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2012

The Center of the American experiment wins the big one.

The Center of the American experiment wins the big one.

The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado recently conferred one of its Bunkum Awards to Minneapolis-based conservative think tank, the Center of the American Experiment.   The big brains on 6th Street, kitty corner from Block E, published a study on Minnesota’s learning gap authored by former Strib columnist Katherine Kersten.   Dr. Susan Eaton, Research Director at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School, sent me an email yesterday after  viewing the Democratic Visions packaging of the award presentation –
 
“The Bunkum Award video is pretty hilarious. And at the same time, it is also a serious problem that “junk science” like this finds its way to publication. I hope this will be spread widely through Minnesota.”  – Susan Eaton.
 
Well possums, Enjoy! Enjoy!
 
“And the Bunkum goes to …”

 

 

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So the world didn’t end yesterday

by Eric Ferguson on December 22, 2012 · 2 comments

A few days ago, I made an offer to anyone who thought there might be something to predictions yesterday was doomsday. I would post today admitting the world ended, assuming I was alive and there was an internet I could use, and taking all the humiliation that goes with being so wrong about something so big as the end of the world. The condition was that if the world didn’t end, those who believed it might or that maybe there was just something to it because who really knows or whatever, would come here on the 22nd where I would get to ask them to think about — how they think.

I meant it when I said I would try not be mocking, though I’m only promising to try, and I might be failing right away when I point out that I wrote this at the same time I wrote the offer, and no, I didn’t draft an admission I was wrong. Didn’t see a point. Maybe the really bad news for those of you who gave the doomsday prophecy credence isn’t that it didn’t happen, but many of us (most? I don’t know) never fell for it even an instant. That’s how easy it was to see through, and I ask you to ask yourself why you weren’t among those who saw through it.

The usual way of knocking down the ancient Mayan prophecy of the world coming to an end is to point out that they didn’t make such a prophecy, and yes, that is the case. Their calendar ran out. Maybe they thought there would be the end of a cycle of time with substantial changes happening, but basically, it wasn’t any different than thinking the world was going to end because your 2012 calendar doesn’t include 2013.

Still, let’s pretend the claims the ancient Mayans predicted the end of the world were true. You believed them … why?
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have listened because the ancient Mayans were stupid. Obviously they weren’t stupid. They invented their own system of writing, constructed pyramids without help from Egyptians or anyone else, and figured out enough astronomy to make their calendar. Stupid people don’t do those things. Still, does any of that suggest they had some connection to astrology or the spirit world or whatever that would let them make a reliable prediction about the future? They didn’t even predict the disaster that ended their own civilization, yet you thought maybe they predicted the end of everybody’s civilizations?

If you did, I know what you’re going to say next, which means I’m a mindreader. Either that, or I’m making an educated guess as to the next argument. Wasn’t there a bunch of geological and astronomical phenomena that was supposed to happen and bring about disaster? Yes, except, it wasn’t actually ever going to happen, or it happens regularly and predictably. No three ways about it. You could have checked with NASA, which employs actual scientists, and which received so many inquiries from so many scared people that it felt it necessary to post a debunking. I’m sure there are others, but NASA pretty much has it covered. For example,

Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the Earth’s crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours?

   A: A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-switch to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. Scientists believe a magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia.

In other words, hearing about some scary-sounding phenomenon, it wasn’t hard to check it out. There was no excuse for being unsure.

If you’re someone with that strange psychological need for doomsday, good news, the world will end. Definitely. No survivors, not even cockroaches and bacteria, in roughly 3.5 billion years, assuming no asteroid collisions or deathstar attacks until then. The sun will burn up its hydrogen supply, get started on the helium, and turn into a red giant, expanding its size to close to Earth’s orbit. This will turn us into a big Mercury, blowing away our ocean, our atmosphere, and Superman’s powers*.

