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January 30, 2008

An Effort I Could Get Behind « Link O' Admiration »

"Cant we do without a president for the next four years or so?"

I see absolutely no reason why not.

Oh, and be sure to read the whole thing.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:11 AM | Comments (106) | TrackBack (0)

January 29, 2008

Urban Gardening Tips « The Brain Fertilizer Way »

We're all about self-sufficiency, here at Brain Fertilizer.

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Posted by Nathan at 01:41 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)
The Band You'd Go to War With « Music/Guitar »

Hoplite ...the band you've never heard of, but the band you'd go to war with.

Here is the cover of their soon-to-be released debut album:

The music is insipid, mediocre, and boring, but unique nonetheless. The name is apparently derived from the various military experiences claimed by bandmembers (both Army and USAF, both enlisted and commissioned officer). Overall, this is as amateur an offering as I've ever seen or heard, which is rather disturbing when you consider the overall musical experience and training various bandmembers have had.

The band takes advantage of the extended space afforded by CDs to provide 14 tracks. Unfortunately, the triumph of quantity over quality is an unfortunate direction for this band to take. On the positive side, however, this CD may represent one of the best examples of piracy protection without DRM, ever. I think I can say without reservation that this music will never be illegally transferred to anyone's computer.

The songs themselves seem to be a mix of inside jokes and plays on semi-famous SF&F book titles. The lyrics (as yet unpublished) provide a glimpse into the life and soul of the main songwriter, a glimpse any viewer will surely regret for most of their lives, or at least until they successfully obtain professional psychiatric intervention.

Song List:
1. ...Of Looking At Things.
2. Obama Girl, Wanna Be a Hoplite Girl?
3. Westones, Cars, Football, and Jagged Alliance
4. "Jagged Alliance" is a Difficult Rhyme
5. There are No Russian FAOs in China Division
6. George Lucas, Don't Direct Again
7. Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs
8. Hope
9. Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood (Cover tune)
10. Alpha Male, Beta Max, Gamma Rays
11. Time Enough for Jello
12. The Moon is a Harsh Vision
13. 40,000 in Cisco, Texas
14. 500 Years After Woodstock

I urge you to go out and purchase this CD now, and as much as you can afford. Our only hope is that they are looking to get rich, and will stop inflicting us with this nonsense after they make enough money to retire.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:56 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Political Prediction « Politics As Usual »

I think it's going to end up Obama vs McCain, thus proving you can have an election with two Democrats as the top candidates.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:07 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

January 28, 2008

And Now...a Little Chinese Music « China/Taiwan »

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Posted by Nathan at 09:52 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)

January 25, 2008

Yeah, I Could Buy a Ford « Car Issues »

This car sounds pretty good, anyway.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:06 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2008

Trading Down: How? Why? When? « Kansas City Chiefs »

Anytime the NFL draft comes up, someone always says, "We should trade down to get more draft picks." And someone else inevitably replies, "You have to find someone willing to trade up to do that." Well, what does it take?

What are the scenarios by which someone will want to trade up?We traded up to get Sims. We traded up to get Tony Gonzalez. New Orleans traded up to get Ricky Williams. Cleveland enacted several trades last year to jump right in front of us to grab people they were afraid we'd take (both Brady Quinn, QB, and Eric Wright, CB).And that's the next part of the equation, isn't it?

There has to be someone at #5 that another team wants, and is afraid won't fall to them...Our only hope is that some guys currently rated at mid-first round has his stock rise high enough to make McFadden or one of the Longs drop to #5. Then, and only then, can a team at #8 or lower start getting excited enough to move up.

And that's the final part of the problem. Trading up to grab someone at #1 overall is too expensive, usually. The only way, normally, to get the #1 pick is to be the worst team in the NFL for that year. And that has a huge cost in fan support, merchandise, television appearance revenue, paid attendance, television advertising revenue, public good will, etc. It is so bad, that about the only way to redeem that cost is the excitement surrounding the #1 overall pick. Thus, trading up to get it is prohibitively expensive.

But when a player falls a few spots, it begins to look more attractive to trade up. Reggie Bush was nearly the consensus #1 overall pick, but Houston didn't want him. So he fell to #2, where the Saints were ecstatic to grab him. But let's say they, too, felt that there was a different player who would be more useful for a longer time, someone who would make significant contributions and pro-bowls for a decade or more, and let him fall. Suddenly, teams that weren't willing to trade up to the #1 or #2 slot see the chance of getting a virtual #1 pick for the cost of a #3 pick. There are suddenly more teams ready to make that pick.

