Thursday, July 31, 2003
The above is a scan of an actual postcard that was sent to me within the last year or so. We have a friend, and her postcard trip is to buy up old postcards and actually send them to people, as opposed to collecting them.
The image is of the Daytona Beach boardwalk bandshell some time prior to the construction of what is now the Adams Mark hotel, Ocean Walk condos/hotel, etc.
More Video, More Music
When I previously noted some music-centered films we had watched recently, I omitted that we had seen D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, a film about the music from the Coen brother's film, O Brother Where Art Thou, and about the people who make the kind of music in the film.
If you've been in Outer Mongolia for the last several years and haven't attained any awareness of that Coen brother's flick, the music in question is hillbilly music or what's commonly called bluegrass. The Pennebaker flick documents a performance at the Ryman Auditorium (former home to the Grand Ole Opry) in downtown Nashville by artists such as Emmy Lou Harris, John Hartford, Allison Kraus, and Ralph Stanley.
Some of the individual performances are very moving. The show taken as a whole didn't grab me as much as I'd've hoped, and I think that's largely in part to the fact that someone other than John Hartford should've been given the MC role. Still, an overall enjoyable, entertaining, and thoughtful film.
The Thomas Edison of Rock and Roll
Sam Phillips has passed away at 80 years of age. Obituaries here from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, here from the Nashville Tennessean, and here from the L A Times. The CA also has Phillips in his own words.
Addendum: Kit at Paperfrog has this story about meeting Phillips. (Thanks to Dragonleg.)
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
As described below, we've now got access to VHS for the first time in a while. So, naturally, old unseen-for-a-while VHS content gets played.
One tape starts off with off-the-air dubs of various rock performances: The Tubes on the Midnight Special, King Crimson (Fripp/Belew/Levin/Bruford edition) on Fridays, and, best of all, The Plasmatics (warning, pop up ads out the wazoo) featuring Wendy O. Williams on the Tomorrow show with Tom Snyder. The Plasmatics did A Pig is a Pig and Butcher Baby.
A Pig is a Pig featured a great talk-over-country-vamp intro by Wendy O., dedicating the song to "the cowardly journalist who hides behind his typewriter.... [and] ... the sicky sadist who hides behind his police badge" before the song erupts in total faux-punk chaos, complete with blue-mohawked guitarist wearing a nurse's uniform (starched, white, not those near Dr. Dentons pajamas nurses wear these days), and Wendy O. smashing a television set with a sledge hammer. Butcher Baby features an electric guitar getting cut in half, plus one of the best explosions, real or simulated, I've ever seen in a television studio, complete with light bars falling from the overheads.
Some gay men worship Jackie O. I'd take Wendy O. over Jackie O., any day.
Then, cut, and it's when President Reagan got shot. I guess this was the tape that was in the box when that happened. Bernie Shaw and Daniel Shore sitting across from each other at the still young CNN. IBM Selectic typewriters immediately to the rear. No computer in sight. You could see the ceiling of the newsroom, the other desks, the back wall. Everything said "budget operation." Cut to NBC, where Roger Mudd was anchoring coverage, with Edwin Newman reporting from some cubbyhole at the White House. Cut to ABC, where Frank Reynolds was anchoring, complete with his on-air refusal to give the name of the alleged perp who pulled the trigger without a second source.
It's all there: The confusion at the White House, with then deputy press secretary Larry Speaks trying to explain that questions could be better answered by White House staff at the hospital where Reagan had been taken, but with the White House press corp pressing on seemingly without hearing a word he'd said. Al Haig at the White House stating that he "was in control", even as then VP George H. W. Bush was on his way back to the White House and was technically in operative control of the government. (Haig didn't last too many months longer in that administration.) The released info that Reagan had walked into the hospital on his on. The claims that he hadn't lost much blood. (It was only later that the fact that he had been in graver damage than had been stated at the time came out.)
It's a very interesting snapshot of another time.
A different on-tape snapshot on another tape is the first blast off and landing of Space Shuttle Columbia. Back in the day, HBO didn't run 24/7: it only ran at night. For the launch and landing of Columbia, the local (Nashville) cable operator carried NASA feed. So, it's a NASA-commentary-only view of the first Space Shuttle flight. The manner in which the perception of the risks associated with shuttle flight changed after many shuttle launches comes to mind in watching this old footage. Very sad. You would hope that after twenty-something years of shuttle flights and forty-something years of manned space flight, we'd be slightly beyond either sending up capsule or gliders on rockets.
Aside: Where is the space plane? Why isn't it commercially viable? Why is NASA being allowed to manage its development?
There's one more tape from back then we've watched. It's B&W, made with a rented camera, as source material for video accompanyment to a band I was in at the time. Stupid faux-trippy stuff like close ups of bricks or out-of-focus images of water running. Or screen doors. In the middle of that one is a rehersal of that band. Single, fixed-location, camera while we play. Besides the fact that the performance is pretty embarrassing, it's interesting to see what we looked like (younger! more hair! thinner!), things we did (smoked), what we sounded like (hicks and rubes).
Painful, but fun.
We're trying to get back to technological equity around here. In the process, we again have acquired the ability to look at not only recorded video on DVD, but also on that most modern technological wonder, VHS tape. Since our original DVD player (early-adopter syndrome) wouldn't play the latest discs, we've been accumulating content for viewing without actually seeing them. So, we're in a catch up phase. Except for watching Young Frankenstein on VHS, most of what we've been watching is musical in nature.
Recent viewings include:
From e-mail I received:
We have been notified by Plant pool maintenance that the pool is to be closed today for shocking due to "unwelcome substance" in the pool.
