Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses
in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his
day job where he works the education beat
and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.
Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from
orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest.
Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will
process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.
Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out
the on-line journal of
Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe
and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.
Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003 Judge Dolemite. Thanks to Franklin Harris for alerting me to Alabama Chief Justice's Roy Moore's latest intemperate remarks.
Those who know me know that I have trouble with names, not as much trouble as Ron, but that's another story. I have, on more than one occasion, accidentally referred to Moore as Rudy Ray Moore. But I'm not sure which Moore has provided more laughs.
I'll still trade Georgia's governor for Alabama's state Supreme court chief justice.
Monday, April 28, 2003 The NRA screws up. Again. This article on the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership site has a good summary of the spat between the NRA (of which I am a life endowment member) and Rep. Ron Paul. Sometimes I just want to slap the NRA LA people around. This is stupid. Rep. Paul is taking a stand on a principle - protecting the constitution - that should be applauded. Sometimes you shouldn't do a good thing (getting rid of lawsuits against gun manufacturers) by doing a wrong thing (another federal law screwing around in the domain of the states). Would I vote for the bill? Probably - from a pragmatic standpoint, Article X is dead anyway, and you could argue that this is a federal matter due to the impact on interstate commerce. (A clause I'm sure the founding fathers would not have included had they realized that it would be used to justify federal intervention in just about anything.)
Despite its overall effectiveness, too often the NRA has done stupid things like this over tactics, rather than keeping the big picture in mind. Threatening Ron Paul is really dumb.
Sunday, April 27, 2003 Congratulations, Chuck! This seems to be a pretty good article about some of your work. By the way, I've heard that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are moving to Savannah. Is everyone excited down there?
Re: The Dixie Chicks. That may be Martie Maguire and Emily Robison on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. But I'm not at all convinced that's Natalie Maines there with them. Not from the neck down anyway.
Saturday, April 26, 2003 It Gets Better. Apparently, in order to get enough Democrat votes for his tax increase, Gov. Sonny Perdue and the GOP leadership had to abandon that part of the flag referendum that would have allowed people to vote for the 1956 flag. Now, no matter what you think of the flag or the referendum, can you imagine a deal that would more alienate the Republican base than that one?
Republicans Raise Taxes. It isn't much of a shock that Georgia lawmakers decided to raise taxes to balance the budget. They complained that not doing so would lead to painful budget cuts. But the truth is that the 2004 budget spends $68 million more than the '03 budget.
And Gov. Sonny Perdue is still threatening a special session this summer because the tax hike isn't large enough to suit him.
Thursday, April 24, 2003 Whitfield County. Some people have written to me that Whitfield County isn't necessarily representative of all of Northwest Georgia. Certainly, the school system isn't. Here's how the proposed Whitifield dress code compares to the dress codes of neighboring school systems. (Dalton is the Whitfield County seat. It has its own separate school system.)
I should have noted that no other area school system bans students from wearing plaids, stripes or black.
Whitfield is also the only area school system to test athletes for drugs. And starting next year, it will also be the only one to test students who engage in other extracurricular activities for drugs. Make of that what you will.
Tonight's Monologue, Tomorrow's Headline. Last night Jay Leno did a couple of riff's on Rick Santorum's remarks about privacy, morality and the Constitution. Leno said something to the effect that Santorum outraged people across the country. California is upset that he attacked sodomy. Utah is angry that he attacked polygamy, and Arkansas is upset he attacked incest. Well, take a look.
Playing the Race Card. Tennessee now has a lottery. And of course, everyone has their hands out for part of the expected fortune. The Tennessee legislature voted to give "needy" students who qualify for a lottery-funded scholarship a $1,00 stipend. But in the debate on the issue state Sen. David Fowler, R-Signal Mountain, said
Are we just going to write a check for $1,000 so they can snort it up their noses and buy kegs for fraternities?
