May the end of year cliche blogging commence!

As near as I can remember, these are the records that I acquired this year:
  • LCD Soundsystem -- All My Friends EP
  • Various -- Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony
  • Johnny Cash -- American V: A Hundred Highways
  • Various -- Ann Arbor Soul Club
  • Glenn Gould -- Bach: The French Suites
  • Don Dorsey -- Bachbusters
  • Amy Winehouse -- Back to Black
  • Fritz Reiner + Chicago Symphony Orchestra -- Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra and Hungarian Sketches
  • Emerson Quartet -- Bartok: String Quartets
  • The Bar-Kays -- The Best of the Bar-Kays, Volume I
  • The Bar-Kays -- The Best of the Bar-Kays, Volume II
  • Old Crow Medicine Show -- Big Iron World
  • Duke Ellington -- Blues in Orbit
  • Anonymous 4 -- Chant 1000: A Mass for the End of Time
  • Ella Fitzgerald -- The Duke Ellington Songbooks
  • Sonny Clark -- Dial S for Sonny
  • Sleater Kinney -- Dig Me Out
  • Duke Ellington and John Coltrane -- Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
  • Duke Ellington -- Duke Ellington: The Private Collection
  • Foo Fighters -- Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
  • Sidney Bechet -- The Essential Sidney Bechet
  • Duke Ellington -- Far East Suite
  • The Fratellis -- Flathead EP
  • Amy Winehouse -- Frank
  • Sonny Rollins -- Freedom Suite
  • Justin Timberlake -- FutureSex / LoveSounds
  • Dexter Gordon -- Gettin' Around
  • Anonymous 4 -- Gloryland
  • Various -- The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  • Art Blakey -- Jazz in 3/4 Time
  • Glenn Gould -- J.S. Bach: The Goldberg Variations (Zenph Re-Performance)
  • Mark Knopfler -- Kill To Get Crimson
  • Ween -- La Cucaracha
  • Manu Chao -- La Radiolina
  • Lester Young -- Lester Young Trio
  • Leonard Bernstein + New York Symphony Orchestra -- Mahler: Symphonies #1 and #10
  • The Cribs -- Men's Needs, Women's Needs
  • Various -- Mississippi Delta Blues Jam, Vol. 2
  • The Beastie Boys -- The Mix-Up
  • Wayne Shorter -- Night Dreamer
  • Philippe Herreweghe + Collegium Vocale Gent -- Schutz: Opus Ultimum Schwanengesan
  • Daniel Barenboim + Chicago Symphony Orchestra -- Wagner: Overtures and Preludes
  • The Beach Boys -- Pet Sounds
  • Daniel Barenboim + Yehudi Menuhin + Pierre Boulez + New Philharmonia + BBC Symphony Orchestra -- Bartok: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 and Rhapsodies 1 & 2
  • Milt Jackson -- Plenty, Plenty, Soul
  • Van Cliburn + Fritz Reiner + Chicago Symphony Orchestra -- Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5
  • Various -- Scratchology
  • Leonard Bernstein + New York Philharmonic -- Shostakovich: Symphonies #5 & 9
  • The Flaming Lips -- The Soft Bulletin
  • The Rance Allen Group -- A Soulful Experience
  • Ornette Coleman -- Sound Grammar
  • Gnarls Barkley -- St. Elsewhere
  • Clifford Brown -- Study in Brown
  • The Beastie Boys -- To The 5 Buroughs
  • Various -- Unfunkked
  • Sonny Rollins -- Way Out West
  • The Flaming Lips -- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
  • Joanna Newsom -- Ys
  • Ohio Players -- 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection

As you can see, I went a little bit nuts.

Like last year, let's make it a meme. Regular readers are encouraged to respond in comments or on blogs of their choosing.


The perils of small blends

A warning: The 2007 Midleton Very Rare Irish whiskey is in no way the equal of the 2006 blend, except, of course, in price. Snap up the 2006 bottles if you see them.


The perils of channel surfing

"This is something that you may not learn in school. It's nice that you can get it in a music video." -- Some idiot on VH1.


All I want for Christmas...

