February 27, 2010

Overnight music thread

The haunting guitar magic of Jeff Beck

At the 2001 Montreaux Jazz Festival, performing the Beatles great... A day in the life.

Same tune, but from 2007 at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, with Jimmy Page sitting out front watching. Maybe Page learned something

Pay attention to the bass player in this video of the same tune, taken at the Crossroads 2007 Guitar festival in Chicago. Her name is Tal Wilkenfeld. Tal is from the land of OZ, and she was 21 years old when she played this concert with Beck. She is probably the most talented young bassist on the modern rock scene.

Going back to 2004, Beck reunites with his old partner, Eric Clapton here in Texas at the Crossroads Guitar Festival. The song is Cause we've ended as lovers...

This song, first released by Beck on the album Blow by Blow, was first recorded by Stevie Wonder on an album that was never released. It was written by Stevie as a tribute to his wife, Syreeta. Stevie offered it to his friend Jeff Beck as an apology for releasing the song "Superstition" first. Beck took it and turned it into a haunting melody, dedicating the song to guitarist and old friend, Roy Buchanan. In the album liner notes Beck writes, "Thanks Stevie.

Here Beck is on the same tune, and again with Tal at the 2007 Chicago Crossroads festival.

Thanks to my Cold-Country girlfriend for the muse. Here's a big kiss for you, Valerie.

February 26, 2010

Sunday Funnies

Mitchel & Webb. Some funny stuff.

There is another good one but the embed function disabled. You can go to the You Tube site and view it, HERE.

H/T Montag


A first

"I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God"

That was George H.W. Bush in 1987; a sitting U.S. Vice President, as he was campaigning for the office of President. Atheists were not very popular in the White House. Never have been, I don't guess. Secular citizens have been second class citizens all through this country's history.

Lots of doors have opened over this past year, and lots of those barriers have fallen. Yesterday President Obama knocked down yet another. The headline of yesterday's Secular Coalition of America blog tells the story...

Secular Coalition for America to Meet with White House Officials on National Policy

...and Hemant has a blow by blow of the day's events, with photos.

The times, they are a-changing... maybe...



I've been snooping around for a gunsight. My bifocals are making the use of a scope progressively more difficult, so I'm interested in alternatives. I don't hunt much anymore and most of my needs are for shorter ranges, usually under 100 yds.

One of the items catching my attention is red dot sights. These seem a bit urban warfareish, and there is very little magnification, but maybe one would suit my needs for a short-range plinking and semi-urban varmint dispatching.

In reading and surfing I've found loads of these sights in a variety of price ranges, but not all that many reviews or user evaluations upon which to establish an opinion.

I discussed my ideas briefly with JayG over at MArooned. Jay admitted he had little experience with this kind of sight, and since he couldn't figure out how to mount a bayonet to one he didn't have much to offer. Jay offered one good suggestion, and opined that the more expensive sights probably cost more than they were worth in my situation. He suggested that cheap is good enough for this variety of sight.

I like cheap. Cheap is good, so I've been comparing prices. For the moment I've set my sights (pun) on the NcStar D4RGS; a 4-reticle red/green dot sight. If nothing negative surfaces, that is likely going to be my purchase. But I sure would like to hear what someone with a little knowledge might have to say.

So, I thought I'd toss it to the sharks. Any opinions? Suggestions?

February 24, 2010


Columnist Bob Ray Sanders is simultaneously a much loved, award winning writer for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and a reviled pinko-socialist mouthpiece for the no-longer locally owned liberal rag. Take your pick.

Myself? I mostly like Bob Ray. He gets a bit out on the limb at times in his commentary on racial issues, but certainly he is no Al Sharpton. When Bob Ray goes down that tired, old trail... I turn the page and move on. On many other social issues, Bob Ray is a frequent home run hitter.

His piece this morning is titled, When religious zeal displaces the truth in history books, and the topic is one to which I pay rather close attention; Revisionist history, or the attempts of true believers to change the history and science books to suit a political or philosophical end. Unfortunately, the efforts to do just that come far too frequently and are frequently all too successful. The result is someone like Bob Ray illustrates in his column.

