Iron Maiden Tribute Album - IT ROCKS !!! (10/31/05)


Ever since the Kiss tribute album that came out about ten years ago, a lot of metal bands from the 70s and 80s have been the subject of tribute albums.  Judas Priest has even had two tribute albums.  A lot of these albums featured nobodies and the quality of the songs are often mediocre. 


Today I received in the mail "NUMBERS FROM THE BEAST", a tribute album to Iron Maiden.   This album ABSOLUTELY ROCKS!!!!   You MUST go buy it!!!  If you don't believe me, go here to listen to sample audio tracks


Some of the artists who collaborated include past and present members of Iron Maiden, Kiss, AC/DC, Motorhead, Anthrax, Dio, Judas Priest, Ozzy's Band, Testament, Twisted Sister, Extreme, Slaughter, Whitesnake, Led Zeppelin, Mr. Big, Poison, MSG, Helmet, Styx, UFO, Lynch Mob, Suicidal Tendencies, Dokken, Rob Zombie Band, Rainbow, The Firm.



Specifically, this includes Chris Jericho, Dee Snider, Jeff Scott Soto, Joe Lynn Turner, Lemmy Kilmister, Paul Dianno, Robin McAuley, Mark Slaughter, Ripper Owens; George Lynch, Alex Skolnick, Michael Schenker, Nuno Bettencourt, Paul Gilbert, Scott Ian, Chris Traynor, Bob Kulick, Bruce Kulick; Frank Bello, Tony Franklin, Billy Sheehan; Chris Slade, Jason Bonham, John Tempesta, Aynsley Dunbar, Vinnie Appice, Simon Wright.


Here are the songs you'll find on the album:



Run to the Hills,

Wasted Years,

Wrathchild,

Flight of the Icarus,

Fear of the Dark,

The Trooper,

Aces High,

2 Minutes to Midnight,

Can I Play with Madness?,

The Evil that Men Do,

The Wickerman



Having said that, go check it out.  If you don't, it's your loss.

Hurricanes and Category Zero morons (10/25/05)

Since I haven't posted in a few days, I thought I'd share some thoughts I recently shared with some others regarding hurricanes and how they can bring out the best in people, but also show us just how truly dumb and clueless they can be.


PEOPLE WHO ASK HOW THE HURRICANE'S GONNA TURN OUT (when it's not even coming this way):



I don't know about you, but anyone who doesn't know how it's gonna turn out really outta watch the Weather Channel and leave me the hell alone.



As for me, I wanna say something like "things are gonna get trashed, it's gonna rain a lot, people are gonna hurt, and some are gonna dddiiiieeeeeeeeeee .... aahhhhhh, ahhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ... turn on the Weather Channel and find out who and where your damn self."



WEATHER MORONS IN HURRICANES:



Why the hell do weather people stand outside in that stuff?  I know I sure wouldn't.


We know what happens in hurricanes - lots of wind, and lots of rain. I've often watched TV and asked myself: "gee, why doesn't that dumb motherf***er get out of the rain?" He or she is supposed to be smart - I guess one day one of them will have their head removed live for the home audience and they'll finally figure this out.



They flock to the Battery seawall here in Charleston. TV stations all over the eastern half of the US are here to cover it (and take paid vacations too, I'll bet) live from location. Me, if I was the weather dude, I'd be on TV saying "Bob, it looks like this city is like so f***ed, so instead of chasing bimbos at the hotel lounge, I'm gonna haul my ass out of here, and get back to Yeehaw, Arkansas before I get blown away", and get back to cover the LOCAL weather, which is supposed to be my job anyway.





IDIOTS IN HARM'S WAY



Here in Charleston, we have four island communities chock-full of multi-million dollar palaces on the beachfront, most of whom are the property of idiots who aren't from here, never been through a hurricane, and like the people at the hotel, obviously never watch the news or Weather Channel. When these things hit, you see them on the news crying about losing everything.



Duuuuuhhhhh ... what did you expect?  These yo-yos are living proof that you can buy your way out of poverty, but sometimes you still can't afford a clue.



Or the people in New Orleans - maybe some people go there to  buy a house, see the levee nearby that's as tall as my house, and say "YES, I want to live there - put everything I own right THERE.  What could possibly go wrong with this?"  As for me ... hell no, I won't - I'll be the one who looks at my wife and says "gee honey, if that thing fails, we are so totally f***ed. Why don't we look at somewhere that is a little higher?"



