THE ABSENT

THE ABSENT
THE ABSENT - out now!

CRIPPLED HEARTS

CRIPPLED HEARTS
Out Now - For sale on Amazon and other onlne book sellers

SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju

SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju
Out Now

THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju

THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju
My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers www.rajbooks.com

Sunday, December 21, 2014

MUSIC ROUND-UP DECEMBER PLUS BEST RECORDS OF 2014


D’Angelo and the Vanguard – BLACK MESSIAH

The fourteen years between BLACK MESSIAH and D’Angelo’s slow burning masterpiece VOODOO are immaterial as far as I can see as a guy like D’Angelo lives in his own world of sonic experimentation – both sounds and vocals as vision.  MESSIAH is initially more warmer and organic and more upfront than VOODOO if not as deep or layered aurally.  Not as much an attempt at freeform musical revolution perhaps but a wonderful record regardless with especially exquisite vocals.  Numerous musical moments – The Charade, Til It’s Done (Tutu), Another Life.  One note – Apparently the record was moved up for release from next year because of Michael Brown and other civil rights issues although with the exception of 1,000 Deaths and Til It’s Done, most of the other songs don’t seem to be politically themed at all.  Need to read the lyric sheet I guess.


 Engineers – ALWAYS RETURNING

Line-up changes have removed the guitar based showgaze-y aspects of Engineers’ sound (Perfectly showcased on their best record THREE FACT FADER)  but not the dream-like vibe or the otherworldly sense the vocals give us.  Lone original member Mark Peters brings enough of established Engineers mojo and German electronic music staple Ulrich Schnauss fills in the rest with washes of synthesizer sound like waves alternately lapping and roaring onto a beach.  I could have done without the two instrumentals but otherwise great.  


Also as we are the end of the year here are my picks for best records of the year.  I didn’t hear a lot of great new music this year but what I did hear was excellent and played often.  The good new music I heard this year was often synth based, electronic.  I also dug several future classics by old farts, established acts.
  
Ten Best Records of 2014
Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – What Have We Become
Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business
Wild Beasts – Present Tense
D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah
Arthur Beatrice – Working Out
Gardens and Villa - Dunes
Bear in Heaven – Time is Over One Day Old
Bryan Ferry - Avonmore
Phantogram – Voices
Engineers – Always Returning

Honorable Mentions
Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FLASH TV SHOW


As the Flash TV show is now on its mid-season break for about a month or so, I thought it would be a good time to give my opinion on it.

And my opinion is I think it’s excellent.  The best live action comic book TV series I’ve seen (which is a relatively small genre I know).

Very simply put - it has made the right choices in what to keep from the comic book and what to change for the benefit of TV to modernize and streamline the narrative in order to reach a TV audience.

First and foremost, the ongoing story arc of Flash’s mother’s murder by Reverse Flash (Not sure yet if it is Eobard Thawne or Professor Zoom) has been handled superbly with their first meeting in battle tonight extremely thrilling.  My opinion – Reverse Flash is Eddie Thawne or one of his ancestors seeking revenge, upset that Iris left him for Barry (It hasn’t happened yet but it most assuredly will).  Professor Wells is either Barry Allen (or Bart Allen) from the future or even more intriguing Vandal Savage.  Savage also had time travelling technology and is the kind of villain to come up with a big plan like this.

In general, the villains have been very good.  Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold and Nick Tarabay‘s Captain Boomerang were both handled well and I look forward to seeing Gorilla Grodd, Mirror Master, and Killer Frost in future episodes.  The Flash series that ran for one season also had a few good villains but its great flaw was putting The Flash up against rather mundane menaces, a mistake this show has not made yet.  My only word of advice is they should have consistently strong villains. Most have been good but a few of the villains so far such as Girder and Rainbow Raider were third rate.  However, from what I’ve read plenty of good villain to come.

Also if they are in fact planning to spin off Firestorm into his own show, I hope they somehow incorporate the were-hyena story arc from the comic book - that was wild.

To sum up, I am a fan of comic books (It’s been a long time but I am planning on getting back to blogging about comics soon) and The Flash TV show has retained the vibe, mood, and narrative structure of the comics while updating the stories.  I hope it stays this thrilling!      

   

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT BRINSLEY SCHWARZ


Listening to CRUEL TO BE KIND the second volume of Nick Lowe's first band Brinsley Schwarz's live BBC performances.  Brinsley Schwarz is like the Velvet Underground of 70's 80's British singer/songwriters - Ahead of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Graham Parker but influencing all in sound and songwriting.  In particular two of their records are absolute masterpieces - SILVER PISTOL and NEW FAVORITES OF.  Their version of  "Cruel to be Kind" written by Lowe and fellow band member Ian Gomm was originally supposed to be on their seventh record but they broke up first and Lowe snagged it for his solo career. 

Robert Christgau, the esteemed rock critic, once wrote (and I’m paraphrasing that) Brinsley Schwarz initially came across as England’s answer to country rock with a Hammond organ in place of the pedal steel.  That in itself was a revolutionary bit of instrumental placing. 

However, what really made Brinsley different was Lowe’s songwriting which quickly evolved and pulled the band out of the amiable country influenced jams of the first two records and into a vehicle for top notch pop songwriting.

Their discovery of English pubs as places one could tour and make a career would influence the punk and new wave bands that came later in the 1970’s.  This was a big advance that gave bands a way to reach a greater audience without being played on the radio.

Listening to their charming, unpretentious, catchy music buoyed by Lowe’s clever lyrics and hooky melodies, one sees the whole new wave scene of the 70’s and early 80’s pre-synth pop.  If there was ever a band that lacked commercial success but had massive musical influence, it’s Brinsley Schwarz. 



CAN THE DEMOCRATS WIN BACK THE SOUTH?


Food for thought....

Governorships, senate seats, state legislatures controlled by the Democrats in deep south states

1960 - 100%
2002 - 60%
2014 - 0% (After Mary Landrieu's projected loss in LA senate run-off)

Now there are a number of reasons for this from white racists leaving the Democratic Party over its support of civil rights legislation in the 1960’s to aggressive courting by the Republican party to social issues to the final throwing off Civil War party identification to this president who many white Southerners can’t stand for racial or ideological reasons.

