Tuesday, 19 March 2013

New blog!

It's been a while, but I have a new blog. Check out the new In Perspective at cameronafzal.wordpress.com! This site will be focused less on current events and more on philosophy and creative writing — I'll be posting book and movie reviews, links to interesting articles, full-length essays, excerpts from my upcoming novel, travel stories, and more. 

Saturday, 9 January 2010

My top 50 albums of the 2000s

Best albums of the decade (limit one per unique artist within top 20)...

It was a tough call; I'll probably change my mind tomorrow.

Top 50:
! the national - boxer
! radiohead - kid a
! the strokes - is this it
! the xx - xx
! the knife - silent shout
! arcade fire - funeral
! animal collective - sung tongs
! andrew bird - the mysterious production of eggs
! mos def - black on both sides
! elliott smith - new moon
! explosions in the sky - the earth is not a cold dead place
! grizzly bear - yellow house
! portishead - third
! tv on the radio - return to cookie mountain
! broken social scene - broken social scene
! deerhunter - cryptograms
! caribou - andorra
! four tet - rounds
! lcd soundsystem - sound of silver
! beirut - gulag orkestar

madvillain - madvillainy
andrew bird's bowl of fire - the swimming hour
the dodos - visiter
modest mouse - the moon and antarctica
the mountain goats - tallahassee
M.I.A. - kala
bon iver - for emma, forever ago
jay-z - the black album
sufjan stevens - illinoise
elliott smith - figure 8
wilco - yankee hotel foxtrot
dan deacon - bromst
beck - sea change
no age - nouns
panda bear - person pitch
the roots - game theory
grouper - dragging a dead deer up a hill
of montreal - hissing fauna, are you the destroyer
yeasayer - all hour cymbals
broken social scene - you forgot it in people
radiohead - in rainbows
animal collective - MPP / Fall Be Kind EP
the strokes - room on fire
sigur ros - takk
okkervil river - down the river of golden dreams
the national - alligator
cat power - you are free
bjork - vespertine
gang gang dance - st. dympna
skream - skream!
burial - untrue

! = top 20

See also Stereogum's list.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Best albums of 2009

Top 20:
the xx - xx (saw live)
animal collective - mpp + fall be kind ep
dirty projectors - bitte orca
atlas sound - logos
yeah yeah yeahs - it's blitz
circulatory system - signal morning
dan deacon - bromst (saw in concert)
grizzly bear - veckatimest (saw last summer)
dark was the night (compilation)
high places - high places
mos def - the ecstatic
mf doom as doom - born like this
neon indian - psychic chasms
fever ray - fever ray
wavves - wavves
st vincent - actor
handsome furs - face control
bat for lashes - two suns
the antlers - hospice
sun O))) - monoliths & dimensions

Notable releases:
andrew bird - noble beast / useless creatures
sparklehorse and danger mouse - dark night of the soul (collab)
yacht - see mystery lights
nomo - invisible cities (saw live)
matt & kim - grand
miike snow - miike snow
wild beasts - two dancers
big pink - brief history of love
bonnie 'prince' billy
real estate - real estate
jj - jj2
generationals - con law
the pains of being pure at heart - [self-titled] (saw last summer)

Let-downs: wilco - wilco (the album), the dodos - time to die

I liked Tiny Mix Tapes' list.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Roadblocks to national health

So America can afford to approve many billions of unnecessary spending and discretionary military excess, but when it comes to providing health care reform — namely for those who lack it — the Senate (i.e. millionaire's club) remains a roadblock?

$1 trillion over 10 years, merely a fraction of yearly GDP, will be spent and will save the nation as a whole money on health-care, and hopefully drive down the power insurance companies have in the current system. The key, however, is providing available, affordable health coverage for all. I don't understand how something as essential and urgent as health-care reform can be treated by much of Congress like it's just another box to tick — and they can't even seem to accomplish that! And how do Republican excuses of the need for "conservative" spending stand up in the face of a multi-trillion-dollar, needless war abroad?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Golden State's empty purse

Man am I glad I'm not in charge of dealing with California's current budget deficit. The state's roughly $24 billion in the hole. I tinkered around with the LA Times' budget balancing tool, and while I was able to slash the deficit to a mere fraction of the original, that involved throwing in some tax increases (high income, oil, alcohol, tobacco).

