Sunday, October 30, 2005

 

Music Musings

Coheed & Cambria's "Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV - Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness" is as wonderful as the title is long. If Mastodon is prog-metal and The Mars Volta is prog-punk, then this might be prog-emo. But C&C is probably closer to prog-metal than Mastodon, who might be closer to prog-hardcore, and The Mars Volta is probably more emo than C&C, even though they maybe belong in the prog-salsa category. Or something like that. Anyway, "Good Apollo" is right up there with the best of Rush and Queenryche. Yea - that good. What's amazing is how listenable it is in the context of modern music, despite the long runtime and lack of verse-chorus-verse songwritting. Maybe that's exactly why it's so easy to listen to.

On the other hand, My Morning Jacket's "Z" has to be the most disappointing pick-up of the year. From everything I've heard about the band, I expected a country-rock blend somewhere in-between that of Son Volt and Drive-By Truckers. Nope - nothing of the sort, and frankly I don't care for the album one bit. The next time I see a band getting such overwhelmingly good reviews and gets name-dropped by so many other muscians, I'm running far away (shoulda learned my lesson on this one after the whole Arcade Fire deal).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 

Is Wal-Mart Good Or Bad For The Economy?

The question in the title has been one that's been hotly debated in recent years. Many of those who believe that strong wages drive economic growth believe, of course, that Wal-Mart has been overwhelmingly bad. Those that feel that low prices rule over all else tend to think the opposite. Economic propellerheads have leaned towards supporting Wal-Mart, especially since those sort of people tend to be globalists and like the fact that WM sources goods from low-labor-cost markets. Folks in the pro-WM group often express feelings that the "antis" are just a bunch of pro-union lefties.

To answer the good-bad question, Wal-Mart is sponsoring a debate of economists, who will present papers on the topic on Nov. 4th. While I'm guessing this was assumed to be a slam-dunk for Wal-Mart, previews of the papers are showing that it's not necessarily the case. Not only are some of the studies looking to knock WM off its "we help more than we hurt" pedestal, but additionally, they might even go so far as to question WM's efficiency advantage over mom-and-pop competitors.

Needless to say, I await further info on this, and will attempt to follow up on this as more becomes available.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

 

Expanding The Police State

As Radley Balko informs us, the apparent correct departmental action to take when an officer is involved in a questionable shooting is to expand the number of sitautions in which the use of deadly force is acceptable.

 

Betting On Politics

Seems like everyone's been mentioning Tradesports in the context of the Harriet Miers confirmation (not looking good in the high 20s), but it's also interesting to see what people are betting on happening in the Tom Delay case (doesn't looking like convinctions are likely) and Plamegate (Libby and Rove better get used to spending some time in court).

 

Update On The London Subway Shooting

It's interesting how a quick search on Google News reveals that the only source of news on this in the last month or so is being published by sources in far-away places like India or Qatar. A conspiracy? Unlikely - more like a short attention span by most media sources.

Friday, October 21, 2005

 

Get 'Em While They're Young

I see the skinhead movement has now moved on to using jailbait to advocate white supremacy.















"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white. We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."

Nice, eh? Hopefully these girls will grow up and eventually realize what complete idiots they have for parents.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

 

Is Conservatism Dead?

Oberon and I have kicked this question around many times before, and I think every time we've had the conversation, it's ended up with us both resigned to the fact that, if given the choice, people will choose the path of less individual liberty.

Anyways, the federal spending data presented here should pretty much kill the idea that there's any conservative moment in modern government.

 

Quote Of The Day

Whoa:

George F. Will's next column just moved on the wire. It's about the Miers nomination, of which Will does not approve in the same way that Sitting Bull did not approve of Custer.

I look forward to reading that one in a few days.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

 

EFF Decodes Printer Microdots

The EFF has found that many color laserjet printers identify themselves and the time and date of the print job via a system of microdots that are printed onto every page. Nice, eh?

If you're going to use such a device to print out death threats or perform counterfeiting, then you may want to consult this list. Better yet, stick to legal activities, and ponder why such encoding systems have been put into place. A bit of arm-twisting by law enforcement, perhaps? They seem like the ones that would benefit most from such a system.

Friday, October 14, 2005

 

Cali To Regulate Cow Emissions

This has dramatic consequences for those of us that need to emit noxious gases as a by-product of digestion.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

 

Probably Better Than Anyone Else In '08

Hilarious.

 

Notes From Seoul

My wife is photoblogging our trip at http://mrsangryengineer.blogspot.com.

Misc. comments and observations:

American music rules over here. The cab we got into had Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" blaring on the radio; I heard early Fountains Of Wayne coming out of some cafe as we walked down the street.

