Tuesday, September 30, 2008
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
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
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
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
Thursday, September 25, 2008
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:
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*
10. Baba Ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi **
15. Hot dog from a street cart
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
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
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo **
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!
47. Chicken tikka masala **
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly Pear
54. Paneer *
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis - yuck
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang Souchong
81. Tom yum ** (but Tom Kha is better)
82. Eggs benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
Horse - NEVER
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab ***
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano **
96. Bagel and lox
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
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
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
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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
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
Monday, September 8, 2008
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
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
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
TUES PM: She's out, and gave the cops some much-needed crap.
Monday, September 1, 2008
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.