Monday, July 31, 2006

Top 100 Metal Songs, Redux

Want to contribute to a new Top 100 Metal Songs list? Read on . . .

Many people have expressed their disagreement over my Top 100 Metal Songs list. Some of them give constructive criticism, but most just say "this list sucks" and sometimes go on to give me a very narrow-minded, short list of their own.

Here's your chance to do something about it.

Just post a comment here with your top 10 metal songs. If you don't have a top 10, give me your Top 8, or 7, or just 1. Rank each of them in order (I'm not a mind reader) Please, don't put a band on there more than once. If you give more than 10 songs, anything after the 10th one will be ignored. Spammed responses will also be ignored.

I'll leave this post for a long time (perhaps a few months, perhaps a year, depending on how many responses I get). Then I'll compile the results and post up an all-new list. I'll listen to all the songs that make the new list and put in my two cents' worth, but this list, in the end, belongs to YOU.


I've been compiling the list for some time now, and combining it with my old list, and so far the list is 99 songs long. Some of them will be cut from the list, obviously, as more songs are suggested. But there are some bands that I think deserve to be on the list that haven't been put in anyone's top 10 list yet.

So, in addition to the top 10 lists you give, from now on I would also like you to say what your favorite song is from each of the following bands, if you have a favorite:

Iced Earth
Children of Bodom
Lamb of God
Living Sacrifice
Marilyn Manson

If you'd do that, it'd be great. Thanks!

UPDATE 10/12/09:

I've given up on making a new list. My tastes have gotten so much heavier and less mainstream (Opeth, Necrophagist, Death, Bloodbath, etc.) and I've been adding so many more albums all the time that I've realized making a list like this--which is truly complete and fair--is a hopeless endeavor. I still like everything on this list, but I listen to it less all the time.

I do, however, think I can make a top metal albums list, and hope to do so in the first part of January 2010.

If you want to see a list of my favorite bands as it stands now, this is what I took off my Facebook page:

Alchemist, Alice in Chains, Amon Amarth, Amorphis, Apocalyptica, Artillery, At the Gates, Baroness, Behemoth, Black Sabbath, Blood Tsunami, Bloodbath, Candlemass, Johnny Cash, Cephalic Carnage, Coal Chamber, Corrosion of Conformity, Crimson Moonlight, Cryptopsy, Cynic, Dååth, Danzig, Dark Tranquility, Death, Deftones, Dethklok, DevilDriver, Diablo Swing Orchestra, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dimmu Borgir, Disillusion, Disturbed, Down, Dream Theater, Eluveitie, Eryn Non Dae, Extol, Godsmack, Gojira, The Haunted, John Lee Hooker, Iced Earth, In Flames, Tony Iommi, Iron Maiden, Isis, King Diamond, Korn, Lacuna Coil, Lake of Tears, Led Zeppelin, Living Sacrifice, Mar De Grises, Mastodon, Megadeth, Mercyful Fate, Meshuggah, Metallica, Monster Magnet, Motörhead, My Dying Bride, Necrophagist, Nevermore, Nile, Nine Inch Nails, Opeth, Orphaned Land, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Psyopus, Ram-Zet, Rammstein, Red Harvest, Sepultura, Slipknot, Soilwork, Sotajumala, Soul Embraced, Spineshank, Static-X, Suffocation, Swallow the Sun, Theatre of Tragedy, Therion, Tool, Type O Negative, Volbeat, White Zombie, Black Label Society

I've also disabled comments, as I think 137 is enough.

I hope everyone will accept that I now admit my list was narrow-minded, but I needed the Internet to introduce me to the great stuff (I don't know anyone else who listens to death metal, and I don't think I've ever met anyone who does). In this vein, anyone who needs to be introduced to all kinds of metal you can't hear on the radio should check out MetalCast, the best podcast ever.

UPDATE 1/8/2010: Check out my new list, The Top 50 Metal Albums of The Last Decade

Guest Blog: NEO Misc Photo Blog

NEO Misc Photo Blog

Friday, July 28, 2006

Terrorism: Always Bad?

