Monday, December 31, 2012

Obligatory Best Of 2012 List!


Time once again my friends to look back in anger at the year we all just wasted.
2012 was the best of times and it was the worst of times...well not really... it was pretty damned bad though, perhaps not the worst...I mean there was no bubonic plague or Mongol hordes marauding about asking for directions. Yet we can hardly say it was the best of times either.
Well maybe for a handful of corporate types, but chances are they aren't reading this. Chances are they are acting out the "aristocrats" joke.  As for the rest of us, face it 2012 sucked way worse than the Mayans ever could have predicted. The economy was so bad, all new houses were built with foreclosure signs already on them and you serve cat food at parties only when you want to impress your guests.
In December I took the kids to Rockefeller Center, renown for it's giant Christmas Tree...We watched as a giant crane lowered it's boom and it's payload was lowered down into place on steel cables...
it wasn't the tree though,
it was NJ Governor Chris Christie being hoisted into his pants
...a daily occurrence...nothing special.
One of the memorable events of the year however was when a  petition for Texas to secede appeared...
It gathered  25,000 signatures!
However all the signatures were from every state but Texas.
The economy sucked, the weather sucked, the arts suffered, and cold sores were numerous.
There was little to like.
And little reason to believe 2013 will be an improvement.
There were however some musical highlights!

And here they are, the best of 2012!

The best CD released this year was by far
"The Golden Age Of Madness"
By Ben New



Ben New's vision of Meta-pop-rock
with a cunning blend of surreal and effusive lyrics,
sharp rhythmic play,
and latent melodicism;
dreamy, but full of rhythmic energy and passion.

The Best release of 2012!


A very close second.
Boys and Girls
By  Alabama Shakes


Brittany Howard - rock 'n' soul vocalist of the year!
Great music, well written and beautifully performed.
If you haven't heard this...you should!

3rd place honors
ALT-J
AN AWESOME WAVE


Sort of pop/art/rock music here which easily morphs from verse to chorus to bridge in a lovely intelligent way. Outstanding for it's shifting arrangements, jolting starts and stops. The arrangements draw from prog-rock yet this album deals mainly in catchy pop music. The lyrics are dispensed in a way that feels comically overstated at times, with a  film noir feel at other times.
It works well though!



FIONA APPLE
THE IDLER WHEEL IS WISER THAN THE DRIVER OF THE SCREW AND WHIPPING CORDS WILL SERVE YOU MORE THAN ROPES WILL EVER DO

Fiona Apple's first studio album in seven years!
Painful and sometimes startling musical revelations.
Songs of seduction, shaky romances, irresistible sex, loneliness, narcissism and ego-less insecurities.
Enjoy!


Esa-Pekka Salonen collaborated with violinist Leila Josefowicz to produce this fascinating Violin Concerto. Salonen's music is diverse and transparent, brilliantly orchestrated and inspired by Stravinsky, Lutoslawski and Debussy yet quite his own. though "pushing the envelope" for both the orchestra and violinist is evident here the end result is a very nuanced music with an extraordinary range of textures performed perfectly.
Must have!

Regina Spektor
What We Saw From The Cheap Seats


Regina is an excellent storyteller, with a musical catalog influenced by the Beatles pop and rock sensibilities and classical training, her music comes alive with drama and with humor. Considered part of the "anti folk" movement, one song on What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is written from the point of view of a painting.
You Gotta love this album!


Leonard Cohen- Old Ideas

Leonard has released only a dozen studio records in 45 years and nothing since 2004.
He's now in his late 70s, so we're not likely to see many more albums.
Old Ideas is a thoughtful bit of philosophy, an insight into aging,
just what you might want from such an outing!
Especially if you live in Woking!
(wink wink nudge nudge)
Seriously though it is a gem, a rare one.
By far one of my favorite live shows of this year...
This Rodrigo y Gabriela's first recorded collaboration with another group of musicians;
a thirteen piece Cuban orchestra composed of some of Havana's finest young players,
collectively known as the C.U.B.A.
I know many fans did not like the idea of them doing something other than a duo...however I did!
This was an incredible band!
Buy the CD!
You will not regret it!






Forty-five years after his debut and eight years since his last record, Jimmy Cliff returns in 2012 with an old-school reggae album that is pure dynamite.
A fantastic selection of songs that old fans and new will enjoy.
The man's voice is golden as ever.
I particularly enjoyed his cover of the Clash’s classic tune, “Guns of Brixton.”
But every cut is a winner.

SOUNDGARDEN – King Animal (Deluxe Edition)

 Yes that's right...
after a 16-year break, the members of Soundgarden have released a brand new CD with the band completely intact and rocking as well as ever.  Chris Cornell is in fine form, and Kim Thayil still can make his guitar roar.  The most unusual thing about “King Animal” is that it essentially picks up exactly where the band left off on “Down on the Upside.”  This album could’ve come out in 1998 or 1999.  Nothing about it screams 2012.  Muscular workouts like “Non-State Actor” and “Been Away Too Long” would be huge hits if radio still played rock music.  Let’s hope this reunion sticks and that there is more to come because it is simply good music. And Rock is not dead.
Though it smells funny.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Theory Of Stupid Design - - SDT


The Stupid Design Theory... or SDT is a materialist theory that proposes that if things are stupid, then god didn't do it. Therefore, if there's a lot of stupid stuff, god probably doesn't exist. From this we can deduce, logically, that the best evidence for Atheism would be a whole load of stupid stuff.
The theory states that some forms of existence are simply too stupid to have come about by random chance. Ergo, they must have been designed to be stupid by someone at least equally as stupid as the stupidity that has been created, a Stupid Designer like God or Calvin Klein or whomever coaches the New York Mets, and not just any old mediocre designer.

