Saturday, January 31, 2009

Random Saturday observation

A coworker is listening to Journey. I need ear disinfectant now. Maybe some Cross Canadian Ragweed, yeah, this'll do... "Last night I went down to the railroad tracks to watch that train roll by...99 cars screaming into the dark, I heard the lonesome whistle cry...With her name on my arm and the rain coming down, I kissed her for the very last time...I took her down to the railroad tracks, and her dead, red lips touched mine, time to rock and roll, time to hoochie-coo...yeah, shake that thaaaaang, baby, love me do..."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More light bloggin' ahead...

...yep, that's right. She will be here in a little bit.
Hey, it could be worse. I could have taken the route of the guy in this song. ;-)

Hey, my favorite Waylon Jennings record!

Now playing at The Roadhouse, Sirius Ch. 62: "....Now you better do some thinkin' then you'll find, you got the ooooonly daddy that'll walk the line..."
1968, the year that song came out, I later found to be a hell of a year for country music. "Mama Tried," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," "Harper Valley P.T.A," "Folsom Prison Blues," and "Wichita Lineman" all came out that year as well. I love all those songs, though "Harper Valley P.T.A" seems to be one of those songs that comes up a bit too frequently in the Country Legends 97.1 playlist...
Oh, SON OF A...! 9:35 am: "hey Lizzie, well, a man's got to have a dream, and if you can't walk on the inside with me, I'll meet you in between...oh, come with me Lizzie, and the stars will write your name...and if you think I'm a-lyin' to ya, look a-yonder, there comes the rain..." Yep, my favorite Tanya Tucker tune...
And now for something completely different! 9:47 am, at the Boneyard, Sirius Ch. 19: "NOW! Let my people go, land of Goshen...GO! I will be with thee, bush of fire...BLOOD! Running red and strong, down the Nile...PLAGUE! Darkness three days long, hail to fire..."
For those of you not well versed in metal, that is Metallica's "Creeping Death," from their 1984 sophomore album Ride the Lightning. Based on the tale of the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians in the Book of Exodus, it's one of my two favorites from that album, the other being "For Whom The Bell Tolls." For being so young and inexperienced, they came up with some great music back then.

They say to disregard everything after before the word 'but'...

and columns like this one are a perfect illustration of why...

I can still see the horrifying vision of Charleton Heston holding a musket aloft in front of the NRA meeting in Denver days after the Columbine massacre.
Really? I thought the fact that he wasn't holding a modern military longarm rendered his actions to be just a load of theatrical crap. Horrifying? Not by a long shot.

I doubt the Second Amendment rights are as broad as you may believe.

The Founding Fathers would beg to differ.

But as a parent, an American and a human, I have to point out that just because it's constitutional doesn't mean it's wise or good.

REALLY. So what OTHER rights so many have fought, bled and died for would you restrict and eliminate for the safety of teh childrenses?

If you doubt that, and you're a strong Second Amendment advocate, tell me how you feel about the First Amendment's free speech rights that guarantee that include the right to burn the American flag.

As a libertarian minarchist who really does support the Constitution and the natural, God-given rights protected by the Bill of Rights, no ifs, ands OR BUTS, I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. I think a lot of flag-burners are full of it, but they have rights just like you and I do and as long as they're not hurting anyone they should be free to do or say anything they wish. Why do you and your cohorts not talk about the fact that this guy wasn't intercepted before he snapped? Why do you insist on focusing on just the tool he used instead of the ultimate reasons he did what he did? Look, I hate it as much as anyone, but more gun restrictions ARE NOT THE ANSWER any more than a lawnmower is the solution to a weed problem in your yard.
"Portland shooting puts mental health and easy access to handguns at issue." What the hell ever. People who know better than that damn lawyer (and me, for that matter) have pointed out that guns of all kinds are harder to get now than at any time in American history. As the old saying goes, "gun control cannot survive without an accompanying sea of disinformation."

This might be blasphemy, but...

...what Patsy Cline did to "Faded Love" was just ALL wrong. I never was a big fan of the whole countrypolitan thing anyway, and to have anything from Bob Wills done in that style just rubs me the wrong way. She had a hell of a voice no matter what she recorded, though (I still love "Walkin' After Midnight"), and so, for that matter, did Jim Reeves.
Oh, guess what I just heard? Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" without the annoying bleep in the middle!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Talk about your deadly management mumbo-jumbo...

I saw this at Kevin Baker's place. A specific phrase made me go, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?" So I went a-googling, and found this:

The Rogers commission confirmed the cause of the Challenger disaster explosion to have been caused by a leak through the faulty O-ring seal in one of the solid rocket boosters. According to testimony by Morton-Thiokol engineer Boisjoly, management put pressure on the engineers to OK the launch saying: “Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat.” The recommendation was reversed, discounting the concern about the O-rings as being “inconclusive” and launch was recommended, “based on their engineering assessment”, even though the engineers had no part in this recommendation. In spite of concerns expressed by others, NASA managers decided to approve the boosters for launch despite the fact that the predicted launch temperature was outside of their operational specifications and any test conditions.

Wow. Just, wow. "Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat." I just really don't know what to make of that. I'd have been thinking, and probably saying out loud, "Hey, Sparky, if we take off our engineering hats, PEOPLE COULD DIE." Particularly gruesome deaths too, as from what I've read in other places, the astronauts likely survived until they hit the waters of the Atlantic. I haven't a clue as to whatever became of those managers, but with that kind of callous disregard for the safety of the Challenger astronauts I am inclined to think that public hangings would have been too good for them. For all I know this point I am about to make could have been made back then, but I can't help but think the fact that the concern about the O-rings was there at all should have been enough to scrub the launch. I thought the only way the engineers would have given things the green light is if they were absolutely sure the components would have been able to withstand the stresses they'd have been subjected to. And I didn't think that those concerns being "inconclusive" equated to being absolutely sure, especially when people's lives were at stake. I thought in a field like that there would have been strictly-adhered-to higher standards, economic and political considerations be damned. Perhaps things have changed since then, but still a question comes to mind... there anything it can't fuck up?

Another of my Dirt Band favorites...

...that I ain't heard in a hell of a long time, at The Roadhouse: "I tried to love her, without any strings...but a modern-day romance has left me some old-fashioned pain..."

Hey, how's this for gun-nuttery?

Just found in my closet: A green plastic ammo box, with 50 rounds of .38 Special and 50 rounds of .357 Magnum...and I sold my Ruger GP-100 some time ago. I really, really need to replace that piece in my collection...

Mmmmm...Gary Stewart... Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: "You're my kind of woman, and I'm your kind of man...maybe that's the reason, it got so out of hand..."
That big hit from '75 has always been my favorite Gary Stewart tune, and one I hadn't heard in a long time. I can't even remember the last time I heard it on Rowdy Yates' show. I don't ever hear it on Country Legends 97.1, as it seems they're always playing "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)." Which isn't a bad song at all, but there were other songs in his catalog, you know...I still think that's probably the best terrestrial radio station around here, but apparently there are only so many songs you can program into that computer. Why the hell did I wait so long to get this?


Yep, that woman's got me wrapped around her finger. I just drove about 70 miles round-trip to see her after working all day. Even if I wasn't off tomorrow, even if I'd had to drive twice as far it'd have been worth it. Yes, indeed...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Speaking of Hag covers...(UPDATED)

I don't know what prompted me to go looking for it again, but I remember a while back I was raising hell in this space about a GREAT cover of Merle Haggard's "The Running Kind" because I heard it on the radio but the deejays didn't say who it was. Someone mentioned Radney Foster, and while his cover of the song is really good that wasn't the one I heard. Well, I went looking on iTunes this morning, and I do believe I might have found it. Apparently an Austin-based Dallas-based artist named Darren Kozelsky recorded it on his album titled Let Your Mind Fly. If you go to his website, click on "Music" and then "Launch the Jukebox" you can hear it and all the other songs on the album. What I've heard of the rest of it is pretty good as well. I might have to pony up for this one.
UPDATE: As you'll see I got a very nice comment from Todd Purifoy, who is Mr. Kozelsky's manager. I am not surprised he's out of Dallas, as it was a Dallas station (95.9 the Ranch) that I heard the song on. And it's a small world indeed, as I am in Orange every day. I'll be checking out his record soon. Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Purifoy, and give my warm regards and best wishes to Mr. Kozelsky.

Another all-around great tune, no matter who did it...

Now playing at The Roadhouse, Sirius Ch. 62: the Kendalls, "Thank God For the Radio," a No. 1 hit for them from 1984. Believe it or not, this is the only other song I've heard from them than "Heaven's Just A Sin Away," their monster hit from seven years earlier. The first time I ever heard that song, though, it wasn't the original version, but Alan Jackson's cover from his 1994 cd Who I Am. I was surprised to find Alan's was a cover; one day back in Texarkana not quite 12 years ago, I was listening and heard the Kendalls' original and was like, "Hey, I KNOW that song!" (on 103.9 not long after they switched to classic country from Christian.) I like both recordings of it, though if I had to pick a favorite it'd probably have to be Alan's. His recording would have made a great radio single, I think. I can't help but think it would have been another No. 1, but "Song For The Life" — which, IIRC, was another cover tune, I know it was penned by Rodney Crowell — still did well for him, going to No. 6 in the spring of '95.
Oh yeah, 11:24 am, at Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: Waylon Jennings, "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean," from 1973, if I remember corectly. Been a while since I've heard the original, but I have Waylon's Greatest Hits around here somewhere with that one on it...
11:41 am: George Strait, "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind," the title track from his landmark 1984 album. I think that would probably have to be my second favorite GS tune after "Let's Fall To Pieces Together." I love all of Strait's stuff, but I think his '80s records produced with Jimmy Bowen were the best, although he's recorded music throughout his career that runs neck-and-neck with those records. The examples that come to mind right offhand are 1996's Blue Clear Sky and It Just Comes Natural from '06. Those two albums as a whole are my personal favorites from Strait's post-Bowen catalog, with Carrying Your Love With Me and One Step At A Time running really close behind.