In my latest post on the definition of terrorism, I came to the conclusion that terrorism is an action targeting civilians (whether by violence or threat of violence) with the intention of inciting fear in other civilians. The implicit assumption was that terrorism is always a bad, evil thing.

But Mister Pregunto, in his usual style, has raised an interesting question. He states
[T]he use of limited terror against citizens in pursuit of strategic aims is a time-honoured military practice. Terror doesn't always mean the wanton murder of civilians. Terror as a tool can be, and has been, employed in various ways and degrees for strategic military or political purposes. For example, threats against a people can be used to force its military to weaken its grip on that which is militarily important in order to go to the defence of the people. It also may be used with the intent to coerce the people into ending a war sooner. What else was the point of Sherman's march to the sea?

Arguably, there may be many cases where the use of terror in this way has shortened the duration of wars.

Under what circumstances is the strategic use of terror ethical?
And to that I state: Excellent question! Sherman's march to the sea is only one example. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are other examples of what could be considered terrorist actions under my definition, and yet I would approve of them.

What makes the atomic bombings good and the World Trade Center attacks bad? What is it that separates them?

An argument in favor of the atomic bombings is that theoretically it prevented far more deaths than it caused. The Japanese government and people would not have capitulated to military force very easily, and many more people may have died in a conventional war than from the two nuclear attacks. The attacks were designed to make Japan think twice about the consequences of continued war and to force a surrender. The 9/11 attacks, on the other hand, were not to end a war but rather to . . . I don't know, and I don't suppose I could ever understand what they hoped to accomplish. Could it be that they perceived they were already in a war, and that they were trying to end it?

But now you see that I'm throwing motive into the discussion, and I had previously avoided doing so. Perhaps it is unavoidable.

We can't draw the line between "good" terrorism and "bad" terrorism on any basis related to who the aggressor is. We were the aggressors in the current Iraq war, but that doesn't make it OK for people to attack and execute our civilians just because they're Americans, or British, or whoever.

So I think I'm going to have to go back to the discussion in my post on (Just?) War yet again. The analysis is a cost-benefit one. Terrorism is not necessarily evil. You need to take into account the costs and benefits of any particular terrorist attack in order to determine its desirability. I'm going to quote myself here:
No matter how just your motivations are for going to war, if you target civilians your war becomes less just. Attacking only military targets is more just. Also, any tactics that reduce the total number of casualties (on both sides) are more just.
So I'm going to have to go back on myself and state that motivation is actually important, because it's part of the calculus of determining whether the war is "just". You need to consider the alternatives as well as the motivation for the attack.

And this makes the whole situation a lot muddier.

My conclusion? If a nation (or organization) wants to be respected in the world scene, they need to keep my original definition of terrorism in mind. If they ever consider using terrorist tactics, they must first have an extremely good reason for attacking in the first place (eradication of the Jews, for example, would not be a very good one), and they must consider and discount all other possible alternatives. Terrorism is a last resort.

The problem arises, however, that terrorism is perhaps the only realistic option for certain groups that have limited resources. These groups also feel that their motivations are quite just, and in fact commanded by their god. How do you explain to them that their actions are not justified? You can't.

So, perhaps, we need to apologize profusely for any terrorist tactics that we've ever used and refrain from ever using them again in the future, no matter the cost. In this way, we set an example to follow.

Or perhaps this cost is too great.

An unsolvable dilemma.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What Is Terrorism?

That seems like an obvious question. What is terrorism? But I think we are in danger of losing sight of what it is exactly. And once we do that, we lose sight of what makes the United States (and other countries, of course) better than the people we call terrorists.

This is really a simple question, and it deserves a simple answer.

Terrorism is any attack which targets civilians.

