Cool Interactive Map: Every Genre Of Music In One Place

As I ease back into my regular posting schedule, I though I’d share this incredibly cool interactive music map. While I might quibble with some of songs selected as representative of a genre, it’s pretty much right on target. If you like music, enjoy!

Click the graphic below for the interactive site.

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Is Freedom Negotiable In Today’s America?

Yesterday I wrote about the tendency for Americans to easily trade their freedom for safety, and it seems that I’m not the only one thinking about liberty. Courtesy of Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit blog, there has been some discussion of the “libertarianizing” of America on social issues, but away from it on political issues. In discussing gay marriage and gun rights in his USA Today article, Reynolds observes:

However, I think the war [against gay marriage] was lost because when Americans aren’t sure what to do about something, they give the tie to freedom, letting individuals make up their own minds instead of being forced to live a particular way.

He goes on to draw an alalogy with the recent failure of gun control legislation:

And, in fact, the anti-gun sentiment that the nation is outgrowing seems a lot like the anti-gay sentiment that we’ve largely outgrown. Even during the repressive decades of the past, of course, people knew that gays were around, and having sex — but still supported laws that repressed them because they wanted to stigmatize gays and their lifestyle as unacceptable.

Likewise, many anti-gun activists realize, and sometimes even admit, that gun laws won’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals. (Even Britain, an island nation with super-repressive gun laws, hasn’t been able to do that). But they sometimes admit that they’re really more interested in attacking the “gun culture” than in preventing crime. It’s a species of prudery, only aimed at firearms.

Echoing the first quote above, he summarizes:

But prudery plays badly in America. People talk about whether the country is moving to the left or to the right, but the common thread in the big social movements that have succeeded over the past half-century, from civil rights, to gay rights, to gun rights, is that they have all been seen as pro-freedom. Political types might want to keep that in mind.

Sounds good (to me at least, with a few minor quibbles – for another post), Americans, as a whole, have always embraced freedom. In fact, it is the principle on which the nation was founded, and I’ve always believed the clichéd retort “It’s a free country” was rooted in truth – we may not like someone else’s choices, but they free to make them (to the extent those choices don’t infringe on another’s freedom). It would be great if that’s the direction the country was heading, but really, it’s not.

Unfortunately, it seems that Americans, in general, are not embracing liberty per se, but are rather looking for license to practice whatever lifestyle they want, while looking to the government to enable it.   Ross Douthat expounds on this idea in the context of the Democrats’ policy agenda:

Instead, the kind of “liberaltarianism” that’s increasingly ascendant is one that combines a highly individualistic view of our social and cultural fabric, and government’s role therein, with a statist understanding of government’s role in providing economic security — and security, period. As Scott Galupo shrewdly puts it, it’s big government as “a guarantor of personal liberation and self-actualization” — unless your form of self-actualization runs afoul of the national security state, in which case you can be tried in a star chamber and executed by drone.

This is where the Democratic Party has been moving, in fits and starts, for some time now, but the Obama era has thrown the combination — an imperial presidency, a  corporatist economic policy, and then a libertarian turn on almost every social issue — into sharp relief. It isn’t the liberaltarianism that Brink Lindsey had in mind, but it’s the liberaltarianism we seem destined to live under for at least a little while to come.

Here we come full circle from social issues to security; the cultural shift in the United States appears to be embracing a more libertarian approach to cultural norms (in fact, I would argue that it is more of a sexual libertinism) bought from the government with one’s freedom. A complete police-state lockdown like we saw in Watertown is perfectly fine, as long as it ensures that we will be safe for more pleasure-seeking (this is where I think Aldous Huxley may be more prophetic than George Orwell). As an aside, I think this also explains why the Republicans, who seem to be embracing a libertarian economic policy – moreso than social policy – haven’t fared very well with a statist-minded citizenry in the last couple of elections. 

James Poulos also seems to be prophetic when he discussed this shift in an interview a few years back, calling it “the Pink Police State”:

I worry, and I think we should all worry, about the way cultural libertarianism is snowballing while the snowball of political libertarianism rolls deeper into hell. I’m aghast at the shrug with which many self-styled libertarians greet massive government, so long as it’s run by people with ‘enlightened’ attitudes about pleasure-seeking. It’s not death to the state these libertarians want, it’s the state as cool parent, with a stripper pole in every pot. I’ve actually had one good libertarian friend argue straight-faced that the solution to the drug problem is a monopoly partnership between Washington and Walmart. Well, with solutions like that, who needs problems? And of course you get that kind of institutionalized approach from fans of legal prostitution. It’s almost as if libertarians are willing to let the state regulate everything so long as everything’s decriminalized.

