Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blame the Train in Vain


When a train full of crude oil blows up as it is being transported through a residential area, of course you're going to want to blame the trains. That's because you just don't want to blame the fact that short-sighted robber barons are destroying North Dakota's environment by sucking oil out of the prairie and shipping it without doing anything to improve the antiquated transportation infrastructure. It simply wouldn't do to blame the oligarchs. Next they'll blame the luckless people running for their lives.

The problem is, as soon as it became economically viable to extract oil from North Dakota, they opened the floodgates without expanding the railroads, building houses for the workers, and finding safe methods of transporting the oil to the refineries. They just went for it. To hell with what might happen--profit before safety, always, and especially in a Red state.

But, go ahead. Blame the trains. Don't blame incompetence, greed, or a fundamental lack of common sense when it comes to protecting people from the shipment of dangerous materials.

The Little Fat Man in the Sky

The parting shot for this year? A despicable man-child who has the power to slaughter his own people on a whim, riding in a stolen chair lift.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Don't Rent to Beck

Is Beck a celebrity or is he a musician? I can't tell the difference anymore.

Disputes like this should be kept out of the media. Why does anyone care whether or not Beck is a good tenant or someone who willingly lives in an $11,000 a month hellhole in Malibu? And why would you even do that unless you had some weird deal with Spotify or the dinosaurs of the music business and maintained a standard of living that would terrify decent people?

Here's what you should do if you're Beck--move to New Mexico, rent a house for a grand a month, and live your life in comfort and style. Malibu? Really? How are you going to make music in Malibu that would be any better than the music you could make in the mountains or in the desert?

I don't understand pop stars. There are tons of greats ways to live. They never figure out how.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Until We Meet Again

So much for the comeback of America's hypocrite:
Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his wife are ending their two-decade marriage. 
Spitzer and his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, issued a statement late Tuesday announcing the split. 
"We regret that our marital relationship has come to an end," the statement reads. 
The couple then said they will not address the subject further.
The subject won't come up again until Eliot Spitzer decides that he deserves the power being denied to him and that he should run for political office. He is addicted to the power and respectability that negates his inability to control his libido. They love this stuff in New York until they feel that someone is just not worth the time or effort. Spitzer doesn't strike the kind of fear that he used to. Without that juice, he's just another washed up old man who keeps trying to wear a hole in his pants.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Best Christmas Present

Today is the day when we rolled over 10,000 followers on Google+. I am humbled by this and astonished that we have broken through what seemed like an impossible ceiling. For months, it seemed like I was going to be stuck at a thousand or so followers or maybe even have to move on and do something else. Even though the count may fall back a little in the days ahead, or race out ahead of us, it's still worth noting that this has brought me tons of new readers and lots of great interaction. Hitting this milestone right before Christmas is a fantastic present. Thank you to everyone who has added me.

I still don't get why there's all this hate for Google+. Doesn't anyone know that you're supposed to share, interact, and engage?

Guitar Music is Dying a Slow, Painful Death

The economics of the music business have shifted so dramatically over the last few years that it would be all but impossible to conclude anything else--guitar music is dying.

David Byrne is at the forefront of understanding the economics of the music business. He has been demystifying it for years. And when he says that the era of making money from recorder music is over, he means that there's no mechanism in place to exist as a musical act that isn't built to become a million selling act from the beginning.

The arguments about whether or not an artist should get paid for what they do are essentially over. The "free" era has given way to the "forget about it" era and artists are abandoning the music industry or are rapidly changing how and what they do in order to survive. If you're in a guitar band and you require a high-quality analog process for recording your music, who is going to advance you those funds? It's all well and good to make electronic music on a laptop, but the process of making guitar music requires a certain amount of space and equipment. You can make a guitar album in your basement, but if it doesn't sell, is it because of the sound quality or is it because of the indifference to the genre as a whole?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cocaine Use Never Impaired Trey Radel

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., said Thursday he has no plans to resign from Congress after being arrested trying to purchase cocaine in October, and that it was his struggles with alcoholism that led him to use the drug.

"I love what I do and I'm going to return to what I do, what you sent me to do in Washington D.C., which is working for you and your family while I relish mine," Radel said in a press conference following his release from a Florida rehab center.

Radel said he has used cocaine only “a handful of times,” and insisted he was never impaired while voting or carrying out any of his other congressional responsibilities.

“Alcohol does not work for me… It led me down a path that that slowly and surely chipped away at my relationship with my wife, my child and God," Radel said. "And it led to really bad decisions, which put me here today."

Representative Trey Radel wants you to understand one thing--his drug use is perfectly normal and recreational but yours isn't so he won't resign from office because shut up that's why.

I get the gist of what he's saying--I'm better than you because it didn't impair me and I only did it a few times--but it should be noted that you can now do anything and not have to quit the House of Representatives. Mark Foley is probably howling over this, but who cares? It's the holidays and no one is paying attention.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hating People is Un-American

The last time I checked, hating people was not a Christian or American attribute. The kinds of hate espoused by Phil Robertson are inherently un-American and go against the teachings of Jesus. Hating people puts you at odds with the Price of Peace.

