Saturday, December 27, 2008

American Banking's Shameful Double Standard

Says it all. What is the recourse of the average taxpayer against blatant corruption and theft by government and the banking industry?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Banks won't disclose how they're spending bailout money

Here's my favorite quote:

Heine, the New York Mellon Corp. spokesman who said he wouldn't share spending specifics, added: "I just would prefer if you wouldn't say that we're not going to discuss those details."

Link

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Drug firms block cheap medicine

As if we needed yet another reason to despise big business, drug companies use various legal (though maybe not ethical) measures to keep profits high by preventing the introduction of generics in Europe. At least the European Commission sounds like they're willing to go after them if they break the law in the process; in the U.S., we just shovel more money at them through Medicare Part D and call it progress.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cars Sliding Down Icy Hill

Winter is here. Sigh.

Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion

Think about that headline for a moment. Remember we're a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Not for the rich. Not for the politicians. For the people. The Federal Reserve has no right to withhold how they gave away two trillion dollars. Outrage, anyone?

Proof of time travel?

A Swiss watch is found in a 400-year-old tomb. Reality is weird sometimes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

EPA makes it harder to build coal plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has blocked a coal plant in Utah, starting a rulemaking process that will likely result in greater carbon dioxide emission regulations. Hopefully, this will help prevent the environmental disaster that was proposed for construction outside Frackville. While the mislabeled "coal to clean fuel" plant has been dying a slow death for many years, hopefully increased regulation of CO2 emissions will kill the thing once and for all.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Strange Portal Connects Earth to Sun

No, really. Every eight minutes, magnetic portals open up and connect the Earth to the sun. Weird.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Alice Cooper - House of Blues, Atlantic City - Nov. 1, 2008

Alice Cooper, House of Blues, Atlantic City

Great show, as always. While the setlist hasn't varied much in the past few years, Alice is still a fantastic performer (at age 60, no less).

While we waited to enter the House of Blues, we were, of course, searched. The huge guy in front of us was told he couldn't enter with the chain attached to his wallet, so he tore it off and handed it to the woman. Heh. While they searched people thoroughly, they didn't bother to take our tickets, and everyone just shuffled in. Weird.

Opening act was Z02 out of Brooklyn, NY. Their sound was alright, though they were much too, I don't know, Hannah Montana-ish to be opening for Alice Cooper. They didn't even start playing until 45 minutes after the doors opened, so we knew it was going to be a long night. And then the drunk woman next to me spilled her beer on the back of my pants. Sigh. I always seem to get stuck next to idiots.

Alice made it worthwhile, though, and even played two songs off the new album (Along Came A Spider), along with a number of hits. Setlist (I think this is correct):

  • It's Hot Tonight
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels
  • I'm Eighteen
  • Is It My Body?
  • Woman Of Mass Distraction
  • Lost In America
  • Feed My Frankenstein
  • Be My Lover
  • (In Touch With Your) Feminine Side
  • Dirty Diamonds
  • Vengeance Is Mine
  • Halo Of Flies
  • Welcome To My Nightmare
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Steven
  • Dead Babies
  • Ballad Of Dwight Fry
  • Devils Food/I Love The Dead
  • School's Out

Encore:

  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Poison
  • Elected

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fascist America?

Think about how reality has changed in the last seven years. Our civil liberties are quietly eroded, under the guise of keeping us safe from the invisible terrorist threat, while we're happily distracted by Britney and Paris. This is getting past tinfoil hat territory; the collapse of America is actually happening while we look the other way. This article, written over a year ago, is chilling in its implications.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

John McCain Kicks Librarian Out of Town Hall Event

This is evidently the state of free speech in the United States...



McCain = Bush = Loss of Freedom.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bruce Springsteen - Hershey, PA - Aug. 19, 2008

Great show. Beautiful summer evening. Bad seats. Expensive beer. Cool t-shirt. Setlist:

  • Summertime Blues
  • Radio Nowhere
  • Out in the Street
  • Spirit in the Night
  • Promised Land
  • (sign collection):
    • Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker cover)
    • Darlington County
    • Waitin on a Sunny Day
    • Reason To Believe
  • Prove It All Night
  • No Surrender
  • Because the Night
  • She's The One
  • Living In The Future
  • Mary's Place
  • Workin On The Highway
  • Part Man Part Monkey
  • The Rising
  • Last To Die
  • Long Walk Home
  • Badlands

Encore:

  • Thunder Road
  • Jungleland
  • Seven Nights to Rock
  • Born To Run
  • Rosalita
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
  • American Land
  • Gloria

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The last great rock-n-roll album

There has not been a great rock and roll album since 1987's The Joshua Tree.

There, I said it.

Sure, there have been notable albums - Elephant by The White Stripes, or Robert Plant's Mighty Rearranger, maybe. But has there been anything truly memorable - an entire album where you just went "wow"? And no, I don't count Nirvana - quick, name me five great Nirvana songs. How about three? I'm not trolling here, but I'd really like to know if anyone can recommend a great rock and roll album in the last 20 years. Even U2's later efforts prompt a "meh" reaction, and I'm a huge U2 fan.

So, prove me wrong.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

artist's block

I have artist's block. What's worse, I'm practicing avoidance in order to, well, avoid dealing with it. That's not working so well. I'm told (by the venerable Joe Kubert, no less) that the best way to deal with artist's block is to get to work. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Freedom of the Associated Press

The Associated Press now wants you to pay a fee to post an excerpt (as little as five words) of an AP article in your blog. So much for fair use, freedom of the press, and all of that nonsense. Via Boing Boing.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Great folk podcast about Pete Seeger

The Smithsonian has a podcast about Folkways Records. There's a great one about Pete Seeger that I'm currently listening to. You can really hear the influence Seeger had on Bob Dylan. Links: iTunes MP3

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lou Reed - Electric Factory - Philadelphia PA - April 19, 2008

Through one of those simple twists of fate, I was heading to Philly for the weekend and found out Lou Reed was playing at the Electric Factory. Now, I'm a huge fan of Lou for many years and haven't seen him in concert since 1986, I think, so of course I had to go. We arrived early and headed to a local diner for something to eat; when we returned, the line was across the front of the building and down the block; it was general admission, so we thought we'd be back a ways when we got in, but we got right to the front (first row in front of the stage! It seems Lou's aging audience prefers seats to proximity these days - poor bastards).

Around 8:40 PM Lou takes the stage, greeting us with "Hello, Cleveland," which got a laugh. The band started with "Mad," from the Ecstasy album. Throughout the song, Lou was the conductor, telling the bass player to bring it up, the lead guitar to bring it down -- it was nice to watch a veteran rocker (as Rolling Stone dubbed him so many years ago) fine-tuning his show. A surprise was the great Steve Hunter (who played on Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies, Welcome to my Nightmare, and The Alice Cooper Show) on lead guitar. He and Lou played off each other all evening, and it was truly a joy to hear.

Next up was the Velvet Underground classic "Sweet Jane." And it rocked.

Lou introduced the next song by saying it was about divorce, "something most of you won't have to deal with" (note: most quotes are paraphrased, as my memory's not what it once was). He then launched into "Baton Rouge," haunting with its refrain "so helpless."

He said the next song was from the movie Juno, and launched into "I'm Set Free." Later he corrects himself about the Juno reference.

"Ecstasy" followed, with Lou drumming his chest to get started. It was evident that this was a song he enjoyed playing.

Following came his explanation that he got it wrong, and this song was from Juno; the keyboard player began singing "I'm Sticking With You."

A few songs later, Lou introduced Laurie Anderson on electric violin, and began playing "Talking Book." About halfway through the song, he got a little miffed with the audience, who were talking a bit too much for his taste (and mine too, especially the drunk women next to me), and he asked the audience "Do you want to keep talking or do you want me to finish this song?" He finished it, though he and Laurie seemed to share a disappointed look at the end. Perhaps they wanted to do more with the song, but the audience wanted to move on...

Next up were "Halloween Parade," from New York, followed by a song introduced with "This is a song you probably don't know," then launching into "Video Violence" from the 1986 album Mistrial. And yes, Lou, I knew the song, anyway.