Top Scholars Now Embrace Stupid Design Theory

 
The stupid people who believe this theory are considered to be highly stupid indeed, though most of them do not consider themselves as stupid as the stupid people who believe other equally absurd theories. The existence and validity of Stupid Design has been proved by the fact that, like everything else we know to exist, it causes cancer in lab mice. It causes rodent cancer therefore it is.

One of the 68,983 laws of the theory states that 
if you hear, say or type the word stupid too many times,
 it starts to sound stupid ...
or if birds nest in Donald Trump's toupee
 ...that's evidence of extreme stupidity as well.
As is finding a blanket too difficult to operate.
("Snuggies"of any type)


SDT was theorized in the early 1900s as a counter to Yosemite Sam's critique of Religion through intelligent design. The Bacterial flagellum was cited originally as evidence for intelligent design, as it was supposedly irreducibly complex, like cancer, but eventually was used to create SDT, by it's founder, Robert Huxley. The Theory originally was proposed in a paper entitled "Evidence for A Sentience in Ducks and fauna of the Ridiculous Style", which was published originally in the journal, "Discotheques of Science".
Some argue that the designer is not stupid, but merely joking around. This the Prankster Design theory. A whole other stupid subject.
 Theologists all agree
underlying all belief systems is Stupidity Design Theory


Contention has arisen between two warring factions of Stupid Design advocates as to whether the Stupid Designer is a Stupid Being who attempted to design something which he/she thought to be very clever but, because of his/her inherent stupidity, turned out to be stupid; or the Stupid Designer is so clever a being that designing stupidity (in a stupid way) is the pinnacle of his/her clever work and allowing us to discover this stupidity in such a way that it would throw many a red herring in our intellectual path - and indeed allow the Stupid Designer to test our own stupidity - has been the Stupid Designer's ultimate goal.


Outside and objective observers of this debate are able to confirm that the arguments put forth by both factions, as well as the acquaintances of all the factional members, are quite stupid. The debaters refuse to take this point under serious consideration as they know the outside observers to be stupid as well.



According to SDT it can be extrapolated that some animals that are seemingly tending towards an evolutional gain, such as Flying Fish leaning towards actual flight, may in the distant future become stupid ass things, such as a pink rubber flying fish that sings.

Success stories of this method of thinking include the zebra, which was hypothesised as a Horse that had stripes, rendering it stupid. It was discovered decades later and hailed as a huge success. The Polar bear was also thought of before it's discovery, but was later discovered to be really dangerous, and so not stupid at all.

Here are some other stupid animals that may exist in the future:

  • Bats with really big feet
  • Cows that just say "Henry" over and over again in a falsetto voice
  • Monkeys that rub food on their faces rather than eating it
  • A dead badger, covered in tinsel
  • A flower shaped like a more edible flower, so that more animals eat it
  • Viruses that cause the host to avoid contact with it's own species
  • Pigs that have blue and wispy, yet bouffant hair growing from their nostrils.
  • Cats with long tails and biscuits instead of eyes.
  • Fish that have tits. .

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Few Thoughts On The U.S. Bill Of Rights 2nd Amendment Discussion



 
By WITHOUT SHOES staff writer BEN NEW
   OK...I've thought about this quite a bit and admit after the latest slaying of school children and the mass media onslaught of coverage I, like everyone else, am a bit tired of even hearing about  gun control...it's not really the answer entirely as mental health issues are likely more on point... however can we really justify the numbers of these killings merely for the convenience of  gun owners having easy access to guns?....I have nothing but admiration for the U.S. constitution however you also need to consider the time, when they spoke of these militias, it was because there was no plan whatsoever for a standing army. Also it was written in the 1780s, when this was an agrarian nation, people truly used firearms to acquire meat, or defend themselves from marauding bears, assorted carnivorous cats (very plentiful back then) etc.

And yet again, any inquiry into the history shows us that the model for amendment 2 is The English Bill of Rights (in 1689) which stated "Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defense". This was caused by the reign of James II , the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Members of Britain's political and religious elite increasingly opposed him eventually leading to the "glorious revolution" which outed James, who was best known for his belief in the Divine Right of Kings and his attempts to create "religious liberty" for English Roman Catholics through the persecution of the Presbyterian Covenanters, taking away their arms. So at the root of the US 2nd amendment is historically religion (Surprise!), and another case of the conservative notion that there are rulers and the ruled, as opposed to the democratic notion that all people are equal under the law. Kings generally wanted their subjects armed in case of needing them for defense of the realm. But James took weapons from his enemies....leading to this legislation once he was booted from the commonwealth.


