Friday, September 30, 2005

I asked earlier today about the difficulty of recording satellite radio broadcasts. Turns out a portable receiver that would permit recording of satellite broadcasts is upsetting--surprise, surprise--the RIAA.
The real motivation behind Frist's stock trade.
So, I'm starting to consider that perhaps satellite radio should be the next thing on which I waste my money. I had seriously considered the purchase in the past, and probably would have bought it by now, but I bought my iPod, and just fell in love with that, and now it's harder to see why I need satellite radio. But having someone else pick the songs has its advantages, and it is a way to expose yourself to new music. I'm tempted to just get an on-line subscription to one or the other, and stick to just the iPod in the car. But I'm not sure if it's worth the price. Both XM and Sirius offer three-day trials, so I will probably test-drive them both in the near future (wait for a live event I'm interested in to coincide with the trial). I did notice that Sirius is going to present Theater of the New Ear in November. This program (or at least Charlie Kaufman's portion--I don't recall the Coen Brothers being involved) was recently performed at UCLA to good notices, and I very nearly attended, but decided it wasn't worth the drive. So I will probably wait until November to try their trial offer. (I had intended to sign up for XM's trial offer some time ago, to hear a Randy Newman performance, but ended up forgetting about the whole thing until it was too late)

One question: Can you record satellite radio? I seem to recall there was some software that allowed this, and that one of the satellite radio companies freaked out and it nearly resulted in them ending the on-line portion of their service. I noticed that much of their exclusive content is only available at one prescribed time, just like normal radio, and a means to record it would be useful.

Anyway, I'm just thinking things over. Like I say, I love my iPod, and I don't really see satellite radio worth the investment. I have my iPod, as well as plenty of radio internet stations to listen to. Maybe by the time I need a new car, satellite radio will be a fairly standard add-on, and I'll take the plunge then. Or maybe I'll hit it big in Vegas and sign a five-year contract with one of the two (which one? XM seems to have better music offerings, somewhat more open-ended and let heavily programmed, while Sirius seems, on my examination of their current schedule, to have some better exclusive content...and they have local favorite Mojo Nixon). Or maybe I'll realize I need that $7/month subscription fee to pay off my gambling debts. No radio station is worth broken kneecaps, after all.

Judith Miller out of prison, in what seems to be a wacky misunderstanding. Either that, or she hoped that sitting in jail a few months would help her tarnished reputation. But by leaving jail a month early, she just ends up looking like an idiot.

As I've said before, it seems like some sort of journalist shield law is a good idea, but journalists need to use more common sense in invoking such a priviledge. It seems strange to me that just because one calls oneself a journalist, one need not participate in our judicial system like a normal citizen, but it doesn't seem any stranger than the fact that one can invoke priviledge just because he offers people the blood of Christ to drink if they tell him stories about awful things they did, or refuse to testify just because one is married to the defendant (the husband/wife gag rule always struck me as patently absurd, assuming it functions in real life as it does in reruns of Law and Order).

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bill Bennett is apparently tired of Pat Robertson stealing the spotlight on crazy religious leaders. I saw this clip at the end of The Daily Show, and just stared at the TV for awhile, my jaw dropped. Unbelievable. Of course, in context it becomes clear he is just paraphrasing an argument made in the book Freakanomics; the argument in the book, as I understand it (I haven't actually read the book), is that abortion leads to fewer unwanted children being born to unfit parents, and thus fewer disfunctional kids grow up to commit crimes. Bennett just made the simple substitution of "black people" for "unfit parent." Why should that be controversial? Sounds like the sort of bold thinking the Republican Party needs, to distract from the fact that half their leadership is facing jail time. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to wake up in the morning and find that Bennett has been nominated to replace O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Or maybe to head FEMA.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Legally Blonde 3: Supreme Court to hear Anna Nicole Smith appeal. I've always been on her side on this one, and wish her luck.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Don Adams, dead at 82. The gadgets of my childhood go-go no more.
Jenny Kerr is a talented artist. I am just linking to her web site so I can find it later, at home. I discovered today that it is very difficult to find a song if all you can remember is that it is a country song with the word "truck" in the title. Turns out I was thinking of Kerr's "Big Red Truck," which fortunately came to mind after much reflection.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I previously mentioned that I attended a John Wesley Harding concert put on by Acoustic Music San Diego, and had a great time. So I decided to attend several upcoming shows there, incluidng Paula Frazer. I mainly know of Frazer by reputation, from her previous work with Tarnation, but heard some clips of her on the web, and decided that, for $12, I couldn't pass up a chance to hear her live. The date for the concert changed to October 12, so the proprietor of the venue alerted me to the change, and at the same time alerted me to the fact that I am the only person to purchase a ticket.

