Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mmm mmm good

The end-times are getting pretty durn weird when you can rely on a snippet heard on a Christian radio station for the week's best conspiracy theory. Seems the only stock in U.S. markets to go up Sept. 29 was Campbell's Soup. But that's no surprise, the announcer says, since Campbell's stock also went up in the downturn following the Sept. 11 attacks. Hmm. If One Great Big Conspiracy still existed, Dr. Amir Fassad would have to prove that Campbell's had a special role in creating collateralized debt obligations....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yeah, but then who overthrows OUR Jacobo Arbenz?

Thanks to Ruth Mowry for pointing me to Paul Krugman's blog today, filed as Congress failed to pass bailout and the Dow dropped 778, reminding us that we're already a banana republic. At least that means that in a precipitous drop, you don't have quite as far to fall.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sounds of Autumn

The pre-Christmas mad onrush of music releases began in the last few days, at a time when consumers are hard-pressed to spare a 99-cent iTunes download. How is one to find the jewels amidst the torrent of dross? Have no fear, Uncle Loring is here to point you to the good stuff. It's not like I've actually listened to the 200-some-odd new offerings since mid-September, I'm just using an intuitive sense of what's indispensable:

TV on the Radio (photo above) - Dear Science, - Some might be compelled to call this TVotR's disco album, since it's clearly the most danceable. Don't think that means that lyricism or arrangements are sacrificed for rhythm. This is probably the most intelligent and layered album from these strange purveyors of urban folk tales.

Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue - The sticker on the cover tells us this is a sequel to Rabbit Fur Coat, but there aren't many similarities. In her first solo album, Jenny relied on the Watson Twins for stripped-down country. This album has guest appearances by Elvis Costello, Zooey Deschanel, M. Ward, Chris Robinson, et. al. for a straight ahead rockin' songwriter showcase. Another difference - Rabbit Fur Coat, like the 2006 album by Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous, was all about Jenny taking her lyric skills to town. This album, like Rilo Kiley's Under the Black Light from last year, focuses more on song structure and arrangements. But Acid Tongue, unlike Black Light, isn't a 1970s retro throwback, it's Jenny and Zooey showing how Hollywood stars can be great musicians.

Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling - Mogwai's BBC sessions a couple years ago showed the Glasgow band migrating toward more of a mid-period King Crimson sound, and this continues that evolution, with maybe traces of other all-instrumental bands like Dirty Three and Godspeed You Black Emperor. All the songs here have a certain majesty to them, even the ones with silly titles. The early copies of this CD come with a fascinating documentary DVD, Adelia, I Want to Love, about a 90-year-old Italian woman who produces an outdoor Mogwai concert.

Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine - Robert Pollard puts out music under so many aliases, it's hard to decide what to pay attention to first. In late spring, he put out Off to Business under his own name, filled with traditional pop-rock tunes as classy as those in the dual albums he released last October. Earlier in 2008, the album We've Moved by Psycho and the Birds contained strange, haunting melodies that nevertheless were filled with insistent hooks that drilled into your brain. But Pollard surprised everyone when Boston Spaceships ended up being the band he took on tour. And this album shows why. Every song, from Andy Playboy to Winston's Atomic Bird, is the kind of driving, three-minute masterpiece that made Guided by Voices famous. Is there anything Pollard can't do?

Duffy - Rockferry - If you saw her Saturday Night Live appearance, you no doubt thought she was over the top, like a cartoon hybrid of Dolly Parton and Marilyn Monroe. Listen carefully to the album. This woman cares about bringing back a sense of Motown, and gives you an odd vocal style for orchestrated pop, without the personal dramas of Amy Winehouse.

Kings of Leon - Only by the Night - Several critics have pointed out that the Tennesee-brothers-and-cousin-Followill-family are giving us a more U2 arena sound in their fourth album. I think it's better than that (from the perspective that arena rock bores me). This CD has unpredictable riffs and rhythms with a well-defined sense of play, like teaching a young Joe Cocker contrapuntal rhythms. In fact, songs like 17 even border on pseudo-dissonance. But with Kings of Leon, you know they want to be normal, Southern, macho, and hard-rock-poppy. But on this album, they find a very interesting and inspired path to getting there.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares Nuns - Sixth Anniversary at Missile Silo N-8

On Oct. 6, 2002, Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson, and Ardeth Platte donned "Citizens' Weapons Inspection Team" jumpsuits and went into the missile silo restricted area of Minuteman III silo N-8 near Rayner, Colo. where they prayed and spilled blood. After their arrest, the Justice Department made the unusual decision to charge them with a felony, which had almost never been done in 25 years of Plowshares actions. The trial only served to raise the publicity level, culminating in the documentary film Conviction. The sisters finished prison sentences two years ago.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, Carol and Ardeth went to the N-8 silo with a small group of Denver and Colorado Springs supporters to hold a brief vigil. They even got to meet and swap stories with a sheriff's deputy involved in their arrest. Carol's speech about her activities in Michigan and Colorado is below:

More videos (sound affected by prairie wind) include Ardeth's introduction to everyone, an overview of the silo site, placing police tape across the gate, Bill Sulzman's description of a missile launch, and the nuns concluding with their "Sacred the Earth" song. They swear they'll keep plugging away until strategic nuclear weapons are obsolete. There's sure a lot of them left in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ana Ng

Feeling very Ana Ng today, thanks TMBG.

