Welcome to Mac Diva's pantry.
This is an Aaron Hawkins fan site.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Music: Heatwave still warms the heart
I discovered or rediscovered Heatwave as a result of reading Teddy Pendergrass' autobiography, Truly Blessed, and recalling their memorable hit, "Always and Forever." A purchase of the best of collection, Heatwave: Always and Forever," has me harmonizing and boogeying around the house. Highlights of the album include "Always and Forever," which features one of the most impressive uses of the rhythm and blues falsetto ever. Lead singer Johnnie Wilder breathes verve into a romantic ballad that is ageless. His holding of the high note rivals the mythic Marvin Junior of the Dells' breathtaking display on "Stay in My Corner." The lyrics of the song also exude the same kind of innocence -- quite a contrast to today's in-your-face sexuality.
Always and forever
Each moment with you
Is just like a dream to me
That somehow came true.
And I know tomorrow
Will still be the same
Cause we've got a life of love
That won't ever change and. . .
Love me your own special way
Melt all my heart away
With a smile.
Take time to tell me
You really care
And we'll share tomorrow together
I'll always love you forever.
Heatwave warmed hearts and bodies from the mid-1970s into the early '80s, so I suppose the fast numbers would be called disco, despite their jazz influences. Unfortunately, the word 'disco' has become grounds for raised eyebrows. Tunes such as "Boogie Nights" and "The Groove Line" capture the pure joy of dance music and there's nothing wrong with that. Don't let the 'D-word' prevent you from giving these well-wrought dance hits a new listen. The very jazzy "Ain't No Half-Steppin'" should act as an antidote if the disco aspect leaves your eyes stuck in mid roll.
One feature of Heatwave that made it different from other groups of the era was its international cast. The group was founded by Johnnie and Keith Wilder in Germany after they ended their tours of service with the U.S. Army there. They recruited whoever added flavor and talent to the group. Members hailed from Czechoslovakia, Spain and Britain, as well as the United States.
The Wilder brothers' soulful lead vocals were important to the identity forged by the group. The other key ingredient in the recipe that produced Heatwave is songwriter British Rod Temperton. He began his career as the pianist for Heatwave and wrote most of the songs on Heatwave: Always and Forever. You may know that he went on to write for Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, George Benson and other 'names.' With Heatwave, Temperton's focus was on creating club band music, utilizing Johnnie Wilder's distinctive tenor and introducing electronics, especially the synthesizer.
One reason Teddy Pendergrass talks about Johnnie Wilder in his book is that Wilder, whose star was on the rise at the same time his was, was a good friend. The other reason is that Wilder was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 1979, three years before Pendergrass suffered the same fate. Wilder, who is paralyzed from the neck down, was one of the people who helped Pendergrass survive periods of depression during his early years of being a quadriplegic. Though Wilder sang lead vocals on the album Candles after he was paralyzed, the touring was too taxing. Guest vocalists filled in for live performances for a time, but by the mid-'80s, Heatwave was dormant.
Johnnie Wilder, who also wrote songs for Heatwave, now writes, performs and produces Christian music, mainly a cappella vocals. Keith Wilder formed a new verison of Heatwave in the 1990s. The group performs on the oldies circuit and at corporate events.
•There's a brief biography of Heatwave at Soul Tracks.
•Visit Johnnie Wilder's site.
•Read a review of Teddy Pendergrass' autobiography.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Entertainment: Spears' marriage may be messy
US Magazine has the dish on Britney Spears' upcoming nuptials, in a piece titled, "Britney, the Bridezilla." Seems the wedding plans have been plagued by setbacks. Though the big to-do is planned for November, friends say the pop princess is getting antsy. She may move the date forward. They say she is resisting a quickie trip to Las Vegas because it would be deja vu all over again, considering her annulled marriage to another man a few months ago. The size of the wedding is also uncertain, with Spears vacillating between small and intimate and huge and a humdinger, sources say. She may invite 200 guests, or just 20.
US reports there are also family-to-be problems. The betrothed suspects fiance Kevin Federline's family of leaking information about the couple to the media. Meanwhile, Spears has said 'Hi,' to Char Jackson, his former girlfriend, and the mother of his two babies, but that is all. She has also met Federline and Jackson's toddler, but not their newborn. It unclear how the families will blend. Child support also appears to unresolved. Federline is unemployed. Spears mother, Lynne, is said to be asking businesses associated with the nuptials, including a hotel, to provide their services free in return for publicity. 'Bridezilla's worth is calculated at about $100 million.
Give me props. I read this frivolous article, so you would not have to.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Technology: Employers may block public IMs
I recently wrote about why, after years on the Internet, I am no longer much of a user of instant messaging. I've discovered I function better without interruptions.
If responding in comments to something I've said or emailing me is not fast enough, I wonder why. I don't miss the immediacy and like being able to adhere to other things I'm working on instead of answering the online equivalent of the phone.
In the interest of fairness, I also considered why some IM users love real time Internet conversations, citing ZDNet's Anchordesk columnist Brian Cooley.
Cooley's main reason for liking instant messaging is disliking email.
But today e-mail is choked with garbage, and I think that's the best reason for IM. I run two spam filters just to get down to 300 spam messages in my in-box each day. People I need to reach aren't responsive to e-mail anymore; they seem to check it every few hours or so, probably dreading the onslaught of spam and tedious threads that await them.
IM restores that rapid-fire pungency e-mail used to have, an electronic version of someone sticking their head in your office door.
It turns out that employers are more concerned about instant messaging than I am. According to Infoworld, the practice may be on its way out of American workplaces. The magazine covered the topic this week.
