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George Carlin (1937-2008) [23 Jun 2008|07:21am]

He was one of the three greatest comedians of my lifetime and one of the biggest influences on how I think and make humor. You lived the life that Lenny Bruce never did and made his style of social commentary available to generations who should still care. Although I'm devastated, you've earned your rest. May the world remember.

EDIT: Make sure and find a copy of Jammin' In New York and listen to his closer "The Planet is Fine". Even through Lenny Bruce he imposes a Zen-like realism to us and the earth, probably the second greatest dialog that ever closed one of his shows short of "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television".
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[01 Jun 2008|10:53pm]
I like musicians that age well, and Steve Winwood is one of them. If you haven't had a chance to check out his new album Nine Lives look me up on Soulseek and grab it. Excellent stuff.
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wackademia nuts [20 May 2008|12:45am]
I was wandering about on the Net earlier this evening and came across this tribute to Malcolm X. I almost took it seriously as the author, an Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University, talked about not paying shallow tributes to X and really observing his legacy:

"We need to revisit Malcolm, because he has resisted all of our attempts to craft a single, well-packaged, vision of him..."

She then attempts to do the very thing she suggests others should not: craft a single, well-packaged vision of him. And a shallow one at that.
This early paragraph in particular screams "I have a lack of substantive thoughts about Malcolm X so let's throw a few nameless jabs at Bill Cosby":

"Many of our modern leaders live by cynical double standards. They practice slippery personal ethics, while lecturing the masses about morality. They consume conspicuously, while telling ordinary folks to save their pennies. They father children outside of marriage, then blame single mothers for the violence in black communities. They blame individuals for their circumstances, rather than help them deconstruct, understand and overcome the historical, structural, political, reasons for their plight."

She then proceeds to shed Malcolm X in a particularly "whitewashed" light with this:

"He criticized the powerful rather than the powerless. He pointed to the pathologies of the privileged instead of the failings of the oppressed."

It is at this point that you realize that the author may not have the first clue who exactly she's writing about.

Malcolm X certainly criticized the unjust government system and the power of the priviliged few, but he also spared no venom for his own either. His most strident positions and criticisms were challenges to his fellow blacks. His much YouTube'd speech about the difference between the house negro and the field negro was a none too sutble strike at Martin Luther King Jr. and those blacks who associated with him (along with the white liberals); and the more you read about Malcolm, the more detailed the spite you find he had for King and his ilk (and with good reason). Although he later toned down his spite for King in favor of a more unifying message, there was no doubt that he saw right through King's ruse and didn't much trust him.

Malcolm was very strident about black women not having children out of wedlock and moreso about blacks getting off of welfare to keep from being subservient to the white government. And in one of his most famous speeches in Detroit in 1963 he threw down the gauntlet with his statement about revolution when he said that blacks were not ready for a revolution because they were afraid to bleed for their brothers in America.

The more enduring truths of Malcolm X are all but ignored in her article. He believed in the 2nd Amendment, he believed that all blacks should want to be armed and encouraged them to create shooting clubs so that they were prepared to and could defend themselves if necessary. He further believed that the people have a duty to resist police brutality by whatever means necessary when they have been transgressed upon by them unjustly, a point driven home by a razor-sharp section from one of his early speeches:

"...the only way you get justice is in the street, the only way you get justice is on the sidewalk, the only way you get justice is when you meet justice for yourself, you never will get justice in the [white man's] court...so make sure you obey the law, make sure you never commit a crime, make sure you never deviate from the law, but any time one of them puts his hands on you, take him off the planet...we want peace, we want justice, we want respect, we want to carry ourselves with dignity. But we don't want to walk around in a police state giving people the right to think that they can take our life or break our limb or bust our head and that's all that's going to happen."

It is on these points from Malcolm X that blacks in America (not to mention people in general) should be more vigilant. But don't take my word for it, buy a book with his speeches, or better yet, get one of the audio book collections of his speeches. You'll find a man full of blazing oratory and powerful insight, a man who could light an audience afire and seduce their minds with simplicity of explanation within the matter of a few sentences.

It is very clear that if it is authors in academia like this are to lead black America (and society) into the future, the hill will only get bigger and the climb to respect longer. At a minimum, the author is ignorant; just above that she is being disingenuous for the benefit of "stupid readers". At worst, she wishes to revise the history and legacy of Malcolm X to fit her own political ends. In the end, the author typifies the attitude that Malcolm fought so hard against; that we, too, are afraid to bleed.

