Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sam Cooke, Chain Gang

by Hector Diego

Now, this dude really was a prince.

Prince, When Doves Cry

by Hector Diego

This one is dedicated to Subhadra, who thinks Prince is the cat's pajamas. I always knew he was talented, but I can't fathom how he got so big. I guess I just don't like his face.

And those ridiculous costumes. I could forgive it in Elvis, because he was Elvis (but I admit his garish outfits turned me off).

I feel slightly better about Prince, though, after going to Wikipedia and discovering his given name really is Prince. I can't imagine a grown man naming himself that.

But from now on, maybe I'll just call him Knave.

There's A Place

by Hector Diego


Liz Phair, Extraordinary

by Hector Diego

Prince is a Creep, a Wierdo, What the Hell is He Doing Here, When He Doesn't Belong Here?

by Jay Allbritton
Prince, or as he was formerly known ______, likes to block his material from being seen or heard without some kind of cost to the consumer. Prince is exercising his prerogative as a capitalist in a capitalist-friendly judicial system and he has made You Tube and other internet entities feel his wrath in the past. And who can blame him. It costs a lot of money to be Prince and if he can't suck every penny out us, despite the massive fortune he's already accumulated, then why even have the United States in the first place?

Anywho, Prince recently covered a Radiohead song at Coachella and when people started posting it, his lawyers started making angry faces and very quickly the places that posted it suddenly unposted it, or found that the YouTube clip they embedded on their blog was no longer functional. Whatever. It's just Prince. But it's kinda screwed up that he basically lorded over the rights to someone else's song.

Radiohead thinks so too.

From AP:
In a recent interview, Thom Yorke said he heard about Prince's performance from a text message and thought it was "hilarious." Yorke laughed when his bandmate, guitarist Ed O'Brien, said the blocking had prevented him from seeing Prince's version of their song.

"Really? He's blocked it?" asked Yorke, who figured it was their song to block or not. "Surely we should block it. Hang on a moment."

Yorke added: "Well, tell him to unblock it. It's our ... song."

I am pretty quick with my internet trigger finger, so not only have I heard the song, but I liked it and I put it on my MP3 player. But Prince's attitude about the whole thing has ruined his music, or his performances of other people's music, for me. So, instead, here's some Radiohead. Screw Prince.

New York Times Writer Says Eat Less Meat

by Hector Diego

Mark Bittman, food writer for the New York Times, begins his spiel by admitting he is not a vegetarian. Yet he makes a cogent case for eating less meat, less dairy, and more plants. He says if you are "progressive", drive a Prius, and have gone green, you should probably be a semi-vegetarian.

Why only progressives, only probably, and only semi-vegetarian? I have no idea. Nevertheless, the man talks sense.

Ten billion animals are killed every year in the U.S. alone. These animals consume more antibiotics than we do. You really want to eat that?

Bittman shows how the food pyramids foisted upon us by the government are designed mostly by people in the food industry. You want to trust that?

Give him a listen. He eats meat, like you probably do. He won't bite you.

But the crap in all the food we eat might.

Dear Prudence, India

by Hector Diego

Prudence Farrow told me Lennon needn't have worried about her sanity, she was just enjoying her meditation and didn't feel like playing with the Beatles.

Now, that's what I call a meditative trance.

John Lennon, Bless You

by Hector Diego

Here is a song by Lennon that I have never heard until this very day. Sounds like it was produced by Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield, someone like that.

Harrison On Smothers Brothers

by Hector Diego

I've been told by some ladies that George Harrison was quite fetching in his day. Is that correct?

George Harrison, Blow Away

by Hector Diego

Think For Yourself

by Hector Diego

Strawberry Fields Forever

by Hector Diego

Oh yeah.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Turlough Carolan, Carolan's Concerto

by Hector Diego

If you don't know about Turlough Carolan (or O'Carolan), that's a shame--he is one of the greatest composers ever.

This piece is performed by Ireland's musical gift to the world, The Chieftains.

Moody Blues, Nights In White Satin

by Hector Diego


Youngbloods, Get Together

by Hector Diego

Zombies, Time Of The Season

by Hector Diego

Old School Imperialism

by Jay Allbritton
I catalog children's literature books from the 19th century. These books often reveal our raw past with none of the usual softening that takes place in the academic processing of writing history. Naked racism, nationalism, imperialism, sexism and all of the other forms of intolerance most of us are trying to move past here in the 21st century are there leaping off the pages of these forgotten books, which were written and marketed as pure pablum directly to children.

I'm pretty accustomed to this. I've been doing this for four years and I have seen racism in these books so ugly that it often made me cringe. But when I came across this passage from imperialist author G.A. Henty, a prolific apologist of the British Empire during the Victorian Era, I had to bring it here, to a place Hector Diego could see it. I don't know anything about the ruler Henty is criticizing here, but the demonization of the man Wikipedia calls the "de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore" sounds a lot like the things that were said about Saddam Hussein before shock and awe. Not that Saddam or this fellow were good people, but the exaggerations that lead to horrific colonial wars are so familiar it's astonishing. Go back and read some of the things said on the floor of the House of Representatives before we invaded Mexico in 1848. It's the same thing, over and over.

From the preface to The Tiger of Mysore, by G. A. Henty:
While some of our wars in India are open to the charge that they were undertaken on slight provocation, and were forced on by us in order that we might have an excuse for annexation, our struggle with Tippoo Saib was, on the other hand, marked by a long endurance of wrong, and a toleration of abominable cruelties perpetrated upon Englishmen and our native allies. Hyder Ali was a conqueror of the true Eastern type. He was ambitious in the extreme. He dreamed of becoming the Lord of the whole of Southern India. He was an able leader, and, though ruthless where it was his policy to strike terror, he was not cruel from choice.

