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12/31/2004

Tsunami catastrophe update

Now the toll is up to 125,000 dead. And it could reach 400,000 or higher from the initial impact alone, not even counting eventual deaths from starvation and disease (both links via Drudge Report). This is unbelievable. 100,000 people within a few hours is just a staggering tragedy, I don't even know how you can describe it in words.

Some people pointed to this photo as evidence that those affected don't deserve help from Americans (note OBL t-shirt in the middle). I disagree: this photo was taken in Sri Lanka, and I think (at least, I hope) the majority of other countries affected have less insane views of the U.S. Though I can see how this would turn people off from giving: if you think your donation is going to help those who revel in the deaths of Americans, it makes you wonder whether there's any point to it at all.

Nevertheless, for what it's worth, I gave and I'm planning to give again. I think the real reasoning is that our shared humanity at a time of tragedy trumps whatever political craziness is dividing us at the moment. That's what it is. I don't have any illusions that giving aid will increase our stature in the Muslim world (because history shows that handouts never do that, and sometimes actually make the situation worse), but sometimes you do something just because it's the right thing to do.


12/30/2004

My '04 Favorites

I think I gave off the wrong impression before... I never said I was going to end this site, just that I wouldn't be here every day, and I probably wouldn't be writing much about politics. By "online journalism" I meant mostly just the current events stuff. Alright, now that that's cleared up...

I figure it's time for a short year-favorites recap.

Favorite songs: Loretta Lynn featuring Jack White - "Portland, Oregon", Jay-Z - "99 Problems", The Clientele - "Jamaican Rum Rhumba", Kings of Convenience - "I'd Rather Dance With You".

"99 Problems" (it actually came out late last year, but I only heard it this year) was the real highlight, but "Portland, Oregon" was very nice too, a real slice of 1974 country rock, like back when country didn't mean big guys wearing funny hats.

I listed songs and not albums because I didn't really buy that many recent albums this year. The current music I heard was mostly just downloaded over the internet, or heard at bars and clubs or whatever. It feels like I buy less music nowadays in general. Apologies to the recording industry. Does anybody else feel the same way?

Favorite movies: "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou", "The Saddest Music in the World", "Primer".

I really wish I had written something about "The Saddest Music in the World" when I came out. It's a Canadian movie, mostly in black-and-white, set in the 30's, and it plays like poetry. It was really touching, and another movie that makes good use of music.

This list is short because I didn't see that many movies this year either. What did I do this year? I guess I drank a lot.

12/28/2004

Bookshelf adventures



I saw "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" over the weekend, for the first but hopefully not the last time. I looked around for a review I could quote, but I couldn't find one that does the movie justice (though this one by Armond White is good), so I figured I had to write my own. Here goes: this is another Wes Anderson masterpiece, like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums were. Giving a synopsis wouldn't really do it justice: there's a plot (basically a retelling of Moby Dick) and a general concept (an emotionally-detached genius who suddenly starts failing, sort of the concept of the previous two movies if you want to look at it that way), but the real core of the movie is in the style. It's not fair to just call it "whimsical", like some reviewers have said. The key for me was noticing what the movie doesn't contain: though it's ostensibly set in the present, there are no cellphones, no fancy electronics, and the only computer seen is some sort of clunky early-80's model. A reporter on the ship uses a big, blocky dictaphone to do interviews; the editing of a documentary is done by spooling film together the old-fashioned way; and correspondence is done via letters. This isn't just an attempt to show that Zissou's ship is out of date; it's a conscious stylistic choice, and it's a real nostalgia kick for those of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's with those gadgets. It's the same kind of nostalgia I got seeing the world of card catalogs and Adidas tracksuits and sweatbands of The Royal Tenenbaums. That to me is really the hook for understanding this movie: like the best twee-pop of the late 90's (Belle and Sebastian, Rocketship, Jumprope), it's a throwback to a past that never was, and it speaks to me in the same visceral way that that music does. I don't know if Simon and Garfunkel would have offhandedly sung something like "all the others did drugs, they're taking it out on us", like Belle and Sebastian did, and similarly the movies combine the clunky elements of 70's life (like a mini-sub straight out of The Yellow Submarine) with a detached sensibility in a way that's both modern and retro and that strikes a deep chord for me.