While I'm sure a lot of people would ask themselves the same question and probably wouldn't live in such an obviously vulnerable location, there are about a half million or so who would.  Even worse, it seems as if most of them expect government money to bail them out.


Go figure.




Ok - ya'll can call me callous, clueless, right-on-the-mark, or your choice of hundreds of profane words, phrases and combinations thereof!

Red Cross Training - Homeland Security? (10/22/05)


I spent the better part of my day attending a Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification class, put on by my company's Safety Director.  While the classes he's been putting were intended for our field personnel - project managers, superintendents, and foremen, not administrative staff like me, there was a slot to take the class, and I took it.


I spent about five hours learning about assessing injuries and accident scenes, administering CPR, and basic first aid.  At the end, I took a test, which I apparently passed with flying colors - even though I had to step out for about twenty minutes of the class to pick up lunch for everyone.  In a few weeks, I'll receive my official certification card.


Since 9/11, we seem to think the threats to Homeland Security are foreign in nature and only the Army, FBI or other specialists can stop any threats.  In my humble opinion, Homeland Security is about finding and fighting threats of any kind which endanger our communities and put our fellow citizens in harm's way. 


When something happens, be it a workplace accident, something in public, or something more sinister, I'll now be a little more prepared to be part of the solution, and not just a helpless bystander.  I'll be more able to do my part for the security of our homeland and well-being of my fellow human beings.  The training is simple and only takes one afternoon a year - there's no reason most of you can't participate in this or some other first responder training, so GO DO IT!


Knowledge, vigilance and preparedness are the keys to surviving and prevailing when bad things happen.  What are YOU doing to be ready?

Times a'changing in the Middle East? (10/20/05)

An interesting article today on the AP/Yahoo news wire:



In Kuwait, a leading newspaper published the following statement in their editorial section:


"Israel is not a bogey, and the notion of a greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates is no more than a scarecrow that the Arabs have used to justify their despotism, domestic injustice, and political, financial, and administrative corruption."



... WOW!!!


Finally, the Arabs in the Middle East are recognizing that their enemy isn't Israel or America, but rather their own leaders.   With Israel having given up the Sinai Penninsula to Egypt in the early 80s, southern Lebanon in the late 90s, and now the Gaza Strip to the fledgling Palestinian Authority, the myth of Israel as the devouring beast is slowly being debunked.  With free and fair democratic elections taking place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine in the last year, and increasing pressures by reformers in several other Arab nations, the region's attention is slowly turning away from Israel and towards facing the challenges of reformers.


Further comments from Indonesia:



Indonesia's foreign minister met with Shalom (Israeli Foreign Minister) at the United Nations, and a prominent newspaper in the world's largest Muslim nation cautiously welcomed the talks by saying that "Israel, unlike what Arabs often said in the past, indeed cannot be `thrown into the sea.'" The Jakarta Post weighed in by suggesting that Indonesia "opening some form of relationship with Israel is a prerequisite" to playing a larger political role in the region. And Shalom himself published a landmark opinion piece in an Indonesian newspaper.



... and Pakistan:



After Shalom met with his Pakistani counterpart, President Pervez Musharraf told the American Jewish Congress that he could envision a day when there were more formal ties between the nations.


"What better signal for peace could there be than opening embassies in Israel by Islamic countries like Pakistan?" he asked.



Signs of change?  Who knows ... but when leading voices are willing to admit the need for reforms and recognize that Israel is neither a threat, nor something which can easily be erased, I think it's a sign of progress.


To read the rest of the story, click here.

Today's Workplace Values Statement (10/19/05)

On the heels of my award-winning conference paper on Managerial Values and Corporate Democracy comes this handy-dandy poster which you can print and post in your workplace, outlining important values critical to success in the workplace.  Values such as ...



VISION:  Say you have it, employers love that crap,

FAIRNESS:  When you screw up, spread the blame around to others equally,

INTEGRITY:  Being truthful on your resume is so 1963,

FLEXIBILITY:  Be open to accepting sexual favors in return for raises and promotions.



Don't we ALL know people who do at least one of those four items, often quite eagerly, and kick sand in our faces, laughing at us suckers who play by the rules?  Of course we do.  The kind of people who treat people like toys, kick us aside when it personally or professionally suits them, and then look to make us their suckers when they overplay their hand and get knocked off their high horses.


There are a lot of people out there with use-or-be-used mentalities.  Kinda sad they choose to live that way, but even sadder when they pull the wool over the eyes of people who treat them with trust and pay the price for extending basic human courtesy to others.