It works for players lower down, too: Brady Quinn was not going to be the #1 overall, but most people considered him a decent top-15 pick. Yet no one wanted to trade up to get him. But by the time he dropped to the 22nd pick, Cleveland couldn't help themselves...but clearly, he wasn't worth trading up when he was at #15, right? That turned out to be more expensive than they originally thought, because they shorted themselves in the 2008 draft to get an early start at an expensive franchise QB. The money is committed, the pick is gone, and now they have a starting QB playing well enough to keep the franchise guy on the bench...but I digress.

Tony Gonzalez was not picked in the first eleven picks. KC wanted him, badly. But we weren't willing to move up to the #5 pick to grab him. But we were willing to trade to #12, and did so. Maybe the team holding #11 wasn't willing to deal; maybe the team at #13 wasn't willing to accept what we offered, so it's not 100% that Tony was worth it at #12 and no where else...but it is clear he was worth approximately that at the time.

This year, McFadden is currently one of the hot choices for #1 overall. So is Glenn Dorsey and Chris Long. Jake Long is clearly considered top five, but not #1 overall, as is Matt Ryan. Sedrick Ellis seems to be rising, too. So there are 6 players. It seems clear that Dorsey and Chris Long are taken #1/#2, no matter who goes first. It seems pretty clear neither of them would fall to #5. Then since we'd be happy to take Jake Long, and we want to explore the possibility of trading down, let's assume he goes at #3. If McFadden is available at #4, there will be 3-4 of teams clamoring to trade up for him. We wouldn't gain any advantage from that at all. It would only guarantee the right to take Ryan or Ellis. Since both of those are currently projected to go between 4 and 7 (with Ryan being on the higher side of that), it is unlikely either of them would trigger a trade.

However, if one of the top 4 teams took Ryan or Ellis (or both), that would put any one of the other top 4 (Dorsey, Long, Long, or McFadden) in our laps at #5, with a cinch that whoever it was would not drop to #6, or lower. But dropping that low would tantalize the #6, #7, or #8 picker, and they would probably be happy to trade spots with us to get the right to draft their dream player.

That would allow us to draft Clady or Baker at OT without spending way to much for them, and picking up another draft choice this year or the next (depending).

So that's our final analysis: We can and will trade down only if:1) Jake Long is drafted in the top 4.2) Ryan, Ellis, or someone else rises to the top 4, pushing someone else considered a Can't-Miss Top Three to drop to us at #5.3) That Can't Miss Top Three player isn't someone we want.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:46 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2008

Fred Drops Out of the Race « Politics As Usual »

In retrospect, it was inevitable.

I'm extremely disappointed, too.

(Yeah, I could have just reacted to David J's thread by leaving a comment there. But this way I might get more attention. And I'm nothing if not an attention-hound.)

There, David J. says:

I--honestly, no bullshit--think that its just an off cycle. Hope.

If it isnt just an off cycle, though, then the problem isnt just with the GOP, its with the American political system. Its a problem that encompasses public expectations of government and a fundamental lack of understanding of political principles. I could also make a backhanded swipe at growing populism, but Im at work and only have so much ranting time available to me right now.


My thoughts are that it is not just an off-cycle...and yet I don't see it as the nadir of the GOP, either.

Rather, I see it as a sign of hope that Fred lasted this long, and that he was able to get his message out to so many people.

On the other hand, I think Fred's campaign and ultimate failure does highlight the political bankruptcy of our political system. But here's the thing: Prior to 10 years ago, we would never have heard of Fred. The left-leaning MSM would have suffocated his candidacy and his message before it ever started. The MSM would have continued to push the GOP candidate it wanted (Huckabee) to help propel an easy Democratic Party victory.

This isn't the first time we've had independent access to political, social, governmental, and historical information apart from the MSM gatekeepers. But this is the first time their influence was so clearly displayed.

Sure, we don't have the Presidential candidate we want...but true conservatives are upset and angry. We should have a little more power over whatever candidate wins the nomination, and even more power over the eventual President, even if it is a Democratic. Conservatives and our issues are being taken more seriously (see how illegal immigration laws are being enforced more now, over the objections of leaders of both political parties), and can no longer be dismissed with emotionally-charged denigrating words in MSM reports without the full story percolating up through other channels. Look at how the lawyer keying the Marine's car became publicized.