Robertson and his ilk hide behind items found largely in the Old Testament. Where are his slaves? His extra wives? His sacrificial goats?

An Unfortunate Name to Have

Ian H. Watkins is having a bad time of it. To have the same name as a convicted pedophile is one thing, but to be in the same industry and have your image associated with his acts is an entirely different kind of problem. The similarities in the names and the slow response from people who should be on top of things creates a firestorm of negativity and problems. Watkins hasn't done anything wrong. He just has the same name. Why should he be punished like this?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Slumlords and Urban Blight

There was a time when shaming people actually meant something:

“Most people just assumed that for somebody to go into some of the neighborhoods I spend a lot of time in, that I would be this large, burly, tough sort of man,” says Carol Ott. “Well, no, I’m just a 45-year-old mother of two who thinks that our city deserves a little bit better.” 

Ott is the person behind Baltimore Slumlord Watch, a website dedicated to documenting every abandoned property in Baltimore. She’s also the director of a new organization called Housing Policy Watch, which means that thinking about blight is Ott’s full-time job.

More here:


The Beatles vs The Stones

Not much interest in this:

In the 1960s the two biggest bands in the world—the lovable Beatles and the bad-boy Rolling Stones—waged an epic battle. “The Beatles want to hold your hand,” wrote Tom Wolfe, “but the Stones want to burn down your town.” Both groups liked to maintain that they weren’t really “rivals”—that was just a media myth, they politely said—but on both sides of the Atlantic, they plainly competed for commercial success and aesthetic credibility. In Beatles vs. Stones, John McMillian gets to the truth behind the ultimate rock ’n’ roll debate.

At the heart of all of this was Allen Klein:

Nice was not a word that would have sat comfortably on the shoulders of this no-necked, roughly spoken New York accountant, who had in his employ a couple of the roughest-looking goons I have ever met.

'Why don't you like me, Bill?' Klein would ask Rolling Stones bass guitarist Bill Wyman, as the Stones were being driven to distraction trying to get their hands on the money they'd earned, but which their manager was holding for them in his New York company. 

'Because I don't trust you, Allen,' would come the unblinking reply.
It's unlikely Klein was offended. 'Hey, Allen, why does no one like you?' he told me Paul McCartney had once asked.

His answer was that he didn't have friends in showbusiness or belong to the Variety Club. His job was to fight for his clients.
And fight for them he did. He forced record companies to give artists both control and ownership of their records, which was unprecedented at the time but is normal practice now.

Klein maintained a viciousness well into the modern era. He died in 2009, but not before helping himself to as much money as possible:

Unfortunately for some of the artists, however, he also did terrific deals for himself, with the result that most of the biggest Rolling Stones hits are now owned not by them but by ABKCO, one of his companies.

All those old Sixties records we hear all the time continue to generate millions of dollars annually.

And Klein got doubly lucky when, in 1997, The Verve sampled a violin orchestration used on a recording of the Stones hit The Last Time, and turned it into the worldwide hit and Grammy nominee Bitter Sweet Symphony.

The Verve wanted the royalties, but so did Klein. He had to go to court to get the money, but he won. Of course he did, he was Allen Klein. He was tough.

Anything that revisits the inherent awfulness of a human being like Allen Klein is not worth the time of day. But, to be fair, the Beatles were not peace and love hippies. They were every bit as obsessed with money as Klein was.

Rupert Murdoch is a Monster

The scandal over phone hacking has exploded once again:

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, had her cellphone voicemails hacked by staff members of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World while she was dating Prince William, a London court learned Thursday. 

The revelation marked the first time that a member of the British royal family has been hacked by the Murdoch media empire, which already has acknowledged tapping into phone calls of royal aides. 

On Thursday, a London jury heard transcripts of 2006 voicemails left for the former Kate Middleton by Prince William as they dated. In those intercepted messages, the future king of England called his sweetheart pet names like “baby” and “babykins” and recounted how he nearly got "shot" (with blanks) during a military training exercise, according to court reporting by Central News UK. 

“Hi baby, it’s me,” one message from the prince begins. William then details an evening navigation exercise at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, during which, he admits, he got “horribly lost.”

This is way, way different than listening in on the late Amy Winehouse and randy old Hugh Grant. That's because this young generation of royals have become incredibly popular, to the point where this assault on their privacy, no matter how many years old, should bring new scrutiny on the monstrous press operation of Rupert Murdoch. His underlings are in legal jeopardy. He sent his people out there to get whatever dirt they could and no one in the mid-2000s could have possibly guessed that Kate Middleton, a commoner, would become the iconic face of the scandal-plagued British royal family. The view from that point was that the royals were dysfunctional and fair game, worthy of the mockery that they had earned. One royal wedding and baby later, forget it. The brand is saved, and the next hundred years will be full of kings and affection.

Why isn't Murdoch being dragged before the British courts? Why haven't they regulated and shattered his businesses and brought the full weight of British law down upon him? He is revealed to be the monster he always was, flaunting decency and the law in favor of making money by trading in stolen information.

The Brits need to get rid of David Cameron and demand new laws governing the press. That's a no-brainer.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How Dumb is Chris Cillizza?

