Monday, May 30, 2011

Libertarian Varieties

Just walked Dexter 40 minutes this morning -- already nasty hot at 9:45. Biked 28.7 miles yesterday to Paul's Mill Rd. 2h18m, 1 stop. I thought about biking again this morning (Memorial Day), but my legs were pretty sore. Dexter and I did 1h20m Saturday morning, but it was 10-15 degrees cooler. In the hot weather, I'm going to try to keep his walks below 45m. He will be 16 YO next month.

So when politics comes up around any of my Libertarian WRAs (WRA == Work Related Acquaintance), I pretty much just start shouting at them. I am filled with righteous anger, and desire solely to verbally smite them. So, I got to thinking, why does this make me so mad?

I believe that it is because most conservative politics violates one of my 3 basic principles of life (blogged here, in my first ever post): #3, Children are Sacred. The belief means to me that the top priority of any civilization is to make sure that all mothers have access to the best prenatal care; that all children have enough to eat, a place to live, education, and health care. And sure, up to age 18.

Opposed to this view, conservatives, of which Libertarians are currently the most prickish, do not care if children go hungry. They are more interested in trying to regain the status quo of feudal times: of kings and lords with everything, and peasants and serfs with nothing.

I am a Jeffersonian democrat: I believe that this country will not achieve its full potential until "all men are created equal". And to me, this cannot happen without taking care of our children as described above.

Conservatives say, it's the parents' responsibility to take care of their own children. It's nice when that works out. But, children do not have a choice to be born, nor into what family they will be born (unless they're a bodhisattva ;->). If they are born into a family that has been destitute for generations, without a social safety net to assure them access to food, health care, and the best education, then they are not "created equal".

How can anyone argue that we can go wrong if our goal as a country it to attempt to maximize the possibilities for every child? I perk up every time I see a reference to the "economy of plenty", rather than the "economy of scarcity". I firmly believe we can get there; that Jebus was wrong when he said "the poor are with you always".

On the other side of the coin, here's some lyrics from the (pessimistic and homophobic) 70's song by Ten Years After, "I'd Love To Change The World":

Tax the rich, feed the poor
Til there are rich no more.
Are we ever going to get rid of the rich? I totally doubt it. I believe in the free enterprise system. I believe hard work and good ideas will result in new companies and new billionaires. This is a good thing. (Half of the world's richest 50 people were self-made, the other half inherited.) But I believe that they need to pay their fair share of taxes, which is, however much it takes to balance the budget.

There have been numerous articles on the shocking levels of wealth inequality; here's one. In the last 40 years, the top 1% has had their income and net worth increase ~600%, the next 9% has gone up 8%, the bottom 90% has gone down. Reagan's busting the unions helped. Trickle-down economics don't work for crap.

And now the Republicans are insisting, cut this, cut that. How about instead we get rid of the Bush Tax cuts for starters? And get estate taxes reasonable again?

The deficit is such a smokescreen issue. Sure, we can balance the budget by restricting abortion; by getting rid of OSHA and the EPA; by getting rid of everything conservatives don't like. I balanced the budget -- it was easy. And I did not cut defense spending.

Why do the ultra-rich want more, more, more? What did I read the other day -- "When money rules you, it becomes a bucket with no bottom". When you go from millions to 100s of millions to billions to 10s of billions, it surely must quit being about anything real -- after all, how many houses, cars, boats, planes, helicopters can you really manage? It just becomes score-keeping, and they want to make sure that their score is highest. That's OK, but not when there are children hungry

And our Libertarian senator, Random Paul. What an embarrassment. Determined to stick to his Libertarian principles. Known so far for his dislike of low flush toilets and CFC lightbulbs, and his contention that universal health care would enslave doctors and other healthcare professionals. Oh, BTW, did you know he was a doctor? A mealy-mouthed, self-entitled prick of one?

So anyway, I have a new, kindler, gentler strategy for talking with Libertarians. I will attempt to determine what variety of Libertarian they are. Are they a:

  • selfish prick me, me, me libertarian;
  • ignorant dupe of billionaire polluters, financial fraud con artists, embezzlers, and thieves libertarian;
  • willing accomplice of the above libertarian;
  • all of the above.
That will surely open more of a dialogue ;->

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Finally, after being rained out 4 Sundays in a row, I got to bike this morning.