   Historically, the original application of the 2nd amendment was quite different than it's interpretations since the 1930s. The founders and their first few generations of predecessors applied the Second Amendment only to the federal government, and not to the states, and this persisted for much of the nation's history. If you look into it, it was sustained in United States v. Cruikshank (1876) to support disarming African-Americans holding arms in self-defense from Klansmen in Louisiana. The Supreme Court held at that time , that citizens must "look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens from the state, rather than the national, government."
Clearly, originally regulating firearms was left to local law. (think of the old cowboy stories, rooted in history...Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson etc.- towns had local ordinances banning firearms within their jurisdiction...before these places became states, when they were territories...as they became states the validity of Kansas city banning firearms was left to the state to decide...not the federal government interestingly)
Federal protection of an individual interfering with the state’s right to disarm any of its citizens came up again in the SCOTUS in Presser v. Illinois (1886). They ruled the citizens were members of the federal militia, as were "all citizens capable of bearing arms." A state cannot "disable the people from performing their duty to the General Government". The Court was harking back to the language establishing a federal militia in 1792. This was the first change in function of the amendment...taking the right away from states to decide. It is a century after Madison penned the document in question. The next big change, occurred in 1939, when once again, the Supreme Court returned to a consideration of militia. In U.S. v. Miller, the Court addressed the enforceability of the National Firearms Act of 1934 prohibiting a short-barreled shotgun. (in the days of Bonnie and Clyde, this ruling referenced units of well equipped, drilled militia, the Founders "trainbands", (what became the modern military Reserves). It did not address the tradition of an unorganized militia. Our Twentieth century views about this are obviously different than the original implementation and interpretation of the 2nd amendment. It does say that citizens have the right to own and bear arms however (under federal law...) and it seems to me, consistency requires giving the Second Amendment the same dignity of the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth...if we hope to preserve those. In the 21st century we are certainly pushing the boundaries of this document... however does it mean citizens can own howitzers? Atomic missiles?
Biological weaponry?





   Jefferson alluded to an armed citizenry needing to overthrow entrenched government every few generations...true, he did. However by even the end of the 19th century, a band of citizens could not take on the U.S. military and it became frankly foolish to consider such a revolt...today the citizens would need their own nukes, bio weapons, drones, automatic machine guns, various grenades, bombs and James Bond type devices, --- arsenals of every description to perform such a function...like it or not...this is reality. You are not going to stand down a tank with a shotgun...or 2...(you are not going to "win" at least). Today, our view of this amendment, skewed as it is may be by various legal views of it taken over time, needs to adapt to the reality of the 21st century... I'm not pleased to say this, as messing with one aspect of the bill of rights opens the door to messing with the others.


However, in conclusion, let us consider that by 1816 Jefferson wrote that "some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched." But he saw imperfections and imagined that potentially, there could be others, believing as he did that "institutions must advance also". Yet on the other hand, I submit that the USA is a unique sort of place in that it is a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian, hodgepodge of divergent people and is frankly held together by a political orthodoxy created by our constitution, in contrast with a nation state of people having more "natural" ties. It is a difficult path to tread, yet obviously the writers of the document did not intend for it to be "sacred", that it may need some tweaks in a future their agrarian culture could not possibly have foreseen.


Ultimately here are my conclusions...
after each sad incident ,the victims will be mourned, the suspect studied, and the incident relegated to our criminal justice system and milked to the point of distraction in the media. However,  can we not see gun violence a public health problem.  It affects people, it causes death, injury and disability, and it can be addressed with environmental, legal, and behavioral interventions.   A classic paper examining violence in a public health frame was published in a 1993 issue of the journal Health Affairs.  J.A. Mercy and colleagues described the methods and models used in public health, including a heavy emphasis on interdisciplinary leadership.  More recently, David Hemenway, PhD, a professor of health policy at Harvard School of Public Health published Private Guns, Public Health in which he makes the compelling case that gun violence can be prevented, just like we’ve tackled other public health challenges.

Gun violence is uniquely an American problem compared to other industrialized countries.  The rate of gun-related deaths per 100,000 individuals in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom is 0.1, 0.5, and 0.03, respectively.  In the U.S., the overall rate is 2.98.   And that overall rate doesn’t tell the full story.  In some cities, the rates are five to ten times that number.  The fatality rate in Los Angeles is 9.2, in Miami it’s 23.7 and in Detroit, Michigan the rate is a staggering 35.9 deaths per 100,000 residents.  According to data assembled by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIJP), about 85 people in the U.S. are killed every day in firearm-related incidents.   The most recent available NCIJP data (2007) identified more than 31,000 firearm-related deaths in the U.S., including 17,000 from suicide and 13,000 from homicide/police involvement.

The number of deaths are striking enough, but even more so when compared to the firearm-related fatality rates in other countries.  Data from the University of Sydney School of Public Health’s gun policy program to create the above table.  It shows gun-related fatality rates for the Group of Twelve countries.  The U.S. is a striking outlier on both the rate of homicides by guns and rate of unintentional gun fatalities.

