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Idol Top 12

Yup more American Idol... this is where you scroll to the next entry instead of posting stupid comments about how you don't watch the show and only idiots like me do... :twisted: presuming you are uninterested if not please continue...

After watching the top 24, I am still quite firmly a fan of Katherine Mcphee. I think she is easily the best of the female contestants, topping even the great raspy voice of Paris Bennet. That being said I am a pale-skinned female brunette and that may be swaying my psychology in her favor just a bit. I love Paris, though I thought her rendition of "Midnight train to Georgia" was definitely over-performed. The bouncing and jumping around took away from the actual vocals, and when the judges said that she didn't pick a "safe" song I laughed out loud.

A black girl with a raspy voice singing "midnight train to georgia" is the definition of "picking a safe song" in my book. That being said when she did "Wind beneath my wings" in week two I wanted to buy a recording of her singing it right then and there. I have never heard a better rendition of that song, and I have heard more than a few people take it on. Read more »

The New World Order

I get home from work today to discover that Iraq is on the brink of a civil war, or whatever you call it when the two major religious groups in the country are blowing each other up, shooting each other's leaders, and attacking each other's religious sites. Read more »

More Idol Chatter

Having recently joined a small choir, I haven't found much time nor had especially much interest in commenting on American Idol in the past few weeks. Also I've found myself particularly annoyed with judges advising people not to take up singing -their now classic "singing's not for you dawg..." line.

Personally I can carry a tune, have good rhythm, a good ear for pitch, and an impressive range, but I don't have a voice that would be especially interesting to listen to by itself. Its a good voice just not one that would stand out among hundreds of other contestants who could also sing. I say this not because I have any interest in ever being on a show like Idol but because I come from a long line of women who are tone deaf and have no rhythm. I remember struggling to hear if I was hitting the right notes in orchestra, being whole measures ahead or behind my classmates in band, marching with a base drum in a parade and constantly getting off beat and having to get back on track by listening to the trombones... and I was playing the downbeat. 1... 2... 3.... 4....

The point is I sucked, but I got better through practice. The judges for all their experience in the music business can't seem to differentiate between someone who has a bad voice, and someone who just doesn't have a good ear. Since its not their job to differentiate the skill level of those who aren't good enough to pass to the next round this shouldn't really matter, but they keep finding the need to comment anyway.

The supposed "rudeness" of telling performers they are terrible hasn't bothered me in the slightest, but its the commenting on the future capacity of wanna-be idols in which the judges are obviously stepping well beyond their actual knowledge of the subject.

Singing is a skill, really it is a handful of skills, some of which come naturally to some, and have to be learned in others. The point is that they can be learned, and if a voice like Cher's can make millions then it is premature to discount the nasally-sounding freak voices that occasionally make their showing on idol. But then it does make for interesting television, and perhaps thats the point. Read more »

Prohibiting the Useful Arts?

From the U.S. Constitution:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

There are plenty of arguments to be made regarding how this clause does not help artists and inventors, but lets pretend for the sake of argument that it does. My understanding is that there are two ways in which patents and copyrights are supposed to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts."

The first and most obvious is by giving creators an economic incentive to create by granting them a temporary monopoly on the reproduction of their work. The second and not as often discussed point is that it theoretically allows for more open information. Anybody could look at a copyrighted work or at schematics of patented works. The authors wouldn't have to worry about their work being "stolen" and others could be inspired by designs their predecessors tried, or ideas previous writers discussed. Thus these laws would promote science not only by granting an economic incentive to creation of new and useful things, but also by discouraging the hording and hiding of ideas. As for whether this is the historical outcome of U.S. copyright and patent laws or whether or not it has tended to hurt those it is meant to help I'll leave that for others to argue for now... feel free.

The point I'm getting at is a little more mundane.

Enter the Digital Millenium Copyright Act: Sec. 1201. Circumvention of copyright protection systems


(2) No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that--

`(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;

`(B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title; or

`(C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person's knowledge for use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

`(3) As used in this subsection--

`(A) to `circumvent a technological measure' means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

`(B) a technological measure `effectively controls access to a work' if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work. Read more »

If Health Care were like Social Security...