WHAT post-racial future?

Headline on Clarence Page's column in this morning's Houston Chronicle:

Stumbling blocks en route to post-racial future

And I am thinking, um, WHAT post-racial future? If the inaugural benediction is any kind of indication, race will be playing just as big of a part in American society and politics as it always has. Probably even more so, because there are going to be all sorts of people expecting all sorts of payback and bitching loud enough to wake the dead if they don't get it. I don't know where some people have gotten the idea that Caucasians have the monopoly on racism. Maybe it's the fact that it's so politically incorrect to suggest otherwise, despite the rantings of people like Spike Lee. Still though, I don't know how supposedly learned individuals like Clarence Page can delude themselves like they do. Old-fashioned racism is a resilient beast that knows victims of all colors and we're not doing ourselves any favors by ignoring it just because it comes from those who are supposedly immune to it.

The things you hear on this contraption...

Now playing on Outlaw Country, Sirius Ch. 63: Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Honky Tonk Night Time Man"...the very same song written and recorded by the legendary MERLE HAGGARD. Now, I knew the line between those two was not that crooked and that Skynyrd themselves recorded a lot of stuff that has a country sound to it. And I don't have any of their albums besides the greatest hits — if I did I'd have probably have heard this song long before this morning — but still, I never would have guessed I'd hear a song from them that was written or recorded by a country artist from their time. I gotta admit that's pretty damn cool.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A view from the other side...

...of the looking glass:

I was faculty adviser of Amnesty International on my campus for 17 years and was involved in the civil rights movement in teh 1960s, along with other things I will not list. I have a high regard for human rights.

Faculty adviser for who? Amnesty International? Amnesty International, as in one of the groups behind the UN push for global disarmament? So, to recap: Lefty professor, um, professes respect for human rights, yet was an advisor to one of the biggest supporters of stripping from humans the right of effective self-defense, without which all the other rights are meaningless. Only in the halls of academia could one find such twisted reasoning.

The long and short of it all...

Seen here.

What do you want to bet they still don't get taught the right lessons...

about the Holocaust, even if this bill is passed?

More than 60 years ago, the world collectively vowed that it would never forget the horrors of the Holocaust to ensure such atrocities were never repeated. The world, as history has proven, has a short memory.
Just since 1945, we have seen genocides in places like Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. The conflict in the Congo appears likely to be the next.
And yet, we at Holocaust Museum Houston and other similar institutions around the state are continually surprised by how little today’s students in Texas are aware of the Holocaust or more recent contemporary genocides and how little they understand of their individual responsibility to make our world a better place.
With the introduction of Senate Bill 482 in the 81st regular session of the Texas Legislature, we have an opportunity to see that our children are educated appropriately so that they are equipped to make responsible, moral decisions when confronted with such atrocities in the future.
As Sara, a student at KIPP Academy Middle School wrote after visiting our Museum, “I hope that all of us continue to open our eyes to the world — to pay attention to the examples of discrimination and suffering. We must have the critical thinking to ask: Who is being treated unfairly? Then, we must have the empathy to care. Finally, we must have the courage to act.”

The KIPP Academy student is correct, of course; but still, I would bet money that the so-called "courage to act" will only take most people as far as holding candlelit vigils and encouraging "awareness," as opposed to advocating for real solutions such as arming the oppressed peoples of the world and teaching them to fight back. You know how the dialogue goes:
"We must DO something!"
"Ok. How about sending these people a few ten thousands of these, along with proper quantities of ammunition and people to train them in the rifles' use?"
"Oh, no no no! We must STOP the cycle of violence!"
And the cycle of violence continues, with the handwringers still blissfully unaware that the cycle of violence will ultimately only be stopped when the oppressors get copper-jacketed lead between their eyes.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"...Well, our golden jet is airborne, Flight 50 cuts a path across the morning sky..."

Oh, yes, SIR! Now playing on Rowdy Yates' Country Gold show: Willie Nelson, "Bloody Mary Morning," from 1978's Willie And Family Live. Believe it or not, the very first time I heard this song was on this very show 9 or 10 years ago, looong before the syndication days, back when they called it Solid Gold Sunday and it was just a local show on Houston's KILT. Wow, the memories that brings back. I heard so much good stuff there I'd never heard before I left Northeast Texas. I was telling my girlfriend yesterday, that move to Bryan-College Station probably ruined my music tastes in the opinion of some folks. That came after she got this look on her face as I was singing along with Merle Haggard's "Cherokee Maiden" playing on (I think) the Outlaw Country channel on Sirius. Not a good look, because she didn't like it AT ALL, but as far as I can tell that's really the only thing she and I don't share is the same tastes in music. But that's ok, because she does make me very happy. I see me with her for a very, very long time...perhaps even until I take my last breaths in this life. Only time will tell there, but it's looking so very good.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random observations from Saturday night Sirius...

1. You learn something new every day, it seems. I never knew that Ricky Skaggs did not do the original "Crying My Heart Out Over You," which he took to No. 1 in 1982. I was not surprised, however, that it was done by one of Ricky's favorite bluegrass duos, Flatt & Scruggs. And of course the original is good too, even if it was different.
2. Billy Joe Shaver does a pretty damn good job of covering Merle Haggard's "Ramblin' Fever." I think it'd be interesting to hear him put his own stamp on more Hag tunes. For some reason I think him putting his own stamp on "Workin' Man Blues" and other songs like that would be really cool.
Oh, yes, SIR, old-school Ray Price! "Now I've got heartaches by the number, troubles by the score...every day you love me less, each day I love you more..."
Mmm-hmmm, I love me some Hank Thompson, oh YEAH! 11:06 pm: "I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels, I might have known you'd never make a wife..."
Awww, yeah, Buck Owens, 11:37 pm, "We'll make a scene about a man that's sad and lonely, and beggin' down upon his bended knee...I'll play the part, but I won't need rehearsin', all I gotta do is, act naturally..."
Yeah, I'll have another shot of Lefty, 12:28 am: "If you've got the money, honey, I've got the tiiiime..."
12:48 am, my favorite Nitty Gritty Dirt Band record! HELL YEAH! "Now I'm beatin' down a ole blacktop road, sleepin' in a sack, livin' in my memories all in vain...'cause those city lights ain't all that bright, compared to what it's like, to see lightning bugs go dancin' in the rain...."

PS: If you're wondering what I'm doing here, I'm waiting on my baby to get home from work. :-)

Just a note...

Blogging will be light if at all the next couple of days. I have company. Draw your own conclusions. ;-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mm-hmmm, this'll do...

Now playing at Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: "We're gonna boogie back to Texas, eight weeks, to the mile..." Anybody know that one without having to summon yer Google-fu? ;-)
12:51 pm, at the Roadhouse, Sirius Ch. 62: "He said, 'Listen to me son, while you still back home to that Southern land, don't you see, what life here has done to me?'..."
Oh, yes, SIR! 2:48 pm: "She said hello, country bumpkin, fresh as frost out on the pumpkin..."

...individualism is what, again?

WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne, in this morning's Chron:

President Barack Obama intends to use conservative values for progressive ends.
He will cast extreme individualism as an infantile approach to politics that must be supplanted by a more adult sense of personal and collective responsibility. He will honor government’s role in our democracy and not degrade it. He wants America to lead the world, but as much by example as by force.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over? Individualism IS an adult thing. Hell, you could say it's the very essence of being an adult. As far as this "collective responsibility" bushwa goes, that would imply collective punishment as well, which, again, evokes the words of L. Neil Smith: "Didn't you lay aside the infantile notion of group punishment when you left public school—or the military? Isn't it an essentially European notion, anyway—Prussian, maybe—and certainly not what America was supposed to be all about?" I think that question would apply to all aspects of treating people as a collective as opposed to individuals. So again, I must ask — is there any real chance of leftists like E.J. Dionne being rehabilitated as far as the acceptance of the Founders' ideals go? I just can't help but think the answer is no. I don't know that I look down on people like Dionne as being inferior to folks like us — maybe just alien beings — but I wonder why they want to drag us along on their ride to hell on the road of tried-and-failed ideas. And I guess perhaps Obama will "honor government’s role in our democracy"...but what he really should be doing is honoring government's role in the Founders' representative republic. Yeah, I know a lot of folks see that as nitpicking...but there are substantive differences between the two that really need to start being taught and respected again if there is going to be any REAL hope for America — as opposed to the fleeting, ephemeral type offered by the new president and his minions.