  Don't take my word for it, use the University of Sydney School of Public Health’s gun facts by country to make your own comparisons.  I bet the results will not exactly make you swell with pride.
What I believe is this...gun violence is a national health issue...I believe strongly that scientific approaches used by public health experts are the answer in curbing this epidemic. They will likely include sensible gun controls along with other measures. But certainly, it is immoral by any measure of the concept and a menace to public health to continue to do nothing.


Edited by Barbi Harris :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Fashionable Trojan Horse Of Authoritism

Mythology...the collection of parable, analogy, and metaphors from the history of man's psyche.
Most myths have some underlying truth to convey to an astute reader.
Like the tale of the Trojan Horse for instance.
On closer inspection things may not be as they seem.
I myself, though essentially an ardent fan of reason,
would not care to live in a world devoid of myths.
Though it is quite dangerous to cross the Rubicon into that realm where one believes
mythologies are factual and literally true.
We have in recent times witnessed the birth of a new mythology my friends and most honored readers....
yes
It is not however, a mythology created from bards and writers.
Nor is it wisdom handed down in stories through generations.
It is created by modern public relations think tanks
in service of those who at all times and in all places
throughout history have banded together to set themselves up as
an aristocracy of some sort.
This is nothing new.
From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy.
These people and their allies are the conservatives.
Conservatism at all times in all places is always an argument
for absolutism...for an aristocracy of some sort
to dominate society.
Today, they use (quite successfully) the machines of Public Relations
to create a mythology that essentially is a Trojan Horse.
Once the "gift" is accepted,
all is lost.

"Just what is this modern mythology?" you ask.
There are many changing and developing facets to it...
like the Zygote in the film "Alien" it morphs after it has used it's host.
Changes from one host to another absorbing bits of the hosts DNA in it's new form.
The host, once invaded though does not survive.
Let's look at some examples.

These concepts and statistics deal largely with the U.S.A.
but overall the entire world is dealing with these issues
in various incarnations of "austerity" programs and such.

Mythologies Created About Health Care


Private Insurance costs far more money than Medicare does.
According to the  Council for Affordable Health Insurance ,
medical administrative costs as a percentage of claims
are about three times higher for private insurance than for Medicare.
The  U.S. Institute of Medicine  reports that the for-profit system
wastes $750 billion a year on waste, fraud, and inefficiency.
As a percent of GDP, we spend $1.2 trillion more than the  OECD average  here in the U.S.
So all of you teabaggers out there screaming about socialism,
and shouting down the handicapped at town halls, this amount is equal to the entire U.S. deficit.
That's right, the amount wasted  on achieving profits for private medical care companies, if instead was applied to the deficit would eliminate it.  One out of every six  dollars you earn goes to health care.
The mythology of private health insurance being better than a not for profit system is but one example of this Trojan Horse.

Privatizing Social Security Is Good

No, It's not.
Another myth cooked up by the slogan generators.
Administrative costs for 401(k) plans are much higher than those for Social Security -- up to twenty times more.
It would be difficult to find, or even imagine, any short-term-profit-based private insurer that is fully funded for the next  25 years . Social Security is. It works for all retirees while private plans work for a limited number of investors.
Essentially this myth is created by the Wall Street Casino
that would like you to bet your retirement at their tables.
An occasional winner, but the house always wins...and the vast majority loose.
Social Security is a not for profit insurance that you purchased.
It is not "an entitlement".
It was never meant to be part of the general fund.
It is not gambling.
(the way private retirement funds are)
The only risk in social security is that politicians will destroy the program
so they won't have to return what they have stolen from it.

Public Funding Is Bad, Private Banks Are Good


Balderdash. No way.
Cities and towns around the country have been repeatedly victimized
by a  "bid-rigging" process that diverts billions of dollars
 from numerous unsuspecting communities to the accounts of a few big banks.
Individual homeowners, especially minorities, have also been victimized by the banks.
Because of the housing crash and the corresponding decrease in home values, middle class households lost over half of their  median wealth , and minority households almost two-thirds.
There are simply a plethora of scandals and scams in banking.
The privately run Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) headed up the  illegal foreclosure  business; the banking association  LIBOR was guilty of interest rate manipulation;
and numerous financial institutions have engaged in the subtle artistry of imposing  hidden fees .
Your credit cards are loaded with  "gray charges" 
things like surprise subscriptions and auto-renewals
  little scams that cost the average consumer $356 a year.
Unbelievably it has been  estimated that 40% of every dollar
we spend on goods and services goes to banks as interest.
40%
Really.

Public banks , on the other hand, focus on the needs of communities and small businesses rather than on investors. The most well-known example is the  Bank of North Dakota  (BND), which has successfully worked with local banks throughout the state, promoting business growth through loans that a larger bank might be reluctant to make, while managing to turn a profit every year for the past 40 years.
This is the system that wants no government oversight..."trust us".
This is the system that caused the collapse of the worlds economies
through it's own irresponsible risk taking
and manages now, to have you and I dear reader,
cover their losses.
Government at this time is not your enemy, nor is it big enough
to effectively battle
multinational banking cartels.
What vestiges remain of democracy
dwindle further each day
As more people buy into the manufactured myths of the would-be Pharaohs.

