The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

2/28/2005

Ward Churchill and the future of affirmative action

One final thought on Ward Churchill: how does this bear on the future of affirmative action.

All available evidence indicates that Ward Churchill was an affirmative action hire, put on an extremely abbreviated tenure track at a major university, despite wholly lacking in academic credentials, simply because he was able to falsely pass himself off as an American Indian. And not just an American Indian, but the "voice" of Native American culture. We know how that he is a fraud.

What does this say about the future of affirmative action?

The purpose of affirmative action is give a helping hand to people who are members of groups that are historically under-represented within a specific universe. While an argument could have been made that this should have been limited to black Americans, because of the continuing legacy of slavery, that battle long ago was lost. Dick Nixon's social engineering legacy has been extended well beyond that narrow focus to include women, Latinos, Alaskans/Aleuts, etc.

Among the many problems with affirmative action has been identification of the target recipient. The whole woman/man thing is relatively simple and straight-forward (except at the extreme margins). But what about racial classifications? Race is an artificial construct. It has no biological meaning. Is it simply a degree of skin pigmentation? We are a racially diverse society, where Loving v. Virginia invalidated the anti-miscegenation laws of many states. And, even without that, there is little "pure" African blood among African-Americans, due to the systematic rape of females in the slavery system. So, there is an element of self-identification in determining who is a member of the protected class designated to benefit from a particular affirmative action plan.

Reductio ad absurdum: Ward Churchill.

This man has self-identified as American Indian. Don't know why. Perhaps the hate-filled little poseur just feels it in his soul (assuming, arguendo, that he has a soul).

What's to prevent others from making a similar self-identification? Especially since we live in an environment where the faculty at the University of Colorado deem it a virtual hate crime to even investigate the matter. What's to stop some marginal high school student, who's straight-off-the -Mayflower white, from making a Churchillian claim to being Native American, just so he can benefit from a set-aside designated for a member of a particular racial group? What about me? I'm just as Native American as Churchill. Why can't I apply for a government contract of some sort as a minority-owned enterprise, due to my newly-discovered status as a Native American, Ward Churchill tribe?

If anyone can gain the benefits of affirmative Churchill-style, simply by opting into the designated class, assured of the fact that not only will no one look behind the claim, but it will deemed impermissible to even make inquiry, then how we determine who should benefit?

Back when President Clinton was saying "mend it, don't end it" vis-à-vis affirmative action, one student said that everyone should be entitled to affirmative action. But if everyone is entitled to a benefit, then it is a benefit to no one. If Ward Churchill is entitled to affirmative action, who isn't?
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Ward Churchill: CU faculty, please make 'em stop

According to wretchard at the Belmost Club, the faculty at the University of Colorado are begging the citizenry of State of Colorado to please allow the Centennial State's flagship university to slide down to national laughingstock status. All over a phoney con "artist" named Ward Churchill.

While Churchill may be the pride and joy of Sangamon State (his alma mater), but he's an idiot and a fraud.

He has no academic credentials justifying a tenured position at a major American university (albeit Big 12).

He lied about being an American Indian (aka Native American). He was even ordered to stop selling his art as Native American art.

Oh, and about that art, copied. Plagiarized. Fake.

And apparently at his pep rallies, he is claiming that his "ninth amendment" rights trumps the "first amendment" right of every other American. Ninth amendment! Y'know, the ones not expressly given to the federal government are retained by the people. I guess he's got the opinion that he has the right to harass people (and use his position as a government employee) to deny others the right to speak. Yes, there is no right to have the private sector recognize your free speech rights. You don't need a ninth amendment to conclude that. (And it's not in the ninth amendment as, I suppose, a state theoretically could pass a law requiring the private sector to recognize free speech rights) . Someone get this man a copy of the constitution.

The faculty are demanding that all investigations into this fraud cease. According to the denverchannel:
The 200 faculty members' statement defends Churchill's "right to speak what
he believes to be the truth" based on academic freedom rules designed to prevent
faculty members from being fired for unpopular views.

Think they would think that way about a professor who said that there may be a genetic reason why women do not reach the pinnacle of academia in mathematics and sciences?

In addition to be an idiot and fraud Churchill is a coward and a bully. No way he'd face critics head on, only from within the comfortable confines of his academic cocoon. The rest of the academy enjoys the comforts of that cocoon and are rushing to defend this rotten S.O.B. Fortunately, the Churchill scandal may be enough that, if allowed to fester, could bring down the whole rotten stinkin' system of left-wing polemics masquerading as scholarship, of the most vile hateful leftist speech being absolutely protected and, indeed, insulated from critique, while even moderate conservative, mainstream opinions are shouted down as hate speech, and even of affirmative action hiring based on self-declared admission to an under-repreesented group.

May every day be Columbus Day for you, Churchill, you fraud.

Kate Bush - "Suspended in Gaffa"

Both music critics and her fans concur that the fourth Kate Bush LP, The Dreaming, is her weakest. I dissent.

It sits dead center in her productive. Three releases come before it; three releases of original material come afterward. Yes, it is a transition piece, but as such it includes the best elements from both phases of her career: the original voice of the first, with the histrionics now downplayed effectively, combined with the layering and detail of her latter work. Before The Dreaming, her material was simplistic and only as good as the songwriting. After, the songs became a bit too weighty and leaden. To take the analogy she used very effectively in her only American Top 40 hit, the first three LPs were running up that hill, the last three were moving back down. Although there are many great songs on either side, The Dreaming is the pinnacle among the whole albums.


My favorite is "Suspended in Gaffa," which uses the imagery of "gaffa tape," an industrial tape used to tape down cords, etc., on a concert stage, to indicate being trapped or restrained from doing what one is drawn to do. I suppose it could have been called "Suspended in Duct Tape," a title which would have made more sense to the general audience, but Kate went with what she knew. It's the song o' the day.

2/27/2005

Why celebrities should just shut up and sign (or act)

Why? Because Kid Rock will curse like the mother$@&!^# you are - that's why.

I'm not a fan of the man's music, but I've become a fan of the man. Still, what a dilemma the White House about him performing at an inaugural ball. One the one hand, the sentiment. On the other, the $@^#$*! cursing.

(Found thanks to instapundit.)

Al Green - "Tired of Being Alone"

I'm going to mutter a cultural heresy.

I think Al Green is one of the most over-rated singers in the rock/R&B pantheon.

There, I said it. It needed to be said.

How could I say such a thing? He was a singles artist whose best work was done over a very brief time period in the early 70s (1971-1973). Yes he had a rich resonant voice, but his soulful tenor really only hit one emotional note: pent-up, repressed, frustrated sexual tension. No one can seriously argue that a music fan needs more Al Green in his/her collection than his Greatest Hits, especially since the CD repackage adds "Belle" from the original vinyl, which is his one great song from his post-peak period. While a true legend like Aretha Franklin makes you want to mine her back catalog for hidden gems (plague-like avoiding those early years when Columbia Records was trying to make her the black Patti Page), with Al Green, the greatest hits package has it all, and a little more.

