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Monday, December 31, 2007

No Sympathy For the Record Companies

In the Washington Post:
In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
Say what?

So let me get this straight, record company lawyers. I have in my collection over 450 legally acquired CDs, some bought brand-new, some bought used, some given to me but paid for by someone else. If you were to average how much all my CDs cost me, on average, I'd have to say $5 a piece, and that's a low estimate, but just for the sake of argument, let's use it and say it cost me about $2,250 to get my hundreds of CDs. (And remember, that's a low estimate.)

So the record companies want to make it illegal for me to protect my investment by burning these CDs on the hard drive of my computer? Because they control the rights to the songs?

Maybe in your house the record companies control your music collection, but in my house, that responsibility is mine and mine alone. I don't need to ask permission from Sony to turn my stereo on or to burn this CD or that CD to my hard drive. They don't have veto power over the volume. They can't prevent me from skipping over a crappy song or listening to the same song twice in a row. They have no say.

They gave that up when they committed the music to tape and then sold it to me for $14.99 retail!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

This is Madness

I found this through several layers of internet separation. First through Boing Boing, then thru The American Prospect, and finally to the source, the Washington Post.

Here's the gist:
Shares in the nation's second-biggest consumer electronics retailer tumbled Friday as investors reacted to a third-quarter loss driven by lower extended-warranty sales and business interruptions that the company blamed on restructuring efforts.
As Dean Baker points out, this is mostly due to poor decisions made by Circuit City's own executive team.
The basic story is that last March, the wise men who run Circuit City came up with the brilliant idea of laying off their more senior salespeople, who get $14-$15 an hour, and replacing them with new hires who get around $9 an hour. It turns out that this move was not very good for business. One of the reasons that people go to a store like Circuit City, rather than buying things on the Internet, is that they want to be able to talk to a knowledgeable salesperson. Since Circuit City had laid off their knowledgeable salespeople, there was little reason to shop there.
Those "knowledgeable salespeople" also played a big part in selling the extended warranties, as I found out when I bought my laptop at Circuit City last year.

The thing that gets me about this story isn't that Circuit City is having problems (who isn't?), nor that their problems are largely the result of poor management decisions. It's this:
Circuit City laid off 3,400 workers in March to replace them with lower-paid new hires. This week, it announced the approval of millions of dollars in cash incentives to retain its top talent after the departure of several key executives over the past year. Executive vice presidents could claim retention awards of $1 million each, and senior vice presidents could get $600,000, provided they stay with the company until 2011, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This is how it works for the corporate executive. Do a good job, get handsomely rewarded with huge salaries, stock options, corporate perks, and attractive bonuses.

Do a bad job, though...and you get handsomely rewarded with huge salaries, stock options, corporate perks, and attractive bonuses.
Baker puts it thus:
We all know what happens when you mess up in the dog eat dog world of big business -- you get retention awards (that's because your stock options aren't worth anything). The Post reports that Circuit City's executive vice-presidents will get retention awards of $1 million each. That's 35 years worth of pay for one of sales clerks who earned $14 an hour. And that's just the bonus.
In Communist China, this kind of performance would get you executed.

In capitalist corporate America, it's the path to great riches.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Open Letter to Cliff May at NRO

Comparing and contrasting the threat posed by Islamic terrorists and Soviet Russia, Cliff May answers some hypotheticals from John Derbyshire.

Derb:
Which major war have the jihadi armies recently co-won? How many armored divisions do they have? How many European nations have they subjugated and installed puppet governments in? What's their industrial capacity? How many engineers, doctors, physicists, chemists, mathematicians do they produce every year? How extensive is their espionage network? How many of our intelligentsia think they are a positive and progressive force?
Cliff May does his best to answer them, but most of his answers reduce to "It ain't WWII anymore, dude."

This one, though, this one caught me off-guard:
Q: How many of our intelligentsia think they are a positive and progressive force? A: Quite a few members of the left intelligentsia think they are a positive and progressive force but why do you ask? Why would you presume that what our intelligentisa think could determine the outcome of any war?
Wait....what was that?
"Quite a few members of the left intelligentsia think they [Al Qaeda] are a positive and progressive force..."
Is that even true? I don't think so...

Name names, Cliff. I'm trying to think of a few names that, even by right-wing standards, could possibly be construed as being Al Qaeda fans. I can come up with one: Ward Churchill, but even then, he's not part of the "left intelligentsia." Churchill's the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe!

So come on, Cliff. Name names or shut the fuck up.

Updated: Never mind, Cliff. You are clearly out of your mind.
Derb, you ask how they [jihadis] would set out to destroy us? Only lack of imagination limits the possibilities. But nuclear and biological weapons might certainly play a role. A series of 9/11's would not destroy all of us but would have more impact on America as we know it than anything that the Communists or the Nazis ever managed — whatever lethal potential they may have had within their arsenals and armies.
Thanks to your incredible remote viewing capabilities, we know exactly what would happen if there were a "series of 9/11's," with nukes and bugs too! Your hypothetical future is definitely scary, but without actually experiencing it for myself, I couldn't say it's worse than the Commies or the Nazis, who hopefully even a raging lunatic like yourself can recognize were, you know, pretty bad.

It's funny though, because you say:
"(T)he Soviets were evil but they were rational."
But this is the judgment of a dude who clings to the irrational fear of nuclear and biological attack. Like life is an action movie starring George Clooney.

Not Exactly a Feather in Your Cap, Hill

Also on CNN about Bhutto and the presidential horse race. Hillary Clinton commenting on Bhutto's assasination: (paraphrased) "I knew Bhutto for a dozen years and I knew her as a leader."

Did you also know that she propped up the Taliban when they took over Afghanistan and that she was corrupt as fuck, even by Pakistani standards? (Now that's corrupt!) Her assassination should remind us that Pakistan is an undeclared front in the "War on Terror" (whatever that means anymore), but it shouldn't make us forget that she wasn't the Pakistani version of JFK or MLK.

Updated: More on Hillary's "Women of Democracy" sisterhood with Bhutto. Not only is it a bit silly to brag about your relationship with a corrupt martyr, but it doesn't appear there was much of a relationship anyway, at least if we're to believe the Hillary in her autobiography.

The World Sounds Different to a Star Wars Geek

Wolf Blitzer is talking to Rudy Giuliani on CNN right now about the Bhutto assassination. (The media, if you haven't noticed, has been trying very hard to figure out the implications of this, not necessarily for Pakistani democracy but for the presidential candidates. Horse-race news coverage at its worst...)

At any rate, Rudy suggested we "redouble our efforts" in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Which led me to ask, so what, Darth Vader showed up and expressed the Emperor's dissatisfaction with the progress of the Death Star rebuilding?

The Benefits of Piracy

We all know that P2P downloading is considered piracy, but here's an interesting question: Should downloading the material of dead artists be considered stealing? Or preserving the culture?

I mention this because over the last couple of weeks I've downloaded over a hundred classic blues and jazz records through BitTorrent. First there were the 92 blues albums in the Blues Collection, with work by some of my favorite blues artists, Howlin' Wolf (dead), J.B. Lenoir (dead), Muddy Waters (dead), then there was the 24-disc Centennial boxset of the late Duke Ellington's work. Louis Armstrong's three-disc Disney songs collection? Well...Louis Armstrong is also dead.

Their recordings, of course, are no longer controlled by these dead men, but by the various business interests that control the rights. By downloading these records for free over the internet, I'm depriving these business interests of their revenue streams and thereby stealing from them. Technically.

But unlike more traditional forms of theft, there's a curious component to downloading that shouldn't be overlooked. Downloading makes the purloined goods (in this case, bootleg MP3s) more plentiful, not less. If I stole your car, you wouldn't have a car and I would (at least until I ditched it or sold it to the chop shop). But if I stole all the MP3s on your hard-drive, you would lose nothing and I would gain everything. Instead of one J.B. Lenoir MP3 existing out there in cyberspace, there would be two...and if someone stole from me, three copies, and so on and so forth.

This is bad news for the business interests who make money off the rights to dead artists' music, but it's generally good news for the culture, and for the artists themselves, whose immortality now depends on the merits of their work rather than its commercial appeal. Long dead, little known artist like J.B. Lenoir never sold very many records to begin with, and to the business interests whose main concern is making money, he wouldn't be a very viable property anyway. Oh, sure, they might release a record, only to let it go out of print after the first undersold run. They might license a Lenoir song to a compilation album, but even then: they're only making money because they don't have to spend any. The recording's already in the bag.

But the music of J.B. Lenoir has a greater significance than its status in the market place, a cultural and artistic significance that gives Lenoir's music its true value. It's this value, cultural and artistic, that our copyright laws were designed to preserve. The idea that artists should capitalize on their work in perpetuity (even after they are dead) is something new, and while it has made many people (not always the artists) gazillions of dollars over the years, I don't think "making money" should take precedence over "making good culture."

I suspect, at any rate, that J.B. Lenoir would dig the fact that some white boy from Colorado who was born long after Lenoir himself died really loves his music, and that he wouldn't really mind that the various business that own the rights to his music didn't get their cut.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Random Encounters With Annoying People

So I stopped off at 7-11 after work to grab some smokes and something to drink. As soon as I got out of the truck, I was approached by this cross-eyed gentleman with the familiar plaintive whisper of the panhandler. "Excuse me, sir," and before I could ignore him, he went into his spiel. "I don't expect anything, but if I could just make it to eleven dollars, I'd have enough for the Greyhound..." He continued, but I couldn't tell you what else he said, because I had stopped paying attention.

"Jesus fucking Christ," I muttered, realizing that what I had intended to be an internal thought had slipped out as audible words, unkind ones at that. Feeling bad, I dug into my pocket and produced four quarters, handing them over with a slightly embarrassed, "Here you go."

I never heard the rest of his story and that doesn't bother me. I know all the talk about Greyhounds and tragedy is bullshit meant to tug at my hearts strings. Ah, poor dude, begging outside a 7-11 on a cold snow-crusted night. He just wants to get on his bus and be on his way...

Yeah right. There ain't even a Greyhound station around here, man.

So I gave him a buck to atone for being an ass, and I think that's atonement enough. He was one step closer to his next hook-up or that last drink or the milk for his hungry baby. Maybe he's still out there, banking. Probably not. This is a poor neighborhood and we're all fighting over the same scraps.

Getting a job and contributing something to the world is probably easier, though.

His Mouth is Writing Checks His Body Might Cash

I must have missed this exchange during the Bronco game on Monday.
Generally I don't think there's anything wrong with taunting in sports, but I do think you need to earn it.

The Chargers might want to bolster their offensive line though. Rivers is going to need some protection next year...

When Libertarians Say Dumb Things

Megan McArdle:
"Contrary to popular belief, CEO's are not driving inequality trends; there are too few of them, and they aren't paid that well."
If we're comparing them to Powerball winners, maybe. But...

Aren't CEOs usually one of the most compensated individuals in their organization? You know, if CEOs aren't paid that well, then the rest of ain't getting paid shit!

Monday, December 24, 2007

John McClane Says

Merry fucking Christmas!To do on Christmas:

Open presents.
Hang with the fam.
Watch Die Hard, my favorite Christmas movie.
Make fists with my toes.
Smoke cigarettes and kill bad guys.

So what are you doing?

Merry Christmas

I hope you finished your Christmas shopping, because if you haven't...time is running out. I have it on good authority (NORAD) that Santa is making his sweep across the United States even as we speak.

Here's hoping Santa stays out of Crip neighborhoods, though. You know they have issues with red.

At any rate, here's hoping you all have a MERRY CHRISTMAS, and just to piss off Bill O'Reilly, Happy Holidays too.

Today's Blues Moment

The great J.B. Lenoir, I Feel So Good. I'm not sure the audio is from this video, but Lenoir's voice and easy guitar playing are good anyway. He actually performed in those tiger-striped jackets with tails and man, could he play.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The New Frankenstein

Here it is:Assembled by yours truly. Look upon my computer and quiver.

Iron Maiden's Plane

Yes, that's Eddie on the tail rudder.

Strange Dream

Last night I had a dream that I was playing 4-Square on the roof of a high-rise building with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I have no idea what that even means...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Computers, man...

Yesterday I performed major surgery on my computer. I had been thinking about a few upgrades for a while, just some little advancements that might make life easier, if not better. A dual-layer drive with Lightscribe maybe. Or a new video card.

That was the intention, anyway. But like on Plastic Surgery Nightmares, what started out as a minor operation turned out to be a medical crisis. Hence the surgery.

First thing, kiddies. Don't buy a PCI Express video card if your motherboard doesn't actually have a PCI Express slot. Buy the motherboard first.

Then when you buy a motherboard, the processor, and the memory, make sure you get a power supply that's compatible with it. It's bad for morale when you hook up everything up and realize, DOH, you have no 4-pin connector for the CPU!

Hours later...

Save for the harddrives, the sound-card (which I kept because I know it works well), and my old fire-wire card, I'm back up and running with all new parts. I still need to figure out, as they would say in corporate parlance, a cooling solution as the thing runs super-hot now, but after that, I should be good for a while.

No, really, computer industry. I'm okay. I don't need anything else right now. Keep innovating, though. I'll catch ya on the next round.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Some massively light blogging on my end thanks to a bout of food poisoning I picked up after a graduation party on Friday. I'm pretty sure it was the calamari appetizer plate I snacked on before I got my dinner, and though I had stomach cramps within hours, the true horror wouldn't start until Monday night, when I couldn't keep anything down. Not yogurt. Not even water. Nothing.

By Tuesday morning I was severely dehydrated, aching everywhere, weary of putting any food or drink near my mouth. Thanks to some yogurt smoothies and Pedialyte, I started feeling better towards the evening and by the time I went to bed, even my headache was gone.

Note to self: Never eat calamari again.

A few things I might have blogged about if I wasn't dying of calamari-poisoning:

1) As another Colorado winter freezes everything around me, the thought occurred to me that one reason we don't have Rio De Janeiro-like favelas in this country is because of climate. There is no way that thousands of people could survive the winter in a shack city. No way in hell. While I believe the causes of Brazil's favelas are man-made (economic inequality and a government unwilling or unable to do anything about it), the factors that allow them to thrive and take over complete hillsides is probably environmental.

2) I saw David Fincher's latest film Zodiac again. I saw it in the theater and at the time thought it was too long, that I didn't connect with any of the characters, that the pacing of the story was off, basically that it wasn't very good. Watching it again, I must change my opinion. It is too long, it is difficult to connect with the characters, and the pacing is off, but that doesn't make it a bad movie. One thing to keep in mind is that it's not about the killer or the Zodiac killings, or even the letters. It's not even about how one man's (that would be Jake Gyllehaal) quest to find the truth at the cost of his family (that would be Chloe Sevigny). In that sense, it was completely mis-marketed. It's really about the cops (Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue) trying to find this guy and being stymied at every turn. There's one scene, which I thought unnecessary on my first viewing, where Anthony Edwards is on the phone "trying to coordinate" the investigation through four different jurisdictions. "I'll telefax it over to you." "We don't have telefax." "Okay, then I'll mail it." Stymied by reality even! In other words, the movie's worth a second look.