I hope the politicians don't dig a deeper economic hole for themselves by cutting funding for education, a proposal other lawmakers have made. At a time in American history when the country is loosing it's advantage in the collective mind-power category, it's hard to think of something stupider than cutting aid for students, school funding, etc. In addition, since the national economy is shifting from mixed-services and manufacturing based more towards a services economy — thus relying on an educated workforce — I'd be appalled, though not altogether surprised, by a lawmaker who favored demolishing public education instead of taxing the wealthy a bit more, or cutting down on senseless bureaucratic spending.

Well the June 15 deadline has already passed, California has a wonderful social model in some respects — decent government funding for education, medical and welfare, medical marijuana (I wonder why taxing cannabis hasn't come up as a budget-saving option...). It'd be a shame to see the all state's governmental services collapse. Republicans, including the state's body-builder governor, equate raising any taxes with shaking hands with the devil; and yet no truly viable alternative has been proposed.

This is all-the-more interesting when you consider that if California were an interdependent country, it would be the sixth largest global economy, which makes the prospect of economic failure and the collapse of the state-wide welfare system have even wider national implications. Well, the folks in Sacramento have until July 1 to settle all this...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Recession's over!

Hah, you wish. That mutual fund tanks more and more every month, doesn't it. At any rate, I'm back!

Oh the economy...
I wish Paul Krugman would've taken Larry Summers' job. Obama really screwed us over with his stupid Clintonian economic team, with still plenty of bush hold-outs. Oh I'm far from being an expert on these matters, but I do know that feeding the rich, greedy fatcats who got us into this mess — think sub-prime loans, short-selling stocks to undercut active companies, etc. — more money sure as hell isn't gonna solve this. Obama also isn't realizing that it's a systematic problem — time for a re-haul... you know, that CHANGE he had promised a few months ago.

Ben Bernanke has to be sacked; I know neither an intelligent conservative or liberal who is happy with his performance leading up to and now into this recession. We must not be afraid to shake things up a bit, especially since we're already so far downhill — and this may only be the start of our descent. Joseph Stiglitz really needs to be brought in to do some damage control. This is a must-read from Harper's I've been meaning to post for a while now. Quite important to see how much the Bush administration directly fucked up this country (except for the rich) during their eight years, and how we cannot just shove the knowledge of such greed and mismanagement under the rug. It's time to face our demons.

There's also a very good video to understand this whole financial mess (and it's easy to connect the dots from where the video leaves off, i.e. international downturn caused my America's own woes). Oh and to top all this off, Europe's making a fool of itself by not doing what it does best: public sector spending! C'mon, learn some lessons from previous recessions!

And is anyone else annoyed at how much attention the rich are getting in the media? You'd think the people who will easily weather the storm when many are losing their livelihoods. Oh, one more thing though, where's the bailout money going? I hope to see more stimulus bills though for job creation, education, infrastructure, etc. It worries me how amazingly shortsighted politicians are about cutting spending in such vital areas with long-term effects.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The war on international law

BBC News:

Anti-terror measures worldwide have seriously undermined international human rights law, a report by legal experts says.

After a three-year global study, the International Commission of Jurists said many states used the public's fear of terrorism to introduce measures.

These included detention without trial, illegal disappearance and torture.

It also said that the UK and the US have "actively undermined" international law by their actions.

It concluded that many measures introduced to fight terrorism were illegal and counter-productive.
The panel of eminent lawyers and judges concluded that the framework of international law that existed before the 9/11 attacks on the US was robust and effective.

It's dangerous for countries to put reactionary anti-terror measures in place without considering their legal and ethical implications; the belief that their national security measures are outside the realm of international law is ignorant. The America's rash actions on this front in the past seven or so years have finally come to a close thanks to the arrival of the Obama administration, leaving us all to breathe a collective sigh of relief. However damage has been done and the United States and the countries that cooperated with such programs as 'extraordinary rendition' must do their best to reverse their actions. Sadly, however, justice will almost certainly evade the victims of the illegal post-9/11 anti-terror programs.