It would be in the government's interest for people to die before they got their benefits.

You would only get Healthcare if you didn't bother to invest your own money for that purpose.

The Healthcare you got would be restricted to a certain dollar amount per month and would almost always be far less than you needed.

You would lose your Healthcare if you got a job to pay for better health care.

Any age requirements for receiving Healthcare would be placed just beyond the point where one was expected to need it. Read more »

Idol Returns...


That's right the show so many of us love, and so many others love to hate (obviously only unintelligent low-life morons watch popular television shows, and therefore if you hate the show you must be brilliant :stupid:), is back. Admittedly I got a little bored recapping episodes last year, and wasn't able to put posts up as quickly as I would have liked so this year my thoughts on the show are going to be a little less recap oriented. Instead you'll get to read more about what goes through the head of a moron like me :wink: while I'm watching the show.

If you're not interested in this sort of thing feel free to write me a long email about how much it annoys you that I blog on American Idol on an obviously libertarian/philosophy/econ/academic-or-not blog, and I'll be sure to care just as soon as I get the lobotomy :dunce:.

So here goes... :behead: .... Read more »

Embracing Complexity

As the world changes, people change, and technology advances, issues and ideas that were once clear cut tend to grow more complex. As we grapple with the new ideas and new issues there are always people on all sides that want to deal with those issues in the same way they were dealt with in the past, and there are always people that want to change how we deal with those same issues -I'm typically one of those. Both of these groups will often oversimplify the issue. The first by ignoring the new complexity involved, the latter by ignoring, forgetting, or simply being ignorant of the context that gave the original issue meaning.

A good example of this comes in the form of individual rights. The rights of man were a clear-cut matter when "man" consisted of land-owning white English males. There was a reason for rights, a state of society those Englishmen were trying to avoid (tyranical rulers), and a state of society they were trying to create (presumably peace and prosperity among themselves). Add women to the mix, and non-whites, and non-english, and lord forbid foreigners (that was sort of covered with non-english but its worth reemphasizing), and non-land-owners, and children, and disabled individuals (including the insane), then suddenly the issue is not so clear-cut. If a child has a right to live why doesn't he have a right to vote? If an infant has a right to life, what about a fetus? If I have a right to pursue happiness what about my insane aunt velda (f.y.i. I don't really have an aunt velda). If I have a right to liberty what about a teenager who just learned to drive? How far should their liberty extend? Can they drive across the country without parental permission if they own the car? Read more »

Stealing Music

Once upon a time ago it was not illegal to download copyrighted music (circa 1997). I remember my brother downloading a strange new file type onto my computer and then playing from these files cd quality music. He was quite excited about it, and the question of legality and ethicality never even came up. It was legal to trade copies of songs, and make copies of songs as long as no money was being exchanged. And why not? We had been doing it for years in analog form - creating cassette copies of songs off of CD's, the radio, and even other cassettes for friends, family, and co-workers.

What was different about mp3's? The quality first of all, and the ease. There was no pausing, rewinding, editting, etc. But a 1.5 meg file on a 1.2 gig computer wasn't exactly free in my mind either. One song was taking up as much as an entire software application, a whole playlist would have quickly eaten up my hard drive. Read more »

How Secular is Christmas?

This year I have had the privilege of not only working at a retail store during the holidays but of working everyday in the part of the store where our fresh dead christmas trees are. As a result every customer who I have worked with since the day after thanksgiving has had some expectation that I would wish them a "Merry Christmas." The custom of saying Merry Christmas to everyone who walks in or out of a retail store seems a little silly to me especially before we have even hit the month of december so I continued wishing people a "nice day" instead.

One day a family came in to pick out their tree with kids all dressed up in christmas themed sweaters, and parents taking pictures left and right - in front of the trees, in front of where we cut the trees, in front of the tree they picked out etc. Once we had their tree all bundled up and ready to go they asked us if we were allowed to use the work "christmas" at our store. To which we pointed to the large signs that said "fresh cut christmas trees." Apparently they had heard that Lowes was not using the word "christmas" this year (this isn't actually true) and instead are calling all of their trees "holiday trees." As a result this family searched home depot's advertising for the word "christmas" before they would come to our store to pick out a tree.

The other associates present wished the family more than a few "merry christmas's" before they left and I personally agreed that it was silly to call christmas trees "holiday trees." To this the father said "exactly. Its about Christ." This caused my eyebrows to raise more than a little, so I smiled and fought the urge to respond to the comment. Then they left. Read more »

Richard Pryor

born December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois; died December 10, 2005

"It's so much easier for me to talk about my life in front of two thousand people than it is one-to-one. I'm a real defensive person, because if you were sensitive in my neighborhood you were something to eat."

The Fema Bill

For a limited time only folks FEMA, that is the Federal Emergency Management Agency - currently funded by you, will show up late to your next emergency do a killer job and only charge you an additional 3.7 billion dollars for the privilege. Read more »

Environmentalism as Religion

I have commented in the past about the similarities between the global warming hysteria and apocalyptic religion (specifically christianity), but I recently found a much better analysis of the phenomenon. This is from a speech by Michael Crichton: Read more »

I\'m off to Vote

"The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

A Company Bound to Have Trouble Marketing Itself

At least in the U.S.

From the Company's Website:


Friedrich Fischer designs the ball grinder. This machine allows steel balls to be ground to an absolutely round state for the first time – and in large volumes. Thanks to this innovation, he lays the foundation for the entire rolling bearing industry. Thus, the worldwide success story of the ball bearing begins in Schweinfurt.

Later, 1883 is officially declared the year in which the company was founded.


Friedrich Fischer applies for permission to build a new plant near the train station in Schweinfurt – a step towards a new industrial dimension. The new plant produces 10 million balls per week. The company is incorporated one year later.


Friedrich Fischer suffers a stroke and passes away at the age of 50 on October 2. He does not have any children. With the death of this innovator and entrepreneur, his 400 employees lose the driving force of the company. The company’s financial situation worsens. This is also due to the persisting crisis in the ball industry, which is caused by overproduction, competitive pressure, protective duties, etc.


On July 29, the FAG brand is registered with the patent office in Berlin. The registered trademark FAG, which stands for Fischers Aktien-Gesellschaft, is protected in over 100 countries today.

Texas Bans Marriage

Or rather its looking like we are about to. Just one of the many interpretations of the vague language of Texas's prop 2, coming up for vote on November 8th is that it actually prohibits the state of Texas from officially recognizing any marriage at all.

Prop 2:

The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

The interpretation goes something like this:

Marriage in Texas is defined as X. This state (Texas) is prohibited from recognizing or creating any legal status identical to or similar to X.

X of course being "one man and one woman." Its not a bizarre interpretation of the words either. In fact its a logical one. Without knowing the specific intent of the amendment, and the political climate surrounding it, the obvious interpretation of the amendment is that Texans are attempting to ban state sanctioned marriage. Which of course is a libertarian's dream if it actually played out that way. The problem is precisely that the vague language is up to interpretation and few judges in the near future are likely to be unaware of the political climate surrounding the amendment.

Imagine the state of Texas being sued for issuing marriage licenses or for recognizing marriages as marriages that have long existed in Texas. Which brings me back to the question exactly what is the intent of Texas's prop 2? Afterall if they simply wanted to ban homosexual marriage why not keep it simple - Unions between same gender couples will not be recognized as marriage in the state of Texas, or perhaps "only marriages between one man and one woman will be considered legal in the state of Texas," or they could have been even simpler and gone with their original plan - "marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman."

Why add all the extra confusion about recognition of legal statuses? Why? Because Texas like many other states wants to look like its doing something legitimate when and if the time comes that it feels the need to violate the U.S. constitution in regards to recognizing contracts and licenses from other states. Read more »