We're already talking about 2014? Okay, then.

Chris Cilizza is dumb on purpose. How could he possibly know which ad is going to cause the country to send more obstructionist, crazy Tea Party Republicans to Congress? Cilizza forgets three things that negate everything he's saying.

One, we just saw what happens when you elect Republicans. The government shuts down and the economy takes a hit--all in the name of accomplishing nothing. Republicans cannot govern or lead. The American people have been made hip to this in ways which, demographically speaking, should spell disaster for the idea of accomplishing anything next year based on an ad. For the Republicans, they need a massive game changing event, not a marketing plan based on something as self-defeating as ending government spending.

Two, there was a thing called "You didn't build that" which should have ended the Obama presidency with the election of Mitt Romney. How'd that turn out?

Three, the American people actually like government spending. They like getting their Social Security and their other benefits. They have been manipulated into thinking that Democrats want to give everything away for nothing. As soon as you explain this to people, they tend to vote for the guy who makes it a part of his agenda to keep Grandma from eating catfood and moving back home.

How dumb can you get? Well, you can get Chris Cilizza kinda dumb, that's for sure.

End Credit Checks on Prospective Employees

Senator Elizabeth Warren is actually doing something on behalf of freedom and fairness--a rare novelty in a world where the only entities who get anything do so through cheating and bribery. This is what a Senator ought to be doing--standing up for working Americans by delivering a tangible protection of their privacy and freedom.

There definitely should be limits on the information that can be shared or divulged about people. The disappearance of privacy is a direct result of The Patriot Act and all of the nonsense that has gone into denying freedom to Americans solely to keep them from being attacked by terrorists. One of the fun things about The Patriot Act is that they decided to add in some bullshit about not being able to buy certain kinds of cold medicine because criminals were using it to make crystal meth.

Well, there's still no shortage of crystal meth, is there? But I'll be damned if I can get Sudafed when I need it. Thanks for what little freedom I can enjoy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vitamins Are a Waste of Money

Somebody's $25 billion dollar industry is likely to get a lot smaller once people realize that they're throwing their money away on vitamins. This could send shockwaves through the retail world as well--entire sections of stores are planned around vitamin supplements and displays, to say nothing of the health food industry.

Taking vitamins is an ingrained habit that reinforces positive self-identity. Reversing this could take decades. Of course, once people hear something sponsored by the vitamin industry to counteract this assault, well. You'll be living in a world full of confusion and plastic bottles.

Which Police State Do You Live In?

Do you remember voting for this? 

Each and every time you voted since 2001, did you vote specifically for a candidate who would dismantle the Patriot Act? Did you vote in your local elections for a city or county government dedicated to controlling the militarization of the police? Did you sign up for Facebook years ago and forget to read the fine print? Too late now.

The police state arrived while no one was paying attention. Each and every time one of us steps into the world, we are under surveillance. We are being watched on our phones, our computers, and when we drive a car with a GPS device in it. We are being watched by cameras and readers and when we drive into urban areas, we are being watched at an unprecedented rate. When we buy things, we're being tallied and sold off to third party advertisers. Everything we do is under the watchful eye of a cop or a seller or a bureaucrat. So, you can crap yourself and stop living your life or go have a blast and say fuck it all anyway. 

Live weird. Confuse them. Buy things you throw away. Eat crap. Sing and dance like no one is recording. Breathe and enjoy this life.

You see, all is well.

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches, but put his decision on hold pending a near-certain government appeal. 

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, concluding they were likely to prevail in their constitutional challenge. 

Leon, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, ruled Monday that the two men are likely to be able to show that their privacy interests outweigh the government's interest in collecting the data. Leon says that means that massive collection program is an unreasonable search under the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

You don't have anything to worry about.

The Metropolitan Police Department is collecting images of license plates by the millions and storing them in a massive database with no regard to whether or not that person is under suspicion of anything, according to WAMU. 

WAMU's Martin Austermuhle reports that D.C. police cars which are equipped with Automatic License Plate Readers have collected more than 150 million images of license plates through this past September. 

They're generally used to match up the license plates with a list of vehicles that are known to be stolen and keeping tabs on high-crime areas, police officials tell WAMU, but civil liberties advocates believe that they can be used to track people who have done no wrong.

As described in "How we use the information we receive" we also put together data from the information we already have about you, your friends, and others, so we can offer and suggest a variety of services and features. For example, we may make friend suggestions, pick stories for your News Feed, or suggest people to tag in photos. We may put together your current city with GPS and other location information we have about you to, for example, tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you in which you might be interested. We may also put together data about you to serve you ads or other content that might be more relevant to you. 

When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city). But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications. 

We only provide data to our advertising partners or customers after we have removed your name and any other personally identifying information from it, or have combined it with other people's data in a way that it no longer personally identifies you.

We are already living in a surveillance state that is driven by paranoia and marketing. The only real difference here is that the Federal agency, which is part of the Department of Defense, that everyone is scared of is actually under far more rigorous oversight than your local cop shop or Facebook. But don't let that get in the way of being terrified. Everyone needs a bogeyman, and now that Osama is dead, why not use whatever is left over?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Songs From the Real World

Songs From the Real World is a new release by Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy. This is an entire album of songs commissioned and paid for by fans. This is a unique artisanal work; it is in the finest tradition of patronage for the arts and expressing real love for an artist.

