Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More on Ron Paul

Here is another clip of Ron Paul denying science. I'm not sure where this is but there's at least a much clearer view of what he thinks on this one. Note a few things:

First, he thinks it is an unimportant/inappropriate question for a presidential candidate. Of course, we in the real world know that, if he doesn't know anything about science (and of course, our current president does not, and neither does OBGYRon here), the president's decisions regarding things like the environment, medical research, and for that matter EDUCATION will be severely hindered and often painfully misdirected.

Second, take note of his language. The standard creationist line about evolution being a theory, and therefore completely suspect and not in any way established, is of course dragged out here. I really don't know how we can save the word theory at this point, and lord knows "hypothesis" is too many syllables for these people. But after that, note that he points out that, while evolution is just a "theory" that Ron Paul does not accept, he knows that he was created by God. Then there's the convenient reframing of the debate as being about "the precise time and manner" of the creation of the universe. It's a hard one to argue against. Good thing evolution has nothing to do with that, and no one is claiming to have the "absolute proof" that Ron Paul is looking for. Funny thing about science, the phrase "absolute proof" isn't used to often.

But the whole thing does put me in the mood for some Absolut of high proof.

Hey, Ron Paulsters, come and argue with me! Aren't you guys supposed to have nothing better to do than roam around the internet looking for fights? Where's your spirit on this one! Defend your wonderful, anti-war, anti-establishment candidate who sounds an awful lot like a Christian conservative! Need some search keywords? Free trade, neoconservative, war on terror, war on drugs, free market capitalism, end welfare!


Felix Sol Invictus, or My Latin Is Terrible

A very merry Boxing Day to you all, and best wishes on this, the first day of Kwanzaa! I do hope the season has been treating you all well. It has been treating me spectacularly, if you're keen to know. So well has it been treating me that this post is the first that is being written on a brand new computer, a MacBook at that. Having a laptop is excellent, and I plan to wander around town with it so that all may see how fantastic I surely am because of my material possessions.

2007 has been a ridiculous year. Perhaps in a couple days I will treat you to some sort of review. More likely not, as diatribes about my personal life are not really the place of this blog. I'm more likely to try and rank my favorite neologisms of the year or whine about musical trends, if I think of any. I haven't listened to too much new music this year, and most that I did listen to was pretty good. Anyway, the year isn't over yet so we've got a few days before that one.

Um, I'm gonna finish this up and write another post now. Again, a happy solstice season to every one of you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


There are some words that have definitions so disparate as to render either definition essentially useless. One classic example is bimonthly, which means either "twice a month" or "once every two months." This example is particularly frustrating because context doesn't usually give much clue. It is most commonly given as an alternative to something occurring monthly, and as such either definition would make sense usually. Additionally, if it is used to mean twice a month, it is almost synonymous with one of the two definitions of biweekly!

But that's not the example I'd like to discuss today. I would like to discuss "quite." Now, in American English usage, quite is generally only used to mean "very" or "particularly" or "a great example of" (as in, "quite a pickle"). But if you are speaking with an British English speaker, the word is used just as often to mean "to some extent," or even "just barely" (the closest example in the common American lexicon to this is "not quite," meaning "barely not," or in this sense of the word, "quite not"). The first problem here is that this causes some amount of confusion for Americans listening to or reading British English*. But the second is that, really, "quite" signifies an entire range of degrees, from "barely" to "fairly" to "rather" to "completely." Inflection and context are your only friends here.

Also, it's worth noting that Americans generally seem to envision Britons as saying "quite" constantly, which isn't entirely inaccurate. I guess this wide range of uses sort of explains that.

*First example I noticed: Monty Python's Chemist Sketch, Eric Idle smells an aftershave and disappointedly remarks, "I quite like it."


Vote Dodd

The latest news: Ron Paul gives Glenn Beck a boner

I don't trust Ron Paul. I know he is the darling of the internet and of lots of people who are more or less conservative but hang out with liberals, but I don't trust him in the slightest. Never mind the fact that he is a libertarian and I just plain am not, I would trust most libertarians above Paul.

