Saturday, February 06, 2010

An Anti-Statist Rant

It seems to me that both Republicans and Democrats campaign on promises to cure all that ails society. For this reason, most people vote either Republican or Democrat.

How's that going? I mean, in regards to curing society's ails?

Did the New Deal end the business cycle?

Did the Great Society end poverty?

These were both products of the democratic party's ideology. How did they turn out?

Remember the Contract With America?

What about reductions in the cost and scope of government?

These were what republicans promised. How did they turn out?

I understand if you're still as stubborn as a mule as to suggest that governments can do some good if properly led. I mean, that's what you learned in schools (funded by the government).

But you have no excuse if you stand in line with democrats and republicans. They are liars, and they are thieves. Look only history in the post-Civil War era for proof.

So what's to be done? If the theory of popular sovereignty holds, then it's up to YOU to demand change. If not, then things will get worse and worse until those who finally do force a change will be so desperate that they will bring into existence something actually worse than what proceeded it, as the Russians did when the Tsar abdicated.

Think about it. For the first time in their history, the Russian people had a chance for a representative government (Kerensky's Duma), but they turned instead to to Bolsheviks.

Tsars are bad. There's no getting around that. No man should have absolute power. And yet, when the Tsar was killed, he was replaced by Lenin, and then Lenin was replaced with Stalin...

How many so-called Tsars (usually spelled "Czars") does Obama have? Too many, if he even has one. So we have the choice of abolishing such nonsense or embracing the epitome of statism (as the Russians did).

I am not optimistic about what my neighbors will choose.

In the end, Jefferson was right, and we now have everything that Hamilton wanted--and it is now leading to its natural conclusion.

Do you recall the Constitution and its Bill of Rights?

"When I was a boy..."

Another Amusing Anecdote

Both Natalie and Mark earned excellent markings on their recent report cards. As a reward for good work (a 4.0), we decided to buy Natalie an American Girl Doll. Mark wanted a game for his PS2 or my XBox 360.

Today, I took Mark to GameStop in order to buy a game. At least the first five games that he asked for were rated "M" (Mature), so I had to tell him no. After the fifth or so request, Mark asked me exasperatedly, "When can I buy a rated "M" game?"

"When you're older," I said.

To which he asked, "How old?"

"Not until you're in High School," I replied.

"Is that when I'll grow hair around my penis?" He asked loud enough for anyone in the store to hear.

"Yes," I answered, "that's about when."

An Anecdote With a Musing Question

We often attach more meaning to some things than actually exists, and this is likely a case. However, something just happened about an hour ago that at least felt profound.

I am a very amateur guitar player. I taught myself how to play chords and arpeggios, and I can pick a few licks here and there, but I am no artists. My wife bought me a few lessons about ten years ago, but all my teacher did was show me the "power chords" and introduce me to the concepts of "hammers" and "pulls." While those lessons served me well, almost all of my ability and progress have been self-taught.

But this isn't about me. The only reason why I mentioned the content in the previous paragraph is to note that I am able to read pick up a tune's chord progressions and tablature.

When I was young, my parents used to listen to a gospel singer named Don Francisco, and let me tell you that every Christian should download and listen to his music. It is profoundly good, especially his narrative songs.

My favorite is "He's Alive," and it chronicles the story of the Resurrection through Simon Peter's vantage. After some time of picking around, I figured out that it must be in A minor (or at least it sounds OK in A minor), with an Am, G, Am, G, Dm, G, Am, G, Am, G, progression through the verses and a D, A, C, G, D in the climax/chorus.

While playing the chords alone is somewhat satisfying, if you clicked on the link then you noticed that Francisco doesn't strum. He picks individual notes in those chords--which is what I meant earlier by "tablature."

I simplified Francisco's pattern (for I am no maestro), but was able to make a decent adaptation. What isn't decent is my vocals, for I my larynx and vocal chords have yet to recover from damage caused by severe reflux (expect a post detailing that ordeal, but I digress). As of now, my vocal range is comparable to Johnny Cash's in his last couple "American Recordings" albums.

So there I was in my basement, guitar in hand, playing some tunes when Robbie (aged 2) came downstairs to listen. I had been picking some Old Crow Medicine Show (this song) when Robbie asked, "Wot you dwing, dahddy?"

"I'm practicing the guitar," I said. "Do you want to listen?"

"Uh huh," he said, and then he sat down beside me on the couch.

I resumed "We're All in This Thing Together," but I only held his attention for about twenty seconds. Before I'd ended the first verse, he was playing with Lincoln Logs.

I finished the song and started "Old Apartment," and Robbie continued to construct cabins.

However, when I took out my notes on "He's Alive," and started playing (and singing), Robbie stopped playing, returned to the couch, and listened intently through the entire song. Throughout my entire rendition, all that he did was stare at me and nod occasionally, as if he understood and agreed.