His son, Tippoo, on the contrary, revelled in acts of the most abominable cruelty. It would seem that he massacred for the very pleasure of massacring, and hundreds of British captives were killed by famine, poison, or torture, simply to gratify his lust for murder. Patience was shown towards this monster until patience became a fault, and our inaction was naturally ascribed by him to fear. Had firmness been shown by Lord Cornwallis, when Seringapatam was practically in his power, the second war would have been avoided and thousands of lives spared. The blunder was a costly one to us, for the work had to be done all over again, and the fault of Lord Cornwallis retrieved by the energy and firmness of the Marquis of Wellesley.

The story of the campaign is taken from various sources, and the details of the treatment of the prisoners from the published narratives of two officers who effected their escape from prisons.

G. A. Henty.
More on Henty here.

Karma--What Goes Around Comes Around

by Hector Diego

Karma, or choice? Or both?

Yep, the old saw (well, old from at least the 1960's) about karma in the title to this post is certainly a fitting introduction to the concept of karma. The Station Agent posted on it in relation to Sharon Stone's somewhat irresponsible comment about the earthquake victims and their bad karma, I posted on it, and then a visitor named Dave posted on it, and that brings us up to the present.

Let me say here that most traditions of scholarship on karma, at least in their more advanced interpretations (in my opinion), grant that there is only karma, and good and bad is how we interpret it. For instance, you might think it's your bad karma that you missed your plane, but if it crashes you would change your mind on a dime. I just had to get that in, now let's set it aside and go directly to the issue here. What was the karmic reaction--karma phala--of Stone's remark? Read on, from Yahoo News.

"Stone's comments caused considerable anger in the Chinese media. The official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary Thursday she was the "public enemy of all mankind."

Really? Such an exaggeration is typical of the Chinese government, rather predictable. And Stone caused this negative vibration by her thoughtlessness. So the karma came back on her, in addition to influencing the Chinese authorities to become even more entangled in the net of karma. That's more bad karma for all concerned. And I'll bet Dave knows this, too.

However, a Buddhist may disagree, for in Buddhism (there could be exceptions in the vast ocean of Buddhist thought, but I don't think so), which is a metaphysical system of mental emphasis, intention is everything, not the action alone. This is why Buddhist monks in most Buddhist traditions can eat meat without violating the principle of nonviolence, so long as they did not cause the killing of the animal. I don't buy that, so while I respect Buddhism, I am not a Buddhist.

Not so for the Jains, who would say that intentionality certainly makes violence worse, but even unintended violence is a symptom of entanglement in the net of karma, and still culpable. Ignorance for the Jains, apparently, does not excuse one from the consequences of karmic law.

The Hindus seem to take a halfway position between the Buddhists and the Jains, but it's such a long story, and we'll save that for another day.

As for the Sikhs, I need to research that.

There are also the views of the Theosophists, New Age--which has been influenced by Theosophy--and other groups, on the issue of karma. In fact, the various teachings on karma are so vast that we cannot even briefly review them all here.

However, I believe we can safely say that even under the gaze of Buddhism with its philosophy of intentionality, both Stone and the Chinese government will likely not escape a negative karmic reaction to this affair--because Buddhism has a very sophisticated view of the mental processes that either entangle us or liberate us. A person may think they have no bad intention in whatever they are doing, but in vipassana meditation one can minutely analyze mental processes in order to pinpoint defilements, and remove them. These defilements lurk within the mind beneath the threshold of ordinary consciousness, and they--caused by bad actions and thoughts in the first place--entangle one further in karmic reaction. We have digressed a bit from our original discussion, but all to the good. We have pointed out our position that no one involved in the Stone/China episode will escape a reaction.

In my opinion, only the general principles of karma can be understood, not every detail. So this is another reason I am not a Buddhist. I subscribe to the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita--sometimes called India's "Bible" because of its widespread utility--which explains that even the very wise are bewildered in the subject matter of action, non-action, and prohibited action (please remember that the word karma means action, not the results of action--a modern gloss on the term).

Is there such a thing as group karma? Well, why not? But let's make one thing perfectly clear, as old Nixon would say.

The doctrine/fact of karma, at least as it has always been understood in Indic traditions, is inextricable from the doctrine/fact of reincarnation. This explains why someone is born into this or that condition, and it is that person's "karma". It also explains why 60,000 Chinese can suffer from an earthquake or 6 million Jews can perish in the Holocaust. It's because of whatever these people might have done in previous lifetimes, and not necessarily as Chinese or Jews. The same would apply to the victims of the attack on America, September 11, 2001. Perhaps some of them may have been Muslims who did violence to Christians and Jews, and now, in a weird (but logical) twist of karma they became Christians and Jews, and were attacked by Muslims?

Also, the lords or administrators of karma (a common concept for religions that understand karma, more or less) are quite competent to gather entities together from disparate situations, put them in a common situation, and give them their karma. And this karma can be "good" or "bad". Lets say a farmer likes the rain his karma brings him, and the owner of a resort hotel does not. But they are both getting the same karma, for different reasons, and with different attitudes toward it.

All of this seems to substantiate the Gita's declaration about the difficulties of understanding the details of karma.

Anyway, we have started a deeply interesting conversation about karma. The Station Agent, myself, Dave, the Chinese government, and Sharon Stone--and yes, all our visitors--are welcome to join in. It would be nice if all concerned gave a general reference for their views (chapter and verse not necessary).

While we are on the subject of the still sultry Sharon Stone, let us note that her good looks at the age of 50 are not likely the result of her karma, at least at the more elemental level. It is more likely that plastic surgery has been added to her karma.

