Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
You know, I have said before that the economy and finance is just a bunch of hooey and nobody, especially those jackasses on the cable news, know what the hell is going on. Jim sent me an email today with a link to this column by Garrison Keillor that sums my feelings up better than I ever could.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I just finished reading the most amazing book last night. It's called Human Smoke and it's by Nicholson Baker. The book is a series of paragraph to page-long vignettes about the lead up to and first couple years of World War II. Each tiny chapter covers a news story or diary entry and, at some point in the entry, the date will be given. It's written in a journalistic style with very little editorializing by the author. It is obvious, though, that the author's sympathies are with those who opposed the war rather than with those that worked to broaden the conflict.
I have seen at least one other review remark on the similarity between the beginnings of World War II and the current conflict in Iraq. I don't mean that there is any comparison between Hitler and Saddam although both of them were brutal mass murderers. The similarity that stands out in this book is when you compare the desire for war of Churchill and Roosevelt and George W. Bush and friends. In both instances the Western powers spoke of their desire for peace while rushing headlong into war. The similarity in the rhetoric will cause you to doubt your own existence.
What had always been impressed upon me was the inevitability of the Second World War. Hitler was bad and if it hadn't had been for Churchill and Roosevelt and the mighty sacrifices of the 'greatest generation' then we would all be speaking German right now. What Baker shows is the folly of that belief. There were plenty of opportunities to stop the war from spreading in 1940 and 1941. What is intriguing is that it may have been possible to avoid the ultimate horrors of the Holocaust if the goal of the allies was truly humanitarian and not on an aggressive war footing. Imagine that, lives saved by avoiding war.
The reviewer, Mark Kurlansky, sums it up better than I can: "It may be one of the most important books you will ever read. It could help the world to understand that there is no Just War, there is just war -- and that wars are not caused by isolationists and peaceniks but by the promoters of warfare."
Monday, March 24, 2008
You know how some emails from businesses arrange it so you can't reply to their email by using the domain donotreply.com? Well, some guy bought that domain and now receives emails from yokels that still reply. You can read his comments and some of the emails here. He is not posting any personal information and ad money he receives is going to a charity. He appears to be using his powers for good.
The Sports Illustrated Vault has gone live and it's very cool. You can view full issues of the magazine, advertisements and everything else, or you can read individual articles. For example there is a nice article on Johnny Bench from 1969 here. If you want to see the whole issue click where it says "view this issue" and it will open up in a PDF file.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
"In Tokyo, the American ambassador to Japan heard something about a possible surprise attack. 'There is a lot of talk around town to the effect that the Japanese, in case of a break with the United States, are planning to go all out in a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor,' the ambassador, Joseph Grew, wrote in his diary. 'Of course I informed my government.' It was January 24, 1941."
I know most of you don't believe in ghosts but watch this video below and you may start to have your doubts.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I find this amazing collection of videos today where some people have taken famous scenes and animated them just using text and some clever animation. It's a good way to look at what is very familiar differently. You can view them here.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
From a book review in the NY Times Book Review: "...the mass of men lead lives of shallow happiness, the superior man exults in his gloom."
If you have a few minutes you should give this review a read. Garrison writes the funniest reviews. The last paragraph is just brilliant.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
A short while ago I wrote a post about some free quality online reading you can find on the internet. Today I learned about a new magazine to add to that list.
This Thursday the Sports Illustrated website will launch something called the Vault. The Vault will give free access to the archives of Sports Illustrated magazine. We may not know this but Sports Illustrated has been around for over fifty years and the writing at the magazine has been spectacular as long as I have been reading it. I started reading it in the early 80's. My Step Father's Mother bought him a subscription for him to SI every Christmas. I am really excited about this newest archive to hit the 'net. You can read a good New York Times story on the story here. It seems to me that we are going to see more of this because, according to the article, magazine websites are experience an increase in traffic when they offer services like this.
Monday, March 17, 2008
It's been a while since I've been able to find a cause to get behind but I think I found my new one: Let's let women have a ski jumping competition in the 2010 Olympic winter games. If you believe it that as strongly as I do you can read more about here.
More on music and the Internet
Check out how well Nine Inch Nails did with their internet only release of new material. I might have to download part one of their project tonight and see what all the hubbub is about.
This one by Nicholson Baker: "Over and over again I would take out the five most important books on X subject, and then I’d go back to The New York Times, and by God, the story that was written the day after was by far the best source. Those reporters were writing with everything in the right perspective. Sometimes I think historians are a little like sauté chefs: they cook everything up and soften the edges."
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Well, today, for the hell of it, I created a podcast. For some reason my voice was very low when I recorded it. I had the volume turned up pretty high on the audio recorder which is why there is a lot of hiss. I had to alter it some more with Nero track editor. If I do it again maybe I'll figure it out. So, if you wanted a short sixteen minute podcast with four tracks on it check out the link below.
Ed's First Podcast.
"Even a moderately well-known musician can reach fans without a middleman. Daniel Lanois, who has produced U2 and Bob Dylan and is also a guitarist and songwriter, noted during his set that he now sells his music directly online in high fidelity at the Web site redfloorrecords.com.
“We can record something at night, put it on the site for breakfast and have the money in the PayPal account by 5,” he said. “With all due respect for my very great friends who have come up in the record-company environment, it’s nice to see that technology has opened the doors to everybody.”"
Lou Reed chimes in also: "Lou Reed, who gave an onstage interview as a convention keynote, was terse about getting a label contract. “You have the Internet — what do you need it for?”"
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Another enlightening message from the far right: "I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore."
Good stuff, that. God is love but he wants to eradicate his enemies.
Just in case you weren't sure about Bush and Cheney...
