Archive for January, 2013

SONGS I LIKE: Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty)

January 29, 2013

Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now

Gerry Rafferty is one of those artists with a fair body of work, but people only really recognize one or two of his songs (for example he was part of the band Stealers Wheel, which had the hit “Stuck In The Middle”).  Further, even when they do know a song, they rarely know who it is, or even the name, they just like it.  This song is one you probably know, even though you aren’t aware of the name or the artist.  It gets regular play now but was forgotten for a time, and its called “Baker Street.”
“Baker Street” is one of those timeless songs, although it has bits from the late 70s/early 80s era that were often used in commercial pop.  The music is pretty standard stuff until it gets to that sax solo and suddenly you’re pulled into another place entirely, which I why I think people don’t remember it well beyond that part.  Its like listening to the William Tell Overture and not remembering what it is until you get to the Lone Ranger theme.
That solo was supposed to be done on guitar, which would have made it much more ordinary and forgettable, but the studio guitarist didn’t show up.  So sax player Raphael Ravenscroft stepped in and they tried out a horn version.  He hit it in one take and they all were blown away, like everyone who listens to the song.  History was made, and its one of the most iconic, well-liked riffs in music history.  Would the song have been as good with the guitar?  Possibly, there’s a guitar solo near the end and its pretty good too, but the sax really sets it apart.
Baker Street is about the music industry, the emptiness Rafferty was starting to feel about his life and the entire star machine.  Music journalist Paul Gambaccini wrote about this song:

His song “Baker Street” was about how uncomfortable he felt in the star system, and what do you know, it was a giant world hit. The album City to City went to no. 1 in America, and suddenly he found that as a result of his protest, he was a bigger star than ever. And he now had more of what he didn’t like. And although he had a few more hit singles in the United States, by 1980 it was basically all over, and when I say ‘it’, I mean basically his career, because he just was not comfortable with this.

Rafferty himself said in a 2009 interview with the Sunday Express:

The music industry… is something I loathe and detest. It conjures up images of a gigantic factory spewing out parts of the machine. In many respects, this of course is exactly what it is now.

Rafferty liked to make music but he didn’t like being a star, it just felt empty and pointless to him.  The touring, the interviews, all of it just was cold and pointless and he walked away from it.  To me the song evokes that early part of dawn before the sun is up, walking down an empty street in the cold.

In a way this song is an indictment of so many lives, the dreams that things will be better tomorrow but not changing anything to make it so.  The cold city that cares nothing (Rafferty was referring to London, but it could be almost any city), the day wasted with yet another party so you can sleep at night, the guys you know who have dreams but never will attain them.  It is a bit of a bleak song, but it isn’t played as a dirge, just as a thoughtful piece with that amazing, soaring saxophone solo that gives you hope that maybe things don’t always have to be that way.

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything

This city desert makes you feel so cold
It’s got so many people but it’s got no soul
And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now

Way down the street there’s a light in his place
He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
And he asks you where you’ve been, you tell him who you’ve seen
And you talk about anything

He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he’ll settle down, it’s a quiet little town
And forget about everything

But you know he’ll always keep movin’
You know he’s never gonna stop movin’
‘Cause he’s rollin’, he’s the rollin’ stone
And when you wake up it’s a new mornin’
The sun is shinin’, it’s a new mornin’
But you’re going, you’re going on

This is part of the Songs I Like series.

WOMEN IN COMBAT, II

January 25, 2013

“I think women are too valuable to be in combat.”
Caspar W. Weinberger

A few months ago I wrote about women in combat situations regarding an analysis by a Marine Captain who as a woman found out what it was like to face that grueling ordeal.  In it I predicted that before the end of his term, President Obama would open up combat to women, which has just happened.
Captain Katie Petronio wrote in the Military Corps Gazette about this, which I wrote about in the above link.  In summary, she concluded that while a woman can equal or exceed men in physical fitness and ability, they cannot equal a man’s ability to engage in sustained combat operations in the field:

I was a motivated, resilient second lieutenant when I deployed to Iraq for 10 months, traveling across the Marine area of operations (AO) and participating in numerous combat operations. Yet, due to the excessive amount of time I spent in full combat load… [m]y spine had compressed on nerves in my lower back causing neuropathy which compounded the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions. At the end of the 7-month deployment, and the construction of 18 PBs later, I had lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which personally resulted in infertility, but is not a genetic trend in my family), which was brought on by the chemical and physical changes endured during deployment.

