BK Wins at ‘Dega!

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Article first published as Keselowski Survives Dega Carnage to Win on Technorati.[/box]

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Brad Keselowski won the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway driving away from second place driver Kyle Busch.

It was the second trip to victory lane for BK this season, his second at Talladega  and the sixth of his short Sprint Cup Series career. Keselowki handed Dodge its first victory at Talladega since Dave Marcis sored a win in 1976.

Busch took second, followed by Matt KensethKasey Kahne and Greg Biffle rounding out the top-five. Clint BowyerDavid RaganTrevor BayneDale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton in 10th.

A succession of late race cautions drove the race six laps past its scheduled 188.

With 45 laps remaining the competitors were just starting out a set of green-flag pit stops wen a chain-reaction wreck in Turn 3 took out many contenders, including pole-sitter Jeff Gordon.

Aric Almirola and Dave Blaney made slight contact triggering the crash and ending the day for Martin TruexCarl Edwards and Juan Montoya, among others.

“It was like a wreck at a stoplight,” Edwards said. “Everybody started checking up and hitting each other.”

With Paul Menard leading the race went green on lap 151.  Hamlin, surged to the front, where he raced Brad Keselowski for the lead.

Kenseth was sent to the back of the field for pitting too soon under the Lap 143 caution, but wasted no time driving himself back into contention. He drove past Denny Hamlin on Lap 167 for the lead, with Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger following close behind.

Casey Mears cut a tire on lap 175 and brought out a caution setting up a restart with nine laps to go.

On lap 181, Kurt Busch spun into the inside wall at the entry to Turn 1 bringing out another caution. Kenseth led the field back to green on lap 185.

The green flag didn’t last long. As soon as the leaders crossed the start/finish line, Hamlin made a quick move to the inside; and Allmendinger adjusted and clipped the nose of Hamlin’s car taking out a few Dega hopefuls such as Kevin HarvickTony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.

NASCAR Sprint Cup returns to Darlinton Raceway for next Saturday night’s running of the Bojangle’s Southern 500, 6:30 pm EST on Fox.

Standings

Beastie Boys

Rock and Roll SatBeastie Boys founder Adam Yauch lost his long battle with salivary gland cancer on Friday. In the world of the Beastie Boys he is commonly known as MCA, a true talent in the hip-hop genre. In a business where hip-hop acts sky rocket like roman candles and fizz out at the height of glory, the Beastie Boys have endured since 1979.

They initially came together as a hardcore punk band in the vein of The Dead Kennedys and Reagan Youth playing hip-hop venues all over the five boroughs of New York.

Beastie BoysThey were barely more than teenagers tearing up the Big Apple music scene. It was not until their shift to more of a hip-hop sound in 1983 that the boys from Brooklyn begin to see moderate success when their 12-inch single “Cooky Puss” (satirical references to the ice cream treat) became a hit in New York underground dance clubs and night clubs.

Beastie BoysIf Cooky Puss was the launching pad, their next release License to Ill was the rocket. They decided to hire a DJ for their live shows, and ended up getting an NYU student named Rick Rubin. Soon thereafter, Rubin began producing records, formed Def Jam Recordings and approached the band about producing them for his new label.

The band recorded Licensed to Ill in 1986 and released the album at the end of the year. The album was well-received, and was favorably reviewed byRolling Stone magazine with the now-famous headline, “Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece.” Licensed to Ill became the best selling rap album of the 1980s and the first rap album to go No.1 on the Billboard album chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also reached No.2 on the Urban album charts. It was Def Jam’s fastest selling debut record to date and sold over five million copies. The first single from the album, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)“, reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Pauls BoutiqueAfter the success of Licensed to Ill, the Beasties parted ways with Rick Rubin and ended their relationship with Def Jam  to sign with Capitol Records. Their first release on the Capital label is the 1989 release, Paul’s Boutique. The album was a fan favorite and despite going double-platinum ten years later Boutique was considered by Capital Records  a commercial failure. Rolling Stone ranked it No.156 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In 1994 the hit single Sabotage from Ill Communication had multiple nominations at the MTV music awards including video of the year, and award ultimately lost to Aerosmith‘s “Cryin’.”