There's lot of Korean cars over here, and little else. I saw a Honda Accord today and it stuck out like a sore thumb. What's shocking is the range of vehicles offered by Hyundai and Kia - everything from microcars to large motorcoaches.

Bicycle traffic is minimal, and there's fewer mopeds than in Europe. Small (<250cc) motorcycles are the two-wheeled transportation of choice, and they even run them down the sidewalks. The riders appear to be wearing knee/shin guards similar to those used by hockey players. There's very few larger motorcycles; I think I've spotted a total of three sportbikes.

My goodness, you couldn't pay me to drive in this city. The traffic is terrible.

The US Embassy here is guarded on the outside by Korean SWAT officiers, who have a little four-wheeled minitank and some armored buses. Clearly, us Americans have taught them well.

Officers here usually aren't armed, but I've seen some carrying batons of approximately 4' in length. I would not want to get hit by one of those. The one gun that I've seen was near the Korean government buildings, and appeared to be a HK53.

13-hour time adjustments are harder to make than 6-hour ones.

Korean taxi drivers are extremely obnoxious around the airport, and will do everything they can to weasel travelers into a cab. We managed to fight them offer, took one of the "limosine buses" into Seoul, and found that it worked out quite well.

I had some tofu soup today that appeared to have one of everything that's ever been harvested from the sea tossed into it, and the broth was much like Tabasco sauce but without the vinegar. It was pretty damn good soup.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

 

The Wall Of Sound

I've been a Bob Mould fan ever since, oh, the fall of '94 or so. Given that he doesn't tour very often, I'd not had the chance to see him live. That is, until last night at the Metro in Chicago.

The opening band, Uncut, was billed as a shoegazer outfit in the vein of My Bloody Valentine. While they've got a ways to go before topping the layered, feedback-driven beauty of "Loveless", they're damn good for a young band. Most impressive was how close they came to losing control of "Understanding The New Violence", a slow-burn sort of track that they just about spun into the wall during the second run through the chorus.

During Uncut's set, Mould stepped out onto the floor about 8 feet to my left to catch a few songs and punch out something on his Treo. I resisted to urge to bother him, a move that was validated after watching his reaction when a few others approached.

Taking a step back to the drive to the venue, I had mentioned to Oberon that it'd be sweet to hear Mould do the first five tracks from Sugar's Copper Blue, since on this tour, he's said to be doing not just his solo stuff but songs from his previous bands (the other being Husker Du, of course). Starting with "The Act We Act" and wrapping up with "Hoover Dam", I honestly feel that it's about the best 16 minutes or so in the last 20 years of rock music, but it was more of a pipe dream than anything else.

Well, I didn't quite get what I wanted, but it was much better than I honestly could have hoped for. Mould hit the stage and proceeded to rip out "The Act We Act", "A Good Idea", and "Changes", thus satisfying 3/5ths of my list right off the bat. And as much as I like the faster tempo and through-the-roof intensity that shows up on Mould's live albums, it's nothing like hearing it in person.

After that, he drove right through his new album Body Of Song, hitting "Circles", "Paralyzed", "I Am Vision (I Am Sound)", "Underneath Days", and "High Fidelity" (a song that benefited greatly from the use of keyboards). "Best Thing" was also worked in at some later point, and a faster-paced run through "Bleeding Heart The Prize" was worked into the first encore. The new material comes off very well in a live setting, undoubtably due to the fact that it's totally driven by Mould's guitar playing.

I was then totally surprised to hear him go into Husker Du's "Hardly Getting Over It", since it was such a change of pace from the start of the set. After that was Husker's "I Apologize", and then an absolutely frantic run through "Chartered Trips" that had me wondering what song was being played until a good minute into it. The live-in-the-studio version on Zen Arcade is already a noisey exploration of the speed of sound; the speed achieved on this particular journey left it sounding less like music and more like the launch of a large rocket. "Could You Be The One?", "Makes No Sense At All", and an amazing take on "Celebrated Summer" rounded-out the Husker Du material.

"Egoveride" and "See A Little Light" were the only songs from his older solo records. They're not two of the songs from that body of work that I'd put at the top of my list, but they sounded good.

"Hoover Dam" and "Helpless" came around later, completing the last 40% of my Copper Blue wish list. The band also did "If I Can't Change Your Mind", and ended the show with "Man On The Moon" - a song I appreciate much more now that I did before.

After the show, Mould hung around the exits and was happy to talk with the departing audience and sign autographs. Amazing - I've never seen an artist do that before, not a single time in over 100 concerts that I've attended in the last decade. On-stage, he's a alt-rock god, but when he's not playing, it's clear that he's trying very hard just to be a regular guy. Too cool. I mumbled "thanks" to him and got a signiature on my ticket stub. Oberon at least had the balls to shake his hand.

Was this the best concert I've ever seen? At this point, I'd have to say so.

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