Again, I do not profess to be that familiar with her music, but Paula Frazer has a sterling reputation in the Americana arena, and also invokes comparisons to Nick Cave. Surely I'm not the only person in the county interested in seeing this show. You can hear her voice on her web site. And it's only $12, you probably lose more than that on one hand of poker every day (well, okay, maybe that's just me). So if you're free on October 12 and want to hear great music, give this a try. And if you don't like it, just remember, you read about it in the Reader.

The Adams Avenue Street Fair was this weekend. I went yesterday for a few hours, and had a good time. I saw two acts in their entirety, Big Sandy & his Fly Rite Boys and Cash'd Out, and enjoyed both. Big Sandy plays rockabilly, and Cash'd Out is a new Johnny Cash cover-band, also with a rockabilly sound, reminiscent of the Sun Records-era Cash. I don't know that the world needs Johnny Cash cover bands, but they were good, the singer looks and sounds like Cash, and I was entertained, so what's the harm? I would suggest they drop "Luther Played the Boogie" from their repetoire; the guitarist was fine, but I think a Luther Perkins impersonation is harder to pull off than a Johnny Cash impersonation. I caught bits of a few other acts, but nothing too noteworthy. Had some nice carnival food, got a free sample from the Haagen-Daaz booth (they tried to shock you as you leave by telling you the ice cream is low-fat, yet you could clearly see the packaging as they scooped the ice cream...though it was mighty tasty), and was on my way. Only stayed a few hours, but still had fun and can't wait for next year, or for next spring's roots festival.
Well, my post about last weekend's trip to the Sea Chantey Festival seems to have mysteriously disappeared. So I will briefly reiterate what I said in that post. Overall, a fun time, with some good music complementing a fun trip to the San Diego Maritime Museum, which I haven't been to in some time, and which has added several boats, including a Soviet submarine, since my last visit. Some of the bands stunk, but some were first-rate, and while I was disappointed that lyrical folk tunes about the sea outnumbered rollicking sea chanteys of the blow-the-man-down/what-do-you-do-with-a-drunken-sailor variety. But still, a good time, and I especially enjoyed Seaport Village mainstays the Jackstraws and the more folksy Gilman Carver. There was one act in particular I didn't care for, and another which drove Cecily from the boat, but I will spare them the public humiliation in this widely-revered forum, as apparently my previous scathing criticism drove them to hack the site and wipe out the disgraceful notice.
The uncomfortable legacy of The Neverending Story.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I stopped off at Ralph's on my way home, to buy some stuff for dinner. I wanted to get some white wine for cooking, and decided I would shell out a few more bucks to get something drinkable. But I remembered that the United Farm Workers is boycotting Gallo wines, and knew that Gallo owns many, many wine brands. So I was distressed by the difficulty of not buying Gallo. They sent me a list of brands to avoid, but since I rarely buy wine, I didn't pay attention. So I picked a wine that looked like it might not be tainted, and when I got home, I looked up information on the boycott on-line. Turns out the boycott's over. So now you can look for Gallo when you're looking for the union label.
We Love Katamari, the sequel to Katamari Damacy (possibly the greastest video game ever), was released in America this week. I haven't picked up my copy yet, but you can bet I will.
I became an uncle yesterday, with the arrival of Grace Katharine Albertson. My mother's name is Kathleen, Eric's is Karen, so they split the difference and named her after Katharine Hepburn. She was born at 8 lbs., 15 oz., if memory serves, and was having problems keeping milk down, but overall seems fine. And as far as I've heard, Michelle is recovering well.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

While I'm on the topic, I should update you on my online gaming exploits. Had an amazing run of good luck, followed by two bad days that wiped out about all my profit (I'd cashed out my original investment, plus a few bucks, before my luck turned, so I'm still a tad ahead). I'm annoyed, because I knew I should take a break, because I was steaming from a few bad beats, and last night I was upset because of my car accident and not in the best mindset to play. But I kept chasing my losses and getting in deeper. So while I wouldn't say it's "like crack cocaine," I do see why one must be disciplined. A few bad nights can really eat into one's profits. Of course, it may be self-serving to say my wins are all skill and my losses a matter of poor willpower, but I think I've logged enough hours that my win rate, while not guaranteed, seems statistically significant. On the games I play most, it ranges from $5-$11 an hour. The games where I've logged the most hours tend to be on the low end of the spectrum, so I would say I can reasonably expect to win $5-$6 an hour online. Note, however, that this figure does not include cash bonuses and other promotions (should I win the Paradise Poker Million Dollar Freeroll, for which I have qualified, that would skew my hourly rate a tad), which might add about a quarter an hour, if I'm being generous. And I earned enough points over the years from Poker Stars to cash in for a nice set of casino-quality poker chips, which were quite nice (and look to be about a $90 value, looking at comperable sets online).

What it comes down to is, playing online is a fairly profitable hobby. Despite fantasies to the contrary, I doubt I'll quit my job and drop out of school to play poker online. It's not that profitable, the long-term legal future is hazy, and it would be a pretty pathetic way to live one's life. The trick is how to stay disciplined when the games are avaialble at a moment's notice, 24/7. But I'm learning some psychological tricks to keep myself mostly disciplined, and the occasional painful losses when I play when I shouldn't hopefully will serve as a negative reinforcement. After I've taken a few days off, hopefully I can start winning some money again.

Anti-gambling amendment fails to be attached to Justice Department spending bill. Jon Kyl wants to stop internet gambling because it's "the crack cocaine of gambling," and therefore especially dangerous for children. So he wants to block credit cards and banks from accepting on-line gambling charges. Because lots of kids have credit cards and checking accounts.

The amendment further confuses me, because last I heard, credit cards reject gambling transactions from the United States. And most off-shore gambling sites use an intermediary to handle banking transactions. And I believe these intermediaries, such as Neteller, service other "vice" sites besides gambling (i.e. porn). So while I would speculate gambling is 95%+ of Neteller's business, I think there is enough plausible deniability regarding transactions with them, that I don't know you could cut off all bank ties with them. It's a distinction between vices which is reminiscent of Homer's line, when asked, after a car accident, what type of establishment this Moe's was from which he was coming home. If a bank ever denies your Neteller transaction, just remember Homer's response, and when asked why you were transferring $100 to a business identified as "Paradise," explain in as blase a voice as you can manage,"It's a pornography website! I was purchasing pornography." How can they argue with that.