I don't understand the elevation of Al Green to "legend." He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame way back in 1995. Saying you like Al Green is generally considered shorthand for saying, "I'm cool." In reality, he was a quality singer, with a resonant voice, who put out some great songs.

My favorite? The first of his great Hi Records to hit big on the pop charts: His plaintive 1971 #11 hit, "Tired of Being Alone." There's more pent-up frustration and sexuality-in-chains than any of his other hits. A great song I never get tired of hearing.

Am I being hyper-critical of Rev. Green? I don't think so. He's a talented singer, but my question is: Is he "Hall of Fame" worthy? Just like pointing out all those mid-century New York Giants have no business in the Baseball Hall of Fame does not diminish those players' actual skills and contributions to the game, pointing out Rev. Green's limitations should not be interpreted as maligning what he has managed to accomplish. "Let's Stay Together" and "I'm Still in Love with You" are still great songs, well-sung with great Willie Mitchell production.

And it's not heretical to point that out.

2/26/2005

Converts v. Heretics

There’s a new ol' saw making the rounds of the blogosphere: "I've heard it said that the Right is looking for converts and the Left is looking for heretics." The above phrase is becoming a cliché because, like most clichés, it contains an element of truth. The question is: why is this decidedly so?

In part, it is because of the underlying institutions upon which conservative and liberal thought have been built. Conservatism is built on the foundation of the church. Churches are, by nature, evangelical. Rarely are churches closed communities. They send out missionaries. Missionaries may have strong beliefs about what is right, what is wrong, what is proper, what is improper. But missionaries do not aim to convert by name-calling, or an immediate demand for rigid adherence. They build bridges, find the common ground, and then enlarge the community.


The Left (which in my opinion has ceased being "liberal") has built its foundation on the academy. Academia is probably the major institution in America most hostile to free, unfettered speech. Academics rarely try to convince someone to adopt his or her position. They lecture. And in modern academia, it is often a uni-directional lecture from the Left. Outside speakers are drawn from a shallow pool of leftists, with an academic fraud like Ward Churchill more likely to get a speaking invite than a mainstream conservative (a label the Left refers to as "extremist").

Academic administration actively seeks to silence alternative viewpoints, ironically in the name of diversity. Rather than trying to broaden minds, academia has adopted the position that students exhibiting particular traits are entitled to an environment free from distress, challenge or disagreement. Agreement is assumed and disagreement is punished. With low grades. With banishment from the tenure track. With the Administration-permitted theft of non-conforming newspapers. Sometimes with Administration-ignored physical intimidation.

Given these two distinct climates in each side’s base institution, is it any wonder that we are witnessing such a huge difference in attitude toward outsiders? I don’t see any institutional forces on the horizon to change either side’s outlook.


Addendum: When liberalism was the dominant force in American politics, roughly from the 1932 election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the end of the Civil Rights Act with the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, liberalism was the faith-based political philosophy. It was grounded in the New England puritan idea of the perfectability of humanity through community action. It is no accident that the civil rights movement was born in southern black churches. Conservatism was based on mercantilism. It may have sought victory, but it did not then seek conversion. Times have changed.

Bee Gees - "Lonely Days"

I love the Bee Gees. There, I've admitted it.

From the folky-Beatlesque pop of the 60s, through the disco 70s, and into their ballad-driven work in their later years, it's all good. While I think they wrote, recorded and released many great songs throughout their extraordinary career, their pinnacle was the three-album stretch, briefly interrupted by a bitter intra-familial split. of Odessa, 2 Years On, and Trafalgar. These are the records made before they let the Philadelophia soul side of their personalities dominate the group's sound. This is the period in which they invented and perfected a genre that I label "prog pop," as it combined pure pop hookery with elements of the nascent prog-rock scene. See, e.g., Moody Blues; see also Yes.

While my favorite Bee Gees' song may change, my favorite single will always be "Lonely Days," the most infectious song ever that is nothing more than a wallow in self-pity.

The invaluable alldirect.com has 2 Years On on the sale for the extraordinary price of $6.63. Again, at the price, you may want to buy two. Or, better yet, pair it up with Trafalgar, a the same bargain price, or, best choice of all, the classic Odessa, unbelievably at the same low price.

Hypocrisy Watch: the Oscar night goody-bag

We know from the Jeff Gannon "scandal" that the absolute wrost crime that anyone could ever possibly commit is "hypocrisy." Hypocrisy alone, in the eyes of some, is enough to justify the rudest, most unseemly invasions of privacy one can imagine. So let's start a Hypocrisy Watch fearture right here! Let's do!

Today's "outing" of hypocrisy: the $32,000 Oscar night "gift bag" given to multi-millionaire celebrities at the Oscar presentation extravaganza. Correct if I'm wrong, but don't you think that some of the people demanding these expensive little baubles may also have been screeching that the money used to pay for President Bush's inaugural festivities should have gone to tsunami victims? There's still poor and unfortunate people who could use a year's income's worth of goodies themselves, I'm not the only one noticing.

Disclaimer: In all seriousness, I have nothing against hypocrisy. I'm a hypocrite, at times. I think hypocrisy is what the greases the wheels of civilization, as one's private behavior (and misbehavior) will always fall short of one's publicly-stated standards. So, by pointing out others' hypocriusy, even though I allow myself to be a hypocrite, that makes me a double-reverse triple-axle hypocrite in a pike-position. And so what?

U.N. charm offensive

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and various other high U.N. muckety-mucks (with emphasis on the "muck") have launched a "charm offensive" on Capitol Hill, trying to convince Congressional critics that they are not worthless scum. Any chance that any Congressman would say to Annan or one of his enablers, "Sorry, I'd shake your hand, but it's caked in blood of the people of Darfur and of those poor Congolese children who are raped by your U.N. troops"?

2/25/2005

Roxy Music - "Take a Chance with Me"

Off 1982's Avalon, the last record of original material from Roxy Music, the song o' the day is the plaintive "Take a Chance with Me." Sexual desperation never sounded so good! Or so cool.

Roxy Music was grounded in early 70s artsy/glam rock, with a bit of the "do it yourself" ethic thrown in for good measure. The occasionally could put forth a great song (see, e.g., "Love Is the Drug"), but generally got progressively duller and duller as their homebase-scene faded into rock history. Then, almost out of nowhere, came the sleek, sophisticated, almost jazzy Avalon. It's a similar transformation to what Bowie was experiencing a short time later when he developed his "normal man" persona for the Let's Dance LP. Both were music by and for grown-ups. The only differences are (1) the quality of the songs and (2) Bowie worked a more overtly pop-rock vein, while Roxy Music developed a jazz-pop sound that Sade would take up the charts so successfully two years later.

Why I love Peggy Noonan (first of a continuing series)

Lawyers generally are writers, by trade, for more than they are talkers. Some areas of the law -- high volume criminal prosecution or defense, family/domestic -- may be better suited for people who can speak well on the fly. But for especially those of us who practice in federal court, the quality of the written product is more important.

How do you improve the quality of your own writing? By reading good writing.