3) I probably would have said something about the church shooting or torture or Mike Huckabee's sprinkling a little religion on his politics, but I really haven't paid attention. Too many guns still means too many shootings, torture is still wrong, and Mike Huckabee is still my pick (mostly because he's a guaranteed loser) for the GOP nomination.

4) Making your own hot cocoa mix is more economical than buying it, especially if you drink the stuff by the gallon like I do. You get more bang for your buck, and all the proceeds don't all go to Nestle. Hershey's gets a little, the sugar company gets some, et cetera. It got me to thinking. What's better for the economy, a concentrated stream of wealth (say straight to Nestle) or a smaller, more distributed stream (say to the ingredient makers themselves)? Deep thoughts...

5) I watched a show about Charlie Manson and in one of the sound bites recognized a sample on a Rob Zombie record. "And I remember her saying, I'm already dead." You've probably heard it. That was Patricia Krenwinkel as she told the story of how she stabbed coffee heiress Abigail Folger to death.

6) Anthrax has a new singer, some no-name guy who sounds a lot like John Bush. Good for them. I'm sure he'll do great and they'll sell a few records and go on tour, but what the hell already? Anthrax is one of the most self-destructive bands out there. They can't keep a singer or a second guitarist and with each reboot they have to redefine their sound. Figure it out, guys. It can't be that hard.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Truest Fake Political Ad Ever

Mike Huckabee, strong conservative, not a crook or a weirdo or a Mormon. Let's leave it at that. Okay? Okay.
Interesting to note, the "Everything else scattered, smothered, covered and chunked by Lee Stranahan" is not only a way to describe the filmmaking process, it's also various ways to get your hash browns down at Waffle House.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Little Angel

A couple pics of my niece.










And finally, sad baby. (She just woke up and was feeling sick that day.)

Heavy Metal In Baghdad

Is it true they only have one metal band in Iraq? If so...it's not true anymore. The band featured in this documentary is currently living as refugees in Turkey.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Roughing It Up

When Mark Twain wrote about Mormons, the LDS church was still a relatively young thing, about 40 years old and perhaps at the height of its controversy.

He wrote:
Let it be borne in mind that the majority of the Mormons have always been ignorant, simple, of an inferior order of intellect, unacquainted with the world and its ways; and let it be borne in mind that the wives of these Mormons are necessarily after the same pattern and their children likely to be fit representatives of such a conjunction; and then let it be remembered that for forty years these creatures have been driven, driven, driven, relentlessly! and mobbed, beaten, and shot down; cursed, despised, expatriated; banished to a remote desert, whither they journeyed gaunt with famine and disease, disturbing the ancient solitudes with their lamentations and marking the long way with graves of their dead—and all because they were simply trying to live and worship God in the way which they believed with all their hearts and souls to be the true one. Let all these things be borne in mind, and then it will not be hard to account for the deathless hatred which the Mormons bear our people and our government.
In Twain's day, I don't think the paragraph would have been seen as insulting, as that crescendo at the end hints at a kind of earned respect. He seems to be saying, "They may be ignorant, simple, of an inferior order of intellect, unacquainted with the world and its ways, but they're still people!"

And while I don't believe that Mormon beliefs deserve the treatment they have received historically, I also don't think calling those beliefs ignorant, simple, or inferior does them any great injustice.

Consider: A critical tenet of Mormon belief is the idea that Native Americans are descended from a "Lost Tribe" of Israel that arrived on the American continent not long after Christ by boat and founded an amazing city called Zarahemla.

As an idea, it's interesting. It makes a great story. But as history, as a truth worthy to believe in, it has its drawbacks. The first, of course, is that it's...just not true. The second, and perhaps more important, is that it can be easily disproven.

Native Americans and the ancient Israelites do not share culture, language, or the same haplogroup. Instead, you have mountains of archaeological ruins, libraries of anthropological study, and hundreds of DNA-sequencing scientists who say that the Native Americans were a stone-age people (that is, pre-civilization, as well as pre-Israelite) that arrived on this continent via a land and ice bridge in Arctic Asia.

The first boats that could reach the American continent came much later than Joseph Smith's fanciful tale in the form of Norsemen hopping around the landmasses in North Atlantic. They were the first ones to come, and until Columbus, the only ones who could have made it.

As for Zarahmela, so far it has not been found (God's work, no doubt). We have found Tikal, Macchu Picchu, Chaco Canyon, and Cahokia, but no Zarahmela. No evidence of the Nephites, who lived there. No evidence of their rivals, the Lamanites. Not a cup, not a trinket, not even a stone with a notch.

Even cultures that fall leave some kind of trace, if only as a vestigial custom whose origin was long forgotten but gets passed down from generation to generation anyway. When you look at the jaguar-faced babies and feathered serpents that are so common in Meso-America, do you see the footprints of a Judeo-Christian culture?

Me neither.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

All Metal Saturday

A little Down on Saturday morning.
And since I missed it last night, here's my random 10, from my beefed up "Heavy shit" playlist.

1) deftones - Around the Fur
2) Shadows Fall - Acts of Contrition
3) Flyleaf - Fully Alive
4) Down - Mourn
5) Killswitch Engage - Rose of Sharyn
6) Pantera - I'm Broken
7) Sepultura - Lookaway
8) Metallica - For Whom the Bell Tolls
9) Damageplan - New Found Power
10) Slayer - Dissident Aggressor

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Man Mitt

Mitt Romney, who (disclosure) I don't like at all, says he didn't hire illegal workers to paint on his house, even though some illegal workers did apparently paint his house. Of course, he blamed the contractors, which makes sense actually, offering up this line that sums it up nicely:
"So for instance, if I go to a restaurant, do I make sure all the waiters there are all legal?"
Now that would be funny! I wonder if Tom Tancredo is checking out all the places he eats!

Seems like Mitt's getting a little bit of some unfair mudslinging here, which goes with the territory I guess, but still, he's Mitt. He just had to give a speech on religion the other day, so everyone could talk about Mormon Mitt and he could win over the ignorant-by-choice nitwits on the religious right. I missed the speech but I did want to touch on something he said responding to this weak little gotcha moment.

He also said this:
"The individuals in my home were not my employees. They were hired by a company. The company made a mistake in judgment. And that's why I terminated my relationship with them."
Which is fine...up until that last sentence. "And that's why I terminated my relationship with them."

Part of the reason that Romney makes me squirm is that he's so phony. The things he says, the way he acts. All politicians are phony to a certain extent, but with Romney the phony meter goes up. His appeals to the modern Republican, contrasted with his past on the record statements, just add to the phoniness.

And then he tosses off a little white lie like, "And that's why I terminated my relationship with them."

But wait...
Romney hired Olympic Painting and Roofing of Peabody, Mass., to paint the salmon-colored house in August, and the work was completed in October, according to Olympic, the Globe reported.
They completed the work? So there was no, you know, termination? Er, well, I guess completing the job is one way to terminate the relationship, but that's not what Romney's saying here. He's not saying he just fired the guys.

He's saying he fired them because they "made a mistake" and hired illegals!

And, Mitt, you were doing so good! You had the joke down. "What, I gotta check the waiter, too?" You had the advantage. And then you blew it with, "And that's why I terminated the relationship."

We get it. You're assertive. When you see a problem, you take action. You're a "good American" for refusing to do business with a company that hires illegal help. All noble traits.

But you're also full of shit and the smell is killing me.

Warning

Do not read the next post if you are easily shocked or influenced by revolutionary propaganda.

Letters From the Underground

You know, I can understand why the CIA erased the torture tapes. I'd do the same thing. And I'd be thinking, I ain't going to jail for those fuckers.

These rug-monkey booty-chompers like Rumsfeld or Cheney, or Wolfowitz and Gonzalez, aided by their Doofus-In-Chief Bush (who would tell you what's going on, if he could only figure it out himself) are actually pulling this kind of Hollwyood mobster bullshit with the government of these United States, and have been for years. YEARS.

It may too late to impeach these fuckers, but it's never too late to hang them!

When I Grow Up I Want to be a Rampage Killer, Mommy

It's not enough to just kill yourself these days. You must take out as many people as possible with you.

Yep, in the 21st Century, suicide is no longer a solitary act.

So how long is it going to take the people of America to realize that maybe we need stricter gun laws? And when I say strict, I mean strict. You want an AK-47? Okay...are you a Russian soldier? Are you an Afghan terrorist? Are you a Columbian revolutionary? Are you a Somali war lord? No? Well, then YOU DON'T GET AN AK-47!

You know who needs assault weapons? The police. You know why? Because criminals have them. You know who else needs them?

No one.

But we're not talking about need, right? We're talking about a right, dammit! It's my right!

Hey, that's all good and fun...until a psychopath takes his AK-47 down to the mall and blows away Grandma, getting blood on your presents. Don't worry though, it's rare for this to happen, gentle readers. Chances are you will not, repeat, not die in a kill-crazy rampage.

But with guns so easy to get, with gun-nuts from coast to coast cleaning and admiring the guns they may or may not someday use in a murder, I guarentee we'll have another one. And another. And another.

And another.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Funny Scares

One time I got this powerpoint presentation through e-mail with all these ghost pictures. It was pretty interesting and kinda creepy, then you get to the last page, a scary demon faced popped out and it let out a blood-chilling scream.

Me and my nephew watched it, him in my lap, me none the wise about this little twist at the end. The demon screamed and so did my nephew, he buried his face into my chest and grabbed hold with his teeth. He's never been able to trust anything I want to show him on the computer since.

This video is an approximation of the experience, but funnier. (That thing scared me too!)

Cancel World War 3

Iran's not going nuclear anytime soon...

As reality intrudes, once again, on Mr. George "I Don't Know What the Fuck I'm Doing" Bush and his right wing enablers.

And while I'm on that subject, I re-iterate once again that Larry Craig is gay. Several dudes have gone on the record, describing their homosexual encounters with Sen. Craig (R), Idaho, even Denver's own Mike Jones, who really gets around apparently.

Mike Jones, it seems, is waging his own gay jihad against the self-loathing and hypocrisy of the closet. Good for him. If I was gay, there's no way you could stuff me in a closet. Craig, on the other hand, seems like your garden variety pervert. A gay one, but a pervert nonetheless. So far, I don't think anyone's ever come out and said they had a relationship with Larry Craig, even one lasting a few days. They're just these random encounters, sex and no more. That's big-time pervey.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

You Can't Bullcrap a Bullcrapper

This is priceless...

You got a National Review blogger quoting Michelle Malkin on the Beauchamp story. (I'll link to the Corner, but Malkin can kiss my ass...)

Malkin's summary:
"The maxi-mea culpa runs more than 10 pages and thousands and thousands of words (self-pitying, rationalizing, messenger-blaming), but this is the belated bottom line: The Beauchamp stories are bullcrap."
But like Lavar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow (and good policy when it comes to reading Malkin), don't take her word for it.

I read the 14 page, thousands and thousands of words maxi-mea culpa myself and, how can I say this diplomatically? I don't think Malkin read the same document...

Read it yourself and tell me what you think.

Updated: Glenn Greenwald compares the Beauchamp tale with a similar scandal brewing at the National Review. He even gives credit to Michelle Malkin saying it's due. I don't know about that...but Glenn's still worth a look. (Greenwald...the other Glenn is still an idiot.)

The Puff Piece And Me

There's a puff-piece about the company I work for in the business section of Sunday's Denver Post. Though I didn't get name-dropped, the NOC got the lede:
CENTENNIAL — From the company's network operations center, National CineMedia engineers [that would be me, ed.] can see which commercials are being shown, and in what order, to moviegoers.

Staffed 24 hours a day, the center closely monitors a digital network that beams advertisements via satellite to computer servers at more than 950 movie theaters, including 26 in Colorado.

The network is the linchpin for a company that has helped transform cinema advertising, an industry booming amid the marketing shift from traditional broadcast and print media.
Pretty interesting stuff.

I also barely escaped appearing in this picture. If they panned a little more to the left, they would have seen me in all my (at the time) shaggy-haired glory. Behind this dude, who is our CEO, there is the famous video wall I've blogged about so much the past year or so, I'm pretty sure, however, that the big eye on the plasma screen over his left shoulder was photoshopped in. I have never seen that eye before and I don't think it's in the content loop for that screen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

And Then There was Jacki

Speaking of Jacki Schechner, she showed up in a podcast with John Aravosis of Americablog. Unfortunately it was about the election, specifically the Republican debates, rather than something truly important like whether Brad Pitt's mother will ever truly accept Angelina and the kids...

Oh well. I guess it's too much to ask for in a world of extra-marital affairs, drug-addicted superstars, and child custody disputes that we focus on trivial issues like national elections... Sheesh.

Next week, Jacki will be joining me for a podcast with a substantive discussion on 2% versus whole milk. Then we'll talk about hiphugger jeans (outdated or buttcrackalicious?) and, if we have time, we'll discuss our favorite G.I. Joe characters. You know, the important stuff.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Random Ten and Others

Oh, man, what a craptastic day!

Let me ask you something. What's a reasonable time frame to expect a person to wait on hold? Five minutes? Ten? Fifteen? I approached my limit several times today...

Oh, and Microsoft Excel, there's a special place in spreadsheet hell for you.

The good news is that I came home to a clean house. I spent all day yesterday scrubbing and putting stuff away. I did all my laundry and even mopped the kitchen floor. It was an all day chore, but I admit I took my time.

But in honor of the holiday (Friday), here's my Random 10, from my "Heavy Shit" playlist, and as always it sounds better in 5.1 surround sound with the subwoofer cranked:

1) Down - Mourn
2) Overkill - Drunken Wisdom
3) GWAR - Gor-Gor
4) Kittie - Pussy Sugar
5) Black Label Society - Superterrorizer
6) Pantera - I'm Broken
7) Flybanger - Haul
8) System of a Down - X
9) Snot - Snooze Button
10) Corrosion of Conformity - 7 Days

And the mentionables...

Did you hear about the teacher who was put in jail in Sudan for naming a teddy bear Muhammad? No? Well they put her in jail, you know, where a teacher belongs. Not only that, but there were protests in the street with people actually calling for her execution! For naming a teddy bear the wrong name!

There is no other word for that but ridiculous. Surely the Sudanese have bigger problems on which to expend all this energy. I can think of a little genocide problem they could fix, but I guess that's pretty low on the priority list. Drinking water? Good jobs? Grocery stores on every corner? All that takes a backseat to protecting the Prophet from blasphemy.

Oh Lord, not that again...

But wait, there's more God stuff. There's this hilarious take on the Creationist Museum in Kentucky. (I'd go to Kentucky to see it --hell, I'd go to Kentucky just to see Kentucky.) John Scalzi calls it:
Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit.
He riffs too much on the horseshit but makes his point.

I don't know if you've heard about this 2 Girls, 1 Cup video, but Boing Boing has been posting about it. I don't have the stomach to watch. Though I have not read any explicit discussions I know it's a pornographic scatological oddity, much like Tub Girl, which is an image I wish I had never seen.

But this...this is funny. Some guy made his grandma watch it, and her reaction is hilarious!
She's shocked, but can't stop watching. I will never watch that thing. It makes me gag just watching Grandma.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jump Street

Last night I took my nephew to Jump Street, an indoor trampoline emporium. It was a lot of fun, but very tiring. Check out the vid here, and yes, I am a dork.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

RIP East Colfax Slums

Many years ago, Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center was the place to be. Dwight Eisenhower stayed there for a time as he recuperated from heart trouble as president. In the 90s, it was decommissioned and scheduled for massive renovations. So too the hotels and trailer parks that had sprung up along Colfax Avenue and suffered from decades of neglect and squalor.

They're all boarded up now, fenced off urban ruins, soon to be gentrified with newly designed office and retail space to suit the needs of the Phil Anschutz funded bioscience complex that's just across the street. Until demolition day, they stand tall, graffiti covered and abused, but they remain solemn reminders of an era that no longer exists.


Hotels that once sheltered traveling families in the 40s and 50s found a different clientele in later decades, the low-class scum: drug dealers and pimps, junkies and losers. Rooms meant for a night's rest for the weary became homes for the homeless. Once respectable, the motels became places you didn't go unless you were tough or had nothing to lose.




The trailer park is now an empty shell of its former self, strewn with trash and rubble, trees denuded by winter, the cheap black top road rutted with potholes, an unneeded utility pole lying broken on the ground. It's a graveyard of poverty, reclaimed in the name of progress.







I found this stubborn tree walking along a deserted street with the ghosts of the past whispering in my ear.

The curb, the drain, the grill, the tree, all of it will be gone before long, replaced with a Star Bucks or an Olive Garden.










Monday, November 26, 2007

Bush - Gore 07

You know what these guys are thinking. They're thinking the same thing:

You motherfucker...

Random Monday Ten

Yeah, it's Monday...but it's my Friday. So here goes the ten I'm listening to now, with impressions. (Sorry, though, not the Frank TV kind.)

1) Rocket Man - Elton John

This is one of my favorite Elton songs, with that classic Elton sound, the harmonies, the easy beat, the smooth chord changes. And of course clever lyrics, too. "Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids/ In fact it's cold as hell." It is, however, hard to imagine Elton, in all his Queeny Britishness, actually speaking like that. He ain't that kind of dude.

2) Blue - A Perfect Circle

Not my favorite APC song. It takes a full minute to get going and then it does break into a decent riff accompanied by Maynard's plaintive drone. Wait, did I just say that Maynard drones? Yes, sometimes he does. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

3) Counting Blue Cars - Dishwalla

Urg! Post-grunge "alternative" rock. Hey, it's all good. It takes me back to my formative years as a young man, but I didn't like most of that alternative stuff back then anyway. This song's alright, but it's something I'd usually skip if I was at the keyboard.

4) Rhapsody in Blue - Duke Ellington

I've heard this song in a commercial on TV and it always catches my attention. I'd say it's one of the greatest jazz songs ever. I've also heard many renditions, but this one...where I got it I don't know...is the best.

5) Sky Is Falling - Queens of the Stone Age

You know, I like QOTSA...but I like Kyuss even better. Josh Homme is a master on guitar, but I just liked his sound in Kyuss better. His sound in QOTSA is too thin and low-fi for my tastes, but I think that's part of the point. And you know, after listening to this one for a while, I can say I'm not really digging it. Next!

6) Paranoid - Megadeth

Yeah, that Paranoid. I've always been a fan of Megadeth's sound, which is funny because Dave Mustaine annoys me. This cover is alright, noticeable mostly for the end when the drummer keeps going and Dave angrily shouts out at him "Nick. Nick. NICK!" That would be Nick Menza, later fired from Megadeth.

7) Namaste - Beastie Boys

The jazz interludes on Check Your Head and Ill Communication are one of the reasons why I love the Beastie Boys. That and the fact that their Licensed to Ill was the first record...actual record...I remember buying. These guys are like the Anti-Linkin Park. They're not a bunch of poseurs. The Beasties can rap, they can rock, they can groove, they can do it all.

8) Doin' Time - Sublime

This song never fails to make sing along. "Me and my girl, we got this relationship..." Bradley Nowell had one hell of a voice. Man, I wish it really was summertime and the living was easy...

9) Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who

Ah, yes, the Who. Keith Moon is in my pantheon of drum gods. I wish I was around to see them when they were in their heyday. This song has like five solos and some spectacular moves by both Moon and Pete Townsend. And you know, the other two guys aren't bad either. Jesus, another solo! Keith Moon says, fuck it, I'll do what I want. And you gotta remember, he has like fifty drums to hit. Ten minutes later...

10) What if - Creed

I was listening to Creed the other day (yeah, I'll admit it) and you know, I think they got a bad rap. They're not that bad. Hell, the drummer's got some chops and so does the guitarist. Yeah, that Scott Stapp dude grates but he's got an alright voice. This song probably captures them at their best. The riff is explosive and the song itself is not all about God and hope and little children running around in circles with each other.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Iran

Matt Yglesias thinking like an Iranian:
And, indeed, it's not clear that a policy of appeasement would be wise. True, we've seen rational leadership even from vicious dictators like Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, but the contemporary United States is led by religious fanatics, which introduces a new element into the equation. What's more, the USA is the only country on earth to have ever actually deployed nuclear weapons. Indeed, current political elites are so war-crazed and bloodthirsty that they not only engineered the 2003 attack on Iraq -- a country that tried to appease the Americans by eliminating its nuclear program and allowing IAEA inspectors to certify that it had done so -- but they continue to deny regretting it to this day. And that includes not only radicals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but so-called "moderates" like Hillary Clinton as well.
Uh yeah, dude...

Appeasement doesn't work, not even if you're trying to appease the United States.

Do Not Read This Story If You Hate Mexicans - It Might Change Your Mind

Don't expect to hear about this story from your favorite right-wing talk show host.

The only stories they like about illegal immigrants are the ones where they commit crimes and stuff. Anything that hints at their inherent humanity, the wingers have no use for...

Understanding Glenn Beck

I think I have an idea why Glenn Beck is so hostile to environmentalists, and by extension, environmentalism in general. It's part of his stand against political correctness.

Exhibit A.

GLENN: I'm dreaming of a, fill in the blank.

STU: Of white Christmas.

GLENN: What do you think it would be?

STU: Please don't tell me it's a green Christmas.

GLENN: Go ahead and say it. Stu, a fun Christmas?

STU: I'm dreaming of a green Christmas.

GLENN: No, no, no, no. That's what you would think it is.

STU: Right.

GLENN: If you were going to be on the bandwagon of the, you know, hip new movement and, you know, politically correct.

STU: Did they admit what it really is and say it's a red Christmas?

GLENN: Green and red go together; happy holidays.

STU: They do, don't they?

GLENN: Here's the thing, Stu. It's I'm not dreaming of a green Christmas. I'm dreaming of a green holiday.
Am I reading that right? He doesn't come out and say it, but it seems that Beck equates "being green" with "being on the hip politically correct bandwagon."

Hey, I'll admit that "being green" has become a market meme. On the way to work this morning, I heard a radio commercial touting a car's environmentally friendly impact. A couple weeks ago, NBC was positioning themselves as a "green" company with their "Green is Universal" campaign. You got Wal-Mart selling fluorescent bulbs and Japanese carmakers pushing hybrids.

But is all of that because it's politically correct to be green? Or because there is now a place in the market for environmentally friendly products and practices?

Count me amongst those who think the market's new sensitivity to environmental issues is a good thing, something that should be celebrated and encouraged, not openly mocked and maligned.

But then again, I'm not Glenn Beck and I don't get my weird Mormon panties in a twist because a company tries to go green.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Glenn Beck Challenge

My brother is a big fan of Glenn Beck. We were debating illegal immigration one day and Beck came up. Half-jokingly, I dismissed him as that "weirdo Mormon" and promptly made fun of his "weird underwear." True, it was a cheap shot, but I was only half-serious. Wearing funny underwear is no less weird than, say, pretending to drink the blood of Jesus or praying towards Mecca five times a day, at least for me.

When it comes to trashing religion, I'm an equal opportunity offender. But Beck's religion isn't the reason why I make fun of him. No, that would be his bonafides as a right-wing hack job.

"But he's not a right-wing hack job," my brother says. "He's funny."

That I believe. Before he became a right-wing hack job, I understand he was primarily a radio funny man. But then 9-11 happened... Er, actually I don't know what inspired Beck to go from radio comedy to radio commentary, but it's been quite lucrative for him.

He's got a new book coming out, too, which my brother wants for Christmas. Guess what it's called? An Inconvenient Book. So clever, and yet strangely original...

From the Amazon description:
In this appraisal of America's woes, conservative TV and talk-radio host Beck (The Real America) lays lighthearted siege to everything that makes the world worse. [P]olitical correctness is the biggest threat this nation faces today, he declares, as it makes us prey for Islamic fundamentalists, renders taboo the roots of our economic troubles (poor people are, in fact, lazy, he argues) and creates rampant distortion in the media. Beck goes paragraph for paragraph with global-warming alarmist Al Gore, merrily slaughtering the sacred cows of the environmentalist crowd.
Of course, I can't critique the book without having read it, but I can lay into a few of those positions.

For one, I am sick and tired...sick and fucking tired of the right-wing global warming skeptics. Tired of them.

Yes, yes, we all know that global warming is Al Gore's pet issue. We all know he's made a lot of money and won a lot of awards making sure that "Al Gore" and "environmentalism" are synonymous. Surely all of that can be divorced from the larger point that mankind has an effect on our environment and we can choose whether it will be a positive effect or a negative effect. We can really nerd out on the specifics, debating all day and night whether the ice caps will melt and sink New York City, but it is pure folly to pretend that human activity (especially industrial activity) has little to no environmental impact.

That claim is not only patently false, but also quite ridiculous. All one needs to do is look at the pre-industrial cultures that obsoleted themselves through careless use of environmental resources. Read Jared Diamond's book Collapse for a few examples.

I'm not sure what Glenn Beck thinks he will accomplish by going "paragraph for paragraph with global-warming alarmist Al Gore, merrily slaughtering the sacred cows of the environmentalist crowd." Does he think ridiculing Al Gore will make our environmental problems go away? Or does he think that we don't have any environmental problems?

This is an important question to answer. It means the difference between Glenn Beck being a fucking idiot, or a mean-spirited hack? (And neither are things one should aspire to be, in my book.)

At any rate, my brother issued me a challenge. Listen to Glenn Beck's radio show for a week and see if I still think he's a right-wing nut job. I'll try, despite my visceral dislike of all things talk radio, and I'll even have an open mind.

But if he starts blasting global warming by sniping on Al Gore, or bitching about Islamic fundamentalists but saying nothing about Christian fundamentalists, or going off on immigration, I'm going to tune out.

In other words, I expect that I'll be tuning out on day one...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Mojo

Tool at the Pepsi Center

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last night, I went to the Tool concert at the Pepsi Center. I had floor seats and managed to get pretty close, but when I lost my buddy Brian in the mosh pit, I got the hell out of there and watched the show from a safer distance.

I had a great view of the drum kit and got to watch Danny Carey pound through the set in its entirety. Last time I saw them, he was obscured by a pillar. I was also close enough to see Justin Chancellor's intricate finger-work on his bass and, as one listen to any Tool song will confirm, the man is a master.

They played for two hours, giving the ten minute treatment to each song, trying to hypnotize the audience with a UFO laser lightshow, abstract imagery on the screens, and delicious polyrhythms. And for the most part, it worked, especially for the stoners I'm assuming.

The omnipresent aroma of weed smoke made me wish I had brought my own. I could have smoked a joint on the Pepsi Center floor, where the Nuggets play and the Avalanche skate... But I didn't. Instead I just inhaled deeply and enjoyed the show.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bill Brasky

Big Daddy posted a Bill Brasky skit from SNL that I had never seen. I love those Brasky skits.

Here's another one with Alec Baldwin:

"He once breast fed an injured flamingo back to health."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Couple Facts

22.2% of the people in my neighborhood live below the poverty line.

It's 49.9% Hispanic/Latino, 15% black.

55.9% are under the age of 29.

My zip code is the poorest in the surrounding zip codes, but also the second most populous.

Check out your neighborhood's stats here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Today's Blues Moment

Courtesy of the legendary Skip James. And I mean he really was legendary.I'd rather be the devil than be that woman's man...

Press Release About My Schedule

The new guy got fired today. Actually, he was still a contractor still so it was more like he just didn't get hired. It's been coming on for a while now. He aggravated the shit out of me before I went on nights, but then I didn't see him (or anyone else for that matter) until last week. He was on thin ice to begin with, but then he lied to the boss...

At any rate, here I am, not even a week and a half into my new schedule, and my schedule's changing again. Instead of working 10-6, I'll work 7 to 5, and instead of Sun-Thurs, I'll be working F-M. Yes...Friday through Monday. Through the weekend.

That hurts. But only slightly.

There are a few pros:

* It's day shift. Definitely a bonus in the social category.
* I get all the holidays off this year, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. It has literally been years since that was the case.
* Four ten hour days, which means one less day of commuting, one day less gas, one day less aggravation.
* A three day "weekend" every week.
* More opportunities for overtime.

It turns out there is a bright side to vagaries of shift work.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Son House Blues

So the great long-hair experiment is over. I went and got a haircut yesterday, one of those severe military style ones. I'd put up a picture if I had one, but instead how bout some more old-school blues?

A Press Release About My Alarm Clock

For the last couple of years (years?) I have woken up with this song, Nina Simone's Feeling Good. It's a fitting wake-up call, with lines like, "It's a new dawn, it's a new day."

The CD also has a few great jazz songs on it, so when I get up and just let it play, I find myself coming back into my room after a shower with the soothing sounds of Count Basie playing One O'Clock Jump or Duke Ellington playing Rhapsody in Blue. Day after day of listening to these songs I have an intimate familiarity with each note and rhythm and what's more, I don't love them any less.

Yesterday I retired my old jazz wake-up CD in favor of a kind of dueling bluesman compilation of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters songs.

Today was the first day I woke up to this.

"When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'"
-Sam Phillips

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In Your Face Henderson!

It was a hellish week, not only because I'm still making the transition to daywalker status, but because of some crazy work stuff. Suffice it to say...Garth Brooks fucked us.

(Not really...but that just sounds funny.)

As far as blogs go, I've been really digging Balloon Juice lately. (Last one on my blogroll over there on the right.) I never really read it, but I found some links to it one day and have been back ever since. I find myself reading some of their stuff and thinking to myself, "Well, I guess I don't have to do that post."

And they've been on a roll.

Here's Tim F. taking on the global warming skeptics and asking:

Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

It seems to me that the sad saga of warming denial illustrates a major weakness of conservative monementarianism. Climate science isn’t really partisan in any meaningful way, yet as long as the movementarians think that attacking the science will score a vctory against liberalism they will go on attacking just the same. All the petro lobby needed to do was polarize a scientific matter along political lines and the rightwing movement willingly became what amounts to the private army for a cause almost completely tangential to their individual interests.
That bold part is mine. That's a point I've been thinking about on and off ever since Al Gore won the Nobel Prize.

What's with the contempt for all things environmental? I can understand the petro lobby angle, but Tim is right about the spontaneous army of dittoheads. That phenomenon I don't understand, the blind unthinking loyalty.

I see that in the torture debate too. People who would condemn torture if it was done by Saddam Hussein or the Viet Cong defend torture by the United States government with pathetic legalisms and definition changing. Enhanced interrogation? What the fuck?

John Cole has more outrage, the full context of which can be read here.
Let me say that again. Bush’s administration has tortured men who were factually innocent.

Not men who got off on technicalities. Factually Innocent.

Your hypothetical demands that the government be CERTAIN of the following things:

This man is who we think he is.

This man knows what we think he knows.

No non-torture technique will work.

Patterico, you work with the government. You know for a fact that it gets things wrong all the time. Even when we go through the huge and complicated process of a trial, it gets things wrong. And we aren’t talking anything like a trial here. In reality, we are talking about torturing suspects. That is not a power to be given to the government.
That's what I said!

On a completely unrelated topic, Michael D. takes a few swipes at smokers, but ultimately defends us:
Another day, another smoking ban. Let’s play a game: Which of these is a public place? Restaurant, Shopping Mall, Grocery Store, Dance Club, My House, Your House, Ice Cream Store, Bowling Alley, Law office, Bus Station…

If you answered “none of the above” you’re right! Each is a private establishment. So what, specifically, gives the government the right to ban smoking on this privately-owned property?
Fucking voters, that's who.

Fucking voters, man...

Anyway, my point is Ballon Juice is a good inside-blog blog.

And speaking of inside blog stuff, check out this stuff from the Cat, Justa:
The war for oil is a war for the beast,
The war on terror is a war on peace
Alright, dude, we got the lyrics. Where's the song?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Remember, Remember the 11th of September

There is one reason I won't be supporting Rudy Giuliani's run for the presidency, and it's not even a good one.

It can be summed up in three words:

September the 11th.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oh Lord, Save Us From Your Followers

It's well known that I'm somewhat hostile to religion, especially the Christian religion, which bears the brunt of my hostility since it is, after all, the religion that I lost.

That's why I find this story quite amusing. (Old link...the prayer service already happened.)

As an atheist, I don't find much merit in the power of prayer, but I do believe (and studies have shown) that it does have a psychological effect on the person doing the praying. So it can't be discounted outright. As a meditative state, it works. But beyond that? Well, I'm still in need of further convincing.

I don't, for instance, believe that muttering a prayer takes your words and thoughts up to God. Nor do I think you can ask for things, not even to bless this food or to keep Johnny safe in the war...especially not to bring rain.

Besides, petitioning the sky god for rain? Hasn't civilization moved a little beyond that?

It's disturbing enough that the governor has no qualms about injecting a little church into the state, but it's even more disturbing that the governor presumably thinks this might work, even just a little bit. One has to assume the governor and some of his fellow prayers (prayers?) are being genuine, that they aren't participating in a publicity stunt, that if they just pray hard enough, it just might rain and Georgia's drought problems will be solved.

And this is the governor!

There are a lot of things a governor can do for his drought-stricken state, and praying shouldn't even be on the fucking list, man. Has the man never heard of conservation? Water fucking management? Maybe he should tour Colorado and see how we deal with our droughts.

We deal with it. We don't pray on the capitol steps that Jesus deals with it. That dude's got bigger problems anyway, and trust me on this, he's got nothing to do with Georgia's drought.

So Governor Sonny Perdue thinks that his psychologically comforting but pointless act will help bring rain, that's great. I have a psychologically comforting but pointless act of my own that might help.

This bong hit is for the rain. And this bong hit is for you, Sonny. May God bless your food and all the rest of that junk.

Dust My Broom

For the past couple of weeks, I've been on a massive blues kick, personified by Chester "Howlin' Wolf" Burnett. This man is a god.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Random Friday Ten - Delta Blues Edition

In honor of my birthday, the end of my work week, and the fact that it's Friday...

The Random Friday Ten, taken from my "Recently Added" folder:

1) Horrorscope - Overkill
2) Can't Get Enough - Bad Company
3) You Need Love - Muddy Waters
4) Kentucky - Hermano
5) Opus One - Gene Krupa
6) Down Home Rag - Chick Webb and His Orchestra
7) Forty Four - Howlin' Wolf
8) Polly - Nirvana
9) Hard Time Killing Floor Blues - Skip James
10) Forty Days and Forty Nights - Muddy Waters

As you can see, I'm on a Delta blues kick...

Happy Birthday...to ME!

My name is James. Today's my birthday. Today, I'm 31 years old.

And in a little over three hours, I'm done with this non-stop working thing...for a couple days at least. Which is good...cuz I'm beat.

More Deadwood

Can you let me go to hell the way I want to?
-Wild Bill Hickock

More From Swearengen

Here's my counter-offer to your counter-offer. Go fuck yourself.
Now that's what I call negotiation!

Great Moments in Great TV

From Deadwood:
Jane Cannery: You think I'm scared of you?
Al Swearengan: Sure you are. If I take a knife to ya, you'll be scared worse and a long time dying.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Lift With Caution 8-Ball

Predicts another wave of Mexican immigrants heading northward in the very near future. It's gonna happen.

Live poor and legal? Or (relatively) rich and illegal?

What would you pick?



Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?

-Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Transgress them at once!!!

Blaze of Glory

My stint on the night shift mercifully ends tomorrow night. When it's all said and done, I'll have been working 10 hours a day for 11 days straight, a 110 hour work week that took two weeks to complete.

That's a lot of overtime, but not much James time. No, don't feel sorry for me. You do what you have to do, and if my Dad passed away and I had to go to Belgium for the funeral, I would hope someone would work my shift too without too much complaint.

At any rate, I learned a few lessons on this stretch, the most important being that I need to change the message on my cellphone. Rather than the standard "You have reached 303-XXX-XXXX..." recording I will need to customize it to say something like this:
Hey, what's up, it's James. I'm working the night shift again, so if you get this message, just know I'm not screening my calls, nor am I ignoring you. I'm probably sleeping. Not only that, but I probably won't be returning your call any time soon...Unless of course, you want me to call you when you're sleeping. E-mail might be better. Thanks. BEEP.
You know, just so I can avoid all the "How come you never answer your phone?" questions.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Who Said It?

Who said the following?
“You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time."
I'll give you a hint.

The Commander in Chief, the Decider, yep, the Great War President himself.

Illegal Immigration

So my gentle readers...here's an honest question.

What are your views on the illegal immigration issue? How important is it to you? What do you think should be done in the near-term? The long-term?

You know where I stand. I guess I'm just trying to figure out if I'm the weird one...

I think I might be.

What A Wonderful World

This is a small point, but I can't stand any punk, or post-punk, cover versions of Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World.

They all suck.

More Info Please

There's something missing from this story...

I want to know what this guy was trying to be with his blackface, dreadlocks, and prison uniform. It would be nice to see the pictures as well.

When I first heard that description, the first thing that popped into my head was Pacman Jones.

But with the full story incomplete (not to mention getting the Orwellian Ministry of Truth treatment with the deletion of the picture), I'm not sure if this is an example of racism or something else.

A failed attempt at politically incorrect humor perhaps?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose

When I heard MSNBC was in talks to give Rosie a new show, I didn't believe it. I was under the impression that MSNBC wouldn't let anyone (okay...any woman) on the air unless they've won at least one beauty contest...

I'm not saying it's right. I just thought that's how it was.

Amy Robach, Contessa Brewer, Erin Burnett...and Rosie O'Donnell? One of these things is not like the other.

Maybe they're straying from being the Massively Sexy News Babe Channel.

Boycotting Beowulf

All hail to Robert Zemeckis. The guy has made some interesting films over the years and almost always pushes the technical envelope. From the Back to the Future films to Who Framed Roger Rabbit to Forrest Gump and What Lies Beneath, he's a wizard.

But...I won't be seeing his new film anytime soon, even though I have a soft spot for the source material and huge respect for Zemeckis.

Here's why:

So much effort was put into making Angelina Jolie's character (Grendel's mother) look like Angelina (strange, because Grendel's mother is supposed to be a beast).

Anthony Hopkins's Hrothgar looks like Anthony Hopkins. John Malkovich's character looks like John Malkovich.

But Beowulf, played by the great Ray Winstone, looks NOTHING like Ray Winstone!

This is a somewhat unflattering picture of Ray Winstone:
And this is Beowulf.
See the resemblance? Me either...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Birds of a Feather

I don't know about you, but it warms my heart that President Bush and crew are such good buddies with this dude...

What a mess of nuclear proportions.

Obviously the solution to this problem is to bomb Iran...


Hypothetical Question of the Day:

If President Bush suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Supreme Court, and started locking up the opposition, what would you do? Would you go to work today like nothing happened? Or would you take to the streets with a pitchfork in one hand and a torch in the other?

Also...this paragraph from this story is somewhat disturbing:
While President Musharraf said the suspension of the constitution was made necessary by the growing threat of terrorism and out-of-control judicial activism, opponents said Musharraf was trying to avoid a Supreme Court decision expected in the coming days that could have ruled that he was not eligible for another presidential term.
Terrorism and judicial activism?

Woah...Musharraf sounds almost like a Republican there, doesn't he?

Lost in Wiki-Land

I'm watching Mary Shelley's Frankenstein on HDNet right now. The height of Kenneth Branaugh's egotism, I'd say, with him playing the main part, directing the picture, and spending most of his time without his shirt.

Consulting the wiki, I learn this of the Mary Shelley novel:
During the snowy summer of 1816, the "Year Without A Summer," the world was locked in a long cold volcanic winter caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. In this terrible year, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, age 19, and her lover (and later husband) Percy Bysshe Shelley, visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The weather was consistently too cold and dreary that summer to enjoy the outdoor vacation activities they had planned, so the group retired indoors. After reading Fantasmagoriana, an anthology of German ghost stories, Byron challenged the Shelleys and his personal physician John William Polidori to each compose a story of their own, the contest being won by whoever wrote the scariest tale.
All very interesting stuff, especially for a book nerd/writer like myself. But wait, what's this about a Year Without a Summer?
As a consequence of the series of volcanic eruptions, crops in the above cited areas had been poor for several years; the final blow came in 1815 with the eruption of Tambora. In America, many historians cite the "Year Without a Summer" as a primary motivation for the western movement and rapid settlement of what is now western and central New York and the American Midwest. Many New Englanders were wiped out by the year, and tens of thousands struck out for the richer soil and better growing conditions of the Upper Midwest (then the Northwest Territory).
Fascinating. The same volcanic winter that kept the Shelley's inside also inspired America's westward expansion!

But there's more.
High levels of ash in the atmosphere led to unusually spectacular sunsets during this period, a feature celebrated in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner. It has been theorised that it was this that gave rise to the yellow tinge that is predominant in his paintings such as Chichester Canal circa 1828.
Following the link to Krakatoa's page, it seems that Turner wasn't the only artist who witnessed strange colors in the sky and committed them to canvas. Edward Munch's Scream may also have been recording a Krakatoa reddened sky:
I was walking along a path with two friends—the sun was setting—suddenly the sky turned blood red—I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence—there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city—my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety—and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.
And that, my friends, is why I love Wikipedia.

You can start off with Frankenstein, get to volcanoes and environmental cataclysms, then end up at the Scream, and as disparate as those subjects are, they are nonetheless linked (via relevancy and hyperlinks).

Cheated Out of My Extra Hour

Last night was unbearable. The end of Daylight Savings time is usually celebrated as the time when you get an extra hour of sleep. That's generally true, unless you work the night shift.

At 2:00 AM, I watched the clocks revert back one hour to 1:00 AM. It was quite painful.

And to top it all off, I didn't set my alarm clock an hour back so I didn't get my promised extra hour of sleep anyway.

The horror!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Great Lines From Bad Movies

I wrote that song for you. I'm gonna sing it at your funeral.

- The Punisher



* In Time, by Mark Collie

Just a Few Thoughts

I clicked on this story because the headline said Don't blame nursing for saggy breasts and well...I wanted to know who to blame. Now I know.

On a semi-related subject, maybe I'll have to watch Tyra Banks's show. Her subject: The vajayjay. (PS...I don't really get that word. Oh, I get the "va" party, but the "jayjay?" It's spelled with a G, dude. Why not call it a vaginny? One less syllable and it makes much more sense.)

Here's something you don't see everyday. A bank president so consumed by guilt for his many frauds that he does the honorable thing and kills himself. (I'm being facetious here. 9 times out of 10, suicide is the coward's way out.)

About ten years ago, I was all about Posh Spice. She was my favorite. But now...I'm down with Sporty. According to these myopic eyes, she's the only one who has gotten hotter over the years. The others started with varying degrees of hotness and they've leveled off. But Sporty...it's been all uphill with her!

Speaking of uphill, you got Dog the Bounty pulling an Imus. You know, my Mom likes (liked?) Dog and so do a lot of other people I know. I never had much use for him myself. He's always reminded me of the white trash that stumbles out of biker bars at closing time. I don't have anything against mullets, leather pants, or white people thinking they're an Indian because their grandma was 1/64th Apache or whatever.

But I do think it's hilarious that he's claiming he's not racist when he says something like this, "I'm not going to ruin my career because some nigger heard me say nigger." * Hey, you know what they say about character...character is what you do when no one's looking. So when the camera's are on, Dog's a decent guy. When no one's looking though...

You know what I'm sick of hearing about? The writer's strike. I don't care about the issues or what it means for the entertainment industry. Just hearing about it makes me wonder why writers even need a union. Come to think about it, why do highly paid sports celebrities need one either? A-Rod tells the Yankees he won't play for anything less than $350 million and that motherfucker needs a union? Please.

I'm all for organized labor, but do ballplayers and screenwriters even qualify as "labor?" They're highly-skilled, highly profitable endeavors that amateurs do for fun in their spare time! The market isn't going to use and abuse them like they would wicket-makers or grocery baggers. Unions are good at collective bargaining, and sports heroes and writers would do just as well negotiating on their own. That's my take on it.

Poor Don Vito. If you haven't read his sad tale, it's here.


*(Note to PC police: I thought about putting asterisks in the word to make it less offensive, but...fuck it. Putting pasties on those nipples doesn't make em any less naked.)*




*I sure have been thinking in footnotes a lot lately...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Another Reason I Can't Stand Britney

Let this be a reminder to the ladies...

You can spend $16,000 on clothes per month and STILL look like shit.

Plus $102K per month on entertainment expenses? Jesus fucking Christ...

Everyone I know manages to entertain themselves on much, much less. They've got, you know, bills to pay.

Oh I suppose I should give her a pass because she earned it. Yeah, by being a little jailbait skank. (You don't seriously think it was her music, do you?)

That's what I call "earning it."

At any rate, I'm not celebrating greed or conspicuous consumption anymore...in fact, I'm denigrating it quite happily these days, so I raise a big middle finger to Britney and her loose ways (and yes, I'm talking about her pocketbook this time).

May the bitch go broke.