Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Somehow I missed this one before...VDH strikes again! Victor Davis Hanson on War & Europe on National Review Online
Ah yes, the end of the year. To do something a bit different, and for pure mindless posterity, here are my 30 favorite albums of all time, updated to include 2003. Two rules: NO Greatest Hits and only one instance per artist. First, we start with the 20 Indispensibles and then the 10 "Desert Island Disks." Read on...

30. Aldo Nova - Aldo Nova: Highlights include "Fantasy" and "Ball and Chain." Pure Jr. High memories for me.

29. The Offspring - Smash: Punk meets sardonic wittiness. Hard, fast and funny songs highlighted by the ode-to-the-whipped, "Self Esteem."

28. REO Speedwagon - High Infidelity: Ahhh, Jr. High dances wouldn't have been the same without this piece of vinyl and it's anchoring hit "Keep On Loving You."

27. Journey - Escape: Or, for that matter, this piece of vinyl and it's anchoring hit "Open Arms."

26. Def Leppard - Hysteria: It was either this or "Pyromania," but the guy drummed with one arm on this one and the title track was a great power ballad.

25. Soul Asylum - Grave Dancers Union: Much more than just "Runaway Train" with "Black Gold" also standing out. It was also the peak of their career.

24. Tears For Fears - Songs From the Big Chair: My first real experience with "Alternative" music before it really became known as such. Just "Shout."

23. Fast Times at Ridgemont High - Soundtrack: A double album with a who's who of early 80's from Hagar to Oingo Boingo to Marshall Tucker.

22. Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell: We all need a little "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" don't we?

21. R.E.M. - Eponymous: OK, it is technically a greatest hits, but the songs are from a bunch of indie label offerings, so it counts to me.

20. Foreigner - 4: I always wanted to be a "Jukebox Hero" and "Urgent" has that classic saxophone solo, but "Break it Up" always stuck out for me.

19. J. Geils Band - Freeze Frame: "Centerfold" was the anchor, but "Freeze Frames" synth riff and the weird "River Blindness" sticks with you.

18. The Black Crowes - Shake Your Money Maker: "Twice as Hard" was the best track, but "She Talks to Angels" garnered the acclaim.

17. The Outfield - Bangin': Not the album with "Your Love," but the follow up. Mindless pop with catchy riffs highlighted by "Since You've Been Gone."

16. Bob Seger - Nine Tonight: Great Live album, and until recently the only place to hear "Trying to Live My Life Without You" and a lot of his other hits.

15. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind: Debut with a slew of pop hits, best being the overplayed-but-catchy "Semi-Charmed Life" and "Jumper."

14. The Cars - The Cars: "Just What I Needed" and "My Best Friends Girl" just remind me of carefree summers as a youth.

13. Corey Hart - Young Man Running: The artistic zenith of this singer/songwriter who is perpetually overshadowed by his early MTV image.

12. Goo Goo Dolls - A Boy Named Goo: It hung around long enough for "Name" to finally break this bands career open. Many more good rock songs.

11. U2 - Joshua Tree: It's slipped over the years, but it turned me on to this great band and "With or Without" you is so full of delicious angst.

Now for the TOP TEN

10. Boston - Boston: Look, it may seem tired now, but at the time it was THE seminal work. Signature Guitar sound conjures "More Than a Feeling."

9. Big Head Todd & The Monsters - Sister Sweetly: Powerful "Circle" and "Bittersweet" stand out, but Todd Park Mohr's guitar playing is the real highlight.

8. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells: "Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground" is still their best song ever and "I Can't Wait" is neo-classic rock at its best.

7. Led Zeppelin - IV: (Or whatever you want to call it) Yeah, "Stairway to Heaven" and all that. It just set the standard.

6. Guns-n-Roses - Appetite for Destruction: "Sweet Child O' Mine" is fine, but "Rocket Queen" is supreme.

5. Goober & The Peas - The Jet Age Genius...: Who? Dark, ironic cow-punk. Jack White's former band and the seeds of Blanche. First song is about cannabalism.

4. Kiss - ALIVE!: Yup. My first obsession (at 7!). Music is simple but effective. I guess you could call it archetype rock.

3. Counting Crows - August and Everything After: Unique sound at the time full of intricate music and heartfelt lyrics with "Murder of One" and "Raining in Baltimore" shining.

2. Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories - Tails: Much more than just "Stay." Her guitar playing is underappreciated and her lyrics are often abstract but interesting. More than glasses.

1. Pearl Jam - Ten: One of the pioneer works of the "Grunge" movement. I've always thought these guys were much better than Nirvana. They went from hard tunes like "Once" and "Evenflow" to tragic "Black" and the final track is an oft-overlooked masterpiece.

There, I've made my list and checked it THRICE. Maybe I'll do a book one next...