As an interesting side note, the blog for this site is called "Down from the Tower". How privileged we are that she came down from on high and condescended to speak to us.
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[19 May 2008|11:16pm]
I'm finally getting settled after returning from Nebraska for the weekend. After sorting through my stuff and finding my unspent (and rather expensive) box of Ashton Senorita cigars that I had purchased, I couldn't help but smoke one of them before disposing of the rest.

Smoking a cigar is as much art form as it is pleasure; from start to finish it is a measure of how to maximize the burning life of the cigar and your enjoyment of it simultaneously. Keeping the cigar at the proper temperature/humidity before you smoke it, lighting it correctly to ensure an even burn, puffing on it at the proper rate to keep it from either going out or getting too hot too far back...it is a surprisingly complete exercise in patience and balance. And when you have those factors under control, when that first puff touches your tongue before being sent into the night air, it is a thing more satisfying than the sum of its parts. A thing that seems like it could go on forever even though, inevitably, it will not.

Once you've sat through this divine pleasure, of course, you're back to the reality of an icky taste in your mouth that no matter how much you brush or mouthwash the night before, there will still be some of it left when you wake up in the morning. But for as nasty as that taste will be, it is a reminder of a better place and time when things just felt right; when the world was as it should be.

My trip home was much like the enjoyment of that fine cigar. A friendship cared for and cultivated carefully over time is something that will always provide a true feeling of happiness whenever it can be indulged in; no matter how long you've been apart the spirit of kinship is never broken, no matter how short the visit it feels like a lifetime lived together all over again. Even though you eventually have to wash away the bittersweet thought of living hours away and being months apart from another visit, the satisfaction of the time you were given lingers like capturing the warm glow of a ray of sunlight on a cold, gray and cloudy day.

As I puffed my way through that cigar tonight, I took in the night breeze and felt truly grateful for the friends that I've had for so long and will hopefully have for a long time to come. Some pleasures are and will forever be worth waiting for.
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[10 Apr 2008|01:12am]
I could hardly contain my laughter when I read a particular snippet from this article:

The unions late Tuesday were successful in banning student performance in the classroom from the tenure process.

I'd like to repeat that, as it sounds vaguely important...just slightly:

The unions late Tuesday were successful in banning student performance in the classroom from the tenure process.

It is a great idea, of course. We don't need things like teaching ability or high classroom marks getting in the way of tenure.
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[04 Apr 2008|12:26am]
I'm not fond of Obama as a Presidential candidate but the fact that he is still under attack for associating with Rev. Jeremiah Wright amuses the hell out of me. For someone who is consistently smeared as a hatemonger and anti-American, at least the hatemongering anti-American Rev. Wright didn't have any problem voluntarily serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam war. I wonder how many of his detractors can say the same.
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[03 Apr 2008|12:14am]
I hate stupid people who think stupid things are so wonderful. And yes, Keith Olbermann is stupid. He was at the forefront of the bleeding heart fuckwits who whined and whinnied about Wal-Mart suing the family of one of their former employees to recover money she had utilized for her medical care. Is it a tragic story? Sure it is. And everybody complains that Wal-Mart makes so much money that they can afford to take a hit for this woman's medical care. But here's the problem: it isn't Wal-Mart's money they're being sued for.

The money belongs to this woman's former co-workers, the people who pay into the group medical plan; Wal-Mart is just the plan administrator. The funds collected under the group medical plan paid for her immediate care after her tragic accident, which was as prescribed in the medical plan's contract. But, as also prescribed in the medical plan's contract, if the insured were to initiate civil litigation and specifically recover the costs for that care as part of the damages, the money was to be paid back to the group's fund.

The only thing Wal-Mart had to do with this is that they enforced the plan's contract like they should. Yeah sure, big bad Wal-Mart makes billions of dollars, blah blah blah, but that's irrelevant because it isn't Wal-Mart's money. And what these morally righteous buffoons bemoan as "the fine print of Wal-Mart’s health plan policy" is almost the exact same language you'll find in every group medical plan, auto policy and homeowner's policy. That's how insurance, in its modern incarnation, works.

