Friday, October 29, 2004

Look What Eminem Did

Guerrilla News Network

Hard as this is for me to say, I kind of like him now. (Eminem, that is.)

Look What Eric Did

[Emptyself]:[welcome]

Free music for you with a message. Download Eric's track, "Occupation."

Do it!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

2 Busy 2 B Bloggin'


Here At 400am
Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
...and no one seems to be stopping by here anyway. I'll try not ot take it personally.

This photo is titled, Here at 4:00 AM, and though is was the scene here at 4:00 AM in early 2003, it still looks like this at 4:00 AM on any given night. Rachel still sleeps in my bed and I'm still up working. Except I'm not at the desk as much as I'm in bed next to her, busy on my PowerBook or with 1000 papers and tests to grade strewn all around me.

And, given that it's almost 4:00 AM and I still have mucho grading to finish, I'll retreat from this place. Though I do miss the action here.

I hope to be back in more regular form this weekend and I look so forward to relief from political blogging, if that has any remote chance of happening after this election.

Well, whatever. Bon nuit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Thanks, Ashlee

Authentic musicians the world over had a good laugh this weekend when out of synch vocal track caught Ashlee Simpson of guard, exposing her talent charade. Eric saw the show and wrote this post about it amlost immediately. I looked for a clip, but found none. It was too soon, but today, thanks to pi22seven, (known on my blog list as My Mac and Music Brother From Another Planet), we have the video clip, and he'd right...it's pretty ugly.

Ashlee blamed the band for the gaffe, and it's clear that the band did begin playing the same song it had already performed. This is attributed to someone cueing the wrong backing track. (Simpson et. al., are blaming the drummer.) But no one denied the lip-synching, which is the real issue. Daddy Simpson apparently attributed the need for lip-synching to swollen vocal cords, the result of Ashlee's acid reflux disease. He swears she's never done it before. I doubt the veracity of that, given the accounts I've read of her live shows.

In any event, if you want to get the biggest bang for your in terms of laughter, check out this clip, which I found on Kevin's site.

And if pure brutality turns you on, (or if you're an honestly talented musician struggling to make a living and need a little satisfaction), check out the venom spewing forth in the forums of Ashlee's Official Web Site. How big of her (and Geffen Records) not to delete them as soon as they appear.

All this has got me feeling so good enough about myself that I'm going to do something that does not come easily: I'm going to post a link to an MP3 of myself singing. This song is from a live jazz gig in 1998 at The Howlin' Wolf, right here in New Orleans. At the time I was gigging with bassist Marvin Williams, who, last I heard, was touring with Patti LaBelle. The song is 'Round Midnight and is done in tribute to my vocal idol, Ella Fitzgerald, meaning that I sing it very similarly to the way she did, particularly the ending... and there's a short pause before this featured ending, so if you don't hear any audience sounds, it's not over.


(The above picture is from 2002, not the Howln' Wolf gig.)

You can download or stream the song (your choice) on this page. It's live, up-close and in person, no studio edits, no second, third, fourth takes, no nuttin! Way back in 1998, free MP3 encoders were hard to find (so were MP3s), so I used a demo encoder which stamped its audio brand on the front end. Sorry. I will also apologize for what I feel is a way-too-long bass solo, but what can I say? It was the bass player's gig.

By the way, the site for that link is something I started a long time ago with the best of intentions and then abandoned. It was going to be a personal and business thing, but... well, you know how it goes sometimes. Too many other demands. If you should decide to poke around over there, be prepared for many empty pages and broken links.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Life in an Alternate Reality: The World According to a Bush Voter

AlterNet: War on Iraq: The World According to a Bush Voter
You may have found this link in the comments of my previous post, produced by fellow blogger Lasciate, to whom I am most grateful. It is indeed a mind-boggling article to those of us who value our reasoning faculties.

If you're voting for Bush, you might want to see if you agree with these Bush supporters and their perceptions. But you should be cautioned: you will have to face the reality that the rest of us inhabit. Whether you embrace it or not depends on your own ability to reason.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Unpalatable Food for Thought


Remember these guys? Hitler and Mussolini?