One of the best writers working today is Peggy Noonan. This piece from yesterday's Opinion Journal is representative of the extraordinary quality of her work. Her writing style is best described as "conversational," and that's a powerful way to write (if you can pull it off). I have seen her interviewed on TV a few times, as I have many other writers. There is no writer writing today whose own voice comes through so clearly in his or her writing. And this, in my opinion, is the most persuasive way to write a legal argument: a conversation with the Judge, not a shouting match with opposing counsel.

You read Peggy Noonan and all you can hear is her smooth, whispery voice gently but firmly talking to you. What is interesting, indeed ironic, is that she was such a talented speechwriter for others, crafting speeches for Ronald Reagan that were distinctly written for the President's own voice. Yet, when writing under her own name, the voice is pure Peggy. The tone, the cadence, the emphasis: each word is written just as it would be spoken by her. No false notes, no jarring disruptions made for the appearance of "cleverness." Just a pleasant one-way conversation.

Every article from her is a two-fer. Not only do we get to hear her insight into important matters of politics, culture or religion, but we get a clinic in writing technique. It's why we all should love (and appreciate) Peggy Noonan.

Michael Barone article (sorta) consistent with my 36-year cycle theory

Michael Barone has written a great analysis of a possible fundamental shift in electoral politics from the 2004 election. He has put forth an argument that makes the results of the 51/48 2004 election consistent with my 36-year cycle theory of American politics.

More on that theory in a later post.

2/24/2005

What if Wonkette were the one dying?

I know, not a very nice sentiment from me.

A lot of blogs that I enjoy reading (and respect) hold Wonkette in contempt. I don't read the woman. The few times I checked out her blog she was't saying anything I found interesting and she wasn't saying it in a way that I found particularly readable. But I didn't understand the hostility directed toward what I considered to be a rather empty vessel.

Now I understand.

I was following a link on the protein wisdom site (is that one of the blogs I was referencing in paragraph 2) that was to given me her impression on the bounty that the left-o-blogs have placved on finding Jeff Gannon's sex partners (yup, that's really important). It took me to Wonkette's page. Below her publicizing the search for the man's sex partners, was this little distateful snippet about the pope's health problems, in which she is gleeful at the prospect of who gets to post the first obituary on then man I genuinely belive to be the greatest pope of the Church's Second Millennium. Here's what passes for "cute" in Wonkette's twisted world:

How many hundreds of journalists are crouched in a state of cat-like
readiness today, praying they'll be the first to publish a papal obituary? Ah,
journalism at its finest and most noble. Don't take any cigarette breaks kids,
ya might miss your moment.
Petty miserable thoughts from someone who must surely be a petty miserable person.

This pope's been called far worse by far worse people. Even in his current condition, he is fully capable of whatever this "Wonkette" woman can dish out.

Jimmie Rodgers - "In the Jailhouse Now"

The great Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) is the father of country & western music. He combined the blues and hillbilly music (with yodeling!) into one unified genre better than anyone who came after him and, yes, that includes Elvis. I highly recommend the 5-disc box set Recordings, covering all of his recordings from 1927 until his death in 1933, shortly after he finished recording the final track on the final disc, "Years Ago."

History is not the reason to buy this set, which by the way is available at the bargain price of $21.70 at, where else, alldirect.com. THe reason everyone should own this is that the music is so good. The songs are simple, yet catchy. I would say "infectious," but given that Mr. Rodgers died way too young of the ol' TB, use of that adjective would be in poor taste. Pop hooks aplenty, well before anyone would use such a description for a popular song. One of my favorites is one of the most upbeat songs you will hear about being sentenced to time in jail: "In the Jailhouse Now." I like it so much, it's the song o' the day.

2/23/2005

A Portrait of Joan Rivers

The spit take, courtesy of the Manolo.

He loves the shoes, but the Manolo, I do not think that he has the love for the Joan Rivers.

Blur - "Girls & Boys"

No story about what pleasant memories are evoked by today's song o' the day. I simply like the catchy retro-Eurodisco feel of Blur's 1994 hit "Girls & Boys." The song is ostensibly about the pansexual appetites of Euro-wannabe Brits on holiday. The gender bending triple-backs (maybe even quadruple somersault backs) on itself so you have no clue as to who's doing who.

This one is off Blur's breakout CD, Parklife. What's so great about Parklife? It's the best CD ever with greyhounds on the cover! That's enough to make it Zack The Dog's personal favorite.

A jury of Michael Jackson's peers

Laugh out loud moment in an article on the conclusion of Michael Jackson jury selection. According to this AFP (Agence France-Press) article posted on Yahoo! News:

During questioning on Wednesday morning, an African-American woman, holding one of the alternate spots, said she doubted Jackson would ever be given a fair hearing.

How can he get a fair trial anywhere when even the ex-sherrif of Santa Barbara county gets on TV and tells the world he is a child molester?" said the woman, a former corrections officer.

"A jury of your peers? How is this man going to get it here?" she said.

(Emphasis added).


A jury of Michael Jackson's peers? Exactly what planet in what galaxy in what universe must one be on to find a peer of Michael Jackson?

2/22/2005

It's Tuesday. What is retrofuturistic?

Nothing screams "retrofuturistic" more than Tomorrowland at Disneyland, a cerca 1956 vision of how "the future" would look.

While Space Mountain and the Star Tours motion simulator are the contemporary highlights of Tomorrowland, the essence of retrofuturism is best embodied by "Autopia," a vision of a utopian future where we all drive our personal automobiles and that wonderful gift to humanity from the Eisenhower administration, The Freeway. And dig the cool Eisenhower era signage to Autopia (if only I could airbrush out the Chevron logo).

Morrissey - "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful"

The theme song of law students the world over! (Well, at least it was for my social circle during my years attending The Law School at The University.)

On this song, Morrissey tries his best to keep the spotlight focused on himself and to make this song a mere whine about his suffering maltreatment at the hands of his envious inferiors. Despite this, the song really does express a universal sentiment, especially among people in a "zero sum game" environment where one person's good outcome only means less opportunity for the remaining pool. E.g., in law school, a great summer clerkship for one of your peers meant one less great summer job opportunity for thee.

I own "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" on a CD single. And, realistically, that's all the Morrissey anyone should be able to take in one listening. I used to like the Smiths and, to a lesser extent, the Morrissey solo whines. But, at some point, you grow up enough and think, "Y'know, Mo, they have some really good medicines now for depression."

Affirmative action: the love that dares not speak its name

Excellent discussion over at discriminations.us regarding affirmative action and its effects on African-American college students.

John discusses to research papers that have slithered out of the sociology department at Princeton regarding affirmative action. One is from Professor Douglas Massey, who draws the conclusion that affirmative action does not set up minority students for failure, a conclusion that follows from his research only becaue he has blindly refused to examine some of the issues arising in his research. He found that the more schools used affirmative action, the lower the over-all performance of minority students. He refused to assess the possibility that some minority students were lured into waters over their heads by admissions officers who wanted "trophy" minorities. Instead, he opined that a "stereotype threat," in which students were stigmatized as being beneficiaries of affirmative was the problem and the only possible solution: more affirmative action!

