Saturday, May 31, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Nineteen seventy-one

¿Quién es más bueno, 1967 o 1971?

¿Quién es más bueno, 1967 o 1971? 

If you're on the early end of the Baby Boom generation, I'll bet you'd say 1967 when you're arguing the best year for music on the radio.

If you're on my end of the Baby Boom -- the late end -- I'll bet you'd argue that, no, 1971 was a better music-radio year than 1967. I don't know about you (and you might be a Millennial and thoroughly confused by the whole question for all I know), but I love me some 1971.

1971 WAS a great year for music -- particularly Top-40 radio. And if you don't believe me . . . brother, you need to be listening to this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

You. Have. No. Idea.

But lucky for you, the Big Show is here to give you one.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Louisiana's grand prix of political obscenity

In a state notoriously indifferent to the needs of its citizens and -- let's face it -- the idea of fundamental civic decency, Louisiana legislators have no problem with the short bus having to go up against Indy cars in the race for tax dollars.

Guess who won.

In the Gret Stet, it's a matter of the survival of the fittest -- and the richest. And state senators aren't shy about putting taxpayer dollars where they're not needed to make sure those who can fend for itself get an even bigger head start on those who cannot. But in a state where one former governor was known as "The Silver Zipper" before he went off to a federal penitentiary and a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard almost became governor, the obscene is nothing to lose sleep over.

The Advocate in Baton Rouge reports on the Senate Finance Committee stripping funds dedicated to aiding the disabled as just another thing during a day in the life of the Louisiana Legislature. Which, unfortunately, it is.
As LSU battled for the SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday, the Senate Finance Committee was at the State Capitol unraveling much of the Louisiana House’s work on the $25 billion state spending plan.

Out went $63 million in cuts to contracts, state government jobs, overtime and technology expenses. Out went reductions to economic development programs. Out went some of the extra money for the disabled community.

Additions included $4.5 million for a Verizon IndyCar Series race at the NOLA Motorsports Park in Jefferson Parish. Gov. Bobby Jindal had committed to find the money for facility and track improvements.

“We’re taking money away from the disabled community and giving it to motor sports?” state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, asked Sunday night as he thumbed through 47 pages of amendments.

The committee’s chairman, state Sen. Jack Donahue, jumped in when a Senate aide gave Claitor a vague answer about the funding being part of the overall plan.

“The answer to your question, Sen. Claitor, is ‘yes.’ Alright, any other questions?” said Donahue, R-Mandeville.

Claitor was the only committee member who voted against the sweeping amendments. On a vote of 10-1, the committee approved the changes to House Bill 1, the state operating budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. The bill now goes to the Senate floor for debate.

The state budget funds schools, hospitals, prisons and other public expenses. The House had to fill a number of funding gaps. Jindal didn’t include enough money for public schools or the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, also called TOPS.
OF COURSE, the NOLA Motorsports Park is a private facility, owned by a rich doctor whose family runs one of the world's leading builders and operators of offshore-service vessels for the oil and gas industry. If, as a lawmaker, you're going to be shameless, go big or go home.

Sadly, "go away" doesn't seem to be an option here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The world, explained

In case you were wondering how the world works, this short video is as good an explanation as any.

All you have to do to get ahead is . . . the utterly impossible. Just, in this case, repeal the laws of mathematics and physics and give the customer seven red lines, each perpendicular to all the others. Some should be made with green ink, others with transparent ink.

By the way, could you make at least one line in the form of a kitten?

Don't forget the kitten. Market research shows that people love kittens.



Friday, May 23, 2014

Targeted ads for your garden-variety killer

You'd think sending out breaking-news email blasts wouldn't be brain surgery for a newspaper.

But sometimes at The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., everything is brain surgery, and there are no brain surgeons on staff. And no one there plays one on TV, either.

Thus, this unintentionally hilarious Advocate news alert from three days ago.

A highly amused high-school classmate posted this on Facebook. That's The Advocate, not so good journalistically a lot of the time, but usually a pretty good reason to shake your head and chuckle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The watchdog rolls over, plays dead

Nebraska Watchdog, a political-news website, is blazing a journalistic trail in the United States today.

Unfortunately for it and for the rest of us, the trail ends at the edge of a cliff, and it's a one-way thoroughfare.

In the name of "objectivity," the website said last August that "in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest," it wouldn't cover the gubernatorial race because Republican candidate Pete Ricketts is one of its major financial contributors.
Perhaps because we have publicized it on our website since our 2009 launch, many of our readers know Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts is a founding contributor to the non-profit Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, of which Nebraska Watchdog is a part.

