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Surprise Rush Grammy Nomination for 2008

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 at 1:21 am

Grammy Nominations are in again for this year. At first glance, it is the usual Grammy affair: a mix of the profound and the trivial pulled either from obvious sources or apparently arbitrarily. Like everyone else, I’m looking for the bands I care about, wanting them to win, but yet still paradoxically denouncing the whole process as a travesty. Like any good irrational being, if my guys win, I’ll believe there is hope for the Grammy’s yet. If they lose, It’ll just confirm my pre-existing biases.

In other words, it is an awards ceremony. Need any more be said?

That out of the way, being a Rush fan, I’m always looking out for the Rush nominations. Certainly didn’t expect one this year since they didn’t release any new material. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Rush nestled up in their usual category, Best Rock Instrumental Performance, for a live version of the lovely Alex Lifeson guitar diddy Hope off of Snakes and Arrows. This live version is tagged as being off of Songs For Tibet: The Art Of Peace. This is their 6th Grammy nomination (they have never won). Last year Malignant Narcissism off of Snakes and Arrows was nominated (and lost to Springsteen).

The compete nomination list is below — and they in good company: David Gilmour, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, and Frank Zappa (?!). In fact, I’m going to have to say something rather blasphemous: I hope Rush DOESN’T win this year. If they win this year in this category, in this way, against these other luminaries, for an Alex Lifeson solo acoustic piece available only on an obscure compilation album, something is terribly misaligned in the universe. A proper Rush win in my mind involves a new piece performed by the entire band on an actual Rush studio album. While I do enjoy the token nod to Rush here, this would be the “wrong” way for them to win, in my opinion. Of course, if they do win, I’ll be stoked, but I’ll feel a little chagrin because deep down I’ll know it will be, in many people’s minds, like the Jethro Tull victory over Metallica back in 1988 (although, I personally believe that was a deserved victory). The win will feel a little hollow to me (although, understandably, probably not to Alex Lifeson!).

There are quite a few interesting nominations in the other less-than-prime-time Rock categories. For example, The Mars Volta (a very pleasant surprise), Judas Priest, AC/DC, Disturbed, and Rob Zombie all get nods. Anyway, have fun constructing your own I-hate-the-Grammys-but-hey-look-at-this-interesting-band-who-was-nominated polemic.

Best Rock Instrumental Performance

(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, without vocals. Includes Rock, Hard Rock and Metal. Singles or Tracks only.)

David Gilmour
Track from: Live In Gdansk

Suicide & Redemption
Track from: Death Magnetic
[Warner Bros.]

34 Ghosts I-IV
Nine Inch Nails
Track from: Ghosts I-IV
[The Null Corporation]

Hope (Live For The Art Of Peace)
Track from: Songs For Tibet: The Art Of Peace
[Art of Peace Foundation]

Peaches En Regalia
Zappa Plays Zappa
[Strobosonic/Razor & Tie Entertainment]

Unlikely Combination: Physics+Queen+George Michael

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 8:46 pm
Music, Physics

A wonderful song on the 1975 Queen album Night at the Opera is ’39. This lovely jig has a context deeply rooted in physics. It was written by Dr. Brian May, guitarist for Queen (“Another One Bites the Dust”, “We Are The Champions”, etc. etc. etc.), who finished his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Imperial College, […]

The Economics of Fascism

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 at 1:21 pm

I’ve described myself as “liberal leaning with a Libertarian streak.” In short, I believe social responsibility and fiscal responsibility are not mutually exclusive. We can have it all, but it takes a careful implementation of both traditional (socially) liberal and (fiscally) conservative philosophies to make it work in practice. In this sense, I describe myself […]

Obama v. McCain Part Trois

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 at 12:36 am
Humor, Politics

Here are a few things which could cause a complete reversal of Obama’s lead over McCain. In particular, during the last debate: 5) Obama appears on stage in a clown suit and delivers non sequitur responses in a squeaky voice through a dirty sock puppet while admitting he helped organize the 9-11 attacks; 4) Bush […]

Jaco Pastorious

Friday, October 3rd, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Ok, I could go on and on about the current bizarre political-financial situation in America as we ride up to the election. But, frankly, I’m spent. I’ll spare you a rant. Instead, I’d like to pay a brief tribute to Jaco Pastorious, arguably the greatest and most influential bass player of his generation. He suffered […]

Plus ca change…

Friday, September 19th, 2008 at 8:56 pm
Humor, Physics, Science

Here is a funny Comedy Central Daily Show “news” report starring Steve Carell discussing the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) on Long Island. The piece aired June 28, 2000, long before Steve was a Superstar. While watching the piece, keep in mind the madcap doomsday discussion from my last post […]

The Large Hadron Collider counter-circulates protons!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 at 2:11 pm
Physics, Science

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva Switzerland successfully performed a diagnostic today and rotated a proton beam around the ring in each direction (clockwise and counterclockwise). This is a diagnostic step before performing actual collisions at full energy in the coming weeks and months. With a circumference of 17 miles, the LHC […]

Celebrating Choice

Sunday, September 7th, 2008 at 11:00 pm
Opinions, Politics

Governor Palin and her family celebrated their unwed 17-year-old daughter’s choice not to have an abortion. From Marketblog, “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents,” said Palin. Obviously, despite their otherwise pro-life rhetoric in other contexts, the right to choose is still an important part of her […]

Obama Has My Vote

Saturday, August 30th, 2008 at 8:49 pm
Opinions, Politics, Rants

I would characterize myself politically as a complex mix of socially liberal and economically conservative. I try to keep my exact positions non-partisan and evaluate each policy situation case-by-case. I admire the social left for its heart, but don’t think they usually go about achieving their goals in the most efficient way. The government (at […]

Osiris at the Little Fox Theater

Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 11:04 pm

In high school, I played bass in a band called Osiris from the fall of 1984 through graduation in 1986. Back in May of 2006, my old bandmates pulled together a couple short reunion shows that coincided with our 20-year SFHS class reunion at the Little Fox theater in Redwood City, CA. We definitely had […]

Why People Believe Weird Things (book review)

Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 10:07 pm
Book Reviews, Skeptics and debunking

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of our Time (2nd ed. 2002) by Michael Shermer Cryptohedonological book rating: A “Science, measured against reality,” as Einstein remarked, “is primitive and childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have.” Science is the tool we, as humans, use to test […]

Postcards from Neil Peart

Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 12:19 am

Back in January of this year, my longtime pal Isorski posted a blog about how Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for Rush, wrote him in 1984, returning a bit of fan mail. At the time of his blog post, Isorski had recently submitted his postcard to the Postcards from Neil section of Andy Olson’s […]

All Hail the D

Friday, June 20th, 2008 at 10:26 pm
Movies, Music

I recently watched Tenacious D‘s movie The Pick of Destiny. It was a sloppy, scatological train-wreck. Intentionally so. And the remarkably talented director/musician/actor/D-fan-collaborator Liam Lynch makes that perfectly clear. But I loved the movie anyway. The music somehow stole my heart, and subsequently sold it to Satan (played by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighers). […]

The Paradox of Rationally Defending Irrationality

Monday, June 2nd, 2008 at 5:43 pm
Opinions, Science, Skeptics and debunking

This is an essay I wrote, which has been published in the 2008 edition of Moebius, the Cal Poly Liberal Arts literary journal. The theme of the issue is “the dumbing down of America,” a continuation of 2007s theme: “controversy.” The journal will soon be available online, but here is my essay close to as […]

RHIC and AGS Thesis Award 2008

Friday, May 30th, 2008 at 6:08 pm
Physics, Science

Yesterday, my friend and colleague, Dr. Sarah Blyth from the University of Cape Town, was awarded the prestigious RHIC and AGS Thesis Award (to be posted soon) for her 2007 Ph.D. dissertation entitled: “Using the Phi Meson to Probe the Medium Created in Au+Au Collisions at RHIC.” Since 1999, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) […]

The Phoenix Has Landed

Monday, May 26th, 2008 at 11:04 pm

The Phoenix Mars polar lander successfully touched down near the Martian north pole on Sunday May 25, 2008 around 4:35 in the afternoon PDT. More photos can be found here. I had the pleasure of attending a real-time event hosted by the Cal Poly Astronomy Club and led by my friend and colleague Dr. John […]

More Quantum Mysteries

Saturday, May 24th, 2008 at 6:06 pm
Physics, Science

As the Mythbusters might say: WARNING, SCIENCE CONTENT. Proceed at your own risk. What is a quantum mechanical wave function? This discussion recently came up at work in the form of the following question: is the particle (e.g. an electron) the same thing as the wave function describing it? The question may have some unresolvable […]

Physics devolved into a non sequitur marketing slogan

Monday, May 19th, 2008 at 9:57 pm
Opinions, Physics, Rants, Science

“Physics elevated to an art form” is Oakley’s recent marketing slogan. Right. Like physics “needs” to be elevated from its lowly status as an all-encompassing theoretical and experimental framework describing all physical phenomenon to the “art” of sports equipment. And if indeed there was some subjective human aesthetic missing in that lowly omni-descriptional status of […]

Station Agent (movie review)

Saturday, May 17th, 2008 at 7:44 am
Movie Reviews, Movies

Cryptohedonological rating: A- Station agent is a quiet, independent film directed by Thomas McCarthy which explores how three very different characters cope with loss. Each overcomes inherent barriers due to personality and circumstance. Fin, played by the brilliant and charismatic Peter Dinklage, is a dwarf, accustomed to a life of routine and solitude. He openly […]

Blood is all you need

Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 7:37 pm
Humor, Music

In the tradition of the Beatles’ famous 1967 Our World BBC broadcast of All You Need Is Love, and the Rutles’ 1978 mockumentary All You Need Is Cash, Beatallica has recently released their gloriously metal-plated parody All You Need Is Blood. In the spirit of the original message, where frolicking hippies could be seen wearing […]

Solving the Mystery of the Garbage Can Kid

Sunday, May 4th, 2008 at 12:55 pm
Non sequiturs, Opinions, Rants

End of One Neighborhood Mystery, and the Start of Another About a month ago, I saw the GCK striding by in the early evening with two middle-aged ladies walking about a block behind him. Sure enough, when I pulled into my driveway, the green garbage can, placed out the night before, was put away for […]

Discover Your Inner Economist (book review)

Friday, March 21st, 2008 at 1:12 am
Book Reviews

Cryptohedonological rating: D+ Tyler Cowen’s book Discover Your Inner Economist is a hodge podge of mostly creepy applications of pseudo-economics which, as a stream of anecdotes, should have remained blog entries. Freakonmics, by Stephen D Levitt, is a book written in the same vein, but which somehow manages to keep the topics creepy, focused, and […]

Geekocracy Mourns

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 at 12:02 am
Editorials, Gaming, Science Fiction

There have been two big losses for geekdom this month. Thanks to JLK for bringing these to my attention. Gary Gygax Gary Gygax, co-creator of the original fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) back in 1973, died March 4 at the age of 69. The positive influence D&D and role playing games in general […]

1974 Evel Knievel Ben Cooper Halloween Mask on Mars

Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 11:37 pm
Humor, Non sequiturs

Of course! After all these years! Why hadn’t I noticed the resemblance before St. Patrick’s Day 2008? Coincidence? I think not! Ben Cooper mask photo from As part of the coverup, I will reveal that, up close, the real “1974 Evel Knievel Ben Cooper Halloween Mask on Mars” was designed to look more like […]

Happy Pi Day

Friday, March 14th, 2008 at 11:59 am
Opinions, Science

Using the American dating system, today, March 14, i.e. 3/14, is Pi Day. It also happens to be Einstein’s birthday and Talk Like a Physicists Day (thanks to my colleague Dave Dixon for illuminating me). Talking like a physicist is something difficult for me personally NOT to do, but for those non-physicists amongst you, bust […]

To pi or not to pi, that is the question

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Back in November 2007, I had fun musing about finding specific numbers in the famous irrational number pi. Since pi is an infinitely long irrational number, whose digits are essentially random, one can find any number within its digits with some probability. This even includes having the entire text of every book you’ve ever read, […]

Rush’s Malignant Narcissism Loses to Morricone, er, Springsteen

Sunday, February 10th, 2008 at 6:56 pm
Humor, Music

Geddy Lee and Steve Vai Heckle Springsteen: News at 11 As a followup to my post on Rush’s Grammy nomination for Malignant Narcissism, as I predicted on December 8th, Springsteen won for Best Rock Instrumental Performance: “Once Upon a Time in The West.” Congratulations to Bruce. There are certainly worse artists who could have won […]

Scatology: some things never change

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 9:07 pm
Books, Humor, Non sequiturs

And now for something completely different: If you have a few free moments in your day, visit Google Books and take a look at (or download for free) A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose, Esq. 1788. The author definitely has an ironic last name in this context. The book is sort […]

The Ballad of the Garbage Can Kid

Monday, January 21st, 2008 at 12:35 pm
Non sequiturs

The Garbage Can Mystery has (mostly) revealed its innermost workings. Saturday, the day that I first saw the kid turn the cans around on the security camera, I went outside within a minute of his activity and began looking for him. I walked quickly through the neighborhood and eventually caught up to him, recognizing his […]

The Garbage Can Mystery

Saturday, January 19th, 2008 at 6:46 pm
Non sequiturs, Rants

For several months I’ve been plagued by a mystery: someone has been tampering with my garbage cans. I know what you are thinking: so what — and why do I care. I’m sympathetic. I would have said the same thing even just two years ago to someone yammering like I am now. However, now these […]

Mistakingly insulting SLO students

Monday, January 14th, 2008 at 11:05 pm
Atheism and antitheism, Humor

If I were a mean-spirited atheist (I’m not, although I am an atheist) with a passive aggressive streak AND lived in San Luis Obispo (aka “SLO”) AND wanted to spite the student body at the local university, I might create a parody religious website called (get it, “every SLO student” — ha ha, chortles […]

Voorspoedige nuwe jaar!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008 at 7:51 am

Happy new year 2008 from South Africa. My wife and I decided to fly south for the winter and visit our good friends Mark and Sarah in Cape Town. We spent the stroke of midnight in an airplane somewhere over the ocean west of Brazzaville, Congo and south of Sao Tome. After our 22 hour […]

Happy Solstice, eh

Friday, December 21st, 2007 at 10:04 pm
Humor, Music, Non sequiturs

In honor of the Winter Solstice, here is a public service announcement from Geddy Lee about the perils of winter tobogganing.

Rush’s Malignant Narcissism up for a Grammy

Saturday, December 8th, 2007 at 8:58 pm
Music, Opinions

Read below regarding the original nomination, but see the Feb 10, 2008 update Geddy Lee and Steve Vai Heckle Springsteen: News at 11 regarding the results. I usually leave the cool music news to Isorski or Dr. John. But this time I am pleased to be the bazillionth to announce that Rush has been nominated […]

Hats Off To [Deleted For Security Reasons]

Sunday, November 18th, 2007 at 5:58 pm
Humor, Music

My good friend Isorski has recently twice blogged, once in the context of the new Led Zeppelin XM station, about a fun nonsense song we did back in 1985 called Hats Off To Charles Obscure (HOTCO). You should be able to play the song inline by clicking on the little headphones next to the song […]

Pi and Infinity

Monday, November 12th, 2007 at 11:01 am

The number pi (aka 3.1415926…) is a transcendental number most commonly known as the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. But there is a lot more to this number than most people know. Many books have been written on the properties of pi and there are many web sites dedicated to […]

Portal (Game Review) and my first Wikipedia Battle

Saturday, October 27th, 2007 at 12:14 pm
Gaming, Physics

Cryptohedonological Rating: A+ I have discovered an amazing new game called Portal. It is a new release by Valve and uses the Half Life 2 game engine. Anyway, despite some issues with physics vocabulary and my ongoing WikiBattle (both described below), Portal is one of my favorite games of all time. First a little background. […]

Stock Price of the Beast (+32/100)

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Sometime on Tuesday morning October 23, 2007 (PST), Google crossed the Stock Price of the Beast per share. It started at roughly 85 in 2004. Do No Evil. Sure ;)>

Han Shot First (but in what reference frame?)

Sunday, October 14th, 2007 at 10:40 pm
Physics, Science Fiction

I know I’m joining the debate on this one about 10 years too late, but the Han Shot First controversy has been a memeic stain on the Star Wars franchise since the 1997 Special Edition of Star Wars: Episode IV. Greedo, a bounty hunter working for Jabba the Hut, finds the fugitive Han Solo in […]


Thursday, September 20th, 2007 at 8:28 am
Non sequiturs, Science

Culturally we frequently use basic arithmetic to emphasize when a point is self evident: “its as basic as 2+2=4.” We also use a little twist on it to point out when someone is being absurd: “next you are going to tell me 2+2=5.” Ok. So no one really uses those phrases. But I think the […]

Incompetence = Terrorism

Sunday, August 26th, 2007 at 6:31 am
Editorials, Opinions, Rants

Is large scale incompetence terrorism? Ok, quite a blustery, overstated title. I’m not talking about the guy at work who, after struggling for three years, still doesn’t know how to print documents from his computer nor the “professional” copy dude who still can’t copy double-sided printouts. Nor am I talking about retail clerks who can’t […]

Bottled water is a fraud

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007 at 1:00 am
Editorials, Science, Skeptics and debunking

On a recent episode of the show Democracy Now, they reported Pepsi bowed to the demands of activists and made a rather embarrassing admission: the source for their Aquafina bottled water is city tap water! Now WHO’S tap water is a different question — probably local to the individual bottling plants, but this is still […]

Praxis Jams

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007 at 5:33 am

After that last heady post on teleology (perhaps overly advertising panspermia) here’s a lighter video bit from the school of non sequitur funk as only Bill Laswell can do with the project Praxis: Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) circa 1992. Praxis is Bill Laswell, Buckethead, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Brain, and Nextman Flip. Animal Behavior is clearly […]

Teleology (long post warning)

Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 5:49 am
Atheism and antitheism, Freethought, Rants

Teleological arguments for the existence of god are my favorite theological debates. Not because I agree with them in how they are typically applied. And not because they are good logical arguments as usually outlined. Rather, amongst all the approaches to “prove” or explain god’s existence, teleological arguments 1) have a hint of evidence-based thinking […]

Rediscovering Buckethead

Thursday, July 19th, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Buckethead is one of the most obscure yet talented guitarists of my generation. I first encountered his work on one of Bill Laswell’s projects called Praxis Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) in 1992. For over twenty years, as part of his act, he has worn a KFC bucket on his head and a mysterious porcelain-like white mask. […]

Free will update

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007 at 1:55 pm
Atheism and antitheism, Freethought

I would like to thank Thomas Clark of the Center for Naturalism and author of Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses for the email below regarding my (naive and physics-centeric)

Free will

Saturday, July 14th, 2007 at 6:40 pm
Atheism and antitheism, Freethought

There was an interesting interaction that occurred recently on a podcast called Faith and Freethought (FF). The host, Richard Spencer was discussing the book The God Part of the Brain with author Matthew Alper, when around 40 minutes into the show I found myself very suddenly challenged intellectually by an exchange they had. FF is […]

Beware Quantum Interpretations

Sunday, July 8th, 2007 at 11:17 pm

Nature has recently published a special edition celebrating the 50th year of Hugh Everett’s Many World’s Interpretation of quantum mechanics (thanks to Slashdot for bringing this set of articles to my attention). I think one of the things people forget about when discussing “quantum interpretations” is that they are just that: interpretations. The physics is […]

Pascal’s Wager; Blaise should have known better

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 at 2:32 am
Atheism and antitheism

Pascal’s Wager is usually stated something like this (from If you erroneously believe in God, you lose nothing (assuming that death is the absolute end), whereas if you correctly believe in God, you gain everything (eternal bliss). But if you correctly disbelieve in God, you gain nothing (death ends all), whereas if you erroneously […]

Hubris (movie review)

Monday, June 11th, 2007 at 8:20 am
Movie Reviews

Cryptohedonological movie rating: B- Hubris is an entertaining, small budget short film written and directed by Gary King. The directing and editing are amusing, if a bit stiff and stage-formal at times (except for an intoxicating and comical speed-dating montage, which was apparently improvised). Frederik Goris plays Barry, an amusing nebbish drawn into a sinister […]