Seems like a reasonable question. But black lawmakers saw it as an attack on minorities, as if whites aren't poor or members of fraternities.
Chattanooga Representative Tommie Brown says she won’t continue to serve as vice-chairwoman of the Hamilton County legislative delegation if Fowler remains chairman.
Monday, April 21, 2003 Pushing on a String. Frank Shostak is one of the smartest economists out there, and one of the few Austrians who work in the for-profit sector. He does a good job explaing why the Fed's efforts to fight the recession are futile at best and could well make things worse.
Sunday, April 20, 2003 Summing Up. As I noted earlier, I confined myself to men whose primary importance was as performers because that was how CMT did its list. If producers and record executives, such as Owen Bradley and Steve Sholes and Billy Sherrill had been eligible, my list would have bee different. And some men whom I consider most important as songwriters, such as Billy Joe Shaver, Townes Van Zant, Harlan Howard, Tom T. Hall and Kris Kristofferson, to name just a few, might have made the list in place.
These are the men who made the CMT list who didn't make mine: Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakum, Travis Tritt, The Eagles, Mel Tillis, Roger Miller, Chet Atkins, Glenn Campbell, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw, Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Daniels, Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs.
Of those, I gave Garth Brooks the most consideration. I included some men primarily for their historical importance or commercial success. Garth has sold more albums than any Country artist in history and more than all but a few men in any genre. And some of his early work isn't bad. But I'm sorry, Waylon Jennings had it right when he said Garth sounds like Mr. Haney when he sings. For that reason alone, I Ieft him off my list.
Dwight Yoakum? In a Playboy interview several years ago, he correctly distinguished between sushi and sashimi. No Country artist should be able to do that. Seriously, in a few years, if he continues to do good work, maybe.
Travi Tritt? More songs like "Modern-Day Bonnie & Clyde" and fewer songs like "Great Day to Be Alive" might help.
The Eagles? They've been very influential, and they did some good songs. But they were artistically spotty. It's impossible to listen to any of their albums straight through. I never saw them live, but they always had a reputation as a mediocre live act, too.
Chet Atkins? As a producer, I might have considered him. As a performer, he was certainly very good, but if I'm going to pick a guitar player, it'd be Doc Watson over Chet.
Glenn Campbell? The Glenn Campbell-Jimmy Webb collaborations made for one of the most successful musical marriages of the 1960s. Glenn made some great records at that time. Some great poprecords. I don't care what charts he was on, Glenn was primarily a pop performer.
Brooks & Dunn? Yeah, they are the most commercially successful Country duo of all time. And they were the prototype for the ugly-looking-guy-who-sings-gay-looking-guy-who-doesn't-seem-to-bring-anything-to-the-act duo that Montgomery Gentry has perfected. But they are terrible.
Saturday, April 19, 2003 And Finally. Here's part four of my most important men in Country music list.
31. Eddy Arnold. He was the Garth Brooks of his era. He sold a lot of records, played venues Country artists had never played before and was an incredibly shrewd businessman and investor. And his success really influenced Nashville artists to move further in a pop direction. To be blunt, his music doesn't hold up that well. But you can't deny his historical importance.
32. Johnny Paycheck. I've written before of just how good Paycheck was.
33. Carl Perkins. I've ranked him below all of the other Sun artists. That's largely because he never really hit his peak. An auto accident took the steam out of his career just as he seemed poised to break into supertardom, and he never really recovered from it. But in just a few years he produced a remakrable body of work.
34. The Delmore Brothers. One of Country's first duo acts, and one of its most popular. One of the most versatile Country acts of their era, they did everything from traditional to Western swing to the blues.
35. A.P. Carter. Maybe I should have had him higher. Without the Carter Family, and AP was its driving force, Country music would be a lot different.
36. Moon Mullican. Great honky tonk singer. Reportedly the co-writer of Hank William's "Jambalaya." He was a major influence on Jerry Lee Lewis. I dare you to listen to his records and not dance.