Now, what's this about needing gift ideas?

Written and recorded by Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy. Additional instrumentation on ‘More of the Same’ by David Spall. Album artwork by Steve R Dodd.Many thanks to all our commissioners. Special thanks to Steve R Dodd and Kay Smith

1. For All We Lack
2. Naomi And Maya
3. A Short Song About Eternity
4. Tomoko
5. A Song For Kris
6. Emerald Lake
7. Lucy
8. Holly
9. Transformation
10. Life’s Sweet Decay
11. Anastasia And Jens
13. Elly
14. My One
15. More Of The Same

Ed Schultz is a Powerless Hypocrite

The public meltdown of MSNBC host Ed Schultz has played out exactly the way I thought it would--stung by criticism, Schultz reveals that he has no power whatsoever to actually pressure the people who pay him lots of money to create mediocre television:

To rebut criticism over sums paid by unions to advertise on his show, Schultz — after saying it was a “rather awkward thing for me to do, because it sounds rather grandiose” — ran through a list of donations he’d made to charity. Schultz said his the donations or commitments added up to $343,000. He told listeners he would not apologize for making “a hell of a lot of money,” and that “anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I – I show pictures of my airplanes.” He added, “Back when I was in the middle class, I owned a 172.” 

“There’s all kinds of envy out there on the left,” said Schultz. “I’m still there … Don’t be deterred by all of these people that are printing stuff that is flat-out lies.” He told listeners, “Well, now I’m a 59- year-old one-percenter. I’m not gonna hide it.” 

A self-identified conservative radio host called in to defend Schultz taking advertising dollars from unions on the grounds that “you endorse products” and “this is absolutely no different from that … All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Of course I advertise for these guys, I agree with them.” Schultz responded, “Well, that’s the best tip I’ve ever had from a righty … There is no question about it: they’re buying the audience.” 

Later in the show, when a caller referenced Schultz “talking about some other shmegegi[Yiddish for a fool] that was attacking you,” Schultz promised a different tack: “You’ll never hear their names mentioned again. Never. That was my mistake by ever just acknowledging that they breathe air.” (Full disclosure: I’ve appeared once on Schultz’s MSNBC show and a couple times, with a guest host, on his radio show.) When a Twitter user suggested that meant Schultz had “lost it,” Schultz shot back with two tweets during the show. First, “I refuse to waste my time on misinformation and lies..” Then, “is it fair to put up with lies and misinformation?”

Alec Baldwin gave a lot of money to charity as well and it didn't help him keep his gig, either. So what?

This is what it looks like when someone has a public meltdown. They find common cause with a political opponent and ratchet down the crazy. Schultz is crying out that he's the aggrieved party. That's wrong. The people who are aggrieved work for MSNBC and they work for a union. Schultz is too terrified of his employers, who have a long, proud history of punishing him, to say anything to support them.

Nobody envies his wealth; they abhor his inability to see that his wealth could be put to better use helping people to earn a decent living. Schultz doesn't understand the basic maxim of being classy about being successful--kiss down, kick up. Anything else is letting your ego get in the way of taking care of the people who make it possible to be wealthy in the first place. It's very telling that he uses the language of dehumanizing people who disagree with him. His statement that he shouldn't acknowledge that they breathe air is an indication that his anger has risen to the point where he wants them to stop breathing and not exist. This is a man who can't control himself when he's criticized. In other words, he's the classic hypocrite who enjoys screaming at others while he dabs his ample chin with the fine cloth of a privileged man.

I agree with Schultz on political manners more often than not. But that doesn't mean that his peculiar brand of hypocrisy shouldn't be called out, especially when it comes to supporting unions and supporting the rights of workers, which he has tried to tout again and again as what sets him apart from other opinion broadcasters. Now he has, to a large extent, been put through the wringer because he has no power to pressure his employers to deal fairly and honestly with the union employees who work for the same company that he works for. He cannot show solidarity with them--he'll be fired. 

So, like a cowed and beaten man who fears the loss of his extravagant "one percenter" lifestyle, he shuts his mouth when union workers need the support of his voice. If that's not being a hypocrite--if that's not the very face of being utterly classless and cheap about what constitutes standing for something--then what the hell does the word even mean anymore?

China Owns the Moon

I don't know if the Jade Rabbit is going to paint a red star on the visible face of the moon large enough for everyone to see, but I do know this--America needs to send a rover-eating machine five times bigger than this thing and crush it to pieces. American exceptionalism cannot tolerate a world where the Chinese take possession of the moon and begin extracting moon rocks.

America is home to the most valuable moon rocks. Ours are going to be worthless if the Chinese begin sending them back to Earth by the bucket load. If you think Bitcoins are the wave of the future, think again. Our new currency should be moon rocks. American moon rocks and nothing more, platinum be damned.

There is No Pink Floyd

Ben Jacobs has written a sly hit piece on Roger Waters, and even he understands that no one knows who Waters is unless they call attention to the fact that he left Pink Floyd almost 30 years ago.

Rather than debate the merits of what Waters has said, Jacobs goes for clicks and traffic, missing an opportunity to defend Israel's policies. If a country segregates its own population based on their ethnic and religious background, and not based on what they have actually done, is that not a form of Apartheid?

Jacobs fails to acknowledge is that there is no such thing as race anyway. Race is a cultural construct that bears no relation to our biology as humans. His argument is framed thusly:

Waters’ comments are unlikely to shock those who have followed the musician’s recent career where he has often expressed distaste for Israeli policies. Earlier this year, he described Israel as “a functioning theocracy . . . that operates Apartheid.” But, in comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, these comments are by far the most controversial that the musician has made yet on the subject.

When someone makes an over-the-top comparison, call them on it. Waters is wrong to compare any nation/state to Nazi Germany, obviously, but that's merely a function of these modern times. You can't get anyone to pay attention unless you go over the top. There's nothing wrong with that if you're willing to be mocked or called on it. But Jacobs automatically assumes that Israel hasn't done anything wrong, ever.  There are troubling comparisons to Apartheid as a policy in the modern Israeli state.

You can attack the hyperbole in what Waters is saying, but don't include "Pink Floyd" in the discussion; Waters has been out of Pink Floyd longer than they were together. The surviving pair of former members have had almost nothing to do with Waters for decades.

Aside from a brief reunion for charity (Live 8) that yielded almost nothing in terms of a statement of doing something to repair their relationships, there is no Pink Floyd. The last two albums, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994), were David Gilmour solo projects that were designed to provide two live double albums and lucrative tours to fund their retirement. Without looking them up, few people could tell you any of the songs that appeared on those albums. In other words, there is no Pink Floyd and there hasn't been one for almost two decades. Why use the name of the band in this way and taint them? Why mention the term twice before the first sentence of the story is complete?

Ah, because no one would click the link. Now I get it.

Patch Couldn't Survive Tim Armstrong

David Carr says that, despite all of the bluster, Patch is all but dead.

What started out as a noble experiment ends up being a cautionary tale for trying to do something--anything--at the local level with respect to news and reporting. There are whole communities that are simply not served by newspapers and media outlets. Patch was supposed to localize and serve. Instead, it drained money from a company that still collects America Online fees from the credit cards of Americans who haven't figured out that they don't have to pay for AOL. Very sad.

Tim Armstrong is the worst CEO in America.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Black Submarine

What are you doing in February, Great Britain?

Megyn Kelly and the Fox News Brand

You can and you should read this article as a mash note to Fox News and their attempt to rebrand themselves. It fairly reeks of bias and favoritism, presenting Kelly as a "supermodel" who is "responsibly" leading the charge against the Affordable Care Act (which is working, thank you very much).

The network, long defined by the flickering image of an overweight white male who spews lies and garbage (but not Santa Claus, of course), has figured out that it can win by pushing Megyn Kelly out there as a figure that will make it harder to show how the network has embraced race baiting and hating anything about government that succeeds. A key component of that is to separate her from the "opinion" hosts and set her apart so that she can succeed with a gentler brand of racism. Her gender, and her appearance, are all that matters:

“It’s like working on a supermodel every day — a brilliant supermodel,” says makeup artist Maureen Walsh, as she air-brushes Kelly’s skin from milky white to Technicolor. 

The small makeup room is hot from the blow dryer. Pen in hand, Kelly, a former corporate lawyer, reads an article headlined “For Democrats in 2014, the Web site is still the problem,” her eyes zipping over text as Maureen smudges heavy plum-colored eye shadow on her lids. 

Kelly asks a nearby hairstylist to dial a phone number. “So you see Greta’s lead?” she says into the phone, her eyes on a muted TV. Greta Van Susteren’s topic is HealthCare.gov, whose botched rollout has coincided with Kelly’s prime-time debut. Later that evening, in the third hour of Fox’s extended prime-time lineup, “The Kelly File” will lead with the headline it has flashed almost every night for the past two weeks: “OBAMACARE FALLOUT.” 

In its first 30 seconds the show will quote Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.): “I think the current administration has taken lying to a new level.” 

Her in-person guest Andrew Napolitano, Fox’s senior judicial analyst, will ask rhetorically: Could the president’s implementation of the law “lead to impeachment?”

This is a fluff piece from the Style section of the Washington Post, but it might as well read as a paid piece of advertising. Where is that specific disclosure? Who insisted on allowing Fox News to be able to present itself in such a positive light? Who is the editor who allowed it to land with such a heavy thud? It is heavy on inside baseball politics and overloads on FAIL. As of yesterday, this article has already been overtaken by events. It doesn't even begin to deal with the fact that the Republican strategy of opposing Obamacare has failed and likely won't win them any votes. And these people certainly don't want you to know that their efforts may be responsible for the fact that far too many Americans have been scared away from signing up for Obamacare and are losing money each day because of that.