Ooooh, another good one I haven't heard in a looong time...

at The Roadhouse, Sirius Ch. 62: "...They said what, that I was cryin'? I haven't shed a tear in years..that I spoke your name, well that's insane...I've hardly noticed you're not here, and I showed your picture to some stranger? Don't you think I've got no pride? They've been here at home face down on a shelf, Lord I bet, somebody lied..."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hey, can I say THESE people aren't my countrymen?

It may well not be productive either, but when I see stories such as this it makes me ashamed to share breathing space with these spineless motherfuckers, much less a country (h/t Rachel Lucas):

As Micha Wyatt plans an inaugural bash at the Chicago Rib Shack in London, she is basking in the new warmth toward Americans overseas.
It's cool to be an American again, Wyatt said. "Finally! I'm tired of pretending I'm Canadian."

Cool to be an American. Bitch, if you're that fucking ashamed, fucking KEEP your sheep ass in Londonistan. You know, if people around the world want to judge my worth as an American on who I choose to be my president, they can just piss the fuck off because that's just gonna have to be their problem. God, but shit like this pisses me smooth off. They talked about dissent being patriotic the last eight years...these creatures wouldn't know patriotism if it hauled off and smacked them in the back of the head with a Louisville Slugger. Which, honestly, would be exactly what every one of them deserves. You wonder why I'd love for Texas to be its own country again? 'Cause, among other things, Texans don't give a gnat's fart in a windstorm about what people in such benighted places as Britain and Australia might think of them. Then again, if what Bum Phillips wrote is true, most of us ID ourselves as Texans primarily anyway. I'd say that being a Texan is just as much a state of mind as anything else, and that there are a lot of people worthy of being called Texans who never set foot in our fine state — and by the same token, some who are from here don't even come close to living up to the ideal — but at any rate it'd sure be nice if more of those who call themselves Americans didn't make their patriotism conditional on our foreign policy.
Oh, HELL YEAH! Now playing on Outlaw Country, Sirius Ch. 63: "...rob a little money from the cashier, to get me anywhere but here...I spent a little time in Nashville, in the back of a limousine...they kissed my ass and they shook my hand, turned their back on me..."

Ignorant & self-righteous is no way to go through life...

From comments to this post (, h/t SayUncle):

Canada is a plenty free country.

REALLY now. I'm sure Mark Steyn would beg to differ. One wonders why these people don't just move their asses to Canada if they think it's such a great place to live. God knows they'd be among some like-minded people (and that was tongue-in-cheek, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot). I did find it enlightening that they resorted back to the old social utility argument, i.e., that by and large guns' social cost outweighs their social utility. Of course when you think about it that's really the only argument these people have, and L. Neil Smith at least once did a masterful job of showing the folly of relying on studies and of pointing out, as he put it, that "the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right -- subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility." And, of course, they made it all into a left vs. right issue. Often I wonder if the new class of liberals here will ever break out of that mindset. Almost as often I do not think they ever will. I hope they do, as I would love to see the issue of self-defense be something that both the left and the right agree on. Recognizing and respecting the right of self-defense, and the right to procure, own and carry the best tools to effect said defense, is the only moral and right thing to do. I loved this comment from that post, so much so that I'll close with it:
"Those of you that blanket-malign law abiding gun owners because it does not agree with your idea of utopia are so deeply ignorant of what it means to have liberty that I think you deserve none of it."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More radio musings

I heard this on the news last night, and saw it in this morning's Chronicle as well...

San Antonio-based broadcasting company Clear Channel Communications on Tuesday cut 1,850 jobs, or about 9 percent of its work force, according to a memo that Chief Executive Officer Mark Mays sent to employees.
The company is making a “significant portion” of the cuts in its ad-sales department as it reacts to the current recession, Mays said. However, he added that the pullback spans all departments in its corporate, radio and outdoor advertising divisions.

Via Leslie T. Travis, it looks like the cutbacks have affected at least a couple of stations in Bryan-College Station already; the Chron also reported that Clear Channel was going to make more use of syndicated programming in addition to the voice-tracking that'll be used in Aggieland. I know Clear Channel sees all this as necessary, and I won't argue that point, but again I have to wonder at what point the money saved is worth whatever number of listeners think the station's owners are losing touch with the local community. That is one pretty big advantage that terrestrial radio has over satellite, I think, and it seems to me that with every round of firings they're pissing more and more of that away. Granted, I do think some syndicated content is pretty good; just as an example, I thought it was great when Rowdy Yates at KILT in Houston got a syndication deal for the classic country show he does on there every Sunday night, and when they announced last week it was going to be on one of our local stations (KAYD 101.7) I thought that was even better, as I wouldn't have to deal with the static listening to it on KILT. But, again, to have that syndicated content five or six nights a week to me just kills one of the biggest reasons for sticking with terrestrial radio. It's not so bad when those syndicated hosts are in touch with their local markets — as these guys were, at least once upon a time — but when you're just piping a show in that sounds like it could come from anywhere — or, for that matter, in the case of voice-tracking, playing pre-recorded material — it's worth asking, would something better be worth paying for? As you'll see if you've been reading over the last week, my personal answer is, "Hell, yeah it's worth paying for." I think it'd be interesting to find out how many other radio listeners feel the same way, especially in the wake of moves such as the ones CBS and Clear Channel have been making as of late.
Speaking of content worth paying for...Heyyyy! Now playing on the Roadhouse, Sirius Ch. 62: Del Reeves, "Good Time Charley's," 1969! George Strait recorded this on his 2001 cd The Road Less Traveled. I always wondered how the original sounded. Pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. You think I'd have EVER heard that on free radio? Like I said, it's the best $12.95 a month I've ever spent.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More random music musings

I just heard one of my old favorites from Willie Nelson, one of those old numbers he recorded before his big breakout in '75:

I gotta go now, I guess I'll see you around
Don't know when though, never know when I'll be back in town
But remember what I tell you, in time you're gonna pay
And it's surprising how time slips away

I remember hearing that song and thinking, what the hell, is he gonna come back one day and kill her? Whatever the case, that record always made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.
HEYYYY! Now playing: the original version of "The Ballad of the Alamo," by Marty Robbins! The only version of this song I'd ever heard was from Texas singer Brian Burns, from his cd The Eagle And The Snake: Songs of the Texians. This one's really good too though. As many songs as Marty sang about Texas, I'd never have guessed he was from Arizona...

A-yep, that's it in a nutshell...

I don't agree with everything Billy Beck says, but he pretty much nailed it right on with this, on the Obama worshippers:
" These people are not Americans....These people are not about freedom. They are now everything that Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration, and you can go read it in plain English."


Now playing at Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: "It's a cheatin' situaaaaation, just a cheap imitaaaation...doing what we haaaave to do, when there's no love at hoooome...."
I tell you what, between this and my iPod, I really have little if any reason or desire to listen to terrestrial radio EVER again...

a new age of what, again?

So I've seen here and there that folks are saying that The Ascension will usher in a new Age Of Reason or some such blather. Reading stories that mention the results of certain polls, I have to wonder what planet these people are living on. I can't find the story right offhand, but I was reading this morning that almost half of the country believes Barack Obama is going to fix the economy himself. Just the guy that signs the bills passed by Congress. Amazing. And then not quite as many believe Congress will fix it. Chew on that. More people believe Obama will fix the economy than believe Congress will fix it, even though it's Congress who ultimately decides what gets to the President's desk. This is a Congress, by the way, that comprises a good number of people who haven't held real, private-sector jobs, haven't been doing that 8-to-5 grind the rest of us do, in God only knows how long. I found it a bit amusing that Senator John Kerry claimed that Barack Obama's plans for the economy would create "real jobs" or something to that effect. I read that and thought, "you elitist prick, how in the bloody hell would you know what a real job is, considering you haven't held one since you left the military almost 40 years ago?"

Yes, sir, I love it...

Now playing on Outlaw Country, Sirius Ch. 63: "Now he let out a yell that'd curl yer hair, but before he could move I grabbed me a chair, and said 'Watch him, folks, cause he's a thoroughly dangerous man...well, you may not know it but this man's a spy, he's a undercover agent for the FBI, and he's been sent down here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan!'..."

Monday, January 19, 2009 did they listen to any of the other songs?

I rediscovered a great cd at work last night. Here and there I've mentioned that Steve Wariner is one of my favorite singers from the 1980s, even though a lot of his music isn't the more traditional stuff I like. His career had a brief resurgence of sorts in the late 1990s, as he wrote two No. 1 hits, Clint Black's "Nothin' But the Taillights" and "Garth Brooks' "Longneck Bottle," on which he also played acoustic guitar. He also had a surprise No. 1 hit as a singer with the Anita Cochran duet "What If I Said." Because of all this, Steve eventually got himself a record deal with Capitol Nashville in 1997 and "Holes In the Floor Of Heaven," the first single off his first Capitol album, Burnin' the Roadhouse Down, eventually went to No. 2.
Now, here's what I don't get. If you read the reviews at that Amazon link, most of them only mention that one big song. And I'm like, did you people even bother to listen to the rest of the cd? I daresay that was not only the best thing Steve Wariner has ever recorded, it was also arguably one of the best country albums of the 1990s, period. From the more guitar-driven country rock ("Road Trippin'"), and sultry love songs ("Love Me Like You Love Me"), to some good old heartbreak songs ("A Six Pack Ago," "Big Ol' Empty House") and even a little western swing in the title track — a duet with Garth Brooks — that was just an all-around GREAT cd, one I still can't recommend highly enough even more than a decade after its release. Granted, I liked "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven," but I still thought it was a shame that song overshadowed the other great material on that cd. Oh, well. As they say, there's no accounting for taste...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just, damn...