While I'm busy digging out from under the weight of work from a variety of sources, here's some food for thought...so THINK!

Dr. Laurence Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about
fascism which appeared in Free Inquiry magazine -- a journal of
humanist thought. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of:
· Hitler (Germany)
· Mussolini (Italy)
· Franco (Spain)
· Suharto (Indonesia)
· Pinochet (Chile)

He found the regimes had 14 things in common, and he calls these the
identifying characteristics of fascism. The article is titled
'Fascism Anyone?', by Laurence Britt, and appears in Free Inquiry's
Spring 2003 issue on page 20. You can find what follows here, complete with references. I know I could have just linked to this article, but I didn't want to take the chance that anyone who would benefit from reading this wouldn't click.

The 14 characteristics are:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -- Fascist regimes tend to
make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and
other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols
on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -- Because of fear of
enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are
persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because
of "need". The people tend to 'look the other way' or even approve
of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations
of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -- The
people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to
eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or
religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists,
etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military -- Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount
of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected.
Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism -- The governments of fascist nations tend to be
almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes,
traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion
is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national
policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes the media is directly
controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is
indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through
sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship,
especially in wartime, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security -- Fear is used as a
motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -- Governments in fascist
nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool
to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is
common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the
religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or
actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected -- The industrial and business
aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the
government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial
business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed -- Because the organizing power of
labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions
are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -- Fascist nations tend
to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and
academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to
be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly
attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -- Under fascist regimes,
the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The
people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego
civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a
national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist
nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -- Fascist regimes almost always
are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each
other to government positions, and who use governmental power and
authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not
uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even
treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government
leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections -- Sometimes elections in fascist nations
are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear
campaigns against (or even the assassination of) opposition
candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or
political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media.
Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate
or control elections.

Any of this sound familiar? If you can't connect the dots, let me know and I'll help.

Some have noted similarities between Bush's use of the 9-11 disaster and Hitler's use of the Reichstag Fire as the catalyst for regime-building. Read, investigate, learn some history and make up your own mind. I haven't plumbed the depths of the web for info, so just use what I offer on the above link as a starting point, if you're motivated to pursue further investigation. I almost used the protest picture from this site but it was too big. However, the message on the large sign is an important one.

Thanks for your patient attention.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Drop Out, Drop In...


Glass Drop
Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
Still around...
...just WICKEDLY BUSY and will resume with regularly scheduled programming very soon.

In the meantime, since Richard was so kind to request more poetry, this one is from August, 1992 and was written for someone also named Richard. It's one of my favorites.

Wired

wired
strung up
and strung out
life hangs tenouosly
above the streets and below them
through big cities and small towns
along open fields
across a nation

high
on poles
beamed up
on microwaves
to far away places
my life's blood courses
through a fiber optics network
words pulsate
like bread and water
offering sustainance
through these vital connections

reach out
reach out and touch someone

long distance is the next best thing to being there

but it's not
being there

Monday, October 11, 2004

Pearls #4 (Water Droplets)


Pearls #4 (Water Droplets)
Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
Who needs an oyster to make pearls?

More Water.
There are a few (just a few) more of these on Flickr, and they can be viewed by clicking on the image. I'll be trickling more into my Flickr photostream over time... (ha,ha,ha!) I've got lots of them.

Lacking the desire to write about anything tonight, I've decided to take a great leap and publish a poem I wrote in 1995, since it's a variation of this water theme.


Communication Vacuum

talk talk talk
out fly the words
the thoughts
the feelings
running like a crystal stream of consciousness
pouring like a waterfall
its source
a vessel
with only one outlet
that does not allow it to retrieve
its precious product
once it’s been released

its walls are stiffened walls
though not so strong
and as it empties itself
it begs to be replenished
through the one-way intake valve
that waits like a beggar for a crumb
or a solitary lover to be loved
and as it waits
the edifice begins to collapse
upon itself
becoming good for none
____

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Water, Lots This Time


Black Pearls (Water Droplets)
Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
Given the state of things, I thought it would be appropriate to post another of my water photos. This one is from the second round of shots taken in my backyard using the garden hose.