The legend of the Big Box



Smaller government is promoted by the very companies that make record profits
 while forcing their employees to accept public assistance.
While McDonald's enjoyed profits of  130 percent  over the past four years, and Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC made 45 percent, and while the Walton family (owners of Walmart) made  $20 billion  in one year , the median hourly wage for food service workers and Walmart employees is about $9 an hour. Many workers are stuck at the $7.25 minimum wage, which according to the  National Employment Law Project  is worth 30 percent less than it was in 1968.
Food service and big box store employees, are the  fastest-growing job segments in the nation, and these people are making barely enough to stay out of poverty.
It is not just the employees who subsidize their bosses.
We all are.
Every one of us.
Low-wage employees are dependent on the  food stamps and Medicaid 
which of course are paid for by our tax dollars.
The idea that somehow
cheap shoddy goods
benefit you
is a myth.

Government Is Bad

Libertarianism is corporatism in a sheep's clothing.

Ok all you big government haters out there...ask yourself these questions if you will...
What is the incentive for private companies to deal with tragedies like Hurricane Sandy?
The  Pacific Standard  aptly stated that "the free market doesn't want to be in the flood business."
Face it there is no profit in it.
Private industry is fine for some things.
Not all things.

What is the incentive for private companies to keep poisons out drinking water?
If it is more profitable to dump toxins indiscriminately into the environment
than to behave civilly.
Private industry time and again has demonstrated
it has little interest in civility.
Short term profits trump long term survival.
Time and again.
Without sufficient government regulations
the Clean Water Act was  violated a half-million times in one year.
In one year.
(worth repeating).
What might the incentive for private companies to plow your roads?
Could a corporate entity do it cheaper considering they need to make skyrocketing profits year after year?
Considering they have a culture whereby they insist the top executives
must be paid scores of millions of dollars
annually and drown in perks and bonuses
or their talents will go elsewhere
where others have been duped into believing
a manger is to be paid hundreds of thousands of times more
than the mere workers.
No.
Must a profit be made by someone on every human endeavor?
Really?

Liars and paper tigers and bear markets oh my!


What incentive might industry have to reduce the number of prisoners in profit-seeking  prisons?
Or to allow you to send a birthday card for just 45 cents?
Or to simply treat its customers with a degree of  respect rather than as a source of profit?
A battery to drain power from
and toss in the rubbish.
The "invisible hand" of the free market is often picking our pockets.
In many ways it is both unable and unwilling to satisfy the needs of society.
It has a place...but perhaps not at the top of pyramid.
The free market is not free.
There is a cost.
Paid for in both currency...and loss of humanity
For that it is worthy of our contempt.
Not our awe.
Liars and paper tigers and bear markets oh my!
This is some horseshit of a different color!
Keynes got it right.
Balance is the trick.
Humanity trumps profits.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Limitless

 
 Ever since the dawn of man, it would seem that some group or another attempts to constitute themselves as some type of aristocracy, imposing their views and wishes on others. From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe... in every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to control and dominate the populace.
Today, we hear these people who see themselves as modern Pharaohs claiming you must accept whatever social station you have been assigned, you must accept a lower standard of living, lower wages, less healthful foods, less education, more dominance and interference in your personal life, less services, less maintenance, less infrastructure, less peace, etc.
Yes, you must accept massive austerity on a grand scale. All hopes must be abandoned, all aspirations must be nipped in the bud. Regardless of  what type of misrepresentation the would be Pharaohs and their sycophant supporters are selling the truth is rather obvious. You must have less so they, themselves can have more.

I'm here to tell you this is all lies.
Do not believe it. Do not accept it.

We are nothing without our aspiration. When we launched the Voyager into points unknown in space, we included representations of the things man aspired to....Bach's music, representations of mathematical equations, literature, art, and the earth's natural beauty.
We did not send visual representations of warfare.
Nor poverty. 
No shots of social injustice, starving children, people living in open sewers.
We did not send pictures of  toxic pollution or bloated CEOs and shareholders draining the life blood from a child laborer in some forsaken 3rd world toilet.
We did not show dishonest rotters scheming ways to cheat people out of their homes and possessions.

Why not?  After all, this is the stuff we see daily in our media. We are confronted and bombarded with this daily.
In the U.S. more than half of every dollar received by government is spent on warfare.
One might think this was important to mankind.
Yet it is not.
We are what we aspire to.
When we were born we knew nothing.
We were dependent and ignorant (some want us to return to that condition).
But we rose above that state. At least many of us have.
We wanted to learn, we wanted do whatever needed to be done to achieve our goals.

Austerity for the many, abundance for the few is not the path to a desirable future.


I'm a musician, I did not become a musician without effort nor without investment of resources.
I aspired to become what I am today.
I aspire to become what I will be tomorrow.
When someone said "no, you can't do that" I ignored them.

What thing of any value was ever created as a result of austerity and abandonment of aspiration?
There is nothing we can not do.
There is nothing we can not achieve.
NOTHING.
If we want to end starvation we must first aspire to ending starvation.
If we want peace in this world, we must first aspire to creating peace in this world.
We must never ever believe the person who says "no, you can't do that".
They lie.
If we aspire to creating social justice, we can have social justice.
If we aspire to lead a kind gentle life we can do that too.
We are what we aspire to, we must never surrender these aspirations.
There is no doubt, one who refuses to aspire to an amicable future ensures there will not be one.



