanctimonious and horrified lens, the word ‘fun’ is not a word that’s ever going to come anywhere near it. But if you can isolate the idea of fun from the rest of the quote (it may even be a good idea to go one step further and treat ‘fun’ here as a circumstantial term, exchangeable with words like ‘rewarding’, ‘cathartic’, or even ‘satiating’, or ‘invigorating’, none of which really fit well with suicide either, but are at least more thoughtful than ‘fun’…perhaps ‘moving’ or ‘compelling’ would be closer…) and focus on ‘a way for human beings to talk to each other about stuff that we normally can’t talk about’, you should be able to understand why it’s more than just a good idea but practically necessary to look at DFW’s fiction, as well as, to a lesser, more discriminating extent, his essays (Wallace claimed he was a little foggy on the definition of this writing form in his Introduction to The Best American Essays: 2007Deciderization 2007-a Special Report, stating “I think I personally prefer the term ‘literary nonfiction’). In order to fully understand why you have to be somewhat familiar with Wallace’s life (which, since you’re reading this, you most likely are), important details of which will be included, or somehow or other gotten to, further on. For right now, its important to make sure, as we go ahead and look into his writing, to be aware of the influence of his major depressive disorder and suicide, with which he had his first serous struggle in college (at least in a way that can be attributed to a time line), before any of his fiction was published.

It feels as though I’m now actually beginning to talk about suicide.

-Matt

PS

Here’s a video of the entire May 17th episode of Charlie Rose in 1996, in case you’re interested in getting a better feel for the conversation and time.

Read past blogs on David Foster Wallace here which you can also get by scrolling to the bottom, where all of our recurring topics are listed and linked.

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Monday’s Suggestion (01-03-11)

In Monday's Suggestion, Music, New York City, Rich, Uncategorized on January 3, 2011 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , ,

Asobi Seksu Release New Single “Trails”

Asobi Seksu

 

“Trails”, the first single off of Asobi Seksu’s upcoming fourth release starts off in a wall of dissonant, bagpipe-esque noise.  If this were to continue another ten seconds it would be annoying, but in its current incarnation it creates a ‘come hither’ allure that begs you to keep listening.

From there the song opens up into the sort of dream pop that has come to characterize the band’s sound.  Lead singer Yuki Chikudate sings and coos over carefully layered synth and a rolling drum beat heavy on tom work and accented with single shakes of a tambourine.

Overall, there is a sort of hope and wonder to the song that recalls Metricthe XX and Chairlift.  If the new record Fluorescence is full of this breed of expansive shoe-gaze, look for this album to finally push Asobi Seksu from darlings of the underground to mainstream contenders in 2011, similarly to how “Crystalised” did for the XX last year.

Asobi Seksu’s full length LP Fluorescence will be out February 15th on Polyvinyl Records, and the band will be supporting the release with a North American tour.  You can download Trails for free here and check out their tour dates on the band’s myspace.

Recommended If You Like: The XX, Metric, Chairlift

- Rich

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government, Matt on December 31, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Contracts

January 17th will be the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s presidential farewell address in which he gave that famous warning about the “military-industrial complex”, that was really more like a caveat than a straight-up beware the Ides of March style foreboding to the American public. It has been portrayed in the more commonly viewed rehashing as the latter, to up the drama. But, really, the drama is either going to be sensed or not by the viewer based on what he/she knows about history, government, and our economy, all the way up to his/her present (the distinction between ‘to know’ and ‘to believe’ is infinitesimal here and not meant to be nailed down) and the attempt at manipulation through emotional cues may work for some things, but would ultimately fizzle out.

Here’s the whole address, plus coverage and commentary from some member of the media…

But if you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, here’s at least a very available example of the military-industrial complex stuff, with dramatics and all…

Now, the Department of Defense announced Thursday a new roll of contracts that are worth $183,451,599 collectively.

