Monday, September 29, 2008

Song of the Week - Double Feature Premiere

My brother-in-law Chris used to have posts like this, until he and TJ entered into a joint-venture to create their music blog The Sounds of Science. Recently, Nicole created a music blog as well and invited Jodi, Heidi, and I to participate in it. I will participate, but at the same time, I feel that their music type is a little different from mine in some aspects, though I certainly share much with them as well. So along with my participation on that site, I will portray some of the stuff that I enjoy that they may not so much. So here is my first "song of the week" (we'll see if one makes it on here every week) and my second as a special premiere Double Feature! Both are harder, scream-o mixed with pop-punk type of music, but give it a might like it.

Hawthorne Heights - "Ohio is For Lovers"
I knew the lyrics to this song before I came home from my mission, but not before I left...My last companion (Braden Bangerter) filled me in on some of my current favorite bands before I even came home (Fall Out Boy and this band being the most prominent on my mind right now). Anyways, good song to listen to. Enjoy

Scary Kids Scaring Kids - "My Darkest Hour"
This is a band that I recently discovered thanks to a friend at work and they are amazing (one of my new favorites) and their album spends much of it's time playing on my iPod. I hope you enjoy! If anything the music video is higly entertaining, so if you don't like the music, turn it down and enjoy these crazy kids...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Star

European astronomers "found" this strobe light star which belongs to a long-sought family of compact "neutron" stars. Scientists believe it to be something called a Magnetar which, according to the article “would wipe the information from all credit cards on Earth from a distance halfway to the Moon." I thought this was way interesting. To read the full article click here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

colThe Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
-"I have given to this book so much of whatever time I have because I feel, and I hope, that if I honestly and fully tell my life's account, read objectively it might prove to be a testimony of some social value...I believe that it would be almost impossible to find anywhere in America a black man who has lived further down in the mud of human society than I have; or a black man who has been any more ignorant than I have been; or a black man who has suffered more anguish during his life than I have. But it is only after the deepest darkest that the greatest joy can come; it is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come. For the freedom of my 22 million black brothers and sisters here in America, I do believe that I have fought the best that I knew how, and the best that I could, with the shortcomings that I have had. I know that my shortcomings are many..." (p. 378-379)

-Malcolm X

I just finished reading this and it was a slow read. Not only because of the excellent, but deep, content; but because of small margins and small print. Anyways, what an excellent book. Reading about Malcolm's life growing up in the 30's and 40's, his hard times, his conversion to Black Muslim in prison and long dedication to that, and his final conversion to true Islam was an engaging eye-opener.

As a white man growing up in modern-day southern CA, this book presented ideas/lifestyles that I was aware of but had never experienced. Seeing the kind of life Afro-American's suffered through because of racism is really sad but important to know so we can learn from it.

Upon Malcolm's initial conversion to Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, it was tough to read through his constant preaching of the "Devil White Man," though I can certainly understand where he was coming from (as I had just read where he was coming from).

Many only think of Malcolm X as a promoter of a violent resistance, whereas he never really participated in any violent activity. The skewed version of him as being a radical is in part due to the media's changing of his words and in part due to most of his live's preaching of the "Devil White Man." While some of his views were indeed radical, they were necessary. Though the ones that were over the top he later changed in his life.

For me, the book went from a good, instructional read, to an excellent story important for us all when Malcolm went to Mecca and found the true Islamic faith. Not only did he just encounter a renewed and expanded faith, he also discovered something he did not expect in Mecca: white Muslims and black Muslims (and all other colors of people) living in true brotherhood with no regard for color (or even a recognition of a difference in color).

From this point on he made a change in his life and creed. He no longer decried ALL men/women of white complexion to be devils, but had changed it to something completely different. Of this change he said: "That morning was when I first began to reappraise the 'white man.' It was when I first began to perceive that 'white man,' as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it describes attitudes and actions. In America, 'white man' meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been." (p.333-334)

Less than a year after his realization in Mecca and forthcoming change his life was cut short. The public never really accepted his modification of his beliefs to consider all as humans and acceptance of white complexioned men who did not follow the western-white-racism belief. His life was cut short just as he could of made even more dramatic change for equal rights for all.

Truly a compelling read and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in being a better person and valuing human life and brotherhood. There is truly only one race and that is the Human Race and we are all brother and sisters. May we remember that. There are no separate races, only melatonin count in our skin.

Now for some great quotes from Malcolm X:

-" the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the 'white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana. We were truly all the same (brothers)--because their belief in one God had removed the 'white' from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude." (p. 340)

-on John Griffin's book Black Like Me: "Well, if it was a frightening experience for him as nothing but a make-believe Negro for sixty days--then you think about what real Negroes in America have gone through fro four hundred years." (p. 347)

-"I said that both races, as human beings, had the obligation, the responsibility, of helping to correct America's human problem. The well-meaning white people, I said, had to combat,actively and directly, the racism in other white people. And the black people had to build within themselves much greater awareness that along with equal rights there had to be the bearing of equal responsibilities. I knew, better than most Negroes, how many white people truly wanted to see American racial problems solved. I knew that many whites were as frustrated as Negroes." (p. 375)

-"When I am dead...I want you to just watch and see if I'm not right in what I say: that the white man, in his press, is going to identify me with 'hate.' He will make use of me dead, as he has made use of me alive, as a convenient symbol of 'hatred'--and that will help him to escape facing the truth that all I have been doing is holding up a mirror to reflect, to show, the history of unspeakable crimes that his race had committed against my race. You watch. I will be labeled as, at best, an 'irresponsible' black man. I have always felt about this accusation that the black 'leader' whom white men consider to be 'responsible' is invariably the black 'leader' who never gets any results." (p. 381)

View all my reviews.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

American Auto Bail-out? I Think Not!

U.S.Going Overboard in Bail-Outs?

I don't know if you guys heard, but the CEO of Ford (and others) called for the Gov't to make a loan of up to $50 billion to the auto industry cause they're failing! I think this is ridiculous! If you make a bad business decision, that is the risk you take when entering into a business proposition. All of this "bail-out" crap is getting out of hand. To some degree I understand, but when is enough enough? I don't buy Ford because they suck (i.e. Found On Road Dead), so why should my tax dollars subsidize them? I understand the whole saving jobs thing, but how much can we really do before people become responsible for their mistakes? I'm afraid of all of these bail-outs because it enables people to do it again. It provides the midset that goes something like this: "Well, we did it once and the government, why not again?" What stops consumers/lenders alike from making bad loans again 10, 15, or 20 years down the road if they both bank on the government bailing them out?

This is reminiscent of the failing US Steel industry. It too was failing because of international competition and called for government aid. The gov't approved funding for large steel companies so they could improve their equipment/technology, just like the Big Three automakers want gov't loans to retool old plants and save on borrowing costs. So what happened with the steel companies? Big bonuses for everyone! Woohoo! Literally, they blew all the money, didn't use it for it's given purpose of upgrading equipment, then they horribly KEPT failing (with their old equipment). Of course they wanted more money. At this point the gov't put their foot down (finally). What was the result? The merger of #1 and #2 steel producers (both foreign steel makers) in the world creating Arcelor-Mittal, the obvious ruler of the steel industry and based out of Luxembourg and London who is now the number one provider of Steel IN THE US.

What's even worse is that there was a break out of smaller steel recycling plants that were doing the major production of steel here in America and had a chance to make it. Did they get any gov't help? Of course not! The gov't only encourages failure nowadays! What not help companies that can stay alive instead of encouraging irresponsibility. I understand with some of the financial ones so the financial industry doesn't crash, but how long has the American Auto Industry known about impending growth in popular foreign vehicles? How long has Toyota, Honda, and others growth been happening? Foreign Auto makers have been providing quality, affordable, cars AND customer service for years and I consider that the American Auto industry has done nothing to improve quality. And for some reason the American Auto Industry didn't catch on until they fail and want a get-out-of-jail free card. I SAY NO! If Congress Seriously tries to pass something to help the Auto industry then WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN and tell them NO!! Anyways, that's my gripe for the day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Wheel of Time

Many of my readers will appreciate this blog entry just as I appreciated it when Mom introduced me to the information presented here (yep, thanks Mom). In December of 2007, TOR announced the author who will be finishing off Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series as being Brandon Sanderson (see official press release)

For those who aren't too familiar with Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time, it has been an epic fantasy tale created by James Oliver Rigney, Jr. under the pen-name of Robert Jordan. It was originally planned as a six book series which, those of us who have read it, quickly grew to one prequel and eleven books published by Mr. Jordan. He was working on the twelfth and final (yep, final, there was only one left) book when he passed away on Sept. 16, 2007 from a rare blood disease. Knowing of his impending passing, Jordan prepared extensive notes, some rough draft chapters, and even audio commentary on the story so that it could be completed according to his original design. His wife Harriet is also working in collaboration with Sanderson on the twelfth book.

The book is tentatively named A Memory of Light and will be possibly published as soon as Fall '09. The new novel, A Memory of Light, will be the 12th and final book in the fantasy series which has sold more than 14 million copies in North America and more than 30 million copies worldwide. The last four books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers. Sanderson himself is an accomplished novelist and was chosen by Harriet (Jordan's wife). Brandon Sanderson has assured s of the following:
    "Note that while I'll be writing the words of the book, the novel was outlined by Mr. Jordan before his death. His wife, who was also his editor, will be heavily involved as well. I am writing this book, but it is not my book. It is Mr. Jordan's book, and our goal will be to make it fulfill his vision for the series as much as possible...
     "I can't do the job that Mr. Jordan could have. Nobody can. But I will do the best I possibly can, and am confident in the quality of my work. This will be a fantastic book. His vision and foresight will make certain of that." (see Wheel of Time FAQ)