But does this have to be a permanent condition?  Are Democrats from now on permanently marginalized in Dixie?

Maybe not.  It is clear to me that Republicans win in the South because they know how to play up issues that are good for them such as social issues and rejection of convenient government targets such as Obamacare as well as dog whistle racial appeals.  Under this pretence, many Southerners will vote against their own best interests. 

The main failure of Democrats running in red states (whether it be in the South or anywhere else in the USA) is running as faux Republicans.  This might work for awhile, a term or two depending on the weakness of the opposition, but given the choice between a Democrat attempting to appear conservative and a real Republican the voters will choose the Republican.      

While voters were busy voting out Arkansas senator Mark Pryor, a conservative Democrat, in favor of Tom Cotton, a far right wing Republican, they also voted for a raise in the state minimum wage.  This also happened in a few other states as well  - Voting out incumbent Dems but voting for issues more associated with the Dems that were on the ballot.

The way for Democrats to win elections in red states is to do what Republicans do – Talk about the issues that are their strengths not mimicking the other party.  The minimum wage is a good example.  Pryor in Arkansas opposed the idea of a federal minimum wage and was a grudging supporter at best of the state measure that passed.

The notion of America’s poor and lower middle class as “temporarily disadvantaged millionaires” in their own heads is present only because no one rebuts this notion with the idea of positive programs and legislation that can help people in poverty.  Ignore issues where the majority in a state might be split or opposed and focus on economic issue such as minimum wage, equal pay for women, college student loan debt etc.  The Democrats can go a long way to winning governorships, senate seats, and state legislatures in the South and other red areas if they pursue this as their strategy.  


Saturday, December 6, 2014

A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE MURDER OF MICHAEL BROWN


I have held off commenting on the Michael Brown verdict because I wanted to read the grand jury testimony for myself which I finally did.

Here are some problems and overall thoughts that I have....

1.)  How far was Darren Wilson when he shot Brown?  Originally the police said 35 feet.  Subsequent investigation shows that Brown was 148 feet away from Wilson when he was shot.

2.) By his own testimony, Wilson chose not to have non-lethal means of subduing a suspect in his car – He did not like to carry a taser because it was “too bulky” and pepper spray was out of reach he said when Brown reached through the car window .  So the only way to subdue a suspect is deadly force?  Wilson partly blamed his police department for this – Is this normal police procedure?

3.) Brown was shot nine times.  In addition, at least one bullet was dug out of the wall of a nearby house.  How many times did Darren Wilson fire his gun?  Was this absolutely necessary?

4.) Aside from dehumanizing Brown by calling him “it” and “a demon”, Wilson in his testimony said over and over again how Brown was a big man, 6’4.  What he left out was while Wilson is about 40 pounds lighter, they are the exact same height!  Both are 6’4!

5.) We were told Wilson had severe injuries because of Brown.  This was information supposedly leaked by Ferguson PD.  None of that was true.  Wilson had red marks on his face with no swelling which could have been the result of other things. Also scratches on his neck?  According to released medical info, Wilson suffers from Eczema (as do I) the photos on Gawker look more like that.

6.) Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, testified Wilson used obscene language and was rude and confrontational from the get go.  This jibes with at least two other people living in the same community who came forward with past Officer Wilson stories.  Remember Officer Wilson did not know about them as suspects in the store robbery at that time at the time he initiated the confrontation.

7.) Officer Wilson originally stopped because they were walking in the middle of the street.  Apparently, according to witnesses, so were a number of other people.  It’s a small road not a freeway.  Why did Officer Wilson just single out these two?

8.) Regarding the store robbery, many unanswered questions – I looked at it again and the full security video shows money being placed on the counter for the cigars.  The altercation between Brown and the storekeeper seems to occur because of something else – Brown reaching over the counter or something the storekeeper says.  In his testimony, Dorian Johnson says while he did not see Brown pay for the cigars, there was some conflict which he didn’t fully grasp (or he was he told to say this in exchange for not being charged with marijuana possession – I think the fix was in from the start)

9.) The storekeeper did not call the police when Brown supposedly stole the cigars.  He was very quick to say this.  Unfortunately, and I saw this when I lived in Los Angeles with Korean shopkeepers, immigrants who come over to the US sometimes absorb pre-existing prejudices against African Americans.  The newsmedia has not covered this story but this guy did have some confrontations with locals in the past. 

10.) The behavior of the prosecutor Bob McCulloch was shameful from his past ties to police organizations (through his family) and prior defense of police brutality to how he presented information to grand jury attacking Brown and not contradicting Wilson when he spoke or properly cross examining him to the victim blaming psychotic news conference immediately following the verdict(Where he basically said Wilson was innocent – I’ve never heard a prosecutor do that before)  to how he released information.  I think the federal government should investigate his behavior

11.) Darren Wilson was paid $500,000 for his interview with George Stephanopolous.  In addition, more than a million dollars were raised on his behalf.  I hope Michael Brown’s family sues him in civil court. 
12.)  While it’s true there was conflicting eye witness testimony, that’s not true on every aspect  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/newly-released-witness-testimony-tell-us-michael-brown-shooting/  Seems like Darren Wilson was the one who was most inconsistent in his testimony.
In the end, while this is not as clear cut an example of police brutality as other recent cases, I do think the prosecutor’s behavior alone warrants the Department of Justice to get involved.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

THE ASSOCIATION'S DISCOGRAPHY - AN APPRAISAL


(Awhile ago, I did an overview of the discography of Poco which can be found here -http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2014/04/pocos-discography-appraisal.html.  I received good feedback on that so I am going to do the same type of post about The Association)

What I always liked about The Association’s music was the perfect balance.  On one hand it really was an association, a seemingly faceless group with beautiful airy vocals, occasionally one voice taking the lead out of a cloud of ethereal and majestic harmonies.  On the other hand, the music was varied and direct enough that it didn’t float away and leave no further impression.

The varied arrangements of their records coupled with the great songwriting of both band members and outside songwriters made for some truly timeless classic albums.  When they did make some music that was inferior in comparison, it was largely due to a breakdown in  the latter rather than the former.

This is because every Association record sounds great – what with what I said about the vocals, also the use of strings and guitars and various studio touches.  Effortlessly lush in every groove. 

My reflection on the Association’s discography (Listed by preference)

BIRTHDAY
For many years, INSIGHT OUT was my favorite Association album but that changed when I listened to their re-mastered discography with headphones.  BIRTHDAY, their fourth record and the one immediately after INSIGHT, finds the Association grappling with psychedelia in a much more comfortable way than a lot of their peers and it has an absolutely gorgeous sound even now.  Maybe this was because the sunshine pop movement was already halfway there?  There is nothing slyly poppy here.  These are big songs full of giant verse-chorus structures.  Moments of vocal drama are wrung out of every rising chorus, every giant fade-out.  Their best record contains one knockout track after another – Toymaker, Everything That Touches You, Rose Petals, Incense and a Kitten, Barefoot Gentleman, Hear in Here, and Time for Livin’ (which should have been a much bigger hit)....A masterpiece!


INSIGHT OUT
My favorite until moved to second behind BIRTHDAY.  Bolder version of their first two records with better studio craft and more diverse arrangements and instrumentation from traditional radio fare such as Windy and Never My Love to the sitar driven Wantin’ Not Gettin’  to the Gregorian chant enhanced Requiem for the Masses.  Not a bad song here really.  Also a masterpiece.   


THE ASSOCIATION
The group’s self-titled fifth record changes their music up slightly with some small country touches such as a banjo and pedal steel guitar as well as more guitars acoustic and electric.  The lyrics are more reflective of what’s going on and the overall tone is more world weary.  However, this is still The Association and there are plenty of pretty vocal moments and orchestral magnificence.   The songwriting is driving the music here and this is a superb bunch of songs – Dubuque Blues, Goodbye Forever, The Nest, Love Affair.


AND THEN...ALONG COMES THE ASSOCIATION, RENAISSANCE
What’s surprising about the first two Association releases in retrospect is how stripped down they are in comparison to their subsequent records.  It’s the vocals that elevate the music here which is largely guitar, bass, drums, with the odd keyboard.  RENAISSANCE may be ever so slightly stronger songwise (Looking Glass, Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies, Memories of You) but their first one has the monster hits Cherish and Along Comes Mary and a youthful energy that is amazingly down to earth.



STOP YOUR MOTOR
Carrying the light country touches of  THE ASSOCIATION onwards and making a connection to the faceless beauty of early 70’s AM radio, there are many things I like about this record but sentimentality and the smell of product unfortunately start to inhibit the feel of the music.  



THE REST OF THEIR RECORDS (WATERBEDS IN TRINIDAD, GOODBYE COLUMBUS, VARIOUS POST-BAND RELEASES)
WATERBEDS IN TRINIDAD, the last of the original Association releases, shows a group fraying around the edges and consumed by studio overproduction.  There are a few good songs here but overall lifeless and bland.  In between, BIRTHDAY and THE ASSOCIATION, they did the soundtrack for the movie GOODBYE COLUMBUS featuring four songs of which only It’s Gotta’ Be Real is more than just average.  The rest is amiable aural wallpaper – Association instrumentals.    Over the years, various versions of The Association have cut records  consisting of cover versions of sixties hits as well as re-recordings of their own songs.  I’ve never heard any of these records but I imagine they are best avoided.

Probably the most intriguing musical tidbit about the Association is after WATERBEDS, the band recorded another record tentatively titled THE ASSOCIATION BITES BACK.  It was never released although was rumored to have more of a R&B sound as a few leaked tracks to YouTube show.  



Monday, December 1, 2014

WHY I AM OPPOSED TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD


There are scientific reasons why mankind has become hypersexual.  Better healthcare and nutrition means people becoming more sexually active earlier.  Animals even those as advanced as human beings will always have the urge to procreate more often and continue the species if the conditions are right.

But culture has a lot to do with it too and by this I’m primarily talking about America.

Teenagers in America are bombarded with sexual images from now lesser offenders television and advertising to the porn of the Internet.  The exposure to the latter depends on the supervision of parents but that’s increasingly harder in this online society.

I should say before I continue that I support sex education in the schools.  The correct biological information should be given to everyone but it should be removed from advocacy.  Just as abstinence based education has shown to be a complete failure and there is no place for religious dogma in public schools much less sexual education classes , the same is true about encouraging teenagers to have sex.

No one is doing that you say?

Allow me to tell you a story about Planned Parenthood.  When I was a teenager I had a female friend who viewed me as a confidant.  She was quite attractive and dated a lot and revealed to me that she had recently consulted Planned Parenthood as she was considering beginning a sexual relationship with her boyfriend.  Like a lot of teenagers, she did not have strong beliefs on this matter other than a general fear of sex as something unknown and/or something frowned upon by society.

What she told me was Planned Parenthood had not only provided her with all sorts of birth control but had told her that sex was natural and something she should do. 

It seems wrong to me that an outside organization like Planned Parenthood should be allowed to give advice like that to underage children.   This is not about abortion.  I am pro choice basically and I am aware that abortion is a relatively small part of what Planned Parenthood does.  I am more concerned with this.

If I had a son or a daughter, they would hopefully in an ideal world come to me if they had questions on sexual matters.  I would not shame them but my counsel would be to put off sex at least until they were done with school and in their 20’s.  That may seem terribly old fashioned but studies have shown that those who have sex at an earlier age are more likely to be promiscuous and less stable in their future romantic relationships. Most teenagers are not mentally capable of properly processing a sexual relationship which is why divorce and rape and a whole host of other ills related to the interaction between the sexes are rampant in the West.

You see Planned Parenthood was started by Margret Sanger whose goal (an admirable one) was to provide birth control to poor women.  She is a villain for conservatives who point at her affiliation with the Klu Klux Klan and belief in eugenics and keeping the population of African Americans and immigrants down as well as sterilization and abortion.  Sanger also believed in open marriage and was a bit open sexually even by today’s standards.