Ha Ha Ha..... Assholes

I guess we should thank the Denver cops for being honest and revealing their true feelings. What, I have no sense of humor? Look, the police union can say what it wants, but if the Denver cops are being asked to sit on a commission to critique the response of St. Paul cops at the RNC, they'd better show a little more professionalism. This is perverse. As a respondent in the Denver Post said, if we walked around with a T-shirt saying, "Pork, the other white meat" with a picture of a burning cop, how long would it be before we arrested or beat up? These freaking pigs are assholes.

Clinton in Grand Ledge? WTF?

OK, my home town in Michigan has a population of maybe 7,000 people, so why is Sen. Clinton electing to campaign (for Obama, presumably) there on Sept. 27? Is it the coolness quotient from underground folk singer Paul Baribeau naming a CD for the town? Is it the brew pub moving in? I'm gonna wear my "I Heart Grand Ledge" construction hat and Grand Ledge Comets sweatshirt to show home town pride.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Supposedly Fun Thing to Eat I'd Never Swallow Again

Thanks to Diedre at Mountain Pulse for finding this 100-best meme courtesy of Very Good Taste. Below are 100 food items for omnivores. I've bolded 86 of them, indicating the ones I've tried. Unlike Diedre, I didn't include photos or extended comments cuz I'm too busy/lazy. But number of stars indicates favorites, a yuck indicator says I've tried it but hated it, and things like horse and sweetbreads are off the potential list. Have fun!

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos Rancheros*
4. Steak Tartare *
5. Crocodile (does alligator count?)
6. Black pudding - (kinda yuck, unless you're in Scotland and drunk)
7. Cheese fondue*
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba Ghanoush
11. Calamari*
12. Pho***
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi **
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns*
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes **
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie Gras - yuck
24. Rice and Beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese NEVER
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - scary
27. Dulce de Leche *
28. Oysters - yuck
29. Baklava *
30. Bagna Cauda **
31. Wasabi peas ***
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl **
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo **
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - yuck
43. Phaal ** wish I could find it more often
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more * SINGLE MALT!
46. Fugu NEVER
47. Chicken tikka masala **
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly Pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer *
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywirst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis - yuck
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum ** (but Tom Kha is better)
82. Eggs benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse - NEVER
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab ***
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano **
96. Bagel and lox
97.Lobster thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Criminalizing Excess Profit Margins

Before we spend too much time in the bank-bailout hearings arguing about CEO salary caps and the types of hedge funds to be banned, let's think about root causes, shall we? How about banning any sustained profit margins above some arbitrary cap like 12 percent? Socialism, you say? No more so than nationalizing an insurance giant like AIG. And something tells me even Adam Smith might understand the point. Bear with me.

Before the S&L shell games and leveraged buyouts of the mid-1980s, investors were happy with regular profit margins for goods and services in the 5 to 8 percent range, with occasional surges into double digits when a buying craze hit anything from tulips to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The important thing was, the surges were related to specific goods and services over which the public at large went temporarily mad.

The common thread in short-sells, derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, hedge funds, vendor-financed Internet infrastructure, commodities speculation, et. al., is that investors seek and expect continuous profits in the 12 to 20 percent range. These kind of expectations killed the media industry. And in the case of financial instruments, they are seeking profits from bets waged on future market behavior, not on tangible goods and services. Excess profits are being conjured out of thin air. Sounds like a RICO violation to me!

Wait a minute, you say, how can excess greed be criminalized? Doesn't that destroy capitalism? Hell, no. Regulating externalities like labor rights and environmental factors not only has a long history, it has been critical to controlling capitalism to prevent it from being self-destructive. China's recent experience with losing control over additives in its food supply shows that early efforts like the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 were key to taming the capitalist beast.

When I was out walking the dog at 5 a.m. this morning, I was dreaming up advertising campaigns. Haul some Jenny Craig slim-down pictures out and say, "Wall Street: Slim down your profit footprint!" -- thereby linking the notion of excess profits to the carbon-footprint ideas of the environmental movement. And, of course, use the Monopoly symbols of the angry cop to insist: "Profit margins over 12 percent? Go directly to jail!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home is Where the Hatred is

Shout-outs to Marie Walden, Jackie Hudson, and Bill Sulzman for bird-dogging that sneaky ol' Northern Command and 3rd Infantry Division. Seems NorthCom has reassigned 1st Brigade Combat under the 3rd from duty in Iraq to domestic combat duty - the first domestic combat brigade in the U.S. The mission is to work with unconventional nonlethal weapons for crowd control and response to civil disturbance. Seems to be NorthCom has to seek Congressional approval under Posse Comitatus to do this. Silly me.

Discernment and the Bullshit Detector

Two interesting stories today about freedom of speech and the use of propaganda. First, several Denver groups called for banning the free in-the-newspaper distribution of the DVD Obsession, a puff piece about radical Islam. Second, an 11-year-old is suspended from a Denver-area elementary school for wearing a home-made T-shirt saying "Obama is a terrorist's best friend."

OK, I'm on the board of the local and state ACLU, so my opinion is worth more than yours, mofo! Obsession is highly offensive but totally legal. It's an advertising insert. The energy on this one should not be wasted on getting its distribution banned, but in finding out whose money is behind the mysterious and despicable Clarion Fund who bankrolled this. And don't tell me this isn't partisan propaganda - Clarion drove around a semi truck at the Democratic National Convention, advertising Obsession with a huge portrait of Osama bin Laden, featured no doubt to draw some subconscious connection between Osama and Obama.

The Aurora school district was in their rights in suspending Daxx Dalton. The courts have continuously held that students do not have unlimited rights of free speech if the message is obscene or disruptive - in fact, one district's efforts to ban Oakland Raiders jackets as gang-related have been continuously upheld in court! An elementary-school student should have every right to wear a campaign button for Obama or McCain, or wear something that says "Nobama" or "Obama means higher taxes." If the student is of high school age, there might be a good civil suit as to whether that student could wear a shirt charging a candidate with being aligned with terrorists. With a younger student, it's just provocative and almost certainly a setup planned by the parent, Dann Dalton.

The point about such propaganda is that most Americans are too superficial to analyze propaganda and determine when they are the victims of vicious messages. My mother-in-law tells me she will vote on initiatives based on what the TV advertisements tell her. I say they are all paid garbage, and that she'd be better off studying voter guides from LWV, etc. She won't have any of that. If it's on TV, it must be true. We can't ban everything that tells a lie, we simply have to keep shouting louder.

OK, folks, I'm the civil liberties oracle around here, and if you begin to doubt what I am saying, you are probably hallucinating. You are certainly just plain wrong. Shut up and go back to work.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Whaddya Mean, Roll Over?

The secret pet plot to take over the bed - cat on one side, dog on the other.

The cat hiding under the quilt.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Give it Up for Ted Leo!

Power-pop and indie fans don't need to be told about Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. But you may not know that Ted rushed into the studio after the early September police riots at the Republican National Convention to record this benefit EP for Minneapolis Food Not Bombs and Democracy Now! You can download the MP3 tracks here and donate as much you'd like. Too bad more artists aren't following Ted's lead.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Shot By Both Sides

Let's get this straight: The Fed prepares an $85 billion bailout for American International Group, because the insurer's exposure to derivatives and hedge funds could cause a domino-effect collapse to banks in Europe. So the day after the deal is announced, HBOS and Lloyds TSB both own up to being in such bad shape, they will attempt a merger, thus possibly starting a domino effect in Europe. (Oh, and let's not forget Morgan Stanley and Wachovia.) Translated, whatever we do we're screwed. Look out below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Phone Call Tells Me So

The New York Times tells us this morning (Sept. 16) that Georgian diplomats have been passing around phone intercepts (a Georgian NSA? Does that mean a Georgian FISA debate? A Georgian Echelon?) showing Russian troop movements a day before Saakashvili's mortar attack on South Ossetia. So this is a surprise? The Russians were waiting for the "Pleikus are like streetcars" moment, and Saakashvili gave it to them. It's no surprise that Putin and Medvedev are acting like the proud, wounded nation who will give no quarter. What's more surprising is that both of them talk not like tough-minded realists, but like drunks at a bar who want to goad NATO and the U.S. as much as they want their version of justice in the Caucus republics. Maybe they learned their winning diplomatic style from Saakashvili.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One Bolivia, No Room for Pando

Whether or not the CIA was responsible for the breakaway of the eastern provinces of Bolivia over the last few months, South American leaders meeting in Santiago on Monday, Sept. 15 agreed on one thing: there is no legitimacy in the call for autonomy in Bolivia's eastern provinces, and the mini-rebellion sparked by Pando Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez constituted a coup attempt. The leaders accepted President Evo Morales' claim that dozens of peasants were massacred under Fernandez's orders several days earlier. Bolivia had many good reasons for denouncing U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, a thug of the first order.