Bob Ray relates the details of his morning commute, including the spinning of the radio dial to find something of interest. The morning of which he writes, Bob Ray tuned to a popular right-wing call-in talk show, aired daily on Fort Worth’s legendary WBAP radio. The show host, Mark Davis, is a regional favorite and although I seldom agree with his too-far right views, I still tune in and listen from time to time.

I wasn’t listening the morning Bob Ray describes, but I wish I was. Davis, it seems, spoke regarding Buddhism, commenting that the Buddhist belief was older than Christianity.

One of Davis’ listeners apparently took exception, insisting Davis was wrong… that there was no religion older than Christianity. Davis apparently attempted to reason with the caller, explaining that Buddhism has roots predating the birth of Jesus by maybe 600 years. Nothing worked on the caller, who insisted that the God of creation was the Christian god, and that no religion predated creation.

Bob Ray makes it clear that he too is Christian, but then goes on to wonder from whence comes the disrespect of other people’s beliefs?

"I often wonder what makes religious people, especially Christians, so arrogant and, frankly, so bigoted.”

Yeah, I’ve wondered that too, Bob Ray. Christians, throughout history, have sought to steamroll anyone or any group whom they could not “save.” The result has been untold suffering, and even the retardation of medicine and science. For a religion that is supposed to be good and loving, they sure are capable of a bunch of evil and hatred.

"Besides, as I've said many times before, most of the world's great religions teach that you serve God by serving humanity. Certainly many of the principles of Buddhism -- seeking wisdom, respecting others and leading a moral life -- are found in many different faiths, whether that religion is based on a belief in a Godhead or not.”

Christianity teaches that too, Bob Ray, but for some reason Christians fail to practice it. Mohandas Gandhi, when asked about Christianity, famously stated, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Indeed Christianity seems to have a problem when it comes to reason and rationality, but Christianity is not alone in that respect. All religions seem to be based on a foundation of “we were the first… we are the chosen… we are the best… our god can beat up your god…”

This is evident even in the early teachings of the Native American tribal spiritual beliefs. The name by which every tribe called themselves translated to some version or another of “the people,” or “the humans.” All others are damned.

Bob Ray says it well:

“That's just the way it is with some folks: If you don't believe what I believe, Christian or not, hell is definitely reserved for you.”

Bob Ray’s opinion piece is on the mark in many ways, but even he misses what is arguably the real error in thought process seen in this discussion.
Buddhism is not a religion. The Buddha is respected as a great teacher, but is not a god. Buddhists do praise the man, but they do not pray to him. Buddhism, as a practice, is godless.

Not all Buddhists are atheists, but many are. There are Buddhists who believe in a god, and those beliefs may parallel the practice of Buddhism… compliment it, perhaps… but there are no Buddhist teachings incorporating a deity. Most Buddhists will tell you they simply don’t know if there is a god or not, but they do know there was a Buddha.

Buddhism has no place in an on-air debate about religions. Buddhists don't have a dog in that hunt. The reason it was mentioned, first by the host and then by the caller, is that modern Christians are taught that Buddhism is a pagan religious practice, and therefore is a thing to be rejected and reviled. Buddhists, like all pagans, are going to hell.

Revisionism at its finest.

February 23, 2010

Fault lines

George W. Bush was never as popular as his ardent followers would like us to believe, and the failure of the Bush brand of Republicanism created fault lines and fractures in the GOP that led to a Democrat takeover, first in the mid-term Congressional elections between 2002 and 2007, and then in 2008, of the White House.

Prior to that, failures in the Al Gore variety of left-wingers did much the same with the Democrat ranks, leading to the Congressional slaughters of 1995 and 1997 and the 2000 election of George W. Bush. Al Gore was no more popular generally than Bush, and unlike Bush who has for the most part faded into relative obscurity; Al Gore, due to his prominence in the climate change debate, remains an actively divisive, albeit minor figure in today’s political landscape.