After "Guardian Angel," the closing song was "Magic and Loss," which was a treat. I've always loved the line "there's a little magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." For an encore, we got "Perfect Day," and it was.

Full set list (as listed on the Lou Reed forum here; the comment from moderndance is me, btw):
  • Mad
  • Sweet Jane
  • Baton Rouge
  • I'm Set Free
  • Ecstasy
  • I'm Sticking With You
  • Power of the Heart (is this new? anyone know?)
  • I Wanna Know (The Pit and the Pendulum)
  • Talking Book
  • Halloween Parade
  • Video Violence
  • Guardian Angel
  • Magic and Loss
Encore:
  • Perfect Day
And will someone please explain to me what the guy playing, as Lou put it, "electronics, the computer, and who knows what else" was doing with the Apple MacBook? Was he using Garage Band or something?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Earth in crisis, warns NASA's top climate scientist

What if there were a global warming crisis and the fossil fuels industry tried to hide it? Speculate no more, as a NASA scientist says that's exactly the case. How about that? Are you still so sure we need another coal plant in Schuylkill County?

Via Digg.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Asia - Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre PA, April 4, 2008

Asia rocked the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre last Friday evening and it was fantastic. This is the original lineup, including the legendary Steve Howe (of Yes) on guitar, Carl Palmer (of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) on drums, Geoff Downes (of Yes and the Buggles) on keyboards, and John Wetton (of King Crimson) on bass and vocals.

First impressions: Steve Howe looked like my college poetry professor, which is to say, old (sorry, Harry). I mean really old. But boy can that man play guitar - throughout Roundabout (yes, the classic Yes song!), he was simply a joy to watch. The man has fingers like a spider, and he made playing some complicated sequences look effortless. If only he didn't dress like an elderly man, including those grey dress pants and shiny striped shirt...

Back to the age thing, they all looked fairly old, which I think my mind had a hard time wrapping itself around. The cognitive dissonance was disconcerting for a while (and still is, to some degree).

Carl Palmer was simply incredible, probably the second-greatest drum solo I've ever seen (the first being Neil Peart, of course).

Other highlights included In the Court of the Crimson King followed by the Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star which, while an unusual combination, was a great moment in rock and roll. I'm a big fan of King Crimson, so to see their signature song live was a thrill (though I would have preferred 21st Century Schizoid Man). The Buggles tune is a classic that I've listened to a lot recently.

Oh, they played some Asia songs too, including some great sounding tracks (Never Again, Extraordinary Life) from the new CD, Phoenix (I picked up a copy on the way out, which shows how much I liked the new stuff). Heat of the Moment was, of course, great to hear live, aided by the band encouraging the audience to sing along. And Don't Cry was the first encore; it's one of those songs that just makes you feel young. Setlist, as found here (seems right according to my recollection):

  • Daylight
  • Only Time Will Tell
  • Wildest Dreams
  • Never Again
  • Roundabout
  • Time Again
  • Bolero from Cutting it Fine (Geoff Downes keyboard solo)
  • Clap (Steve Howe acoustic solo)
  • The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (acoustic)
  • Ride Easy (acoustic)
  • Voice of America (John Wetton acoustic solo)
  • Open Your Eyes
(Intermission)
  • Fanfare For The Common Man
  • Without You
  • An Extraordinary Life
  • In the Court of the Crimson King
  • Video Killed The Radio Star
  • The Heat Goes On, w/Carl Palmer drum solo
  • Heat of the Moment
Encore:
  • Don't Cry
  • Sole Survivor

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stopping junk mail is good for the environment

Save time every day that you waste dealing with junk mail. Here's how to get off mailing lists, simplify your life, and stop wearing out your shredder. Link

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Balance

Here's a wonderful interview about life/work balance.

Of course, to put it simpler, from Psalm 90:
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Fox News whisteblowers

What kind of world are we living in? Fox fires reporters because they refused to be quiet after discovering that an engineered growth hormone given to milk cows was linked to potential health problems. Fox is afraid that the corporate giant will sue them and drop advertising. My favorite line from this clip is that "falsifying news isn't actually against the law." Huh?

(via Reddit)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy new year

Now, enough of the pedantic and pedestrian. It's a new year - let's tell it like it is.