Now, isn't it her karma that she had the plastic surgery? Yes and no. She made the decision to have that surgery, and all of our decisions are influenced by our previous karma. But at one point we must all make decisions that are not ultimately karmic. To deny this is to posit a strict determinism that is not compatible with the doctrine/fact of karma, for they both point to individual responsibility, not abdication of it or ignorance of it. Karma is obviously based on choice, but choice SHOULD be based in something else. Otherwise, what is the meaning of this rare human life? For the record, all Indic systems see the attainment of a human existence as very, very rare--and precious, because of the rational facility to understand really important things like, well, karma. So let's at least understand karma enough that we can conduct ourselves accordingly.

In closing, let me point out that the misconception that belief in karma is fatalistic comes from the Abrahamic religions, or rather, people claiming to represent them. Whether they misunderstood on a personal level and passed this misunderstanding on out of ignorance, or they were cynical about it, is difficult to say. Probably the former. There are certainly many sincere Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, they have gotten their karma, because the entire Western world has been discussing karma for at least 40 years now, and many are starting to get a grasp on this basic fact of life.

In my view, such a grasp would have less to do with theoretical understanding--a tall order in any tradition--and more to do with practical behavior. If we try to do the good and avoid the bad, and certainly, like Earl on My Name Is Earl try to rectify past bad actions with good actions in the present, we cannot go wrong.

Somehow, I have a feeling that we are all agreed at least on the last point?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Texas Supreme Court Returns Abducted Children

by Hector Diego

Illegally abducted children united with parents.

"SAN ANTONIO - In a crushing blow to the state's massive seizure of children from a polygamist sect's ranch, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that child welfare officials overstepped their authority and the children should go back to their parents."

Thank God.

The Supreme Court specified that CPS could still monitor the living conditions of these children.

OK, that's reasonable enough. But was abducting them in the first place reasonable?

For something that could happen in the future?

I think we all know the answer to that. The only thing to do now is to bring a lawsuit against the Texas CPS, although I do not know if that is possible.

And really, there is only one punishment that could make up for what they did, but two wrongs don't make a right.

Someone could steal their children.

A Quick Wheel of Time Update

by Jay Allbritton
Excuse me while I dork out for a few minutes and talk about contemporary fantasy literature. In specific Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series. Fans of the series are patient people. We have no choice because it sucked so many of us in before we knew the downside--Jordan wrote at a glacial pace and had a lot of ground to cover. I discovered the series after the first five books had been published. I was in a world of hurt when I realized I could not continue reading the series because Jordan was still writing it. Then he slowed to a pace of two or three years per book for the next five books. So, like many other readers, we would just tune out for months at a time, then check back in, in my case usually by checking with Theoryland, a great site that has been updating us on RJ's world for years.

So I decided that from time to time, every couple months, I would do an update here at TWS for the members of the WoT dyaspora wondering what's new. In case you haven't heard, sadly, RJ passed late last year. When he died he was ever so close to completing his massive, 12 book series. Alas, the final book remains incomplete, though he did map out the book thoroughly before he died. A writer I am not familiar with by the name of Brandon Sanderson has been selected to finish the final book in the series, which will be called A Memory of Light. AMoL is due out in the Fall of 2009, I would not be surprised if it took longer. For one, I am willing to wait as long as it takes for Mr. Sanderson to get it right. Sanderson is blogging about his progress here.

A lot of Wheel of Time fans have wanted to see a movie franchise or a TV series made for many years. I think HBO would kick ass with this material if they did it right. RJ has long rebuffed the concept of a movie saying that he doesn't think people would want to see a movie that was 10 hours long. His books are quite dense, but I think I could write a really great two hour script that covered the material in the first book just fine.

Blogger Mike Perschon has a pretty good idea for a TV series based on WoT.
I started thinking about "Wheel of Time" as a television series. It's long enough to sustain several seasons, the iron is hot for the striking insofar as fantasy media goes, and the cast is basically Beverly 90210 (or whatever teen drama is currently hip - sue me, I'm old) meets Lord of the Rings. The cast would be young, attractive and cool, and the setting would be cool in the current deluge of fantasy films. But it's too damn long for a single film installment, so a television series makes the most sense. I got to thinking about how we watch television series, which is one episode at a time. I began to view the chapters in each book as "episodes" of "Wheel of Time" as a television series, and each book as a "season." I don't like every episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and there are some seasons I like better than others. Some of my favorite episodes are in my least favorite seasons. But I love the characters, and I want to see what happens to them, so I tune in. I love Rand, Mat, Perrin, and many of the characters in Wheel of Time. I want to see what happens to them. So I keep tuning in.

Perschon points us in the directioin of a great WoT illustrator by the name of Seamas Gallagher, and WoT could use a good illustrator because, as Perschon puts it, "[Series cover page illustrator] Darrell Sweet is not only the worst possible choice for cover illustrator for this series, but also that he has never read any of the books, or in the case of the first one, not even a description of the major characters." An animated show using Gallagher's renderings of RJ's characters would be awesome. Check out his Ishamael -->.

Next April, as anticipation for the book really begins in earnest, the first ever JordanCon will go down in Atlanta, Georgia. Pre-registration is now open. If you dig the series it will probably be a fun time. I may have to go down there myself. It's either that or Lebowskifest.

In closing, here's a podcasters interview with Robert Jordan from 1994 after the release of, in my opinion, the high point of the series, Book 6, The Lord of Chaos.

Bad (Use of the Word) Karma--Sharon Stone Apologizes to China

by Jay Allbritton
Celebrities say stupid things all the time. If I cared to keep a record of that I would have no time to do anything else. But there's something about this utterence by Sharon Stone that I'm not ready to let go of without blogesting it. Blogestion is a word I made up to describe the process of getting something I'm astonished by through my system by blogging about it before or as I think about it.