A study conducted by a group that is funded by the federal government has finally shown that there was no connection between Saddam and Al-Queada. I think we all pretty much knew that but it's nice to have a definite answer. And, of course, god forbid the Bush people would deal honestly with us even once about anything.
I stole the first link from Patrick Lang.
I don't recall ever mentioning this web comic before on this blog. It's called Unshelved and it's written by a librarian. I have said several times to different people that the comic is so accurate that sometimes he goes too far. He's giving away trade secrets. Things that should be kept hidden from the general public. You can find todays strip here. It made me chuckle quietly to myself.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I haven't mentioned the Dirtbombs here since 2003. The Dirtbombs are a band from Detroit, MI. I first learned about them while reading an interview with Jack White in Mojo Magazine. He mentioned that Mick Collins, the lead singer of the Dirtbombs, was a big influence on him. I thought to myself that if this guy is one of Jack White's heroes then I should give him a listen.
On March 31st the Dirtbombs are playing in Asheville, NC at one of my favorite places to see a band, the Orange Peel.
I don't know how to describe their sound. Calling them a garage band doesn't quite do it. They are just a shit hot rock band with a nice heavy and groovy sound. I have a link below to a song called "Ever Lovin' Man" off their new album called "We have you surrounded." I can't wait to see these guys. Give them a listen and you'll see why.
Dirtbombs Ever Lovin' Man.
I've never been one to watch videos online that are longer than ten minutes but I thought I would share this. I found on CBS' website a place where you can watch full episodes of the original Star Trek series. If you have a hankering you can see them here.
Monday, March 10, 2008
"...the Palestinian poll in 2006 showed that the West will not accept an election won by its enemies. But since the invasion of Iraq it is difficult to imagine a fair poll having any other result."
New York Times Book Review
March 2, 2008
"I had recognized the foe I was to fight - false heroism that prefers to send others to suffering and death, the cheap optimism of the conscienceless prophets, both political and military who, boldly promising victory, prolong the war, and behind them the hired chorus, the "word makers of war" as Werfel has pilloried them in his beautiful poem."
Stefan Zweig as quoted in the book Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker.
Friday, March 07, 2008
I just found one of my favorite comedy routines on Youtube. It's by Larry Miller and it's called The Five Stages of Drinking. This performance is older and better than the more recent versions of it that I have seen. When this was done (late 80's) it was still a fresh routine. Check it out.
An Insane way to live
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
Today I started my workday at 9 am. I usually work at noon Monday through Thursday. The every third Friday I work is a reminder of why I work at noon the rest of the time. I don't know how people sit in that traffic everyday. It really is just a crazy way to live. You are essentially pissing away two hours a day. That's 5.9 percent of your life. If you work 30 that is 1.178 years sitting in traffic.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I just finished the strangest book this morning. It's called "Crooked Little Vein" by Warren Ellis. It's a short book and it's about a down and out private detective in Manhattan (think Guy Noir with a potty mouth and a drinking problem) that is engaged by the President of the United States' chief of staff to find an ancient book that allegedly could change our country. The detective, Mike McGill, then embarks on a cross country journey and meets every type of whack job and freak you can possibly imagine. I gather that Warren Ellis has spent way to much time on the internet because he has mined the underbelly of the web and has decided if he's seen it there then it must be everywhere. Maybe it is, sometimes I don't need to know though. A fascinating, occasionally gross and funny book that is not for the timid.
I first came across Ellis because of Bryan Hitch who did the art work for the Marvel Comics series called The Ultimates. I was so taken by that series that I went to the comic bookstore Heroes Aren't Hard to Find and asked one of the always helpful staff to suggest some of Hitch's early work to me. He immediately mentioned a series called The Authority, a reimagining of the superhero team which was written by Ellis with art by Hitch. I love when things come together like that. Warren Ellis has a blog here. It can occasionally be a little not safe for work and he's frank with his use of strong language but he does link to some pretty fascinating stuff now and then. Like I said, he spends a lot of time online.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Right now Barry Bonds holds the single season record for at bats per home run at 6.50 What is most interesting is that he didn't even come close to breaking the top twenty in this category until the year before he broke McGwire's single season home run record. Interesting. You can view the record here. It's almost like he had some kind of advantage late in his career that other players didn't.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
I love the public. This lady a short while ago put my coworker through one of my favorite tortures. Essentially here at the library you are limited to two hour long sessions on our internet computers per day. I call it the "Alquist Rule." So named after the couple that showed up in the mid 90's when we first got the internet at the library. They would literally stay on the internet for 8 straight hours if allowed. We didn't even have time limits until the Alquists showed. This lady today had a problem with the policy and asked Rachel six different ways about the policy. I guess she figures if she asks the question just right the policy will magically change and she can stay on the computer all day. I was listening and laughing quietly to myself.
I don't know if you know this or not but John Fogerty came out with a new album this fall called "Revival." I just heard it for the first time this week. Since it's a John Fogerty album album I knew it wouldn't be a piece of crap but I didn't expect it to be awesome. My first listen through was just an incredible experience. It's fresh and energetic with some superb songs with nice sparse and open production.
I guess he came out with an album in 2004 and I missed that one. I did buy "Full Moon Swamp" when in came out in 1998 and that is one I'll have to go back to. I haven't given it a listen in a couple of years. I remember the song "110 degrees in the Shade" was easily my favorite song on that album.
Right now my favorite song on this album is this song called "I can't take it no more" that clocks in at under two minutes. It's essentially a Ramones song about the Bush presidency. I've played it several times over the last few days. I like it that old hippies like Fogerty and Neil Young are still out there calling out the war mongers.
Here's a live performance of "I can't take it no more."