Archive for February, 2013

February Flashback – Playlist of the Month

February Flashback playlist cover artThe last day of February has arrived, and it’s time for this month’s playlist! Nostalgia has always been one of my obsessions. Even when I was but a wee child I seemed to hold an affinity to previous decades, regardless of whether I was alive during them. Technically, I have spanned four decades now, but I’ve always considered myself a child of the 80s and/or 90s.

This month I want to give you a playlist that will take you back to circa 1991, just before Nirvana led the charge that brought Alternative music and Seattle Grunge to the forefront of the music world. So lately I’ve been listening to a lot of this music, albums from the Pixies, Jane’s Addiction, The Cure, and more, and I’m sharing it with you! Listen in, and hear some sounds you may have forgotten, or perhaps never heard before.

There is a song from Nevermind, which is a sort of tribute to their landmark album. Though they were not as widely successful as the Beatles, I truly believe Cobain and Nirvana have been just as influential on pop music. The last song is a “bonus,” just for you. Another song from a band with post-1991 success is “I Am One” by The Smashing Pumpkins. Their debut album Gish, which I consider a landmark album in Alternative Rock. One more note is on Tripping Daisy’s “I Got a Girl,” which was produced in 1995. It just fits. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th Amendment Rally at Oklahoma Capitol

crowd at oklahoma state captiolOKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans gathered at the State Capitol rotunda for a rally on Saturday to support fourth Amendment rights. Moderated by Amanda Teegarden of OK-SAFE, speakers addressed privacy rights and laws currently affecting those rights. Keynote speaker Amie Stepanovich spoke about the use of unmanned drones for surveillance, which has recently become an issue in the state of Oklahoma. Representatives from the organizations EPIC and OK ACLU spoke on privacy rights issues as well.

The event also addressed three pieces of legislation, House Bills 1556, 1557, and 1559, all of which would help protect fourth Amendment rights in Oklahoma.

In attendance was Steve Dickson, who is running for Oklahoma County GOP Chair. I asked him to share his views on the state of our fourth Amendment rights. “The fourth Amendment gRepublican Steve Dicksonets missed sometimes,” he said. “It seems like is taking away our privacy, while hiding everything it does.” Dickson argues the government should be more transparent. Also, he dislikes the income tax system, as it discloses to the Federal government citizens’ personal incomes, and is in favor of the fair tax system instead.

Dickson says government in Oklahoma has grown too large under decades of Democrat control, but now that Republicans hold a majority of State offices, the Party is not doing an effective job of advancing Republican ideals. He would like to see the size of government reduced in Oklahoma, and to reduce its overreach into the private lives of citizens. As County Chair he would like to make the party more organized and transparent. Dickson says the Republican Party has lost votes in Oklahoma County over the last few years, and phone numbers of precinct chairs and other publicly elected ground-level party members are not publicly available, even to Republican candidates running for office. He would like to make that public in order to help grassroots involvement.

Steve Dickson and Matt Jackson are the only candidates running for the chairmanship in Oklahoma County. I am currently contacting Mr. Jackson as well and will post his comments here when I receive them. The election will take place during the Oklahoma County Republican Convention March 23.

Legislation

UPDATE: Some of the legislation concerning 4th Amendment rights is making its way through the legislative process. Kay Beach has reported some of this on her blog.

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New Music: Atlas Genius Album Released

A band I’ve really wanted to hear a full album from since discovering them has released their first full-length album! Atlas Genius came out with an EP last year, whose decently successful song “Trojans” almost topped the Alternative chart on Billboard. From South Africa, they have a very unique sound.

The album is called “When It Was Now,” which seems to at least in part be a reference to the trending of 1980s New Wave influence on current alternative rock, and on this album. My one complaint is that without the 3 remixes, there are only 11 songs, and that just means they’ve left me wanting more. Sounds pretty good, check them out.

A few favorites from the album:

  • Trojans (of course)
  • On a Day
  • If So
  • Trojans Lenno Remix

And one more band I’m really happy to be listening to new material from this year is The Joy Formidable. If you like Atlas Genius you’ll probably like them as well. Enjoy!

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Sally Kern’s Bill Would Stop Doctors from Asking About Guns

Oklahoma Republican lightning bangRepresentative Sally Kern has apparently filed a bill that would prohibit doctors from asking patients whether they own a firearm. Good for her. Well, sort of. It’s an attempt to block a potential federal regulation that would require doctors to ask their patients whether they have a firearm at home, in certain situations.

I’m not sure we need a law banning doctors from asking any questions. If anything, we need a law exempting doctors from being forced to ask questions should any federal legislation instruct them to do otherwise. But don’t we already have a Second Amendment that takes care of that?

I believe the appropriate response if your doctor asks you whether you own a firearm would be, “Do you?” Plus, what can they do, if you decline to answer? You don’t have to answer that question if a police officer asks you, so why should you if your doctor does?

I’m still looking for the bill number, but it’s supposed to be voted on next Tuesday, according to all the news articles I’m finding on the legislation.

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Do You Have A Right To Smoke?

Don't smoke in Oklahoma!News9 Tulsa reports Oklahoma “Gov. Mary Fallin says she plans to push for a statewide vote on a smoking ban designed to reduce second-hand smoke and promote a healthier state.” Sounds great, right? Healthy state, reduction in second-hand smoke. Well, there’s a few details to add to this. First off, the state Senate already rejected a similar bill this week that would have allowed local municipalities to make their own regulations on the issue. Governor Fallin announced in her State of the State address this month that she would be pushing legislation to help promote a healthier state. I’m all for a healthier state, but apparently her intention is to use laws and government regulations to accomplish her goal.

This is one of those issues where I’m a “local libertarian,” meaning that I believe it should be down to the most local form of government to decide what laws should or should not be in place. It’s definitely not the federal government’s job to tell me if I can smoke (though they’re trying to do that through taxes), and it really isn’t even the state’s job as far as I’m concerned. I don’t mind cities passing their own ordinances about smoking on public property, or “common areas” like downtown streets and such. I’m not particularly fond of someone blowing smoke in my face, and it’s a violation of my liberties.

Now, as for smoking in general, I think it’s a bad idea. You shouldn’t do it. My grandfather died of smoking related disease, and it kills people every year. Basically I have almost the same position on other issues like alcohol or marijuana law. As far as I’m concerned, smoking is a really bad idea. However, that doesn’t mean I believe we need laws or taxes (in many cases) to stop people from smoking. Driving cars kills people too, but that shouldn’t be illegal either. (Well, except for the jerk that cuts me off on my way to work!)

Unfortunately, this is an issue where I am not in line with my Governor. Governor Fallin may be a conservative in a lot of areas, but in this case she apparently believes that if we have a problem, government and regulation will solve it. Is it a coincidence that she wants this to be on the ballot in 2014 when she is up for election again? Probably not, but it may just backfire. Lots of people in Oklahoma smoke, and though I am not one of them, I am not for sweeping, statewide bans on the private practices of people. It should be up to businesses, to decided if smoking should be allowed on their private property. If you don’t like the policy of a local business that allows smoking in front of you, you have the absolute freedom to choose another place to do business.

On the other hand, stop smoking, people! It’s bad for you and you should quit!

UPDATE: Here’s a restaurant that made the decision to go smoke-free on its own, without any government intervention. That’s the way it should be done!

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Mobile Theme Is Back

mobile theme back onlineStandard Excellence has gone through a lot of changes in the last year. Originally a practically oriented “for men” blog, it became a political news and opinion journal when crazy infighting began in the Republican party last year. As time has gone on and political news becomes less in the forefront for a while, I have also added a section dealing with music, technology, and trends I see in the world.

At the same time I have been working to improve the look and functionality of the website so that it can grow with the blog. I noticed traffic coming in from mobile platforms more frequently, and realized my website did not read well on cell phones. To accommodate an audience I was probably missing a chance to reach, I found a WordPress plugin that could generate a mobile site automatically. (Standard Excellence is powered by WordPress.org.)

When I implemented a new front page design, the tables did not display well on cellular devices, even with the mobile theme plugin, so I had to deactivate it. This week I made the necessary changes to create another front page formatted for cell phones and reactivated the plugin.

So once again, Standard Excellence can be comfortably viewed from your iPhone, Android, tablet device, or desktop or laptop computer. Welcome back!

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