As you may also know, speculation is growing that Ricketts may soon enter the 2014 Nebraska governor’s race.

It is important to note that no donor to the Franklin Center, and there are many, have any editorial control over Nebraska Watchdog’s content.

However because of Ricketts’ financial relationship with the Franklin Center, Nebraska Watchdog has decided not to report on the governor’s campaign while Ricketts is a likely or actual candidate.
AND THAT'S exactly what has happened. Nebraska Watchdog hasn't reported on the race. The gubernatorial race. Because a disclaimer at the end of every story on the governor's race wouldn't be sufficient?

Because scrupulously fair and balanced coverage, combined with a disclaimer at the end of every story on the Nebraska governor's race wouldn't be enough to quash scurrilous talk about the "appearance of a conflict of interest"?

When a "news" site abandons its fundamental mission -- covering the news, and voters deciding who will be the next leader of their state seems like reasonably big news to me -- it begs a couple of questions. First, is it really true that "no donor to the Franklin Center, and there are many, have any editorial control over Nebraska Watchdog’s content"? Or is Watchdog managing editor Joe Jordan merely really, really afraid of what would happen to his operating expenses (or his future employment) if his reporting on Sarah Palin's favorite Nebraska gubernatorial candidate went somewhere a major sugar daddy didn't want it to go?

Oh, did I mention that the notoriously right-wing Koch brothers also are major donors to the Franklin Center?

Second, has Jordan's no-coverage stance made him boss of a news outlet which will end up with little to do and less reason to exist? If Pete Ricketts wins in November -- which he likely will in this bright-red state -- will Nebraska Watchdog, by that no-appearance-whatsoever-of-a-conflict-of-interest reasoning be unable to cover any political story to which Ricketts is somehow connected? Will there be zero coverage of the executive branch of Nebraska's state government, no reporting on the governor's legislative agenda, no mention of bills the governor has threatened to veto . . . or bills the governor says he'll sign?

Joe Jordan
WHEN EVERY story dealing with a major donor is too hot to handle, and when that major donor happens to get himself elected governor, what then? If logic and consistency is as important to the Nebraska Watchdog chief as not looking bad (no matter how bad that makes you look), he may have backed himself into an inescapable corner.

And we thought there was an inherent conflict between business and editorial functions in the advertising-supported media. Now it's looking like the non-profit mode -- when it relies on corporate or individual sugar daddies -- may be even more problematic.

That's a fine mess Joe Jordan has gotten himself into.

If this is how Nebraska Watchdog rolls, and how it will continue to roll, perhaps the Watchdog has had its day already. And perhaps the time has come to quit while it's behind . . . the eight ball.

HAT TIP: Romenesko.

Friday, May 16, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Satisfaction guaranteed

Look at the Big Show as being kind of like the Monkey Ward catalog long ago and far away -- we have a little bit of everything.

This week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth  will prove that to you. Just like last week, and the week before that, and the week before that, and the week before that, and the week before that. . . .

And we even have a little David Rose off of that 1962 Montgomery Ward promotional LP, in honor, of course, of the ex-department store's 90th anniversary some 52 years ago. So there you go.

Make sure you check out all the other departments in our audio store, though. Lots of good stuff around every corner and down every aisle.

We're sure you'll like what you find on the Big Show, and that's a proposition we stand behind 100 percent. As our slogan goes, "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back."

OF COURSE, every episode of 3 Chords & the Truth comes to you absolutely free of charge, but you know what we mean. When it comes to our hand-picked variety of the world's greatest music, 'satisfaction guaranteed" means just that.

Even if no money changes hands.

Oh, God, I'm rambling. Don Draper, get me out of this!


Oh, right -- brevity. Wrap it up. Gotcha.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vintage vinyl o' the day

You don't have to ask me twice whether I want to buy -- $2.50 . . . cheap! -- some flaming red vinyl.

I almost don't care what's on it, though in this case, I lucked out. It's classic David Rose, from a 1962 promotional album put out by Montgomery Ward in honor of the venerable department store's 90th anniversary.

This was one of nine put out that year by Ward's, which called the special releases the Nine Top Artist Series. Obviously, with artists like Rose and his orchestra, Lawrence Welk, Artie Shaw, The Ink Spots and The Three Suns, these LPs did not represent the Nine Top Artist Series for Teenyboppers.
Click on album covers to enlarge

But speaking as someone who was a toddlerbopper in 1962, I still think it's all pretty jake . . . er, cool . . . er, groovy . . . er, exemplary.

WHAT I ALSO think is pretty exemplary are my memories of great old department stores like Monkey Ward's, as everyone called the late, great company back then. It was one entity of what I guess you could have called the Holy Trinity of Retailers -- Sears and Roebuck, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward, founded (if you do the early-'60s math) in 1872.

