Friday, December 18, 2009
Toxicity / System of a Down
Rockin' the Suburbs / Ben Folds
Comfort Eagle / Cake
With Teeth / Nine Inch Nails
Them Crooked Vultures / Them Crooked Vultures
10. Speakerboxx/The Love Below -- Outkast
These guys make more interesting sounds than anyone doing the rap/hip-hop thing. I still don't know which half of the double album I love more. Go back and listen to Hey Ya! for the first time in a couple of years and you'll remember how much you loved it before you heard it 47,000 times on 9 different radio stations. Also, if you listen to Ghetto Musick on a decent set of headphones you'll be equally blown away--the high/low dynamics are almost unsettling. Awesome record(s).
9. Demon Days -- Gorillaz
"Feel Good, Inc." is one of my favorite singles of the last decade, and the rest of the album shines just as brightly. Weird, sad, hopeful futuristic pop music at its finest. Great videos, too.
8. The Bedlam in Goliath -- The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta guys apparently don't remember all the details of the experience of recording this album. It explains a lot. The album starts with a scream at a thousand miles an hour and doesn't really let you breathe until halfway through the album, and its only a brief reprieve. If you like this song, you'll like the rest.
7. Elephant -- The White Stripes
Jack White kind of owned this decade, huh? I wanted so badly to not like this band, and in fact avoided liking them until Elephant came out, and with it "Seven Nation Army," the grooviest goddamn four minutes since QOTSA's "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret." The whole album is terrific. Jack White is an awfully good songwriter, and does a really good job of keeping shit simple.
6. Lateralus -- Tool
Before this album, I thought hard rock meant Godsmack. Needless to say, Tool has enlightened me. Tool fans are among the most annoying in all the world, but this does not change the fact that this is an absolutely remarkable allbum. Parabol/Parabola is a pretty good illustration of the sound of the CD (impatient types should skip to about 3 and 1/2 minutes in), though by no means does it encapsulate everything. The best Tool has yet produced. The follow-up was good, but did not approach the masterpiece that is Lateralus.
5. By the Way -- Red Hot Chili Peppers
For all the continued commercial success of this band, I think people often overlook just how good they are. And I love them. Like a brother, is how I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The moments of transcendence on By the Way are many for me--I still get chills listening to "Midnight" and "I Could Die for You," and "Venice Queen," the last song on the album, is my favorite Chili's song ever.
4. Sea Change -- Beck
Call me crazy, but I think this is Beck's best album yet. He's a crazy scientologist type, maybe, but he's a brilliant dude, too. The saddest, most beautiful 50 minutes of his career. So good.
3. Songs for the Deaf -- Queens of the Stone Age
In terms of just straight rock records, this is the best one of the decade, hands down. Start to finish fast, hard, and with all the requisite kinetic QOTSA energy, it's still their best effort. Besides, is there anybody any fucking cooler than these guys?
2. Kid A/Amnesiac -- Radiohead
It's cliche to say these guys are the Pink Floyd of our generation, but that's what they are. I include the two albums as one because I don't think I could choose Amnesiac without giving credit to Kid A, too. They were made at the same time, released less than a year apart--and both brilliant. Maybe my favorite song from both albums, but hard to say.
1. Machina/The Machines of God -- The Smashing Pumpkins
This is my favorite album of all time, so of course it tops this list. The album opens with a kick in the face and closes with one of my favorite songs ever, "Age of Innocence." I guess I understand why people didn't appreciate this album, but I don't understand the hate so many people have for Billy Corgan now. I don't know if anything will ever replace this album on my favorites list, because I don't know that I'll ever again be in such a position to be so affected by an album as I was when I heard this one. It's kind of hard to explain, but if you know what I'm talking about than I guess you know what I'm talking about. Man, do I love me some Pumpkins.
Pretty solid list, if I may say so myself. Let me know what you think!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ben Bernanke is Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
This is the despicable marriage of corporate, media, government and banking interests at work.