There is no question that IM is entrenched in the enterprise. More than 90 percent of businesses report IM activity, according to Osterman Research. A main reason, as we discovered in " Getting serious about enterprise IM ," is the improved productivity and reduced communications costs that IM delivers. What should concern CIOs is that unsanctioned consumer IM networks -- such as those from America Online, ICQ, Microsoft, and Yahoo -- make up 80 percent of corporate IM use today, and the number of users of these unsecured IM networks is growing at a fast clip, according to The Radicati Group. True, public IM networks offer enterprises some protection, such as very basic identity control. But organizations are still exposed to a multitude of security risks, including viruses and breached firewalls.
Instant messaging is of great concern to employers, especially corporations, because of the security risks inherent in it and contractual obligations that require secure wide area networks. The baseline protection against unauthorized entry -- firewalls -- is insufficent because sophisticated IM programs can easily detect and tunnel under them. IM programs can also evade virus protections.
Infoworld recommends using software designed to limit IMing to approved uses as a solution.
The answer -- employed by all three security products reviewed here -- is a gateway specifically tuned to detect IM and p-to-p use. From there, these solutions enforce the access policies you set. For example, you could permit MSN text messaging but not file transfers.
However, an equally viable reaction is to curtail use of public internet messaging by making it verboten in workplaces. I expect many employers will do that instead of investing in software that may not produce the needed results. It appears workplace Internet messaging is headed in the same direction as sending and receiving personal email in workplaces. Employees may not be able to do it much longer.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
News: Kennedy Smith sued for alleged rape
This news makes me feel old. Been there. Done that. Or at least read all about it. More than a decade ago, I followed the William Kennedy Smith rape case closely. My feelings about it were mixed. I thought the victim believed she had been raped. I also thought Smith might be someone who likes his sex rough, based on allegations by other women who had known him. However, a jury -- not unreasonably -- believed that the evidence was insufficient for a conviction. And, here we go again.
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A woman claims in a lawsuit that William Kennedy Smith sexually assaulted her in 1999, and her lawyer said Thursday that she did not come forward at the time because she was intimidated by his wealth and connections.
The Kennedy cousin cleared of rape charges in 1991 said his family and personal history made him a target for "outrageous" allegations. And the woman herself acknowledged having had a relationship with Smith some months after the alleged assault.
In the suit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court, 28-year-old Audra Soulias alleges that after a night of drinking in 1999, Smith, now 43, forced her out of a cab and into his home where he sexually assaulted her. She is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
. . .In 1991, a jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, acquitted Smith of sexual assault and battery on a then 30-year-old woman he met in a nightclub. He said the sex between him and the accuser, Patricia Bowman, was consensual.
Soulias was an employee when the alleged rape occurred. Kennedy, a physician, has established a fine reputation as an activist for victims of land mines. He heads the Center for International Rehabilitation. He has been lauded for his work for such a wonderful cause. Thousands of people, many of them children, are maimed by mines left from wars throughout the world each year. Kennedy seemed to have made a winning recovery from the embarrassing situation he found himself in in 1991.
If Kennedy felt intimidated by Soulias, I believe he would have agreed to a monetary settlement without the ugly publicity resulting from a lawsuit being brought. Expect him to fight back.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Law: Bryant prosecutors attack DNA evidence
There is an interesting new twist in the controversial prosecution of basketball star Kobe Bryant for rape. Prosecutors have asked for a hearing at which they hope to have important evidence thrown out as unreliable. Voir dire (jury selection) is set to begin next week. However, this development could delay it, and the start of the trial.
CNN is covering the case.
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Crucial DNA evidence tested by defense experts in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case might have been contaminated, prosecutors said in a court filing released Wednesday, just two days before jury selection is to begin.
Prosecutors said they had found contamination in DNA "control" samples intended to ensure testing was accurate. They also said data from the defense's experts appears to have been manipulated.
Prosecutors asked the judge to hold a hearing Thursday to force the NBA star's attorneys to prove the reliability of the evidence intended to be presented at trial by defense experts.
If the evidence were to be excluded, that would favor the prosecution. The victim, according to leaked and mistakenly released information, had sex with at least one other man between the time of the alleged rape and the next day. Then, she went to a hospital. The physical evidence prosecutors are offering is from that examination. It allegedly proves Bryant had intercourse with the woman. If there was a second partner, his DNA is also likely present. But, if the "control" test was contaminated, then all DNA evidence could be excluded under the rules of evidence. That would include evidence of the second sexual partner. If the evidence is excluded, there will be no basis for the theory that the victim was sexually active with another man, and he might have caused bruising or other injury, being introduced. That is important because of the inferences jurors might make in regard to a rape victim who claims to be have been brutally assaulted, but went on to have sexual intercourse with another man the same night. Jurors would question how severely she was injured, whether she considered the incident rape at the time and if she might have other reasons for filing criminal charges against a wealthy man.
It is doubtful the evidence -- which is very significant -- will be excluded. Indeed the maneuver may be a mark of the prosecution's desperation. Leaks of information, publicity about the victim's instability and the successful efforts of Bryant's crack legal team have evened the balance of power between the adversaries. Normally, a criminal defendant does not have the economic resources needed to defend himself in a legal system weighted against him and in favor of the state. The Kobe Bryant case gives us an opportunity to see the difference affluence makes when a citizen responds to a criminal prosecution.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Politics: Cheney opposes gay marriage amendment
While acknowledging his lesbian daughter, Vice President Dick Cheney has said he does not agree with the Republicans' claim federal legislation is needed to ban marriage between gays. He expressed his opinion at a political event in Iowa. His remarks were very carefully phrased. The New York Times has the story.
