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Cornel West September 30, 2008

Posted by Jordan in Books, Quotes, Thoughts.
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Here’s Cornel West, Professor of Religion at Princeton, being interviewed in Rolling Stone last fall. The interviewer has just asked West whether or not he is optimistic about the future …

“The categories of optimism and pessimism don’t exist for me. I’m a blues man. A blues man is a prisoner of hope, and hope is a qualitatively different category than optimism. Optimism is a secular construct, a calculation of probability. Black folk in America have never been optimistic about the future – what have we had to be optimistic about? But we are people of hope. Hope wrestles with despair, but it doesn’t generate optimism. It just generates this energy to be courageous, to bear witness, to see what the end is going to be. No guarantee, unfinished, open-ended. I am a prisoner of hope. I’m going to die full of hope. There’s no doubt about that, because that is a choice I make. But at the same time, the end doesn’t look too good right now.”

Now, I don’t agree with some of West’s views, but that is nothing close to an opinionated invalidation of all of them, and his clarity and honesty here are just fantastic. In my most recent example of biting off more than I can chew, I bought The Cornel West Reader the other day, and I hope to be able to start digesting some of that soon. It’s the kind of meal that requires many sittings to polish off. At over 600 pages total, and around 550 pages of legit content, it’s quite the tome, but it deserves to be, as the material encompasses decades of essays and interviews. You might (heavy, heavy emphasis on “might”) see some thoughts on his ideas in this space at some point, but don’t quote me on that one.

wooooow September 14, 2008

Posted by Jordan in Politics.
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This, right here, is just amazing:


Really? REALLY??? SIXTY-SIX MILLION?? That’s mind-blowing! McCain raised $47 million in August, which is a new record for him as well, and who could have possibly predicted that would barely be two-thirds of what Obama raised? I mean, $77 million cash on hand? wow. WOW. This race is just getting crazier and crazier as time goes on, and I can’t believe that Election Day is just over seven weeks away! If I had a candidate that I could actually stand behind comfortably, then I would be all set, but alas, no such luck. It’s looking to be really, REALLY close – it has been my opinion from the beginning that the Palin selection would either really be the shot in the arm that McCain has so desperately needed or it would end up causing the whole thing to crash and burn, and I think, depending on who you ask, that it’s kind of done both so far. She’s really energized a lot of the grassroots conservatives, and McCain has been looking better in the polls, even pulling ahead of Obama by a point or two in some of them. Of course, as far as most Democrats are concerned, McCain could not have ever possibly made a worse choice in a million years, and it’s a tragically obvious sign of his pandering to former Hillary Clinton supporters, even though that reasoning makes no sense whatsoever considering that Palin and Clinton are polar opposites on tons of issues. To go into Hubie Brown mode for a second, if I’m a former Hillary Clinton supporter (which I am not), I’m staying as far away from Palin as I can get.

I finally spent some time on www.factcheck.org earlier, after hearing some buzz about it, and I found it quite interesting. I very much liked the reporting and debunking of statements from both the Left and the Right, with no immediately apparent signs of favoring one or the other. Good to see some sources of information that let people make up their own minds!

5WR = <3 September 10, 2008

Posted by Jordan in College Football.
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so, maybe we can roll with some thoughts on the college football season, two weeks in…..

What about the potential “BCS Busters”? In the past few months, most of the preseason prognostications put their money on either BYU or Fresno State as the front-runner, with some others throwing Utah in as a dark horse. I’m not sure that any of them knew just how inspired East Carolina’s play would be to start the season. I mean, holding the Mountaineers to three points?? That’s some serious let’s-kick-things-up-a-notch stuff. But let me propose the same (admittedly unlikely) scenario that Pete Fiutak of CFN did earlier today: say ECU runs the table. Do they go to the national championship game over a one-loss Big XII champion, or a one-loss Pac 10 champion? I mean, yeah, I know that’s a reach and that there’s pretty much no way, but remember: West Virginia could absolutely still win the Big East, if they can get by USF, and Va. Tech could still win the ACC, because that conference apparently sucks even more than the Hokies offense does. ECU running the table would also involve them beating two other ACC teams (NC State and Virginia) on the road, the defending CUSA champion (UCF), also on the road, and a decent Southern Miss team on the road.