Ward's succumbed to modernity in 2000 but was sort of resurrected in 2004 as an online retailer by a company -- itself since acquired by yet another company -- that bought the name and intellectual property of the gone-bust giant. Meantime, Sears and Penney's are hanging on by their fingernails, mere shells of what they once were commercially and as cultural icons.

THE MUSIC with which Montgomery Ward celebrated its success once upon a time remains, though. Music, unlike institutions, never dies.

Though time marches on and memories eventually fade, the music plays on. The music plays on.

And it plays on 3 Chords & the Truth. Be there this weekend. Aloha.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Stacks of wonderful wax

'S wonderful, music is.

That's why yours truly does this little thing called 3 Chords & the Truth.

That's why yours truly also will scour the used-record bins in any thrift shop, antique store, record store -- you name it -- in search of something . . . well . . . 's wonderful. And I bet you wouldn't be horribly surprised to find out how much of the Big Show consists of those estate-sale, used-LP-bin and thrift-store gems, many from years before I was on this earth.

Last time on the program, I asked folks to tell me about their greatest used-vinyl find at a thrift store, the used-record section of their favorite music store or perhaps even an estate or garage sale. (That's "boot sale" for you Brits.) And dadgum if listener Russell Wells of Clarksville, by God, Indiana, didn't tell me about the near-mint, 1950s pressing of Ray Conniff's "'S Wonderful" album he found for a buck in a thrift-shop bin.

Well, your Mighty Favog of Omaha, by God, Nebraska, found himself a near-mint copy of that very same LP . . . and we're playing a cut off of it on the Big Show this week. It may have set your benevolent host back more than a dollar bill, however. That's just how the record spins, alas.

ANYWAY, that bit of the vintage Conniff sound is just one of many memorable musical moments on 3 Chords & the Truth  this revolution around the ol' turntable, and you'll be sorely deprived if you miss a single one.

And can someone please pull me back close enough to the present so I can get the ol' postmodern needle back in the groove and stop writing all aw-shucks glib just like I was stuck in 1953? Pretty soon, somebody's gonna enter me in a jitterbug contest at the ol' soda-fountain hep-cat hangout . . . and don'tcha know . . . I can't bop my way out of the ol' proverbial paper sack.

Well, that's about it for the ol' blog scribblin' about this latest episode of the show. Check it out, to hear your host with the most patter between the platters with the best stacks of wax in the ol' US of A!

Enough ramblin' for today, kiddos . . . I'll be diggin' you on the flip side Daddy-O!

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Damn! Missed it by this much

Dammit, I missed the deep-fried meteorological cataclysm that laid (burp) waste to eastern Tejas the middle of last month.

To see this sort of display of extreme weather, I could become a storm chaser yesterday. All you need is a camera, the local radar on your smartphone and a carload of ketchup, salt, pepper and mustard.

And wet wipes. Lots of wet wipes to deal with the storm's (burp) aftermath.

Obviously, the ideal position to take as an onion-ring storm chaser would have been Wac(k)o, where I could have hunkered down in not-so-safe shelter with a case of Dr. Pepper.

I do love me some Dr. Pepper.

Obviously, I need to pay more attention to the World's Best Weatherman up yonder in Nova Scotia.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

This was an entertainment center

Did you know there were wireless remote controls in 1940?

There were -- for your top-of-the-line Philco radio-phonographs.

Did you know there were phonographs that worked kind of like modern CD players?

IN 1940, there were -- on your deluxe Philco radio-phonographs. The electronics giant's Beam of Light record players were as easy on your 78s as they were hard on your bank account at the end of the Great Depression.

When you dialed up the phonograph on your radio-frequency remote, the tone arm would come down on the record, a lightweight sapphire stylus with an attached mirror would lower onto the record and reflect a light beam off of the moving mirror to a photovoltaic cell, which would modulate electric current into electrical impulses that would be amplified and . . . voila!


If you love old electronics like I love old electronics, it doesn't get much cooler than this. The miracle of modern technology -- 70-something years ago!

And the glowing tone-arm head just looks cooler than hell. The whole thing is just cooler than hell.

From the mouths of babes

Hi, I'm Ben Sasse, and I want to destroy shit. Here, I'll let my little girls Alex and Corrie tell you about how badly I want to destroy shit.

I'm a Republican. That's what we do.

Because we despise shit. Especially shit with Obama's name on it. 


That's the sound of me destroying Obamacare. Because we have to destroy this village to save it from Obama. I despise saying Obama. Even if tens of millions of people have No Care after we destroy Obamacare, at least No Care sounds better than Obamacare.