Mr. Cheney said the issue was what kind of government recognition to give those relationships, and indicated that he preferred to let the states define what constitutes a marriage. In contrast, President Bushhas argued that a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is essential. Mr. Cheney noted that Mr. Bush sets policy for the administration.
In unusually personal remarks on the issue, delivered at a campaign forum in Davenport, Iowa, the vice president referred to his daughter, Mary, who is a lesbian, saying that he and his wife "have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with." He added, according to a transcript of his remarks, provided by the White House, "We have two daughters, and we have enormous pride in both of them."
He spoke on the same day that a draft version of the Republican platform was distributed to convention delegates that declared, "We strongly support President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage." The draft platform added, "Attempts to redefine marriage in a single city or state could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a constitutional amendment, passed by Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges."
Cheney's remarks appear to be timed to create a less harsh view of the Republicans' attitude toward homosexuals for their national convention. The gesture may be meant to serve two purposes:
•Reassure gay conservatives, such as the Log Cabin Republicans. Homosexuals who are conservatives often support the GOP's positions on matters other than the rights of homosexuals. Since gay men are more likely to be white, better educated and affluent, unlike other minority groups, there is a significant constituency of conservative homosexuals.
•Get conservative gays who are not Republicans to consider the party as it enters the image polishing process of a national convention.
There is a caveat to Cheney's position.
But Mr. Cheney noted that the president believed a recent round of court decisions, notably in Massachusetts, "were making the judgment or decision for the entire country," and had thus embraced a constitutional amendment.
His alleged fear of 'activist judges' could provide cover for Cheney to support a federal resolution to the issue, despite his claim he does not consider gay marriage a federal matter.
Gay activists expressed skepticism in regard to Cheney's stance.
The Associated Press reports delegates preparing for the convention perused the proposal to make opposition to gay marriage part of the party's platform Tuesday.
Republicans call for a constitutional ban on gay marriage in a proposed election platform headed for a feisty debate in the days before their national convention.
If the plank is approved as expected, it would mark the first time the GOP has gone on record in its statement of principles as supporting an amendment against gay marriage. The issue opens a new point of contention between the party’s social conservatives and moderates in platform hearings, who typically tangle over abortion rights each presidential election season.
Mary Cheney is said to have successfully recruited gay people to the Republican Party during the 2002 mid-term elections.
Friday, August 20, 2004
Internet: To IM or not
I rarely use instant messaging. I haven't developed a complex theory why, and, the far Right hasn't managed to link my apostasy to some presumed malfeasance by John Kerry -- yet. Perhaps it has to do with longevity on the 'Net. As a veteran of AOL chatrooms in the early '90s, Talk City news chats later, and various ethnic and women's sites, not to mention Yahoo and About.com, I think I may have exceeded my lifetime bandwidth for real time interaction on the Web a long time ago. If responding in comments to something I've said or emailing me is not fast enough, I wonder why. I don't miss the immediacy and like being able to adhere to other things I'm working on instead of answering the online equivalent of the phone.
However, being a reasonable person, I am willing to lend an ear to people who approve of instant messaging. Brian Cooley, at ZDNet's Anchordesk, likes IM. Cooley is a convert who started out with a decidedly different opinion.
Working at CNET back in 1996, it seemed like everyone on earth went with instant messaging, but I stood pat with e-mail. Why? Like so many of my life's little stances, I can't remember anymore.
I think it had something to do with thinking IM was an unseemly waste of time, just another way to goof off in an industry that didn't exactly need more of those. For example, my office was less than two minutes away from a massage place, a video arcade, a foosball parlor, and a phalanx of Coke machines--and that was without leaving the building
I don't know that I ever considered instant messaging unseemly. Most people who contacted me did not spell you're 'your' or blather about Britney Spears. The conversations were more likely to be about a legal decision or a book I'd mentioned reading. They weren't a waste of time, but neither were they momentous. Answering my IMs was much less goofing off than the millions of Americans who play Solitaire on their computers at work are engaged in. I've never been to the kind of massage place Cooley is referring to and I don't play foosball.
Cooley's main reason for liking instant messaging is disliking email.
But today e-mail is choked with garbage, and I think that's the best reason for IM. I run two spam filters just to get down to 300 spam messages in my in-box each day. People I need to reach aren't responsive to e-mail anymore; they seem to check it every few hours or so, probably dreading the onslaught of spam and tedious threads that await them.
IM restores that rapid-fire pungency e-mail used to have, an electronic version of someone sticking their head in your office door.
My email filters are about 75 percent effective in identifying detritus and depositing it in my Junk and Trash folders. I weed through the rest. I don't believe IMing would make much difference in how much email I receive. I already route real life communicants to email addresses that I don't publish, so I know to check those accounts often.
I suspect Brian Cooley's real motivation for IMing is the immediacy he refers to as "rapid-fire pungency." There was a time, years ago, when I might have said the same thing. But, as more words than I care to think about have come and gone from and to me on the Internet, I've become less eager to have someone stick his head in my office door. Email me instead.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Politics: Second Kerry attacker discredited
Another of the Vietnam veterans who has attempted to smear presidential candidate John Kerry has been revealed to be circulating false information.
With Election Day approaching, a group of conservative veterans, some who have been attacking Kerry since he was an opponent of the war during the Nixon administration, has revved up its offensive. Television ads describing Kerry as a coward instead of a hero are airing in some media markets. A book which says he does not deserve the medals for heroism he earned in Vietnam will soon be released.