Best quote from the stroke-piece:
So when turbulence in U.S. housing markets metastasized into the worst global financial crisis in more than 75 years, he conjured up trillions of new dollars and blasted them into the economy; engineered massive public rescues of failing private companies; ratcheted down interest rates to zero; lent to mutual funds, hedge funds, foreign banks, investment banks, manufacturers, insurers and other borrowers who had never dreamed of receiving Fed cash; jump-started stalled credit markets in everything from car loans to corporate paper; revolutionized housing finance with a breathtaking shopping spree for mortgage bonds; blew up the Fed's balance sheet to three times its previous size; and generally transformed the staid arena of central banking into a stage for desperate improvisation. He didn't just reshape U.S. monetary policy; he led an effort to save the world economy.
No wonder his eyes look tired.
Aside from the fact that it's a weird lie that turbulence in the U.S. housing market was the cause of the global financial meltdown, why are we praising this guy for the actions delineated? He's the frontman for the most dangerous and powersucking criminal organization with which the world is currently confronted. "No wonder his eyes look tired."
Assholes! I knew it! I'm Surrounded by Assholes!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The interview with the President was your run-of-the-mill kind of interview. It wasn't a bad interview, just a predictable interview. But what caught my attention was Obama's answer to an otherwise tame question. Steve Croft asked what the President thought of the bailed-out companies paying back their loans faster than many expected. I figured he'd say he was pleased that the taxpayer-funded loans were being paid back, with interest. But that's not what he said.
The President seemed disappointed that they were in fact paying back the loans so quickly. His take was that it was an effort by those companies to avoid having to abide by certain restrictions. Chief among those restrictions are caps on executive pay as well as bonuses.
Now, I could've swore that the main purpose for the TARP program was to prevent companies from collapsing. And though a few have gone into bankruptcy, most have managed to stay afloat long enough to weather the financial storm. Some can argue weather or not the loans had any effect, but on the surface this is a program that served its purpose, and the President and his minions should be touting the rate of repayment. Not complaining that the companies have gotten out of the grasp of the government's restrictions. But I guess that wasn't the 'intended purpose'. Not according to the President's remark. It seems that the intended purpose all along was to gain influence over private companies and how much they pay their top guys.
And that's kinda fucked up.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I listen to a lot of radio. Today, I heard a Public Service Announcement brought to me by the Department of Education, the Ad Council, and My Local Station. The speaker was trying to reinforce the importance of education in the lives of the listener's children, which was my first problem. What sort of a person needs to be told that an education is important? And given that there are people out there who do in fact need to be told that an education is important, what the fuck makes anyone think that a radio PSA is going to be just the moment of enlightenment and elucidation that these retarded parents need to realize the error of their apathy? How fucking stupid do you think we are? And if we are that fucking stupid, what makes you think you can possibly make any difference at all? More nanny state nonsense.
And then the ad got interesting: "Remember to instill in your children your own values: tolerance, honestly, and fair play."
Seriously? Now you're going to tell me to remember to instill my values in my children, as though I need a reminder from you, and then you're going to tell me what my values are? I've discussed tolerance here before, in case you don't remember, and you can check that out, here. I'll decide what my own values are, and I'll decide how and when to pass them on to my kids. Fuck you, PSA.
This is what we spend our money on in this country? This is what we commonly accept as the appropriate role of government in our lives? Stop trying to baby each other, world. Grow up.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I'm struck by the story, which can be found here, because of a slightly different reason than the typical outrage about the story will be, I think. My issue is this: We are increasingly a nation employed by or otherwise receiving a check from the federal government.
It's nearly to the point where as many people receive money from the IRS every year than actually pay out into the system. If you add in those receiving federally paid welfare or other social spending, plus the huge number of federal level government jobs--not to mention the millions of teachers in this country who may work for the state, technically, but are accountable to the federal government for performance if not being outright paid by it--we are a nation that will never choose to reduce the role or size of government.
