Ho Ho Hope all of you out there in the world wide winter wonder-web are having a holly jolly time (and if you’re name is ben, I hope you are not in a foreign prison at the moment).
My mom, who is now a librarian at UAMS, sent this to me today and I swear to Ishtar it is the nerdiest web site I have ever laid eyes upon.
Well I’m off for Christmas vacation in 2 hours after a night with only two hours of sleep and looking to be about the same tonight! No sleepathon training baby. Anyway flying out in 9 hours to London and then staying till the 26th and then onward to Amsterdamn where I will form incredibly detailed and impossible to forget memories for the next few days until we go to France or Spain (Prague? Russia?)…
Here are our plans for the two weeks:
1. See who can pretend to be an avid Bush supporter the longest
2. Christmas Mohawks in London
3. Push American’s war on drugs in Amsterdamn
4. Dress like Puritans in the red light district
5. Foozeball if I can find some, why don’t you guys hook me up with some virtual foozeball contrapation i play with my mouse and a webcam?
6. Show people in Amsterdam pictures of my brother and JC to find out what really happened that one night.
7. Explain to soccer hooligans how sweet baseball is over soccer
In a general review of what I have been doing lately, working, never going home, drinking and partying, its really nice here, going to suck when all the damn Yanks leave tomorrow and I only know a few people. Got so much shit to do like finish my visa, bank account, etc etc that it will probably be good. Plan on going around Ireland on the weekends after I get home on the 8th of Jan. Anyway, see you guys later.
Hope you guys all have a great new years and Christmas!
Hopefully I’ll make it back to Dublin after this trip and not the second in charge of a Siberian nomadic tribe of reindeer hunters,
PS, the ipod mini really kicks ass, got it a few days ago
After a veritable Indian summer here in the banana belt of Wisconsin, winter has struck…big time. High today was 8! Here are some pics taken from the park by my house.
OhMyGosh! Rudolph the Red nose Reindeer in Latin
is one of the coolest things ever! I’m not kidding either — listening to this stuff is like pouring Tang straight into your earpipes.
What’s the happy haps? I will be in town that day and the next. And only 1.5 hrs away otherwise from 23 Dec — 12? Jan.
Blonde Girl and I will be looking for a party to crash, I’m sure.
Well, I just finished my last paper of the term. Feels good. I think I’ll go get a beer.
You know what I realized today, I have no idea what the hell is going on with anything or anyone. Absinthe is fucking weird and will fuck you up.
Sorry meant to write more but work was incredibly busy today, more later.
Consumer Review: Bialetti Moka Express 3-demitasse
Having just completed Nocoffeeathon168 ‘04, I’ve decided: never again. Since then I’ve been looking at entry-level pump-driven espresso machines, but decided to try out the traditional Italian moka pot first. I dropped $20 on this rig at a local import store. Over 90% of Italian households own at least one of these devices, which were invented in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti. You place water in the bottom section, ground coffee in the middle section between two metal filters, and place it on the stove. It works by boiling the water in the lower section, which forces it up throuch a funnel, through the coffee, and into the upper section, from which it is poured. Since the coffee is compacted in the middle and the boiling water is forced through it (unlike a drip device), this amounts to a primitive espresso machine. The brew created is like a cross between french press coffee and espresso, with very little sediment. My pot is the 3-cup version (cup = 1.5 ounces here) so it makes around 4.5 ounces at a time, which is probably all that you should really be drinking of this stuff at a time.
2. damn tasty strong coffee with the bittersweet notes not found in drip coffee
5. strong enough to make lattes and caps if you’re a girl and are into that sort of thing
1. uses a lot of ground coffee (though no more than a real espresso machine)
2. not quite as strong as real espresso
Here are some pictures of me making espresso:
In the year of the young QB, Michael Vick is by far my favorite, and the Falcons are quickly becoming my team. And yet the man can’t get no respect. Watching him scramble and sprint down the side is like watching a different sport - a seriously awesome one. Sure, he didn’t have a flawless game tonight against the Panthers, but he did get it done, scoring the game-tying TD on 4th down by keeping and cutting right through the center, diving from the 5 and - with seemingly divine inspiration - not letting his knees touch the ground. And yet haters - drinking their Haterade like you know they do - can’t leave the man be. They don’t think he can handle the West Coast O. They question whether he should be a QB. Them haters gonna hate, but them ballers gonna ball.
The Future of Libraries
My local weekly, The Isthmus (which, incidentally, is awesome), recently published an article with the straightforward title, “Do we still need libraries now that we have the internet?”. Despite the recent library construction boom in cities such as Fayetteville and Seattle, it seems that physical libraries are on their way out. After all, with state and local budgets largely in the red across the country, cities are finding it nearly impossible to update collections or even house existing ones. The subsequent development of internet databasing of journals, books, and music gives these governments an easier route. I don’t know about you guys, but I almost never have to go the library to look in a journal, and I’ve noticed an increasing number of “electronic editions” of books I’d like to check out. Plus, companies like Google are rushing to convert library holdings into digital versions available for free on the internet.
Is this just progress? Could this newfound access to information harken in a more egalitarian library system? Or could we be witnessing a change that will radically (albeit slowly) undemocratize access to truth and lead to private control over once-local libraries? The Isthmus article favors the former and the idea that old-fashioned libraries and “tree flakes encased in dead cow” will be around for a long time. My take is not so sanguine. It just makes sense for libraries to begin purchasing digital copies of books, journals, magazines, music, and eventually movies. They won’t degrade, they don’t need space beyond a computer server for storage, they can be checked out to thousands at a time, and they will definitely be cheaper. Once libraries have bought the rights, these files could be made freely available over the internet to registered library patrons. Once screens are developed that further reduce eye strain, people will be much more open to reading a book on their lappies or media viewers. Ideally, every library could offer every book, once cheap electronic versions proliferate. Paradise, you say? Perhaps so. Imagine the access: every book, album, and movie at your fingertips, from your iBook, to share with your virtual reality wife, who lives to please you.
But publishing companies, who love libraries b/c they purchase their books, are not likely to profit from this scheme. I mean, who is going to buy Dr. Phil’s latest book when they can just download that rig, skip to the chapter on “getting real” with yourself, and keep the file on their computer for reference. And if I were allowed to download - rather than check out - music from a virtual library, this would amount to no less than a free iTunes Music Store. CDs aside (of which most libraries have a limited collection), existing library materials are not easily or economically copied by patrons. Therefore, the item only belongs to you for 2-4 weeks, after which it is returned to your local branch. Digital books, articles, albums, and movies, however, would be yours forever (any futile attempts by libraries to corrupt these files automatically after a certain amount of time would be doomed to failure). Publishers, recording studios, and film distributors would have to get a piece of the action. Either libraries will have to pay more for the rights to these digital versions (which they’d be hard pressed to do) or they would have to pass on a small use fee to patrons. Libraries could justify these charges by saying that they were only charging for the digital versions - the real, physical copies could still be checked out for free down at the local branch. However, once libraries and local governments get a taste of these fees, I foresee them letting their existing structures dilapidate, their books go without updating, and their collections remain stagnant.
Even worse, soon thereafter, the control of these public institutions would gradually be passed onto for-profit corporations. You see, it makes no sense for the Milwaukee and Madison library systems to both own digital copies of Jarhead. Rather, they would end up sharing the administrative costs of a centralized web database server. Eventually more and more counties would consolidate their web libraries. Who would run these massive databases? Why, for-profit corporations (probably owned by some of our current media giants). Our local and state governments would likely be happy to pass on the administrative role of running these web libraries to corporations, for the government would lack the requisite technical and business skills to make them work (and turn a buck). These databases will be swelling with digital material for those with the means to purchase it. However, what libraries remain will be stocked with used copies of outdated books, and the equalizing force of public libraries will be diminished. This is my apocalyptic vision of the future of libraries. Luckily for me, though, I’m about to watch Evil Dead, which I checked out on DVD from the central branch of my library.
If you guys are not already listening to NPR’s Whad’ya Know?, then you are missing out. You know what I’m talking about? I’ve been listening to it since I was a kid (usually after Car Talk). It’s broadcast live from Madison’s Monona Terrace nearly every weekend, though it occasionally goes on tour. I went to see it today and it was awesome, even though it may be odd to go see a radio show. There was liquor, in the form of complimentary brandied-up egg nog. Besides the glass boots of beer served at the Essen Haus, there is nothing more skonny than this radio show.
As Evin mentioned in an earlier post, the two hottest teams in the NBA are gunning it out in Seattle tonight on ESPN (10:30 ET).
I happen to know a lot about the Suns this year, and a little about the Sonics. Let me fill you in, or at least Zach, since I know he has nothing better to do tonight.
There are a million reasons why the Suns and Sonics are getting so much attention, but I’ll just give three.
For starters, they are 19-3 and 18-4, respectively. To put this in perspective, the Suns on pace to join Jordan’s Bulls as the only two teams in NBA history to win 70 games in a regular season. I’m not making the related bold claim, just illustrating the trend.