However, the credibility of the attackers is coming under increased scrutiny. Military records and the accounts of the far Right swift boat veterans seldom match. The Washington Post reports.
WASHINGTON -- Newly obtained military records of one of John Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.
In interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that his boat came under fire March 13, 1969, in Viet Cong-controlled territory. Kerry won a Bronze Star that day.
But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow also won a Bronze Star, and the citation praises him for providing aid to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."
As one of five Swift boat skippers who led the raid up the Bay Hap River, Thurlow was a direct participant in the disputed events. He also is a leading member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The public-advocacy group of Vietnam veterans, dismayed by Kerry's subsequent anti-war activities, has aired a controversial advertisement attacking his war record.
On March 13, 1969, Kerry pulled an officer who had been thrown from a boat out of the water, possibly saving his life. Thurlow has denied that Kerry's boat was under fire when the rescue occurred. He has claimed Kerry's account is "totally fabricated" and that the presidential candidate does not deserve the Bronze Star he received as a result of the incident. Military records say that all of the boats were under fire, including Kerry's. Thurlow himself says the boats were taking fire in the records. In addition to the claim that Kerry's boat was not under attack, Thurlow and other members of the group claim that Kerry fled the scene that day. (Odd, considering that there would have been nothing for him to flee in the absence of combat.) There is no official corroboration of their claims. The group consists of conservative Vietnam veterans who believe the war was justified and winnable. Despite his record of heroism, Kerry came to oppose the war. Veterans who served with Kerry, including the crew of his swift boat, support his accounts of how he came to be a decorated veteran.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Politics: Smear campaigner retracted remarks
Considering that we are continually treated to the mud slinging of Vietnam veterans who oppose John Kerry (pictured) and also just happen to be operatives of the GOP, why we haven't we heard much about a former member of the smear campaign who has recanted? Richard Einhorn at Tristero tells us about Lieutenant Commander George Elliott, who had second thoughts after doing his duty as a conservative. After refuting attempts to discredit Kerry in 1996, Elliott succumbed to pressure from very conservative Vietnam veterans to aid them in their latest assault. He now regrets having given in and performed according to their script.
. . . a key figure in the anti-Kerry campaign, Kerry's former commanding officer, backed off one of the key contentions. Lieutenant Commander George Elliott said in an interview that he had made a ''terrible mistake" in signing an affidavit that suggests Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star. . .
The statement refers to an episode in which Kerry killed a Viet Cong soldier who had been carrying a rocket launcher, part of a chain of events that formed the basis of his Silver Star...Crew members have said Kerry's actions saved their lives.
Yesterday, reached at his home, Elliott said he regretted signing the affidavit and said he still thinks Kerry deserved the Silver Star. . .
Elliott said. ''It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here."
Readers will note that I removed as many of the lies as I could from the article in quoting these excerpts. I did so for a reason.
The people trying to slime Kerry are doing so not because they have a legitimate point of view but because they hate Kerry for opposing the Vietnam War. They are deliberately spreading falsehoods in order to muddy the discourse, to turn a clearcut case of heroism into a he said/she said "debate."
But it isn't working. The Bush campaign has publicly repudiated them and McCain has reamed both them and the Bush campaign.
More importantly, the facts speak for themselves. Those who were most in a position to know, Kerry's boatmates, stand by Kerry. As do contemporary Army records.
There is no he said/she said "debate." Kerry deserved his Silver and Purple stars.
End of story.
I haven't said much about the Right's 'swift boaters' because to refute a lie one must repeat it, thereby spreading the falsehood. Furthermore, much of the material being disseminated by these folks, who are bankrolled by a wealthy reactionary in Texas, makes no sense. My hope is that reasonable people will see right through it without having to be convinced that the swift boaters lack credibility. For example, the Southern doctor who claims to have removed shrapnel from Kerry's hand and to have applied a Band-Aid, missed something obvious, or perhaps he expects civilians to be too ignorant to realize his account defies logic. Physicians are not allowed on the front lines. They are too valuable to risk to close enemy fire. Medics supply the only medical care on the front lines. He would not have even have been where he says he was. Furthermore, his account does not match military records. And, it is unbelievable that he would have a clear memory of giving a Band-Aid to someone who wanted to run for president 35 years later. (Assuming, of course, that the young Kerry wanted to run for president then and told everyone, including strangers, that he did.) Hopefully, most people are not so vacuous as to credit such obvious fabrication. The group's book, which is apparently rife with similar lies, will be released by the Right Wing publishers at Regnery next week.
It is a good thing George Elliott has decided not to participate in the smear campaign. However, it would be a better thing if he had refused to participate from the beginning. His false assertions are included in the book and in a television ad promoting it. Elliott has done too little, too late.
Elliott backed down from his earlier position in the Boston Herald.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
News: Revisited and reconsidered
•Beheading faker is a candidate
I predicted some people would try to excuse the behavior of the man who pretended he was beheaded by Iraqi militants on political grounds. It turns out I overestimated human nature. The fellow was running for office in California and apparently thought the stunt would enhance his electability. The Desert Suneditorializes.
Misguided Benjamin Vanderford, 22, originally staged his own beheading to draw attention to his campaign for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He eventually decided to distribute the video on Kaaza, a Web site that trades millions of software files daily. It crossed over to the major media and aired on Arab television. He later said that he was making a statement against the war in Iraq.
This incident is even more troubling because Vanderford has shown no remorse for his disgusting act.