The "stereotype threat" is real. Well-qualified African-American students are assumed by too many people to be there only because of affirmative action. The thought that many (or most) could be there based on their individual achievements occurs to far too few people. Professor Massey went into his research with the politically-correct conclusion in mind and he hell-bent on reaching that conclusion regardless of where the data took him.

The other study seems to be more flawed. According to John, Professor Tienda's "research" (and, yes, I am using the ol' sarcasm quotes there) concluded that minority students who attend a minority-majority are more likely to graduate in the Top 10% of their class than those who attend fully-integrated high schools. My point is this: DUH!

If a school is 100% African-American, then the entire Top 10% will be African-American, by definition. If a school is 30% African American and, if academic performance were randomly distributed throughout the student population, then only 30% of the Top 10% would be African American. The drop-off would be substantial even if academic performance were randomly distributed. We have a problem in our culture because, for whatever reason(s), it currently is not. If I understand Professor Tienda's "research" correctly, she has merely stated a truism. Without delving into the incomprehensive academic-ese in which she has likely gussied-up her sociological findings, I don't understand what possible break-through point she believes she is making.


And her research is based on Texas high schools. Texas has a state law guaranteeing college admission for the Top 10% of each and every high school graduating class. (I will find the statute if I can. In the meantime, here's a description of the law from the Texas Tech website.) That would seem to be an important detail and I wondering if Professor Tienda willfully opted to ignore it (or if it influenced her choice of Texas as the state to be studied). So, of course, you could go to a more "selective" school in Texas merely by one's status as a graduate in the Top 10% of one's class in a Texas high school, which, in a minority-dominated Texas high school would most assuredly be a minority. Professor Tienda's conclusion thus is that if you live in a state that guarantees college admission to any student who graduates in the Top 10% of his/her high school's graduating class, then segregation is a good thing. Because you will get into a better college. This conclusion is offensive on so many levels.

Years ago, I began suspecting that there may be a problem with affirmative action when I realized that none of its defenders could speak openly and honestly about the costs and benefits. And if when one did, you would only need to see the example of Harvard President Larry Summers to see what happens when you speak truth to power about affirmative action. Like someone justifying remaining in a bad relationship, if you have to lie to justify your action or your policy choice, chances are your policy choices (like relationship choices) are a terrible mistake.

But, then again, I guess I'm just an old-fashioned liberal (albeit anti-tax) who is still naive enough to believe the old saw about equal justice under the law for everybody.


Addendum: I've been corrected on one of my basic lines of attack on Professor Tienda. The whole point of her paper was to examine the Texas Top 10% law. Still, I stand by my statement that her conclusions seem self-evident and are neither a valid line of support, nor attack, for affirmative action.

Addendum II: Courtesy of a polite commenter who shot down one of my theses over at the discriminations site, here's the link to a pdf-file of Professor Tienda research paper. I report, you decide, after reading.

Celebrity justice: Santa Barbara style

Very bad sign for those of us who believe that all people should be treated equally before the eyes of the law, regardless of wealth or celebrity.

Judge Rodney Melville, the presiding judge in Michael Jackson child molestation case, feels the need to apologize to the jury panel for Michael Jackson's behavior. Jackson had a tummy ache last week, which caused a one-week delay in jury selection.

Judge Melville is giving every appearance of being Judge Ito - Northern Division. First, jury selection is already an out-of-control circus. Set some time limits for each side to question perspective jurors and be done with it. Second, Melville is already indicating that Jackson and his legal team will be controlling the proceedings, not the presiding judge. A one-week postponement for "flu-like symptoms"? Order Jackson to attend the hearing or hold him in contempt. Some 19 year old accused drug courier doesn't get to postpone his trial because of the sniffles. Equal justice for all, you know. And, third, if the Judge lets the defense put forth even a fraction of the 300 A-, B-, and Z-list celebrities that the defense has offered up as "witnesses," I'd like to know under what rule of evidence such testimony is going to be deemed relevant or admissible. I expect him to engage in the ultimate demonstration of spinelessness and let Jackson's defense run the court room.

Of couse, a closer look at the celebrity guest stars, umm, I mean, defense witnesses, and I'm not sure that this wouldn't work to the prosecution's advantage. Liz Taylor? Drug-addled and brain damaged. Does she even know what she had for breakfast? Kobe Bryant? Yup, just who you want testifying in your defense in a sex crime prosecution. Diana Ross? How many F-bombs per minute is she going to get away with dropping? Macauley Caulkin? Anyone else thinking that if he took his oath to the tell the truth seriously he would be a star witness -- for the prosecution.

One of the great travesties of our legal systems is that the wealthy and celebrities (and, especially, wealthy celebrities) are often coddled by our criminal justice systems, especially on the West Coast. I have no faith in Judge Melville's ability to avoid dispensing his own Santa Barbara-style "celebrity justice."

2/21/2005

João Gilberto - "Aguas de Março"

It's a nasty, rainy, and kinda flood-y day here in normally sunny Las Vegas. Perfect weather for the chipper "Aguas de Março" by João Gilberto to be today's song o' the day.

There are two giants of Brasil's wonderful bossa nova beat. There is the orchestral Anotnio Carlos Jobim and the relaxed guitar of João Gilberto. "Aguas de Março," translated to "Waters of March," brings the two giants together to form one of the definitive tracks of the history of Brazilian bossa. João's lazy half-sung, half-whispered, barely audible vocals work perfectly well on this Jobim-penned track that's been covered by just about every contemporary on the Brazilian jazz scene.

I love bossa nova. It's one of the great sounds of the last century. Please forgive the originators of this sound for having their basic conventions adapted and over-processed to form that most mid-century of musics, MUZAK.

The CD simply titled João Gilberto, which leads off with this track, is João at his best. It's relatively hard to find, though. Amazon is charging an arm, two legs, and a left kidney for it. Look around, you'll find it cheaper.

One last point. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that "bossa nova" translates to "new bulge" or "new swelling." Those crazy Brazilians.

Hitch the Magic Negro

There's a condescending phrase in Hollywood, "the Magic Negro." It refers to the use of an African-American character who enters an all-white world and through a copmbination of hipness, cool and street smarts, transforms the white hero into a hipper, cooler and street-savvier version of his or her previous self.

I would have thought that in 2005, this trite formula had run its course. Sadly, it hasn't. Hitch starring Will Smith is number one at the box office for a second week in a row.

Footnote: I disagree with Rita Kempley in her 2003 article about including Whoopi Goldberg's psychic in Ghost as a "Magic Negro" character. I don't recall there being anything inherently black about Goldberg's character. The "psychic" through whom Patrick Swayze speaks could have been played just as easily by a white, Latina, or Asian actress. Goldberg did a great job. Now, if she would just quiet down about politics and go back to acting ...

Paris Hilton as comedic icon

Who hates Paris Hilton the most? We all do! The great Achewood on-line comic strip has properly placed Paris Hilton into the role of comedy icon.

2/20/2005

Walter Egan - "Magnet and Steel"

Sunday night's song o' the day is one that brings back happy memories of my first quarter at Georgia Tech back in the fall of 1978, "Magnet and Steel" by Walter Egan.

Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys once compared rock with pop by stating that the intention of rock music was to create these anthems that survive the test of time, while pop is the music of the moment. Yet the irony is that rock is ephemeral and pop music lasts because it triggers a memory of a certain time and place. This Top 10 single does that. I went to Georgia Tech with a fairly modest record collection of fairly standard-issue pop-rock. Best of the Doobies. Don McLean American Pie. Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell. Some Daryl Hall and John Oates and some 10cc. Nothing too challenging. My freshman roommate was a nice enough guy. The only record in my LP collection that he would ever listen to was Walter Egan Not Shy.

This one is off the recently released CD that combined Egan's first two LPs on to a single disc: Fundamental Roll / Not Shy. The premier LP, Fundamental Roll, is a bit more in the Poco-style California mellow country-rock vein, which was somehow popular in the mid 1970s. But there's a lot of good pop music spread over this 21-track disc. Not Shy is more directly influenced by the Buckingham/Nicks presence (although BUckingham produced both). I overpaid for mine because I bought in on amazon. If I had waited a few days for it to show up on alldirect, I would've saved three bucks.

Hagiography for the man who destroyed the Dems

The Washington Post magazine section has a hagiography of the man directly responsible for the death of liberalism as a viable political force, in general, and the modern Democratic party, in particular. George McGovern.

The triumph of the leftist McGovern wing of the Democrat party, over the traditional liberalism of the Hubert Humphrey, destroyed the moral underpinnings of American liberalism and the Democrat party. Hubert Humphrey was a doctrinaire liberal on the domestic front -- of course he was, he largely wrote the doctrine! -- but throughout his career he was militantly anti-communist. This led to a surprising friendship between Humphrey and Ronald Reagan, dating back to Reagan's Screen Actors Guild days. (If I recall correctly, Reagan never denied voting for his friend Humphrey over his rival Nixon in the 1968 presidential election.) The bipartisan fight against communism ended with the rise and triumph of the essential anti-American McGovernism.

The Post's hagiography ignores one particularly sordid chapter in the rise of McGovern, one that would have tarnished their saint's halo just a bit. McGovern headed the commission that re-wrote the rules for the Democrat presidential nominating process, taking power out of the hands of the power brokers and putting it squarely in the clutches of left-wing activists. Shockingly, McGovern then rode the wave generated by the enthusiasm of the anti-war left (who were at best agnostic in the fight against global communism) and defeated centrist Edmund Muskie, who would have sailed to easy victory in the party nomination fight under the old, pre-McGovern rules.

After McGovern '72, the Democrats have never since nominated a foreign policy hawk. With the rise of Howard Dean as party chair -- a direct lineal descendant of McGovern if there ever was one -- that doesn't look to change in the next few election cycles.

After the triumph of McGovernism, the Dems became dominated by people who believed in a perverted version of "American exceptionalism." As enunciated by President Reagan, "American exceptionalism" was the belief that the USA had a special and unique mission in the world, from leading the defeat of Nazism in WWII and to defeating its doppelganger-in-evil, communism, in a winnable Cold War. McGovernism too believed in American exceptionalism, only under their perversion, America was a rogue nation that needed to reined in by its "allies" and was more prone to do harm in the world. Hence, McGovern preaching "Come Home America." McGovern's dovishness was not borne of isolationism. Instead, it was the belief that America would be more likely to do bad outside its borders and, thus, like an unruly teenager, needed to be grounded to its own borders.

One of the most offensive lines that McGovern emitted was his comment distinguishing between his blind ignorance of the horrors of Soviet-style communism and his bitter, continual criticisms of right-wing U.S. allies in the fight against communism. McGovern got on his "moral" high horse and said that it was appropriate to hold the right-wing dictatorships to a higher, different standard because the USA allegedly had more influence over its anti-communist allies. As bad as the anti-communist right-wing dictatorships were in the 1970s/1980s, even with the "desaparecidos" in Argentina," or the clergy murdered in the guerrilla wars in Guatemala and El Salvador, the body count pales in comparison to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. If McGovern has ever voiced a word of criticism of Fidel Castro, I never heard it. Under the McGovern, a regime was subject to criticism and reprisal only if it were an ally of the USA. Some incentive for being a friend.

This attitude continued even through the 2004 presidential election. Democrat candidate John Forbes Kerry, who served in Viet Nam, and who represents in the U.S. Senate the state responsible for 82 percent of McGovern's electoral vote total, frequently attacked the USA's allies in the Iraq War. Kerry's comments dripped with utter contempt for Poland, Bulgaria, ROK and other allies in the War on Terror. Coalition of the bribed, anyone? Countries that could be bought on eBay, anyone? Just like McGovern, identifying yourself as an ally of the USA is sufficient reason to hold a nation and its leadership in total disdain.

Speaking of presidential losers, I thought it was very unlikely that the Post would ever print such a gauzy-lenses portrait of a Republican presidential loser and then I realized that over the last 40 years, the last 10 presidential elections, only one Republican "insurgent" candidate has lost a presidential election: Bob Dole in 1996. More sitting Republican presidents have lost elections (Gerald Ford in 1976 and George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992) than insurgent candidates. There are simply far more losing Democrat insurgent candidates for the media to glorify.

And, for that, we Republicans have George McGovern to thank.

This comic strip is harassment, not humor

Today's Area 52 is more like disability-based harassment than a "cartoon." Nevertheless, I laughed at it.

2/19/2005

Fingerprintz - "Punchy Judy"

I listened to some vinyl on a rainy Saturday morning here in the ostensible desert of Las Vegas, Nevada USA. Because of sound quality advantages and convenience, I would rather pay a small price for a CD, rather than "rip" my vinyl myself into digital format. That is not an option with a few artists, like Atlanta's The Brains, or L.A.'s The Pop, or Britain's Interview (and I'm defintely the only one clamoring for their material to be gathered onto CD), whose material has not yet made it to CD format. But of all the artists who have not yet been given digital refurbishing, the one I would most like to see on CD is Fingerprintz.

I love all three 'Printz LP's. I even like the EP. One song that has many pleasant memories is off their excellent punky debut The Very Dab. "Punchy Judy" is the Fingerprintz song that I played the most during the year-plus or so that occasionally DJ-ed on "Solitary Confinement," the Sunday night "new wave" show on Georgia Tech's WREK-FM. I only occasionally DJ-ed because I was frequently banned from the studio for a variety of offenses, not all of which were my fault. Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably the single song that I played more times over the air than any other. The song clocks in at a rapid-fire 1:45. It's about a sex toy. Check out the lyrics, which I believe are being posted on the internet for the first time:
Sent away her pennies for electric apparatus
Just what you need
Guaranteed to improve your marital status

Don't wanna end up that way
Don't wanna end up that way

Punchy Judy
State she's in
Punchy Judy
It's a sin
Tsk Tsk tsk

Better off without him

Separated untogether
He took the smile off her face
Bondage swing head in a sling
Hospital case

Punchy Judy
State she's in
Punchy Judy
It's a sin
Tsk Tsk tsk


What makes that an interesting subject for a song is that the Fingerprintz, and their successor in interest, The Silencers, were quite spiritual and at times overtly Christian (but, please, don't call them "Christian Rock").

I agree whole-heartedly with the allmusic site that someone needs to get the 'Printz stuff out on CD. Three spearate CD's, one for each album. The EP can be bonus tracks on The Very Dab. Someone, please.

Virginia ends red light cam experiment

The Washington Post is reporting a small victory on the civil liberties front. A committee in the House of Delegates in the Commonwealth of Virginia has declined to extend the life of a legislation allowing for the use of cameras at traffic signals. The stated intent of such cameras is to catch red-light-running drivers.

This is just another one of those blatant encroachments on civil liberties that people have swallowed without much question here in (as Instapundit would say) "John AshKKKroft's AmeriKKKa". The problem with traffic cams (either red light cams, or speed trap cams like I saw in use on Vancouver Island in B.C. Canada several years ago) is that they upset the burden of proof of criminal cases. For you to be convicted of any offense, whether it bne something serious or petty, the government has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and without violating your right against self-incrimination.

By using cameras, the government may be able to prove that your vehicle was involved in an act of lawlessness, assuming the government can prove the accuracy of its machine on the night in question. However, unless the camera gets a clear shot of the passenger compartment, it cannot show who was driving. The court is effectively asking the accused to prove innocence, that someone other than the vehicle owner was driving in the cam shot. The court is probably also using right against self-incrimination as "proof" of guilt. That isn't how criminal justice is supposed to be dispensed in this country.

So it is nice to see a political branch of government, in this case the Commonwealth's House of Delegates, reclaim a little lost territory in the battle to protect our civil rights.

Term Limiting the Supreme Court

Via Instapundit, I find this story in the legal/political blog Volokh Conspiracy, that a gaggle of whiney law profs has drafted legislation limiting the term of a justice of the United States Supreme Court to 18 years - with one new seat being appointable with each two-year session of Congress.

As we like to say here at Blog Retrofuturistic: It'll never work. People will die.

First, despite the clever lawyerly argument proffered at Volokh, it is blatantly unconstitutional. Article III grants life tenure to a federal judge. For better or worse. You don't like it, your obligation (if you genuinely respect our system of governance) is to amend the constitution, not pass a statute. Volokh puts forth the position that boils down to this: you still serve on the Court after your 18-year term is up, you just don't get to vote on the final decision unless there's a vacancy in one of the nine higher priority seats ahead of you. No. Sitting on the Supreme Court means deciding cases. For life. Or until resignation. Not until a clever lawwyerly procedural technicality means your vote is up. (Randy Barnett at Volokh is not making these arguments himself; he's merely setting out the position that the proponents are taking.)

I find the whole idea of finding wordsmithing ways around the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution to be patently offensive. The law profs who drafted this "bill" are guilty of such.

Second, the term limit proposal will make the Court even more susceptible to responding to prevailing political winds. There would be an increased likelihood that the politics of the Court will be in sync with the politics of Congress. Consensus in Washington is rarely a good thing for the public interest. And the justices would be looking toward there next job, perhaps politics, a la Roy Moore on the Alabama Supreme Court.

If you think the Supreme Court justices are out of touch, this is only a problem if they have too much power. This is going to brand me as a dangerous reactionary, but I also thought that the power of judicial review from Marbury v. Madison was a blatant, extra-constitutional power-grab that upset the delicate balance of power in our three-legged system. Why should the judiciary, the branch most entrenched into its position under the constitution, be the one that is the final arbiter of what is, and what isn't, permissible under the constitution? Why not one of the political branches?

People who think like me lost this argument, oh, about 202 years ago. But if you have a problem with the responsiveness of the life-tenure branch of government, don't make it more like the political branches. Restrict its authority instead, if you are so inclined, and let's keep one branch insulated from the politics of the moment, as best we can.

Science and the funny pages

I'm having trouble finding any flaws in the scientific reasoning in this Area 52 cartoon.

2/18/2005

Apocryphal people

Expanding on the idea from the post immediately below . . .

I think we can safety add "the American hockey fan" to that list of apocryphal people, which includes the "honest lawyer," the "budget conscious politician," the "white guy with rhythm," the "heterosexual Liza Minnelli fan," "sasquatch," and "Santa Claus." Sure, there are folks who believe that these people do exist, but their belief is wholly a matter of faith.

Footnote: Re the "honest lawyer." I am a lawyer. I like to believe that I am honest. The above comment is to be taken as a joke. The comment regarding the non-existence of the American hockey fan, however, is deadly serious.

Hockey the Resurrection

The AP is reporting that NHL may be getting ready to resuscitate the 2004-2005 NHL season, which, though declared brain dead after several months in a chronic vegetative state, may rise like Lazarus (or a brain-eating zombie from a George Romero flick) from the morgue prior to official burial.

Addendum: Now ESPN is reporting that the season is on the verge of being declared "on," as the sides have reached an agreement. This followed reports/rumors earlier in the day the NHL Players Association union was badly split and basically broken.

Addendum II: Still no reports as to whether anyone (or at least any one south of the 49th parallel) cares. Finding that (apocryphal?) person could take longer than it will for O.J. to find the real killer. Or M.J. (the K of P) the real molester.

Los Lobos - "Angels with Dirty Faces"

I don't know what my favorite sounding song from my favorite sounding Los Lobos album (Kiko) is all about. But "Angels with Dirty Faces" is the song o' the day.

The sentiment captured by the title phrase would seem to be about the inherent imperfections of those of us who nevertheless seek to do good in the world. The lyrics don't point to that interpretation, but they're not inconsistent with it, either. It definitely doesn't seem to be a plot summary of the
1938 Humphrey Bogart flick of the same name, which was a New York based movie about the tension between reunited childhood friends, one a gangster, one a priest. Despite the syncopated jazz beat, there's a real old west feel to this song. Bottom line: it Is a great piece of early 90s pop music.

And don't forget that Los Lobos was a great pop band. They knew how to write a catchy song. On Kiko (which amazon is selling for only
$10.99 , only three dollars more than alldirect), they experimented wildly, with sounds that could have come from anytime in the last 80 years of pop music. Yet it all sounded fresh. A wonderful CD that doesn't sound like any other CD, not even like any other Wolves' record.

2/17/2005

Spandau Ballet - "Lifeline"

Thus endeth February's big box o' new CDs. IT ends with Gold: the Best of Spandau Ballet. And, no, the best of Spandau Ballet is not a CD-single of the ballad "True," a Top Five hit that's real purpose in the history of rock 'n roll was to be the foundation upon which P.M. Dawn built its Number One, "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss."