Let's go over some things: Ron Paul believes global climate change is not a major threat to civilization and opposes environmental regulations (he also believes that global warming is caused by volcanos -- I don't have a source for this handy, I will have to dig through my records, but hand to god, volcanos). Ron Paul is pro-life and has attempted to pass something he called the "Sanctity of Life Act" negating Roe v Wade, supposedly on the basis of states' rights, although I would say that the name does not support that conjecture. Ron Paul supported the Defense of Marriage Act (some libertarian). Ron Paul opposes US participation NAFTA and the WTO because they are NOT PRO-FREE TRADE ENOUGH.

Plus there's this.

UPDATE: Ok, so I found the video where Paul blamed volcanos for global warming, but it has been removed from YouTube. Doh.

Also, it turns out that Paul is for teaching intelligent design in schools to an unclear extent. I think the context there is one of those group-yes/no-questions from a presidential debate, apparently the Christian Right one given then list of other respondents. Still, answering that question with a "yes" is ALWAYS dumb. Also, keep in mind: medical doctor.

Monday, December 17, 2007

15mm of Fame

On Buy Everything Day this year, I was down in the South Lake Union/Cascade Neighborhood area, buying some gloves at REI. The bus stop I was waiting at to come home also happened to be on the SLUT line. As I waited, a Seattle Times reporter came up and asked me what I thought about the SLUT. I told him I thought it was unnecessary, felt mostly like a tourist trap, felt like it served the upper classes exclusively, and would be better in other neighborhoods, although a city-wide rapid transit system was more important.

I spat these thoughts out for a couple minutes before my bus came, and then wondered for a few days if it would make it to print. I don't read the Times myself, so I assumed that if it did make it to print, I would only hear about it from someone else seeing it and mentioning it to me.

Just now, I googled myself, after self-googling was mentioned on NPR earlier today and I wondered if I showed up on google at all (how often do I really sign my proper name online anyway?). I was the second Mike Clauss, after a comedian from Arizona, being quoted in a Times article last monday. I'm pretty sure I said the things attributed to me, though I wish the author had focused a little more on such detractors of the SLUT that there are.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Random Analysis

1. I am strangely comforted by the presence of Catholic nuns. In general I am more comfortable around people who were raised Catholic, regardless of whether they practice or not, than people who weren't. That much isn't that surprising; it's just a common upbringing thing. But nuns? My schools had very few (and they were mostly unpleasant, and also mostly former nuns in any case),and the only one I ever knew well was my Aunt Katie, who I never really thought of as a nun anyway, just as my aunt. I don't know. But nuns! If dating nuns were allowed, I might have to look into it.

2. No matter how much my rockstar instincts may push me to be a guitarist, I can't fight the fact that I am a bassist. It would be like trying to not be white. I just couldn't do it. It's good, though. Being a bassist is great and everyone always needs 'em.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


If you heard about one celebrity misfortune today, it was probably the death of Ike Turner. Ike Turner was an important fixture of early rock and roll, but in the end much more notable for being a horrid man beast who beat his wife (a much longer-lasting fixture of rock and roll). Ike Turner has not done anything worth mentioning in a number of years.

On the other hand, Terry Pratchett announced today that he has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Terry Pratchett is a confoundingly brilliant author and by all accounts a wonderful person, and plans to finish writing at least two more books, hopefully more. Hopefully many more. Best wishes to Terry and his family and friends during what must be a fucking horrifying time.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hidden Treasures of Metal


Some bands and albums are completely fantastic and just don't get the love they deserve. Check these out if you are looking for some high-quality metal and are tired of the same old. Many of them I discovered years ago and often forget about, damn me.

