Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Shows how little I know.
Yesterday I pondered whether “Guitar Hero” could save Christian music. Turns out “Guitar Praise” is already on the scene.
The game, which runs on PC or Mac, looks a lot like its secular sister but with a more holy set of songs from Caedmon’s Call, David Crowder Band, dc Talk, Relient K and a bunch of bands I’ve never heard of.
“Grab the guitar and play along with top Christian bands! Shred those riffs or blast the bass… you add a unique sound to the solid Christian rock. But watch out: if you can’t keep up, the artists will take a break and stop the music. Crank it up and try again—you’ll soon be rockin’ with the best while praising the Lord!”
Sounds like you won’t get booed off stage, which, from the looks of someone playing Petra after the jump, will save some bruised egos:
12.19.13 at 12:53 pm | Like Dana Friedman, a small proportion of the men. . .
12.10.13 at 11:33 am | Some 35 years after the LDS dropped the ban, the. . .
12.5.13 at 7:11 am | In some of the most astounding news I've heard. . .
12.3.13 at 7:11 am | The Supreme Court granted certiorari in ...
11.25.13 at 8:55 am | Judge Crabb ruled that the clergy housing. . .
11.23.13 at 7:46 pm | A time-lapse starting with Hinduism in 5,000 BC. . .
11.13.11 at 3:43 pm | Forensic anthropology may have something new to. . . (285)
11.21.11 at 11:30 pm | Julian Edelman has been playing O, D and special. . . (163)
11.16.13 at 10:41 am | His kebab cafe on hard times, Zablon Simintov. . . (128)
December 29, 2008 | 5:54 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Thus far, President-elect Barack Obama, whose peace plan just had a huge monkey wrench thrown its way, has deferred to President Bush on Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. During his campaign for presidency, Obama made numerous appeals to his strong support for Israel; CBS News, in a seven-minute video after the jump and in this post, recalls Obama’s statements.
If Israel’s assault on Hamas militants really is about the years of daily rocket attacks aimed across the border at Israeli civilians—and I have no reason to believe otherwise—this comment made by Obama during a July visit to Sderot is revealing:
“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israelis to do the same thing,” Obama said.
December 29, 2008 | 4:39 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Razib at Gene Expression did some graph plotting and found that Milton Himmelfarb’s old adage that “Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans” may no longer be true. It appears now that Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Episcopalians, too.
Episcopalians were once known as “Republicans at prayer.” But liberalizing forces in the church, from which conservatives recently split over treatment of homosexuality, have correlated with a rise in Episcopalians who identify as Democrats. Using the General Social Survey, Razib created a bunch of charts that show Episcopalians are a lot more like Jews than they are the average white Protestant.
While 40 percent of white Protestants believe the Bible is the written Word of God, only about 14 percent of Episcopalians and 8 percent of Jews agree. Razib charted three significant discrepancies between Jewish and Episcopal beliefs—homosexuality, human evolution from animals and the existence of heaven and hell.
Less than 20 percent of Jews believe in heaven, which reminded me of the above scene from “South Park.” It’s from an episode in which the boys are trying to build a ladder to heaven to retrieve a raffle ticket for a candy shopping spree from their perennially dying friend Kenny. After breaking through the clouds but still proving unsuccessful, everybody’s favorite anti-Semite says:
“I think maybe we’re not seeing heaven because one of us doesn’t believe in it enough. Heaven could be like the pixie fairies of Bubble Yum Forest. You only see them if you really believe in them. You know. Maybe we’re not seeing heaven because one of us is a J-O-O.”
The clip is after the jump:
December 29, 2008 | 4:08 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
So much for hopes of peace talks:
Israel obliterated symbols of Hamas power on the third day of what the defense minister described Monday as a “war to the bitter end,” striking next to the Hamas premier’s home, and devastating a security compound and a university building.
The three-day death toll rose to 364 on Monday, with some 1,400 reported wounded. The U.N. said at least 62 of the dead were civilians, and medics said eight children under the age of 17 were killed in two separate strikes overnight. Israel launched its campaign, the deadliest against Palestinians in decades, on Saturday in retaliation for rocket fire aimed at civilians in southern Israeli towns.