No matter what type of statement he was trying to make, he showed absolute disrespect for those who died this agonizing death -- and for those who have to live forever with the horrid images of their loved ones suffering.
I am no Right Wing editorialist, but I agree. Perhaps we've sent a message to American youths that any kind of stunt is acceptable if the objective is marketing oneself. T'aint so. Does it matter that Vanderford is coming from the Left of the political spectrum? Not a whit. His actions were irresponsible regardlessly.
•"Wake Up Everybody" is a a timely tune
Who says Old School rock and soul are necessarily 'old'? I recently wrote about Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, whose fame peaked in the 1970s, though their lead singer, Teddy Pendergrass remained popular. The group was part of the history making Sound of Philadelphia, which fell on hard times after CBS stopped distributing the artists of Philadelphia International Records. Now we learn that one of the group's best known songs, "Wake Up Everybody," will be used to launch, hopefully, a million votes, in 2004.
Add Babyface and Missy Elliot to the growing list of artists looking to get out the vote in the months before the Nov. 2 presidential election.
The R&B star and hip-hop queen lead a cavalcade of music superstars--Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean, Eve, Ashanti and Jadakiss, among them--who have come together to record a new all-star version of the classic hit "Wake Up Everybody" to benefit voter initiatives.
The anthem, recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, was used by Democrats in 1976 during Jimmy Carter's run for the presidency to mobilize black voters.
Now Kenneth "Babyface" Edmunds, who produced the new cover, hopes to do the same and win the hearts and minds of Americans in an effort to unseat President Bush from office.
The lyrics to the original "Wake Up Everybody," on which Pendergrass, who has a remarkable baritone voice, sings lead, are sympatico. Here's the first stanza:
Wake up everybody, no more sleepin in bed
No more backward thinkin,'
Time for thinkin' ahead.
The world has changed so very much
From what it used to be
So there is so much hatred war and poverty.
Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way.
Maybe then they'll listen to whatcha have to say.
Cause they're the ones who's coming up
And the world is in their hands
When you teach the children, teach'em the very best you can.
No message could be more on point at this time in history than the chorus.
The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better
We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me.
Old School is not so old after all. Efforts to reform much of what is wrong with America began in the 1960s and 1970s, but the work is far from done.
•Real reduces price, ups ante against Apple
Real Networks has decided, "in for a dime, in for a dollar." It has slashed the price of downloads from its online music store to 50 cents per tune. The effort is an attempt to attract Windows users from Apple's iTunes Music Store.
RealNetworks will slash its song and album prices in half Tuesday in an attempt to lure music fans to buy its music downloads, which play on a slew of portable music players, including Apple iPods.
At 50 cents a song and $5 an album, the prices are the lowest yet offered by a mainstream digital music service. The bargain prices will last for "multiple weeks," according to Dan Sheeran, a senior vice president at RealNetworks.
Real's promotion is the latest volley by the company to pressure Apple Computer into opening up its music format to interoperate with other players. Several weeks ago, Real unveiled its Harmony technology, which allows music bought from Real to be played on more than 100 different portable players, including Apple's iPod.
Ironically, I anticipated this change for all online music stores in comments at another blog. But, I did not expect it to happen so soon or as part of a price war. If this is a war. We will not know until we see whether Apple, or other competitors, respond in kind. The more likely result is that Apple will attempt to expedite its lawsuit against Real claiming opening the iPod's software violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
•Many of the current reports about the Blue Notes contain inaccurate information. Harold Melvin died in 1997. The present group, which performed at the 2000 Republican Convention, does not include any of the members from its hit-making epoch with Philadelphia International Records. Read a history of the Blue Notes.
•Mac-a-ro-nies previously considered Real's 'trespassing' on Apple's turf.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Music: The Blue Notes were ultimate
American music can be like a knitted sweater. Pull on a thread and watch a sleeve, or the whole thing, unravel. I am reminded of that by a recent experience of that interconnectedness. I developed a renewed interest in soul singer Teddy Pendergrass after Janet Jackson mentioned having fantasized about him as a child. She enthused over having the hots for the Teddy Bear (pictured) when she was 12 years old, in an effort to overcome sagging sales of her new album, Damita Jo. It was also influential that Nelly has one of the most popular Hip Hop recordings ever with a cover of Pendergrass.
(Jul. 23, 2004) Somewhere, Teddy Pendergrass is smiling. His 1981 masterpiece of seduction “Come Go With Me” fuels the hit single “My Place,” sung by new Charlotte Bobcats co-owner Nelly and ghetto crooner Jaheim, and has become the first joint since Eminem’s “Without Me” in 2000 to earn Greatest Gainer and Most Airplay Adds on three different radio formats.
“My Place” is the #1 most added at track on the Urban, Rhythm Crossover and Top 40 charts, and is the Greatest Gainer on all three as well.
Five recently purchased Pendergrass CDs, one autobiography and a performance DVD later, I'm reviewing the Blue Notes. I suppose that is inevitable. Teddy Pendergrass developed the style that would make him one of soul music's greatest success stories while performing with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes from 1969 to 1975.
The Ultimate Blue Notes, the most attractive compilation of material by the Blue Notes at the peak of their popularity I could find, relies heavily on the Pendergrass era, but the other Blue Notes are also present enough to remind one this was a group. Harold Melvin's classy tenor shines on the group's rendition of "Hope We Can Be Together Soon," a harmonious duet with the very talented Sharon Paige. She is the only female member in the Blue Notes' 50-plus years of history that I am aware of again. Paige is again represented in "You Make Me Feel So Good," a duet with Pendergrass. The other male members of the Blue Notes -- Laurence Brown, Bernard Wilson, Lloyd Parks and Jerry Cummings -- provide backup and the seemingly effortless integrated harmony on other numbers, including "Weak for You," "The Love I Lost," and "Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back").