I saw the picture that went along with this story, about the kid in Washington killed by the flying monster truck debris, and it just shattered my heart, even though I don't have any kids of my own. Ms. Dwyer, I know you're in all likelihood not gonna read this obscure blog, but may God bless and keep you and your loved ones in this time of pain...

Do we STILL want to try the same old solutions?

From this morning's Houston Chronicle:

MEXICO CITY — Indiscriminate kidnappings. Nearly daily beheadings. Gangs that mock and kill government agents.
This isn’t Iraq or Pakistan. It’s Mexico, which the U.S. government and a growing number of experts say is becoming one of the world’s biggest security risks.
The prospect that America’s southern neighbor could melt into lawlessness provides an unexpected challenge to Barack Obama’s new government. In its latest report anticipating possible global security risks, the U.S. Joint Forces Command lumps Mexico and Pakistan together as being at risk of a “rapid and sudden collapse.”
“The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels,” the command said in the report published Nov. 25.

I suppose if that drug supply to the United States could be completely cut off the problem would be solved, as the cartels would be starved for cash at least for a little while; but, as the old saying goes, if your grandmother had balls she'd be your grandfather too. I know the El Paso mayor took the easy way out by saying that we weren't going to be studying drug legalization any time soon, but even if he was right that doesn't change the fact that we're going to have to take a long, hard look at the efficacy (or lack thereof) of certain policies and the bureaucracies formed to carry them out if we're going to make any real progress on really doing what we can do to help stabilize Mexico. And I am sure I am really starting to sound like I am blowing a one-note horn in regards to this whole drug legalization thing, but I think there are valid arguments to be made in favor of it. I know that legalization by itself would cause a few problems, but if it as accompanied by a return to things like, say, personal responsibility — i.e., not spending one's whole paycheck on legal blow — that couldn't be anything but good. I know at this point it may not be very politically feasible, but that doesn't automatically make it not worthy of discussion.
Oh, yeah, this is a good 'ern, at Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: "I've been living in hell, with a bar for a cell, still paying, for my cheatin' crime....oh, and I've got, a long way to go, still doin' time..."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

He's not the only one...

...who's worried:

...I am more concerned about his (Obama's--ed.) pick for attorney general, Eric Holder, and it is not because of his ties to the pardoning of Mark Rich.
Holder is a notorious gun-banner that has been quoted as saying, “I do not believe that Americans have the right to keep and bear arms.” Holder has been a proponent of the strongest gun control measures and has proven in the past that the Constitution means absolutely nothing unless he can twist it to fit his views.

A-yep. Holder also shows himself not to have that much respect for the First and Sixth Amendments as well, and as an ardent drug warrior the smart money says he's perfectly willing to shit all over the Fourth and Fifth Amendments too. Really lends a lot of credence to the old saying "scratch a liberal, get a fascist." I know it didn't used to be that way, but even so, all these people talking about how the leftists respect individual freedom so much more than conservatives need to sit their asses down and have a nice, steaming cup of shut the hell up, because, as usual, they don't have the slightest idea as to what they're talking about. I defy anyone to tell me Eric Holder is any less of an authoritarian statist than John Ashcroft was accused of being. Maybe in Bizarro World, but not in this one.

Random musings...

part whatever...
I know I've talked of this before, but the harmonies of George Jones and Melba Montgomery are just out-of-this-world. It's like the audio equivalent of a shot of your favorite whiskey. I see they recorded several collections together, most of which haven't been released on cd. Which really sucks, 'cause I'd almost KILL to have them...well, not really, but they still sound damn good. ;-) Speaking of good harmonies, I caught some more of them driving home from work last night, when this gem came on. I caught those opening notes, and just blurted out, "Oh my God, I haven't heard this song in YEARS!" Which, literally, was true. As far as I remember, the last time I heard "Trouble's Back In Town" was on 98.3 KORA when I was living in Bryan-College Station about 9 years ago. Good, good stuff. I tell you what, I haven't even had Sirius for a week yet and already I've gotten my money's worth out of it. I was telling a guy I work with last night, "It's the best $12.50 a month you'll EVER spend."
Now playing at Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: Merle Haggard, "Ramblin' Fever," another GREAT song from 1977. If I had to pick one favorite song from the Hag, I think that'd be it...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just when I thought I'd seen it all...

Now this is Made. Of. Win.
Now playing on Sirius Ch. 62: "When we dance together, my world's in disguise, it's a fairy-land tale that's come true...and when you look at me with those stars in your eyes, I could waltz across Texas with you..."

A new bad excuse, maybe...

...or, It's really frightening to think that tripe like this comes from constitutional law professors:

Because I teach a constitutional law course, as Obama once did, I was especially drawn to the chapter, “Our Constitution.” Though constitutional jurisprudence is but one of several topics covered, the tone was instructive. What I found was not a simplistic, one-size-fits-all approach such as that employed by many of his political opponents; that is, the familiar, “We need judges that strictly interpret the Constitution as the Framers wrote it.” For them, that refrain constitutes game, set and match.
If only it were that simple.
The president-elect understands that the law, just like this nation’s history, is anything but simple. He acknowledges the thorny realities, those which complicate: That accurately ascertaining what this nation’s founders intended by the document they patched together 222 years ago is a quest more chimerical than real; and that those very framers housed contradictions as deep as any men.

I'm sure the Founders did house many deep contradictions, but that strikes me as a piss-poor excuse to interpret their final ruling document as some judges have over the last few decades. It also occurs to me that such a perspective on and interpretation of that document renders it virtually meaningless and will allow those who deign to disarm and subjugate the people to do pretty much whatever the hell they want. "What the hell do you mean the Second Amendment forbids gun confiscation? You can't possibly know for sure that's what the Founders meant to proscribe!" And it seems to me that this particular professor is putting forth an appallingly dishonest portrayal of the strict constructionist philosophy. I would guess a strict interpretation of the Constitution means more limited government, which pretty much explains why these damn law professors try to paint such as "simplistic" or "unrealistic," or whatever pejorative comes to mind for them. Of course even even in areas in which the Founders made it abundantly clear what they meant vis-a-vis, for example, the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms, that document has been folded, spindled and mutilated to the point that it's used to justify the very actions the Founders meant to protect against. At any rate, Mr. Wall's take really should scare the hell out of anyone who wishes to remain free, as it paves the way for mob rule and a nation of men and not of laws -- which, again, is the very thing the Founding Fathers fought a war to throw off.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Looks like the legalization idea is spreading...

...or, Great Scott! I actually agree with Clarence Page for once!

Legalize drugs to force traffickers out of business
When you step back and take a broad look at Mexico’s growing carnage, it’s easy to see why El Paso’s city leaders think legalization doesn’t look so bad. Mexico’s drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs.
Legalization is not the perfect solution. But treating currently illegal drugs in the way we treat liquor and other legal addictive substances would provide regulation, tax revenue and funds for rehabilitation programs. Most satisfying, it would wipe a lot of smiles off the current drug lords’ faces.

Yep, that's pretty much the long and short of it. I am pleased to see more people looking at it from this perspective, although it does suck that it took violence in another country for them to do it as opposed to the violence in our own inner cities. For those of you reading the snippet about El Paso and wondering what he's talking about, that city's council passed a resolution encouraging the federal government to study the legalization of currently illegal drugs. The resolution was promptly vetoed by El Paso mayor John Cook, who said, "It is not realistic to believe that the U.S. Congress will seriously consider any broad-based debate on the legalization of narcotics...that position is not consistent with the community standards both locally and nationally."
In other words, "drugs'r'bad, hmkay?"
Unfortunately his position seems to be shared by the area's representative in the U.S. House, Silvestre Reyes, who said, "Legalizing the types of drugs that are being smuggled across the border is not an effective way to combat the violence in Mexico." The question of what Reyes thinks would be effective would have been a good one to ask, indeed. Street price of a gram of cocaine in El Paso says he favors yet more enforcement of drug and gun laws, in other words, "do it again, only HARDER!"...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If we're gonna get anywhere...