This is because so many of us are on the payroll, or otherwise on the government dole. Who would vote to make it harder for themselves to maintain their lifestyle? Not too many people. The U.S. government is too big to fail, I suppose, and the tyranny of the majority will ensure the final nail in the coffin of the experiment that was limited government with enumerated powers.
We'll probably be talking about this on the show next week--post away and let us know what you think so we can include your thoughts.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Alright, it's time for some good old random thoughts, with Abe!
Earlier this week, the Bob and Abe Show discussed the whole Tiger Woods fiasco. I was out of town, so I wasn't able to comment on it. Here is my take. I'm really surprised that the insurance industry has not come up with 'divorce insurance' policy (don't they have insurance policies for body parts?). Think about it. Tiger Woods is worth, what, $1 billion? And he's likely to make a few more billion in the next decade. A person with that sum of wealth should protect himself against any liability. And you'd be hard pressed to find any liability as great as divorce, especially for someone of Tiger Woods' stature. Now I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it wouldn't be a stretch to think that Tiger Woods' wife would leave him. She has every right to leave him. But if she did, half his money would be gone. He'd stand to lose $500 million. That's $50 million per girl (so far). That's - and I don't mean to be graphic - about $72,524.50 per stroke*! That's, a lot. And yet, Tiger Woods and his financial advisers have no defense for it.
Speaking of cheating, they really should come up with another term for infidelity, because “cheating” just sounds petty. I always get a kick hearing grown adults accusing one another of “cheating”. Also, if you're in a relationship with someone and sex is not a part of it and you have sex with someone else, is that cheating? And if so, what are you cheating on? To me, cheating is going outside of the relationship to seek goods and services that are already offered by your partner. So, if you are not fucking, what's it to you that your partner is? It’s like with an iphone. If they offered video and mms and backgrounding and all these other features, nobody would jailbreak their phone. But since they don’t, people do 'cheat' by jailbreaking (like yours truly). Same thing with a relationship. If your partner offered sex, and that was a normal part of the relationship, then going outside of that would be an act of infidelity. Otherwise, I don’t see the conflict (note: I am aware that this sounds like i'm blaming the person who gets cheated on. I just want to make you aware that I am aware that you aware what this sounds like).
Why are athletes who use performance enhancing drugs being punished? They’re trying to enhance their performance. They’re trying to put on a better show for the fans. What’s the harm in that? Sure, they put themselves at greater health risks, but that’s a “them” problem. The reaction to the steroid and HGH abuse by baseball players is silly. This whole “It’s not fair that one player is juicing while another is not” is not valid, in my opinion. Some people are naturally stronger or faster or smarter than others. Are we okay with that disadvantage? Some athletes have different training regiments that positively affect the way they play while others do not. Are we okay with that disadvantage? Just because it’s “god-given” ability, it doesn’t make it any less unfair. Just because god jewed me out of a great 40 yard dash speed, doesn’t mean I should leave it at that and move. No, performance enhancing drugs are the great equalizer. They correct what is inherently unfair. I say, if they want to juice, let them juice, statistical records be damned.A few months ago I went to go see the latest Harry Potter film. The movie itself was ok, but it probably would've been better had I seen the last three installments. I saw the first two movies, and then the sixth. So, obviously there was a gap in storyline for me. Would it be too much to ask that they attach a “previously on” clip at the beginning of any sequel? I guess I could watch all the movies before watching the 6th, but come on, who has time for that? My suggestion wouldn't take long, just 2 minutes, 3 tops. Just like they do with tv shows, such as “24”. It brings everyone watching up to speed and it makes for a more pleasurable viewing. Or they could show a 10th preview of some movie I’ll never see.
