Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Dream Theater - Constant Motion

Few are more excited about Dream Theater's upcoming new studio album than I am. It seems like they outdo themselves with every album, and that's saying quite a bit, considering the height of the bar they have set. According to drummer Mike Portnoy, the defacto leader of the band, "the new record breaks tradition in that it is does not have a central theme."

With that in mind, I thoroughly enjoy the song the band has released in advance of the album Systematic Chaos. Constant Motion definitely comes across as more of a "shredder" song, with supernatural chops and little in the way melody--at least until you get to the chorus. But I am pleased to learn that this is no overarching theme or sound to the entire album. As good as this song is, I could see myself tiring of the style after a few plays.

Download it, and give it a listen. Seeing as the file was released directly from the band's website, I don't think it should be a problem.

Dream Theater should be in town in August. They skipped us last time around--so I'm making sure not to miss them this time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Today's Day By Day Cartoon Is Worth Mentioning

Missing Bees Update

It looks like Colony Collapse Disorder (which I posted about earlier) isn't limited to just the continents. Taiwan is reporting the sudden and strange disappearance as well. Looks like we may have a global catastrophe in the making. Stay tuned.

Carbon Credits A Sham. Why Am I Not Surprised?

This story, linked from Drudge, is just more evidence that the self-proclaimed "environmentalists" are really capitalists in thiefs' clothing.

"Here, pay me to take away your ignorant guilt. I'll pocket your money, then do next to nothing to improve the environment. Because secretly, I know this global warming business is a sham."

Read the story.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Romney News Roundup

Nothing spectacular or profound here. But as I was skimming today's Mitt Romney headlines, a recurring theme popped up:

Romney, Giuliani a hit with SC GOP

Mid-Michigan donors generous to Romney

Romney, Edwards Lead 2008 Fundraising In Tennessee

Romney Woos Tech Executives

Mitt Romney Helps Tap New Donors

Romney, Hillary Lead in Nevada Fundraising

Romney gets new donors from Mormons, business

Romney raises over half (m) million dollars in Arizona

And that's just a few of them.

It appears that the negative spin from the media that Romney has to endure isn't affecting his ability to find supporters enthusiastic enough to commit their pocketbook to the cause.

And momentum continues to build.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Google Spreadsheets - Now With Charts

Google Docs just got cooler with the simple addition of charts to its spreadsheet function. The online application still lacks most of the utility of Microsoft Excel, but for simple uses it's very easy and functional.

I'm not a numbers guy, but even I can use it. I recently started watching Lost. Three years too late. Either way, great show. I've summed it up with this handy pie chart using Google Spreadsheets.

Try it yourself!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bees: Famine of the Last Days?

By no stretch am I what anyone would call an alarmist. I don't buy into the media-hyped crisis du jour, be it global warming, government cover ups or the racial divide. For the most part, I believe that the biggest problems we face as a society are small, simple and mostly ignored by the mainstream media. Problems the decay of the family and its underlying causes--immorality, dishonesty and a disregard for decency.

But there's one issue that actually has me worried, which also has received very little media play: Colony Collapse Syndrome.

To sum it up, the bees are disappearing. And not gradually.

This phenomenon is less than a year old. In the space of those months, more than half of the U.S. bee population has vanished. And it has spread to Europe.

What makes this worrisome is that bees, of course, pollinate much of our food supply. This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein (but not confirmed) states it succinctly:

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
Some scary details.

One thing is certain: Millions of bees have simply vanished. In most cases, all that's left in the hives are the doomed offspring. But dead bees are nowhere to be found - neither in nor anywhere close to the hives. Diana Cox-Foster, a member of the CCD Working Group, told The Independent that researchers were "extremely alarmed," adding that the crisis "has the potential to devastate the US beekeeping industry."

It is particularly worrisome, she said, that the bees' death is accompanied by a set of symptoms "which does not seem to match anything in the literature."

In many cases, scientists have found evidence of almost all known bee viruses in the few surviving bees found in the hives after most have disappeared. Some had five or six infections at the same time and were infested with fungi - a sign, experts say, that the insects' immune system may have collapsed.
If God were to give us a famine, this seems like the perfect way to do it--by simply removing a crucial element in the food production chain.

Why do I believe this alarming bit of news? Because it's not surrounded by hype. It not emotional. It's not political. The disappearance of the bees is indisputable fact that can't be spun to mesh with an ideology.

That's the scariest part of this, and what leads me to believe we're headed into trouble.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Writing. Sometimes It Sucks.

