Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 1 26 10

As a friend of mine recently commented - Alien Sex Fiend: who'd think they'd survive the 80's?

The best part of this song, other than the looney-goony synth work and samples, is the Dalek shouting "Alien!"

Monday, January 25, 2010

France vs. Islam: No Veils in Public Places?

Once again, the French government seem to want to pander to fear in the name of "liberation" - telling Muslim women not to wear veils in certain public areas.

PARIS — A parliamentary panel will recommend on Tuesday that France ban face-covering Muslim veils in public locations such as hospitals and schools, but not in private buildings or on the street, the group's president said.

The decision appeared to indicate that the 32-member, multiparty panel had heeded warnings that a full ban of the all-encompassing veils would be unfair, possibly unconstitutional, and could even cause trouble in a country where Islam is the second largest religion.

The approximately 170-page report, to be released Tuesday, culminates a six-month inquiry into why a tiny minority of Muslim women wear such veils and the implications for France.

The work began after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in June that such garb "is not welcome" on French territory. However, Sarkozy has since pulled back from committing himself to a full ban.

Sarkozy has never exactly been a friend to French Muslims. He, like others, were content to blame the riots of 2006 on Islam, itself, instead of considering the economics behind them.

But no one ever accused a politician of thinking. This execrable committee to look into legislating bigotry into law is proof positive of that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 1 19 10

Devo was one of my early favorite bands, back in the day. One of the first LPs i got was their seminal Freedom of Choice, which was on constant rotation on my turntable along with Gary Numan's Pleasure Principle and Rush's Moving Pictures. And I stuck with the spudboys pretty much all the way through their career, though I liked some bits more than other.

So you can imagine how psyched I was when I heard that the band was back together. Their page on Wikipedia isn't very clear what the hell's going on with the new album, but this track off it - "Don't shoot, I'm a man" - is nothing less than stellar. The chorus of "don't taze me bro" is priceless.

Consider my power dome poised for another takeoff!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King day, 2010

It's that day, again. Days off for some, school's out for others, and hopefully people are remembering the man whose actions and words did so much to change the social and legal landscape of our country. I'm sure more still are bemoaning the lack of mail, or wondering when the trash will get picked up.

But that's life. I'm sure people don't remember a damn thing on Memorial day, either.

On this day, I'd like to share something I wrote a few years ago - partly in response to something I read, and partly a response to the sort of conservative gloom and doom outlook that looks at someone like the Rev. Martin Luther King and, instead of seeing the good he did, can only focus on the less positive aspects of his character.

It's called "Kings Detractors Are Missing the Point and Hitting Themselves." I think it still holds water, eight years later.

To their credit, I have yet to hear any blowhards pull out the "MLK was a commie" canard this year. Maybe they're more concerned about a living black man who may be a communist, and is in the White House, than a dead one who got shot before anyone thought to make him a candidate for anything.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

W on Board for Haiti? Maybe Not a Bad Idea

Let me preface this by saying that, after the last 8 years of Bushit pt II, I really do not have a lot of respect for W. I think he turned the accomplishments of the Clinton years on their head and, when faced with a national disaster like 9/11, either let himself be given very bad advice, or else just showed his true colors.

W's failure to conclusively deal with A-Q in Afghanistan, and then getting us into Iraq, speaks of someone who didn't understand "stratergy" beyond getting elected. Good people like Colin Powell were ignored in favor of people like (ack) Rumsfeld and (spit) Rice and (*vomit*) Cheney, until all you had left was a whirlpool of suck that only the end of a term could really save us from.

But every once in a while, W did a smart thing. Maybe it was him, maybe it was one of his advisers, maybe it was the foo-foo fairy - who can say? I suspect aliens.

One of those rare, possibly alien-inspired smart moments was when he appointed his predecessor, Bill Clinton, and his father, to lead the fund raising efforts for the horrifying tsunami of 2005. Not only did it turn a pair of very bitter rivals into allies - though not friends - but it put the effort above politics.

If it'd just been his father, it would have seemed like an in-house gig, laying down the administration's lines for mass consumption. If it'd just been Clinton, he might have gone off the reservation. But with them together, they checked each other's possible excesses and put the good at the head of the program, where it belonged.

