Month: November 2006

Digging some Neo-Soul

I know I’m not the only one that laments the years of hip hop that were foisted upon us by Clear Channelization. Don’t get me wrong, some hip hop was good, Outkast comes to mind.

But I’m seriously digging two neo-soul artists on the scene right now. John Legend and Van Hunt. I’m currently listening to John Legend’s Once Again album. Oh alright, it’s in my iTunes library. Interestingly the neo-soul movement has a heavy Motown influence in it. That happens to be alright with me, I love Motown.

My first exposure to Legend was via his song “Ordinary People” on his Get Lifted album. At first I thought it was a bit over the top but grew to like it. It was sort of how I found out about Jamiroquai a few years ago. The first track I heard from them was “Return of the Space Cowboy” and hated it almost immediately. But then “Virtual Insanity” came out and I picked up the Traveling Without Moving disc. Now I have all but one of their discs, and Jay Kay is still singing.

It’s funny, I’ve been called repeatedly by a radio rating service. I told them I don’t listen to commercial radio anymore. I listen to NPR of all things. How does new music make it into my life? Well, there’s a lot of cross pollination from our iTunes libraries at work. And Van Hunt and John Legend came into my life via Keyron.

It’s funny – my musical tastes run more towards music to get laid by than anything else. A co-worker is a metal head who once made a comment about my iTunes library being mostly slow-jams. I asked him how conducive metal was to getting laid. Hasn’t made any comments since.

The Fallacy of the Rhode Island Fire Code

On February 20, 2003 there were a hundred people that lost their lives, and another two hundred and nine that were injured in the Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI. The cause of their death was a fire ignited by pyrotechnics set off during a performance of the band Great White.

In a knee jerk reaction, our esteemed legislators passed a new fire code. That new code mandated new alarm system for multi-unit building, sprinklers for some buildings, and a whole host of other requirements. There really was no issue with the old fire code. Instead there was an issue with those charged with enforcing it. The legislature handed fire alarm and sprinkler installers a gift in the form of the new code.

We needed no such thing. In the case of the Station fire, the individuals responsible weren’t just Great White’s tour guy Dan Biechele, and the Derderian brothers. Oh no, there were people responsible that held positions that I consider sacrosanct. That they failed to do their job, and more likely that was because of payola, makes it that much more distasteful.

I’m talking about the fire inspector. To his good fortune, he’s shielded from criminal liability by law. I would hope he’s hit with a devastating civil suit though.

This brings me to my experience with the new fire code.

The alarm system in my building was upgraded. Now it’s a pain in the ass – there are two sensors within six feet of my stove. I’ve had to resort to putting plastic bags over the sensors so that they won’t go off if I even boil water.

But one curious thing about the building I’m in strikes me as very interesting. There’s a restaurant below me that opened recently. The opening of that restaurant is what prompted the fire alarm system upgrade. But on inspection, they completely missed that the doors leading out from the residential space are in a cramped stairway and they open INWARD. This is a serious no-no with regard to general fire code, not just RI fire code.

So I called the Fire Prevention office. They explained that they’d have an inspector contact me to schedule a time where the inspector could come out and take a look. When I asked the woman on the phone how the inspection for the restaurant opening could have passed with that egress issue, the line went dead silent. She then recovered and promised I’d hear from someone.

This leads me to believe that either a) the fire inspectors in this city are incompetent or b) There was payola involved.

I’ll tell you why I lean toward the latter being the best choice. There are always articles in the Providence Journal about restaurants that were closed because they had unapproved items that represent a fire hazard, or exits blocked, etc. Not to mention that I wouldn’t put it past the lying sack of shit management/owner of this building to pay off an inspector.

So this is my call to the Providence Journal to start digging. It’ll be interesting to see what they find.

Root Canals

So today I had my very first root canal done by an endodontist. If you must have a root canal done, I highly recommend having an endodontist perform the procedure, as opposed to letting your dentist do so.

When I got there they took an x-ray of the tooth. Then I was hit with a topical anesthetic and once the doctor actually timed it to make sure I wouldn’t feel the needle for the novocaine (in reality it’s lidocaine but everyone knows it as novocaine.) injections. Four shots of novocaine to be precise.

Then a rubber dental dam is place around the tooth and your mouth, so that none of the gunk gets in your mouth. They then clamp the tooth and get to work.

They use a long drill at first but since most of my tooth had already been drilled by my dentists, we didn’t need to go far. Normally the entire procedure takes an hour, I was in and out in a half hour. It’s just like getting a filling to some degree, except there is a series of small files used to hollow out the root canals on the tooth.

Totally painless. Except when it came time for the bill. $995 for one tooth, but I guess it was worth it since it was a smooth operation from beginning to end. Luckily my out of pocket was $273, but now I’m maxed out on my dental benefit until January.

This brings up an interesting point. Years ago they’d have just yanked all your teeth and fitted you for dentures. Nowadays they go to extreme measures to restore a single tooth. I figured out the reason for this. When you consider that in the last few months I’ve had my wisdom teeth taken out, a bunch of x-rays, a cleaning, a tooth filled, and now the root canal. Total to dentists, oral surgeons and endodontists comes to $2,873. For work on six teeth. That’s an average of $478 a tooth.

Normal human being has 32 teeth. I’ve got 26 since two teeth were taken out for orthodontic reasons 25 years ago, and the other four that were taken out were my wisdom teeth.

Lets say I need work done on a dozen teeth at $478 per tooth. That’s $5,746! How much are total extractions and dentures? I bet they’re cheaper than that.

It’s a real racket that the dental profession has these days.