37. Norman Blake. A former member of Johnny Cash's band, Norman also played on Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" and for Kris Kristofferson's first band. But for almost 30 years, he's been a solo artists and one of the finest traditional performers out there.
38. Gene Autry. Another nod to historical importance. He did as much as anyone to make Country music Country & Western music.
39. Hank Thompson. One of the great honky tonk artists.
40. Alabama. The most successful country band of all time, and the most successful Country act of any type in the 1980s. In their prime, they were great singers and musicians who put on a tremendous live show. But I can't rate them higher because it seems that two-thirds of their songs are corny nostalgia pieces such as "My Home's in Alabama" or "Song of the South." And half of the rest are sappy love songs like "The Closer You Get" or "The Maker Said Take Her." On second thought, maye I've rated them too highly .
It Works in Theory. Thanks to Domenic for pointing out this story on the latest crisis of confidence in the humanities. I love this section:
If theory's political utility is this dubious, why did the theorists spend so much time talking about current events? Catharine R. Stimpson, a panelist and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University, offered one, well, theory. "This particular group of intellectuals," she said, "has a terror of being politically irrelevant."
On April 8th, a huge smoke plume appeared in the western Iraqi town of Al Hadithah. This is a major pumping station on for pipelines to both Jordan and Syria. The plume and major fires persisted for several days, appearing from two sources on either side of the Euphrates river. I did searches of both AP and Reuters, and found no references. There seems to be an appaling lack of curiosity about this, especially given recent remarks about the pipelines to Syria.
Update (17 Apr 03, 5pm) Al Jazzeera tells me they have no information on this event.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003 Small Town News. I haven't linked to any of my Citizen stories recently. Here's one of my latest on some people who are being evicted from their homes for a new school. And here's an earlier story that provides some background.
Another Perfect Storm. Long-time readers of this blog know that I have three great loves in life: politics, soap operas and science fiction. Courtesy of the today's New York Post Page Six, here's an item that combines all three.
ONE of President Bush's favorite portraits of himself was done by a former gay porn star. According to Billy Masters, who runs filth2go.com, Jeff Grigg's painting, "The Eyes of a Nation," which shows a heroic Bush after Sept. 11, hangs in the Oval Office. Griggs used to be a regular on "Days of Our Lives" until his past work in films like "Hole in One" and "Secret Boys Club" (under the nom de plume Tony Sinatra) came to light. Since his acting career went bust, Griggs was born again as a painter and a Republican.
Okay, the politics and soaps in the piece are obvious. But the Post doesn't mention that Griggs also had a recurring role in Babylon 5. (And he also starred in a lot of those movies that air on Cinemax late on Friday nights, which demonstrates just how, um, versatile an actor he is.)
I'm Back. Here's the third part of my 40 greatest men in Country music list.
21. Ray Price. Price is one of those Country singers that people who aren't fans of the genre also love. That's usually not a good sign. But Price is one of the few who really made the Nashville Sound work. The Cherokee Cowboy was smooth and "contemporary" but still managed to have a traditional edge.
22. The Stanley Brothers. Thirty years after his death, a cover of Carter Stanley's arrangement of "Man of Constant Sorrow" became the breakout hit of the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack. But Ralph's creepy rendition of "O Death" was the real highlight of the album. The brothers created some terrific harmonies, and you'd be hard pressed to find a bluegrass band that played more tightly than the Clinch Mountain Boys.
23. Gram Parsons. This may be my most controvesial pick. Even Parsons's biggest fans will have to admit he probably died well before his prime. He left a limited body of work. But much of that work is very good. And he was the spiritual godfather of the country rock sound of the 1970s. He mentored Emmylou Harris, and he' a major influence on today's "alt country" perfromers, so I think he deserves to be ranked this highly.