If you were a 2012 believer or maybe-er, and you’re the progressive sort that generally hangs around this site, seriously, think about the laughs we get at the expense of conservatives. I’m referring to their denial of global warming, evolution, the separation of church and state, urban voters voting only once … well, pretty much the modern world. Turn that back around. We may not be as prone to conspiracy theories or superstition or whatever, but are you clear of it yourself? Next time you ask why they don’t just look at the evidence, just ask, are there instances where I’m believing Bogus Stuff and not looking at the evidence?

Of course, that’s one hardship of being part of the reality-based community. You have to ask yourself that question constantly.

*Yes, I know Superman isn’t real, thanks for asking. I know comic book characters aren’t real. Except Batman. I think Batman is real. I need for Batman to be real … please.

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Zappadan 2012, Mayan Calendar Day

by TwoPuttTommy on December 21, 2012 · 0 comments

Today is the end of Zappadan 2012; it’s Frank’s birthday.  Well, and the end of the world too, if ya bought into that Mayan Calendar cr@p.  So I figured “Inca Roads” would be a good way to end this year’s #Zappadan2012 series.

And rather than reinvent the wheel, I also figured I’d just repost a #Zappadan2011 post featuring “Inca Roads” – here it is!

Zappadan 2011, Day 6
by: TwoPuttTommy
Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 00:24:00 AM CST

I wanted to start this post out with a video of Frank playing “Inca Roads” – and I searched and I searched and I searched.  And what I found was a tasty – TASTY! – version of a guitarist that played for Frank, Mike Keneally.  And it’s awesome in more than one way; in this version, there’s just Mike and bassist Bryan Beller – let’s watch!!!

Back in 1991, when Frank was sick and everyone knew his touring days were over, there were two special shows performed and recorded – film, too! – at The Ritz in New York on November 7 and 8, 1991.  Frank picked the songs and arrangements – Mike Keneally was the guitarist.  The film was used for a PBS documentary; the CD was called “Zappa’s Universe” and it’s great.  ”Inca Roads” evolved over the years while Frank toured; as most songs did – arrangements depended on who Frank hired for the band.  The “Zappa’s Universe” version is one of my favorites, even though it’s Keneally playing and not Frank.  I couldn’t find a TouTube of it, or another rocker off that CD, “Hungry Freaks, Daddy.”  It’s a great CD, and one every fan of Franks should own.  

1988 was a monster year for Frank; he put out the single CD “Broadway The Hardway” – with a guest appearance by Sting and a few not-so-subtle jabs at Jimmy Swaggart – and two double CD’s – “The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life” and “Make A Jazz Noise Here.”  All three CD’s are live recordings.  It was an incredible band; they played stuff from a reggae version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” to Ravel’s “Bolero” to “Stairway To Heaven.”  Here’s Frank’s composition, “Black Napkins.”

Mention “Frank Zappa” to most people, and if they recognize the name they’re more than likely to make a “yellow snow” comment, or some comment on lyrics.  Frank more than once said his music didn’t need lyrics, except for one reason:  had to have ‘em to sell records.  Well, to rip politicians he didn’t like, too.  But to his hardcore fans, many of the best songs are instrumentals.  If you liked “Black Napkins” go down below and click on the “Watermellon In Easter Hay” link -same band, same venue!

Frank’s son Dweezil has been touring and playing Frank’s music for the past few years; he’s wrapping up a tour in England now and Dweezil’s website says he’s starting to line up the 2012 tour by inking some February shows in California.  I’ve been lucky to see Dweezil play here in Minneapolis 3 times; the inaugural “Tour De Frank” at the Orpheum, at First Avenue, and again at the Orpheum.  Where ever you are, if Dweezil is playing anywhere near – go see him!  More Dweezil, later.

* * *

Previous posts referencing Frank are now in one convenient location, here – the new Zappadan page.

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Worst legislator of the 2012

by The Big E on December 19, 2012 · 2 comments

Votes are in. Arguments have been made for who is the Worst Legislator of 2012 in Minnesota.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) introduced a slew of bad ideas, many of them crazed. His weakness was he does not make headlines for crazed behavior.

Unlike his main competition, Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria). Franson’s flair for embarrassing herself rivals Michele Bachmann. She likes jokes about poor people. She’s got a quick temper and has a pension for letting her crazy out on Facebook.