That’s all well and good but today’s problem is not so much sexual repression but the opposite – kids exposed to too much too soon.  The internet makes porn part of every kid’s rite of passage (which is not healthy) and in every way kids are encouraged to dress and act like adults.

In the end, adults should make their own decisions about sex, when to have it, who to have it with but young people especially are prone to pressure in this way and  the need adults they feel comfortable talking to.  Families are best or professionals (counsellors) who deal with children but not outside organizations trying to foist their perverse values on people.  

Planned Parenthood feeds the immoral decadence of Western culture, a dying corrupt empire.

Planned Parenthood, leave those kids alone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

WHAT I TAKE FROM MARX PART TWO


One of my favorite parts of reading Karl Marx is when he ditches the stilted doctrinaire language filled with the converter’s zeal and the off-putting language of the self-identified visionary and discusses the negative influence of Capitalism on the family, the community, the society.

 “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors,' and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, callous 'cash payment.' It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.” 

From The COMMUNIST MANIFESTO

In particular, the last paragraph which is the end result of the capitalist society – how people relate to each other.  I grew up in America and I’ve seen brothers sue each other for a share of the family business, parents steal from children and vice versa.  The last couple years I lived in the US, I owned a condominium in Southern California.  From time to time, we would receive rudely written letters announcing mandatory meetings of the ownership association (The word mandatory in black lettering all caps).  These meetings were to vote on various rules to do with guest parking, fees etc.  The meetings themselves were silly as the owners who rented out their properties always had enough votes to narrowly push through whatever they wanted to.  They would communicate their votes ahead of time through proxies (not bothering to show up for the “mandatory” meetings like us peons).  These meetings quickly devolved into personal attacks, like rats fighting over their own tiny stinky rotten pieces of cheese.  “Buy a fucking house” one person would say to the other as an argument against doing something in the complex....A new level of ownership or slavery.

The love of money, the love of material possessions, and those who worship these things are disgusting.  They put commerce above all else and this is a sickness.  It also alienates one from his humanity and bonding with other people.

By reducing people to monetary units, we cheapen humanity.  We lose all sense of morality.  Everything becomes a transaction and well become whores to some degree.  

At the heart of Marxist theory is this understanding and how it undermines all other relationships and in doing so undermines the idea of a just and fair society.    


WHAT I TAKE FROM MARX PART ONE


(This is the first of two posts on Karl Marx.  The first will talk about the political, the second about the personal)

I wouldn’t call myself a Marxist a for two reasons 1.) By nature, I am not an ideological person.  I look at each issue that affects life and come to a view based just on that issue.  Of course, patterns will emerge but I don’t apply said patterns to unrelated issues (Something a member of a political party or a follower of a doctrine/ideology would do) 2.) Even though it’s a blanket description of many competing theories, Marxim itself demands a certain slavish devotion of doctrine that would contradict my first reason -  Like religion in that regard.

However, I do think Karl Marx got a number of things right and I also think there is a necessity for a healthy and just society to apply to apply at least a few of his principles to governance.  I describe two Marx influenced ideas at the end of the post.

Marxism correctly identifies the conflict between the wealthiest members of society who are always looking to maximize profit and those who work for them  whose wages and benefits are continually under assault as a result of this.  Obviously, a completely profit driven society that was first world in its legal protections for workers and in its taxation and infrastructure relationship would eventually relocate its business to somewhere with less regulation like for example in the third world.  This has happened time and time again the last several decades in America.

If profit is your motive then it feeds greed, yours and the greed of your shareholders, but how many people are shareholders of a given company (assuming the company is public)?  At this point, providing jobs for your fellow countrymen takes a backseat for your own selfishness.  This is what has been happening and is happening now in America.

Class as defined by a dictionary may seem outside the conversation if America is the nation we are talking about but class = money, pared down just to wealth and not assuming any superhuman qualities assigned to those who have wealth either inherited or earned, is very much described in Marxist doctrine .  America tends to mythologize those who seemingly go from rags to riches although many of the stories are often embellished and/or the wealthy person had a lot of help along the way.  Often you dig below the surface and you find the Horatio Alger storied figure had a wealthy parent(s) like Bill Gates or Donald Trump for example.

Marxism can correctly be applied to another key problem with Western capitalism – The misidentification of the individual standing alone as what makes up society particularly societal change and history.  We are all in this together and it is the relationship the individual has with the different groups in his life be they his family, his place of employment  or the government  that moves life.  The individual as great man of history standing alone and triumphing is a creation of Hollywood – total fiction, American folklore.

When we think of the Proletariat we think of factory workers in the industrial revolution of the 1800’s but a guy working in customer service for a credit card company, an insurance salesman, an auto mechanic, a debt collector are the Proletariat of today’s society.  The Bourgeoisie of today are those that own businesses either directly or through shares.

One of the key points of Marxism which was expounded with even more clarity and broadness of vision by Theodore Adorno is the Bourgeoisie also own the narrative (since they own everything else) and promulgate the viewpoint that best helps them  so the Proletariat often act against their own best interests by supporting this.  It’s form of brainwashing - think of modern political advertising.

Adorno takes this even further showing how instilling wants for unnecessary material goods and saturating an audience with dumbed down entertainment further anesthetizes and distracts the proletariat I wrote more about Adorno here http://rajdronamraju.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/the-world-according-to-theodor-adorno/

So two ideas I have that I would like to see implemented that one could say were based on Marxist principles.

1.) A wealth cap – No individual would be worth more than a pre-set amount.  I’m all for freedom but when we are talking about a finite amount of resources then what you have hoarded is automatically depriving someone else.  There is no need for any one person to be a billionaire.  I would also eliminate the ability to incorporate oneself as a business.

2.) Partial government ownership of all businesses – All business big or small would be semi-government owned.  This would be a benefit of entrepreneurs as they could go to the government with an idea and they would be able to receive backing.  Big business should not be an adversary to a society and the wellbeing of its citizens.  Often its priorities, for once again the reason of profit cause that business in a whole host of areas such as the environment, worker rights, etc. to be hostile to the Proletariat.  Let government run business in a democratic society and both will be responsive for what is good the citizenry.        