Do you think people who type “lol” or “haha” on their status updates or emails are actually laughing? I don’t think so. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been around a person who included that in their message but instead of laughing, they had that “I’m bored” look on their face. People always fake laugh in person. Is this the online version of that? Speaking of which, can we go easy with the exclamation points!!!!! My god, every other sentence you read nowadays ends with an exclamation. It would be very funny if this was a running joke in tribute to that Seinfeld episode where Elaine went crazy with the exclamation point. But somehow I doubt that’s the case here. All I’m saying is, calm down with the exclamations. It’s very annoying!
On a related thought, I always thought it’d be funny if there was a commercial where they showed two people exchanging texts. One person is describing a festive and fun environment, and the other is sitting at home filled with jealousy, enough to where he alters his plan just so he can attend. But what the jealous friend doesn’t know –but will soon find out – is that his buddy is committing the cardinal sin, “textaggeration”. That’s when there’s a huge discrepancy between what is actually happening and how the person attending describes it as. This may be hard for you to imagine in writing, but I think if this concept was more developed, I think you’d have a solid 30-second spot.
Speaking of which, do you ever lie just out of pure lazyness? Like, someone asks you a question, and instead of answering truthfully, you choose the answer with the least chance of generating a follow-up question? For instance, if someone asks, “so, what did you do last night?” I will usually just say “oh, nothing”, because saying “I went to play poker at some random bar” will automatically generate a follow-up, such as “oh, really? Which one? Who did you go with? Did you win anything? Have you been there before? Is there a buy-in?” Most of the time, I have no problem going with the honest route and fielding follow-up questions, but some days, I just say “oh, nothing” and move on. I can’t imagine I’m alone in that.
And that my friends, is all.
*Stroke average based on the commonly accepted stroke-per-sex-session average of american atheletes (49.5).
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
With the best-case scenario – TCU playing the winner of the SEC title game (Alabama) – out the window, I figured TCU, the team many think has the best chance of beating a top-tier BCS team, would get to prove their worth in one of the four BCS bowl games. I figured a Florida-TCU matchup, or an Ohio State-TCU matchup, would make for interesting game. After all, the biggest knock on these mid-major type teams and their undefeated records is that ‘they never play anybody good’. This was their opportunity to play 'somebody good'. Surely the BCS bowl committee would factor that into consideration, right?
Well on Sunday night, the BCS committee made their selections for the five bowl games. The national title game, as predicted, pitted Alabama against Texas. Then TCU’s opponent was named. And what do you know, it was not Florida, and it was not Ohio State or Oregon. It wasn’t even Georgia Tech (sorry, Tyler). The BCS selection committee decided to have TCU play Boise State. Boise State! Boise State? Yeah, Boise fucking State.
The one other non-BCS team. The worst case scenario for TCU and Boise State came into being. They get to play an inconsequential game, and the BCS proponents can continue to spew their idiotic 'who have they played to earn a spot at the top' talking point.
After I went through my usual college-football-is-a-fucking-joke diatribe to one of my friends, I recalled what a taxi driver told me in Tampa. It’s all about the money. It’s all about what match-up in what venue can generate the most money for the respective teams. Who is deserving to play against the top opponents is secondary. And I don’t care how much I love football, that is the absolute worst system in the history of any sport, at least when it comes to crowning a champion. To not be even remotely interested in finding just who are the best teams in the country, boggles the mind. At least my mind. What the fuck is the point? It's like the NFL going off SI's pre-season prediction to determine who plays in February.
I don’t have a problem with college football using a bowl system in lieu of a playoff system. I have a problem with college football, which does not pay its talent their market value, favoring a bowl system that only exists to manufacture hype and generate revenue.
If the objective of the BCS bowl system is to reward teams with winning records to showcase their football program during the holiday break, then I'm fine with it. If it's designed to determine who the best team in the country is, then it fails miserably.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Where are the Grinches who yell every year about taking the Christ out of Christmas? "Blah blah blah it's too commercial blah blah blah Jesus is the reason for the season, blah blah blah Santa is Satan!" Where are they? Maybe I'm just not listening to enough talk radio but it seems to me like there used to be a lot more noise from the Crazy Christians about keeping Christmas Christian. Did they all get Wal-Marts and Best Buys for Christmas last year?