Here's what she said. "I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else," Stone said. "And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"

I'm with her on Tibet. I do not sympathize with that ruthless occupation (or any other ruthless occupation, thank you very much) and, frankly, the Chinese communist revolution hasn't worked out well at all. You don't need me or Sharon Stone to tell you that.

But Sharon Stone, these are people you're talking about. Roughly 68,000 of them. What she said is right up there with the crap Pat Robertson says about Hurricanes or the things Pastor Hagee, McCain's former BFF, says about gays in New Orleans causing Hurricane Katrina.

To her credit, Stone has apologized. They always apologize in the end.

I also bring this up because her use of the word karma kind of bothers me. This word has gone native over the last few decades and hit the culture big time with the popularity of the NBC sitcom My Name is Earl.

But Stone's use of the word epitomizes Americans' misunderstanding of the word. Hector Diego can explain karma better than anyone I've ever met, so I defer to him on the details, but it's important to understand that karma is not the revenge fairy. The American notion of karma, and this is what My Name is Earl makes fun of, is too closely connected to justice and it's kind of embarrassing.

Perhaps John Lennon had something like that in mind when he wrote "Instant Karma". Hector might know more about that one too.

By the way, my dad had the misfortune of meeting Stone back in the day on the set of The Specialist and she really made an impression on him. He called her the word John McCain uses for his wife when she plays with his hair.

Murdoch Thinks Obama Has This

by Jay Allbritton
Not sure if the memos have gone out yet, but the Big Noodle at Fox News, one Rupert F. Murdoch, seems to have been seduced by the canny gaze of Barack Obama. You hear that, O'Reilly? Hannity? Even you Colmes. The word has gone out.

The way these media people operate is driven by self-interest. At Fox "News", the self-interest of the on-air talent is driven not so much by ratings as it is by the happiness of Murdoch. So, if this works the way I think this works, the anchors at Fox News will be coming on board for the big win real soon. It may be a painful shift for some, but if Murdoch is truly gravitating toward Obama, then the heat generated by the media's loudest megaphone may not be focused on him come Fall.

Of course, Fox News is as viable, if not more viable than ever, with a Democrat in the White House. Remember the good old days?

John Lennon, Mother

by Hector Diego

The more you know about Lennon, the more powerful you will find this video.

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight

by Hector Diego

Paul in his Abbey Road period.

Perhaps it's only because I haven't listened to this with headphones for some time, but has it been remixed? Any Beatles people know?

Anyway, it is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.

A Man, Me, Then Jim

by Hector Diego

I posted this a few weeks ago, but it is so beautiful I must post it again. I wish they had named it "The Slow Fade Of Love".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


by Hector Diego

Well, it's Hindu rap. Propaganda for vegetarianism.

Where's my plate?

Four Seasons, Rag Doll

by Hector Diego


M.A.S.H., Suicide Is Painless

by Hector Diego

A great song for one of the greatest television productions ever.

Drug War Hysteria Killed Rachel Hoffman

by Hector Diego

Your tax dollar at work in the war on drugs

Rachel Hoffman was a young FSU graduate who was caught with a small amount of marijuana. To escape a long jail sentence, the police made her participate in a drug sting operation.

On May 9, 2008 she was found murdered by the big dealers she was supposed to lure into the police trap.

The Tallahasee Police Department shamelessly says it was her fault because she didn't follow protocol. Doesn't this tell everyone that the stupid drug war should stop?

! ! !

Read more here.

KT Tunstall, Suddenly I See

by Hector Diego


McClellan Rips His Old Buddies

by Jay Allbritton
Former Bush rodeo clown Scott McClellan creeped put of the primordial ooze long enough to write a book telling us what we already know. Thanks, Scott. We got it, buddy.

Now, having said that, I would like to argue, very briefly, that McClellan is not as bad as other late converts. This is the press secretary we're talking about. Press secretaries are born to be ignored. He's just their lawyer in the court of public opinion. If not him, then someone else would have done the same job either a lot better like Tony Snow, or a lot worse like Dana Perino. But it doesn't matter and they're rarely in on anything significant. This is not Ari Fleischer (now that dude was evil) we're talking about here. This dude was in over head from the beginning.

Having said that, McClellan is a long way from redemption. I'll check out your book, Scott, because I believe in redemption, but if you want to really get on the right side, just be ready to testify in a court of law against all you're old buddies when the time comes.

The Daily Show covered McClellan's surreal 2006 departure. I don't think McClellan and Bush will be rocking in those rocking chairs talking about the good old days when he was press secretary after all.

Liz Phair, Everything To Me

by Hector Diego

I hadn't realized this woman had any talent. I think she has produced some good stuff.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

JFK And Obama In Agreement

by Hector Diego

When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the President of the United States on January 20, 1961, he delivered one of the most important and inspiring speeches of all history.

At the time, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were in a life and death struggle over the issue of nuclear weapons. In that regard, Kennedy proclaimed, "So let us begin anew-- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."

Perhaps Senator McCain, who claims that Obama seeks to "appease" America's foes simply because he wants to speak directly to them, should study the rhetoric, the intent, and the spirit of Kennedy's address. Obviously, Obama has.

Here's the speech and its text.

Quicksilver Messenger Service

by Hector Diego

I have been searching for a bloggable version of Quicksilver's "Don't Cry My Lady Love" from the first day The Walrus Speaks was started almost two years ago. The song may not be to everyone's taste, but you must admit the piano arrangement is superb.

That's the late Nicky Hopkins--a splendid musician in his own right, and one of the greatest session men of all time--on piano. And of course, the late Dino Valente (who wrote the Youngblood's famous "Get Together" under a pseudonym) on vocals.