Brush with Near Greatness
Over at Shattered Buddha, Dragonleg recalls his interview with a visiting Senator Lowell Weicker of Conneticuit. Weicker was what was known then as a "liberal Republican." (Imagine! You can do it!)
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Word to Your Principal
As Eric Cartman once said to Mr. Garrison, "Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck. What's the big deal?" (From The Smoking Gun via Hit and Run.)
Monday, July 28, 2003
My call for jury duty was short-lived and uneventful. No murder trial; not even a tort. Instead, most of a morning of waiting until dismissed. The judge had gotten all parties to settle (sounds like civil cases were being tried).
The courtroom where the jury pool assembled was substantially less Kafkaesque than I had feared. It was on a windowless second-floor room instead of in a windowless basement. Instead of stapled-in tounge-and-groove random hole acoustic tile from the 50s or 60s with fifty or forty years of accumulated dirt and human dander -- and smoke left over from the day when the judge probably sat up front puffing away at the components of a pack of Luckies -- the room had fairly modern drop-in acoustic tile. Flourescent lighting was all around, as it seems is required by law except on courtrooms as seen on TV, excepting pairs of two-lamp sconces on the front and two side walls. The walls had been, again surprisingly, recently painted; the front wall behind the judges bench had wood panelling with too short of a period: the pattern was too obvious.
The benches were like pews from a church, except they didn't have a place to put the hymnals or the communion glasses that had been emptied of Welches grape juice. That is, they were basically uncomfortable.
Our hosts were Lime Green Suzie and Navy Blue Connie of jury management of the Volusia County Clerk's office. (And kudos to the County Clerk for getting ahold of the "www.clerk.org" URL way back when. Talk about proactive.) Lime Green Suzie was cherubic and did the kind of quasi-comic shpiel I've come to expect from the person in charge of herding unwieldy human cattle who've been placed in a situation most of them never asked for; Navy Blue Connie seemed to be all business. Both were dressed very professionally -- guess what color of very professional business attire each was wearing -- and both had that frosted blonde hair appropriate to their middle age. They were assisted by three older gentlemen described as volunteers. I never was quite sure who these guys, who might've been Bob and Bill and Joe for all I remember -- their names had WWII generation all over them, and their ear canals were appropriately occupied by either hearing aids or substantial hair growth -- had come to volunteer for service assisting the jury management folks. Maybe they had once been bailiffs.
No sooner had Lime Green Suzie told us of how County Judge So-and-So would be selecting juries today, than Circuit Judge Such-and-Such was introduced by a bailiff, who, as far as I know, was not named Rusty. The judge showed up to deal with prospective jurors who needed to be excused right then and their and in person. From the looks of it, the prospective jurors needing to be immediately excused were largely the ones who hadn't bothered to read and return the form jury management sends out. One woman had a child in tow, I suppose to demonstrate her immediate need to be excused. I hope the judge asked her if the child was hers or if she had just borrowed it to get out of jury duty. Another woman -- I may work with this one -- said that she was needed because she taught this or that. She didn't get excused. (Personally, I found the jury management folks to be very easy to work with. At my request, they rescheduled my service to a time outside the academic year, and they moved it far enough into the future that I could plan other obligations around it.)
Then the waiting began.
Okay, first they showed us a video about the jury system. The woman narrating looked a lot like Sigourney Weaver, but without as much cheekbone. There was some content: civil trial vs. jury trial; defendant, prosecutor, and plantiff; voir dire; the opening statement, the evidence, the testimony, the closing statement, and the fact that the opening and closing statements are just lawyerly opinions, not evidence; the judge's charge; etc. Not a word, pro or con, about jury nullification, except passing hints that the judge is supreme and must be obeyed.
As one who is a big fan of diversity and recognizes the hassles in getting from a nation where white men run everything to one where people of all stripes fill all possible roles (given enough time), I did find myself wondering about the subtle messages sent by the images in the video: The narrator was a white woman; the lawyer was a black man; the judge was a black woman; the bailiff was a white man. Does it make me a bad person (gay white male) to be aware that those images are somewhat fantastic? That they are likely pushing someone's agenda (even if I agree with it), while others (whose agendas I disagree with) aren't given then same access to propagandize folks?
And whose agenda? The Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers, who had the video made and had to sign off on it? The company that made the video? The director and writer of the video? I don't mind propaganda -- I can make up my own mind, thank you -- but I like to know whose voice I'm hearing.
There is also the possibility that I am seeing intentionality when none existed. This could all have been accidents of casting availability, etc.
The jury pool was surprisingly white and male. There were a couple of Latino looking men, but in an ethnically diverse area like this, it's hard to say what their ethnic identity, if any, was. There were a few black women, but no black men. The jury process excludes convicted felons, and I couldn't help wondering if the higher rate at which black men are incarcerated combined with a relatively small black population locally combined to make that no-black-men-in-the-jury-pool happen. Or if it was just randomness in action. Statistically, if the odds are over 50-50 that two people in a group of twenty three have the same birthday (assuming birthdays are distributed equally likely over the 365 days), it's likely I wasn't the only non-heterosexual in the jury pool of, what, about 100 people (even assuming 1/100 odds instead of the often-cited 1/10).
They played an awful Bob Hope and Lucille Ball movie, to entertain those who cared to watch. I had no idea at the time that Bob Hope has passed away. The volunteer possibly-former-bailiffs seemed to be the ones who were interested in watching. I kept wondering if playing that movie constituted fair use just because the establishment in question was governmental, not commercial. My guess is that someone isn't getting as large of a royalty check as the MPAA would like. I also hope some local doesn't get busted for downloading the latest tunes only to find out the jury was improperly entertained.