Exclusive video: State GOP strategy meeting

I DESPISE that shit. That Obama shit.

And since I understand that you despise that shit and want to destroy that shit, I despise that shit worser. And I'm here to let my sweet little girls tell you all about the shit I despise and will destroy for you . . . because that's how I roll.

That pinkobama shit's gonna get blowed up. Blowed up good.

Remember . . . the family -- no doubt before a hearty breakfast of human entrails and gunpowder --
that prays for the opposing candidates (to be destroyed) stays together.

On the Group W bench. Next to Sarah Palin.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Short attention-span newspapering

As Flounder said as the Deltas wreaked havoc on Faber College's homecoming parade . . . "Oh boy, is this great!"

The Omaha World-Herald has endorsed a gubernatorial candidate whose primary national exposure heretofore -- during a 2011 foray into a U.S. Senate race -- has been for comparing welfare recipients to raccoons. Swallow your coffee and let it percolate in your head for a second, then know you're a lot smarter than the newspaper's editorial board -- or that you actually give a damn.

Don't forget to swallow that coffee first.

Sayeth the World-Herald:
The State Capitol is in for big changes next year.

Nebraska will have a new governor for the first time in 10 years. At least one-third of the Legislature, including its speaker, will be replaced by newcomers. The state auditor, government's financial watchdog, also will be new to the job.

This will be no place for on-the-job training. The state's next chief executive should be someone with solid state government experience.

This big job is being sought by six Republicans and one Democrat. In the crowded and qualified GOP field, candidates voice similar positions on many issues — taxes, government efficiency, boosting the state's economy and creating jobs.

Jon Bruning's experience, management skills and demonstrated leadership in government make him the strongest choice for the GOP nomination to face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook in the fall.

State government encompasses dozens of agencies with responsibilities ranging from agriculture and prisons to Medicaid and highways. It spends about $8.1 billion annually and employs 18,000. Leading this is not an abstract political exercise.

The next governor must chart a course for those agencies, mind the budget and work with legislators on tax policy, public safety and the “problem child” Department of Health and Human Services. The next Legislature will deal with several issues — prison crowding, the “good time” law and water — in which Bruning has particular expertise.
WILL BRUNING also be well positioned to tackle Nebraska's "raccoon problem"? Inquiring readers want to know.

Really, I don't know what's worse when considering this World-Herald endorsement -- a newspaper that can't remember . . . or one that just doesn't give a damn.

Friday, May 02, 2014

And you thought Obamacare was dumb

Because "inefficiency."

Because "bloated state government."

Because budget.

Because privatization.

Because because because because all these things, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- who's so smart he wants to run your country . . . because he's done such a bang-up job in his state -- decided to strap the jet engine of free enterprise to a creaky charity hospital system and let "privatization" do that voodoo that it do for the benefit of his cronies of poor people and taxpayers alike.

Eight . . . seven . . . ignition sequence started . . . five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . we have . . . uh . . . this story from The Associated Press.
Federal officials on Friday (May 2) rejected financing plans by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration on deals to privatize six state-run hospitals, a decision that threatens contracts that already have been used to turn over hospital management.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, notified the state health department that it refused to sign off on the plans. The agency said the agreements don't meet federal guidelines governing how Medicaid dollars can be spent.
"To maintain the fiscal integrity of the Medicaid program, CMS is unable to approve the state plan amendment request made by Louisiana," the federal agency said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to work with the state to ensure Louisianans receive high quality Medicaid coverage."

The decision was a significant blow to the Jindal administration and could create massive upheaval in the state's budget. The budget was balanced this year assuming that hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding would flow into the hospitals.
Jindal didn't wait for federal approval before he shifted management, so the hospitals are now operating under financing plans that have been rejected.

The rejections involved plans for LSU-run hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe.

Privatization deals for the New Orleans, Lafayette and Houma hospitals took effect in June, and the Shreveport and Monroe facilities have been under outside management since October. The Lake Charles hospital was closed, its services shifted to a nearby private hospital.
It wasn't immediately clear how the Jindal administration would respond. CMS gave the state health department 60 days to file an appeal of its decision.
THE ABOVE dramatization of the 1995 Darwin Awards winner's crowing achievement, as it turns out, is a depiction of an urban legend from Arizona that fooled everybody, including the Darwin judges. That just will make it all the awesomer when Mike and Carol's bastard son "Bobby" finally does it, not with a '67 Impala, but with an entire freakin' STATE!

That crater in the side of Tejas is gonna be absoeffinlutely epic!