On top of this, we all know how intimately sex — or at least images of sex and talk about sex, alas — has become a part of everyday life. What gives me fear is the idea, which large numbers of people seem to be buying into, that a growing sphere of libertinistic freedoms compensates (or more than compensates!) for our shrinking spheres of political liberty and the practice of citizenship. You can guess what I think about ‘liberaltarianism’.

So citizens of a Pink Police State (I should say subjects) are apt to surrender more and more political liberty in exchange for more and more cultural or ‘personal’ license. And the government of a Pink Police State tends to monopolize and totalize administrative control while carving out a permissive playpen for the people. This tradeoff has a creepy economic component. Already, in places like Russia, China, the Gulf states, and Singapore, we see the machinations of a new ‘laboratory of autocracy’, as oppressive regimes grant wealthy residents de facto privileges to all the sin money can buy.

I agree with Poulos’ use of the term “license” above, because it accurately describes the objective: guilt free pursuit of any pleasure (vice) with no consequences. I remember a homily I heard once that described the difference between freedom (to do the good) and license (to do what ever one wants). Just taking a moment to reflect that our culture today is less concerned about doing the good than it is about doing whatever we want, without having to worry about consequences, or that pesky consequence. As Poulos continues:

Next to the al Qaeda neanderthals, the harbingers of the Pink Police State pose a far more frightening and serious challenge to the Western model of social order. Nobody frets, like many of our intellectuals did over Stalinism, that maybe Osama got it right.  There’s more to worry about when we see China’s youth consent en masse to equality in servitude in the shadow of Macau, Earth’s biggest gambling mecca.

Therein is where the real danger lies. We (as a whole) seem all too ready to give up our freedom to the police state (or, per Douthat – an imperial presidency) in exchange for the ability to maintain our libertine pleasure-seeking license.

Watertown: Liberty And Safety

With the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing accounted for (one dead – Tamelan, the other in custody – Dzhokhar), and more details of the story emerging, I’ve been spending some time thinking about the issues of liberty and security, considering the breadth and scope of the massive manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers.

bostonsuspects

It’s been well documented that most of Boston was shut down, and Watertown was eventually under lockdown as well, with streets barricaded,  and public transportation shut down. Further:

Massachusetts State Police issued a plea on Twitter for residents of Watertown to lock their doors and not open them for anyone, as dozens of police officers, many of them off duty, searched backyards and exteriors of houses there, and a police perimeter of several blocks was established.

 Worried residents were also told to turn off their cell phones out of fear that they could trigger improvised explosive devices.
 

No doubt it was a tense time as authorities were searching for Dzhokhar; who knew what kind of IEDs or other weapons he was carrying, or what he might do to escape. Governor Deval Patrick (D) even issued a “shelter in place” or lockdown order for the area. However, as far as I know, such an order does not equal Martial Law and signal a suspension of habeas corpus and other civil liberties (and as far as I know, the military can’t get involved in domestic law enforcement without congressional approval).

The reason I bring this up is because it appears that contrary to many news reports, the searches conducted by the police were not only of backyards and house exteriors, but also of the inside of houses as well. Judging by the video below, it also appears that these home searches were not necessarily voluntary:

 
 I’ll be honest, the sight of these homeowners being led out of their house at gunpoint with their arms raised like common criminals – for nothing more than the “crime” of being at home is a bit disturbing to me, especially since there doesn’t seem to be a search warrant presented at any time. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what’;s going on up close or inside the house. It could very well be that the homeowners were more than happy to volunteer for the search, and have agreed to be led out as they were in the interest of public safety. It could also very well be that the “shelter in place” order includes some sort of blanket search warrant.
 
But then again, it sure didn’t look like it.
 
 Of course everyone was relieved when the ordeal was over and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was caught:

Watertown residents–finally able to leave their homes around 8:45 p.m.–broke into cheers and applauded police officers after word spread that the suspect was in custody.

“We’re so grateful to bring justice and closure to this case,” Alben said at a 9:30 p.m. press conference. “We’re exhausted … but we have a victory here tonight.” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said he could find no explanation for the “savagery” of the attacks, but that the capture made him proud to be a Boston police officer.

No doubt it was a time when we could all take a collective sigh of relief and get back to a sense of normalcy. Most praised the hard work of law enforcement officers in apprehending the suspect; but considering the above video, at what price? Events like these always lead me back to Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote:
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
 
Maybe I’m overreacting, but after our liberties were eroded after 9/11 with the Patriot and similar legislation that have “protected” us by giving us the TSA among others, I guess I’m particularly sensitive to a possible slippery slope, especially since the current administration adhere’s to the “never let a good crisis go to waste” philosophy (not to mention the various accusations that the NDAA effectively repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878).
 