If you sue to collect damages on a claim your insurance has already paid, you have to pay it back. You don't get to double-dip just because you didn't get a suitable settlement and you've fallen on hard times. On that note, the real tragedy here is the legal system that surrounds these types of settlements. Their lawsuit was reportedly capped at a $1,000,000 settlement due to the defendant's minimal liability insurance and the attorney representing the family got his nominal 30% fee before the family even saw a dime. The trucking company and the family's own attorney made out like bandits in the night, leaving the family with bread crumbs and leaving Wal-Mart stuck in a lose-lose proposition; either force an already suffering family into subrogation or give up subrogation and risk setting an awful precedent which could send everyone else's insurance premiums into the stratosphere. And the legal system is fine with that.

But you don't see any letter writing or phone call campaigns, any boycotts or picketing planned for the trucking company or the family's attorney in the matter. You don't see any calls in the state and federal legislatures for new guidelines that will prevent companies from underinsuring or lawyers from such settlement predation. All we hear about is this poor family with their recent series of tragedies and the big, bad Wal-Mart who wants to suck them dry because they're just heartless, greedy bastards. And the Olberdolts cheered on this family and their case of insurance fraud until Wal-Mart caved in and ceased subrogation.

Congratulations to the media for helping a family commit insurance fraud and set a precedent that may potentially result in even higher insurance premiums for those of us who have a hard enough time being able to afford them as it is.
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[10 Mar 2008|01:25am]
I was very saddened today to find out this evening that a woman I used to run the cash and tournament tables with online had passed away back in January of the breast cancer she thought she had beaten. She was only 35. She had her phones disconnected and essentially stopped returning emails from anyone except close friends and family back in July so she could concentrate on her treatment and doing things she really wanted to do with her family before she died if she was going to die, so I haven't been able to speak with her since then but I was aware that she had made a website where she could blog about her experiences.

Her best friend had taken over blogging responsibilities since around the end of December and I noticed that the blog posts prior to that had been removed. I emailed Marci to find out what had happened; apparently by about Thanksgiving she had resigned to her fate. She began to post about a lot of her emotions, her fears about her death, her anger that being alive was a burden to her family, her spite at some of her family and friends who kept a positive attitude that she was going to make it...those types of things. She never said anything to her family directly, she only blogged about them, but nonetheless the family and friends that read her blog were very disturbed by her feelings and when Marci took over posting she had the posts removed from public view.

Hearing that she felt and thought these things brought back many memories of when my dad was sick and it frightened me a little. It was hard to feel that rush of emotions that I have worked so hard to leave behind me. But ultimately remembering those feelings was healthy for me; for those who have never had to be in direct contact with a terminally ill person on a daily basis it's hard to understand that level of frustration and helplessness. It's hard to know which direction you're going when you don't know what you're fighting for and what you think you're fighting for is something you know deep inside you have no chance of winning.

It's good to remember those kinds of feelings even though I have by and large been able to move past them. Just because you are more capable of dealing with those kinds of situations doesn't mean you are immune from the feelings that come along with them. Since a scrapbook is being kept in honor of her I asked Marci if she would print those entries and keep them discretely in the scrapbook or contact one of the websites for breast cancer and see if one of their counselors might find some educational use for those writings. She said she would think about it. I hope she does.

Cas was always a very happy-go-lucky person for as long as I had known her; I don't think I've ever had a bigger fan of my poker playing than her. Although she was frustrated that she could never translate her online poker play onto the real felt, she stepped out from behind the shadow of her ex-husband and proved her own programming prowess by writing a award-winning program for the city of Nashville and picking up several lucrative contracts with companies to do web design work. And it would be impossible to estimate her importance to the softball community in the Nashville area, but that they will have two tournaments in her honor this year says something. She will be missed.
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[02 Mar 2008|02:27am]
Spanking Raises Chances of Risky, Deviant Sexual Behavior

Ah, another winner in the scientific bullshit sweepstakes.

One idiot looks at another idiot's studies and what do we get? "93 percent agreement among studies that spanking can lead to such problems as delinquent and anti-social behavior in childhood along with aggression, criminal and anti-social behavior and spousal or child abuse as an adult." An actual scientist or statistician would have red flags if they came across such a result; such a high rate of accuracy would be (and should be) treated with suspicion and the proper conclusion to draw is that more specific studies are required to confirm these results. But we don't need your steenking scientific method or proper statistical analysis, no no, not when you're a spanking expert who possesses the power of meta-analysis!

No one has the first clue what the actual purpose of the studies Ms. Gershoff was conducting were at the time these responses were given, nor do we know if the responses were even related to the actual studies involved. As for the meta-analysis, we don't know the threshold by which Mr. Strauss qualifies the respondents as having a link between being spanked and deviant behavior (although by all appearances a mere "yes" response to being spanked thus makes deviant behavior the fruit of the poisonous tree). And we don't need to know any of that silly additional information like the respondent's family structure, their family's economic status and their individual social status amongst their peers. Heck, we don't even need to know how spanked deviants compare against their non-spanked deviants from the same studies! We haven't the time to question these unqualified and untested but nonetheless dramatic results, it's for the children for pete's sake!!!

*shakes fist*

I'd also like to point out one other tidbit of useful stupidity provided by the journalist who authored this article:

"...if someone reaches the age of 65 without developing lung cancer, it doesn't mean that smoking isn't harmful. It means the person was one of the lucky ones."

Now that's a fascinating hypothesis. First, let's consider that according to the American Cancer Society an estimated 44.5 million people in the United States smoke, 10.2% (or roughly 4.5 million) of whom are over the age of 65. Let's also consider, again according to the American Cancer Society, that of the anticipated 215,020 new cases of lung cancer expected in 2008, two-thirds of those cases (or roughly 143,350) will be for people over the age of 65. In other words, out of about 40 million smokers under the age of 65, about 72,000 will get lung cancer.

So according to our journalist of omniscience, you're one of the lucky ones if you're one of the 99.82% of people who don't get lung cancer before they turn 65. Nothing beats integrity in journalism, just as in studies and research. But as biostatistician R. Barker Bausell once said of such junk science, "it elevates publication bias to an art form."
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[20 Feb 2008|01:24am]
Day 35 of my new workout plan...I've moved up the weights on my routine to the next level, so it's really burning good again. In addition I've taken the negative lifting in a slightly different and more tortuous direction but it also cuts down on my workout time for my negative days, so now really only my endurance day is a long workout. I'm also doing a yoga routine three times a day which has been wonderful, like an old friend you haven't seen in a while but you almost pick up with them right where you left off. I forgot what a good friend endorphins are.

And is anyone in the city as annoyed as I am by all the "big league city" proselytizing? First of all, if there was no tax increase as claimed then why would people need to vote on a bond issue? If the funds that are going to be used are already being collected then the vote would appear to be merely a wasteful gesture. And if all of the issues covered under the bond are so great for the city's economy, why would the citizens need to vote on a tax to fund it? If the potential is really that great investors should be jumping at the chance to get their money into these improvements for a share of the future profits from the Ford Center.

Frankly, I think it's rather arrogant that the NBA is asking what OKC can do for them, I think OKC needs to ask what the NBA can do for them aside of a franchise. The city has gained recognition for drawing big crowds for its size, the profits that rolled in for a then substandard Hornets team were phenomenal; the upside is truly good for the NBA so really the league needs to put their money into OKC rather than forcing the fans into getting double-dipped.
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[12 Feb 2008|12:57am]
The Trouble With Child Labor Laws

Finally, a topic of debate that deserves reviving. The lack of work ethic I see in so many of the people who graduated from high school and college with me is a shame, and it's laws like this that discouraged or even prevented them from getting the early opportunities to learn to work. Some of my my best friends aren't as smart as other people from our high school or college, but they knew how to work and had been doing so for a long time before they entered the adult world. Moving up the ranks wasn't difficult for them but waiting for advancement was intolerable for many of them who thought that their bachelor's or master's degree should just give them extra opportunities to move up. Granted, there are other factors are in play as well but the lack of work experience cannot be ignored.

I think the biggest advancement the internet has given people is the ability to be self-monitoring; we can be our own watchdogs for people and companies and connect with other people who are willing and able to do the same. Protecting kids from "exploitation"(read: parental and community guidance) has proven just how much it has to offer in negative returns, it's time for parents and communities to take back control and actually give their kids a chance for a better life than the one they were left with. They're more capable than ever of being able to monitor the well-being of their child should they decide to work at an early age.
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[09 Feb 2008|09:04pm]
The Most Influential Albums Ever

And here they are:

1 The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground & Nico

2 Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

3 David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

4 Patti Smith, Horses

5 Beach Boys, Pet Sounds

6 Beatles, Revolver

7 The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?

8 Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

9 Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

10 Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks...