BYU, Fresno State, and Utah all have potential feathers in their caps, as well. The Cougars already (juuust barely) took care of business at Washington, have UCLA on deck this week, play at TCU, and close the season at Utah. The Dawgs made Rutgers really, really mis Ray Rice, and get Wisconsin at their place this week, which should be a really good game, and I’m calling for Fresno State to take it. Mark it down. They also go to the Rose Bowl to face the Bruins of UCLA in a few weeks, get a dangerous Nevada team at home, and go to Boise State to close out the season, in what will double as the WAC championship game. Utah? Well, we all know what happened at the Big House, and they also have Oregon State, TCU, and BYU all coming to their turf. Who do you give the edge to, out of those teams, as far as strength of schedule is concerned? Starting with the toughest, I would go with ECU, FSU, BYU, and then Utah.

Now, what would be FANTASTIC, is if Tulsa could run the table and get in – the amount of talent they have at the skill positions is just completely absurd, and I would love to see my boy Brennan Marion break something off in the Fiesta Bowl against some terrified Oklahoma DB. I mean, have you SEEN his stats from last year? 1,244 yards on THIRTY-NINE RECEPTIONS??? THIRTY-TWO YARDS PER CATCH???!! This year, they return THREE 1,000 yard receivers, another of which was a FULLBACK that also happened to be a freshman. Just total insanity. While we’re on the topic, something you should know: I have been known to occasionally (and by “occasionally”, I mean “constantly”) develop bromances with teams that feature wide-open, high-octane passing offenses. They’re like my kryptonite – whenever I start hearing things like “shotgun”, “empty backfield”, and “spread the field”, I usually have to just stop whatever I’m doing and go throw some water on myself.

Have Heart – The Things We Carry (2006) September 5, 2008

Posted by Jordan in Album Reviews/Thoughts.
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This is sincere, passionate, aggressive East Coast hardcore.

One ace in the hole that Have Heart benefit from tremendously is their vocalist, Patrick Flynn. If one takes time to read some of the lyrics, they are almost perfectly balanced between having convictions and not being afraid to stand up for them, while not outright attacking opposing beliefs to the point where it becomes tiresome. For the music itself, HH manage to mostly avoid a common pitfall that the vast majority of bands who play this style of hardcore fall into, meaning that all the songs on this cd have their own personality, and even when HH re-uses certain elements (gang vocals, two-step parts, fast circle pit parts, etc.), you never really catch yourself confusing what you’re currently hearing with the previous track. They also throw just enough wrenches in the mix to keep you guessing, like the awesome drum intro on “Armed With A Mind”, the almost-instrumental “Old Man II (Last Words and Lessons Learned)”, and the incredible build-up in “Machinist”.

To touch on the studio side of things, Jim Siegel’s production suits this style of music very well. Unlike most other metal/hardcore albums, he actually makes sure that the bass plays a role, instead of being buried behind a thick wall of layered guitars. Check out Death Before Dishonor’s albums for other good examples of this. The production works alongside the composition itself to make the record very pleasing to the ear – it’s energetic, youthful, and ferocious, without being monotonous. In my opinion, Have Heart are one of the best around at taking the spirit of old-school hardcore and injecting enough fresh elements and thought-provoking lyrics to keep it interesting. To the unfamiliar ear, this cd, like most hardcore, is an acquired taste, but if you’re into this style, go grab it.


Cartel – Chroma (2006) September 3, 2008

Posted by Jordan in Album Reviews/Thoughts.
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Aside from random thoughts on whatever I happen to be listening to, I’ll put up some album reviews from time to time, like so.

