Wednesday, November 23, 2005

American Music Association Awards Show Says 2005 Lousy Year for Music

My wife and I watched the AMA Awards and couldn't believe how bad it was. First, Mariah Carey came out without enough clothes on and sang a "Britney Spears type song," according to my wife. For most of the show the sound quality was muddled.

But what really sent the sign that 2005 was a bad year for music is that 4 old-timers were asked to play. (Mariah Carey may be an old-timer, but she has a new album out) Cyndi Lauper played with Sarah McLachlan, The Eurythmics, Carlos Santana with Los lonely Boys, and a satellite feed of the Rolling Stones. You know it's bad when my wife says the Rolling Stones were about the best sound of the evening. Not to forget, Lindsay Lohan did a rotten cover of Stevie Nicks. Now any one of these would be fine, they all did a good job on their songs (esp Eurythmics and Santana), but to have this many on one night says that they are hurting for talent. Another sign that they are hurting for talent is that both Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff got stage time.

Besides the 4 old-timers, the 3 teeny-boppers (including Mariah Carey) and 3 other acts (The All-American Rejects, Three Doors Down and Cheryl Crow) all the acts were County or Hip-Hop. I don't mind either category getting fair time at the show, but what about all the other categories? Alternative is still putting out some top-notch stuff, Rock surely has someone that can bring down the joint. Is top 40 radio that bad?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Military Recriuting and Retention Very High

If things are going so badly overseas, why is retention so high? Could it be that the people who actually see what is going on see good things happening?Article here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Even More on Wal-Mart!

I just ran across this editorial and thought it was pretty good. If you notice, he must have read my blog before writing his column. The freedom to hate Wal-Mart by Paul Jacob. One statement he makes is really good:
The free market offers Wal-Mart haters an easy way to hit Wal-Mart right where it hurts. These wizards should start their own companies and pay entry-level retail workers as much as they think is "enough," and of course offer a generous package of health care and other benefits to both full and part-time employees. Problem solved!
As much as I don't like Wal-Mart, I don't try to pass laws to discriminate against any one business. The way the real anti-Wal-Marters need to do it, is to convince people to shop somewhere else. Good luck.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Is Wal-Mart Evil? part 2

From my last post on this topic: I think critics of Wal-Mart assume everyone has a good job till Wal-Mart moves to town. Not true.

Much of the free-market stuff that I read assumes everyone is smart, everyone is mobil and everyone is ambitious. If they aren't all three, that's just too bad. Because the author is all three, and he doesn't feel any pity for them. But living in small towns in depressed areas has convinced me that not everyone has all these options open to them.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Slate on Fixing Higher Education

Slate has several articles on How to Reinvent Higher Education here. Actually they sound less like reinventing and more like recalling. All the essayists believe education should cause a person to think critically, communicate clearly and develop a moral character. Sounds good to me. Several writers call for some moral teaching, even with the controversy it will bring. Alan Wolfe, who I blasted a few weeks ago, has a good essay.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is Wal-Mart Evil?

Is Wal-Mart Evil? Well, I think so, but I think most big corporations are (as I sit here on my Dell computer running Windows). Anyway, I always try to buy from the locals any time I can, but in a small town where a "super" Wal-Mart resides, there isn't a lot of competition left. But I try to get stuff at a local hardware store when I can (this cheapskate is fully aware it costs more), the only auto-parts stores left are also chains, but I go there instead of Wal-Mart for oil and windshield wipers.

The reason I bring this up is that our campus just showed a movie called Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. I wanted to go see it, but wasn't able to. A few commentators have commented on it, or the idea behind it, already. John Stossel with "Is Wal-Mart a Problem?", was a bit of a disappointment. It was like a politician answering the question he already knew the answer for, instead of the question that was asked. The issue isn't creation of wealth, the question is, are the workers and the public treated fairly?

The public: mostly yes. We in small towns have more selection of products to chose from at lower prices than we did before. Though still not the all-encompassing selection Wal-Mart wants you to believe it has. And this selection is in one building, so I don't have to drive to TG&Y, Woolworths, and Montgomery Wards to see who has the best price or whichever options I want. The downside is that Wal-Mart started out buying American-made products whenever it could and gained a lot of support that way. Now that Sam Walton is dead and Wal-mart is the only game in town, they get everything from China. I challenge you to find 10 things American made in 10 minutes in any Wal-Mart (other than food items).

I will say that having 10 different stores, each with a local owner, or independent manager, gives a town a different flavor than one national business with a few managers that are moved around till they hit the top spot and then live in whatever town they end up in.

The workers: In a community, does Wal-Mart create jobs, lose jobs, or just re-shuffle jobs? I'm not sure. What about pay and benefits? Well, anyone who has worked for an independent company can tell you that they don't pay so well either. And if they are too small, they can't afford to pay any insurance for their employees. I have a friend that was very happy being a machinist at a local farm and auto parts store, but the owner couldn't provide insurance. So, when the machinist got married he had to quit and work for a factory in the next town that provided insurance. Not as enjoyable, but it paid more and had benefits.

I think critics of Wal-Mart assume everyone has a good job till Wal-Mart moves to town. Not true. More on this later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Johnny Cash is not new to me

I have long been a Johnny Cash fan. When I was 5 years old, I could identify Cash on the radio. My folks had several of his albums that I now have. Most people have contradictions, but Cash had more of them and had them more strongly than almost anyone in the last century. Fully redeemed, yet fully a sinner (I have a copy of his mug shot from some county jail somewhere).

I really admire his humility as well as his righteous anger. Johnny Cash was not just The Man in Black, but he was The Man. Christianity Today Movies has a good article on the movie coming out. INTERVIEW The Man in Black Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who play Johnny and June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, join director James Mangold to discuss the legend's lifeƂ—and faith. By Peter T. Chattaway. It's more than an interview really. The movie was planned with the permission of Johnny and June Cash. I can't wait to see it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Evangelical Environmentalist - there's a phrase for you!

I really like what Ted Haggard has to say. Check it out here. (It's a short article.)