Thursday, December 23, 2004
Fiscal train wreck on the horizon
From the Wall Street Journal:
“Interest on the nation’s borrowing is a big and growing budget item, one that cannot be cut except by slashing the debt itself. The $168 billion in annual payments, much of it to overseas holders of Treasury bonds, represents just over 7 percent of the federal spending. That’s more than the government will spend on education, housing, transportation, science, space and technology combined.”
The same article goes on to say that about 85 percent of the government’s $2.3 trillion in spending this year is untouchable by public consensus. That includes the 20 percent that goes toward defense (an area which has increased by 55 percent under President Bush). The war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are running about $5 billion a month.
And Bush wants to borrow another $2 trillion to finance his Social Security privatization scheme at the same time that he is pushing Congress to make his huge tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.
50 Great Songs
Here are 50 Great Songs that didn’t make the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs
list that came out last month.
1. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic - The Police
2. Do You Feel Like I Do - Peter Frampton
3. Don’t Look Back - Boston
4. Barracuda - Heart
5. Fly Like An Eagle - Steve Miller Band
6. Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry
7. Juke Box Hero - Foreigner
8. Tom Sawyer - Rush
9. Photograph - Def Leppard
10. Legs - ZZ Top
11. Jump - Van Halen
12. Rich Girl - Hall & Oates
13. Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
14. Will The Wolf Survive - Los Lobos
15. Freeze Frame - J. Geils Band
16. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen
17. Living On A Prayer - Bon Jovi
18. Black Magic Woman - Santana
19. Give It Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
20. Turn To Stone - ELO
21. Takin’ Care of Business - Bachman Turner Overdrive
22. Get Lucky - Loverboy
23. Radar Love - Golden Earring
24. YMCA - The Village People
25. Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
26. Crazy On You - Heart
27. Gimme All Your Lovin’ - ZZ Top
28. Centerfold - J. Geils Band
29. You Got Lucky - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
30. Just What I Needed - The Cars
31. You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC
32. We Got The Beat - The Go Gos
33. Who Are You - The Who
34. Like A Virgin - Madonna
35. What I Like About You - The Romantics
36. Just The Way You Are - Billy Joel
37. Running With The Devil - Van Halen
38. Thriller - Michael Jackson
39. Under Pressure - Queen w/ David Bowie
40. Spirits In The Material World - The Police
41. Band On The Run - Wings
42. Yellow Submarine - The Beatles
43. Whip It - Devo
44. Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones
45. Sowing The Seeds Of Love - Tears For Fears
46. Time - Pink Floyd
47. LA Woman - The Doors
48. Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder
49. Spinning Wheel - Blood, Sweat and Tears
50. Remedy - The Black Crowes
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Greatest Hits collections
CNN has a list of what they deem to be the best of the Best Ofs
or the greatest Greatest Hits collections available on single discs.
Let me just say right off that their selections are awful. Yuck! I would throw out half of them in a heartbeat. You know something is wrong when they select as the very top greatest hits collection “Echo and the Bunnymen.” Their list is chock full of 80’s era New Wave Euro-Pop junk. Some of their other favorites that I would discard include:
Siouxsie and the Banshees
A Tribe Called Quest
Gang of Four
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Pet Shop Boys
Their list isn’t all bad. Here are some that they get right:
"Changesbowie," David Bowie (1990)
"Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)," the Rolling Stones (1966)
"Endless Summer," the Beach Boys (1974)
"Chronicle, Vol. 1," Creedence Clearwater Revival (1976)
"Smash Hits," Jimi Hendrix (1969)
"Legend," Bob Marley (1984)
"The Very Best of Prince," Prince (2001)
"Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy," the Who (1971)
"20 All-Time Greatest Hits!," James Brown (1991)
"ELV1S 30 #1 Hits," Elvis Presley (2002)
"Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits," Bob Dylan (1967)
"1," the Beatles (2000)
"The Great Twenty-Eight," Chuck Berry (1982)
"Greatest Hits," Aerosmith (1980)
"Greatest Hits," Elton John (1974)
"Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You Edition," Queen (2004)
"Greatest Hits," the Doors (1996)
"Number Ones," Michael Jackson (2003)
"Greatest Hits (& Some That Will Be)," Willie Nelson (1981)
"Eponymous," R.E.M. (1988)
And they at least give honorable mentions to:
"The Best of 1980-1990," U2 (1998)
"Complete Greatest Hits," the Cars (2002)
"Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)," the Eagles (1976)
"The Very Best of Otis Redding, Vol. 1," Otis Redding (1992)
One problem with their list is that they limit it to single disc collections. I can understand not including big pricey box sets, but two-disc sets should not be off limits. By including two-disc collections we can pick up a number of other great sets like:
The Bee Gees Greatest
Rush - Chronicles
Neil Young: Decade
Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Gold and Platinum
And I’m sure there are many others.
But since they filled their list with so many throwaway New Wave and Punk groups they left no room for:
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Hall & Oates
Simon & Garfunkel
The Black Crowes
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Kingston Trio
The Doobie Brothers
Jerry Jeff Walker
OK, I’ll stop now.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
I swiped this from Keri at 500 Miles From Nowhere
and she swiped it from someone else.
1) WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR BEDROOM WALLS?
White, but my wife wants them painted soon.
2) WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
“The Discoverers” By Daniel J. Boorstin
3) WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
4) FAVORITE BOARD GAME?
I always liked Trivial Pursuit. Haven’t played it in ages, though.
5) FAVORITE MAGAZINE?
The New Yorker
6) FAVORITE SMELL?
7) FAVORITE COLOR?
8) LEAST FAVORITE COLOR?
9) HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE PICKS UP?
Four or five I think. I’m always having to talk over the answering machine before folks hang up.
10) MOST IMPORTANT MATERIAL THING IN MY LIFE?
My house and my lot which backs up to a lovely green belt.
11) FAVORITE FLAVOR OF ICE CREAM?
12) DO YOU BREAK THE SPEED LIMIT DAILY?
13) DO YOU HAVE A STUFFED ANIMAL IN YOUR ROOM SOMEWHERE?
Yes. They’re everywhere!!
14) STORMS - COOL OR SCARY?
Very cool. Especially those fantastic lightning shows off in the distance.
15) FAVORITE DRINK?
16) WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY?
17) FAVORITE VEGETABLES?
Tomatoes, sliced and covered with fresh mozzarella.
18) IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
An editorial columnist. Then I could inflict my views on a huge audience every week.
19) IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY COLOR HAIR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
My hair started turning gray when I hit 30, but I’m perfectly OK with it. Really.
20) HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE?
Non-stop since 1990.
21) TOP THREE FAVORITE MOVIES (NOT IN ORDER because I couldn't possibly pick an order)? (AKA Movies I can watch over and over) And this changes on a regular basis...
Back To The Future
The Court Jester
Lord of the Rings
22) DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS?
23) WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED?
The cat whenever he’s done something bad.
24) WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NUMBER?
25) FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH ON TV & IN PERSON?
26) WHAT IS YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST FEAR?
Bush getting re-elected. Oops! Time to pick a new one.
27) FAVORITE CD OF ALL TIME/RIGHT NOW?
All time: Ken Burn’s Jazz
Right Now: The Rolling Stones: Exiles on Main Street
28) FAVORITE TV SHOW OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW?
All time: Star Trek/X-Files
Right now: Lost
29) HAMBURGERS OR HOT DOGS?
Lot of good hamburger places here.
30) THE COOLEST PLACES YOU'VE EVER BEEN?
I like big cities with lots of history! New York, Boston, Chicago.
31) WHAT WALLPAPER AND/OR SCREENSAVER IS ON YOUR COMPUTER RIGHT NOW?
My son sitting in Santa’s lap.
32) DOES MCDONALD'S SKIMP ON YOUR FRIES & DO YOU CARE?
Nope and not really.
33) FAVORITE CHAIN RESTAURANT?
Mamacita’s. They have the best chicken flautas made with flour tortillas.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Some movie reviews
Maybe some day there will be a movie called “Isaac Asimov’s ‘I, Robot’”
This movie was so far removed from the story that Asimov told that they dared not even say “Based on the book by ...” in the credits. Instead, they say “Suggested by a book by Isaac Asimov.”
About the only things the book and the movie share is the reference to Asimov’s famous Laws of Robotics, which are spelled out at the beginning of the film.
That being said, however, this was not a bad movie. It’s by no means a classic, but it is a decent B-movie action flick and worth the price of a rental at the least. Will Smith plays a futuristic cop chasing down rouge robots with the same zeal that he showed chasing aliens in the Men in Black movies. I enjoyed picking out the Chicago landmarks I saw this summer from the futuristic cityscape designed for the movie.
This is a premature review because I haven’t finished watching the movie. I bought a used copy from Hollywood Video a while back and we just sat down last night and watched the first part of it. So far it has been pretty good, I was looking forward to seeing Viggo Mortensen in his first film since “Lord of the Rings,” but I was immediately struck by the plot similarities with Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai.”
Both films are set in the post-Civil War era and feature a protagonist who is profoundly changed after witnessing a U.S. Army massacre of an unarmed Indian village. Both protagonists then become alcoholics and wind up as performers in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. Then they each decide to seek out a new path by facing challenges in a foreign country: Tom Cruise goes to China and Viggo Mortensen goes to Saudi Arabia.
Hopefully, this is where the similarities end and I will enjoy the rest of the movie.
Defending Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, long a pariah of the left, is now taking flak from the political right.
Recently he has been harshly criticized by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
Despite Bush’s efforts to defend Rumsfeld,
his support is continuing to erode and now a new poll shows 52 percent want him out.
Now, I agree that Rumsfeld should be out on his rear due to the awful miscalculations and mismanagment of the war in Iraq. But then so should the entire Bush administration starting with our Incompetent Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush.
Unfortunately, when we had an opportunity to do just that a little more than a month ago, 51 percent of my fellow citizens chose to send this same crew back to Washington for four more years. So what good would it do to replace Rumsfeld now, when all he is doing is following the orders set out by Bush and Co.? If people are finally acknowledging that things aren’t going as smoothly in Iraq as they could or should be, they need to look further than Rumsfeld to lay the blame. Something has to change besides just the people carrying out the administration’s marching orders.