And Captain Petroino brings up a lot of stats and data on female vs male performance ability, although as she notes we have virtually no data on “female attrition or medical ailments of women who have executed sustained combat operations,” as she puts it.  What we do know is that women and men are unable to compete equally in any real sport on earth.  Even in golf women have a hard time even qualifying with men.  The best women in the world simply cannot compete with the average male athelete in tennis, basketball, and other physical sports.
But wait, you say, other militaries have been using women in combat for a long time, and we haven’t heard about this!  This is true, but these other militaries have rarely if ever seen hardcore long term combat operations with women involved, and the data on what happened to the women if that takes place is not available, it just isn’t recorded or reported.  Sweden can have an all-woman army if it wants; they aren’t going into 10-month combat operations.  Any military that doesn’t actually go fight wars can consist of anything it wants, that’s not going to signify.
This seems to be a shock to many people but men and women are different physically, something that is true at more than a superficial level.  Further, women’s chemistry seems to be more changable, something men do not seem to deal with.  I knew a woman who had straight soft hair before she got pregnant and afterward it became extremely curly and coarse.  We are not the same, and cannot do the same things, that’s just how it is.
Take a look at this picture and tell me this would be a great combat soldier:

She’s not going to take the Super Serum and go through some complex technological process to become Captain America.  She’s never going to be bigger or tougher.  And despite what you’ve seen on TV and the movies, little girls cannot beat up big mean tough bad guys.  Martial arts doesn’t make you able to take out guys significantly bigger and tougher than you are if you’re that dinky.
I’m sure she’s a great girl, I’m sure she’s loyal and honorable and brave.  That doesn’t make up for physical stature and physical ability.  Someone with Muscular Dystrophy in a wheelchair can be all those things but it doesn’t make you a combat soldier.
And as it turns out, women probably won’t get involved anyway.  Donald Sensing writes at American Digest where I found the picture shown above:

Back in the early 1980s, the US Army opened artillery specialties to women except for cannon crewman, which is an incredibly physically-demanding job. A fair, but not great, number of women volunteered and most of them just as quickly volunteered out once they found out how hard it was.
By the mind-80s the Army officially closed artillery branch to women and retrained the two or so women who were still in it.
There are many jobs that women will naturally gravitate to and infantry and other direct-combat, extremely physically-demanding jobs simply are not among them. Civilian experience in the job market shows that this is true, and not just in physical jobs. 
Postscript: When I was the brigade fire support officer for 1st Brigade, 3d Armored Division, the brigade’s tactical operations center (TOC) consisted our four armored, tracked command post vehicles (M577 if you’re interested, do a Google search to find a pic). They were my vehicle plus one each for Operations, the engineer section and the S2 Intelligence section. The S2 officer and all three section soldiers were females. Whenever we occupied a new position, it always took the S2 section about 15 minutes longer than the rest of us to get ready to fight because of the manual labor involved in setting the TOC up.
Understand, none of the women ever complained, none were slackers and all were pretty good soldiers and did a good job in their specialty. They were simply too bodily small and under-muscled to keep pace with the men of the other sections. Usually the operations and engineer troops would finish their setup and then help the S2 section.

Women understand they can’t keep it up, and further the ones who try find out in short order and move out of it.  So as Donald Sensing points out, this means there’s no real change here.  The social engineering cannot conquer actual physical fact, no matter how much they push it and decorate some poor girl who gets to be their guinea pig.  Is it possible that some genetic freak will be able to pull it off?  Sure, it can happen.  Sometimes a child is born with no eyes, too, that doesn’t mean that should determine policy for all children.
Another concern Captain Petronio brings up is this:

Who is driving this agenda? I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming that their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality.

And she’s right, soldiers aren’t demanding this.  There was no massive demand for women in combat.  There was no legislative agenda, no mandate, no voice of the people, no military desire for it.  It is simply people who never have been in the military, let alone faced combat who are backing it.

Remember the whole “chickenhawk” argument, that it was only people who didn’t risk their lives who demanded war?  Remember the old hippie complaint that its old people who send young people to die?  That’s you, Obama administration.  You’re the ones sending women to die, in a way and place God willing you’ll never face personally.  This isn’t something that came about due to any military need, its an agenda by the hard left in charge of the government.
And as I said in November, expect more of it.  Expect the whole ancient, awful list of leftist pipe dreams to run down the line from reparations to gun control, watch for it all before the end of this administration.  When President Obama said he wanted to “fundamentally change America” he wasn’t just making a speech.  That is his driving goal.
And when its all said and done and people are looking on in shock and horror, don’t blame me.  I didn’t vote for the guy even once.  A bunch of you out there did, though.  Thanks a lot.  When it all happens I won’t say “I told you so” any longer.  Everyone should know by now, should have known in 2008.  If they don’t, there’s no reaching them anyway.