Which doesn't change the fact that the Washington Post is absolutely guilty of allowing a news organization to carefully cultivate Kelly as the future personality of a brand that doesn't even pretend to be tolerant of women and their issues. Obamacare is a women's issue--millions of women now have access to health care and contraception care at an affordable rate. You wouldn't know that because, well, I'll let the article explain it to you better than I could:

This is Megyn Kelly, responsibly and aggressively covering the nation’s biggest ongoing news story.

Except for the fact that Obamacare is working, and that Kelly is merely the face of an operation dedicated to lying, and that nobody cares anymore, sure. That's all true.

Someone needs to express some embarrassment over the bias and the tone of this piece before the day is out. Wow.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Todd Starnes Writes the Same Story Over and Over Again

Todd Starnes writes an annual "war on Christmas" story and the military obliges him with plenty of examples as to why he needs to be the guy to write this story for Fox News. Every ginned up controversy needs a useful idiot, so why not go with Starnes? He doesn't understand the military or good order and discipline, so, victory, I guess.

You see, the military, which reflects American society, is made up of people who prefer diversity to fundamentalism. The rules actually specify that you can't marginalize or denigrate others and if they complain, you have to respond and try to make things better. Not perfect, just better. The military is made up of people who know what freedom is as opposed to what freedom should be marketed as in order to keep the hits a'comin' on the Fox News website.

Here's Starnes a year ago:

That's the same damned story! How'd he do that?

Not to be outdone, there are other people who want to get in on the phony outrage action:

And then there are people who want to dress up and carry around a fake plastic baby Jesus:

The war on Christmas is a phony, made-up thing and Todd Starnes is making hay from it because he can always count on people to not pay attention to the fact that military bases tend to operate as tolerant, law-abiding places:

“Upon further review, the CRP (Command Religious Program) will be removing the Living Nativity Program from the general base secular holiday festivities and co-locating it more appropriately with some of our other private religious and faith-based observances at the chapel at a separate time,” the Inspector General’s office stated, according to MAAF.

Yes--the religious program that is already a part of the command on the military post are simply going to respect the wishes of others and move the nativity scene to a more appropriate venue--the chapel that is located on the military post. Imagine that.

No one is tearing baby Jesus apart. Nobody's Chaplain is being dragged before an Article 32 hearing. No one is setting fire to the rain or the nativity--they're just acknowledging that people don't want to deal with it and they're moving it to a better location in order to demonstrate respect for others and good order and discipline. Damn, son. Any more of that and we'll see the whole world turned upside down.

In the world where Todd Starnes live, anyone in the military who respects the beliefs and practices of others is weak. In point of fact, they are stronger by country mile just by showing tolerance and acceptance.

An Impersonal Kiss Off

Pixies have put out new music, shed a bass player, added a bass player, and they have now shed her as well. Over the phone and through a manager. Nothing seems to be working out.

It would be easy to get cynical about their future. Do they have one? Or is this part of the marketing plan?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let's Shake Hands

Another day, another right wing freakout.

Celebrating Dumbassery

I'm sorry, but this happened because of sheer dumbassery:

In a search involving 200 people, rescuers finally located the family on Tuesday after they had gone missing two days earlier during a playful outing in the snow in mountainous northwest Nevada.

This playful outing involved going into a remote area and joyriding. With children, four of them, in a Jeep. Why were they doing this and why isn't anyone else a little more critical of their choices? Why does the article here gloss over why they were in the mountains and focus on the fact that they were found because of a great deal of hard work undertaken by a number of people who risked their own lives?

Grow the hell up. Respect the climate and the geography where you live. And try to remember that a Jeep does not give you a license to fly across valleys and jump mountains and live life like a Mountain Dew commercial.

It's good that everyone was found. I'm sure it was a traumatic event. But it was avoidable. Don't go joyriding on mountain roads during a deep freeze. Watch a weather forecast. Leave the kids out of your plans to go muddin'. And keep some better winter weather emergency supplies in your damned Jeep.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Worst NFL Franchise Ever

The team that plays in Washington D.C. and enjoys elite status as a billion dollar NFL franchise? It's the worst ever.

It was Daniel Snyder's idea to fire the last coach--and the five or six coaches before that--and bring in the Shanahans. It was an idea and a move entirely his own. And now what?

The new coach of the team will be Lane Kiffin. If not Kiffin, then someone else will parachute in and sign a deal worth millions. This will lead to losses, griping, failure and high draft picks that won't pan out. A lot of NFL players base their career moves on arriving in Washington just so they can get paid and do nothing.

Worst franchise ever.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ukraine Turns to the West

There are a number of things happening in Eastern Europe right now. Ukraine is trying to align itself with the euro countries and turn its back on Russia, which is a smart thing for economic reasons but a dangerous thing for political reasons. There is no desire to see Russia become "Russia" again and no one much likes to live under Putin's heel.

Russia needs Ukraine as a cheap and friendly conduit for energy products. The more favorable the Ukrainians are, the cheaper it is for Russia to export critical things like natural gas to Europe. The problem is, Ukrainians hate their combined history with Russia and politicians who downplay such things run the risk of being consumed by the corruption that Russia is using to buy favors.

My first reaction to this was, why is there still a statue of Lenin in Kiev?