OK, if you’re even mildly into pop-punk, pop-rock, or anything of that sort, you MUST own this album. I know this band can be really divisive, but as far as I’m concerned, this is incredibly well-performed pop-rock that’s not only nearly flawless, but listening to it is just flat-out FUN. The production is as you would expect from this kind of music: a strong mix on the vocals so they sit right up front, bright guitar tones, punchy drum sounds, etc. I own hundreds of CD’s, and there aren’t too many that I can honestly say that, beginning to end, there’s no weak point. Well, this one comes extremely close, with “Save Us” being the only track that I sometimes skip over. Other than the two singles, “Say Anything (Else)” and “Honestly”, which are both outstanding, I really like “Burn This City” and “If I Fail”. The last three tracks also hint at different possibilities for future albums. “Q” and “A” close out the CD in spectacular fashion, being over 11 minutes long when listened to back-to-back, as they’re meant to be. “A” incorporates mild electronica and piano into their trademark sound, and even brings back an anthemic section of the lyrics from “Burn This City”, but it’s all done so seamlessly that nothing ever seems unusual or out of place.

The lyrics, as you might expect from a pop-rock album, are largely focused around topics like love and searching for truth, but there’s enough variation so that you don’t find yourself rolling your eyes. They’re written to be easy to connect with, and to also be easy to dig a little deeper with, if you want. It might not be the deepest or most introspective album you’ve ever heard, but that’s not what it’s intended to be. These guys are fully aware of what they’re doing, and you can tell by listening to the album that they have a lot of fun with it and make no pretense whatsoever to be anything more than what they are. Great, great stuff that’s perfect for those days when you’re in the mood to just drive and sing way too loudly.


Dr. Drei September 3, 2008

Posted by Jordan in NBA.
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so, some knowledge needs to be dropped: one of the absolute worst crimes against humanity has got to be the breaux behind www.chaunceybillups.blogspot.com not seeing fit to update it, since, like, the ’06 Draft. proof follows.



Antoine “I Wake Up Every Morning Under The Assumption That I Am The Second Coming Of Bernard Fucking King” Walker (solid gold, along with Stone Temple Pollard, Jamonit Tinsley, and Carmelo Bone-Thugs-N-Anthony)


K.G. on players warming the bench with their little injuries and such: “If you’re in street clothes and you’re not a coach, I don’t really look at you.”


Paul Pierce’s Prognostications on the 2004 Election: “And another thing: my man John Kerry? MORTAL FUCKING LOCK. Ayo, Bush!? Drop the Black Album and back out kid! I’ve been crunching data, like that little robot boy, D.A.R.R.Y.L., remember him? Anyway, I’m punching shit into the Blackberry, and it’s smooth sailing for the kid. I got my Zogby numbers laid out on a nice oak drawing board back at the crib. As long as homie grabs himself a running mate that can spell, J-O-B-S, then we’ll be singing Fleetwood Mac in Novemeber. Don’t stop believin’, childrens.”


Hubie Brown, back when he was patrolling the sidelines in Memphis: “Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible. We play 10 guys. We have one guy playing 32 minutes, seven guys playing 20 minutes and two guys playing 18 or 19 minutes. We don’t worry about any team other than our team. A revolution is not a dinner party. When we get a guy like James Posey, there’s a guy, he’s an outstanding young man, and he has tremendous upside potential. But the key is not to put the weight of the world on his shoulders. To lessen the burden, as it were. It’s a task, don’t get me wrong. Genuine equality between the Grizzlies can only be realized in the process of the socialist transformation of society as a whole. Let one thousand flowers bloom. Western Conference oligarchies, be warned! Your days of bowing down to the false Tim Duncan idols are dwindling! Behold the Memphis Grizzlies and the new future where love is the currency!”


Darko Milicic saying whut it dew to the soap box in regards to the Pistons going all R. Kelly on him: “Who I’m is? Donnie Darko! What, you got borscht in your ears?! This ain’t no album, this ain’t no game. Look how they got me sitting on the bench. Ayo, Dumars! I ain’t Swedish, and I don’t work at Ikea. SO GET ME AWAY FROM THIS FURNITURE AND LET ME DO MY DAMN THING. I’ve paid my dues. Ben Wallace went and broke my collar bone 14 times in two months! That shit hurt! Larry! Get the fuck off me! Let me live! You got Tayshaun Prince out there like you think he’s Bernard King. Don’t let the mop top fool you, that’s just something I do for the lovely Svetlana’s in the Auburn Hills (hey, boo!). I will shoot at these actors like movie directors. AND THIS AIN’T A MOVIE, DOG! Free T.I. in 2004 and Free Darko right now!”