In any event, I guess I should be glad it's unregulated. Once the government takes their cut, the rakes will no doubt go up.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I got in a car accident this afternoon. My fault, I ran a red light and got hit by someone turning left. Luckily they had been stopped at the light and weren't going very fast. Their car had minor fender damage, my rear driver's side door is dinged in pretty bad, just enough that I'll have to get it repaired. No huge deal, but it means I'll be taking a hit in the car insurance realm. But these things happen. I'm just glad it was a minor collision and no one was hurt. And in a way, it's nice to clearly be at fault, so there's no need to argue about that.
Westward Ho to close. No big loss.
Judge rules against gag order on librarians in Patriot Act case.
Nintendo has revealed the controller for the Revolution gaming system. The rumors I'd heard about the controllers didn't inspire confidence, but the final product looks pretty cool.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google now has a blog search engine in beta testing. It seems like a useful way to search, say, for honest product testimonials, which Google is now useless for, thanks to the barrage of fly-by-night retailers that come up when you search for almost anything commercially available anywhere.
I saw Grizzly Man a week or so ago, and never got around to sharing my opinion. I would recommend the film. Timothy Treadwell is an interesting, crazy person, and the film seemed a fair assessment. It sounded like he was a troubled young man in his early years, and sobered up to spend 13 years with the bears he felt he was bonding with, and he was happy, and I don't believe his presence really harmed the bears by desensitizing them to humans or anything. But I agree with Herzog, that in all the footage he shows, while Treadwell believes he's connecting to the bears, I never see any suggestion of anything beyond bored indifference in the bear's reaction to him. He did seem to bond with some foxes, though (which provides some amazing footage). Treadwell's story is fascinating, and while much of Herzog's commentary is obvious and somewhat uninspired, he is uniquely suited to appreciate Treadwell the filmmaker, and he goes into some depth regarding this aspect, that would most likely have been overlooked by another filmmaker (I was especially amused by a long scene in which Treadwell rants against the park service, while Herzog's commentary obliquely leads one to link Treadwell the actor to Herzog's old nemesis Klaus Kinsky). All in all, the subject matter is riviting, Herzog expands the argument to fit nicely with the exploration of nature and art in his other films, and the cinematography (in particular Treadwell's own work) is beautiful. I'd recommend it.
"The Aristocrats" as Bob Newhart would perform it.
I had the opportunity to see Pink Martini in concert last weekend. Which until recently was not something for which I would have hoped. I discovered them on Napster back in its glory days, when you could download songs of your choice for free without worrying about spyware and the RIAA. If memory serves, I was looking for the version of "Que Sera Sera" from Heathers, but found their version instead, which led me to find "Bolero" soon after. I purchased Sympathique and was absolutely blown away. But as the album had been out a few years and their was no sign on a new album, I doubted I would see any new material, let alone a tour in my neck of the woods. But then the new album, Hang on Little Tomato, came like a shot from the dark, and if it wasn't as good as Sympathique, it was still damn good. And then, lo and behold, the entire ensemble (more or less) announced they were coming to San Diego. I actually was considering a trip to San Jose to see them there, when I found out I could see them at the Belly Up Tavern for $18. That was a no-brainer.

I had never been to the Belly Up, but it was about what I expected, like a pre-fab barn with limited seating but plenty of standing room. I arrived too early, after having dinner at Tony's Jacal, a decent Mexican restaurant with a nice, Old Town ambiance. The beans and rice were first-rate, the carne asada unimpressive. I had a coupon for a free appetizer, some sort of turkey tostada thing, which made it a pretty good value overall. The Mexican food heavy in my belly, I skipped the bar and took my place on the floor. I spoke to someone who had been to their show the previous night, at the Hollywood Bowl. He said that Pink Martini played less than an hour at that show, and he seemed generally disappointed with that show, so I was somewhat concerned waiting for the show to start. But we both agreed this was a great venue in which to see them, a band with a devoted core following, and with an enhanced exposure from the new album and various soundtrack/compilation album appearances. They had played for some 16,000 people the night before, and now the twelve musicians were going to take the stage for a sold-out crowd of about 600 (they left the Brazillian dancers at the Hollywood Bowl, apparently). Vocalist China Forbes commented on the different energies of the two evenings, and when she said, "We're definately coming back here," she seemed to mean the Belly Up. But I have my doubts, as they would have no trouble filling up a larger venue with higher ticket prices (and given the number of mouths in the band to feed, making a bit more off ticket sales seems a reasonable desire). So even given that I was in some degree of pain from standing for three hours or so, and given that some of the people at the bar apparently bought tickets far in advance to the sold-out show just to have a place to talk, I treasured the opportunity to see Pink Martini in this great, intimate venue.

