Monday, October 30, 2006

Drop in the bucket

In the vast scheme of things, a few dollars from a few individuals barely scratches the multiple millions poured in modern political campaigns every election cycle. But, maybe that's not really the point anyway.

At the beginning of the month, I decided to get a bit more involved in the Congressional race here in my district. I was supporting a decent guy - Bryan Kennedy - a man who loves his kids, cares about his country, and wants to see everyone in America receive a decent opportunity to succeed. He's running against one of the most loathed politicians in Washington - James Sensenbrenner - an heir to the vast Kimberly Clark fortune.

I started an ActBlue page and did some plugging on a website called DailyKos. I hoped to raise $100-500. Realistically, I figured maybe a bit over $100. Well, thanks to a lot of people kicking in a bit - including someone here who gets nothing in return for their donation but my thanks and the knowledge that maybe those few dollars will help elect a good person - the total is now $576.58 for Bryan Kennedy's campaign and another $45.01 for Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund.

Along the way, I've discovered other little campaigns that could and was able to donate a bit to them. Larry Kissell out in North Carolina, Scott Kleeb in Nebraska, and Patrick Murphy in Pennsylvania.

Maybe it will help, maybe not.

But, on a personal level...that's not even the important thing. The important thing is that it allowed me to reconnect to the system that is increasingly pushing people away. And that feels great.

Democracy only works when people are part of the process.

So, in a week and a day from now - please, just go out and vote. Drop the apathy for a day and take part in the process. Vote however you want - Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Librarian, Green, whatever - but vote.

**Back to regularly scheduled rants, smart-assichness, and observations later**

Saturday, October 28, 2006

How will you find your true North when the magnetic field flips?

Well, there's some good news and some bad news...

The bad news is that apparently the earth's magnetic field is weakening much more quickly than it was assumed to be weakening. That's an indication that the field is heading toward a flip. Don't worry, it's not going to happen tomorrow. But, it has happened in the past, quite a few times it turns out.

Yup, the north becomes south, south becomes north, dogs and cats living together...

See, apparently the magnetic field - which is believed to be created by the spinning, molten core of the earth - isn't as perfect as we were led to believe in school. It's mostly pretty even, but there are a lot of pockets, or anomalies, where the polarity is off a bit. These spots move around a bit too. Not real fast or anything, but they move around. It seems there a lot of them in the southern Atlantic Ocean area.

Anyway, they move around and come and go.

As time goes by, there starts to be concentrations of these spots and when enough of them gather in one half of the field, the field weakens. When the field weakens, poles form around the concentrations and the field becomes unstable. Eventually, the poles arrange themselves back into the nice and tidy bi-polar arrangement that we all know and love.

Unfortunately, while all this is going on, the magnetic shield that surrounds the earth isn't blocking nearly as much of the solar wind and radiation that comes with it. Sorry dudes, but some people are gonna get a bit scorched. Not cooked so much, but more blasted with double to triple the amount of the bad rays that cause cancer.


Better stock up on the SPF 57,000 lotion.

Fortunately, the big shift can happen pretty quickly - as in less than 200 years and even as quickly as several years. There will probably be some instability for a while, but things should be okay - except for the whole maps being backwards thing.

Anyway, that's the bad news.

The good news is that the earth is only about 8,000 years old - so none of this can be true.

Tonight, I shall celebrate the pagan holiday of All Hallows Evening - albeit a few days early. There will be costumes, drinking, and hopefully some debauchery.



Learn more about the impending doom here.

Mischevious People

"Mischievous people often use religious faith for their own interests and create conflict. We have to look at the real message of all these traditions."

- The Dalai Lama

Someday, I hope I become as wise and understated as the Dalai Lama is. So, while others may choose to follow the way of the warrior and select hate as their mantra, I'm going to try to follow the example of the guy in the red and yellow robes who says, "My religion is kindness."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mind grenade

I love it when I learn new stuff. It makes my brain happy - especially when I can make connections between stuff I knew and new stuff I now know.