The rest of us read magazines or books or went downstairs to the vending machines.
After starting at 8:30 a.m., around 11:00 a.m., Navy Blue Connie announced that the judge had settled all the cases on the docket, and that we were all excused. Lime Green Suzie had left earlier on important business: her house closing.
My civic duty was over with a little over two hours of sitting around, observing the courtroom, reading Augusten Burroughs's memoir, Running with Scissors (and trying not to laugh out loud), and the latest issue of the Rolling Stone (which features a particularly gruesome story on what things are like in Liberia). Under Florida law, if I understand correctly, that satisfies the state for at least a year. (David Bernstein, over at The Volohk Conspiracy has this post about jury service in several other states.)
Actually, my civic duty regarding jury service may not be over. I recently got a card from the Federal District Court in Orlando, so I may have the opportunity to compare and contrast jury duty there with what's reported above.b
Sunday, July 27, 2003
More Internal/External, or Now for Something Completely Different
In this diary entry, Mr. Robert Fripp says:
I find myself in a comparable position to 30 years ago, when I was unable to see any external solution to the future: personally, professionally, politically, economically, nationally, globally. Then the butterfly's wings flapped & the collapse of the status quo in the West moved further east: the USSR, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bosnia & down a bit to Israel, Palestine, Iran, Iraq. This is all part of a massive change, the short present moment of which is 200 years. The details are unpredictable, the overall view more so."Yet all these external pieces of work, however real, however 'objective', are only fingers pointing to the moon." Beautiful.
Saturday, July 26, 2003
The New York Times (registration required for anything deeper than the web front) has this nice travel piece about visiting Chattanooga.
My dad was originally from Jellico, Tennessee (Tennessee/Kentucky, actually), but his family moved to Chattanooga when he was still grammar-school age. He grew up there, and his mom lived there until she died in 1977 (in her 90s, if I recall. The last words I remember were her in her hospital bed -- she had fallen and broken her hip for the second time in ten years, and my aunts and uncles (my dad was already gone from this world) were working out the details of getting her into a nursing home) -- saying, "Timmy, don't let them put me in a nursing home."
I was 20 years old. What could I do except relay that she didn't want to go into a nursing home -- she'd been living with my dad's oldest brother since time immemorial -- to them.
She passed away three days later, before they could get her into a nursing home.
Anyway, Chattanooga is a neat place. Mack and I visited the Tennessee Aquarium, sawRock City, and went to Point Park on Lookout Mountain, part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Parkk, there in 1995, and I see a cousin and his wife there just about every year when I go to Sand Mountain (northeast Alabama) for my mom's family's reunion.
Also, it's home to the Krystal (of which I had four, plus two Chiks, fries, and a Diet Coke, for dinner tonight).
Just to be clear, I didn't really endorse anyone for anything. Anyone can read the post below and figure that out. But Jeff's a great guy, and I'm sleazy enough to accept almost any form of linkage.
Glenn Reynolds definitely meets some of my own criteria for a presidential candidate, but I'm not sure if he's as big of a fan of progressive income taxes as I am. But the man is regularly cool about not being pinned down by others' expectations, so who am I to presume that he's not.
I'm not as well read as Jeff about his other proposed candidates. In fact, one of the things I really like and respect about Jeff is that he reads so many damned blogs. I've got a pretty limited set of inputs, but I'm trying to branch out. I'm trying, I'm trying.
Meanwhile, enjoy the blogotopian dream!
Addendum: Jeff's removed me as an endorser. There goes the traffic volume. :-)
All Kobe, All the Time!
The Wyeth Wire is on the Kobe Bryant allegations like stink on shit.
He's now got actual photos of the accuser! This is following up his having already published the name and address of the same.
Tim Bob sez, check 'em out!
Friday, July 25, 2003
Presidential Wish List
Up at Alphecca, Jeff Soyer has put together a list of criteria for Presidential candidates.
I put my own list together sometime back in the dark ages of last September. Here it is. If I were to give it a little more thought, I'd probably revise these, but I'm still interested in hearing candidates address those particular issues.
I think there's good value to each individual thinking about what she or he wants out of a President -- or any other candidate for political office -- before the speechifying and advertising starts for real. Rather than evaluating the candidates against each other based on their own spewings about themselves and each other, evaluate them against your own criteria, against the things that matter to you.
You still have to use their output as input to your process, but you try to keep them out of the process of determining how you evaluate and judge them.
Addendum, Saturday, 26 July 2003, 5:49 CDT. Please see Non Endorseum, above.
Honoring MLK's "I Have a Dream" Speech
I HAVE A DREAM
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON
FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM
AUGUST 28, 1963
Those words are being inscribed by the National Park Service on the step at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., where Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his noted speech. Story from the Washington Post (which is unpredictable about requesting location and age information).
Thursday, July 24, 2003
The Old Ranch Hand, He/She Ain't What He/She Used to Be
Since many ranches are now owned by rich folk, the role of the ranch manager has changed from cowpoke to concierge. At least according to this story in the New York Times (registration required).
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
The Periodic TABLE of the Elements
Theodore Gray has built an honest-to-goodness table -- i.e., piece of furniture -- for the periodic table of the elements, as shown below. It's complete with samples, type of element encoding by type of wood, and more. Visit his site for lots of details.
Image used with permission (if I understood what Gray said correctly at the bottom of this page). Link (here) from the Volokh Conspiracy.