The Reagan Coalition is in a transformation phase, I think. I think we are applying the marketplace of ideas to our conservative movement, and as we network and organize ourselves further, we will be a force.

In about 8 years, I think.

Goldwater resulted in Reagan. I think Fred (and what we internet-savvy conservatives have learned) will result in a true Conservative movement rising to power in the GOP. We had the Christian right bloc be in power, followed by the socially-liberal, economically conservative moderates dictate to the GOP from 2000 until now...our time is next.

I think.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:41 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Ladies and Gentlement, I Give You: Crickets! « Snarky Self-Deprecation »

By that I mean, I give you, my readers, an open thread.

I expect it to receive all the attention and participation it deserves.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
My Reaction to Taiwan's Election Results « China/Taiwan »

Anyone who says the KMT LY win was "a step closer to PRC" is just spreading propaganda.

The LY election was about economics.

Hu Jintao changed PRC's (Jiang Zemin's) policy from "Bring about re-unification" to "Prevent independence".

Chen's popularity and relevence started to plummet pretty quickly thereafter, because he thrives on combativeness.

Absent the threat of imminent invasion from the PRC, most Taiwanese worried about making money. They complain that they used to have double the per capita income of ROK, and now are $3000/year per capita behind ROK. They complain that their per capita income is now lagging behind Indonesia.

They see every other country in the world making money off of trade/economic interaction with the PRC, and wonder why Chen won't let them do that.

8% of Taiwanese want to reunify. 9% want complete, total, recognized independence now. The other 83% just want to make money and have a secure, comfortable life.

Chen was only good at treating the PRC as an enemy, and all his policies reflect that. The people want a government that will stop restricting their chances to make money on the mainland.

The nail in Chen's coffin (after the corruption scandals that made him vulnerable) was that he pushed a campaign to erase Chiang Kai-shek. While Chiang is not loved by many, he is responsible for Taiwan's separate existence from the PRC. He and his son are responsible for Taiwan's economic and social development. Even martial law is a historical fact, even if resented. Chen tried to throw Chiang down the memory hole, to ignore his accomplishments because of his failings. Chinese society teaches to respect your elders, even if you hate them, so Chen's attempts to imitate Marxist historical rewriting just irritated too many people.

Ma will win the election. Taiwan will not re-unify with the PRC under Ma's watch.

From what I think, the problem will be that yes, Taiwan can make money in economic engagement with the PRC just like any other country...but the PRC doesn't claim other countries as territory. Taiwan's economy is huge for their size...but dwarfed by the PRC's. At some point, Taiwan will lose its economic sovereignty, and the PRC will be able to say: Re-unify, or we'll send you into the worst depression history has ever known, and Taiwan will unify with the PRC without a shot fired.

...unless the PRC collapses from internal strife first.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Which Car Should I Purchase? « Car Issues »

Poor Man's BMW?


Rare (more expensive to fix/maintain), cool, fast, AWD sports car?

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Posted by Nathan at 08:40 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)

January 18, 2008

Toning Down Language for our Enemy's Sensitivity « GWOT »


Bonus question: Of the people most likely to be bothered by the original language, which party do you think they'd most likely vote for?

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Posted by Nathan at 09:45 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Beer is Good Food « The Brain Fertilizer Way »


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Posted by Nathan at 08:38 AM | Comments (81) | TrackBack (0)
Blather « Social Issues »

Blather from "Reason" magazine, to be specific.

The puzzle is what happened next. In the 1990s, the pattern changed again, but the surprise involved men. The wage premium for a college degree continued to rise smartly. Women responded just as economic theory predicts that rational actors would: Their college attendance rates kept climbing because the more they learned, the more they earned.

Men, however, ignored what the market was telling them: Their college attendance and completion rates barely rose. Why? "That's the big mystery," says Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution.

Are you serious? Or, rather, are they serious?!?

Big mystery?

Not at all. Affirmative action is absolutely a good part of the answer. Females were encouraged to apply to college. Males, not so much. When applying females are given preference to start with. Aside from actual preference, college admission standards were changed away from SAT scores toward things like essays on life experiences, goals, dreams, and your favorite color for a pony. And then once in college, males are castigated in pretty much every field except Engineering and Music, teaching styles are shifted toward those females prefer, speech codes and sexual harassment rules are biased against males, and the whole college experience is generally hostile to men across the board.