24. Charlie Rich. Charlie had his biggest successes in the 1970s with "Behind Closed Doors" and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World." Those are two of the best examples of the pop-influenced Nashville Sound of that era. But he did his best work before that. I prefer his Sun records, but many people say his early work at Epic -- "A Woman Left Lonely" and "Life's Little Ups and Downs" -- is his best. But it's all good. Rich's drinking really kept him from capitalizing on his 1970s success, and his appearance at the 1975 CMA awards show lost him a lot of friends in Nashville.
25. Don Williams. Williams had a baritone that sounded like it had been aged in a white oak barrel. In the 1970s, he hit the Country charts repeatedly with slickly produced recordings of self-consciously literate songs (often written by Bob McDill) but still managed to keep one foot deeply in Country tradition. He's what Garth and Tim want to be.
26. Charley Pride. This is really for his historical importance and commercial success. Pride was a good singer who recorded some good songs. But I really don't think he did anything great. Still, he sold more records than all but a handful of men of his era, and he did it at a time when his skin color was a major detriment, so I've got to recognize him for that.
27. The Louvin Brothers. If you haven't heard their vocal harmonies, you've really missed something. They were the prototype for the Everly Brothers and for the harmonies the Beatles did.
28. Randy Travis. I struggled for a while on this one. For pure vocal chops, only three or four men on this list can match him. But he's another one who really hasn't recorded much strong material. Still, he helped kick of the brief new traditionalist revival of the 1980s, and you've got to recognize that voice.
29. Wynn Stewart. One of the greats of the Bakersfield Sound. For some reason, he never really had the commercial success he should have. It seemed that Wynn would record a song and it would top out in the mid 30s on the charts, then another artist would come along a few months later with an inferior recording of the song that would go to numbe 1. Go figure.
30. George Strait. Strait has recorded more #1 singles than any artist in Country history, so I've got to recognize that fact. The vast majority of his songs have been pleasant, enjoyable and eminently forgettable. Seriously, when I first heard that he'd broken Conway Twitty's record of 50 #1 hits last year, I tried to think of all the Strait songs I could. Off the top of my head, I came up with four, and "Amarillo By Morning" was the only one of those I liked. Still, he's placed at least one song on the country charts every year since 1981. That sort of longevity is damn rare.
I fear we're going to end up with a Turkish occupied Kurdistan, an Iranian linked Shia south, and US forces in the middle. Iraqis are welcoming us now, because then needed us to get Saddam's regime out of the way so they could get on with the more important business of settling scores. But if we leave too early, there will be chaos, if we leave too late, we will be targets.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003 Damn. I take back some of the things I've said about broadcasters. The top story on the 11 p.m. Channel 12 News was about a Dalton man whose son was injured in Iraq. The same story that was on the front page of the Citizen today. After the taped interview with the father ended, the anchor said, "You can find out more about this story in the Dalton newspaper."
Have You Forgotten? Yes, I plan on finishing my top 40 most important men in country music list. Things have been pretty hectic here the last few days, and I haven't had the time. I thought about just posting the final 20 names. But I'd like to do a bit more than that, so give me a couple of more days.
Death of a State. Watching the fall of Saigon, Murray Rothbard was ecstatic. He later wrote:
What has been happening so swiftly in Indochina can only be exhilarating for libertarians: for what we have been seeing before our very eyes is nothing less than the death of a State... .What is inspiring to libertarians is to actually see the final and swift disintegration of a State... .
I wonder if his followers will feel such undiluted joy watching today's scenes from Baghdad. And if not, I wonder why.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003 Spot On Rich Lowry writes on "The Age of Rumsfeld". As readers know, I have great admiration for Rumsfeld, even pointing out that although I opposed "big war", if Rummy was for it, I had to consider that he knew what he was doing. Events seem to be proving him right (although I still think the duration will be a lot longer than the war). And his compilation of quotes (some famous, some his, some both) called "Rumsfeld's Rules" should be on every manager's desk.