A newly discovered hunk of space rock has a 1 in 75 chance of slamming into the red planet on January 30, scientists said Thursday.
The asteroid, known as 2007 WD5, was discovered in late November and is similar in size to an object that hit remote central Siberia in 1908, unleashing energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb and wiping out 60 million trees.
If the asteroid does smash into Mars, it will probably hit near the equator close to where the rover Opportunity has been exploring the Martian plains since 2004. The robot is not in danger because it lies outside the impact zone. Speeding at 8 miles a second, a collision would carve a hole the size of the famed Meteor Crater in Arizona.|CNN|



About three months ago I bought a pair of Grado SR-60 headphones with the idea that I'd hook them up to my stereo when listening to music at night. My thinking was that my apartment walls are thin and my neighbor the med student usually has the lights off by 9pm and is out the door in the morning by 7am, and that I could therefore use sensitivity and politeness as excuses for buying some choice gear.

The only problem was that the Grados are so good that I couldn't bear to leave them lying there next to my stereo while I walked out the door listening to my iPod through those horrid ear buds. So before too long the SR-60s were more or less permanently attached to my iPod. Which, while great from a listening perspective, tended to undermine my sensitivity and politeness rationale. You see, the Grado's have an open design, meaning that when I'm rocking out everyone near me is treated to a tinny version of my music. Not a problem when walking down the street, but a rude way to ride the bus, let alone an airplane.

So now I'm in the market for reasonably good closed design headphones. Ideally, I'd like to spend only about $50, but I'd spend more for sound comparable to the Grados'. Also, I'd like to have them in my hands by Monday, so the brand has to be one I can find in the Detroit metro area.

For what it's worth, I happened to be at Target last night and gave the Bose TriPort's a listen. The sound seemed pretty good, though maybe so heavy and full that it verged on mushy. But the cost was more than I'd ideally like to spend, and they felt and looked extremely flimsy.

So, any suggestions?

Russell Means secedes from the US

Russell Means, an activist with the American Indian Movement, met with the US State Department today and announced that the Lakota nation was renouncing its treaties with the US and essentially seceding.

Unfortunately, Russell Means is not an elected official of the Lakota nation and does not appear to speak for anyone but himself.

"I want to emphasize, we do not represent the collaborators, the Vichy Indians and those tribal governments set up by the United States of America to ensure our poverty, to ensure the theft of our land and resources," Means said, comparing elected tribal governments to Nazi collaborators in France during World War II.

Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said his community has no desire to join the breakaway nation. Means and his group, which call themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation, have never officially pitched their views to the Rosebud community, Bordeaux said. |Lakota group pushes for new nation - Argus Leader |


Torture Myths

While it isn't scholarly, Darius Rejali has a short article in the Union Leader where he responds to five common views about torture that he thinks are mistaken.

It’s surprising how unsuccessful the Gestapo’s brutal efforts were. They failed to break senior leaders of the French, Danish, Polish and German resistance. I’ve spent more than a decade collecting all the cases of Gestapo torture “successes” in multiple languages; the number is small and the results pathetic, especially compared with the devastating effects [on] public cooperation and informers. |The Five Myths about Torture - Union Leader|

There and back again

I have to say that I don't share Ross Douthat's skepticism about the upcoming Hobbit movie. It might be that from a sci-fi/fantasy lit perspective The Hobbit is "a tasty appetizer" while The Lord of the Rings is "a rich-beyond-belief main course." But so what? The link between literary merit and suitability for film is anything but direct. From where I sit, The Hobbit's comprehensible and contained narrative is a point in its favor on the book to film tip.

Also, all true geeks of a certain age know that what really needs to be worried over is whether Jackson's Hobbit will stand up to the animated masterpiece.

Oh my

At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.

The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.

Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel. |NY Times|

In the universe that I used to live in, this would be a huge, huge, huge scandal.

Addendum: For some perspective, consider the role John "Death Squad" Negroponte is reported to have played:
Newsweek reported this week that John D. Negroponte, who was director of national intelligence at the time the tapes were destroyed, sent a memorandum in the summer of 2005 to Mr. Goss, the C.I.A. director, advising him against destroying the tapes.


Speaking of environmentalists...