Oh well ... ya'll go out there and do your part to support these critical workplace values. Image


For a full-size PDF file, CLICK HERE 

For a full-size JPEG file, CLICK HERE 

Kurzwei's Law of Accelerating Returns (10/18/05)

In his Law of Accelerating Returns, Ray Kurzweil contends that the rate of increase in the rate of technological progress is reaching the point where it will reach a point where societal collapse will take place. Upon reaching what he terms The Singularity, Kurzweil argues that humanity will become unable to sustain the increasing waves of change and chaos will result.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1

Now for my response ...


This theory presumes other factors will not come into play. One cannot deny the rate of progress has been picking up speed. The two uncertainties here are 1) the rate at which it will continue in the near future, and 2) if circumstances which facilitate this progress won’t change to inhibit progress, or stop it entirely.

Here are factors that I would suggest this theory overlooks:

1) Cultural changes that start to push against the push of change. In the course of human events, Luddite anti-progress efforts fail, but some societies and cultures are longer to absorb, and if the pace of change becomes too fast, an increasing pace of change may result in the rise of a movement to slow the train down.


2) The reaching of a “plateau” in which the pace of change becomes too fast for new technologies to be practical. For example, how often will companies invest in updating technology? After a while, it becomes impractical to keep replacing hardware, machinery, etc. any faster than is already being done. Or several successive advances in technologies will be kept in R&D, and products only released at such a pace that that consumers, businesses, etc. can absorb them.

3) Humanity spreads out in spatial terms, requiring longer amounts of time to distribute and implement new technologies among human settlements on other planets or beyond. Odds are that space travel will still require some time to complete. Of course, technology may find a way to bridge large interplanetary or even interstellar distances quickly enough to make a trip among the stars as quick as travel among states, nations, and continents is now. If that happens, then my third consideration becomes invalid.

4) The absence of competitive or crisis events that have often greatly accelerated the pace of progress, such as World War Two, which brought about rapid advances in electronics, aviation, manufacturing capacity, health care, or the Space Race of the 60s, which led to more advances in aviation, communications, and electronics, or the Cold War, which led to the Internet as a super-redundant means of telecommunication that would survive a large-scale nuclear war. A more peaceful and less competitive world may see a slower pace of change and progress.

5) Technology forces a sort of catastrophic “over the edge” event. This could have been a large-scale global nuclear conflict. It could still be the result of a deadly germ or virus from a medical research program, or even something like a large space craft hitting the earth at a speed much faster than light, which physicists suggest could case global devastation.

6) The occurrence of some catastrophic event. Alien invasion, asteroid collision or some unforeseen factor that either wipes us out or forces us into a radically diminished mode of existence.

This Law, like all others, fails to consider how Murphy’s Law is virtually inescapable. This is the random element which is the downfall of most theories.

What do YOU think?

Arbeit Macht Frei: Return to Dachau


In my email this morning came a rather moving story of the celebration of Pashcha (Easter) by Orthodox faithful in the Dachau death camp shortly after the liberation of in Nazi Germany by the United States' Seventh Army. In an amazing act of improvisation, Orthodox faithful of many nationalities came together to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, with the help of imprisoned Catholic clergy and U.S. Army officials.


Regrettably, the Russians who were liberated from Dachau were turned over to Red Army and Soviet Communist officials, and many of them were branded traitors and sent to gulags in Russia. Today, a Russian Orthodox chapel, built by Russian Army soldiers prior to their 1994 withdrawal from Germany, graces the grounds, including the pictured Icon of Christ setting the prisoners free.


In addition, several other churches and chapels are located on the Dachau grounds.


Over 200,000 were imprisoned in Dachau since the death camp opened in 1933. Of those who spent time at Dachau, 43,000 died and only 67,000 remained alive to greet the liberating American soldiers on April 29, 1945. The Orthodox faithful celebrated Pascha on the Orthodox Easter Sunday on May 6th, 1945.


"Dachau - the significance of this name will never be erased from German history. It stands for all concentration camps which the Nazis established in their territory." - Eugen Kogon


The Queensryche Lowdown (10/17/05)


Ok, so ya'll wanted to know about the Queensryche concert last Thursday night?  Well, simply put … it was GREAT!  I had seen them open for Judas Priest in Atlanta in June, and it was so obvious they underperformed then.  By contrast, I don’t think they could’ve done better this time around.


