Thursday, January 21, 2010

Anger, Rising...

This is a dang shame.

Generally speaking, I'm all about free speech (hehe, generally "speaking". Get it? (Thank goodness there's no ban on bad puns, huh?)). But that doesn't mean I don't think there should be limits.

If I had just one limit to impose on free speech, I would outlaw cable news channels.

But if I had two, I would limit corporate speech. That corporations (or anything besides individuals) have the right to free speech is a repugnant idea to me. Rights derive from our human nature. They are a function of our humanity and an expression of individualism. Corporations, on the other hand, are legal fictions. They have the privileges and obligations that we choose, through the law, to impose on them. There is no natural right of corporations, no fundamental privilege to which they are entitled. And yet, the Supreme Court, long ago, in a crazy footnote, extended corporations individual rights, and today they expanded the free speech rights of corporations (against long trends towards limiting corporate speech).

This is worrisome. Corporations are now allowed to spend as much money as they want in elections. They already buy politicians, now they can spend even more to make sure the ones they've bought are the ones who get elected. It's a shame. And it makes me think that it's really time for a big overhaul. I honestly believe that a Constitutional Amendment limiting corporations might be called for.

It's a disappointing day. And how about this... it's just one day off from another very disappointing day in court history.

Come on, come on
Listen to the money talk

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tonight No Show

So just a few super quick thoughts on this whole Leno/Conan mess...

  • You really can't blame the talent. Both guys are just comedians who are really good at their jobs. Good enough to be considered for what is, essentially, the top comedy job in the world. It's hard to be upset with an individual for wanting to be operating at the top of his industry. Conan obviously wants to keep hosting The Tonight Show, and now, it turns out, so does Leno. We can't really be surprised by any of this, can we?
  • NBC is the new Fox. Fox has been long known for its ineptitude (see: Arrested Development, Firefly, Temptation Island, Family Guy, well... they're just too numerous to name.) NBC is now taking the mantle of "stupidest network".
  • It isn't like Leno just happily stepped down from The Tonight Show. 5 years ago NBC pretty much forced him into giving it up down the line. People seem to be forgetting that. NBC, in their effort to avoid the whole Letterman/Leno succession issue that plagued them way back when, came up with this genius plan to force Leno out and designate Conan his successor.
  • They could have stuck with their plan, but ultimately they realized the Leno would go to a different network since, you know, he wanted to keep telling jokes (and people wanted to keep listening). Which would have meant Conan competing with Letterman and Leno. So instead, NBC created this 10 o'clock Leno Show. Not because it was good for the network, but because it kept Leno in the fold and prevented them from having to compete with him.
  • The right move now would be to cut Leno loose and hang onto Conan. That's the only move with any integrity. Of course, this means that Leno would go to a different network and then NBC would have to compete with him. That whole scenario they wanted to avoid. Of course now, they've created a scenario where they have to choose between which of the two they're going to compete with, since Conan will almost certainly jump to another network. The choices are "keep Conan and compete against late night's king Jay Leno" or "keep Leno and compete against a fired-up Conan and the fans who feel he got screwed." In their effort to avoid choosing between the two, NBC created an even more unpalatable choice.
  • Craig Ferguson is still the funniest person on any network late night show.
  • I read sentiments similar to these on another blog: "Ultimately, I have to admit that I haven't been watching late night on the networks. I've been watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert." I think this is true for a huge group of people under 30. The shows we really care about are still intact.
  • Given the previous point, you should be skeptical of anyone under 30 supporting Conan. They might be watching him now, but the odds are good they weren't watching him all that often before. That's not to say they don't care about Conan being around, because they do (see the next point), it's just that their support now might not translate directly into eyes on the show.
  • Ultimately, for those under 30, it's about options. We'd choose Conan over Leno, no question. But we'd also choose Stewart and Colbert over any iteration of The Tonight Show. We just like knowing that when The Daily Show is on reruns or when, heaven forbid, Stephen Colbert hangs up his gravitas for good, that we'll be able to turn back to a Tonight Show hosted by Conan.
We're not watching, but we like knowing Conan's there.

Hey world, you know you got to put up a fight
Hey world, you rumble in the jungle tonight

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Top 25 Songs of 2009

2009 was an amazing year for music. I realize I'm a week or so late for a year-end list, but it's well worth reviewing some of the best songs of the past year. 2008 was pretty much a gigantic void for music, with nothing really spectacular. 2009 was just the opposite. It was just full of great stuff (obviously we're not talking about Lady Gaga, et. al. (I still haven't heard "Poker Face," and I'm totally okay with that.)). So I've put together my top 25 songs that were released in the last year. I largely culled my list from those that made The Current's top 89, but the rankings are way different and there's a couple songs that didn't make their rankings. There's a pretty wide variety of music types on this list, so check 'em out - you'll probably find something you like.

1. "Home" - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
2. "I & Love & You" - The Avett Brothers
3. "Gimmie Sympathy" - Metric
4. "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" - Cage the Elephant
5. "French Navy" - Camera Obscura
6. "Just Breath" - Pearl Jam
7. "Kick Drum Heart" - The Avett Brothers
8. "Never Had Nobody Like You" - M. Ward
9. "Yours Truly the Commuter" - Jason Lytle
10. "Listzomania" - Phoenix
11. "Help I'm Alive" - Metric
12. "The Rake Song" - The Decemberists
13. "Heartbroken in Disrepair" - Dan Auerbach
14. "Never Forget You" - Noisettes
15. "Bruises" - Chairlift
16. "'59 Sound" - Gaslight Anthem
17. "My Girls" - Animal Collective.
18. "Death By Diamonds and Pearls" - Band of Skulls
19. "Hurt Feelings" - Flight of the Conchords
20. "This Tornado Loves You" - Neko Case
21. "When We Swam" - Thao and the Get Down, Stay Down
22. "Dreams" - Brandi Carlyle
23. "Geraldine" - Glasvegas
24. "God Help The Girl" - God Help The Girl (from the album God Help The Girl)
25. "Two Weeks" - Grizzly Bear

Home is wherever I'm with you

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Be It Resolved:

I made two resolutions this year: to read more and to write more.

When we lived in D.C. and I was taking the Metro all the time I spent a good amount of time reading during my commutes. Probably close to a minimum of half an hour a day. I tackled some big books (including two Thomas Pynchon novels in the past 3 years!), so I didn't necessarily get through a large number, but I was satisfied with how much I was reading.

Now that I'm living in MN, and actually driving myself to work, I don't have the opportunity to read during my commute. Tragic, really. So I've resolved to read more. I have a whole pile of great books, left over from my Great Books class, that I haven't gotten to yet. And another pile of great books that either deserve a reread or a complete read (back in college, when I was supposed to be reading a book or two a week I (embarrassingly) often let them go unfinished. There are a sizable handful of books that I've read only two-thirds of the way through.). My current "What I'm Reading Next" list is already at least 4 deep.

I'm starting with Utopia. Yeah, that's right. I've resolved to read More.

My second resolution is to write more. Not so much here on the blog, though if that happens, then great. But rather I want to get working on my novel again. The other day I was struck by some ideas for a separate book, and I've now got couple of major writing projects in the pipeline too. My old writer's group was a huge motivator for writing, and I think I might see if I can't get something else going again. Maybe even just a monthly thing, instead of a weekly event. If there's anyone around in Minnesota who feels like getting together every once in a while to review each other's writing, let me know. I'd love to find something to help create incentive to write.

I thought there was a virtue in always being cool.