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Posts Tagged ‘2010’

The opening of the quadrennial World Cup soccer tournament is two weeks away.

Many of my American readers probably don’t care all that much, and as such I would like to talk to you about why you should.

Imagine, if you will, a glorious sporting spectacle in which a man can run five miles regardless of weather or fatigue, in which skill can trump any amount of speed or strength, in which a free-kick can be taken with such accuracy as to put any football place-kicker to shame. A game in which players’ endurance is tested to the limit by the lack of timeouts and flags, other than a single half-time break – players whose sheer athleticism is superior to any baseball or football star you care to name.

And better yet, imagine a sport in which America is not actually universally acknowledged as the best team in the world – a sport in which American fans can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, and especially the tension of not knowing which will happen.

Imagine a sport in which watching some of the ladies who turn out to support Brazil is infinitely more pleasant than watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Imagine a sport which ignites the passion of more people around the world than the New York Yankees or Pittsburgh Steelers ever will. A sporting event which billions of people would turn off the Super Bowl or the Olympics to watch.

There you have soccer, and its flagship event – the World Cup.

Does the U.S. team stand a chance of winning the World Cup this year? A very, very small one, most likely. But I would be willing to bet they make it to the last sixteen, maybe the last eight. If fortune smiles upon them, maybe further. This is a team which has recently beaten the European champions and World Cup favorites – in an exhibition game, admittedly, but nevertheless no small accomplishment.

Similarly, America’s very own DC United just beat AC Milan, an Italian team of phenomenal skill with over a century of stellar achievements to their name.

With enough encouragement and interest, there is no reason the American team couldn’t go from strength to strength and potentially win the World Cup within a decade or two. The one key ingredient they will need, however, is the unwavering support of the fans back home.

Soon I will be posting a few predictions and analyses of the first-round groups. For now, though… let’s get fired up for it.

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So another decade of music has now passed.

Thank God.

Since the end of World War II, if not earlier, every decade brought one if not two large-scale movements in the evolution of popular music, but surely the 2000s was the least inspired and most insipid of the bunch. And the scary thing is, it’s not because I’m not getting any younger, it’s because the music isn’t getting any fresher.

I think the predominant themes of the last 10 years in popular music were “artists” who consider screaming a valid alternative to singing and the “artists” whose idea of music has more to do with what they look like than how they sound.

These trends were to be expected, of course; the over-hyped pretty-but-talentless thing certainly had its share of precursors in the 80s and 90s, and the screaming “singers” were doubtless born of the roaring vocals of Sepultura and Pantera as well as the “Territorial Pissings” end of Nirvana’s oeuvre. Nevertheless, they appear to have assumed a place of prominence within the last ten years, a place which I look forward to seeing them lose.

This is not to say by any means that all the music of the last ten years has been bad – it is still possible to create excellent new music even if one is not truly innovating. A quick listen to such acts as Jealousy Curve, Cherry Suede or Kick Up The Fire is certainly proof of that.

There has also been a small degree of continued innovation; Radiohead, for example, have continued to push the envelope, delivering album after album of fresh-sounding material.

By and large, though, the 2000s certainly didn’t produce a musical shift on the order of rock and roll, punk or even disco. The electronica end didn’t evolve much. Rap hasn’t particularly grown beyond where it was in 1999.

I believe that part of this is due to the continued dominance of the RIAA (and its parent, the IIPA) over the majority of what gets out there. The record labels want a sound which has been focus-grouped and market-tested to death before they spend a nickel, hardly an ethos to foster revolutionary content.

I also believe, however, that this is beginning to change for the better; as recording technology becomes ever cheaper and the means to distribute and disseminate music over the Web becomes ever easier, we approach a scenario wherein a band still rehearsing in a basement or garage out in Wheretheheckisthat, Iowa can change the face of the world. The number of views to their MySpace or PureVolume pages, the number of plays on Last.fm or YouTube can skyrocket without the need for expensive label promotion or indeed any backing beyond the skilled leveraging of social media.

Unsurprisingly, the cries of the RIAA against music piracy have grown ever more strident as time has passed; many months ago I wrote an ‘open letter’ to them on this blog, and little has changed. Their product, for the most part, continues to be anemic tripe. Especially in a recession, it is hardly worth the gas money to drive to the record store for this stuff, never mind drop fifteen or twenty bucks for an album which is three-fourths filler.

Here, then, are the seeds for the next big music revolution. Not looking like Lady Gaga, not screaming like Avenged Sevenfold, not delivering balls-less impressions of punk rock like Fall Out Boy. Coming up with your own ideas and getting them out there without worrying about the market will prove to be a true test of where the world really is.

Independent radio stations get this. Some Internet radio providers get this. The RIAA will never get this.

Roll on the 2010s, let’s hear what you have in store.

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So the big news of the day is Sarah Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska.

Supposedly, Palin has grown sufficiently sick of being savaged by the media as to warrant resignation. MSNBC is running a report that says she wants to be out of politics entirely, to take the time to raise her family.

Of course, many people are unwilling to believe that someone as fond of the spotlight as Palin would truly be getting out of it for good. Thus, the theories are flying – what does this resignation really mean? Especially regarding 2012?

One theory is that she’s pregnant again. All things considered, I’m not sure that would stop her from working or running – there were times when Trig seemed as much a campaign prop as anything else.

Another is that she is, in fact, doing this in order to free herself from any constraint on running for the Presidency in 2012. This, to me, seems somewhat illogical, since it gives all of her primary opponents the ammunition of ‘she ditched her state once her numbers dropped and oil revenues slowed down, how’s she going to handle the Presidency?’.

Last but not least, she may be planning to run for Lisa Murkowski’s Senate seat in 2010, thus keeping her in Washington and close to the power elite while she builds for a run at the Presidency in 2016. This would also allow her to avoid having to run against Obama’s re-election juggernaut, which is likely to be formidable, and allow some of her 2008 issues to fade from memory. Murkowski herself seems to be aware of this possibility, given that she slammed Palin’s decision before the ink was dry.

So what do you think, faithful readers? What’s going on behind the trademark wink?

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Oh, sure. I put up a politics-related post, and some misfit senator has to go and make a party switch. Way to go, Arlen Specter. Thanks for ensuring that you’re the only political thing anyone wants to read about on a day when I posted about something entirely else.

Aw, who am I kidding? It’s pretty sweet. The Senate has another Democrat. Admittedly, it’s a guy who was the Dems’ easiest target when they needed to win a vote from across the aisle, but it serves to send the message that the Republican Party is increasingly becoming a minority party simply due to their incessant attempts to play to the hysterical far-right base.

This switch doesn’t mean that much in terms of the actual votes. Sure, the Republicans don’t really have the option to threaten a filibuster any more (especially if/when Coleman runs out of options and Franken finally gets seated), but Specter and the other more moderate Senators on both sides will still be voting their consciences rather than sticking to the party line. Otherwise, nobody would actually give a flying fuck about Senator Nelson other than his Nebraska constituents.

What this means, perhaps crucially, is that in 2010, when Specter is up for re-election, he will probably get the Democratic party nomination and beat Pat Toomey handily. Had he stayed Republican, Toomey would probably have beaten him out in the primary and the Senate would have lost a longtime voice of reason. (NB: by ‘reason’, I mean an intelligent, level-headed moderate. I don’t always agree with Specter, but I don’t hold with extreme ideologues on either side.)

Despite the general inclination to vote his conscience, though… in order to consolidate his position as a Democrat, Specter may throw his backing behind some of the more crucial reforms of the Obama agenda which he otherwise might not have; this would make it all the more likely that he gets the nod in ’10.

So welcome to the party of Yes, Arlen Specter. Good to have you.

Now if we could just get Norm Coleman to FREAKING QUIT ALREADY. YOU LOST. GET OVER IT.

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