I recall John F. Kennedy proclaiming man would walk on the moon.
At that time, this was a rather preposterous notion. We hadn't invented seat belts yet.
Primitive computers took up multiple floors in buildings.
Yet in less than a decade man indeed walked on the moon.

If today's naysayers had been there, Buzz Aldrin would be an unknown obscure crop duster.
No giant step for mankind would have been taken.
It took great aspiration, great investment of resources.
Not Austerity...not at all.





Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blatant Bigotry As Policy?



Is there really anyone gullible enough to honestly believe the right in America is not unambiguously racist?
If so, this person is so dense they deserve nothing less than compassion & pity.
For decades Republicans at election time deliver their flatus of toxic racism and xenophobia typically and dishonestly defended as unintended and misunderstood in the finest tradition of twisting the truth of who is the victim and who is the assassin.
A couple recent examples for your displeasure-
 Ron Paul ran an ad featuring Jon Huntsman speaking Mandarin, moving about in China where he was recently ambassador, and holding his adopted Chinese daughters accompanied by text declaiming Huntsman’s lack of “American values” (apparently neither tolerance nor rationalism are among those values according to Paul) the implication was Huntsman retains more allegiance to China than to America, going so far as to question the parentage of his daughters, asking, “China Jon’s daughters: Even adopted?” insinuating Jon had committed that Republican mortal sin, cross-racial insemination.
C'mon folks how obvious can it be? This may be the most downright stupid expression of brazen xenophobia ever though I’d have to review the collected ad oeuvre of Jesse Helms to make the definitive judgment. I suspected Paul’s cult of supporters were pitiable dopes, but good grief!



Newt, has labeled President Obama “the food stamp president” (Get it? Black? Food stamps?) offered to attend the annual NAACP convention and discuss, “why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” One needn’t demean oneself explicitly parsing the innumerable falsehoods and crude racist myths and declarations in that gem to know how perverse and primitive it is.
Romney belongs to a church that until 1978 officially taught blatantly racist and despicable doctrine that claimed black skinned people are inferior to whites. When asked about this on the campaign trail his stock answer has been "next question". ...he won't address the issue.  (The irony here is his supporters were appalled 4 years ago when it was reported one guy in a church Obama attended made racist statements that the President never heard and clearly disagreed with, throwing that particular fellow under the bus and running him over repeatedly...yet that never stopped their criticism)  But a religion that taught racism as stock and trade...part of doctrine IS acceptable...of course this racism was not aimed towards the Caucasian so that's obviously different! (Sure it is). Up is down, War is peace.

Not to be outdone in the Republican competition to insult entire races of people, Rick Santorum uttered this treasure: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn money.” The obvious implication is that blacks don't work and are a financial  burden.  These racist smears aren’t rare, they’re a prominent pattern of the Southern Strategy in Republican politics for many decades now.

On cue, Newt and Santorum pulled out the old original Nixon trope adopted by all Republicans since, “I’m shocked and outraged you would consider my comments to be in any way racist.”  Republicans remain dull enough to mistake what they regard as the effectiveness of a ploy with actually eluding moral accountability for their indecent hateful putrid speech.

 Is it possible to believe even they are dim enough to believe their own defense?
“I’m not racist just because I repeatedly exploit vicious racial stereotypes”
Before anyone whines that these are anomalies, I’ll remind them these are three top tier Republican candidates for president of the United States speaking during a primary campaign, and that it doesn’t get any more center stage than that in American politics.

The Republican Strategy


I know I probably shouldn’t be, but I’ve been shocked by the right wing reaction to shooting of Trayvon Martin. In what appeared to me to be a tragic loss that the nation and indeed the world should morn together, ideologues have decided to make a circus of to display their commitment to racism.
Reactions have ranged from a desperate search for ways to make it the fault of a kid with a can of tea and a bag of skittles in his hands, to hysterical accusations of some kind of liberal plot. The shooter of course should not be convicted by public opinion but the incident is certainly a crime that calls for HONEST investigation and justice in a courtroom.
I was a bit stunned, to tell the truth, that  people would have tried to turn the unjustifiable shooting of a kid into evidence of the evils of the left, but I thought about it for awhile. And when I hear some idiot’s vile reaction to the death of an innocent young man into context with all of the other spew I hear from the right wing every day, then it makes “sense” for the right wing to blame those damned libruls.

The Republican Party has destroyed the American standard of living. No Ifs Ands Or Buts. They have basically enslaved millions of people-NOT by way of one of those goofball conservative welfare fantasies, but by stripping wages so much that people work every hour they can just to have enough to eat and a place to sleep. (We won't even delve into the slave labor issues of  the "free market" abroad). When asked ,who do the right wingers blame? "The lazy and slothful American workers" for having it “too good.”.

Instead of trying to exercise some of that “American exceptionalism” the fools of the right talk about by demanding that every working American be treated with a minimum of morality, the modern conservatives and their hateful followers choose to denigrate, attack, and complain about American people who work hard, play by the rules, and just try to get along from day to day.
 "How dare you question the wisdom of the CEO of Bank Of America quadrupling his own pay while the bank itself is implicated in fraud, theft, and scams... while only existing as a result of your tax dollar bailout"!
Indeed how dare you bring that up or point that out?   "Your a pinko, anti-American, communist!"
Only a commie would complain about the CEO who gives himself a 30 milion dollar bonus the day after laying off 10,000 Americans (and replacing them with 30,000 10 cent an hour people in India or better yet political prisoners in labor camps in China ).