Divisiveness is nothing new, and political mood swings are not exclusive to modern election cycles. There are many historical landmarks and political power swaps that may be laid at the feet of the fickle American voter and pinned to the chest of some or another rabid, or perhaps paranoid, nationalistic movement. We have split variously along ethnic, cultural, religious, philosophic, and gender lines.

In almost every instance, it seems, there is a boogyman… some philosophy, group or entity that we must fight against for the preservation of Our Country and Our Way of Life.

The dreaded, evil foe

There is always a war. We are a people and a land born of war, and it seems the periods of peace and plenty are too few and were too brief to be anything but inconsequential in our national development. At times we came mostly together as one to fight a common, external enemy, but more often we have divided against ourselves to fight the enemy within.

In my life and in my memory there have been 11 Presidents of the United States. Dwight Eisenhower’s was the first, but he left office when I was only 10-years old. What I know of the Eisenhower years is mostly the product of history books, but I still consider him to be the last good leader this nation has seen. A sad indictment, actually, considering how little Ike’s administration accomplished.

However, by the time Eisenhower left office, all of the great conflicts of the early 20th century were behind us. We were a country at relative peace in 1960 when John Kennedy was running against Eisenhower’s Vice-President, Richard Nixon.

So what does a country in times of relative peace and tranquility turn to at election time? We turn on each other, of course.

Political fault lines

Before Nixon there was Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy. When the Republicans gained control of the Senate in 1953, McCarthy was appointed Chair of Committee on Government Operations and the subcommittee on investigations, which he used as a tool to perpetuate his favorite pastime - Communist witch hunts.

Nixon had much the same hobby in his tenure as Chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee. McCarthy and Nixon were asshole buds in those days, but in 1954, by Eisenhower’s order, Nixon denounced McCarthy and denounced the extent to which the anti-communist efforts had reached.

Richard Nixon was such a vile man that when he announced his intention to run for the nation’s highest office, even Eisenhower would not endorse or support him. The fringe far right was the only reason he was on the Eisenhower ticket, and once out of office Ike saw no reason to support that reactionary wing any longer.

Nixon was ambitious and not willing to risk a loss at the polls. Left without support from the in-power Republicans, he turned to other resources for support, finding it in the ranks of that era’s version of the rabid right-wing; the John Birch Society. It wasn’t enough this time around, but the ghost of hanky-panky past returned and won office in 1972. The ensuing shenanigans eventually took Nixon out, but not before some of the worst political turmoil this country had suffered since attempted impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

The sky is falling

It took the reasonable right-wingers over 40 years to excise that demon, but the damage was done and the tone of politics is more viral today than ever in history. Not only are the political parties beating each other up, they are fracturing from within. Worse yet, the John Birch Society is making a comeback. That organization which reasonable Republicans spent so much time evicting, has been invited back to the table by the tea bag crowd.

The polar tails of politics are wagging the centrist dogs. A year ago when Barack Obama defeated John McCain, it was a battle of political midgets. Our two party system has become so dysfunctional that neither may hope to win office without inviting wingnuts into the tent. Obama had not the hope of a fart in a windstorm were it not for the loonytune left, and McCain lost support partly because he wasn’t viral enough to satisfy the rabid right, even with addition to the ticket of Caribou Barbie.

Obama is President because we lack the ability in this country to be reasonable. Take for instance the sudden revelation that John McCain isn’t rabid enough for Michelle Malkin, and Michelle Malkin isn’t viral enough to suit the tea baggers.

And Obama will be a single-term president because he isn’t loonytunes enough for the left.

The climate seldom changes. The only candidates capable of winning party nominations are those closely resembling the bigger chunks floating on the top of the cesspool… all because the wingers won’t let up…

Winning is everything… the country be damned.


February 22, 2010

Interesting turn of events

The Right's great white hope, Scott Brown (R-MA), turned coat and voted with the D's for the $15 billion Senate Jobs bill. Teabaggers are going ballistic, and have dusted off the RINO label.

