Site Changes

I changed the theme of my site.  I am going to try to add more pictures in the future.  This site, as everything in life, is a work of progress.  If you like the changes, which are only in the beginning stages, please let me know.  If you feel something was better as it was before let me know as well.  I can’t thank all of you that follow this site enough, and I hope that you will please let others know about it.  As Kurt Vonnegut said quoting A Streetcar Named Desire, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

If you look at the new design there is a little menu icon at the top where you can easily access the about page and the word cloud now, among other things,  instead of scrolling to the bottom.  

Reader Response

I got the following reply from a reader over my F@$% Fairness blog post.  I will post a link to my original blog at the bottom.  I actually encourage any of you that have intelligent arguments to make about what I have written to make them.  One of the models for this blog is Andrew Sullivan’s.  I like that he doesn’t have comments on his blog, which usually just lead to partisan bickering and name calling.  But what he does do is post the most intelligent reader comments that are in disagreement with him as the “dissent of the day.”  I do allow comments here
, but I must approve them before I post them, not to stifle debate, but to prevent the kind of ignorance that I believe actually is counterproductive to real debate.  Anyway here is the readers comment:

Jeff, There’s something overlooked in your comments, at least what’s expressed here. Trust funds, stocks/bonds, bank accounts, etc, are different than ranches. The death tax has destroyed more natural resources than all the bulldozers ever built. Those who inherit farms and ranches are forced to sell because, unless they’ve won the lottery, the only way they can pay the death tax is to sell their farm/ranch to a developer. So open space, and all its benefits provided to society … aquifer infiltration, riparian areas, wetlands, wildlife habitat, carbon sinks, oxygen production, aesthetics, rainfall runoff reduction and its cleaning, food, fiber, shelter, recreation, etc, etc, etc … are soon eliminated by becoming covered by asphalt and rooftops. And those who say that “proper planning” can escape this tax are, under certain market timings, swings and changes, full of shit. So if you want to help the environment, help keep open spaces open. There are ways to accomplish this, via carefully constructed and regulated conservation easements, etc, etc, but our “leadership” in BOTH parties won’t listen and/or are too dumb to understand, or has not so far. Finally, always remember there are two kinds of landowners: those who take from the land, and those who give to the land. Penalize the former. But, the latter should be encouraged via more appropriate policies than exist today. There’s much more to this discussion that is too complicated for my email skills, but happy to discuss any time.

I think this is a completely valid point, and one that I overlooked.  However, the only thing that I would like to add is that my original blog was more about the hypocrisy of people that are against the Estate Tax so that their children benefit from wealth, and also against social welfare of any kind for other children, and not necessarily a response to the Estate Tax itself.  If this was not made clear, I apologize.  One always realizes when one writes that, unless one would write till the end of time, given all the nuances and shades of gray of each subject, there are going to be small holes in every argument.  Here is a link to my original blog:

Random Thoughts

I have been knocked out the last few days with allergies.  I love nature but sometimes it hates my shit! 

Tomorrow I am heading out on tour with Shinyribs.  You can check the dates at ; I have two pretty brutal travel days coming up as we need to drive from Austin to Chicago.  After that I hope to resume my normal posting schedule. 

I have been laughing my ass off at the show An Idiot Abroad.   Check it out if a comedy travel show seems like something you would enjoy. 

I have also found that, for someone that has certain introvert tendencies,  that I really enjoy canvassing.   Who would have thought?  I hope to share why at some point. 

The right wing still seems batshit insane.  I can only hope that reason will prevail and that they will doom themselves in the long run.  I was in Tyler, Texas the other day right before a gun rally at a bar.   The first guy there was wearing what else but tight cowboy jeans,  a Texas flag t – shirt,  and a camo hat.  I have shot skeet and enjoyed it, I have plenty of friends with guns, I don’t spend much time thinking about guns, but this kind of public display makes me wish every gun in America would be melted down.  If you are someone that likes to hunt and believes in 2nd Ammendment rights, I hope you realize this kind of behavior is counter productive.  To me it is ignorant behavior that reeks of bullying and intimidation.  I am against the militarization of our police and our citizens. 

Sorry for my absence for those of you that come here regularly.  I will return soon. 

In the future when all is well…



The Ecstatic Joy of Bizarre Love Triangle

I try to keep this blog balanced, and not in the way that Fox News means. If I post too many music blogs, I try to find something politically to talk about. If my posts seem to be filled with too much despair at the state of things I try to find something fun for a change. I know that in this day and age one is supposed to niche market, but I get bored talking about the same subject over and over. If you are passionate about something and you do it well, have at it. The world does need people that are focused and knowledgeable about certain issues. It doesn’t necessarily need scatterbrained people like myself that dip their toes in a hundred different pools. But I can’t help but feel that this world is endlessly fascinating, even if it is occasionally like George Carlin said, “when you are born in this country you get two tickets to the freak show.” The last two posts were about the Koch brothers and the sad state of music reviews. I was going jet black for a moment and it is time to temporarily take another course.