Roy Beck’s celebrated demonstration of the population consequences of current U.S. immigration policies has entertained and shocked audiences across the country. This video is packed with the facts and analysis that make moral and practical sense of a complex and highly contentious issue.

I come from immigrant stock, all of us pretty much do. It’s just the degree to which we’re separated from those immigrants. By that logic, I’m fourth generation.

But those members of my family immigrated here during the early 1900’s. It was a very different world back then. For example, the area that I live in is called Federal Hill. Back in the day this was an exclusively Italian enclave. There’s still evidence of it, with street names like DePasquale, or restaurant and store names ending in vowels. It’s changed a bit since the 1970’s. But there are few Italians living on the hill these days.

Instead we’re home to a polyglot. Students from all over the place live here, and Providence in general is home to immigrants from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Dominican Repubic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela and a whole host of other countries that I’ve completely left off the list.

But we must urge congress to put the brakes on LEGAL immigration. Because if we don’t, we’re going to strain the resources of our country to the breaking point, until we too become a third world nation.

What Tarot Card are you?

Well, this didn’t come as any sort of surprise to me. Of course the devil they refer to is actually like Pan, which I’m cool with.

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild – or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Bowling for Columbine – What is wrong with the U.S.

Some kind soul generously posted Bowling for Columbine on Google Video. Watch it or download it soon before they pull it.

The movie is nearly two hours long but packed with information. I took some notes and I’ll discuss them here.

First, Michael Moore interviews some members of the Michigan Militia and James Nichols brother of Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols. What positively horrified me is how much my attitudes are like theirs. First, the Michigan Militia members all pretty much agreed, the police are useless.

He then goes on about how corporate news hounds always lead with murder or mayhem stories. Yet if you look at Canadian news, it isn’t doom and gloom. Then I stumbled on the key difference. The CBC is state owned, not corporate owned.

Then Moore touches on a subject that is near and dear to me, racism. I say that because I have seen the outright racism perpetrated by we white people. You get your eyes opened when your partner and some of your friends are black, let me tell you that. If you ever noticed, the media and even some of the programming like Cops always has a black perp to mention.

Its funny, I hear people talk about the southern end of the city of Providence like it’s a war zone. This is simply not the case. Of course the downtown area is also known as a dangerous place. It isn’t. More interesting is that the south side of the city tends to be black or Latino. But downtown is mostly full of college kids. If there is anyone to fear it’s drunk college kids.

Yet we let corporate criminals get off with a pass. Oh sure, Kenny Boy Lay died to get out of it, and Martha Stewart got her hand slapped. But there is far more corporate crime out there. How about companies that would rather pay litigation costs than to re-design or fix a defective product or service? That ought to be criminal.

Then of course Moore shows the idiocy of welfare to work. Some of us have known that for a long time. Friend of mine got caught in that web, but she worked her way out of it. But then, do I begrudge her the welfare she collected for her two kids? No I don’t because the one thing I neglected to mention is that after the second child was born, my friend had a tubal ligation. In other words, she can’t get pregnant again.

But one theme that emerges late in the movie is the fear motive. I briefly touched on it earlier when I talked about news in the U.S. versus that in Canada. Marilyn Manson appears in the video and even he gets it, fear and consumption are the driving forces in the United States and it is high time that it stopped.

Enough for now.

There is no God, Part II

Once again, someone else has done the heavy lifting and posted on the conundrum between the flat earthers belief that Earth is only 6,000 years old, and those of us who know this to be utter and complete bullshit.

When I first saw the Hubble UDF I was totally in awe. Just a small segment of sky reveals galaxy after galaxy. Edwin Hubble would have been proud of his namesake. And it was Mr. Hubble that gave us the explanation of how to gauge the speed and direction of universal expansion by explaining red shift.

As we all know, light is both particle and wave. And as the wavelengths of light spread out, they shift into the red zone. Blue light has a shorter wavelength, thus explaining why HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have such higher capacities compared to standard CD and DVD which use infrared lasers with longer wavelengths.

Anyhow the light of stars as they’re traveling away from us shifts into the red. Hubble realized it after many hours of study.

Men like Hubble are the giants. Then of course there’s Arno and Penzias from Bell Labs who figured out what cosmic background radiation was. It’s the leftovers from the big bang.

As we learn about our physical world, we become less reliant on a boogeyman to explain things for us. Instead we learn for ourselves.

On Relationships

You know you’ve been together for so long when you don’t even have to say it, you just think it and then your partner/husband/wife/roommate says it.

For example, tonight was a first. We ordered Happy Family (Beef, Chicken, Shrimp, Pork, veggies, rice) and when I opened the contained I paused. I looked at Keyron and the first words out of his mouth were “It looks like the contents of someones stomach.”

I suppose after 14 years it is bound to happen. But then we’re a natural pair, we kind of complete each other. I guess we figured out Dr. Whatshisface of eHarmony’s system all on our own.

Mostly its compromise and understanding.

A message for my fellow Americans (U.S. Citizens that is!)

First I’d like to thank you for voting in a Democratic majority in congress. Maybe now Justice Stevens can step down in peace, knowing that his seat on the United States Supreme Court won’t go to some right wing ideologue. When Justice O’Connor stepped down and probably watched in horror as Alito was appointed.

Now I’d like to say fuck you to all of you. Why? Because you could have fixed this in 2000 by not letting a sack of shit like George W. Bush get elected in the first place. I know, I know, we didn’t elect him. But we let a judicial fiat put him in place, we let his best buds screw us over (Kenny Boy Lay, The president of Diebold, etc.) and never said a peep.

But now it looks as though we’ve woken up. It’s about time.