The soundtrack itself is another fine collection of 60's-to-70's music, this time mostly featuring David Bowie (there's also an interesting original score). Once again the music is integral to the movie, and I'm surprised by all the reviews I read that basically ignore it. I might be over-reaching, but I don't know that there's been another director who's used song soundtracks as well as Wes Anderson.

Disaster in Asia

At least 22,000 dead in Southeast Asia from an earthquake-caused tsunami, the deadliest since 1883. More fatalities are undoubtedly yet to be counted, hundreds of thousands are homeless, and cholera and malaria will probably soon start spreading. Mother Earth can be a furious force. Tim Blair has the story covered, including where donations can be sent to. I donated to AmeriCares; I hope some of you also give if you can.

UPDATE: Casualty figures now up to 59,000 and growing.

12/24/2004

Wiki does the news

I wrote before about Wiki and their various online tools, but their latest, Wiki News, launched a few weeks ago, is quite interesting. It's essentially like Wikipedia except that the entries are in reverse-chronological blog format, and they cover current events. It's meant to eventually be a place for original reporting, though right now all of the articles seem to just cite news agency reports.

There hasn't been that much excitement about it (here's a Wired Magazine article), but I think it could become a big deal. The web is already an alternate channel for a lot of what the traditional media does; anyone who can string two together two sentences in a blog entry on some political issue (like I used to be able to do) already handles two of the important functions of news media: news aggregation and commentary; there are already blogs (and quasi-blogs like Drudge Report) that do this and have the same audience size, and influence, as many mainstream media sources. The only function that's still mostly handled by mainstream media is original reporting. Though not entirely: if I want to hear about what's happening in Iraq, for instance, I can read through hundreds of blogs written by Iraqis and U.S. soldiers stationed there; they all often mix in original reporting with their thoughts. And of course Dan Rather found out about online reporting this year.

So what will distributed online journalism in the future look like? I can think of three possibilities:
I don't think that press services like the AP and Reuters will ever go away, but I think their influence will have to diminish in the face of "citizen reporting". That's a good thing because the evidence that our press services have a strong ideological agenda of their own, especially relating to anything involving U.S. or Israeli foreign policy, is both frequent and compelling.

12/22/2004

Heeb it like a secret

Just letting you know that I'll be at Heeb Magazine's Christmas Eve party (see last item) on the Lower East Side on Friday with a friend of mine. They also sponsored Jewltide, and some other events I've been to, so maybe I'm letting them define my social schedule too much, but, say what you will about the magazine itself, their ability to put on a good party is undeniable.

Anyway, if you're Semitic and living in New York (or gentile but not going back home, for that matter - my guess is it'll be a mixed crowd to some extent), I recommend it. If anyone is going, feel free to send me an e-mail and I can meet up with you.

Of course if you're observant, you're probably staying home because it's a Friday night. It does feel a little strange to have a Jewish event on a Friday night, especially one celebrating Christmas Eve...sponsored by a magazine named after an anti-Semitic word... crap, do you lose all your Jewish Points going to this thing? I hope not.

12/21/2004

And everybody's got to live their life

I've come to the decision that this online journalism career may not be for me. I admit it's been fun. In the beginning it was fantastic, actually; I don't know if it's said enough, but blogging is very addictive - it's hard to get over the fact that you can publish your thoughts, and get a whole bunch of readers, with an ease that's never really been possible before in human history. And the constraints that enforced some kind of thematic integrity aren't there either - it's like having a newspaper columnist's job, a public diary, and an ongoing conversation with people you know all at the same time. But like every addiction, the effect does wear off over time (at least for me - I tend to be a dilettante in just about every part of my life). When I'm writing about politics, it feels like I'm not swaying anyone's views, but rather just confirming the opinions of some people and alienating others. And even given that that can be entertaining, I don't know how I feel about alienating people that in real life I know I could get along with just fine (I know this because, aside from some of my New York co-bloggers and a few others, these are pretty much the only kinds of people I'm around on a regular basis). My heart's just not into writing about the random stuff anymore either. Even watching the readership statistics tick up every month, which I confess I used to get a little thrill from, doesn't really have any effect anymore.

