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Last Visit 2011-01-17 23:04:23 |Start Date 2004-11-03 18:51:40 |Comments 1,935 |Entries 529 |Images 250 |Videos 22 |

08/06/08 10:59 - 70ºF - ID#45251

News

Just an apparently not so short blast - lots of work to do today that I can't feasibly put off.

1. One of the points of pride for the Obama campaign has been, according to them anyway, that their campaign is a grassroots campaign driven by legions of small donors. It turns out that this isn't entirely true. Big donors ($1000 or more) account for a third of all donations Obama has taken thus far. The article questions his rationale for not taking the public financing - he claimed he didn't want to neuter the grassroots nature of his campaign. Personally, I thought his rationale was transparently BS - it was painfully obvious that by taking the public money he would stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. Anyway -

2. In the meantime, McCain is at Sturgis! When someone says "Buffalo Chip" I wonder how many people reading that article actually know what one is.

3. Since it is the eve of the Olympics I thought it would be appropriate to stick it in Communist eyes once again. The fact that China was awarded the Olympics, in my view, was ill-advised to the extreme. Did anybody actually believe them when they said that they weren't going to abuse and oppress foreigner and native alike while the Olympics were being staged? In the meantime, the world watches aghast as their totalitarian eccentricities devolved into the beating of two Japanese journalists - what a disaster. This, on top of obvious health concerns for athletes, blocking of several sites on the Internet (standard practice - lord knows people hearing contrary opinions is a bad thing, even if you are a foreign journalist), chicken pens for protesters, the establishment of rules for athletes so as to not provoke the delicate sensibilities of the assholes that run the country - China's government lacks morals and has set the stage for an incredibly indecent country. You can say what you want about the United States, but we do not have US Army soldiers strewn about the streets intimidating the public, nor would we ever tolerate an American soldier beating a foreign journalist on American soil, or anywhere else. China is a shitpot with a frivolous and fraudulent veneer. The fact that their citizens manage to defend and even ignore this kind of behavior can only be the result of one of two circumstances. Either they are afraid of the consequences of being critical, or they actually believe what they are saying. Both are unacceptable by any standard.

China was quick to apologize, but I say FUCK 'EM. They acted like spoiled children over the Cafferty incident and refused to accept CNN's apology, and cruelly his sharp comments about China were proved true. The irony is that because they are utterly incapable of helping themselves by resisting the urge to crack down on things they don't like, the Olympics are only magnifying how far China still has to go. Their indiscretions and the cavalier way in which they employ oppressive rules on foreigners are turning their Olympics into a caricature. The IOC is a disgrace - we have Jacques Rogge shrugging his shoulders while dining on sumptuous meals and traveling to exotic places in promotion of the Beijing Olympics. Ahh, taste the smog.

For more ludicrous and anger-inducing news regarding Beijing's calamitous Olympic Games and their trivial and alarming rules for foreigners, the New Yorker put out an excellent article. Highlights include forcing journalists to surrender their press credentials in exchange for translation equipment.
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08/02/08 09:28 - 66ºF - ID#45225

Saturday Morning

I was sitting here drinking my coffee, contemplating what albums I wanted to buy as I listened to the Decemberists. As the song ended, I could hear a truck backing up in the street outside and the warning sounds (beep.... beep.... beep....) matched the pitch and the mood of the song perfectly, which I have to say was a very surreal moment. The song was "Shankill Butchers" - if you know anything about "the troubles" in Northern Ireland you may be familiar with the subject material. Having the end of a song about murderers be somewhat interrupted by a noise reminiscent of a heart beat emanating from a monitoring machine in a hospital was strange. Maybe it was that same effect as that character in The Tell Tale Heart... not that I'm harboring any guilt or anything. It was one of those moments you have when you are alone that make you stop, gaze out of the windows and think for a moment.

