Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Real vs Advertised

We all know that the picture on the box or package - NEVER (or at least...Almost NEVER) looks like the food that you are about to eat. The German site Pundo3000 decided to look at this issue. Some items are rather close to their pictorial description...and others, well see for yourself.

Advertising Vs Reality - A Product Comparison Project

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Black Sabbath, the first Christian Band?

I am re-posting this from again
one of my favorite sites...Transbuddha.

I love this line of thinking...partly because it draws on some interesting assumptions, but also carries forward the iconic nature of Ozzy Osbourne, and his ability to create interesting and controversial songs (e.g. Suicide Solution). Whether you like the music or agree with this line of thinking - you have to admit that Ozzy (and Black Sabbath) have a unique ability to create some intriguing song lyrics. The original post in its entirety.

You see them walking down the street, hanging out at the 7-11 parking lot, waiting for a bus, and even at your local record store flipping through the copies of old Voivod albums. They are usually wearing all black, with much more hair than you falling on shoulders draped with a faded t-shirt bearing a violent cartoonish graphic on the front. They usually have a scowl on their face, or at least a look designed to keep all grannies and members of the clergy at arms length, and an attitude that could only be described as “Very Metal”.

These are the legion of true rockers who worship the ‘gods of thunder’, the heavy bands that melt brains and shatter skulls with their tumultuous feedback and galloping beat, bands that all owe a great debt to the originators of all music that is “heavy” and “evil”: a band whose coming is sounded by a holy chant that can be heard echoing off the mountainside in the distance… “Sabbath… Sabbath… Sabbath!”

How will they feel when they find out that their beloved Black Sabbath, yes “Ozzy’s old band”, are responsible for bands like Petra and D.C. Talk?

Now this may be a bold statement, and I may get death threats from metal heads around the world, but I’m going to go off a very short and not-so-high-off-the-ground limb and state that Black Sabbath were the first Christian rock band. “Whoa there, little buddy,” you may say to me, “Aren’t Sabbath known as one the most evil and crazy devil worshipping rock and roll combos that has ever laid a black boot upon sacred earth?” The answer is “NO.” That distinction goes to many a Norwegian Black Metal band who has ever been involved in murder and cannibalism in addition to their devil worship. Ozzy just bit the head off a bat, and that was in his later, hideously drunken, solo years.

The truth is that Sabbath perpetuated an evil image that was false, wearing black clothes and crosses and writing many a song about the horned beast Beelzebub. If you take a look at their lyrics, and I only speak of the early albums with Ozzy (because that’s all I can bring myself to even listen to), all of those supposedly evil songs about licking the firey scrotum of Ol’ Scratch or whatever, are actually about begging for God to deliver them from that great evil. Take the lyrics of the opening title track from their first album, 1970’s “Black Sabbath”:

What is this that stands before me?

Figure in black that points at me

Turn round quick and start to run

Find out you’re the chosen one.

Oh No!!!

Big black shape and eyes of fire

Telling people their desire

Satan standing there he’s smiling

Watch those flames get higher and higher

Ok, evil, right? This is clearly talking about the Prince of Darkness and how much of a bad mofo he is. But wait, Ozzy follows this with a tortured plead of “Oh No! No! Please God help me!” Clearly Ozzy doesn’t like Satan pointing at him and telling him he’s the chosen one. The chosen one for what? TO DIE!!!! Ozzy’s running, for Christ’s sake! These are not the words of a Satan-worshipping, blood-drinking, virgin-sacrificing heavy metal hellion. Of course you could say that these are the words of a man who is scared of evil and death, which many of us can relate to, but a Christian rock band does this not make. Alright, Doubting Thomases, what about the lyrics for “War Pigs”?

“War Pigs,” one of the most famous of the early Sabbath songs, deals with politicians and world leaders and how they are destroying the world with wars and what our president now would call “terra”. In the first part, Ozzy paints a picture of these leaders as being the true evils of this world, referring to them as “Sorcerers of death’s construction” and comparing them to “witches at black masses”. It is in the second part of the song that he admonishes them, telling them to “wait ‘till their judgment day comes, yeah!” Finally, in the last verse Ozzy gets religious:

No more war pigs have the power

Hand of God has struck the hour

Day of judgment, God is calling

On their knees, the war pigs crawling

Begging mercy for their sins

Satan, laughing, spreads his wings

So the bad guys lose and get to spend an eternity in Hell with Satan, whom the Sabbath guys doesn’t seem to be worshipping in this one. See? Christian rock.