He wasn't alone, either. Cloture passed 62-30, with 8 not voting. Brown was joined by fellow R's KIT Bond (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and George Voinovich (R-OH).

But then Blue Dog Bill Nelson (D-NE) voted nay. Does that make him a DINO?

Strange days...


The Misfit has a caustic twist on the Scott Brown vote.
Montag is stoic.
Kirt Emery tweets about advancing progressivism.
The Globe makes it sound like Brown will vote for the bill, too.
And Wonkette gloats as the wingnuts go bonkers.


February 21, 2010

The Mystery Solved

Creationists Finally Explain Extinction...

...It was an

From time to time God reviews his creations (products), and he may decide to recall some of them after the review, which causes that particular creation (species) to go extinct. It’s tough, but it’s God’s will.” declared leading creationist Rich Hawkins, hoping that the theory will put an end to all kinds of speculations going on over dinosaur extinction.


February 20, 2010

The Week in Funnies

February 19, 2010

Gun question

The question relates to United States v. O'Brien & Burgess.

Is there an accepted, legal definition for the term, "machine gun"?

The most common definitions I can find are variations of "a gun that fires rapidly and repeatedly," or "an automatic weapon." But do those not beg for definitions of "rapid" and "automatic"?

One definition for "automatic weapon" describes a "gun that reloads itself and keeps firing until the trigger is released," but no such definition can be found for "machine gun".

There seems to have no single, universal, legal definition.

Aren't all guns "machines"?


February 18, 2010

You knew it was coming

We all realized that the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United was bound to open the floodgates in corporate attempts at manipulating regulatory policy.

It didn’t take long, either.

With the exit of Evan Bayh, Indiana’s centrist Democratic Senator, the playing field was open for a likely Republican win. The Republican candidate is former U.S. Senator and lawyer Dan Coats. Coats is a partner with King & Spalding, a law firm specializing in what they call “Government Advocacy.”

The Citizens United opinion was published January 21, 2010. The next day King & Spalding issued the following paper:

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: Sweeping Changes to Campaign Finance Laws Provide New Opportunities for Corporations to Engage in Election

From this paper we learn that “Going forward, a corporation may spend unlimited amounts of its treasury funds to directly engage in efforts to elect or defeat federal candidates through, for example, electronic and print advertisements and direct mail and other means of communicating its position on a candidate to the general public,” and that “every corporation should view the Citizens United decision as providing new tools to assist it in advancing policies and legislation that are in its and its shareholders’ interests.”

While I feared Citizens United would have dire consequences, I didn’t expect to see the effects of the decision quite so quickly, or quite so bluntly, either. Time will tell, but I can see nothing good coming from all of this.


February 15, 2010

One reason they want our guns

One of the major reasons there is such a large element of folks wishing to disarm the rest of us is the behavior of some of us.

We read or hear stories of some criminal miscreant committing some violence or another with a firearm, and always there is the hue and cry for gun control. I have little difficulty defending the right of the people to keep and bear arms in such cases, as the acts were that of a criminal… not a legitimate, law abiding gun owner. There are criminals and there are crazy people, neither of whom should be allowed access to deadly weapons. Guns in our hands are one way of protection from these bad guys.

But unfortunately there are overtly law abiding folks who go about life in an upstanding fashion for many years, all the while owning and carrying firearms in an overtly legitimate manner, then one day they make an error in judgment that is difficult to justify. It is far more difficult to defend my 2A rights in those cases.

Take for instance the case a couple years back where a fine, upstanding small businessman in Florida took it upon himself to defend a neighbor’s cattle from marauding wolves.

The only problem is that they weren’t wolves. They were pet huskies escaped from the yard of another neighbor, and all the while the shooter was doing such a bad job of trying to kill the "wolves", the dog’s owner was right there trying to stop him; shouting… begging… pleading for the shooter to stop. But he kept shooting, and all the while failing to follow even basic gun safety rules.