The GOP has turned America into an anti-science menace feared and loathed the world over. Instead of recognizing that the gun is not the way to solve all disputes with other nations, however, the GOP and their mindless parrots have instead become enraged at any country who dares to question it's wars for nothing. So what if we  flat-out lied to get us into a war of choice-forget about all that! Instead, be furious at FRANCE for daring to complain about our illegal and evil warmongering! France is obviously full of evil LIBRUL America-haters!
(Viva la France!)
The GOP has morphed into a white supremacist organization that appears to have been the designated successor of the United Klans of America. In case after case, Republicans have tried to displace minorities from their homes, keep minorities from voting, and legalize overt racism nationwide. But don’t bother trying to explain this to a rabid right-winger; you’ll get a diatribe on how those damn lazy (insert epithet for minority here) don’t WORK hard enough! How they all sit on their asses and expect handouts! Oh, and them damn illegals-they is KILLING our schools and our hospitals! It certainly isn’t the fault of employers who happily hire them because they can’t complain about wages or working condituions, no sir!
And women?
There are too many wrongs to catalog here. From their “neglect” of their children due to working for a living (which most have to do in any case,) to their “sluttiness” because they want insurance to cover birth control, to their “asking for it” because of the way they dress, or where they go… According to the GOP, they’re just plain evil. And naturally, "LIBRULISM" is to blame for that.


I could, of course, go on in this vein. And on, and on. But I don’t have to, because you know what I’m talking about. No matter how much these idiots screw up, it will always be the fault of “the left.” Sure, they might have to twist themselves into pretzels to make that argument, but we know from their “service” records that most of them are spineless anyway, so it isn’t a big deal.

Yes, I’ve been disappointed and indeed shocked more times than I can count now. But I finally understand what the phrase “American exceptionalism” actually means.
Our sadly powerful fringe right wing is known the world over for exceptional idiocy.






Monday, April 2, 2012

Across The Great Divide



I've read polls that indicate that 40% of Americans don't believe in evolution. Whenever I encounter one of these folks, they claim there is not enough evidence to convince them. yet they are always convinced an invisible man who lives in the clouds created all life...with not so much as a shred of evidence. They also have a very simplistic and inaccurate understanding of evolution... "man came from monkeys" (as opposed primates having common ancestry for instance). They seem to believe whatever they choose regardless of facts, probability, or observable evidence conflicting with those views.
Before someone with a differing
  view rightfully objects to simply taking my word for the legitimacy of the theory of evolution lets look at the facts. Evolutionary theory is the idea that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time. Overwhelming evidence supports this fact. Scientists continue to argue about some details of evolution, but the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago. This tends to be the case in science, as we'd not bother to continue asking questions if we knew all there was to know and unlike ideologues, a scientist must adjust his thesis based on new evidence. The dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. His discovery tweaked our understanding of the solar system we live in, yet it certainly did not lead anyone to question the notion of heliocentrism. In 2005, when aside from it's large moon Charon, it was observed that Pluto also has 2 smaller moons, this did not suggest that a return to the Ptolemaic system of Earth being the center of the Universe was in order. At any rate, the history of living things is documented through multiple lines of evidence that converge to tell the story of life through time. There is the fossil recordhomologies, the distribution of evidence in time and space,  and evidence by example. Natural selection can be observed for instance in bacteria treated with antibiotics, the survivors reproduce and become a drug resistant strain.

But the rejection of evolution is but one facet of the Great Divide which I refer to, this divide is between those who have an overall disdain of reason, science, logic, conscience, and the notion of self governing democracy and those who think these things are pretty good ideas.



I'm not sure what the solution is, but there is little point of conversing with someone who believes scientists routinely lie because they have some political agenda. Okay, I'll buy that there has always been a contingent of idiots at play in every civilization, but it may be a unique situation since the advent of democracy to have such a vast network of political machinery dedicated to institutionalizing & empowering utter idiocy. Once a person abandons reason, conscience dissipates as well. This creates a state of deference, a willingness on the part of people to accept being the bottom of some imaginary hierarchy constructed by those who would place themselves at the top. I think this is why we see this great divide. Dumb people are easier to fleece and be lead than any person who  might ask questions. A nation of ignoramuses will believe anything they are told, their deference yields decisions to a higher power - some group of people who have constituted themselves as some type of aristocracy. The divide between this group and those who embrace reason as well as democracy (the notion that we are of equal value in terms of governing ourselves) has been growing. With so many of the people crossing the line and entering cloud cuckoo land, I am at a loss as to how the situation can be improved.  Education?  Not all that likely if one rejects and despises reason itself.

Examples of Idiocy-
Denial of relativity ...yes you have to see this crap


Author Chris Moony discusses science denial.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Record Covers of Distinction (or is that Extiction?)

