08 July 2008

Babes and badasses: Review of Black Seeds of Vengeance by Nile

Cover for Nile's Black Seeds of Vengeance

Conclusion


In terms of being badass, Nile is one of the most innovative technical death metal bands. Each track is characterised by sheer brutality or ingenuity. This is their second album and it is a bit fractal, but if you know Nile well it is still worth listening to get to know their roots. Plus you can never go wrong with Derek Roddy on drums.

Review


"Libation Unto the Shades Who Lurk in the Shadows of the Temple of Anhur" evokes ancient Egypt in the mind's eye. This track features an acoustic guitar, lusciously recorded with multiple microphones inside a stone chamber underneath the recording studio to capture real reverb.

Anhur was originally a foreign war deity, characterised by a robe and the four feathers in his head dress. Shu, the Egyptian concept of sky, also had four feathers in its head dress. Anhur also means sky bearer. It is thus not surprising that Anhur and Shu later became merged to form Anhur-Shu. No prizes for guessing where that name came from.

Anhur
Anhur, as portrayed on this site.

In the time of the New Kingdom, Anhur became known as a saviour. This is because people viewed war as the source of their emancipation from human burden. Freedom and victory were seen as a direct result of war. If you consider economics as a kind of warfare, with capitalism as the source of freedom and victory achieved over the human burden, Ludwig von Mises can be seen as a saviour and the earthly embodiment of Anhur. Socialism can then be seen as largely concerned with sharing human burden instead of combating it. In this view, capitalism is regarded as the war against socialism, and socialism is regarded as human burden.

Socialism considered here refers to an economic system where the means of production are owned and controlled by the government. No private land ownership is allowed. A definition of communism is a system with the credo: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. For the purpose of this discussion, no distinction is made between communism and socialism.

The definition of capitalism considered here refers to an economic system where the means of production and the distribution of goods are owned and controlled by private ownership. In such a system, the only exploitation could thus result from the private owners themselves. Laissez faire capitalism, with minimal or no state intervention, is the preferred definition for this discussion.

In such a system, to claim that any person who benefits from capitalism is exploiting someone else is as short-sighted and far fetched as claiming electricity is evil because people get electrocuted. Just like with electricity, the benefits of capitalism far outweigh the disadvantages, but don't take my word for it. Take the word of Ludwig von Mises for it.

Ludwig von Mises
Badass capitalist Ludwig von Mises. He should really be wearing four feathers in a head dress.

Economic calculation problem


Socialism leaves many unanswered questions. Ludwig von Mises identified some of these with his criticism of socialist economics. A few key concerns addressed by capitalism which are not adequetly dealt with by socialism include:
  • comparing heterogeneous goods

  • relating utility to capital and consumption of goods

  • entrepreneurship needs a pay-off

  • coherent planning for production without economic stimulus

  • financial markets need a way to guide capital investment in order to avoid economic depression


Disadvantages of socialism


  • Socialism has no objective way of comparing heterogeneous goods, never mind services. How many fish go into a haircut? How many potatoes are a fish worth? What about a house? How many fish would you need to catch in order to barter for a house? What if the house builder is vegetarian? Clearly, a barter system is not without its shortcomings. Perhaps this is why a currency developed in primitive societies in the first place.

  • Marxist theory argues that labour content serves as a means to value goods (labour theory of value). This is absurd, as a plastic chew toy from China arguably has very little labour content if it were made in a factory with very low labour intensity. Similarly, in a rationing system, there is no objective way to rate the consumption of goods or the suitability of those goods. How do you rate consumer satisfaction if the consumer does not have the ability to choose with his money?

  • Entrepreneurship needs a pay-off. It is widely accepted that entrepreneurship is crucial to economic development. If you follow the credo of from each according to his ability and to each according to his need, someone like Bill Gates would have no incentive to identify a window of opportunity in the market and then figure out a way to exploit it. Why should he, if he would get according to his need?

    Nobody needs a company worth billions of dollars, except (ironically) the millions of starving people who rely on charity. It is thus not accurate to presume that the millions of starving people are getting exploited by Bill Gates and other capitalists. The truth is it is the other way around. Millions of starving people are exploiting the capitalists, because the capitalists are losing out whenever they make a donation to charity. Of course, if the millions of starving people could be trained to take part in the economy, that is to become capitalists themselves, it is a win win. They would be producers and consumers, instead of only being parasitic consumers.

    As an aside, in terms of labour theory of value, how much would a million dollar cheque from Bill Gates really be worth? Thousands of people performed labour for that cheque. Is it really fair to give that labour away?

  • Coherent planning for production without any economic stimulus would rely on the expert opinion of a few who were appointed by the government to make sure everyone remains the lowest common denominator. You should really not catch more fish than what a potato is worth, despite the fact that you can't account for the weather, potato blight or low fish levels. In a socialist system, you can't even do the accounting for that.

  • Financial markets need a way to guide capital investment in order to avoid economic depression. You can't view wealth as a pie that needs to be divided among everyone. Everyone did not help to bake that pie. Those who are not economically active need to find a way to become economically active. It is not true that you are entitled to a job or entitled to an amount of wealth. If you had a sack of potatoes stored and your community hits a drought, but you weren't actually allowed to store potatoes for yourself, would it be fair to share those potatoes at your expense?

Naturally, this is a very biased rant against the evils of communism. Let's just say I would rather live in my own house in Africa than in the government's house in the USSR. Speaking in terms of communism, if the Spice Girls sold more than 23 million records and Nile needs to sell 1 million records to make ends meet, then surely the Spice Girls should buy a shit load of Nile albums. Now in theory that's not a bad idea at all, but in practice, if you had a socialist system, where would that money ultimately originate? How would the Spice Girls sell 23 million records if each person can only afford to buy one album? Would a band like Nile even exist in such a system, where choice is so limited? What would the Spice Girls do with a million of the same album?

The Spice Girls
The Spice Girls. The Marxist labour theory of value dictates that since the Spice Girls can hardly play any instruments, and Nile can play their instruments at near virtuoso level in their genre, each Spice Girl has to buy about a million copies of Nile's Black Seeds of Vengeance. Don't worry, it makes no sense to me either.

You can get a more balanced account of the entire argument on the Wikipedia page of the economic calculation problem. If you really want to feel your brain get smaller, read the counter arguments and notice how piss poor they are. Especially with regards to the surprising accuracy of prediction markets and supposedly the empirical evidence they bring along with them. Oh yes, not to mention that the USSR could not sustain itself while Hong Kong is a decidedly more advanced place to live.

Clearly, Nile's music just makes me angry. The Egyptian flavours in their lyrics just remind me that socialism is trying to reinvent the wheel when we are already conceptualising time travelling.

William J.H. Boetscker's Ten Cannots (not so common sense)


  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.

  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.

  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.

  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.

  10. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.



Track listing


  1. Invocation of the Gate of Aat-Ankh-es-en-Amenti

  2. Black Seeds of Vengeance

  3. Defiling the Gates of Ishtar

  4. The Black Flame

  5. Libation Unto the Shades Who Lurk in the Shadows of the Temple of Anhur

  6. Masturbating the War God

  7. Multitude of Foes

  8. Chapter for Transforming into a Snake

  9. Nas Akhu Khan she en Asbiu

  10. To Dream of Ur

  11. The Nameless City of the Accursed

  12. Khetti Satha Shemsu


Personell


Mostafa Abd el Aziz: arghoul.
Aly et Maher el Helbney : respirations on "The Nameless City of the Accursed".
Mohammed el Hebney: additional chants on "Khetti Satha Shemsu".
Peter Hammoura: vocals, additional drums.
Derek Roddy: drums.
Karl Sanders: vocals, guitar.
Dallas Toler-Wade: vocals, guitar.

Rating


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02 July 2008

Babes and badasses: Underworld (2003) Review

Conclusion


According to Roger Ebert: "This is a movie so paltry in its characters and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide graphic visuals."

Roger Ebert
Film critic Roger Ebert. He could star in the sequel to Zero Wing.

If you consider director Len Wiseman's commentary on the bonus features of the DVD, this is exactly what they had in mind. Wiseman, who also co-wrote Underworld with Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride, wanted to create a film that resembled an action-packed graphic novel. The war does intentionally exist primarily to provide graphic visuals.

Paltry in its characters? Well, the characters are already werewolves and vampires. They are already half-man, half-beast. How can you possibly have any of them go through a catharsis that compares to turning into a beast? There's nothing paltry about being undead, unless of course you find survival paltry.

Shallow in its story? It took three writers to write this script. The story is so complex that there were lawsuits with no clear outcome over the exact origins of the story. Again, it's an action film about vampires and werewolves.

Plus there are babes in tight pvc. Babes in tight pvc, badasses who can turn into vampires or werewolves with badass guns. Paltry my ass.

Plot


Selene (Beckinsale) is a vampire and a death dealer. Death dealers hunt werewolves, or lycans. She and her partner follow some werewolves into a subway. They manage to kill most of the werewolves, but they realise something is awry.

Werewolves usually hunt humans for food. These werewolves seemed to want a particular human alive. This human, Michael Corvin (Speedman), gets kidnapped by Selene after a werewolf bit him. She takes him back to the the vampire mansion just in time for an entree of cucumber sandwiches and a Cabernet Sanguino.

Michael meets the fetching (very fetching) Erika (Sophia Myles) and escapes. The vampires are upset that Selene brought a werewolf into their mansion. Bloody peasants. The people are revolting, etc.

Selene gets banished for mixing with the peasants (bloody peasants) and uncovers a secret plot. The werewolves are trying to create a vampire-lycan hybrid to use as a secret weapon in their fight against the vampires. But they had some inside help...

Review


Let's see, we have:

  • babes in pvc

  • badasses with badass guns

  • vampires

  • werewolves

  • a vampire-lycan hybrid



It would be very difficult to ruin this combination. One guaranteed way would be to introduce the soft and sensitive side of one of the characters ala Spiderman 3. Now now, there'll be none of that.

Some great touches are that all the werewolves seem to have facial hair, while the vampires don't. All the vampires speak in posh English accents. I was waiting for one of them to say: "Fetch me some orange shurburt!".

The only downside to me is the performance of Scott Speedman. Yes, it is necessary to have a geeky, whimpy Peter Parker lookalike. It is not necessary to be a Men's Health model. I can see why they cast him in the role of Michael Corvin, but when his character turns badass it's not nearly convincing enough.

By contrast, Shane Brolly is superbly cast as the worm-like Kraven. Roger Ebert is correct, this film is entirely comprised of paltry characters in a shallow story that exist merely for great graphic visuals, but it is not a bad thing at all. It is well-written, well-presented and you get to see fetching babes in pvc.

The babes


Kate Beckinsale as Selene in Underworld.
Kate Beckinsale. In tight pvc. Somebody call me a doctor.

Sophia Myles as Erika in Underworld.
Sophia Myles. Fetching, very fetching.

The badasses


Kevin Grevioux as Raze in Underworld.
Kevin Grevioux. This guy is just seriously badass. He also co-wrote Underworld.

Michael Sheen as Lycan in Underworld.
Michael Sheen. Hands down, paws down the best actor in the Underworld series.

Director


Len Wiseman.

Cast


Kate Beckinsale, Kevin Grevioux, Sophia Myles, Michael Sheen, Scott Speedman.

Rating


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01 July 2008

Babes and badasses: Review of Dr Feelgood by Motley Crue

Motley Crue, Mötley Crüe Dr Feelgood album cover.
While researching Giallo films, I encountered the terms babes and badasses which describe the type of characters you may encounter in Grindhouse films. 'Babes and badasses' together make for a pretty catchy phrase so I decided to make it the theme for this month.

This first instalment centres around a band that is comprised of badasses who look like babes. There is an important moral lesson to be learnt from this: First check which way the spandex stretches before you wolf howl or cat call.

Conclusion


I think producer Bob Rock best sums up this album:

"Four L.A. badasses who used to drink a bottle of wine and want to kill each other".