...we're going to have to start thinking out of the box ourselves and start going on the offensive. I'll admit I don't have nearly as big of a problem with the pragmatists as some of the three-percenters do, but questions like this just really piss me off:
" you really want NRA to come out and say that they support gun rights for felons? I doubt even most NRA members would be happy with that."
Um, NO. I'd like to see the NRA asking legislators why these felons are not still in jail if they're so dangerous they allegedly can't be trusted with guns — and maybe not just accept the bullshit answers they're given. To the extent I have a problem with the pragmatists at all it wouldn't be nearly as bad if they didn't do such a half-assed job sometimes of using that political process they claim is going to be our salvation. And I wouldn't be surprised if that was a big part of the problem the three-percenters had with the pragmatists, i.e., they're asking the wrong damn questions. Of course, this goes for a lot of us. No doubt a lot of people don't want to see drugs legalized, for example, and they'd probably advocate for increased manpower on the border to clamp down on the drugs (and we all know what a fat lot of good that does), as opposed to asking if legalization would be nearly as bad as a lot of people think it might be. Back to the gun part of this, I don't know that the NRA or its members would be well-served right now by the NRA asking if the legalization of currently illegal drugs would help tamp down the violence in America's inner cities and northern Mexico, but to the extent Mexico ramps up their whining in the future about lax U.S. gun laws fueling the violence in Mexico, I think in the future that could very well be a more viable strategy than it is now. That would be much more proactive than a lot of the "solutions" being bandied about right now, which, come to think of it, on the federal level are more or less along the same lines as the "solutions" proposed for the War On Some Drugs, i.e., "Do it again, only HARDER!" But I'm betting, again, that on pretty much all fronts we're all just going to be getting more of the same, along with a heaping helping of "you'll take it and like it because it's what we think is best and what we say matters the most."

Spew alert!

"Man, you got the DTs so bad you could thread a sewin' machine with it runnin!'"
--Cledus Snow to the Bandit
...I'd never heard that one before, that was great! Yeah, that's what's on TV right now...

God, but I do love this song...

Now playing on Sirius Channel 62: "While a million thoughts go racing through my mind, I find I haven't spoke a word...while from the bedroom, the familiar sounds of our one baby's crying, goes unheard...but what a good year for the roses, many blooms still linger there..."

Hey, Greg, if you're still readin'....

Now playing on Willie's Place, Ch. 64 on Sirius: Jake Hooker, "Tom's Place." I see what you were raving about, buddy, this guy is GREAT...

It wouldn't surprise me....

or, I Get Referrals, Part Whatever...
From Memphis, Tennessee, "does paul helmke have armed bodyguards?"
Wouldn't surprise me in the least if he did, that hypocritical elitist piece of shit. Because, y'know, he's SPECIAL and we're not because we're ordinary citizens. And even if he doesn't have them as the head of The Organization Formerly Known As Handgun Control, I'd almost bet money he had them when he was mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I don't know how we'd be able to find out if he has bodyguards now, but now that I think about it, he might not really be able to afford them considering the Brady Bunch isn't exactly flush with cash these days...

Satellite radio... the bomb-diggety-shiz-nit, yo. ;-)
Seriously, though...I got some money for Christmas, and I decided that was what I was going to get with it. Went & picked up the equipment today, and I activated my subscription. Oh, my God...
Now playing on the Roadhouse, Sirius Channel 62: Johnny Rodriguez, "That's The Way Love Goes," 1974. I haven't heard this version of this song in, well, a VERY long time...
Hot DAMN! 1:29 pm, Dan Seals, "I Will Be There," 1987. I have Seals' greatest hits cd with this song on it, and it's always been one of my favorites. They really DO reach back and get the older, more obscure hits...I hadn't heard that song outside of the cd for a while..

I hate this, but I can still understand...

...why George Strait won't be at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo again this year...

Every year, soon after the RodeoHouston lineup is announced, there are complaints. And every year, several of them are along the lines of, "Where's George Strait?"

Well, don't blame RodeoHouston, folks. They tried...

The timing this year just didn't work out, and I can understand that, though I still think it sucks. I'm gonna do my damnedest to make that South Texas date, but we'll see. This from the comments really hit me the wrong way, though...
...he needs to remember that if not for the Houston rodeo, he would have never gotten out of playing the clubs.

Dude, with all due respect, screw you. As a George Strait fan I hate it as much as anyone that he won't be making it to that revolving stage at Reliant Stadium this year, but to suggest that he's forgotten what he owes to the HLS&R or that he hasn't paid that debt back (let alone MANY times over) is the height of sour-grapes asshattery. I suspect the logistics of getting him on that stage aren't as simple as a lot of people think, but even if they were, the man has paid his dues. From what I've read Strait's played the rodeo more than 20 times, and I would be hugely surprised if he hasn't sold out there every single time. I've seen him there twice myself and from what I remember when I was getting tickets, it sold out in less than an hour both times, in 2006 and '07. (For the record, I thought it was pretty damn cool to see him ride out on a horse.) I do hope he comes back next year, though.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The song of the day...

Well. For now, let's just say things are looking up. Yesterday evening I was listening to Merle Haggard at work, specifically his 1970 tribute album to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Good, good stuff. If I remember right he actually recorded it with some of the original members of the Texas Playboys. And this song came up, and it made me grin. Fit my current state of mind to a T, as far as everything that's gone on the last few weeks...

Time Changes Everything
Words & music by Tommy Duncan

There was a time when I thought of no other
and we sang our own love's refrain
And our hearts beat as one as we had our fun
but time changes everything

When you left me my poor heart was broken
Our romance seemed all in vain
The dark clouds are gone and there's blue skies again
Yes time changes everything

The time has passed and I have forgotten you
Mother Nature does wonderful things
I guess it is true for me and for you
Cause Time Changes Everything

Oh you can change the name of an old song
Rearrange it and make it swing
I thought nothing could stop me from loving you
But time changes everything

So good luck to you and may God bless you
I can't say we won't love again
You have gone your way and I'll go mine
Cause time changes everything

Yeah, that'll happen...

..when pigs sprout wings and fly, most likely:

Vista has the reputation of being buggy, bloated and intrusive. With Windows 7, Microsoft needs to release an operating system that specifically addresses those issues, and then some.

Yeah, good luck with that one, Windows users. I know everyone's going to have issues with their respective operating systems when they're first rolled out, but as far as I can tell it seems to be worse with Microsoft than with anyone else. Honestly, I am not what one would derisively call a Mac fanboy — even though I use Macs both at home and at work and am quite uninterested in going back to Windows — but it seems to me that Apple has the much more stable OS than Microsoft, even with OS X Leopard. I use Leopard at work and the only problems I've had with it are with not-so-compatible versions of earlier software. Even with those little idiosyncrasies, it still works; I just have to do things a little differently than I did before. Microsoft was doing just fine with Windows XP, to be honest, at least in my opinion. I used XP at home for literally years and never had any problems with it or any add-on software like Firefox or MS Works. And I am not really sure how the folks in Redmond thought they could improve on it. To be fair, Dwight Silverman did say, "...on a modern machine with decent hardware, I think Vista’s a pretty nice OS," but I still think it's worth asking why Vista has gotten the reputation it's gotten — and if Microsoft will ever again get as close to being perfect as they did with XP. Considering what I've heard from certain people about MS conditioning people to accept less than the best, and the rep MS has gotten for letting customers in effect be the beta testers on what was supposed to be a finished, market-ready product, I'm thinking the answer is a big fat NO. I guess we'll find out, though...

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss...

Yep, just more of the same, from this morning's Chron...

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama promised Mexican President Felipe Calderon during a summit Monday that the U.S. would take stronger action to stem the flow of weapons smuggled from Texas and other border states to drug lords in Mexico.
Mexican officials estimated that 90 percent of the guns smuggled into their country come across the U.S. border and have been complaining loudly for years about the unimpeded flow.
...In the 25 months since Calderon took office, Mexican troops and police have seized more than 28,000 guns, including 15,000 automatic rifles, as well as 3 million rounds of ammunition and nearly 2,000 hand grenades.
Authorities have also captured rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, anti-tank weapons and specialized .50-caliber rifles used for sniping.
“The drug traffickers wouldn’t be so dangerous if they weren’t able to buy these weapons from the United States,’’ said Felipe Gonzalez, chairman of the Mexican Senate’s Public Security Committee.

Once again, we see nothing about where the money's coming from with which the drug lords finance their murderous enterprise, nothing about taking the obscene profits out of the drug enterprise, just more of the same old smoke and mirrors, the same old cock-and-bull story about how it's those "damned American gun shows" that are to blame. As for RPGs and anti-tank weapons, once again, I have seen nothing of the sort in any gun store I've been to here on the upper Texas Gulf Coast. And if I remember correctly, undercover ATF agents are at most gun shows making sure there isn't any such weaponry being sold at the gun shows. (Not that I think this in any way justifies the existence of the ATF, as I think their existence is more or less just more of the "mowing the weed" variety of problem solving, as opposed to "pulling the weed up from the root.") Now that I think about it, though, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they included the .50BMGs as "anti-tank weapons," as officials have made plenty other preposterous claims about what .50s are capable of. And if the folks pulling the triggers for the cartels are so experienced they can snipe from whatever range with the .50, I don't think they'd have any problems doing their dirty work with any other hunting calibers like the .30-06, 7mm Magnum or .308. And all this is "change we can believe in," eh? I must be missing something...because to me it just looks like more of the same.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Anybody know what this calls for?

From this morning's Houston Chronicle...

WASHINGTON — A national safety group is advocating a total ban on cell phone use while driving, saying the practice is clearly dangerous and leads to fatalities.
States should ban drivers from using hand-held and hands-free cell phones, and businesses should prohibit employees from using cell phones while driving on the job, the congressionally chartered National Safety Council says, taking those positions for the first time.