The article says men "ignored the market". Not so. The "market" included a much higher social cost for men to attend college than women. Men have responded by staying away in droves.

Big mystery?!?

Not for anyone with eyes and a brain.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:52 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2008

Yngwie J. Malmsteen « Music/Guitar »

He's got the "J." to distinguish him from all the other Yngwie Malmsteen's out there.

Anyway, here's an entertaining video. It's different enough from the album to prove he's got all the chops he needs to just make music.

Bastard. But an entertaining one:

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Posted by Nathan at 03:59 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Money: Better to Have Actual More, or Relative More? « Social Issues »

Karol at Alarming News is asking (in reaction to an LA Times article).

My response:

$100k. I could care less what anoyone else makes. I don't need gadgets, houses, cars just because others have 'em. I've $45k in the bank and could buy just about any nice car I wanted, cash, to include BMW 3 series or Audi A4 or Lexus IS350...but I choose to drive a '99 Corolla because it cost me $6k, insurance is low, it doesn't bother me when someone dings the door, and it gets me there just as capably as a car worth 8x its price. So as long as all the other prices/costs are the same, I absolutely want 2x as much money to buy guitars, books, food, vacations, and save for retirement.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:39 AM | Comments (54) | TrackBack (0)
Thinking About Westone Guitars... « Music/Guitar »

Just as I was getting distressed about Westone maybe not being as good as I was led to believe, I get this comment on an earlier post:

Ran across your blog doing a Westone Google...welcome to the fray! They are awesome guitars! I first became aware of them by reading an article about them in the Nov 2005 issue of Vintage Guitar. In the monthly Different Strummer column, they featured Japanese Muscle Guitars (like in muscle cars?) by Matsumoku. Along with the Arias, Vantages, etc, were the Westones. About a week later I am in my local Music GoRound and see a Pearl Burst White Westone hanging on the Wall for $69! I went home because the name stuck in my head. I found the Vintage Guitar article, read it, and went back up there and played that Westone. I was shocked! The thing rocked. The neck reminded me exactly like my '73 Fender Mustang and newer Fender Jag reissue! I bought it on the spot. It is in nice shape. It has been played and has a few scuffs but nothing major. New set of strings, lowered the action a bit, and replaced a couple of knobs so they matched. You can see it in various pics on our band myspace. Our lead guitarist Brian constantly steals it from me to play, so there are lots of pics of him playing the white beast! It has the hottest pickups of any guitar! Mine is an LX model, just under the TOTL FX which had a set neck. Brian bought a black ST this spring and now plays that. I also picked up a Silverston (Green-Gray Sparkle) Spectrum GT from another MGR for $79. I love how the coil taps can make it sound like a Strat, and then return it to the darker growling Gibsonish tones. And they are built like a tank!! Even though I have some other nice guitars, the Westones are what I talk to people about. Did you know they were actually mostly handmade at Matsumoku? Along with my Spectrum I gig with, I found a mint, never purchased 1986 Pantera Pro (X-300) for $225 at a guys store liquidation. It still has the St. Louis Music Setup sticker on it with the tech's initials, original hangtags still on the neck and case. It is my "never leave the house guitar." I may use it to record some with on our next promo CD, but that will be about it. It is gorgeous with a carved maple top like a PRS, 2 single coils and a humbucker. Pearl White. Mint Mint, and, did I say Mint? It is weird to own a 22 year old guitar that I am the first owner of!!

Anyway I have rambled far too long, but it is because the Westones are
such awesome guitars. If I had enough extra dough, I would buy up
everyone that popped up on ebay!!! Good luck and let me know if you need any
help with yoru projects!!

Manoman, that sounds awesome! I wish I could find a mint Westone at a good price. I nearly got one on eBay, but someone else was willing to pay more for it.

But the one I have, a 1987 Anniversary Edition Spectrum II XA1230, doesn't sound anything like what John describes in his comment.

So my question is, as far as sound/tone is concerned, I'm not impressed with the Westone. Am I setting my standards too high, or did I just get a sub-par Westone? Or is my opinion affected by the fact that I purchased 3 guitars, but only 1 can be considered to be a Westone original with an actual Matsumoku Westone sound?

I love Carvin's guitar sound. They have special pickups, with 11 pole pieces that probably boost the sound. They sound great on any setting on my amp, at any volume. So maybe I'm setting my standard too high...

