Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Little Break for the National Anthem

Suddenly, for no real reason whatsoever, I’m in the mood for the national anthem.

Long, long ago, I wrote of the amazing version of Opie Gone Bad’s Jake Schroeder singing the national anthem before the Colorado Avalanche home games. Now, through the magic of YouTube, here’s Jake.

Unfortunately, the sound isn’t the best, but it gives a good idea of his voice--and maybe a good idea of why I get a little misty when he sings it. I’ve heard him do it quite a few times and there wasn’t once where I doubted the depth of his respect for the song, his belief in its words.

A little Opie Gone Bad in the extended entry for the curious--and the sound is significantly better.

Read the Rest...

Twilight for Canuckistanian Free Speech?

Regardless of your political stripe, I’m sure you’ll agree that free speech and free press are vitally important to any liberal society. You might not like the things I say, but, knowing this crowd, most of you believe in my right to say them.

Andy says things about Christians and Christianity that don’t always sit well with me. Mr. Lady has political beliefs that stump me. The late Acidman said things that I thought were brutally offensive. It has never occurred to me that I should try to silence their speech with lawsuits because the law doesn’t exist to ensure that I go through life with my delicate sensibilities and fragile opinions completely unaccosted by the Godless, left-leaning, and rude-as-hell masses.

Which is good because if the law did take such a stance, I would most certainly have been sued into insolvency long before now. Every once in a while I manage to offend even myself--which takes some work.

Apparently Canada is taking a different view on free speech now, though. I’ve been watching this since Mark Steyn’s well-documented problems began and I keep expecting some grown up in Canada to stand up and put a halt the idiocy--apparently the late Mr. Buckley’s unique history-thwarting talents are in great demand up there.

For the record, a few years back I met one of the defendants (Kate from SmallDeadAnimals.com) when she came through Denver for, if memory serves, a dog show. Not only was she smart, funny, and nice, but she was far from the most offensive person at the table. In fact, she might have been the most polite person there.

Anyway, this would be a good time to put aside politics and rally around free speech and these bloggers who are being sued by a free range idiot.

Michelle Malkin is talking about it, I found out from the Corner, and I’m sure there are a million other links to be found.

Branching Update: Of course, free speech at American colleges seems to take big hits regularly. Some day the kids that are learning to hate free speech at placed like Colorado College will learn to hate free speech in the wild. And when those kids start making the rules, people will start getting ticketed for saying completely innocuous things in their own front yard. Oops. Too late.

Update: Kindly linked by Mr. Lady--who--after running away to the great white eh?--has found her own list of issues. And, let me tell you, the girl has issues.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

American Idol: The I Don’t Feel Tardy Edition

Okay, I just showed up, Syesha is singing “I Believe,” and I’m already bored. Beware, Paula, I own the cranky tonight.

Randy: no. Paula: here’s the stupid. Simon: Whatever.

So, what did I miss?

“Over the Rainbow” by Jason “The Ukulele Master” Castro. Sorry, buddy, that had nothing on Brudda Iz’s version. Your voice just can’t pull off that level of pretty and the little attempt at a falsetto was a bad idea.

Randy owns the stupid. Paula fights back for the title. Simon wants a piece, too.

G phrase says it was horrible and I agree. If Syesha can be compared (unfavorably) to Whitney Houston and Fantasia, why does Castro get a pass on a phenomenally lesser version of this song?

Kristy Lee Cook is destined to go home this week. Probably. Her only hope is to dress really slutty--and she doesn’t quite reach the heights or slutdom required for a sex-appeal save at this late stage of the contest. The song--which I don’t know--is bland and her performance is pretty strong. As many times as she’s visited the bottom, I can’t imagine that this will save her, though.

Which, oddly, isn’t to say that I think she was the worst of the bunch (and I’ve only seen three), but I don’t think she has much of a following to save her.

Randy gives her love. Paula follows suit. Simon agrees. WIll their Kristy love save her for another week? Or will I make it two weeks in a row calling the departing wannabe?

“Innocent” by Our Lady Peace might have been a big mistake by David Cook. Vocally, he doesn’t shine. The song isn’t particularly well known. Frankly, it’s a little messy. Oops. I imagine good will will save him, because I don’t think the song, the performance, and the “give back” written on his hand at the end were very good.

Randy didn’t dig it. Paula loves him unconditionally and brainlessly. Simon calls it pompous and doesn’t like it much.

I think the real question that we’re all asking, though, is whether Paula’s boobs will break free of that bustier? I mean, that looks like a wardrobe malfunction coming down the road.

I like the idea of Carly singing Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” but the reality of it left me a little cold. It wasn’t a good performance--although the wardrobe looked better this week.

Randy had issues with it, too. Paula liked the voice, didn’t like the performance. Simon liked the new wardrobe choice, too, but didn’t like the song choice or the performance--he thinks she’ll be near the bottom. Which, I agree--and I’m starting to wonder if I wasn’t too quick to mark Kristy Lee off the show this week.

Not a good week. At all. None of which changes the fact that this is funny. Bwahahahah.

I hate David Archuleta, but you knew that already. I have to admit that it was best of the night, though. I hate that--and I still don’t like his voice.

Randy loves him. Paula looks ready to molest him. Simon liked the song choice and, by his own admission, nitpicks a bit to find things to complain about.

Check out Andy “The Godless One” and his thoughts. He’s mean and funny.

James Taylor. Carole King. “You’ve Got a Friend.” This isn’t looking good for me since I hate this song almost as much as I hate the existence of David Archuleta. Not only that, but Brooke--wonderful Brooke--that wasn’t good. It was forced, it went off pitch a few times, and the performance was a little off. Not my speed.

Randy tries to be nice, but he didn’t like it. Paula is all sunlight and stupid. It’s what she does. Simon thought it was a “pleasant walk in the park.” Which is very faint praise, indeed.

This was the worst night of the year. Which makes me happy that Hell’s Kitchen is on next. Embrace the evil of Chef Ramsey and his incredible profanities. How do they pick the wannabe cooks, anyway? It can’t be based on talent.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mellow Midnight Music (Or a Little Earlier or Later, Completely Depending on Your Time Zone)

I was in the mood for a variety of mellow songs and thought it would be nice to share. You’ll find a little Toad the Wet Sprocket, Twilight Singers, Isobel Campbell, Otis Taylor, Sam Cooke, and, frankly, just a bunch of other stuff that fit my mood.

Enjoy it while it’s here because I don’t know how Seeqpad works--but my guess is that the streams are from either the sites that originally provided the songs or from temporary caches. Either way, they probably won’t be there forever.

Shocking Like Nothing Has Ever Been Shocking Before

It is so surprising for me to find that Oliver Stone’s film about President Bush (The Most Recent) might be biased, incomplete, inaccurate, and even a bit controversial. I mean, given his reputation as a stickler for historical details in his films, it’s so unusual to find that his centrist view of this White House might not be perfectly in line with reality.

Just weird.

Now that we’ve registered the proper amount of surprise, I say we go back to perpetually ignoring this movie that will likely shed absolutely no light on this presidency.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Damned, Evil Denver Police Department

Denver Post reporter Susan Greene relates a story that needs to be heard about a young man arrested erroneously, held for eight days without a court appearance, held under a name that wasn’t his, and, ultimately, treated poorly by DPD. I agree with Greene that these are all horrible things and everyone who erred should be held to account. The apology offered to Mr. Muse Jama hardly makes up for shabby treatment.

But Greene makes this into something much larger than the facts seem to warrant. First, she suggests that the actions of the DPD are similar to the actions of militias in Somalia.

Jama’s family fled their native Somalia in 1994 partly due to that country’s own problem with people disappearing mysteriously without cause.

What happened to Jama was purely wrong, but it hardly compares to what has happened to hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced since Somalia began its civil war and descent into anarchy in 1988. When someone “disappears” in a country like Somalia, they don’t generally come back a week later with even a perfunctory apology from a court.

The evils of the Denver police can’t be contained in an oblique reference to a country with no real, functioning government for more than the last 15 years, though.

What kind of twisted, Abu Ghraib reality are law enforcers working in when they insist — over several days and despite evidence to the contrary — that you are someone you’re not?

One can only imagine that Greene has some inside information about the torture or abuse of Mr. Jama that she hasn’t shared with the class. Accidental incarceration happens, is horrible, and always deserves attention and consideration. But that hardly makes what happened to Mr. Jama similar in any way to the detention and abuse of prisoners in any way similar to what happened to prisoners at the hands of Charles Graner, Lynndie England and Co. much less the even more terrifying years of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib under the rule of Sadam Hussein. The sickening part of Abu Ghraib isn’t that some people were mistakenly imprisoned for a few days, but that they were subjected to inhumane abuse at the hands of American soldiers.

Bringing the emotionally charged Abu Ghraib to this story is dishonest.

Innocent people are being plucked from their lives and caged because of police work that is beyond sloppy.

Yes, they are. In fact, Greene points out a grand total of three somewhat similar stories of errors made by Denver police. That doesn’t begin to justify the hysterical, unrelentingly outraged tone of Greene’s story or her suggestion that DPD is somehow similar to the militias of Somalia or the rogue US soldiers who abused detainees at Abu Grhaib. That distortion undermines her story, in fact.

Three documented mistakes (Are there more? If so, how many?) doesn’t constitute an epidemic of official misconduct. It does warrant investigation, public scrutiny, changes in policies and procedures, and punishment if criminal wrongdoing is found.

It’s just hard to see that the average Denver cop is working in some “kind of twisted, Abu Ghraib reality,” and her suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong. 

Friday, April 04, 2008

As Problems Go…

As problems go, this one seems pretty small. “Lloyd’s of London warned yesterday that an absence last year of natural disasters or man-made accidents was putting pressure on firms to reduce premiums in 2008.”

While I’m sure that a certain class of investor is a little worried, the rest of us are breathing a sigh of relief.

The problem with Putin’s request to “be friends...and engage in an honest dialogue” is that I don’t think he’d like what we have to say about his view of Russia or our post-Cold War international relationships. Frankly, he can take the entirety of the arctic circle (minus valuable natural resources, of course, which would have to be removed carefully beforehand) and shove it up his KGB-lovin’ butt.

I"m going to guess that’s not the kind of honest talk for which he was looking.

The problem with this is that it’s stupid. Which is Kenny Wright’s problem, too. Stupid. Which isn’t really unusual--the stuff gets all over the place if you aren’t careful.

The problem with wealthy, young socialites these days is that so many of them are intent on the dignified, smart use of their privilege, skills, intelligence, and wealth to support their philanthropic efforts, truly hoping to make the world a better place. Oh, wait, that’s not their problem at all. Their problem seems to be something else entirely.

Sorry about that.

The problem with pirates is that they aren’t much like that lovable, funny, yet desperately in need of some personal hygiene guidelines Captain Jack Sparrow. Which, if you look carefully, is also the problem with failed states (and, if you look even closer, the problem with fetishizing anarchy--but that’s a long conversation for another day).

The problem with today is that I’ve got a lot to do and no desire to do it. Which, as problems go, is a big one for me but not so much for you.

Just sayin’.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Poor Obama: Carter Flirts with Endorsement

It looks like Jimmy “The Most Useful Idiot” Carter has thrown his sham of a Nobel Peace Prize and unique legacy into support for Obama’s presidential bid.

Damn. now I almost feel sorry for Obama. I wonder if this was some convoluted strategy to win the sympathy vote?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

American Idol: The Getting Closer to the End Edition (Updated)

It’s elimination night.