I tried to think of something that made me happy. I must admit that a song that has always picked my spirits up is New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle. Although the lyrics slightly betray the music, the music and melody sound to me like pure ecstatic joy. I’ve always felt this is one of the great pop songs. Temptation might edge this out as my favorite New Order song, but this is up there.

In Time Lyrics

What are the things that you can’t lose?
Is it that mansion on the hill or that flashy car that’s new?
Is it that money you’ve been saving or the gold watch keeping time?
Is it that big TV that lets you escape into the night?
Well none of those things mean a damn to me all right
I could lose everything if I could just reach my baby in time 

I’ve been working like a dog and drinking like a fool
I’ve been killing off the hours with whatever gets me through
I’m scared of what I’m becoming, scared of what I’ll do
They say a man must have some place to go
Or else he’ll just go someplace new
I might not be a hero but hey that’s just fine
But I could be a good man if I could reach my baby in time 

Tonight I can’t see the stars
Tonight I can’t see the moon
Dreaming of our future
Is the only light getting me through

I don’t need a crowd of strangers telling me I’m great
I don’t need to be worshiped, leave that to the saints
I don’t need to be famous, there’s no nobility in fame alone
You can’t take that stuff with you into the great unknown
I just want to be loved and I want to be kind
And I could be both if I could just reach my baby in time

Lyrics to a song I demoed recently at home.  Trying to keep my focus on what’s important in life.  And yes, sometimes I post lyrics to make up for the fact that I don’t have a good blog idea!  

The Gift of Inspiration

I’m bereft of ideas today.  That is why I put up the Chuck D quote and the George Carlin transcript.  Since August of last year I have put up over 500 posts.  Maybe there is nothing less interesting than the topic of lack of inspiration.  However, I will try my best.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is George Orwell’s, “A man that gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.”  I have used that before and probably will again.  From the outside one may view putting up 500 posts on a blog as a serious work ethic.  Perception is everything though.  I’m sure there are people who have put up more.  And I know the truth: I can only post when I feel inspired.  Without feeling some kind of energized inspiration I simply cannot write anything.  It comes and goes like the wind.  If I do occasionally write something without that inspiration it is muddled and I would kindly call it dogshit.

Wouldn’t the person with the serious work ethic push on without that light bulb going off over their head?  Sometimes it strikes me as laziness when I sit around waiting for that idea to formulate.  Where does inspiration come from?  Is some form of inner chemical stimulus?  Is the long hard grind of gathering information and waiting till your mind can tie the disparate ideas together?  Is it some kind of divine gift that is given to you at the whims of the muse?

The writer of Deadwood, David Milch, talks about how one has to be, “prepared to be inspired.”  He means that you have to do all the homework, but that when you sit down to write you need to let the inspiration take over.  Although we can do all the work in the world, reading books, listening to records, taking long walks, listening to albums, going to an art museum, in some ways, no matter what actually causes it, we are at the mercy of the muse.

I’m not knocking hard work, but to some degree we should be humble for inspiration is a gift.  Two people could do the exact same amount of work and only one of them would end up with the inspiration to create something of value.  Those that think they are great for creating something are either deluded or lying.  They got lucky.  Inspiration touches some people on the shoulder in the same way that a sword touches someone that is being knighted.  Sure they might have done some things to get there, but they were also shaped by outside forces.  They were born with the right mind or face, at the right time or place.

Post 501

My last post was my 500th post since I started this blog in August of last year.  I have hundreds of subscribers and have gotten thousands of visitors.  They say a blog takes about two years to find its footing.  I am still in the beginning stages of this blog, but I intend to see that two year mark and more.  I can’t thank all of you enough that have taken the time to read my writing.

In any kind of art form they tell you to find an identity, or brand, so that it is easy to sell what you do to people.  I simply cannot work like that.  The world is endlessly fascinating to me.  I might fall in love with a pop song one day, and the next be extremely interested in a history book.  I want to write about American culture in all its forms.  Hopefully by diving into a wide variety of things, one can get a better picture of how all these different pieces of our culture fit together.  I am hoping to create a site for people that are interested in our culture and the world at large.  Maybe it is just my way of trying to find and communicate with other people like me.

I don’t pretend to have all or even any of the answers.  Hopefully you will read something on here that will make you question something or think of something in a new way.  Even at their best these blogs are nothing more than hopefully the start of some kind of dialogue, even if it is just internal.