There are a few positives about Westone guitars that I've noted, however.

First, the Westone fretboards are wider at the 12th-22nd fret than other "superstrat" guitars, including my Carvins, my J.B. Player, and my Schecter Omen-6. You can tell from pictures that they are wider. That gives a slightly wider string spacing, and it seems to make playing fast, chording, and bending just that much easier.

Second, the action is awesome. I like the action on my Carvin, it doesn't slow me down any...but the Westone is so smooth, I feel like I'm gliding.

Third, the pickups do seem to help you hear every string/note better than the average guitar. Not as good as Carvins on this issue, but to date, I haven't played any guitar that is...then again, I've never played a top-of-the-line Seymour-Duncan or DiMarzio. But I have played on EMG Selects (used to be on my J.B. Player)...

Fourth, the tremolo system seems to be really good. To be fair, I've only had standard (crappy) Fender tremolo systems that cannot stay in tune no matter what you do, and a Wilkinson tremolo (on the J.B. Player) that didn't stay in tune very well even with roller nuts, until I put a Hipshot Tremsetter on it. But the Bendmaster Deluxe is easy to tune, easy to change strings, and keeps the strings in tune quite well. It also does a pretty good job of keeping the other strings in tune when you bend a string up, which is important to my style of playing.

So with all that, it is worth keeping the original Westone XA1230 I already have. But is it worth buying more? I'm not sure.

Right now, it seems like my best bet would be to put Carvin pickups into the Westone...but then it is no longer anything close to the original guitar. I might be happier with it...but what's the point of collecting Westone if I'm just going to modify them when I get my hands on them?

Maybe the XA1230 is just not as "top-notch" quality as the Genesis II or its successor, the Corsair. I'm scared of the Genesis because it only lasted about a year in its catalogs...if it was that good, why did they replace it with the Corsair, why did they drop its stepped body (its main distinguishing feature)? But the Corsair was only around for about 3 years before the company folded, too. And its last two years, it was made in Korea, which diminishes its collectability (not being made by Matsumoku).

I do have all the parts I need to redo the blue Westone (most likely a 1989 made-in-Korea, Spectrum 1A). The neck is still just as good as the Matsumokus. It has what I think is a Yamaha clamping tremolo system, rather than any of the Bendmasters. Someone routed out the neck pickup pocket, and the bridge pickup is also clearly not Matsumoku, so I'll probably go ahead and drop in the Mighty Mite Motherbuckers in both neck and bridge positions, add a single/double coil tap for each, and then replace the middle position single-coil pickup with the extra Carvin AP-11 I've got sitting around.

If it sounds really good, i.e., better than the XA1230, then I might just give up on collecting Westones, and just keep the modified Korean Spectrum 1A, put Carvins into the Spectrum II XA1230, and just enjoy playing guitars that sound and feel great, even if no longer original/collectible.

If I ever find a higher-model-line Westone in a pawnshop for a good price, it might re-ignite my fervor, but right now, it seems like J.B. Player might be a better way to get an inexpensive, little-known, well-made guitar. I won't feel as bad about changing the pickups in one of those, either.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 15, 2008

Guitar Update, Mid-Jan 08 Edition « Music/Guitar »

So I'm now reconsidering my obsession with Westones.

I was attracted to their low price (relative both to original selling price and other, similarly-equipped 80s guitars), and favorable reviews of Matsumoku-made guitars on Harmony Central, fan sites, and even in the eBay listings.

I admit I made some mistakes, that only 1 of the 3 Westones I bought was original enough to give me a good example of Westone's quality (one was no more than a Westone neck on an unknown body, and the other lacked any of the electronics...maybe I'll be impressed once I install the non-Westone pickups and pots I purchased).

But even the one all-original Westone leaves mixed impressions. It is solid, but so are many guitars. Its sound is no better than average...and from the reviews, I expected a guitar that sounded nearly as good as a Carvin (to date, still the best-sounding guitars I've ever played), and it isn't even close. The pickups seem to be supremely average. Now, the tremolo system seems to be rock solid and always returns to baseline in-tune. And the neck's action is fast, low, and even has slightly wider string spacing, which actually improves playability and string-bending.

Maybe the answer will be to put Carvin pickups into Westone guitars?

But what I wanted was to collect inexpensive guitars that will grow in reputation as a vintage gem passed over by most buyers when they were new. For that, the guitars should be top quality, and the sound they have just doesn't strike me that way.