You were supposed to listen to this beautiful music under the influence of a mind altering substance, but we now know that this is not necessary.

I have a feeling the surviving members of the band would concur.


Obama Success No Surprise...

by Hector Diego

The face of the future

...for the young at heart.

An article in today's New York Times indicates the mentality of Congress--stiff, retro, and without faith. "Mr. Obama’s advantage has been a surprise, given the prominence of the Clintons in party politics."

Why was I not surprised? The answer is in that old song.

"Fairy tales could come true, it could happen to you, if you're young at heart."

I guess I just never grew up.

Obama 08.

Rilo Kiley - Hail To Whatever You Found In The Sunlight That Surrounds You

by Jay Allbritton
From Omaha, last Wednesday.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Mile 2008, Gainesville, Florida

by Jay Allbritton
At 4 AM Saturday, over 50 people gathered at the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue in Gainesville, Florida to work on a monument to those Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From The Gainesville Sun:
Neat rows of miniature gravestones stretch for one mile east of 34th Street on the south side of 8th Avenue. Each of the 4,516 "gravestones," lovingly and carefully made by groups of people getting together for months preceding this Memorial Day weekend, bears the name, rank, date of death and hometown of these brave members of our armed services. Additional markers were ready for 2009.
The Gainesville chapter of Veterans for Peace organized the event, which was also held last year.

I used to live three houses from the intersection where Memorial Mile originates and I used to walk this mile of road daily for months. The statues that normally span this stretch are of the nine planets (we include Pluto) situated roughly to scale. Seeing the head stones literally stretch from the Sun to Pluto is a shattering cosmic metaphor.

Here's a look at the Memorial Mile and the 4,577 monuments.

Obama Plans Windfall Tax

by Jay Allbritton
So the reason Barack Obama will be the next President is gas prices. According to Bush, McCain and the peeps at Exxon, the President can't bring down prices at the tank. Well, the President, with support of Congress, can certainly erode the profit margins of the most profitable entity ever.

Greg Palast breaks it down:
Obama’s war profiteering tax, or “oil windfall profits” tax, would equal just 20% of the industry’s charges in excess of $80 a barrel. It’s embarrassingly small actually, smaller than every windfall tax charged by every other nation. (Ecuador, for example, captures up to 99% of the higher earnings).

Nevertheless, oilman George W. Bush opposes it as does Bush’s man McCain. Senator McCain admonishes us that the po’ widdle oil companies need more than 80% of their windfall so they can explore for more oil. When pigs fly, Senator. Last year, Exxon spent $36 billion of its $40 billion income on dividends and special payouts to stockholders in tax-free buy-backs. Even the Journal called Exxon’s capital investment spending “stingy.”

At today’s prices Obama’s windfall tax, teeny as it is, would bring in nearly a billion dollars a day for the US Treasury. Clinton’s plan is similar. Yet the press’ entire discussion of gas prices is shifted to whether the government should knock some sales tax pennies off the oil companies’ pillaging at the pump.
You may want to mention this to people you meet who are planning to vote for McCain. Oh, and by the way something, Barack, if you feel like jacking that tax up to, say, a hundred and twelve percent after you get elected, feel free.

Laundering Support--The Rapid Demise of the Evangelical Kingmaker

by Jay Allbritton
After the 2004 election, I didn't really have any numbers to back up my argument, but I was extremely suspicious of the media's narrative that riled up evangelicals were now the decisive block in this country and if Democrats ever wanted to win the White House and Congress again, they would have to tailor their message to satisfy the leaders of this allegedly massive voting bloc. Well, without much of a change in their message the Democrats went virtually undefeated in their tidalwave victories of 2006, just two years later. So, that was a pretty good clue that I was right.

Christine Wicker, blogger, journalist and author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church, and Debra Dickerson, who wrote this article in Mother Jones, now have the numbers to prove that not only are evangelicals running from the Republican Party, their numbers were greatly exaggerated all along.

Jimi Hendrix Live, Foxy Lady, Winterland

by Hector Diego

Aw, shucks.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cat Power, Baby Doll

by Hector Diego

Get Your Poll Fix

by Jay Allbritton
I'm not a big fan of polls, but the way lays out it's polls on the map is both useful and and makes for a great visual. The states are updated frequently.

Here's Obama v. McCain.

Here's Clinton v. McCain.

And here's a hybrid:

While Clinton has an advantage nationwide, Obama's bounce from the networks finally pointing out that he, you know, won is gradually taking affect.

Dick Martin Dead At 83

by Hector Diego

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was the prototype for Saturday Night Live, and just as big in its day. It was also the first major comedy show that people left of center could identify with. Indeed, its contribution to American culture is inestimable. But please don't take it too seriously. Otherwise, how could you place a bet on your sweet bippy?

If you don't know what a sweet bippy is, why don't you look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls?

Sock it to me, baby.

Rilo Kiley's Leftovers

by Jay Allbritton
Some of the best songs I ever heard are the ones bands decided to leave off albums. Here's a few from Rilo Kiley's scrapheap.

"Jenny, You're Barely Alive"

"Draggin' Around"

"X-Mas Cake"

"Pull Me In Tighter"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Roger Miller, King Of The Road

by Hector Diego

This world is damned rough these days, and I believe we need something light for a change, without emphasizing depth, importance, seriousness, etc. Just pure entertainment to soothe the senses.

Here's Roger Miller, 1964.

Bob Dylan, My Back Pages

by Hector Diego

"Consistent with its title, the album [Another Side Of Bob Dylan] marks a shift away from the more overt, issue-oriented folk music that Dylan had previously been gravitating toward, dominating his previous LP, The Times They Are A-Changin'. This break from traditionalist roots prompted sharp criticism from influential figures in the folk community. Sing Out! editor Irwin Silber famously complained that Dylan had "somehow lost touch with people" and was tangled up in "the paraphernalia of fame". Most critics outside of these circles, however, praised its innovations in songwriting, which would have a tremendous influence on such legendary rock acts as The Beatles."