Still, one comes away from The Ultimate Blue Notes in awe of Teddy Pendergrass. How in the world could Harold Melvin have thought it was just fine to emphasize his name instead? Why did he believe the group would maintain its status without the young baritone the audience's ears had become attuned to? There are at least three faces of Pendergrass on the album. He is bewildered and nonplussed mark wondering where all his pals and money went on the amusing "Where Are All My Friends?" The wronged lover in "If You Don't Know Me By Now" "I Miss You," and "Yesterday, I Had the Blues." The preacher comes out on "Bad Luck," with a monologue in which the young man from Philadelphia takes President Richard M. Nixon to task. The most surprising cut on the CD is "Don't Leave Me This Way." The Blue Notes' version, dominated by Pendergrass, is, if anything, better than the hit disco queen Gloria Gaynor made of the same song. Pendergrass' baritone is mellow through most of the song only to build to a passionate crescendo at the finale. I had never heard the Blue Notes do the song before and feel I've been deprived all these years.
There were five charting albums by the Blue Notes during the Pendergrass period -- Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (1972), Black and Blue (1973), Wake Up Everybody (1975), To Be True (1975) and, All Their Greatest Hits (1976). All where products of Philadelphia International Records when it ruled the soul music roost. They are all probably worthy of purchase. However, The Ultimate Blue Notes is an excellent distillation of the group's finest work.
Pendergrass emerged from the Blue Notes. But, they were far from his only influence. He says the vocalist he was most in awe of is fellow baritone, Marvin Junior of The Dells. Though I was a child during the Blue Notes' 'blue period,' I remember the stand-outs, such as "If You Don't Know Me By Now." I was more cognizant of Pendergrass' hits in the late '80s and '90s, such as his smash duet with Whitney Houston, "Hold Me." I recall a single song by The Dells, the famous "Oh What a Night," which still gets plenty of play. But, after some online exploration, I want to know more. I now realize that the movie, The Five Heartbeatsis about The Dells.
One of the highlights of The Dells' career, which introduced them to the "Hip-Hop Generation", was when director Robert Townsend wrote the inspiring movie The Five Heartbeats based on the tumultuous lives and career of The Dells . This film produced the hit sound track chartbuster "A Heart Is A House For Love" which catapulted The Dells into another dimension as 'superstars'.
I'll be picking up a compilation of The Dells' best material at a music store this week. I tugged a thread on the sweater of American music and a sleeve is unraveling.
A brief history of the Blue Notes.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
News: Man fakes beheading in Iraq
Perhaps sex is not the only thing I'm slow in regard to. I can't fathom why anyone would consider pretending to have been beheaded by Muslims in Iraq a cool thing to do. Yet, a young Californian has done just that. He seems to be under the impression he is helping the anti-war effort by posting a false claim of decapitation on the Internet. The known incidents of beheading did attract attention to the issue of whether Americans should be in Iraq. But, this effort to piggyback on legitimate, and tragic, events is indefensible. Reuters reports.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A tech-savvy young San Francisco man who staged his own mock beheading on the Internet duped international media on Saturday into believing Islamist kidnappers had executed an American hostage in Iraq.
The video, which appeared on a Web site used by Islamic militants, showed a man who identified himself as Benjamin Vanderford appealing to the United States to leave Iraq. The Web format was that used by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and was introduced by a headline that said it showed Zarqawi killing an American.
"If we don't (leave Iraq), everyone is gonna be killed in this way ... I have been offered for exchange for prisoners here in Iraq," the terrified-looking man said, rocking back and forth in his chair, his hands tied behind his back.
The video showed a hand with a large knife apparently slicing through the neck of a limp body.
But it was all a hoax.
Some people will try to excuse the hoax on political grounds. They will say that since the faker's goal is the honorable objective of casting doubt on the occupation of Iraq, the means justify the end. I disagree. The stance of liberals and progressives in regard to the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been that America and the world need to know the truth. We are irate with the Bush administration because it lied to provide a rationale for the invasion. We believe the goals of the Bush adminstration in Iraq are to impose imperialism in the region and exploit the country's oil resources. Our opposition to lying about what is occurring there is undermined if we support this dishonest attempt to create opposition to the occupation. Benjamin Vanderford's behavior is irresponsible, not praiseworthy.
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Entertainment: Isley sidelined, James exits
It hasn't been a pleasant week for fans of old school rock and soul. Notorious punk funk king Rick James died in middle-age, after suffering a stroke and having hip replacement surgery in recent years. The legendary Ronald Isley (pictured) has had a stroke. The Isley Brothers are such fixtures in soul music it is difficult to imagine their absence.
Ronald Isley isn't going to let a little stroke get in the way of his passion for performing.
The longtime lead vocalist for the Isley Brothers suffered a stroke in London last Friday, but he is recovering swiftly, according to a statement released Thursday by Def Soul Classics.
Ronald Isley is best known for his silky-smooth vocals that have graced Isley Brothers hits for the better part of 40 years. The group got its start in 1951, but it wasn't until their 1959 debut for RCA, "Shout," that the band started to sell well. "Shout" went on to move a million units, despite virtually no support from radio.
. . .Their most recent studio release, 2003's Body Kiss, gave the Isleys their first number-one record in almost 30 years, selling 155,00 copies its first week out.
Isley is 63. James died at 56.