INTERESTING MATH

January 25, 2013

“Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper.”
-David Hilbert

I just saw this today on Izismile, and while I’m not interested in testing it out, the post shows three examples of it working.  The picture claims:

It was a bit puzzling to me until I worked it out.  They are using colors to indicate the location of the number (red for tens, blue for ones in the first number, for example).  They create a crosswork pattern with lines indicating the numbers by color, so the first number is horizontal, one red line and three blue.  Then the second number is vertical with one green line and two black.
Then the intersections are counted up, in a pattern like a % sign, the top left pattern has one intersection, the top right and bottom left combined equals five, and the final bottom right contains six.  You write those down in order and get the result.
Its a very odd, pictoral way to teach multiplication and while it has the advantage of being quite simple and graphic, which appeals greatly to some people, it has severe limitations.  For example, working with very big numbers requires a pretty large chart:

Second, if you want to multiply several numbers instead of just 2 you have to do it in a series of twos.  And finally, because you’re not learning how to work with numbers, its going to cause some serious problems later when you get into more complex math like algebra.
Its interesting, though.

A LIFE OF SERVICE TO FIGHT OPPRESSION

January 22, 2013

“We’re hardwired not to always think clearly when we’re scared, and the country’s scared.”
-President Obama

The left has a very effective trick they play with politics and policy, a dishonorable and underhanded one, but effective.  Once some policy or law they desire has passed, they insist it must stay in place or horror and doom will result.  You cannot ever, under any circumstances, repeal anything that has been passed, or it will end up in total disaster.
Take the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).  The ACA isn’t even completely implemented until next year, but when any discussion of repealing the bill is brought up, instantly the left accuses you of wanting people to die, for people to suffer from disease and misery without hope of treatment, and trots out a list of folks suffering from something with the claim they would be lost without this legislation.
Now, that’s possible, although in the United States, nobody can be turned down when they require medical care.  Its illegal and besides medical facilities don’t want to turn anyone away; they exist to help people in need.
In a way, everything the left claims they want to accomplish with medical care we now have: the burden of the cost is shifted to the wealthy who can afford to pay hospital bills, and away from the poor, who can get care without paying – or paying very little.  All government control of this (or their ultimate goal, socialized medicine) would accomplish is to add government middlemen to the process and tax the middle class to pick up the burden.
At any rate, you can see how this works.  I lived over 4 decades before this legislation passed, I know what it was like before then.  People weren’t dying in the streets, folks got medical care.  President Clinton wasn’t a rotten evil bastard for not having this legislation in place.  President Kennedy wasn’t heartless and cruel for lacking the ACA during his administration.  Its all a lie designed to avoid discussion and prevent change.  Progressive?  Not so much.
And it seems to me the best way to combat this is to negate it.  Instead of trying to force through legislation on the backs of weak and corrupt congressmen more concerned about lobbyists, news reporters, and cocktail parties than they are doing the right thing or even doing their job, bypass them entirely.
If you see a need that the left talks about, if there’s some lousy bill being passed or already in place, some law or program the left rammed through to take care of a problem they perceived, then we as individual citizens and conservatives should step up to take the burden ourselves.
If people are having a hard time, say, affording to buy healthy food, then we should work to make healthy food more available where possible.  If folks can’t pay for transplants or other costly medical procedures they need, then we should work on setting up funds and working with medical people to make this more available.

BIG BROTHER GOVERNMENT

The problem people have these days is that they always frame every solution in terms of law and government.  How can we get the government to do this, what law can we pass to fix that.  Even Libertarians, who claim to be opposed to government solutions, often end up talking in terms of what the government can do to make things happen, even if in reverse: cutting the government, changing these laws.  Its so ingrained into us we barely notice it.  From childhood we’ve been buried in a pile of assumptions about the role and function of government, saved by government programs or government blamed for things that happen.  “There ought to be a law,” we cry.
And there is a place and role for government – but the burden is mostly on us, individually, and as a nation of people.  Not through representatives and laws, but our personal actions and behavior.  We cannot really shake a finger of condemnation at the left for their government-centric attitude if we take the same one.  Yes, the government needs to be cut, but the answers have to come from us.  If there’s a genuine need, we must fill that need ourselves.
To a large extent this is already happening, with things like orphanages, hospitals, adoption agencies, shelters, missions for street people, food banks, and so on.  Almost all of these originated with and are often still run by Christian or other religious organizations.  My church alone helps people in the local neighborhood with food, emergencies, trips, and so on.  Behind the scenes, without any attention, groups like the YWCA work constantly in your home town to help out people in need, every day.
So to a certain extent this means publicity as well, getting word out that much of the work that the left claims has to be done by government is already being done privately.  A much higher profile for organizations already doing the work that the left claims the government must do would help combat their rhetoric and disinformation.  When they claim something outrageous and false, the people dealing with that issue should be promoted twice and loud and as hard.  
Homeless people need help?  The Salvation army and Union Gospel mission are already covering that.  Kids need to find homes?  There are dozens of adoption agencies working around the clock already doing it – we just need people to stop looking overseas for kids as some kind of badge of good deeds.  See my kid is dusky in hue, I’m such a good person.