11 Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express

12 Michael Jackson, Thriller

13 Nirvana, Nevermind

14 NWA, Straight Outta Compton

15 Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

16 Ramones, Ramones

17 Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On

18 The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin

19 Bob Marley and the Wailers, Live!

20 Joni Mitchell, Blue

It always amuses me when the reviewers state exactly what their intentions are in naming something the "most influential" and then proceed to abandon that which they intended. Granted, they're across the pond and that skews their view just a little, but The Velvet Underground? The Sex Pistols? The Ramones?! Don't get me wrong, I truly like these bands but this is awfully high praise when not nearly as much was deserved if we're going to talk influential on their terms. I can think of two albums that can replace the Pistols and the Ramones right away, Elvis Presley by Elvis Presley and No Fences by Garth Brooks. Talk about two albums that changed the face of the music they played! And even if one wanted to argue that Never Mind the Bollocks... belongs on the list for its influence on punk rock, I think it can just as easily be argued that London Calling by the Clash was as influential not just on punk rock, but on the direction of the coming burst of new wave.

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was no doubt an assault unlike anything anyone had ever heard in rap before, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it was one of the most influential rap albums ever. Public Enemy was the most intimidating rap act there has ever been, their game was so far from what everyone else envisioned at the time and they were so advanced in what they were doing that their fellow rappers could really only admire their work; they could never imitate it and never duplicate it. Now if you're looking for a rap album from the same time period that did exert a great amount of influence on the rap that was to come, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick by Slick Rick was just that. This album elevated the pimpster to royalty status in the rap world (a status which has not yet been relinquished, for better or worse) and the concept of flow in rap was never the same after this album; his smooth, long-form storytelling, subtle wit and rhythmic variance was a huge influence on the coming brilliance of the Zulu Nation rappers, not to mention Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. Think about the implications of just that line of influence alone on the future of rap.

Speaking of implications on the future of rap, Straight Outta Compton was no doubt shocking when it was released and it influenced many of the artists who broke out as solo artists from NWA, but in no way could it have foreshadowed the power and influence of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. With one felled swoop, thugs, hustlers and gangsters joined the acropolis of rap mythology and the West Coast declared itself a force to be reckoned with. Where Slick Rick expanded the blueprint for rapping itself like no one before him, The Chronic forever expanded the musical and topical terrain that rap would cover.

There are other albums on the list that just don't sit well with me, but one I was pleasantly surprised to see was The Gilded Palace of Sin. You can't listen to the Flying Burrito Brothers and not hear the Eagles coming straight out of them.
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[05 Feb 2008|01:53am]
Day 21 of renewed workout...amazingly the mornings are still as wide-eyed and clear as when I first started. I'm now getting a little tired by the time I get home from work and if need be I'll take a short nap, but beyond that when it's time to workout I pretty much snap out of whatever else is going on and get right to it. There's just something about getting your body up to temperature and firing on all cylinders that just does it for me.

I decided to go out and try running a little bit since the weather has gotten warmer; the additional stamina building of running would definitely be a plus but for now I think I need to concentrate on the workout plan I already have and plot out a cautious buildup into a normal running routine. The excess on my legs is practically falling off as it is and forcing the running, pulling another hamstring and spending six months on the shelf is not something I'm looking forward to again.

At a bare minimum I have another 12 weeks to go with this but if the rest of it can go as well as this is going I haven't a doubt that I'll be right back into my pre-West Nile form. And that would be awesome.
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and on a completely unrelated note... [30 Jan 2008|08:43am]
You know you've just released a fart of cataclysmic force when it bounces off of the toilet water, tunnels back through the small crack between your groin and the front of the bowl and blows your bangs off of your forehead. And that, my friends, is the danger of eating too many vegetables.
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[28 Jan 2008|12:59am]
Alright, I'm looking for something different to listen to. Anything. If you've been listening to something new recently or something not so new that not a lot of people listen to that you know of, leave a comment and let me know. I'd like to check it out.
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[26 Jan 2008|04:06am]
Today concludes day 10 of my weight training surge; only 11 more days to go until I can re-assess my exercise plan. My lifts are on a 3-day rotation, 2 hours a day; negative lifting, endurance/speed training then strength training. The hardest one by far is the negative lifting but that's because I'm doing double the sets of each exercise; negative sets on the down and negative sets on the up. I'm extremely pleased that out of 360 sets over the past 10 days I've only failed to finish 6 of them; I think my training plan this time around is much better, I have just enough planned every night to push myself and feed my drive without getting too close to overexhaustion.

