Friday, May 25, 2007

Entitlement

http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/latestnews/stories/wfaa070524_wz_taksprotest.6fe879b.html

So, if your kid fails the basic skills test in order to graduate from high school, and then they tell you that he/she can't walk in the graduation ceremony, holding up a sign outside the school all day that reads "Let Are Kids Walk" probably ain't helping your cause.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Indiana Takes a Page from Singapore's Legal Code

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/17/1769.asp


Holy crap! This is too heavy-handed. Will all my esquire friends sound off on the legal feasibility of what this law seeks to allow?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nerdgasm

Just in time for the end of my strictly enforced five year absence from video games during the PhD, Blizzard reveals Starcraft II!

http://kotaku.com/gaming/starcraft-2-for-the-win/its-official-starcraft-2-on-the-way-261835.php

OH MY HELL!



Thursday, May 17, 2007

Blakely's right, Louisiana DOES need birth control!

Normally I respect the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper. They have done an amazing job the last couple of years, and have been a catalyst for change (sometimes).

This article today strikes me as them trying to create controversy:
http://blog.nola.com/times-picayune/2007/05/blakely_says_louisiana_needs_b.html

Recovery czar Blakely says that Louisiana needs birth control. From my own personal experiences, I can say unreservedly that I agree with him. I have known scores of young GIRLS that have multiple children, out of wedlock, and then find it impossible to work, or just patently refuse to work since they can live off the government dole. There was a 15-year-old girl at my church that had a a two year old daughter by her fifteenth birthday. Now if you do the math, she conceived shortly after turning 12-years-old. She had another child by age 17, by a different father. The terms "baby daddy" and "baby momma" are so common here that even 10 years ago B. Rock and the Bizz had a regional hit with "That's just my baby daddy."

Who that is?
That's just my baby daddy
Who that is?
That's just my baby daddy
Who that is?
That's just my baby daddy
Who that is?
That's just my baby daddy
Who that is?
That's just my baby daddy
Who that is?
That's just my baby daddy
Who that is?
That's just my baby daddy
Who that is?
T-Bird, that's just my baby daddy

When my wife was the Young Women's President at church, she had some girls, ages 12-14, that they couldn't afford to go to college; they had it all figured out, get pregnant in high school and then get "set up" as they put it.

What I'm saying here is nothing new. Everyone knows that New Orleans is a suckhole of welfare, public assistance, and everything that is WRONG with government aid programs. While meant as a hand-up originally, here they have become entitlement programs.

And don't kid yourself into some uninformed prejudiced idea that it's only black people that take advantage of the system this way. It's systemic, across the whole state: white, black, Hispanic, or Chitimacha. When Mr. Blakely says that the state needs birth control, he is absolutely correct. Children are having children. Single moms with 8 kids by eight different fathers should not be rewarded for further contributing to their own poverty by having evermore children.

As an example, my boy scouts from 2002, where are they now?

Maxmillyen Smith: Currently serving in Iraq
Daniel Van Dam: Student at Auburn University
Brandon Jenkins: Dead
Robert Smith: Living in Houston,
Daniel Webb: Living in Houston
Chris Foster: 3rd strike, incarcerated in Angola for grand theft auto
Jonathan Foster: incarcerated for assault and battery (last I heard)
Ikey Smith: Has a child, out of wedlock, and he's just turned 16. His child is 12 months old.

Of these eight boys, only one had a dad living at home. I'm not sure how many of them actually even knew their own fathers. When Brandon died, his family had no idea where his mom was....turns out she had died a couple of months earlier.

Now, much suffering could be prevented if these kids had access to birth control. If teenagers here took birth control, it would be far cheaper for the state to pay for the contraceptives through age 19 than to pay for all the costs involved with unwed teenage pregnancies. Perhaps we could get kids to actually graduate from high school, go to college, and end the cycle of poverty and violence that sucks the life out of this city.


Disease preventionist would cry that by giving them birth control instead of condoms, that we would just see a rise in venereal diseases. I counter that these kids aren't using condoms in the first place. Offer them the pill and condoms. While the above commercial is funny, condoms should NEVER be used as birth control; they are for disease prevention.

Click this link to see a chart of what doctors call people that use condoms for birth control:
http://www.iraqvsneworleans.com/Mac/

I always find it sad that when one of these kids gets killed in a drug gangland murder, you always see the Mom crying, wailing, gnashing her teeth, but you never ever see a father. The father is absent. We are breeding generation after generation of fatherless children, of broken homes, and indolence. Mr. Blakely doesn't deserve to have the Times-Picayune pick a fight with him. He's absolutely right. If some people don't want to hear it, tough shit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hot Fuzz Indeed!


Last weekend, Mickelle and I went and saw the action movie parody, Hot Fuzz. This is the funniest movie I've seen since Thank You for Smoking. I think it might even be funnier. It is a loving, sarcasm-free, spoof of every cop buddy movie ever made, especially Bad Boys and Point Break.


The direction was perfect, the writing--perfect. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It strikes the same tone of teasing jokes that the Quixote does with the novels of knight errantry.


I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend seeing Hot Fuzz.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What Big Eyes You Have!