The positive aspect of stories like these is that these performers have significant achievements that make their health problems or early exits less depressing than if they had just begun to prove their mettle. The Isley Brothers' history, four decades long, is impressive enough that they could rest on their laurels if they chose. Though James had hoped to revive his career, his effort failed when he had a stroke while performing in 1998. Resilient, he was again on the rebound when he died.
James has since performed sporadically, including some gigs this year and a tour set for 2003. According to his Website, RickJames.com, he spent nearly four weeks in the hospital suffering heart problems that required the implantation of a pacemaker. Since then he says he's given up cigarettes and alcohol and remains drug-free.
James' skills and notoriety guarantee him a place in the memories of rock and soul aficianodos despite his early death.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Internet: Mac users show Jobs they care
As you may know by now, Apple Computer's chief is recovering from a major health problem.
Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs has survived an operation to remove a cancerous growth from his pancreas, Reutersreports . Apple has been surprisingly forthcoming about Jobs' illness considering its reputation for secrecy.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs has had successful surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer, the company's co-founder told employees in a company-wide e-mail on Sunday that was made available to Reuters.
"This weekend I underwent a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my pancreas," Jobs wrote in the e-mail. "I had a very rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which represents about 1 percent of the total cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed each year, and can be cured by surgical removal if diagnosed in time (mine was)."
He added that he "will not require any chemotherapy or radiation treatments."
Jobs wrote that he will recuperate during the month of August and expects to return to Cupertino, California-based Apple in September. He is also chief executive of animated film studio Pixar .
Leander Kahney, who follows Apple closely for Wired, says there has been an impressive outpouring of sympathy and support for Jobs (pictured).
News of Steve Jobs' cancer operation has Mac news sites seeing record traffic, forums are bulging with unprecedented numbers of postings, and Apple is being swamped with messages of sympathy.
"Having anyone as well-known, respected and as popular as Steve Jobs announce that kind of news is going to cause an especially strong emotional reaction in the community he helped create," said Chuck Joiner, editor-in-chief of the Macintosh User Group Center , which represents hundreds of Mac user groups. "The sentiments are obviously overwhelmingly supportive. If anyone knew how they could help, they would in a second."
. . ."Traffic to our article about Jobs' surgery is right up there with the biggest stories of the past couple years," said Larry Angell, editor-in-chief of MacMinute , one of the first websites to post the news.
On Sunday, two of the top five stories on Yahoo's news site concerned Jobs' cancer scare.
MacCentral and Macworld.com, two of the most popular Mac news sites on the Web, saw high volumes of weekend traffic, online editor Jim Dalrymple said.
I also noticed a great deal of concern about Jobs at tech sites I visited during the last few days. The focus was not on technology, but on wanting one of the most intriguing of high tech leaders to continue his career of innovation. "Screw the stock price! Just get well," a remark posted at MacCentral, was typical of Mac users' thoughts. The situation leads one to ask whether there would be a similar outpouring of empathy if Microsoft multi millionaire Bill Gates or Oracle honcho Larry Ellison were to report being seriously ill. I don't think so. Apple users are more of a community than other buyers of hardware or software. Part of their solidarity is the result of the continual criticism they're subjected to as users of the minority platform and computer. (There are people who believe anything 'minority' is, by definition, bad, even a computer.) One positive aspect of the situation I have noticed is that some of the people expressing concern about Jobs' health are . . . Windows users. As the iPod and iTunes have penetrated the Windows market, more denizens of Wintel are becoming interested in Apple. The mystique that has long surrounded the Macintosh, and its companion hardware and software, is being pierced, too. A sizeable proportion of the get well cards flooding Apple will not be sent from .Mac accounts.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
News: Female rapist released from prison
Perhaps, when it comes to sex, I am slow. Very slow. Or maybe I am just not romantic enough. I have reason to wonder after learning one of the most notorious criminals in the Pacific Northwest was released from prison today. Nearly a decade ago, the saga of Mary Kay Letourneau began. She was an elementary school teacher, unhappily married and the mother of four children. She initiated a sexual relationship with a student. She had known the child, the son of Samoan immigrants, since he was in her second-grade class. The relationship would result in the birth of two children and two prison sentences for Letourneau.
ABC News has the story.
GIG HARBOR, Wash. Aug. 4, 2004 -- Mary Kay Letourneau, the one-time grade school teacher who served 7 1/2 years in prison for having sex with her sixth-grade pupil, has been released, a corrections spokeswoman said early Wednesday.
Letourneau was a 34-year-old elementary school teacher in suburban Seattle and a married mother of four in 1996 when her friendship with the then-12-year-old Fualaau mutated into flirtation and then sex.
The illicit relationship was revealed when Letourneau's husband, Steve, found love letters from the boy. Steve Letourneau later moved to Alaska with the couple's children and was granted a divorce.
When Letourneau was arrested in 1997, she was already pregnant with Fualaau's daughter. A judge sentenced her to six months in jail for second-degree child rape, and ordered her to stay away from Fualaau.
But the temptation proved too much for her to resist. A month after Letourneau was released, she was caught having sex with Fualaau in her car, a violation of her parole. She was sent to prison for seven and a half years, and gave birth to Fualaau's second daughter behind bars.
In addition to the revelation of the unseemly sexual activity to Steve Letourneau, the couple's young daughter is said to have witnessed her mother and the boy having sex.