Since then, the number of Israeli troops on the Gaza border has doubled and the Cabinet approved the call-up of 6,500 reserve soldiers.
The strikes have driven Hamas leaders into hiding and appear to have gravely damaged the organization’s ability to launch rockets, but barrages continued. Sirens warning of incoming rockets sent Israelis scrambling for cover throughout the day.
One medium-range rocket fired at the Israeli city of Ashkelon killed an Arab construction worker there Monday and wounded several others. He was the second Israeli killed since the beginning of the offensive.
At first light Monday, strong winds blew black smoke from the bombed sites over Gaza City’s deserted streets. The air hummed with the buzz of drone aircraft and the roar of jets, punctuated by airstrike explosions. Palestinian health officials said one strike killed four Islamic Jihad militants and a child.
Some Palestinians ventured outside for mourning. In northern Gaza, a father lifted the body of his 4-year-old during a funeral Monday for five children from the same family killed in an Israeli missile strike.
On Sunday, Hamas missiles struck for the first time near the city of Ashdod, only 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Israel’s heart in Tel Aviv. Hamas leaders have also threatened to renew suicide attacks inside Israel. A missile from Gaza struck Ashdod again on Monday, seriously wounding two people.
On Monday, the White House released a statement saying “in order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable cease-fire.”
But in Damascus, Syria, a senior exiled Hamas official said there can be no talk of a truce with Israel until the assault ends and Israel reopens the Gaza crossings.
“We need our liberty, we need our freedom and we need to be independent. If we don’t accomplish this objective, then we have to resist. This is our right,” the official, Abu Marzouk, told The Associated Press in an English-language interview.
A a six-month truce between Hamas and Israeli expired earlier this month, but Hamas refused to extend it, saying Israel had violated its terms.
Most of those killed since Saturday were members of Hamas security forces, though the precise numbers remain unclear. A Hamas police spokesman, Ehab Ghussen, said 180 members of the Hamas security forces were among the dead, and the U.N. said at least 62 of the dead were civilians. A rise in civilian asualties could intensify international pressure on Israel to end the offensive.
Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, told parliament Israel was not fighting the residents of Gaza. “But we have a war to the bitter end against Hamas and its branches,” he said. Barak said the goal is to deal Hamas a “severe blow” and that the operation would be “widened and deepened as needed.”
Read the rest here. The only embeddable video I could find was from Al Jazeera, and it’s below. Anyone seen others?
December 29, 2008 | 2:04 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
As you know, President-elect Barack Obama generated a lot of controversy when he asked the Rev. Rick Warren, evangelical superstar, to pray at his inauguration. In light of ridiculous headlines on CNN like “Pastor Disaster?” and “Prayer Outrage,” Obama quickly defended his decision. Now The Forward—that’s right, the liberal, intellectual, Jewish newspaper from, oh goodness, New York—has editorialized in favor of the “Purpose-Driven” pastor:
More of the same would have spelled disaster, but failure to achieve change isn’t much better. The nation needs an economy that won’t collapse again, one that measures success in mouths fed. It needs to retool at every level for cleaner, sustainable energy. It needs a new foreign policy that seeks dialogue before confrontation.
To get the job done, Obama will need more than an administration backed by half the populace. He needs a nation united behind him. He needs, ultimately, a new governing majority.
That is where Rick Warren comes in. Warren speaks for a vast constituency that once voted Democratic because of bread-and-butter issues, but turned rightward a generation ago, alienated by abortion, gay rights and the broader culture war. After three decades of Republican misrule and free-market fundamentalism, some appear ready to come back. Warren talks about putting issues of social justice back on the national agenda — feeding the poor, healing the sick, saving the planet. Part of his agenda is repugnant to progressives; part of the progressive agenda is repugnant to him. That shouldn’t mean there’s no room for cooperation on vital issues.
Democrats used to know how to build those sorts of alliances. Franklin Roosevelt gave a Supreme Court seat to Hugo Black, a onetime Ku Klux Klan member, and still managed to create the New Deal, defeat the Nazis and set up the first federal civil rights agency of the 20th century, the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Lyndon Johnson worked closely with Southern racists like Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, his lifelong mentor, and yet he still managed to pass landmark civil rights legislation and launch a war on poverty.
What Democrats understood in those days — and what Obama seems to understand now — is that in order to advance the rights of minorities, you must first build a majority. You can’t help the powerless if you don’t have power. An inauguration isn’t a political convention, but a time to speak to all Americans.
December 29, 2008 | 12:39 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
And I thought Bernard Madoff brought out the worst in anti-Semites. Don’t be fooled. Nothing can compare to the virulence espoused when Israel retaliates against its attackers.
The latest comment moderated by The Web Guy starts: “Jews are a filthy self-centred - bigoted and arrogant circumsized anthropoids who still beleive they are the chosen one.” And that’s the complimentary part.
Commenter Kirk, whose email address begins with KKK, goes on to promote a modern-day Kristallnacht. That leads me to believe Kirk and this Greek politician, who is comparing Israel’s airstrikes on Hamas compounds in Gaza to Hitler, would get along just swell:
The statements Monday by George Karatzaferis, the leader of the far right LAOS party, come a day after a daily newspaper in Greece blamed Jews for the world financial crisis and the Israeli operation in Gaza.
Karatzaferis released a statement that read, in part, “Someone has to pull the ear of the darling child of the West, Israel. Its aggressiveness and malice against non-combatants, whose only precedent can be found during Hitler’s time, cannot leave the international community indifferent.”
Israeli Ambassador to Greece Ali Yahya said in response to the statement, “Racism is not in Greece’s culture. I’m saddened by the pathetic statement made by Mr. Karatzaferis; it shows, if nothing else, complete historic ignorance. It is the Jewish people that were the prey of racism.”
Meanwhile, the Avriani newspaper led its front page with anti-Semitic accusations for the second time in several weeks. Sunday’s headline read: “After the American Jews acquired once again the world’s wealth and plunged the planet into an unprecedented financial crisis, they started rehearsing for WWIII.”
Midway through the paper’s story on Israel’s operation in Gaza, the story, under the heading “The Plan,” explains that a Jewish plutocracy, having made the “wealth of the century at the expense of the economies of the world,” is preparing to put in motion “war machines” in various hot spots around the world in order to control the price of oil, redistribute the world’s natural resources and start a new cycle of weapons production.
Avriani is the same Greek paper that on Nov. 4 ran on its front page this headline: ““The anticipated victory of Obama in the U.S. elections signals the end of Jewish domination. Everything changes in the USA and we hope that it will be more democratic and humane.“
There is no question that the loss of life in Gaza is a tragedy. And Israel’s military has before been too careless when operating in civilian areas—human shields or not. But Israel’s weekend assault on Gaza needs to be understood as an attack on Hamas militants that for years have been shelling the border towns. Not Jewish settlements, but communities well within the Green Line of 1948. Those actions, by operatives of the government, should be seen as hundreds of acts of war.
Regardless, no one is “winning”—or stands to. As Ruth Wisse says, the Palestinian refugee crisis—60 years later—is still about the political power of the Palestinians’ neighbors. The question is what should the Israeli response be.
Though some Israeli action is an understandable response to continued rocket fire from Hamas, and the idea of contained surgical strikes may be compelling, these airstrikes represent a huge escalation of the conflict—a crisis that may end in a wider war in which many more Palestinians and Israelis die in the weeks to come.
The now familiar sequence of escalating mutual hostility, invasion, and withdrawal without security arrangements has never worked—in Lebanon, the West Bank, or in Gaza itself. The United States and the entire world community must intercede to help reestablish a ceasefire, put an end to rocket attacks on Israel, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Brit Tzedek calls on President Bush to initiate an international effort aimed at negotiating an immediate ceasefire. Such a ceasefire must halt all attacks from both sides and allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.
Further, we call on President-elect Obama to make clear that he will, as President, urgently assert US leadership to achieve a comprehensive diplomatic resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts.
December 29, 2008 | 12:04 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
For many, the dead week between Christmas and New Year’s is a built-in break from work. For me, it’s a welcomed opportunity to return to productivity.
Don’t get me wrong: I had a few great days of rest, capped off with a great day of sports yesterday (first watching the Bruins thump the—uh ... what are the Louisiana Tech’s?—and then seeing the Chargers pound the Broncos). But I fell well short of my goal of finishing Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers,” which has a few interesting religion angles, and Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America,” a particularly appropriate book to be reading will moderating anti-Semitic comments on this blog.
The blame, I’d have to say, falls squarely on “Guitar Hero World Tour.”
I spent a good two days playing the game, a gift from my wife, with my brother-in-law, and we still need a lot of practice before we go on tour. On tour? That’s right—at least we could:
LOS ANGELES—“This song is dedicated to Debbie Harry,” flinty-eyed Lisa Hsuan purrs into a microphone on the red-lit stage of Hyperion Tavern. It’s a cozy dive where patrons drink Coke and beer from bottles and a fading chandelier dangles overhead.
Her tribute is intentionally ludicrous: The 30-year-old veterinarian is about to belt out “Call Me,” which Harry—fronting the group Blondie—released 28 years ago. Accompanied on fake guitars and drums by three Web programmers who drove in from the refinery-dotted coastal suburb of El Segundo, Hsuan launches in as a smoke machine puffs nearby.
They’re playing the video game “Rock Band 2,” which along with “Guitar Hero” is rocking bars and living rooms across the country. Many songs’ sales have more than doubled after release in one of the games, and well-known bands have started lining up to provide new music direct to the game makers. Now record labels—noticing what they are missing, and struggling as compact disc sales tumble—are looking for a bigger piece of the action.
Although labels get some royalties from the play-along games’ makers, they are often bypassed on image and likeness licensing deals, which the bands control and which account for a rising proportion of musicians’ income. Meanwhile, the Recording Industry Association of America pegged its U.S. members’ sales at $10.4 billion in 2007, down 11.8 percent from the year before, with a further drop expected for 2008. By comparison, sales of music video games more than doubled this year, hitting $1.9 billion in the past 12 months, according to NPD Group. And they’re expected to keep growing.
Aerosmith made more money off the June release of “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” than either of its last two albums, according to Kai Huang, co-founder of RedOctane, which first developed “Guitar Hero.”
“The kind of exposure that artists can get through the ‘Guitar Hero’ platform is huge,” said Huang, who remains RedOctane’s president, after it and the “Guitar Hero” franchise were taken over by Activision Blizzard Inc. in 2006. “Rock Band,” meanwhile, is made by Viacom Inc.‘s MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts Inc.
In other words, it looks like video (games) are saving the aging radio stars. Even the Disney phenomenons, which drew their popularity from TV audiences, have a sing-along karaoke game.
It’s only a matter of time, I imagine, before Steven Curtis Chapman and Delirious team up with the guys who brought you “Left Behind: Eternal Forces.”
December 27, 2008 | 1:52 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years.
Most of those killed were security men, but an unknown number of civilians were also among the dead. Hamas said all of its security installations were hit, threatened to resume suicide attacks, and sent at least 70 rockets and mortar shells crashing into Israeli border communities, according to the Israeli military. One Israeli was killed and at least six people were hurt.
With so many wounded, the Palestinian death toll was likely to rise.
The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion in Gaza, as black clouds of smoke rose above the territory, ruled by Hamas for the past 18 months. Some of the Israeli missiles struck in densely populated areas as children were leaving school, and women rushed into the streets frantically looking for their children.
“My son is gone, my son is gone,” wailed Said Masri, a 57-year-old shopkeeper, as he sat in the middle of a Gaza City street, slapping his face and covering his head with dust from a bombed-out security compound nearby.
He said he had sent his 9-year-old son out to purchase cigarettes minutes before the airstrikes began and now could not find him. “May I burn like the cigarettes, may Israel burn,” Masri moaned.
The offensive began eight days after a six-month truce between Israel and the militants expired. The Israeli army says Palestinian militants have fired some 300 rockets and mortars at Israeli targets over the past week, and in recent days, Israeli leaders had threatened to launch a major offensive.
“There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting,” said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, vowing to expand the operation if necessary.