Saturday, April 10, 2004

Best use for a "mud room"

We finally got a chance to see Ginny and David's "house in progress" (they have windows now - yay!!) and you can tell they've spent an awful lot of time figuring out exactly what they need (and have found a builder that will listen to them - a rare thing indeed!). It's going to be an extremely cool house, but my favorite bit is the tile floored, floor-drained mud room with hand sprayer for hosing down the three elk-sized German shepherds when they come in from playing in the yard. Now THAT's planning!

The house is awesome, but I'm still having to work on David to put in the par 3 through the back woods.

Friday, April 09, 2004

On The Player (first of a series of record/book/movie/tv reviews)

the dB's - Stands for Decibels

When I first discovered WXYC-FM as a sophomore at UNC, "Black and White" was in heavy rotation - one of the most perfect pop songs ever written! When I found out that the dB's were sorta kinda local-ish (ok, so they were from the Triad but had to move to NYC to get any real following) I was even more hooked. Had the opportunity to see them a couple of time - Viceroy Park in Charlotte, the Cradle in Chapel Hill and opening for REM in the gym at George Washington University in DC after Stamey left the group. Their first two albums (Stands for Decibels and Repercussions) are available in a couple of different formats on one CD - that is one densely packed disc of jangle pop goodness! (I've still got the original import vinyl from Albion Records - woohoo!) In addition to Black and White, you've got Bad Reputation (not a cover of the Joan Jett song), The Fight, Espionage, Dynamite, Cycles per Second and more and more - this album probably did as much as Elvis Costello's Armed Forces to shake me out of the Boston/Kansas/Jethro Tull rut I was in during high school and as much as the Fabulous Knobs did to get my young ass into the local clubs. I'll give it a B+, only because the production is pretty crappy at times and there are a couple of less succesful songs.

Oh, and they've got a website launched last year with an active message board, samples, and an exhaustive history of the band. Worth a look.

Every day's a holiday and every meal's a picnic!

I think we should all be reassured by the following from the Post:

This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.

I mean if anything was really wrong, President Sock-Puppet would certainly be on taking the point. And with Condi Rice's testimony that essentially no one in the present administration has ever done anything wrong ever ever, well I just feel all warm and glow-y inside!

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Black-box Voting

The Daily Show had a nice bit on black-box voting last night - it's not too late to catch the rebroadcast on Comedy Central at 7 pm EDT

Canon FD website

A few months ago I ran across Christian Rollinger's Canon FD Documentation project and was amazed again at the potential for the World-Wide Web. For 5 years now, he's been gathering scans of owner's manuals, repair manuals and the like for the Canon FD line of cameras, lenses and accessories from the 70's and 80's. These include the almost indestructable F-1 that was a staple on sporting event sidelines for decades and the A-1 that I use, which was recently named one of the 50 most important cameras in history. Given the number of used F-1s, A-1s, AE-1s and T-series cameras still available on eBay and real (not Wolf or Ritz) camera stores, it's an indespensible resource. But I think it further demonstrates the potential power of the Internet as a storehouse of searchable, free knowledge - a power that often gets overlooked as the Internet gets more press as a commercial vehicle or a big porn shop or a place for people like me to vent my spleen or the death of the recording and film industry. Oh, and did I mention that it's ad-free? Very cool.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


My only comment after a quick read of the NYTimes the last couple of days was "has Safire always been this much of a cluefuck?". Understand that in the days when newspapers were, well, paper, I was a Washington Post reader, not a Times reader (no comics? get outta here!) so it's a legitimate question - I really didn't read him very often. I discarded the notion that, like George Will at the Post, he's kept around just to make the more liberal columnists seem even more on the ball than they really are as I suspect it's more because no one has the heart to ask him to leave after 30 years.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I actually agreed with a surprising amount of Will's column today (there's a first time for everything I suppose) - I just suspect I have VERY different reasons for coming to some of the same conclusions.

It's Baseball Season! Ack!

The NCAA basketball championships always mark a sad time for me for two reasons - the end of college basketball for a few months (duh) and the beginning of baseball. I hate baseball. I just heard Lex's head explode! Okay, I do enjoy going to minor league baseball games but it's really for the cheap beer, between-inning silliness, cheap beer, Flying Burrito burritos and cheap beer. And, oh yeah, there's a baseball game going on somewhere out there. But watching baseball on television is about as exciting as watching artificial turf grow. ESPN's SportsCenter is all I need to know about baseball - an entire game reduced to a 20-second highlight reel (and sometimes they have to stretch it to make it that long). This morning I think I finally realized why - in what other team sport do you have the majority of each team that is actually considered in the game either standing around doing nothing or sitting around on their asses? Okay, so it happens way too often in pro basketball these days (note that I'm not spending a lot of time watching the NBA either) but that's not the way it's intended to be played - unlike baseball. In football, soccer, hockey (okay, technically hockey is not a sport, but we'll cover that later), everyone that is in the game has some role to play at all times and things are happening more often than they're not happening. In baseball, if someone actually gets a hit, how many people actually have a role to play? Let's see - the pitcher threw the ball, the catcher leaned over to one side just in case he had to catch the ball, the shortstop moved three feet to his right, picked up the ball and threw it to the first baseman, who had to move all of two feet back to the bag. And the hitter hit the ball and ran a few dozen feet towards first base before being thrown out. So out of eighteen guys, five of 'em really did anything (ok, maybe the third baseman moved over a foot to his left before realizing that the shortstop had it covered). My, how exciting! And that was likely a bloody highlight! Boring. Boring, boring, boring. I don't mind low scoring - I'll more than happily watch a 2-1 soccer match if it's well-played and not one of those "sit back on defense and try not to fsck up" sorts of games. And anyone that tries to convince me of the $#%$$@ "poetry" of baseball is barking up the wrong tree - there's more poetry in a Rashad McCants tomahawk dunk than in five baseball games. And oh yeah, where are the damn cheerleaders?!?!!? How can you have a freakin' sport without cheerleaders? Nearly nekkid dance squads? Noooo-o-o-o, we've got a cheesy organist and the $%$%$#% San Diego Chicken!! Okay, my head just exploded...

Or maybe their product just sucks...

LONDON (Reuters) - Global music sales fell 7.6 percent in 2003 to $32 billion, the steepest decline since the advent of the compact disc, the trade body representing the world's largest music companies said on Wednesday.

I'm convinced that the only thing that propped up the recording industry for a long time was the same people who are willing to plunk down $100 to sit on the lawn at an ampitheater and watch the Eagles on a big screen 'cuz the stage is a half-mile away. After $12 to park and downing a couple of $7 20-oz domestics, paying $18 to replace your scratchy vinyl copy of Hotel California probably doesn't sound so bad. But now they've done it, so what else are they going to spend their money on? The rest of the sales seem to be dependent on a few big-name (really crappy) acts for the mallrats to spend their money on and I don't exactly see a lot of work being done to develop new talent outside of looking for the next Brittany. Music will survive but I'm okay if the RIAA doesn't.

It's a Husky world!

Pretty impressive victory last night, particularly withstanding a couple of strong Tennessee runs. Hope the rioting in Storrs was a little less intense than the night before. Thought it was interesting that the men's final Monday night got the lowest rating since CBS started broadcasting the tournament, but the women's semi between UConn and Minnesota the night before was the 4th-highest rated college basketball (men or women's) on ESPN ever! And yeah, I understand that doesn't mean more people watched the women's game, but it does mean something. Certainly the three women's games were better basketball than the men's final...

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Richard Cohen - "The Buck Doesn't Stop"

Thought the Richard Cohen column in the Post today captured the hubris of the present administration pretty well. I think he missed the mark to a certain extent - I think their belief in their outdated Cold War rhetoric outweighed their "if the Clintonistas thought so, it can't be right" mantra in causing them to fsck up (whatever the reason, they clearly screwed the pooch). But:

"What is so perturbing about this administration is not that no one of note has resigned or been fired -- and some of them certainty deserve the ax -- but that there is not the slightest hint that anyone (except Colin Powell) appreciates that mistakes were made not out of sheer bad luck but because the assumptions, driven by ideology, were so bad."

Hear, hear.

The Geek Hierarchy

I promise not to do too much metablogging - if you want to read what I'm reading you can bang on the links on the left side of the page - but occasionally I'll find something that is too good to miss. Found this one on Neil Gaiman's blog - The Geek hierarchy - and thought it would resonate (maybe a little too well) with some of you guys...

National Champs

The last time the men's and women's NCAA basketball champions were from the same school was for a 24 hour period in 1994. Between Charlotte Smith's buzzer-beater to give the UNC women the championship and the Arkansas win over Dook in the men's final, technically the UNC men's team was still the men's champion. That's the case for UConn today, as the women are still champs until the results of the game tonight - obviously they'd like to share that championship with the men's team for a lot longer, like another year. I've got to pull for Tennessee, but won't really be too disappointed either way - mostly hoping for a more competitive game than last night. Despite losing to GaTech earlier this year, the Huskies were clearly the better team on Monday.

With both UNC programs having such a talented bunch of young players and recruits, it's not unreasonable to think that we could have both teams in the Final Four within the next couple of years, but for now hats off to UConn for supporting two programs capable of making the Final Four.

Monday, April 05, 2004


Not looking too good for Tech at the half, but it's far from over. I gotta say though, that I'm probably more interested in the game tomorrow night. Tennessee vs. Connecticut, Auriemma vs. Summit and best of all watching Diana Taurasi play. Let me tell you, there's no one in college basketball right now that is more fun to watch than her. I've got no use for Geno and will be pulling for UT to regain its place at the top of women's basketball (at least until Sylvia Hatchell gets her young UNC team ready for the top), but Taurasi is something to watch and I hope she has a great game - do yourself a favor and watch it!

Our Vietnam

It has been a long-held understanding on the Internet that introduction of "Hitler" or "Nazis" into an on-line discussion means both the death of the discussion as well as the undeniable fact that the person introducing said terms lost the argument. (See Godwin's Law in the Wikipedia, for example.) I hope the same is not true of "Vietnam", because while reading "Our Vietnam" by A. J. Langguth, the following paragraph describing the aftermath of the big late 1967 march on the Pentagon really struck me:

"To Rusk, it was obvious that the Communists were behind the demonstration. Johnson tended to agree and directed Helms to prove it. Helms's report drew on CIA sources and the rest of the country's security apparatus - the FBI, the National Security Agency, the many military agents. They found "no significant evidence that would prove Communist control or direction of the U. S. peace movement or its leaders." Rusk called the report naive and said the CIA had not looked hard enough."

Any comments about those not learning from the past just seem pat after that...

Happy Now?

After months of whinging that I really wanted to become blogworthy but didn't have the time, I've taken the time. So for those hundreds... dozens... one or two weirdos that have demanded it, here 'tis.