All in all, Beastie Boys have released eight studio albums including 2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.  The group had sold 22 million albums in the United States and 40 million albums worldwide, making them, according to Billboard, “the biggest-selling rap group” since 1991.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012, “just the third rap group to enter the Hall, after Run-D.M.C. (2009) and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (2007).”

Adam YauchOn May 4, 2012 founder Adam Yauch succumbed to a rare for of cancer at the age of 47. The illness delayed release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two and the subsequent tour.

Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam said that Yauch was “a crazy talent whose contributions with his band were inspirational and consistently ground breaking”.

 

 

 

DEA Debacle

Daniel ChongBy now I am sure you have heard the Daniel Chong, DEA debacle story.

Here’s the deal… Daniel got swept up in a DEA drug raid on April 21st.  Investigators believe the student was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. They hauled him back to DEA HQ and questioned the young man at length as they did many others arrested that night.

They placed Daniel in a holding cell and told him they would be back shortly to see that he got sent home.

He waited.

And waited…

And waited…

Hours turned into days and by day 5, Daniel Chong was delirious, suffering signs of kidney failure and reduced to recycling his own urine to hydrate. It was a nightmare of the worst kind.

They forgot him — FOR FIVE DAYS!!! That’s pretty much felony stupid.

Chong was transported to a local hospital for treatment and was held in recovery for five days.

The top DEA agent in San Diego, William R. Sherman, said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” by the event and has ordered an extensive review the DEA policies and procedures for prisoner accountability. Sherman also issued an apology to the student, though Chong said he was not personally contacted by Sherman or the DEA.

For the whole affair Chong’s attorney has filed suit against the DEA for $20 million plus attorney fees.

In case you are interested that works out to be $166,666 per hour.  They could lock me up a week for half that and I’d be okay with that. I could catch up on my reading but I am not drinking piss.

Frankly, if the judge awards it, I think the DEA got off light.

This is just another case of government law enforcement run a muck and the innocent suffer.

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit in the Sky

Spirit in the SkySpirit in the Sky” is a song written and originally recorded by Norman Greenbaum and released in 1969. The single sold two million copies in 1969 and 1970 and reached number three in the U.S. Billboard chart.

On this date in 1970 it hit No. 1 on the UK chart. It also hit No. 1 on the Australian and Canadian charts. Rolling Stone ranked “Spirit in the Sky” #333 on their list – 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was featured Greenbaum’s 1969 album.

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In a 12/06/2011 interview with classic-rock music journalist Ray Shasho of The Examiner, Greenbaum stated that western movies were the real inspiration for “Spirit In The Sky”:

Norman Greenbaum: If you ask me what I based “Spirit In The Sky” on… What did we grow up watching? …Westerns! These mean and nasty varmints get shot and they wanted to die with their boots on. So to me that was spiritual, they wanted to die with their boots on.

Ray Shasho: So that was the trigger that got you to write the song?

Norman Greenbaum: Yes. The song itself was simple, when you’re writing a song you keep it simple of course. It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song. I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky. Funny enough… I wanted to die with my boots on.

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Norman Greenbaum

Tech Talent Drought

Tech Education

Tech Talent Drought

Around 30 years ago I pointed out this telling statistic. I heard it in the mid-80s.

“In America there are 10 lawyers for every engineer. In Japan there are 10 engineers for every lawyer.”

Guess what? … It’s only gotten worse.

Here’s a sad state of affairs at a time when many Americans are needing jobs. Colleges are graduating students every semester with a ton of student-loan debt and a degree they can’t use.

Sit down with any Human Resources person in a technology company and ask them what their biggest challenge is. Almost across the board you will get the reply – finding talent. Technology companies from coast-to-coast are struggling to fill the vast array of unfilled vacancies at the front line of their organizations.

