"The only blog we have to fear is blog itself."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Shocking...or, at least surprising 

Man's static jacket sparks alert:
An Australian man built up so much static electricity in his clothes as he walked that he burned carpets, melted plastic and sparked a mass evacuation.

Frank Clewer, of the western Victorian city of Warrnambool, was wearing a synthetic nylon jacket and a woollen shirt when he went for a job interview.

As he walked into the building, the carpet ignited from the 40,000 volts of static electricity that had built up.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Public Sector Hookers 

Auditors to Probe Katrina Contracts:
Investigators also will carefully examine whether federal employees have been abusing government-issued credit cards since their purchase limits were hastily raised to $250,000 to help pay for hurricane-related expenses.

Previous government audits have shown that the credit cards, which typically have a purchase limit of $2,500, were improperly used to pay for prostitutes, gambling activity and even breast implants. About 250,000 federal employees have the government credit cards.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Names on Mars 

At ABBA, Go Left to SpongeBob:
They named a low, wrinkly crop of rock Uchben, after the Mayan word for "ancient," and a spot on the rock Koolik, which means "cut down."

"We started running out of Mayan city names," she said. "The people who had to spell them were really getting annoyed."

So they moved on to 1970s pop music: ABBA, the Bee Gees and Engelbert Humperdinck.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Quote of the Day: The "Professional" Citizen 

From an account of a NJ small-town planning board meeting that devolved into anarchy due to an unexpectedly large turnout:
Corzine told Burlew, "We expect our citizens to act in a professional manner," to which the crowd responded angrily.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Quote of the Day 

Actually, it's a year-and-a-half old, but it still cracks me up....

"Did you know that Jim Morrison had the smelliest trousers in rock? He had appalling BO because he refused to wash." ~~Andy Partridge of XTC

Monday, September 19, 2005

Quote of the Day 

"Just because you do something that's not harmful or (is) beneficial doesn't make it legal."
~~Sally Morris, chief executive of the U.K.-based Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers

from Google Takes On Copyright Laws

Friday, September 16, 2005


According to the Wikipedia:
[David] Fincher is also collaborating with Trent Reznor and Chuck Palahniuk in developing a musical based on the novel Fight Club.
Sounds wretched.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Soapbox: Fiona Apple 

Saith Rolling Stone, re: Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine CD:
FYI: Apple's label, Sony, never shelved the record.
I don't buy that for a minute--regardless of what claims are proffered by Epic, Apple, producer Mike Elizondo, or Rolling Stone.

Are they to have us believe that a "Free Fiona" movement emerged, painting the label as an evil behemoth treating with callous indifference a fragile artist and her creative efforts, only mustering a weak statement last March that "Fiona has not yet delivered her next album to Epic"?

If the situation was as it's being suggested now, why no statement from Apple to her fans in the Spring or Summer reassuring them that an album was forthcoming? Why the standoffish response from the label?

According to the label/Elizondo narrative about this album's journey, then it's a textbook example of a corporate public relations meltdown: the only ones paying attention were the target market, and they now think the worst of the company.

Frankly, as soon as a release date for Extraordinary Machine was finally announced I instantly wondered whether the whole thing was a sublimely-executed viral marketing plan. However, that notion was quickly squelched by a misguided attempt by the label to peddle "Parting Gift" as a first radio single--a song that was everything that Sony execs complained about according to the fan version of the tale. Clearly, there was no master plan. The track seemed to be chosen only because it was a song that had not been previously leaked.

I think back to 1991 when Atlantic released an album by college radio darlings King Missile. The label put out a dance remix of the album's single, and the band played up the slickly-commercial sound of the single by jokingly calling it the "Bound and Gagged" remix. The band explained in interviews that the dance remix was their own idea, and they sent out publicity photos of themselves bound, gagged, and held on
a leash by a corporate-suit type.

However, after a concert their drummer confided in me that no matter what their label said or their frontman explained in interviews, the slick remix was instigated by the label and everything else was merely putting the best face on an unhappy situation.

Sometimes a banana is just a banana, Anna.

The SneakerNet TiVo 

Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.
Gee, I wish I had someone to put the nightly newscasts on DVD for me.

Did it have an anchor's commentary track? Subtitles in Portuguese? Was it wide-screen or fullscreen?