All I’ve got to say is this: toldja.

It was almost the bottom three that I expected (although I could have put Syesha or Jason Castro down there instead of Brook White), and I elimination didn’t surprise me at all. Barring a miracle, I think I know who is going home next week, too, since I doubt that she’ll be saved by the miraculous intervention of another country-oriented theme week.

Girl notes: “They should have voted Paula off.”

Girl is smart.

Update: Carin kindly linked the previous AI post. Thanks, Carin! And be sure to nose around the rest of her site. She had me at “Al Sharpton is an Ass.”

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bonus Points… (Updated)

Complete this phrase properly, name the source for Big Zomby Bonus Points that can be exchanged for precisely nothing at your local lap dance emporium.

“Oh, shootings, yes. But that doesn’t mean Americans are more violent than other people...”

Update: If you were wanting a few more quotes from this quotable film, click on through Nathan’s post. Got, that’s a good movie.

American Idol: The Dolly Parton Still Has Gigantic Breasts Edition

Dolly Parton still has a wonderful voice (if you like that class o’ country) to go with the massive mounds o’ hugeness.

I love the idea of Brooke White doing “Jolene” and think it’s funny when she says that Dolly is “huge.” I’m pretty sure she wasn’t talking about the chest. Pretty sure.

The performance is pretty solid, although without some of the drama of Dolly’s version. She has just a tiny bit of reed in her voice that makes her one of the most pleasing to listen to--it isn’t a great voice from a standpoint of range or control, but it’s one of the few voices I’ll want to hear even when this show is over. Great stuff.

Randy didn’t dig it and says she rushed it a bit in places, which is probably true. Paula thinks--no, no, that would be a lie. Sorry about that. Simon thinks that she needed more emotion and thought that the band looked a bit strange. Especially the poor violin player.

David Cook is promising to do his own arrangement of the song “Little Sparrow.” Is it just me or is Dolly just one of the nicest people ever?

Cook should do his own arrangements more often. That was freakin’ hot. That truly could be a single--polish it up a little, release it, I’ll buy it. Amazing. This guy has a decent voice, a great stage presence, and an understanding of how to make music that people want to listen to. Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

Randy loves him with the love of a thousand Spartans. Or something like that. Paula is still, sadly, caught in the brainless zone. Simon doesn’t think it was as good as last week--which, he’s utterly wrong--but still thinks it was good.

Do I care what Ramiele sings? Not so much. Now would be a good time to eat my food.

PS- I chose a good time to check out, didn’t I?

Randy: blah. Paula: I’m still a cheerleader at heart. Simon: yeah, whatever. It must suck to follow up Cook on a night like tonight. Unless someone else fails dramatically, I think she’s going home.

Do I care what Jason Castro sings? I’m not sure. The more I see him, the less I like him and his voice. The vacant smile, the longing hobbit gazes, the limited vocal abilities. Singing a song I’m not even vaguely familiar with, he’s okay but not particularly good. He sounds a bit like a visiting vocalist at your local church: someone more talented than most of us, but not good enough for a real career.

Didn’t do much for me. The crowd seemed to like it, though.

Randy thought it was a little better than I did, but wasn’t overly impressed. Paula is a complete idiot. One of his best performances? Paula, get a clue. Simon closed in on hater territory and hits him hard. I can’t imagine Jason leaving, though, because he’s got a committed fan base.

Carly was one of my early favorites and I still like her, but “Here You Come Again” isn’t what I would consider a great song choice for her. She misses the bit note at the end, the song drags, it’s boring, and I wish she’d chosen something else.

Randy thought it was one of the better performances of the night. Paula wants a lap dance and another drink. Simon isn’t particularly impressed and wants her to dress better. Yeah, I guess so, but that wasn’t really in my head. G-phrase thinks Simon is totally right, by the way.

Aside: Strange. Jackson Browne makes me want to kill myself, too, but not for the same reason.

