Thursday, March 23, 2006

Proto-Pachyderms

Interesting study, though perhaps the conclusions are fit for the "No shit" file.

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

[...]

The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

h/t John

Is anyone surprised by this? It certainly seems possible to extend these conclusions into support for CW that shows us conservatives spring more often from the mid-west (less ethnic, religious and social strata) while liberals spring most often from the coasts/metropolitan centers (more layers than spanikopita). One doesn't last long in the latter areas while being "uncomfortable with ambiguity".

No doubt the Freepi will pound on this study as much as they bemoaned the "crazy conservatives" study referenced in the article. My favorite part is when they all spend a bizarrely large amount of energy impugning studies and their authors, all the while dismissing them out of hand as blindly biased.

Me thinks the wingers doth protest too much. I know, I know. A real news flash, that.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Stunned Speechless

Diary. Video.

For the 6,435th time during this administration, I don't have the words.

It seems that my cats



are cheating on me with another blogger.

While I can't fault them for their taste, I am feeling a little miffed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Just a Small Point About "Enumeration"

In the firestorm of discussions about the SD abortion law, a number of highly relevant questions are emerging about the precious few that might fall under the vaguely expressed exceptions.

From the bill:

[T]he physician shall make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.

In defense of the bill, supporters are claiming that this clause will allow for abortion when the woman's health is gravely endangered by any number of complications that can arise.

And it strikes me -- for a crowd SO eager to sing the praises of enumerated powers (especially those that aren't, like, say.... PRIVACY) they sure have played fast and loose with this so-called exception clause. They'll claim, in political circles, that various scenarios can easily be accommodated under this exception, but should this atrocity ever become functional law, they'll go on prosecutorial orgy when doctors abort for reasons they don't find "life-threatening".

A particularly good point was made elsewhere in a comment thread that the SD legislature likely thought not an instant about women whose pregnancies don't necessarily threaten their lives immediately, but for whom the long-lasting affects of pregnancy can significantly reduce their health if not kill them prematurely (cardiac patients, diabetics etc). Excellent observation, I say. How would Mr. Napoli respond, I wonder?

I can just see the efforts, a decade post-Roe, in which analysts start pointing to the increase in women's mortality in prohibitive states like SD. Given the GOP's embrace of global warming data, just how quick do you think they'll be to see this new connection?

Yeah. Right.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Nuggets

My Amusement Park has an interesting discussion on the NYT "Brokeback marriages" article. I missed the original piece, and this was my first visit to the blog, so if you're in the same spot and would like something new, stop by.

From IddyBud: "If SD State Senator Bill Napoli's narrow-valued religious triumphalism had ruled the day, allowing exemptions for only freshly raped, impregnated "religious virgins" to obtain abortions in South Dakota, I guarantee you'd see a hell of a lot more rape charges going up against young South Dakota men and a lot more pregnant girls claiming to be "pious." Let's not push our young generation into this kind of false faith, fear, and judgement. It's ugly."

Molly rants: "For years, the women's movement has been going around asking, "Who decides?" as though that were the issue. Well, here's the answer. Bill Napoli decides, and if you're not happy with that arrangement, well, you'd better be prepared to do something about it."

Hooray for Feingold, very possibly the only testicle-bearer in Congress.

Great line: "Bush's invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Bush's attempt to cover up his mistake with patriotism will ultimately discredit patriotism." Oh, sweet irony, you tenacious creature. The very party obsessed with the "sanctity of marriage" doesn't give a rusty fuck about the sanctity of patriotism, outside of its lipstick-on-a-pig function, that is. Another wholesome product from your friends at BushCo!

Greenwald. Flawless. As usual.


It looks like the inside of a snow globe here in Littleton, today. A perfect day for smokin a j, fixing some french toast, then soaking in a long, hot bubble bath.

I'll leave it to you to guess which I'm actually doing.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bizarre Dovetail to Follow

As evidenced in an earlier post, I'm ear-deep in a music jones. I'll spare you the existential ramblings as to why; suffice to say, it's a good tonic as I decompress after the move and settle into the "vibe" here.

Surely, constant readers, I need not remind you how regularly I assail the religious right. But here's something that may surprise you:

I think one of the most beautiful pieces of pop music produced in the last decade is Jars of Clay's "Worlds Apart". Get thee to your P2P client and just find a copy.

I really liked this band when I first heard them because of the the generous use of acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. Some of you may recall "Flood" getting considerable airplay, along with its inclusion in some made-for-cable film or another.

Anyway, I knew that they were a big name in the growing genre of "Contemporary Christian" music, but I was a hippie before I was a self-indulgent, arm-chair pundit with a blog, and was bothered not whit over their topic of choice.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised there, too, because the lyrics are very personal. "I" and "you" get substituted for "me" and "Jesus" throughout, and several of them are simply love songs. If you didn't know what boys weren't talking about their girlfriends, you'd have no real reason to think otherwise.

"Worlds Apart" is clear in the object of its address, and is definitely not as ambiguous as some of its predecessors on the CD. However, it's only well crafted, mixed and performed, but the lyric is an impassioned prayer with such raw, tendor candor that I find it impossible not to be moved while listening to it. The lead and background vocals are sung at a velvety near-whisper, the last passage (as it breaks out of stanzas) more like a chant than melody. It's really quite something.


I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all adds up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
more deeply than the oceans,
more abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees

All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me

Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart


I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can't deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart


I will probably always bristle at the imagery, but that's neither here nor there in this instance. But if every message I'd encountered from Christianity were as tender and nakedly honest as this one, I'd be a lot warmer to its leaders and followers. Of course, some of its followers are that tender already. I hope they get the seat at the table that's been hijacked by their ugly imitators, I really do.

In Praise of Small Cracks

Having once before praised Leonard Pitts, Jr for several righteous turns of phrase, color me unsurprised that he's done it again. Go get some fabulous ass-kickery before you wander away...

After just listening to Joe Scarborough join the growing ranks of dissenters on the right by saying he's "embarrassed to be a Republican", I'm almost tempted to hope that comments like that and articles like the above are genuine signs that the cracks in the GOP facade of "family values" and "compassionate conservatism", or hell, just "competence", are finally becoming apparent to even the most strident Bush defender.

Naturally, there will always be a contingent of GW Junkies that will never give up the ghost. While I think they'd generally do more for the world as ground beef than as voters, I expect that the worst will be ruthlessly marginalized into obscurity for the pinheads they are. In the meantime, I take a distinct pleasure in seeing the Head Idiots of the GOP called on their bullshit in a highly vociferous and highly visible fashion.

And it's not just for the adolescent rush of self-righteousness (though I will admit I sometimes vacation there; the brochures are so tempting!). It's because I have to hope that this reign of feckless, imbecilic incompetence is about to end. This administration has pissed off far too many of the revered "moderates", (you know, that giant swath of voters in between the staunchly left or right that are hallowed as a candidate's road to glory) to recover without a debilitating limp.

I'm not about to haul out hackneyed pleas of "appealing to the center" since it's been done to death and I don't think anyone gets the concept anyway. Save for a precious few, our elected leaders seem to think this means pandering just inside the envelope of left or right (never mind that the positions they stake are on total non-issues). I don't pretend to be a strategist, but at some point, doesn't this become something of a no-brainer? No, you can't spread democracy across the globe at the end of a gun barrel, and no, you can't dismantle the military and redirect funding to pot farming (my endorsement of the latter notwithstanding). But there are a hell of a lot of options in between those two positions, don't you think?

Why the hell is it so hard to find a single inch of common ground? We can yell and scream about (insert your favorite pundits here), but the Malkins and the Dobsons pretty much just kick back and turn a profit on collective impotent, misdirected rage. They sell what we're buying, and as long as we eat it up like drippy ice cream on a summer day, they're going to keep ranting, keep fundraising, keep organizing.

Of course I'm biased here, I don't pretend otherwise. The radical fundamentalist right in this country have had their little bit of fun, but now it's time to stop. Now it's time for them to crawl out from under the rocks and understand that the spirit of domestic laws and foreign policy should not be punitive. That it is not their job to scold, cajole and bully the rest of us into doing things their way like obedient little lambs. Just because they could be brain-washed and indoctrinated into thinking gay people go to hell and that the earth is only 6,000 years old doesn't mean the rest of us are going to buy it, too. Pounding us over the head with fire and brimstone does not convert us, it repulses us. And whether you like it or not, "we" number in the millions, too.

If Bush and his groupies want to pretend that no one gets to disagree with them because they're right by divine proscription, they're perfectly welcome to do that. Just don't expect to maintain the slimy web of monopoly you've wrapped around our government, because even your own are begging for showers now. Maybe Scarborough will lend you the soap.

Yeah, What He Said

Since evidently I'm on a "I read blogs so you don't have to" kick, please pay a visit to Oliver Willis and soak up "I Am A Progressive".

This should be the foundation of the Democratic party platform, shouted proudly from the rooftops.

What a Schmuck

There's a woman in San Diego whose manager fired her on the spot after noticing the Air America bumper sticker on her car.

During the brief encounter, Laroca charges, the manager pointed to the bumper sticker ---- the only one on Laroca's car ---- and remarked that it was a new sticker and called it "that Al Franken left-wing radical radio station."

Laroca alleges in her suit that Fath then told her, "The country is on a high state of alert. For all I know, you could be al-Qaida."

Aside from being just a general waste-of-skin caliber idiot, this firing is recklessly stupid for its blatant illegality. This moron doesn't deserve to manage anything, anywhere.

And conservatives wonder why liberals slam them for being narrow-minded, bigoted and hateful.

<rolls eyes>

(h/t Ed Tracey)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Lizard and the Monkey

A monkey is sitting in a tree smoking a joint when a lizard walks past and looks up and says to the monkey, "hey! what are you doing?"

The monkey says "smoking a joint, come up and have some."

So the lizard climbs up and sits next to the monkey and they smoke a while.

After a while the lizard says his mouth is "dry" and is going to get a drink from the river. The lizard is so stoned that he leans too far over and falls into the river.

A Crocodile sees this and swims over to the lizard and helps him to the side,then asks the lizard, "what's the matter with you?"

The lizard explains to the crocodile that he was sitting smoking a joint with the monkey in the tree, got too stoned and then fell into the river while taking a drink.

The crocodile says he has to check this out and walks into the jungle, finds the tree where the monkey is sitting, finishing a joint, and he looks up and says "hey you!"


The Monkey looks down and says "fuuuuuuck, dude.... how much water did you drink?!!"

(h/t to Mark from a usenet forum)

CNN on Dubai

So, I'm sitting here watching Blitzer this afternoon, and the hot topic of the hour is the announcement of the nuking of the ports deal. The basic narrative over the ensuing half-hour is roughly this:

1.) Port deal has been sunk, largely due to Democrats and the "American People".

2.) Business analysts then chime in to say that going forward, the UAE may want to "rethink" a number of alliances and deals with the U.S. now that we've rained on their parade.

3.) Military analysts follow up by adding, "Yeah! And our bases in the UAE are critical in the WOT!"

4.) Then, segment teaser asks whether or not Iran is the most serious threat to America these days.

The ease with which I can imagine the reaction of some of the Bushies I've spoken with over the past 5 years is shocking. They'd point to these three stories as evidence of Liberal Bias in the media, since each focuses on what they perceive as Bush Bashing. "See! People are just being big meanies to Bush and it's because the media is obsessed with criticizing him and everything positive he tries to do for this country!"

However, a different narrative was perfectly clear to me:

1.) Democrats can and will be blamed for the following:
2.) Killing this deal will fuck up the economy,
3.) Killing this deal will fuck up the military,
4.) Oh, and by the way -- Iran wants to blow up your family.

As Bush's apologists myopically focus on the individual stories, they miss that the entire presentation is a WH talking point.

Good for a Giggle

Go check out PoliticsTV, hosted by the inimitable John Aravosis. Today's episode is a biography of everyone's favorite dog lover, Rick Santorum.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Post Mortem"

There's very little point in addressing an issue once Greewald's had a hand at it. Any attempt on my part would surely be tragically lame imitation. Make sure you pay him a visit for his commentary on the pitifully shamelful Senate Intel Committe vote.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

No, it's "Pro-Birth", not "Pro-Life".

Like we need another example?

Once again, the Bush demonstrates that his compassion for you hangs on whether or not you're one of the "unborn". This time, he's decided that funding for programs that support disabled children falls into the "unnecessary spending" category.

On a related note, should anyone be wondering, I haven't written about the sickening legislation coming out of South Dakota (or its twin working it's way through Missouri's state congress) because I honestly can't find the words. If you haven't caught them, there's some well articulated rage here and here.

Some argue that in taking the case, SCOTUS (namely Bush's appointees) would be seen as doling out payback to Bush, and since Roberts et al don't want to appear blatantly untoward, they'll decline... for now.

I desperately want to agree with those that believe, if the case should make its way to SCOTUS, that it will effectively force the court to come down on the side of choice, given the egregiousness of the SD bill in its current form. Such a ruling would serve to reinforce precedent; precisely what the ProBirthers don't want.

More cynically, however, I worry that every gloomy prognostication about Scalia, Alito and Roberts will come to pass, they'll take the case, and decide that the "undue burden" rule laid out in Casey and the "privacy" right laid out in Roe are frivolous readings of the Constitution and overturn the whole lot.

As for my rage that state legislators and their fawning sycophants apparently have no qualms whatsoever about codifing women as nothing more than chattle.... again, I don't have the words right now.

Instead, I'll simply ask these zealots to consider the scenario recently described by Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand:
If a murderer gets out of prison and rapes a woman, she's forced to have his child. If a father brutally rapes his daughter, she is forced to have his child. "You present those arguments to women voters, they are going to be outraged," he says.

If this seems like a histrionic hypothetical, go ahead and visit any number of sex-offender registries available online and pop in your zip code. Then, imagine one of the worst of them paying a little late-night visit to your wife, daughter, sister, mother. Then consider that in some states, rapists can assert parental rights. This, of course, is to say nothing of their recidivism rate. What say you, if said rapist were also a pedophile? Are you so confident in your self-righteousness to dismiss the possibility that such an evil creature would NEVER attempt to, say, abduct the child? Or worse?

I saw somewhere (forgive my faulty memory) a gag on SD's Tourism Board's new ad: "Protecting Rapists' Rights since 2006!". Oh, and don't miss the new logo.

GOP: "Ports? What Ports?"

The AP, surely to be derided once again by wingnuts as suffering from "liberal bias" reminds us today of just how shitty the GOP has been on port security.

--In 2003, House Republicans, on a procedural vote, agreed to kill a Democratic amendment that would have added $250 million for port security grants to a war spending package.

--Two years later, nearly all House Republicans voted against an alternative Homeland Security authorization bill offered by Democrats that called for an additional $400 million for port security.

--Senate Republicans stood together in 2003 to set aside a Democratic amendment that would have provided $120 million more for port cargo screening equipment.

--One year later, all but six Senate Republicans voted to reject a Democratic attempt to add $150 million for port security in a Homeland Security appropriations bill.

Feel free to recite these stats to any winger you encounter that is desperately clinging to the "Dems are soft on security" meme.

Oh, and in case you missed the original, here's a NYT article from February 2005 illustrating just how pathetic the Republicans have been on the issue.

The Department of Homeland Security has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to protect ports since Sept. 11 without sufficiently focusing on those that are most vulnerable, a policy that could compromise the nation's ability to better defend against terrorist attacks, the department's inspector general has concluded.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been invested in redundant lighting systems and unnecessary technical equipment, the audit found, but "the program has not yet achieved its intended results in the form of actual improvement in port security."

[...]

The audit results appear to support criticism voiced last September by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, who complained in a letter to President Bush that the methods used to grant the awards did not make sense.

"Your administration awarded port security grants in the states of Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Tennessee," Mr. Lautenberg wrote. "While there may be some form of maritime facilities in these locations, I question whether, of the nation's 361 maritime ports, these locations are truly the front lines on the war on terror."

[...]

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in four rounds of port security grants, received $6.2 million, or 1 percent of the total grants given out through the primary port security financing source, according to federal documents.

When other New York-based government agencies and private corporations are added in, the grants to the New York City area rise to about $35 million, about 7 percent of the total. The port handles 12 percent of the nation's cargo traffic. Much of the grant money directed to New York went to profit-making oil terminal companies, like Sunoco Logistics Partners, to help them pay for security enhancements.

Go get the rest, including the "questionable projects" listed at the end. The GOP's record on port security is beyond-the-pale neglectful and shoddy, and evidence of it is easily found with the most cursory searches.

Turns out that biblical prophesy is fulfilled in the Republican party after all. Behold the feet of clay.

Politics and Geography [Updated]

[Update below]

Some of you may have caught this story about a teacher here in CO that's come under fire for comments he made in a world geography class. The Denver Post's coverage is here and the audio of the comments in question is here.

I'm torn on this subject, really. While I agree with the teacher's political views, and find a great deal of merit in the points he makes, the fact remains that this was a geography class, not a U.S. government class or a world politics class. School administrators have responded by saying that the commentary fails to honor mandates for "balance" in curriculum, and despite my sympathy for and agreement with what he's saying, I can't pretend that there's any kind of opposing view presented.

See, here's the thing. We don't get to scream at the creationists for trying to inject religion into science classes and then just shrug our shoulders when a teacher tries to inject politics (and unabashedly leftist politics at that) into a geography class, for if we do, we jump headlong into hypocrisy and lose our credibility on the ID front and any other area in which we yell and scream about the "Rethugs" and their reckless application of double-standards.

Have a listen to the audio and see what you think.

March 7 Update:


The Freepers got their hands on a copy of the syllabus (thanks to Raven's View for the find).
In a discussion at another forum, I'd complained about the lack of the syllabus in local media coverage and hoped to have a look, thinking it would pretty much settle the issue for me if political topics were an element of the curriculum.

Well, what do you know? They ARE!

Course Objectives
1. Students know how to use and construct maps, globes, and other geographic tools to locate and derive information about people, places, and environments

2. Students know the physical and human characteristics of places, and use this knowledge to define and study regions and their patterns of change

3. Students understand how physical processes shape Earth’s surface patterns and systems

4. Students understand how economic, political, cultural, and social processes interact to shape patterns of human populations, interdependence, cooperation, and conflict


5. Students understand the effects of interactions between human and physical systems and the changes in meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources


6. Students apply knowledge of people, places, and environments to understand the past and present and to plan for the future


I find it delightfully ironic that they'd post a copy, since it pretty much demolishes their argument that Bennish's comments were totally off-topic for the class. Not surprisingly, they're gleefully responding with "I don't see the Bush = Hitler thing listed anywhere". You can expect more of the usual moronic hysterics in the comments, but this gem really jumped out at me:

The alarms should start going off when you reach "Critical Thinking." This is a code word that has everything to do with criticism, specifically of the status quo, and very little to do with actual thinking. It basically means placing a filter on everything you encounter intellectually (see "critical reading," the next entry down) that assumes that there is an oppressor/oppressed class dynamic that is inseparable from the ostensible message. When you hear somebody insisting "you're only saying that because..." you gotcha one right there.


Placing a filter on everything you encounter intellectually? Yes, Sparky, as possessors of, you know, brains, that's PRECISELY what we're supposed to do. Can you believe this guy? I don't know who told him that students (or anyone else for that matter) should just accept, in toto, whatever they're told, whenever they hear it, but I suppose this attitude really shouldn't suprise me. The Fellating Freepers are renown for their eager swallowing of right-wing propaganda and they've obviously come to believe such behavior should apply to our educational institutions as well. Kool-Aid... it's not just for zealots anymore.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Draft Reynolds

Or, at the very least, read up here.

Just a (Musical) Diversion

As I've probably mentioned in a prior post or two, aside from being a political loudmouth, I'm also a singer. Had I the ambition or appetite for a professional career, it would have been a possibility. However, I hate crowds, loathe the process of travel, and treasure my privacy, so talent notwithstanding, doing it for a living just didn't end up being in the cards.

Point is, this makes me an insufferable music critic, especially in regard to singers. Knowing how tough it can be to execute a good performance, I become incensed over sloppiness and lazy, derivative work. And don't even get me started on the (admittedly cliched) rant about how video killed the radio star...

Anyway, I suffer from just enough hubris to feel compelled to point out some good stuff you may not be aware of:

First, there's the "AcappelaU" podcast. Having spent my entire scholastic life in choirs, many of them a capella, I can attest to how challenging it can be to pull off well. If you're not familiar with this kind of performing, it's exclusively vocal, including the percussion. Simply put, it's a hell of a lot harder than you'd think it is, and anyone that can manage it is worth admiring. This particular show focuses on collegiate a cappella groups and shouldn't be missed if the genre does anything for you. (I'm still catching up on the posted files, but Episode 8 includes some particularly great tracks.)

Now, on to singers of note, but I must preface with a caveat.

I'm generally bored by acrobatic voices. I mean, sure, when Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey first came on the scene they were impressive, since outside of gospel, their kind of style wasn't all that common. Ever since, however, we've seen carbon copy after carbon copy of these vocal gymnastics and frankly, enough already. Think of it this way. Remember when triples were the new big thing in Olympic figure skating? Most attempts resulted in spectacular falls, and when someone nailed such a jump, it really blew you away? Well now, they're standard issue. You can't even get out of regionals if you can't pull a triple, much less get to the Olympics. Once impressive, now ordinary.

I'm sure you can think of other analogies, but I trust you take my point. Showy tricks are cool and all, but sooner or later, everyone learns how to do it and what was once special is now commonplace. This means that we eventually all come back to talent that is pure, unforced, natural. There's a certain quality in some voices that I can't describe well, but I can point out to you not only for sake of example, but because their work deserves every bit of attention it gets.

Jonatha Brooke:
Probably one of the most under-rated and under-exposed artists of the last decade. Not only is her writing complex and compelling, but her vocals are sweet, expressive and silky. Her tone reminds me a bit of Sarah McLachlan, but her songs are edgier and more textured. She uses a lot of alternate tunings on her guitar and is an excellent rhythm player as well. I recommend her "Live" CD and "10 Cent Wings". You'll hear, on the "Live" recordings, nothing short of perfection in terms of performance, and some more really great writing on "Wings". If you like acoustic guitar-centric tunes and graceful alto voices, you need to track this woman down.

Happy Rhodes:
Happy is one of those obscure club singers that enjoys a passionate, but small following. I've never heard her on the radio, I've never seen ads for gigs, but what I gather from her web page she stays mostly on the east coast. Hell, I think she even has a day job. Simply put, she is PHENOMENAL. Mariah Carey's four-octave range gets a good deal of press, but if you've noticed, she really only flirts with that so-high-only-dogs-can-hear end as a matter of flourish, not substance. Not Ms. Rhodes. Not only can she manage 4 (if not 5) octaves, but she's as comfortable in one as any other, and each one is exquisite.

I first discovered her when I saw a P2P song listing ("When the Rain Came Down") that was allegedly a duet between Annie Lennox and Kate Bush. Thinking I'd missed something pretty rare and amazing, I happily downloaded it. Not long into it, however, I realized that neither woman was on this recording and I went about hunting for the actual two artists who produced this impressive track. Turns out it wasn't two women at all, but one. Happy's tenor/alto range is richer than Annie's ever was (and I love her, by the way) and her soprano range rivals Kate's for its effortlessness. Now, her music can very fairly be described as avant garde, not for the instrumental arrangements, but for the melodies, chord structure and lyrics. It's not meat & potatoes music; it's more like filet mignon -- really spectacular, and best when savored on irregular occasions. Then again, I'm a hippie at heart, so my frequency preference is likely driven by my weakness for "wooden music". At any rate, if you want to hear a REAL singer, don't miss Happy. She'll blow your mind.

Eva Cassidy:
I wrote about her once before, but if you missed it, you can catch up here. Your collection is simply not complete without her work, and you'll miss one of the most captivating voices you'll ever hear.

Jessica Andrews:
I wouldn't say I'm a fan of country music, necessarily, but my love for acoustic music means that there are some country artists that get my attention when I'm in the mood. I stumbled across this magnificent creature one day while idly scanning through the channels while stuck in traffic. I haven't listened to country radio in a while, but at the time, her song "Who I Am" was in heavy rotation. Not only is it a great song and a lovely homage to family, what's truly impressive are this girl's pipes. And I do mean girl. I don't know if she was even 20 when her first single came out, but even then, she had a maturity and expertise that most women twice her age never even get close to. Reading up on her history, her producer was quoted at length about her ability to walk into the studio and lay down absolutely flawless tracks in a single take; a feat normally accomplished only by seasoned pros and rarely by anyone of such a tender age. Even if country isn't your bag, it's worth hunting down some of her music just to hear what a completely natural talent sounds like. There's not a single forced note, at no point does it ever sound like she's working hard, but what comes out of her mouth is amazing. Simply amazing.

Ok, that about does it for now. Get to downloading and I'll be back soon with our regularly-scheduled political smart-assery.

Cheers.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Asshole

Go to Google.

Type "asshole"

Hit "I'm Feeling Lucky".

Laugh boisterously.


(hat tip to refinish 69 @ MLW)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"No One Anticipated", eh Georgie?

AP's got a story about "confidential video" in which Bush and Chertoff were told, in no uncertain terms, that New Orleans was about to be obliterated.

Anyone want to wager on whether or not Mike Brown is the leak here? I can imagine quite easily that he's about had it with being the BushCo patsy while everyone else keeps fiddlin'.