At the same time, I think it's time to re-prioritize: life has seemed to reward me lately for the things I do besides blogging, and been indifferent to the time I spend writing these posts: there's only so much of that that can happen before you start to think maybe your path lies elsewhere.

So, I'll still be here, but I probably won't be posting as often as I used to. I probably won't post from work any more either. Reading back, it seems like it's the posts I made at that time of day that always seemed the most petty or spiteful and just kind of boring (a too-harsh recent post that's since been removed being a case in point), so no big loss there.

I probably won't be writing much about day-to-day politics anymore either. As I wrote last month, I started this blog a little less than a year ago, just as the presidential election was starting up in earnest, and looking back a lot of my effort seems a symptom of having gotten wrapped up (like many people) in that election. Now that we're in the middle of a news dearth - political machinations in the Ukraine is what passes for front-page news - that kind of reactive political blogging seems like misplaced effort. I still enjoy reading it, but I don't know if I have the patience to write it anymore.

So, I'll still be here but I might end up being infrequent. Also making the title of my blog either irrelevant or a total lie depending I guess on how charitable you are.

On to the next chapter.

12/16/2004

Cancelled bird

Hilarious quote via The Corner:
Two months ago, a show for children featured a talking yellow bird that responded to questions from youngsters in the audience.

A little girl asked what the bird would do if someone cut down the olive trees in front of her house.

The bird replied: 'I'll call the whole world and make a riot. I'll bring AK-47's and the whole world and commit a massacre in front of the house.'

Shortly afterward, Mr. Abu Ayyash, the broadcasting chief, acknowledged that it was inappropriate and removed the show.

From a New York Times article that's actually quite positive about recent developments in Palestinian society. Note that the TV show aired two months ago, as in while Arafat was still nominally in charge. I've long said that Palestinian terrorism is more of a top-down phenomenon than the spontaneous grass-roots movement that some people try to paint it.

And the yellow bird nowadays mostly just sits around smoking hashish and playing backgammon. True story.

12/14/2004

The latest revelation, Clue-style

Turns out it was probably the Ukrainian secret service. In the dining room. With a bowl of soup.

On a slightly related note, Col. Mustard was my favorite character in Clue. I think I liked the name. Also, he seemed like he had had the most exciting life of all of them, what with expeditions to Africa and the like.

12/13/2004

My view on the border wars

This Reason Magazine article from 1995 (found via Hit and Run, on illegal immigration and the perils of a National ID card, is as timely as ever (the only new wrinkle is the current focus on terrorism). It makes the point that a National ID card is fraught with problems, easily forged and a great inconvenience to law-abiding citizens, and even manages to quote Frank Abagnale, now famous from the movie "Catch Me If You Can":
"There really is nothing you can make that's 100 percent tamper-proof or 100 percent fraud -proof," says Frank Abagnale. "That's one of the reasons I don't think there will ever be a national ID card. We don't even have very good money. It's the worst currency in the world, printed with technology that's 75 years old. It's pathetically easy to counterfeit. I don't see how the government can come out with a secure ID when it can't even come up with a good dollar bill."

...

"Look, I designed the state of Florida's birth certificate," says Abagnale. "It's got a street price in Miami of $5,000, so it's obviously a very valuable document. But it's still ridiculously easy to defeat all the security I put into it. I'll tell you how. A forger comes to Miami, goes to the Bureau of Vital Statistics and asks to see the death records for 1948. They'll let him view them in the office. He picks out an infant who died at birth and copies down all the information it's got there - the mother's name, the father's, the time of birth, all that stuff.

"Then he walks right down the hall to another office where he can apply for a certified copy of the birth certificate. All he has to do to get it is to pay $5.00. And once he has that, he goes across town to a Motor Vehicle Department office and gets a driver's license in the name of the baby on the birth certificate. And with a driver's license, he can apply for all kinds of documents. For just 50 bucks, you can create 10 different identities for yourself in just a couple of days."

The article also makes the point that border patrolling is not a cure-all:
The most widely accepted estimate of illegal immigrants who come to stay is about 300,000 a year. Roughly half of those enter the United States on legal visas as tourists or students, for instance and then stay. Another 5,000 or so cross through Canada, sneak into Puerto Rico, or enter via sea. So even if we gave the Border Patrol the billions of dollars it would cost to extend Operation Gatekeeper across every inch of the 2,000-mile Mexican border, and even if it succeeded in stopping 100 percent of the immigrants, at least 155,000 illegal aliens a year would still be getting into the United States.