I owned one Spandau Ballet LP: True. And getting one on CD is about the maximum capacity of Spandau Ballet that anyone should have in his or her CD collection. This is a good one to have as the one. But whichever is the one one gets, "Lifeline" is essential. It's their catchiest song. It should've been the American Top Five single, not the sappy ballad.

Still, at 17 tracks, Gold may be just a little too much Spandau Ballet. Track 15, "Fight for Ourselves" is hilariously bad. It has got to be the wussiest, sissiest, most girly-man-ish call to arms ever recorded in the history of rock 'n roll.[FN1] Not unlike when George Michael, in his
Wham! incarnation, was singing about "Bad Boys," as if he were one!

Alldirect lists Gold as out of stock. I must've grabbed the last one. The price is listed as $11.35, but, if none are in stock, what difference does it make it they say the price is five cents or $6,709.23 each? Amazon is selling it for, what a shock, five dollars more than the price listed on alldirect.
________________
[Footnote 1] I am not making a comment on the collective sexual orientation of Spandau Ballet. I am assuming they are pure hetero, otherwise my wussy/sissy comment would be interpretable as homophobia. I have no reason to question that they're not the women-loving men they portray in their songs. But, then again, when George Michael was singing "I Want Your Sex," I genuinely believed he was dating female super-models. So my judgment is not the most impeccable on this score.

2/16/2005

Michael Crichton on global warming

In a lecture from 2003, Michael Crichton speaks truth to power about the scientific fallacy of "global warming."

Crichton's best line about the computer models on which predictions of global warming are based:

Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?

Thank you, you invaluable realclearpolitics, for pointing me in the right direction of this lecture.

TB Lightning keep Stanley Cup for one more year

The longest death watch since Francisco Franco is over. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has officially euthanized the 2004-2005 hockey season. Predictably, the players were quick to release a statement that a deal "could have been" reached. Yeah, if the team owners capitulated to the union's offer.

It seemed like every day for the last three months Bettman was releaseing a statement that he was on the verge of cancelling the season. Tomorrow. The next day. This time we're serious. This time we're really serious. Fingers uncrossed. Well, the lethal injection has finally been given.

And does anyone care? On Google News, the top sports story was "
Tiger Woods looks to end hometown tournament jinx." Baseball had stopped being the national pastime long before the 1994 strike, yet fans were devastated. If the Super Bowl were ever threatened with cancellation, every town in America would like Fallujah there would be such serious rioting and unrest. Cancel the hockey season? It's the moral equivalent of a town losing its arena league franchise. And that's what should really frighten owners and players alike.

Addendum: ESPN, given that it's business is sports, is pretending that people actually care. Catch this unforgiveable little bit of melodrama:


The reverberations of the announcement could be felt across North America. From the owners and the players all the way down to the janitors, beer vendors and parking lot attendants. From the sportswriters to the P.R. people to the 9-year-old fan wondering when he'll be able to attend his next NHL game.

(Emphasis added).

Where to begin? Reverberations? Did you feel them? I didn't. I once felt a magnitude 6 earthquake epicentered near Bishop, California. Just felt like a slow roll. But I didn;t feel any reverberations eminating out of Gary Bettman in New York. But what's up with the 9-year-old idiocy? Is this writer so used to the free ticket gravy train that he's so completely lost touch with his senses? The NHL's problem is mainly that the salary structure is so out-of-whack that ticket prices have gone through the roof. Unless that 9-year-old is a child actor starring in a Hollywood blockbuster, he can't afford to go to an NHL game. He hasn't been able to afford to go since well before the time when they stopped playing NHL hockey in Quebec, Winnipeg and metropolitan Hartford. He's been pining for the chance to attend an NHL hockey game since well before he was born. The strike hasn't limited him one darn bit.

Jimmy Carter the Attack Submarine

I guess because he was once president (and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to boot), but the disgraceful once-president Jimmy Carter is getting a new submarine named for him.

Carter has turned into the prototypical America-hating liberal. He destroyed the remaining tiny shards of his crediblity with his recent performance as monitor for the recent Venezuelan elections, in which he failed to see obvious vote fraud, probably because in his twisted bitter little mind, a Chavez victory would be harmful to U.S. interests.

The best perspective on Carter being so honored by the U.S. military? Scrappleface!

Ultravox - "Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)"

I'm currently listening to the penultimate CD from the big box o' new CDs. It's one of the few legitimate landmarks in the history of recorded pop, the legendary Dusty in Memphis from the founder of Led Zeppelin, Miss Dusty Springfield. There will be multiple songs from this re-release classic, with approximately 6,408 bonus tracks added [actual number: 14!]. But it will take a more careful consideration.

So, instead, today's song o' the day is the concluding track from one of my favorite LPs of the 1980's, Rage in Eden from Ultravox. Ultravox went through many incarnations in their career, but the four-disc stretching marking the period of MIdge Ure domination of this group, from 1980's Vienna to 1984's Lament, was their peak. The allmusic site dismissed Rage in Eden as "pretentious and unwieldy." Yeah, and their point is? Underneath the self-conscious artiness and the smug literary references is some great hook-laden synth-driven dance pop. The spare "Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again," with a slow drum beat serving as the melody was a provocative way to end an otherwise hard-driving record.

It's the final track on the LP only. The CD release has four bonus tracks of varying quality tacked on to the end. None make you wonder why it was left off the original LP release.

2/15/2005

Happytalk: Pitchers and catchers report

The first robin of spring has appeared: pitchers and catchers are starting to report. In Viera, Florida, camp opens for baseball's newest franchise, the Washington Nationals. Times will be much better for Nats III once they are no longer owned by the 29 other teams.

It's Tuesday. What is retrofuturistic?

The Space Needle in Seattle, Washington!

When I visited Seattle about 10 years, I was going to go up the Needle. I'm somewhat acrophobic. Heights per se don't bother me. Open air heights (or floor to ceiling glass at a heighth) bothers me. But still, this was an icon. The Space Needle!

I go there. And I couldn't believe how rickety the darn thing looked. Like it was made from an erector set. A cheap off-brand erector set. I couldn't believe it could support my weight (which, though I carry a few pounds too many, is not sufficient to force me to pay for an extra seat on Southwest), let alone support the collective weight on the tourist horde there that Labor Day weekend.

Swing Out Sister - "The Kaleidoscope Affair"

Back to the big box o' new CD's for the song of the day. We're getting near the bottom of the box, which should not to be confused with the bottom of the barrel, as the two remaining CD's should be great.

From those sophisticated jazz-poppers Swing Out Sister, its quasi-semi-title track "The Kaleidoscope Affair," from their second/third release, The Kaleidoscope World. Available where? Alldirect! Available how? On the sale! For the shockingly low price of $6.63. At that rate, I should've bought two!

This is yet another sweeping, cinematic instrumental. It sounds like it should be playing over the closing frames of some 1960s spy-romance (before the 1960s morphed into "the Sixties, man"), where the hero is driving off in a small convertible, with a shapely brunette, who's got that scarf tied round her face fashion statement going on, driving along the Mediterranean coast to, who knows? Sardinia?

