Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kool Keith - Talk to the Romans

This is from the Project Polaroid album, a modern classic.


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Friday, May 30, 2008

"The Onion" Movie Trailer

The following seems to be a preview for a DVD collecting The Onion's video news shorts, which you can view on their website. The funniest part was the skit on the neck belt. I'm sure if I had been drinking a drink when I watched it, that drink would have been all over my computer screen.


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Flashback: The Rock and The Coach In "That Night With The Cows"

Here's a flashback to the times when the WWE was good, and The Rock was at the height of his greatness. The guy oozes charisma. Hilarious stuff.


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Seattle hero Revolution Void has new album coming out

I discovered Revolution Void, also known by his given name Jonah Dempcy, a long, long time ago, back in the late 90s. He's a great composer and practically gives away his music away for free. The track posted is called "Time Flux" and will be released on The Politics of Desire.


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Bob Dole Mad At Scott McClellan


Ouch:


“There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues,” Dole wrote in a message sent yesterday morning. “No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique.” …

“In my nearly 36 years of public service I’ve known of a few like you,” Dole writes, recounting his years representing Kansas in the House and Senate. “No doubt you will ‘clean up’ as the liberal anti-Bush press will promote your belated concerns with wild enthusiasm. When the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, ‘Biting The Hand That Fed Me.’ Another thought is to weasel your way back into the White House if a Democrat is elected. That would provide a good set up for a second book deal in a few years[.]”


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How do you save conservatism? Start being conservative again.

So argues Ed Morrisey over at Hot Air, who reinforces my stance on gay marriage and argues that conservatism at its core is embracing a small, limited efficient government and liberty and rejecting the large governmental power of socialism. If that is what we need to do, that means John McCain is not our guy.
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Scott McClellan on Countdown with Keith Olbermann


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Layout change

So I changed things around a bit. I signed up with MSNBC's Politics Network, and changed the layout in order to better suit their content. MSNBC is one of my favorite broadcasters, and I'm glad to be associated with them. Feel free to follow their links. I'm glad to be a conduit to top notch political information.

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"The Way You Play The Game"

The subject of torture is as feisty as it gets in current politics, and Dan Carlin got really feisty in his latest podcast, "The Way You Play The Game." Carlin argues that to make harsh interrogations a part of American policy would damage the myth of America and lead us to becoming like the tyrannies and villains we have opposed. Do yourself a favor and listen to it.

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Flirting with Tyranny


At an Indian restaurant yesterday, I overheard some people having a political discussion wherein the sensible member of the group, who said Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who oppressed his people, was beaten down by morons that contended that Hussein was a champion of women's rights and universal health care. I really don't understand how someone can sit and talk admirably of any political figure who steals power from his own people. It's really quite simple. I guess there remains a strong dictatorial tendency for many on the Left.
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Is Bush Becoming Irrelevant?"

Over at Townhall, Patrick Buchanan asks the question, "Is Bush Becoming Irrelevant?" to which I answer, don't all presidents become irrelevant at the end of their second term? Harry Truman was vastly unpopular, Richard Nixon's presidency had become a smoldering wreck that he no longer steered and presidential candidate Al Gore was distancing himself from President Clinton at the end of their terms.

Ultimately, his main point that Bush embraced a failing utopian ideology of a democratic Middle East may very well be true. I don't pretend to know how history will treat the present, but it doesn't look good for Bush now. However, there has not been a terrorist attack on United States soil since 9/11. That is a result of either drawing the fight into the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters (which fits with the "fight them over so we don't fight them here" line), heightened levels of law enforcement and security aimed at tackling terrorism or both.

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Another public school horror story

Another horror story from the halls of an American school, as a teacher demolishes a child's self-esteem in an act of sadism:

PORT ST. LUCIE — Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son's kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class.

After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Barton's 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.

By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex — who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism — out of the class.

Melissa Barton filed a complaint with Morningside's school resource officer, who investigated the matter, Port St. Lucie Department spokeswoman Michelle Steele said. But the state attorney's office concluded the matter did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse, so no criminal charges will be filed, Steele said.


The name of that teacher, once again, is Wendy Portillo. Her school e-mail address is portillow@stlucie.k12.fl.us.

This story hits even closer to home for me as the child in question has Asperger's syndrome, which I also have. They tried to get me expelled in kindergarten, so this isn't surprisingly by any means, but it's still very depressing.

According to ExpertReality.com,
Morningside Elementary "is a public school in the city of Miami, Florida serving prekindergarten through the fifth grade." From my own personal experience of attending public schools, I believe the chances of Portillo being fired are very small. Teachers' unions are often so powerful and guidelines are so vague and limited that you can get away with next to anything aside from having sex with a student or stealing school property.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scott McClellan: Coward or whistler blower?

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has come out with a book that tells a familiar narrative on the Bush Administration and the Iraq war, charging that Bush was active in "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."

One doesn't have to have a certain political persuasion to observe that McClellan was an absolutely terrible, ineffective press secretary. I remember his sessions with the press becoming regular fodder for news shows as you only had to play recordings of them in order to laugh hilariously.



The immediate thought I had when I read about McClellan's book was that perhaps he had been purposefully ineffective due to doubts he was growing about the administration. He could actually feel that he took part in deception, or he could see that his small role in history was that of looking like a complete buffoon (like Michael Brown) and simply needed to cover himself with a book bashing his former employers. It's not particulary brave at this point to come out and bash the president, and McClellan is far from the most credible one to do so.

Still, the growing crowd of people that have been close to Bush that have gone on to criticize him publicly is alarming, and McClellan's former intimacy with the administration makes it all the more damning.

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"Our Collectivist Candidates"

The West creates easy access to food, wealthy and comfortable societies that were once unimaginable, and technology straight out of Star Trek. Meanwhile, communism and collectivist centralized societies failed extravagantly in a way that should regulate the ideology to the dustbin of history. Unfortunately, they seemed to have gone in the recycling bin instead, as evidenced by recent speeches by Barack Obama and John McCain cited in a recent opinion piece by the Cato Institute's David Boaz in today's Wall Street Journal:

Sen. Obama told the students that "our individual salvation depends on collective salvation." He disparaged students who want to "take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy."

The people Mr. Obama is sneering at are the ones who built America – the traders and entrepreneurs and manufacturers who gave us railroads and airplanes, housing and appliances, steam engines, electricity, telephones, computers and Starbucks. Ignored here is the work most Americans do, the work that gives us food, clothing, shelter and increasing comfort. It's an attitude you would expect from a Democrat.

Or this year's Republican nominee. John McCain also denounces "self-indulgence" and insists that Americans serve "a national purpose that is greater than our individual interests." During a Republican debate at the Reagan Library on May 3, 2007, Sen. McCain derided Mitt Romney's leadership ability, saying, "I led . . . out of patriotism, not for profit." Challenged on his statement, Mr. McCain elaborated that Mr. Romney "managed companies, and he bought, and he sold, and sometimes people lost their jobs. That's the nature of that business." He could have been channeling Barack Obama.


The way to have a functioning prosperous society is to encourage individual achievement. You owe yourself something, you owe your parents and family something, and you owe your society something but you sure as hell don't owe your government something. It's not just chasing "after the big house and the nice suits," as Barack Obama says, to work in Silicon Valley in order to bring new technology from science fiction into reality, and it's not "self-indulgence" when Bill Gates uses his wealth to provide the Seattle Public Schools with computers the district never would have used its money to buy otherwise. It's what keeps this country going, and it will become evident to those not clouded by denial once Obama or McCain try to run the government by punishing the people who run the country.

Unfortunately, the above illustration of the wealthy philanthropist doesn't seem to jive with the perception among our politicians of the titans of our economy, which I would guess is more like this:


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"The Dude Abides"


Like many others, I worship at the altar of The Big Lebowski. One of the greatest movies of the modern era, in my humble opinion, this classic by the brilliant Coen Brothers continues to be a hilarious classic ten years after its release. The characters, most notably the Dude and Walter, seem real and remind the viewer of both themselves and people they may know. I have no idea how many times I've seen Lebowski but I'm quite sure it is somewhere in the hundreds.

NPR ran a feature on the Dude, the protagonist, who personifies slackers and "American informality," a quality of American life I know all too well. The narrator, Guy Raz, interviewed Jeff Bridges, who portrayed the Dude, who said this:

"I think there's a little dude in all of us," says Bridges. "That's probably why I like him, because I see a lot of myself in the guy."


At the bottom of the page, there's a recipe for the infamous White Russian, the beverage that the Dude is seen drinking throughout Lebowski whenever he's not lighting incense or smoking a blunt.
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Carter: Israel has '150 or more' nuclear weapons

From AFP:

Israel has "150 or more" nuclear weapons, former US president Jimmy Carter said at a press conference over the weekend, a spokesman for the literary festival at which he was speaking confirmed.