Anyone know what this calls for? *channeling Ben Stein* Anyone? Anyone?
Thaaat's right...some good old-fashioned jury nullification, especially in the cases in which the offender was not driving in a manner which would cause anyone immediate harm. I've talked on the cell phone while driving and ridden with people who have done it as well, and I have not been in any accidents or felt less safe due to anyone talking while driving. All of which leads me to think that "cell phone use increases the risk of a crash fourfold" is a line of nanny-state horseshit. And even if it's true, the risk would seem to be infinitesimal in the first place, considering how many people own cell phones and drive in the United States. I could almost agree with increasing penalties for accidents that happened when someone was talking and driving, but still I am a bit uneasy. Let the insurance companies assess those penalties, not the government. And I am sure I am not the only one who thinks that the local and state governments would view a talking-while-driving ban as an ATM of sorts, just as they could very well see the laws enforced by the municipal courts right now. In any event, it's worth asking to what extent we want to let these busybodies micro-manage our lives — and to what extent it's worth giving up our right to do as we please as long as we're not putting anyone at risk. I know that last bit is the key to it, but I just don't believe the risks posed by talking while driving are worth passing any more laws against it. And I hope our legislators at all levels see it like that, but to the extent the feds like to dangle the carrot of federal funding for various endeavors — i.e., "if you don't pass these laws you don't get this money" — I am not very optimistic.

Hey, a visit from the old hometown!

After all this time, I finally get a visit from my hometown of Texarkana. I thought that was pretty cool. Even though it's changed quite a bit from 10 years ago, when I struck out on my own, it's still like going back in time every time I make it back up there. When I was up there one day during my Hurricane Ike evacuation in mid-September, I remember driving by the high school I graduated from (class of '96) and thinking, "Wow, it looks a lot different than it did when I was there." I'll admit I do have better memories of it all than the guy in the Cross Canadian Ragweed song, but that one line in the chorus still fits — "You're always 17 in your hometown." Every time I hear that song, and every time I am back in Texarkana, I think, "Truer words are rarely spoken." Just some personal musings for the Monday morning...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Drug War Musings

Robert asks a damn good question here, and gives some great reasons for a "yes we can, right the hell now" answer. One of his commenters says of the War On Some Drugs:

Don't refer to this as a war. The police don't fight wars, the military does.

It's not often you see that level of ignorance on a blog, from either actual bloggers or commentors. Usually these days it's reserved for those in the mainstream media. If it's not a war, then why so much discussion and concern over the militarization of the police? I think it's worth asking at what point the shredding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights outweighs the threat of currently illegal drugs. But, of course, so many people fall back on the old knee-jerk response of "drugs'r'bad, hmm-kay?" For some strange and unknown reason, the term "unthinking sheeple" comes to mind. I'm sure I'll figure out why sooner or later.
Meanwhile, Tam blogged about this a few days ago, but it came up in this morning's Chron as well...
WASHINGTON — In the heart of the Ethiopian community here, a group of friends gathered after work in an office to chew on some dried khat leaves before going home to their wives and children for the night. Sweet tea and sodas stood on a circular wooden table between green mounds of the plant, a mild narcotic grown in the Horn of Africa. the United States khat is illegal, and an increased demand for the plant in such cities as Washington and San Diego is kicking up a small national storm, leading to stepped-up law enforcement efforts and escalating clashes between narcotics officers and immigrants who defend their use of khat as a time-honored tradition.

The story goes on to say that "...some experts are not convinced that its health and social effects are so benign. A report from the World Health Organization found that consumption of the plant can lead to increased blood pressure, insomnia, anorexia, constipation and a sense of general malaise. The report also said that khat can be addictive and lead to some psychological and social problems."
Odd. While not identical to the problems caused by consumption of tobacco, alcohol or caffeine, it would seem that to the eye of this untrained observer that the drawbacks of khat consumption more or less run along the same lines. I think it's worth asking how khat consumption in the U.S. has affected the demographic that consumes it the most. Call me crazy, but I'd think if it was that bad by now we'd have seen news reports about the wild-eyed khat addicts running amuck on the streets of America's major cities.
And I know that this is just going to be controversial as hell, but I did find interesting the contrast between the takes of the Ethiopian community and the DEA agent. Who would you trust more, someone who partakes of the drug and leads a functional life or someone who more or less has just read about it and, moreover, has a vested interest in keeping it illegal? Just a thought...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Songs of My Life...

So I stole this meme from Ted 'cause I thought it'd be fun...

1. For each year you've been alive, post a song title (with performer name) that was released that year. There's some flexibility here - singles, albums, and Billboard Top Songs Chart will all be within a year of each other, but tend not to overlap. You have a song and a date, you're good to go.
2. You have to post songs that you own, or have owned in the past, or your parents owned when you were a child. If there's a year where you just don't have a song, then pick any old song from that year, but mark that year with an asterisk (*).
3. Ladies do not have to list more than the most recent 29 songs. A Gentleman never asks a Lady her age. If you want, though, list 'em all.
4. Once you've posted, tag 4 other bloggers.

So, off we go...

1977 -- Linda Ronstadt, "Blue Bayou"
1978 -- Van Halen, "Eruption"/"You Really Got Me"
1979 -- the Eagles, "Heartache Tonight"
1980 -- Merle Haggard, "I Think I'll Just Stay Here And Drink"
1981 -- Earl Thomas Conley, "Fire And Smoke"
1982 -- Ricky Skaggs, "Crying My Heart Out Over You"
1983 -- Taco, "Puttin' On the Ritz"
1984 -- Yes, "Owner of a Lonely Heart"
1985 -- Steve Wariner, "Some Fools Never Learn"
1986 -- Dan Seals, "Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)"
1987 -- Bon Jovi, "Wanted Dead Or Alive"
1988 -- Metallica, "One"
1989 -- Clint Black, "Killin' Time"
1990 -- George Strait, "Love Without End, Amen"
1991 -- Alan Jackson, "Midnight in Montgomery"
1992 -- Mark Chesnutt, "I'll Think of Something"
1993 -- Billy Joe Shaver, "Georgia On A Fast Train" (the definitive version, anyway)
1994 -- Joe Diffie, "Pickup Man"
1995 -- Terri Clark, "Better Things To Do"
1996 -- George Strait, "I Can Still Make Cheyenne"
1997 -- Garth Brooks, "Longneck Bottle"
1998 -- Faith Hill, "This Kiss"
1999 -- Alan Jackson, "Pop A Top"
2000 -- George Strait & Alan Jackson, "Murder On Music Row"
2001 -- George Strait, "Run"
2002 -- Cross Canadian Ragweed, "17"
2003 -- Gary Allan, "Songs About Rain"
2004 -- Lee Ann Womack, "I May Hate Myself In The Morning"
2005 -- Dierks Bentley, "Lot Of Leavin' Left To Do"
2006 -- George Strait, "Give It Away"
2007 -- Clay Walker, 'Fore She Was Mama"
2008 -- Alan Jackson, "Small Town Southern Man"

No tagging, but if you'd like to play along, let's see what you got...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Yeah, I still got a sense of humor...

Even with recent events, I thought this was funny as hell! I will be honest, though, and say that even more recent events have helped. Not to be indirect or anything, but...she told me red looked good on me, and with apologies to Toby Keith, yeah, I kissed her, and ain't interested in her sister. Hell yeah, turn it up, right on... ;-) what are we accusing the threepers of, again?

I more or or less agree with everything David Codrea said here, and I'm trying to think of a civil way to say what I'd like to say in addition to that, but I'm having trouble with it. But I'll give it the ole college try.
I find it ironic as hell that it's the much-derided 'threepers' who are agitating for political action on the organizational (NRA) level in regards to Constitution-hating U.S. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder, while the 'prags' are actually trying to justify the NRA sitting on its ass, considering a number of the 'prags' like to accuse the 'threepers' of wanting to shoot first and talk later. I really don't want to come off as an asshole about any of this or offend people reading this whom I consider to be friends (even if only virtually), but for the life of me I can't figure it out. It's like the NRA is the Republican Party and said 'prags' are the apparatchiks derided by so many of us. And I can't help but think the pragmatists are being more than a tad hypocritical. I see Sebastian was talking about the three-percenters being assholes...yeah, well pardon my french, but I think they fucking EARNED that right this go-round. Organized and united we stand, and disorganized and divided we will fall...and I can't help but think it's going to be anything but bad if the biggest gun-owner organization sits this fight out and doesn't help the folks who do take the time to write their reps on their own. One can't help but wonder what the point is. If the NRA sits this one out, what are they going to do down the road when the fight gets harder?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Maybe the same source?

Shooter, on KIKK's death:

KIKK was the right vehicle at the right time for Texas Country. A whole slew of events and a large cast of characters played a part in its demise. I'd have to say that Darren Davis (former Program Director) had a lot to do with it. I get that info from a couple of reliable sources.