Secondly, both teams came out of nowhere. Most sports analysts forcasted the Sonics to finish in the basement of the dungeon in the Western conference. And after the Sonics went 2-6 in the preseason, and then lost by 30 in the season opener to the fucking Clippers, the forcasts looked right. But Ray Allen, the Sonics superstar, says an incredible thing happened when they got their asses spanked by the Clippers, they realized it was time to play team basketball, i.e. pass. Two games later, they spanked Tim’s Spurs by 20. Twenty-two games later, they are looking like championship contenders. The Suns have a similar story. The big question surrounding the Suns before the season began was will they make the playoffs.
Lastly, these two teams are fun to watch. The Suns have the wiley Steve Nash pushing the ball up the floor at ludicrous speed, and right with him are two of the most athletic forwards in the league, Stoudemire and Marion, and two sharp-shooters, Johnson and Q, who can also take it to the rim. To make a comparison to another team, you’d need to refer to NBA Jam on the Playstation. They are averaging more than 109 ppg, which is about 2 ppg from an NBA record, and 8 ppg more than the second highest scoring team this season. All five starters have a season high of 29 points (Nash) or better. The Sonics also like to run-n-gun, but not as much. Their success has been behind the 3-point arc, where they shoot a lights-out 39%. They also average more than 100 ppg.
So you ask me… who will win. I don’t know, but here’s what I’ll be watching for during the game:
Stoudemire has to stay out of foul trouble. The Suns’ bench isn’t so great, but most importantly, they don’t have anyone that can fill his role. When Cleveland came back from 16 down in the final 8 minutes of the game to beat the Suns, guess who fouled out at the 8 minute mark.
The Sonics’ big man, Jerome James, is just too slow and out of shape to keep up with the Suns. I expect him to play the first quarter, but not much more. The Sonics will be trying to slow down the pace of the game, but without their big guy down low, they’re going to be dependent on hitting the 3 ball in the last 10 seconds of the shot clock. If Stoudemire can stay out of foul trouble, which will keep James off the court, then the Sonics will live or die from beind the arc.
Stoudemire and Marion have to make their free throws. The Sonics have the frontcourt depth to challenge S+M’s basket attacks. I expect S+M to combine for at least 20 free throw attempts.
Seattle gets half of its points from Allen and Lewis. Usually these two guys have a mismatch from the start, and if they don’t, then the mismatch is usually just one screen away. Tonight though, the mismatch is TWO screens away. Steve Nash is the only starter who will be helpless against Allen and Lewis.
JJ (Johnson) v Ray Allen. What most viewers don’t know is that JJ is a top-notch defender. This month, he has held Lebron James and Kobe Bryant to a chill 13 of 42 from the field. However, Allen gets a lot of his points from behind the arc, and good defense doesn’t do much from 25 feet away from the basket.
Marion v Lewis. Marion gives up 3 inches, but he’s more aggresive. I expect these guys to almost cancel each other out. I’ll be surpised if either of them score more than 15, unless Lewis guards Stoudemire, in which case Marion will put up gigantic numbers.
The Suns win by a lot, but they don’t slowly build leads, they go on spurts. Since the game is on ESPN, they might have a hard time using momentum. Hopefully, Seattle will have to burn a time-out to stop the bleeding.
There’s one last factor: hype. This game is being hyped big-time and both of these teams are young, especially the Suns. Hopefully Steve Nash will keep the Suns level headed. Amare, who is only in his third season out of high-school, also talks a lot trash off of the court. Even though these teams are known for their passing, I expect a lot of one-on-one action through the first-quarter.
Alright, so enough with this not-trying-to-be-biased shit. The Sonics are screwed unless the Suns shoot unusually poor from the field, Stoudemire gets into foul trouble, or the TV time-outs are unfortunately placed. If one of these three things doesn’t happen, then they better hope that their 3-point shooters are hot as hell.
One last thing, watch for Q (Richardson). He will have the easist defensive task and the biggest mismatch on offense. He’s also super aggresive in these types of situations. I bet that he’ll attempt more than 10 3 pointers on the night.
If you don’t know what to do with yourself until now until game time, check out the Sonics Dance Team photos!
Do yourself a favor: stop pretending. Since 1997 you’ve been looking for the next OK Computer. I think I found mine five years later with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. But before then, back in 2000, everyone was looking for (and not finding) the next OK Computer.
That’s why when Grandaddy released their second LP, The Sophtware Slump, critics were so quick to compare it to OK Computer, which is strange for band whose first album was more often compared to Weezer than Radiohead. But remember, this was 2000.
If you only listen to the first and last tracks, the best two on The Sophtware Slump, you’d think these guys were taking themselves too seriously. But the songs in between let you know that they’re not.