Okay, some would argue I'm not a writer. I'm a copywriter. Because for a living I write blurbs and slogans and headlines and supporting sentences used to market products and ideas. As opposed to a writer, who ideally follows his creative muse into areas so profound and compelling that they just scream to be experienced by legions of readers. Who knows, they probably have a point. But copywriting pays the bills, the work is regular, and it's rarely the same every day.

Today, I don't enjoy writing.

Even we commercially-based copywriters have the approximation of a muse to inspire us within the strict confines of marketing objectives and target audiences. And when that muse don't sing, our fingers don't type.

Well, they type just fine. It just turns out to be doggerel. Which is why I'm up at almost 1am in the morning. Working on stuff I should have written during the day. But couldn't because my muse didn't show up for work.

So why am I writing this post? Taking a break, I guess. Now it's time to take another breath, and plunge back in and find the words that escaped me earlier. I know they're in here somewhere. Maybe hiding behind that Unique Selling Proposition.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I'm Surrounded By Morons

Pop quiz. Here's the situation. Unions dominate the marketplace, causing massive layoffs and economic shrinkage. The state's major metro is run by clowns. The real estate market is in steep decline. Citizens are cash-strapped.

What do you do?

If you're the Democrat-controlled state legislature, you promise tax hikes and an iPod for every public school student.

That sounds like a lame joke, but it's totally true.

Is there no level of selfishness and ignorance these leftist politicians won't exploit? I mean, there are LOTS of brainless, spineless sheep out here in Michigan who actually elect these people to office. Michigan has definitely dug its own hole, and the deeper I look into it, the more disgusting I find the slosh at the bottom of it.

Read all about the idiocy here.

Too bad such a beautiful state has such morons running the place.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Awesome Space Photo of the Day

Just thought I'd share a really need space photo. Galaxy NGC something something. Doesn't matter. It just looks cool.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Al Franken Is Hilariously Hopeless

I'm not too current with Minnesota politics (or the politics of most states, for that matter), but an Al Franken story popped up on my screen and gave me a laugh. For those who don't know, the left-wing comedian is running for senate against Norm Coleman, the Republican incumbent. The story is about how Franken is meeting with ag producers and learning all kinds of things he never knew before. What got me laughing were his comments:
“I know almost nothing about it, and I will have to learn more about it not only in the next 19 months before the election but hopefully the next six, seven, eight, 12 to 14 years in the Senate.”
Does Al know how long a senate term is? Apparently, it's anywhere from 6-14 years long. (The senate has a six-year election cycle.) Now that's quite a term!

Having been in Minnesota several times, I can say that it's a beautiful state. But that doesn't diminish the fact that the state is known for supporting wackos, (Jesse Ventura, Ralph Nader, etc). So it makes perfect sense for Franken to make his political debut there. It should be good for a few more laughs.

Eagle Scout Earns Every Merit Badge

A Maryland Eagle Scout and high school senior just earned the last of all 121 Boy Scout merit badges. For those who aren't indoctrinated in Scouting lore, that's quite an accomplishment. Achieving the rank of Eagle (scouting's highest honor), requires 21 merit badges. And a lot of work. I think I earned a total of 26 or something.

From the article:
Calderwood qualified for his final merit badge, bugling, following a recent hiking trip on Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro. While climbing the East African peak he was frequently seen practicing. Scout officials said the bugling merit badge requires six months of practice.
So this sounds like a very frou-frou scout troop. Hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro? No wonder he had the time and resources to get all those badges. Even so, he'll probably take his dad's fortune 500 company and turn it into a fortune 10 company. Because this kid's obviously an achiever.

Gratuitous side note: I got my bugling merit badge at the age of 16. So there!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Romney Wins the Q1 Money Race

This is only from a blurb on Drudge, but I'm sure we'll see accompanying stories shortly.
Romney: $23 million in total receipts... raised $20.63 million in primary contributions...
Rudy Giuliani: $14 million PRIMARY money raised; $17 million in total receipts...
It's a critical achievement for Mitt Romney, who needs this boost at a time when his name recognition barely registers in the national polls. This sends a message to party activists that he is a viable, long-haul candidate with the resources to challenge the Democrat nominee, whoever that turns out to be.

Update from the Romney camp:
"Facing opponents in an extremely competitive fundraising field who enjoy universal name identification and the clear advantage of existing networks of contributors, Governor Romney's fundraising totals are indicative of the extraordinary success the campaign has had at building an organization and stirring excitement among grassroots activists responding to his message," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden.