Saturday, June 25, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: Excellence in hi-fi

This edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is high fidelity.

Both musically and sonically. And it's best listened to on an honest-to-God hi-fi -- perhaps like this one. But it'll work on something newer, too . . . just without that certain je ne sais quoi.

That's the thing you can count on with the Big Show, fidelity to the music -- good music -- and the highest fidelity in audio. If you don't believe me, just give it a listen.

We're back from a couple of weeks off, reinvigorated and ready to lay some fantastic, and fantastically diverse, tunes on you. This week, we'll be dipping heavily into the year 1977, with a lot more vintages thrown in as well. And a nice sampling of pop and classic jazz.

And that's about it. Just the usual sonic excellence, which you have come to expect coming from the Omaha studios of 3 Chords & the Truth. So let's quit the pontificating and get on with the listening.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Monday night at the CWS

Nothing to say here, move along . . . to the photos, which happen to be some random slices of life Monday evening at the College World Series here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Getting the picture in the Age of Terror

It's summer in Omaha. And with the beginning of summer comes the College World Series, a fine way to spend a sultry evening in late June.

Added to the mix, starting next week, will be the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, just across the street from TD Ameritrade Park downtown.

The CWS is Omaha's signature event, one that has become part of this Midwestern city's very being. It has come to symbolize what we all love most about amateur sports and about America's national pastime.

IT'S THE PICTURE Omaha wants to present to the country, and the one America wants to present to the world. Here, three of these pictures belong together.

Three of these pictures are kind of the same. Can you guess which one of these doesn't belong here?

Now, with apologies to Sesame Street, it's time to play our game.


SORRY for the blurriness of the picture that's not the same, the one immediately above. The sports Nazis of the NCAA won't let me bring my digital SLR with the long lenses into the stadium, and when you zoom in with an iPhone camera, you get what you get.

So let me tell you what you're seeing here. The Omaha policeman on the right is carrying what appears to be some permutation of an AR-15 -- an assault rifle. These officers are stationed right before you get to the ticket-takers, and you don't get more in plain sight than that.

It took me aback -- not that CWS security hasn't always been this heavy in our post-9/11 world, but that this year, in the era of ISIS and a week past Orlando, it seems to be more conspicuous  than ever. In your face, even.

I'm not faulting the local cops. I'm not questioning the security strategy. And I'm certainly not getting in the face of the cop with the military-grade firearm to get a better picture of his assault rifle. Besides, I look rather Mediterranean in this Age of Trump.

What I am saying is this is sad. Damned sad. It might be the right thing, but it is so, so wrong.

America's right-wing, gun-nut wingnuts don't want us to become just like those socialist "Euroweenies." Seen the security at the Euro soccer championships in France?

Looks to me like we just have.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

We go on hurting each other, tearing each other apart

The United States has suffered -- yet again -- a horrible mass shooting. Another mind-numbing, soul-killing episode of domestic terrorism.

This latest, early Sunday morning, came as some madman of Afghan heritage and a Muslim upbringing shot up a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 and wounding more than 50 others in the deadliest mass shooting in American history before an Orlando SWAT team gunned him down. The mass-murderer -- the terrorist who aimed to deal with homosexuals the same way Adolf Hitler did -- pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a phone call to 911 dispatchers.

The atrocity's aftermath, unsurprisingly in these times, has been one of scapegoating, recriminations and outright mau-mauing on all sides. Unsurprisingly, our country's angry-ideologue class, along with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have been in the middle of the national freakout.

Take your pick on whom to blame, because everybody's getting tarred so far. Our battered, crumbling American society is in a bad patch of its ongoing nervous breakdown, and American Conservative senior editor and blogger Rod Dreher ain't feeling so good himself:

Most conservative Christians I know find Donald Trump to be an excrescence. But as the attacks on Christians mount, and the campaign to demonize religious liberty as cover for hatred goes into overdrive, they will have to consider more carefully whether or not to vote for Trump as a matter of self-protection. As the AP story said:
Trump uses rhetoric that has resonance for Christian conservatives who fear their teachings on marriage will soon be outlawed as hate speech.
“We’re going to protect Christianity and I can say that,” Trump has said. “I don’t have to be politically correct.”
Every conservative Christian I know who has told me he or she is voting for Trump, despite everything, has said fear of what Clinton will do to religious liberty is at the heart of their decision. I get that. Boy, do I get that. And this week, it’s becoming ever clearer.
SO . . . what we're hearing is that, for fear that Hillary Clinton will open up a can of politically correct WhoopAss on believing Christians, it is somehow understandable and legitimate that allegedly believing Christians would cast their votes for a candidate who:
  • Actively and unequivocally encouraged violence against protesters at his campaign events

  • Clearly stated his support of torture — acts that not only are profoundly immoral but also are defined as war crimes in both domestic and international law

  • Differs not a whit from Hillary Clinton on abortion, based on his record and not his multiple campaign positions on the subject

  • Has reiterated his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, an act of religious bigotry that flies in the face of U.S. constitutional law and would, soon enough, be used against Christians once the forest of the law had been cut down and we had nowhere left to hide

  • Has called for the retributive mass murder of terrorists’ wives, children and families because “We gotta be tough.

