25 random songs

Putting my iTunes into random mode, here’s what I get (and keep in mind that I have my entire music collection, 112+ GB, loaded in here, so this is a complete “random” sampling”):

  1. The Room of Oracles (Harold Budd, The Room)
  2. Afraid (David Bowie, Heathen)
  3. Will We Remain (Cloudscape, Crimson Skies)
  4. The Rumble (Steve Vai, Archives Vol IV)
  5. The Trial (Pink Floyd, The Wall)
  6. My Redemption, Your Demise (Lamb of God, As the Palaces Burn)
  7. Fuel Injection Stingray (Marty Friedman, Live in Europe)
  8. Seventh Wave (Devin Townsend, Ocean Machine)
  9. What Once Was… (Billy Sheehan, Compression)
  10. For Good (Aeon Spoke, Above the Buried Cry)
  11. Numb (Portishead, Dummy)
  12. Section 17 (Suitcase Calling) (The Polyphonic Spree, Together We’re Heavy)
  13. Flying High Again (Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman)
  14. Teaching Mathematics Again (James Horner, A Beautiful Mind OST)
  15. Lost Souls (Doves, Lost Souls)
  16. My Fairy King (Queen, Queen)
  17. All The Wild Horses (Ray Lamontagne, Trouble)
  18. High (Ambeon, Fate of a Dreamer)
  19. Part of Me (Chris Cornell, Scream)
  20. Pretty Woman (Van Halen, Diver Down)
  21. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Beatles, White Album)
  22. Strange Ritual (David Byrne, David Byrne)
  23. D.O.A. (Van Halen, II)
  24. ! (Foreward) (Pain of Salvation, Hereafter)
  25. Milliontown (Frost*, Milliontown)

Apropos, of course, of absolutely shit, unless you want to pull a Freud and figure out everything you never cared about me from it.

There must be some kind of way out of here…

..because we’re led by jokers and thieves.

From the Birmingham News:

Commissioner Shelia Smoot says mayors ‘crossed the line;’ county will begin collecting debts from cities

The Jefferson County Mayors Association today approved a resolution supporting the concept of a county manager.

“We voted on the principle we supported the idea of the county having a county manager,” Richardson said. “We didn’t specify any legislation or any particular bill in Montgomery.”

Earlier in the day, Commissioner Commissioner Shelia Smoot said area municipalities owe the county “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and that area mayors have “crossed the line” by publicly supporting a county manager.

Smoot passed out a document showing nearly a dozen cities still owed their share of prorated personnel board costs and money for traffic signal maintenance.

“The bottom line is many of them are strapped for cash, and the reason why we know is because we are always bailing them out,” Smoot said. “Right about now, we have some things we need to do, and the collectors will be calling.

So, Birmingham politics has gone from the meeting room to the sandbox.  We’ve got a corrupt mayor and a corrupt county commission who seem to care about themselves and their egos and career perks a lot, inversely proportional to how much they care about those that elected them. They would rather put the sewer debt into receivership, no matter what the cost to us taxpayers and water users, rather than declare bankruptcy.  Smoot is claiming the right to use a bodyguard with county monies, even as the county edges closer to the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the U.S.  And now, petty childish reactions.

I can’t imagine why Smoot is getting threats.  Not that I condone such actions — I think the courts are the way to get rid of terrible, clueless politicians — but it’s not exactly a mystery why it could happen.

I ask with all seriousness: is it possible to impeach a county commission?

Head or Gut, pt III(a)

I see that there’re others out there who think the same as I do.  Let’s hope that they keep watch, since they’re actually in a position to do something about it:

“I applaud the president for his commitment to help keep American families in their homes. However, I strongly urge him to ensure that borrowers and lenders who made bad decisions are not rewarded at the expense of the more than 90 percent of working-class American families that are still making their mortgage payments without government assistance.”

For the record, this is part of what Obama said earlier today: “It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans. It will not help speculators who took risky bets on a rising market and bought homes not to live in but to sell. It will not help dishonest lenders who acted irresponsibly, distorting the facts and dismissing the fine print at the expense of buyers who didn’t know better. And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford. So I just want to make this clear: This plan will not save every home.”

(From The Birmingham News)

Head or Gut, pt. III

So, when I was a teenager, I ran with The Wrong Crowd. On a number of levels, I’m lucky to be here at all, much less as prosperous, healthy and happy* as I am. I had a number of friends who weren’t and aren’t so lucky.  Some died, some made mistakes that ruined the rest of their lives.

Two friends — let’s call them Goofus and Gallant, because I loved Highlights For Kids — had plenty of run-ins with the law.  It’s not that their parents didn’t teach them better, or that they weren’t aware of what they were doing.  They just got caught up in the moments, maybe got greedy every now and then, just like the rest of us.  It’s what teenagers do.  They just got caught with their hands in the cookie jar more often than the rest of us.

Goofus had parents that some would call “enablers.”  Every time he got caught, his parents bailed him out, paid his fines for him, pulled strings with lawyers or city leaders they knew, and got him out of the situation with as little consequence as was possible.

Gallant’s parents bailed him out the first time, and explained to him that, as much as they loved him, next time he was on his own.  And they didn’t lie — he got caught for a DUI for his second offense, and paid every penny of the fine himself, lost his car, and worked off every minute of the community service they gave him.

That was Gallant’s last offense, by the way.  I’m sure that since then he’s skirted a law or two, but he knows: action has reaction.  Behavior has consequence. Having done so before, he is careful not to take any actions for which he is not willing to suffer consequence.

Goofus had a last offense, too.  Nothing big — it was some sort of robbery that involved drugs.  But his parents are dead, and were when he got caught.  And no one was there to bail him out.  And he got killed in prison, as I understand, in a fight over a carton of cigarettes with a 20 year old kid who was doing time for gang-related homicide.

And no, I’ve never been to jail, nor do I have any sort of a criminal record.  Though I was once arrested (though not booked) for doing gargoyle impressions.

Okay, so that’s a little melodramatic, perhaps (though true), when all I’m trying to say is that this whole economic bail-out thing reeks of over-protective parenting that ultimately harms the child.  Give the banks all this money, keep them from facing the results of their predatory lending and other greedy practices, and all you’re doing is saying, “Hey, that was really bad, and we caught you.  Try again.  See if you can do it without getting caught.”  Same goes for the automobile manufacturers who failed to keep up with the competition, and the homeowners who took out mortgages that they could clearly not afford.

Am I a little bitter that myself and a lot of my friends and family and peers have walked a very careful path, and paid off our credit cards instead of declaring bankruptcy, and lived a little no-frills so that we could pay the debts and mortgages that we incurred, and have continued living in apartments until we could actually afford a mortage? Goddamned right I am.  Because we have voluntarily suffered because it’s the right thing to do, and we don’t get rewarded.  The bad guys — the bankers and CEOs and homeowners that shouldn’t have been and the rest: they don’t get punished.  In fact, they get a hand back up.  Status quo holds, all is well, and forward we go.

I know that there are people out there that genuinely need to be helped — there are a lot of good people that probably didn’t know what they were getting into, and were told by “experts,” people that they trusted, that they could afford this loan or that investment.  I don’t blame the victims all the time.  But I do know that there are a lot of people out there that are knowningly guilty but passing themselves off as victims just the same.

I also know that without some form of governmental stimulus (and the next person who calls it a spendulus bill better follow that phrase up with a reasonable alternative, or I’m punching you in the throat for being a whiny bitch), the economy would probably collapse on itself and eat the souls of innocent kittens across the universe.  But you know what?  Maybe that’s what should have happened.

If you run through the streets of gang-infested urbans areas shouting racial epithets and provoking danger, then you kinda deserve whatever happens to you.  And you’re sure as fuck not allowed to play the victim later.

Maybe it really is the case that nice guys finish last, and that by living the moral life, I deny myself the spoils and rewards that I could have in my reach.  But then, I think there’s some related comfort when I hear Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy — if you have any interest in astronomy, check it out) say, “But I have found over the years that the hardest thing to accept as a skeptic is that the Universe doesn’t care what you think is true, it only cares about what is true.” [emphasis mine]

What does that mean?  I have no idea.  But at least I’m not in jail. Or worse.