(e:jason) left for the Adirondacks so it has afforded me some time alone to get some things done. Last night I went back to Lagniappes for jambalaya and my luck was spectacular. Just as I walked in, the jambalaya was just coming out of the oven! The chef said to me, "you're not going to find fresher jambalaya anywhere around here!" Knowing that he was not telling a lie, I stood in silent anticipation. It was the shortest wait I've ever had there, which was merely a bonus in my mind, but nice nonetheless as I walked back to Mariner St. thinking I was the cat the got the cream.

After enjoying my favorite comfort food I watched No Country For Old Men.... well at least the first half of it. It was as if my eyelids were anchored down by cement blocks last night. I very much want to see the movie since it won multiple Academy Awards and is based faithfully on a novel written by Cormac McCarthy, an author that I'm reading currently (The Road, and later Blood Meridian). If you are on Facebook and you are my friend, you can check out my bookshelf. I try to keep it current because it is one of the few things I keep track of regularly. Facebook's captivating allure is lost on me - for me there really isn't much utility to the site.

Every month when the new copy of Spin arrives I sift for an hour and read it from front to back. The back end of the magazine is where you will find all of the music reviews and it is this section that I read with the most care. I read music reviews with a grain of salt, or in the case of Pitchfork, with an entire truckload of salt. When half of the music reviews get 3.5 stars only one of the following can be true. Either there really were a host of average albums for this month's issue, or the reviewers just don't have the courage to call a bad album a bad album. I also notice a very provincial attitude - I'm tired of reading about Brooklyn bands, half of which are absolute shit. In any case, there are some notables this month - Stereolab, Sigur Ros, Black Kids, The Hold Steady and a few others that I "question marked." Subscribing to Spin is one of the better media choices I've made in a while. I get a hell of a lot out of the magazine each month and occasionally they do have some brilliant spurts of rock journalism.
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07/30/08 12:37 - 75ºF - ID#45190

California - Earthquake Fodder

The Golden State is truly golden in many ways, but it is a statistical reality that in our lifetimes we will see an earthquake similar to the scale of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. How real is this reality? Take a look for yourself. Call me paranoid, but when I was in SF I was very conscious of the unstable earth beneath my feet. Californians seem to ignore the danger and rely greatly on their excellent warning systems, but there are inherent dangers to living in one of the most seismically active places on earth that are ignored at their certain peril. Living in California means that in many ways you have the best of things and the worst of things in America; Californians are quite accepting of that fact and live their lives without much concern for the inevitable. It is an interesting mindset and somewhat unique to this area of the country.

A book I've ranted and raved about, and suggest every single California resident read, is A Crack In The Edge Of The World, by Simon Winchester. The book is a historical study of the San Andreas fault, how settlers approached living through natural disasters, how dramatically such a seismically active area can affect the landscape, and most beautifully he recreates the morning of the "big one" using historical accounts from survivors. Mr. Winchester is an Oxford-trained geologist and an author of many excellent books - his writing style is captivating and engrossing. Why do I bring up the book? Because he studies the historical nonchalance with which Californians choose to approach any risks to living where they do. This mindset, according to Mr. Winchester, originated with the risk-averse settlers that put everything on the line to migrate to the mine fields in the mid-19th century. Also, he mentions something very, very prescient to current events.

Yesterday, southern California was struck with a magnitude 5.4 earthquake, the epicenter of which was a few miles east of downtown Los Angeles. In Winchester's book he mentions in particular that seismologists have undertaken revealing studies about how very seismically active areas often suffer smaller earthquakes before a much larger one. Lo and behold, today an article discusses the subject.

One of the most alarming facts of this situation I have found was from a different article in the SF Chronicle, which was special report regarding the exodus of the middle class in their fair city. SF residents are becoming a dramatically richer demographic as a result of high property values. Many regular folks simply can't afford to live where they work, and the statistics are alarming. The article is a good read in any case, but in particular I found this a very, very scary situation -

High housing prices are also a key reason that among 2,227 sworn police officers in San Francisco, only 675 live in the city, a little more than 30 percent, said Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

The nightmare consequence of this would be an evening earthquake that shuts down BART and bridges, blocking two-thirds of the city's police officers and large percentages of other first responders from quickly attending to life-threatening building collapses, injuries or fires.



In other words, it is certain that a vast percentage of law enforcement and first responders will not be able to access the city during the time of its most vital need when an earthquake strikes. If you live in SF, you better think carefully about that. It seems apparent that if another massive quake hits the Bay Area that San Francisco may very well suffer just as badly, if not worse, than the city did in 1906 despite all of the better construction techniques and warning systems. If many first responders cannot access the city, how will a massive fire like North Beach suffered in 1906 be stopped? How can an orderly evacuation be conducted, if at all? What about triage? I hope their first responder plan is water tight despite what seems to be an alarming weakness. Part of the warning system relies on seismologists monitoring murmurs that indicate an earthquake is coming, but there is no way to predict exactly when an earthquake will strike.

The good news for ol' Frisco is that the area truly due for a big one is southern California. Los Angeles suffered an earthquake in the early 1800's that, based on survivors' accounts, was at least as severe if not more severe than the one that struck in 1906. La La Land is overdue, but in truth the San Andreas Fault could rupture anywhere and the scientists say that enough pressure has built up along the fault line to expect another big one within 30 years.

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Category: politics

07/28/08 12:53 - 75ºF - ID#45171

Mutiny in the Op-Ed of the Wash. Post?

You decide: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D), Speaker of the House of Representatives, is actively fighting against the wishes of the American people and is single-handedly preventing a vote on drilling legislation in the House. The Washington Post, bastion of leftward-thinking editorials in the same tradition as other papers such as the NY Times, Baltimore Sun and Boston Globe, then proceeded to print this:



A certain segment of our society loves pointing to polls suggesting that is the express wish of the American people for the Iraq war to end, and stomp their feet like spoiled children when their candidates teeter even slightly... especially when men who know what they are talking about (such as Gen. Petraeus) give that candidate information they find politically offensive. So much for "fact finding." I just have one simple question. Why is Speaker Pelosi ignoring the will of the American people on one issue while simultaneously trumpeting the will of the American people to justify her stance on another issue?

You see, Speaker Pelosi is playing a dangerous game on an issue she is dead wrong about. Forget this non-sense about opening the strategic oil reserve - it is a fallacious argument because these liberal politicians argue themselves that drilling won't affect price. Putting 90 billion barrels of oil on the market, they argue, will not affect price accordingly but putting 70 million barrels on the market is somehow a better solution in their eyes. Not only is this argument insulting to the intelligence of the American middle class who are being hurt incredibly by gas prices, but it defies even the most basic tenets of supply and demand. Even the length of time it would take to put the oil on the market has been incredibly overblown. Details aside, this is what the American people clearly want and if she doesn't allow the vote backlash against Democrats will be enormous, albeit unfairly for certain Democrats who, unlike Speaker Pelosi, respects the will of the American people.

Speaker Pelosi is willing to watch Rome burn to make a point and to stay true to the environmentalists she is beholden to. Even papers such as the Washington Post are now standing with mouth agape at Nancy Pelosi. She and she alone is to blame for preventing a vote, which she can do by decree as Speaker, which is a vote that would likely pass. What Americans want only matters to her when Americans agree with her. If she continues she will not be Speaker in another year and will be forced to walk the plank for potentially endangering the majority they currently enjoy.

Trent Lott lost his position for much, much less. If defying the will of the American people based on ideology is treasonous in the context of George W. Bush (sound familiar?), then in this context it is equally applicable as well. People should not be surprised to see that Congress is less popular than President Bush, and under the current leadership it is truly miraculous that in two years Democrats have proven that their leadership is even more haphazard than when Republicans ran things. It has only been two years! When Americans watch and listen to the leaders of Congress, can it be possible that by removing the incompetent Republicans that things have actually gotten worse? Watch and listen to Speaker Pelosi and judge for yourself.
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07/25/08 10:02 - 69ºF - ID#45134

Love Affair Over?