Monday, April 07, 2003 Huh? I had literally just finished reading this article when I opened my e-mail and saw that Domenic had exactly the same reaction to it that I did. Even by the standards of LewRockwell.Com, which will seemingly publish anything if it criticizes U.S. foreign policy, this is pretty bad. (At least I think it's critical of the U.S. I'm really not certain what its point is.)
I can forgive her complete misunderstanding of Starship Troopers, but I'm worried that someone who can't even write a cogent article can rise to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
From the pages of Pravda . . . Even if you can't read Russian, this article has a cute poster with a title (in english) "Another NATO humanitarian mission". Micky Mouse and Donald Duck lead the charge, with the Microsoft flag flying in the breeze . . .
Sunday, April 06, 2003 WMD. While most of the world was waiting to see if Saddam Hussein would use old fashioned nuclear of chemical weapons, some were waiting for him to use the alien technology he has acquired. Now, the question everyone is asking is where those weapons went. (Thanks to Domenic for the tip.)
Climate Change Review Domenic Anghelone, who seems to be the most creative writer and potential source on this blog, sends this link to a Harvard/Smithsonian Center study showing that the 20th century was not the most extreme in terms of climate over the past 1000 years. That's probably true - just in my specialty, hurricanes, the late 19th was apparently worse than any decade in the 20th, and of course the climate that allowed my ancestors to find North America (and repeatedly sack France, something that warms my heart right now . . . ) was warmer than anything we see now.
I don't think it invalidates the anthropogenic climate change argument, but does help put it in perspective.
Friday, April 04, 2003 Something up in Iran? Click on the image for labeled 800x600 view.
There are a lot of contrails on the Iraq/Iran border, including one that crosses the border. While it could have drifted there, it seems pretty new and intact. Wonder what's up . . . more images here.
Update, Saturday afternoon Got some earlier images - looks like the trail of interest went up to the border then returned, then drifted over after all. Still, seems like something is up near Iraq/Iran border close to Ilam, Iran.
Wednesday, April 02, 2003 Pulling Their Weight? To pick up on Chuck's point, I wouldn't be surprised that there is grumbling, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a lot of truth behind the complaints, not just good ole boy griping.
Stephanie Guttman did an excellent book a couple of years ago called "The Kinder, Gentler Military," which showed how physical fitness standards have been continually eroded to accomodate women, and how their presence is degrading preparedness in a lot of support roles. A woman may be just as brave as a man, and she may be intelligent. But she's probably going to be far less likely to be able to change one of those tires on a half-ton truck, to take just one of Guttman's many examples. Where once such jobs may have called for just one man, the military literally rewrote their manuals and said they should be performed by three or four persons. They called it building team work.
More ominously, she showed how officers and noncoms who try to point out these facst have their careers cut short. But that's not a story the media are going to pick up on.
Women in Combat Your blog that never hesitates to open a can of worms . . .
I'm hearing a lot of "off the record, don't quote, me for gods sake don't let the feminazis hear this but we've got a problem" grumbling that the women in combat support units in the current actions in Iraq are not pulling their weight. Including from some former supporters of women in combat units.
Nobody wants to say it out loud, but there it is. No way to tell how widespread the opinion is.
Update Glenn Reynolds as usual has some comments and quotes on the opposite side, including the links to Virginia Postrels comments on PFC Lynch. As noted there, technically women are not in "direct" combat units, but that's basically bull, especially in a raid and bypass type conflict without stable front lines, such as this one.
Tuesday, April 01, 2003 Friendly Fire Isn't. The other guy that reads this blog, Domenic Anghelone, sends a note linking to Samizdata commenting on how our allies the Brits are starting to get "pissed off" about friendly fire incidents. It's a major scandal, one the US media tends to brush off.
The USAF is probably the worst culprit - no tolerance for any kind of hostile fire, potential hostile fire, or potential for potential hostile fire.