I was thinking that this guy I work with looks a lot like a character in a Grant Morrison comic book. So, the other day, I busted out my stack of The Invisibles just to check. The Invisibles is one of the weirder books created. Which, since it was created by Morrison, makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, the character I was looking for was King Mob. He's the leader of the Invisibles and a bit of an anarchist. Actually, he's more that just a bit of an anarchist, but that sort of raises the question of how can one be the leader of a group and also an anarchist. Wouldn't being part of a group go against the whole anarchist grain? But I digress...

The guy I work with looks a bit like King Mob - without the edginess, multiple piercings, cool shades, allure, and - well - the smarts. But, other than that, he looks a bit like him.

Okay, he's got a shaved head and it's pretty much the same shape as King Mob's - whatever.

That's not the exciting learnin' part though.

The learnin' comes in when I tell you that King Mob's name is actually taken from an anarchist group from the 70s. King Mob, the group, was an offshoot of the Situationists and the Motherfuckers.

"They derived their name from Christopher Hibbert's 1958 book on the Gordon Riots of June 1780, in which rioters daubed the slogan His Majesty King Mob on the walls of Newgate prison, after gutting the building." - wikipedia

Anyway, that ties into The Invisibles anarchic fight against the fiendish "archons of the Outer Church, interdimensional alien gods who have already enslaved most of the human race without their knowledge."

Truly excellent stuff - but weird.

There's a bunch of blowing things up, time travel and crazy allusions. One story arc includes the Marquis de Sade. Imagine a fat de Sade transported to the London club scene and you'll sort of get how bizarre this comic is.

A lot of it is - once you do some digging - based on chaos magic.

In one story arc, King Mob channels John Lennon to divine the future. When he comes out of his psychedelic trance, Ragged Robin asks why he didn't at least have Lennon write him some lyrics.

Anyway, I love following where the ball bounces. These crazy internet tubes are great for that kind of thing.

That's it. That's all I've got. Peace out.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Went out to my fine little pub downtown last night and had a tastey Newcastle, or two...

The music box needed feeding so I popped my dollars and tapped the touch zcreen a few times. Miraculoulsy, a few moments later, it began playing music. Is this the same awe that ancient man must have had when he learned to harness fire? I think yes.

In honor of my friends Josh and Eileen, I played some music they might have picked and pretended that they were there. I stopped short of talking to them or buying them drinks though. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn't buy them drinks even if they were there, so that part was pretty realistic.

For Josh, I played Method Man and some Biggie. Eileen got some Billy Bragg. And the bar got a bit educated. A good night, all around.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tempest in a blog comment

Sometimes it's the little things. That's why I love this internets thing. There are always lots of little things.

I stumbled onto this little exchange on a rather large political blog I've been known to frequent:

* Off topic to khereva

"And he'll never drown, for he was born to hang."

Where do you have that expression from? I've not seen it in English before.

In Norwegian it's "He drowns not, who was meant to be hanged." Often used
to shrug off what could have been a life-threatening situation.

* It's an old sailor's myth...

...that a man destined to hang could die by no other means before meeting his destiny. It shows up in Shakespeare's Tempest, Act 1 Scene 1, Gonazalo (speaking of the Boatswain):

I have great comfort from this fellow. Methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him, his complexion is perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his hanging, make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage. If he be not born to be hang'd, our case is miserable.

Stuff like this reminds me how much I miss hanging out with my friends.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Paul Fucking Gonsalves - A Hepcat Rocks Out

Last night, as I was scrolling through my Boris' offerings - Boris the Black is my iPod in case you were wondering - it occurred to me that I haven't listened to any jazz in a while.

So, to correct that little flaw in my recent listening habits, out came some jazz. New jazz wasn't going to cut it at all, so old school it was - a return to the classics. Bust out some root jazz.