* You think this is bad, you should hear me bitch about the world when I’m not happy.

Head or Gut, pt. II


About a quarter of the nation’s TV stations cut off their analog signals Tuesday, causing sets to go dark in households that were not prepared for digital television despite two years of warnings about the transition.

Okay, first, Obama wanted to delay this transition, and he got it: Congress changed the date to sometime in June.  What happened was that some of the stations went ahead and cut their analog signals, to save money (and who among us doesn’t want to save money right now?).  Frankly, I’d rather hear someone bitch about how their TV channel went dark than to hear about one of my friends who works for that station getting laid off.

But you know what?  I think — with a two year lead, 730 +/- days of warning — that you don’t get to complain.  Because the government offered little cards (I got mine as soon as they were available) that you could use to get converter boxes for essentially free.  Most of the people I know have digital TVs anyway, which don’t require converter boxes.  And for chrissakes — there have been commercials on every channel I get (no cable or satellite — local betwork only) announcing this for as long as I can remember.

If you’re too stupid to pay attention to the news, you really don’t need a TV anyway.  Your brain’s already rotten enough.  Get outside and enjoy the fresh air for a bit, or pick up a book.  Morons.

Head or gut? pt I


An increasingly embattled U.S. Sen. Roland Burris said he “welcomes” the chance for authorities and elected officials to look into how he landed a coveted Senate appointment from ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Burris’ admission that he had more contact with Blagojevich advisers about the Senate seat than he described under oath to a state House impeachment panel has furious lawmakers asking for an investigation into whether the Democrat committed perjury.

And the revelation that Burris tried to raise money for the governor after Blagojevich’s brother asked him for fundraising help has triggered calls for Burris’ resignation.

When do we, as a nation, finally get fed up enough with this sort of behavior — thinking we’re above the law, acting as though we are above reproach — that we finally start treating it like it deserves? Take a rolled up newspaper and swat these people on the nose until they stop doing it.  Seriously — if it’s good enough for our dogs, who we actually like, why not politicians?

Don’t investigate him — you have all the evidence you need. This isn’t about impropriety anymore — it’s about flat-out lying.  You lied.  LIEDLIEDLIEDLIED.  You get to go home now.  And every single person in Illinois that you represent?  They’ll be waiting for you with newspapers.  Hopefully wrapped around crowbars.

No wonder we’re so screwed up as a country. Here’s your newspaper bailout plan: give every citizen $1.25.  Then give them free reign to treat bad behavior as it deserves to be treated.  Newspapers get saved for at least one more day, and the politicians either start acting like the rest of us or sleeping in the yard for another night.

The art of short humor

Friend and bandmate Eric is (un) fortunate enough to be steadily employed as a music store guy, and if you thought that endless misfired variations of Stairway to Heaven or Eruption were the worst things you’d have to put up with 8 times a day, you’re sadly, sadly mistaken:



So there’s this thing you dream about, yeah?  It can be whatever you want it to be: a woman, riches, power.  In my case, let’s just say it’s a Tribble, and if you don’t know what Tribbles are, I envy you for not having Star Trek fans in your inner circle.

And in this dream — that was both figurative and literal, by the by — you yearn and yearn until you finally get this thing, and for a very short time, you’re very happy.  But then, before your eyes, with the speed at which such things can only happen in dreams, that thing you always wanted begins to smother you.  If it’s power, maybe it’s the accompanying responsibility; if it was a woman, maybe she’s far less than you had idealized.  In my dream, it’s a Tribble.  And if you don’t know what Tribbles are, then my dream would be even scarier to you than to me.

Pretty soon, you’re literally drowning beneath that thing you always wanted; it’s killing you, crushing you.  That’s the trouble with Tribbles, I hear.

But then, just before your last breath runs out, you wake up, still clutching at the beauty of the thing you always wanted, and you return to sleep, hoping to try that dream one more time.

This is only bothersome because the remix is titled abandon.error, for a song called abandoner.  And because I sometimes take my psychology degree too seriously.