Pink Martini is somewhat difficult to describe, though attempts to describe them tend to overreach a tad, making them sound like some musical mutant (the Belly Up's web site describes them as being "somewhere between a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brasilian marching street band and Japanese film noir"). I tend to describe their sound as jazzy French caberet with latin influences, which seems like a good start (but why bother describing them? You can stream both albums in their entierty on their web site, so hear it for yourself). Sunday night, the emphasis seemed to be those latin influences (though perhaps they just are more overpowering when you see them live). But they lived up to their reputation for eclecticism, covering a wide range of material from both albums, including some French and Japanese tunes, and some new material, giving some hope we won't have to wait seven years for another album. Most notable amongst the new material was a tune called "Goodbye Little Bumblebee." But "goodbye" was in Russian, and "little bumblebee" in Italian, so it was something like "Da Svidaniya poco bumblebinno" (the translation for bumblebee I got off the web didn't sound close to what she was singing; it was something like "bambino"). The song sounded like a song of that title should, and I'm sure this Russo-Italian march/love song will make their new album a must-have, whenever that comes along.

Despite the concerns raised by comments on the Hollywood Bowl concert, I enjoyed the performance very much. They played most of the new album, and several songs from the old album, in addition to new material. And they closed with "Brazil," one of my favorites. I doubt I will see them in a similar venue in the future, as it must be cost-prohibitive to bring an ensemble of twelve musicians and many instruments down to San Diego to perform for a relatively small crowd. Which in a way is fine; I wouldn't mind seeing them in a more formal environment, with a little less chatter, and where I'm only on my feet if I choose to be. But I had a great time, and urge you to see them if you have the opportunity, and hear the albums if you haven't already.

Robert Wise, dead at 91.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Las Vegas Casino Death Watch
Select Coinstar locations now offer the option of cashing your loose change in for a gift certificate for no charge. I refuse to give someone money in exchange for less money, but I don't mind tying up my money in an Amazon gift certificate for the convenience of not rolling pennies. I usually take my quarters and nickels to a local Indian casino to cash in, but they won't take pennies or dimes, and now I no longer will need to segregate my change.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I just got Things Change on DVD, and watched it this evening. Delightful film. While I was watching it, I got to wondering if Ricky Jay had a website. Of course he does.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A look at some vanished or retreating authors, including the deceased author of Papillon, who is still voting in Argentina.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The reason Bush was reluctant to cut his vacation short: He didn't want to appear weak in the War on Brush.
While the signal to noise ratio wasn't the best, I still enjoyed last night's telecast. It probably helped, of course, that I taped it (I went to the movies last night) and could fast forward Mariah Carey and such. I tuned in mainly for Randy Newman, and he opened the show, with "Louisiana 1927," and while I've heard the song many, many times (though not at too many concerts--the tune is virtually identical to "Sail Away," and he rarely plays both in concert, usually just playing "Sail Away"), the context gave it added poignancy, as Randy's anguish came through on the last couple recitations of the closing line, "They're trying to wash us away."

Of course, it's been observed that perhaps other Randy songs are also appropriate for the current situation. He sings about New Orleans in several songs. But it was also pondered in the Randy Newman discussion list to which I subscribe, about what would happen had Randy Newman performed "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)" on the telethon (the consensus being it wouldn't motivate people to run for the phones). But seeing the headline for The Onion this week hammered home the relevance of that song, at it's final verse: "I burn down your cities--how blind you must be/I take from you your children and you say 'how blessed are we....'" Or if you're Pat Robertson, you praise God for the hurricane making Roberts confirmation road easier. (Which seems to tie it all back back to "Louisiana 1927": New Orleans blew the levy in 1927 even though the knew the town was in no real danger, and now God has smote a city to get a judge approved who already was almost assured confirmation. Nothing like destroying lives and property to get a little political insurance)

And on the topic of Randy Newman, a member of the discussion list above-mentioned produced a Randy Newman parody which I found exceptionally well-done and rather amusing. I don't know how much it appeals to non-Newman fans, but I think it's worth a listen.