Asked how a future US president should deal with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, the 83-year-old said: "The US has more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union (sic) has about the same; Great Britain and France have several hundred, and Israel has 150 or more."


I wish he had focussed more on the fact that Hamas has killed 150 or more people.
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

New Article: Dee Harley, organic entrepreneur

I'm so happy to see this article run! Dee Harley was a truly interesting and entertaining woman to talk to. I hope I did her justice.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mark Steyn deconstructs Barack Obama


Please read the whole thing. Especially good is where Steyn compares Obama'a personal irrelevance in comparison with America's medical innovators:

But forget that. Obama doesn’t mean it. What’s worse than the painting-by-numbers demagoguery are some of the accidental glimpses of the Senator’s world view. For example: “The drug companies, they’re not going to give up their profits easily when it comes to health care.”

Well, gee, how unreasonable of them. But demanding they give up their profits “easily” comes easy to him. Until he wrote his recent bestseller, the concept of “profits” was entirely theoretical to Senator Obama’s life. As his wife put it, the Obamas “left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do. Don’t go into corporate America.” So Barack didn’t. Instead, he became a “community organizer”, whatever that is. At any rate, it’s a job most functioning communities seem able to do without. It would make no difference to life in this great republic if every “community organizer” in the lower 48 were to be deposited on an atoll in the Antarctic. On the other hand, if America’s drug companies were no longer profitable, it might make rather a lot of difference.

I'm a little worried about the fact that this health care federalization push might actually come true. As evidenced in Michael Moore's documentary Sicko, the fact that there have been some screw-ups by insurance companies has somehow led to the presumption that a massive medical bureaucracy will be free of screw-ups. We've seen how horrifying the public schools have become, I sure don't want that to go through that again with my medicine.
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Mitt Romney giving up on politics?

From today's Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Romney played down the notion that his vigorous support for Sen. McCain was part of an effort to win the vice-presidential nod. "I think my run at public office is over," he said, but added: "Time will tell."


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Friday, May 16, 2008

Solving the Gay Marriage dilemma: Let individuals define what "marriage" means to them


I have a very unorthodox opinion on gay marriage that is a bit outside of both realms of debate. In other words, I don't fall in with the Christian fundamentalists in opposition or the gay rights groups in favor. In honor of the recent California court decision on gay marriage, I have decided to finally put this opinion into words.

Gay people deserve all the rights of straight people, and I think they would more easily be able to gain those rights if their fighting for them didn't appear to be threatening to the values of religious institutions. The way to solve this would be to completely get government out of the marriage business and reduce its involvement to something similiar to an driver's license, permitting a "license of union" or something similiar to two individuals that decide to live in a personal union.

This would make government involvement minimal, and reduce it to allowing couples to average their incomes and whatnot. How the couple chooses to define their union could be left to their church, synagogue, mosque, temple, family, friends or themselves. By going in either the evangelical or gay marriage direction at this point government is endorsing ideology, and in my honest opinion government should be as unideological as possible if it is to keep from infringing on its citizens' lives.
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Flight of the Conchords - Ladies of the World

I saw Flight of the Conchords live back in 2005, before they really blew up. They're hilarious. This video's a little trippy and does a good job spoofing 1960s/1970s psychedlic rock.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"The 'smell of death' in quake-hit China"

Great report from Al Jazeera. Skip forward to 1:00 and you'll witness Communist thugs assaulting the Al Jazeera cameramen.


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Watch out for gnomes


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Hillary regrets "white" comment

This is pretty blunt for Hillary Clinton:

BLITZER: Now, your great friend and supporter Congressman Charlie Rangel said and I’m quoting now. "It’s the dumbest thing you could have said."

CLINTON: Well, he’s probably right.

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The Tragic Cycle

Recent events sparked some personal interest in the country of Burma, and quick research revealed something pretty important:

Democratic rule ended in 1962 when General Ne Win led a military coup d'état. He ruled for nearly 26 years and pursued policies under the rubric of the Burmese Way to Socialism. Between 1962 and 1974, Burma was ruled by a Revolutionary Council headed by the general, and almost all aspects of society (business, media, production) were nationalized or brought under government control (including the Boy Scouts).[27] In an effort to consolidate power, General Ne Win and many top generals resigned from the military and took civilian posts and, from 1974, instituted elections in a one party system. Between 1974 and 1988, Burma was effectively ruled by General Ne Win through the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP).[28]


There seems to be a common sequence of events that occurs when socialism is enforced on a people, yet many seem to cheerlead as the same tragic cycle initiates itself again and again. Sigh.
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Iron Man Review


The last couple years weren't the best for comic book movies. From Ang Lee's arthouse interpretation of the Hulk to the inspirationless Ghost Rider, a series of comic book adaptations were produced that failed to reproduce the magic and commercial success of the first two X-Men and Spider-Man movies. The potentially great Daredevil was a train wreck. Having been absolutely thrilled after seeing the characters I grew up with come to life with the first X-Men movies, my own enthusiasm, which originally was just founded on the thrill of mainstream entertainment recognizing my childhood idols, dissipated and I began to have lower expectations. Whereas I used to go see every comic book related movie that came out in theaters, I waited to see V for Vendetta and A History of Violence on DVD.