Dolly loves David Archuletta--which is nice, because I really don’t. She also thinks he can be a big star; I’m not sure I disagree, but I’ll never buy one of his songs. He sounds good tonight doing “Smoky Mountain Memories” with a few pitchy bits. Everyone else loves it to the point that everyone seems to think it was the best of the night. I simply do not like his voice.

This should be a good night for Kristy Lee Cook and her country inclinations. She is absolutely gorgeous and the dress if lovely; the song ("Coat of Many Colors") is a great fit. But this is the best that she’ll sound throughout the entire show and still isn’t quite convincing. She really should have been gone weeks ago.

Randy gives reasonable praise as does Paula. Simon thought it was “pleasant but forgettable.” Ouch.

How will Syesha handle country night? It doesn’t seem like a natural fit for her, but who knows? Well, it doesn’t matter, because she chose “I Will Always Love You” which isn’t really a country song anymore, is it? She mangles a few bits early when she’s singing the softer bits, she misses a few of the big notes, and she sounds a little lost. She almost hits a big ending, though.

Dunny. Not really very good. Probably should have chosen something else.

Randy wasn’t all that impressed. Paula. Yeah. Paula. Simon thinks it was a bad choice, too.

I can’t help but think that Michael Johns could have gone home a few times, too. Genuinely nice guy--and an honest-to-God chick magnet--and this was actually a decent night for him. “It’s All Wrong, but It’s All Right” gets all bluesy and sexy. Easily his best and it was seriously good.

I expected little, but he did really well.

Paula and Randy thought it was really good and Simon agreed that it was the best that he’d done.

Is it True? Zimbabwe Could be Taking Steps Toward Freedom

Given the reports of irregularities and the pressure placed on voters, I imagined that ZImbabwe’s election would have the same dismal results as the last few elections. But the determination of the opposition--and, indeed, the faith peaceful, democratic change--looks to have overwhelmed even Mugabe’s ability to bully, buy, and cheat his way to victory.

That is a truly amazing thing. To his credit, and if these early reports are correct, he is doing what he needs to do to negotiate a peaceful exchange of power.

A resignation by Mr. Mugabe, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, would be a stunning turnabout in a country where he has been accused of consistently manipulating election results to maintain his lock on power.

There is no guarantee the negotiations will succeed, and the situation could still deteriorate. But a Western diplomat and a political analyst said the opposition was negotiating with Zimbabwe’s military, central intelligence organization and prisons chief.

“The chiefs of staff are talking to Morgan and are trying to put into place transitional structures,” said John Makumbe, a political analyst and insider in local politics who has spoken in the past in favor of the opposition.

“The chiefs of staff are not split; they are loyally at Mugabe’s side,” Mr. Makumbe said. “But they are not negotiating for Mr. Mugabe. They are negotiating for themselves. They are negotiating about reprisals and recriminations and blah blah blah. They are doing it for their own security.”

Amazing. There is reason for hope for Zimbabwe today--and if this all comes to pass, I will be celebrating soon.

If power does change hands--and if the new leadership proves to be devoted to liberalizing, responsible monetary policy, and finding ways to solve the current crisis, then it will be important for Western powers to be ready with offers of assistance in the transition. Rebuilding the economy, infrastructure, schools, and health care system will be a monumental task both in the sense of the effort involved and the potential to revive what was once the most promising nation in the region.

For the citizens of Zimbabwe, this is looking like a time for joy and celebration--but soon the hard work of rebuilding will bring its own pains. I’m hoping that the United States can find a way to be a productive partner in the rebuilding process, nurturing a relationship that will help bring peace and stability to a country that has lost far too many years to Mugabe.

If the moment of meaningful change has come, it will be because of people like the folks at Sokwanele who have worked so hard for so long to see the potential for something better. God willing, I will be able to meet some of them in the coming years in a nation of free men and women.

Read the rest.

HT to CentreRight. Update: Instapundit points to Gateway Pundit for more information.


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