When Keeneland is running, I go south rather than west or north to avoid the traffic. Keeneland was like April 9-30 this year, so after 4 weeks off, it was nice to go north. Van Meter to Elkchester to Old Frankfort Pike to Piscah Pike to Shannon Rd and back in Military Pike. 2h10m, 1 stop, 25.3 miles, max speed 34.1 mph.

Saw a kingbird while biking. Also a glimpse of what may have been a large woodpecker, but I just got the glimpse.

Yesterday there were 5 chickadees who flew from our feeders in the back of the yard to the crabapple tree in the front of the yard. I'm guessing a breeding pair and 3 young ones, as some of them were kind of clueless: landing on branches far too small to hold them and then dangling upside down. The bird books say that you can train chickadees to eat from your hand. I believe it, I have had them come within a few feet of me when I'm grilling.

A couple of weeks ago, walking Dexter on Man-O-War Blvd, we spooked a hawk into flying from a lamppost on our side of the street to a lamppost right in front of Dunbar. It was a big hawk with what looked like an upside-down W across its forewings and back. No three tail bars, so not a Cooper's Hawk. No red tail, so not a Red-Tailed Hawk? I've checked 3 bird books and my birding app, not sure what kind of hawk it was.

Had an excellent dinner at Azur last night, a grouper special and a thick pork chop special that was most excellent. I almost didn't get the pork chop because it came with fried plantains, of which I'm not a big fan. But, they were BBQ'ed, and delicious.

Anyway, internationally renowned guitarist, the inimitable Ben Lacy was playing. Always such a pleasure to listen to Ben and chat with him. I was telling him how I tell the story all the time of my giving up playing with a pick because he told me I had too, but how I still struggled with fast solo stuff playing open-handed. He then went on about, for some of that stuff a pick is better for playing faster, but he avoids it because then it becomes just all about fast, instead of, fast is a given, now let's move beyond that. He was dissing Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and that general guitar shredding school of playing as being mostly popular with 14 YO boys. Periodically I read a glowing review of one these guys albums, and whenever I check it out, I'm always disappointed. So I think I agree with him on that one.

I enjoy so much getting to talk guitar and music with someone as accomplished as Ben is. Rob used to kid me 5-6 years when we first were seeing Lacy at High On Rose and I was raving about how good he was, calling him my boyfriend. An evening out listening to Lacy and chatting is definitely one of my favorite things in the world.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Music, Music, Music

No biking today, rain from 4 to 10 am. But Dexter and I had a nice 1h20m walk after the radar gave the all clear. So I will take this opportunity to get caught up on, what 7 months of new music?

Lots of good stuff. I appear to be a total sucker for peppy pop and emo stuff. God, it goes back to liking early Todd Rundgren. Well, here we go:

