Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best Albums of 2013

Wasn't sure if this was a great year for music or not. But when I started working through everything I listened to, I actually had a really hard time paring it down to 10. I persevered and here are the top 10.

10. Talon of the Hawk – The Front Bottoms
9. The Features – The Features
8. We the Common – Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
7. Willy Mason – Carry On
6. Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action – Franz Ferdinand
5. Untamed Beast – Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
4. Trouble Will Find Me – The National
3. Pushin’ Against a Stone – Valerie June
2. Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend
1. Love has Come For You – Steve Martin and Edie Brickell

And my rather extensive list of runners up (in no particular order):
Foreverly – Billie Joe and Norah
Idle No More – King Khan and the Shrines
Hearts and Minds – Son Volt
Wakin on a Pretty Daze - Kurt Vile
VII – Blitzen Trapper
Southeastern – Jason Isbell
AM – Arctic Monkeys
Lightning Bolt – Pearl Jam
Isles – Wild Belle
Pythons - Surfer Blood
Gone Away Backward – Robbie Fulks
Muchacho - Phosphorescent
Carrier – The Dodos
Magpie and the Dandelion – The Avett Brothers
Shangri La – Jake Bugg
Country Mile – Johnny Flynn

From the Hills Below the City - Houndmouth

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Huh?

So Sarah Palin said this in response to Martin Bashir's comments about her and the rather nasty treatment she should receive for her comments comparing the debt to slavery:
"But I just hope that unprovoked attacks like that don't result in people being hesitant to jump in the arena anyway, to get out there and serve the public or start a business or really commit themselves to changing within their family, their community, their world, doing whatever that they can, despite the fact that in this world, you are gonna be hurt and attacks will come your way. I just hope an attack like that doesn't make people hesitate."
Some people paint. Some people play music. Sarah Palin talks nonsense. That is her art, and she is a master.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October

I am down to one blog post a month this year, and I almost missed this month altogether. I still hope to get back at it at some point. I have been trying to decide whether Twitter, apathy, Words With Friends, less political outrage, or less Kansas City sports outrage have sapped my blog will. Probably a combination of all of the above, but I also have been able to get quite a bit more reading in recently. A bit of a paradox, since I could probably write more thoughtful posts about the interesting things I have been reading, and yet I find myself wanting to read more instead of write.

Anyway, I should at least mention that after all of my bitching about Kansas City sports, we sit here with a winning Royals season, an 8-0 Chiefs team, and the MLS playoffs are beginning with Sporting as the 2 seed. These are the salad days I suppose. It is an unfortunate Kansas City fan phenomenon that I still can't shake the feeling that the bottom is about to drop out. I am, however, cautiously optimistic.

Politics are in a state that I can hardly write another incredulous post. I think we live in a post-incredulity world.

Other than that, all is well. Happy Halloween!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Only the Laws You Agree With

Missouri's Lieutenant Governor believes you should only follow laws he supports:
Kinder, a Republican who is Missouri's second-ranking executive, sought Monday to discourage participation in the health insurance exchanges that form the centerpiece of the 2010 Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama. 
"I would hope there would be active resistance to this law — that people would not sign up," Kinder said Monday.
 This state continues to drift slowly towards becoming a place that would be unrecognizable to my ancestors, and mystifying to my offspring, and shameful to me.




Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/23/4503629/kinder-mo-residents-should-skip.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ugghhh...

Took a break from Missouri news and political news for a few weeks... I poke my head back into it for a second and get this:
A clown wearing a President Barack Obama mask appeared at a Missouri State Fair rodeo this weekend and the announcer asked the enthusiastic spectators if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull.”

I think maybe my hiatus needs to be a bit longer.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

KC, 1907

The Library of Congress has some great photos of cities around the turn of the century. Here is Kansas City in 1907.

[Kansas City, Missouri, business section]

Via Open Culture.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Congratulations Galveston!