However, there is a guitar company out there that has some really good, solid, beautiful guitars with decent sound, that no one seems to respect. That would be perfect for my collecting goal. As a result, they are very cheap on eBay, and they don't have a constant presence there like Westone does (Westone usually has 3-8 for sale at any one time, whereas this company has 0-3).

The guitar? J.B. Player.
I already have one. It's a beautiful, transparent cherry sunburst finish, rounded body sides, H/S/S pickup configuration with 24-fret neck, Wilkinson Tremolo and a roller nut.

The pickups were EMG select, which I felt weren't as good as Carvins, so I replaced them last month. It went back into the closet (which is a pain in the arse to get into), so I haven't compared it in sound to the Westones. It does have a fret-buzz problem on the 21st fret on the high E string only...I've been toying with either replacing the frets myself, raising the action slightly, or taking it to a professional for fret re-dressing...for now I'll just deal with it. The Carvin M22SD I put in the bridge position may be *too* hot, as I remember it...but it doesn't seem so bad now, in comparison to the Westones, because it just has a little extra noise on the Classic setting of my amp, as opposed to sounding completely crappy on that setting (at any level of distortion or volume) like the Westones do.

So what this is leading to is, I found a J.B. Player on eBay with about 6 hours to go, selling for a ridiculously low price of $50 combined (price + shipping). I put in my $.02 (actually $40 worth, but you know what I mean) and held the bid for an hour before being out-bid. After thinking about it, I eventually decided I'd be upset if anyone else got it for less than $100 combined, so that was my bid. And I won it for exactly that.

Here's the guitar:

If the action is bad, or the sound crappy, I'll regret it immensely.

But from looking alone, it looks like good quality wood, a decent paint job, non-twisted neck. I don't know what quality the pickups are, but the configuration should produce good sonic choices, and the stop tailpiece should help provide good sustain. If necessary, I'll drop in Carvin pickups, and change the tone/volume pots to push/pull coil taps at the same time, and should have a great sounding, great playing guitar...again, assuming the neck doesn't have any problems.

Maybe I'll start collecting J.B. Players instead of Westones.

Wish me luck.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 14, 2008

Stupid Commercials « Social Issues »

I saw a commercial the other day about a guy who comes home after a late night out with his friends, at 5:30 AM. His wife wakes up as he's undressing and asks if he's just getting home. He says, "No, I'm heading into work early to prepare an important presentation!" and she smiles in happiness at his future work prospects. He saunters off, happy that he got away with it.

Is America's character declining that far that our commercials celebrate someone who would lie so easily to avoid a little trouble?

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Posted by Nathan at 11:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Bipartisanship is Crap « Politics As Usual »

Bipartisanship is crap.

Our country faces continual challenges, because the nature of life and institutions is to face challenges; life/society rarely goes smoothly without intervention of some sort, and we are competing with other nations. The "problem" is that different political philosphies see different challenges, and even when Dems/Repubs/Libs/Greens see the same challenges, and prioritize them the same way, we all see different solutions.

I want to elect Republicans who act like Republicans.

Actually, Democratics want to elect Democratics who act like Democratics, too. But Democratics like it when elected Republicans act like Democratics, which is why this "Bipartisanship" bugaboo gets brought up. It is a hammer, wielded by opinion-leaders, which is only used to pound Republicans into acting like Democratics.

It's tiresome.

Solution: drop this bipartisan standard, let all sides argue out what their position is, and let the best platform win the support of the people, and act on it. If you got the votes to block it and your constituents demand that you do, go ahead. But let's not bludgeon politicians into becoming RINOs or DINOs for the sake of some "bipartisanship". I, and many other like-minded people, are pleased as punch with "gridlock".

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Posted by Nathan at 09:10 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)

January 11, 2008

I Admit It, I Giggled, II « Humor »

They're all good, but Andy pulled out all the stops in the description, so I gotta give him props for this one.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The Granola Election « Snark »

Nice photoshop.

I think within a decade, photoshops will replace editorial cartoons in newspapers. It accomplishes the same thing, in much the same way, but requires computer savvy rather than hand-drawing art skills.

Photoshop: The Populist Tool for Editorial Comments.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:35 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)
GOP Debate Summation, II « Politics As Usual »

From David J., again. Natch.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:24 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Wah. « Social Issues »

Let me say it again: wah.