They must have, cause since we're all poor, they're pretty quiet.
Sure--the Christian Christmas Crusaders could be spouting their bullshit again this year if they wanted to. The silence can't be because they feel like it's different this year, like it has suddenly become less commercial and more Jesus-y. I'm also pretty sure that it's not because they've finally come to terms with Christmas being inclusive and welcome to everyone, regardless of religion. I'm pretty sure the "Culture Warrior" types hate my participation in my favorite holiday this year as much as they always have. Why do they hate my participation? I'm such a dick I put up a Christmas tree RIGHT NEXT TO my menorah. My favorite Christmas music CD is “A Very Twisted Christmas” by everybody's favorite Christian band, Twisted Sister (you know some of those turds in the PMRC hate my Christmas tree). But they're quieter about it this year, and I think it's because they've realized something.
America needs Christmas. This is true every year, but this is the first year (so far) in a long time that businesses are depending on the days between Black Friday and Christmas (probably Jan 7, actually) just to keep their doors open. Even if we assume that these anti-Christmas fools would be OK with only the true believers buying iPods and PS3s for each other, there just aren't enough of them to save the day. These stores are relying on people like you and me and the rest of the country to buy things we don't need in the spirit of giving. Buying your kid a Bop-It! because a savior was born 2000 years ago doesn't make any sense. Buying your mom a Kindle because the point of Christmas is to give our loved ones gifts makes sense. We don't do it because of Jesus. We do it because it's what we've been doing, and because it's nice.
ANYWAY, if the wackos are successful in making the rest of us feel guilty for running our asses all over town looking for the latest incarnation of Tickle Me Elmo or whatever the hip thing is this year (please see aside below), we might stop. We're already poor, we already can't afford the Cabbage Patch Kids we're putting on the MasterCard. If you tell us that not only can we not afford it, but we shouldn't do it because it hurts God's feelings, nobody wins. We'll spend our money on something else, and Target's and what not all over the country start closing down, taking along with them millions of jobs. Cats and dogs, living together--mass hysteria! The Noel Nay-sayers may not own these stores, but you can bet your ass they depend on their survival as much as the rest of us do. And if we don't all buy our shit, we're all fucked. And they know it.
Merry Fucking Christmas.
When I was four, I wanted a Dozzy Doll. It was like Teddy Ruxpin but it was a boy, and his stories weren't all about him. It was WHAT I WANTED FOR CHRISTMAS. And it was one of those highly sought items that was always out of stock. On Christmas Eve, my dad went all over Fairfax to find me a Dozzy. Why did he wait until Christmas Eve? Because it was only then that he discovered that I wanted the Dozzy Boy, not the Dozzy Bear. He went all the fuck over the place looking for that god damn doll, and he found me one. And I loved it. It's probably still in my Mom's basement somewhere. He didn't tell me what a pain it was to get Dozzy until many years later, and I can't put into words the gratitude I still feel.
Monday, December 7, 2009
He claims that there is evidence in the flight data recorder that suggests that the cockpit door was never opened at any point during the flight. This, of course, would be impossible if the door was kicked in by two terrorists who killed the pilots before flying with great speed just above the ground into the Pentagon.
I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the data or of the researcher, as I have never seen a flight data recorder report, nor would I know how to interpret such if it were presented to me. I can, however, say with some confidence that you will never hear the first thing about this in the mainstream media, and if you do it will be dismissed out of hand as a lie or some weirdo's fantasy.
No matter what you think about 9/11, it seems to me that if you can't admit that we haven't been (and probably never will be) given the whole story, you're willfully ignorant. There is far too much evidence out there to suggest that something more was going on than 18 Saudi Arabia nationals and one dude from the UAE armed with box-cutters kicking in doors and crashing planes into buildings.