To the good people of Galveston and surrounding coastal Texas, well done on electing to the actual U.S. Congress a person who would say this:
"The Supreme Court seems to be in collusion with the president and his injustice department."   - Representative Randy Weber
Texas!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Royals Futility Becoming Unfathomable

Sam Mellinger puts up a few random facts about the Royals current awfulness. Here are a couple of my favorites:
  • The Royals last hit two home runs in the same game on May 10. Forty-three players have done it since. 
  • Royals are now 2-5 (.285) when allowing exactly three runs. The rest of baseball, entering last night, was 158-99 (.615).
I would add to what he has listed that the Royals are even bad by their historical standards, which is bad. They are currently on pace to hit 84 home runs this year. That is 36% less than last year when they tied for last in the American League. Brutal.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Being the Royals


Here is my favorite Royals stat of the moment, via Sam Mellinger:
The Royals are a walking mess right now, baseball’s worst team in May, with fewer home runs than the Cubs pitchers since May 15...
Very impressive.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/27/4259510/royals-have-to-make-a-change.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Everyone Hated Computers (at some point)

From the New York Review of Book's review of mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot's memoir:
Complex dynamics had flourished in Parisian mathematical circles in the early twentieth century, but it soon led to geometrical forms that were far too complicated to be visualized, and the subject became frozen in time.
 Mandelbrot saw a way to unfreeze it—through the power of the computer. At the time, computers were pretty well disdained by mathematicians, who “shuddered at the very thought that a machine might defile the pristine ‘purity’ of their field.”
So, when one of your relatives tells you they don't understand or like these newfangled computers just keep in mind that even the most brilliant mathematicians in the world felt the same way at one time. And if they could come around, certainly your uncle can too.

You Talk Funny

Here is an incredible map of American English dialects. It's interactive and includes sound. Depending on how much of nerd you are, it could be a serious time suck.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Juvenile Friday

I don't remember Jeff Francouer in high school, but he must have been there.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Money, Happiness, and Economy

In a post passing along a study that shows that money really does buy more happiness, Matt Yglesias makes a point on one of my favorite subjects:
What I do want to call attention to, however, is that both of these charts plot income on a logarithmic scale. That's to say that a $5,000 increase in per capita GDP will generate a lot more happiness for a poor country than a rich one. And by the same token, a $5,000 increase in income will generate a lot more happiness for a poor family than for an affluent one. This is a key grounds for believing both in the importance of economic growth and in the importance of concern about the distribution of that growth. To be a little crude about it, halving the income of a millionaire will let you double the income of many poor households.
If you are willing to accept that an economy exists to allocate resources, and that an economy works best when it is most efficient, then you pretty much have to be willing to accept that resources have more utility when they go to people with less of them than people with more of them. That is, of course, pretty simplistic. And you can certainly make an argument that in the real world the model changes due to a ton of outside influences and complexities. But it becomes pretty difficult to imagine that continuing to concentrate resources in the hands of a few creates a useful and productive economy.
 

We Live in the Future

Aside from maybe Artificial Intelligence and sustainable energy, no piece of technology stands to change our lives like 3-D printing. So, this is pretty cool.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Noooo!!!

To a kid that grew up in the 80s, this is just devastating...
Davis makes no attempt to conceal the crass commercial motivations behind his creation of Garfield.  ... [Davis] carefully studied the marketplace when developingGarfield. The genesis of the strip was "a conscious effort to come up with a good, marketable character," Davis told Walter Shapiro in a 1982 interview in theWashington Post. "And primarily an animal. … Snoopy is very popular in licensing. Charlie Brown is not." So, Davis looked around and noticed that dogs were popular in the funny papers, but there wasn't a strip for the nation's 15 million cat owners. Then, he consciously developed a stable of recurring, repetitive jokes for the cat. He hates Mondays. He loves lasagna. He sure is fat.
I suppose I should have seen this coming. But still, that time that Garfield, Jon, and Odie all got rolled up in a window shade... that was really funny, right? Right?

Happy Earth Day

Slate has a piece with interesting facts about Earth. I thought this one was particularly fascinating:
8) The Moon is farther away from Earth than you think. As an analogy, if the Earth were a basketball, the Moon would be the size of a tennis ball 7.4 meters (24 feet) away. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Song Day PJ Edition

So blog contributor bigsmithdude just watched the Pearl Jam 20 documentary and is having a resurgence of interest. As a lifelong fan, I view this as a development to be encouraged. So, here are a few classic Pearl Jam performances for Friday Song Day.

This first one is actually a warm up from Saturday Night Live around 94 I believe. One of the things I love about this is that Pearl Jam were never really cool even when they were cool. You can totally see that in PJ20, but you can also see it here in the fact that Stone Gossard is wearing awesome sandles.