Another recent example of journalists telling it like it is.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I thought Mutts was cute today.
Roman Catholic Archdioses challenging sex abuse law. My eye was caught by the use of the phrase "economic Holocaust." You know, when I think of "Holocaust," I tend to think of innocent victims being slaughtered, not guilty parties made to answer for their sins. And I find the notion of an "economic Holocaust" to be in very poor taste (as does the American Heritage Dictionary, as noted in this usage guide. (It also notes that Holocaust, when capitalized, refers specifically to the mass murder perpetrated by the Nazis, though it would presumably be the paper, not the lawyer, responsible for the capitalization). But it just seems to me, when you're making the very compelling argument that you shouldn't be tried for a crime because you destroyed documents and now would have difficulty defending yourself, you should avoid invoking the Holocaust in your argument, as it's unlikely to get you very far.
I just settled in front of the TV to watch the U.S. Open, and after checking the odds, decided to put some money on Sharapova. I missed getting the bet in by just seconds, and so of course Sharapova breaks for the first point. So I was upset I didn't get my money in, though now it looks like Clijsters might break, too. It's going to be a close game, I was just surprised they were offering about +160 on Sharapova.

Regardless of whether I have money on it, though, I'm expecting a good game. I doubt it can top the Blake/Agassi match on Wednesday, but what can, really? Too bad Davenport's out, though. Update: Turns out being slow on the draw saved me $20. I don't think Pierce has a chance, so I'll probably put that money on Clijsters, assuming the odds aren't too bad.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I got someone to work for me on the 19th, so now I can attend the 13th Annual Sea Chantey Fest on the Star of India. I've never been, but it sounds like a lot of fun!
If you're anything like me, I doubt you took any notice of the release of Walt Disney's Timeless Tales Vol. 2. But I was reading a review, and learned that the title was selected to keep anyone from noticing that The Wind in the Willows is the cornerstone of the DVD release. And "Ferdinand The Bull" is included as well, along with some other less thrilling shorts. I think The Wind in the Willows was probably the second-most-watched movie of my childhood, behind Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (I'm pretty sure they both beat out Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, but it's close). As much as I hate giving Disney money (especially with the annoying trailers they tack on the front of their DVDs), I think my new niece (due in scant weeks) will find one under the Christmas tree, and I might pick up one for myself, too.

Update: Reading the user reviews at Amazon, I learn that Disney's odd titling of this release is apparently intended to obscure the fact that there's nothing new here. I was unaware that The Wind in the Willows was already available on DVD because it is called The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. I know I've seen Ichabod and was reasonably entertained as a child; I did not realize it was bundled with Mr. Toad as one feature. So Disney has re-released (the better) half of a film, tacked on a few shorts already available in DVD collections, and attempted to make more money. You don't get the "Ferdinand" short with the Ichabod/Toad release, but a review from a site I'm unfamiliar with claims the trailers can be skipped with one touch of the menu button on the older release, so that's probably the one I'll go with. Though the new DVD seems to get higher marks for audio/visual quality. Thank you, Disney, for being such douchebags that even when you put out something I want, you do everything you can to keep me from buying it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I was watching Spike TV, and saw a commercial for Maxoderm, a topical lotion for "male enhancement," applied "directly to the source." I just couldn't help but think Steve Martin needs to sue someone, as he put forth the idea of Steve Martin's All-Natural Penis Beauty Cream on Saturday Night Live years ago. "You can't feel confident unless your manhood is smooth and soft." That sounds like the perfect tag-line for Maxoderm. That, or "some discoloration is normal."

I just wonder, does Maxoderm come in a plain brown wrapper with "Not Penis Cream" stamped on it?