The History of "Masters of War"

by Jay Allbritton
The legendary Roots crew put together a wild interpretation of the song that includes a prelude set to the melody of the national anthem.

Pearl Jam re-invented the song back in 1992:

And of course, Bob Dylan.

And here's a handful of lesser known covers.

Protesters are Terrorists Now

by Jay Allbritton
The FBI is looking for a few good moles for the upcoming RNC convention.
What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at "vegan potlucks" throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to "investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines."
Perhaps Representative Paul would like to call for investigations?

The British are upping the ante on repressiveness as well.

Know Your Ayatollahs

by Jay Allbritton
John McCain doesn't quite get the structure of the Iranian government. This is slightly more advanced material than, say, the definition of Sunnis and Shi'ites. The President of Iran doesn't run the military, and certainly doesn't control the Iranian nuclear program.

The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, controls the Iranian military and holds by far the most power in Iran.

From The Washington Post (December 2007):

It's not just ordinary citizens who assume that Ahmadinejad calls the shots in Tehran. Last Tuesday, as President Bush tried to explain away a new National Intelligence Estimate reporting that Iran had shuttered its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, he argued at an awkward news conference that his administration's "carrot-and-stick approach" toward Iran had been working -- "until Ahmadinejad came in." But under the Iranian system, a president matters far less than the supreme leader. For all Ahmadinejad's bluster, he is not "the decider." It's the unelected and unaccountable Khamenei who sits atop Iran's labyrinthine political structure. He gets the last word on whether Iran should try to get the bomb or try to talk to the United States. So to deal with Iran, the West must get to know Khamenei.

The supreme leader is an enigma even to most of Iran's 70 million people. In fact, he's far more cautious, conservative and pragmatic than the bellowing Ahmadinejad. Khamenei wants a "Goldilocks" kind of Islamic Republic -- not too hot, not too cold. He's reluctant to tilt too far in any one direction and keen to keep squabbling factions on board. He says that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic but heartily approves of the knowledge and fuel required to build them. And he is even willing to work with the United States to bring stability to Afghanistan and Iraq -- as long as Iran gets to expand its regional influence by keeping its feeble neighbors under its thumb.

Back in the 1980s if a Presidential candidate tried to say that the Iranian President, who happened to be Ali Khamenei, was in charge and not the dreaded Ayatollah Khomeini, they would have been laughed back into the seventies.

Speaking of Ayatollahs, the person known as the most powerful man in Iraq is Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. We've been very fortunate that Sistani, a very pragmatic and patient man, has decided not to unleash hell against our occupation. There are indications his patience may have run out. This does not bode well. We need to go.

You Can't Do That

by Hector Diego

I like the simple way Ringo uses the cowbells on this one, and Lennon's lead vocal? It's one of his best. The last three guitar notes are so classic Beatles.

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

Rightwing Fanatic To Station Agent--Take Obama And Start A New Country

by Hector Diego
Over at AOL--what do you know--you can hear the Station Agent, Jay Allbritton, at left, telling it the way he sees it. They don't know him as the Station Agent over there, so don't confuse those folks with alternative nomenclature.

Some dude who left a comment, claiming to be a forensic psychiatrist--the guy you want on your side in a court battle, not the other side, although anyone who thinks forensics is an accurate science hasn't thought about it very much--thinks he has gotten the drop on our beloved Agent. He writes, "Take Obama and start a new country, leave the USA the hell alone. You are going from blog to blog with your drivel all over the internet. I could tell the first line or two with your code speak, what you were about and who you favored."

So now the Station Agent is becoming famous! He's all over the internet! And he deserves it. I'll tell you why.

The Jayman, as I like to call him, understands two very important things we should all understand.

1. The dialectical tension and strength between two of the greatest political thinkers in Western history, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Because of the wisdom of these men and their colleagues, the United States of America--no matter whatever else one could or should say about it--has the most stable form of government in recorded history as we know it. Jefferson and Adams constantly disagreed, but because they were the best of friends they remained in a civil dialog. So where they agreed, we must know that they struck gold. The disagreements were part of the digging process.

2. Jefferson's statement that a nation needs a revolution every twenty years. Obviously, he was not suggesting a violent revolution, so we must ask ourselves what Jefferson meant. And when we do that--according to time, place, and circumstance--we will discover what the Jayman, along with Jefferson, would mean by progress.

Now Jay Allbritton would further ratify two things.

1. Abraham Lincoln's famous statement, "I am for those means which will give the greatest good for the greatest number."

2. The understanding that Lincoln's statement, especially in today's world, must be applied holistically, and that means the entire planet, including the physical earth and all life that lives upon it. If people are starving or very oppressed somewhere, it affects all of us, or at least is a reflection of a tortured world that will eventually define our own neighborhood. If the environment has been so compromised that plankton in the sea die off, bees are no longer around for pollination, and you can't trust the food you eat, then stop-gap measures are too little and too late.

For all the reasons stated here, the Station Agent, now a featured writer at AOL, recommends the candidacy of Barack Obama, because Obama also understands these articles, and respects the intellectual legacy and spirit of Jefferson and Adams.

As for starting a new country, I'm sure Jefferson would approve.

He would call it the United States of America.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

by Jay Allbritton
I took the Electoral Compass, USA, survey because that kind of thing makes for a fun post at Political Machine.

Here's my results as they pertain to the candidates left in the race.