Then there is this performance I remember watching on Letterman in 1996. Letterman always clearly loved Pearl Jam. Also, Stone continues his run here by looking like a candy corn or something, and McCready is wearing a silk shirt.



And finally here their 1993 MTV Music Awards performance with Neil Young. I don't know how this post became about Pearl Jam not being cool, but Neil Young is clearly the coolest dude on this stage. PJ have always had good rock idols though, and this is one of my favorite of their covers of those idols.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Royals are Good at What their Owner Wants Them to Be Good At

Depending on your source, the Royals payroll is up somewhere between a little and a significant amount over 2012. It is still near the bottom of the league, however. Just something to keep in mind when you see the new Forbes piece about MLB team values, and you learn that David Glass has made somewhere on the order of $361 million owning the Royals just in the increased value of the team. They also made $16.3 million dollars last year in operating income. Just something to keep in mind.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A What Sink?


These people are elected by a vote... of real life other people!

A few Tennessee lawmakers apparently inquired whether a new sink at the state capitol designed for custodial use was a sink for Muslims to wash their feet in before prayer, theAssociated Press reported Monday. The lawmakers were reassured that it is simply a "mop sink." 
“I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use,” Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley wrote in an email. “It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink.”

Monday, March 18, 2013

Conspiracy!

This is a pretty awesome parody of 9/11 truthers:


Friday, March 15, 2013

The Empathy Party

In example 37,867,045,983 of why I believe the major difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals have an ability to imagine what life might be like for someone other than themselves, here is Senator Rob Portman on why he no longer opposes gay marriage:
"I'm announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about," Portman said. "It has to do with gay couples' opportunity to marry. And during my career in the House and also last couple years here in the Senate, you know, I've taken a position against gay marriage, rooted in part in my faith and my faith tradition. And had a very personal experience, which is my son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us that he was gay and that it was not a choice and that, you know he, that's just part of who he is, and he'd been that way ever since he could remember."
I don't know if Rob Portman has any other kids. If he does, and it just so happens one of them is an illegal immigrant, a single mother, not wealthy, or  has a pre-existing condition, he might just end up becoming a Democrat.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Song Day

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside for my friends who love the Heartless Bastards.

 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kansas City Sports in 13

I went looking for a post I had done on how Kansas City's major sports fortunes were the worst of any city with at least two teams, and I found out that I hadn't updated it in 3 years. So, here is your depressing state of Kansas City sports, 2013 edition. What you are looking at is the number of times teams in these cities played in and won their respective championship games/series.

The first number is appearances in title games. The second it the number of times they won the championship.

Atlanta 6 app. (1 title)
Baltimore 2 app. (2 titles)
Boston 17 app. (8 titles)
Buffalo 5 app.
Charlotte 3 app. (1 title)
Chicago 11 app. (9 titles)
Cleveland 4 app.
Cincinnati 2 app. (1 title)
Dallas 9 app. (5 titles)
Denver 8 app. (4 titles)
Detroit 13 app. (7 titles)
Houston 4 app. (2 titles)
Indianapolis 3 app. (1 title)
Los Angeles 15 app. (10 titles)
Miami 6 app. (4 titles)
Milwaukee/Green Bay 3 app. (2 titles)
Minneapolis 3 app. (2 titles)
Nashville 1 app.
New Orleans 1 app. (1 Title)
New York 24 app. (14 titles)
Oakland 4 app. (1 title)
Philadelphia 7 app. (1 title)
Phoenix 3 app. (1 title)
Pittsburgh 8 app. (4 titles)
San Diego 2 app.
San Francisco 8 app. (5 titles)
Seattle 2 app.
St. Louis 6 app. (3 titles)
Tampa 3 app. (1 title)
Toronto 2 app. (2 titles)
Washington D.C. 3 app. (2 titles)

And our relative neighbor, Oklahoma City, has had one team now for 4 years and already has a championship appearance. Oh, and we had the best MLS team in the regular season last year and they didn't play in the title match either. There is probably another "and" here somewhere.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A World of Yahoos

Big buzz this week regarding Yahoo's CEO announcing employees will no longer be allowed to work from home. This has touched off a fairly large debate about whether people are more productive at home or at the office. Some research out seems to suggest people are more productive at home than at the office. I certainly know I can be more productive at my dining room table than at my desk (at least when everyone else is also at the office).

