December 2009


Below are my top 15 albums of the decade. Going back and listening to all these albums was such a thrill. Make sure to check out my Top 10 albums of 2009 too.

15. The Strokes - Is This It

14. The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic

13. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

12. Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another

11. TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain

10. The Hold Steady - Almost Killed Me

9. The White Stripes - De Stijl

8. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary

7. Brian Wilson - SMiLE

6. The National - Alligator

5. Arcade Fire - Funeral

4. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

3. Radiohead - Kid A

2. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People

1. The Hold Steady - Seperation Sunday

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Social unrest ‘on the rise’ in China
Shirong Chen
BBC News

The urban-rural income gap, for example, has become even bigger and the country’s phenomenal GDP growth has been achieved at the expense of the rural population, the environment and overall social cohesion.

The report is a damning indictment on the authorities’ slogan of building a harmonious society.

But there is one ray of hope in the report – while the Chinese authorities are taking tighter control over the media, people are turning more and more to the internet to expose official failings and abuses.

In the past 12 months, nearly a third of the top stories originated from the internet, pushing the boundaries of press freedom.

More evidence of the creeping social change that we will see in the coming years in China. Real social change is ugly, violent, but necessary to bring justice and political opportunity to the masses. This may be an indicator that the Chinese economy isn’t humming along like we are told.

I understand there majority of people in Charlotte came from another area of the country. Almost all still root for the teams they grew up cheering for and at best consider the Carolina Panthers their “2nd” team. I am included in this group. Even after accepting this I am discouraged by all the franchises represented during the Vikings/Panthers game last night. Below is a list of team apparel I saw at the game last night:

Panthers
Vikings
49ers
Chargers
Raiders
Redskins
Steelers
Buccaneers
Jets
Giants
Browns
Patriots
Dolphins
Saints
Cowboys
Packers
Bears

That’s 17 teams accounted for. THAT’S MORE THAN HALF THE LEAGUE!

For suicidal Japanese, help is finally at hand
Tomoko Hosaka
AP

“So many bills began piling up,” he said. “I realized I needed help.”

His plight sounds much like that of millions worldwide in these tough times, but Japan is different. Here banks set stringent conditions for loans, forcing borrowers to rope relatives and friends into guaranteeing repayment.

This can plunge a defaulter into extreme guilt and despair, says Yasuyuki Sawada, lead researcher on a study published last year by University of Tokyo that showed a particularly high correlation between the suicide rate and economic indicators such as gross domestic product.

Yasuyuki Shimizu, a leading anti-suicide campaigner, says: “Japan is a society in which the weak are beaten down, and they are beaten down more quickly than other places. Japan is not an easy place to live.”

The Japanese have a culture of suicide, from the great Samurai warriors centuries ago to the Kamikaze warriors of World War II. This article reminds me of an article in BusinessWeek a few weeks ago, where one city decided to paint the insides of its subway stations a mellow blue in an effort to curb locals from jumping in front of oncoming trains.

Senate Sends Defense Bill to Obama
Corey Boles & Martin Vaughan
WSJ

The bill includes short-term extensions of a number of expiring federal programs, deferring decisions on whether to reauthorize them until the end of February. These include a two-month extension of federal jobless benefits and subsidies to people who lost their medical insurance when they were laid off. The federal highway program is also extended for another two months.

Extending unemployment benefits is one of those things fiscal conservatives don’t really like but just don’t have the heart to debate. Jobless benefits do provide an incentive to remain unemployed, even if most would rather have a job. I wish our government would do more to help re-train out of work citizens in order to be more productive when the economy turns around. Unlike previous recessions, many of the job losses occurring during this downturn are permanent, meaning firms will not bring back recently laid off workers. The jobs will simply never return.

Skies darken for Bernanke bid
Victoria McGrane
Politico

Six Republicans and one Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee voted Thursday against Ben Bernanke’s nomination to a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve — signaling to some Fed watchers that President Barack Obama’s pick could be in more trouble than previously thought.

“It’s not the foregone conclusion it was a couple of weeks ago,” said Brian Gardner, a bank analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

Americans are unhappy with bailouts, so Congress catches the populist fervor and is ripping Bernanke. It’s great for political capital now, but I’m not sure removing the Fed chairman is the best move for Republicans. Whomever Obama would nominate post-Bernanke would almost certainly be a large fiscal spending Keynesian ideologue.

Below are my ten favorite albums from the current year. Later I’ll post my 15 favorite albums of the decade.

10. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast

9. The Dead Weather - Horehound

8. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)

7. Marked Men - Ghosts

6. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus

5. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

4. Japandroids - Post-Nothing

3. Screaming Females - Power Move

2. Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies

1. Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another

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