Marley and I found this rude customer on our front porch last week!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

E.T.Booth Basketball

I was watching High School Musical with Marley yesterday, and all of the basketball scenes got me to thinking about my days at E.T. Booth Middle School in Woodstock, Georgia. Booth was home to 7th & 8th grade. My good friend Dillion Armbruster teaches there right now. But, a quick look at their web page tells me that the only teacher left from when I was there (it's been 20 years) is Coach Bill Elliott, always a class act, just a great guy.

http://www.cherokee.k12.ga.us/etbooth-ms/faculty.htm

Anyway, the basketball teams there, from 1986-1988 were managed by yours truly. The first year, both teams were coached by coach Harold Barwick (I think that was his last name). When Coach Elliott came, he was given the 7th grade team. Anyway, Coach Barwick was kind of a prankster of a man. He had certain things that he liked certain ways.

One of our classmates was a really tall kid named Augie Valido. Augie sucked at basketball. He got one minute of playing time in two years. I could beat him at one on one (probably not). Watching the movie with Marley reminded me of exactly why Augie was on the basketball team. Coach Barwick, loved, absolutely loved, calling him Augie Doggie. That's why Augie made the team. Ahhhhhh the 80s.

Cherokee County is a whole other place now. I can't even imagine someone like Barwick surviving in the new school system. It's a shame. Barwick made you realize what kind of man you DIDN'T want to be. Sometimes kids need rolemodels like that.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bigotry Against Mormonism Is Okay...right?



As if the Baylor incident weren't enough, now we see PC witchunter Al Sharpton claiming that "those of us who believe in God will defeat" Mormon Mitt Romney. I'm no fan of Romney, but Al Sharpton is a hypocrite and he can kiss my Mormon ass. What really burns me is that the audience laughed.

I'll envoke Godwin's law here. When assholes start claiming that God is on their side, it always makes me think of this:

Gott = God, Mit = is with, Uns = us.

Funny

So, in a thread on www.fark.com discussing this article:

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2007/05/07/tv-babies.html

People began discussing the pains and joy of raising a family. As usual on fark, some people began criticizing people for having families, etc. Someone said that having a dog was the only kid they ever needed, and that "raising my family" was hard work, meaning their dogs. Those who know me well know that I do not like dogs, and I cringe at the animal rights laws currently on the books, let alone the ones that PETA and their ilk are planning. Someone on fark then said one of the funniest things I've ever seen:

Anthropomorphizing your dog is NOT an alternative to raising a family.

Amen! A pet is not a child. You cannot compare them. No way, no how.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Louis Vuitton Makes Cars?




We took this the other day outside of Babylon Cafe on Maple Street in New Orleans.




Monday, May 07, 2007

My Favorite Bass Lines

My favorite part of music is the bass. Sometimes I don't even hear the words, but the bass line keeps me charging, helps me concentrate, takes away pain, and any other number of marvels. I loved having a pair of 10" sub-woofers in my car for a season, precisely because the bass was so amazing. I had a 1000 watt 4 channel Audio Gods amp, and it would hit so hard my rearview mirror would often fall off.

I think one of the reasons that I can't listen to classical music for long periods of time, is that my mind craves bass. I do like other parts of music, just bass gets boring, but when the song is awesome, a good bassline can make or break the song.

Here's a list of some of my favorite bass-y songs, in no particular order. It should go without saying that if you plan to listen to these songs, you need to do it on a respectable stereo system:

1. "Concrete Jungle," Bob Marley & The Wailers. It's very simple, but it makes the song, a haunting declaration of Trenchtown political angst and rebellion that asks "Where is the love to be found? Whoa, someone please tell, because life must be somewhere more to found, instead of concrete jungles." The bass just reminds me of the pulsating energy of the listeners, as they anticipate the lyrics. This one is awesome.

2. "The Sweater Song," Weezer. Essentially the same four bars over and over again. I want to buy a bass guitar, just so I can figure out how to play along with the song.

3. "Testify," Rage Against the Machine. Holy Crap!
4. "Calm Like a Bomb," Rage Against the Machine. Holy Spit!

5. "Give It Away Now," Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea slides funks his way into my memory. This song can get on my nerves at times, but if I just concentrate on the bass, it can become hypnotic.

6. "54-46," Toots & the Maytals. This machine like bass really drives the whole song, and when it goes away in the chorus bridge, my mind just can't wait for it to drop back in." It's really simple, but I cannot imagine the song any other way.

7. "Say it Ain't Say," Weezer. Again, this baseline is all I hear. I love to play along on my steering wheel as I drive with this song playing to loudly. Marley and I love to sing along to this song. She does the "buuuwoooow buuuuwoooow!" sounds and I play the bass. Good times.

8. "Lincoln Highway Dub," Sublime. The bass track that would become "Santería" some day. There's no words to distract from the wonderful playing. It's in my ears right now and I feel the interplay between the guitar that accompanies the bass that would later become the melody of the later song.