Mercilessly Mocking Nikki Finke

More of this, please.

Nikki Finke can't understand why people don't just praise her for all she does. Anyone who doesn't fall down at her feet and acquiesce to her abuse must hate the human experience. Or something along those lines.

Friday, December 6, 2013

No Knowledge of Current Events

If you're not really savvy about current events--and why would a Swedish rock star be completely immersed in the news anyway--it's easy to see how things like this could happen. Having a reasonable knowledge of current events in someone else's city and someone else's country is tough enough as it is. I think it is fair to say that no one in The Hives really wants to see human beings blown the hell up for fun.

Give Almqvist credit for apologizing.

Get Back to Work

Just once, I'd like to see us add a half a million jobs to this economy for three or four straight months:

U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in November and the jobless rate hit a five-year low of 7.0 percent, raising chances the Federal Reserve could start ratcheting back its bond-buying stimulus as soon as this month. 

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 203,000 new jobs last month, following a similarly robust rise in October, the Labor Department said on Friday. The report, which showed broad gains in employment and a rise in hourly earnings, suggested strength in the economy heading into year-end. 

"It will add further confidence to the Fed of a reduced need for monetary stimulus in the U.S. economy. We now see the bias shifting in favor of a January tapering announcement," said Millan Mulraine, senior economist at TD Securities in New York.

The unemployment rate dropped three tenths of a percentage point to its lowest level since November 2008 as some federal employees who were counted as jobless in October returned to work after a 16-day partial shutdown of the government.

We need a hiring boom in this country. We need to get people back to work. Even though unemployment is at 7%, that's still awful for too many people.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Noel Gallagher Talks About Arcade Fire

Noel Gallagher says what a number of people have been thinking--Arcade Fire is nothing but shit disco.

America is Not Ready for a Gay Morrissey

Whether or not Morrissey is gay or "humanasexual" is a subject no one needs to debate or worry about. If such a thing were to hurt his sales in the United States, let them be hurt. The man can do whatever he wants and it is no business of anyone. If you're at a stage in your life where finding out Morrissey is gay is going to cause you anguish or grief, get over yourself.

Why did his stateside publisher edit out details of a relationship? Don't they know we don't use condensed books anymore?

Cobalt-60 Kills You Dead

I love the fatalistic, passive aggressive tone that appears in this article. A thief or thieves stole a truck with some cobalt-60 radioactive material in it and they opened the container, exposing themselves to radiation. This is the opposite of what an American official would say:

The cobalt-60 was found, removed from its casing, in a rural area near the town of Hueypoxtla about 25 miles from where the truck was stolen. Jimenez suspected that curiosity got the better of the thieves and they opened the box. So far the carjackers have not been arrested, but authorities expect they will not live long.

“The people who handled it will have severe problems with radiation,” he said. “They will, without a doubt, die.”

Residents of the Hueypoxtla area must be feeling safe and secure right now.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It Is a One Direction World

The problem with the fact that One Direction has had three number one albums in a row is that the album format is dead.

How do you reconcile the fact that this is a group that actually puts out albums that people want to buy? How do you resolve the conflict over singles vs albums?

I don't think you can take anything away from the accomplishment--it is all but impossible to sell a physical album to anyone nowadays. But it might be a positive thing if people focused on talent development and assembling a dozen or so songs that could rightly be considered a project and an accomplishment.

Oh, and it was the Monkees who last hit number one with their first four albums, all in a row.

David Lowery Speaks to Salon

The article that follows is an absolute gem. You have to read the whole thing.

Here are the takeaways:

  • Lowery questions the laws regarding streaming services--very informative

  • Artists are innovators and do not hate technology

  • Silicon Valley has figured out how to profit from the work of artists

  • Ethics mean nothing when you can screw a musician

Whenever Lowery talks about music and compensation, people should take note. Free failed.

Katie Couric is Shilling for the Science Deniers

Seth Mnookin deserves the credit for exposing Katie Couric's rapidly declining media gig as a front for the anti-science crowd. And I really can't add anything to what he's done to destroy Couric's reputation.

I do think there is a mindset that has taken hold--my kid is special and so am I and vaccines are the problem because we were perfectly healthy already and couldn't possibly have anything wrong with us. This is prevalent with wealthy people who are desperate to erase their common origins and relationships to the poor and the unwashed masses. If you are an East Coast media elite personality, everything about you and your kids is beyond special. If there's anything wrong, it HAS to be a vaccine or some other contaminant that got into your exceptional universe.

Your kid isn't special and neither are you. We are the sum total of our genetic makeup. Vaccinate your kids like everyone else, otherwise, they're going to mingle with the human population and get sick and die. It's really that simple.

Who Is Desperate to Read Newsweek?

I don't know how this could ever be considered a smart move.

The print media is fading, the technology for tablets is getting better and better, and the experience of reading a magazine is changing. Add that to the fact that Tina Brown killed Newsweek's brand and you end up with the media rightfully pointing out that this is a dubious decision made by an "obscure" media company. Ouch.

Newsweek should have died a long time ago. And it should have pulled a dozen other titles down with it.