These are 10-year-old numbers, to be sure. I don't know what things are like now.

I guess my view on illegal immigration is that I think the current system... works pretty well. The people who come here, even illegally, are, for the most part, hard-working and, disregarding that big law they broke early on, law-abiding. They get a chance at a much better way of life, and we get cheap labor that drives the economy. As the article also points out, California in its current state couldn't survive without illegal immigration, and I think New York City to a lesser extent is the same way. I don't have any great sympathy for the ones who are jailed or deported when they get found out, and I don't think there should be amnesty or any other way to reward law-breakers, but the ones who are here, like them or not, are overall a positive influence.

I think many people's problem is that illegals manage to get welfare and other state benefits (like free health care). But this a problem for the states, most obviously California, not a federal problem. In California they passed Proposition 187 in the 90's, which would have done just that, but then it was essentially killed by Gov. Gray Davis, if I understand it correctly. If the people of California have the political will to pass such a measure again, I think it can be done.

But what about terrorists sneaking in through the borders, you say. Well, if border security were the only thing keeping another terrorist attack from happening, there would be an attack every week. And even if we tried to lock down the borders the situation wouldn't improve much: as many in the administration said after 9/11, we have an open country, and trying to prevent every suspicious-seeming person from entering our borders is a fool's game. I remain committed to the idea that the best, and only, way to end the threat of terrorism is to democratize the Arab world.

The problem with my moderate, status-quo position is that, of course, now I leave myself open to attacks from both sides. So be it.

12/12/2004

Gelt with you

Last night found me at Jewltide at Southpaw, which is close to where I live, having turned down a chance to go to a pretty awesome-sounding loft party in order to be at yet another Hannukah event. Bad choice? Possibly.

Aside from the silly name, this one was actually fun. There were performances all night, mostly from artists from JDub Records. Everyone there seemed to know JDub for their big act, Matisyahu the Hasidic reggae singer: he unfortunately wasn't there, but the B-listers were pretty good. There was a singer/rapper named "So Called", who had basically a comedic version of Matisyahu's act. The crowd liked him, for what it's worth.

Fitting the cliche, I ran into a girl I knew from Jewish summer camp, from the one summer I went. She's now a teacher in Manhattan, like many of the people who went to that camp (the ones who aren't working at non-profits, that is). Actually I think a lot of people became bankers and lawyers, at least among the jock-types.

I met a whole bunch of people, mostly because it happened that you start talking to a girl and within 10 minutes she's introduced you to her cousin, her roommate and three people from her floor at Brandeis. I ended up leaving with an Israeli-American girl (not from Brandeis), who lives in Park Slope. Could this become a serious thing? We'll see, I don't know; she's probably too artsy for me. But she's a nice girl, and she seems very literate. I don't know if that's exactly the word, but I can't think of a better word.

Some recording knowledge

I just put the finishing touches on my holiday mix CD's (shipping out soon!) I'm really happy with the way they turned out, though I learned a valuable lesson doing it: when creating a CD-R, don't use circular adhesive labels. These are the circular stickers you can put on a CD and can even print on in advance, to give it a nice look. Yes, you feel like a mini-record mogul after you stick one on, but then these CD's start skipping near the final tracks. I think it's for mechanical reasons: the stickers cause the CD's to bounce around in a player, which becomes more pronounced as you reach the last songs, which are toward the outside of the CD (little audio-technology knowledge for you). I put labels on a few of the CD's, then discovered the problem after I recorded and tried them out, and then I had to just discard these. Valuable dollars were wasted in the process. So, marker labeling is the way to go. Don't do what I did!!

12/10/2004

"We own it"
"It was just one of those things
Just one of those crazy flings
One of those bells that now and then rings
Just one of those things
It was just one of those nights
Just one of those fabulous flights
A trip to the moon on gossamer wings
Just one of those things
If we'd thought a bit, of the end of it
When we started painting the town
We'd have been aware that our love affair
Was too hot, not to cool down...
So goodbye, dear, and amen
Here's hoping we meet now and then
It was great fun
But it was just one of those things"

(Via LGF)

Hitting the big time

I bet when Omar and Mohammed started their blog, Iraq the Model, a year ago, they didn't think it would lead them on a path in which they would eventually meet the President of the United States. Which they just did, yesterday evening.