And as water goes, there is lots of it falling, falling, falling from the sky, compliments of Matthew, a visitor from the tropics about whom no one told me a word. Given that I watch very little TV and many people know this, someone usually makes it a point to inform me about such storms.

This tropical storm is providing more excitement than Ivan the Terrible's near miss. Lots of wind, (I can even feel it shaking the house, unlike it's predecessor), lots of rain, and in the last hour, lots of lightening and thunder.

Matthew is only a tropical storm, but it was a mere tropical storm that last year toppled the tree in my backyard, taking the gutter and downspout on the back corner of my den with it.

Well, we needed the rain and a diversion. And the weather is now reaching a level of drama that makes for that good, stormy, stay-in-bed kind of sleep. And since it's going on 6:00 AM now, I guess that's what I'll do.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Irk Du Jour: Answer the Question, Dammit!


(This image is for you, Eric.)

I didn't watch the tape of the VP debate yet, (I was attending a b-day party that night), but I noticed something in both presidential debates that irks me quite a bit.

Why do the moderators let the candidates get away with responses that simply do not answer the questions that have been posed? I think Kerry did this a few times, but Bush did it numerous times in both debates. It frustrates me terribly! In order for a question to make the list, it must have been deemed to have some merit, and therefore, deserves a direct response.



I was so aggravated after the first presidential debate that I copied the transcript from NPR, pasted it into a Word document, and furiously began highlighting sections and adding notations in places where the responses were less than satisfying, if the questions were actually addressed at all. For example, the very first question in the first debate, after opening statements, was directed to Bush:

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, two minutes. Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't believe it's going to happen. I believe I'm going to win, because the American people know I know how to lead. I've shown the American people I know how to lead. I have -- I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with the decisions that I've made. And I've made some tough decisions.
Bush refuses to even acknowledge this hypothetical question. The rest of his response is rambling and unrelated. He talks about "the enemy" and refers to recent events in Russia while doing so, leaving us to a very vague interpretation of who "they" are.



This was a simple yes or no question, and perhaps not a very important one, since it's just a matter of conjecture on anyone's part. But it was an opportunity to address the scare-tactic statement made by his VP which was referenced by the question.



A straight and solid answer that supported Cheney's weak refutation that he didn't intend to scare potential Kerry voters might have made some of us think a little better of the two of them. Then Bush could have used the rest of his time to put us to sleep with the same canned diatribe that so many of us have grown so tired of. But he didn't do that. Instead, he indirectly affirmed that intention by not directly addressing what was asked, then droning on and on with the same rap about all that he is doing to fight "them" and why. And, he closes by leaving us with another neologism: "That's why they're fighting so vociferously." (What do you think Bush would score on the SAT if he had to take it today?)

When you read the debate transcript, you experience the content very differently than when you watch the rapid fire of questions and responses, complete with a plethora of visual distractions. When you read it, an activity I highly recommend, you have time to contemplate and evaluate each statement without the intrusion of the next. You can easily see and take note of occasions where responses beg other questions, where opportunities for substance are substituted with empty platitudes, and where statements of fact are distorted in their interpretation. Both candidates do this , but I find the tendency to be disproportionately high with Bush relative to Kerry. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that Bush has over three years of presidential decisions to explain and many of those can't be addressed forthrightly without betraying the questionable judgment that he refuses to acknowledge.

One of the many examples of Bush statements that begged a fundamental question (at least for me) came in the continuation of the aforementioned response. As Bush went on, he said, "But people know where I stand. People out there listening know what I believe, and that's how best it is to keep the peace."

I can only ask: should we accept our presidential logician's premise that declaring war is the best way to keep peace?

Is declaring war the best way to keep peace???
___
Get a transcript of last night's debate here. Analyze to your heart's content.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Going Upriver



Why? Why haven't I heard anything about this movie?

Granted, I watch very little TV, but I do listen to a fairly good chunk of daily NPR, I am all over the web, all over the blogosphere, and around lots of people who talk and tell each other about things like this. I found it on Michael Moore's blog today after listing it in my links yesterday and getting around to reading it today.