Xeni Jarden, out there in LA, has a blog devoted to phonecam photos.
And you know what? It's pretty cool. The real-time photos are pretty good in subject and composition (heh heh -- like I'm a photo critic), and the quality off the little bugger phonecams doesn't seem gawdawful.
I found her site via Ken Layne's entry at the LA Examiner site (his and Matt Welch's coming-sometime-in-the-future LA weekly dead-tree project). Layne's post linked to this photo entry by Xeni from what was a "[b]irthday party for someone whose last name is Hansen and whose first name rhymes with 'check'."
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Digital Music Downloads
This piece by Rob Walker at Slate points out (1) the relatively small number of downloads it takes for a song to be Number One on the Billboard-reported SoundScan charts of digital music downloads. About 1500 downloads, in fact. He also points out (2) how easy that should make manipulating the charts along the lines of a Google bomb.
Re (1): With a bullet? A bullet?
Re (2): How about "Jocko Homo"?
Monday, July 21, 2003
In his Shattered Buddha blog, Dragonleg links to this Miami Herald piece about Nip/Tuck, a new show on FX, about "murder by liposuction, backward buttock implants, collapsed boob jobs, teenage three-ways, Botox torture, twin three-ways, self-circumcision, man-eating gators[,] and cockfights." (Aside to Dragonleg: FX equals Fox equals Murdoch almost equals Clear Channel, your favorites!)
But my favorite quotation in the story is this, by the creator of the show, about something he did while "LA Bureau Chief" for the Herald:
I made an undercover appointment with a Beverly Hills surgeon -- I planned a really snarky story, I was really going to tee off on this. So I go in to talk to the surgeon. And within 10 minutes, he convinced me I needed five operations. I left there so shaken, I thought something was really wrong with me. I never wrote the story, but eventually I really began thinking about how people seek external solutions to internal problems, their feelings about themselves.Now this is some serious shit to be sneaking into a newspaper publicity piece about a teevee show.
I mean, what if we could change our minds the way we change our apperances? For looks a tattoo, bleached hair, or plastic surgery goes a long ways, but excepting electroshock (which is largely temporary anyway), the frontal lobotomy, and LSD burnout, there are few short-time ways to exert long-time change in our minds/hearts. (Okay, there's always the option of snuffing it, but I'm not talking about a change to zero mental activity.)
Instead, we're left with long-term projects to change our own minds, kind of along the lines of changing one's diet for one's physical heart. Some properly involve chemical assistance -- anti-depressants and the like, good old fashioned alcohol and drug use (and abuse) -- while others are behavioral: involvement in new activities, living differently, operant conditioning, psychotherapy and the various counsellings that followed psychotherapy, maybe meditation or prayer.
I have this fantasy about some future time: the mental tattoo. You go into the tattoo parlor, somebody does some rewiring in your brain, and a different you comes out. Just like getting an apperance tattoo, but for the mind/heart. For now, the only way to those kinds of changes seems to be long years of consistent effort, and even that has no guarantees except recurring setbacks and challenges.
Back in my home county -- Hickman County, Tennessee -- some seemingly pretty shady operators clear-cut a bunch of land near a creek near the Bucksnort community. (Those of you who've driven I-40 from Nashville to Memphis or vice-versa may be familiar with the name.) The purported purpose was to locate a landfill on the site.
But, the seemingly pretty shady operators punted on the landfill. Their clear-cutting changed the local hydrology, and a mess of silt drained into that little creek, ruining the water quality. The clear-cutting counts as tree harvesting, so under Tennessee's advanced (yeah, right) environmental laws, the seemingly pretty shady operators didn't have to do an environmental impact study. Removing the stumps did require a permit, which they didn't get. They did finally put in some silt fences, but it sounds like there's still ongoing damage to the creek.
When told about the compaints, one of the seemingly pretty shady operators responded that they were thinking about locating a stinky old factory hog farm there, and added, "Let them think about that for a while." Nice, huh? Wanna know more about factory hog farming? Try this and this. (This Seaboard" company mentioned in one of those links invaded -- almost literally -- the Oklahoma panhandle where Mack's from within the past decade. Take it from me: You don't want to be downwind from one of these hog factory farms.)
Here's the Bucksnort story from the (Nashville) Tennessean.
Sunday, July 20, 2003
How Many ________ Does It Take to Screw In a Lightbulb?
From Ted Barlow, his complete Lightbulb Joke Warehouse.
It's very warblogger and warblogger-detractor centric, but quite a few are still funny.
Saturday, July 19, 2003
Lobster Telephone Friend
The St. Petersburg Times (Florida, not Russia) has this story about a possibility of removing the Salvador Dali Museum from its current locale to a more central (to St. Petersburg) location.
Sorry, just using linking to that Times piece as an excuse to link to the Dali Museum. And to these song words.
Guns and the Citizen
My dad was a life member of the NRA. When he passed away, I had the delivery address for American Rifleman changed to my own. I received it for probably ten years before they figured out that he wasn't sending them more money and quit sending it.
My favorite read in it was their "Guns and the Citizen" (or something similarly titled) column, where they collected and summarized happenings in which folks had used their guns to defend themselves against crimes of violence, burglary, robbery, etc.
Stories like this one from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, in which a greedy home invader messed with the wrong woman.
Friday, July 18, 2003
Why Not Dry Cleaning?
Thinking about a new business venture? Like dry cleaning and laundry?
You might want to make sure you understand what you might be getting into.
Excerpts from Blair's Address to Congress
The entire text is available at the New York Times site (registration required).