A tech recruiter relayed the story that he was at a networking event recently when the CEO of a young startup company told him he would pay a fee of $400,000 if the recruiter could find five great engineers.

Sounds insane, doesn’t it.

When you consider tech talent at the leading firms can represent several million in revenue then a half million in fees sounds rather paltry. There’s a tech talent drought leaving nobody to fill open positions.

So what’s the problem?

Much of it is the education selected by students over the last decade or so.

Consider this data from the Marginal Revolution blog:

[box] In 2009 the U.S. graduated 37,994 students with bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science. This is not bad, but we graduated more students with computer science degrees 25 years ago![/box]

It gets worse…

From the same blog:

[box] In 2009 the U.S. graduated 89,140 students in the visual and performing arts, more than in computer science, math and chemical engineering combined and more than double the number of visual and performing arts graduates in 1985.[/box]

Tech Talent Drought

So here’s what I don’t understand.

An Engineering degree costs as much as a Psychology or Performing Arts degrees and the income potential is vastly greater for nerds. It begs the question, why are young adults pursuing degrees that have them more likely making coffee at Starbucks rather than enjoying the weekend with the top down on their new Beemer spending that big tech paycheck?

I think it comes down to shortsightedness sprinkled with a little laziness.

Engineering is hard! It requires work, lots of it. But hey, if it’s the difference between a six figure income or the title Barista, I think I could figure out how to get the work done.

I think much of it is based on the times. We are raising a generation of American Idols with dreams of making it in Hollywood. What many of them don’t realize is they stand a better chance of getting struck by lighting than striking it rich in Tinsel Town. For every Brad Pitt or Angeline Jolie walking the red carpet, there’s a million actors pouring Cappuccino for another aspiring actor reading the want ads.

Every good tech engineer stepping out of college today can be making mid-six-figures within five years.

For every Bill Gates and Steve Jobs there’s a thousand Zuckenburgs ready to make their mark in the tech world as we speak.

Solve the tech talent drought. Learn programming.

 

 

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

This photo, titled Into Heaven is by crackindown. Used by permission.

 

Stairway to Heaven

by Mickey Mills

“It was right there,” the lanky old man said as he pointed to the old brick steps twisting their way up the hillside to the unseen landing above.

“What was?” his curmudgeon friend replied.

“That song — Stairway to Heaven, was written about those steps.”

“Are you daft or something? That song was about a girl – a rock and roll groupie of some sort.”

“That’s right,” lanky continued. “As the story goes that Palmer bloke was standing down here chugging pints with his mates when he looked up towards the top and saw this woman standing under the street lamp. She wore a long flowing gown spun from gold thread and smoked cigarettes one right after the other.”

“And how do you know all this?”

“My son went to school with those blokes.  He got the story straight from the singer’s mouth, so to speak. Went on to be big rock stars, they did, and made piles of cash playing guitars and dancing around on stage like Mick Jagger.”

“Whatever became of the girl?”

“I heard she opened up a diamond shop in Sky Plaza. Check it out yourself – Lucy somethin’-or-other is ‘er name.”



This is a reprint of a story I wrote in 2010

This story is pure fiction.  Resemblance to well-known rock stars is absolutely on purpose.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2010-2012.

Rowdy Rocks Richmond

[box] Article first published as Rowdy Rocks Richmond on Technorati.[/box]

RICHMOND, Va. — Kyle “Rowdy” Busch stormed to his fourth consecutive victory in the spring race at the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway by driving away from Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps of the Capital City 400.

The victory marked Busch’s first of the season and the 24th of his career. Tony Stewart was leading before the final caution fell for debris in Turn 2.

On the restart Stewart fell off the pace and finished third. Denny Hamlin took fourth, followed by Kasey Kahne rounding out the top five.

A Jeff Burton crash on Lap 311 brought out a caution and scrambled the field for the restart.

Jimmie Johnson was penalized for a tire violation on his pit stop and had to restart at the tail end of the field.