I was going to do the same thing in regards to Iron Man until the positive reviews started flowing in. Hugh Hewitt of Townhall called it a "fine movie" and The A.V. Club called it "the rare comic-book movie that makes the prospect of a sequel seem like a promise instead of a threat." The political message was pleasurably complex, showing barbaric terrorists and noble secret agents (in the form of S.H.E.I.L.D., the government agency that deals with superhuman activities) in addition to war profiteers.

Iron Man has a top notch cast in addition to a witty and creative script and plot. Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrence Howard, two of Hollywood's most talented actors, both shined as Tony Stark's closest friends, Pepper Potts and Jim Rhodes (who goes on to become War Machine). Jeff Bridges played his role of Obadiah Stane well, though the lack of a menacing or villainous voice on his part made me keep thinking of his role of "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski when I should have found him frightening.

The all star cast was topped off by the excellent casting of Robert Downey Jr. There was a famous storyline in the Iron Man comic books where Downey faced a crippling alchohol addiction, and Stark was obviously modelled after reckless behaving billionares like Howard Hughes. Downey's own struggle with drug use and his ability to overcome it made him perfect for the role of this imperfect superhero.

Iron Man is probably not for everybody, but if you enjoy action movies, superheroes or even geopolitical thrillers, you will definitely like it. Let's hope that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Incredible Hulk are up to snuff as well.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gazans for Obama

The following is a report from Al Jazeera on the subject of Gaza support for Obama.


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Matt Lewis of Townhall interviews Libertarian candidate Bob Barr

Earlier today I knew very little about who Bob Barr is and was still leaning towards John McCain. Now, after watching an interview with him at Townhall, I'm definitely leaning in his direction. He was very matter of fact and hit on a lot of things that I think alot of Americans have thought themselves. The take away line is: "Ask yourself if you really think that the Democrat and Republican candidates are the best America has to offer." True, true.
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Caring for China

If you want to help out with those misplaced by the earthquake, this is a good place to do it.
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Sheik Ali Al-Faqir: "We will rule the world, as has been said by the Prophet Muhammed."

Do yourself a favor and go watch video of Sheik Ali Al-Faqir on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV station. Any responsible media would give the rantings of these religious clerics the coverage it deserves, as it illuminates the true perspective of political Islamists. What's especially disturbing is his talk of "reclaiming" for Islam Spain and Rome. (When was Rome ever under Muslim rule?) You can also tell by the talk of Constantinople how far in the past these guys are living.
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Blog e-mail

I have set up an e-mail address specifically for this blog. From now on, if you have any inquiries relating to "Deschamps Blog," please send them to mo_powell@live.com.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

To invade or not invade, that is the question

There's an F. Scott Fitzgerald line about the necessity of living with flat out contradiction, and that's the line I end up towing with the subject of American interventionism. I don't like my country serving as a global policeman, but I fear for the state of a world where third world disasters, of the natural and human variation, are left in the hands of the United Nations or (shudder) China.

So I find myself looking quizically at this article by Anne Applebaum in Slate, where she makes a case for intervention in Burma. There are very valid reasons to want to take out that government and in order to take full control of relief efforts, and Applebaum cites at the top of the article the terrible things that have been said about the Burmese regime by decent people:

They are "cruel, power hungry and dangerously irrational," in the words of one British journalist. They are "violent and irrational" according to a journalist in neighboring Thailand. Our own State Department leadership has condemned their "xenophobic, ever more irrational policies."


She goes on to say about the intervention in Iraq:

Unfortunately, the phrase "coalition of the willing" is tainted forever—once again proving that the damage done by the Iraq war goes far beyond the Iraqi borders—but a coalition of the willing is exactly what we need. The French—whose foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, was himself a co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières—are already talking about finding alternative ways of delivering aid. Others in Europe and Asia might join in, along with some aid organizations. The Chinese should be embarrassed into contributing, asked again and again to help. This is their satrapy, after all, not ours.


Was the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein not "cruel, power hungry and dangerously irrational?" From his laundry list of atrocious acts to not conceding that he had no weapons of mass destruction when it could potentially avert disaster, Hussein met all three descriptions. The people who would likely take over Iraq when a vaccuum has been left by an American withdrawal would likely also meet those descriptions as well, as the chances of a peaceful democratic transition in those circumstances seem pretty miniscule.

Iraq is almost talked about as if there was a tolerable government in place before the 2003 invasion, and not a psychotic dictatorship. It's almost Orwellian to hear people speak about the tragedy of one intervention and then talk fondly of another, as if the latter will be without bloodshed. I wrote an article on this very subject for a college paper in 2006 in regards to critics of Bush who argued that we should try to intervene to remove the Arab dictatorship of oil rich Sudan. It's funny how times sometimes don't change.

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Skull and buds

I found this story, which I first heard on the NPR program "The Bryant Park Project," simultaneously hilarious (in a very dark way), horrifying and numbingly sad:

The Kingwood teenager's story of decapitating a corpse and using the head to smoke marijuana was so outlandish that at first Houston Police Department senior police officer Jim Adkins did not believe it.

Yet, Kevin Wade Jones Jr., 17, appeared almost indifferent as he relayed the bizarre description of his and two friends' activities at an Humble area graveyard, Adkins said.

"I just doubted it because it's very morbid, and I couldn't see anybody doing something like this," Adkins said Thursday.

Not until police went to the home of another Kingwood 17-year-old, Matthew Richard Gonzalez, did the officer believe the tale.

"He regurgitated in his plate of food when I asked him about it," Adkins said. "So I knew there was some truth to the story."

I've always found the idea of having my body messed with after death to be a frightening thought, which is why I am definitely going to be cremated.

Over at Slate,
writer Arthur Delaney wrote about the science of being able to actually smoke marijuana out of a human skull, which it sounds like according to Delaney it is not very possible.
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

SNL shows Hillary Clinton in a nutshell

This is great. It may be the first time I've laughed more than once during an SNL skit in several years.


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Lord of the Rings meets The Pogues

If you're feeling down and out, this video might help.


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"The Labor of Thy Lands"

There are all sorts of things I could post in honor of the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel, but this is probably the most unusual and one of the more illuminating things you'll see, a video from the 1950s commissioned by the woman's group Hadassah to promote the need of a skilled workforce in Israel. The interesting thing is the contrast within this video with the gloominess of today's talk of Israel's future (such as in the Atlantic Monthly's "Is Israel Finished?" cover story).


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Air Traffic - No More Running Away

I interviewed Chris Wall, singer and pianist for Air Traffic, recently. The article should be along soon. Meanwhile, the band's music is actually really good. This song, "No More Running Away," has been on my rotation alot. I love organs and snares and it's got plenty of both. The video was filled in Romania, which you'll hear more about when the article is out.


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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hezbollah propoganda

Who knew that Hezbollah terrorists were fans of bagpipe music? Weird stuff. If anyone out there knows sufficient Arabic, please help translate some of this.


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New Discovery: Biography in Sound

After searching for information on Fred Allen while bored, I found an archive of the 1950s radio show "Biography in Sound," which provided radio documentaries on famous figures in world events and entertainment. The subjects range from Ernest Hemingway and Sinclair Lewis to Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to jazz legend Stan Kenton. Unlike the radio drama series that were commonplace in that area, it's not far off from what networks such as NPR or BBC still produce today but is different in coming from the viewpoint of another time and generation.
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Economists sorta support McCain

The Wall Street Journal polled economists and found 75% of respondents backing John McCain over Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Is it just me or does Clinton's WSJ portrait resemble Joy Behar?



According to the WSJ article, economists polled back John McCain with lukewarm enthusiasm:


Almost half of the economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey decided against answering a question on which presidential candidate offers the most responsible fiscal policies. However, Sen. John McCain was the clear favorite of those who answered the question. Twenty-one economists of 75% of the respondents chose the Republican contender. However, they weren’t exactly enthusiastic. “His [policies] are the least horrible,” said James F. Smith of Western Carolina University and Parsec Financial Management.


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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Al Qaeda leader arrested

B/W of Amanda Carpenter:

The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq Abu Ayyub al-Masri has been arrested.

Al-Masri is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's successor. Al-Zarqawi was killed by U.S. forces in June 2006.


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Al Jazeera: Putin confirmed as Russian PM


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