The war with Iraq as part of an ongoing struggle:
September the 11th was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over.Humility regarding military strength alone, how the desire for freedom is a human, not a cultural, attribute, and the multiple values of liberty as a common ideal:
This is a battle that can't be fought or won only by armies. We are so much more powerful in all conventional ways than the terrorists. Yet even in all our might, we are taught humility. In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs.The historical equation :
Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fiber of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership."Balance of power" as an inappropriate concept for the current situation, but not writing off Europe:
There is no more dangerous theory in international politics today than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitor powers, different poles around which nations gather. Such a theory may have made sense in 19th century Europe. It was perforce the position in the Cold War. Today, it is an anachronism, to be discarded like traditional theories of security. And it is dangerous, because it is not rivalry, but partnership we need, a common will and a shared purpose in the face of a common threat.Liberators, not imperialists, and the utility of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the terrorists::
How hollow would the charges of American imperialism be when these failed countries are and are seen to be transformed from states of terror to nations of prosperity; from governments of dictatorship to examples of democracy; from sources of instability to beacons of calm? And how risible would be the claims that these were wars on Muslims if the world could see these Muslim nations still Muslim, but with some hope for the future, not shackled by brutal regimes whose principle victims were the very Muslims they pretended to protect?A Palestinian state along side an Israeli state:
We must never compromise the security of the state of Israel.American pride based in freedom:
But, members of Congress, don't ever apologize for your values. Tell the world why you're proud of America. Tell them when "The Star-Spangled Banner" starts, Americans get to their feet -- Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers, and those whose English is the same as some New York cab drivers I've dealt with -- but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress. Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful. Not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That's why they're proud.The transience of power; the importance of a legacy:
As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but in fact, it is transient. The question is, what do you leave behind? And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty.The Brits -- and the world -- as our allies:
And our job -- my nation, that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond -- our job is to be there with you. You're not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty.What's that? Paradoxes abound? Such is life.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
According to this John Beifuss story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphian Lee McCaulla's animation was chosen as third place in Tori Amos's Taxivision contest. This was after a come-from-behind win in the Internet voting aspect of the competition.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Every putt-putt/goofy-golf place is packed. The ice cream shops are packed. The go-kart tracks are packed. Lotza out-of-state cars on the streets.
Either the economy's in recovery or people decided, "Aw what the hell. We're unemployed, let's take a vacation."
Addendum: Maybe they're all here for the Florida International Festival. That would explain the pickup trucks.
Make It Stop!!!
Two headlines concurrently occupying real estate at Drudge. (1) "Barry Diller Starts Pressing Tom Brokaw to Run for President...", and (2) "David E. Kelley Slams Network Execs Over Reality TV...".
Fiction. Reality. News. Entertainment. Politics. Business. My head is spinning!
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Just Give Him the Oscar Now
Johnny Depp is just incredible in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The rest of the movie is surprisingly entertaining, especially if you like the ride at various Disney venues, but Depp is the show. His body language and facial expressions are not what one expects from a pirate -- or from a pirate character in a pirate movie -- and that's what makes his thoroughly thought-through and consistent performance so incredible.
The closest comparison I can come up with for understatement is Bill Murray as Bunny Breckinridge in Ed Wood, in which Depp, as the title character, was completely over-the-top. His performance in Pirates of the Caribbean is just the opposite: Low key to the point that it's hard to believe the character gives a shit about anything.
Well, anything except being called "Captain."
Monday, July 14, 2003
Repackaging Agnosticism, Repackaging Atheism
The Brights is an attempt to allow people who don't have a supernatural view of the world to identify themselves and each other, and to speak up when politicians and other denigrate "the godless" (for example).
Tufts philosopher Daniel Dennett had this to say in day before yesterday's New York Times (registration required).
Links from Hit and Run (here by Ronald Bailey with lots of comments, primarily a predictable devolution of the discussion into "proofs" or lack thereof of the existence of a deity, the evils of godless Marxism, whether morals depend on the belief in an afterlife, and various other personal whipping boys for the various other commenters, few who seem to grok the necessity of speaking out for the civil rights of all, regardless of their beliefs) at Reason Online.
My own take: The repackaging is unnecessary, even silly, but speaking up for the rights of all to believe as they will (or not), and to protect those who believe differently from those who intend to impose their beliefs (or lack thereof) on others seems well motivated. You don't have tolerate racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, know-nothingist (in its historic sense) rudeness on the part of any speaker, and you don't have to put up with antagonistic talk against any of the flavors of non-Christians, non-believers, or even anti-believers.
Addendum: There's a little bit of "Support Group for Steppenwolves" to this. Maybe one of the things that many of those who don't believe in the traditional religious ways have in common is an independent streak making it intrinsically difficult to organize, either politically or socially.
("Support Group for Steppenwolves" was an intersession activity offered by some prof when I was in college. I'm not sure if it was an intentional joke, or it was cluelessly but sincerely offered, but there is something so completely off with the concept, I'm pretty sure it didn't have enough takers to even see if it could work.)
From Dreams to Reality
As noted in this story in the Lakeland Ledger, Grenelefe golf resort and community near Haines City, Florida, was the dream of one George Phelps.
George Phelps was one of my father's closest friends, and my dad was the original bankroll behind the Grenelefe project, then called Arrowhead Lakes and Country Club. What is now Grenelefe was, like most of Florida back then, a mess of saw palmetto and oak scrub. The first time I saw it, we stayed there, in a house trailer that was headquarters for the dream -- it would've been premature to call it a project at that time. (We had gotten thrown out of our motel here in Daytona Beach, but that's another story. The skinny: What kind of moron motel owner would put a family with three boys in a unit over the owner's apartment, then call up to say the boys were making too much noise on the 4th of July?)
I got to see that space evolve from a nasty piece of land into a model with lots of green sponge and Monopoly-sized houses into a Robert Trent Jones golf course, some of the first time-share condos in the state of Florida, a beautiful club house and pool, and some really nice, understated homes (one of which we were lucky enough to live in for a while). I guess it's been rough for the resort recently, but maybe this new owner will give it back some shine. (Hint: Start by buying http://www.grenelefe.com/.) It'll always be tough for them out there in the boonies with Disney/Universal etc. dominating the pure vacation crowd and with so many other golf/sports resorts available closer to the biggies in Orlando and Tampa.
What really matters to me was learning that one or two or five people could have a vision for something -- in this case some scrubby land becoming a great golf course and resort -- and actually make that happen. It was far from painless -- my dad may have been the only one to come out with his pocketbook intact -- but I learned something about what people could make happen if they'd only have a dream.
Both my dad and George Phelps died before it really took off during the late 70s and early 80s. And it really was George Phelp's dream which he pushed and shoved at up until he died. It's a shame neither of them saw it in its early moments of success.
Gay Marriage: One Couple's Story
Local favorite Mike Silverman and his lover David Greenbaum are featured in this story on gay marriage in the Lawrence Journal-World.
My favorite quote is Greenbaum saying to those opposed to same-sex marriages, "Then don't get married to a person of the same sex. If you're against it, then don't do it. People should be allowed the choice in how to live their lives. That's really going back to the fundamentals of how the nation was founded."
Sunday, July 13, 2003
Don't Tell Disney's Lawyers
There's a hair cut/style/design/something place in Eustis, Florida, called "Country Hair Jamboree."
Friday, July 11, 2003
Must Be Nuts Department
We're going camping. In Florida in the summertime. Posting will resume if/when we make it back, likely early next week.
A Decision Based on Liberty
Several big libertarian bloggers (Postrel, InstaPundit, et al.)have linked to this piece by Randy Barnett at National Review Online (of all places -- I guess the piece is the functional equivalent of an op-ed for them) arguing that Justice Kennedy's opinion in Lawrence v. Texas is based on a stated fundamental right to Liberty explicitly enumerated in the 9th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution.
Barnett's conclusion is that this is the beginning of the end of court deference towards a presumption that what the government does is right, with that being replaced by the idea that citizens' exercise of their stated and unalienable right to Liberty puts the onus on the government to demonstrate that laws and regulations don't unreasonably impact that right.
Cold Cold Cold
Mack and I had been wondering why the water termperature at the beach had gotten so low: more like San Diego than Daytona Beach in July. Turns out that it's a phenomenon known as 'upswelling' in which cold water comes up from deeper levels of the ocean.
Good thing I lived in New England once upon a time. One day at Ogunquit, the air temperature was 95-degrees F and the water temperature was 55-degrees F. Makes the 70-degree F water temperatures of San Diego -- or of Daytona Beach right now -- seem warm.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Tori Amos's Taxivision contest is down to nine finalists. Tori write the song, and nine folks came up with a visual to go along with it.
Lee McCaulla of Memphis, Tennessee, is the only animated finalist, as described by John Beifuss at the Commerical Appeal. (What the heck, it's been a long time?: "More commercial than appealing.")
Beifuss was recently awarded one of Andrew Sullivan's "awards" for comments that seemed a little-bit too over-the-top for Sullivan (more likely, one of his reader's) taste. My image of Beifuss is of a serious student of film, but of film as fun, not film as preaching or film as propaganda or film as static blob. He's especially good when it comes to the contemporary and classic horror flims. In my book, he's a good writer, and when I lived in Memphis, I tried to consistenly read his reviews in the CA, even when I had no intention of seeing the flick in question.
Tori's Taxivision contest ends tomorrow, so if you're interested in checking out the nine videos and voting, you need to get on it.
I have to admit that I'm a little surprised that Ms. Amos is doing this. She's one of the last persons I'd expect to be involved in a contest with Rolling Stone as a sponsor. But, she's a commercial musician, so I can't begrudge her doing things she feels she has to do to do what it is that she does. Still, part of me wonders what happened to the young woman on the porch of the shack with a shotgun.
She'll be playing at UCF Arena, with Ben Folds, on Wednesday, 3 September.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Update on The Leap
It was Sister Wiona not Sister Wynona who took the bus to Newark, alluded to in this post below. Management regrets the error.
Don't Worry About the Government
What? You do?
You might find Government Information Awareness useful, then.
Shiver Me Timbers
I had just finished reading Roger Ebert's review of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl -- please, no laughter. I freely admit that Pirates of the Caribbean is my favorite ride at Disney World (and that the one at Disneyland is somehow better). "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me" Don't agree? Maybe you should take a ride somewhere smaller -- when I realized I had just read this paragraph:
The author Dave Eggers reportedly plans to open a Pirates' Store, complete with planks measured and made to order, and "The Curse of the Black Pearl" plays like his daydreams.In fact, author (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius -- the tough part is that it is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius) and McSweeny's driving force Eggers has his store open and doing business, even if online shopping is not available at this point.
The store is part of the 826 Valencia project which gives SF Bay Area kids an opportunity to write and to learn about writing. Eggers has his detractors, but this 826 Valencia project sounds great. Check out some of the kids' output here.
One of the other projects Eggers is involved in is The Believer, a literary review work based on the idea that criticism can be something positive, something more than just a string of snarky comments. It's a nice idea, and I hope it takes.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
That Damned Dragonleg
The Blog*Spot blog formerly known Shattered Buddha, authored by Dragonleg, referenced as http://dragonleg.blogspot.com/, has made the leap.
No Dragonleg didn't join Sister Wiona on the last bus to Newark, but he has removed his blog to http://www.shatteredbuddha.com/. He's part of some new blog technology test.
Damn him. I was hoping to get out of this hell hole before he did.
And he's got comments, too. And a blue-and-green color scheme.
Tim Bob sez check it out!
Addendum (8:43 pm EDT, 8 JUL 03): The technology in question is TypePad, the latest in blog-authoring-plus-hosting from the Moveable Type creators at Six Apart.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Yes, I plead guilty to not having posted about the post-war situation in Iraq. I remain skeptical of much: Skeptical of those who would rather see the Iraqis suffer as long as the US administration suffers an electoral defeat. Skeptical of those whose blinders are so set that they can't see any positives from the fact that the war happened (like, for example, some of the Israeli-Palestinian progress which likely wouldn't be on the table in any form if Saddam were still in power in Baghadad). Skeptical of the administration that seems to have felt it necessary to oversell some of the threat. And that seems somewhat incapable of getting ahold of the degree of what it takes to keep our men and women, and innocent Iraqis and others, from getting killed by the remaining creeps in Iraq. (I am not skeptical that those trying and sometimes succeeding in killing our folks et al. are, and ought to be considered, The Enemy.)
Some linkage related to all this:
For the war. Now their regressive tax policy and fiscal irresponsibility are other matters for which their behavior is largely contemptable.
Watch Your Ears
Daddy's got a new toy.
Just finished Shakey: Neil Young's Biography by Jimmy McDonough.
Whew. Even though it focuses somewhat more on the recordings and performances and life issues during the 60s and 70s, it still manages to cover Young's life up into the late 1990s.
Stuff I learned:
I wasn't moved. I wouldn't let them film me, that's why I'm not in the [Woodstock] movie. I said, "One of you fuckin' guys comes near me and I'm gonna fuckin' hit you with my guitar. I'm playing music. Just leave me out." Peace, love[,] and flowers. That's where I was at when we did Woodstock. So I was there...but I wasn't. I left an imprint [bold emphasis mine].While McDonough clearly is a fanboy, this isn't just a quicky bio, like some instabook on Justin Timberlake. McDonough cares about his subject -- and cared for years on end -- in that same stupid way that many of us once cared about the music and the life we thought was associated with the music. He evokes a time in my life, maybe yours, and he does so in a gracious, challenging, reflective, informative, and enjoyable way. He may not be a great prose stylist -- Young's way with words dominated McDonough's, easily to my ear -- but he has gone the distance, done the work, excepted the challenges, and put together a good read.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
Last night, just after we had just finished watching Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, we learned that Greg Biffle had won the Pepsi 400.
If NASCAR is serious about attracting a black audience, maybe they should put Biffle in touch with Snoop to discuss car ownership, support, changing his name to "Bizzle," etc.
Friday, July 04, 2003
Family Pics II
The children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, spouses, etc. of William M. and Deedy Daniel. This was on my previous trip to northeast Alabama and southeast Tennessee.
No, I cannot name everybody in the picture, and I'm not going to try.
Family Pics I
On my recent trip, I spent some time in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, with my brother Dan and his family. Pictures below.
My brother Dan. I like this pic. I like the ambient lighting and the color tone of the photo.
My sister-in-law Suzie.
My nephew Sam.
My nephew Mike.
Mike's chocolate lab Kelly.
Dan's Jack Russell Oliver, whom he stole from Suzie.
Freedom + Responsibility = Liberty
It's the USA's Independence Day, an event worthy of celebration.
The post title is an idea I've been mulling around for over a year now. If I were a social scientist -- or Stephen Den Beste -- I'd write several hundred or several thousand words about it. But I'm not.
The point is that Freedom is precious, but that Freedom without Responsibility means T-R-O-U-B-L-E. That may not be a self-evident truth, but I hope it takes without an awful amount of reflection.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Walking Man: Breaking the Chain
I know, I know. Mrs. R. L. broke the chain, and she got her own husband back. That being said, I'm not beyond using the following e-mailed-with-instructions-to-send-on image here.
See, he's walking around the world. With your help.
TSA: You Asked!
Flablogger Mark Lane sez (here): "Sheesh. When TSA isn't bullying passengers and groping female passengers, it's flat out stealing passengers' stuff. Does anyone feel safer with this group on the job?" (TSA: US Transportation Security Agency, the post-9/11 federal-government takeover of airport security part of the post-9/11 federal-government expansion.)
Well, yes, some do, me included. I think all-in-all they're much more professional, thorough, and courteous when it comes to security than the contracted scum with undertrained and sometimes illegally-employed hacks they replaced were.
In recent travels, I haven't had any TSA problems. They search my bags, my stuff is left alone (not that they would want my stuff, but I can imagine them having a hoot over some of it -- "Hey, get a load of this"), and they put their little "we searched your bag" card in, and sometimes they even put their blue TSA tape over the lock like they're supposed to. But it's still better than having a similarly-packed bag gone through right there at the Delta counter at DAB by some off-duty sheriff's deputy at 5:30 a.m. in the morning with your boss standing in line watching.
The TSA has their detractors, though. See the articles Lane links to. And WebFlyer guy Gary Leff has been on the TSA's case from the get go.
Rock Bottom Remainders
From today's Bleat by James Lileks:
But thanks to the indispensable Gawker, I know what “rich” really is. It’s Stephen King standing in line to see “28 Days Later,” and buying all the tickets and giving them to everyone standing behind him in line. I love that story. He surfaces in public rarely, but whenever he does you think: what a guy. Dave Barry’s the same way, incidentally. If Dave Barry woke up and found seventy billion dollars in his back yard, he would buy an Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and spend the rest of his life driving state highways and handing out hundred dollar bills in small-town restaurants.King and Barry are allegedly in what's allegedly a "rock band" allegedly called the Rock Bottom Remainders. (Like Dave Barry needs links from me.)
Small World Phenomenon, Part 285179830
Dragonleg has this entry up linking to this long piece about "MIT student Tim Anderson" and some attempt to get to Cuba.
I'm pretty sure that this Tim Anderson is the brother of my former 6.002 (Circuits) lab partner Mark Anderson, and, sorry, but Tim was, as far as I know, never an MIT student. Instead, he's someone who's just inserted himself into the MIT community, almost by osmosis, or the way an amoeba incorporates foreign matter by surrounding it. Tim showed up to visit Mark, and, if I recall correctly, just never really left. He's always been tied up in one artsy-fartsy project or another since he got there.
I think the last time I saw him was when I dropped off my first-edition 64K Macintosh (something like serial number 648), because Tim was sending old computers to Vietnam or someplace similar, when I left Boston in January 1994. And the time before that was when he and some of his art people showed up at my finished-the-dissertation / Halloween party with a copy of Reefer Madness.
His brother Mark (I think that's the right link) is a cool guy. It all started when I walked into lab, Mark was at the first station alone, and I said, "Wanna be lab partners?". Mark lived in a dorm suite with another friend Paul Maglio, and later they were roommates. Mark's first car was some beat-up Toyota Corolla with an "E.T. Phone Home" bumper sticker on it. (Hey, our first house had a "Who Shot J.R.?" bumper sticker on the garage door.)
I lost touch with Mark sometime after he left Boston, and I was never really close to Tim.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
From Burton Cummings to Vikki Carr; From Joe Tex to Amy Grant
You know that song by Jimmy Webb? See who (more like, "who hasn't") recorded it here.
Giant Sea Creature Battles Chilean Scientists
See this story at CNN.
What's that? "Baffles?" Not "battles?
CMT Shows Bootie
CMT, the curent incarnation of what the old TNN started out as, is showing a video by country artist Rascal Flatts -- I guess that's two 't's as in Flatt and Scruggs -- which features exposed male buttocks and even a shadowy shot of female breasts. Story here from the (Nashville) Tennessean.
In other reports, it's still hot in Hell, and Western Civilization continues to stradle the Earth without collapse.
Wal*Mart Gets With the Program
Wal*Mart is adding lesbian and gay people to its anti-discrimination policy. No domestic-partner benefits at this stage, but, still, definitely a move forward, since it's the nation's (world's?) largest private employer. Story here from the New York Times (registration required).
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Who Is X-04?
I was once, way back in the early 1980s, in a band that tried to make it doing original material. The band was named "X-04." It's a super-obscure reference to an episode of The Prisoner.
We got together while I was in Nashville. I promised Mike (left) and Bryan (center) that I (right) would put the picture the waiter took on the web. So here it is.
Addendum: Mike: Guitar and Synthesizers. Brian: Drums and Vocals. Tim: Synthesizers and More Synthesizers.
Okay, so I took a few more pictures while in Nashville than while in Memphis.
That's just how it worked out. My conference was in downtown Nashville. Simultaneously, the NHL was there having their draft at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, and the sheriffs were over at the kinda-sorta-slightly over-the-top Opryland Hotel.
Yes, the thought of doing a Hunter S. Thompson and dropping in on the sheriffs was there. Hey, it's the thought that counts.
The L and C tower was Nashville's first skyscraper. I think it's a Skidmore Merill Owens steel-and-glass mid/late 1950's classic. It was Nashville's only skyscraper until the late 1960s, when National Life built their slightly-taller substantially-uglier (well, nondescript, at least) tower.
Bellsouth put up the Batman Building sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. Not nondescript.
The aforementioned Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Lower Broadway. It's really nice the way they've preserved this area as it was, even as the downtown area changes, grows, and modernizes.
World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge. It was 11:00 a.m. in the morning, and there was somebody who was hoping to be a country-music star performing on the little stage just inside the door to the right.
Three Nashville icons: Tootsies, the Ryman Auditorium (roof), and the L and C Tower.
The Wheel was an adult bookstore/peepshow for years, but apparently it's now a Mexican restaurant.
Finally, a not-quite-right composite of the Ryman Auditorium. When they built the convention center downtown, they built too close to the street, so you can't get back far enough to take a decent face-on picture of the Ryman. It's a shame.
This is the sign at Joe's Liquors on Poplar Avenue in Memphis. They got it restored sometime while we lived there. I think it was not too long after I moved there in 1994.
It's a classic Sputnik era neon sign. That looks like Sputnik. I don't think they run it in moving mode anymore: The ball is actually split in two, with each half rotating in opposite directions, while the entire ball turns about the axis of the pole its mounted on.
I figure lots of cities had at least one of something like this, but there's not too many of them still around in as good of shape.
Aside: I didn't get a picture of the Pop Tunes sign on Summer. It's another New Frontier classic.
Here's Doug Marlette's take. In the meantime, Slate is reminding everyone that the at-least once-racist white Dixicrat-then-Republican creep had a black daughter.
p.s. Posting from Daytona/home.