There has definitely been no lack of bands to refer to themselves as being goth metal, gothic doom metal, metalic goth, and gothtastic meds, but here is one of the few that does it without necessarily doing it. Novembre are a band that embrace the moody minor keys, moaned downer lyrics, and chugging rhythm guitar of gothy doom metal in the fashion of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost without getting too caught up in the style's melodramatic, over-synthed pitfalls. Aeolian leads dance over bare-bones rhythms while sung or bellowed or belched vocals drift in and out of songs like "Distances" off of Novembrine Waltz; bass and guitar melodies trade off over jazz chords in the powerfully building first half of "Tales from a Winter to Come" on Classica (which is a great song to listen to on a snowy day like today just happens to have turned out to be). These guys are still producing prolifically; "The Blue" came out earlier this year (it is decent but sounds a little like heavier and less ridiculous Sentenced). Proof that not everyone from Italy is as cheery as Roberto Benigni.

...And Oceans - A.M.G.O.D.
This is a weird band with a dumb name. However, even this dumb but quirky name is better than what they recently changed their name to - Havoc Unit. But I digress. A.M.G.O.D. was an excellent album with, again, a stupid title (it stands for Allotropic Metamorphic Genesis of Dismorphism; I think these guys eat thesauri for breakfast), but a genuinely unique sound. Their blend of black metal and industrial almost puts one in mind of some sort of bizarro Scandanavian Bauhaus. Of especial note are the tunes "Intelligence is Sexy" (a dancey geek anthem) and "Of Devilish Tongues" (a hard to follow but rewarding heavy piece). Somewhat like a car crash between Dimmu Borgir and The Matrix, only better than that sounds.

Labyrinth - Self-Titled
Another Italian gem. Straight up Power Metal done especially well. I bought this album for the appeal of the first track, "The Prophet," and initially didn't care for the rest of the album. Then I started to pick up some of the lyrics on that track and got a little put off by the bizarrely forceful Christianity of them (seems to be about the rapture or the end times or something). Eventually the rest of the album caught my ear though, and I got pretty bored by the first track in any case. The rest of the album showcases a much more interesting style, with organ and bass solos, harmonically creative melodies, and a number of incredibly well done pop-hard rock style passages. "This World," which is what generally passes for funky among metalheads, "Just Soldier (Stay Down)," with its really fucking cool choral bits and ass-kicking breakdown, and "Terzinato," with its killer verse riff that they might have borrow from Dying Fetus, are the biggest highlights of the album. Sorry, no elves here.

The lazy way to describe Sculptured would be as the poor man's Opeth, although to be fair they had their sound together (if not their production) back when Opeth were still quite finding their groove. They also thought up the brilliant stroke of adding a jazzy brass section to a metal band before even the brilliant Devin Townsend. And just think, all this while living out in lonely Camas, WA. The band is set to release their first full length album in nine years - only the third over all - in February. Hopefully this will be the start of a more regular routine for them. "Snow Covers All" is an excellent track from their first record.

Ram-Zet - Escape
Rather than try and explain this album too much, why don't I just have you guys watch the video for "Queen." Be forewarned, metal videos are rarely not completelly stupid. This one's main appeal (like a fair number of other metal vids) is that it has a sexy chick.

Fall of the Leafe - Volvere
Fall of the Leafe are one of my favorite bands and no one seems to care. This album is full of powerful melodies, spacey ambience, and catchy hooks with words that you can never quite make out. It's got heavily rock-influenced vocals and drums, proggy bass and rhythm guitars, and leads that I can't listen to without feeling them all over. It's not really like anything else out there, and it even varies dramatically throughout the album while still keeping a distinct sound. It also has some of my favorite song titles ever ("More Like a Situation," "Big Ol' Fat Rain Inside," and "Security Locks Are Good"). Sadly, Fall of the Leafe broke up recently. They did, however put out two more albums which I definitely shall be seeking out. The guitarist and song writer is apparently putting together a new act. I kind of want to send him a demo. Lord knows there couldn't be a better reason to move to Finland.

Spanish-language power metal from Spain; Darksun lisp through some of the best epic, synth-driven (think Kamelot, or a much less shitty version of newer Nightwish) metal that's there to be found. Not really that much to say about these guys beyond that, besides that it really makes you wonder why metal bands always feel like they need to sing in English.

Also, just because it snowed a bunch today, you should all go out and listen to Darkthrone.