Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This is one of my absolute favorite songs irrespective of genre, and the first YJM song I learned how to play back in '92 or so. The first electric guitar solo is the epitome of emotional playing, and it still brings a tear to my eyes when I hear it - even to this day, and even when I'm playing it myself. Believe it or not, but what first drew me to Yngwie's playing was actually the emotional content and not the sheer speed.
That's it for Power Ballad September - hope you've enjoyed it.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Great song, with machine-gunning and all, absolutely horrible video. Wasn't sure which Norwegian song to include - found a video of "Forever In My Heart" by Da Vinci, but the lip-syncing was beyond gruesome. Stage Dolls made a comeback some seven or eight years ago, so finding live clips from their "golden age" is kinda' hard. Another option would be Return, but alas I couldn't find a video for their best power ballad "Straight Across My Heart".
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Side2 just published a list over metal's 10 worst songs. Follow the link for the videos, I'll just repeat the list here:1. Dangerous Toys - Sport'n a woody
2. Kiss - Forever
3. Grim Reaper - Suck it And See
4. Ozzy Osbourne - Working Class Hero
5. AC/DC - Fly on the Wall
AC/DC is metal? Oh well, this songs sounds like any other AC/DC tune to me...
6. White Lion - Wait
As Side2 points out: This band was called "Shite Lion" on British radio... LOL!
7. Nargaroth - Black metal ist Krieg
8. Guns 'n Roses - Look At Your Game, Girl
9. Metallica - Invisible Kid
10. Accept - Generation Clash
Nearly half of the bands are unknown to me, and for the bands I know, the songs doesn't sound that much worse then then ones I know. Anybody how's missing from the list?
Bon Jovi - Never Say Goodbye
Everyone's heard "Wanted Dead Or Alive", "Bed Of Roses", "I'll Be There For You" and "Always" at least a gajillion times, but this one might be a little bit off the beaten track.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
One of my old heros here, Hound Dog Tayler, doing Taylor's Rock, in all his six-fingered glory (more is more, as some people claim...). Mr. Taylor was the artist that made Bruce Iglauer start Alligator records, since the boss at the record company he worked on wouldn't record Hound Dog and the House Rockers. Or so the story goes. Anyway, Hound Dog Taylor is known for his six fingers, fierce slide playing, a cheap ass japanese guitar with too many switches and knobs and bad jokes.
Again, there was a slew of more obvious choices - like "Wild World", "To Be With You" and "Just Take My Heart". However, I've got a soft spot for this song, with the tapped intro which is somewhat reminiscent of a certain G'N'R tune. Mr. Big actually reformed recently and is currently touring. You should check them out - how often do you have teh opportunity to see talents like Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan in a melody-oriented band?
Friday, September 25, 2009
I know - the obvious and more commercially successful choice would've been "More Than Words", but this one - also from "Pornografitti" - is less known yet much more interesting guitar-wise. The various guitar parts from this era Nuno Bettencourt almost never repeat themselves, and the solo is outstanding. Enjoy!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Absolutely great riff/main theme, very much standard G-C-D progression for the verse and chorus, and then they go and spoil it all by adding something stupid like the extended "where do we go now" and "harder" section. It also doesn't help that the solo hardly does the song justice.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Beautiful guitar work on this one, as can be expected from Mr. Moore. Not sure what the deal is with the video on this one either, and all I can hope is that neither Mr. Moore nor his contemporaries had to part with much money to the "video directors".
'Cause let's face it - most music videos absolutely suck, and the formulaic approach hasn't changed that much.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Whitesnake - Here I Go Again
It's fairly obvious why this video really helped launch this (magnificent) song into single-success orbit - and I'm not talking about Tawny Kitaen doing splits and kavorking across two cars. The band actually looks like it's enjoying what they do, and David Coverdale has an almost unmatched presence.
It also helps that Coverdale has one of the best voices in hard rock and that at this point in time, his band was successful enough to allow him to hire any musician he pleased. Depending on your point of view, that was either great - as it allowed him to hire such luminaries as Steve Vai, Rudy Sarzo and Adrian Vandenberg -or it sucked, because his old pals from the blues rock era got the old heave-ho.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Scorpions - Still Loving You
One of the most overplayed songs of all time, and at this point I don't particularly like neither listening to it nor playing it. Not the song's fault at all - just a matter of complete and utter oversaturation.
