Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Give Texas Back To Mexico!

This has been up for a few weeks now on my YouTube Page. Instead of blogging here where it won't be read by most people, I did this commentary in a song video form. It's a spoof of the Paul McCartney & Wings classic "Give Ireland Back To the Irish." Feel free to go there and here Macca's obviously better version of his own tune as opposed to my shitty attempt at a Weird Al-like cover.

When Texas Gov Rick Perry brought up his state possibly succeeding from the union in the past, I thought about doing this as a response. Now I got the resources to do it , so I did. I just sort of half-assedly threw it together and didn't even bother playing guitar on it, but it came out not too bad. Thanks to ChordPulse for providing the tracks to this one. I mispronounced names and spelled things wrong, but it was a lot of fun. One of these days I might bother to re-do this thing so it sounds a lot better, but I doubt it.

More recently, Gov. Perry came out against succession for the State of Texas. I should include that to be fair.


What I wrote to the Prez:

Today someone on my Facebook posted this action bit from Daily Kos.

Here's what I wrote, for all the fuck good it'll do:

Tell President Obama: Stop Proposing Social Security cuts

Mr. President, please stop proposing cuts to Social Security.

Social Security does not contribute even $1 to the deficit, and is 100% solvent for over 20 years according to even the most pessimistic projections. It should not be a part of the fiscal showdown negotiations.

Please live up to your campaign promise of not balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class.

Also, please drop the affordable care act and begin moving the country towards Single Payer. And knock off he drone strikes ans killing innocent 16-year-olds on the taxpayers dime.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It Never Fails (A Reflection On Connecticut You Might Not Like)

It never fails. I see this pattern just bout every time tragedy hits the US that involves violence, or humans inhumanity to humankind:

2001: 911 happens. The Twin Towers are hit by a plane. The Pentagon suffers a similar fate. People are aboard as hostages on yet another plane...

Death, destruction, tragedy... the Country is in shock.

There was a "Conservative Republican" President in office at that time - George W, Bush - and in fitting response (well, seemingly so anyway), he "formed a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, sent American forces into Afghanistan to break up the Taliban, a movement under Osama bin Laden that trained financed and exported terrorist teams. " The Patriot Act was also passed during this time. Basically America, re-armed, re-loaded, and moved several paces closer to being a Police State.

AND... War proceeded on at least 2 fronts: Afghanistan and eventually Iraq. So if you think the carnage and dust clouds and death were bad in New York, check out the happenings in Mid East War Zones. A land where people wake up to "Nine-Eleven" every single day of their lives.

As callous as it may come off, it's the truth. The US in it's isolation to the borders of most of the world where it wages war, takes a tragic hit and we all react as if it's the most shocking thing that ever happened. Because after all, this is America. Such things never happen here!

Fast forward to today, December of 2012. A rash of shootings populated the news this year. The two most recent included one in my neck of the woods - Clackamas, Oregon, and one in Connecticut which broke  in the news this past weekend.

In the former,  a gunman shot three people in one of Oregon's most popular Shopping Malls, He ran to a back corridor, apparently trying to leave. Upon hearing the police sirens surrounding the mall outside, he took his own life.

The shooting victims included two adults who were fatally wounded, and one brave young teen girl who  was helped out and managed to survive. s of 8 hours prior to this writing, is listed in fair condition.

Upon showing a link to that story to a friend of mine whom I regularly email with and who lives with his wife & 3 daughters in Holland, remarked something along the  lines of "How can the Americans continue to allow people to have guns?" Interestingly enough, his country is one of the main ones assisting the war effort in Syria by supplying Turkey with Patriot Missiles. And they may be involved in assisting the US with a planned attack on Venezuela.

Gun laws are being debated again in the wake of a mass murder by an armed Connecticut man in Army Fatigues, entered a schoolyard and killed 26 people, 20 of them children. Again, Americans react in horror and proceed to debate how many laws can be passed to get rid of  the evil guns, while overseas, children are the routine victims of the combined war effort to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by force.

If you ask me, President Obama is the last person on the planet I care to hear about reforming the guns laws from, when he's just another War President as far as I'm concerned, exporting death and destruction in the name of American Imperialism. Foot of the line for you, Barack. And for every Democrat who voted to support the Iraq War.

You can try banning gun for sure, assuming such an effort will pass a Constitutional challenge (which it won't.) And the likely scenario is that Prohibition will seem like Sunday School in comparison.

As far as I'm concerned, The whole thing is a dodge while the US supports Syrian rebels and it and Israel are inadvertently on the same side as Turkey, Al-Queda, & The Muslim Brotherhood in trying to overthrow Assad for the long term goal of getting at Iran. You want to see gun violence out of control? Hang out there for awhile.

So to summarize:

2001: September 11 attacks, country goes to war,  laws are passed which restrict freedom, and the US inflicts worse casualties on other countries than we ever have sustained.

2012: Children killed in a Connecticut Schoolyard, country grieves, laws are debated to restrict freedom, while the US continues to inflict worse casualties on other countries than we ever have sustained.

It never fails. Just like Clockwork. Did somebody say something about never learning from history?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The New MySpace: Neglecting the Social Side will be a HUGE mistake, IMHO.