Monday night, I qualified to compete in the Million Dollar Freeroll tournament at Paradise Poker. Entry in this tournament is free (hence the name), but you have to win a seat in a free sattelite tournament. I failed to win my way into the first tournament, but they are running a second tournament in December, and last night, I overcame about 1300 people to be one of of the last 20 players standing, and won a seat in the main event. So I now have about a 1 in 4200 chance of winning $1,000,000. Of course, the price money drops dramatically after first place, but I still have about a 1 in 9 chance of winning money. Those odds based on the enrollment in the first tournament, I don't know if the tourney I'm in will have more or less players. But I value the entry at about $260, not considering the trip to a "mystery tropical location" if I make it to the final table (which will be televised). So that's somewhat exciting. I don't pretend to be a very experienced multi-table tournament player, but it's about the closest I've ever been to winning a million dollars.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bob Denver, dead at 70.
Wow, all these years, you think you know the world you live in, and then you learn that Shelly Winters and Jonathan Winters are not married. They appear to be no relation to each other. Man, that blows my mind.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wow, we just had quite a little tremor here in San Diego. It was pretty scary, even though it didn't last very long at all, because it was just a little rumbling, than one very strong jerk. Didn't really feel like any earthquake I've been it.

I assume this is the culprit. 3.9 sounds about right, especially considering the relative proximity; usually, the epicenter is well out into the ocean or desert. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, as there have been quite a few earthquakes in Imperial County lately.

In answer to "engrish," the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture (tatoos, primarily).
The response to the destruction of New Orleans bears some resemblance to the leathal Chicago heat wave of 1995. The article includes an interesting slam of Clear Channel, whose past track record includes a failure to alert their listeners to a leathal poison cloud descending on one community, and their lack of local news coverage. Incidentally, a book about the Chicago heat wave came out in 2002, and sounds fascinating.

I watched the flood concert on NBC tonight. Randy Newman wasn't there; Aaron Nevill sang "Louisiana 1927," quite movingly. Not as good as Randy, of course; the way he doesn't try to sell the lines, "The river rose all day/the river rose all night,/some people got lost in the flood/some people got away all right," is what gives the lines their power. He changed the word "crackers" to "people," which seemed appropriate, given that it's the poor blacks bearing the brunt of this flood. And Kanye West's outburst was a nice change of pace from the annoying celeb talking-head moments, that resembled hackneyed Academy Award celebrity presentations. And my poor name-sake Mr. Myers standing beside him, stunned. West's point was valid, but I'm afraid it just came across as comic relief. But I'll settle for that.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fats Domino is okay. Nice to have some good news coming out of LA.
There's a very good article about torture in the June issue of The Atlantic. You need a subscription to read the article, but numerous blogs summarize the contents. Basically, it cites the example of Marine Major Sherwood F. Moran, who was one of the most successful interregators of Japanese prisoners of war during WWII, by being nice to his prisoners and treating them with respect. Rather than treating them as combatants, he recognized they were no longer a threat in their present condition, and instead befriended them, and encouraged them to tell their story. Military Professor James Corum summarizes the lesson to be learned from Moran's example as "know their language, know their culture, and treat the captured enemy as a human being." If only Moran's example of "enlightened hard-boiled-ness" was taught to the grunts currently manning our "enemy combatant detention centers."
Fats Domino missing in New Orleans.
I just saw one of the dumber public service announcements I've seen in awhile. An old woman sits alone at the kitchen table, looking sad. Then the voice-over says, "Just tell grandma you forgot your dinner plans because you were stoned. She'll understand." "Responsibility: The anti-drug" then appears on the screen. Don't do drugs, you might make your grandma sad. That is the sort of thing that will really inspire the young people. Not as dumb an ad as the one where the kids play with a loaded gun their parents left unlocked, with the message we are supposed to take away from this cautionary tale somehow being, "Don't do drugs." But stupid nonetheless. Our tax dollars at work.