The Beta Band, Out-Side

by Hector Diego

My grown daughter introduced me to the Beta Band. Not bad at all.

What say you, Station Agent?

Ringo Says John Is In Heaven

by Hector Diego

I'll buy that.

Texas Appellate Court: No Preemptive Strikes Allowed

by Hector Diego

A dangerous woman?

Finally some sanity has asserted itself in the FLDS fiasco in Texas, where "The Third Court of Appeals in Austin said Thursday that the state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger, the only grounds under Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action."

"Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may someday have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal," the court said.

All of that sounds about right to me. We disapprove (well, some of us disapprove) of preemptive strikes on supposedly hostile nations. And who would condone preemptive arrests on individuals for crimes they may commit?

We must see that for most parents, being arrested is not as bad as having your children stolen from you--that is the worst thing in the world for both parents and children, barring real abuse--which CPS authorities never found.

Because they have arrested no one.

The parents and their children are not out of the woods yet, as the "humiliated" (the article says) CPS may appeal. In my view, government agencies should be humiliated, and what ever part of their work is not found to be worthy of humiliation--that's the good stuff that taxpayers are funding.

It is always better to err on the side of the people instead of the government. No?

Even if the people are weird and standoffish. A cult. Call it whatever.

I'll bet FLDS members will change their chauvinistic ways now, so this fiasco hasn't been entirely unproductive.

Just about 99%.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Clash, Rock The Casbah

by Hector Diego

The proliferation of musical taxonomy makes me dizzy. For instance, this song by The Clash sounds like fairly innocuous New Wave to me, but it is listed as punk. What makes it punk?

Station Agent, help me out here.

Paul Plays Red Square

by Hector Diego

All of my life I knew there was a reason that Americans should love our Russian brothers and sisters.

Here it is.

Depends on What Your Definition of Vice President Is

by Jay Allbritton
Partly because I'm tired of it, I've decided not to respond to a lot of the nonsense coming from the Clinton campaign (ahem). I'd like for there to be a bit of healing here, up to and including a spot on the ticket if she wants it and it can be arranged. A lot of people disagree with that. No need to restate your disapproval here. I got it. I just want this to be over.

Everyone is asking, does Clinton want to be VP? Hey, it's a pretty good job. I get the feeling that Hillary Clinton would love to be VP IF that means that she gets to have a comparable amount of power to Dick Cheney. More likely, Obama's campaign would like her to just go away. But being pragmatic about it, they should probably accept a more reasonable role for her, along the lines of Mondale or Gore, which is an active, public role. Bill Clinton made Al Gore the butt of many jokes over the years, but the two of them worked well together.

Okay, that's enough about that. We have probably six to eight more weeks of this discussion. I'm much more interested in beating McCain and so is Obama.

But I would like to offer some numbers, just because these numbers do not lie.

According to the Associated Press:
Pledged Delegates
Obama 1649 / Clinton 1497

Super Delegates
Obama 307 / Clinton 279

Obama 1956 / Clinton 1776

Needed to Win
Obama 70 / Clinton 250

Pledged Delegates Remaining: 86

Super Delegates Still Uncommitted: 211

Barack Obama, The Man From IIlinois

by Hector Diego

A great little ditty, give it a try. The artist is Tom Pacheco.

Crowded House Live, Fall At Your Feet

by Hector Diego


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rilo Kiley, My Slumbering Heart

by Hector Diego

"My Slumbering Heart" must be one of Rilo Kiley's genius compositions, or I know nothing about music. The music is complex, and so are the lyrics. It's about the pleasures of childhood, youth, and maturity. "It just feels good when you're coming home."

I like to call it "Gone Dreaming".

Nonpoint is Alive and Kicking

by Jay Allbritton
My friends in Nonpoint--Andy, Ken, Elias and Rob--are touring now, in their tenth year on the road. I got to see them last night at Common Grounds in Gainesville, Florida.

As great as they have always been, they're stronger now, an awesome bestial perpetual motion machine unleashed for ninety minutes a night. They are unbelievably tight professionals that will not play a substand show despite the venue. This band will not let down a single fan.

They are more creative than ever. I wish I had the acoustic version of "Alive and Kicking" they played last night. Instead, here's the equally awesome electric version from their live album. Please, see this tour.

Alive & Kicking (Live) - Nonpoint

Paul Weeps For John

by Hector Diego

The lyrics in "Here Today" about crying are apparent references to the death of both of their mothers in their teen years.

Here McCartney breaks down while performing "Here Today". If you are the type that still weeps for Lennon, now you can do it with Paul.

After 28 years, it still stings.

Pay Them No Mind

by Jay Allbritton
I would like to join the long list of people everywhere offering their thoughts and prayers to Edward Kennedy.

One of my Political Machine cohorts, Justin Paulette wrote a moving post about the news regarding Senator Kennedy's condition. Justin is what we in the blogosphere refer to as a conservative, or, in more sharp terms, a right winger. Yet he recognized, as I'm sure most Americans of just about all political persuasions recognized, that Kennedy's affliction transcends politics. Plenty of conservatives are weighing in with well wishes for Edward Kennedy.

Today a lot of people are talking about the childish antics of a cartoonish, heel radio host and the vicious piling on of readers in a right wing forum. Forget about all that. Just remember, the blogosphere is really a small place and the ghoulish few who are not worth mentioning are not representative of the mainstream of Republicans.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Neil Young, Only Love Can Break Your Heart

by Hector Diego

It's live, with a small portion of sweet banter.

McCain Advisor Says Obama Administration Would Send A Great Message To The World

by Hector Diego

Well, well...