Here's where I found the story. Worth checking out, anyway.
Again, I still don't know what to think about 9/11. One thing I'm sure of is that the official story is far more fantastical than most of the conspiracy theories I've heard about it.
Friday, December 4, 2009
In the spirit of all that, I wanted to clarify my position on the Swiss minaret controversy. Granted, I made my position pretty clear on Friday's episode, but after receiving an e-mail from a listener I wanted to reiterate a few things and make a couple of new points.
There are an estimated 13,000 Catholics and an estimated 25,000 Jews in Iran. This is in a country of 75,000,000 people. Needless to say, this statistic does not engender in a person the notion that people of non-Muslim belief are particularly welcome there. In Saudi Arabia, there are about 8 million foreign workers that live and work in Saudi Arabia (a country of about 30 million people), and it's a pretty safe bet that about 1 million are Catholic. They are not allowed to practice their faith at all--they may not have a church, they may not wear a crucifix, they may not publicly show their religion in any way. Every citizen of Saudi Arabia must be a Muslim, and conversion from Islam to any other religion is punishable by death.
There are an estimated 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland, a country made up of fewer than 8,000,000 people. They are permitted to freely exercise their faith with virtually no interference from the government, with the exception of the recently instituted ban on minarets, which are a feature of only some mosques, and certainly by no means a feature required of the structure.
Muslim immigration into Switzerland, especially from Kosovo, Bosnia, and Turkey, has brought this influx of Muslims. The Swiss seem to have adopted the mindset that the Muslim immigrants should have to conform to certain aspects of Swiss society if they are going to live there. For whatever reason, they believe that the construction of more minarets will have a detrimental impact on their culture and their history. It seems to me that this is their decision to make. They are not infringing upon anyone's basic human rights (legal, innate, supernatural, or otherwise) and they aren't preventing the free exercise of the Muslims' religion.
I gave an example on the show that I would like to flesh out a little bit more. The neighborhood in which I live has a Homeowner's Association that does not allow basketball hoops to be constructed in driveways. This could be construed in (at least) two ways. First, it could be that the addition of basketball hoops, which could be poorly maintained, unsightly, or even an insurance liability for the community, might have some sort of an effect on the property value of all the houses in the neighborhood. Or, it might be said that basketball, which is a sport currently most popular among young urban males, is not the sort of thing the Homeowner's Association wants to make available because of the type of people it might attract to live here, which could also conceivably have a negative effect on property values. The real reason is, of course, the first one, but this will never stop certain individuals from screaming "discrimination." People always see the explanation they most want to see. The only thing being discriminated against in my example is lower property values.
I don't know why each individual that voted to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland did so. Some might be bigots, and believe that their vote is a way to tell Muslims to jsut fuck off already. Some might be really, really into Swiss architecture. If I had to guess, most of them did so because of a certain patriotic love they have for their own culture, their own way of doing things. Can an immigrant really demand absolute free reign, to be allowed to write their own rules in a country that is not their homeland? In reality, Switzerland and much of Europe represents a much more flexible, much less unbending sort of tolerance than any of the cultures of the Islamic world generally stand for. The minaret seems like such a small sacrifice to be asked to pay in return for not having to live in Kosovo or Bosnia anymore.
I'm sure this wouldn't fly in America, and that may be just as well--though it may be because we value Twilight: New Moon more than any sense of our own history, but that's another story for another day--this is not a fight I'd like to see happen in the grand ol' U.S. and A. Religious freedom is a birthright in this country, and an adopted right of those that choose to come here from all over this goofy planet, and I'm all about it. But I do worry that we might let a little political correctness, tolerance, and multi-culturalism get in the way of our overall progress--not just as a nation, but as a species.
Thanks for reading along. It's off to work I go. Certainly hope everybody out there has a great weekend.