Independent Country

I wonder why so many people who took the side of Han Solo when they were kids now support the stormtroopers.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Happy birthday Lucinda Williams!

January 26 in history

1838 – "Tennessee enacts the first prohibition law in the United States"

How could they enact such a stupid law? Were they drunk?

Notable quote

"Building weapons that we don’t need, don’t work, and aren’t necessary, and have no mission — that’s not bad politics, that’s robbery." - Paul Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008)

Song of the Day

Happy birthday Lucinda Williams!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Warren Zevon still in our hearts

January 24 in history

1933 – "The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, changing the beginning and end of terms for all elected federal offices."

One of the few Constitutional provisions that aren't ignored.

1984 – "The first Apple Macintosh goes on sale."

I though I was eating them long before that.

Notable quotes

"An unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences." - Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862 - August 11, 1937)

"Any team can have a bad century." - Jack Brickhouse, Cubs sportscaster (January 24, 1916 – August 6, 1998)

Song of the Day

Warren Zevon would have been 69 today. Still in our hearts.




Saturday, January 23, 2016

When Rock and Roll officially became institutionalized



A great start. Now the Hall accepts almost everybody. Pete Rose has a chance to get in.

Notable quote

"It is something that most parents hope for in life: That their children will be moderately successful, polite, decent human beings. Anything on top of that is something you have no right to hope for, but we all do." - Packer great Jerry Kramer (b. January 23, 1936)

Song of the day

Happy birthday Anita Pointer!


Friday, January 22, 2016

I will give this blog to Leno for $45 million


January 22 in history

1889: "Columbia Phonograph is formed in Washington, D.C."

And they signed Bruce Springsteen the next day.


2010: "Conan O'Brien performs his last Tonight Show on NBC as a part of the Tonight Show conflict of 2010."

One year, NBC thought Conan was indispensable. Next year, they pay $45 million to get rid of him. I want to work for NBC!

Notable quote

"If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them."

  - Francis Bacon (January 22, 1561 - April 9, 1626)

Song of the Day

From Malcom McLaren (January 22 1946 – April 8 2010), who would have turned 70.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

I know how Mac Davis feels

January 21 in history

1908 – "New York City passes the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public, only to have the measure vetoed by the mayor."

Clearly he was swayed by the tobacco lobby.

1977 – "United States President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders, some of whom had emigrated to Canada."

Because of these cowards, we're all speaking Vietnamese today!

Notable quote

"Princes may make laws and repeal them, but they can neither make nor destroy virtue, and how indeed should they be able to do what is impossible to the Deity himself?" - Ethan Allen (January 21, 1738 - February 12, 1789)

Song of the Day

Happy birthday, Mac Davis!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

So isn't THIS the real Independence Day?

January 20 in history

1783 – "The Kingdom of Great Britain signs a peace treaty with France and Spain, officially ending hostilities in the American Revolutionary War."

So isn't THIS the real Independence Day?

1877 – "Last day of the Constantinople Conference which resulted in agreement for political reforms in the Balkans."

Good thing it happened. The place could have become a mess.

1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.

But Americans are not like Europeans. It's not like we'll colonize the place!

Notable quote

"Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair." - George Burns (January 20, 1896 - March 9, 1996) 

Song of the Day

Happy Birthday to Eric Stewart! I love the sonic atmosphere...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When going viral was totally not cool

January 19: today in history.

January 19, 1986: "The first IBM PC computer virus is released into the wild. A boot sector virus dubbed (c)Brain, it was created by the Farooq Alvi Brothers in Lahore, Pakistan, reportedly to deter piracy of the software they had written."


Notable quotes

"It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practices a vice with any such criminal intent. He practices his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others" .Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 – May 14, 1887)

Speaking of vices...

"All the things I really like to do are either illegal, immoral, or fattening." - Alexander Woolcott (January 19, 1887 - January 23, 1943)

Song of the Day

Dolly Parton turns 70 today!

This song played on the jukebox in a scene from Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. I wonder whatever became of it?



Fixing Football's Overtime

My latest at the Partial Observer: Fixing Football's Overtime

Monday, January 18, 2016

Why fitness resolutions fail

Every January we hear about how the gyms are crowded. As the weeks pass, attendance declines steadily.

We know why. People made New Year's resolutions about losing weight and getting in shape. And their resolve is strong at the beginning.

But it drops off, quickly.

And these poor souls then feel worse about themselves for not sticking with it.

But I don't think it's their fault. I congratulate them for trying, but the task is nearly impossible.

Here's why:

There's only so much unpleasantness one can absorb in a day.

If you have a stressful or tiring job, are overwhelmed by commitments, and/or have poor relationships, you need your precious leisure time to relax and enjoy yourself.

And if that time is spent in exercises you don't want to do, or planning and preparing meals you don't want to eat, you're pouring on even more unpleasantness in your life.  

And for what? The stress that already exists in your life is likely more damaging to your health than being overweight. Doing yet another unpleasant thing in your day won't make you happier.

That's why people stop going to the gym It's intolerable. They need more pleasure in their day, not less.

And those who can stick it out?

I would look at their work and family situations. If they are having a good time, they can probably afford the challenge of diet and exercise.

That's why I think that for a fitness regimen to work, other things in life must be straightened out first. A good emotional state must exist before undergoing new physical challenges. Otherwise, the attempt to get in shape becomes yet another problem, instead of a solution.   

It's not worth it. Deep down, we know it's true. That's why we should stop feeling bad about it. Instead, we should work on improving other life conditions before working on our bodies.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Marijuana legalization is the new gambling legalization

Bernie Sanders is receiving good publicity for calling for marijuana legalization.

It might seem like progress. Libertarians have called for the legalization of all drugs for 50 years, and marijuana legalization is finally making headway. But it's highly doubtful that "freedom" is Sanders's reason for his position. Actually it's impossible to believe so.

Consider his opposition the Citizens United decision, Sanders would deny you even the freedom to give money to people you like.

Someone who wants to do that, wants the power to run everything in your life. The reason he might not to do in a particular instance would be pragmatic. That's Sanders's seemingly hands-off approach to marijuana. There's no moral principle at stake, just pragmatic politics and policy.

Meaning, what's best in terms of taxing and spending.

And it's easy for someone like Sanders, who wants "free" medical care for all, to support legalization.

There's the cost-benefit analysis of the drug itself. Will its supposed dangers and supposed benefits, overall, lead to rising or falling costs? The growing consensus is: probably falling

And then there's the cost-benefit analysis of legalization. Money would be saved in the police, judicial, and penal systems, and revenue would be generated from taxing legal marijuana.   

What Sanders likely won't say, however, is that marijuana should be legal because your body belongs to you, and you should be free to do with it as you like.

Because saying so would go against everything he stands for.

When a Statist calls for an illegal thing to be legal, it's about the tax revenue.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Oldies Diary 30 October 2015

Da Ya Think I'm Sexy - Rod Stewart. One Star.

Where Did Out Love Go - The Supremes. 3.5 Stars.

Lean on Me - Bill Withers. 4 Stars.

Cracklin' Rosie - Neil Diamond. 4 Stars times a million.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Oldies Diary 29 October 2015

My first day of this diary is unusual, and the next few days may be unusual as well. I traveled 220 miles today, so there will be far more songs mentioned today than I think will be normal for this "Oldies Diary." And I won't remember every song I heard today, but I'll mention what stood out. Here's how I rate songs.

Love Will Keep Us Together - Captain and Tennille. 3 Stars.  Good song that still feels fresh because it's not overplayed. And it reminds me of my early childhood with this on the radio or older siblings playing the record.

Small Town - John Cougar Mellencamp. 1.5 Stars. Fit right in with Mellencamp's Scarecrow album, but as a single got tiresome right out of the gate.

Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen. 1.5 Stars. Again, fits right in with Springsteen's Born in the USA album, but as a single got tiresome right out of the gate.

The Joker - Steve Miller Band. 1.5 Stars. Played just too damn much.

Jet Airliner - Steve Miller Band. 4 Stars.  This also gets play a lot, but never gets old to me.

Kodachrome - Paul Simon. 4 Stars. Because it fits into my vocal range and I can sing along without straining.

Sad Songs Say So Much - Elton John. 3 Stars.

Cat's in the Cradle - Harry Chapin. 2 Stars,

Live and Let Die - Paul McCartney & Wings. 

Love Train - The O'Jays. 3 Stars.

Woolly Bully - Sam the Sham. 1 Star.

Groovin' - The Young Rascals 1.5 Stars. Yawn.

Another One Bites the Dust - Queen. 3 Stars. Teetering on "overplayed."

Movin' Out - Billy Joel. 4 Stars.

I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues - Elton John. 3 Stars

Bennie and the Jets - Elton John. 3.5 Stars.

Heart of Glass - Blondie. 4 Stars.

You're So Vain - Carly Simon. 3 Stars. In the "overplayed" territory.

Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran. 3 Stars. Played just enough, and it's their best song.

Rock the Boat - Hues Corporation. 4 Stars for the first #1 disco hit.

An Oldies Diary Rating System.

I listen to oldies radio stations with some frequency. Not during the workday, but usually while driving and often alternating with nationally syndicated sports talk radio shows. I'll stay with sports until commercials, and stay with oldies until commercials or songs I don't like or have heard too often.