Its divisions (because the military is all about hierarchy and ‘divide and conquer’) unfold as such…

Navy

  1. The Boeing Co., St. Louis, MO-$69,098,221- as a “delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement…for the procurement of integrated logistics support”
  2. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., Fort Worth, TX-$22,021,303- as a “modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price…and services in support of H-1 helicopter upgrade program”
  3. The Boeing Co. (again), St. Louis, MO-$14,471,274- as a “modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract”
  4. Mikel, Inc., Fall River, MA-$9,068,671- as a “cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide engineering services to Team Submarine and the PMS 425 program offices”
  5. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Bethpage, NY-$6,582,920- as a (if you were thrown by the contract-ise above, get ready for this) “modification to a delivery order placed against a previously issued basic ordering agreement…to exercise an option for engineering, technical and sustaining services in support of Taiwan Air Force E-2C aircraft”

Air Force

  1. Teradyne, Inc., North Reading, MA- $28,377,673- “for maintaining the B-1 automatic digital test systems and application development environmental systems” (So far only, $9,617,451 “has been obligated”)
  2. Integrated Data Services, Inc., El Segundo, CA-$10,436,911- “for the Comprehensive Cost and Requirements System, a financial program management software tool which is used by Air Force acquisition and sustainment organizations to accomplish planning and execution of program budgets” (So far, only $4,354,725 “has been obligated”)
  3. General Dynamics Advanced Information System, Minneapolis, MN-$7,832,414- to “provide a research and development program…to develop an open architecture for modular open systems architecture common back end for radio frequency…” The last ellipses covers the phrase “that conforms to interface standards” which implies that the Air Force already has the system referenced above, but that it does not meet “interface standards”; Only $230,000 “has been obligated”
  4. Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions, Santa Maria, CA-$7,189,632- “for four adaptable multi-based land/ocean stabilized antenna systems to replace aging antenna systems”; Only $6,657,099 “has been obligated”

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency- which is, taken from the “About” page on its website, “the research and development office for the U.S. Department of Defense. DARPA’s mission is to maintain technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security. We also create technological surprise for our adversaries.” which engenders more questions but foremost- What is “technological surprise” exactly?

  1.  BAE Systems National Security Solutions, Burlington, MA-$8,372,580- for a “cost plus fixed-fee contract”

It’s not exactly a decisive point to make, to say that you should pay at least cursory attention to military contracts and activity, since it is the largest sector of our government (and that’s to say by a lot: the most at $663.7 billion compared to the second most, which is $76.8 billion in Health and Human Services, according to the budget from 2010)…

…because it really might not be imperative for you to do the work to pay attention. It may even be overall detrimental to your life. And it might not matter one bit in the end if you had paid attention or not. Or rather, furthermore, tried to pay attention, because even if you do, it’s an engrossing complicated endeavor that necessitates certain knowledge that might never even be available to you. This stuff is really hard and there is no guarantee to anyone that he/she will attain the understanding set out for or even anything compensatory to it.

But on the other hand, it’s really no less a waste of time than reading a book, watching a movie or sports, dicking around, or doing a crossword puzzle, the merits of all of which could be argued.

-Matt

PS

The info for the contracts was taken from Veterans Today’s website, linked here  veterenstoday.com’s report on defense contracts where you can find more specifics, such as breakdowns of the locations where the work being paid for will be done.

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Vital Information (12-29-10)

In Music, Rich, Top Albums of 2010 List, Vital Information on December 29, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 20 Albums of 2010 Summarized

Here is a summary of my 2010 Albums of the year along with all the ways you can check out each band.

  1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs -website / iTunes
  2. Minus the Bear – OMNI – website / iTunes
  3. The Black Keys – Brothers – website / iTunes
  4. Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown - website / iTunes
  5. Glasser – The Ring -website / iTunes
  6. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager – website / iTunes
  7. Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise – website / iTunes
  8. Foals – Total Life Forever – website / iTunes
  9. Freelance Whales – Weathervanes – website / iTunes
  10. Kele Okereke – The Boxer – website / iTunes
  11. MGMT – Congratulations – website / iTunes
  12. Angie Mattson – Skeleton Arm – website / iTunes
  13. Fences – Fences – website / iTunes
  14. Rogue Wave – Permalight - website / iTunes
  15. Gaslight Anthem – American Slang – website / iTunes
  16. Yeasayer – ODD blood – website / iTunes
  17. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone -website / iTunes
  18. The Naked And Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You – website / Bandcamp
  19. Ra Ra Riot – The Orchard – website / iTunes
  20. [The] Slowest Runner In All The World – We, Burning Giraffes - website / Bandcamp

Honorable Mention

  1. All Grown Up – I’m Over Here – website / bandcamp
  2. Bear Hands – Burning Bush Supper Clubwebsite / iTunes
  3. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – website / iTunes
  4. Eminem – Recovery – website / iTunes

2010 Albums of The Year Part IV (albums 1-5)

2010 Albums of The Year Part III (albums 10-6)

2010 Albums of The Year Part II (albums 11-15)

2010 Albums of The Year Part 1 (Albums 20-16)

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