Saturday, June 14, 2014

Anathema: Distant Satellites

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Well, my temporary hiatus from blogging continues -- simply put, other priorities and commitments, but I hope to be back at it soon -- but I had to come on this evening to post a couple of clips from one of my favourite bands, Anathema, which this past week released its latest album, Distant Satellites, on the great Kscope label.

And, yes, it's an amazing album, perhaps not quite as good as its predecessor, Weather Systems, but that's only saying that a great album isn't quite as great as its truly great predecessor. As the band has explained it, "Distant Satellites is the culmination of everything Anathema been working up to so far in our musical path. It contains almost every conceivable element of the heartbeat of Anathema music that it is possible to have." That seems very much to be the case, though there's also am electronic element that is quite a bit more pronounced here than on previous albums, the driving sound on the title track, which is quite rave-y (in a really good way), and the first single, "The Lost Song Part 3," one of the clips below.

I just hope by "culmination" this great band doesn't mean it has reached the end of its endeavours, or that it has nowhere to go from here. I've been a fan for a long time, and there's some amazing stuff on the earlier albums, but on Weather Systems and now on Distant Satellites Anathema has really come into its own, finding its identity and sound after a somewhat tumultuous history of personnel changes and after many years of transitioning from a metal band that bears little to resemblance to the band of today to one of the leading lights of progressive (or "post-prog") music, a band deserving of much greater notoriety and success than it has received thus far, particularly on this side of the Atlantic. I cannot do Anathema justice, I fear, but there is hardly any other music in the world that touches me so deeply.

And so here, without further ado, is a quotes clip featuring "Distant Satellites" and the first single off the album, "The Lost Song Part 3." (I'll post clips of even better songs, including "The Lost Song Part 2" and "Ariel," if and when they become available.) Enjoy!

Anathema - Distant Satellites (Quotes Trailer) from Kscope on Vimeo.

Anathema - The Lost Song part 3 (from Distant Satellites) from Kscope on Vimeo.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The China Syndrome

By Carl

Well, the Chinese seem to be taking the name “China Sea” seriously. First came the dispute with Vietnam, the Philippines, and probably any nation with a couple of dinghies and a drunk captain over the South China Sea.

And now comes Japan:
HONG KONG — China’s Ministry of National Defense accused Japan on Thursday of airborne brinkmanship over the East China Sea, rejecting Tokyo’s account of the latest near encounters between military aircraft from the two increasingly estranged countries.

The official Chinese rejection of the Japanese version of events was predictable, but the vehement wording from Beijing showed the bitterness that has built up between the two neighbors. The Chinese defense ministry spokesman, Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, said that in two incidents on Wednesday that Japanese military aircraft flew “abnormally close” to Chinese air force planes — the opposite of the account by Japan’s Defense Ministry

“For some time, Japan has engaged in close-up tailing, monitoring and interfering with Chinese vessels and aircraft, risking the safety of the vessels and aircraft,” Colonel Geng said in a statement released on the ministry’s website. Japan’s behavior, he said, had “malign intentions and totally exposed its hypocrisy and two-facedness in relations with China.”

Ooooh, they’re “monitoring” a possibly hostile force of “vessels” and “aircraft”. Needless to say, Japan accuses China of aggression, that the surveillance planes were prop-driven…really?...and that Japan has photographic evidence that China’s planes were armed and aggressive.

This might all be as petty as the brouhaha over the South China Sea if it wasn’t for the history between the Japanese and the Chinese. Japan, you may recall, has punched above its weight several times in invading China, most recently during World War II.

And both nations are old enough that there are grudges a-plenty to go around.

Really, it would just take the wrong button punched on some console…

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Round two

By Carl

So the Teabaggers have another chance to pick off a few incumbent Republicans that they deem as too cozy with Obama.

Voters head to the polls today in six states to cast ballots in a the latest round of primary and runoff elections in the heart of nominating season. The marquee congressional contest is in South Carolina, where there is really only one number on the mind of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R): 50 percent.

Fifty percent would mean Graham can avoid a runoff. His numbers hover just below that mark, a sign of voter anger (and let’s face it, apathy) over Congress.

Also in the spotlight today, Eric Cantor also faces a must-win situation, which is very likely, but the margin of victory will be closely watched for keys to Teabagger frustration with his performance these past two years. If he comes in under 20%, it could stoke the fires for further Teabagger unrest. 

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Monday, June 09, 2014

Big news: Hillary Clinton gets paid a lot of money to make speeches and Diane Sawyer needs a laxative

By Richard K. Barry

Yes, compensation is out of whack in America. Diane Sawyer wants to be what? outraged? that Bill Clinton has earned more than $100 million making speeches and Hillary more than $5 million so far?

SAWYER (to Hillary): But do you think Americans will understand five times the median income in this country for one speech?

CLINTON: Well, let me put it this way, I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than getting connected with any one group or company as so many people who leave public life do.

Other than the fact that Diane Sawyer appears as though she hasn't had a good shit in months, there is no news here. And I like Clinton's answer well enough. Celebrities make money, lots of money. She's not supposed to do that? By the way, let’s have a discussion about what the average anonymous 25-year old trader on Wall Street makes. (My apologies for the ad.)

(Cross-posted at Culturolio.)

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Sunday, June 08, 2014

June 8, 1949: George Orwell’s 1984 is published

That 1984 is now 30 years ago, and the book of the same name was published 35 years before that is a bit of mind-bender. George Orwell's vision is of a dystopian world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. Imagine that.

(Cross-posted at Culturolio.)


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Republicans suck

By Carl 

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can expect a buoyant homecoming after five years in Taliban hands, but those in the government who worked for his release face mounting questions over the prisoner swap that won his freedom.

Even in the first hours of Bergdahl's handoff to U.S. special forces in eastern Afghanistan, it was clear this would not be an uncomplicated yellow-ribbon celebration. Five terrorist suspects also walked free, stirring a debate in Washington over whether the exchange will heighten the risk of other Americans being snatched as bargaining chips and whether the released detainees — several senior Taliban figures among them — would find their way back to the fight.

U.S. officials said Sunday that Bergdahl's health and safety appeared in jeopardy, prompting rapid action to secure his release. "Had we waited and lost him," said national security adviser Susan Rice, "I don't think anybody would have forgiven the United States government."

The hearkens back to the firestorm Republicans raised back in the early 1980s, when it was revealed that President Ronald Reagan first demanded the Iranians hold Americans hostage until after the Presidential election that saw him garner the office, then traded them for arms to a nation we had embargoed from any materiel dealings with us. 

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In memoriam: Don Stewart

By Carl

In addition to the vacuum left by the death of Maya Angelou – and I am thankful to my 10th grade English Lit teacher who forced us to read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – another tragic loss happened in my circle yesterday.

He was a man you probably never heard of, yet his actions, his energy, changed your world for the better. His only real claim to fame on a scale you’d know was an appearance in a Sunday comic, Dondi.

He has been knighted by the Dutch royal family for his tireless work in the pursuit of environmental security.

His name is Captain Sir Don Stewart. And he was all that name encapsulates.

Pirate? Nobleman? Scalawag?


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