  • Phoenix. From Versailles, France, with southern accents. Wow, I gave all four of their albums, "United", "Alphabetical", "It's Never Been Like That", and "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", 4 stars. My favorite song was "Long Distance Call". Erica pointed me at them, her favorite was "If Ever I Feel Better".
  • I got another big dose of music from Erica at the winter solstice. Another peppy french band I also liked was Jamaica, "No Problem". They only got 3 stars tho. Here's one of their good ones.
  • "National Ransom" by Elvis Costello. Nothing special, 3 stars.
  • "Merriweather Post Pavilion", by Animal Collective, via Erica. Interesting, reminiscent of Department of Eagles, 3 stars.
  • eponymous, by Miike Snow, via Erica. More peppy euro-pop, 3 stars.
  • "The Cold Nose", by Department of Eagles. This was their 1st album, a very interesting contrast to their 2nd album "In Ear Park", which I gave 4 stars. There's much more experimentation with different styles, which had gelled for the 2nd album. 3 stars.
  • "Featuring Norah Jones", by Norah Jones. A compilation of Norah Jones performing with other people. Some great stuff, 4 stars. Who can resist "Baby It's Cold Outside", with Willie Nelson?
  • "Lost Where I Belong", by Andreya Triana, via WRFL. I really liked the beat of "Up In Fire" that I heard on the radio. But it's by far the best song on the album. 3 stars.
  • eponymous, by Brett Dennen, via Alexis. 3 stars. Of note is "All We Have". Quite the androgynous voice.
  • "I'm Having Fun Now", by Jenny and Johnny. Fairly mainstream popish with maybe a little country tinge occasionally. 3 stars, except I have "While Men Are Dreaming" 4 stars.
  • "The Winter of Mixed Drinks", by Frightened Rabbit. Very nice, more folky, 3 stars.
  • "Flamingo", by Brandon Flowers. I think he was the lead singer for The Killers. Good tunes, 3 stars.
  • "xx", by The xx. Decent alternative, 3 stars.
  • "All Delighted People", by Sufjan Stevens. No new ground from his earlier work, 3 stars. He does like long tracks: 11:40 and 8:09.
  • "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", by Kanye West. This got great reviews, I figured I'd give it try. Mainstream rap/hip-hop just don't do much for me, 2 stars.
  • "Maintenant", by Gigi, via Erica. I put this in genre "Girl Groups", it's kind of got a Phil Spector production sound?!?!? Overall the album strikes me as "cute". 3 stars.
  • "Love and Its Opposite", by Tracey Thorn. This album really grew on me, 4 stars. Songs by a middle aged woman (former techno queen), about divorce, hormonal clashes with her teenage daughter. I love the chorus on "Long White Dress" which starts with the full band at 2:15. "And I filled my head with so much shit." -- nice lyrics. Also good is "Swimming".
  • "Strange Weather, Isn't It?", by !!!, via Erica. Kind of reminded me of Jamiroquai, funky dance music, I classified as R&B. 3 stars.
  • "Northern Lights-Southern Cross", by The Band. Their last studio album, somehow I missed it. "It Makes No Difference" another one of those Band songs that makes you feel like your guts have been ripped out. "Hobo Jungle" and "Arcadian Driftwood" were both new to me and very good. 4 stars.
  • "Brothers", by the Black Keys. These guys still don't do much for me, 3 stars.
  • "Halcyon Digest", by Deerhunter. So nice quirky alternative stuff here, 3 stars.
  • "The Man on the Moon II", by Kid Kudi, via Erica. Actually somewhat listenable for Rap/Hip-Hop. 3 stars.
  • "Sound of Silver", eponymous, and "This is Happening", by LCD Soundsystem, via Erica. NYC hipster dance music. I like that Wikipedia gives him their own genre: dance-punk.
  • "Big Echo" and "Talking Through Tin Cans", by The Morning Benders, via Erica. More peppy pop, young emo dudes. "Dammit Anna" blogged yesterday. 4 stars. Sigh.
  • "Astrocoast", by Surfer Blood, via Erica. Standard alternative stuff, decent tunes. 3 stars.
  • "King of the Beach", by Wavves, via Erica. Kind of like tripping surf music. 3 stars.
  • "Kiss Each Other Clean", by Iron & Wine. Nice tunes. 3 stars.
  • "Let's Roll", by Etta James (2003). I enjoyed this more than most blues I listen to. Ms. James still had it going on in 2003. BTW, watched "Cadillac Records" last night, about Chess Records, founded by Leonard Chess and Muddy Waters. Very interesting file, and Etta James plays a big part. 3 stars.
  • "Deerhoof Vs. Evil", by Deerhoof. The unique sound that almost puts them in to the "Unclassifiable" genre. Another good effort, 4 stars.
  • "The King Of Limbs", by Radiohead. It gets better with more listens, but still, nothing standout. 3 stars.
  • "21", by Adele. I like this less than her first, but some strong songs. The Rolling Stone review says she has taken over from Amy Winehouse as the R&B belter. Here's a nice video of Gwyneth Paltrow covering "Turning Tables". Oops, YouTube has taken it down. 4 stars.
  • "Rock 'n' Roll Party (honoring Les Paul)", by Jeff Beck. 20 tracks. The world's greatest living guitarist. Imelda May and her husband Darrel Hingham. Les Paul and Mary Ford songs. What a value! Here's "How High The Moon", and "Peter Gunn", featuring Trombone Shorty. 3 stars, with a couple of 4s.
  • "Wake Up!", by John Legend and the Roots. Protest songs and songs of freedom, somehow somewhat depressing??? 3 stars.
  • "Kaputt", by Destroyer. More emo, this time out of Vancouver, BC. All the songs sound alike -- but I like them all??? 4 stars??? Here's a sample. Takes a while to get going (and sounding like all the other songs on the album).
  • eponymous, by The Head And The Heart. Folky alternative, nice tunes. 3 stars.
  • "Towards The Sun", by Alexi Murdoch. Very folky, I like it less than his first. 3 stars.
  • "Go", by Jonsi. The lead singer of Sigur Ros. Swooping, very high, totally emo lyrics. But, somewhat uplifting. 3 stars
Phew! 7 more albums still in the Unrated list, we'll save those for next time. I've been leaving stuff there longer, letting it burn in more, that's working out much better.