An Addendum to the last post... not only was there a scarcity of cover art 
but there are or were so many other types of artlessness as well. 
 Here is an example of album cover awfulness that must be seen together to fully absorb.
I am assuming "Faith" is the one in white.
One just knows the fellow on the right gets his kicks from removing the wings of insects.
The other two gents might be mannequins.
But then again, mannequins are seldom in need of serious orthodontia.
No doubt this type of early American style furniture will once again be all the rage so check your local dumpster or thrift shop and stock up now! Don/t forget the fake little toy spinning wheel.
It's an important detail.
They are apparently stunned from having just heard their own album for the first time 
and the Holy Pizza  guy just arrived with their Cheeses Saves special!

But then again, they may have just seen the rare second combing of Bigfoot!

Their Bible seems to be open to Hardwood 4: 5, 'May your faith rest as on maple,
and your coverings depict the New World.'
At first I was inclined to give credit where it is due and salute this group's math skills however their other release reveals some math "Home Skoolin'" problems.

Click on the photo for a larger image!
Whoa...so it seems they added another manikin.
 They became a quartet, and they were doing so well with the maths on that last album.
 Yes, it seems the Faith Four have joined the ranks of Christian groups who can not count...
I am not disappointed!  
It seems they stumbled over a fifth of bourbon
 and figured it was 6 shots of one and something of the other
--and for this foursome that's math enough!
YUP!
There are still the orthodontia issues,
 and the fellow on the right has graduated from pricking the wings off insects
 to dissecting neighborhood pets. 
The song "So it's Different Now" was obviously about Faith's sex change operation.
  You might say the Faith Four were "members only" now.
 I'm sorry, but such intrepid dorkdom simply was not ever taken seriously,
 not in any era or place in this universe.
 As for the songs, ""Do You Know + He Touched Me + That's Enough"...well I guess that was about the local parish priest.  "Stepping in the Light" was about stepping in something, but it wasn't light in truth.
The full title of the album was intended to be
 "Born to serve the Lord, on a stick, at the county fair, in hell." 
But alas, they didn't know anyone who could spell that many words for them.


Filed under Christian groups who can not count from hell
Click if you dare view a larger image!


Posted by Staff Musicologist
Dr. Wayne Kerr
(He wears those rubber gloves because his palms are hairy)

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Scarcity Of Album Cover Designs

By Dr. Wayne Kerr
Staff Musicologist
Greetings audiophiles! Today we are discussing the apparent shortage of album artwork that occurred in the Christian Music market .Though we here at the Without Shoes website are all for recycling and all things green (especially greenbacks) we are not particularly fond of recycling album art. Is there really any need or excuse for this? I mean let's say you are on such a low budget that you just can't afford a proper photographer or professional artist to render an original work to package your "artistry" in...I would imagine you, yourself or a friend might be able to come up with something reasonably appropriate. Imitation, as the most sincere form of flattery only goes so far. (The highest form of flattery of course is a plateau.)  


There is no greater loathe....

The Crusaders Quartet (with no photo of the group, we can't poke fun at their math skills as many of these outfits tend to call any number of people  quartets) sing just for you! That's right, if you buy this album you'll be the first person to hear them sing. (Apparently the recording engineer left the studio with the tape running and returned when their time was up to shut it off.  No one mastered the tape, I mean they couldn't afford the film to take a picture for the cover so they definitely couldn't afford a mastering house. The group itself did not have any audio equipment to play their album on so they have never heard it either. So yes, They sing JUST for you!



Not only couldn't these guys bother coming up with an original design for their album cover, but they couldn't bother checking the spelling of the word "Harmony". One wonders if there is only one song on this album or if they misspelled "songs" as well. If there is only one inspiring gospel song, do they sing it more than once?
If not what is on the rest of the album? Perhaps some inspiring grain alcohol abuse?


So, does that mean your dead?

Of course not everyone's idea of heaven is a field with a birch tree in it. 
Some people prefer a conifer.

Which organ does he favor?
You'd think someone would have picked a color for the font that was not in the background if they had some notion that someone, someday might attempt to actually try to read it...but you'd be wrong.


Experiencing a little Déjà vu?


What are the heavens selling?


Of course there are many who believe that there is no terra firma at all in heaven.
Rather, it is a place one eternally treads water while being pelted with sea gull excrement.
Giving credit where it is due, these folks in Nottingham are proud to distinguish themselves from the angry hordes of Christian groups who have demonstrated alternate views on how many people comprise a quartet.
Though I'm not so keen on getting rolled by anyone, ethereal or not.

The "Harmenaires" return to rip off another cheesy album cover!
Alas they still haven't learned to spell their name.

Some may feel faith is great, but lame recycled album covers are not so great.
Who is "thy" in this title?
God? God has faith? In himself?
Well if he-she- it... exists in some corporeal sense, (and being a supreme being I'd assume that there was at least as much self awareness we mere mortals possess) then no faith is particularly required.

Lori loves nature, despite what it did to her.
One is wont to wonder what the producers of these album covers think of the human race...from an outsider's point of view.

In parting,
 let it be said that no one has ever gone broke
 underestimating the capacity of human consumption of  worthlessness.
Yet in the arts, one might think creativity would be deemed of some value...but you'd be wrong.

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