Friday, July 30, 2004

See, this is what I deal with ...

This was posted in the elevator today at work:

Now you can be certain that if I were to complain that perhaps this type of thing doesn't belong in the elevator of a government building, I'd be demonized and presumed to be the anti-christ. But I'd also bet 50 bucks that there would be a great hue and cry if someone were to post a flier for an atheist potluck. I should try to get Matt Ryan to put one up just to see what would happen.

Update: I just saw this article in the St Petersburg Times about several members of the Tampa, FL, city council walking out when an atheist was invited to deliver the invocation at a meeting. "I just can't sit here and listen to someone that does not believe in a supreme being," one of the council members said. But of course there's no problem making atheists sit and listen to people who do believe in a supreme being.

That reminds me of something that happened shortly after I started working here (which was shortly after I moved to NC). There was a big meeting of my entire division, and before it started the director asked everyone to bow their heads in prayer. All heads obediently bowed, except for mine because I was too busy looking around me, wide-eyed and with my jaw on the floor thinking "What the %$#^%...? I'm at work and they want me to pray?" It still pisses me off every time it happens, but it no longer surprises me. I suppose if I didn't mind being completely shunned all day every day I could file a lawsuit or something, but it's easier just to bow my head and try to remember the lyrics to The Birthday Party's "Big Jesus Trash Can."

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Important Matt Ryan update ...

Matt Ryan just gave me some Wheat Thins.

Sorry, I'm really busy today and that's probably all you're going to get. Thanks for stopping by, though.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Long-ass post about music stuff ...

I haven't mentioned yet what a slow-ass annoying piece of shit the new redesigned is. I just thought of that right now because I'm thinking about music ...

I've mentioned before that one of the fun things about the whole dj thing is getting to review new music that comes in to the station. Actually the fun part is listening to new music ... writing the reviews=not so much fun. Somebody, and I should probably know who but I can't remember, once said "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." I think I'd have a much easier time trying to dance about architecture.

Anyway, I've got a pretty cool cd right now (and I'm a loser for not having reviewed it and turned it in already--I've had it almost 2 weeks): As If By Ghosts  by Dreamend. I'm a little surprised I like it because it's sort of meandering and shoegazy, which isn't my usual cup of tea, but like it I do and I'm going to recommend it for playlist. But I actually didn't come here to talk about the music so much as the cd packaging. Each cd (they only put out 3,000 of them) has a unique old photograph glued into its chipboard cover. Here's what the WXDU copy looks like:

In addition, inside the cover reside a negative of another old photograph and a page from an antique book. My book page appears to be from something called "Antiquities of the Jews" (pages 85 and 86). I scanned the negative, and here's what I got:

It seems a shame to put such packaging into the grubby hands of my fellow djs because it's just going to get trashed by the constant handling (not to mention maybe stolen). Oh well, that's the nature of such ephemeral art--it had its moment of pristine brilliance and now it must inevitably fade with use.

OK, enough philosophizing. Another cd I'm happy about hearing is Wild Like Children  by Tilly and The Wall (more tunes, photos and video at the Team Love site) who are, at the moment I'm writing this, in the "Artist Spotlight" at the oh-so-crappy-now What brought them to my attention was a mention in someone's mp3 blog (sorry I don't remember or I'd give credit) that pointed out they have a tap dancer instead of a drummer. So I had to check them out expecting to think "oh how cute" before moving on, but then I really liked what I heard.

So here's an argument for giving some of your music away free on the internet, at least if you're an indie-type band: We hadn't received their cd at WXDU (unless we did but it had gotten lost in the shuffle of the huge mounds of cds that arrive there every week, which can happen). But because the label posted the tracks online (at 128 kbps--not quite cd-quality) for me to hear and like, our music director contacted them to get the cd, which is now on its way toward the WXDU playlist. So now people will hear it (assuming other djs besides me actually like it enough to play it), it will get reported to CMJ, and we will all live happily ever after.

And while I'm on the music thing I gotta give a plug for the "Madman With A Flute," Steve Lieberman. His self-released cd Liquidatia-455 is on playlist at WXDU (#35 last week). You can listen to some of it here. Crazy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Oh by the way ...

Sam emailed me an "oh by the way" pointing out that Linda Ronstadt and Michael Moore may be singing together at the Aladdin Casino when it changes hands in the fall. I still say unionize it. And even though my little scheme to make a Google bomb didn't amount to much, this site is now the second one to appear when you google "unionize Aladdin Casino." Oops, I mean "Aladdin Casino."

Speaking of Matt Ryan ...

He sent me this very interesting diversion:
Find the 5 differences in these 2 photos
You may have to look closely. Surprisingly, it helps if your computer has a sound card ...

Monday, July 26, 2004

All about Matt Ryan ....

A co-worker is offended that I've never mentioned him here. So now I have.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Pulp fingers ...

So a few weeks ago I gave a guy named Nick a Gmail invitation in exchange for a photo of his fingers acting out a scene from a movie of my choice. I chose the overdose scene from Pulp Fiction, hence was born an art form:

Nick plans to pursue this art form further, and has set up fingerciné to display the results. I can't wait! Drop by and encourage him.

Great gravy ....

William Shatner covers Pulp's "Common People" (with co-perpetrator Joe Jackson). Apparently we can expect even more from Shatner in the fall, at the suggested retail price of $18.98. I think I've heard enough, thanks. A little bit of that kind of thing goes a long way.

What's goin' on ...

G-mail sucks today. I was able to access it very briefly this morning and then all I've been able to get for a while is a "server temporarily unavailable" message.

In the short time I was able to get to it, I did find a message from Sam, who has kindly joined my Aladdin Casino Google-bomb conspiracy. Thanks, Sam! A few more people and we may have ourselves a Google-firecracker.

In other conspiracies, I had the idea of organizing a free public showing of Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. The fact that I have no projector and no place to show it was overcome with the help of a few co-conspirators, so now we've got ourselves a movie showing scheduled Friday, July 30 at 8:30 pm at the Durham Arts Initiative (formerly Mr. Shoe, in fact it still says so on the front of the building), 122 W. Main St. in downtown Durham. If you're local please come on by ... you may want to bring a chair--those are in short supply at the DAI--and any refreshments you may want to consume.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Unionize the Aladdin Casino!

Before I start I just have to say: Unionize the Aladdin Casino!! (Here's a good article from the NY Times how unions have elevated the Vegas working class.)

The reason I bring this up is of course the Linda Ronstadt incident: the Aladdin Casino gave Ronstadt the bum's rush after she dedicated a song to Michael Moore, who promptly wrote an open letter to the casino defending Ronstadt on First Amendment grounds.

This is yet another example of the big chill on speech here in the US, and it's worse than if it were a government crackdown. It's like there's this creeping lynch-mob mentality among the über-patriotic, who are ready to draw and quarter the next transgressor against patriotically-correct speech. The lynch mob is really a minority, but they are emboldened by things like the Patriot Act and the readiness by those in power to dismiss our rights in the name of "security."(Don't forget, Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly for the Patriot Act).

But although I agree that the actions of Aladdin boss Bill Timmons are a crime against freedom of expression, I have to quibble a little with using a First Amendment argument in this case because it's a legal argument that actually has little legal merit (and besides, there are better ways to send a message to the casino). The Aladdin is a private business, and the state, always looking out for business interests, gives Aladdin management have a lot of freedom to boot whomever they want from their casino and decide who they want to hire and/or fire to entertain their customers. Plus there's court precedent limiting free-speech rights on private property (there is still room for argument there of course, the problem is that it takes lots of expensive lawyers to do the arguing ...)

People can write letters of complaint like xnerg did (Thanks to Andrew for that link), or even better, go picket the Aladdin or something. What would be really cool, however, is if everyone turned their rage against the Aladdin into massive support for the drive to unionize the Aladdin Casino. That actually would make a difference.

And just for fun, I'd love to make a Google bomb out of this link: Aladdin Casino. I think it would be hilarious to have people type the casino's name into Google and have it return the page of the union trying to organize their workers. Of course, I'm no Anil Dash so I'm trying not to be overly confident here, but it would be really cool if people would replicate this link on their sites and encourage others to do the same: Aladdin Casino. Aww, c'mon, why not?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Liberal schmiberal ...

An article in yesterday's Washington Post points out what everyone I know who call themselves "lefties" are glossing over in their enthusiasm to get Kerry elected: when examined in a historical context, John Kerry is pretty damn conservative. (Get a login at bugmenot.) In comparison with contemporary legislators his record makes him appear liberal, but considering the rightward move of the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton, that still puts him to the right of former Democratic candidates like Walter Mondale. The article notes that:
in his Senate career the nominee has voted for major deficit-reduction measures sponsored by avowed conservatives. He also voted for landmark 1996 legislation that imposed time limits and work requirements on welfare recipients, legislation that prompted outraged opposition from many liberals. His presidential campaign platform includes tax increases for the rich, tax cuts and credits for middle-class earners, and an increase in the size of the armed forces.

But what passes for the left in this country will campaign for him and vote for him nonetheless, clinging desperately to their faith that the system isn't really rotten and that voting gives thenm power. And then if he wins they will spend the next four years keeping quiet as he bombs countries and/or kills children with sanctions just like Bill Clinton did.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Rich people get everything just handed to them ...

So I've just been informed that Duke University is going to hand out ipods to all incoming freshmen next year (scroll down to last paragraph).
UPDATE: Here's Dukes own article on the ipods.

Did I mention I I hate Windows, too?

I'm still in a crappy mood ...

OK, so my Windows piece of crap machine here at work keeps going to black when inactive--not the slideshow screensaver I have it set up to use--and then when I try to wake it up it takes about 5 minutes to wake back up (before today it took less than a second). One of the IT guys was on my machine at some point--I know because the user name was set to his when I went to log in this morning. So I can only speculate that he &%#@*&-up my machine. I'd yell at him but he's a nice guy, so I'm going to ask him nicely what the hell he did and can he please undo it.

I hate computers.

I hate my Macintosh ...

I've been using Macs since 1990, when I bought a used Mac Plus. I've always liked the Mac platform and have nothing but contempt for the Windows (I have to use it all day every day at work, alas). But I recently (finally) upgraded from OS 9.2 to OSX 10.3, and now I hate my Mac. Sure, David Pogue Goes on and on about how stable OSX is (like Mt. Everest!), how freeze-ups are exceedingly rare and how the way it allocates memory means that one app can't take down the whole system anymore. That's shit. Over the last two days I've had about 10 fatal freezes--in which I couldn't even move the curser and had to resort to a forced reboot--all using OSX's own built-in apps: Safari, iTunes and iCal.

I'm willing to admit that it could be the fault of the third-party wireless home network hardware/software I'm using, the only third-party app that's been running every single time I've had a freeze-up. Before I was using it none of the apps I used--iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iCal--ever froze (I don't know about Safari--before I had the wireless network crap I couldn't connect to the internet because our networking hardware didn't support OSX. I had to boot from my 9.2 partition to access the internet.) It's pretty common for companies to produce shitty Mac versions of their software because they don't really give a crap about the users who make up such a small part of their market. But if OSX were really as stable as Mt. Everest, then why in the hell should a dumb little wireless network adaptor wreak such havoc?

So now I guess I just can't have internet at home--I can't go back to the 9.2 solution because I don't think the new home network hardware supports it. Besides, switching between partitions was as inconvenient and tiresome as having my computer freeze up every 10 minutes. Besides, everythin in OSX is pretty much designed with the idea that one will have a constant internet connection. It's almost pointless to use it without one. Anyway, having a Macintosh has become a pain in the ass. I hate Windows, but I may just have to switch so I can use my computer and connect to the internet at the same time.

Oh yeah, and the OSX interface is designed for 2nd graders: hideous, annoying and cartoonish with its stupid dancing icons, "genie" effects and shiny plastic look. I know I can turn that shit off (except for the shiny plastic look--I'm stuck with that), but why should I have to? Why can't all the morons who want it have to go to the trouble to turn it on?

Yes, I'm in a crappy mood.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

I've not really liked Elton John since I was in sixth grade or so, but he speaks truth. Except it's not just musicians who are afraid to say anything these days ...

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Why is Seymour Hersh holding out on us?

So according to a short article in the Independent (UK), Seymour Hersh has more revelations about the horrors of Abu Ghraib:
He said: "The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war."

Hersh said he's "not done reporting on all this." What the hell is he waiting for?

Update: I just read Empire Notes' post from yesterday on this same topic.

But even better is Empire Notes' post today on Kerry apparently trying to out-warmonger Bush:
I don't think Kerry is actually more of a warmonger than Bush, nor that he's more gung-ho about the occupation. It's just that there's virtually nothing to choose between the two.

It's nice to read someone who doesn't let the repugnance of the Bush regime steer him into the giddy fantasy that electing a Democrat will actually change things.

Silly waste of time ...

In a complete waste of my time, I took Slate's Red or Blue; Which Are You? survey, which claims I'm right in the middle. I find this hilarious, because I'm really very red--of course I use the word "red" differently than the Slate survey does ...

But I do live in a "red" (as in republican not communist) state. (Warning: The following will likely skew your test results if you haven't taken it yet.) The survey bases its assumptions on whether people know certain things ... which supposedly determines whether their "background noise" is "blue" or "red." For example, knowing that Indiana University is not part of the Big 12 makes you more red than blue. Well, even though I got a graduate degree from a school I'm pretty sure is part of the Big 12 (Wisconsin), I don't give a rats ass about the Big 12 because I never cared all that much about college sports. On the other hand, there are certain things I can't avoid knowing that up my red score, like that a bumper sticker or tattoo of a winged No. 3 represents dead NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt. I live in North Carolina, for crying in a bucket--practically every other car has a #3 bumper sticker on it. Likewise with knowing that Toby Keith sang some stupid song and that Sam's Club is a subsidiary of Wal-Mart. And please tell me what American above the age of 10 hasn't been subjected to that crappy Lee Greenwood song enough times to know that he's a singer? And similarly, I lost blue points for not knowing that the LIRR is the railroad connecting Manhattan and Long Island. But if you give me a few minutes to concentrate I bet I could name all the stops on Chicago's Ravenswood Line in order.

I noticed that the quiz didn't ask a single question about religion, which I think plays a big part in determining the color of person's "background noise." Lots of churches around here tell congregants what to do--like whether or not they should go see Fahrenheit 9/11 or let their children read Harry Potter (No! J.K. Rowling was once on the dole so there must certainly be hidden pro-welfare messages in those books!), and of course who they should vote for. (The Unitarians giving the opposite advice from the Baptists, of course).

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Fun with theory: George W. Bush does not exist ....

From yesterday's Metafilter posting comes my good read for today: "Being Nothing: George W. Bush as Presidential Simulacrum" by Carol V. Hamilton, who uses comparisons with Chauncey Gardiner, the main character of Jerzy Kosinski's Being There  to support her hypothesis that George W. Bush is a simulation. Of course, she's not saying that there isn't an actual, physical person named George W. Bush who occupies the position of US President, but that the public persona of Bush has been spun out of very little substance, much the way that the people around Chance the gardener turned him into "Chauncey Gardiner" in Being There:
When Bush stammers publicly about freedom, democracy, and the axis of evil, American media commentators gloss his remarks positively. Reporters and pundits chronically overestimate Bush in much the way Chance's admirers do, discoursing about him as if he actually possessed a political philosophy and an understanding of government policies. They overlook, understate, or make excuses for his slipshod syntax, reliance on clichés, and inability to answer either theoretical or factual questions. They inevitably refer to him as if he were a "real" person with a complex sensibility, rather than a simulacrum entirely composed of sound bites and photo opportunities.

Hamilton also compares W. to the androids in Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (upon which the movie Bladerunner is based):
If coldness, lack of empathy, and a bias in favor of abstraction are characteristic of the android, then George W. Bush is clearly one of them. His political speeches are composed entirely of undefined abstractions like "freedom." While governor of Texas he inevitably approved state executions, never exercising executive clemency. Appeals for mercy were particularly ardent in the case of Karla Faye Tucker, the convicted murderer who had undergone a conversion to Christianity while incarcerated. Bush, who had claimed in a national debate that Jesus was his favorite philosopher (no one asked him to name his second favorite), refused even to meet with Tucker's many advocates. Not only that, but according to no less a stalwart conservative source than bowtied Tucker Carlson, Bush mocked her imagined appeal to him: "'Please,' Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, 'don't kill me'." Like Reagan, Bush seems solipsistic, unable to believe in the existence of other people. He has shown this coldness even to members of his own family. According to The Perfect Wife, Gerhart's biography of the First Lady, Bush was "snarly" upon learning that his daughter Jenna would undergo an emergency appendectomy, "like he was pissed at her."

Hamilton apparently aligns herself with the cultural studies crowd, so she has to cite Baudrillard and toss in obligatory references to simulacra and hermeneutics--but it's easy to step beyond that and enjoy the fun nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Unfortunately I'm old enough to remember ...

... that Jimmy Carter also mispronounced "nuclear".

I just remembered ....

...there's somewhat of a part 2 to the "Taking Mom to the movies ... post from the other week. What reminded me of it was everything I've read lately about the new movie Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism ... but I'll get to that part in a minute.

Anyway, before visiting my Mom in Myrtle Beach for Memorial day, I had the idea to take her to see Fahrenheit 9/11, but it didn't seem to be playing anywhere in MB. I was wrong--I had checked the listings a little too soon, and it actually did open there that weekend. So I suggested we go see it, and she looked at me with slight horror in her eyes and said "You meant the film by that fat guy?" So I said "OK, who have you been listening to? Rush Limbaugh? Who told you to be afraid of this film?" Turns out she's in the clutches of Sean Hannity. Keep in mind that she's is the daughter of a woman who, at age 85 or so, once ranted to me about how all the right-wingers babble about abortion being murder while they are funding death squads in Central America (this was back in the late 80s). So I'm pissed off that "they" have hijacked my mother and I want to get her back.

So now my idea is to buy the "Outfoxed" DVD and show it to my mom. She doesn't have a DVD player, so I'll have to lure her to my house for a weekend and say something like "Hey, we just got this great movie about Fox News ... you like Fox News, don't you? Let's watch it ..."

Friday, July 09, 2004

The joys of goofing off ....

The Onion really is a fine source of news: Nations Liberals Suffer from Outrage Fatigue.

In other news: I got an e-mail out of the blue from an old pal from grad school. That made my day. Hi Lisa!

And in a completely bizarre development, a co-worker had her kids here and we were all kind of goofing off, an I put my kaleidescope (doesn't everyone have toys lying around the office?) up to my camera lens and took some photos. Whoa! What fun! This is Mahogany:

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I stumbled upon today's entry at This Modern World, which links to a video report at a German TV newsmagazine site that children are being held and abused by US forces in Abu Ghraib. as well as "interned" at a camp in Um-Qasr. I watched the video, but I only understood obvious German words like "kinder" and "Abu Ghraib."

There's a post on the topic at that includes a partial translation of the video.

This is and isn't news ... I have seen previous references to the torture of children at Abu Ghraib, some acts of which were apparently shown in some of the images seen only by members of congress and some journalists, but not released to the public. Said Seymour Hersh, who did view all the photos: "You haven't begun to see evil."

And for those of you who think electing democrats will/would have made a big difference: ever notice how mum John Kerry keeps on the topic of the US in Iraq? Wouldn't it just be a little more comforting to vote for someone who at least has the balls to show a little disgust at things that rightfully disgust good people?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I was playing around with some of my photos and I made yet another perfectly pointless gallery: Dogs! Dogs! Dogs!. Check it out if you feel like wasting a few perfectly good minutes.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Not just another day off of work ...

To celebrate the 4th of July, Mark read the Declaration of Independence aloud:

Here you see him looking for the part about black people:

Friday, July 02, 2004

Just playing ....

Went out to lunch yesterday to a place (Cuban restaurant) where they have brown paper and a selection of crayons on each table. This is what happened:

Thursday, July 01, 2004

From the Department of Morbid Thoughts ...

Since starting my blog, I've been wondering this myself: What Happens to Your Online Self When You Die?

Mt friend Geoff explains the Canadian elections ...

Today is Canada Day in, take a guess? That's right, in Canada! According to my friend Geoff, who is an actual Canadian and is therefore qualified to expound upon such topics, Canada Day is a holiday that falls on July 1 because it's midsummer and hence a good time for a holiday. Also, in Canadian news, they had elections yesterday and Geoff has kindly translated the results for Americans, many of whom are accustomed to thinking of elections as a two team sport in which one votes for the team one hates the least:
Yep, no two party system for us... we had four different parties get members elected to parliament and one unaffiliated. No single party got the requisite 155 seats of 308 to form a majority government. Soo... the Liberals will form a minority government and have to cut deals with the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois to get legislation passed. Not the most effecient way to get legislation through but it does give members of the Loyal Opposition a say in the direction of the country.

Loosely speaking:

Liberal = democrat (135 seats)

Conservative = republican (99 seats)

New Democratic Party = super-democrat/socialist (19 seats)

Bloc Quebecois = something for French Canadians to vote for that is none of above and purportedly represents the interests of Quebecers in a parliament dominated by Liberal members from English speaking Ontario (54 seats)

The unaffiliated dude is politically right wing and was unhappy with the recent merger of the two right wing parties to form the "Conservative" party. (1 seat)

Other facts about Canada:
  • There is a popular dish in Canada called poutine, which is cheese fries smothered in gravy.

  • Canadians allegedly eat a lot of doughnuts--three times as many per capita as Americans.

  • Also allegedly: Canada is the world's biggest market for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese packaged dinners.

And if you still haven't learned enough about Canada,here's something else to read.

Note: I was able to assemble all of this information without any help whatsoever from Andrew the Super Nova Scotian.

Blogging the lazy way ...

Thanks to the Onion for bringing me this: I Should Not Be Allowed To Say The Following Things About America. And thanks to Andrew for the link.