I've a feeling I know who at least one of those reliable sources is. Said source dropped by this blog once when I was writing about KIKK before and left a comment about Mr. Davis to the very same effect. As for KIKK being the right vehicle, I'm not so sure about that. Hadn't the station already augered in long before they decided to make it the test bed for the Texas country format? Again, I'm just going what I've seen in Houston media, but from that it seemed to me that the killer for KIKK was when Westinghouse came in and blew everything up with firing all the deejays and flipping to the Young Country format. And yeah, I remember that one real well. "Young Country 95.7, All the hot young country without all the tired old stuff." And that pissed me smooth off every time I heard it, I kid you not. (It's worth asking if people like Bryan White or Neal McCoy really made any worthwhile contributions to the genre as opposed to being part of a passing fad...and regular readers probably know my answer to that already.) I wouldn't be surprised if that very thing destroyed KIKK's credibility in the eyes of many who vowed never to listen to KIKK again. Another thing that pissed me off, now that I think about it, is that it seems that Davis just tried that Texas-centric format as a last-ditch effort to keep the station from having to flip formats completely. Both the station and the music deserved better than that, especially in the state's largest radio market. I know that there's little if any chance of Houston ever getting a bad-ass radio station like what 99.5 the Wolf in Dallas was once upon a time. One never knows on down the road, but I don't know that KILT either needs or could survive such a rebranding of the station at this point that the Wolf took ten years ago, as it's still the top country station in the market and such a move would be pretty stupid. Still, though, I think it would have made for a much better vehicle for Texas music, even with the different approach that would be required with the realities of the Houston market. Texas and Nashville co-existed on 99.5 the Wolf in Dallas (and KSCS too, for that matter), and I don't see why they couldn't do the same on KILT. I think the suits are letting the experience with KIKK teach them the wrong lesson vis-a-vis to what extent Texas-alt country is viable on free terrestrial radio, but then I have been wrong before.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

That's a weird idea of fun you have there, Sparky...

As the title implies, Michael Beard of the Organization Formerly Known as the Coalition to Ban Handguns has a really odd idea of fun...

Let us make one more New Year's resolution: to have a heck of a lot of fun pushing the Obama administration, the new Congress and our state legislators to seek creative solutions to the tired old problem of gun violence.

Ok, if you say so. I guess everybody has their own idea of fun, but I could certainly think of many more fun things to do off the top of my head than meddle in other people's affairs. In any event, there are at least a couple of ironies on display here. For one, there's the use of the term "creative." I guess Michael Beard has a different definition of the term "creative" than mine, because as far as I can tell, he and his fellow malcontents aren't going to bring anything new to the table, just the old tried-and-failed proposals they've been bringing since the 1970s. Sort of like what Barry McCaffrey and his fellow drug warriors have been bringing to the table vis-a-vis the War On Some Drugs for about as long. And then, of course, there's that title: "You Are A Citizen." Yes, indeed, I am. But of course, if Beard had his way, I would be a subject, completely at the mercy of brigands in and out of government — for, of course, as the old saying goes,
"An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject."
(h/t Kurt Hofmann)

I always did like this song....

playing here: "She comes down, from Yellow Mountain, on a dark, flat land she rides....on a pony she named Wildfire, with a whirlwind by her side...on a cold Nebraska night..."

Just some random radio observations...

From an installment of the TV-Radio notebook by the Houston Chronicle's David Barron:

"You want both, more listeners and more time spent listening," Topper said. (Richard Topper, GM for KGOW 1560 AM — ed.) “But if I had my druthers, I’d rather have a small group of people who are passionate about the station.”

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of radio people shared those sentiments, as the people who are passionate about the station will stick with it through the hard times...but here's the thing. If you want those passionate listeners you have to cultivate and nurture the station's identity, and I always thought a big way to do that was with the deejays and other on-air personalities. I first started listening to KILT-FM, Houston's 100,000-watt heritage country station, when I moved to Bryan-College Station from Northeast Texas in late 1998, and I listened on a daily basis until circumstances forced me to leave the area almost two years later. When I made it to this part of Texas (just a few months after I left College Station) and turned it on 100.3 again and heard all the familiar voices — Hudson and Harrigan, Robert B. McEntire, T.J. Callahan, Dan Gallo, Rowdy Yates — it was almost like coming back home, or getting back in touch with some old friends I hadn't seen or heard from in what seemed like years. Familiarity, like an old favorite t-shirt or something like that. And when I made it back down here for good in August of 2001, just like I did when I was in College Station, I started listening every day when I could, static be damned. But it seems like one by one, all those folks are being let go. Dan Gallo, who used to do mid-days on the station, is now at Country Legends 97.1 after being let go from KILT a couple of years back, and R.B. and T.J. are both recently gone due to financial considerations. I understand that money has to be cut somewhere and that things like this are bound to happen now and then, but even so I think it'd be interesting to find out where the break-even point is, where the erosion of the brand and of loyalty to it are worth the money saved by letting go of the people who make the station what it is. From what I remember reading it was precisely these actions that torpedoed KIKK — once the king of country in Houston — back in the late 1990s, even though the motives, again, from what I gather, were different. Whatever the reasons, they don't make the moves suck any less, at least from this radio listener's perspective. Satellite radio's looking better and better all the time...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Why don't we address the problem EFFECTIVELY, Barry?

...instead of just talking around it?

The Mexican State is engaged in an increasingly violent, internal struggle against heavily armed narco-criminal cartels that have intimidated the public, corrupted much of law enforcement, and created an environment of impunity to the law.

Now of course this much is true, but as you'll see if you read through that entire report, there's nary a word about taking the profit out of those drugs by pulling the rug out from under the black market, just the old proposals of pouring yet more money down the black hole of fighting the traffickers themselves, and of course a heaping helping of anti-gun PSH:
Mexican law enforcement authorities and soldiers face heavily armed drug gangs with high-powered military automatic weapons. Perhaps 90% of these weapons are smuggled across the US border. They are frequently purchased from licensed US gun dealers in Texas, Arizona, and California. AK-47 assault rifles are literally bought a hundred at a time and illegally brought into Mexico. Mexican authorities routinely seize BOXES of unopened automatic military weapons. The confiscation rates by Mexican law enforcement of hand grenades, RPG’s, and AK-47’s are at the level of wartime battlefield seizures. It is hard to understand the seeming indifference and incompetence of US authorities at state and Federal level to such callous disregard for a national security threat to a neighboring democratic state. We would consider it an act of warfare from a sanctuary state if we were the victim.

Now, I don't know what gun stores these people have been going to, but I've been to shops both here in the Golden Triangle and Houston too and I have yet to see a single fully automatic firearm, or hand- or rocket-propelled grenade for that matter, on the shelves of said stores. Firehand tears up this nonsense quite well and I really don't have much to say beyond his commentary, but what I said there applies here as well. Of COURSE Barry McCaffrey's full of shit. He was a damn drug czar in the Clinton Administration and such is practically a job requirement for that post.

Water is wet, fire burns, and Clay Robison is just as clueless as ever...

...yes he is:

Texas legislators can't help themselves. Even before their upcoming session hits its stride, they will do something to get national attention, the kind that makes TV hosts snicker and roll their eyes.
A surefire attention-getter this session will be an anticipated bill to let Texans openly pack pistols on their hips, in their belts or elsewhere in public view as they go about their business.

Yes, indeed, because that's the biggest, most important aspect of this and any other issue before the Texas Legislature — what the late-night TV comedians think. Even though they're going to make fun of our state and our neighbors anyway, even though they traffic in the same tired old stereotypes that would get them thrown out on their asses if they were doing it to *insert race here*, yes indeed, these assclowns' opinions matter, damn it! Can't the rest of you ignorant hicks see that?
Seriously though, considering that Clay Robison is the Austin bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, it pretty much shows that the Chron doesn't care about even trying to put up a front of objectivity anymore. I am still trying to figure out if that's a credit to them or a detriment...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Yeah, that's right, keep ignoring us...

you blithering fool...

Perhaps not surprisingly, Ron Paul activists have voted up the majority of questions con the site. Most of these questions deal not with the vital and necessary goal of getting more Republicans who supported Ron Paul involved in the process, but on policy questions like eliminating the Federal Reserve, Austrian economics, the Fair Tax and the 2nd Amendment that the RNC Chairman has absolutely no jurisdiction over.
Whether it's Ron Paul Republicans or movement conservatives or moderates, my message to all is one and the same: the RNC is not a policymaking body -- nor should it be. It cannot make Republicans in Congress spend less, worthy a goal as that might be. The RNC's job is to win elections -- period. That means the RNC is made up of good political people -- not policy wonks -- who with all due respect, you wouldn't want making policy.
All the candidates for RNC Chairman are good conservatives. RNC members should choose the one who will win elections. As I've written over the last few days, technology, strategy, and tactics are not the only things -- and success in these areas is inextricably linked to having a Republican message "we can believe in."

Excuse me, but this is pure, unadulterated horseshit. If the policy positions are so unimportant vis-a-vis the job of the RNC chair, why don't voters just go ahead and write in Bernie Sanders on the ballot and be done with it? No matter the extent of the policymaking the RNC does, if certain positions on certain issues aren't shared by who's in charge, then it's going to make it that much easier for the party to be infested by whining moderate sacks of mediocrity like John Warner, Mike DeWine, Arlen Specter and, yes, John McCain. And, sorry, but supporting or rationalizing any kind of gun ban (or predicating your support on gun rights on whatever extent a firearm might be useful for hunting) automatically disqualifies you from the title of "good conservative." For crying out loud, you dumbasses, you see what catering to the mushy middle got us on November 4th! Don't you fools ever learn?
(h/t David Codrea)

To satisfy your curiosity...