Fresh from rehab, the not so fab four return with their refreshing glam metal take on life, the universe and everything. To Mötley Crüe, life, the universe and everything revolve around motorcycles, whiskey and strip clubs. It's not exactly Shakespeare, but that's not always a bad thing.

Review


Dr Feelgood makes you want to shake what mother nature gave you before father time takes it away. Of course, motorcycles, whiskey and strip clubs help to set the mood, but that's basically all there is to say about this badass album.

Dr Feelgood is also unique in that Bob Rock produced it and it isn't utter shyte.

A question of etymology


It has come to my attention that the terms babes and badasses may result in certain ambiguities. I will try to clear them up by means of demonstration.

Why make all this fuss about etymology? In a recent post on Thoughtleader entitled “African-American”: meaning what, exactly?, blogger Catherine Parker illustrates some difficulties those of us of African origin have with understanding the term African-American.

Trevor Richards. African-American.
Trevor Richards. He is African. He is American. He's a badass. He's a jackass. He is African-American, but he's not black. What's the opposite of a coconut? Maybe an Eminem?

The google definitions of African-American include:
  • A person of African ancestry who is also a citizen of the USA, historic countries of origin include present-day Ghana, Angola, Congo, Senegal, Nigeria, and Gambia.

    Since his ancestry is from Africa, Trevor Richards is an African-American. He emmigrated to America and became a naturalised citizen, or is in the process of becoming one.

  • Many Americans of African descent use this term of identification.

    By this definition too, Trevor Richards would be an African-American.

  • American-born black man/woman (vs. immigrant from Africa).

    By this definition, Trevor Richards' kids would be African-American if they were borne by Alicia Keys in America, but he would not be African-American because he would be an immigrant from Africa. Even if he were black, he would not be an African-American, because he would still be an immigrant from Africa.

  • An American whose ancestors were born in Africa.

    By this definition, Trevor Richards and his kids would be African-American when he becomes a naturalised citizen and if they were born there.

  • A US citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.

    According to our courts, South African Chinese people are black by virtue of the fact that they were disadvantaged during apartheid. As people who qualify for Black Economic Empowerment, if they became naturalised citizens in America, would they be African-American? What about their children?



Clearly it is easy to get caught up indefinitely in definitions. Perhaps this is why Alfred Korzybski wanted to do away with the verb 'to be'. Before Trevor gets dragged behind a bakkie or someone burns a cross on his lawn, allow me to clarify what is meant by the terms babes and badasses.

Babes


A term of address for attractive young women.

Nothing but Babe
Babe. Not the kind of babe under scrutiny here.

Lovely Leah Dizon.
Leah Dizon, the kind of babe under scrutiny here. Coincidentally, not a bad ass either. Find more pics of cute babe Leah Dizon at cute Leah Dizon.

Badasses


Persons whose extreme attitudes and behavior are admirable. Cool. Wicked. Bad, but in a good way.

Badass bridge. The term badass is actually copyrighted to this company.
A badass bridge. Not the kind of badass under scrutiny here.

A bad ass.
A bad ass. Not the kind of ass under scrutiny here.

Motley Crue. Badasses.
Mötley Crüe. A bunch of badasses. These look like babes, but they are in fact the kind of badasses under scrutiny here.

I hope I cleared up the confusion regarding my etymology. If not, don't worry, there will be plenty of babes and badasses this month to bring everyone up to speed.

Track listing


  1. T.N.T. (Terror 'N Tinseltown)

  2. Dr. Feelgood

  3. Slice of Your Pie

  4. Rattlesnake Shake

  5. Kickstart My Heart

  6. Without You

  7. Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)

  8. Sticky Sweet

  9. She Goes Down

  10. Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)

  11. Time for Change

    1999 reissue included these tracks:

  12. Dr. Feelgood (Demo Version)

  13. Without You (Demo Version)

  14. Kickstart My Heart (Demo Version)

  15. Get it for Free (Demo Version)

  16. Time for Change (Demo Version)

Personnel




Rating


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