I am 45 years old, Some oldies I remember growing up, some were around after I was born but I didn't know until I reached adulthood, and others were from before I was born. It came to me that I was categorizing songs. To be brief, I'll assign them stars:

1 star: I always switch the dial or turn off the radio when I hear it played.
2 stars: I sometimes listen to the song, but am also likely to turn the dial because I have grown tired of it through sheer repetition.
3 stars: Always keep the song on because I like it.
4 stars:  I turn the volume up because I love it.

I'd like to keep some semblance of a diary of my reactions to songs I recently heard. I'll link to this post each time. If nothing else, I'd like to see if there's a pattern to my tastes. That is, why like this song from this artist, but not this other song from the same artist? Why like this cheery up-tempo song, but not this other one?

I'm not saying that a recording is good or bad. I'm not ranking anything. I'm just reporting on how much I like it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Only the State must respect freedom of speech

Don Boudreaux, from a letter he sent to The Wall Street Journal:
Today’s "Notable & Quotable" reports that more than half of America’s college students oppose free speech on campus – which means that more than half of America’s college students are one small step away from opposing free speech everywhere. 
It's certainly disconcerting that so many oppose free speech on college campuses -- the one place above all that it should be tolerated.

But by saying they  "are one small step away from opposing free speech everywhere," Boudreaux suggests college students are just a small step away from supporting State censorship of words. I don't  draw that conclusion.

After all,  in practical terms we - you and I - oppose free speech almost everywhere already. That doesn't mean we want The State to punish speech. I think Boudreaux would agree...
  • You're within your rights to ask a guest who's making offensive remarks to leave your party.
  •  Ushers or security can escort out talkative patrons during a theater performance.
  • Church leaders can be fired for preaching or writing heresies.
  • Employees on the job aren't exactly free to air their grievances with their employer in front of others without risk of being fired.
  • Individuals can be fired for remarks made in social media, on their own time, about issues that have nothing to do with their job.
  • Social media platforms have terms and conditions regarding content.
A university is similar. The most it can do to punish speech is fire or expel people. It can't fine, punish, or execute them.

While those who oppose free speech on campus are more likely to support State censorship, there's still much more than a "small step" between the two, just as there's more than a "small step" between agreeing with YouTube or Twitter closing an offensive user's account, and saying that user should go to jail.

The State must respect your freedom of speech. No one else has to.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why did Gloria Steinem say that?

This morning on CBS, Gloria Steinem was on, uh, CBS This Morning.

She said the #1 feminist issue in the world, along with equal pay, is violence against women: sexual violence, domestic violence, violence in wartime.

One piece of evidence of this, she says, is that for the first time ever there are fewer women in the world than men.

My initial thought: "China's one-child policy, where parents favor having boys." This is unfortunate in itself, but not violence.

My Dad said, "Fewer major wars." Which is a good thing. In America alone, more men would be killed in a day of combat in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII than we've lost in combat in the past forty years. The difference in Europe and Asia between combat dead, then and now, is even more stark.

I don't want to diminish Steinem's overall point about violence against women, which should be eliminated. And war itself should be eliminated. The time constraints of the interview prevented Steinem from elaborating. 

Which is too bad. Yes, women lost in wartime is terrible, and violence against women overall is terrible. But I don't see how it remotely explains that there are fewer women than men. Intuitively, my Dad and I seem to have better explanations. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What's democracy got to do with it?

A Mormon leader, Dallin H. Oaks, announced that public officials "are not free to apply personal convictions -- religious or other -- in place of the defined responsibilities of their public offices." 

This makes sense. Don't seek a job from The State if it inherently or may possibly violate your convictions, and if you are already an officeholder and face an unexpected conflict between your duties and your conscience, then quit.  
  • If you are an enlisted soldier, you don't get to choose which wars to fight. You can't support one war but be a conscientious objector to another.
  • If you are a county clerk and issuing marriage licenses is part of your job, you don't get to stop issuing them because you disagree with the law's definition of marriage.  
Most people on all sides of war, marriage, and other issues tend to agree on that point, and this Mormon leader says what seems to be to be common sense. One way of saying it is the first of Richard Maybury's Two Laws: Do all you have agreed to do.

But as reported,  Oaks also "said citizens in a democracy are bound by the governmental law and court rulings, even when conflicts between religion and law arise."

What's democracy got to do with it?

If the law is unjust, why does it matter if it was imposed by democratic institutions or by a dictatorship? The State employee is still conscience-bound to enforce the State's decrees, as he or she agreed to do, or to quit.

And citizens who never sought State jobs -- who never agreed to do anything for The State -- are no more no more bound, morally, to obey unjust laws in a democracy than in a dictatorship.

Injustice is injustice, regardless of the system of government. There are pragmatic reasons to suffer some degree of systematic injustice if punishment or death is the alternative. But I don't see how there's a moral requirement to support injustice just because a democracy produced it.