The original version of "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out Of Hand,"

the studio version of James Hetfield's cover,

and this nifty Youtube find, Hetfield doing the song live on CMT.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

More on the cover tunes...

inspired by the last post....
I've heard some people say that those note-for-note covers of songs are boring, but I don't agree with that. I think that even though they might be pretty faithful reproductions of the originals, even so the artists are in a way putting their own stamp on those songs. And it doesn't hurt that a lot of those covers sound really, really good (see: Alan Jackson's entire Under the Influence cd). On the other hand, an artist remaking the song with his or her own sound is a pretty dicey endeavor. Just for another example, taking that Waylon tribute cd, Metallica frontman James Hetfield's rocking cover of "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out Of Hand" ended up being my favorite song on that cd, but Deana Carter and Sara Evans' mushy middle-of-the-road Adult Contemporary rendering of "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" was just about the worst thing I'd ever heard. Worse than Shania Twain, worse than anything on Faith Hill's Breathe cd, worse than Rascal Flatts. Hell, it almost sounded like somethin' the Flatts boys might have done. I know this isn't the only choice, but if it came down to a choice between crap like that and a note-for-note cover, I'd take the latter any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Speaking of those covers, another of my favorites has always been Terri Clark's rendition of Linda Ronstadt's 1978 hit "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me," which was on the radio as I was riding home from work. Another pretty faithful rendition of the original, but she still does it justice. I saw her sing it live when she was touring with George Strait in 1996; some of the scenes from that video were taken from footage shot on that tour. I always wondered if any of that footage was from Shreveport, Louisiana in February...

Just a thought...

Listening to this cd, I get the idea that Travis Tritt doing a whole album of nothing but Waylon Jennings material would be absolutely phenomenal. I don't CARE if his version of "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean" was a note-for-note repro of the original, he sounded DAMN good. Maybe one day, you never know...

You don't even have to leave your seat...

Like Codrea says, "Will you go here, right now, and submit your own question? Because we're out of time--the debate is tomorrow."
A perfect opportunity to get active, without even getting up from your seat. Do it. No excuses. I did it and you should too. Took me two minutes, tops. My question is here:
Are we going to get any sort of admission from any of the candidates that the Second Amendment ultimately isn't about hunting deer and ducks? Or that the term "military-style assault weapon" applies to every firearm in existence when it's all said and done? Or just more of the same? Keep in mind what that "more of the same" got us this election season.
What're you waitin' for? Go, go, go!

Just a couple of things...

If any of you fine folks are leaving a comment and it says you're banned from commenting here, it's not you. I banned a range of IP addresses a while back because of the aforementioned abusive commenter and you might be in that range. My most sincere apologies if you are...I am trying to fix that. Shoot me an e-mail at the addy on the sidebar there and I'll fix you up. I may just open them all back up. We'll see.
And check out Gator's blog. I found it yesterday and really like it. From his latest post:

I must admit that I have absolutely no idea how many Federal, State, and local laws there are pertaining to the ownership, sale, transfer, registration, possession, transport, manufacture, importation, storage, functionality, carry, and use of teddy bears. Or Play Doh.

Me neither, but I am betting it's significantly less than 20,000. Which means Dan Kotowski is talking out of his fourth point of contact, as many gun-grabbers do.
Bookmarked & blogrolled.

Whining Warner

...or, What's that high-pitched noise coming from the east?
Oh, that's just soon-to-be-retired RINO Senator John Warner from Virginia:

Warner said he hardly recognizes the Republican Party now. He said it seems to have little appeal to or tolerance for moderates like himself, Holton and others who made the GOP competitive in Virginia in recent years.
"I suddenly realized I had so little in common with the party that I once was proud to be among those who built it up," Warner said.

Huh. This seems to be a familiar refrain, but just for grins, let's take a gander at the one issue this blog mainly concerns itself with.
John Warner. Rated D by the NRA, F by the GOA. Supported both the Brady Bill and the Clinton semi-auto rifle ban. Supported a ten-year extension of that ban (which, by the way, was of course re-introduced by other "moderates" in the GOP back in June). From what I gather he also supported HR 1022, the much more onerous ban championed by New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, she of "that shoulder thing that goes up" fame. Supported the amendment to what eventually became the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S. 1805) that would have commissioned a study to determine whether certain hunting ammunition should be banned for its armor-piercing capabilities. (Somebody enlighten me here, isn't it a no-brainer that pretty much all rifle ammo will zip right through most body armor?) Supported extending background checks to all gun sales. Oh, and it should be noted he's a Marine veteran of two wars, which makes him that much more of a disgrace. Thanks for your service, John, but that notwithstanding you can go screw. You got us that much closer to that bipartisan mandate for disarmament, and honestly for that alone I tend to think you're deserving of the ignominious title of "ex-Marine."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Funky name for a band, but those boys could rock...

...or, Who knew so much blogfodder could come from the radio?
Unlike the tune mentioned in the last post, this one is actually played quite often; it's probably a staple of the play list on every classic rock radio station from Long Island to Long Beach. And no doubt a lot of the folks who read my humble scribblings here are older than me and know this song and this band well. I've read that Grand Funk Railroad was one of those bands that was loved by the fans but hated by the critics; with the band's huge success in the 1970s such an observation fits with a lot of critics' not-so-commercial tastes. Still, though, even with my off-kilter tastes I thought this Michigan band was damn good. (I will admit though, that I much preferred Joe Cocker's version of "Feelin' Alright." Call that one a guilty pleasure...) A lot of people no doubt consider 1973's "We're An American Band" to be in the same league as "Margaritaville" or "Free Bird" — that is, if they never heard it again that'd be just fine — but to me it's one of those songs that's just absolutely timeless, that rocks just as much now as it did the first time I heard it. Would you believe there's actually a video for it? I never would have guessed videos went that far back...

Hadn't heard this one in a looong time...

My main preference for country music is pretty much everything that came out before Garth Brooks, but even so I will readily admit that the early-to-mid 1990s was a damn good time for traditional country, all things considered. Besides Mr. Brooks, there were, among others, Alan Jackson, the Beaumont boys (Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Byrd and Clay Walker) and another of my favorites, Atlanta, Texas native Tracy Lawrence, who hit it big right out of the gate with "Sticks and Stones" in 1991. There are a lot of No. 1 hits from that time that I rarely have heard since the time they were chart hits, and one of them is my favorite song from Tracy Lawrence, "My Second Home," the third single from Tracy's sophomore album Alibis and a No. 1 record on Billboard's country singles chart the week of December 11, 1993. I had neither heard the song nor seen the video in a loooong time. I must have not really been paying that much attention to the video way back when, because as it turns out it's another one of those "count the cameos" videos featuring several country stars who were having success at the time. The song was on the radio this morning and it really was a pleasant surprise. I have that cassette somewhere but nothing to play it on, and I remember the rest of the album was really good as well...I believe another trip to the music store is in my immediate future...

That was the original idea, yeah...

Kelly, in comments here:

Could just be me, but I thought Congressmen weren't exactly supposed to make enough money being Congressmen that it would, y'know, encourage them to become career politicians or anything. Seriously... Congress not paying enough? Maybe it'd be a good idea to get a main job and just represent the views of people in your area, rather than being a "lawmaker" for a living.

Nope, not just you. From what I've read a few of the Founding Fathers didn't think much of the career politicians either. Regarding things like term limits, here have been those who have argued that the more experienced legislators were better for the country, and I can see where they're coming from with that argument, but at the same time I don't understand why said argument didn't hold enough water with the state legislatures when they ratified the 22nd Amendment in the late 1940s. Even though the political power is diffused among 535 legislators as opposed to being concentrated in just one person in the presidency, I think the dangers intended to be mitigated with that amendment are just as potent, especially with the two-party system being as entrenched as it is. I think it'd be interesting to see what would happen if legislative salaries could be tied somehow to average or median incomes in the legislators' respective districts so as to lessen the incentive to stay in there for half their lives. It'd probably require some redrawing of the districts in the case of the House of Representatives to make it more equitable, but I think it'd definitely be worth a try. But, of course, like so many other beneficial measures, it'll never be tried because way too many people have a vested interest in keeping the system as it stands now.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Come back when you have a better record...

From this morning's Chron:

Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday that Congress should be as generous to judges as it already has been to itself, by approving an inflation-related increase in their pay.

Shhhyeah, ok. I really don't know about that one, John-boy.
Seriously, though, there are more than a few who would say that given the "quality" of "service" from Congress, that raise they voted themselves wasn't really justified. Far be it from me to start spouting lefty populist bullshit, but even so I don't know how anyone could say members of Congress or the judiciary are that underpaid, considering how un-seriously they take their constitutionally mandated duties. And back to the justification for a pay increase or lack thereof, one could very well say the same of the Supreme Court. It seems that for every Heller v. D.C. (which itself has a few flaws waiting to be exploited), we get a Kelo v. New London. I know that many states later moved to limit the potential damage of Kelo, but I can't help but think that's beside the point because that opportunity doesn't always present itself. Like the title says, I think maybe the justices should come back when they have a better record of upholding the principles established in the Constitution and by the Founders in their other writings. If it takes 50 years then it takes 50 years.