But does her ability to embarrass stack up to The Draz‘s legislative non-accomplishments?

Her ex-BF even weighed in (she took out a restraining order but then later dropped it):

But several people lobbied for Rep. Ernie Leidiger. He’s an incompetent businessman who may have some criminal/ethical issues.

He took out a stimulus loan, made only a couple payments and several months later folded the company. What happened with the money?

As an advocate for personal responsibility, Leidiger blamed Obama for his businesses failure. Classy.

Oh, and he has a huge tax bill he hasn’t paid.

There was one vote for Bradlee Dean. Apparently, Jesus elected him to be the conscience of the right wing nut job fringe of Minnesota.

… And the WINNER is …
STEVE DRAZKOWSKI!!!

Franson embarrassing antics and Leidiger’s upcoming ethical and legal troubles just can’t compete with the volume of extreme right bills he introduced.

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The world ends this week kinda sorta

by Eric Ferguson on December 18, 2012 · 0 comments

The world ends this week. This is the last Winter Solstice*. In a way. You know, maybe. Well … no. But if you were wondering, you’re not sure, you’re thinking there might be something to it, nobody really knows and all that, then I have an offer for you.

If Doomsday, Armageddon, Global Explodey Plodey Day, whatever, does come on December 21st, I will post right here on December 22nd admitting you were right and I got it completely screwed up and don’t I have egg on my face, or maybe those are pieces of the earth’s core, but I was wrong. This assumes of course I’m still alive and the internet still works.

If  the world doesn’t end on the 21st however, then you have to come back here on the 22nd where I get to ask you to think about how you think.** You agree to ask yourself how you could have taken the 2012 doomsday Bogus Stuff at all seriously. I’ll do my best not to adopt a mocking tone but even if I fail utterly, you need to get past my tone and look at yourself, and how you gave credence to something so easily seen through.

Rules: By disaster, we do mean apocalypse level. No run of the mill disasters. Storms, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, even the really big ones that kill thousands of people, don’t count. Those absolutely could happen on the 21st … or any other day. And some days, they do. So no reading about a tidal wave and thinking, “the Mayans were right!” unless it hits most of the planet and ends civilization, OK? And if the internet is down, and you can find me before we’re both sucking our last gasps in Earth’s vanishing atmosphere, you get to call me smarty pants in the most sarcastic tone you can adopt. I know “smarty pants” is lame under the circumstances, but I assume that while we’re experiencing our last contact with matter in a gaseous form, creativity will be a low priority.

All right then, see you Saturday.

*Yes I know, it’s the Summer Solstice South of the equator. Eye on the ball people.

**It turned out it didn’t end, so here’s where I ask you to think about why you found it plausible.

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Worst legislator of 2012: Drazkowski vs. Franson

by The Big E on December 18, 2012 · 10 comments

There are two contenders for Minnesota’s worst legislator in 2012. Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria). Today I will review their performance and announce the winner tomorrow.

You can attempt to influence the outcome in the comments and in the poll.

Category
Steve Drazkowski

Mary Franson
Moronic Gay marriage ban helps economy
Supermajority for tax increases
Log state parks for cash
Protect kids from gays
cars = liberty
How are my jokes offensive?
Hate-filled Eliminate pay equity for women
Drug test welfare recipients
Introduced racist immigration bill
Response to Obama Benghazi speech
Repeatedly tells poor people joke
Crazy Global warming doesn’t exist Crazy at parade
Reads bible, knows how it all ends
Offended by prayer she didn’t hear
Earth Day makes her crazy
Batsh*t Crazy Baby monitors can replace nurses Embarrasses herself on FacebookM
Just Plain Wow! Ban video or photos of animal facilities Dismisses restraining order against BF


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Zappadan 2012, Day 9: “That’s College Rhythm!!!”

by TwoPuttTommy on December 12, 2012 · 0 comments

And it’s taught at The University of North Texas by Professor Joseph Klein!

Here’s the deal – Professor Klein teaches a class on Zappa’s music, and Mothers alumni Tommy Mars and Arthur Barrow participated in a concert with the students last spring; here’s the cut ‘n paste from the University’s website:  

Zappa Unlocked: The Mars/Barrow Connection
A program of works by Frank Zappa, performed by guest artists Arthur Barrow (bass) and Tommy Mars (keyboards), with performars from the Music of Frank Zappa class; University of North Texas Voertman Hall, 16 April 2012.

Here’s two tasty numbers from it – Sofa & Peaches En Regalia!

If you have the time, check out the whole show.  

“The modern-day composer refuses to die!” —  Edgard Varese

As usual, links to previous posts referencing Frank are below the fold.

For those wondering, “That’s college rythmn!” is a line from the song “Dummy Up” from the outstanding album Roxy & Elsewhere.”
“Zappadan 2012, Day 3: Bolero. Bolero? Yes, Bolero.” by TPT on Wednesday, December 6th, 2012

“Zappadan 2012, Day 2:  George Duke and Inca Roads” by TPT on Tuesday, December 5th, 2012

“On The First Day Of Zappadan, YouTube Brought To Me…” by TPT on Monday, December 4th, 2012

“Zappadan 2011, Day 18 – Pew d’Etat Post!” by TPT on Tuesday December 20th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 11″ by TPT on Wednesday December 14th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 6″ by TPT on Friday December 9th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 4″ by TPT on Wednesday December 7th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 2″ by TPT on Monday December 5th, 2011

“That’s right folks, don’t touch that dial!” by TPT on Saturday November 19th, 2011

“One Year Later – Who Opposes HCR? Or…a picture says a thousand words.”  by TPT, Thursday March 24th, 2011

“Watermellon In Easter Hay – May 17th, 1988, Barcelona, Spain” by TPT, Friday August 21st, 2009

“Progressive Nation 2009 Concert Tour” by TPT, Wednesday June 17th, 2009

***
Where I get my Zappa music: The Electric Fetus

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Clips of Bills’ video

by JeffStrate on December 9, 2012 · 0 comments

We encore The Big E’s review on Democratic Visions of the infamous Kurt Bills’ campaign video; the spot has been escorted back into YouTube’s private sector – the public be damned.

But, MNPP readers can at least see clips of the film/video and applaud Minnesota’s top ranked political tweeter (Eric), as he goes emotional and slack-jawed describing to Tim O’Brien Mr. Bills’ video-noir advisory to voters.  As 2012 begins its last yawn, this video still remains, to Big E’s sensibilities, the worst of the year’s political videos – and its most memorable.

Here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

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Zappadan 2012, Day 3: Bolero. Bolero? Yes, Bolero.

by TwoPuttTommy on December 6, 2012 · 0 comments

I saw it over at Little Bang Theory, and thought it was too good not to share.  I’m  embedding the YouTube so you can listen to it, too!  It’s from the double CD “The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life”; a Zappa album that, like the rest of mine, I bought at The Electric Fetus.

Here’s what’s written, in the liner notes: “The 1988 road band self-destructed before U.S. audiences in the South, Midwest and West could hear it perform.  It was, however, heard and appreciated by East Coast and European audiences during its brief existence (four months of rehearsal in 1987/1988, followed by a tour, February through June 1988), and it is from those performances that this compliation is made. … and there are no over-dubs of any kind.”

It’s a great album; if you’ve ever wanted to hear Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” played reggae, for instance, or wanted to hear Swaggert roasted, this is it!  Plus, it’s got “Inca Roads” and a smokin’ hot “Zombie Woof”!

Here’s “Bolero” –

As usual, links to previous posts referencing Frank are below the fold.
“Zappadan 2012, Day 2:  George Duke and Inca Roads” by TPT on Tuesday, December 5th, 2012

“On The First Day Of Zappadan, YouTube Brought To Me…” by TPT on Monday, December 4th, 2012

“Zappadan 2011, Day 18 – Pew d’Etat Post!” by TPT on Tuesday December 20th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 11″ by TPT on Wednesday December 14th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 6″ by TPT on Friday December 9th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 4″ by TPT on Wednesday December 7th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 2″ by TPT on Monday December 5th, 2011

“That’s right folks, don’t touch that dial!” by TPT on Saturday November 19th, 2011

“One Year Later – Who Opposes HCR? Or…a picture says a thousand words.”  by TPT, Thursday March 24th, 2011

“Watermellon In Easter Hay – May 17th, 1988, Barcelona, Spain” by TPT, Friday August 21st, 2009

“Progressive Nation 2009 Concert Tour” by TPT, Wednesday June 17th, 2009

***
Where I get my Zappa music: The Electric Fetus

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Zappadan 2012, Day 2: George Duke and Inca Roads

by TwoPuttTommy on December 5, 2012 · 0 comments

(image via Guitar Player Magazine, January 1977 interview through the link)  “Zappadan” commemorates the late composer/producer/musician Frank Zappa; it runs from December 4th – the day of Frank’s death in 1993 – to December 21st – the day of Frank’s birth, in 1940.  A list of previous posts referencing Frank is below the fold.

Today’s trip down the Zappadan memory lane is to the early 1970′s; about keyboardist George Duke and one of Frank’s better known songs, “Inca Roads.”  In the first YouTube, George talks about how he came to play in the band, and how Frank taught George to play a synthesizer and become a vocalist.  At the end of this interview, George makes some references to “Inca Roads.” The second YouTube shows George playing and singing in a performance of “Inca Roads.” Let’s look!  

And now, the YouTube of “Inca Roads” performed August 27, 1974 on KCET TV (Los Angeles):

(direct link to YouTube; link contains show information)

The clay animation over the sound track is…  well, interesting.  This TV special, “A Token Of My Extreme,” is the first time Zappa used Bruce Brickford’s work in a project.

Also interesting is that Zappa was performing “Inca Roads” before it came out on on a record; “Inca Roads” was on the album “One Size Fits All” which wasn’t at your local record store until 1975.

This is typical; for instance, the TV Special’s title – “A Token Of My Extreme” – is a song that didn’t come out on record until the three record set “Joe’s Garage” until the mid-1980′s, but was played in concert in the early 1970′s as an opening number —  see “You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 2 (The Helsinki Concert)”, the September 1974 concert that wasn’t released until 1984.

Also worthy of note is the band line-up throughout this post is the band that played the old St. Paul Civic Center on November 27th, 1974.  A fun fact from that show, billed as a “Turkey Trot,” was the bassist, Tom Fowler had recently broken his hand.  James “Bird Legs” Youmans filled in with Tom on-stage for the show pointing out the notes on a music stand to be played.  So while Frank was directing the band with the cues he always does, Tom Fowler was directing his replacement!  I had an old black and white photo of it; if I can find it in places I haven’t already looked I’ll post it later.

This band line up, Frank on guitar, George Duke on keyboards, Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax, Ruth Underwood on percussion, Tom Fowler on bass and Chester Thompson on drums, was one of Frank’s most entertaining if not best.  The Helsinki Concert is a “must have” as is the studio album, “One Size Fits All.”  
“On The First Day Of Zappadan, YouTube Brought To Me…” by TPT on Monday, December 4th, 2012

“Zappadan 2011, Day 18 – Pew d’Etat Post!” by TPT on Tuesday December 20th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 11″ by TPT on Wednesday December 14th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 6″ by TPT on Friday December 9th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 4″ by TPT on Wednesday December 7th, 2011

“Zappadan 2011, Day 2″ by TPT on Monday December 5th, 2011

“That’s right folks, don’t touch that dial!” by TPT on Saturday November 19th, 2011

“One Year Later – Who Opposes HCR? Or…a picture says a thousand words.”  by TPT, Thursday March 24th, 2011

“Watermellon In Easter Hay – May 17th, 1988, Barcelona, Spain” by TPT, Friday August 21st, 2009

“Progressive Nation 2009 Concert Tour” by TPT, Wednesday June 17th, 2009

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Where I get my Zappa music: The Electric Fetus

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