It's a sure bet the U.S. will claim that the UNASUR organization is falling under the sway of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, which to a certain extent it is. But that's better than the Organization of American States being under the sway of the USA. Heck, Chavez claimed that last week's diplomatic flap was caused by a concrete CIA plan to assassinate him on Sept. 11, and maybe he was right (not that it legitimizes Chavez's decision to invite Russian bombers into his coutry, mind you). Morales also has a good point to make here. The rebellion of the eastern provinces should be brought to heel by Morales, with the help of UNASUR if necessary, and by any means necessary. And if some undocumented U.S. citizens get killed in the process, so much the better.

UPDATE, TUES. SEPT. 16, 3 pm - Nyah, nyah, nyah, Fernandez was arrested!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

David Foster Wallace Killed Himself

I just heard from Dan Coffey Sunday night that David Foster Wallace killed himself over the weekend. I'm really heartbroken.

Heidi's Surprise

Heidi, the local chicken woman and former keeper of goats, had a surprise party for her 50th birthday on Saturday. Lots of out-of-towners, and members of some camp counselor cult from their teen years. (Here's the moment of surprise.) Local stellar musicians and good pals Annie Garretson and Barb Doyle (who were also gracious enough to open for David Rovics when we brought him here a year ago), serenaded Heidi with several songs about being aged and decrepit. Been there done that. Anyway, an Indigo Girls song is below, and you can follow these links to Barb's "What Would Our Mothers Do?" song, the Simon and Garfunkel trilogy of "Bookends," "America," and "Old Friends," an Annie original called "Where Does the Time Go?" and two Cheryl Wheeler songs, "Potato" and "Howl at the Moon." If your bandwith can stand it, I'd suggest you click on the YouTube option that says "Watch high quality," it's much higher resolution.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Secret "Cells"

Who could be opposed to a tutorial multimedia demonstration on the dangers of terrorism, right? Well, unless the sponsors of "The CELL" are closely tied to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, and are funded by the likes of the Dershowitz Group and the US Department of Homeland Security. The Colorado ACLU learned that this particular organization is closely tied to the Denver Performing Arts Center and the Mizel Museum. I'm not paranoid about AIPAC, but I'm worried that the presentation CELL will provide will be far from objective - and must a publicly-funded museum tout presentations from government security agencies? Thankfully, the online Colorado Independent paid attention to these disturbing aspects, because the rest of the Colorado media seemed to give it a free pass.

Friday, September 5, 2008


My wonderful friend Bev Wordle-ized my blog, with the result above. You can try it too, at http://wordle.net.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's Your Aura, Dude?

Fascinating article on recent research on migraine headaches in the August issue of Scientific American. The majority opinion no longer relates migraines directly with vascular or blood issues, but with cortical storms related to either the visual cortex, the brain stem, or both. In the article, the authors described the auras experienced by many migraine sufferers before an attack. While some are simple flashing lights, many are highly organized patterns of bright points, followed by a negative-image pattern of dark points. There is speculation that the sufferer might be seeing his/her own visual cortex firing pattern, or another internal neural network.

Eureka! Ever since I was a child, I've seen such moire patterns in dark rooms, and can bring them into my visual field at other times as well. They alternate as trapezoidal, hexagonal, or octagonal patterns of light firing. I thought everyone experienced it. I've never had migraine or epileptic symptoms, however. I visited a fascinating migraine aura web site maintained by German researchers, and realized there is a significant minority of people who experience moire-pattern auras without migraines. I don't have these experiences often as an adult, but if I concentrate, I can "will" the pattern to overlay my normal vision, like a scaffolding over the visual field. Says something interesting about visual perception and cortical storms, I guess. Do you see this? What's your aura?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Amy Goodman Arrested

Yeah, yeah, we've heard it before, if you're surrounded by Black Bloc types in bandanas throwing shit at you, restraint goes out the window, but arresting Amy Goodman? These Minn-St. Paul cops are just thugs, hope the twin cities are prepared to shell out some money to handle the court cases.

TUES PM: She's out, and gave the cops some much-needed crap.

Monday, September 1, 2008

RIP Adam Nodelman

I was just relishing the trio of live-in-Leeds CDs - Glik, Glak, Gluk - of the Boston bizarro collective Sunburned Hand of the Man, when I learned that Sunburned member Adam Nodelman died last week. You can find his obit on the band's MySpace page. Interesting to see that Adam also was a member of the legendary early-1980s jazz ensemble Borbetomagus when he was only 18! He leaves behind three daughters, how sad....Wow, even Pitchfork had a nice obit.