Saturday, November 22, 2014

THREE WESTERN CORPORATE NEWS MEDIA FAILS OF THE WEEK


Contrary to its own self-righteous bullsh*t, The United States has one of the least free news services in the world.  Dominated by large corporation ownership of networks and newspapers and riddled with agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, US news is completely devoid of history (things happen in a vacuum) or they just don’t report stories that don’t fit into their narrative of a fairy tale America.

Here are three of the awful, evil things the US supports and funds throughout the world which were not covered in the news this week.

Western corporate news media fail of the week #1 – I don’t expect anything less from the Zionist controlled Western media, they are already circling the bottom of the bowl, but the “reporting” on the deaths of the five Israelis by Palestinians in Jerusalem completely ignores what’s been going on lately. Settlers have gone crazy since the Gaza mass murder ramming their cars into children in the street, stabbing Palestinians, the other day they murdered a bus driver and the Israeli government did no autopsy and called it a suicide despite the guy’s body being covered with bruises. It’s like the South before civil rights. When an Israeli murders a Palestinian, he is almost never convicted.


Western corporate news media fail of the week #2 – What they don’t tell you in the coverage of the murder of Miss Honduras is that the reason Honduras is sinking into anarchy and violence and people are fleeing and crossing the border and eventually to the USA is the coup enabled by the CIA in which the rich 1% got rid of Zelaya a man of the people who wanted to help the poor. Allende déjà vu (only they didn’t kill Zelaya) .

Hillary Clinton is involved up to her eyeballs – What a disgusting human being she is http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/9/hillary-clinton-honduraslatinamericaforeignpolicy.html

Western corporate news media fail of the week #3 - Russia introduced an “Anti-Nazi” resolution at the United Nations which condemns the use of Nazis symbols and language as well as public memorials to Nazism, holocaust denial, racism and anti-Semitism and holding public demonstrations under a Nazi banner. This is a growing problem especially in the old Soviet client states. It passed but guess who voted against it? Yup America who backs so called “democracy movements” in many of these countries (Not just Ukraine where we’ve seen the ugliness of what an American supported coup and government looks like) but who are in fact a collection of Neo-Nazis and their oligarch robber baron backers. Shameful is the word!

These are the allies the US wants? Really? http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2014/11/18/stay-away-from-kiev/


PRESIDENT OBAMA'S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON IMMIGRATION IS A MISTAKE


I think President Obama’s executive order on immigration is a mistake. While America does owe something to the refugees of those nations such as Guatemala and Honduras whose internal situations they’ve made terrible, this is not the way to solve the problem even temporarily.

1.) The argument that the Republican party especially in the House of Representatives hates Obama so intently that they won’t agree to anything is only half true. The other half of the equation is Obama is horrible at handling legislation – No interest or desire to get his hands dirty at pushing things through, terrible at working legislators for votes, horrible negotiator – He’s kind of the anti-LBJ. I still say immigration reform which got through the senate could have made it through the house had Obama been willing to push them

 2.) The precedent this establishes is awful. You may agree with what President Obama is doing but what about in 2016 if a Republican becomes president and tries to use executive orders for things he can’t get through? Of modern day presidents, FDR used the executive order the most which is understandable considering the crisis he faced and his length of time in office. I don’t see the immigration issue as rising to that level.

3.) The defense of Obama that Presidents Reagan and Bush the 1st did this too on immigration? That’s a false comparison! Reagan and Bush used executive orders to fix loopholes and missing parts of immigration legislation passed in 1986 by the senate. Obama is doing this IN PLACE OF legislation.

Again, I am not opposed to this philosophically but I am on a procedural basis plus I think it will only increase the dysfunction between the executive and legislative branches of our government a trademark of the Obama years.






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

THE INDECENCY OF ISRAEL


I was off line for several months earlier this year and that time period included Israel’s rampage through Gaza in yet another attempt to use the bogus threat of national security to cover ethnic cleansing and genocide in land stolen by the Zionists to create their Nazi state.

One line of defence for Israel I have always heard but not heard rebutted as much as the other faux “Jewish state” justifications which are – History (Plenty of other countries have a claim on that part of the world.  If this is correct then Rome has a claim on the UK for its 200 year occupancy), Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust (In that case, Germany should be the Zionist homeland not in the Middle East), and the process (The British had no right to give away the Palestinian land for a Jewish state and the Arabs as a whole were right to fight it) The argument Israel has won its recognition as a state by through wars and combat basically is saying might makes right, greater violence bestows the right to exists on the winner which when one thinks about it, is all Israel has.

I discussed the case against Israel on an earlier blog post  http://rajdronamraju.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/the-case-against-israel/

But what I’m talking about specifically is what Israel is in the description of its supporters - A democracy in an area without any, a so-called bastion of liberal thought and western values.

On the face of it this argument is ludicrous as it confers legitimacy on any power that wipes out a group of people and steals their land.  All that matters is what they do now not the ethnic cleansing war crimes they committed in the past.

But I would argue that is a dishonest and an invalid argument as Israel is an indecent state.

It is a racist, genocidal state that recognizes no difference between combatants and those in armed conflict against it.  It does this deliberately so as to “mow the grass” the Zionazis euphemism for murdering large numbers of Palestinians to keep the population down.

It is a racist state that mirrors this in everything it does from excluding Israeli Arabs from living in certain areas to never prosecuting or giving a slap on the wrist sentences to settler violence against Palestinians including violence against children.

It is a dishonest state that lies about its own past constantly and the genocide the Zionists committed to steal the land from its original inhabitants.

It is also dishonest in its self-description – Jewish fundamentalism is on the rise in Israel leading to conflicts among Jews from everything to women’s rights (like where men and women sit on a bus and how women dress ) to who serves in its military.

Dishonest in its description of Gaza – Israel never left Gaza merely pulled out the settlers without relinquishing control of air, water, or taxes then turned it into a giant jail on all sides.