The first track, “He’s simple, he’s dump, he’s the pilot,” is a nine-minute epic (yes, epic) bordering on self-indulgence. The last track, “So you’ll aim toward the sky,” simply is self-indulgent—but it feels so good. From the opening, with howling winds, fuzzy radio transmissions, and electronic beeps, through the actual song, complete with xylophones and strings, Grandaddy know that they’re laying it on thick. But when you can do it so well, why not? In between, you have some filler, (e.g. “Chartsengrafs” and “Broken Household Appliance National Forest”), but otherwise a solid, more traditional pop-oriented cast of supporting songs to carry you to the end (notably “Miner at the Dial-a-View,” “Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)” and “Underneath The Weeping Willow.”)
The Sophtware Slump is not OK Computer. But it’s not trying to be. Sure, there are two songs about a depressed robot named Jed and lyrics throughout regretting ambition and personal relationships in an age of impersonal technology. But a more apt comparison is to the Flaming Lips between The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles, back when the Flaming Lips were experimenting with synths and studio effects but still using actual instruments. The Sophtware Slump uses synths and studio effects liberally, but it does in context of real instruments and real vocals—complete with science and technology themed lyrics also like the Lips.
And that’s what made OK Computer so good. OK Computer seamlessly integrated real instruments and vocals with electronic sounds, synthesizers and studio effects into an ultimate expression of apprehension with technology and its effect on humanity. Unfortunately for us, Radiohead lost that balance in subsequent albums. In an ultimate irony, Radiohead became victims of the very fears expressed in OK Computer—obsessed with technology and studio trickery, Kid A and Amnesiac had no emotion, no real soul.
But, in hindsight, it’s no surprise that when, while in Seattle, I waited in line to pick Radiohead’s ultimately mediocre attempt to regain that balance between technology and humanity, Hail to the Thief, there were others there not for Radiohead, but Grandaddy’s follow-up to The Sophtware Slump, Sumday. (good NPR review here) You see, Grandaddy has a thing for puns. When was the last time Radiohead cracked a smile?
The second in two-part series on new notable lows for the news media, this involving FOX News and, yes, CNN:
Canadians, please read no further. President Bush’s recent fence-mending visit to Canada brought US “conservatives” out in force to disparage our closest ally. But Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlon’s most recent (and ignorant) comments are an embarrassment to all Americans, regardless of your polictical perspective. [video here]
Coulter, appearing on FOX News’ “Hannity and Colmes,” noted, “[Canada] better hope the United States doesn’t roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.” Later, she pointed out that “We could have taken them [Canada] over so easily,” but tempered that by adding “All I want is the western portion, the ski areas, the cowboys, and the right-wingers.”
Carlson’s equally bigoted comments occured on CNN’s “Wolf Blizter Reports,” which I’m sure most of us would like to think is above the level of discourse found on FOX. Not so. “Canada is essentially Honduras, but colder and much less interesting…. We exploit your [addressing a Member of Canadian Parliament] natural resources, that’s true. But in the end, Canadians with ambition move to the United States…. And I think it makes Canadians feel bad about themselves and I understand that.”
Most disturbing was his characterization of the “average Canadian.” “[T]he average Canadian is busy dogsledding…. I’m surprised there was anybody left in Canada to attend the protests. I noticed that most sort of vigorous, ambitious Canadians, at least almost all comedians in Canada, come to the United States in the end. Doesn’t that tell you something about the sort of limpid, flaccid nature of Canadian society, that people with ambition come here?”
Suppose these comments were not made about Canada, but about Jews or blacks. For example, “Jews are lucky we allow them to live on the same continent as us.” Or, “[T]he average Black is smoking crack…. I’m surprised there are any Blacks left to be gainfully employed.” No one would tolerate such racist remarks. But when directed at Canada, or other percieved political enemies, these comments are disguised as “political views.”
Like Thomas’s invocation of the “sacred texts” to justify war , Coulter and Carlson should be judged by the same standard we choose to judge others. No one would tolerate US TV personalities saying such things about racial or ethnic groups and no one should tolerate them when the target is a nationality. We can disagree about policy, but this bigoted discourse is embarrassing to all Americans.
The first in two-part series on notable lows for the news media, this involving FOX News :
Cal Thomas, host of “After Hours” on FOX News, last week, invoked the “sacred texts” in his editorial segment to argue against world peace. (It must be Chrismas time.) Actually he was urging that the US to withdraw from the UN, but cited the “sacred texts” as proof that UN’s whole goal is unattainable. “The U.N. is a monument to man’s misinterpretation of man. It is a humanist shrine to man’s impossible goal of living at peace with one another. Does not history, common sense and sacred text teach otherwise? We probably won’t, but we most definitely should get out of the United Nations and start a new alliance….”
Of course, if a muslim were to interpret Islam in way to justify harm on his fellow man, we’d call him a “terrorist.” Cal Thomas, however, is not a muslim– he’s the most widely syndicated op-ed newspaper columnist in America.