So now it's karmic payback time. A horrible earthquake has struck Haiti, and, tapped to lead US fund raising efforts are Bill Clinton, once again, and, perhaps surprisingly, W.

Surprisingly? W has stayed out of the spotlights since the election - laying low and not popping up to defend his record when it's taken behind the tool shed for a well-deserved whipping. One wonders why he'd emerge now, unless he wanted to try and rehabilitate his sorry image.

(One also wonders why his father didn't come out this time, though, to be fair, he didn't handle the Thailand trip so well due to his advanced years. Maybe the horrors of what he found in Thailand hurt him badly. Maybe he wants to just be left alone.)

But the inclusion of W does a number of useful things for the overall mission, beyond any collateral boat-raising it might provide for W, himself.

For one thing, as with the Tsunami efforts, it puts the project above politics. Enough said on that point.

For another, it keeps both men on the reservation. This way Bill won't simply mouth administration-friendly pleasantries, and W won't (hopefully) foot in mouth it, as he is wont to do when given free air time and a microphone.

And for yet another, and possibly most important of all, it acts to defuse the criticisms of people like Rush Limbaugh, who have already taken the current administration to task for wanting to help.

(In Limbaugh world, one apparently watches our global neighbors suffer with a sardonic chuckle, possibly followed by a cocktail of hillbilly heroin. Thankfully, "the way things ought to be" is not often how they are.)

Is it working? W has already acted to rebuff claims that Obama is "politicizing" the crisis in order to up his approval numbers. While his delivery might be a stammered mess, as always, I think the statement itself is a useful tool in the arsenal against Limbaugh's hypocritical cynicism.

There are those who say, perhaps rightly, that W should be in prison, and not helping out with disaster relief, much less standing on the White House lawn. And maybe he should.

But until such time as enough proof of actual, criminal wrongdoing can be found to put him there, our former President remains another resource that Obama has to call on in the face of international concerns. And I think he's right to use him, if only to keep people like Limbaugh from derailing a good thing.

(the inevitable screw-ups and missteps are already doing that well enough, thank you.)

Don't look at it as rehabilitation of W's much-maligned image. Look at it as community service. Much like Boy George being forced to clean up the streets of New York, this is W's chance to actually get his hands dirty by helping others without the promise of direct and immediate political gain to himself.

Maybe he'll learn something. Maybe we all will.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 1 12 10

A-Ha's "Hunting High and Low" was a treasure of song, and this was one of my favorites off the album. It's one of the best albums I never bought.

The story goes like this. Someone left a copy of the tape on the school bus, and the bus driver said he'd hand it over if no one claimed it. I thought I might be behind a few other people, but one day I received news that someone from my Scout Troop - with whom I had a real hate-hate relationship - had gone in for serious open heart surgery, and we didn't know if he'd made it or not. Rumors were flying, no one was sure of anything, and as much as I hated the kid (he was a really sadistic and mean little fuck) I was stunned to think he might be dead. And the bus driver took pity and handed over the tape.

Of course, the kid was okay. And was still a mean little fuck. But the album was transcendent.

(And the kid eventually grew up, got a life, and was fairly civil to me when we wound up going to the same university. So it all worked out, eventually.)

So this is "Train of Thought." A slightly different cut than what was on the album but still good.

Here is truth

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How NOT to Write About Africa

Spot on.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 1 5 10

I've always loved Placebo for their laid-back yet poppy presentation, which is mostly because of their lead singer's very distinctive voice, along with their singularly odd lyrics. Take a listen to their redo of Kate Bush's iconic "Running Up That Hill" as a prime example for the voice.

There's also this gem, which highlights their songwriting talents: Pure Morning.

Mystery Objects Sighted in Space!

A bit of an ominous start to the new year: NASA Kepler Telescope Discovers Mystery Space Objects!!!!!!

The primary focus of the Kepler telescope's three-year mission is to find out how common other planets – especially Earth-like planets – are in the universe. To do that, it is scanning a small chunk of the sky, about one four-hundredth of the night sky with more than 150,000 stars to look for planets.


"There's going to be all kinds of weird stuff out there," said Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, who wasn't part of the research. "This is an unparalleled data set. The universe really is a weird place. It's fantastic."

Amongst the mystery objects found were:

* Obama's really-really-really-real Kenyan Birth Certificate
* Lost Nixonian audio tapes linking Bush, Cheney, et. al. to 9/11
* The recipe for super-duper-secret nanothermite that burns steel sideways
* Lost ballots from 2000
* Lost ballots from 2008
* A tortilla with the face of Jesus
* A piece of toast with the visage of the flying spaghetti monster
* A bowling ball with a hologram of the face of Lux Interior of the Cramps (RIP)
* AXJ's ability to NOT comment at having been name-dropped somewhere, even in passing
* Richard Poe's real hair
* Flavor Flav's dignity
* Britt Hume's humility
* Anne Coulter's humanity
* Glenn Beck's mentality
* Tiger Woods' shame
* The island of "dead" celebrities who, having faked their death, continue to put out "found" product every so often and reap their royalties without having to worry about paparazzi and scandals. Latest occupant - Michael Crichton
* Azathoth's other throne (the one with old copies of "Playgod" up on top of the tank)
* The guy from the CIA who hands me thousands of dollars every year to deny 9/11 trutherism, obama birtherism, the specter of Islamic fundamentalism, and the triumph of conspiracism (is that a word?)
* jd8 23ur 9u2ru29 dweidwr04 du23d sidokdwd!!!!!!!
* The fabled planet of blue vanilla ice cream

oh, okay. No, no. None of the above were found. I'm not sure any of them exist, especially the bowling ball. That would just be scary.

They actually found two "planets" that were hotter than the stars they were circling, which is really cool if you think about it. Newly-born planets? Collapsing white dwarf stars? Who can say?

But it's a reminder that (1) the universe is a strange and amazing place, and (2) our tax dollars go to funding some cool stuff by way of NASA. Imagine what they could do with more...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2009: The Birther Year in Review

Oh For Goodness' Sake has a wonderful recap of the last year in Birtherism.

It's quite a hoot, and seems to only be missing the epic rick-roll someone pulled on AXJ, and, by extension, Free Republic and a couple other Birther strongholds.

Unfortunately, AXJ changed its forums, and the primary evidence of the prank has vanished into the ether. But given that they're sorry bit players in all of this, it's no real great loss, either.

What have we learned from all this craziness?

Well, primarily, much like with 9/11 "Truth," there is no limit to how hard people will tack into the winds of self-willed insanity and ignorance in order to fulfill their own agendas, or chase down windmills. God herself could show up and hand Orly and Philip Berg the original, pre-digitization BC that Obama had when he was born in Hawaii and they'd still deny the truth. As to their actual motives for denial - much like the Truthers, I'll leave you to your own conclusions. I have my own.

Secondarily, it is clear that Orly Taitz is a pathetic, tragic figure. I don't dare declare her insane for real without proof, though it's getting harder and harder to ascribe a sane motive or method to her actions and statements. And I don't know whether she's operating under alien orders, or if someone is putting her up to this.

If someone is pulling her strings, then it would be a good thing for that someone to be found and exposed before any more damage is done to her. But maybe I'm being overly-conspiratorial, and it's just her doing this craziness. If so, we may soon see her reaping what she's sowed.

Thirdly? This story won't be over for some time to come. Much like those who continue to claim MIHOP or LIHOP (but never IHOP ;) ) on the issue of 9/11, suspicion and conspiracy-vision will continue to thrive in the dark places of the mind. And if facts won't inoculate, mockery may be our only recourse.

I'm kind of ambivalent on following the story too closely, though. It's an endless font of amusement, but at its heart is a person who's very clearly digging her own grave with the bridge of her nose. I do not believe that Orly is an evil person, just very terribly misguided (at best) and surrounded by people whose motives are highly suspect.

Maybe i'll find a new cause in the new year? We'll see. In the meantime, thank you for another year of eyeballs, and I hope to continue to serve you in my own, odd way.