Money quote:

But in the end all the cashmere in the world cannot insulate you from the cold truth that such men will always love their money and their jobs more than you.

By "more than you", she means, "loves their money/jobs more than you do", because the article is about women who marry for money alone.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:48 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

January 10, 2008

Which Guitar Should I Buy Now/Next? « Music/Guitar »

The Frankenstein guitar is a decently-attempted (but failed) amateur job. I'm going to dis-assemble it and sell it for parts in hopes of recouping my investment.

But there are two other guitars:

This is a beautiful Westone Anniversary Edition 6-string guitar, model SLM XA-1630. It is in commemoration of the 65th anniversary, 1922 - 1987. It needs to be restrung but otherwise is in beautiful condition. It is marked on the back A Matsumoku Product, Made in Japan. The number is 7011051. The color could be described as a metallic purple or black cherry.
It costs $200. I already have the XA1230 (Spectrum II) Westone Anniversary guitar (same year), and while the action/playability/neck is awesome, the sound is so-so. This guitar has better pickups and a mid/shape tone knob, which is supposed to give you excellent tone adjustment.


This is a used 90's Alverez Dana II. Body is a very heavy solid hard wood w/ flamed top and beautiful sunburst finish w/ gold hardware, hardware is in good condition for age. Has a dent in the finish about 3/4 in. on the outside edge between the jack and the strap buttom but finish is still in tact and is not noticeable from front or rear. Has a TriForce Triple Humbucker at the bridge and an Alverez signature single coil pickup at the neck. The 3-way selector switch has been broken off but is still very useable. I believe the guitar has been set up w/ all vol. pots because there is no tones, just vol. on all three knobs. Guitar has awesome tone on all three settings. The neck is maple w/ skunk strip and black dot inlay and is very straight. The action is very low and fast, no fret buzz. The finish on the back of the neck shows some mileage but makes it very smooth. Has Alverez Signature tuners and has roller type string retainers, all the good stuff. This guitar would cost you in the $500-$800 range if bought today. I bought this guitar about a yr. ago and have done nothing to it but restring it. The quality of these guitars are unbelieveable and they play just like they look. I hate to get rid of it but it's time to start thinning the herd. User reviews on Harmony Central rate these guitars a solid 10.
It costs $150. I have no idea if the "tri-force" pickup is any good.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:10 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)
Just So You Know... « The Brain Fertilizer Way »

I have Photic sneeze reflex.

All the great bloggers do, by the way.*

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Announcing (with some mix of trepidation and loathing)... « Music/Guitar »

Hoplite ...the band you've never heard of, but the band you'd go to war with.

The music is insipid, mediocre, and boring, but unique nonetheless. The name is apparently derived from the various military experiences claimed by bandmembers (both Army and USAF, both enlisted and commissioned officer). Overall, this is as amateur an offering as I've ever seen or heard.

Here is the cover of their soon-to-be released debut album:

Read More "Announcing (with some mix of trepidation and loathing)..." »

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Posted by Nathan at 11:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Didn't See the Republican Debate? « Politics As Usual »

Well, you can catch up here.

If David J. promises to one of these every time, you can deliberately skip the debates and not only not miss anything, you'll probably walk away with a deeper/better understanding of what was said.

One thing that struck me is that pretty much all these Republicans are letting the Democrats set the discussion parameters. Thompson is the only one who isn't harping on "fixing America" or "improving America". They name-drop Reagan, but they miss the essential attitude that made him so popular: "the United States is already pretty dang good!" If a Republican candidate would come out and merely accentuate the positives, and then promise to make sure that his policies will continue to keep things going well, they'd probably do very well.

That's what Fred Thompson should do.

Sure, the mainstream media boycotts, downplays, diminishes, etc, economic and strategic good news because it feels that doing so will help re-elect Democrats, who will do the "right" things for the "right" reasons (which basically means doing the wrong thing for statist/fascist/leftist reasons, but who's quibbling?), but if someone who can articulate as well as Fred would keep repeating how good things are, it would force the mainstream media to back up their assertions...

Here's the thing that Instapundit has pointed out a few times: people's view of the economy is affected as much by how they think other people are doing as they are themselves. So they can have a good job, enough money, plenty of gadgets, and not personally know anyone who has lost their job or in dire straits, but still feel the economy is sagging just because they think the rest of the country is in bad shape.