But what's even more pleasing is that for the first time in nearly a year and a half I've gone weeks without any lingering feeling of illness. My last blood test confirms that I'm probably (and finally) clear of any further effects from West Nile. I can't even describe how great it feels to go from waking up in the morning to falling asleep at night and knowing that nothing is getting in my way, how great it feels to take a deep breath and just feel alive. I can't wait until spring gets here so I can plan out a running program again.

It's no small secret that I'm a big fan of Thomas Sowell's writing, but it's columns like this one that just make me cringe. Just a bizarre example (and an awful assumption) to lead into the main point of his article, and while generally I agree with his point it's of little credit to his explanation. While currently there is a very pertinent example of his point to discuss and dissect('black community' leaders calling out Tiger Woods for his position on Kelly Tilghman's comment), that issue is eschewed in favor of belittling modern day Navajos for not being the ready and capable war mongerers for the U.S. that their ancestors were. Apparently a "relevant" multicultural education in the U.S. includes engaging with your fellow countrymen in service for the blood lust du jour. That I'm sure will be a compelling topic for debate at the next meeting of the tribal council. [/sarcasm]

And in a time when even hardcore neo-conservative nuts like Cal Thomas are abandoning ship what does this say for Sowell?

This article reminds me of his ill-fated column on tolerance. It communicates such a lack of understanding of reality that it nullifies any validity his point would've otherwise had; it just makes you blush to think that someone of such obvious intellectual prowess gets caught in these types of emotional traps. Sometimes I wish he would just stick to economics and socioeconomic analysis, where he rightfully has few (if any) rivals.

And while I'm on the subject, these leaders of the 'black community' need to get over their own self-importance with regards to the Tiger Woods-Kelly Tilghman incident. Much like the situation with the Rutgers basketball team, this has nothing to do with an opportunity for them to educate the public on important issues of race and tolerance and everything to do with an opportunity for them to destroy someone's career and try to attract some financial backing for their pet causes. Fortunately Tiger is too intelligent to bandy with the race hustlers and too powerful for them to affect his career in any meaningful way. They have been reduced to chasing grammar infractions and trying to make people believe the mole hill in front of them is actually a mountain, while the people whose integrity they claim to protect have more important things to worry about.

One would think this a natural angle for Sowell to capitalize on for an article, but perhaps he simply cannot because as he said, "...toleration of intolerance is a particularly dangerous vice...." In the end he may not realize just how much he and the race hustlers have in common with their "double standards...wrapped in the mantle of morality."
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[03 Jan 2008|12:05am]
I must say I'm addicted to my new macros like a nice big fat bag of crack, but I get the feeling I'm just going to get lazy about typing things in now.
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Further proof that people at the AP are retarded [30 Dec 2007|06:21pm]
The Associated Press' Nekesa Mumbi Moody gives us the top 10 albums of 2007 (with honorable mentions):

1. Amy Winehouse, Back To Black

2. The Bird and the Bee, The Bird and the Bee

3. Common, Finding Forever

4. Original Soundtrack, Once

5. Kanye West, Graduation

6. R. Kelly, Double Up

7. Alicia Keys, As I Am

8. Lily Allen, Alright, Still

9. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad

10. M.I.A., Kala

Honorable Mentions:

Ne-Yo, Because of You

Jay-Z, American Gangster

LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver

Robert Glasper, In My Element

Britney Spears, Blackout


No complaints in the top 10: Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad and M.I.A.'s Kala.

I just got a chance to listen to both of them this week and while I wasn't surprised at the high quality of M.I.A.'s album, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of Rihanna's. In a year where reigning divas like Angie Stone and Jill Scott seemed to drag their feet, she really came out with some good pop material.

Questionables in the top 10: Common's Finding Forever, Kanye West's Graduation and Alicia Keys' As I Am.

For Common and Kanye, their albums are disturbingly sub-par compared to their previous work. And even if you could make the argument that all the other rap albums this year were weaker than these (which you can't), I can hardly find that to be a good reason to put them in the top 10. Just to name a few, Brother Ali's The Undisputed Truth, Black Milk's Popular Demand and One Be Lo's The R.E.B.I.R.T.H. were very good combinations of rhyming skill, intelligent subject matter and just plain ol' good beats arguably better than what Common or Kanye gave us.

