Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On Spoon at the Kool Haus (with Daniel)

Me: What did you think?
Daniel: It really picked up during the second encore.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Coolness is having courage

Available upon request.

1. Grizzly Bear - He Hit Me
2. Elvis Presley - Wearin' That Loved On Look
3. Spiritualized - Good Times
4. The Staples Singers - This May Be The Last Time
5. Panda Bear - Comfy in Nautica
6. Caribou - Melody Day
7. The Besnard Lakes - Disaster
8. Beach House - Master of None
9. The Staples Singers - Will The Circle Be Unbroken
10. Jeff Tweedy - Sunken Treasure
11. Blood Meridian - Kick Up The Dust
12. Kevin Drew - When It Begins
13. The Staples Singers - Uncloudy Day
14. Dr. John - Craney Crow
15. Captain Beefheart - Too Much Time
16. Elvis Presley - Long Black Limousine
17. The Staples Singers - Don't Drive Me Away
18. The Crystals - He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On Dida

AC Milan goalkeeper Nelson Dida has been suspended by UEFA for two Champions League games following an incident at last week's game against Celtic.

After Celtic's game-winning second goal was scored in final minutes of the match, a fan rushed onto the pitch and lightly slapped Dida in the face. The Brazilian stopper chased his "attacker" for a couple of steps before dropping to the ground like he'd been punched by Gennaro Gattuso. He was then taken off the field in a stretcher, holding an ice pack against his cheek.

Dida is easily the worst starter in the Milan line-up and possibly the worst number one goalie in Serie A. Not only is he weak on crosses, he gives up too many rebounds (see the Celtic goal, for example) and lets in too many soft goals. Milan should consider themselves lucky that they don't have to bother him for their next two matches.

Instead, they're complaining loudly that the ruling was "disproportionate" (Celtic received a 25,000 Euro fine) and appealing. This is shameful. Milan should have suspended and fined Dida on their own. What he did wasn't just theatrics—it was a deliberate attempt to affect the outcome of the game. By falling to the ground and leaving on a stretcher, Dida was giving his club the opportunity to challenge the result of the match (Milan chose not to). This is cheating.

Non-soccer fans complain that there is too much diving in soccer. They're right. They also complain that players spend too much time on the ground after receiving minor injuries. Here, they're missing something important. When a soccer player receives a minor injury, staying on the ground gives his team an opportunity to rest. It also gives the player time to heal. If the injury is legitimate, then so is staying on the ground.

But what Dida did was not legitimate. My friend Paul suggested that what the goalie did will blight all Brazilian players, but I don't think that's true. Cafu, the legendary Brazilian defender and Dida's Milan teammate, has a reputation as one of the fairest players in the game. He has a tendency to shake the hands of referees after they hand him a yellow card. Kaka, another Brazilian Milan star, often gets bad calls from referees but never complains. He just sets up and scores goals for retribution.

Dida deserved what he got.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

On "I'm Movin' On" by Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley-I'm Movin' On

At first, it’s all country: Acoustic guitar strumming, pedal steel twanging, bass bouncing on a classic two-step figure, and Elvis—the baritone, cocky, arrogant Elvis—singing, “That big eight-wheeler runnin' down the track/Means your true lovin' daddy ain't a comin' back/'Cause he's movin on, he's rollin on." Soon we realize he’s singing in the third person, and we're not surprised. “You were flyin too high for my little ol' sky/So I'm movin' on,” he sings on the melodic turn, dripping cool.

The rhythm picks up here—just a touch. Not too nasty, yet, but it’s grooving, alright. “But some day baby when you've had you play/Your gonna want your daddy but your daddy will say: Keep movin' on, keep rollin' on,” Elvis sings, before repeating himself, just to make sure he's understood. ”You were flyin too high for my little ol' sky/So I'm movin' on.”

“Move on baby!” The drummer takes this as a cue to introduce himself with some sharp, crisp whacks of the snare, which cues the bassist to TAKE OFF, and man does that guy go, right out front in your left ear, clear and clean and totally terrific. Things are happening now—an electric guitar picks out high note melodies and gospel ladies sing “move on!” in the name of glory. Everyone’s ready to rave, but it’s not time, not yet. A low horn blast signals for quiet. Shhhh.

The drummer hangs around, but he’s alright, just tapping out a quiet rhythm on the snare and the hats. The pianist comes in sweet and lazy, like he’s been playing this song for days. “Mr. Fireman-Fireman won't you please listen to me,” Elvis pleads to Mr. Fireman-Fireman, “'cause I gotta pretty momma in Tennessee.” This isn’t easy, you know? But he's not turning back: “Keep rollin on, keep movin' on.” He’s gotta keep going. “Please listen to me, let this rattler free, and keep movin' on.”

Another command: “Move on, son.” The cue is no doubt for the bassist this time, and he TAKES OFF AGAIN. The rest of the guys do their thing, the electric guitar heating just a little. If you listen carefully, you can hear Elvis booming along vocally with the bass, it's got him excited and he's not afraid to show it. The horns pierce through—already on fire— and Elvis starts “tah tah”-ing with the drums. The man can barely contain himself.

Even the pedal steel player is feeling it after that one and he plays a couple of late, excited notes, but they manage to get it quiet one more time. Elvis doesn’t have too much more to say, but they let him say it because, well, he’s Elvis. ”But you just wouldn't listen or pay me no mind/And now I'm movin' on, I'm rollin' on/I'm through with you, too bad you're blue/But I'm movin' on”

Chorus again and everything starts cooking, getting nice and grilled. Elvis jumps in with the gospel ladies. His choice is made. “I said move on! I said move on! I said move on! I said move on!” The horns are burning and the guitar player catches flame. Elvis won’t let it go—he repeats the phrase over and over and over and over, but now his words are mush. “Ah sai- moveon!” “Ah heh movon.” Maybe he’s crying, but it’s not for her. “Well I'm through with you, too bad you're blue.” Meanwhile, that bassist has gone MAD, he's way up on that thing, tickling the high notes with the glee of a three-year-old. The drummer’s ringing on the ride like nobody’s business, the horns keep spinning faster and faster, and the electric guitar blazes in the whirlwhind. They’re movin’ on.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A random and hilarious quote from The Simpsons

"You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On social order

When humans come together in groups, we have a better chance at survival than if we live as individuals. Survival is the primary goal of any living being on earth, and this Darwinian necessity forces humans to behave as pack animals.

When animals live in packs, rules are necessary. Rules maintain social order. If social order is broken, we are forced either to live individually—lessening our chances for survival—or to create a new pack. This new pack will eventually need a set of rules. With no rules, there is no order. With no order, there is no survival.

What are the rules and how are they determined? “No killing” would seem like an obvious one, considering that survival is the ultimate goal of the pack. Yet when a pack has been formed, there is often a greater incentive to protect the social order than the individuals within it. Maybe killing is necessary for survival? After all, if the social order is broken, everyone’s survival is in jeopardy.

Because of this, various social orders have had wildly different interpretations of the “no killing” rule. In some situations, killing is a tool used by the dominant members of the group to maintain order through oppression of subordinate members. In other situations, killing is permitted as a "deterrent" against those who wish to disrupt the social order. For example, in the certain American states, individuals who break certain rules (such as the rule not to kill) are killed by the state.

Still, in every social order, there are rules about who may kill and who may not. If everyone in a pack is free to murder, anarchy will result. So the rule always becomes: “only those with permission may kill.”

Who determines permission to kill? Here, we must divide social order into two sub-categories:
1.Social order that is imposed by a dominant group on a subordinate group, usually through violence (dictatorship)
2.Social order that is based on consensus (democracy)

Dictatorship is the simpler model, but democracy is better. Democracy, ideally, considers the concerns of all members of the social order. A dictatorship, meanwhile, inevitably favours the concerns of the dominant group over others. Democracy is fairer.

Now, consider again the question of “who may kill?” In a dictatorship, the answer is simple: the dominant group may kill while the subordinate group may not. This is easily enforced. If a subordinate member breaks this rule, perhaps by trying to kill a dominant member, he will be killed as punishment. It’s probably also a good idea to kill his friends and family, to show everyone else that deviations of this sort will not be tolerated.

In a democracy, the answer isn’t so simple. There may be those in the group who believe certain members of sub-groups (ie. police officers, soliders) should be given the right to kill in certain situations; for example, when they witness a violent crime being committed. Others may argue that all citizens should be given the right to kill in certain situations; for example, if they are attacked.

How to reach consensus? Generally, most democracies rely on two mechanisms: elected-governments and courts of law. (There are possible alternative methods, such as holding referendums on every disputed issue, but these tend to be inefficient.) The rules eventually agreed upon must then be enforced. It generally follows that a military and police force are created to do just that.

Those who favour disorder and chaos over order and organization fail to understand that these latter two elements are essential to our survival as a species. To favour anarchy over order is to be anti-human. And that’s just ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On Seymour Hersh

Seymour Hersh, the legendary American journalist who uncovered the My Lai Massacre and reported extensively on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, recently published “Shifting Targets,” his fourth New Yorker article about Bush Administration plans to bomb Iran.

In his reporting, Hersh relies a great deal on unnamed sources. Yesterday, White House press secretary Dana Perino mentioned this in an attempt to undermine Hersh’s work. “Every two months or so, Sy Hersh writes an article in The New Yorker magazine, and CNN provides him a forum in which to talk about his article and all the anonymous sources that are quoted in it,” Perino said at a press briefing. (Dan Froomkin of the Washinton Post did a great job covering this and the ensuing dab-and-dodge discussion that took place between Perino and journalists.)

Perino’s sneaky critique of Hersh’s use of anonymous sources is ill informed and dishonest—but then again, what else would you expect from one of George W. Bush’s press secretaries?

Hersh’s work gets thoroughly fact-checked, just like everything else The New Yorker prints. As New Yorker editor David Remnick told the Columbia Journalism Review in April 2003: “I know every single source that is in his pieces. To "every 'retired intelligence officer,' every general with reason to know, and all those phrases that one has to use, alas, by necessity, I say, 'Who is it? What's his interest?' We talk it through.” But you have to wonder: Who the hell fact-checks Seymour Hersh’s articles? And how the hell do they do it?

A note from Carley

"flip-flop: 1. esp. N. Amer. an abrupt reversal in policy (Canadian Oxford)"

Monday, October 01, 2007

On the religious schools debate

Isn't "flip-flop" kind of a loaded term for an "objective" news report about politics?