DVD fans must know!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Danger of the Dead 

I keep hearing from non-medical news reporters and commentators about the dangers in New Orleans and the rest of the Katrina-devastated region, and dead bodies keep getting mentioned. I had been under the impression that, absent diseases like ebola, dead bodies don't really pose much of a threat. But it keeps getting repeated, so I thought I must have been mistaken.

I just read this: Hurricane Aftermath: Infectious Disease Threats From Common, Not Exotic, Diseases
One common misperception is that the body of a person who died as the result of the hurricane and is still in the city poses a risk of infection.

"Decaying bodies pose very little risk for major disease outbreaks," says Berkelman. Furthermore, mosquitoes do not spread disease by feeding on dead bodies. There is, however, a risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile because mosquitoes breed in standing water. Appropriate pest management, including addressing the need to get rid of standing water, is an important public health measure, she said. A bacterial disease, leptospirosis, may be caused by exposure to water contaminated by rodent urine and can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
Yes, it's from a press release, but it's from the American Society for Microbiology. So it's probably more informed than a TV reporter on the subject.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Beatle Paul's "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" 

Time magazine breathlessly declared "Chaos" to be McCartney's first album that matters since the Beatles broke up 35 years ago.
As a fan and supporter of McCartney, I must honestly say, "Umm, no."

One terrific single, a couple of very good album tracks, and a bunch of nice trys.

Well, that's just great... 

Headphone Use May Worsen Hearing Loss:
Everywhere she turns, Angella Day sees people carrying portable music players, often with the ear buds stuffed firmly in place. "They're very widespread," says Day, a senior at Chicago's DePaul University who regularly listens to music on her own iPod while studying or working out. "So addicting."

What she and others may not realize is that many people their age have already damaged their hearing. And researchers fear that the growing popularity of portable music players and other items that attach directly to the ears — including cell phones — is only making it worse.
There have been warnings like this for years. I just never heard them.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tribute to NOLA 

Tonight I'll be spinning an hour of music celebrating the music and musicians of New Orleans, coinciding with a local multi-channel TV telethon here in Pittsburgh.

It'll be from 7-8pm, and streamed live here.

UPDATE: In case anyone cares, here was my songlist of New Orleans music and musicians from the special:
  1. Marcia Ball, "Louisiana 1927" (1997)
  2. Neville Brothers, "Shake Your Tambourine" (1994)
  3. Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers, "Going Back to New Orleans" (1950)
  4. Wild Magnolias, "New Suit" (1975)
  5. Professor Longhair, "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" (1974)
  6. Lucina Williams, "Crescent City" (1988)
  7. The Hawketts, "Mardi Gras Mambo" (1955)
  8. The ReBirth Brass Band, "Tipitina" (1990)
  9. Fats Domino, "Walking to New Orleans" (1960)
  10. Sonny Landreth, "Congo Square" (1995)
  11. Earl King, "No City Like New Orleans" (1993)
  12. The Meters, "Talkin' 'Bout New Orleans" (1975)
  13. Harry Connick Jr. (with Dr. John), "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" (1988)
  14. Dr. John (with Mavis Staples), "When the Saints Go Marching In" (2004)

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Kanye West Rips Bush During NBC Concert:
But "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, took an unexpected turn thanks to the outspoken rapper Kanye West.

Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, was aired live to the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored.

There was a several-second tape delay, but the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn't realize (West) had gone off-script," said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.

West's comment about the president was cut from NBC's West Coast airing, which showed three hours later on tape....

Concluding the hour a few minutes later, Lauer noted that "emotions in this country right now are running very high. Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We've heard some of that tonight. But it's still part of the American way of life."

It may have been "heartfelt and dignified," but the broadcast was a surprisingly tepid and obviously slapped-together affair (at least the parts I could stomach to watch) which couldn't make up its mind what it really wanted to be: benefit, telethon, news program, or some frightening golem of all three.

After 9/11, the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon very wisely had no host. The show's purpose was bigger than any one person and so no one person had very much screen time. And, as I recall, no one was even introduced. People just started talking or singing, and if you didn't know who they were you were free to simply hear their message or song.

On NBC's multichannel A Concert for Hurricane Relief, however, the broadcast began with NBC Chairman Bob Wright, who introduced host Matt Lauer, who introduced the music of the terrific opening N'Awlins jazz number from an all-star band including Harry Connick and Wynton Marsalis.

The NBC personalities, apparently, had to have their face time, including Lauer and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough who appeared live via satellite from within the 90,000 square-mile disaster area. I'm surprised Scarborough didn't toss in a billboard of upcoming guests on that evening's MSNBC show.

The Concert for Hurricane Relief first went off the rails when the show recapped the Hurricane Katrina timeline, narrated by actor Jimmy Smits (currently, and not coincidentally, on NBC's The West Wing). A graphic pronounced that the piece was being "Reported by Jimmy Smits."

Now, in a very narrow sense, that's true: Smits was reporting the previous week's events to viewers. However--and this was particularly applicable for viewers on MSNBC and CNBC--Smits is not a reporter, and his representation as one by the network(s) made clear the mushy mish-mash of indecision underpinning this broadcast. Unless the network is tacitly admitting that some of its reporters are mere script-readers, labeling Smits as a reporter was a big mistake.

Using Lauer as a host was also a mistake, giving the proceedings precisely the wrong tone of ersatz sympathy endemic on network TV morning shows. But Lauer's hosting was forgivable compared to the appearance of the opinionated Scarborough, a host who is on MSNBC primarily because he's divisive. This is not the sort of person usually thrust onto telethons so their mere presence doesn't piss off a segment of the viewership and possibly diminish the pool of potential contributions.

So whither Kanye West's comments?

I really don't care one way or another about West--I'm neither a fan nor a detractor--but I think that a network TV telethon which plugs a Joe Scarborough into the equation has no reason to complain about his live comments, especially when West has been known to loudly complain before (and with much less cause).

And, frankly, I was much more annoyed at an oddly nervous George Pataki presenting a Red Cross official with a giant symbolic check than anything Kanye West had to say.

Of course, the whole imbroglio was worthwhile just to see Leonardo DiCaprio, after his prepared speech was over but while reamining in a two-shot with Lauer, blankly look off-camera like a trained dog awaiting fresh commands from his trainer.

(note: lest ye think I'm only taking the opportunity to take unfair snark shots at benefit for a very worthwhile cause, I've already made a donation to the Red Cross; I encourage all to do so, easily done via the web here)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"I'm scared. I'm not afraid to admit it. I'm getting out of here." 

[New Orleans] not safe for anyone:
Russell witnessed a shootout between police and citizens near the Convention Center that left one man dead in a pool of blood. Police, perhaps caught off guard by their sudden arrival on the scene, slammed Russell and the photographer against a wall and threw their gear on the ground as they exited their SUV to record the event.

The journalists retreated to Russell's home Uptown where they hid in fear. They planned to flee the city later today.

Umm, where'd it all go? 

AP, 8/28:
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to coordinate with state authorities in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, and have prepositioned supplies in areas expected to be affected, [White House spokesman Scott McClellan] said.
Shreveport Times, 8/28:
Patricia Brach, public information officer for FEMA, said Saturday that her agency has prepositioned emergency service teams already posted away from the coast so they can rush aid to where it is needed. Stocked at the sites are ice, water and medical teams, including veterinarians.
Army News Service, 8/29:
"We're doing it all," said Lt. Col. Pete Snyder, Louisiana National Guard public affairs officer. "We’ve mobilized nearly 3,600 National Guard to assist in the hurricane effort."

Snyder predicted that the shelters in Louisiana will have enough water, cots and Meals Ready to Eat for those forced from their homes by the storm. Guard troops are providing security and screening for New Orleans residents seeking shelter at the Superdome, and Snyder said the Louisiana Guard was also standing by with helicopter support, if necessary.


Looting on Tchoupitoulas Street:
The officers were rushing to a break-in next door at the Sports Authority, desperate to secure the store's stockpile of guns and ammunition.

"I think we ran them off before they got any of it," said the commanding officer at the scene. The cops secured the store with heavy plywood before moving on to other emergencies.

At about 2 p.m., the officers rushed back to disrupt a second break-in at the sporting goods store. An officer in a squad car tried to chase a Bell South utility truck that fled the scene, but he lost the truck amid fallen trees.

Upon surveying the thefts, the officer said the most conspicuous missing items were all the weapons from the store's knife case.

Before boarding up again, the officers took some essential supplies for themselves: socks, T-shirts and Power Bars. As officers were pounding the last nails the commander yelled: "Let's roll it, someone's driving around in a mail truck."
I can't even begin to describe how many things are disturbing in this dispatch.

Anybody ever seen the movie The Trigger Effect?

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