Carl Edwards who led a race-high 210 laps also lost significant ground during the caution sequence when he was black-flagged for jumping the restart.

After a pass-through penalty, Edwards dropped to 15th, 17 seconds behind leader Tony Stewart. On lap 372, Stewart was able to lap Edwards and pull away from second place Kyle Busch to a nearly two second lead.

After the last caution Edwards got the “Lucky-Dog” putting him back on the lead lap to finish tenth.

….

NASCAR moves the show to Talladega for next Sunday’s running of the Aaron’s 499, 12:00 pm EST on FOX.

Marshall Tucker Band

Marshall Tucker Band

Rock and Roll SatThe Marshall Tucker Band developed its Southern rock roots in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Blending rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, country, and gospel, the Southern rock genre in the early 70s was a daily staple around the Mills household.

MTB enjoyed moderate success early in their career but in the face of personal tragedy the band slipped into obscurity and in 1983 went their separate ways.

Five years later MTB reunited and have performed in various lineups every since.

The original 1972 founding lineup included:

 Toy Caldwell – guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter (1947–1993)

 Doug Gray – keyboard player and vocalist

Jerry Eubanks – Flutist

George McCorkle – rhythm guitarist (1946–2007)

Paul Riddle –  drummer

Tommy Caldwell – bassiest (1949–1980)

Marshall Tucker Band signed with Capricorn Records and in 1973 released their first LP, The Marshall Tucker Band.

The “Marshall Tucker” in the band’s name refers a Spartanburg-area piano tuner. One evening while the band was practicing in an old warehouse and discussing possible band names, someone noticed that the warehouse’s door key had the name “Marshall Tucker” inscribed on it. That’s all it took. They didn’t know at the time it referred to a real person.  It later came to light that Marshall Tucker, the blind piano tuner, was the previous warehouse tenant.

Marshal Tucker BandTheir 1973 self-titled album, The Marshall Tucker Band, included one of my favorites, Can’t You See.

Between 1973 and 1978 MTB would release seven albums on the Capricorn label which contained enduring songs such as, Take The Highway, Fire on the Mountain, and Heard it in a Love Song.

The best charting album was 1975’s Searchin’ for a Rainbow which managed to climb to #15.

On April 28, 1980, Tommy Caldwell died from injuries sustained in a car crash on April 22. It was a devastating loss for the band, the people of South Carolina, and the Southern rock genre. The Charlie Daniels Band‘s 1980 album Full Moon is dedicated to Caldwell.

In 1979 MTB moved over to Warner Brothers and released Running Like the Wind. Over the next four years the band released five more albums under the WB banner. The 1983 album Greetings from South Carolina could only manage a 202 spot on the album charts and within weeks of its release the band hung up their guitar picks and went their separate ways.

In 1988, Gray and Eubanks reorganized MTB to record the album Still Holdin’ On, their one and only release on the Mercury label. Although Gray and Eubanks added new members Rusty Milner, Stuart Swanlund, and Tim Lawter, Still Holdin’ On was primarily recorded with studio musicians. The newer members had a much greater role, however, on the band’s 1990 album, Southern Spirit, released on the Sisaspa label. The album marked a return to the band’s country and blues roots.

Founding member Toy Caldwell died in his South Carolina home on February 25, 1993. The cause of death was listed as respiratory failure.

The band continues to tour and make music for fans around the country.

This post is dedicated to the memories of brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell.

The band at Tom Bass Park Amphitheater in Houston - May 15, 2011. Photo by Barry Sigman (barrysigman@msn.com)

Note: In an odd coincidence, one year later on April 28, 1981, Steve Currie, bass player for the British rock band T-Rex, also died in a car crash.

Summer Action Movies

Friday Films

Action Movies to Look Forward to This Summer

This summer should bring an exciting mix of action movies, from sequels and superhero flicks to fairytale and classic rewrites, there should be something for every film fan. So take a break from your college, job or fun online school classes to check out some of these much-anticipated summer action movies.