9. "I Shot the Sheriff," Bob Marley & The Wailers. At their very best. This song is something I love to listen to at the end of a work week. A Friday afternoon, watching the week's worries fade away. The bass at the end just reminds me of those moments in life when you feel a little cool, and that things are going your way.

10. "One Headlight," The Wallflowers. When I saw them in concert at Music Midtown in Atlanta in 1996 or 1997, this bassline hit so hard it made me cough. I love this song for its bass. It's an okay song, without the inspired base, it's forgettable.

11. "Twilight," Squirrel Nut Zippers. As this whimsical song drifts along in the ether, the bass is there as a steady source of grounding. I love the surety of the timing and how it just sits there in the background. Understated bass at its best.

12. "Paul Revere," Beastie Boys. They looped the bass backwards. Enough said.

13. "Black," Pearl Jam. The bass is turned down way low, but listen to the complexity of the notes played.

14. "Song Against Sex," Neutral Milk Hotel. It's so fuzzy and so low-fi that the bass can get lost. If you isolate it, holy crap. Just wow!

15. "Girlfriend," Matthew Sweet. The bass carries the song, and it's a really damned good song.

16. "Sabanas Frías," Maná. I don't know what's better on this one, Rubén Blades's knock-you-down powerful voice or the perfect, and I mean flawlessly perfect, bassline. Even if you don't speak Spanish, this song is spectacular.

17. "Stir It Up," Bob Marley & The Wailer/Los Cafres/Los Pericos. Every version of this song is awesome. The original is the backbone of the song. The Pericos somehow infuse it with a new sound, even if they're playing the same notes.

18. "From Your Mouth," God Lives Under Water. The bass pulsates with techno fuzz. I love it. The melody and bass overlap creating this chunky sound. The video makes it even better.

19. "Take Me Out," Franz Ferdinand. The very definition of galloping. It keeps time like a metronome, like Jerome's heart in Gattaca.

20. "Tom's Diner," Suzanne Vega & DNA. The only thing that could possibly go with the "Dut dut dut dut dut dit dut" is the heavy bass that DNA supplies.

21. "Light Up My Room," Barenaked Ladies. The bass seems out of place, and the first few listens, it bugged me, until I found the inner rhythm, and how the off sequence bass amplifies the meaning of the words.

22. "Nutshell," Alice in Chains. When I was dating my wife, I would put this song on my stereo, on loop, as I drove the 2 1/2 hours from Provo to Logan, Utah, and I would crank it all the way up. This song always reminds me of driving at night through snow-covered landscapes. It reminds me of how much I love my wife, of the lust I felt, of the anxiousness of waiting to see her. The drive was made better by the sparse beauty of this bassline. It soars and crashes and is different throughout the song. Outside of reggae, this is my favorite bass of all time. It reminds me of young love, of passion, of nostalgia, and of how great a band we lost to heroin.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Perspective

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200705/s1912815.htm

Iranian President Ahmadinejad is under fire for kissing an elderly woman's gloved hand and for embracing her arms through her veil dress. He is catching hell in the press.

President Bush caught a little grief for giving the German Chancellor a backrub. Can you imagine the absolute shitstorm if Ahmadinejad got a blowjob from his intern, or stuck a cigar in someone's vagina, and then kept it?

The Mahdi might just come back.

A Serious Question?

On his hit TV show in the late 1980's, Gordon Shumway, aka Alf, was blessed with knowing the exact date of his death. This wasn't like the carousel in Logan's Run, where you knew you would die on a certain day, but that you could die before then too. This was, Alf could not die, due to cosmic fate, before the date that had been foretold. He knew when he would die.

So, I ask you, if you could know the exact date of your death, would you want to know?


I think I would. You would be immortal in the interim. The decisions we make would be vastly different. Our lives might be richer. Of course, then we run into the Oedipus problem of self-fulfilling prophecy. What if knowing the date of our death causes us to change our actions, thus ensuring the fulfillment of the prediction? What if all the contingencies predicated the outcome based on our selection of them made through knowledge of the outcome?

In Jorge Luis Borges's short story "The Secret Miracle," the protagonist Jaromir Hladík is arrested by the Nazis and condemned to execution 10 days hence. He realizes that he is immortal during those ten days. He still dies, but for those ten days, instead of feeling helpless, he feels invincible (to a certain extent). Doc Brown never wants to tell Marty about the car crash that ruins his future, perhaps precisely to avoid it coming to pass. Marty decides not to drag race Needles in Back to the Future III, because he has seen his future if he responds to being called "chicken," and he does not like it. Doc was concerned about disrupting the space-time continuum, but Marty just wanted to better his life.

The future is an undiscovered country. Is it better to know it, to avoid the pitfalls, or does knowing them ultimately lead us right to them?

The wound can only be healed by the spear that caused it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

FYI

The Spanish and Portuguese Department presents
John “Mac” Williams III
Dissertation Defense
"Free Agent or Automaton? Gnostic, Zoroastrian, Christian, and Jewish Free Will Doctrines in the Works of Jorge Luis Borges"

Thursday, May 03, 2007
2:00 PM
407 Newcomb

Director: Dr. Idelber Avelar
Readers: Dr. Laura Bass
Dr. John Charles

Insouciance