We need someone to be positive about America again. There is much to be positive about!!!

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Posted by Nathan at 08:08 AM | Comments (76) | TrackBack (0)

January 09, 2008

Just Back From Maui « The Brain Fertilizer Way »

Great trip. I was there 4 days, and it wasn't enough. Far better than Kauai, in my opinion.

More soon, maybe some pictures later this week.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 2008

"Frankenstein" Guitar Pics « Music/Guitar »

Can anyone help me figure out who made the body of this guitar?

Westone Frankenstein 1 (click to see).

Westone Frankenstein 2

Westone Frankenstein 3

The body is really, really light (poplar)?
It also has some sort of foam pad/cushion in the tremolo rout pocket...

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Posted by Nathan at 11:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thank You, Iowa! « Politics As Usual »

You helped keep Thompson's campaign alive.

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January 03, 2008

Related Thoughts « Social Issues »

Is being attracted someone for their money any worse than being attracted to them for their looks? (I changed the title slightly to be more in line with the article's main thrust)

Beware the Office Pirhana.

The moral of this story? Guys, you aren't as handsome as you think you are. She wants what's in your pants, true enough...but it's the wallet, not the body part.

Okay, maybe that's too harsh. But if a woman suddenly starts coming on to you without having much time to know who you really are...the above warning applies.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 02, 2008

My Plea to Iowans: Please Vote for Fred « Politics As Usual »

I really want to have a decent chance to vote for him for President of the USA. And I can't if you screw him over.

The same thing goes for New Hampshire, and all the other early primary states.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:28 PM | Comments (165) | TrackBack (0)
Frankenstein Guitar Update « Music/Guitar »

The Frankenstein Westone is really confusing me. It, too, sounds wounderful in the neck position single coil...but the bridge position is kinda tinny in either single or double coil settings. The body is extremely light, and doesn't match any of the Westone bodies, and the neck pocket has several cracks, as if someone put a Westone neck on a different body and the neck pocket was just a touch too small. Heck, that's why I call it a Frankenstein.

But the configuration is just too smooth. The tremolo system matches exactly what is on the 1989 (Korean-made) Westone Challenger, and is proprietary to Westone. So the previous owner (previous to the guy who sold it to me) had to have added the tremolo to this new body along with the neck...but the tremolo routing space is lined (perfectly!) with foam, just like the Challenger. That is a touch I wouldn't expect from an amateur luthier, or even a professional luthier-for-hire...what indifferent customer would pay for that expense? What enthusiastic customer wouldn't just buy a newer/better guitar, rather than paying for the expense of a deluxe modification to a no-name body? Aside from all that, the action is perfect. And the paintjob on the Frankenstein is a very nice, deluxe-level pearl cream (meaning, some shimmer that doesn't quite approach "metallic" glint).

I have toyed with the idea of selling it out for parts to recoup my investment, because I won the bid before I realized it wasn't pure Westone (stupid on my part). But now I'm thinking of dropping a different double coil in it and keeping it if the experiment turns out halfway decently. The neck position pickup really does put out a buttery sound that I think sounds every bit as good as some quality hollow-body jazz guitars. This could be my best fingerstyle jazz electric guitar, at this rate. Or nice for blues solos (though not for the rhythm, as currently configured).
But I've got to figure out how to repair the cracks for that...and it would be better if I could somehow find the original paint and touch it up back to a respectable cosmetic appearance. Maybe a refinish would be in order...

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Posted by Nathan at 10:35 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Guitar Update « Music/Guitar »

Well, I repaired the Westone XA1230 (Spectrum II Anniversary Edition) guitar yesterday.
It has a good sound, particularly good in the single coil neck position, and a decent crunch sound in the bridge double coil (more on that soon).

But I'm disappointed in the bridge single coil. There's just about no reason I can fathom to ever use the coil-split knob, because I don't like the sound much.

And, interestingly, even the double coil sounds bad on just the "Classic" setting of my Roland Micro-Cube amp. It's just a little too noisy there; but it sounds crystal-clear crunch on the similarly-distorted "Brit Combo" setting, and really nice clean sounds on the "JC Clean" and "Black Panel" settings.

The action is great, but the locking tremolo isn't staying in tune...although the strings are still new, so that may shake out as I keep playing it.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:34 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Happy New Year! « Blogging »

Welcome to 2008.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:12 AM | Comments (132) | TrackBack (0)