That being said, I prefer the Uli Jon Roth-era "We'll Burn The Sky"
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Savatage was an up-and-coming band with more than a modicum of label support. Then, guitar prodigy Chriss Oliva passed away, and the wind completely vanished fromt he sails. His brother Jon Oliva still tries to pass off a live act as "Savatage", but that's much akin to the currrent-day version of Thin Lizzy.
Beautiful song though.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Mississippi John Hurt - You Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley
Countless guitarists have learned fingerpicking blues from Mississippi john Hurt tunes. Their may seem simple, but the mans pack a lot emotions in his songs. He was one of the "rediscovered" bluesmen of the 60's blues revival, allegedly tracked down by information given in his tune Avalon Blues.
Though he has more famous songs then this, I picked it because it was the best video I could find. And every Mississippi John Hurt tune sounds the same anyway...
Enjoy, and have a nice weekend.
This song -as well as all the other songs on "Trash" very successfully captures the essence of mainstream, late 80's LA metal. A concept that Trond Holter and Wig Wam has been able to bottle in a similar manner, I might add; there's no signature sound whatsoever, only the sense that you've heard it before and that it was a big hit.
That's not a knock on either Mr. Vincent Furnier og Trond Holter, by the way.
As is the case for many power ballads, the video and the song content seriously clash here. The main "story" in the video appears to be a girl with a backstage pass (actually depicted in the video - yes) who wakes up in Alice Cooper's bed - alone - and starts to ponder that she might not be the only or true love of Mr. Cooper.Consequently, after much tossing and turning in her lingerie, she decides to pack her stuff and face up to the big rock star. She tosses her backstage pass back to Alice, and proceeds to waltz out into the back yard, where she enters limo, which turns out to be belonging to a certain Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.
Whether the song is meant to portray the fact that groupies in LA in the late 80's had seen the ceiling of every tour bus in town, or that the groupies probably aren't the brightest bulbs in the box remains unclear.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Mötley Crüe - Without You
Never was a big fan of the 'Crüe, and never could figure out where they got their uppity attitude with respect to their musical and attitude credentials compared to those of, say, Poison and Warrant. They're posers, they wear lipstick, they pout for the camera and they used more aqua net than their female audience. Pot, meet kettle.
This tune is from their only decent album - Dr. Feelgood - and the video is a mixture of nonsensical backdrops, poorly veiled allusions to the band members' genitals and a penchant for literal tracking between video and lyrics.
For example, when the lyrics go "I reach out and touch the rain" (whatever that means), Vince Neil reaches out in the video and extends his hand into - well - pouring rain. Profound stuff.
If you listen to the lyrics and find yourself saying that this is probably the work of a non-native English speaker in his early teens who don't do that well in school, you should know that Nikki Sixx considers himself to be a lyrical genious of hitherto unknown proportions - the kind of lyricist Dylan and Billy Joel could only hope to get close to.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Beautiful song by a great artist. I know the obvious choice would've been "Close My Eyes Forever" - the duet with Ozzy Osbourne, but I feel that a) this song is vastly superior, b) it better showcases the phenomenal guitarist Lita Ford, and c) the duet doesn't give Lita enough space by far - it's all about the Ozz.
Lita Ford is a true pioneer of heavy metal in that she succeeded in a very male-dominated genre, with predominantly male audiences.
Moreover, Lita Ford is a true musician and songwriter rather than just a poster girl. I remember watching the VH1 Behind The Music about her and seeing one prominent LA rocker after another giving her all kinds of props and - more to the point - in one case took her aside right after she got a record deal and told her that she was more than talented enough that she didn't have to work the sex angle to sell metal.
Of course, the flip side is that the next time David Lee Roth saw her on MTV, she was down on all four, licking an ice cube, so either she didn't heed his advice or the record company wouldn't let her.
Be that as it may, Lita Ford is a heavy metal musician's musician, and this song is a kick-ass power ballad. So there.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Def Leppard - Love Bites
Awesome song - at best a mediocre video, which appears to be the bane of many a power ballad's existence. I particularly like the wide interval range between the guitars in the bridge and chorus here.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Clichés abound with the implicit suggestion that although the Dokken boyz are lonely and heartbroken, someone from the audience could make it all better. And by the way; what George Lynch lacks in wardrobe finesse he more than makes up for with his musicianship.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Just to to counter balance the spandex wearin', bleached haired, girl-friend-metal dudes that makes "metro sexual" seem like the epitome of manhood that have infected this blog lately (no offense). :-D
First out, I bring you a modern and slightly slick version of the Robert Johnson classic Sweet Home Chicago, by Keb' Mo' and Corey Harris. Check out the beautiful National Reso-Phonic "Vintage Steel" tricone Corey Harris is playing.
Cinderella - Don't Know What You've Got Until It's Gone
Two things about this piano-driven epic: 1) I can't believe how strained the vocal sounds, and 2) it seems like an awful lot of work required to haul a grand piano down to the beach.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Slaughter - Fly To The Angels
Led by pretty-boy Mark Slaughter, this bunch of bandwagon-jumpers really only had two hits, one of them being this very formulaic power ballad. Many questions arise from the accompanying video, such as but not limited to, why are they in a hangar? The metaphor for "flying to the angels" gets kind of thick, dontcha' think? Also, why are the screaming groupies/fans chanting the title of their OTHER hit?
.....inquiring minds want to know...
Thursday, September 10, 2009
"The humidity in the gym is almost inhuman, and the sweat is flowing from the large man. Here, there are no women, TV screens or treadmills. It's all about men, muscle and testosterone. They're pumping iron. Powerful upper arms are being worked to grow even larger and more bulging."
First of all, this reeks of heavy-duty bromance on the part of the "journalist". Second, it reads suspiciously similar to what has been written about Metroflex Gym in Texas, where former Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman used to work out. Almost verbatim, as a matter of fact... And how many clichés can you fit into one paragraph?
"One of the big guys is Tom from Oslo. He is 40 years old and works in the IT business."
First of all, unless someone screwed up and pulled a switcheroo on the photos in the articles, in what universe would "Tom" be considered to be a big guy? And second of all; a creepy-looking 40-year old IT loser from Norway who loiters around in Pattaya? Imagine my surprise. The only thing that would be more stereotypical was if he was anonymous and his face wasn't shown.....wait...never mind.
"'Thailand is one of the easiest countries to score anabolic steroids in - it's just as available as in Mexico', says Tom, who wishes to be anonymous. 'In Norway, the gyms are very strict. If you take steroids, you need to go to special gyms that are not part of a corporate chain, but even there you need to be careful', he says."
So people who take steroids are not found in corporate gym chains such as S.A.T.S? That doesn't really fit with what's usually written - coincidentally also with testimonies from anonymous douchebags who'd never have been suspected of drug use. So when people from, say, 24 Hour Fitness in Oslo compete in national bodybuilding competitions, they must be natural, right? 24 Hour Fitness being the mother of all international corporate gyms and all? It doesn't really fit with my experience from Norwegian gyms either - I've heard people talk about steroid cycles in pretty much all the gyms I've been to. And coincidentally I've never even heard of anyone who was tested or suspended from a gym due to drug use. Then again, I'm sure "Tom" knows what he's talking about. After all, he looks like the second coming of Arnold......
"Tom has been to Thailand several times"
I bet he has. I also wouldn't be surprised if "Tom" is the proud owner of an unmarked, windowless white van.
"Pattaya is a perfect place to work out. During the day, it's not much else to do. The gyms are good. They've got heavy weights, and the gyms are built for those who wish to work out hard and seriously."
There is not much else to do? There are no beaches, sights, excursions, that sort of thing in Thailand? Wow. Really a man of the world, "Tom". Regarding the gyms, the heavy weights and how it's tailored to serious lifters - again the photographic evidence sort of contradicts the story. Unless, that is, someone swapped the images, and a story about some poor shirtless guy currently trying to work his way back to health following a traffic accident now features pictures of a bodybuilder. Assuming the reekazoid in the photos really is "Tom" though, either this guy is more delusional than the combined delusion of all the flunkees from the first round of any talent show like "Idol", or the photographer only shot images of "Tom" warming up very lightly. From the accompanying photos, "Tom" wouldn't be able to roll heavy weights across the floor. More than 3/4 of males who actively lift weights have some form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). However, the most common variety is to feel a lot smaller than the rest of the world perceives you to be. "Tom" on the other hand, clearly falls in the other category, where he looks in the mirror and sees something akin to a late 90's Kevin Levrone. What's perhaps most interesting here, is that Tom's BDD appears to have carried over to the "journalist", who also harbors the delusion that Tom looks like a steroid-using bodybuilder.
"As is typical for bodybuilders, Tom's got wide shoulders, enormous upper arms and a narrow waist. He has been bodybuilding since he was 22 years old."
Again, photographic evidence contradicts the statements made here. And if this is the results of 18 years of hard, consistent training with 'roids, then "Tom" sure got the fuzzy end of the lollipop in the genetic department.
"I could watch myself grow as I built muscles. It gave me a rush, and I like to stay in shape says "Tom", who does not have a family."
..so "Tom" is single....imagine my surprise. An anonymous 40 year old single creepy-looking Norwegian IT nerd with a drug habit and delusions of adequacy who spends a lot of time and money in Pattaya. I can't understand why he's not fighting off women with a pointy stick.
"When Tom works out with dumbbells, he can easily do eight repetitions with each arm."
Nope - that's not a misprint. While I'm trying my best to be impressed that "Tom" can muster sufficient coordination to perform a non-descript movement eight times with each arm - easily, the level of impressiveness is somewhat dependent on how much resistance "Tom" is using, of which no mention is made. Now; I'm not at all blaming this on "Tom" - I put the blame for this squarely on the "journalist", who ought to go back to writing "For a good time call ..." on bathroom stalls.
"Tom started to experiment with steroids at an early age. ... Now he has to use doping (steroids) to maintain his body. 'At home I'm smaller because I don't use steroids that often, but here in Thailand I can build myself up again', "Tom" says."
He has to use drugs to maintain THAT, and he gets smaller when he returns to Norway because there he doesnt use 'roids that often? Dude; you're totally being ripped off - whatever you're taking isn't working. Or if you're getting legit stuff, you should see your GP in Norway, where odds are good that you can get a script for testosterone to get your levels up from that of a nine-year old girl. If the latter is the case, odds are you've got the worst genetics on the planet. 18 years and lots of roids and THAT's the result? Congratulations.
"He claims that he has not gotten any side effects from the steroids since he only uses large amounts when he is in Pattaya. When he's there, on the other hand, he uses both syringes and capsules, dianabol and andriol."
No kiddin' about the lack of side effects. Sugar pills and brine hardly give any side effects commonly associated with AAS. Which by the way also goes a long way towards explaining the complete lack of results, considering that this reekazoid claims to use large quantities when in Thailand.
By the way, from a writing point of view, the "pair" thing only works if the two pairs are correlated - "syringes and capsules, dianabol and andriol". While it's true that andriol - or testosterone undecanoate - comes in gel capsules, dianabol is most often taken orally and usually comes in the form of tablets - pink ones, even. So; barring "journalistic creative license" (a failed one at that), "Tom" also uses more heavy-duty injectable steroids. Maybe that's the problem right there: Yo "Tom": Not all pink tablets are d-bol.
KISS - Reason To Live
"Crazy Nights" is in my opinion the only KISS album of any consequence, although I'm certainly in the minority. The video here shows pretty much shows a) Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons mean-mugging and pouting for the camera, and b) some half-nekkid chick. While the song - if you only listen to it - tells a motivational story of heartbreak and subsequent getting over it, the accompanying video tells the story of a girl who's been dumped by Paul Stanley and - after thinking about killing herself because of this - rises like Phoenix from the ashes and sets fire to Paul Stanley's sports car. Riveting stuff.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
So; hypothetically speaking...if you're gonna write an article about drugs and bodybuilding, wouldn't it be a good idea to find some "model" and interview subject who, I don't know, at least looks like he works out? Nobody would suspect this loser of steroid use. As a matter of fact, he should lawyer up, take a bunch of shots (pardon the pun) and use the photographic evidence to get his money back. If he's honest about having purchased gear, he obviously was sold sugar sugar pills and brine/oil suspensions.
Talk about delusions of grandeur..Methinks "Tom" might very well be in Thailand for purposes of "injection", but that the "injections" in questions have nothing to do with Deca, Winny or Test.
The Wilson sisters have got a serious amount of talent, no doubt about it. In Heart, the bulk of the vocal duties are done by Ann Wilson, although Nancy ain't no slouch either. Besides which, Nancy Wilson is a tremenduous songwriter and guitar player. Although not played by Nancy, I've always thought the guitar solo in "Alone" is awesome and a perfect fit (sure; there could've been a few more notes here and there) to the vocal line as well as the theme of the song.
Still; the cornerstone of this song is the vocal performance of Ann Wilson. The sheer impact of her vocals are highlighted each and every time some other singer tries to pull off "Alone" - like in any version of "Idol"
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Winger - Miles Away
There's enough cheese in this song and video to provide extra toppings as well as embed the crust and clog your arteries. In my opinion, this song would've been very good if not for the fact that it was made late in the game for power ballads, with no originality whatsoever and with a stereotypical b&w video with band shots interspersed between some "Grease" car scenes.
The band Winger is actually a good example of the power media wields. The first Winger album sold quite well and with "Miles Away", the band was on its way to the same hair metal echelons as Skid Row. Then MTV and more specifically Beavis and Butthead happened. If you've watched the show, you'll remember the loser kid that B&B constantly pick on. This kid wore a Winger t-shirt, and the record sales dropped almost immediately. Not surprising, considering that the very same channel that built up Winger via hard rotation of their videos also featured the widely popular cartoon that tore the band down.
Monday, September 7, 2009
The transportation problem is one of the main reasons why the financial crisis and subsequent fuel price were blessings in disguise. If the US reduces their consumption of fossile fuel for transportation purposes (i.e.; deep-six Hummers in favor of smaller and hopefully more environmentally friendly vehicles), it goes a long way towards reducing CO2 emissions. President Obama actually comes across as having credibility on this issue.
The only "alternative" energy source which currently can power the transportation sector is biofuel, which ironically is the biggest detour of alternative energy. First of all, it's not that efficient compared to fossile fuel. Second, it creates a massive industry, pressure groups and government pork barrels for what is at best transitional technology. As such, it diverts hard-needed funding from research on energy sources which can actually make a difference. Third, growing crops for purposes of fuel means less crops for consumption, and last time I checked, the ratio of population growth to food production was not favorable.
Fourth and final, one of the primary producers of biofuel is - and will be - the third-world semi-dictatorship known as Brazil. Brazil does one thing well - apart from keeping the vast majority of its population way below the poverty limit despite having a fast-growing economy - destroying the rain forest. Whether it's for purposes of cattle grazing, oil-field development or for biofuel crops, the sub-mexicans of Brazil have proven not to give a damn about any deleterious effects on the environment. Seeing as how the rain forest contains a whole lot of - well - trees and trees do an awfully good job of absorbing CO2, this would be nothing short of disastrous.
In my admittedly not so humble opinion, none of the political parties featured in debates prior to the election have a realistic view of alternative energy. One might actually argue that FrP is the most honest party out there, as they're the only ones to state that they don't believe in any climate changes and thus don't see a problem with upholding or even increasing the energy consumption.
..or technically, this formulaic power ballad was "generously helped along" by a certain Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. As a matter of fact, Skid Row likely wouldn't have made it anywhere if it wasn't for the dynamic duo of Bon Jovi, as they helped produce and "polish" all the songs from Skid Row's self-titled first album. Also, they helped the fledgling young band break into the arena gig circuit by taking them on as opening acts. After this first album, with Skid Row skyrocketing to the top of the charts due to this song, "18 And Life" and "Youth Gone Wild", the band parted ways with Bon Jovi and Sambora, claiming that they could produce and make their own stuff, thank you very much.
And sure; their follow-up album "Slave To The Grind" was hyooge, owing much to yet another power ballad - "Wasted Time". Other than that though, there wasn't all that much single potential, and after an embarrassing third album, the band faded into obscurity. Of course, Skid Row attribute their inability to follow up their initial meteoric rise to a) musical differences within the band and b) MTV pushing reekazoids like Nirvana and the grunge bunch, but the fact of the matter is that Skid Row's first album differs massively both in style and quality from the later works.
What's interesting about the mentor role played by Bon Jovi and Sambora is that they totally pulled a Gene Simmons on the up-and-comers: Skid Row reportedly pretty much didn't see dime 1 after Bon Jovi and Sambora had taken their cut. Allegedly, Sambora later donated his share in the earnings of the album back to Skid Row. Anyways, this song puts Sebastian Bach's voice on a freakin' pedestal, as it fits his range much better than their own stuff.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
One of the first BIG power ballads. Prior to this song, Journey was a hard-rockin' band with a predominantly male audience. Following this collaborative effort between singer Steve Perry and keyboardist Jonathan Caine (I think), the audience demographic changed virtually overnight, and Journey was stuck with a soft-rock label. Of course, the band didn't do much to dispel this preconceived notion with pushing out a slew of power ballads in the followingyears, but that's another story.
Steve Perry was a great singer though, as this live clip is a testament to.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
With Warrant, I had a bunch of songs to choose between, from the "Every Rose has Its Thorn"-ripoff known as "Heaven", via "Blind Faith" to "Sometimes She Cries" and "I Saw Red". I opted against "Sometimes She Cries" because it's perhaps the most insensitive powerballad in existence, as it tells a story about a girl who can't get a boyfriend anymore 'cause she's got a small child. But not to worry, singer Jani Lane says, he'll give her a shot. Real nice.
"I Saw Red" on the other hand, is a song of thematic contrasts between the verses and chorus, as dude walks in on his (no doubt stripper) girlfriend doing the unskinny bop with another guy (probably Bret Michaels or the singer from Ratt,this being LA in the late 80's and all), Quite a good song, actually.
Friday, September 4, 2009
..and of course there are Harleys (Milwaukee Metal On The Highway) and bands playing electric instruments by the campfire in the middle of the desert.
Seriously though, the lyrics are really good.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The obvious choice would've been "Carrie", but frankly I think a) this song is better, and that b) Kee Marcello (or Kjell Lövbom as his real name is) is a vastly superior guitar player to John Norum. The video hardly does the song justice, with its generic "band playing in a warehouse/dimly lit stage" theme.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
On papyrus, it's a good idea that all the students get a "free lunch" (financed via tax money anyways) so as to provide them with the nutrition to stay focused during the day and to bypass any inequalities as far as parent income and dietary awareness. This would ensure that the kids get at least one balanced meal during the day, right?
Sure...if you trust the government to actually provide a nutritionally sound diet. If we look to countries like Great Britain where school lunches are implemented and take a look at what menus are available, it's a lot of sausages, chicken nuggets and other "foods" which are nothing but industrial byproducts with some preservatives and coloring added. Bottom line: I wouldn't trust such a system to provide adequate nutrition, and for sure we can provide our kid with a better packed lunch than that. I've often said that the best way to get rid of industrial waste is to put a little bit of it into food products and have people eat it. The difference is that I'm joking.
Public disclosure of national tests and ranking of schools
Absolutely - where do I sign up? I've never seen any logical argument against either of these. Starting with public disclosure of national tests, which are often presented as organized bullying of school districts who don't do well. I strongly disagree - this would offer distinct advantages both to the "customer", i.e., the population, and the "seller", i.e., the school districts. The benefit to the "customer" is obvious; if you've the choice of sending your children to one out of two schools in the area, you obviously want to know which provides the best education. If your family relocates to another area and you're looking for housing in a region spanning several school districts, you also want to take into consideration the quality of the schools nearby. Public disclosure of national tests is one way of accomplishing this.
In case of the school districts, every argument against public disclosure I've heard basically boils down to "Well, if a school district gets a bad rating, feelings are gonna be hurt". So?
If a school scores significantly below average - what are the possible reasons? For the sake of simplicity, we can limit the discussion to schools outside of the Oslo area, so as to eliminate any just or unjust focus on cultural issues. The variables are 1) students, 2) teachers and 3) economy. Out of these, only two are valid, because if you think that some schools score lower because they've got bad students, then odds are that you think phrenology and physiognomy are branches of science and good indicators of intelligence. So; if the bad scores can be attributed to either insufficient budgets or incompetent/lacking teaching staff (or most likely a linear combination of the two), that's good news in that it can be remedied. However, you can't solve a problem unless you put focus on it. In the case of an insufficient budget, this needs to be pointed out if anything's to be done about it. Is the municipality flat out broke or didn't get enough ear-marked money from the national government? Here are the numbers to prove it, now hook us up with some chedda'. The municipality prioritized building a new city hall instead of hiring more teachers? Heads are gonna roll and changes can be implemented.
What if the problem is an incompetent teaching staff? Well; if the results of national tests are not disclosed and nobody knows that the other schools in the district score twice as high in almost every subject, what possible incentive do the teachers have to improve? Am I to believe that the same teachers who sucked at their job to begin with are spontaneously going to get their act together unless acted upon by an outside force? Never gonna happen. You don't need to take my word for it though - the second law of thermodynamics also says so.
On to school ranking. What would be wrong with establishing some high schools for exceptionally good students? For lower year-studies the students still live at home, but it's not at all uncommon to move out in order to go to high school. Same with universities; why can't we have a ranking that's tied up to entrance requirements?
Here's where all kinds of egalitarian, social democracy nonsense usually sets in, despite the fact that this exact system is implemented in many countries we'd very much like to compare ourselves to when it comes to academics. Also, my main issue with this pseudo-egalitarian approach is that it resides somewhere between selectiveness and epic hypocrisy. The thing is; when it comes to sports, there are no such limitations - behold the completely legitimate institutions known as "toppidrettsgymnas" (elite athletic high school), with stringent entrance exams. Also, kids are separated into scrub and varsity teams in pretty much every sport from an early age. Apparently this has nothing to do with discrimination and "sorteringssamfunn", but follows the simple rule that some people are better at something. But for some reason this does not hold true in academia. Unless someone can prove that everyone holds the same academic potential, this is brutal hypocrisy.
Alright - enough.
The video appears to have some sort of b&w Bonnie&Clyde concept to it, but if anyone can explain the story line beyond the observation that Ted Nugent has epic bad taste in clothes, I'd appreciate it.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I've got some reservations about this subject. First of all, I think it's great that the option of sending your kid to a private school exists if the local public school is unable to provide your kid with an adequate education. Then again I think the tax money should be spent where it can do the most good, and being that the number of students in public schools vastly exceeds that of the private institutions, that's a no-brainer for me. Letting the funding follow each and every student appears to me like an exceptionally stupid idea which will only exclude any kind of long-term planning and investments for the schools, as well as make it close to impossible to execute any budget control beyond the current semester or school year.
The main source of my reservations stems from the vague criteria which must be fulfilled, in that the private school to be must offer an alternative pedagogical approach or be based on religious belief. Neither criterion does anything to enable exertion of quality control, which must be the primary focus. Moreover, I'm not particularly keen on using tax money to fund some glorified indoctrination institutions run by the Church of the Mothership behind the Comet or some other fear-monger cult. I'm also not in favor of offering up tax money just because someone offers an "alternative pedagogic approach". If you want to dance the alphabet and claim to be able to analyze someone's personality solely by their looks, fine. Just fund the bongs, drums and absinth out of your own pocket.
Should grades be implemented in the elementary school? I don't really have an opinion of that, despite the frequent appearance of this very question in media recently. What I do have a strong opinion on, however, is the need for a universal evaluation system. Right now, grades are still where it's at. Sure, grades as a system has its flaws, but it works insofar as providing a universal platform for ranking of students, which is absolutely necessary in order to evaluate performance. What really irks me is when some pressure groups try to make political hay by claiming that we should abandon grades in favor of "alternative evaluation systems", yet never seem to suggest or substantiate any such thing. They might as well suggest that we try "something else". Until a new evaluation system has been run in parallel with the current on a statistically significant population over a prolonged period of time and has proven to outperform the existing paradigm, such a suggestion is logically flawed. If you don't at least provide a definite alternative to the existing system, yet keep whining about it, what you need to do is know your role and STFU.
The most egregious example of total logic disconnect I have had the misfortune of witnessing on this topic came courtesy of my mandatory pedagogic training. During one assembly on alternative evaluation forms, one participant from the medical faculty was strongly advocating abandoning grades in favor of a Pass/Fail system. According to him, their experience indicated that there was no need for grading medical students beyond that, and so the grading should be abolished in favor of the binary Pass/Fail. One other participant asked how the MD would rank applicants to a position based on "his" system, and he hemmed and hawed his way to explaining that such a selection would have to be done based on the interview. The other participant pressed on, asking how he'd go through with this considering the very realistic scenario of 50+ applicants for said position. Before Dr. Douchebag, M.D. could answer, I chimed in and asked him what criteria are applied for selecting students to medical school. "Uhhhh..grades, but.." I interrupted again to ask if he expected us to take him seriously when his faculty had already used grades exclusively for pre-screening the students, accepting only - one assumes - the cream of the crop? ...and he actually shut up, but he probably clasped his squash racket extra hard later that afternoon, cursing "those damn scientists with their logic and their math".
Yet another wall of text, so more to come
Written by front man Bret Michaels in an LA laundry on the occasion of his stripper girlfriend cheating on him and subsequently leaving him. Despite javing played this one a gajillion times myself, I never seem to tire of it. Check out the fierce slo-mo b&w images of the band in the video. Epic example of music video by mixing a concept, live shots and "candid" band images.