[box] The Avengers” – Starting off the summer with a superhero bang, Marvel brings us “The Avengers.” Directed by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon, this early summer film should be a hit. The movie includes a team of famous Marvel characters such as Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Black Widow, and will also feature some great acting talent such as Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, and Scarlett Johansson. The plot centers on S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peace keeping agency, and its fight to save the world from disaster. Release Date: May 4, 2012[/box]

[box]Battleship” – Who says you can only get feature film ideas from a book? Director and producer Peter Berg turns to the classic Hasbro naval combat game for inspiration for the upcoming “Battleship.” When an international fleet of ships come across an alien armada, the men must do battle on land, sea, and air to discover the goals of the unknown “Regents.” Release Date: May 18, 2012 [/box]

[box]Men in Black 3 – Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will team up this summer to star in “Men in Black 3.” If you thought the ending of “Men in Black II” left the series without hope for a sequel, think again. When the fate of the planet is at stake, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time to make things right. Get ready for more secrets, guns and aliens – all the components of a guaranteed summer hit. Release Date: May 25, 2012 [/box]

[box]Snow White and the Huntsman” – Kristen Stewart of “Twilight” and Chris Hemsworth of “Thor” face off against evil queen Charlize Theron in the upcoming spin on the classic Snow White tale, “Snow White and the Huntsman.” When evil Queen Ravenna decides Snow White must die, the smitten huntsman instead decides to train her for battle. Release Date: June 1, 2012 [/box]

[box]Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” – Stemming from the popular parody novel mashups like “Pride and Prejudice” and Zombies” and “Jane Slayre,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” turns good old Honest Abe into a vampire hunting superhero. When President Lincoln discovers that vampires are plotting to take over the United States, he must hunt them down to save the country. Release Date: June 22, 2012 [/box]

[box]G.I. Joe: Retaliation” – “G.I. Joe” fans will be happy to learn about the upcoming sequel to the series, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” The Hasbro brand of “action figures” inspires another potential blockbuster this summer with the return of Roadblock, Flint, Duke, Lady Jaye, Firefly, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow. It will also feature Bruce Willis in the role of General Joe Colton. Release Date: June 29, 2012 [/box]

[box]The Amazing Spider-Man” – A new take on the superhero franchise, “The Amazing Spider-Man” changes the traditional story and adds some interesting characters. When Peter Parker discovers a mysterious briefcase that once belonged to his father, he sets out on a journey to find the meaning behind his parents’ disappearance. Release Date: July 3, 2012 [/box]

[box]The Dark Knight Rises – Just when you thought it was safe to put away your Batman mask, the epic tale continues with “The Dark Knight Rises.” Staring Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway, this should be on everyone’s must-see list for summer. When a new villain arrives in town, Batman must put his tarnished reputation aside to once again save Gotham. Release Date: July 20, 2012 [/box]

Movies goers especially interested in the directing and producing process of films might want to develop their skills by completing an MFA Degree in Performing Arts, Studio Arts, or even Film Criticism. Also, check out the sources listed below for more news about upcoming hits.

Sources

IMDb (2012)

Flixter (2012)

Dull & Boring

Dull & Boring

Dull-Boring

In the whole “Sister City” world there may not be a better match on the planet.

There’s the sleepy little town southeast of Portland called Boring, a quaint town as many in Oregon are. And then there’s the newly adopted sister city of Dull, Scotland, a good bit north of Edinburgh and 7,000 residents short of its new sister Boring.

Yep, it sound like a match made in bad weather heaven, where gloomy skies are a way of life and the loudest thing in both villages is the quiet.

With Oregon timber business in full decline over the last decade there’s not much left in the way of industry. Boring today is mostly a bedroom community for commuters making the Sunset Highway run into Portland each day.

Dull (pronounced in the Scottish Gaelic dialect – dool) is mostly a farming community located in the county of Perth & Kinross. The village is a single street of houses on the north side of the valley of the River Tay. In the Gaelic language it means ‘meadow’.

Dull Church

Dull Church

As heard today on NPR.