  • Has used blatant bigotry and stereotyping to scapegoat and engender hatred toward Mexicans as a whole

  • Sought to bully a federal judge of Mexican heritage presiding over a lawsuit against him, deploying outrageously racist arguments in the process

  • Refused to immediately repudiate the support of onetime neo-Nazi and KKK grand dragon David Duke, and who regularly sends out rhetorical dog whistles to skinheads, Kluxers and all other ilks of alt-right refuse

  • Has refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in the Middle East and even Europe. Europe! 

  • Is a well-known moral degenerate who routinely denigrates women, this in addition to his entire adult lifetime of sexually using and objectifying them. (We are supposed to elect this as president of the United States because we’re freaked out over gays and the tragically gender-confused? Really?)

  • Has built a long “business resumé” of shady dealings, crackpot schemes, failed ventures born of sheer narcissism and, finally, alleged out-and-out fraud

  • Routinely bullies his political opponents

  • Routinely threatens his political opponents

  • Routinely makes slanderous and outrageous accusations against his political opponents, the latest being against the president of the United States when he insinuated Barack Obama was somehow in cahoots with Islamist extremists.
St. Maximilian Kolbe
I AM SORRY, but even thinking of voting for such a candidate won’t fly — not on grounds of one’s faith in Jesus Christ . . . not on grounds of one’s support of the United States Constitution and the rule of law.

That may mean that Christians are just f***ed in this election but this is the real world, and f***ed happens.

As for myself, I’d rather be honorably martyred under Hillary Clinton than live in dishonor under President Trump, effectively repudiating my Catholic beliefs as I shoveled moral excrement upon my Savior and my faith.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Crazy Billy's Louisiana fire sale

Click to see full size

If at first, going behind your governor's back to try to broker a flim-flam scam with Iraq doesn't succeed in bringing instant riches to your bankrupt Third Worldish state, fire your state museum's well-regarded director and go for eBay instead.

Most places, folks would call that some insane s***.

In Louisiana, that's just called another day in the lieutenant governor's office.
Tucked inside an unmarked, nondescript corner building on Chartres Street in the French Quarter are hundreds of thousands of carefully cataloged artifacts spanning more than three centuries of Louisiana’s cultural heritage.

The Louisiana State Museum system, with five nearby facilities that are open to the public, uses the four-story, climate-controlled storage facility to house the rest of its vast collection of historical records, gilt-framed paintings, period clothing and other artifacts that date back as far as Louisiana’s colonial days.

As state lawmakers have grappled with an estimated $600 million shortfall in next year’s budget, the museum system’s financial picture appeared bleak — an initially scheduled 37 percent drop in its state appropriation on top of years of funding cuts that left the museum system with its lowest budget and smallest staff in more than a decade.
After six months on the job, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser has been looking for ways to cut costs and raise revenue for the museum. One idea he’s exploring: selling the system’s storage building, which sits on 7,700 square feet of prime French Quarter real estate, and some of its more than 400,000 artifacts — those that are deemed to be of limited value.
“Why are we storing art in the middle of the French Quarter in such a valuable building?” Nungesser said. “That’s such an expensive building to maintain. I’d much rather see that cost going into maintaining and improving our museums.”
YOU JUST KNOW that Billy Nungesser is going to bring the same common sense, expertise and attention to detail that he did in his James Bond mission to do a world-class deal with a shady go-between to realize riches for Louisiana by refining Iraqi oil and building Iraqi supertankers to transport it.

One small detail slipped by Nungesser, though. Nobody in authority in Washington or Baghdad knew what the hell he was talking about.

Oops. But this museum deal will work out a lot better, just trust him. And besides, he's learned his lesson about doing sketchy stuff behind the backs of folks who need to know:
A former two-term president of Plaquemines Parish, Nungesser was elected lieutenant governor last fall and took office in January. By law, the lieutenant governor oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which includes the Louisiana State Museum — a system that includes museums in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and other cities.

Last month, Nungesser dismissed the system’s director, Mark Tullos, a Baton Rouge native who took over in 2013.

In interviews, several board members — who declined to comment on the record — said they were surprised to learn about Tullos’ departure only after the fact. They saw Tullos as a decent guy who held the system together despite steep budget cuts and additional challenges, like last year’s mold outbreak at the 1850 House — a house museum that is part of the Lower Pontalba Building — and the collections building.

Nungesser was vague about why he fired Tullos, but he said museum leaders didn’t have a well-thought-out budget and seemingly “just went from one fire to another fire.”

“Not that Mark didn’t do his best job, but we needed — you’ve got to have somebody at the top setting the rules, the goals and what’s expected of people,” Nungesser said.
UH . . . just do what Nungesser says, because lieutenant governor. Really, this'll work. Just ask Nungesser's predecessor, Jay Dardenne, who's now Gov. John Bel Edwards' commissioner of administration, who described selling the storage building . . . as an iffy proposition..

“If — it’s a big if — but if that building were sold, it would have to be declared surplus," he said, "and there’s a statutory scheme that governs what would happen.” In other words, the money wouldn't go to the state museum; it would go into the general fund of a state that has bigger problems than raising money to run the state museum.