I started out some Miles Davis. I like Miles just fine. He's cool, he's smooth and a bit of a dick - but I never knew him so that last part doesn't bother me much. Anyway, it was a set from the Plug Nickel.

Good stuff.

Seminal stuff.

Legendary stuff.

It was getting on my nerves actually. Sometimes you're not in the mood for good, seminal, legendary stuff. But, sometimes you are and you just don't realize it.

Looking for something else, I stopped and thought about a performance that I haven't heard in a while and decided that I just had to hear it. I quickly scrolled down to the 'D' section and there it was.

Duke Ellington - Live at Newport

The concert was and is a musical legend. Rain had been drenching the grounds all day, but the crowd that remained was still in a rare mood. Duke and the boys took the stage and played like crazy - crazy I tell ya, those cats jammed. The crowd, the band, the confluence of events leading to this one night - in short, everything - clicked together and the place went nuts.

There was nearly a riot when the authorities got worried and tried to shut the Duke down. On the re-release of the recording (which is a return to the fully live recording) you can hear the Duke offstage telling 'the man' that the place will riot if they shut him down, but if they give him a few more songs he'll bring the boil down to a simmer.

Legendary stuff indeed.

But there was one song - one performance - that I wanted to hear.

The rest is great stuff to be sure, but the pinnacle has to be Paul Gonsalves' incredible solo on Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue. If ever there was a time when one man went beyond the limits of ordinary and transcended earthly bonds, this was it.

Duke Ellington - Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue - Live at Newport

Gonsalves was a good player - a solid performer - but not a stellar name at the time. He was part of the band - an important piece of the puzzle, but not the big star. Anyway, the Duke had a couple of pieces that they had been working on putting together, spliced with a bit of a blues inspired solo by Gonsalves in the middle. The Duke had given the greenlight to Gonsalves to let 'er rip on the solo and on this one night in Newport, Gonsalves did just that.

Forty seven choruses - a six-minute, legendary solo effort. That's 47 choruses on the fly, just improvising and making it wail.

Starting up about 3:50 into the song, Gonsalves starts up his solo. The band has been going good, but this brings it up. As the solo builds - about a minute into the solo - the band starts catching on that this is some crazy shit happening and starts cheering Gonsalves on.

Three minutes in and they're all just going nuts. You can hear the individual band members cheering and yelling, you can hear the Duke egging him on too, with a great 'oh yeah!' at about five minutes into the solo. And it keeps building until Gonsalves after a bit more than six minutes of soloing kicks it back to the piano, clearly spent by the effort.

The crowd has been driven into a frenzy by this point.

Part of the legend is a mysterious platinum blonde in a black who starts dancing like crazy during the solo. The rest of the crowd just goes nuts.

This performance marked the return of Duke Ellington to the top of the jazz ladder and rejuvenated the swing jazz scene for many years to come.

Good stuff.

Seminal stuff.

Legendary stuff.

And, holy crap, is it great! I listened to it twice.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New is good...or at least new

I've been on a bit of a music frenzy lately. I don't want to bore you with the details, but it's been one of those buy one, find five more artists to check out kind of weeks.

It all started with Jimmy Buffett's new album, Take the Weather With You. Not that really led me to anything new, but it did open the floodgates. It's not a bad album, by the way. You kind of need to be a Buffett fan to appreciate it though.

That's the thing about Buffett, it's not so much a bunch of great music as it is a conversation with a good friend. A good friend who brings over beer - good beer. He's been background music for so much of my life that listening to him is like putting on a pair of perfectly faded Levis 501 jeans.

Anyway, that led me to the guilty pleasure buy of the Stick It Soundtrack. Laugh if you want, but it's gotten me through two late nights of work in the last couple of days. And it introduced me to some artists that have me very excited, Panjabi MC and Talib Kweli.

Panjabi MC is some crazy-ass Indian (dot) hip-hop. I don't even know how to describe this crazy cat's music. You'll either love it or hate though.