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online has an excellent piece on "The Western Disease: The strange syndrome of our guilt and their shame." It's about how "intellegentsia" of both the First and Third World have teamed up to espouse anti-Western rhetoric. As Hanson succinctly puts it:

"The so-called Arab street and its phony intellectuals sense that influential progressive Westerners will never censure Middle Eastern felonies if there is a chance to rage about Western misdemeanors."

An example would be:

"Both Western pontificators and the mob in the Middle East feed off each other. Paul Krugman would rarely write a column about how abjectly immoral it was that thousands mourned the death of a mass murderer when one can say worse things about an American president who chose not to use American dollars to hire French companies to rebuild Iraq. Bob Herbert can falsely rant about a Florida election 'rigged,' but seldom about an election never occurring in the Arab world."

Finally:

"It is precisely this parasitic relationship between the foreign and domestic critics of the West that explains much of the strange confidence of those who planned September 11. It was the genius of bin Laden, after all, that he suspected after he had incinerated 3,000 Westerners an elite would be more likely to blame itself for the calamity — searching for 'root causes' than marshalling its legions to defeat a tribe that embraced theocracy, autocracy, gender apartheid, polygamy, anti-Semitism, and religious intolerance. And why not after Lebanon, the first World Trade Center bombing, the embassies in Africa, murder in Saudi Arabia, and the USS Cole? It was the folly of bin Laden only that he assumed the United States was as far gone as Europe and that a minority of its ashamed elites had completely assumed control of American political, cultural, and spiritual life."

There is much more in this piece well worth reading.
Peggy Noonan asks: "Why are rich people afraid of the Virgin Mary?"
A U.S. District Judge ruled on the Narragansett Smoke Shop showdown of earlier this year and ruled that the raid was LEGAL. The most important line in the whole story, in my opinion, is:

"The Narragansetts may have some sovereign and self-government rights on their tribal land, but the tribe cannot decide on its own which state laws it will obey, Smith [the judge]said."

You can't pick and choose when you want to abide by state laws and when you don't, Chief Sachem Thomas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

After reading Jeffrey Overstreet's interview with John Rhys-Davies, I realized that, while I identify with dwarves physically (you know, kinda short, bit of a belly, like to eat, drink beer, etc.), maybe I have more in common with Gimli (er...John Rhys-Davies) than I thought. Here's what I'm talking about:

"How much of Tolkien’s Catholic beliefs and perspective resonate with you?

I’m burying my career so substantially in these interviews that it’s painful. But I think that there are some questions that demand honest answers.

I think that Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged. And if they do not rise to meet that challenge, they will lose their civilization. That does have a real resonance with me.

I have had the ideal background for being an actor. I have always been an outsider. I grew up in colonial Africa. And I remember in 1955, it would have to be somewhere between July the 25th when the school holiday started and September the 18th when the holidays ended. My father took me down to the quayside in Dar-Es-Salaam harbor. And he pointed out a dhow in the harbor and he said, “You see that dhow there? Twice a year it comes down from Aden. It stops here and goes down [South]. On the way down it's got boxes of machinery and goods. On the way back up it’s got two or three little black boys on it. Now, those boys are slaves. And the United Nations will not let me do anything about it.”

The conversation went on. “Look, boy. There is not going to be a World War between Russia and the United. The next World War will be between Islam and the West.”

This is 1955! I said to him, “Dad, you’re nuts! The Crusades have been over for hundreds of years!”

And he said, “Well, I know, but militant Islam is on the rise again. And you will see it in your lifetime.”

He’s been dead some years now. But there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and think, “God, I wish you were here, just so I could tell you that you were right.”

What is unconscionable is that too many of your fellow journalists do not understand how precarious Western civilization is and what a jewel it is.

How did we get the sort of real democracy, how did we get the level of tolerance that allows me to propound something that may be completely alien to you around this table, and yet you will take it and you will think about it and you’ll say no you’re wrong because of this and this and this. And I’ll listen and I’ll say, “Well, actually, maybe I am wrong because of this and this.”

[He points at a female reporter and adopts an authoritarian voice, to play a militant-Islam character:] ‘You should not be in this room. Because your husband or your father is not hear to guide you. You could only be here in this room with these strange men for immoral purposes.’

I mean… the abolition of slavery comes from Western democracy. True Democracy comes form our Greco-Judeo-Christian-Western experience. If we lose these things, then this is a catastrophe for the world."

He also clarifies it a bit with:

"By 2020, 50% of the children in Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent. You look and see what your founding fathers thought of the Dutch. They are constantly looking at the rise of democracy and Dutch values as being the very foundation of American Democracy. If by the mid-century the bulk of Holland is Muslim—and don’t forget, coupled with this there is this collapse of numbers ... Western Europeans are not having any babies. The population of Germany at the end of the century is going to be 56% of what it is now. The populations of France, 52% of what it is now. The population of Italy is going to be down 7 million people. There is a change happening in the very complexion of Western civilization in Europe that we should think about at least and argue about. If it just means the replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, that doesn’t matter too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western civilization with a different civilization with different cultural values, then it is something we really ought to discuss[my (OSBs) emphasis]—because, g**dammit, I am for dead white male culture.