So why are we losing sight of what terrorism is? Well, to answer that, we need to discuss what terrorism isn't. Not all suicide attacks are terrorism. People seem to think that anyone who walks into a crowd of US soldiers and blows himself up is a terrorist. This simply isn't so. Misguided, perhaps (see my post titled (Just?) War for more on that determination), but not terrorist. Similarly, just because a combatant isn't in a military uniform doesn't mean that he's a terrorist. If uniforms were important, then any time our soldiers shoot at a non-uniformed combatant they would be engaging in terrorism.

I've also heard people accusing Israel of engaging in terrorism in the recent fighting in the Middle East. This is simply not the case. Yes, civilians die due to the attacks by Israel. But civilians are not the target. Civilians almost always are harmed in any major combat, but collaterally, not intentionally. In the recent fighting in particular, Hezbollah is more at fault for civilian deaths in Lebanon than the Israelis who fire the missiles because Hezbollah puts their military equipment adjacent to civilians.

By way of analogy, if Cobra Commander straps children to the front of a tank, it doesn't make G.I. Joe a terrorist when the children get hurt in any attempt to disable the tank. It makes Cobra Commander the jerk (although perhaps not a terrorist, because a further refinement to the definition of terrorism would be that they target civilians from the enemy nation).

The same critics of Israel also say that they are terrorist because they target civilian infrastructure in their attacks. Characterizing infrastructure as "civilian" in this instance may be erroneous. This line is not as obvious as you may think. Surely, the World Trade Center was civilian infrastructure, as it had only civilian/economic purposes. But take our Interstate system in the US. For foreigners who don't know, this is a complex national highway system. It could certainly be called "civilian" infrastructure if you wanted to do that, but it would be an oversimplification. Any time the military needs it, they can deny civilians access to the system. A large reason for building it in the first place was to provide a method for the military to move equipment and troops quickly. Therefore, an attack on the Interstate system is not necessarily a terrorist attack. It could be, if the reason for the attack was to harm civilians in the process, but if you do it to slow down the military then it's not terrorism.

So why is the definition of terrorism important? We need to remember why terrorism is evil, so that we can defeat it. We can never legitimize this kind of tactic--the Spanish government has lost all credibility in my mind (and the minds of all terrorists) because they capitulated to terrorism (and therefore legitimized it). If there's one positive thing you can say about George W. Bush, it's that he will never legitimize terrorism. He might blur the line to make himself look better, but he won't legitimize it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Black & White: Laddman's Message

Back in 2001, Static-X had a remix contest. I entered my own remix using their software, and instead of normal lyrics I used some answering machine messages that a person named Ladd sent me. The song can be found here. The lyrics follow (beware--there is profanity):
Hey you bastards your light is on in your room
But you won't turn it off
Because you're not up there
This is Ladd
On the stoop

If you don't think I'm sexy, you'll be the first to go!
If you don't think I'm sexy
If you don't think I'm sexy
If you don't think I'm sexy

There's too many of them
We tried to fight them off but there's just too many of them
I tried
You know I tried

Please do not rape me

Hey you bastards your light is on in your room
If you don't think I'm sexy
Please do not rape me

I want to talk to you
Pick up the phone I want to talk to you
You never talk to me I want to talk to you now
Please pick up the phone I want to talk to you
You won't talk to me
You never want to talk to me
Was it something I said?
You never want to talk to me
Is it that bad?
Is it that fucking bad between us?
Oh shit
Oh my God
You'll be the first to go!

If I had one penny, I'd probably give it to you
If I had two pennies, I'd probably keep one for myself and give the other to you
But if I had three pennies I'd throw them at the cat!

There's too many of them
We tried to fight them off but there's just too many of them
I tried
You know I tried

Please do not rape me

*End of final message*

Friday, July 14, 2006

Christmas in July

If you haven't been over to Full Metal Photographer this week, you've been missing out on Christmas in July, where I posted Christmas and winter themed images all week.

You've also missed my announcement that I've begun to make some of my photos available to stock agencies on a royalty-free basis.

Everyone should check out Fotolia. Photos are available for download there for a dollar or two, and when you do it you get broad rights to use those images. You could use them as a desktop background or even make your own prints. (Of course, you can't resell the prints.)