Whether it tests new cruel and destructive military weaponry (DIME weapons, Flechette shells, white phosphorus) on a defenseless population or locks up and tortures innocent Palestinian children, Israel is an indecent, evil state whose antecedents are Nazi Germany and Apartheid era South Africa.

I hope to see the end of Israel as we know it in my lifetime.

  





Sunday, November 16, 2014

BILL COSBY IS A RAPIST


I’ve always had mixed feelings about Bill Cosby.  As a kid, I liked the shows he did or was part of in the 1970’s that were aimed at children – The Electric Company, Fat Albert, his variety show on Sunday nights at 7:00.  He wasn’t so much a comedian as a storyteller and had all the skills to make an audience hang on every word of those stories.

I didn’t care so much for his 80’s show.  THE COSBY SHOW was feel good Reagan era crap that completely ignored what a lot of African Americans go through in America.  His evolution into a public scold for black people seemed ill-fitting considering he was very quiet during the civil rights era when he was first becoming a big star.  Tommy Smothers once called him out on this and Cosby physically attacked him.

That last story is perhaps why my feelings about Cosby have always been mixed because I always felt under the affable, exasperated everyman was a lot of anger.  It shows in his eyes and in his physical movements.  I wouldn’t call it violent rage lurking there; more like a passive aggressive anger (although I could see him exploding).  Complaining about one thing when you are really trying to let someone know you are irritated about that same thing without telling them outright.  In general, there has always been something very creepy about Bill Cosby.

Regarding the rape accusations made about Cosby, I believe them because there are at least 14 (or 16) different women, most or all of whom don’t know each other, occurring over 30+ years and who tell somewhat similar stories of being drugged and groomed by Cosby and his army of handlers.  Cosby has settled with at least one accuser out of court and has been mum on the rest.  His PR people created a wall of silence.


Does this matter to Cosby’s huge legacy as a comedian and performer?  Yes it does.  Cosby has always marketed himself as a clean family man, an image that began to unravel in the 90’s when he was the victim of a blackmail plot involving the paternity of a prostitute’s daughter, a prostitute Cosby admitted to sleeping with.  All that time spent hanging out at the Playboy Mansion should have been a clue.

Cosby is a monumental fake and a sexual predator.  He is an old man but IMO there is no statute of limitations in exposing someone like this.  It will be good to see Bill Cosby suffer some form of justice either in the courts or through the lessening of him as a popular public figure.    


Thursday, November 13, 2014

AVONMORE BY BRYAN FERRY


Bryan Ferry's solo albums have always veered between records of new material and of cover versions and of combinations of the two.  Happy to say that AVONMORE is mostly new material except for two weird covers (Send in the Clowns and Johnny and Mary) at the end of the record.  Overall just a dependably enjoyable record of the usual Ferry wall of sound, his trademark since the last Roxy Music album AVALON, well played by an army of musicians including Nile Rodgers and Johnny Marr (who co-wrote Soldier of Fortune a ballad here)and his ever aging fragile voice (which has great authority)....Not as good as his best solo work (nor Roxy Music of course) - OLYMPIA, MAMOUNA, BETE NOIRE, BOYS AND GIRLS but I like it....Standout tracks - Driving Me Wild,  A Special Kind of Guy, and Loop De Li (the first single).

My review of the last Ferry album OLYMPIA can be found here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2010/10/olympia-by-bryan-ferry.html


Saturday, November 8, 2014

THE PROBLEM WITH SAMANTHA POWER


It’s great that Malaysia, New Zealand, and especially Venezuela have won two year seats on the United Nations Security Council. About Venezuela winning a place, Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the UN, had this to say “Unfortunately, Venezuela’s violations of human rights at home are at odds with the (UN) charter’s letter. The United States will continue to call upon the government of Venezuela to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of its people.” What a load of dung! If you replace the word “Venezuela” with “United States” that would be a better description of reality. The Venezuelan government has been fighting a war against the wealthy 1% of their country who are seeking to overturn the will of the people through thuggery, throwing money around, and influencing the military aided and abetted by the CIA.

Power wrote a book about genocide called “A Problem from Hell” but has shown herself to be an Israeli bootlicker and a servant of empire.  Hell is not a particularly well-written book either.  She ignored the root causes of genocide (US bombing in Cambodia for example or the colonialists pitting Hutus and Tutsis against one another) in favor of general empty verbiage.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard her criticize Israel once even during their recent killing spree in Gaza.  Beware those to who toady to American empire and try to set themselves up as an international agent of conscience.  She is a fraud and an embarrassment!



THE SMEARING OF AHMADINEJAD


One of the most worrisome developments of the Republican takeover of the Senate last week is the renewed sabre rattling at Iran.  Neo-Cons like John McCain are back in control of senate committees and are wasting no time in talking about sanctions and military action.  Obama is kind of on their side anyway and won't have much interest in stopping them.

There are many countries that have been victimized by US imperialism  but Iran is near the top of the list what with coup that got rid of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 and stuck them with the Shah, an evil corrupt autocrat, for the next several decades

One way the US and its proxy Israel kept the pressure on Iran which has dared to fight back against the American evil empire is to exaggerate up Iran’s nuclear policy into something which is desperately threatening to the West when in effect Iran is not even close to developing a nuclear weapon.

Another way is to demonize Iran’s leadership.  That’s kind of hard with the current president Hassan Rouhani who is somewhat low key but worked well with Iran’s last president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Never mind that much of what was reported were mistranslations. (Deliberate in my opinion as Zionists and their allies control almost all of the Western news media) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-sedaei/the-biggest-lie-told-to-t_b_70248.html

Sure he had a big mouth (and voiced a lot of intolerant opinions on gays, women etc. which Christians in the US do too) but much of what he did was trolling Israel and the US and much of what he said about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, US imperialism, and the Holocaust as an excuse for a holocaust conducted by the Zionists against the Palestinians.  The holocaust is not unique in the history of the world and treating it as such is used to excuse or minimize other crimes against humanity (such as those committed against Israel).

Ahmadinejad Is back teaching now (he has a PhD in engineering).  Here he is taking the bus to work and standing in his office.