Two extraordinarily unflattering articles regarding the Anointed One -

London Times mocks Obama in ways only the British can -

American press corps admits realities of Obama campaign's arrogance, stoking suspicions many Americans have always had of the man. FNC? National Review? Try The New Republic -
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07/24/08 10:22 - 66ºF - ID#45120

Endless eBay Frustration

I have shit luck on eBay.

I've posted about this before - this is where (e:paul) would find the old link and leave it here but I'm not that industrious.

For years now, I've been looking for a very specific copy of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. I've owned and read several copies previously and I suppose you could say that to me this is more than just a book. My interest in Beat literature has evolved from voracious reading to voracious reading with an additional wish to collect paperback copies with original cover art. Some examples -

image

I just bought The Subterraneans from another guy on eBay a month ago. Now I wish I would have waited... or maybe I'll buy this one and donate my copy to a local library or a friend.

image

This is a copy currently up for bid. THIS IS WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR. Cruelly (at least in my view) I just missed out on a copy like this a half-hour ago, for a third of the price. The guy who won? The guy who sold me The Subterraneans! Still though, this is a slightly nicer copy and is three years older (fourth edition, 1960). Even with the picture a bit fuzzy it is hard to believe that this is a 48-year old paperback. Is it worth up to $30? Had I not missed out on bidding I could have gotten the other copy for $11, including shipping. That is the frustrating bit - on eBay more often than not auctions get "bidded up" by armies of resellers. These people test maximum bid limits on honest people to bid up their auctions - I lost an auction on a similar copy of On The Road to a guy who got screwed like this to the tune of $64. Buyers with names such as f***e, a***r, t***a, etc. kept ratcheting up the auction to trigger this guy's maximum bid at the last minute. On other occasions I've seen someone flat out bid up on an auction within seconds from $4.50 to $20 - why would somebody increase the price they have to pay for the book? If you ask me, this kind of activity is borderline criminal and at the very least is completely unethical. Really, when the sellers cry about eBay's rules I laugh. Where else can people be readily ripped off and the company facilitating it all has no rules to protect buyers from predatory tactics like I've described?

So now somebody with a similarly anonymous name has bid on this copy I'm watching.... and I wait.

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07/14/08 03:15 - 74ºF - ID#45014

Quick News

1. Regarding the big banks that are imploding due to bad assets - the stuff off of the balance sheet might be more interesting than what is on the balance sheet.
It will be interesting to see what happens if in fact the riskiest stuff wasn't on the balance sheet.

2. John McCain states that the figure he tries to model himself after is Theodore Roosevelt. While I wouldn't exactly call it a direct comparison, he might be the closest guy around. Teddy Roosevelt was far more intellectual than McCain is - Roosevelt had a brilliant, brilliant mind. He was a true Renaissance man and if you ask me is the single most interesting president we've ever had, with the possible exception of George Washington. Actually I'd skip the article about McCain and go straight to Theodore Roosevelt's Wiki page - it is much more interesting.

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07/01/08 11:49 - 69ºF - ID#44837

Coquille St. Stench w/ baby bok choy

After searing some scallops at home last night in celebration of (e:jason)'s bonus our apartment smelled like seafood. This morning, the apartment still smelled like seafood - the air circulation is extremely poor and so I've left fans on and windows open in the kitchen to air it out. I can't get the smell out of my nose as I type this - I think somehow the seafood searing smoke got into my shorts, which I happily wore again (THE HORRAH!). Actually, today I think it is a horror given the circumstances!


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06/25/08 06:53 - 77ºF - ID#44785

Security Cameras, yet again.

This is a bit of a damning report on how the security cameras in cities such as ours have been expanding but actually help very little.


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06/23/08 11:05 - 65ºF - ID#44758

Informed Voting, Obama, and You

This is what I worry about -



It's all too common. These people are not informed; they are starstruck.
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