"(CNN) — John McCain’s chief media adviser said Tuesday he is stepping down rather than campaign against Barack Obama. Mark McKinnon (left) said last year that he would leave McCain’s campaign after the primary season if the Arizona senator were to run against Obama. In a 2007 interview with Cox News, McKinnon said he would vote for McCain, but "I just don't want to work against an Obama candidacy." He added that if Obama were to reach the White House, it "would send a great message to the country and the world." The McCain campaign says McKinnon will remain a “major supporter” of the McCain’s presidential bid."

Oprah Tries Vegan Diet

by Hector Diego

Why blog about a celebrity's diet? When the celebrity is Oprah, her diet is momentous--if it deviates from the dominant dietary paradigm. What she does, millions will follow.

"Oprah has decided to try a strict cleanse. In addition to being vegan, she'll forgo alcohol, wheat, and sugar—but luckily, you don't have to follow the same restrictions in order to experience benefits too! By simply replacing your normal animal-filled fare with vegetarian versions, you'll be on your way to a healthier you. That's right—you can replace the dairy ice cream in your freezer with soy ice cream and the beef burgers on your grill with Boca, and you'll still be making healthier choices. Why? Vegan foods are naturally cholesterol-free and higher in fiber."

I got all that from PETA, an organization that makes me quite ambivalent. The reason for my ambivalence is that I applaud their work towards animal rights, but I think that in some ways they are counterproductive to their own noble cause.

The main problem with PETA is that they do not endorse a vegetarian diet, they endorse a vegan diet, which means no animal products at all. So, no milk products, no honey, no eggs.

The problem with that is the difficulty of following such a diet. I have been a super strict vegetarian for over thirty-four years, and it is difficult even for me--the vegan diet, that is. I tried it once for a few weeks and discovered that it takes a rare person, having given up fish and land animal food, to go without milk products too.

Now if a strict vegetarian like myself (I don't eat eggs, either) has difficulty with the vegan diet, what is Joe Carnivore going to make of it? If he even tries it, he will most likely give it up before a week has passed.

What does it matter? Well, as a vegetarian activist I am committed to bringing as many people as possible to an innocent diet. I suspect the vegan diet turns as many people off to vegetarianism as it produces vegans, because people will not discriminate between these two diets and simply conclude that going without meat is too much of an austerity.

It's bad enough that folks think that all vegetarians eat is salad--which is absurd--but because they are not familiar with the innocent diet, that's what they think. PETA is not helping the situation by being exclusively vegan.

They remind me of Hillary Clinton, not that concerned with the bigger picture. If Paul McCartney reads this post, he might be disgusted with me because he is a big PETA supporter (although, to my knowledge, not a vegan, only a vegetarian). However, he will know what I'm talking about.

PETA's position is that farm animals are not treated well. My position is that they should be treated well. Because PETA is committed to veganism, they cannot agree that animals and humans can exist in symbiosis. They also do not agree that dairy products are healthy for humans. I maintain that a healthy human can benefit from dairy products used sparingly. But, like Hillary, they are stubborn.

Finally, I am really angry with PETA for their reference to ordinary ice cream as "your normal animal-filled fare" that can be replaced with "vegetarian versions" such as "soy ice cream".

! ! !

Since when is milk not vegetarian? Even ultra-vegan PETA has defined a vegetarian diet as not going far enough because of the dairy component. Now they are claiming that dairy is not even vegetarian. They have conflated veganism with vegetarianism, obviously, because they no longer want the public to be aware of the distinction--and the option.

They have stolen a word!

In the politics of representation, PETA has deliberately misrepresented veganism, vegetarianism, and dairy foods. Like Hillary, they are liars.

So I am frustrated with PETA, for they are so close to me in their aims, yet so far away.

Like Hillary.

Anyway, Oprah is doing good work in going vegan for awhile. Let's hope that people who follow her can see the forest for the trees.

If veganism doesn't work for you, go vegetarian. And if you can't be vegetarian, at least understand the principle and don't oppose it.

If you oppose it, I'm coming after you. Hopefully Oprah will be at my side.

Without PETA.

Sarah McLachlan, Blackbird

by Hector Diego

More Lies From Hillary And Her Supporters

by Hector Diego

Hillary and her followers should listen
to this man. He's honest.

Once you start lying, we were told as children, it is very hard to stop. Apparently Hillary and (some of) the fanatics that support her didn't listen to their mothers when they were growing up. I hardly see how this is respectful of women.

Here's Hillary's latest gem. "Clinton said she did not believe the campaign had been tainted by racism, adding that racism is apparently less tolerated in US society than sexism." Of course! That's why she is courting, and getting, the votes of white Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Because those places are sexist.

She also claims that she "speaks for all women and should stay in the Democratic race to the bitter end." Of course! The younger women who want Obama (and more younger women want Obama than want Hillary) are actually Hillary supporters, in a vast conspiracy to delude Obama into thinking he will be nominated, only to realize his campaign has feet of clay. This conspiracy will be revealed, of course, after Hillary wins the nomination.

Now for some of her supporters who make the same outrageous claims (not all of them are liars-especially the rare ones who know she is not as good a choice as Obama, admit it, and also admit they just want to see a woman President...I can respect their honesty). "Hillary's voice is OUR voice, and she's speaking for all of us," says WomenCount. I agree women do count, but if WomenCount says Hillary speaks for all women, they are--so ironically--not counting the women who want Obama. Because the divide is mostly between generations, we may conclude that the older generation has math problems, while the younger generation watched Sesame Street, and were schooled by The Count. So they can.

Hillary, when will you return to Scranton to go Bambi hunting and leave us in peace? Maybe when you finish your 12 oz Iron City?

Meanwhile the Count is busy counting superdelegates declaring for Obama. "One delegate, two delegates ah ah ah." The Count is no liar. Your mother should know.


Antique walrus print courtesy of FineRarePrints.Com