All of this was caught on video by one of the estimated 60 witnesses, a tourist from Ireland. In the video you can here her saying, “That’s the problem with America; guns.”

Without much information, and with the shooter claiming justification, it was initially easy for me to excuse the situation and assume the shooter was doing what so many farmers and ranchers have had to do so many times in the past.

Protecting livestock from loose dogs has become a real problem as city dwellers frequently dump unwanted pets in the countryside, perhaps thinking the kindly country folk will adopt them. Unfortunately that seldom happens. We already have our own dogs and don’t need these strays. So the strays frequently pack up and attack the livestock, which is the livelihood of some farm or ranch family. The result has been a pretty automatic response of shooting any stray unfortunate enough to wander onto the farm.

It wasn’t that way in the Florida incident. The shooter did not own either the property or the cattle, and had no relationship with the owner of the calves in the video. Neither did the calves represent the livelihood of the owner. They were on a hobby farm, kept for the purpose of protecting an agricultural tax exemption. The shooter was acting of his on accord and without invitation. He trespassed onto the property to shoot the “wolves” for a reason only he might be able to explain.

Still, when confronted, he claimed he was doing a good deed. He wasn’t initially charged with anything because he claimed the dogs tried to attack him.

A game changer

Once the video hit You Tube the story went viral and the anti-gun crowd went crazy. A Google search finds scores of blogs ranting about the incident, most by anti-gunners and/or animal rights bloggers.

Some blogs are for-profit operations, but many are like mine; a hobby blog. We hobby bloggers aren’t trying to make money; we just use the venue as a means of expression. So I found it rather unsettling when I learned that the shooter had filed a lawsuit against a hobby blogger for that blogger’s admittedly anti-gun, anti-redneck (or hillbilly, as it is called in the blog title) ravings. Although I might agree that he was over the top with his criticism, suing a hobby blogger is a mistake of monumental proportions.

The fellow who shot the dogs was wrong in the actions of that day, and he is damn sure wrong for suing anyone expressing an opinion of those actions. The guy is an asshat on many levels, but with this desperately misguided suit, he is doing all manner of further stupidity that serves only to cement his asshat status in perpetuity.

He will lose the suit, and in all likelihood will lose when he gets sued for filing it in the first place. In the mean time he has placed a heavier burden on honest gun owners everywhere.

To quote that famous philosopher, Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon…”


February 14, 2010

The Week in Funnies


One right after another the dominos fall

The world of woo is an astoundingly baffling place. Without any sort of actual evidence, folks walk open-eyed into hoax after hoax, and even after the hoaxers are busted, another crop of snake oil selling charlatans pop up and successfully play to a whole new audience of wide eyed believers.

Every now and then one of them gets busted, but even then the pitchers of woo defend and explain. The ignorance is painful.


February 10, 2010

Christian antics

It was last summer that I wrote about pastor Steven L. Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. In his Sunday sermon, Pastor Anderson called on his god to kill President Obama, and the following day, when one of his parishioners showed up carrying guns at an Obama appearance in Phoenix, pastor Anderson went out of his way to praise the dude.

Later on we have Pat Robertson sticking his foot in his mouth (again), saying the earthquake in Haiti was his god’s punishment on a nation that had made a pact with the devil.

Now we have Wiley Drake, a pastor from Orange County, California (and another Baptist, by the way), stating that his god had answered prayers with the death of former Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha.

Maybe God took him out,” wrote Drake. “Maybe God answered our imprecatory prayer that we prayed every 30 days.

Isn’t it wonderful that we are such a faithful, loving, Christian nation…


February 9, 2010

On Andrew Wakefield


Liz, blog matron at I Speak of Dreams, has posted a really interesting compillation of news reports and blog posts regarding the current state of debate about Andrew Wakefield. The list includes both supporters and detractors, so you can easily seperate the wheat from the chaff.

It is clear to me that Wakefield is a quack responsible for an untold amount of suffering among children.


February 8, 2010

The Week in Funnies