While Alicia Keys is no doubt growing as an artist, it begs the question: what kind of artist is she growing into? It seems like she's just growing into a path well-worn by many other artists and for a young singer/songwriter with a lot to prove she's not really stepping up to the plate. Contrast that with the 61-year old Bettye LaVette (who has nothing to prove to anyone in the R&B world), who teamed up with the Drive-By Truckers to make the stunning The Scene of the Crime. No, LaVette isn't really a singer/songwriter, but who needs to write them when she can literally steal songs out from under the feet of music legends? Her covers of Willie Nelson's "Somebody Pick Up My Pieces" and Elton John's "Talking Old Soldiers" are to my ears the definitive versions of those songs and, while not exactly radio-friendly songs, easily lay any of Keys' best songs to waste in virtually every respect. Maybe Keys just needs to step back and prove that she can cover the greats before trying to walk alongside them.


First of all, let me state in no unequivocal terms that Alright, Still and Back To Black were good albums. IN 2006.

The Bird and the Bee was no doubt an original coming out party, but it's also bizarrely uneven, which is quite a feat when your backdrop is as simple as Esquivel-esque bachelor pad music.

The Once soundtrack? That's giving an awful lot of credit to essentially a couple of nobodies, especially considering that a far more well-known name in that genre (Suzanne Vega) put out a far superior album this year (Beauty & Crime). Even if you want to argue that their lack of name recognition shouldn't be held against them, Joan As Police Woman's Real Life similarly lacks name recognition but their album may be even better than Vega's. This is why you should always be hesitant about how to rate a soundtrack.

And the fact that Double Up even got NEAR anyone's top 10, much less in it, is a sure sign of one's mental deficiency. Saying that 1/3 of this album was nonsense is being quite generous. About the only radio hit that wasn't a complete embarrassment was "I'm A Flirt," and even that had its moments. R.Kelly's constant begging and pleading with the 17-year old female audience to be relevant to modern urban music is sad. One piece of advice for you, Kel: Jailbait was, is and will always be bad news for you. STOP THE INSANITY!


There's no good reason that Queens of the Stone Age's "Era Vulgaris" does not even get a mention. Seriously, these guys do nothing but crank out great hard rocking albums and this one was no exception. Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero is also top shelf music that got nary a peep. And could we get a little love for Jens Lekman already? Very few people in the indie music world manage to escape the sophomore slump and Lekman's Night Falls Over Kortedala easily trumps his debut. And I'm hardly one to purport putting grinding, time-shifting, unsettling post-punk metal amongst the best albums of the year, but Ire Works by the Dillinger Escape Plan was fantastic.

The lack of rock albums on this list in general is just silly.

So if Rihanna, Alicia Keys and (last year's) Amy Winehouse made the list, just how pray tell did Keyshia Cole's Just Like You manage not to make the list? Talk about an album above and beyond the competition! And Rahsaan Patterson certainly deserves top 10 praise for making a forward-looking throwback mess of a great album in Wines & Spirits, not to forget the aforementioned Bettye LaVette.

Honorable/Dishonorable Discharge

I can live with Because of You, American Gangster and Sound of Silver in the honorable category. In My Element is definitely good mainstream jazz, but it's not knockout stuff by any means; nothing really original to it. Karl Denson's Lunar Orbit, Timo Lassy's The Soul & Jazz of Timo Lassy and the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra's Security are easily a step ahead on both counts.

And Britney baby, I'm sorry, but your image is blown. Hillary Duff's Dignity pwns you. The end.
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[16 Dec 2007|02:14pm]
By the way guys, I've been adding to my music collection by leaps and bounds since I purchased the new external hard drive. Mostly jazz but a lot of other music as well, if you're interested I'm on soulseek under the name 'sinkfaze'.
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it's a tea party! [16 Dec 2007|01:52pm]
Alas, another day, another $3 million in online donations for Ron Paul before lunch. It's going to be fun to see how the media tries to downplay this one.

What's really amusing to me is that people don't realize just how in control of the Republican primary the Ron Paul supporters are. Even given the fact that the numbers on his supporters are gravely under-accounted for in most states, they are also all over the delegation process in most states. They've got money, they've got organization and they've got power. Watch out.
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