Uh . . . what does Dardenne know? People say he's a RINO anyway -- a Republican in name only. He's probably not even voting for Trump.

No, we need to talk to an expert. Yeah, that's the ticket.
But if he wants to start listing items from the collection on eBay, he’s going to have a hard time convincing [longtime museum-board member Rosemary] Ewing.

“If it’s valuable on eBay, it’s valuable to us, too,” said Ewing .

Ewing was part of the board that hired Tullos. She “thought he did a really good job” and would have appreciated a heads-up that he was being dismissed.

Others once involved with the museum contend that Baton Rouge politics plays an outsized role in the system’s management.

“I’ve been a director at five different institutions, including the Louisiana State Museum, and it’s the only place that I’ve ever worked where there was incredibly and completely unprofessional interference in the day-to-day operation of the museum,” said David Kahn, who now is executive director of the Adirondack Museum in New York.

Kahn was forced out of the local director’s job by then-Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who pushed for legislation giving him the power to hire and fire the director. Not long afterward, he forced out Kahn, who had been hired two years earlier.

On the surface, Kahn said, selling the warehouse building is feasible. He recalled ill-fated incidents involving Formosan termite swarms and a fire years ago in a first-floor restaurant, Irene’s Cuisine. The museum recently told Irene’s its lease will not be renewed after 2018.

But such a sale, others say, may offer only a short-term solution.

“We may sell this place, but we’ve still got four stories of collections that we’re going to have to save and store somewhere,” Ewing said. “You don’t (display) everything all the time. You rotate it. That’s the attraction of a museum.”
WHAT the hell do they know?

Yes, it is good that the good people of Louisiana have a lieutenant governor who sweats the details. Oh, wait. Maybe he just sweats.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Friday, June 03, 2016

Trump's Amerika . . . prophesied by ABC?

A fascistic American president goes rogue, decides to nuke Pakistan.

Just because. And does.

Sounds like great TV. (It was.) Sounds like a nightmare reality. (It could be.)

Now watch as prime-time TV of a few years ago meets a superpower that's going absolutely mad right now -- just in time to turn a roomful of television writers, circa 2012, into postmodern Nostradamuses, circa 2016.  

From Wikipedia:
When the crew of the U.S. Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, the USS Colorado (SSBN-753), pick up a U.S. Navy SEAL team off Pakistan's coast, the Colorado receives an order to launch nuclear ballistic missiles at Pakistan.
Colorado's Commanding Officer, Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher), asks for confirmation of the firing order because the orders were received through a legacy Cold War secondary communication channel, only to be used in the event that Washington, D.C. has already been destroyed. After confirming Washington's continued existence and refusing to fire the missiles until the command is sent through the proper system, Chaplin is relieved of command by the Deputy Secretary of Defense William Curry, and the Colorado's second in command, Lieutenant Commander Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), is given command instead. When Kendal also questions the orders and asks for confirmation, the vessel is fired upon by the Virginia-class submarine USS Illinois (SSN-786). Two nuclear missile strikes are subsequently made on Pakistan by other U.S. forces.
Realizing they've been declared enemies of their own country, the Colorado seeks refuge on the island of Sainte Marina (a fictional French island located in the Indian Ocean) and commandeer a NATO communications and missile warning facility. When a pair of B-1 bombers is sent to attack the submarine and island, Chaplin launches a Trident nuclear missile towards Washington, D.C. to impress upon the national leadership that he's serious. The B-1s turn away at the last minute, but Chaplin (who has altered the missile's final target coordinates) allows the missile to visibly overfly Washington, D.C. and explode 200 miles beyond in the open Atlantic, the explosion clearly visible from both Washington and New York City. Via a television feed to the media, he then declares a 200-mile exclusion zone around Sainte Marina.
Now, the crew must find a way to prove their innocence and find out who in the U.S. government has set them up, so they can finally return home.
OURS IS an age of signs and wonders. Mostly signs, and prophecy can turn up in unlikely places. Like prime-time network TV.

Last Resort, which ran for just one season, was one of my favorite TV shows -- never missed it, and every episode kept you on the edge of your seat. And every episode, I kept thinking "This could happen. We are so close to this really happening."

Now that crypto-fascist, loose-cannon Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president, we are close enough to TV-show-as-prophetic-voice that I am getting nervous.

No, that's a lie.

I am scared s***less. Donald Trump is a racist, unhinged, authoritarian thug -- one who has repeatedly espoused violence at home and abroad, advocates torture and other war crimes, and who says he just might go nuclear in the Middle East and maybe even Europe -- and that's just fine by about half of America. The United States as a constitutional, democratic republic is dying before our eyes, and it is not shaping up to be a peaceful end.

We have enough nuclear warheads and bombs to end life on Earth several times over . . . and a petulant, unstable know-nothing has an even shot at winning the "nuclear briefcase." 

IF YOU want to do some election-year political research, buy the 13 episodes of Last Resort. They may well be one of the most prescient previews of a Trump administration that you'll find.

Make sure you have extra underwear.