Addendum: Why do I call The Kaleidoscope World the second/third release from SOS? Their first release, Another Non-Stop Sister, was a non-starter and is likely owned by no one save for the band's immediate family. The classic It's Better to Travel is generally perceived as their debut because, for music fans, it served that purpose. Thus, its follow-up, their third release, seems as if it were a sophomore effort.

I'm in the telephone book!

I don't know what blogshares is all about, but I'm shocked stunned and amazed that this site lists "Blog Retrofuturistic" among the commented-upon. I'm listed for being a hyper-critical incoming link for LaborProf Blog and the apparently defunct Swimming through the Spin.

I am somebody!

2/14/2005

Earth to Tuvalu: Start swimming I'm not giving up my SUV

Apparently the population of the tiny atoll nation of Tuvalu is afraid that global warming will soon wipe their low-lying island off the map. They think Kyoto is going to solve the problem! Where to begin. Where to begin.

First of all, assume that greenhouse gas emission is the predominant cause of global warming, a super-freakin' huge assumption. And assume Kyoto would get the purported greenhouse gas emission "problem" under control, and even more super-freakin' humongous assumption. Kyoto won't be working instantaneously, If these islands truly on the verge of sinking, as postulated in this alarmist article, Kyoto isn't going to work faster than Crest whitening strips.

But pull apart those two super-freakin' huge assumptions that the left-tilted MSM just assumes to be true. China and the (occasionally rapidly) developing third world won't be reined in by Kyoto. The growth rate oil consumption of China and, to a lesser extent, India, is off the charts. Oil = hydrocarbon = CO2 admissions when burned. The United States, with its bipartisan consensus in support of rejecting Kyoto is hardly the only impediment to full implementation of the goals enunciated by this treaty.

More importantly, are greenhouse gases even the predominant cause of global warming? Or is it: natural fluctuations in temperature cycles. Scientists believe that the earth was much much warmer 1000 years ago. The Vikings could cultivate crops of Greenland. There weren't a lot of SUV's, or buildings with central heating, back in Pepin The Short's day. So where was Tuvalu then? If it was underwater, then perhaps that's the natural state of Tuvalu's being. The 500-year period of 1400 to 1900 was also known as the "Little Ice Age." It was an extraordinarily deep trough in global temperatures. We only began maintaining temperature records in the late 1800s - at the tail end of the Little Ice Age. Of course temps are warmer now than they were then.

That's certainly not evidence that my SUV is sinking Tuvalu. And even if it were, well, I enjoy driving my Mitsubishi Montero Sport. More than I enjoy having a Tuvalu on the globe.

P.M. Dawn - "Paper Doll"

The song o' the day is catchiest track off the verbosely-named debut CD by New Jersey-based psychedelic soul hip hop brothers known as P.M. Dawn. From its name alone, it is evident that ordinary early 90s hip hop is not to be found on Of the Heart, Of the Soul, and Of the Cross: The Utopian Experience (on the sale, from [where else?] alldirect for the deep discount price of $7.99 - they're pracftically giving the thing away).

Although it got glowing reviews, this CD is something of a derivative album, a slightly more downbeat edition of rapping neo-hippies De La Soul. On later CD's, Jesus Wept and (if y'think Of the Heart, etc., was a long name, dig this) Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here. Love, Dad they abandoned hip hop conventions (e.g., the continual references to the group name - name one Beatle tune where they brag about being the d*mn Beatles). Instead, they adopted an almost chant-like whispery vocal which somehow sounded like a direct lineal descendent of the great Prince. (Prince was always trying to incorporate hip hop and rap into his 90s music. He should have fired his in-house rapper Tony M. and collaborated with the Cordes brothers. That would have been a sock-knocker-off-er.)

The poppiest track was the second single "Paper Doll." Much preferable to the #1 single that heavily sampled Spandau Ballet's weak (but chart conquering) "True."

2/13/2005

Thai Elephant Orchestra - "An Elephant's Swan Song"

Second listen to the Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand (still on the sale at alldirect for $9.99) and its hidden treasures are being revealed. And today's song o' the day that most definitely is the most unique[*] song in my entire CD collection: "An Elephant's Swan Song".

The song is a lumbering, yet haunting percussive instrumental track. What's so unique about that, especially so "most unique" about that? Here's how the track is described in the invaluable liner notes that accompanies this CD:

To an unsuspecting listener, computer-generated studio-doctored idol pop might sound less human the the incredible Thai Elephant Orchestra (track 6). From the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, near Lampang, the elephants were taught to play specially designed musical instruments by composer David Soldier and the Center co-founder 'professor elephant' Richard Lair. The instruments were designed to certain criteria, among them (obviously) that they were large enough to be played by an elephant's trunk, but also that they were able to withstand the jungle humidity and should have a Thai sound. They built huge slit drums, large marimba-type instruments much like Thai renats (stringed instruments that sound like an electric bass), and a gong made from a saw blade. They bought the harmonicas, finger cymbals and a khaen from Isaan, plus a bass drum. After learning the instruments, the elephants improvise and play their own music, without overdubs or editing, and the track you hear is exactly as the elephants performed it. The results are amazing -- not just for the obvious musicality but also for the beauty of the sounds. The orchestra now performs daily concerts near Lampang., Obviously logistics mean that they won't be embarking on a world tour soon (that would be some rider) -- that is, unless they get their own jumbo jet.
(Emphasis added).

Groans at the jumbo jet line. I'm guessing PETA would not approve of this use of our elephant friends, since PETA routinely objects to any use of animals that brings pleasure to people, even uses that are non-fatal

The Thai Elephant Orchestra has whole CDs for sale on amazon. Not at an inexpensive sale price like one would find at alldirect, but that, of course, is a problem with alldirect. Its selection is far more limited than amazon. Although, in fairness to alldirect, it should be noted that amazon is not currently selling the Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand CD.

Footnote: [*] Yes, I am aware that the term "most unique" is one of those phrases that I like to call a "repetitive redundancy." However, given the above description of this track, such a repetitive redundancy is appropros, no?

2/12/2005

Chaka Khan - "I'm Every Woman"

Another day, another new CD from the big box o' new CD's. Yet another extreme bargain from alldirect: Chaka Khan's Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan, released in 2001 and on the sale for only $7.99.

I had put off adding the greatest hits from Ms. Yvette Marie Stevens because of a dislike for some of her Rufus material. Actually, it was an intense dislike for "Tell Me Something Good." I've always had a warm spot for "Ain't Nobody." I already owned and enjoyed 1998's Come 2 My House, which, as you can tell from the numerical-spelling in the title, is much more of a Prince record than a Chaka Khan CD. (In all actuality, it's the best Prince CD since 1992's squiggly-sdymbol titled record.) Epiphany is a worthy addition, despite being weighed down by too many ballads near the end.

My favorite Chaka solo song has always been Ashford & Simpson's "I'm Every Woman." Surprise, it's not her ultra-hip, super-catchy rendition of "I Feel for You." It's the first track from her first solo LP, later given the big-voice bland-out maltreatment at the throat of NCW Whitney Houston.

Footnote: "NCW" does not stand for "notorious coke whore."

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