This is well covered in other blogs, but sits astride our recent topics like a necrophiliac pornographer.
In a 1998 book decrying American culture, Huckabee was no seeker of common ground. He drew stark lines, equating environmentalists with pornographers and homosexuality with pedophilia and necrophilia. He also declared that people who do not believe in God tend to be immoral and to engage in "destructive behavior." He drew a rather harsh picture of an American society starkly split between people of faith and those of a secular bent, with the latter being a direct and immediate threat to the nation.

Without raising any questions of conscience

Yesterday, while being lectured on the virtues of turning off unnecessary lights, I found myself thinking about carbon taxes. One of the reasons that I don't find appeals to personal environmental virtue very compelling is that I hold the heretical (for a radical) view that the various environmental problems that face us can best be addressed through market based solutions. The basic problem, as I see it, is that free markets have failed to appropriately distribute environmental costs because those costs are treated as externalities rather than included in transaction prices. The solution therefore lies in regulations which correct these failings of free markets.

A question, then, is what to think of environmental nagging. On the one hand, widespread sensitivity to the environmental impact of our choices is likely to enhance the political prospects of the sorts of reforms that I favor. On the other hand, self-righteous prigs are annoying as fuck. It's a pickle.


Monday 'find content for the tag' blogging

This is neat:
You can accept or reject these particular evolutionary explanations as you like. But the underlying message is worth taking home: Much of what now passes for "natural selection" isn't exactly natural. It's social. As such, it deserves no presumptive respect as a validator or promulgator of objective fitness. Nor does the discovery of a genetic basis for this or that trait prove it's more than a social construct. In the era of cultural selection, many genes are a social construct. Which makes them no less real.

GOP horserace blogging

As the Huckernaut continues its explosive rise in the polls there only seems to be one thing standing in the way of the candidacy of the other man from Hope. The support of Joe Lieberman.

Just kidding!

Seriously, though, the conventional wisdom is that no matter how many votes he gets, Mike Huckabee can't possibly win the GOP nomination. The thinking is that Huckabee's insufficient orthodoxy in matters of voodoo economics means he'll never win the support of the big donors and so won't be able to build an organization capable of running a viable campaign.

Well, I don't know. Huckabee has amply demonstrated a generalized incompetence that should allow him to go to those big donors, hat in hand, and explain that any heresies he might have uttered had merely to do with the fact that he didn't know what the aich eee double hockey sticks he was talking about and golly would he be happy to take a no tax pledge if only he could get some of that dope stupid cheddar.

Besides, what's the alternative for the money men? Romney? Well, I guess we all know that he can be bought. What we don't know, and what would bother me if I were a plutocrat, is what it would take for Romney to stay bought. Also, suppose that you were a forward looking GOP strategist and had resigned yourself to the loss of the presidency in 2008. In that case, you'd have to be asking yourself what you could do now to repair your coalition for the 2010 and 2012 campaigns. The answer isn't going to be, "Nominate a Mormon."


HOF horserace blogging

Another consequence of the Mitchell report is that any chance Mark McGwire had to increase his vote totals this year is as lost as the innocence of the East German women's swim team. Between that and the fact that Tim Raines is the best player coming on to the ballot, this is looking like a good year for the players who've been hanging around just below the 75% thresh hold for awhile.

I made a chart.

As you can see if you've got really good glasses or a high quality display, all the trends point to Goose Gossage going into the Hall. Jim Rice also looks pretty strong, but you have to wonder why he lost support last year.

For historical context, here's another chart.

And here's a piece of trivia: The last time that no player received enough support to be elected to the Hall of Fame was 1996.

I get silent when I'm drugged up

Andy Pettitte's idea that HGH isn't a performance enhancing drug if you only use it to heal faster is clearly bunk, but his statement yesterday is pretty interesting.
In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow. I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. This is it -- two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list. I wasn't looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.

Looking to heal faster, obviously, is looking for an edge. And every pitch Pettitte threw that he wouldn't have thrown without HGH leaves a mark in the record book where it otherwise would have remained blank. Still, I'm curious to see what kind of traction Pettitte gets with this. Lots of sports fans are going to see something to admire in Pettitte's desire to get back to his team.