But I think the more interesting aspect of the whole model is how employees are held accountable. To me, what Marissa Mayer is saying by telling Yahoo employees to come back in is "we don't have an effective system for determining whether you are doing a good job other than to see you here working." That is a pretty terrible message. Companies that have clear goals and performance expectations based on those goals should always be able to let anyone work from anywhere - for any number of hours - and determine whether  the employee is successful based on their performance against those expectations. I would guess there are less of those companies out there though than there are Yahoos.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Respect

I haven't been posting much, mostly due to a level of busyness I have not experienced previously. Still busy today, so I will  outsource this post to Thom Yorke. In an interview with Esquire, Thom explains proper behavior in political arguments:

Respect is if you're having a political argument with someone, just before you get to the point where you call them a fascist, you sort of step back and wonder how on earth they've ended up at this point of complete ignorance and stupidity.


That sounds about right to me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Yet Another Thing That Blows My Mind - Foot Volleyball Edition

I took an inventory of all the people I know, and I am 99.9% certain I don't know anyone who wouldn't severely hurt themselves trying this:


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bo Jackson and Kansas City Sports

I finally watched the 30 for 30 special on Bo Jackson last night. It was really good, and it makes a very salient point that Bo came along at the end of a more innocent era. In that era, sports pages were dominated by sports instead of steroid use, prison sentences, fake girlfriends, etc. Anyway, I think I have a post coming some day on why I turn the radio channel every time the sports talk is about any of the previously mentioned distractions.

But today, I simply want to acknowledge the bittersweet feeling of watching a time when Kansas City sports mattered. I was a kid then, and I loved Bo Jackson. I met him when I was 12 at the KC airport, and he was extremely nice and gracious to an excited kid asking him to sign the title page of a Garfield comic book. To me, it was totally natural that my favorite Royal was on commercials and cartoons. As an adult, I can hardly imagine what it would be like for a Royal to be in the national spotlight in the same way. I can't imagine it from a Chief either.

The special last night said that the Royals were derided for taking Bo in the MLB draft. Everyone thought he would abandon baseball for an assured Hall of Fame career in the NFL. But the Royals believed it was the right move. They had just won a World Series and didn't have much to lose anyway. Back then, the Royals could do almost nothing wrong. Nearly three decades later, they can do almost nothing right. And the Chiefs just played badly enough to earn their first ever number one pick in the NFL draft... a draft that nearly everyone agrees has the worst crop of quarterbacks (their biggest need) in years.

That is just KC sports these days. Everyone assumes the Chiefs will pick a bust at number one, and that Wil Myers is destined for greatness because the Royals traded him. Hard to blame anyone for thinking that way. Bo has been gone for a long time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Any Questions, No Questions.

Of all the crazy things I have heard in the gun debate thus far, I think maybe the craziest is that one of Obama's executive orders was to allow federally funded research on gun violence for the first time since 1996. We live in a very strange world.

Friday, January 11, 2013

NBA Draft Note

So, this is pretty off topic for right now, but I was just thinking about it...

If you are an NBA drafting over spot 5, don't take a center. That is all.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gun Rights

Is the unspoken message here that in the eyes of the NRA not only do gun owners have rights, but so do guns themselves?
Rathner says the NRA will ask for an accounting of every weapon turned in and then go to court to stop the firearms from being destroyed. If that doesn't work, Rathner says they'll change the law.
We have now reached the point where gun advocates thinks more guns are the answer even for people who do not want them. We are nearing the end, right?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Good Thing Kansas is a Long Way From Water

The House finally passed a relief package for Hurricane Sandy victims. Sixty-seven Republicans still voted "no" for the package, including the guy who represents a Katrina-devastated district in Mississippi.

Closer to home, all four Kansas Reps voted no making Kansas and Montana (which only has one Rep) the only two states to vote unanimously against helping storm victims. Here in Missouri, Republicans were a bit more generous with only Sam Graves flipping the bird to the coast.

So I guess the question is whether coastal reps will remember the next time Kansas has a devastating outbreak of tornadoes.
 

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