More examples abound. Again from the self-titled album, “Wicked World” is a rather hippyish anti-war song about all the childrens of the world getting together in peace and harmony. From the Paranoid album, “Electric Funeral” warns of an evil futuristic atomic age where bombs melt houses and evil robot slaves turn the Earth into a wasteland of biblical proportions. There’s even a little section where Ozzy talks about “Heaven’s golden chorus” and warns of how “Evil souls fall to Hell, ever trapped in burning cells.” From the same album, “Fairies Wear Boots,” although lyrically confusing and fairly ridiculous, is ultimately an anti-drug song. After seeing fairies and dwarves on a deranged drug trip, a doctor tells Ozzy at the end that he’s “gone too far / ‘cos smokin’ and trippin’ is all that you do.” How evil is not doing drugs?

Perhaps the most religious oriented album from the early period is “Master of Reality,” from 1971. Sure the first song, “Sweet Leaf” is about pot, but it is the second song, “After Forever,” which is the real kicker and the biggest proof that Sabbath were indeed the first Christian rock band:

Have you ever thought about your soul - can it be saved?

Or perhaps you think that when you’re dead you just stay in your grave.

Is God just a thought within your head or is He a part of you?

Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were at school?

When you think about death do you lose your breath or do you keep your cool?

Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope - do you think he’s a fool?

Well, I have seen the truth. Yes I have seen the light and I’ve changed my ways.

And I’ll be prepared when you’re lonely and scared at the end of your days.

Could it be you’re afraid of what your friends might say

If they knew you believe in God above

They should realize before they criticize

That God is the only way to love.

Is your mind so small that you have to fall

In with the pack wherever they run

Will you still sneer when death is near

And say they may as well worship the sun.

I think it was true it was people like you that crucified Christ

I think it is sad the opinion you had was the only one voiced

Will you be sure when your day is near say you don’t believe?

You had the chance but you turned it down now you can’t retrieve.

Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone

Open your eyes, just realize that He is the one,

The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate.

Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes - I think it’s too late!

Now I may be wrong, but that’s about as overt a Christian statement that has ever been found on a major label rock album, especially by a band that is supposedly so “Satanic.”

There are many other lyrical examples in those early albums, but I think you get the point. Black Sabbath is Christian rock. And it doesn’t suck! So there you have it. It’s proof that you can Rock for Jesus and still be cool. Well, as cool as Black Sabbath is. Now hopefully I won’t get jacked by a gang of metal-heads wearing shirts designed by Pushead. May the Lord be with you all!

Monday, February 4, 2008

School Boards are Idiots!

“In the first place, God made idiots,” Mark Twain once wrote. “This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.”

As Matt Miller quotes in this Atlantic article, not much has changed from Twain's time.

The article lends weight to the idea that America needs to seriously think about nationalizing the education system if we ever want to reclaim any chance at educational excellence.

Voters Unite!

Hmm...nice thought.

Eve of Super Tuesday!

Voters Unite!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"And on my death bed
I will pray
To the gods and the angels
Like a pagan
To anyone who will take me to heaven
To a place
I recall
I was there so long ago
The sky was bruised
The wine was bled
And there you led me on"
Audioslave (2002)

It's late now, and my mind wanders...

English, A.P. - 1986...

Simon and Garfunkel, "I am a Rock"....

What does it all mean?

It's late now, and my mind wanders...Goodnight!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I am posting this open letter which I saw at Transbuddha.
(coincidentally one of my favorite sites on the web).

Andy Cochrane has hit the proverbial nail-on-the-head. I post it hear in its entirety for your bemusement.

DRM, what a crock!!

For years now, the record and movie industries have been waging non-stop war against us, their consumers and fans. They are fighting for survival of the current business models and revenue streams, which are under an incredible assault from electronic piracy in the form of bootleg or ripped CDs and DVDs, P2Pfile sharing, bittorrents, and rogue websites hosting downloads. This is a massive problem- almost every single person under the age of 50 has at some point stolen from these companies in one way or another, and they are justifiably pissed off about it. I think that they have every right to defend their copyrights and do their best to prevent the illegal free use of the products that they have paid to create, distribute, and market. I do not, however, think that they are going about it the right way. Here is my advice, which will be ignored, further cementing the demise of old media (enjoy your slow death, guys):