Relatedly, it seems to me that the Mitchell report tends to confirm a view that I've held for awhile. Namely, that the use of performance enhancing drugs is so widespread that the playing field is effectively level.



[Origin: 1875–80; from Greek zōio meaning animal and nósos meaning sickness]

In the study of pathology, zoonosis refers to any disease of animals that is communicable to humans.

The word zoonosis is unfamiliar to most people. But it helps clarify the biological reality behind the scary headlines about bird flu, SARS, other forms of nasty new disease, and the threat of a coming pandemic. It says something essential about the origin of HIV. It's a word of the future, destined for heavy use in the 21st century. |Link|


Blasting the cannons of truth through each man of this earth

"By and large, 90 percent of the people on the Nobel Committee are into child pornography and molestation, according to the latest scientific studies." -- Michael Savage


Jesus and Satan are brothers?

If you are wondering what this Hucakbee hullabaloo (or Huckabaloo!) is all about, this anti-Mormon propaganda piece lays it out:

This is a total hit piece, so I wouldn't be surprised to discover that it is a wild distortion. And yet... I find myself hoping that this is indeed what Mormons believe, because it is really funny. Also, it casts Satan in a sort of Prometheus role. Neat!

(via TNR)


Still funny, though

I often take great comfort in the fact that studies have shown that writing often and well seems to help stave off Alzheimer's. But it only helps, as illustrated by the fact that Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer's.

Bummer. But he's taking it very well (click the link for his full statement), but in true instaBellman style, I'll highlight this:
I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

Truly hope is lost

Posting continues to be light (and frivolous) while I am traveling. I hope to get back home this weekend and read a friggin' newspaper or something, but, as this chart points out, there is no hope.

Click here for the full chart!


Hieronymus Bosch action figures

Totally awesome:

(thanks to Scott for the link!)


Solidarity for as long as it's convenient

The lights of Broadway went dark Saturday when members of the International Association of Theater and Stage Employees, Local 1, went on strike against the League of American Theatres and Producers.

Partric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West and Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, Sunday sent a joint letter of support to James Claffey Jr., president of the IATSE local.

"Just as you have stood with us in our current strike against the motion picture and television studios and networks, so, too, do we stand with you as you seek the fair and respectful contract that you have earned and deserve," they said in the letter. |Nov. 11|

A crippling strike that had shut down most Broadway shows in the heart of the holiday season ended late Wednesday night as striking stagehands finally hammered out a new contract with theater owners and producers.

The strike, which had entered its 19th day and drained millions of dollars in revenue from the theater district, was settled after a 12-hour bargaining session that had begun Wednesday morning between the League of American Theaters and Producers and members of Local 1, representing about 3,000 stagehands. |Nov. 29|

Hair and makeup artists, set decorators, grips, prop specialists, and hundreds of others who work in television and film production marched through the heart of Hollywood on Sunday morning urging an end to the five-week-old writers strike.

Their mission: to draw attention to the predicament of the thousands of people who work in television and film, and the businesses that serve them. They are not on strike but fear their livelihoods are at risk anyway.

"We are here today to remind the leadership of those locked in this struggle that real people, real men and women and their families are being damaged," said rally organizer Chris Griffin to the crowd and media assembled at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. "Each day this strike is prolonged, our futures become more precarious."

Although these so-called "below-the-line" workers are not part of the negotiations, most are out of work until the strike is over and productions begin again. Many are starting to compete for work in film and reality television, which are still in production, unlike most scripted television.

The strike's toll on thousands of production workers who aren't members of the Writers Guild of America has deepened friction with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents below-the-line workers.

The breakdown Friday of talks between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers prompted a scathing denunciation of the guild's leadership from IATSE President Thomas C. Short.

"I don't believe the WGA ever intended to bargain in good faith," said Short, who has repeatedly clashed with guild leaders in the last year. "And they are destroying a lot of lives in the process." |Dec. 9|



[Origin: 1930–35; from Yiddish 'tumler', one who makes a racket, stir]

A male entertainer, as formerly employed by resorts in the Catskill Mountains, who combined the duties of a comedian, activities director, and master of ceremonies to keep the guests amused throughout the day.
2. Any lively, prankish, or mischievous man.

On the home front...

... I am losing the war against Christmas.
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