Fualaau knocked about during the intervening years. A poor student, he dropped out of school at 15. There were brushes with the criminal law. He fathered at least one other child. A lawsuit filed in an effort to hold the school system liable for his rape was rejected by jurors. Meanwhile, his mother reared his children along with her own. Today, the 21-year-old Fualaau is unemployed and seems to lack any prospects. Throughout the saga, Letourneau has claimed the seemingly sordid affair was not about an adult taking sexual advantage of a child, to his detriment. She says that hers is one of the most romantic love stories of our times.
Letourneau's own background sheds some light on the situation. She is the daughter of John Schmitz, a far Right politician from California prominent during the 1960s through the '80s. Schmitz was a member of reactionary Roman Catholic groups and the John Birch Society. He was particularly hostile to the Equal Rights Amendment to equalize the status of women in society and very 'pro-family.' He progressed from a city council member, to a state senator, to a candidate for the presidency.
John Schmitz became the 1972 Presidential candidate of the extremely right-wing American Independent Party. No one expected him to win or even to garner as many votes as its previous standard bearer, the far better known Governor George Wallace. However, about one million Americans voted for him, adding up to about 1% of the popular vote.
His meteoric rise in politics came to a halt after it became known that he had maintained a second family with his former secretary for years. Learning her father was a bigamist did not effect Letourneau's strong loyalty to him and his beliefs. The emphasis she places on childbearing -- even under really dubious circumstances -- seems to relate back to his values. She now says she would like to have additional chidren by Fualaau.
Fualaau has asked that he allowed to have contact with Letourneau, KGW-TV reports.
Vili Fualaau says he's an adult now and can pick his own friends, including Mary Kay Letourneau, his elementary school teacher, rapist and the mother of his two children, who was released from prison Wednesday.
Just hours after Letourneau completed her 7 1/2-year prison term for raping Fualaau when he was 12, the now 21-year-old Fualaau sought to reunite with her.
N. Scott Stewart, an attorney for Fualaau, filed a motion to vacate a no-contact order between Fualaau and Letourneau, 42, that was part of Letourneau's sentencing.
That Fualaau and Letourneau would want to get together was no surprise to some who know her well.
"She has a personal need to get back together with him to prove to the world this is a love story and not a crime story," said Gregg Olsen, who wrote a book about Letourneau's case. "Part of Mary Letourneau will never let go of this love."
Perhaps the reason is a lack of insight into romance on my part, but this situation seems like one in which two people have harmed themselves and a half-dozen children. Actually, make that seven children. For most of these years, Fualaau was a child himself. I am doubtful that a continuing relationship between Letourneau and Fualaau would really benefit either of them.
A fairly balanced narrative of the life of Mary Kay Letourneau can be read at Court TV's Crime Library.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
News: Soldier says Americans abused Iraqis for 'fun'
American military personnel who abused Iraqi prisoners did it "just for fun," an Army investigator testified Monday. He was explaining the context of the abuse in a hearing to determine whether Pfc. Lynndie England should be bound over for trial. You may recall that England is the young woman photographed holding one prisoner on a leash and pointing at another's genitals.
The Associated Press reports.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - Prosecutors portrayed Pfc. Lynndie England as an out-of-control soldier who mocked Iraqi prisoners in photos ``just for fun,'' seeking Tuesday to discredit claims that she was following orders when she abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.
On the first day of a hearing to determine whether England should be court-martialed for her actions at the prison, witnesses testified that the naked detainees shown with her in human pyramids and tethered to a leash were common criminals of little or no value to interrogators, abused only for sport.
An Army investigator, Paul Arthur, testified that when he interviewed England about the photos three months before they became public, she told him they were taken while ``they were joking around, having some fun, during the night shift.''
England has told the press that she and other soldiers accused of mistreating inmates at Abu Ghraib were ordered to do so by superiors. She claims that instead of being evidence of petty and vicious behavior, photographs and videos of the abuse are part of a planned scheme to elicit useful information from prisoners. However, the consensus among persons in positions to know is that most of the prisoners had been arrested casually, and, did not possess information useful to prevent terrorist attacks in Iraq and elsewhere. Many of the detainees have since been released without ever having been charged.
The assaults on Iraqi prisoners, some of them of a sexual nature, had been known to American military and political leaders months before they were leaked to the media. In the aftermath, Arabs and Muslims worlwide reacted with outrage, perceiving the material as revealing dehumanizing, and possibly racist attitudes, toward them by Americans. Terrorists who have kidnapped, and on two occassions, beheaded foreigners in Iraq, have cited the abuse of Iraqi prisoners as justification.
Defenders of England say she is being made a scapegoat. However, evidence offered at the Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a grand jury inquiry, was not favorable to her. The prisoners involved are not persons who were sources of intelligence. Arthur testified that England never mentioned turning the images over to military intelligence to be used in interrogations of other prisoners, as has been claimed by her lawyers. Furthermore, England, who was not a prison guard, but a clerk, had been told that she had no official reason to be in the area where she posed for and took pictures of Iraqi detainees being abused.
England is charged with 13 counts of abusing detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos which the Army has said do not depict Iraqis. The maximum possible sentence is 38 years in prison.
. . .He [Arthur] said England claimed to have gotten permission from military intelligence to ``rough up'' a couple of rape suspects, but later noted she was the only member of the 372nd to tell him of the orders by military intelligence.
England is one of seven reservists from the 372nd who have been charged in the scandal. One, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison.
To bolster their claim that the military and political elite are responsible for the prison abuses, the defense added Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to their witness list. Their efforts to obtain testimony from the two were rejected.
The hearing will continue tomorrow.
•We last considered the role of Lynndie England in "The face of Iraqi prisoner abuse."
•One of the military's highest ranking women has been demoted because of the Iraqi inmate abuse scandal.