Friday, November 7, 2014

MY STRUGGLE: BOOK ONE BY KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD


The memoir as novel seems truly tapped out, overused by writers who lack the imagination to sit down and come up with a plot and characters.

It is a challenge then for the writer who chooses to work in this medium for one, he must have an interesting and possibly universal story to tell.  For another, he must stylistically be able to tell a story that’s not told in the form of a more escapist completely fictional narrative with the confines of its structure.

The first volume of MY STRUGGLE by Karl Ove Knausgaard definitely satisfies the latter point.  He doesn’t necessarily have a lot to say in the lead off to his multi-volume autobiographical work which has garnered a lot of good reviews and critical attention.

However regarding the overall meaning....

Proust is the most immediate influence that comes to mind but whereas Proust, despite his sloppiness, had a very clear framing mechanism for his remembrances , Knausgaard does not.   Most of the book seems to be about the problematic relationship with his father up to and including his father’s death but I feel that something is missing here. 

As much as I like the way Knausgaard writes, there is nothing ”solid” here , just description without feeling, without force, the intellectual who is too outside his own life. Still the writing is good enough I would read further volumes of MY STRUGGLE.


THE WAR AGAINST NICE GUYS


An unfortunate by product of the rightful outrage by women in the USA for a number of recent issues involving unjust and wrong treatment such as various high school and college sexual assaults incidents that were not handled by administrators correctly and were swept under the rug or ignored altogether, minimizing of sexual assault when it is committed by an athlete or other celebrity, Elliot Rodgers shooting murders, catcalling, gamergate etc. is the attack on “nice guys” by some women.

A nice guy is described as a man who tries to pick up or talk to a woman, finds out she is not interested then responds in some verbally abusive way.  At some point, he either described himself or was described as a “nice guy” – well mannered and not devious or overly forceful in his dealings with women.

I’m not sure how we arrived at this as most of the kind of guys in the behavioral incidents I mentioned above would not classify themselves as nice guys nor would they want to be as they feel this would not help them be attractive to American women who are supposed to be attracted to assholes.

First off, if he’s verbally abusive, he’s not a nice guy so I’m not sure why that description is used except in quotes in an ironic sense.

Second, why is this type of man the priority in discussions about change in male behavior instead of the athlete/frat boy/type A male which is still a bigger problem for most women?

I can only speak anecdotally about my experience as a single man in America - a lot of American women don’t respect a guy who holds doors open nor uses please and thank you not to mention is well mannered when it comes building up to a sexual relationship.   As someone who is somewhat conservative about gender matters and a gentleman on dates, most American women were not that interested in me which was fine as I never had any interest in them and only dated foreign born women (I am married to a Malaysian).  In Asia, the attributes of a gentleman are still prized plus Asian women are much more physically attractive and generally take better care of themselves. 

I don’t however blame American women for this nor work this into some sort of larger narrative about how women are no good.  The problem is capitalism colliding with the puritan based Christianity of the pioneers that settled large parts of the country.  America sexually is screwed up stuck between hypersexual displays that sexualise everything and prioritize sex in a way that is not healthy and a holdover puritanism that still preaches abstinence, homophobia, and restrictions on abortion.

American women are vulgar, materialistic and kind of gross but so is the culture that spawned them (and so are the men that live there).

Also I’d just like to say about the term “friendzone” – Men bring this on themselves. Hanging around with a woman in a platonic friendship hoping she’ll like you is masochistic!  I learned early on that only creates frustration and a phony foundation for a relationship with another person, also it's dishonest.







I SUPPORT ARNOLD ABBOTT


It has become a trend in the US state of Florida to criminalize the feeding of the homeless, many of whom gravitate to that state because of their milder winters.  These laws do nothing to resolve the core problems at the root of homelessness but seek to end it by legislating the homeless out of existence without doing anything to address mental illness or drug abuse or just the lack of work that find people unable to support themselves anymore.

Laws that criminalize giving food to the homeless are sick and evil.  Any society that passes such laws deserves to end up on the ash heap of history.  I consider this part of gentrification - Scumbag rich people - not in my backyard.  Personally I hope their houses all burn down and they find themselves out on the street.

Arnold Abbott is 90 years old and has been feeding the homeless in public parks in Fort Lauderdale through his charitable organization LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.

Abbott, who fought in WWII as a combat infantryman and received two purple hearts and was also active in the 1960's in the civil rights movement, has now been arrested and cited but continues to feed the homeless, the destitute, despite the danger of further arrest....I'm an atheist but I know no other way to say this other than in religious lingo - God bless him! I'm posting about this because this story is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with America....Income equality is the new civil rights struggle and encompasses many other problems (police abuse, homelessness, perpetual war etc.). 

Abbot is a hero in my eyes.  A total badass and here’s how you can support him

His organization LOVE THY NEIGHBOR http://lovethyneighbor.org/

A fund for his legal costs http://www.gofundme.com/gueuaw



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A FEW THOUGHTS ON ELECTION 2014


In many ways, this election seemed like a tantrum, perhaps a final tantrum from those who expect the America of the myth to be restored, the American dream, high wages for plentiful jobs, home with two cars,  sending kids to college but that America no longer exists (if it ever truly existed) and its never coming back.

In its place is an America of diminished resources that taxes its depleting assets and morality even further in the building and maintenance of an empire it cannot afford and which much of the world rejects.  This is of course including the endless armed conflicts the US feels the need to inject itself into.

The answer or at least one of the answers is an end to the two party duopoly of power.  Until then, here a few observations on this election.

1.)  Clearly this was a wave election.  Losing the governorship of Maryland  and almost losing (as of this writing) a senate seat in Virginia are examples of losses the Democratic party did not expect.  Whether it be avoiding a run-off in Georgia or retaining the governorship in Florida, the Republicans exceeded their wildest dreams.

2.) I'm not a Democrat but I do think a lot of the Democrats who lost tonight (espc. in senate races) such as Grimes in Kentucky were too quick to run away from the president and their own party in general. What kind of message does that send to the voter?