  • We steal because it is easier, not because it is cheaper, so make it easier to buy your products. Ever since iTunes made it drop-dead simple to buy new music, I find it easier to find and get a song on there than any other method (it takes ~1minute and no effort). I do not buy CD’s anymore because I can get them on iTunes with far less effort. That said, I hate DRM, and the crippled iTunes tracks makes it very hard for me to move and listen to my purchases on the 3 computers I use constantly. I know many people buy songs legally, then steal a copy of the same songs on a P2P site just so they don’t have to deal with the DRM. This doesn’t just apply to music- many people don’t like going to the movie theater, waiting a day for Netflix to arrive, or going to a store to rent a movie- we’d much rather watch it right now. With Apple’s new “rentals”, Netflix’s “watch now” online feature, and On Demand offerings, it is becoming easier to legally pay to watch a movie at home at your convenience than it is to steal it online or rip a DVD. Take notice of this trend, and capitalize upon it. Make it so that we can quickly, reliably, and easily access your product- anywhere, anytime. Focus on finding ways to make it much, much easier to pay you than to rob you. Believe me, we don’t enjoy installing software, setting up configurations, troubleshooting, and finding what we want online. We are lazy, not cheap.
  • We don’t like paying for crap, so stop making it. I have never regretted a single dime paid for a good film or album. But I did stop going to the movies because I was sick of being bilked out of $12 every time I went out, and I pretty much never buy an entire album anymore. We hate dropping money and time on your products, only to discover that they don’t just fail to meet their own hype- they often are only hype. I realize that you are a business, and as such a pretty basic requirement is that you need to make money. But it is time you realized that your product is entertainment, and you are not delivering good product anymore. Stop thinking of money first and product second- swap the formula around and the profit will come in droves. There is a reason that there is no “Citizen Kane II: Return of the Kane”- your predecessors knew that quality stories came first, and if a film made money it didn’t necessarily need to be turned into a franchise. Instead of Transformers 2, or American Idol 27, can we please have new, exciting, interesting films and music? Don’t you remember why you got into the business in the first place? Didn’t you once love movies and music? Don’t you want to make the next great American Film or Album? Stop chasing our money, start chasing our interests.
  • Never wage war on your own customers, it’s mean. Part of stopping us from stealing from you is going to have to involve you not being dicks about it. If you didn’t come across as greedy, ignorant, evil Luddites, I think more people would have a problem stealing your hard work. I know many people that would not blink at downloading the latest Spiderman movie, but who will go out of their way to pay for a copy of an indie film. Why? Because we don’t like being theives, we never have; but we don’t feel like you matter- you are faceless, lawsuit-happy conglomerates of evil intentions, and as such, stealing just doesn’t seem like stealing when its against you. I have never, not once, stolen a movie- in DVD form or otherwise. I am deeply, deeply insulted that you call me a criminal with your condescending anti piracy commercials before watching the film that I just paid to see. Screw you. If you really want to win this one, you need to change your image. We are not in the right on this point- we are very, very much in the wrong, but if you want to stop us, work on being lovable, it will make the fight easier.
  • Recognize that there will always be piracy, and accept that fact; put the needs of the many above your fears of the few. Instead of making it hard for everyone to get and consume your product because some people steal from you, focus on making it so that anyone who wants to pay you can do so more easily. Abolish DRM (you already are starting to; kudos; now do it all the way), those who want to break it can, and those who don’t want to break it still have to, just to watch the movies they bought from you on their iPods, or listen to the songs they “own” anywhere they want to (you and I both know that nobody actually owns the music or movies, it’s just a limited license to enjoy it, isn’t it!). You cannot win your war on piracy any more than the U.S. will win against drugs or terror, internalize that, learn to accept piracy as a given, and start to deal with it realistically. You can reduce it so much that those who steal are numerically insignificant, but not by making your product annoying to access for everyone. There are still real life pirates sailing the seas of the world, but they are nowhere near the numbers they used to be. Take realistic precautions and legal action against those who steal from you as a defensive strategy, but don’t make that you entire focus.

Look around you and take stock of what is happening. You have the technology now to give us any song or video in the world, almost instantly, at extremely high quality. On demand is amazing, Netflix, Google, and Apple are going to be the next major movie distributors (you thought you guys were going to keep control of that one didn’t you?), and there are unsigned artists outselling your talent and keeping the profit all for themselves. The iPhone deal was rejected by every carrier in the US except for at&t, mainly because they were desperate. Now look how that turned out. Apple demanded a change in the way phone manufacturers and service providers share profits, and in the process created one of the most impressive subscriber increases in the history of phone companies. Innovation is scary, but necessary. If you continue to sit on your crumbling fortress walls much longer, we won’t invite you to the next big party, then what will you do? Probably blame piracy for sinking your ship. Too bad, you could have won this thing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thymotic Urge

Being the initial entry to this blog, I feel there may be a need to explain the title of the blog itself. If you haven't Googled it or looked it up in Wikipedia, Thymos is defined loosely as "spiritedness" as can be thought of as the essential drive behind human activities. It can be a good force in our lives as well as a destructive one. Thymos is what motivates man to elevate themselves to the best that humankind can offer (the soldier who enters into enemy machine gun fire to save his platoon or ; the fireman/policeman who risks his life to help those in peril); as well as the worst (the destructive nature of war, the ugliness of racism). All of these thymotic urges derive their basis in the need for humankind to be recognized as important (for good or for bad).

My plans for this blog are no different than others...to discuss thoughts, observations and other trivialities that cause me to become energized. In many ways blogging is the quintessential method of quenching the thymotic urge - the need to recognized.

I hope you enjoy!