(Via Tim Blair)

More links

Two of Nickelback's horrible songs (is that a redundancy), "How You Remind Me" and "Someday", played at the same time - I laughed and laughed (via Executive Slacks)

Ken Wheaton claims Hanukkah is "all about the oil!" We're going to have to have a talk with him.

Dawn Summers turns down the chance to pay $4000 to be on "Scrubs" - that's the kind of fiscal discipline we need in Washington.

All of a sudden I want free video messaging, and I don't know why. (Via Petite Dov)

12/9/2004

And on the holiday note

To those of my faith out there, Happy Hanukkah! Now we celebrate the miracle of the oil, overcoming the oppressors, etc. etc. by eating lots of fried foods. Fantastic.

And we have this guy to thank:



(Sorry, I couldn't find a better image. It's not Handel, it's the guy in the painting, plus the guys around him.)

Here's a gung-ho (though factually accurate) take on the holiday: "the politically incorrect truth is that Hanukkah is a holiday commemorating a war. And the Maccabees didn't rely on economic sanctions, multilateral talks or peaceful resistance when the Hellenists threatened their national survival." Snap.

And here's President Bush's Hanukkah address: "The miracle of this enduring light, remembered through the lighting of the Menorah, continues to symbolize the triumph of faith over tyranny."

Anyway, not to try to politicize the holiday. You don't have to be a neocon to love Hanukkah.

12/8/2004

My holiday mix

I don't usually give out gifts and such but this year I made a mix CD, including a cover and labels, all of which I'm very excited about. It's called "Honestly?... and others". It's based off a mix CD I made earlier in the year. Some of the song and band choices are a little "obvious", if you're into indie music (everybody and their mother has heard "New Slang"), but whatever, I go for the hits.

Here's the track listing:

American Football - Honestly?
The Shins - New Slang
Yo La Tengo - Cherry Chapstick
Belle and Sebastian - Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying
Pinback - XIY
Rocketship - I Love You Like The Way That I Used To Do
Galaxie 500 - Blue Thunder
Kings of Convenience - Toxic Girl
Thingy - Ketchup Sandwich
Stereolab - "...Sudden Stars"
Kahimi Karie - 1000 20th Century Chairs
Earlimart - Interloper
The Clientele - When You and I Were Young
The Promise Ring - A Picture Postcard
Kevin Shields - City Girl
No Knife - Minus One
Owen - Most Nights
Low - Dinosaur Act

Thanks to Peter for bringing to my attention Earlimart, the newest discovery in the group.

I made a whole bunch of extra copies, and I'm in a giving mood anyway what with the holidays, so... let me know if you want your very own copy. Just send me your address, via the email address at the left, and I'll send you one. Limit 10 or so, probably, unless there's some kind of massive demand.

Rejection + compliment
Thanks so much for coming by the other day. While we unanimously thought you were extremely competent and auditioned well, there an intangible X factor that we thought was missing, which is not at all a criticism because you're very good. It's just that we felt that this X factor - call it chemistry, or connection - was more present with another bassist we auditioned last night, and it's one of those things you just know when it's there.

I can't say I'm upset. It's always nice to get a compliment on my bass skills. And these guys, though the music wasn't totally my cup of tea, knew how to play their instruments. I barely talked during the audition, for what it's worth.

Anyway, I don't want to turn this blog into a catalog of my musical defeats or anything, but I figured I had to say something since I mentioned the audition already. Which I probably won't do any more, since it's kind of pathetic to keep listing things I try out for and then fail at. I'll let you all know if I join a band.

12/7/2004

The Model in New York

Earlier today I had the amazing privilege of being able to see brothers Omar and Mohammad Fadhil, from the excellent (and, if you believe the polls, best Middle Eastern or African) blog, Iraq the Model. They spoke at a luncheon organized by Spirit of America, a great private charity that provides supplies and training to the Iraqi people. Thanks to Karol (also there, of course) for letting me know about this - as usual, she has the 411 on all the best events.

The brothers were preceded by Lt. Col. David Couvillon of the Marines, who was also the interim governor for a while of a province in Iraq (Wassit Province - thanks, Google). He talked about the help that Spirit of America provided, telling the story that (since I already found it, I might as well link to it) you can read about here.

Omar and Mohammed came next; they were there in sort of a triple role as Iraqi eyewitnesses, celebrity bloggers and aspiring politicians. They talked in general terms about how thankful they were to America, and American troops, for liberating their country, with Omar saying he "didn't start living" until April 9, 2003. He also described how he started his blog as a way to get his stories out to the world, and his amazement when it quickly became a phenomenon. He said they're currently working to help other Iraqis start their own Arabic-language blogs to help communication and understanding.

They, along with the Lt. Col., all said they were disappointed with the media, both with Western sources and Arab networks like al-Jazeera, which they said paint a false, overly-negative portrait of the situation in Iraq and ignore all of the progress going on. Omar: "it would be great if you could all visit Baghdad for yourselves." Personally, I'd love to go.

Mohammad also expressed his frustration with the UN, which he said doesn't think Iraqis can hold elections without their express help. Given the crowd, it was mostly preaching to the choir on both these points.

They both agreed that the January elections should go on as scheduled, and that delaying them would give an unacceptable victory to the terrorists. They also both said elections could run well in the given time frame, although they said it might make sense to stagger them out by province to have the areas mostly unaffected by terrorism vote first.

They're currently on a bit of a press junket as I understand, so there should be articles appearing about them in the next few days in various places.

I took some photos of them after the event, but for security reasons they didn't want them published. Still, if they ever go public I have the photos! Also, I wished Mohammed luck in the upcoming elections for their party, the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party. He said that he hoped they could win a seat in the assembly, and that, even though the major parties are right now getting all of the attention, he thought the real surprise on election day would be the strength of the smaller parties, since he thought most Iraqis currently are mistrustful of any kind of large, organized movements.

UPDATE: I should have expected that at a talk by bloggers there would be plenty of other bloggers in attendance - here are recaps by Mary of Exit Zero, Judith of Kesher Talk, Eric of Young Curmedgeon, and organizer Sean Doherty.

UPDATE: Corrections made per Iraq the Model's notes. Their last names are "Fadhil Ali", which is shortened to "Fadhil" but I thought was shortened to "Ali". Sorry about that. The Arabic naming systems are still a bit strange to me.

Big day in Afghanistan

The world's most fabulously-dressed head of state (in this blogger's opinion) now heads the world's newest official democracy:



KABUL, Afghanistan - Hamid Karzai was sworn in Tuesday as Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s first popularly elected president, calling for sustained help from the international community to bolster a young democracy that still faces the twin threats of terrorism and drugs.

The U.S.-backed leader, wearing a traditional green robe and a black lambskin hat, took the oath of office in a solemn ceremony in a restored hall of the war-damaged former royal palace.

Good luck to them.

12/6/2004

Pricing revisited

I submitted my dynamic pricing in fast food post for this week's Carnival of the Capitalists, which was posted today (feel free to check it out - it's got a lot of other good posts). It's already led to one interesting comment: "Mario" pointed out the website for easyPizza, the latest venture from the people behind easyEverything and easyJet, which offer dynamic pricing for internet access, and airline flights, respectively (they also have easyCar and probably some others).

From their website:
Currently the assets used in the industry (ovens and delivery vehicles) are under-utilised. They do nothing all day and then are heavily used during the evening period from about 6pm to 10pm. .

easyPizza will make the utilisation of these assets more efficient by spreading the demand over a wider period, and the incentive given to consumers to alter their demand will be price. In other words those customers who are prepared to take delivery of their pizza at an off-peak time, 4pm for example, will be rewarded with a lower price than the customer who wants to take delivery of the same pizza at a peak time - for example, 8pm. In addition, customers who book their pizzas in advance will benefit from lower prices than those customers who want the same pizza for immediate delivery. As with all easyGroup companies customers will buy their pizzas from www.easyPizza.com.

This isn't quite my model, since it's online orders only. It's more like what Priceline tried to do with grocery ordering back in the day. Still, it's the closest I've seen.