3.) While there is no doubt that Republicans make efforts to drive down voter turnout from constituencies that vote Democratic (poor, African Americans etc.) and some of these efforts are illegal/unconstitutional, I must say that I do not see the problem with requiring a photo ID for voting - You need one for everything else important and while there may not be widespread fraud now the potential is certainly there. If the argument is some elderly or poor people don't have access to a driver's license then there should be a voter's card given to those who can prove they don't have the resources for obtaining another form of photo ID or even better and easier a national ID card which everyone would be required to present when voting. And no, a student ID is not a valid form of ID. At the university I went to, the foreign students had the exact same ID's as those who were Americans.

4.) One thing I really don't like is when they call a race based on exit polls before even one vote has been counted. I understand a certain result is likely in some cases but it would be nice to see the trend emerging ,at least 20% or 25% of the votes counted perhaps, before calling a winner.

5.) Scott Walker’s re-election which is too bad not just because he's anti-working people, anti-education etc. but because rumor is he is planning to run for the Republican nomination for president 2016 . He will not run had he lost re-election. With his non-threatening demeanor, he could be a formidable national candidate.

6.) Harry Reid (and Nancy Pelosi) need to step down from their leadership positions.  Neither has shown much leadership as of late especially Reid who made no effort to push through contentious legislation nor confront Republicans.  I think we could have had immigration reform had Reid (and the president) been willing to work with the House of Representatives.

7.) Marijuana legalization in Oregon and Washington DC was good news this evening.  I hope this trend continues.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

THE BOKO HARAM NONSENSE


A few thoughts about the ongoing Boko Haram mess in Nigeria.....

1.) Thousands of girls have been kidnapped murdered and worse in The Congo no one seems very excited. Our hastag selfie president's not too interested in that. Nigeria supplies 10% of the USA's oil imports. That’s what this is about! 

2.) Prior to 2009, Boko Haram was a fringe group with kooky 8th century views but not particularly violent. After setting up their own form of police force in Northern Nigeria due to the fact that the government police force was corrupt and often sexually assaulted Muslim women, there was a mini-war between the two that ended with the government killing scores of civilians and then arresting and murdering without trial the leader of Boko Haram. That’s when the violence from Boko Haram started (not to be confused with government violence).

3.) When John McCain says US troops should go in whether or not the Nigerian govt wants it, he is laying the soul of the neo conservative bare.The neo cons want a war –Doesn’t matter if it’s here, Syria, Iran, Ukraine. Truth is there are no good guys. The government of Nigeria is a democracy in name only – corrupt and dictatorial, arresting political opponents, murdering civilians. Let Nigeria sort out their own mess. This is a civil war and THE US SHOULD STAY OUT!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

AMERICA'S RIDICULOUS, DISHONEST REACTION TO IRAN'S EXECUTION OF REYHANAH JABBARI


The ridiculous, fact challenged overreaction in the West to Iran’s execution of Reyhanah Jabbari is just another indicator that Iran is the new Cuba.  Sand in the eye of empire and a target for the unholy evil trinity of Zionism and Capitalism and Imperialism. 

The story is this -  Jabbari was an interior designer and was accused of stabbing to death  a doctor (and former intelligence official) who invited her back to his place to give a quotation.  She claimed he tried to rape her.  This story fell apart very quickly – She had bought a knife two days previously, there were text messages to a friend before the crime of an incriminating nature and most of all Jabbari first denied and then claimed another person was present during the murder and may have helped.  This was most likely a robbery gone wrong or if you want to get conspiratorial Jabbari was a pawn of foreign intelligence services seeking to get revenge for something the doctor did when he was an agent.  I’m opposed to the death penalty anywhere but as far as a criminal case goes this was pretty solid. 

What was her defense?  Iranian prosecutors made up all the evidence.  She was tortured.  I’m sorry but that is total bullshit. This was all pretty open - How else would we know about this case?  Iran is not North Korea despite attempts to paint it as such in the CIA controlled media.

Most irritating is US condemnation.  There’s a saying in Malaysia – “Look at your own backside first”.  Cameron Todd Willingham, Johnny Garrett, Jesse Tafero, America needs to look at its own justice system. I’ll worry about who Iran executes when the US stops executing disproportionate numbers of the mentally handicapped, African Americans, Hispanics, and poor people in general (not to mention innocent folk). 


Saturday, October 25, 2014

MUSIC ROUND-UP - BEST RECORDS HEARD MAY THROUGH OCTOBER


(Catching up on music posts after my blogging break)

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – WHAT HAVE WE BECOME

The best Beautiful South album never made. In fact, it’s better than the last South album. Really energetic and inspired (electric guitar and drums more front and center)and it’s nice to hear Heaton and Abbott together again. Stand out tracks? – well all of them, seriously!  Every song is excellent with the best perhaps being the last tune When I Get Back to Blighty which ends with a singalong of the phrase “Phil Collins Must Die” – An admirable sentiment!  I think I would go as far as to say this is the best album released in 2014 that I’ve heard.




Morrissey – WORLD PEACE IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

Overall a triumph. Definitely better than his last record YEARS OF REFUSAL (which I consider his worst solo album). Morrissey is my favorite vocalist in all of music and his voice is in good form here. No signs of age. He is also one of my favorite lyricists of all time and the lyrics here are mostly witty, clever, insightful.  Joe Chicarelli’s production is varied, detailed, and sympathetic. He tries a lot of things one doesn’t normally hear on a Moz record (handclaps, a whistle, synthesizers, all manner of weird sounding guitars). The “deep” album cuts (Neil Cassidy Drop Dead, Kick the Bride Down the Aisle, Staircase at the University ) are better than the singles and pre-released tracks ( Title track, Bullfighter Dies, Earth is the Loneliest Planet).  



 Bear in Heaven – TIME IS OVER ONE DAY OLD

Bear in Heaven's last record I LOVE YOU IT'S COOL was my favorite record of 2012. Their new record is a more relaxed, mellow set, less propulsive and urgent with more groove but still superb - very enjoyable.  Best tracks – You Don’t Need the World,  Demon, Memory Heart, Time Between