Monday, January 29, 2007

The Indie/Corporate Complex

One thing indie intellectuals love to espouse is their views on "the corporate take-over of music." The general complaint has to do with media conglomeration, the majority of so-called "indies" being owned by major labels, and the general poor quality of radio these days. You'll hear these hipsters complaining about Clear Channel but you most likely you won't hear them making music or making a difference. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! are making that difference and its BECAUSE of media conglomeration that they exist.

Frankly, I don't like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!'s music, but the way they have succeeded should inspire anyone. CYHSY are completely "indie." They fund, sell and profit from their music, without the help of major label support (besides distro.)

"The reason that we decided to continue to do it ourselves is really economic as much as anything else," Sean Greenhalgh, the band's drummer, told The Post last week, ahead of the Jan. 30 drop of the band's second CD, "Some Loud Thunder."

"We make more money doing it ourselves than we would with a label," he said. (lhb)

So let me get this straight. A huge corporation doesn't have that much to offer musicians if their music is strong, they have an entrepreneurial mind, and can afford an inexpensive recording program? Musicians can make MORE money on their own based only on their talent?

We really need to curb this HUGE problem...

People who say that music is dead aren't listening, and people who say corporations are killing it don't realize that they are only killing themselves. With all the opportunity to fund, record, market, and sell your music in a multitude of ways, corporate take over of music may have been just what we needed.

The Market Works!


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Theism in the Black Community

One of the most insidious eras of American and perhaps human history was undoubtedly the history of slavery. But an often overlooked outcome for the greater black community was the propagation of religious belief forcibly placed on hundreds of thousands of African slaves by their former "masters."

The result is evident. The black community now seems locked in the shackles of religious belief whether it be in a vague hope in Jesus or a militant distortion of Islam. This faith in a "God" seems less for their own edification and more for their survival as a people as they search for answers to their history of oppression and fear and blatantly destroys any semblance of personal power within their inner communities.

Why is this negative? Why can't a faith in God allow for a group of people to rise above their differences and allow for greater success for millions of African Americans? Two reasons: One, theism takes personal success and creates a mystical alternative of faith and reward; and Two, theism creates a level of entitlement.

But many Black leaders site their religious belief as giving them strength, you'll say. I would argue their strength was in their intellect, not in a deity. Theism and Faith now have become pillars in the African American community and rarely allow for dissent from a vague religiosity that permeates the core of their community.

With a cultural heritage that is so rife with struggle it is no wonder that a belief in an all loving God has been seen as an easy way to cope with that struggle. But I would argue that it is to the peril of a community that lacks dialogue on the most basic of human beliefs; self reliance.


Monday, January 22, 2007

To Catch a Predetor -- Popularized Entrapment

Dateline NBC has a hit on their hands. "To Catch a Predator" captures the attention of Americans for a variety of reasons. One, its exciting and controversial, pitting the potential offenders again law enforcement and a handsome host. Two, its cathartic, allowing frantic mothers and pissed off fathers to wring their hands as the pervert gets busted. And three, it seems to be a solution to a pervasive problem.

The problem is, there is no significant data to indicate that this is pervasive, entrapment is a shallow victory, and the host is sort of boring.

This form of "policing," as I see it, is flat out wrong. Are these guys perverts? Maybe. Are they sexual predators? Possibly. But have they done anything wrong? In my opinion, no.

Internet chat rooms are full of people trying to be someone else. Profiles are fake, screen names are doctored to sound more alluring, and ages are always lied about. These guys may have a sick fetish, but I am unsure of how you can judge "intent" by someone showing up at a door. Sure, he made the trip, sure he asked their age, sure they told him something young, but in my opinion, this guy doesn't truly know his "intent" until he actually sees who he is meeting.

The group that lures the perp to the house is called "Perverted Justice" and claims that they always let the potential mark start the conversion and be the first one to mention sex. This, according to the group, absolves them of any blame in guiding the said mark. But do they not offer the perp an alluring incentive to take a chance? Do they not offer the perp a chance perhaps never available to him before? Subtly, do they not encourage him to take that chance?

This to me is policing peoples perversions, not their actions. This show props itself up on dubious data, inflated risk, and sob stories to make it seem legitimate, then create an unsympathetic villain in the pervert who rarely warrants defense. Furthermore, they work with the police to actually have these people arrested! This unholy alliance between a private advocacy group, a television show, and the police force represents a scary precedent in a nation that is supposed to uphold freedom, even perverted freedom.


Gambling Supoenas, Nanny State, Republicans, Etc...

Take a look at this article out of the NY Times.

Generally, the justice department has increased it's reach when it comes to the Nanny State. First, they deemed the online sites that facilitate gambling illegal, giving precedent for what happened today, issuing subpoenas to Wall Street investment banks for their investment in said illegal gambling sites. This would be the first time that prosecution would be pursued for investment in businesses that are legal in their own country.

This, it strikes me, if prosecution is pursued, is extremely worry some. The Republican Congress has made its mark and it isn't a positive one. The bill was sneaked onto the port bill, contained dubious information regarding the possibility of online gambling addiction, circular logic when it comes to regulation, and and overextends what the justice department was meant to do.

This behemoth of government social conservatism posing as "security" is a trend I am not comfortable with. Frankly, I think the party of small government is becoming the party of "large morals." With their narrow view (or at least misguided view) on morality, small government isn't possible within those constraints.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Atheism on Talk Radio...

Sam Harris has masochistic tendencies as indicated by his constant appearances on right wing talk radio. Harris has appeared on The Laura Ingraham show, most famous for its 7th grade approach to talk radio, Dennis Prager, an overly thoughtful gentleman who pines over inane hypothetical moral decisions, and most recently Michael Medved, an ultra sharp liberal turned conservative.

Harris showed well on Medved's show, however Michael seemed to have a curious question for Harris. "Why can't we accept each others diverse beliefs and still try to have healthy debate on our most important issues?"

This "can't we all just get along" philosophy is rampant in our society but, it seems to me, is profoundly negative. Harris explained that when talking about said important issues, dealing with insanity is not healthy discourse but Medved pressed him to argue whether he "respected" religious people. Harris explained that he can respect any man, but refuses to respect religious ideas so when a man is completely wrapped up in his religious ideas, he is difficult to respect.

Or so I surmised from Harris's short soundbites allowed on the show.

I commend these talk shows for dealing with Atheism head on, unfortunately the debate always reduces to whether the atheist can just "get along" with the theist and go on his way. I would argue that in a nation that is so sick with superstition, that sort of benign worldview is what's ailing us.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Health Questionaire...

OK, take a look at this, and this, and this. Tell me which one is best.

I'll give you a hint. Its the one with the least amount of bureaucrats involved...


Monday, January 15, 2007

Pretense at it's best...

Blogs are, essentially, pretense at it's best. However they are cathartic, they are communal, and they are important to many. Unfortunately, I have very few outlets for my opinions and thus, I will resort to spewing said opinions on you, on a blog, which will have little influence, and small readership. I don't intend on changing anyone's minds, as this is primarily for me. Thus, I will accept your comments and discussion as an indication that you too have little outlet for your opinions and will engage you as such. I am a libertarian, which means I believe in liberty, even though we are deprived of liberty more often then not. I am an Atheist, which means I don't hold my liberty as beholden to a deity, god, or higher power. I don't believe in souls, I don't believe in fate, and I don't believe in the power of love. I believe in rational thought, synapse, and personal freedom, which guide the decisions I make. I hope that in this setting, we can debate, discuss, and enjoy each others opinions as what they are, individual expressions of belief.