Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Just Another Brick

Removing All Doubt

Conservatives believe, first and foremost, in individual personal freedom. We believe that the ideals of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which were described as God-given human rights in our Declaration of Independence, can best be realized in a pluralistic society whose political system prioritizes the liberty of its citizens.

November 9, 1989
Because it champions liberty not just for Americans but for all people everywhere, conservatism tends to produce scenes like the one at left, where the greatest symbol of totalitarianism ever constructed finally gave way to the desire for freedom.

Progressives, on the other hand, believe in the perfectability of human society, and seek to bring it about through centralized state power.  Progressives tend to celebrate those societies where government exercises the most absolute authority over the lives of its citizens: China, the former Soviet Union (there are progressives who are still nostalgic about the good old days of Stalin), and Cuba.

Cuba in particular has appeal for U.S. progressives because its brutal communist dictatorship exists right on our doorstep, and the Castro regime has spend half a century chastising the decadent capitalist United States, sounding not unlike a typical leftist college professor these days.

Since his time as president is running out, Barack Obama had no time to waste if he wanted to legitimize the Castro regime with the prestige of his office. Merely announcing political agreements was not enough. He wanted to visit Cuba himself, as any good progressive would.

March 21, 2016
And so we wound up with yesterday's stomach-churning photo op with Obama posing proudly in front of a mural of Che Guevara, the ruthless, murderous communist ideologue.

I am ashamed to think that my fellow citizens elected this douchebag not once but twice.

Remember when some of us warned that Obama was a godless Marxist who deeply hated the United States? Remember how the progressive left dismissed such concerns as rampant paranoia? I wonder what those folks thought about Obama, in response to public criticisms yesterday of the United States by Raúl Castro, saying that "I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels we’re falling short." Yes, I'm sure he does welcome such criticism of the country whose freedom stands in stark contrast to the brutal desolation presided over by the Castros.

This visit to Cuba should remove all doubt about where the president's heart really is...

"Doesn't he know Che Guevara executed nuns by firing squad?"

He knows...he just doesn't care...

[Insert Meaningless Adjective Here] Tuesday

It's Tuesday, so we're due for another round of contests in the Republican presidential prmary race. Today it is Utah and Arizona taking center stage.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is expected to do well in Utah, where asshat Donald Trump is about as popular as syphilis. Arizona is more problematic, as early voting there has been going on for weeks, which presumably benefits Trump.

"Does this mean another evening of cursing while watching election returns on TV?"

Nope...I'll be spending my time watching Law and Order re-runs and scouting exile locations online...


Technically, I'm not sure I qualify as a railfan, since my interests in railroading are somewhat more narrowly focused than most such people. I like to consider myself one, though, in no small part because of railroading's importance in my growing up. Two of the lines I saw a lot of during my youth were the Burlington Route and Santa Fe. Through a series of mergers, those lines (and others) became the current Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway whose locomotives roll past my apartment complex several times a day.

Seeing those engines passing by always gives me a good feeling, as do things like the following promotional video:

Photo Op

From the pen of Lisa Benson, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

For a variety of reasons, progressive rock songs almost never make it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Often it is due to their length, which tends not to be radio-friendly. Progressive rock also tends to reject the musical elements that comprise most pop hits: catchy melodies, memorable lyrics, pleasing vocal harmonies, etc.

The late 1970s were a rather dismal time for those of us who enjoyed popular music.
The fad known as disco had declined from its mid-1970s peak, but it still dominated radio airplay through the end of the decade. In 1979, for instance, Donna Summer had three No. 1 hits, as did the Bee Gees, while Chic had two and disco-inflected singles by Gloria Gaynor, Blondie, Michael Jackson, and even Rod Stewart all spent time at No. 1.

British progressive rock band Pink Floyd, on the other hand, was the epitome of the "album artist," achieving phenomenal album sales without the benefit of the "hit single." They had released a series of chart-topping albums in the '70s, including The Dark Side of the Moon (the third-biggest selling album of all time), Wish You Were Here, and Animals. All of those albums received multiple platinum certifications from RIAA, and only Animals failed to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart (peaked at No. 3).

When the band brought in producer Bob Ezrin to help with their 1979 album The Wall, he immediately suggested that one of the songs be reworked with a disco-inflected beat and released as a single. Despite initial resistance from the band, Ezrin's suggestion led to the band that "doesn't do singles" (it had been 11 years since their previous single release) giving it a shot. Ezrin's judgment proved to be right.

Original 1979 45 rpm single
On March 22, 1980 "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.
It was the only chart-topping single in the band's career, either in the United States or in their native Britain. It held the top spot for four consecutive weeks.

Considering the band's astounding success in album sales, that is rather remarkable. Pink Floyd was in fact instrumental in helping to dispel the idea that you couldn't have a hit album without having hit singles.

Today's send-off is the band's official music video for the song, a video that wouldn't become widely known until the arrival of MTV more than a year later. Enjoy...

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