Talib Kweli is just pretty much awesome. He's the guy all the guys that everyone likes like. Not a supernova on his own...but more talented than most out there. Now I'm looking for as much of his stuff as I can find.

Oh yeah, last week I picked up Method Man's, 4:21...The Day After. It's good. I like it better than Judgement Day, but not as much as Method Man and Redman's, Blackout!

I'm too lazy to link.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The birthplace of the Republican party...I kid you not

I know there's irony in this...I just know it.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Today, I had to drive out to lovely Ripon, Wisconsin - home of 'Ripon Good Cookies' and also 'the birthplace of the Republican party'. It's got a cute downtown and some nice people.

On the way into town, I nearly took out an old lady, a blind guy with a guide dog, and a Cub Scout pack as I swerved to the side of the road, lept from the truck and snapped the picture above.

Anyway, there it is.

The real deal.

The actual house.

'The birthplace of the Republican party.'

I'm too tired to even write something humoruous like - if they can't even be trusted with the house you were born in, how can they be trusted with the big House on the Hill in Washington, D.C., or that spiffy White House down the street from it? I'm too tired to go for a cheap chuckle.

Oh, wait...I guess I'm not.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Act Blue...

As some of you may know, I spend a bit of time over at DailyKos. It's the most-viewed blog on the internets. It's actually grown into a collection of blogs (they're called Diaries over there), but that's not the point. Conservatives hate it. I love it.

Anyway, it's all about the using the power of the internet to help shape the government. It's hard to be heard in traditional ways without a truckload of money. Blogging and the internet balances that out a bit.

There's a newish site - actually it's two years old - called ActBlue out now that was started up by a group of liberal bloggers. It provides a clearinghouse for net-based campaign donations to Democrats across the country. It's brilliant and it's working.

A quick look there shows that there has been nearly $11 million dollars raised for candidates since 2004. All of those donations come from individuals too, not big corporations and special interest PACs.

The site is not for profit. That is, they simply collect money for candidates and send them a check every month, or more frequently if there's a lot of donations to that candidate or the candidate needs money quickly. ActBlue doesn't take a cut, but they do offer donors the opportunity to leave them a 'tip' to help pay for maintaining and hosting the site.

This all leads to the real point.

My Representative to Congress is perhaps one of the most abrasive, out of touch, right-wing radicals out there. And I do mean 'out there.' Lucky me, I've got James Sensenbrenner 'representing' interests and filthy rich people.

Running against him is an intelligent, down-to-earth, decent guy - Bryan Kennedy.

Kennedy is actually within striking distance of unseating Sensenbrenner. That's something that most people considered impossible a year ago. And Kennedy's done it the old fashioned way, by knocking on doors and asking for votes. With little support from the national party and little money, Kennedy has rocked the comfortable, insular world of Wisconsin's most embarrassing politician.

I've been out doing some politicking for Kennedy. It's fun to involved somehow - even if it's only in a small way. It makes me feel far less helpless. I've been to a couple of fundraisers, done some literature drops around my town, and put up a sign yesterday.

It's all good stuff for sure, but the thing I'm most excited about is that I created an ActBlue page for Bryan Kennedy. It's a little thing, but it makes me feel like I can make a difference.

So far, it's raised $40. Not much, but I only started it two days ago. I would like to see it bring in $100 - $500 would be better, but I would be happy with $100 - before the election . That's not much time, but I'm hopeful.

I'm also hopeful that the November elections will mark a turning point for our country - the point where real debate begins again and honesty prevails over lies and secrecy. Maybe then real plans to bring about a positive conclusion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can be made, actual protection of our ports, food supply, and basic infrastructures from terrorist attacks can begin, meaningful strides forward on education and healthcare reform can be made, and the mistakes and blunders of the last five years can be corrected.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Giving a whole new twist to the term 'family values', the Republican party leadership has apparently known about the predatory nature of Mark Foley for years, but felt it more important to protect one of their own than to protect high school age pages in their care.

Come to think of it, it gives a whole new twist to the term 'stay the course'.