If you like what you read here please come back and tell other people about it.  If you don’t like what you are reading then I’m sure there is somewhere else on the internet for you.  Thanks again to everyone that has given this blog a shot.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.  I intend to keep writing as much as I can, sometimes failing, but always trying.

In the future when all’s well…


P.S.  I am slowly working on making this blog better.  I’ve read that nothing is more important to a blog’s success than updating it as much as possible.  Often when I sit down to work on the technical side of things, I end up feeling that another couple posts is more important.  If there is a topic that you are particularly interested in I hope you notice that there is a word cloud down at the bottom of the page.  There is still so much to do, oh but so little time…

Going to Japan

I am heading out for Japan tomorrow for eleven days.  I will have computer access and will try to post on here as much as time allows.  That being said I’m sure it will slow down a good bit.  I hope those of you that come here on a regular basis will understand.  One cannot write about the world if one does not engage with it. 

And yes would-be criminals, there are people watching my house.  Although, one would definitely not get rich robbing me anyway.  If you don’t go to a pawn shop within twenty miles of my house you might come out with a negative profit margin in the gas vs. stolen goods expenses.  

Help With Google Analytics

Can anyone give me information on how to get Google Analytics working properly?  I’ve gone to several websites and can’t seem to figure it out.  I’m not the most computer literate soul.  I found out for sure, and wasn’t surprised in the least, that the WordPress stats aren’t very accurate.  I noticed earlier today right after my clock turned over, which isn’t set to the time zone I’m in, that I had one visitor and at the same time I had views in several different countries, which is of course impossible.  So I’d like to get a more accurate idea of who is visiting this site and when, so that I can continue to make it better as I go along.  If anyone can help me out with that I’d be much obliged.  Please speak to me in simple language as computers aren’t really my thing!  I have my comments set up to where I have to approve them, so if you want to message me privately you can.  


I’ve been meaning to tackle this topic for awhile.  If you have even a slightly agile mind, and I would put my mind somewhere dead center between the cretin Sarah Palin and the genius of Albert Einstein, roughly at the top of the bell curve, you are bound to see holes in arguments and strains of thought.  Whenever I read something I wrote I am often struck with the thought of, “Jesus I hope no one thinks of that!”  I have written things that make me cringe when reading over them.  However, I always know that at the time I wrote something I was as close to the truth of a subject as I could get given my momentary feeling.

I try to write as fast as possible, on pure inspiration.  I view the entries of this blog as outward looking diary entries.  I want to write as little about me, and as much as what I see going on in the culture as humanly possible.  I believe if you write about current events and other goings on with as much inspiration as possible, you will occasionally be dead wrong, but you will also occasionally touch on a truth that ponderous thinking will miss.  Sometimes if you think too much you may become a coward and except whatever the consensus is on a given topic.  There are other forms of writing that should examine the long game.  When writing a blog one should ponder as much while they are not writing, but leave conscious thinking at the door once your fingers start typing.  Blogging is a transitory form of writing.  One is not crafting a book or a scholarly article, unless your blog is actually set up as a place for scholarly arguments.

One of my favorite writers is George Orwell.  I once read, and I cannot for the life of me remember the source, that he was such a good writer that even when he was contradicting himself you tended to believe him.  I would not dare to ever think of putting myself in same sentence as George Orwell. (Although it appears I just did it without trying.)  He is the best of the best.  My point is that even the best of writers leave holes and spaces where their words don’t add up if you pay enough attention.

I have ridden a lot in the van with Kevin Russell.  He has the kind of mind that can pick apart and challenge an argument, even if he doesn’t believe in what he is saying.  He is great at playing devil’s advocate.  My own brother, Ben Brown, is also able to point out faults in my way of thinking with much consternation on my end.  It is good to have people around you that don’t simply parrot your thoughts.  When someone challenges what you think it will lead to either one of two outcomes:  It will possibly both sharpen your beliefs and make you hunker down, strengthening your position with more articulate expression.  Or you will realize that your way of thinking was wrong and it will send you back to the drawing board.  Both outcomes are positive.

But to get back to my original topic, even the best of writers are never dead on all the time.  A piece of writing should be viewed as something that starts a conversation, but does not end it.  You must dance and parry with writing.  Writing is a powerful thing that can shape your beliefs and make you see the world in a different way.  However, one should always read with a critical eye, realizing that a writer is always influenced by their unique time and place.  All writers are biased, even ones that claim not to be.  Given a writer’s particular bias, which may be large or small, do their words still ring true?  No one has written the Holy Bible.  In fact that book, which so many people take on complete faith, is littered with holes of reason, contradictions, and flights of fancy.  But that, shall we say, is another story…