Check it out at the link above. (The blog's title and the photograph are also links to the site.) Watch the trailer.

I'm going to try to see the movie this weekend.

Right now, I've got to get things ready for a showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 I'm hosting here for one of my students and his friend from Lebanon. I'll tell you the story of how this came about in a future post.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Because I'm Kind Of Busy and I've Really Got Nothing Better to Say Right Now

I suppose everyone has their bellies full of politics, and as tempting as it may be for me to venture into the subject, I will restrain myself to just this one thing. Remember how I said in my birthday post that I thought everyone looks younger than they really are? Well, I amend that now so that it applies to everyone but Dick Cheney. At 63, he's 12 years older than John Edwards, but he looks like the gap is more like 25 years. Maybe a lifetime of scowling will do that to you. That's as political as I get tonight. Besides, there are so many folks out there doing the job so well, what could I possibly contribute of any value, especially when I still have Barbie pictures begging to be displayed?

So, here are tonight's winners:

The "I Married a Successful New York Plastic Surgeon" Barbie.



The "I'm Going To Be On The Apprentice" Barbie.

Now it's your turn. Name 'em, give 'em stories, caption the pictures, do what'cha wanna! You know we need a much larger daily dose of comic relief in these trying times. So, do your part! Give it a shot.

And hurry, because you know it's only a matter of time before I get a nasty Cease and Desist notice from Barbie's progenitor...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Slutwear Debate Continues


I think this is Ru Paul Barbie.

Okay, folks, we were having so much fun in the comments section of the recent Slutwear post that my response was getting somewhat lengthy. So, I decided continue the discussion with my comments here.

Okay- it's really an excuse to use more of the hilarious Barbie images I found at Mattel's site. I am going to post a few of these every so often and ask you, my beloved handful of readers, to invent names, situations, stories or anything else that strikes you when you see them. Some of them are...well...just wait and see. I have to wonder what some of those doll designers are thinking and if they really believe we can't figure it out!


Asian Brothel Barbie?


Okay. Back to the business at hand. In reference to comments made by Eric and Richard on the initial post, I have no disagreement; young women should be able to wear anything they like, sexy, slutty or otherwise, and it's okay for children to be exposed to this, no problem. In such a situation, parents (like me) can easily explain that "big girls" get to make those choices. And I think it's good to have such opportunities to teach lessons like these to children -lessons about individual choice, without judgment. And to me, that's what the the issue really is about: choice.

Little girls seem to want to grow up faster than little boys, and it appears that this trait is being exploited. You, too, can dress like a big, grown-up girl. When "slutwear" is depicted as the standard to which little girls should aspire (as dictated by the great marketing machine of many influential corporations) and it then becomes the norm for little girl clothing, my ability to choose what I feel is appropriate for my daughter is weakened. I'm fighting a behemoth with a voice much louder than mine and with the power to challenge my protests that certain types of clothing or behavior are age-inappropriate with pervasive examples to the contrary. This is the real issue, from my perspective. My fight to have a choice and some control over the values I wish to instill in my child -and she is my child and it is my choice until the point at which she can make her own well though-out decisions -becomes much more difficult.

We're both serious about the stakes -money and market share for them and for me, the power to install something of more substance in my daughter's perception of herself as a female. But we're not on a level playing field and it's getting more and more difficult for me to win this battle. And it's a battle I resent having to fight in the first place.

I can tell you that this is the reality. Rachel can hear everything I tell her, but what's to stop her from thinking I must be wrong when so many marketing messages in so many places tell her otherwise. She will fight and argue for what the marketing machine has told her to be. This disgusts and infuriates me. Manufacturers of toys or other consumer goods targeting pre-school to pre-adolescent children have an ethical responsibility to use the power of mass marketing responsibly, especially when they have the power to establish or significantly influence cultural norms or affect stereotypes.


Dominatrix CatWoman Barbie

I had to fight to keep the pro-violence toys, games and shows out of my son's hands, too and this was not easy either, (nor was I always successful), but it was nothing like what I am facing today with my daughter. I think the Barbie examples say it all rather well.