After I slowly picked the last notes of the last chord (an A), and stopped playing, Robbie clapped and said, "I yuv zat song, dahddy!"

"Would you like to hear another?" I asked.

"Uh huh," he said.

So I began playing "Why Me Lord," by Kris Kristofferson.

Again, Robbie sat quietly through the whole song. When I finished, he leaned in to me for a hug and added, "I yuv you, dahddy."

"I love you too, Robbie," I replied, before starting Johnny Cash's version of Bruce Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman."

Within twenty seconds, Robbie was off of the couch and again playing with his toys. By this point, I had an idea about what had been going on, so my next song was "In the Garden," one of the most beautiful gospel songs ever composed.

Sure enough, Robbie stopped his playing and resumed his place by my side. My next song, Don McLean's "Vincent," once again saw Robbie return to his trifles.

At this point, I stopped playing completely to watch my youngest child play. Whilst I had been praising the Lord, he had been enraptured. However, when I sang of more secular musings, he preferred to construct pseudo-buildings consisting of nothing but right angles.

Am I wrong to assign any meaning to this?

By the way, I hope that the links to these songs actually produce the songs. Turn your speakers on if you want to hear them. They're all good songs--and much better than my versions!

Payton Manning: The Best QB Ever.

There are moments (however few and far between) when even the New York Times gets its opinions right.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Great Song; Link to Video

Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again, by Kris Kristofferson, is a beautiful song and one of my favorites. It's opening line says it all:

"I have seen the morning burning golden on the mountains in the sky."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Putting the Dog to Sleep; Bald Eagles for Peace

The Onion at its best here and here. What the heck, try this one too.

It Means "Slow" or "To Slow Down."

"Retard" literally means "slow." "To retard" means to slow down. "Tardy" means late (presumably because you're too slow). In music, "ritardo" means to slow your pace.

Typically, when you suggest that something or someone is "retarded," you're not actually suggesting that he or she has a true mental defect. You're using figurative language to suggest that someone's thinking process isn't up to speed.

Is it an insult? Yes, it is. Is it an awful thing to say in all circumstances? No. I mean, I wouldn't say it to someone who really is slow, but I might use it in another context, especially amongst friends or about enemies. It's full meaning depends upon how and when it's used. By itself, it is not an awful word.

Sarah Palin urges Obama to fire his chief of staff because he used the word "retarded."

Way to go, Sarah. Your little protest has only deepened the meaning of the offensive word.

On the other hand, you do have to wonder what kind of public figure decides to drop the "retarded" bomb. I'm not so much amazed by his insensitivity as I am to his utter foolishness. In a way, he also deepened the meaning of the offensive word.

Obama's Ego

Fox News tracks Obama's excessive use of the first person ("I")in his speeches and asks "why?"

I'll tell you why. It's because many people still think that Obama is the second coming. More importantly, Obama thinks this of himself.

Ironically, Theodore Roosevelt, an egomaniac in his own right--just read his autobiography)--gave a speech (it may have been his inaugural address)and refrained completely from referring to himself. There was not one "I," "me," "my," or "mine."

The reason is simple. Theodore Roosevelt argued from conviction (though he wasn't always right). Barack Obama, on the other hand, argues from celebrity.

Avatar--Best Picture?

I have to break out of my pseudo/temporary retirement in order to complain about something--so really, this is nothing new or special.

The Motion Picture Academy announced its nominations this morning, and James Cameron's Avatar is included amongst those nominated for Best Picture.

Now I went and saw Avatar in 3D, and I was entertained and especially mesmerized by its spectacle. However, in terms of story, acting, and script, it's an average picture at best.

James Cameron could not write a dynamic character to save his life. Think of the characters in Titanic. They're all static. Rose is the most dynamic of all the characters because she starts the movie as a spoiled brat who looks down on Jack and ends it as a spoiled brat who loves Jack. Everyone other character has the range of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

And yet, like Titanic, Avatar is now poised to win awards that it doesn't deserve.

Why?--Because it made a buttload of money? There is no award for this because box-office draw is its own reward.

Why?--Because lots of people like it? This is not the criteria for selecting Best Picture.

Avatar should clean house in every special effects/technical category in which it is nominated. But it does not deserve even a nomination in any other kind of category, especially Best Picture.

Monday, February 01, 2010

China Pisses and Moans

Screw China if it thinks that it can conquer and oppress an unwilling people without the world noticing.

The only problem with the Dali Lama is that he doesn't kick as much ass as Eddie Murphy's "Golden Child."

My advice is to tell China to kiss our AND its own ass. If you seize a territory, then you must be willing to accept opposition. Otherwise, you're just a whiny A-hole.

Bill of Rights