THE COST

Yes, this will all cost time and money and energy.  It means maybe doing without that extra coffee, or X-Box game, or a smaller vacation, fewer shoes and purses, whatever.  It means that we have to both pay taxes for some things getting done and volunteer, donate, and buy for the same cause locally.  If we’re going to take over the government’s role in these areas, there’s going to be a lot of doubling up, a lot of duplication.
See, the idea on the right is that we don’t need the government to have all these social programs and take taxes for them because private efforts work better and more efficiently – and that’s right.  But unless we demonstrate they exist and can do the job first, people won’t trust the idea.  We have to establish a safety net and help people before we wipe out the government system doing the same job, or a lot of people are gonna fall straight to the bottom as we transition.  And if we don’t show it can and will be done, the left will always have that weapon to use against our ideas.
Sacrifice, giving up what you have for a better cause, is a basic conservative principle.  That concept isn’t so popular on the left and libertarians (and Objectivists) don’t care for it either.  But the truth is, that’s how you build greatness.  Sacrifice means you personally for your own reasons are giving up – not taken away by someone else, not forced to give, but personally, voluntarily giving.
When the people who built America did so, they did it at their own expense and personal cost, sometimes everything they had, including lives.  They worked hard to build a future where their kids wouldn’t have to.  They gave up almost everything to travel across the plains and set up a new life where there was nothing but resources.  And from that, the built a nation; not just any nation, but the strongest, richest nation in the history of the world, richer than every other nation combined before it.  And as America was built up, so was the rest of the world, lifted by the US economic machine.
If we’re going to rebuild from the crumbling ashes of America’s past we have to do so at the same cost and with the same effort.  It takes hard work, maturity, sacrifice, responsibility, and virtue to get this done.  It means we have to go without.  So yes, it means paying taxes and giving to charity.  It means working for a volunteer effort that does what the government programs do – but better, and locally.

THE PRIZE

Imagine the result of this.  If it was truly done, done well, and done broadly across America, it would mean we could replace the government programs, not just cut them.  Without the left’s ability to claim doom and disaster with any plausibility, their objections to replacing the programs is greatly diminished.  And consider what would happen to the perception of the right and especially Christians in the west and America in particular.
If everyone in poor areas and all those who are needy saw and felt the effects of the right working hard to help them, that would make it pretty hard to claim the right is heartless and cares nothing for the poor.  The more they know what is being done and at what cost by whom, the more likely they are to appreciate and support what we do and why.
Christians have long known and sometimes carried this out.  Evangelism is most powerful when carried out by love and service, not speech and tract.  Jesus lived that out every day of his life on this earth, serving others and reaching out to the most needy and downtrodden.  It made him incredibly attractive and beloved – except by those in power.
Without that ammunition, the left would greatly lose its ability to create hysteria and fear; it would undermine their demonization and attacks on the right.  The left could and would still claim the same old thing, but it would lose tremendous impact because people would see and know that it wasn’t true all around them.
And if the government could be replaced by local efforts and volunteerism, if we could eliminate the need for government programs by our charity and work, that would mean a more vibrant, freer economy, a richer pocketbook with lighter taxation, and an overall more healthy, stronger nation.
Our liberty would be greatly enhanced by taking over what the government does now, and the nation would benefit greatly from that as well.  It was the incredible freedom that let the US grow and build its self into a vast nation of such power and riches, and its the lack that us cutting that away.  We aren’t so much that shining city on a hill any longer, but we could be, with work.
After all, it isn’t a leftist principle to help those in need.  We only differ on the process. So lets put our money where our mouths are.  We don’t need government to do these things, so lets prove it.

%d bloggers like this: