December 2004 Archives

Big band legend Artie Shaw dies

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Big band legend Artie Shaw dies: Artie Shaw, the clarinettist and band leader who epitomised the big band era, died yesterday aged 94.

His 1938 recording of the Cole Porter tune Begin the Beguine helped make him one of the most famous and highly-paid musicians in the US at the time.

A self-declared perfectionist, Shaw was married eight times. His wives included Hollywood actresses Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and Evelyn Keyes.

and on a personal note, this was a formative piece of knowledge for my childhood: I was trained to respond to the question, “how many wives did Artie Shaw have” with the correct answer, “eight!”.

Strangely enough, Steven Watson writes me this afternoon:

I am about to see your website, but I was thinking of you this morning because Artie Shaw died.

And the first smart baby trick you did was to say “8” when we asked 'how many wives did artie shaw have

I'm guessing I was younger than in this picture (taken on Baldwin St., outside of Ragnarokr), but possibly not. Hard to tell how old I am behind the flying monster.

Seth, Steve Watson, Colleen Murphy and unknown infants and monsters
Seth, Steve, Colleen and unknown infants and monsters
click for larger version

I haven't yet read Steve's new book, but I will sooner than later.....

“Factory Made : Warhol and the Sixties” (STEVEN WATSON)

Jim Gray, asshole

When back-to-back google searches are similar, but from different IP numbers and time zones, one has to wonder what happened. Is someone researching something? Did the topic of Jim Gray being a racist come up in conversation? Is it Jim Gray's P.R. firm? Is it Ralph Wiley's estate? I'll never really know.

Time of Visit   Dec 31 2004  12:31:37 pm

Visitor's Time   Dec 31 2004  1:31:37 pm EST - Eastern Standard
Search Words:
jim gray is an asshole

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Time of Visit   Dec 31 2004  12:31:27 pm

Visitor's Time   Dec 31 2004  12:31:27 pm CDT - Central Daylight Saving Time
Search Words:
jim gray shaquille

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Oh, oh, oh, I can find plenty of uses for a word as descriptive as pinguid. Mostly in the political arena, but elsewhere too (like in the U.S. media)

pinguid (PING-gwid) adjective

Fat; greasy; unctuous.

[From Latin pinguis (fat).]

"Turner always said that the news had to be the star for CNN to flourish--though he had a curious loyalty to pinguid idolator Larry King." Phil Rosenthal; What the Bleep?; Chicago Sun-Times; Feb 10, 2003.

earthquake and tsunami relief

Update and bump: Amazon has set up an easy path to donate via the Red Cross: Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

several earthquake & tsunami relief donation sites. I personally sent a few dollars via the Medecins Sans Frontieres organization.....
NYT: Donations: Agencies Accepting Aid Dollars:

Following are some of the agencies accepting contributions for aid to people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Asia.

P.O. Box 1856
Merrifield, Va. 22116-8056

247 West 37th Street, Suite 1201
New York, N.Y. 10018
212-967-7800 x108

45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10018

AFSC Crisis Fund
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19102

International Response Fund
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, D.C. 20013


Tsunami Emergency
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090

27 South La Patera Lane
Santa Barbara, Calif. 93117

Earthquake/Tsunami Relief
1919 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 300
Santa Monica, Calif. 90404

South Asia Tsunami Relief
Box 321
847A Second Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10017
212-687-6200 ext. 851

Southeast Asia Earthquake Response
Dept. W
P.O. Box 2669
Portland, Ore. 97208

8320 Melrose Avenue, Suite 200 Los Angles, Calif. 90069

Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund
54 Wilton Road
Westport, Conn. 06880

Southeast Asia Earthquake Emergency
P.O. Box 6098
Burbank, Calif. 91510

Stingy U.S.

Via Cursor, we read a jeremiad, fulminating about Bush's message about the Asian Tsumani, "I don't care"

The Star Tribune unloads on...:
The Star Tribune unloads on stingy U.S. in an editorial calling the Bush administration's handling of the tsunami crisis "inept beyond belief," and saying that President Bush should have immediately pledged $1 billion in relief aid. A New York Times editorial calls $35 million "a miserly drop in the bucket."

From the Star Tribune:
"The United States is not stingy," Secretary of State Colin Powell bristled in response to criticism of a paltry $15 million initial U.S. contribution to tsunami-relief efforts. Bulletin for Powell: That's not the way many Americans and most the rest of the world see it. As the Bush administration is wont to say, actions speak louder than words, and America's actions in recent days have painted the United States as a rich, self-absorbed and uncaring nation that had to be shamed into anything approaching appropriate concern about this catastrophe. The Bush administration's handling of this crisis has been inept beyond belief. There's a broader context here that bears consideration. Two days before Christmas, the media reported that unprecedented U.S. deficits -- caused substantially by the Iraq war, which most of the world hates, and by Bush's tax cuts for wealthy Americans -- had led the Bush administration to cut substantially its previously agreed contributions to world food programs. By going back on its commitments, the Bush administration forced numerous aid agencies to suspend ongoing programs in many impoverished nations -- including, ironically as it would turn out, Indonesia.
...On Monday, the United States announced an initial $5 million in aid, mostly through the Red Cross, to which it said it most likely would add an additional $10 million at some point. Bush still was nowhere to be seen. The criticism began almost immediately, and it did not come only from a U.N. official. Comparisons were drawn, for example, to the additional $80 billion that Bush has requested for the war in Iraq and the $30 million to $40 million that his January inauguration will cost. The criticism had an effect. While responding angrily to accusations of stinginess, the administration on Tuesday added an additional $20 million to the $15 million it had announced on Monday. The appearance was clearly that Washington had been shamed into the larger contribution. Bush was still in Texas with his brush piles and mountain bike. But his absence had been noticed, and numerous reporters in Crawford were pressing Bush aides on why he was invisible in this crisis. Late Tuesday, in response to the questions, it was announced that he would have a public statement Wednesday. Again, the appearance was that he was shamed into it. Contrast Bush's behavior to that of the world on Sept. 11, 2001, when the United States lost 3,000 people to terrorist attacks. The expressions of grief, support and solidarity from world leaders -- including Asian leaders -- were both abundant and public. At every step of the way, however, the official U.S. response to this disaster has been seen as grudging. That's not good, especially at a time when much of the world reviles the United States for its unilateral actions in Iraq that have taken such a horrific toll on civilians. As Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Washington Post, "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care." By its niggling contributions and by Bush's silence, the United States has strongly suggested to the world that it doesn't care all that much.
message: Fuck off world, I've got some brush to clear.

Shadow Internet

This must have been what President Bush was talking about in the debates with Kerry: the internets....

Wired 13.01: The Shadow Internet:
It's a commonly held belief that P2P is about sharing files. It's an appealing, democratic notion: Consumers rip the movies and music they buy and post them online. But that's not quite how it works.

In reality, the number of files on the Net ripped from store-bought CDs, DVDs, and videogames is statistically negligible. People don't share what they buy; they share what is already being shared - the countless descendants of a single "Adam and Eve" file. Even this is probably stolen; pirates have infiltrated the entertainment industry and usually obtain and rip content long before the public ever has a chance to buy it.

The whole shebang - the topsites, the pyramid, and the P2P networks girding it all together - is not about trading or sharing at all. It's a broadcast system. It takes a signal, the new U2 single, say, and broadcasts it around the world. The pirate pyramid is a perfect amplifier. The signal becomes more robust at every descending level, until it gets down to the P2P networks, by which time it can be received by anyone capable of typing "U2" into a search engine.

This should be good news for law enforcement. Lop off the head (the topsites), and the body (the worldwide trade in unlicensed media) falls lifeless to the ground. Sounds easy, but what if you can't find the head? As in any criminal conspiracy, it takes years of undercover work to get inside. An interview subject warned me against even mentioning Anathema in this article: "You do not need some 350-pound hit man with a Glock at your front door."

The upper reaches of the network are a "darknet," hidden behind layers of security. The sites use a "bounce" to hide their IP address, and members can log in only from trusted IP addresses already on file. Most transmissions between sites use heavy-duty encryption. Finally, they continually change the usernames and passwords required to log in. Estimates say this media darknet distributes more than half a million movies every day. It's also, by any reading of the law, a vast criminal enterprise engaged in wholesale copyright infringement.

Quite a lot more here

and if I was "Bruce Forest", I would be unhappy with the amount of detail offered up in the article. For instance, isn't this enough to figure out who he is?

Party On, Garth

Compare and contrast time: $35 million in guaranteed loans to relief efforts in Asia vs. a $40 million dollar inaguaration.

Frank Rich uses this tidbit to describe a moment of 'let them eat armor'....

Frank Rich: New Year War Cry: Party On:

As the soldiers in Iraq soldier on, we party on. Washington's next celebration, a $40 million inauguration, will be most entertaining....

... Such is the disconnect that Washington and the news media react with slack-jawed shock when one of those good soldiers we support so much speaks up at a town hall meeting in Kuwait and asks the secretary of defense why vehicles that take him and his brothers into battle lack proper armor.

Much has been made of this incident, yet it hardly constituted big news. It's no secret to anyone, including Donald Rumsfeld, that the troops have often been undersupplied. Dana Priest of The Washington Post heard soldiers asking the defense secretary "similar questions about their body armor" when traveling with him a year ago. In October, 23 members of an Army Reserve unit disobeyed a direct order to deliver fuel, partly because they decided that the vulnerability of their trucks made the journey tantamount to a suicide mission. As far back as last spring, Stars and Stripes was reporting that desperate troops were using sandbags as makeshift vehicle armor. Even now, reports The Los Angeles Times, National Guard soldiers are saying they have been shipped to war from Fort Bliss with "chronic illnesses, broken guns and trucks with blown transmissions."

When Mr. Rumsfeld told Specialist Thomas Wilson in Kuwait that the only reason the troops lacked armor was "a matter of production and capability," he was lying. The manufacturers that supply the armor were quick to respond that they had been telling the Pentagon for months that they could increase production, in the case of one company (ArmorWorks in Arizona) by as much as 100 percent. But that news was quickly drowned out by cable and talk radio arguments over whether Mr. Wilson should or should not have consulted with an embedded reporter about the phrasing of his question. Soon Mr. Rumsfeld was off to Iraq for a P.R. tour (message: I care) in which he used troops as photo-op accessories and thanked a soldier for asking a softball question "not planted by the media." Washington could go back to worrying about more pressing domestic problems, like how to cook the books so that Social Security can be fixed cost-free.

The truth is that for all the lip service paid to supporting the troops, out of sight is often out of mind. Even the minority that remains gung-ho about the war in Iraq is quick to blame the grunts for anything that goes wrong. Specialist Wilson, Rush Limbaugh said, was guilty of "near insubordination" for his question in Kuwait; the poor defense secretary "was set up," whined The New York Post. The same crowd tells us that a few low-level guards are solely responsible for the criminal abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and in Guantánamo Bay, not any policy-setting higher-ups who may be sitting in that audience at Kennedy Center. President Bush even tried to pass the buck for his premature aircraft carrier victory jig to the troops, telling the press months later that "the 'Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put up by the members of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished." Of course.

Back then, the Pentagon projected that our military occupation of Iraq would end in December 2004. But two days after appearing in the box at the Kennedy Center Opera House, the president donned a snappy muted green "commander in chief" jacket - a casual Friday version of the full "Top Gun" costume he'd worn on the Lincoln - to address marines at Camp Pendleton in California who were going to war, not coming home. (Slate reported this week that "nearly one-quarter of U.S. combat dead in 2004 were stationed in Camp Pendleton.") It was the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and Mr. Bush drew the expected analogy: "Just as we defeated the threats of fascism and imperial communism in the 20th century, we will defeat the threat of global terrorism." But three years into it, can we win a war that most of the country senses has gone astray in Iraq and that the party in power regards as a lower priority than lower taxes?

The ethos could hardly have been more different during the World War II so frequently invoked by Mr. Bush. As David Brinkley recounted in his 1988 history, "Washington Goes to War," the Roosevelt administration's first big push "was a tremendous voluntary program to reduce the deficit, encourage saving, trim spending and thus curb inflation - the sale of war bonds." Though bonds would not in the end pay for the war - that would require the sacrifice of paying taxes - F.D.R. believed that his campaign "would give the public a sense of involvement in a war being fought thousands of miles away, a war so distant many Americans had difficulty at times remembering it was there at all." Gen. George Marshall, the Army's chief of staff, took it on himself to write notes by hand to the family of each man killed in battle until the volume forced the use of Western Union telegrams.

Well, Mr. Rumsfeld has sworn he'll stop delegating condolence letters to his Autopen. But otherwise the contrast between the Washington that won World War II and the Washington fighting a war in Iraq is so striking it can even be found in the cultural lineage of the Kennedy Center show. That show's producer, as it happens, is George Stevens Jr., the son of the great Hollywood filmmaker George Stevens. In his day, the elder Stevens created his own wartime Washington entertainment: a glorious 1943 romantic comedy, "The More the Merrier" (just out on DVD), set in the newly mobilized capital, that, though fiction, is in itself a striking document of the difference between then and now. While it portrays a patriotic Washington as frivolously beset by party animals, bureaucrats and lobbyists as today's, there's an underlying ethos of shared sacrifice, literally down to the living arrangements necessitated by a housing shortage. It might as well be a different civilization.

Washington's next celebration will be the inauguration. Roosevelt decreed that the usual gaiety be set aside at his wartime inaugural in January 1945. There will be no such restraint in the $40 million, four-day extravaganza planned this time, with its top ticket package priced at $250,000. The official theme of the show is "Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service." That's no guarantee that the troops in Iraq will get armor, but Washington will, at least, give home-front military personnel free admission to one of the nine inaugural balls and let them eat cake.

not to mention some actual statistics on American generosity, via Tom Tomorrow

The American aid figure for the current disaster is now $35 million, and we applaud Mr. Bush's turnaround. But $35 million remains a miserly drop in the bucket, and is in keeping with the pitiful amount of the United States budget that we allocate for nonmilitary foreign aid. According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.

Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe.

Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar.

Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble

Proving that the world is one organism, and everything is inter-related
Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The deadly Asian earthquake may have permanently accelerated the Earth's rotation -- shortening days by a fraction of a second -- and caused the planet to wobble on its axis, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

Gmail invites

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Google keeps giving me more invites for a Gmail account. If you don't have one, and you wish to get your very own gig of email space, drop me a line in the comments, and give me a reason to give you one.

I won't accept money, but other less tangible items, like interesting photos, stories, poems, etc. will be considered.


Per demonsurfer's help at Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist forum, I was able to fix the 'human error' that screwed up my installation/upgrade of MT-Blacklist....

MT-Blacklist -> MT-Blacklist v2.03b feedback:
Delete all the MT-Blacklist related files from your server, then log in to your database and remove the tables that start with mt_ext_bl_xxxxx (usually there are seven of them). Next remove all rows in the mt_plugindata table in your database that mention MT-Blacklist. Once those are gone you can then try installing MT-Blacklist from scratch as a fresh installation (and run mt-bl-load.cgi).

....which is a good thing because in the few hours that MT-Blacklist wasn't working, I got about 15 comment spams (in old threads). Bleh.

Dvorak, clueless redux

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Having read of J Dvorak's latest clueless rant via the essential MWJ, we shuddered to think we had to waste time rebutting his stupidity. Someone has to, right? Though 1000 other bloggers had the same impulse.

Luckily, BackupBrain was one, so I'll just link to Dori Smith's analysis...

I thought about doing a detailed rebuttal about John Dvorak's latest turd, Grim Macintosh Market Share Forebodes Crisis, but I couldn't get past the second sentence before I realized that a thorough debunking would take more time than I have. So, herewith, I'll debunk just the first two sentences: The Mac platform is essentially stagnant.

Compared to what? Longhorn, which hasn't shipped yet? Or Windows XP, which came out several years ago?

That becomes obvious when you look at the declining market share numbers—not from research firms, but from the W3C, which monitors online activity.

Ah, he's talking about market share, not the OS itself. Nice to have that cleared up.

But wait? The W3C puts out OS market share numbers? The highly-regarded World Wide Web Consortium, run by Sir Tim Berners Lee?

Nope, Dvorak's talking about an entirely different, unrelated “W3C”—or more accurately, W3 Schools, an online “e-learning portal.” W3 Schools is a online, ad-based reference and tutorial site. And yes, they have some current statistics that cover browser usage, operating systems and screen resolution. But the W3C it ain't.

Oh, and those statistics? They show that the number of Mac users online (or at least visiting the W3 Schools site) has gone from 1.8% in March 2003 to 2.3% in December 2003 to 2.7% in December 2004. But noting that the number is increasing would completely destroy Dvorak's premise, so he doesn't mention it.

I'm shocked, shocked!

And, marketshare is a fairly useless metric anyway: does this alter much other than giving some idea-less pundits grist for their column-mills?

Here is a graph illustrating the operating systems of the last 1000 visitors to B12 Partners...

operating systems of visitors to B12 Partners, Dec 29, 2004

useless info-porn

Musical meme

From TooMuchSexy, we read of a silly iTunes meme (shuffle playlist, post first 10 songs). Since we are fairly bored today, here are our results....

1. The Butterfly Collector

Jam, The Collection

2. Someone Else's Song

Wilco Being There

3. Hadzi-Baxes Vassilis Tsitsanis

Vassilis Tsitsanis 1936-1946

4. Prole Art Threat

Fall, The 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong

5. smoke gets in your eyes

Bryan Ferry Another Time, Another Place

6. The Trees They Do Grow High

Pentangle Light Flight

7. Naked Eye (Totally Nude Mix) Luscious Jackson Naked Eye

8. Navigator

Pogues, The Rum, Sodomy And The Lash

9. Cut You Loose Strehli, Angela Where The Heart Meets The Soul

10. Mama, You Been On My Mind

Dylan, Bob The Bootleg Series


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I was intrigued by Adriaan's script for pulling Last.FM data and placing it in one's sidebar. However, the actual perl module was beyond my feeble abilities.

Since this week is mostly a vacation for B12 Partners & DLA, I'll try to figure out how to get the damn thing to actually run via chron.....

Parenthetical note: when OS X was new, and unknown territory to me, I enthusiastically started to learn Unix. However, now, a few years in, I really have only a very modest set of skills. I haven't continued to devote as much time to figuring out unix, I should re-up my time spent learning.

Comment errors

K writes:

I tried to post my response on your blog, but I got an error:
An error occurred:

Can't locate object method "process" via package "Blacklist::App::Submission" at plugins/Blacklist/ line 104.

Use of uninitialized value in substitution (s///) at plugins/Blacklist/lib/Blacklist/ line 44.

Thought you'd want to know.

hmmm, probably goofed up my upload of MT-Blacklist. Not sure exactly what I'm doing anyway, I haven't found foolproof instructions anywhere. So, if anyone tried commenting, and failed, sorry about that. Please try again. I may have fixed the problem. Or not.

When I try to configure the plugin, I get this message:

An error occurred:

MT-Blacklist has not yet been initialized. Please run mt-bl-load.cgi first..

which cannot run, so am stuck in a loop....

Jerry Orbach RIP


I was wondering why Mr. Orbach left Law and Order....I missed his sardonic wit.

Law and Order star dies of cancer:
Law and Order and Dirty Dancing actor Jerry Orbach dies of prostate cancer at the age of 69.
The 69-year-old, who also starred in Dirty Dancing and Last Exit to Brooklyn, revealed he was battling cancer in early December. He died in Manhattan on Tuesday night after several weeks of treatment.

Orbach had recently left Law and Order after 12 series to work on spin-off Law and Order: Trial by Jury playing the same character, Lennie Briscoe.

... He won a Tony Award for his performance in Promises, Promises and also appeared in Chicago and 42nd Street.

...Orbach also received Emmy nominations for outstanding guest actor for Golden Girls and supporting actor in a miniseries for Broadway Bound in 1997.

He also voiced the animated candlestick Lumiere in the Disney hit Beauty and the Beast. A native of New York's Bronx district, Orbach was married to musical actress Elaine Cancilla.

"Law & Order - The Fourteenth Season (2003-04 Season)" ()

Jeez, we are all so glad that the airline industry was deregulated, right? right? right?

Postal Service Links Delivery Delays to Airlines:
The Postal Service says that a shortage of baggage handlers, computer problems and snowstorms delayed the delivery of thousands of letters and packages.
For thousands of airline passengers, it took days for their bags to be delivered after a shortage of baggage handlers at US Airways, a computer problem at Comair and snowstorms disrupted holiday travel. Now, the Postal Service says the same problems delayed the delivery of thousands of letters and packages.

More than 100,000 pounds of mail, enough to fill at least 22 of its delivery vans, was delayed over the weekend, the post office said yesterday, and it pointed to the airlines as a reason for the holdup. Much of the mail involved, the post office said, was part of its priority service, in which customers pay an additional fee for delivery in two to three days; the delivery, however, is not guaranteed.

Trump Tower Chicago

In re an earlier post, I checked to see what the status of this building was (how's that for a grammatically challenged sentence? If I wasn't on vacation....), and found this (slow-loading) page.

I still like my photo, which captures the green monster in afternoon light.....really just the Chicago River is green with spring rains, or something worse.

My photo of the Sun-Times building, soon to be torn down and replaced with the Trump Tower
(click for larger version)

Bob Dylan: A Work in Progress

I still want to read Chronicles Vol 1: of course, I've read excerpts.

"Chronicles, Vol. 1" (Bob Dylan) - Bob Dylan: A Work in Progress:
Bob Dylan: A Work in Progress

I first heard Bob Dylan in 1961 at Gerde's Folk City on West Fourth Street in Greenwich Village. He was 19 and wore a leather cap, blue jeans and well-worn desert boots. I was not impressed with his voice, and certainly not with his rather rudimentary guitar playing, but the lyrics to his original songs were intriguing.
In our conversations, however, Dylan expressed increasing resistance to being categorized. During a 1964 interview for The New Yorker at a restaurant in the Village, he told me: "I'm not part of no Movement. If I was, I wouldn't be able to do anything else but be in 'the Movement.' I just can't make it with any organization."
Not long before, in the Grand Ballroom of the Americana Hotel in New York, where he was to receive the Tom Paine Award for his civil-rights songs from the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (which took cases the American Civil Liberties Union would not), Dylan had infuriated the audience by at first rejecting the award because, he told me, he felt no connection with these people "with minks and jewels who had been with the left in the '30s." But he was persuaded to come back and make his speech, which riled them further because he asked what they were doing for his friends in Harlem, "some of them junkies, all of them poor."
As the years went on, Dylan's songs became more personal, sometimes rather surrealistic, and he dealt with continuing fame by being more and more reclusive. The fame began to gradually diminish, but he still went on the road trying, as he has said, to be discovered by a new audience. He still plays more than 100 dates a year because "I don't really feel like anybody else is doing what I do." And the recent publication of his singular memoir, "Chronicles Volume One" (Simon and Schuster), underlined the strong and continuing interest in him by both the once young and the new young.
In one of the many reviews, most of them admiring, Timothy Ferris, in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, noted that the work of the "iconic" Mr. Dylan "is scrutinized in at least 120 books and on 1.5 million websites."
The book, written in a conversational and freewheeling style, reveals more of this intellectually curious and quizzically introspective pilgrim than ever before. Although I knew Dylan reasonably well in his Greenwich Village years, I was unaware, for instance, of the range of his reading then (Robert Graves, Balzac, Chekhov, Milton, Dickens, Gogol, et al.)
Nor was I aware of his acute interest in jazz. He knew the music of Charlie Christian, Fats Navarro, Gil Evans and, he writes, "if I needed to wake up real quick," he put on records by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. In jazz clubs, he heard Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor and, one afternoon, he came upon Thelonious Monk, "sitting at the piano all alone." Dylan told Monk he played folk music up the street, and Monk replied, "We all play folk music." (I wonder if Monk knew that Louis Armstrong had said exactly the same thing years before when asked about his music.)
"Chronicles" moves in and out of Dylan's journeys, not always chronologically. The kaleidoscopic nature of the book -- full of precisely evocative imagery and many characters as distinctive as his own -- reminded me of lines from T.S. Eliot's "Burnt Norton": "the end precedes the beginning, and the end and the beginning were always there before the beginning and after the end. And all is always now." Now that I know how adventurous Dylan is in his reading, it's possible he's read Eliot; but in any case, he understands -- and lives in -- the rhythms of "Burnt Norton."
more exerpts

Have a Drink On me

Our puritanical nation, and its weird obsession with health strikes again.... - Health JournalThere is a drug that can lower your risk of heart attack, diabetes, osteoporosis and mental decline by 30% to 60%, but doctors aren't prescribing it.

The reason? It is alcohol.

Increasingly, scientific research supports the idea that drinking a small amount of alcohol each day is better for you than never drinking at all. This isn't true for people with some conditions, but overall, data collected from large observational studies show that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can lower the risk of dying by about 25% in any given year for the average person, compared with those who rarely drink.

The evidence that alcohol is good for you continues to spark debate in the medical community about whether doctors have an obligation to inform patients about the health benefits of drinking. Because excessive alcohol consumption can be harmful -- causing addiction, traffic accidents and potentially fatal medical problems -- most doctors say it is never a good idea to tell a nondrinking patient to start consuming alcohol. Although most people can drink responsibly, it is impossible to know which patient may eventually start to abuse alcohol as a result of moderate daily consumption.

....So while the evidence is strong, it isn't conclusive. As a result, the American Heart Association doesn't recommend drinking alcohol to gain cardiovascular benefit, noting that there are less risky ways to protect your heart.

But the issue poses a significant dilemma for doctors. If a physician is aware of a drug that could have life-saving benefits, he or she has an ethical and legal obligation to inform the patient -- even if the drug carries risks. Shouldn't the same rules apply to alcohol?


Not to mention medicinal marijuana, another good-for-you-for-certain-ailments drug that shall not be named by doctors, because there could be societal repercussions.

Here's a look at the benefits of moderate drinking.


Heart attack
37% lower risk in men who drink five to seven days a week

34% lower risk of developing disease; up to 60% more protection for diabetics at high risk of heart attack

40% to 60% lower risk with one to two drinks a day

42% lower risk with consumption of one to three drinks daily

Women who have six or seven drinks a week have significantly higher bone density than nondrinkers
Source: Southern Medical Journal, July 2004

In a scientific advisory statement issued in 2001, the American Heart Association noted that there were at least 60 studies linking alcohol consumption with lower heart-attack risk. Research also shows that regular and moderate alcohol consumption lowers risk for diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia and stroke.

For instance, in the Nurses Health Study, which follows more than 80,000 women, those with diabetes who drank at least a half-serving of alcohol a day had a 52% lower risk for heart attack than nondrinkers. (A serving is a glass of wine or beer or a shot -- 1 to 1.25 ounces -- of whiskey). A 2,000-patient study showed that people who were moderate drinkers in the year before heart attacks had a 32% lower risk of dying during the four years after the heart attack. A 17-year study in England of more than 5,000 men found that moderate drinkers were 34% less likely to develop diabetes.

Ironically, the Puritans drank rum and whiskey like it was water.

Americans steadily drank more and more whiskey during the early 1800s as supply increased and price tumbled. The annual per capita consumption of distilled spirits in 1830 was five gallons--nearly five times the amount people consume today. Like rum, whiskey was legal tender. People bartered with whiskey, paid their taxes with whiskey, and on some occasions, paid their ministers' salaries with whiskey.

And realistically, because alcohol (and thc) also stimulate the pleasure centers of a user, somehow this means that it cannot be good. Asprin is ok because it doesn't make you high.

Forgive or Forget

William Blake:
"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."

"The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake" (William Blake, William Golding)

UglyRipe Redux


More on the UglyRipe stupidity. Viva Free Trade! I must say that instead of buying tasteless, pale winter tomatoes, I just do without. If I could buy a tomato that was consistently as delicious as the UglyRipe sounds, I would eat many many more tomatoes....

If a shortsighted board of Florida tomato growers has its way, Americans outside of that state will be denied the best-tasting tomato on the market--an heirloom, beefsteak-style tomato similar to the old-fashioned back-yard variety grown nationwide on local farms during the summer.

Because of a 1937 U.S. Department of Agriculture federal marketing order, this group of growers, known as the Florida Tomato Committee, has wide-reaching control over decisions about what produce can be shipped outside of the state. From October to June, most Americans get tomatoes from Florida--so the actions of this committee have a significant impact on the variety and availability of tomatoes in most supermarkets in the U.S.

For three years beginning in 1999, the committee allowed the heirloom variety, known as the UglyRipe because of its concave stem and rigid shoulders, to be shipped outside Florida. When the UglyRipe was available to winter consumers in northern states, Americans voted favorably with their pocketbooks. Despite a higher price (due in large part to special handling considerations because of their tender texture), the tomato became wildly popular and acreage dedicated to the tomato grew from 10 to about 300.

Buoyed by the UglyRipe's success, the growers of this tomato planted nearly 700 acres in 2003. But after last year's crops were in the ground, the Florida Tomato Committee refused to allow the product to be sold outside of the state, resulting in millions of pounds of lost produce. Its excuse? The UglyRipe didn't meet the cosmetic standards of the round, pink, tasteless tomatoes most of us routinely see on store shelves in the winter. Apparently, according to the committee the standards of what a good tomato should be don't include flavor.

So why has the committee pursued a protectionist policy that amounts to restraint of trade through the refusal to grant permission for the growers of the UglyRipe to sell the tomato outside Florida? Perhaps it's because of tradition--that tomatoes from Florida must look perfect irrespective of taste. Perhaps it's because many of the growers on the board don't want to admit that a better seed has been developed. But my money is that the new seed has many growers of the traditional Florida winter variety seeing tomato-red in their cash registers. Growers have “bet the farm” on their picture-perfect round tomatoes by investing in equipment that can easily process the job--picking the fruit just once a week through a mechanical process, and using more machinery to package the goods. The UglyRipe, however, is a much more labor-intensive fruit to produce and package--and that threatens the investment made by the other growers on the committee.

By holding the UglyRipe to a cosmetic standard of a completely different breed of tomato, the committee has found a loophole to protect its members' winter tomato market.

The committee's compliance officer has said of the Florida round tomatoes that the major growers decided this is the kind of tomato they want on the market. Why is a committee in Florida deciding what kind of tomato the rest of America wants? Doesn't it trust people to decide for themselves what they want? Perhaps the committee has the same suspicion I do--if UglyRipes are put on the free market, people will choose the taste of this more difficult-to-produce variety over looks of an easier-to-produce variety.

In fact, Florida is the only state to restrict the free trade of a particular variety of tomato to Americans in other states. Ironically, Floridians enjoy the UglyRipe year-round--because the tomato can be sold within the state during Florida's growing season--and it is carried by grocery stores that get the UglyRipe grown in other states when the weather's too hot to grow it in the Sunshine State.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture should step in and play its trump card over the Florida Tomato Committee. Americans demand tomatoes that are better tasting--not better looking. The UglyRipe is too tasty to become America's forbidden fruit.

-by John R. Block. John R. Block served as U.S. secretary of agriculture under President Ronald Reagan

- Chicago Tribune

Susan Sontag, RIP

Susan Sontag died today.

Susan Sontag, one of America’s most influential intellectuals, internationally renowned for the passionate engagement and breadth of her critical intelligence and her ardent activism in the cause of human rights, died today of leukemia. She was 71.

The author of 17 books translated into 32 languages, she vaulted to public attention and critical acclaim with the 1964 publication of "Notes on Camp," written for Partisan Review and included in "Against Interpretation," her first collection of essays, published two years later.

-Chicago Tribune

of course, they had to bring up the New Yorker article where she wrote,

Then in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Sontag offered a bold and singular perspective in the New Yorker. "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?" She added, "In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): Whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s slaughter, they were not cowards."

Rick James

Nice tribute to Rick James in the Sunday NYT Magazine, includes this:
Rick James, b. 1948: Funk Master:

Despite an aura of heavy-lidded indolence that attached to his long, drug-addled waning from the pop charts, Rick James worked harder than most, toiled at his trade, paid lavish dues: some 16 years' worth by the time of the overnight success of ''Super Freak'' in 1981. James might be called the Pete Rose of funk; deprived of Sly Stone's or Prince's native genius, he scrapped his way to the top. Born in 1948 as James Johnson Jr. in Buffalo, he was the third of eight children raised on the wrong side of that hard-bitten town's tracks by a single mother, a Harlem nightclub dancer turned numbers runner. At 15, James joined the Naval Reserve, then went AWOL on being designated for Vietnam. In exile in Toronto, he formed the Mynah Birds, an integrated rock band that included a young Neil Young, as well as a future member of Steppenwolf. On behalf of the band, James played his one card: papa may have been a rolling stone, but his uncle was a Temptation -- specifically Melvin Franklin, the bass-voiced anchor of the legendary singing group. The Mynah Birds were signed to Motown, but Motown executives, on learning of James's dereliction of duty, insisted he ''face the music'' (literally) before beginning his career. He duly spent time in the brig, and Motown shelved the demo tapes, which remain unreleased. Then came another decade's apprenticeship; writing songs for Motown, more demos, more forgotten bands in Detroit and London and at last, in 1978, more than a decade after his first band, a breakthrough with the single ''You and I,'' from his debut album. Nor did the effort diminish with success: along with his own steady output, James was a tireless impresario who created hits for the Mary Jane Girls, Teena Marie and Eddie Murphy. In collaborations on his own records, James gave a leg up both to his elders, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson, and to some of the rappers who had yet to conquer the world. As much as for his showmanship and his lunacy, James ought to be remembered for his ambition, his fluency, his professionalism. Among his colleagues and collaborators, he is.

There's more here

End of year lists

I am not enamored with 'end of year' lists, they often are pretty contrived. That said, we're still going to make a few: Best albums bought this year; best songs we discovered this year; best movie we watched; and maybe best restaurant/food experience. This year, for some reason, I didn't actually read enough books to make a top ten list - I may just list a few, or not. I guess because of the election, I read mostly politics.

Since I'm a self-styled 'musical historian', I try not to constrain myself to what's actually new or released this year. What's new to me is more interesting. That's why Pound Get a Blow will probably get on the list even though the song was released in 1967, and I've owned it for several years.

Check back this week for the details, as the lists are still in the 'vaporware' stage, i.e., I've given it a little thought, but haven't actually compiled anything. I'll probably hide the actual lists behind the green door, so if it really bores you, skip reading.

Treadmills are good for something besides burning off winter calories.....

browser wars continue

How much bad press can one product get and remain a market leader?

Pogue-NYT: Yet Another Reason to Not Use Internet Explorer:

Attention to anyone who's still foolish enough to use Internet Explorer:

As though your Web browser weren't vulnerable enough to spyware, secret ActiveX controls and other hacker attacks, security experts have now unveiled an even more insidious hole. Phishers (people who try to intercept your Web passwords and private information) can now make any text they like appear in the address bar. They can, for example, make it look like you're viewing the Web page of PayPal or eBay; when you "log in," you'll actually be sending your account information straight into the phishers' databases.

Using my site as a skewed test ground (because I link to Mac related news, my share of Mac browser is probably higher than elsewhere), the IE share is currently somewhere over 60%, with Firefox and Safari both over 10%. I don't have a saved graphic from last summer, but IE was closer to 80%, and Firefox was less than 5%. I personally use Safari most, Firefox next, Camino next, and IE once or twice a year (for specific sites that are written to only work in IE; these sites usually suck too, btw)

B12 Partners browser share

Dept of No Comment

From The Department of No Comment

Shaq Vs Boykins

In this corner, standing 5 ft 5 inches, weighing 133 pounds.....Earl Boykins
and in this corner, standing over 7 ft 1 inches tall, and weighing at least 340 pounds, Shaquille O'Neal......

Tags: , /, /

Holiday travel sucks

Briefly, I'm glad I didn't go to Austex this season. Not only massive storms, but also lost luggage, and computer failures. Blech...

US Airways Luggage Nightmare Concerns Feds:
Senior officials of the U.S. Department of Transportation have been talking with US Airways management about problems at Philadelphia International Airport that left thousands of travelers separated from their bags, a department spokesman said Saturday.
Triple Woes Hold Up Holiday Air Travelers:
Thousands of holiday travelers spent much of the Christmas weekend in airport terminals because of a trifecta of poor weather, labor unrest and computer meltdowns.

Happy Holidays

I'm not very religious any more, I don't have kids (that I know of), and D is Jewish, so Christmas is not a large event to me. Nonetheless, these photos are from when Xmas meant something. Right now, it's snowing, and cold, and the winter is most beautiful. A few months from now, winter won't be quite so resplendent, but that's then, and this is now.

Seth And Santa 1976-01
Me, as a kid in T.O, probably at Eaton Center.

Katie And Andrew With Santa-1979-01
Sam, Katie and Andrew, also probably at Eaton Center.

click for larger versions

Kobe too many shots

NBA Notes from all over

Briefly, when Kobe takes too many shots, as in the game today, the Lakers tend to lose. Odom stands around, waiting for sympathy passes from Kobe, and the Lakers offense is dysfunctional. They may score a lot of points, but they don't win many games.

Also, Kobe had 0 dunks, at least that I saw, so the brick wall/corvette analogy seems to have been apt.

When asked last Monday what would happen if Bryant drove the lane, O'Neal replied: “When you've got a Corvette that runs into a brick wall, you know what's going to happen.”

Lastly, Dwayne Wade is good.....but then, he was born in Chicago.

Beat L.A.

and more thing, nice to watch a game where the pre-game hype did not preclude a close fought contest. To often the hype is anti-climatic. This game went to OT, Kobe scored 42 points, and lost. Still, not many regular season games live up to their billing.

Elephants need to run free

Contrary to what this article implies,
Convinced that elephants at the San Francisco Zoo have led a miserable existence, the Board of Supervisors here has approved a law that will make it difficult for the zoo ever to keep elephants again. The law, which requires the creation of a 15-acre habitat before elephants can return to the zoo, comes as animal welfare groups nationwide are questioning whether zoos can provide an adequate environment for the world's largest land mammals Earlier this year, the Detroit Zoo stopped exhibiting elephants after 81 years and agreed to send two of the animals, Winky and Wanda, to a sanctuary. Zoo officials said the elephants would do better in a warmer climate with more room to roam.

... Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, home to African elephants Wankie and Peaches, has been targeted recently by PETA, which has staged several demonstrations at the zoo, including a protest outside the zoo's November formal-attire annual fundraiser. Among other charges, PETA maintains that the cold Chicago weather forces the elephants to spend too much time indoors. When another elephant at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Tatima, died in October, PETA stepped up its calls to end elephant captivity at the zoo. "The zoo does not want the public to know how badly the elephants are suffering," said Nicole Meyer, elephant specialist at PETA.
nobody thinks that the Lincoln Park zoo mistreats elephants, nor that the zoo officials don't actually love the elephants. No, the point is that the elephants are constrained in such a small environment that this is cruel. Elephants should have large, open spaces (warm) to roam in. We actually feel empathy for all the mammals in zoos; they all should have larger spaces to frolic in. Kudos to the City of San Francisco for at least recognizing that their elephants were better off elsewhere.

Airport express

One side benefit of getting a new iMac (for year end capital expenditure purposes only, natch) is that I finally got my
"AirPort Express with Air Tunes

device to work (knock on wood related objects.....). Previously, with my fairly wimpy TiBook, the stream would cut out too often to actually be tolerable. I was going to return the Airport Express, but didn't get around to it. Now, I'm glad I didn't. If you don't know what the Airport Express is, simply put, it's a small power brick that acts as a wifi bridge, and that also comes with a stereo output. Thus you can stream music wirelessly from iTunes directly into your home entertainment system. Actually, I stream from my server upstairs, via existing ethernet cable, to the iMac, which then connects to the stereo. So I have my 200 gig library of tunes accessible to play downstairs, yielding months worth of unrepeated play. Party! I just hope that 10 years from now there isn't cancer warnings from being too close to WiFi!

Ahold sells off Bi-Lo

Ahold is selling off Bi-Lo and Bruno's, and trying to sell Tops. I guess their strategy of buying up regional grocery chains didn't work so well. - Ahold
Sells Units
Dutch retailer Ahold NV said it is selling its U.S.-based food retail operators Bi-Lo and Bruno's to a private investment fund for a total of as much as $660 million.

The sale to an affiliate of U.S.-based Lone Star Funds keeps Ahold on track with its €2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) divestment program, with which it seeks to regain investment-grade status in 2005 and further reduce debt. Following an accounting scandal that erupted in February 2003, Ahold almost went bankrupt and its shares lost 60% of their value. The company was saved by an emergency credit line.

The closing of the deal is expected in the first quarter of 2005, when Ahold will receive $560 million in cash. Within 18 months of the deal closure, it will be entitled to the balance of as much as $100 million if Bi-Lo and Bruno's achieve certain targets.

... the deal includes an undisclosed amount of debt in the form of capitalized lease obligations, analysts noted. Ahold's financial lease commitments stood at €2.3 billion and most of these leases are U.S.-related.

Bi-Lo, based in Mauldin, S.C., and Bruno's, of Birmingham, Ala., are two of the leading food retail chains in the Southeastern U.S., with a combined store count of more than 450 supermarkets and combined 2003 net sales of €4.7 billion.

"Divesting Bi-Lo and Bruno's is part of our strategy to optimize our portfolio and strengthen our financial position by reducing debt. Our U.S. retail business will be fully focused on our other prominent supermarket operations," Chief Executive Anders Moberg said. ... Tops Markets in the U.S. and supermarket chain G. Barbosa in Brazil are also for sale.

Arar irony

From Cursor, we read of this irony

Although Time may have named George W. Bush its choice for Person Of the Year, in Time's Canadian edition the Newsmaker of the Year is torture victim Maher Arar.

Arar sounds like he really got screwed, FWM**....

Arar was pulled aside while passing through J.F.K. after a vacation in Tunisia, where most of his wife’s family lives. He was detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, where he says U.S. authorities questioned him for 10 days. Then, in the middle of the night, he was put into shackles and spirited away via Jordan to Syria, a country he hadn’t been to in 16 years— despite the fact that he was a naturalized Canadian citizen traveling on a Canadian passport en route to Canada.

Arar ended up in a dark, 1-m by 2-m cell he calls the “grave” in the Syrian military intelligence agency’s Palestine branch in Damascus. He was held there without charge for 10 months and 10 days. During his first two weeks, he claims, he was interrogated about people he had known in Canada, sometimes for 18 hours at a time, and tortured. One punishment, he says, was repeated lashings with a 5-cm black metal cable on his palms, wrists, lower back and hips. The mental ordeal was also brutal, he said in November 2003 at one of the most dramatic press conferences ever televised in Canada. “The second and third days were the worst,” he told the world that day. “I could hear other prisoners being tortured, and screaming.” During his first week in prison, he says, he falsely confessed that he had received military training in Afghanistan.

Many would have crumbled emotionally under such duress, but Arar hung tough. Finally, almost a year later, on Oct. 5, 2003, the Syrians released him, saying publicly that they considered him “completely innocent.” When Arar made it back to Canada, Amnesty International’s Neve was among those who met him at the airport in Montreal. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind,” Neve declared at the time, “that he has been through a horrific ordeal.”
Arar’s case points to the risks inherent in America’s dominant role in the post-9/11 world. It appears that U.S. officials triggered the entire episode, but they have offered little in the way of explanation and refuse to participate in the Canadian inquiry. Arar may get some answers if his U.S. lawsuit survives its first major challenge—a motion to dismiss the case on technical grounds. If the case moves to the discovery phase, says Steven Watt, one of Arar’s U.S. attorneys, “that should enable us to get our hands on documentation that would definitively show what the U.S. involvement was in his removal to Syria, and the extent of it, as well as that of Canada.”

**Flying While Muslim


I love Chicago, but I still can complain when it's really cold.

8°F (-13°C) Wind Speed: NW 15 MPH

Wind Chill: -9°F (-23°C)

7-Day Forecast for Latitude 41.81N and Longitude -87.68W:
Partly cloudy, with a high near 15. Wind chill values between -1 and -8. Blustery, with a northwest wind between 15 and 20 mph.

Apple - Apple Retail Store Survey

Apple is giving away a 10 dollar coupon, if you fill out this brief survey. Took about 4 minutes, for me anyway.

Apple - Apple Retail Store Survey :
That's why we would greatly appreciate your feedback regarding your experience at the Apple Store. Your participation in this survey will help us to improve the retail shopping experience.

As a token of our appreciation for completing the survey, we will send you a $10 discount coupon for your next purchase of $100 or more at any U.S. Apple Store retail location.(1)

NordicTrack sucks


part 2 (part 1)

We struggled for an hour or so yesterday, trying to figure out if there was any possible way to maneuver the 380 pound NordicTrack through a standard door frame. Eventually, we gave up, and left it in the lobby to our building.

kvetches continue after the jump:

Making Sense of Specs


aka NordicTrack Sucks

Somehow this NYT headline is appropriate (more than the actual article)

Making Sense of Specs:
In many cases, product specifications may mean something different from what they appear to, or mean nothing at all.
..What's an electronics shopper to do? In many cases, product specifications may mean something different from what they appear to, or they may mean nothing at all.

Joshua Kairoff, director of display engineering for Pioneer Electronics, calls specs “the low-hanging fruit of technical information” and a tempting tool for marketing departments looking to distinguish their products, even if the specs themselves mislead or shed little light.

They also help manufacturers and retailers sell upgrades or higher-end models. A five-megapixel digital camera may seem alluring (“More Megapixels, Better Memories!” promises an ad for the retailer Good Guys), even though “most people's three-megapixel cameras are more than adequate for almost all photography use,” said Mark Rutherford, a photographer with studios in Oakland, Calif., and New York City.

Here's why: today we spent multiple hours trying to get a freakin' NordicTrack machine into our condo. D found it online a few weeks ago, and convinced me that:
a. we would actually use it, and
b. it was a good machine.

I gave in, we ordered it, and then it actually arrived. According to the salesperson at the NordicTrack online store, the widest part of the machine was 26 inchs wide. The door to our elevator is 33 inches wide, or slightly less, if you factor in the door. Plenty of room. Viva la specs.

Except when we actually tried to get the machine in, nope. The machine was 34 inches wide. Bleh.

More later.

Correcting washed-out color photos

Excellent tip on correcting those mid-day photos, from CreativeBits. I had done this in the past, but then for some inexplicable reason, forgot about this quick fix technique.

CreativeBits: PS: Correcting washed-out color photos:
Many times you are stuck with a washed-out photo from digital camera or scanned photo. Most people who try, find that quick adjustments in Levels or Curves will certainly boost the colors up, but they also destroy all the details in the photo.

Fortunately, Photoshop offers layer modes! Make a duplicate of the photo on another layer, the easiest way is hitting Command + J. Then, set the layer mode of the newly created layer to Overlay. This should really boost the color & contrast, but not mess with your highlights and shadows.

the Pope speaks

Nuggets' Pope makes fine living as NBA deep reserve:
Mark Pope wasn't hurt, but he needed an injury.

That's how it works in the NBA, where teams have 12 active roster spots and a three-man injured list that can be used like a storage shed for able-bodied players. All it takes is some drummed up explanation like a sore back or a strained shoulder.

Pope proposed chronic dandruff as the ailment. Or schizophrenia.

But there's not much room for humor, even when it comes to the running joke of the injured list. So when Pope comes to town with the Denver Nuggets tonight, he's out with patellar tendinitis, also called jumper's knee. Those who know Pope know it's a tough injury for him to have. After all, it usually requires jumping.

"And I don't," Pope said. .... Pope has played four games the past two seasons combined. Playing time: 20 minutes, total. Pay: About $1.3 million and counting.

... [He] settled on medicine as his second career, which meant more undergraduate classes since his English degree didn't satisfy all med-school requirements.

Pope took inorganic chemistry at Marquette while he was with the Bucks, then physics at Columbia and a year of biology at New York University while he was with the Knicks.

Last summer, he took organic chemistry at Colorado, and he will finish his final prerequisite beginning in January.

He plans to take the MCATs this year and apply to medical schools by Nov. 1.

Son Seals RIP

Son Seals, RIP

"Deluxe Edition" (Son Seals)

Son Seals, a Chicago bluesman whose slash-and-burn guitar solos and raspy voice carried a fierce blues spirit into a new generation, died on Monday in Chicago. He was 62. With songs about woman trouble and hard times, Mr. Seals played his blues spiked with a wounded fury. He didn't attempt modernization or crossover beyond an occasional funk beat; he often reached back to jump-blues and soul by adding a horn section to his band. But what he played was straightforward and savagely direct. The license plate on his car read, "BAD AXE."

free MP3 available here


Still waiting for either a trip to Europe, or a U.S. release of BeerTender. I had correspondence with Heineken marketing (see below), and they claimed not to have plans to release in the U.S. for quite some time.



Heineken Holding NV said it has sold 1 million BeerTender kegs using the Heineken brand in the Netherlands since the appliance was introduced in March. The compact home draft beer system was developed by Heineken and German domestic appliance maker Krups.

Heineken said it will now introduce the Amstel Brand in BeerTender kegs in The Netherlands.

The BeerTender is available in The Netherlands and Switzerland, with plans for a further rollout in the making, Heineken said.

Our BeerTender is now available in Switzerland and as of 1 March 2004 in the Netherlands. As is usual in the appliance business you have to roll-out a product like this step-by-step and country-by country. This process will take several years. I can't tell you if and when BeerTender will become available in the US or Canada.

But when BeerTender does come your way, we will communicate about it. Thank you for your interest in our BeerTender.

Kind regards,

M. Vrijenhoek
Manager External Communication
Heineken NV

update 7/9/07: soon!

Technorati Tags:


I think I'm getting too old to work in these 72 hour marathon sessions.

that is all.


Arthur Miller:
"Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money."

Apple suits

Follow up on previous posting re Apple Computer's lawsuits:

Apple sues three for posting Tiger on Net | MacNN News:

Apple has sued three people for illegally distributing test copies of the next version of its Mac OS X operating system on file-sharing services, court records show. Apple claims in its suit that two different versions of Mac OS X, code-named Tiger, were made available on the Web on or about October 30th and December 8th of this year. The lawsuit is the second in recent weeks to thwart the release of its software and details of its unannounced products. Last week, details of Apple lawsuits against multiple people for recent product leaks were revealed.


Apple makes test versions available to certain software developers under strict confidentiality conditions and lets them test the prerelease software and develop or change their own programs to work with the software.

The company said in its lawsuit that the two different versions were made publicly available by the men, who were members of the Apple Developer Connection.

"Members of Apple Developer Connection receive advance copies of Apple software under strict confidentiality agreements, which we take very seriously to protect our intellectual property," the company said in a statement.

According to the suit, the men released the software on a Web site that employs BitTorrent file-sharing technology, which is used to rapidly distribute large files of electronic data, and is also widely used to distribute pirated copies of motion pictures via the Internet.

And apparently, this cool new recording toy has drawn some attention to an Apple Rumor site:

Apple is seeking to force three Mac sites including AppleInsider to turn over information about sources for articles regarding a forthcoming music product code named "Asteroid" and "Q97."

I want one!

Apple Computer is expected to introduce a new audio interface for GarageBand users in the coming months. The analog FireWire audio device, the first product of its recently created iPod division, will allow users to directly record audio using any Mac and Apple’s GarageBand music studio application. According to reputable sources, the company is on track to begin manufacturing the device overseas next month.

The device, code-named 'Q97' or 'Asteroid,' has been under development at the company for the better part of the year. Typically referred to as a 'breakout box' in the music recording industry, the external audio device attaches to a computer and offers audio inputs and outputs for attaching instruments or other audio sources. Apple is reportedly building the device around GarageBand, its popular application for aspiring musicians.

According to sources, Asteroid will include two XLR/ TRS audio input connectors, two RCA analog output jacks, and a standard headphone jack. The device will draw power through a single FireWire 400 port and include a phantom on/off power switch.

In addition to the aforementioned specs, a more advanced version of the Asteroid device—recently seen floating around the Apple's Cupertino campus—sports an additional S/PDIF optical output port; however, it is unclear which version the company will ultimately send to manufacturing.

More from Cnet

Apple goes to court to smoke out product leaker | CNET
Apple last week was granted the right to subpoena, Apple Insider and Think Secret, forcing the sites to turn over all documents related to an unreleased product code named "Asteroid" and "Q97."

In November, Apple Insider and reported that Apple was developing what's known in the music industry as a breakout box--a device for connecting musical instruments and other analog audio sources to a computer.

This is not the first time Apple has gone to court in an effort to identify a leaker.

Earlier this month, Apple filed suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court against the unnamed persons it says released company trade secrets but added in later court filings that it has been unable to determine who those people are. The subpoenas, Apple said in its filings, are designed to identify the individuals.

"That person (alone or in concert with others) has misappropriated Apple's trade secrets regarding future product information, and those trade secrets have appeared on three Web sites," Apple said in court documents seen by CNET "Apple's internal investigations have, to date, failed to uncover the identity of any defenda

Washington Post to Buy Slate

No word on whether this will increase or decrease the general suckiness of Slate. Washington Post to Buy Slate:

Washington Post Co. has agreed to purchase Slate, the online political and cultural magazine owned by Microsoft Corp.

...As part of the Washington Post media empire, Slate's content – a combination of political commentary and quirky feature articles – will be more broadly accessible across the Internet. Under the terms of the deal, Slate will continue to be available on Microsoft's Web portal, MSN. Jacob Weisberg will remain Slate's editor, the companies said, and Cliff Sloan, vice president, business development and general counsel of WPNI, was named publisher of Slate.

The business operations of Slate will be run by Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive, the online subsidiary that oversees the and Web sites. Financial terms of the sale weren't disclosed.

I have had some problems with java loading slowness. I'll try this solution from MacFixIt...

MacFixIt :
Java causes Safari to crash Several readers report broken Java functionality under Mac OS X 10.3.7. This has caused an inability to access a variety of Web sites, including Yahoo's chat rooms and others.

Some users, experiencing this problem in Safari, have been able to resolve it by using the “Reset Safari” option located in the Safari application menu.

Others reported that re-installing the Java 1.4.2 Update 2 does the trick.

By far the most successful workaround, however, is clearing Java caches.

In order to perform this procedure, go to the /Applications/Utilities/Java folder. You will notice Java 1.4.2 Plugin Settings and Java 1.3.1 Plugin Settings. Launch both of these applications, select the cache tab in each, and click “clear”. Attempt to access problematic sites again.


Per notice that an upgrade was available,

Movable Type Publishing Platform: Movable Type 3.14 released:

We have just released Movable Type v3.14 which fixes the issue of extreme loads witnessed on servers under the strain of a massive spam attack. Because these attacks are increasing in both frequency and severity, we strongly recommend that all Movable Type users install this update. This is particularly important for any installation that is visible to the public on the web.

Being a new movabletype user, I wasn't sure exactly what to do, and whether I installed everything correctly. I might have:

Upgrading your databases: Running ......

Done upgrading your schema! All went well.


Upgrade seems to have been successful.

But if anything weird happens, I didn't do it.


| 1 Comment
Forget About Taste, Florida Says, These Tomatoes Are Just Too Ugly to Ship: A brand of specialty tomato called the UglyRipe, distinguishable by its uneven crevices and ridges, has been deemed too homely to leave home.


the lush, vine-ripened UglyRipes have what the industry calls a “cat face,” full of uneven crevices and ridges. The Florida Tomato Committee, a trade group that controls sales and shipments of round tomatoes, has determined that the brand does not meet its standards for shape, lack of blemishes and other defects.

“The marketing order has nothing to do with taste,” said Skip Jonas, the committee's compliance officer. “Taste is subjective.”

Joe Procacci, the chairman of Procacci Brothers of Philadelphia, whose subsidiaries grow the UglyRipes in Florida, contends that the committee is afraid of the competition from a tomato whose sales have tripled in the past few years, especially in winter.

“They're keeping the consumer from a tasty tomato,” said Mr. Procacci, who has become a very public David pitted against the $500 million Florida tomato industry. Never mind that Mr. Procacci is on the committee himself and grows about 8 percent of the Florida round tomatoes.

Until a year ago, the committee granted an exemption to the UglyRipes, which lost $2.8 million in 2003 because they could not be shipped out of state.

After Procacci Brothers reapplied for an exemption last month, the committee wrote: “These requirements serve to ensure customer satisfaction and improve grower returns. Not holding the UglyRipe tomato to these same standards defies orderly marketing and provides it unfair, undue marketing advantage.”

The committee also challenged Mr. Procacci's contention that his tomatoes are heirlooms, an old-fashioned variety that is not the same as a commercial round tomato, and is therefore exempt from the regulations. To determine its genetics, the UglyRipe variety is participating in the federal Department of Agriculture's new identity preservation program, which is intended in part to mediate disputes of this kind.

N'awlins redux

In follow up to this entry, Sal Nunziato notes on Altercation:

"Doctors, Professors, Kings, and Queens: The Big Ol' Box Of New Orleans" is a helluva lot better than Jon Pareles lets on.  Calling the set "an unacademic, noncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit" makes it sound as if it was shabbily thrown together under the influence of one too many Hurricanes.  It is much more than that.  It is wonderful collection, purposely sequenced without categorization, to give the listener an aural tour of a city whose music is timeless and incredibly influential.  Highly recommended.

Acupuncture 'works for arthritis'

I was unaware that acupuncture was still questionable. Apparently not everyone (in the 'western world') believes anything that isn't actively promoted by Pfizer cannot be real....

Acupuncture 'works for arthritis':
A major study of osteoarthritis of the knee says acupuncture can both relieve pain and improve movement.

The US National Institutes of Health study concludes acupuncture is an effective complement to standard care. Acupuncture patients showed a 40% decrease in pain, and a nearly 40% improvement in knee function...
Researcher Dr Stephen Strauss, director of the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, said: "For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigour, size, and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee.

I've never had acupuncture performed on me, but I've witnessed it, on people, and on animals, and there certainly are results. A 20 year cat started bounding up the stairs after her treatments, she did no such thing previously.


I had to go upstairs and take a couple of photos; too bright to pass up. Especially since today was a slug-fest; worked straight from waking till now. Fiscal for 2006 being set for one of our main clients, and was crunch time. Yeehaw!
Chicago Sunset, December 20th

Chicago Sunset, December 20th

Chicago Sunset, December 20th

Chicago Sunset, December 20th

Chicago sunset series, Dec 20

For all images, click for larger version.


Note to self; even Excel cannot give you correct answers if you put in wrong numbers. We spent about 2 hours trying to figure out what happened to $18,000 in a proposal. Yikes.


A.P. asked me about the Theremin recently, and apparently there is a device made by Hiwatt, sold at Amazon, that simulates the sound of the Theremin.

The Theremin was invented in 1920 by a Russian physicist named Lev Sergeiyvich Termin (his name was later changed to Leon Theremin). It's a unique instrument because the Theremin is played without being touched! As your hand approaches the antenna, the pitch gets higher. The Hiwatt engineers decided to add a new dimension of sound to the Theremin by adding delay to the unit. The Hiwatt Theremin has 300 milliseconds of delay that adds more depth and greater ability to create sci-fi sounds

This isn't an actual Theremin, but a guitar effect pedal, sold at various guitar stores, such as MusiciansFriend, and elsewhere.

Theremin pedal


"Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage (Music in American Life)" (Albert Glinsky)

"Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey" (Steven M. Martin)

This tidbit really piques my curiosity. What product is being protected here?

Apple: 'Protection of our trade secrets is crucial':
Apple has confirmed that it is suing anonymous people who leaked information about an unannounced product on the Internet...

Dylan influences

Uncut Magazine has a nice feature on Dylan, and comes with a cd of either influences of Dylan, or influenced by Dylan. I got the less interesting (to me) influenced by Dylan cd.

These albums of Influencers are now on my 'possibly' list, to supplement the ones I already own....

"Ultimate Collection - Spirit of the Irish" (Dubliners)

"The Essential" (Josh White)

"Capitol Collectors Series" (Gene Vincent)

"Penguin Eggs" (Nic Jones)

"Carthy Chronicles" (Martin Carthy)

"Collection" (Martin Carthy)

"Jack Orion/Nicola" (Bert Jansch)

The Friendster of photo sites

More Flickr PR, disguised as news. I suppose that's a little harsh, because I actually love flickr. I have several feeds in my RSS Web news reader (like, flickr address is Technology | The Friendster of photo sites:
Now, everyone is starring in their own personal “Truman Show,” sharing digital images both profound and ordinary. With every new haircut or pair of shoes that pops up on Flickr, the lines between “real” life and the mimetic are becoming ever further blurred. ... on Flickr, you can mingle all your photos with similar images, creating an endlessly beguiling cross-pollination of photos that spark a host of unique communities.

Flickr allows its more than 176,000 members to meet each other through both images and words in an ever-evolving visual playground. The onslaught of images that appear on the site range from the truly artistic to the bluntly documentary, a pool of more than 2.2 million photos that's growing at the rate of about 30,000 a day. What's unique is that 82 percent of the pictures on the site are publicly available to anyone who cares to look at them and riff off them. Members can keep their photos private, shared only with a specified group of intimates, but most choose not to, allowing the pictures of their cat or car to freely commingle with others.

The result is a dynamic environment, prone to all sorts of instant fads, created by members inspiring each other to go in new directions with their cameras. It makes digital photography not only instantly shareable, but immediately participatory, creating collaborative communities around everything from the secret life of toys to what grocery day looks like. The result is an only-on-the-Web conversation where text and image are intermingled in a polyglot that has all the makings of a new kind of conversation.

daypassless excerpts

Kleiner projects


The Sunday Tribune magazine's cover story about Jerry Kleiner caught my attention, since many of the current and future places are walking distance from me. Also, Drink (now closed, and being transformed by Kleiner) is where D & I had our first date.

Meanwhile, [Jerry Kleiner is] involved in efforts to transform an 1887 meat market building on Fulton into a high-end retail mini-mall, and he's in early discussions about creating a boutique hotel in the Fulton area, which he envisions as evolving into something like New York's trendy meatpacking district.

As if all that weren't enough, he's toying with the idea of bringing an affordable restaurant to an impoverished Chicago neighborhood, and maybe taking his restaurant visions to New York City and suburban Detroit.

and these are the once and future projects...


I've only been to N'awlins for less than a fortnight, all told, but the music that came from there looms large in my library. This looks like an interesting box set.

"Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" (Doctors Professors Kings & Queens: Box New Orleans, Various Artists)

Chicago poker

| 1 Comment

The Trib writes:

With poker chips flying off store shelves and legions of newbies saying "Deal me in" after watching televised Hold 'Em tournaments, Chicago police are using the Internet to scout illegal card games in private homes.

"We're just starting to write a few more [misdemeanor gambling tickets] now," police spokesman David Bayless said. "Since the emergence of poker as a fad, we're going to be looking at it. We're always advising people not to invite strangers into their homes."

Home gambling, including small-time poker games, is illegal under Chicago's municipal code and Illinois law. The $20 it costs to enter Sarrett's game is chump change in a thriving local underground poker circuit where pots can reach hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. Yet Sarrett and several of his guests that night face fines of up to $200 at a February court hearing.

... "Like they don't have anything else to do than bust $20 card games," said James McManus, a high-stakes player and Chicago author of the popular poker tome, "Positively Fifth Street."

"It's pretty outrageous," McManus said. "But we live in the worst poker city I know. The legislature is very hostile to poker. They want us putting our money in slot machines and lottery tickets."

Ya know, that's pretty bogus. Poker and GTA, threats to society. News at 10. Aren't there real crimes to investigate?

Jewel Foods sued for discrimination

| 1 Comment
Jewel Foods sued for discrimination:
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Albertson's and Jewel Food Stores Inc., in Chicago for alleged sex and race discrimination.

Three women employees at the Jewel-Osco supermarket in southwest suburban Orland Park, Ill., claim several female employees were subjected to racial slurs and sexually inappropriate behavior by a manager. EEOC filed the harassment lawsuit against the supermarket giant in federal court in Thursday.

Women at the Orland Park store were called a litany of demeaning and derogatory names, were sexually degraded and belittled, and at least one woman was physically threatened, John Rowe, district director of the federal agency's Chicago office, said in a statement. These actions were done in the open where all employees and managers could either hear or see what was going on. The company had a duty to stop it but didn't.

AARP and Medical Marijuana

No word on if the FBI is now going to be infiltrating this threat to our society. Old folks on reefer? Anecdotally, over T-Day I hung out with grandparents, and 2 of their oldest friends. In between bridge games, and stories about growing up during the Great Depression, they discussed how they all supported medical marijuana, in concept if not for themselves.

AARP Poll Shows Most Support Legalizing Medicinal Marijuana:
Nearly three-fourths of Americans middle age and older support legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to a poll taken for AARP.

More than half of those questioned said they believed marijuana has medical benefits...

AARP, whose 35 million members are all at least 50 years old, says it has no political position on medical marijuana and that its local branches have not chosen sides in the scores of state ballot initiatives on the issue in recent elections.

But with medical marijuana at the center of a Supreme Court case to be decided next year, and nearly a dozen states with medical marijuana laws on their books, AARP said, it decided to study the issue.

"The use of medical marijuana applies to many older Americans who may benefit from cannabis," said Ed Dwyer, an editor at AARP The Magazine, which will report on the issue in its March-April issue, scheduled to appear in late January.

Among the 1,706 adults age 45 and older who were polled in November, opinions varied along regional and generational lines and among the 30 percent of respondents who said they had smoked marijuana. AARP members represented 37 percent of the respondents.

Over all, 72 percent of respondents agreed "adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it." Those in the Northeast (79 percent) and West (82 percent) were more receptive to the idea than in the Midwest (67 percent) and Southwest (65 percent). In Southern states, 70 percent agreed with the statement.

Dept of Doh

As a follow up to this moment of grandstanding,
The Trib notes:

A public relations onslaught for Gov. Rod Blagojevich backfired Friday when state school officials mistakenly promoted the wrong Internet site for his new crusade against violent and sexually explicit video games, directing Web users to one that ridiculed the governor ((

The erroneous site, which appeared to have been activated Thursday as Blagojevich announced his initiative to great media fanfare, also included links to pages on where games that the governor found offensive could be easily bought.

As part of a follow-up to Blagojevich's announcement, the Illinois State Board of Education issued a statement urging local educators to point parents to a Web site set up by the governor to promote his initiative and give information about the content of many games.

The wrongly listed address ( transports computer users to a site that made fun of Blagojevich for misplaced crime-fighting priorities. Records on the Internet indicate the site was set up Thursday but do not identify who did it.

Can we please have some better priorities? This is such a waste of energy. Can anyone prove to my satisfaction that playing GTA San Andreas causes one to be an anti-social violent criminal? No? How about reading comic books? Or watching movies? or rolling up the cuffs of ones jeans? Is there a need for legislative intrusion in every facet of our lives? Really?

Parenthetical and juvenile note: when Blagojevich was a lonely U.S. Congressman, my friends & I called him blowjobavich, because it was Monica Lewinsky time, and because Blagojevich is a bit of a prig. Now, I have trouble recalling his real name.

Bloody mary


I've never much of an anchovy fan, but I found a tasty near substitute for Worcestershire sauce, created by Edward & Sons Trading Company.

Essential ingredient in the bloody mary I'm currently drinking, along with a fresh squeezed tomato/celery/carrot juice (insert brand name later), KetelOne Vodka (yes, I know, probably wasted in a cocktail, but what the fuck, it's all I had), splash of Melinda's Habanero sauce, fresh ground pepper, and ice cube. Mmmmmm. Can I have another? thanks!

Happy Anniversary to Aunt Pat

My Aunt Pat and Uncle Andy are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and she quips:

We are all going to Bend, Oregon to meet up with Erin and Megan and families for New Year's. Andy and my 20th wedding anniversary (6 happy years)


Fritz Holling's greatest hits, an archive. Some funny stuff.

My fave is number 10

"He graduated magna cum laude. I graduated thank-the-lordy."

with number 22 a close second
"Sam, if you want to personalize it, I got it right down the street from where you got that wig." On ABC's 'This Week' in 1990, when Sam Donaldson asked him where he got his 'Korean suit.'


Friday cat blogging

Oh, just because I'm so, like, trendy, or something.....(irony? never heard of 'im)

Jumperclick for larger version

Cleo about to pounce....

Audioscrobbler flaws

The Audioscrobbler method of building musical profiles in order to locate new artists is fairly interesting.

Audioscrobbler is a computer system that builds up a detailed profile of your musical taste. After installing an Audioscrobbler Plugin, your computer sends the name of every song you play to the Audioscrobbler Server. With this information, the Audioscrobbler server builds you a 'Musical Profile'. Statistics from your Musical Profile are shown on your Audioscrobbler User Page, available for everyone to view.

There are lots of people using Audioscrobbler, but you probably won't be interested in most of them. The Audioscrobbler Server calculates which people are most similar to you, based on shared musical taste, so you can take a look at what your peers are listening to.

With this information, Audioscrobbler is able to automatically generate suggestions for new songs/artists you might like. These suggestions are based on the same principles as Amazon's "People who bought this also bought X,Y,Z", but because the Audioscrobbler data is what people are actually listening to, the suggestions tend to make more sense than Amazon.

My profile

However, listeners like myself, with deep libraries, possibly get slightly misleading statistics. I have nearly 600 Bob Dylan songs, so when I randomize my iTunes list, Dylan frequently gets played. In other words, one particular Dylan track is not played often, but Dylan in general is.

I bought the Camper Van Beethoven box set a few months ago

"Cigarettes & Carrot Juice - The Santa Cruz Years" (Camper Van Beethoven)

, and played the entire thing a couple times (83 tracks). Does this mean CVB is my second favorite band (or third, since Audioscrobbler is extremely literal, and counts Dylan, Bob differently than Bob Dylan. Eventually, the Audioscrobbler people claim, these will be merged together)? No, not really.

I suspect Lightnin' Hopkins will soon jump to the top of the list too.

So Audioscrobbler (and my style of randomizing my playlist) is weighted towards artists with extensive catalogs - (Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Conet Project, Tom Waits, etc. - are over-represented.

So what's the answer? Who knows, I'm just a kvetcher, not a belly itcher.

CTA Building

There were hundreds of people on a nearby street this morning and I was unsure what the hubbub was all about. Later this afternoon, several TV news trucks pulled up with satellite hookups, and I thought something exciting was happening. Probably just boring news of CTA cutbacks though. Oh well, there went my chance to break news.

CtaA news truck

Cta2CTA Building, and news trucks partially obscured

While I was on the roof, I took photos of the sunset.


(Click for slightly larger versions)

Template change, archive recreated

I don't know why, but I could not post to my original blog without error for quite some time. I tried again today, and no problems. (I was getting ftp errors and java socket errors, etc. - my hosting company, doteasy didn't think the problem was on their end, of course, but nothing got fixed after weeks of complaining to both parties).

I since moved my blog to movableType, which is actually a better system, imho, and so won't really be using my blogger account, unless something goofy happens. I may give the keys to this blog to Matthew S, if he wants it. Or not.

Anyway, I think the archives work again, so that's useful. I considered reposting interesting things, but what's really the point. Mostly blogs are 'of the minute', and don't really need to be revisted. Yadda yadda yadda.

replacement iPod battery

Sounds like a good stocking stuffer to me....
Newer Technology NuPower High-Capacity 1800mAh Apple iPod Replacement Li-Polymer(internal) Battery for all 1st & 2nd Generation (aka 1G, 2G) iPod Models. 46% MORE Capacity vs. Apple battery! Installation tool included. 15-19 hour run times reported! (NWTBIPOD1800M12)
Newer Technology has the replacement battery you need! And, as a bonus, our replacement battery for your iPod adds a whopping 46% extra run time! The original Apple battery was rated at 1320mAh, our High Capacity version offers a fantastic 1800mAh! The Newer Technology replacement battery uses the same Lithium-Polymer battery technology as the original battery that Apple used. A detailed instruction manual, and installation tool is included.


Browsing around at the vegan-hating Adam Kotsko blog, I came across this gem:

The Hate List:
The Story of the Hate List

In a time now shrowded in mystery, Andy Kelts sat down in front of a computer with a group of friends and generated a list full of pet peeves and other objects of hatred. This list was 200 items long. Andy welcomed contributions from his friends and acquaintances, and the list eventually grew to close to 1000 items (It might have reached that goal many times over if not for the pruning that occassionally occurred.) There were many enthusiastic haters, but none quite so enthusiastic as me, and so when Andy felt the need to pass the burden of the Hate List on to someone else, he knew where to turn. The Hate List has been mine for over five years now, and as many of you know, it has been the main gimmick of my web page, which would otherwise be very wordy and dull. There came a time when the list became too long and I decided it would be best to seperate each person's list and basically to keep things short. This resulted in lists that were sometimes left online for a grand total of a week, and I perceived that public interest in the hate list had waned, or at least interest in participating. So on November 27, 2000, I decided to return it to the original Kelts model, and I have included a few classic entries from times past. And so in the words of every band teacher in history who has just delivered an awkwardly long and rambling speech on the significance of the upcoming song, "We hope you enjoy...."

I have a few contributions for this list, but then I hate lists, and hate compiling lists even more....

Bloggers breaking news

Adam Penenberg is an ignoramus if he thinks that bloggers, sitting at home, or sneaking in updates from their employers computers are going to break news. Does he realize how many dollars are spent by the major media outlets (NYT, WaPo, CNN, etc.) to pay reporters to investigate? Granted too many reporters are content to repeat talking points issued by the powers-that-be or read off PR announcements in lieu of actual reporting, but that doesn't in any way create opportunities for seat of the pants bloggers to 'scoop' large media companies. The widely-read bloggers (Atrios, Kos, et al) exist in the margins, deciphering what is written, etc.; they are not about to attend every 'gaggle', send correspondents to Bamako, or interview Bernard Kerik.

That is all*

Media Wish List for 2005:
Our columnist Adam L. Penenberg wishes he could snap his fingers and change the media landscape for the better. Among his 2005 wishes: getting bloggers to actually break news, abolishing the FCC and making news organizations watchdogs again.

*This phrase possibly patented by Brad DeLong

Capital One account

from adweek

Capital One is preparing to move its estimated $170 million account to Omnicom Group's DDB from Interpublic Group's McCann Erickson, according to sources.

McCann Erickson in New York won the account in April 2003 after a review. That competition included Omnicom's Element 79 in Chicago, Publicis Groupe's The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York, and independent London shop Faulds.

More grandstanding

Blagojevich seeks more headlines, seeks to take over Tipper Gore's mantle as most annoying Democratic figure:

Governor targeting violent video games
Blagojevich seeks a law that would bar retailers from allowing anyone younger than 18 to leave their stores with brutal or sexually explicit games

One of the hottest video games this Christmas season features characters that indiscriminately maim each other and have sex with prostitutes. But if Gov. Rod Blagojevich has his way, Illinois will be leading a national movement to outlaw the sale or rental to children of games like “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”

“Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” (Rockstar Games)

Come on, I thought we decided that crime statistics were actually going down! So, isn't it just straight cause and effect? More violent movies and video games means less actual crime? You mean it isn't so simple? yadda yadda yadda....

And I suspect, without any actual evidence, that a reason that Al Gore lost the 2000 election was because of Tipper Gore, the PRMC, and her crusade to ban things that weren't appropriate for her Tennessee Sunday-school crowd. I know I didn't forget.

Nativity scenes are news?

Does this story really deserve front page treatment? Especially when, based on actual numbers, less than 25 actual incidents, nationwide, is the basis for the shock and outrage. I actually think its sort of funny.

Mangers are turning up empty Nativity scenes see a big jump in thefts and vandalism this holiday

The first sign of trouble for the nativity scenes of Woodstock was a sign, written by hand in jagged black letters and propped against the manger that was part of a massive, incandescent holiday display in the Popovits family's front yard.

"Would Jesus use this much electricity?" it read.

A few days later, Jesus was gone, torn from his wooden crib by a vandal. It was one of three thefts of baby Jesus figures reported to Woodstock police last week.

Tulips? or coffee?

The WSJ can't decide if the iPod is a tulip mania, or the beginning of a longer term bonanza (such as the rapid, steady and long-lasting market for coffee and other caffeinated products) for Apple

From - Out of Tune: IPod Shortage Rocks Apple

The iPod line is now a crucial piece of Apple's business, accounting for 23% of Apple's $2.35 billion in revenue in its most recent quarter. Since it began offering them in October 2001, Apple has sold over 5.7 million iPods, more than a third of them in the company's latest reported quarter. In the holiday quarter alone, some analysts expect Apple to sell more than four million units.

Consumers have adopted the iPod faster than they did Sony Corp.'s Walkman in its early days, about six million of which sold in the Sony device's sixth year on the market, estimates Piper & Jaffray Co. analyst Gene Munster.

Apple, in contrast, has sold approximately the same number of iPods in about half the time. More than five million iPods, in contrast, were sold by its third year on the market, though the Apple product is still dwarfed by the 300 million Walkmans sold during that product's 20-year history.

Surprising to many analysts is the fact that the iPod is increasing its market share every month, even as it faces an onslaught of lower-priced and improved devices from rivals including D&M Holdings Inc.'s Rio, Dell Inc. and others. Apple's share of the market for digital-music players that store songs on hard disks rose to 92.7% in October, from 81% during the same month last year, according to NPD Group.

The iPod is a key attraction for Apple's chain of 100 retail stores, which are an increasingly important part of its business.

Me, I just am happy to play mine..

"Apple 40 GB iPod photo"

"Altec Lansing INMOTION Ipod Portable Speaker System"

Brad figures out MT-Blacklist is a godsend

My tiny blog (less than 50 hits a day, and most of those are just looking for info on decrypting DVD css) started getting comment spam within the last month or so. Installed MT-Blacklist, and the spam has trickled to a very minor annoyance. I threw a few dollars Jay Allen's way, but apparently MovableType came to their senses, and hired Jay. So that's cool.

I'm sure the econ professor I should have had, aka Brad DeLong, gets a lot more traffic, but seems like MT-Blacklist is working for him as well...

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: Major Combat Operations Against Comment Spam Are Completed--Not!

Two comments. First, Jay Allen's MT Blacklist is an amazing program. Everyone who uses Movable Type and suffers from comment spam should install it.

From the comments at Brad DeLong's MT-Blacklist post.
Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: Major Combat Operations Against Comment Spam Are Completed--Not!

“I'll go further and state that the real responsibility lies with Movable Type, which, for all its other fine qualities, has had very little thought put into comment management.”

I agree! And it's one thing I intend to fix as Product Manager. In all fairness though, Six Apart has put a hell of a lot of work into a seriously powerful and exstensible API framework with which a plugin author could do anything they want including making a killer anti-spam plugin (*ahem* :-).

If you think about it for a second, making a program extensible by the world of developers is far more important than any handful of features a company could put in. If you were a small startup with limited resources, it's probably the smartest thing you could do.

“For example, as others have alluded to, it ought to be impossible to post a comment without first doing a preview of it - the importance of this is that it puts an end to blind IP spoofing, as a fake IP address will be unable to respond to the server's message.”

Both comments and trackbacks should require two-way communication. Today they do not.

“Another example of MT's failings is that it has neither inbuilt CAPTCHA facilities nor a default capacity to close older posts to comments, meaning that anyone who's been blogging long enough will be vulnerable to having his or her archives splattered with all sorts of filth.”

I consider both things harmful. The CAPTCHA is an accessibility nightmare of which sadly I played a hand in creating[1]. Closing comments, as I alluded to before, creates stagnation in the web and prevents the correction of obsolete and potentially harmful information.

“The only spam control mechanism MT does provide by default is IP banning, but this is stupid in the extreme, not just because most people are behind dynamic IP addresses, but because IP addresses are so easy to fake”

I couldn't agree more[2], especially without requiring two-way communication for user submissions.

(Brad, why can't I link? Also, your comment throttle must be set at an hour, because I still got throttled despite typing this long post. :-)

[1] -
[2] -

- Jay Allen.

Kevin Drum, schmuck

The Rittenhouse Review notes

And this quote is just terrific: “One regular source of this sort of complaint was Kevin Drum, the in-house blogger of [t]he Washington Monthly and something of a clearinghouse for smart liberals on the web.”

Yes, there’s Kevin Drum. There’s always the not-very-photogenic Kevin Drum.

Yes, he thinks he’s a liberal. Yes, conservatives think he’s a liberal. Yes, he likes that conservatives think he’s a liberal.

But do you know what?

Kevin Drum is not a liberal.

No, he certainly is not a liberal. I would call him more of a schmuck, in the Zell Miller school of pseudo-Democrats even. For a while, Calpundit was on my 'reading' list, and briefly at WashingtonMonthly, but then the whole Daily Kos smear happened, and subsequent slams on other bloggers, not to mention Drum consistently taking political positions to the right of whiney-Joe Lieberman. Bleh.

Update: from comments at Rittenhouse (which I really should read more frequently)

Up tempo NBA

Pat Riley's Knicks ruined the NBA for years. Please, please bring back up-tempo basketball. The Sacramento Kings, Seattle Sonics, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavs, Minnesota Timberwolves, even to a lesser extent the Denver Nuggets, the Orlando Magic, the San Antonio Spurs, and the god-damn Lakers (even just to root against the Kobe show); these are teams I like to watch, not the grindingly boring teams like the Kidd-less Nets, the Rockets (for shame, JVG! - you've got 2 stars, one a fast break scoring demon, and you only average 86 points a game) or the Pistons. There isn't a law that says you have to run out the shot clock before shooting: please pass the ball around, don't play 1 on 1 isolation plays every possession, and try running up the floor. Yeesh. I would even watch the Celtics play up-tempo, if they got rid of whiner-in-chief, Paul Pierce, and his little dog Toto Ricky Davis.

Neel - Page 2 - A candidate we can all root for:
If Steve Nash is the MVP, basketball is fun again.

Up-tempo ball is back.

Pat Riley is dead and Jeff Van Gundy is on life support.

If Steve Nash is the MVP, we're not about wars of attrition, muscle-bound match-ups, and watch-the-paint-dry isolations. We're about pace, about play, about players, and about the game we know and love from the schoolyards and those grainy Showtime games on NBA TV.

No fucking kidding.

Google Blog

I was surprised that this didn't exist, but then it does, and has for several months now.

Google Blog:
Ever since I came to Google, they've been talking about putting up an official Google blog. And now, less than 15 months later, voilà.

...- Evan Williams

Weird sodas

Company Again Touting Weird Soda Flavors


Company Again Touting Weird Soda Flavors (AP/Yahoo):

AP - Jones Soda Co. takes the idea of a liquid diet to a new low. How does Green Bean Casserole Soda strike you? And how about an aggressively buttery-smelling Mashed Potato Soda?

This week Jones Soda Co. launches a full meal deal of five Thanksgiving soda flavors, from the bile-colored Green Bean Casserole to the sweet — but slightly sickly — Fruitcake Soda. Last year's Turkey & Gravy is also back on the menu.

Bush is Yale/Harvard educated

Our economist-in-chief displays either his rusty-blade wit, or a complete and utter cluelessness. I cannot decide which is more accurate.

From Talking Points Memo:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: December 12, 2004 - December 18, 2004 Archives

George W. Bush, international economist: “There's a trade deficit. That's easy to resolve: People can buy more United States products if they're worried about the trade deficit.”

From comments just now in the Oval Office with Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. And I'm told it was a bit difficult to tell whether or not he was joking.

-- Josh Marshall

Also see how Yale helped Bush become the upstanding citizen he is (not)
scroll down

Monty Python analyzed by Dave Eggers

Spamalot on Lake
The New Yorker interviews Dave Eggers about Spamalot and Python legacy

The New Yorker:

How would you characterize you and your friends who hit it off with Monty Python? In my experience, it was always the clever, creative smart-asses who identified with them.

Yeah, you know, Hank Azaria, who’s in “Spamalot,” put it well. He went to a prep school in New York somewhere. He said something to the effect that Monty Python sort of made it O.K. to be smart. They rewarded you, I guess, for having studied in history class. To be able to take that kind of material and completely make it ridiculous was—it’s something that nobody else did, or does, really. Everything else humor-related, every other kind of show, and certainly any movie comedy, is based on things that we all know, like love or kids or work. The sketch shows are usually based on celebrities and current events, or characters who have some specific tic. But it was incredibly rare to see Python do anything topical or timely, really. It was a lot of historical stuff, a lot of religious stuff. They were dealing with bigger issues than most comedy shows do. Being a smart-ass? Definitely. I mean, my Eric Idle-reincarnated friend and I, we had a column in our high-school paper called “And Now for a Bit of Fun.” The anarchic form of the show was really my first look into how you can break something down, break down the fourth wall and take it all apart, and then be left with not less but more.

So it influenced your writing directly?

Yeah, absolutely. Later on I found what they were doing in book form. The year after we found “The Holy Grail,” we read “Don Quixote,” and you see how Cervantes is doing sort of fourth-wall stuff, addressing the reader, and acknowledging the artifice of the first half of the book in the second half. But Monty Python was really my first taste of what I guess we would call deconstructionism.

Are there any modern heirs to this kind of comedy? “Saturday Night Live,” or any of the movies that the Python members have done?

Not as much as you’d expect. I did talk to David Cross for this article, because I think that “Mr. Show,” which was on HBO, is sort of the closest thing we’ve ever had in America to Python. It was a sketch show, and they would do a lot of the same things that Python would. They did filmed clips and skits in front of a live audience. They also weren’t afraid to end a sketch whenever it needed to be ended, as opposed to waiting for some gag to close it out. The thing is, no one knows how to end a sketch well; you see “S.N.L.” struggle with it, when the solution is to just quit and move on. Cross said that he remembered being really young and seeing the Pythons do a sketch, and then talk about the sketch in the middle of the skit, and then continue the sketch, you know, and then end the sketch without an ending. All of these things completely exploded the form. Cross is on “Arrested Development” now, which is really the only American show today that’s in touch with a true sense of absurdity, I think—outside of “The Swan,” maybe. That’s Cross’s joke, by the way. “The Kids in the Hall” was another great sketch-comedy show that was pretty close to Python in a lot of ways, starting with the cross-dressing. But over all it’s pretty rare in comedy to see anyone addressing the form itself, or to be pretty brazen about being smart. That’s another point that Cross made: that the Pythons weren’t afraid of looking smart, which isn’t allowed so much in the U.S. We like our elected leaders dumb, and we like most of our comedy dumb. Python did plenty of dumb comedy, but it had a context. They’d be talking about Genghis Khan and Marat one minute, and the next there’d be a sixteen-ton weight falling on someone’s head. Given the erudition, it actually made the stupid stuff funnier. In terms of the fourth wall, maybe everybody feels like it’s been done, and to do it again would be redundant or irrelevant. But I think that there’s still a lot you can do with the structure itself. That’s one of the main things that attracted me to Monty Python. For me, it transcended being just a comedy show. I really felt that with so many of the shows, and definitely with the movies, especially “The Meaning of Life,” you were really watching an important piece of art.

Spamalot looks like it will be hard to get into, here in Chi-town. Still, am trying to get D enthused: she less of a die-hard fan. Me on the other hand can quote most of the skits, verbatim. I also watched with my dad, back in high school, on the Austex PBS station....

They’re starting it in Chicago?

Yeah, it sold out. I guess it’s running for five weeks in Chicago. But they sold out the run quickly, which made me very proud of my home town. It’s a great theatre town, obviously.

And the clever, creative sixteen-year-old smart-ass in Chicago who goes to see this show with his parents—are they likely to go back and dig up the old “Monty Python Flying Circus,” and what will they think?

You know, I re-watched most of the forty-five episodes, and they’re way stranger than I’d remembered. And as they went along the show became much harsher and weirder. I think that everybody would benefit from looking back at this stuff. “The Meaning of Life” is far darker than I’d remembered. I can’t remember anything since being that dark. I mean, nowadays, only animated stuff, like “The Simpsons” and “South Park,” can get away with that level of anger and bile and that sort of dim world view—but with them it goes down easier because they’re cartoons. In “The Meaning of Life,” there’s Mr. Creosote, who blows up, and then there’s the part where they show up at Terry Gilliam’s door, and he’s dressed as a Jewish Rastafarian, and they ask for his liver, because he signed up on an organ-donation list. But he didn’t read the fine print, and they get to take it whenever they want, so they do a live liver extraction. It’s the most disgusting thing. I don’t know if I’ve seen anything like it, especially not in a comedy. Then Idle steps out of the dead guy’s fridge and goes directly into “The Galaxy Song,” which is really humbling and beautiful at the same time. It’s really about the nature of the universe, in about two and a half minutes.

As opposed to being just about newsy buzz topics.

Well, exactly. It’s completely timeless. There’s not one minute of it that seems dated. Their stuff is a lot more sweeping and lasting than almost anything else, because they weren’t taking on current events—they were addressing history itself. History and sheep

--update, more archived here

Herbal remedies and heavy metals

| 1 Comment

From the Tribune we read of an alarmist report about herbal remedies.

A large number of traditional remedies associated with an ancient South Asian form of healing are laced with lead, mercury or arsenic, potentially posing a significant health risk, according to a new report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The finding is sure to be of interest to Chicago's fast-growing Indian and Pakistani community, where many recent immigrants and established residents remain strongly attached to traditions associated with ayurvedic medicine, one of the oldest healing arts in the world.

As many as 1 in 5 ayurvedic herbal treatments imported from Asia contained potentially harmful levels of heavy metals, according to a survey conducted in Boston and reported in the journal by researchers who tested more than 100 products.

Suspicious minds wonder, "who funded this study?" and will it be used in the upcoming "Herbal Remedies must be regulated, won't somebody please think of the children?" propaganda campaign?

(Questions rhetorical, of course)

per Altercation

An altercation reader posts about

"Barenaked for the Holidays" (Barenaked Ladies)

But I've found something new: The Barenaked Ladies' "Barenaked For The Holidays."  What a thrill!  They do everything from very respectful versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" with Sarah McLaughlin, followed by a very witty ode to Elves who want to unionize, "Elf's Lament," with lyrics spun at the speed of their popular "One Week."  We have roller rink organ stylings, straight ahead rock'n'roll, even a version of Deck The Halls ("Deck The Stills") sung entirely with the lyrics of "Crosby Stills Nash & Young."  These guys are so charmingly out of their minds, it's a joy to hear.  They even throw in a straight reading of "Do They Know It's Christmas," far and away a better Christmas charity song that MJ's treacly "We Are The World."  I mean come on Mike, It's supposed to be a charity song about starving people in Africa, and the title includes the plural pronoun 'we'?

The Ladies men also include "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah," and " I Have A Little Dreidl" for Jewish folks.  And it's all topped off by a very earnest "Auld Lang Syne" that is so solid and rootsy, it almost makes you want to thrust your cigarette lighter into the air and wave.

This is the funniest, most creative ChrismaHanuKwanza album I have heard in years, and I highly recommend it.

Citigroup Says It Will Issue American Express Cards:
American Express, which fought for the right to sign deals with banks that issue cards on the Visa and MasterCard networks, said that it won a contract with Citigroup.


Stringer Bell

The next to last episode of my favorite television hour, The Wire, rubbed out Stringer Bell.... Whacked! Another HBO Main Player Meets His End:

Fans of HBO's hit crime series "The Wire" may have been shocked off their couches last night when one of the show's main characters, the calculating drug dealer Stringer Bell, was gunned down in a gruesome ambush.

But it is unlikely that anyone in the Sunday-night audience was as stunned as Idris Elba, the 32-year-old actor who has brought Stringer to life since "The Wire" began three years ago. "When I first read the script I was like: 'What? No! This isn't supposed to happen,' " Mr. Elba said over dinner at an Upper West Side restaurant. "I was deeply disappointed. It was a surprise, a complete surprise."
Mr. Elba, who is far more sensitive than the stoic Stringer, said his last day of work was particularly emotional. Michael K. Williams, who plays Omar Devone Little, the gay, shotgun-toting thug who blasts away Stringer, said: "There were a lot of wet eyes on the set. I just had to keep telling myself that Idris is alive and he has a bright future ahead of him."

Fans of the show may be surprised to learn that Mr. Elba is not African American. The only child of a mother from Ghana and father from Sierre Leone, Mr. Elba was born and brought up in Hackney, a working-class borough of London. It is a fact he reluctantly shares with fans, preferring instead to use his American accent when talking with those who request autographs. "Wherever I go the real hard-core dudes come up to me and confide in me," said Mr. Elba, who over the years has been approached by dozens of drug dealers identifying with Stringer. "I almost feel guilty turning around and saying: 'Hello, mate. My name's Idris and I'm from London.' " Mr. Elba burst into an exaggerated version of his cockney accent. "I don't want to break the illusion."

I'd pay to see that particular interaction....

Is that a banana?

or perhaps a rocket in your pocket? There's really a million jokes ready to be made about this photo. He probably was just checking for the loose connection on the Presidential Wire
Bush and two friends, in a threesome

Thanks to First Draft for the laugh

some other thoughts on this ManDate from RisingHegemon:

"Ambidextrous George, able to be pitcher and catcher simultaneously"

"Mission Accomplished, I'll SAY!"

"Triple Sexpresso"

"It's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of that giant-assed ship behind me"

"Now THIS is a Man-Date!"

"When I said I wanted blow, that is not what I meant"

"Now this is the kind of Mr. Salty YOU can choke on"

"The Insurgents...are in my pants"


From Word of the Day

crinite (KRY-nyt) adjective


[From Latin crinitus, from crinis (hair). Ultimately from Indo-European root sker- (to turn or bend) that's also the fount of other words such as curve, crest, arrange, shrink, crow, and crisp.]

"Clad in worn jeans with a matching shirt, construction boots and a straw cowboy hat, the crinite foreman ambulated about as he showed how adobe blocks were made." Thom Tansey; In Search of Lost Civilizations; Rainbow Books; 2000.

Why is a hairless person called bald? Because his head is balled, etymologically speaking. The ball in balled in this case refers to a white patch (as in bald eagle). People have been resorting to all sorts of tricks -- even spray-painting their heads black -- as a fix to the problem.

Next time you decide to comb-over to hide that white patch, watch out. You might owe a fee to the patent owner for that technique. Yes, US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded a 1975 patent for comb-over:


A method of styling hair to cover partial baldness using only the hair on a person's head. The hair styling requires dividing a person's hair into three sections and carefully folding one section over another.

Inventors: Smith; Frank J. (233 Cosmos Drive, Orlando, FL 32807); Smith; Donald J. (517 Brockway Ave., Orlando, FL 32807)



Follow up on this post about Ragnarokr, at 33 Baldwin St., Toronto, and John Hagan's book, Northern Passage, here is a photo of the principals, circa 1971.


Click for a slightly larger version.

From Left to Right:
Randy Rauton, Steve Spring, Simone Spring, Honoria, Philip Mullins, Mary Rauton, George Mullins

Lightnin' Hopkins

Got a new box set comprising of Lightnin' Hopkins' collected output from his best years: 1946-1951. Surprisingly cheap for 126 songs.

"All the Classics 1946-1951" (Lightnin Hopkins)

Good stuff, if you are at all interested in guitar, musical history, or the blues.

Vegan Insomnia


“borrowed” from a recent edition of the New Yorker, is this cartoon of Vegan Insomnia. I thought it funny, but apparently some vegans don't have a sense of humor (must be lack of b12 in their diets....ahem)
Vegan Insomnia

update, to clarify, I don't really think Adam is humor-impaired. He probably isn't a real vegan!

Re-Sorting the Now Playing List

Pogue posts something that was borrowed from the TiVo cheat code page (I guess Pogue never googled TiVo codes)

Pogues Post: Resorting Now Playing List:
Turns out you can sort your Now Playing list, the list of shows that the TiVo has recorded and accumulated for you. If you have a Series 1 TiVo, or a DirecTV model, start with these steps:

Go to your Now Playing List (generally, that means pressing the TiVo or DirecTV button twice). Now press these four buttons in this sequence: Slow, 0 (zero), Record, Thumbs Up. You should hear three dings; that means it's ready!

(If you have a Series 2 TiVo, you can skip those steps and just jump to the good stuff:)

Now you can: Press 1 to sort the list alphabetically. This is a great feature, because it groups together all episodes of series shows.

Press 2 to sort it by expiration date.

Press 3 to sort the list by date of recording.

As a bonus, the mailing also offered a tip for Series 2 standalone TiVos, and the high-definition DirecTV HR10-250.

It’s a tip to jump to the beginning or end of the Now Playing list: the Advance (Skip-to-tick-mark) button. Each press of the button takes you back and forth between the top and bottom of the list.

Man—all these years. How did I live without these tricks?
update 12/16/04: Actually, on my DirecTiVo (sic), 1 and 3 are reversed - 1 sorts by date, 3 by alphabet.

College Fails in Bid to Grow Marijuana

From the headline, one almost would believe that UMass couldn't get their seeds to germinate.

College Fails in Bid to Grow Marijuana:

A University of Massachusetts request to grow marijuana so it can be tested for medical uses has been turned down by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

.... The dispute is over marijuana in its smoked or vaporized form. Capsules of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the plant's active ingredients, can be prescribed in many states for cancer and AIDS patients suffering nausea and appetite loss. But proponents of medical marijuana argue that the inhaled form is more effective and contains more than 50 active ingredients that the capsules do not.

In its order, drug agency said the lone government-licensed marijuana farm, operated by the University of Mississippi, grew enough for researchers. It said that 18 medical studies using the drug had been approved since 2000.

But Dr. Lyle E. Craker, the professor of plant biology at the University of Massachusetts who applied for the license three years ago, said researchers complained that the government's marijuana was weak and that it was hard to get permission to use it.

"We wanted to have a source independent from the government and with a known potency so doctors can run clinical trials," he said. Researchers would still have needed D.E.A. permission to work with the drug.

Really though, we wouldn't want to employ any scientific studies to actually investigate the killer weed.

Choose the Blue

From the Trib, we read:

For despondent Democrats there's a new treatment, if not a cure, for their lingering Election Day blues. Think retail therapy.

A Web site called Choose the Blue is offering shopping advice this holiday season, providing information about which companies' employees give to Democrats and which prefer Republicans.

Costco workers gave more to Democrats, for example, while Wal-Mart's preferred Republicans, according to campaign finance records. Donna Karan's people lean left. Fruit of the Loom's give to the right.

For Ann and Bill Duvall, the site's creators, Nov. 3 brought great disappointment--and a call to action.

"We woke up that morning just really devastated and depressed, and in some ways I'm grateful that we came up with this idea because that's where we've been able to put our energy," Ann Duvall, 56, said.

So Choose the Blue is self-help meets activism meets consumerism. Its goal is to shift vast amounts of wealth to people who support the Democrats' cause.

Using information from the Federal Election Commission Web site and the Center for Responsive Politics site,, the Duvalls give their fellow Democrats a gift that could keep on giving.

Again, I don't know how effective these sorts of boycotts are, but at least people are trying to do something other than complaining - which is the Republican method. That's a whole other topic though (how is that Republicans complain about being victimized when they control the White House, the Judiciary, the Congress, the major media outlets, etc. etc., doo da doo da).

and unsurprisingly, Tom Tomorrow (third reference in 24 hours, whoo hoo), agrees with me:

Netflix copies friendster

Don't know how useful this will be, but at least Netflix is still trying to grow its business.


In its latest move to fend off competitive threats, Netflix will let subscribers invite friends to peek at DVDs they've watched and read their opinions of the movies. If the invitation is accepted, the sender automatically gets reciprocal rights to read the friend's lists and reviews.

The concept copies an online networking approach popularized by such Web sites as LinkedIn, Friendster and Tribe. Those services connect people with common friends, hobbies and professional interests.

Netflix, facing competition from Blockbuster Entertainment Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., began testing its networking system last week and plans to expand it to all 2.3 million subscribers next month.

The company has long encouraged subscribers to post DVD reviews openly but those capsules appear in a scattershot manner and generally don't provide much information about the writer. Under the new system, people can focus on the picks and pans of those whose opinions they value

Tom Tomorrow RSS

Speaking of This Modern World, Tom Tomorrow finally has a RSS feed! This Modern World was the first blog I read on a regular basis, a few long, long years ago (like, maybe 3?), so has a certain place of honor in my personal pantheon. I discovered Eschaton, Daily Kos, skippy, and Counterspin from Dan's links.

Whoo hoo! So I can blame carpal tunnel on Tom Tomorrow! Wait till my lawyer hears this!

(updated sometime in 2006)

Gary Webb, RIP

Dead at 49, wrote about CIA and cocaine, and then got hounded out of his job. Anyone heard of the Opium Triangle, active in the 70's? Same basic thought: there is much money to be made selling drugs, and Black Ops need money and have access to all sorts of sneaky methods around laws, doo da, doo da.

I dunno, sounds extremely plausible to me. I read the extended obit in today's paper, and the "Party Line' is obviously that that Mr. Webb was a crackpot.

Gary Webb, 49, Journalist Who Wrote Disputed Articles, Is Dead:
Gary Webb wrote a series for The San Jose Mercury News in 1996 linking the C.I.A. to the spread of crack cocaine in Los Angeles. The articles were later [attacked by mainstream media].

Glancing around the web to see what else is said, read this by Jeff Cohen (via Tom Tomorrow)

mendacious, triple-barreled attack on Webb that came from the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.

The Post and others criticized Webb for referring to the Contras of the so-called Nicaraguan Democratic Force as "the CIA's army" -- an absurd objection since by all accounts, including those of Contra leaders, the CIA set up the group, selected its leaders and paid their salaries, and directed its day-to-day battlefield strategies.

The Post devoted much ink to exposing what Webb readily acknowledged -- that while he could document Contra links to cocaine importing, he was not able to identify specific CIA officials who knew of the drug flow. The ferocity of the attack on Webb led the Post's ombudsman to note that the three national newspapers "showed more passion for sniffing out the flaws" in the Webb series than for probing the important issue Webb had raised: U.S. government relations with drug smuggling.


In 1987 the House Narcotics Committee chaired by Charles Rangel probed Contra-drug allegations and found a need for further investigation. After the Washington Post distorted the facts with a headline "Hill Panel Finds No Evidence Linking Contras to Drug Smuggling," the paper refused to run Rangel's letter correcting the record.

That same year, Time magazine correspondent Laurence Zuckerman and a colleague found serious evidence of Contra links to cocaine trafficking, but their story was blocked from publication by top editors. A senior editor admitted privately to Zuckerman: "Time is institutionally behind the Contras. If this story were about the Sandinistas and drugs, you'd have no trouble getting it in the magazine." (The N.Y Times and Washington Post both endorsed aid to the Contra army, despite massive documentation from human rights monitors that they targeted civilians for violence and terror.)

In 1989, when Sen. John Kerry released a report condemning U.S. government complicity with Contra-connected drug traffickers, the Washington Post ran a brief report loaded with GOP criticisms of Kerry, while Newsweek dubbed Kerry a "randy conspiracy buff."

In this weekend's mainstream media reports on Gary Webb's death, it's no surprise that a key point has been overlooked -- that the CIA's internal investigation sparked by the Webb series and resulting furor contained startling admissions. CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz reported in October 1998 that the CIA indeed had knowledge of the allegations linking many Contras and Contra associates to cocaine trafficking, that Contra leaders were arranging drug connections from the beginning and that a CIA informant told the agency about the activity.

When Webb stumbled onto the Contra-cocaine story, he couldn't have imagined the fury with which big-foot reporters from national dailies would come at him -- a barrage that ultimately drove him out of mainstream journalism. But he fought back with courage and dignity, writing a book (Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion) with his side of the story and insisting that facts matter more than established power or ideology. He deserves to be remembered in the proud tradition of muckrakers like Ida Tarbell, George Seldes and I.F. Stone.

yes, and he will.


NBA referees have a tough job no doubt, but still, I think the game tonight between the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks was thrown Mark Cuban's way, courtesy of his blog posting about ref stats.....

Its time for my ref stat updates. As usual no names, no claims, just the facts and nothing more or less !

This week holds lots of fun facts that you can inspire your friends with.

Total fouls called are still up over last year , with an average of 48.17 in total fouls being called per game. (compared to 42.73 last year) 

The average number of calls by the 3 veteran officials who call the most total fouls is about 52, while the average of veteran officials who call the least fouls is about 44.

I'm only partially kidding, because the Bulls had several questionable calls go against them, and lost the game in the final 7 seconds after a phantom Bull player forced the ball out of bounds, giving the Mavs one last possesion, down by a point.

Bleh. Chicago played better than the Mavs, but still lost.

-update: this game seemed to have turned around the Bulls season.


From Adweek:

Nestle today said it is consolidating its U.S. media planning and buying with Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia, effective immediately.

The decision to consolidate comes as part of a global initiative to leverage Nestle's worldwide media expenditures, resulting in strengthened, more aligned strategic plans as well as greater efficiency, the company said in a statement.
Nestle's lead U.S. media shop had been Interpublic Group's Universal McCann. The client spends about $550 million annually on domestic ads, per
Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
In October, Nestle consolidated its global media account with WPP Group's GroupM and ZenithOptimedia. Those agencies had competed in a lengthy review against UM for the business [Adweek Online, Oct. 14]. At that time, it was unclear how Nestle's various assignments would shake out. All told, the client spends about $1.5 million annually on measured media.

Tinsely Mortimer gossip

for old times sake.... Tinsley Mortimer
B12 Partners Solipsism:
Tinsley Mortimer gossip
Jenna Gettting Nasty Tinsley Mortimer



I screwed up and over-wrote my saved feed preference in the essential software: Netnewswire. I know there is a way to restore my preference. I'll post it when I figure it out.

NetNewsWire: More news, less junk. Faster

Ahh, my man, GC:

Cancer? Suicide? Politics? That's Hilarious!:

As much as ever, George Carlin builds his humor around the taboo — his current routine includes long riffs on cancer, natural disasters and teenage suicide and yet somehow manages to get laughs.


Watched an interesting movie this week, Croupier.

"Croupier" (Mike Hodges) Not a typical "heist" movie, the crime element was not the focal point of the plot. Instead, character development, casino mise en scene, and sympathy for writers block were the pillars the movie was built around. Rating B+ (weak ending did not really explain the plot to my satisfaction, also an odd conversation with a detective in the final act that was more puzzling than elucidating) Also, according to IMDB

Disqualified from the Academy Awards after being shown on Dutch television

Amazon synopsis:

Suffering from a bad case of writer's block, author Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) sits in his London flat, staring at an empty computer screen and trying to find the words to narrate his meandering life. Reluctantly Jack accepts a job from his absentee father (Nicholas Ball) at a second-rate casino as a dealer, or croupier, a job he once held in South Africa. His immersion back into this world is intoxicating, thanks primarily to the power he holds over his nightly clientele. Jack is a straight arrow on the floor (unlike his coworkers) but the whisper of an inside-job robbery makes his life suddenly more intriguing, as do the women who begin to drift into his life: a fellow croupier (Kate Hardie) and an alluring gambler (Alex Kingston). Suddenly, Jack finds his own life is his best book material. There's something visceral about watching the world of gambling, and director Mike Hodges (who directed the original Get Carter) taps into this allure; Jack's simple croupier tryout--handling cards and chips with skill and grace--is as captivating as most action scenes in big popcorn films. In the end, this little film, which went on to become an art-house hit, is as unpredictable as a roll of the dice


Oscar Wilde:
"It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating."

amen, brother. I've been on both sides, and it's a lot better over here!

"Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: Stories, Plays, Poems and Essays" (Oscar Wilde, Vyvyan Holland)

Hank Williams

"Hank Williams - 40 Greatest Hits" (Hank Williams)

Today is a Hank Williams sort of day. Is there a better set of songs than the 40 from Hank Williams on this double disk set?

I have a large music collection, built up slowly over decades, and play songs based on mood mostly, sometimes by randomizing algorithms; Hank Williams has the lock on a certain melancholy stance. Being a speed freak probably helped, but Mr. Williams wrote a ton of great songs in a very short period of time.

that is all.

Hey, Good Lookin' from the album "40 Greatest Hits" by Williams, Hank

TMac's great game had help from Shaq-daddy- - Calls from Shaq motivate T-Mac vs. Mavs, Spurs:

The Rockets may need to consider adding Shaquille O'Neal to their payroll. Not as a player, but as a consultant. He would be paid simply to call and criticize his buddy, Tracy McGrady, before every game.

So far, O'Neal has made that phone call twice. The first time was before the Dallas game Dec. 2. Guard Tyronn Lue gave McGrady a message that the Miami Heat center said McGrady should step up his game. That night, McGrady had a season-high 48 points.

The second time was before the San Antonio game Thursday night. McGrady hadn't scored more than 18 points in either of the two games since his 48-point outburst. O'Neal, a teammate of Lue's in Los Angeles, called Lue again and told him to tell McGrady to wake up.

As O'Neal watched the nationally televised game, it was evident his message had reached McGrady. The Rockets' star orchestrated a stunning comeback by scoring 13 points in the final 35 seconds to give the Rockets an 81-80 victory over the Spurs. ... “After the game, he was definitely in the back of my mind,” McGrady said. “I was definitely going to call him and ask him if he saw the game. He knows how I play. He's watched me. He's like my big brother. And he told Ty Lue to tell me to stop playing — I don't want to say it on camera — but to stop playing like a girl.

This would easily be played on the Hardwood Classics channel a few years from now, if this was in the playoffs. Still, what an awesome display of basketball talent - mostly with supreme defender Bruce Bowen right in his face. I watched the TiVoed last 3 minutes of the game several times, shaking my head in wonderment. Although, in general, the Spurs are one of the teams I root for, in this game I was rooting for the underdog Rockets. I don't expect much to happen with the Rockets though this year, unless Jeff VG washes that Pat Riley slow-down grease from his hair, and starts recruiting spot-up 3 point shooters. Jim Jackson is not the answer, nor is Bob Sura. Both are 4th or 5th options, at best. Not to say that both of these guys aren't valuable players to have, but neither is going to stop defenses from collapsing on T-Mac and Yao. Update, thanks to YouTube (and True Hoop), here's the video

Glad to see that NYHotties aka A New York Escorts Confessions (sic) is still active. I received email from alexa back in September of this year, but wasn't sure if it was spam or not. She certainly has a voice of her own. Good for her.

I wondered if this isn't some art project, like those peek-holes with video cameras..... who knows.

Pete Resnick

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John Delacour answers a question I've had about Eudora for many years: who the heck is Pete?

Eudora adds the following tags to HTML MIME parts: "x-html", "!x-stuff-for-pete".

The author of the above Internet standard and the designer of the Eudora text engine.

Chicago Parking meters

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This new parking meter plan sounds like a good idea, with these caveats...
Are prices of parking going up? Seems like a motivation to charge more for parking. Some meters are $.25 for an hour; some are $.25 for 5 minutes. Also, now the City of Chicago is going to have credit card data on everyone who uses the meters (and also, the whole micro-payment thing - like the Apple iTunes store - is really taking off), what are they planning to do with it?

From the Trib:

The city has begun removing 1,000 parking meters from downtown streets, replacing them with 100 "pay and display" boxes positioned in the middle of each block.

Motorists will deposit coins or use credit cards at the solar-powered boxes, which will print receipts for display on car dashboards. More than 500 signs are being erected to make drivers aware of the change, and city "greeters" will be on duty for the first few days after the new devices are installed to help people use them.

Besides providing for multiple payment options and ridding streets of the clutter of meters, the new system will create more parking by eliminating one-size-fits-all spaces, officials said.

Parking Meters-1

Vietnam war resisters in Canada


I really was just looking for any photos of Ragnarokr (the store at 33 Baldwin St. that I remember so well, not the later incarnation, see here) to add somehow as an image on my “About(or should it be Aboot?) page, and stumbled on this book....

Robert Fulford's column about Vietnam war resisters in Canada:
John Hagan, a sociologist who has become an expert on draft dodgers, thinks that about half of the 50,000 Americans who came to Canada in the Vietnam-war era have, like him, remained here. But whatever happened to them? After three decades, where have all the dodgers gone?
It was a vivid, eventful period, and

Northern Passage (available at Amazon)
captures it deftly. John Hagan, now 55 and attached to the University of Toronto law school, has written on subjects such as the lives of lawyers, relations between the law and the Chinese in Canada, sentencing procedures and homelessness. At the moment he's studying the procedures of the war-crimes tribunal at The Hague. Last week he and I had lunch at a window table at Cafe la Gaffe, one of the 22 restaurants that today fill Baldwin Street, the little block south of the University of Toronto where dodgers roosted in the early 1970s.

We surveyed the Indonesian and Chinese restaurants across the street and tried to figure out precisely where the dodgers' famous photography gallery (long dead) was located -- was it next to the crafts store (also long dead), or farther along? This story has engaged Hagan for many years. He decided when he first arrived in Canada that he would someday tell it, and in the 1990s he conducted sociological interviews with the war resisters. He spent two arduous years in the editing process with Harvard University Press, because he wanted an account of these people (who are mostly forgotten in the U.S. as well as Canada) to have a place on the top rung of American academic publishing.

The Toronto dodgers found their geographical focus, by a process no one remembers, on a downtrodden street that was mostly abandoned by the old Jewish community and not yet taken up by the Chinese. Dozens of dodgers settled around Baldwin, then scores, then a few hundred. Many newcomers went there to find their feet and quickly moved on. Over five years, one house contained roughly 100 different dodgers for brief periods. Baldwin Street acquired co-operative craft stores (the Yellow Ford Truck and Ragnarokr), a cheap clothing store (the Cosmic Egg), the Whole Earth Natural Foods Store, and the Baldwin Street Gallery, a pioneering photography centre. One of the gallery's owners, John Phillips, turned out to be an especially enthusiastic new Canadian. Many years later he recalled the day he drove into Canada as a moment of ecstasy, one of the happiest times of his life.

Baldwin Street developed a communal atmosphere, what one deserter (originally from Vermont) later recalled as a small-town feeling. It was a place where people knew their neighbours and enjoyed the consolations of familiarity and acceptance. It was a community built around a political issue, however, and the issue was resolved when the Carter administration forgave the dodgers and invited them home. The Baldwin Street ghetto lost its reason for being, and before the 1970s were over it vanished. Some of the people who had needed it were by then back home, being Americans again, and many of the others had turned into Canadians.

I remember the Yellow Ford Truck (a door or two down), but don't really remember going inside often. The Cosmic Egg I vaguely remember as being about half a block away, but the Whole Earth Natural Foods still evokes smell memories, including a big vat of freshly ground peanut (or other nut) butter. John Philips I recall as well, and his son Morgan was one of my playmates for a time.

Amazon has the index to the book, and I see Steven Burdick, Philip Mullins, Janice Spellerberg listed. Maybe I'm spelling Ragnarokr incorrectly too, doh!

and a fairly nit-picking article about Hagan's book, here

Captain Conflict Kerik?

Can we spell conflict of interest? I'd spell it K*e*r*i*k, at least today....

The New York Times > Washington > Security Post Would Put Kerik Atop Field That Enriched Him:

Just five years ago, Bernard B. Kerik was facing lawsuits from a condominium association and bank over delinquent payments owed on a modest New Jersey condo he owned. Today, he is a multimillionaire as a result of a lucrative partnership with former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and an even more profitable relationship with a stun-gun manufacturer.

If he is confirmed to the post of homeland security secretary, to which President Bush nominated him last week, he will oversee an enormous department that does business with some of the companies that helped make him wealthy.

... But it is the relationship Mr. Kerik has had since the spring of 2002 with Taser International, a Scottsdale, Ariz., manufacturer of stun guns, that has by far been the biggest source of his newfound wealth. That relationship has earned him more than $6.2 million in pretax profits through stock options he was granted and then sold, mostly in the last month. A White House spokesman said Mr. Kerik would resign from Taser's board and sell his remaining stock if confirmed.

As and Steve Gilliard notes, [since deleted], Giuliani probably didn't win any friends in the White House suggesting Kerik be appointed.....

Bernie? Quit a job early?

You mean like Iraq?

... Kerik was unsuitable for the job for any number of reasons. Competence being the primary one. I should have opposed him instead of looking for the payoff.

Well, Rudy, instead of delivering a chit, your knucklehead paisan just embarassed the President. Don't expect any calls from the West Wing any time soon.

Man, what an idiot.



Oh, I see, it isn't all of the conflicts of interest that derailed his confirmation, it was an unpaid nanny tax a few years ago. My bad, I thought there might be a real issue being discussed here. Could this be just a variant of "flu like symptoms"? An excuse to avoid discussion on underlying issues? Nahhh, not in this White House.

one more update, according to J Marshall, Newsweek faxed copies of arrest warrants, issued in 1998, to the White House for comment around 6 pm. Two hours later, Kerik withdrew.

Pound Get a Blow, redux

Regarding my puzzlement over the phrase "Pound Get a Blow", I happened to go to Allmusic to look up some other Tosh song (Reggae Mylitis, if you are curious). This is what they write....


In 1967, Britain's ever burgeoning trade imbalance resulted in a major devaluation of the pound, which dropped a massive 40 cents against the dollar, down from two dollars and 80 cents. As can be imagined, the knock-on effect to Jamaica and other former British colonies, whose economies and currencies were tied to the U.K.'s, was severe.

Jamaica was soon forced to devalue its own currency and watched in despair as the cost of crucial imports went through the roof. The inevitable result was that everyday necessities were suddenly priced beyond many people's reach.

This dire economic situation was reflected in numerous songs released during 1968, the Wailers' "Pound Get a Blow" included. The group attempts to soften the blow with a sweet rocksteady melody, lovely harmonies, and a brightly upbeat arrangement. The lyrics, though, offer no hope at all. "Prepare for starvation," the Wailers warn, taking the opportunity to remind listeners, "Remember I told you, you're gonna bend down low," a line from their recent hit single "Bend Down Low."

Like that song, "Pound" was released on the group's own Wail N Soul M label. More crucially, here, for the first time, Peter Tosh takes on production duties. He does an excellent job, and thus many date the beginnings of his solo career to this lovely, timely number.

I used to use AMG quite extensively, checking out their little synopsis of music history. However, since Allmusic updated their site a few months ago, I hardly ever visit it anymore. Loads incredibly slow (on Safari and Camino, and probably Firefox too) on my T1 internet connection, and forgets that I 'registered', leading me to conduct searches twice (I don't understand the reasoning, but once you 'log in', you are kicked back to the AllMusic home page instead of back to your search results). They may have spent money adding nicer graphics and so forth, but I think the new site sucks. Thus I missed important information about Pound Get a Blow!

Damn you Allmusic group webmaster!!

Cellphones at 35,000 Feet?

I suspect part of the reason passengers have to turn off their cellphones, and iPods for that matter, is simply that the flight attendant union (Association of Flight Attendants -CWA) wants to have some power over flyers. I mean, why do you have to turn off your iPod? Makes no sense.

NYT: Cellphones at 35,000 Feet?:
Federal regulators plan next week to begin considering rules that would end the official ban on cellphone use in commercial flights.... Technical challenges and safety questions remain. But if the ban is lifted, one of the last cocoons of relative social silence would disappear, forcing strangers to work out the rough etiquette of involuntary eavesdropping in a confined space.

"For some people, the idea of being able to pick up their phone is going to be liberating; for some it's going to drive them crazy," said Addison Schonland, a travel industry consultant at the Innovation Analysis Group in La Jolla, Calif. "Can you imagine 200 people having a conversation at once? There's going to be a big market for noise-canceling headphones."
and this is the other reason: flight rage.

PowerStick juices up iPod battery

From MacCentral:

PowerStick juices up iPod battery

Salt Lake City, Utah-based Audio Outfitters LLC on Friday introduce the iPod PowerStick, an auxiliary power source for Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod. Using 4 AA batteries inside an external battery pack that attaches to Dock Connector-equipped iPods, the iPod PowerStick charges up the iPod's own internal battery, helping to triple the battery life of the iPod, according to the manufacturer. The iPod PowerStick features an on/off switch and an LED. Audio Outfitters lists the iPod PowerStick for US$27.99; it's being sold presently for $20.99.



Googling old long-lost friends is an art-form, one that I am not so adept at. For some reason, today I was thinking of the crew of friends I had in college, Trey Buck, Brad Lee, Lisa Henderson, Matt Swift, Deanna Miesch, Ed Baker (whose name escapes me momentarily), Kim Dolmanet, Karen Clark, Gill, and others. We had a lot of fun together, camping, partying, living the BoHo life.

I did find Matt:

The ever-desirable ice cream - The Daily Texan - Focus:

Austin's most famous establishment is Amy's Ice Cream, which originated here in 1984. Amy's is known for its creativity when it comes to ice cream.

“At Amy's there is an element of theater and showiness, including tricks, jokes and playing good music,” said Matthew Swift, manager of the Sixth Street location. “It's a package deal that goes beyond just good ice cream.”

and I found Deanna's defunct website, and a link to her gallery on Tillery St.

oh well. What would I say anyway, I did see Brad Lee walking on Guadalupe St. once, but didn't stop to say anything.

Amazon Rents DVDs by Mail in U.K.

Netflix watchers, like myself, were aware that Amazon was entering this market, eventually.
Amazon Rents DVDs by Mail in U.K.: Inc. entered the increasingly competitive DVD rental-by-mail business with the introduction of a service aimed at movie fans in the U.K.

The Seattle-based Internet retailer Thursday introduced two plans under which consumers can order DVDs over the Internet and have them delivered to their homes through the mail: customers who pay £s;9.99 a month (US$19.32) receive three videos at a time, up to six a month, while those who pay £s;7.99 receive two DVDs at a time, up to four a month. Like other companies with similar services, Amazon isn't charging late fees on videos, which consumers return by putting them into special envelopes and dropping them in the mail.

Amazon's entry into the business was expected since the biggest company in the market, Netflix Inc., said in October that it expected Amazon to launch a competitive service in the near future. Amazon wouldn't say when it plans to introduce a DVD rental service in the U.S. or other countries, though executives said they believe the company is in a good position to do so eventually.


Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix of Los Gatos, Calif., believes Amazon first entered the U.K. market because the entire country can be serviced effectively from one warehouse, which Amazon already operates on the outskirts of London. In the U.S., in contrast, Netflix has a network of 30 warehouses near metropolitan areas so that it can provide over-night delivery of movies to the vast majority of its customers. Amazon has six warehouses in the U.S. for its existing retail business, many of them in rural areas.

When Netflix first started, they only had a few warehouses, and my experience was 'unreliable', to be kind. Now, most discs reach me within a day or two, a vast improvement.

Pound Get a Blow

a track by Peter Tosh (with Bob Marley, backing vocals), entitled Pound Get a Blow. What the heck does this phrase mean?

Recorded late 1967 for the Wailer's self-owned label Wail'n Soul'm at West Indies Studios, Kingston, Jamica. Peter Tosh and Bob Marley on lead and backing vocals, Rita Marley on backing vocals. Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore and Tommy McCook on horns, Hugh Malcolm on drums and Jackie Jackson on bass. Jamaican single with Funeral on the flip-side. Produced by The Wailers.

available on the spectacular

"Honorary Citizen" (Peter Tosh) box set

update: I consulted the booklet (when I found it, misfiled), which says:

With Bunny in jail on charges of ganja possession, Bob's wife Rita Marley filled in on harmony while Peter and Bob traded off lead and harmony roles on "Pound Get a Blow."
"This devaluation, it cause an eruption. Oh what a destruction. Prepare for starvation." ...etc.
So, I guess my suspicion was correct: a song about the devaluation of the (Jamaican) pound. a variant of the lyrics here ---- update: see here for more details

Light tutorial

Via High Priest of a Low Cult, we've found an interesting light tutorial worth exploring....

Digital paint<
There seems to be very little information available in detailed form on what appears to me to be a crucial subject for artists of all kinds: light in all the guises in which we encounter it on a daily basis. I've read countless books dealing with digital and traditional art and the subject of light only ever seems to be touched on very lightly (pardon the pun). Yet to anyone wishing to create an illusion of reality should have a good understanding of how light behaves in the physical world.

solecism of the Day: solecism:
solecism \SOL-uh-siz-uhm\, noun:
1. A nonstandard usage or grammatical construction; also, a minor blunder in speech.
2. A breach of good manners or etiquette.
3. Any inconsistency, mistake, or impropriety

Solecism comes from Latin soloecismus, from Greek soloikizein, "to speak incorrectly," from soloikos, "speaking incorrectly," literally, "an inhabitant of Soloi," a city in ancient Cilicia where a dialect regarded as substandard was spoken.

Optical speakers


I rewarded myself for days of slogging through DLA's year end financials with the droolable Logitech Z-5500 speakers. Wowsa!
I had to order a special fiber-optic digital audio cable to connect to my G5 get the full effect, but having received the cable today, all I can say is YOWSA!. These suckers are awesome. I can only really set the volume to about 2 during the workday, but it's very clear strong sound output.

More drooling found here

Also, per Henry Thomas

the "Diagnostic Mode" you get by pressing and holding the "Input" and "Effect" buttons simultaneously for six seconds while the unit is off? It starts telling you stream information from your digital sources, just like a receiver does! Very cool!

I bought the

Monster 1m Toslink Digital Fiber Optic Cable,


Kobe is in charge

If there was any doubt about who is actually running the show (time) Lakers.....

From LAT

“If I felt like he [Karl Malone] was a distraction, I would have said it,” Bryant said. “I didn't say anything like, 'I don't want him to come back' or 'He's a distraction.' I didn't say anything like that. It was in no way intended as an attack toward Karl or anything like that. I just wanted to make sure that my players know that I believe in them and I believe in what we have. If Karl comes back, it's going to be a tremendous addition to our ballclub, but if he doesn't, I'm fine with rolling with the guys that we have here because I have confidence in them too.”

In the radio interview, Bryant said teammates wondered if their playing time would disappear if Malone returned.

“It's not really fair to hold [Malone's situation] over the guys' heads that are here,” he said Monday. “They are here giving me 110% … I mean, you can't sit up here and speculate for the remainder of the season whether or not he is going to come back.”

Malone told The Times on Tuesday he had fostered strong feelings for the organization during his only season with the Lakers, but “when your star player doesn't want you there, I take hints easily.”

and, good, now I can go back to hating Karl Malone. Why else would he want to wait to see which team he will sign for? One reason: whichever team looks like it is going to win the championship is the team that Malone wants to sign for (Timberwolves or San Antonio Spurs, if they'll sign him). Malone has watched enough Lakers games this year to know they won't be going the distance this season. Karl Malone is one of those guys who is probably a good guy, but who is an asshole of a player. I cut him some slack last year, because he seemed like the most heads up guy on the dysfunctional Lakers.

update: Ric Boucher agrees with me (why else would I quote him?)

Every indication from Malone, meanwhile, is that he doesn't want to move his family or play for another team. If he wanted the best shot at a championship, he would've signed up with San Antonio months ago. If he wanted to be a big fish in a smaller pond, he would've gone to Minnesota. If he wanted to play last year's role, he could've gone to Miami.

So why not simply end all the goofy intrigue? (And if it weren't still a mystery to everyone, including the Lakers, Kobe never would've felt compelled to say what he did.)

This comes off as another ruse to squeeze every last bit of courtship and love from all concerned. Malone even reopened the door that Manley slammed shut, essentially saying he wouldn't use such “strong words” about not returning. Which means for the right amount of additional love he'll go ahead and do what he planned all along.

No matter what Malone does, his official accomplishments as a player won't be diminished. His place among the 50 Greatest is secure. He'll have a plaque in the Hall of Fame. But in the unwritten annals, in the minds of those who keep their own scorecards on what players were, this latest little outburst assures that his thumbnail sketch will include: Great Player. Manly Man. Drama Queen.

R.E.M. reissuses

From Flagpole (via largehearted boy), we read that every R.E.M. album we own (more than a few) is now worth 25 cents, because I'll have to purchase (some) again....

Flagpole Magazine:

R.E.M.ainders: Details have also emerged on the upcoming re-issues of R.E.M.'s Warner catalog. Warner Brothers will reissue expanded editions of every R.E.M. album it's released, which means everything from 1988's Green up until this year's Around the Sun will get the special treatment. The double-disc editions will include remastered versions of the original albums and DVDs that'll include the same music remixed in 5.1 Dolby surround as well as documentaries and unreleased video footage. All the editions hit stores on February 15

sort of mercenary, you should be able to trade in your old copies. On the other hand, at least I won't have to get them all, because some albums are pretty lame, in retrospect.

Mossberg on Mac OS X

Walt Mossberg rips Windows, yet again. I would assume that the P.R. people at Microsoft are wondering how to get him fired from the WSJ. But then the creatives at MS probably are allowed to use a Mac as well. - Personal Technology:
A big reason for this slide backward is the failure of Microsoft to cope adequately with the security crisis. The software giant, which has reaped tens of billions of dollars from its Windows monopoly, first designed the operating system with too little attention to security. Then, it failed to move quickly enough or comprehensively enough to respond to the security problem. As a result, most of the gains in ease of use that the company delivered to users in 2001 with the sleek, stable Windows XP operating system have been reversed.....

But [Microsoft's] dominant Internet Explorer Web browser has fallen way behind smaller rivals in features and functionality. Its free Outlook Express e-mail program hasn't had a major upgrade in years. And it won't have an all-new version of Windows until 2006.

Meanwhile, the company's historic rival, Apple Computer, has been making giant strides in ease of use. The Macintosh, with its OS X operating system, is rock solid. It is elegant, and -- when you do a feature-by-feature price comparison with Windows competitors -- it's surprisingly affordable.

The Mac is also packed with extras that Windows lacks. It has a suite of easy, free, multimedia programs that can't be matched on Windows at any price. It has a better free browser and e-mail program than Windows. It can read and create PDF files without requiring the purchase of any extra software.

Apple upgrades its operating system far more often than Microsoft does. The company's new iMac G5 model is the single best desktop computer I have ever reviewed. And Apple is the only computer company whose business is focused on consumers and small businesses.

Best of all, the current Mac operating system has never been attacked by a successful virus, and almost no spyware can run on it. This is largely because the Mac's small market share presents an unattractive target for digital criminals. But it's partly because the Mac operating system is harder to penetrate. I'm sure there will eventually be viruses that afflict Mac users, but nowhere near the 5,000 new Windows viruses that appeared in just the first six months of this year.

In terms of ease of use, Apple has opened a greater lead over Microsoft than at any time since the late 1980s, when the Mac was pioneering the graphical user interface and Microsoft users were stuck with crude, early versions of Windows.

Microsoft and the PC hardware companies that use Windows need to do much, much more to solve the security crisis and rescue the gains in ease of use they made in the 1990s.

Tags: , /, /


More on the Sprewell 'commentary' via the Sports Guy

Bill Simmons: Page 2 - Behind the Bench, Vol. 3:
As I mentioned during my last installment of "Behind the Bench," my seats are situated only a few rows behind the visitor's bench, which allows me to monitor everyone on the opposing team. This way you get to see things like Minnesota's Michael Olowokandi leering at the Clipper cheerleaders, oblivious to Flip Saunders drawing up a play for his teammates. You can't put a price on this stuff.

But the highlight -- er, lowlight of the young season happened on Saturday night, as Kandi Man's T-Wolves were finishing off a frisky Clips team in OT (more on this later). With two minutes to play, a frustrated Clippers fan started heckling Latrell Sprewell (nothing over the line). Standing near his own bench, Spree turned angrily towards the crowd and screamed "SUCK MY (Dick)!" -- which was news to us because we didn't realize it was Suck Latrell Sprewell's (Dick) Night. You would have thought the Clippers would have promoted this better.

Sitting in the row right behind Minnesota's bench, a female fan named Wendy quickly upbraided Spree, yelling back, "Watch your language, there are kids in this section!" Which there were. Spree should know that you shouldn't use obscenities around children, since he has about 16 of them. (I'm joking, he actually has three.) Of course, Spree glared at her and responded, "HEY, (Fuck) YOU, BITCH!" Clearly, this is a league that knows how to reach its fans. For a second, Spree looked like he might charge into the stands before Sam Cassell came over to calm him down.

If the world had voted....

too funny not to borrow from Kos...

If the world had electoral votes.....
if the World had voted....

Sprewell-fan exchange

Hmmm, I'll have to see if the blogosphere (YSPCTP)* has the goods on what actually happened. I was eating dinner out, and didn't watch the game. - NBA - League looking into Sprewell-fan exchange:

The NBA is reviewing comments Timberwolves swingman Latrell Sprewell allegedly made to a heckler during Minnesota's overtime victory Saturday over the Los Angeles Clippers, according to a newspaper report.

Sprewell responded to the female heckler with a sexually vulgar term, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported in its Tuesday editions.

The comment was apparently picked up by a courtside microphone and was broadcast by Los Angeles television station KTLA and by the Timberwolves' broadcast on KSTC television in Minnesota.

*Yes, Skippy Probably coined This Phrase

No word on whether 5 second tape delays of all sporting events are to be enacted, per request by the FCC.....


Update, Sprewell apparently yelled "suck my dick" to the woman. Oooooh. I'm sure that line's never been spoken before.
And KTLA apparently is going to implement a tape delay. Wouldn't anyone to hear anything 'nasty', like Fallujah, or Abu Ghraib.


words to live by...
"I love a martini at dinner, or possibly two at most; but if I have three I'm under the table, and after four I'm under my host.
Dorothy Parker"

Two Minds re Sam's Wines

jeez. I'm of two minds regarding these allegations. Kickbacks shouldn't be required to do business, but also the liquor industry is intensely over-regulated, especially in Illinois, and thus ripe for corruption. When I moved here, I was shocked that underage cashiers couldn't even touch bottles of wine to scan them: a more senior employee (or sometimes, me - the customer) would even have to press the cash register button. As if the 'evil liquor' would jump through the bottle and corrupt innocents...
Granted you can buy whiskey at 6 am on Sunday, at a drugstore, or elsewhere (in Texas no hard liquor available on Sunday, and only at specialized liquor stores the rest of the week, and Sunday sales of wine or beer only after 12 noon).

From the Tribune:

State regulators have hit Sam's Wines & Spirits, one of the nation's largest liquor retailers, with a lengthy list of citations, including allegations of extorting kickbacks from alcohol distributors and operating an illegal warehouse.

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission is seeking a settlement from the giant Lincoln Park-based store, but regulators warned they would seek to revoke the company's liquor license if the case goes to a hearing.

Based on a months-long investigation that began last spring, the 15-count citation delivered to Sam's last week alleges the store set up a marketing company to extort money from liquor distributors who wanted to sell their products through Sam's.

Sam's also broke state liquor laws by operating an unlicensed off-site warehouse, selling to other retail stores, using its size to demand exclusive prices from distributors, and failing to pay distributors within the required time frame, said Michael Malone, executive director of the Liquor Control Commission.


Some industry experts point out that much of what Sam's is accused of doing would be perfectly acceptable business practices in other retail industries.

oh, and I frequently shop at Sam's - the prices are excellent, as is the selection.

update 5/16/06, case settled.



Capitalism means never having to say you are sorry, or something pithy about choice. Who knows. I think I had the perfect bon mot, but the cat ate it.... Anyway, for posterity.... Via digby, we read:
Hullabaloo :
With the holidays upon us, some of us might wish to be mindful of who we patronize relative to their Election Cycle political donations, as reported by the Center for Responsive Politics.


* Price Club/Costco donated $225K, of which 99% went to democrats;
* Rite Aid, $517K, 60% to democrats;
* Magla Products (Stanley tools, Mr. Clean), $22K, 100% to democrats;
* Warnaco (undergarments), $55K, 73% to democrats;
* Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, $153K, 99% to democrats;
* Estee Lauder, $448K, 95% to democrats;
* Guess ? Inc., $145K, 98% to democrats;
* Calvin Klein, $78K, 100% to democrats;
* Liz Claiborne, Inc., $34K, 97% to democrats;
* Levi Straus, $26K, 97% to democrats;
* Olan Mills, $175K, 99% to democrats.
* Gallo Winery, $337K, 95% to democrats;
* Southern Wine & Spirits, $213K, 73% to democrats;
* Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons (includes beverage business, plus considerable media interests), $2M+, 67% democrats.
* Sonic Corporation, $83K, 98% democrat;
* Triarc Companies (Arby's, T.J. Cinnamon's, Pasta Connections), $112K, 96% Democrats;
* Hyatt Corporation, $187K, 80% to democrats;


WalMart, $467K, 97% to republicans;
K-Mart, $524K, 86% to republicans;
Home Depot, $298K, 89% to republicans;
Target, $226K, 70% to republicans;
Circuit City Stores, $261K, 95% to republicans;
3M Co., $281K, 87% to republicans;
Hallmark Cards, $319K, 92% to republicans;
Amway, $391K, 100% republican;
Kohler Co. (plumbing fixtures), $283K, 100% republicans;
B.F. Goodrich (tires), $215K, 97% to republicans;
Proctor & Gamble, $243K, 79% to republicans;
Coors, $174K, 92% to republicans; (also Budweiser - sd)
Brown-Forman Corp. (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, Bushmills, Korbel wines - as well as Lennox China, Dansk, Gorham Silver), $644, 80% to republicans;
Pilgrim's Pride Corp. (chicken), $366K, 100% republican;
Outback Steakhouse, $641K, 95% republican;
Tricon Global Restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), $133K, 87% republican;
Brinker International (Maggiano's, Brinker Cafe, Chili's, On the
Border, Macaroni Grill, Crazymel's, Corner Baker, EatZis), $242K, 83% republican;
Waffle House, $279K, 100% republican;
McDonald's Corp., $197K, 86% republican;
Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze), $121K, 89% republican;
Mariott International, $323K, 81% to republicans;
Holiday Inns, $38K, 71% to republicans

Glad to hear this, hope to hear his color commentary at Houston Rocket games again this year..... - NBA - Murphy acquitted in sexual abuse case:
NBA Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy (aka Pocket Rocket) was acquitted Monday of charges he sexually abused five of his 10 daughters more than a decade ago.

Murphy shook hands with his attorney and wiped away tears after the verdict was read.

Murphy, 56, had long denied the allegations, saying they were based on resentment and a dispute over money.
Murphy was a Houston Rockets guard from 1970-83 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Spyware on My Machine? So What?

One word in response to the article's allegation: Bullshit

Spyware on My Machine? So What?:
There's a reason why so many PCs are infected with spyware and adware: Users seem to have stopped caring about having online privacy. Many are saying spyware is a small price to pay for free applications. By Michelle Delio.

Limbaugh Coulter, fiends

Ha, wouldn't that be a gas. Books | "All my heroes were dope fiends":
Salon: Speaking of conflicts, torments and weirdness, have you been keeping up on your political reading? Now that the election's over, the only people left on the bestseller lists are Jon Stewart and Ann Coulter. I saw Coulter on TV recently, and she looked exhausted or strung out.

Stahl: Do you think it's drugs or anorexia?

I don't think it's either. I just think she's just tired, or maybe she just looks that way.

I heard that vicious rumor that she was Rush Limbaugh's drug buddy.

No way!

Sort of the Courtney Love to his Kurt Cobain. I mean, not a lot of people are talking about it, but I'm just saying, that could be. That's an image you might want to put in your brain. But I don't even want to speculate what she's up to. That's the thing, I don't judge. If she needs a little recreational crack, God bless her.

I thought you were serious for a second.

Yeah, the Kurt and Courtney of the conservatives and neocons. I'm just saying that could be. I'm not saying that's my next book, I'm not saying it isn't. But it's something to think about. She is skinny and it doesn't look natural.

Yeah, but Rush didn't exactly lose any weight as a junkie. He's still a pig.

Well, some people go up and some people go down. I mean, Charlie Parker was a fat junkie because of all the candy bars and shit, so Rush obviously wasn't on an exercise regimen. I'm just thinking that Ann has more discipline, you know?

Rush Limbaugh a junkie -- it's such a delicious thing. It's the same type of thrill you got when Jimmy Swaggart got caught in a motel room jerking off on a prostitute. It's such a weirdly American breed of hypocrisy, like George Bush posing as a brush-clearing regular Joe instead of the zillionaire Ivy League, born entitled, never-had-to-fill-out-a-job-application oil skeek that he is. Not that that's all bad: If you and I could banish our dirty piss tests like Bush did in the Guard, America would be a better place for all involved.

On a more serious note, you have to give Rush credit -- he's probably done more to curb the spread of opiate use in this country than anybody. When I was coming up, you had this hipster dope-fiend legacy: Lenny Bruce, Miles Davis, Burroughs, Richards and Nick Cave. Now you've got ... Rush Limbaugh. I mean, who wants to do the same drug as some overfed, unlaid right-wing toady? I can just picture Rush scratching his nose and explaining his anti-immigration policy to the maid he bought his shit from. Buying Dilaudid from your maid -- does it get any more Republican?


Tommy Heinsohn, Boston Celtic television announcer on the Sacramento King's experiment-Greg Ostertag:

“The Abominable Snowman”!

yeah, that's appropriate somehow.....

When the game started to tighten up (Kings rallied from 20 points behind), Ostertag ran off the bench to mid-court yelling and waving his towel when Songalia made an offensive rebound/putback in traffic.

Also, Bobby Jackson doesn't look very happy. Seemed a little withdrawn and dour. Maybe something up there....

Lower back excercise

Since I'm such a fuckin' slacker, my back muscles are weak. Weak, I tell you. Plane flights kill me, so too moving large objects. These exercises sound like a solution.

From the Trib/WashingtonPost

The good news, Richard Cotton [former chief exercise physiologist for the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation.] said, is that you needn't put much time into your back muscles: One set of 15 reps of even one exercise per workout will do the trick.

A few choices:

- Lie on your stomach, hold your arms down at your sides and lift your shoulders off the floor 3 to 5 inches. Do five and see how you feel the next morning. Gradually increase until you can do 15 without next-day discomfort.

- The Plank: Brace yourself on your forearms and your toes, face down, and tighten your torso to create a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold for 30 seconds. Reach three minutes and you're a hero.

- Finally, the Flying Superman: Lie face-down, arms outstretched and legs slightly spread. Simultaneously raise all four limbs. Hold for five seconds and release. Ignore the people laughing at you and repeat to fatigue.

Do any or all of these exercises for a couple of weeks with days off between.

Some other good ones here


Lincoln Park

Very peaceful and serene spot in Lincoln Park, near the North Pond Cafe, except for inexplicable reasons, there is a sewer pipe nearby, which occasionally wafts a foul odor, ruining the moment....

T'ain't urban life grand?

Chicago's Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park, near sunset


I'm borrowing more from Adriaan, 'cause I can....


Like a Rolling blown

wow, who woulda thunk it? Record label “suits” clueless! Even though Like a Rolling Stone is not one of my favorite Dylan songs (maybe in top 20, barely, if you include some killer live versions), there is no doubt that it drastically changed the literary tenor of the rock world. Amazingly, almost didn't get released at all!

The New York Times The Hit We Almost Missed:

T'S official, I guess. Forty years after he recorded it, Bob Dylan's “Like a Rolling Stone” was just named the greatest rock 'n' roll song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, a tribute it had previously been given by New Musical Express, Britain's leading pop-music weekly. Quite an honor, considering that the single was almost never released.

“Like a Rolling Stone” was recorded on June 15, 1965, in Studio A at 799 Seventh Avenue, then the New York headquarters of Columbia Records, where I worked as the coordinator of new releases, scheduling every step of a record's production. (On the top floor of the building, the modest studio had been used by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand.) When the edited tape was played a few days later for Mr. Dylan and his manager, the reaction was unanimous: it would be a hit and should be released immediately.

Gmail invite

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Tel Melamed, apparently of Tel Aviv, Israel, asked me, out of the blue, for a gmail invite. I agreed, if he would give me something in return; a poem, a story, some pictures, an interesting tale, something. He sent photos of his service in the Israeli army....fair enough. I sent the invite.

Tal Melamed

Tal Melamed

Let's get this straight: a PR event, reported in all the local and national media, claiming that a new, almost liberal-sounding program is going to be initiated, but in the fine print, we find that it is already underfunded, and the active participants aren't sure how to pay for any of it. Hmmm, sounds like the Bush Administration strikes again. Lets see what actually gets accomplished.

Mars, biatches!

Officials Lay Groundwork for Cleanup of Great Lakes:

The United States and Canada signed a declaration on Friday that outlines a plan to clean up the Great Lakes and the major waterways that feed them.

... The collaboration sets forth a framework for establishing committees, lines of communication and overarching goals leading to cleaner water - the Great Lakes contain about 20 percent of the world's fresh water supply and serve as a source of drinking water for more than 30 million people in the United States and Canada.

Specific targets include pollution controls for agricultural and industrial runoff into the lakes; new efforts to restore and protect wetlands, forests and indigenous species; and the elimination of invasive species, like the Illinois carp, which Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois called "a terrorist of the Great Lakes ecosystem."

The framework also proposes deadlines, with a preliminary plan due in six months and a final strategy to put the plan fully in motion due six months after that. Mr. Leavitt describe the program as "not a redoing, but a redoubling" of existing efforts.

What the framework does not provide, however, is a financing scheme, asserting that those who signed the declaration acknowledge that participation "is subject to funding availability."

That raised concerns for some participants.

Representative Rahm Emanuel, a Chicago Democrat who has introduced legislation that would provide $4 billion over five years for essentially the same goals as those in the framework, said the new effort would fail without adequate money. The bill, a bipartisan effort sponsored by more than 100 House members, and a companion Senate bill are languishing in committee.

In an interview, Mr. Emanuel criticized Mr. Bush as promising more money for Great Lakes cleanup projects, only to back off in his budget requests. Mr. Emanuel also said that the framework's goals and partners were virtually the same as those in an effort proposed in 2002 by Mr. Leavitt's predecessor, Christie Whitman.

"If there are resources, then great," Mr. Emanuel said of the latest effort. "But if this is in lieu of resources, it's a cruel hoax and leaves us years behind."

Neither Mr. Leavitt nor any of the 46 officials who spoke at the signing ceremony discussed financing. That was deliberate, Mr. Leavitt told reporters after the event. He said, "No one knows how much money is currently being spent" on Great Lakes cleanup efforts.

MT-Blacklist -> Concatenation error

Oh, apparently this isn't a bug after all. whoo hoo!

MT-Blacklist -> Concatenation "error":

Use of uninitialized value in concatenation (.) or string at /some/path/to/extlib/File/Spec/ line 78

Many people are reporting the “error” above. In fact, this a superfluous perl warning. It should affect absolutely nothing, and is in fact a bug (probably in MT) related to finding the plugin template files. Essentially MT tries several places to find the template files and if it doesn't find them, the warning from that attempt is written out to the browser. Eventually though, the MT-Blacklist templates are found as evidenced by the fact that you have a full working page in front of you.

You should completely ignore this warning. I will attempt to suppress it in the next version.

I'll have to donate some cash to Mr. Allen if this works as described.

comment spam

somehow, now i get comment spam. Is there a more annoying use of peoples time?
I hope there is a solution, I seem to recall reading of one. bleh. curse you!

Update later in the day, after deleting over 150 spams from some online casino jerk-off:
the solution of course is the MT-Blacklist filter. I'm enough of a techno-idiot that I'm not sure I installed it correctly, but it did say it loaded. There is this however

Use of uninitialized value in concatenation (.) or string at /cgi-bin/mt/extlib/File/Spec/ line 78.

Sonic Youth graffiti

A local graffiti 'artiste' must be a Sonic Youth fan.... and although this is a front door of my building, we haven't yet called Da Mayor to send a graffiti cleaning crew. Someone will though, the Haymarket memorial is a high traffic area.

Sonic Tooth graffiti


Still one of my favorite Sonic Tooth releases, from their most creative period....

"EVOL" (Sonic Youth)

(though I admit that in this instance, among others, the vinyl version is better, especially because Expressway to yer Skull goes on forever until you turn it off). Cover art is better too. Of course, my copy (SST) is still in Austex...

All vinyl versions feature a locked groove at the end of "Expressway To Yr Skull", hence the song's time listed as an "infinity" symbol on the vinyl label.

Bulls and revenue

Proving that D. Sterling is a genius, not as a basketball owner, but as a business man. Sterling's model of the L.A. Clippers (keep team salary down, and market the hell out of the team) has obviously inspired Reisendorf. - NBA - Rovell: Bulls succeed despite failure

The Chicago Bulls have been the greatest success story in basketball over the past six seasons. Not on the court, of course -- there they've lost more games than any other team in the NBA, by far. But since Michael Jordan's departure, the Bulls have enjoyed the highest attendance in the league and, with low team payrolls, have secured a place among the league's most profitable franchises.

Their amazing success off the court has been the result of groundwork laid by several key people, and has affected the earning ability of many others. But they may not be able to keep it going.

Max Waisvisz remembers the glory days, when he'd be making calls and picking up tickets right before the opening tip, easily turning them over before game time and raking in thousands of dollars in profit in only a couple hours' time. He and his partners made so much money off the Bulls -- who sold out 610 consecutive games from 1987 to 2000 -- that they used some of it to buy a $2.5 million apartment complete with a rooftop to overlook Wrigley Field. ... the Bulls have averaged nearly 20,800 fans per game, a league high that is somewhat misleading because the team plays in one of the largest venues in the league, the United Center. Still, it's an accomplishment considering that the team has outdrawn the San Antonio Spurs, who have won two championships over that span and, until recently, played in the larger Alamodome. ... Steve Schanwald, the team's executive vice president for business operations, says that current attendance is a combination of many factors, including the success of the previous decade, the importance of sports in the city's culture and the work of the Bulls' front office staff, which prepared for the leaner times during the team's championship run. "We understood the cyclical nature of team sports," Schanwald said. "Glory is fleeting in the sports business. During the 1990s, when we were winning all those championships, we worked really hard to prepare for the inevitable downturn as our players aged and buy our basketball department the time it needed to retool the product." While No. 23 was still suiting up, the Bulls started a season-ticket waiting list that grew to 25,000 names. The team devoted resources to creating one of the largest fan databases in the league -- that list now has about 800,000 names.

I've always been amazed that the Bulls sell so many tickets, compared to say, the Atlanta Hawks, or even the New Jersey Nets. Had to be a marketing success story.

Skippy visitors

thanks to Skippy for the shout out, I suppose I'm now a member of the partially-reality-based blogtopia (phrase no doubt invented by the illustrious skippy), I just hope my server can handle the extra traffic...

Does this mean I have to be serious about what I blog about??? I don't want to burn out like billmon, nor do I really want to handle the headaches of other high profile bloggers either (like Skippy or gods forbid - daily kos). I've had a blog (even though it was called something else in the olden days) for a long time, but I never considered it other than a hobby and as a way to keep track of interesting tidbits that I stumble upon.

Everyone in my email address book appreciates that I have a blog too, yeesh.

This site was called B12 Solipsism for a while, and that is a more appropriate name, although not very catchy. The Swanksalot Orchestra has already been beaten to death, and doesn't sound very corporate.


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More photos from Pedernales State Park (click for larger versions)

Sarah Mullins, wearing her water-matching outfit
my cousin, Sarah

Can you find the typo?
can you spot the typo?

Flickr application

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Adriaan Tijsseling, of ecto fame, is working on a new program to integrate with flickr.
1001 has promise, but I cannot get it to work properly for me yet.

For instance, the set as desktop picture does not seem to do anything.
I also frequently hang while updating my 'streams'.
I should try deleting preferences again, maybe that will jump start the app. I should also probably not try to play with new software while I'm supposed to be working on proposals.

Anyway, 1001 seems like a good spark of an idea, and I have faith that Adriaan will hack it into passable shape sooner than later.

Beer taxes

From the Trib, we read:

Wednesday, Daley reduced a proposed 20 percent increase in the tax on beer to 10 percent, or about four cents for a case of 24 cans. But the increase on other alcoholic beverages would go up as a result. A proposed increase of $1.50 on a gallon of hard liquor, for example, would rise to about $1.85.

Proposals Daley originally made to raise the tax on car rentals and the cost of sidewalk cafe licenses were dropped, but the fine for blocking an alley would rise from $75 to $150.

Proposed tax increases overall still would total $74.6 million next year. Fee and fine increases would be expected to drum up another $11.1 million.

Some aldermen have predicted that Daley's proposed increase in the sales tax--putting the total at 9 percent for most purchases in Chicago--would drive shoppers to the suburbs.

"Where else are you going to turn [for revenue]?" Daley replied.

"A 25-cent [increase] on a $100 purchase is not going to change behavior," asserted Budget Director John Harris.

I think I'm supporting the city every time I slam a six! whoomp!

D found an interesting list of buildings in Chicago that don't specify street addresses. I know when I first moved to Chicago, this befuddled me often.

CPL Building and Vanity Addresses in Chicago :
Wondering where exactly is One Financial Place or the Prudential Plaza? Listed here are the addresses of buildings in Chicago including buildings whose names mimic addresses.


D is making me an herbal tea blend, something like Male Stamina, and it includes an herb called broomrape.

Broomrape, fleshy stem, Cistanches Deserticola Herba, Rou Cong Rong:

Common Name:
Broomrape, fleshy stem

Botanical Name:
Cistanches Deserticola Herba

Pin Yin Name:
Rou Cong Rong

reproductive restorative, estrogenic, aphrodisiac

Sounds a little scary, especially if you are a recent immigrant to New York City under the proto-Fascist Rudolph Giuliani....or your name is Abner Louima.

That's actually a sick joke, not even funny, because Giuliani should have been tried for contributing to the torture of an innocent civilian, or at least sent to Abu Ghraib for a taste of his own medicine. Contributing to a hostile environment and all that.

Rocket Fuel in Milk, Lettuce

The problem with being snarky about Red State Blue State malarky is that some issues affect all of us. As a nation, these are policies that we've voted for, whether we know it or not, and it disturbs me. Why was Swift boat service more of a topic of the election than perchlorate? or a dozen more pertinent examples? Some of the blame can be placed on our joke of a national media, but the Kerry campaign has to bear some of the blame as well.....

Rocket Fuel in Milk, Lettuce:

The Food and Drug Administration says a rocket fuel component contaminates nearly 94 percent of the milk and lettuce samples surveyed. The compound is suspected of having nasty effects in humans. By Amit Asaravala.

A large portion of the United States' milk and lettuce supply may be contaminated with potentially unsafe levels of a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel, according to data released by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

The data, part of a preliminary survey of milk and lettuce in 15 states, revealed perchlorate contamination in nearly 94 percent of reviewed samples. The results echo earlier findings by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that issued a warning about perchlorate contamination in California-produced milk in June.

"The study confirms what we and some other people have been saying for a while -- that perchlorate is not only a problem in areas with known water contamination but for anyone who eats food grown in the U.S.," said Bill Walker, vice president of the Environmental Working Group's West Coast operations.

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical. It is used by the aerospace and defense industries to help rocket fuel burn. In humans, high concentrations can disrupt the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism and is linked to the development of motor skills in children.

In its survey, the FDA found an average concentration of 5.76 parts per billion of perchlorate in the 104 milk samples it studied. In 128 samples of green leaf, red leaf, iceberg and romaine lettuce, the agency found an average concentration of 10.49 parts per billion.

Federal and state agencies are still debating just how much perchlorate is acceptable in human diets. California health officials recommend that drinking water not exceed more than 6 parts per billion of perchlorate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, recommends a stricter 1 part per billion.

"It's subtle," said Walker. "It's not like you're fine today if you get 6 parts per billion (of perchlorate in milk) and then tomorrow you drink a glass with 7 parts per billion and suddenly you're sick."

He added, however, that people with existing thyroid problems and pregnant women should monitor the total amount of perchlorate they ingest each day.

"We found that there are some people out there -- like the 1.6 million people of child-bearing age -- who are eating a diet very heavy in lettuce," he said. "This could be exceeding the EPA's recommended safe dose."

Though the FDA study didn't explore how perchlorate gets into lettuce or milk, scientists believe it enters the water stream through industrial leaks. It is then thought to be taken up by, and concentrated in, plants and animals.

The National Academy of Sciences is currently reviewing the EPA's assessment of the risks of perchlorate. A report is expected in Jan 2005. The FDA said it would wait until then to decide whether or not to enforce limits on the amount of the chemical that can appear in food products.

Data here

Reefer Madness, redux

Let me guess, this study won't really be vetted well, nor will the small sample size discourage a thousand media outlets to publicize the findings, trumpeting the 'risk' of becoming loony after just one toke.

Cannabis raises risk of psychosis:

Frequent cannabis use during adolescence and young adulthood raises the risk of psychotic symptoms later in life, research suggests.

It is thought cannabis disrupts the balance of the key mood chemical dopamine in the brain.

The research, by Maastricht University, is published by the British Medical Journal. It focused on 2,437 young people aged 14 to 24 who were monitored for four years.

After adjusting for factors such as social and economic status and use of other drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, the researchers found cannabis use moderately increased the risk of psychotic symptoms.

I wonder if this research factored/monitored television viewing, vitamin intake, and other variables? Somehow, I doubt it.


My ancestral home, Ansel Adams style

Frostpocked duotone

100 acres, outside of South River, Ontario (180 miles north of Toronto).....

Trey Buck


I swear I saw my old friend, Trey Buck, ne' William Buck, sitting courtside at the Spurs v. Mavs game last night. I didn't get his forwarding address in my haste to leave Austin back in 2000, and now I can't track him down....and he never had an email address as far as I know.

which reminds me of this poem I wrote about him a few years ago...

Novelist (For T.B.)

 Write a few lines for the endless days
spent glaring back @ the wall's crevices
with the same vacant credulity as a courtesan

 speak quickly, without stuffiness, or hesitations
about the continual passing of moments
in heady solipsism
much like the legs of this chair
push fiercely at the wooden floor beneath them

 All of your motions are relegated to my caprice
or should I clarify? & insist upon my righteousness
and my continuous slumber?

 The bottle of wine empty,
and ever more beautiful
than when full of promises, and illusions
Now it is only vapor & amorous
dusky stains of midnight transports
twisting the sunlight green

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