Festival Blues

It would be simplistic to put this off on the organizers of the Australian festival known as the Big Day Out. Blur isn't exactly a solid performing and recording and touring act anymore. How's that album coming? You know, the one that was scrapped? Organizers for the festival have also had to content with problems of staging shows in smaller cities just to break even. They are victims of a larger trend--the music festival is faced with serious financial problems and people are being left hanging.

The Australian summer concert tour falls during the off season for the European festival circuit. Quite a few have had to be cancelled in recent years, much of it due to the fact that people aren't able to spend as much on festival tickets and food and merchandise. Let's face the fact that some of it is also due to the notion that music isn't as dominant as it once was. Costs are out of control. Festivals are being forced to price themselves out of existence. There is a lot of product but much of it isn't very good anymore.

Culturally, a music festival isn't the big impact ticket that it was twenty years ago. Music is being replaced by video games. Add that to the problem of widespread unemployment and spiraling costs and you have a damned good reason not to go see a festival show.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Halving Britain for Pleasure

The disaffected north of England wants to leave, too.

If Scotland becomes an independent nation, there are many who will call for the further partition of England. Wales will want to go, too. Northern Ireland probably won't declare independence or join in with Ireland because of the need to maintain a separation of religious entities, but who knows?

My guess is that the vote on Scotland will be overwhelmingly for independence. The money from North Sea oil is too appealing not to allow for the Scots to put up an economic Hadrian's Wall. There are some, though, who want that wall to run through Manchester and allow for the upper half of Britain to go it alone.

Spotify Pays $0.006 For a Single Play of a Track

How is this something that can be sustained unless three billion people start streaming music every minute of every day?

A song played on Spotify can earn an artist just $0.006, the streaming site has revealed, in an attempt to answer critics such as Thom Yorke, who accuse it of paying meagre royalties to emerging musicians.

Bruised by the attacks, the Swedish platform, which claims 24 million active users, has launched a website explaining to musicians how its business model works. 

Spotify said that the average payment to rights-holders for a single play of a track is between $0.006 and $0.0084.

Spotify needs a much larger customer base before it can even begin to start paying more for tracks. An independent artist who gets a few thousand plays in a month or a year isn't going to make anywhere near enough to pay for recording costs and make a living.

They make a big deal about paying Daft Punk massive amounts of money because their tracks get played. See? It works! Someone is making money. The problem is, this is not a replacement for the old music business model. It simply does nothing to ensure that an artist can get paid what they are worth for their music.

Under the arrangement that allows Spotify to thrive, the Daft Punk song is equal in valuation, roughly, to the sound of ducks farting and horns tooting on an obscure indie band's fuck you EP to their former record label. Are you telling me that Get Lucky is equal in value to every song in existence? Please. If that were the case, it would cost a hundred bucks to put that in the movie I'm not making.

Articles like this are designed to demonstrate that an "independent" artist is making money hand over fist. Look at the hundreds of millions of dollars in payments! Those Indie artists are rolling in dough. This means that it is okay to steal their music because they're getting paid.

What you won't see in this article is the complicated breakdown of who gets paid what, how many artists are being compensated (hint: those hundreds of millions of dollars are being distributed to successful and unsuccessful artists at the same time, meaning someone might get $100,000 and someone might get $.39 and so that means everyone is making money, right?), and who is collecting massive fees.. You won't see the inequalities and the separate deals that allow bands to survive by selling their own CDs while someone else sells the same item and makes money undercutting their efforts to reach fans.

What a mess.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Let the Lawyers Sort it Out

What do the members of Lostprophets do now?

Their band is now finished. There is no way to resurrect the name or do anything with this entity. There probably isn't even an appetite for forming another band or trying to rebuild anyway. Now you have all of these other concerns which pale in significance to the real problems that the victims of Ian Watkins will have to endure.

There is no instruction manual for shutting down a band. Management probably has an idea of what to do, but the entity of the band has to be dissolved. Creditors, if any, need to be paid. The record label has to recoup their losses and they cannot do that by selling anything under the name of Lostprophets. They cannot reissue the albums or keep them in print. They have to withdraw the product and pay people back because that work should not be sold.

The band's gear has to be divided and sold to help pay any outstanding debts. Instruments need to be segregated based on who owns them and what they mean to the musicians. Anything paid for with Lostprophets money was tainted by that, and so I wouldn't be surprised if someone smashed their equipment just to eliminate the stigma. Individual members now have to enter into a serious discussion about publishing rights and whether or not they can continue to use or own the ideas that they brought to the band. Anyone who wrote songs with Watkins now has to contend with the fact that their legacy as a writer and as an artist is now permanently entwined with his. How do you take a song you wrote and subtract the efforts of Watkins and retain something viable? How do you tell your kids what you once did?

All social media and website functions have to cease. Someone has to hold onto the website url, however, in order to prevent someone else from putting up an embarrassing website. For whoever this falls upon, welcome to a lifetime's burden of having been in a band with a child rapist.

It would be unseemly to "profit" in any way from the shut down of Lostprophets. Proceeds should be routed to a victims charity for all time. The whole thing has to be burned to the ground.