 Recently MySpace started opening it's newly redesigned website to the public on an invite-only basis. People are being allowed to test-drive the site, make "connections" (the thing that's replaced "friending") and voice input. For the 1st time since Specific Media & Justin Timberlake bought out MySpace in mid 2011,we are getting a taste of their future plans as a reality.) This is a blog post I composed for the Idea Forum, but it's too long for the format. So I'm posting it here and linking it there. My thoughts on the matter of the future of MySpace follows:

It seems to be the Conventional Wisdom from all the big brains who keep track of Internet Trends: MySpace, if it is to make any kid of a credible comeback, must not try to compete with Facebook. In fact, it shouldn't aim at being a Social Network at all, or at least not primarily. Most of the positives in the blogosphere seem to have coalesced in agreement with the idea that MySpace should continue down the path of being a Spotify or Pandora competitor. 
To illustrate why this is such short-sighted thinking, think of whatever it was you were using to listen to music on ten years ago. Are you still using it? Or if you're my age you can go back further:  Vinyl, Walkmans, CD Players - all have either been relegated to museum status, or are headed there fast. 

Truthfully, many or most of the people I hear from want an experience quite similar to MySpace's Salad Days. Those that don't, aren't planning to come to the New MySpace anytime soon. One young lady whom I met through the Social Media world and who's become a friend in real life, just nicely told me that she needed one place for all her connections (in this case her current Facebook account) and that the only reason she hasn't deleted her Old MySpace by now is she can't remember her password (VERY common.) Her music needs are already met through other means (and I'm guessing most people's are!) So then the focus ought to be on the felt needs of people who might come to MySpace once the initial novelty of “oooh look at this shiny new UI” dies down.

But let's pause for a minute to reflect on the whole “MySpace shouldn't be a Social Site” mentality. Allow me to quote from a blog editorial that explains why Google+ was such a non-starter:

That launch-first, fix-it-later strategy has worked marvelously for Google in the past. Gmail didn’t match all of Microsoft Outlook’s features from the beginning—it didn’t even have a delete button—but the stuff it did have (lots of storage and fast search) was so compelling that people were willing to stick with it until it became the best email program in existence. In the same way, I switched to Chrome because it was faster than any other browser I’ve ever used—and I stuck with it even though it lacked add-ons or the ability to bookmark many tabs at once. (It has since added those features.)

But a social network isn’t a product; it’s a place. Like a bar or a club, a social network needs a critical mass of people to be successful—the more people it attracts, the more people it attracts. Google couldn’t have possibly built every one of Facebook’s features into its new service when it launched, but to make up for its deficits, it ought to have let users experiment more freely with the site. That freewheeling attitude is precisely how Twitter—the only other social network to successfully take on Facebook in the last few years—got so big. When Twitter users invented ways to reply to one another or echo other people’s tweets, the service didn’t stop them—it embraced and extended their creativity. This attitude marked Twitter as a place whose hosts appreciated its users, and that attitude—and all the fun people were having—pushed people to stick with the site despite its many flaws (Twitter’s frequent downtime, for example). Google+, by contrast, never managed to translate its initial surge into lasting enthusiasm. And for that reason, it’s surely doomed.”

And that's why there needs to be some semblances of the old Social aspect of MySpace brought back: Groups, Forums, Blogs, Bulletins, Videos, Chat – all could easily be incorporated into what Specific Media is doing with the site now without being a distraction from their main goals of being a music site.

Not capitalizing on the growing discontent with Facebook would be a mistake, IMHO. The internet has been crying out for some kind of alternative for quite awhile if you listen to what people are saying.

Take for example a couple of the aspects that made Old “Space” a screaming success: Groups and Forums. People need more reasons to congregate here than just music. One of the best things about early MySpace was that you could find lots of people through  variety of common interests. I created the ONLY group for the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" when it was still a “thing.” It allowed me to connect with others who appreciated it as well, and then I could more easily target myself to the Folk and Gospel Markets.

Same goes if you were a Trekkie - or into Gameboy - or Pokemon - or NBA Basketball - or Underwater Basket Weaving; whatever the thing you're all up in, there was a Space for it. We need to facilitate that human connection, and people's thirst for creativity that's been stifled by Facebook's sterile “Doctor's Office” professionalism.

I promoted my music on Facebook for a brief time, and the restriction on Friend requests killed it for me. But I did manage to get some fans through a group I started in sort of a half joking fashion: “Make The Beatles 'Birthday' the Official Birthday Song” (as opposed to "Happy Birthday To You.”) That's the benefit of allowing us to be self starters in our own creative method of reaching people!

One last example and I'm done: If you don't believe me, believe someone who should be “in the know” like Mark Cuban:

Tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he is fed up with Facebook and will take his business elsewhere. He's sick of getting hit with huge fees to send messages to his team's fans and followers.”
Two weeks ago Cuban tweeted out a screen grab of an offer he'd received from Facebook. The social network wanted to charge him $3,000 to reach 1 million people. Along with the screen grab, Cuban wrote, 'FB is blowing it? This is the first step. The Mavs are considering moving to Tumblr or to new MySpace as primary site.'”

If that doesn't settle the issue, I don't know what will. MySpace may be planning more than they are letting on, but they would be foolish to not think outside the box at this time.