Nausea inducing combination of overnlown branding and stereotyping... I wanna... ya know... grow up to be a Coke swilling cheerleader, just like Barbie, ' cause you're like so totally cool if you're a cheerleader and especially if you ...like...drink Coke 'cause it's so...like...totally awesome!

Barf...Wretch...
---
Post Script- Renard just looked at the Barbie pictures in this post and said that they would have been serious masturbation material when he was an adolescent...and uh...maybe even now. Ha, ha, ha!... Oh, wait ... that kind of proves my point, doesn't it?

Post Post Script- As many of you may know, I teach marketing courses at a large, urban university in New Orleans and my students will tell you that I jokingly refer to myself as the "marketing antichrist. " I do this because so many people believe that marketing is all about exploiting people to make money. Unfortunately, that may be true in practice for so many organizations. But it's not what we in the academic world profess. It's all about acting ethically, which means doing what's in the long-term best interest of the consumer and society. Usually, this involves some short-term sacrifices. But simple logic will show, if carried to a long-term conclusion, that the pay-off is more than worth it -and not just for the company but for everyone. This is where I stand. So, don't be surprised if you see me bashing a lot of bad, short-term, profit-driven marketing strategies and tactics at any time in the future.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

New Blog on the Block

I am so very happy to add a new link to my blog list today. Joining us here in the blogosphere is my friend and former student, Eric Johanson and his blog, Think Responsibly. He has another in the works, named for one of his music projects, Empty Self. I look forward to seeing both of these blogs unfold.

Eric is an incredibly gifted musician and songwriter with a lot to say, musically and otherwise. Please take a moment to visit his blog. (I told him you would!)



Also, you should check out some of Eric's music. I just checked a link where two songs from the Empty Self project were available for download and it wasn't working properly. So, for a limited time, I'm going to make them available here via one of my servers (until the point at which I run out of my allowed bandwidth) while Eric checks on the situation at the other site.

I highly recommend this music! Eric brought the first song, "Can Open Up Reveal To None Except You" to me just after the fall semester began last year, when he was a student in my Music Marketing class. I was instantly hooked, drawn into the acoustic guitar's journey from anticipation to relief, like longing and satisfaction, a held breath and long ecstatic sigh. The rhythm instruments join in and Eric's lyrics tell of something that most of us have probably experienced at some point in our lives. There is so much feeling in this song, even without the lyrics you can sense a story. But don't get the idea that this is some kind of sappy love song. It's not. Not at all. No sap. I haven't heard anything I've liked this much in forever.

A few months later, he delivered to me the five-song Empty Self EP, a hauntingly beautiful completion of the journey that began with that first. As impressed as I am with the fact that he's written such great songs, played all the instruments, recorded, mixed and mastered the project himself in so short a period of time, I'm just as impressed with the quality of the recording. (But bear in mind that the MP3 available for download may not reflect the quality of the CD. I didn't encode these and so I don't know the bit rate, etc.)

So, here is the first song. It will download directly from the link. You can download the second song, The Open Landscape directly here. If you like these, please do me a favor and consider buying the EP. And please spread the word. We need to support independent musicians, especially the truly talented ones like Eric. (And that means no unauthorized duplication either!) He needs to make his living off of what he does best and, believe me, he was born to do what he's doing. And making a living off of music is no easy accomplishment. If you doubt me, I'll punish you with a zillion facts and stories proving I'm right!!!

Okay.

Now, if you like intelligent progressive rock, you should check out music from Eric's previous project, Cire, at CD Baby, which describes the music as follows:
Cire is guitar-driven, intelligent rock combining the odd rhythms of Tool, the soulful improvisation of Gov't Mule, and the hi-fi production of Nine Inch Nails. The contemplative vocals of creator Eric Johanson often explore philosophical and scientific worldviews stemming from his interest in evolutionary psychology and liberal politics. Cire has recently released its second CD, Adrenological.


This is the first of what will be many blog endorsements to come for all you neat-o posters out there that I love. I hope you like the music. And don't forget to check out his blogs.

Thanks!