Again, maybe I’m overreacting, but I would prefer to die free than to live as a slave to the state.

A Bad Week For Leftists

This past week was a rough one for leftists, to be sure – not that it was a necessarily good one for conservatives (except in one case) – it was just a spectacularly bad week to be a liberal*.

For starters, more gun restrictions in the form of universal background checks was shot down in spectacular fashion by the Democrat-controlled Senate to start the week (win for constitutional conservatives!). Obama’s tantrum press conference after the defeat was certainly embarrassing, but it was also fun trying to figure out if it was because he actually lost the debate, or if he was mad that he couldn’t blame it on the House Republicans (the enemy!) this time.

Speaking of losers, the elite liberal “intelligensia” who were hoping beyond hope that the Boston Marathon bomber would be a white, conservative, Christian male (I’m looking at you, David Sirota, Michael Moore, Chris Matthews, Peter Bergen, et. al.) can’t be happy that the bombers turned out to be Chechen immigrants who were influenced by/followed radical Islam. To be sure, anyone who was hoping that the bombers were of a certain demographic in order to win politcal points needs to examine his or her priorities in a profound way – it was still edifying in a shadenfreudig sort of way to watch the leftists squirm and backpedal and have to eat their words; although I hear Michael Moore is still convinced he’s right (and too busy eating other things to make room for his words…).

What’s more, even the leftist sacred cow of “reproductive rights” (read pro-death/pro-abortion) came under fire with the testimony and pictures released, albeit grudgingly, from the Kermit Gosnell trial. The grisly images were a reminder of what abortion-on-demand will ultimately lead too, and created quite a dilemma for the “protect abortion at all cost” media. They tried to embargo the story at first, but were eventually shamed into covering the story by social media, including some liberal commentators in print.

gosnell

Finally, just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, the Elvis Impersonator who sent letters laced with ricin to President Obama and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) was a nutjob, but not a right-wing nutjob. In fact, evidence suggests that the alleged guilty party, one Paul Kevin Curtis was actually a Democrat activist. I don’t know if it could get any worse than “crazy Elvis is a Democrat,” at least from an embarrassment standpoint.

ricin-elvis

Never fear, though, little leftist – at least there’s a chance the explosion at the West, TX fertilizer plant was caused by some white, gun-toting, bible-clinging right-winger…

(*h/t Rat’s Right; “An Open Letter To Liberals” inspired this post)

Not For The Faint Of Heart: Documentary On Gosnell’s House Of Horrors

Even though the legacy MSM is virtually ignoring the Kermit Gosnell murder trial, the new media (especially right-leaning sites) have recently taken up the slack. While anyone with a conscience has been horrified over the testimony in the case, it’s one thing to read about the horrors, but to actually hear and see what was going on at 3801 Lancaster in Philadelphia takes one’s outrage to a different level. The documentary was made before the trial, but provides the evidence that led to Gosnell’s arrest. Not for the faint of heart:

(h/t Denny Burk)

Not From The Onion: Electric anti-rape underwear developed to protect women in India

With all do respect to those trying to protect women from violence and rape, this sounds like something that was concocted by the Colorado State Legislature. Courtesy of Euronews:

The electrified underwear is a project of three students in Chennai, and can deliver 3,880 kilovolt shock to any potential attacker. It also has a GPS device to notify police of an attack. According to one of the developers of the undergarment:

People are coming up with the question: ‘What happens if the girl herself gets electrocuted?’, So I want to say  that it is not possible because we have developed an insulating layer to protect the wearer.

At least one local student thinks this might be a good idea:

These days it is getting very difficult for girls to move around, it is very unsafe for them actually, especially in Chennai, on the local trains and buses, it is actually very tough for us to move around. So, this innovation is very helpful for all of us.

Again, I have no doubts that the developers have good intentions (and probably are looking to make a few Rupees – they’re looking for investors), but the absurdity of introducing a modern-day chastity belt as an effective way to prevent sexual assault instead of allowing women an effective means to protect themselves speaks to the delusional nature of the anti-gun zealots, whether in India or the United States. It also does not seem to take into account that all an armed predator would have to do to defeat the device is order the victim to remove it, not to mention what would happen to a woman if the predator was merely shocked and not incapacitated.

One can only wonder what rape survivor Susan Collins thinks about this.