I have several of my shots available there, including some of my most popular ones:
Lime Fizz over Blue
Lime Fizz over Red
Lime Fizz over Green
Berry Blue Kool-Aid with Twizzler Straw
Lime over White
The One Ring
Frosted by Sioux Falls

Also, for all you photographers out there, you should look into making some of your images available on Shutterstock as royalty-free stock photos. Their system caters to bulk buyers, as they charge membership fees--encouraging people to download many images. You get $0.25 per download, and in the first couple hours after my images were approved I made one sale. We'll see how profitable it gets to be as I make more shots available.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

29,000,000. Million Dollars

Well, I almost fell for that Aruna Soso scheme, but I knew better than that. This one, however, sent to me by Dr.Sabelo Khumalo, seems legit.
Mr. ALEJANDRO RODRIGUEZ, from SPAIN executed a contract through Federal
Ministry of Aviation here in South Africa, the contract worth of USD
000,000. Million Dollars, but on the process of him claming the money,
died with his family in Bomb Blast in MADRID SPAN disaster that
occurred in
SPAIN, we involve you to authenticate this clam.
Meanwhile, his money has been signed to pay in my office before I will
order to the bank for final endorsement of his money.
Why do I know this is totally legit, and completely not a scam? There are two reasons.

#1. "we involve you to authenticate this claim"

I looked it up, and apparently there is such a city as MADRID SPAIN. And there really was a Bomb Blast there. So, since it references a real event, it must be completely legit and totally not a scam.

#2: 29,000,000. Million Dollars

Wow. That's like, 29 million million dollars. It looks like this: $29,000,000,000,000, which means 29 trillion dollars. This number completely dwarfs the estimated national debt of something like 8 trillion dollars. This number is so impossibly huge that no one could possibly even conceive of that number from their imagination. My imagination stops at $12,482,033,721,002.94--after that I can't imagine a higher number. So it must be true. I should totally do this, and then I could pay off the debt of the United States and have enough left over to buy, I don't know, two or three of the states themselves. And then I can rename them with really cool names, like instead of Montana it would be Valhalla, Nebraska will be Asgard, and West Virginia will become Left Virginia. Maybe I'll even have enough left over to buy North and South Dakota, and reverse their names. Hell, I have lots of good ideas in this vein.

Any additions to this map are more than welcome.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Portrait of a Douchebag: Pete Ricketts

Politics isn't usually my thing, and you're going to have to forgive me for not using Photoshop to make this image, but this guy's TV ads are driving me nuts. Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska Republican senate candidate, is a douchebag. During the primaries, I got pissed at this guy because anyone that listens to him can tell he's just out to help other rich people like himself. We should keep the so-called "death tax," okay? It's a good thing to make sure that the people who can pay taxes do pay taxes. When you're a rich dead guy, it's a safe bet that you can pay, and it doesn't even affect the middle or lower classes. Ricketts tries to emphasize that his grandfather was a farmer and that he's just a good-old Nebraska boy to distract from this fact, and that's fine.

But Ricketts went completely overboard when he attacked current Democrat senator from Nebraska Ben Nelson. Nelson is out for his constituents, the people of Nebraska. He supports the military and ethanol research, and he's probably the least partisan of anyone in the Senate. Ricketts tries to make some bizarre connection between Nelson and the far left, like Kennedy and Clinton. And when Nelson ran an ad that simply called these claims ridiculous--not even attacking Ricketts' character or views, but only defending himself from this veiled attack--Ricketts ran an ad claiming that Nelson was engaging in mud-flinging "politics as usual." Well, Ricketts, your baiting didn't work as well as you thought it did, and you're obviously the one engaged in dirty politics.

If you're in Nebraska, do the right thing. Don't vote for Douchebag Pete Ricketts. Vote for Ben Nelson. I'm a Republican and I still urge you to vote for Nelson. Hell, even President Bush said Nelson's a good guy that puts partisanship aside.