You do realize in this town what I’ve been saying [is like] blasphemy…

…but we’ve got to get a bit serious. By and large our cultures and our society are resilient enough to put up with any sort of nonsense. But if Tolkien’s got a message, it’s that 'Sometimes you’ve got to stand up and fight for what you believe in.' He knew what he was fighting for in WW1."

The great thing about blogging is you can point to the written opinion of others and let their words speak for you. This is such a case. According to Edwar Achorn, the Supreme Courts recent ruling on campaign finance reform has left us a First Amendment full of holes. I agree.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Boy, the New York Post has this on HOWARD'S HATEFEST, a comedian "riddled," profanity laced fund raiser for Howard Dean that somehow got missed by "Big Media." Essential point:

"Republicans are fuming. They say that if anything like this had happened at an event where a top Republican was present and did nothing to stop it, the media would rage about it for weeks."

Read it and judge for yourself if a Republican would have gotten away with it.


Michael Crichton made a speech at the
Commonwealth Club on environmentalism. Very interesting.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Nader eyeing another White House run...GO RALPHIE GO!
We all remember the Red and Blue map of the election of 2000. Well, the folks at the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth have come up with a 10-colored map. I found it extremely interesting. Take a peek.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Prehistoric man began global warming. Hmm. We've been a scourge to this planet since we came into being. That settles it, the kool-aid will be served at noon on January 1, 2004. Do your duty to Gaia and drink some, OK? ;)

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Three Indicted in R.I. Nightclub Fire

By BROOKE DONALD, Associated Press Writer

WARWICK, R.I. - The owners of the nightclub where 100 people were killed in a fire last February were indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges Tuesday along with the tour manager for the heavy metal band whose pyrotechnics ignited the blaze.


Club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and Great White tour manager Dan Biechele were each charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter — two for each death.


Jeffrey Derderian and Biechele pleaded innocent to the charges Tuesday during an arraignment. Michael Derderian was in court awaiting arraignment.


Attorney General Patrick Lynch planned to meet with reporters later Tuesday to comment on the indictments. He was not available for immediate comment.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today has the following observations on some of the media coverage of the snowstorm over the weekend:

"Is there such a thing as mental frostbite? Something about cold weather seems to make reporters stupid, even more so than they usually are. Consider a few items we noticed over the weekend.

This is from an Associated Press roundup on the big snowstorm that hit the Northeast:

Some high school students got a lucky break when several schools canceled Saturday's scheduled Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
Yeah, we suppose that's a 'lucky break'--unless they want to go to college!

Then there's this photo caption from the Jefferson City (Mo.) News Tribune:

Evening traffic passes by as Anita Walker waits for the city bus to take her home to Dulle Tower. She made a trip out to purchase cigarettes. Walker, who has emphyzema [sic], says the cold air makes it hard for her to breathe.

Yeah, it must be the cold air. And how about this Boston Globe photo caption:

Cherie Williams lifts the midsection of a snow person she and her daughter Olivia, 9, built while waiting for a bus in Asheville, N.C., yesterday.

'Snow person'? We haven't heard such a ridiculous case of politically correct overkill since the early episode of 'The Simpsons' in which Lisa insists on calling the mail lady the 'female carrier.'"

Monday, December 08, 2003

Blanche is getting ready to release a new CD (really their first), called If We Can't Trust the Doctors... on Cass Records

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Orson Scott Card, Sci-fi novelist and Democrat on the state of his party:

"In one of Patrick O'Brian's novels about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars, he dismisses a particularly foolish politician by saying that his political platform was "death to the Whigs."

Watching the primary campaigns among this year's pathetic crop of Democratic candidates, I can't help but think that their campaigns would be vastly improved if they would only rise to the level of "Death to the Republicans."

Instead, their platforms range from Howard Dean's "Bush is the devil" to everybody else's "I'll make you rich and Bush is quite similar to the devil."

Since Bush is quite plainly not the devil, one wonders why anyone in the Democratic Party thinks this ploy will play with the general public.

There are Democrats, like me, who think it will not play, and should not play, and who are waiting in the wings until after the coming electoral debacle in order to try to remake the party into something more resembling America.

But then I watch the steady campaign of the national news media to try to win this for the Democrats, and I wonder. Could this insane, self-destructive, extremist-dominated party actually win the presidency?

They might -- because the national news media are trying as hard as they can to pound home the message that the Bush presidency is a failure.

Even though by every rational measure it is not.

And the most vile part of this campaign against Bush is that the Terrorist War is being used as a tool to try to defeat him -- which means that if Bush does not win, we will certainly lose the war."

There's more, follow the link to read the rest.
Are we headed back to the Moon?
Another site update today. Removed some links even I don't use much (so why would you?) and consolidated on 3 major themes: Academia, Music, News/Opinion. Should be good enough. Also updated my Other Projects sections with links to my History and the Internet site and my Merchant Marine History site (which is pretty sparse). Later.