The first half of the show was a number of songs from across the range of the band’s career, such as “Empire”, “Last Night in Paris” and “The Lady wore Black”.  Geoff Tate started out strutting across the stage, black jeans, leather jacket and sunglasses, cool and confident, but gradually loosening up, conversing with the audience, and getting into the performance.


After a short break for the stage to be set, the band went into its performance of their legendary “Operation Mindcrime” album.  The album and the performance tell the tale of Nikki, a lost rebellious teen who is manipulated by Doctor X, a shady character peddling in drugs and preaching anarchy.  He seems to control Nikki through drug use, recruiting him as an assassin to unleash on religious leaders.  In the end, Nikki is arrested and hospitalized as insane, Doctor X presumably in the clear to continue his efforts.


The Mindcrime dramatic performance was woven into the band’s performance of the album sequence.   Several performers joined the band to help act out the roles of Nikki, Sister Mary, and hospital staff.  Widescreens also showed video segments with scenes helping the story along, as well as visual effects supplementing the performance.


The band’s performance, which started out as really good in the first set, was outstanding in the second.  Tate changed in and out of costume several times to better connect the characters and the songs through which their stories were told.  As an added bonus, they played a song from their yet-untitled sequel to the Mindcrime album, which is scheduled for release in January.


The last six months of my life has been quite the roller coaster.  While a number of my hopes and dreams have been shattered in that time, the opportunity to see this performance, as well as Rob Halford and the boys from Judas Priest in Atlanta, were long-time dreams come true.


LINX TO CZECH OUT:

Russell Glasser has a good description of the storyline in the Mindcrime album and performance at www.apollowebworks.com/russell/mindcrime.html


Rock Confidential interview about the Mindcrime sequel with Eddie Jackson of Queensryche: www.rockconfidential.com/EddieJackson.html


Check out Queensryche at www.Queensryche.com, and specific lyrics and video clips from the Mindcrime album at www.queensryche.com/releases/operation-mindcrime/index.html


House of Blues online at www.hob.com

Halloween is coming

Here it comes, and of course, I'm totally ready for the occasion. Here's a photo of the front yard.

A yard covered with spiderwebs, bats that drop out of the trees screeching and a fog machine are the finishing touches that I'm saving for Halloween weekend. Sounds cheesy, right? Well, that's ok - I gave up trying to make anyone happy - except for my kids, who think I'm at least half-nuts anyway.

I've found that being nice or "normal" is overrated - in this world, I'm dammed if I do, dammed if I don't. So the heck with it - halloween is coming, and I'm gonna have a ball!

Once I work on the lighting, I'll be sure to put up some better photos of the show.Image

Victims of Communism Memorial (10/7/05)


Flashback to my 80s teenage years ... a world locked in a shadowy bi-polar power struggle.  On one side, a collection of democracies in North America, Western Europe and the Asian Pacific.  On the other, a global collection of dictatorships espousing an adaptation of the socialist philsophies espoused by Karl Marx.


I was probably more aware of the atrocities committed by the communist dictatorships than most teenagers, and was amazed at how the whole house of cards collapsed at the end of my high school years.  Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, as well as the Warsaw Pact by which they held much of central Europe in captivity, the number of democracies has doubled, and the threat of global nuclear war has virtually vanished.


The courage of our late beloved Pope John Paul in defying the Soviet Empire during those years was one of the reasons I converted to Catholicism.


That's not to say there's a still a lot to do.  The world is a more peaceful place, but barely, and while there's no "Empire of Evil", evil still lurks in the world.  Given time and the efforts of people of courage everywhere, good will ultimately triumph.  But so long as we don't face imminent extinction in a global nuclear shoot-out, my children start their lives with better prospects for their future than my generation did.


Recently, approval was given to erect a memorial in Washington, D.C. to the millions who were killed by communist dictatorships.  The statue is modeled after the Goddess of Democracy statue erected by students at Tianenmen Square in Beijing in 1989, some of whom were martyred at the hands of Chinese soldiers who crushed their pro-democracy protests.  Go check it out, and if you can, please help support their efforts to make sure those who died and what they died for is not forgotten.


LINX TO CZECH OUT:

Victims of Communism Memorial Fund



Looter Control, Texas Style (10/2/05)


Today, we're gonna take a break from serious subjects like religion and managerial communication to share this photo from Hurricane Rita-impacted Texas.

I like their approach to discouraging looters. What do ya'll think?