According to their site, it's slated to start in the next few weeks, in the "Milton Keynes" area of Britain. We'll see how it does... if they can make it work I guess that proves many of us wrong.

12/5/2004

They don't play Slint on the radio

I had several conversations recently where people asked me what I do in my free time and I said that I used to play in some bands. It feels like I'm coasting on former glory (which, don't get me wrong, I tend to do all the time anyway), plus it only serves to remind of how much I miss being in a band in general. So, over the weekend I looked up posts on Craigslist of bands looking for bass players. Yes, I'm putting my dreams of doing my own project on hold yet again; this programming project is taking up most of my excess time and excess willpower anyway.

So, I sent out some emails, and I already went to one "audition" earlier today (some bands work fast). They're a Williamsburg band that sound like U2 and Interpol and maybe a little like Radiohead. They're already four people and they're looking for two more, which is kind of amazing. They say they already play out in places like Luna Lounge and Arlene's Grocery, though the name they gave me doesn't return anything interesting on Google, meaning they've probably changed it recently. No Nancy Drew discoveries for me.

The sound's a little bigger and more bombastic than the kind of music I'm into, but I can see how they'd be popular. They're all good musicians and they use lots of interesting effects, plus vocal reverbs etc. Very grandiose.

Essentially they're the kind of band that shows up a lot in New York but that I haven't really paid much attention to before. It would be different for me musically, and a different experience for me to just come into a project that's pretty much fully-formed, as opposed to joining bands that are basically starting up, like I have before. I feel like there's enough of my life that I'm trying to actively guide, maybe the best thing for now is to go auto-pilot on the musical side.

When I waver, I think back to one of my favorite quotes: "Try everything once except folk dancing and incest." Though to be fair, I've already even done the former, so I don't know how much practical significance that quote has for me as a life-guide.

Anyway, I'm thinking I'll join. This is all assuming they'll take me, of course. I thought the audition went well, but who's to say. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on the issue.

12/3/2004

Quick hits

Failure to cooperate

I had a post in January, my first month of blogging, about joining the Park Slope Food Coop, which, as I noted, I did because of the women I saw on the orientation tour. And I actually did meet one girl through it, and it was a very nice relationship for the few months it lasted so mission accomplished I guess.

So, as I probably should have noted before, I left the Coop about three months ago. It wasn't even the anti-war fliers: I was getting sick of their hard-line approach to work shifts, and the long line waits, and the inconvenient hours (never open after 10, I think). Sort of like what living in some corrupt tropical backwater must be like: beautiful people, but also everywhere the crushing heel of tyranny. I now shop again at Natural Land, a nice Korean-run 24-hour health-oriented mini-market a few blocks away.

I'm reminded of all this now by the following comment made in the last post by "cooperhate":
Hi, I found your blog through a search for Park Slope Food Coop complaints. Do you know if there is an actual complaint message board NOT affiliated with the coop. Kind of a rebel undererground fuck those coordinators board. Cause man I need it bad like. And I know you know what I mean. If not, do you know how a techmoronic individual might start one, in a way where my identity cannot be determined by those brownshirts? Thank you. It could be great kind of a cyber, oh I don't know, woodstock.

Evidently a current member. Evidently quite an angry man, as well. I guess i wasn't the only dissatisfied one!

I've never set up a message board, but I think it's fairly easy to do... do a web search for "message board" and you'll find a bunch of services that give you one for free. It shouldn't require any technical knowledge. Set up a special email address, and don't use your real name on the site, and no one will be able to trace your identity.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

12/2/2004

Crisis of demand

Wall Street Journal finds that the rising cost of health care in the U.S., which John Kerry often referred to as a "crisis" is more than 50% due to an increase in the amount of health care being provided. Another substantial chunk is due to the nursing staff shortage; both are in turn caused mostly by the graying of our population, not by, say, corporate greed or corporate waste or a bad economy.

12/1/2004

It's over now

As rumored, it finally happened last night: Ken Jennings lost on Jeopardy! . I actually saw some people watching it at the laundromat a few as I walked back home. The deciding Final Jeopardy answer was: "Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white collar employees work only four months a year".



It's not Fed Ex.

I didn't see the show. Actually, I haven't brought myself to watch an episode in over 3 years. Still, the whole long saga sort of caught my interest.

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