Month: August 2004

Jeff Cheney, in reaction to Phil Ringnalda as quoted in yesterday’s post:

“I think it’s a great sign for democracy when we can have such heated debates. However, there is a danger that we’ve stopped listening to each other and that we’ve grown attached to our points of view. A danger that we’ve become bigots. I’d like to see more blogs pointing at opposing views rather than similar views — engaged in a dialog rather than preaching to the choir.”

I agree with Jeff in principle, but we’ve got a pretty dirty battle going on with this (any?) election. I think at the moment it’s hit-hard, hit first, and ask questions after innaguration day, and there may not be much way around it.

I’d also like to see a dialog. A dialog among the bloggers, a dialog in and with and among the press, a dialog between the candidates.

As it stands, it’s mud-slinging all around. Or as a comedian I’m fond of once said in a completely different context, “hurling flaming piles of poo.”

I’m angry that Kerry either has been unwilling or unable to make his campaign into a dialog about the issues. He tried to early on, but was either told by his handlers that he’d be over our heads, or got distracted by flaming poo, or simply got tired. (It happens.)

I’m also angry that Bush continues to refuse to play straight, and tell us what’s really happening without all his obfuscating double-talk. After all, what the hell does it mean to say that the war in Iraq has been a “catastrophic success?” I agree with Edwards — I don’t have any idea what that means.

I listened to part of the RNC’s opening night on the radio earlier this evening, and the message I heard repeated loudly and clearly was: “9/11 was a tragedy, you’re in danger, don’t worry — this administration has everything under control, see we even set foot in NYC, and if you elect Kerry it’s going to be a heyday for terrorists.” Some of this is between the lines, but most of it isn’t.

And what ever happened to Bush’s claim that he’d never use the 9/11 tragedy for political advantage? It was a public statement I heard over and over again before our invasion of Iraq, but ever since then 9/11 has been the keystone of Bush’s domestic political strategy, and his primary selling point in his campaign for reelection.

Then in the smoky back room over here, we have the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to thank for helping to create a press environment in which it’s so easy for the RNC speakers to imply that Kerry can’t handle the terrorist threat.

But that’s not even the real issue. Does anyone really think that if Kerry were elected, that we’d go back to our pre 9/11 collective state of mind, and the belief that terrorism can’t happen here, that we’re somehow immune? I don’t think so. And yet Bush and his friends are happily taking credit for our collective-conscious’ terror-alert-level, while at the same time playing on our fears to get us to stick by them. (Oh wait — they invented the idea of the terror alert level.)

What I want to hear about is real issues. We people with lives and minds, families, jobs in some cases, and voter registration cards, have lots of questions that are going unanswered by any candidate, and for the most part, unasked by the mainstream press:

What about a plan for getting our people out of Iraq? What about jobs and the economy? What about oil prices? What about the national debt? What about education, health care? What about social security? What about the other wars in Asia, Africa and elsewhere? What about guns in schools? What about alternate energy sources? What about free speech, personal liberties, and privacy? What about the scoundrels who are probably ripping off millions or billions of dollars right now, from average people, because the FBI has redirected most of its white-collar crime resources towards anti-terrorist investigations?

I could go on all night.

There are so many more things we should be talking about, but because of this innane debate about Kerry’s war record, we’re stuck in a 24-hour news cycle that’s obsessed with his dirty laundry, his wife’s shoot-from-the-hip personality, and Edwards’ hair. And for balance, we’ve got the RNC and its 9/11 spin, its “see, we did the right thing” free-for-all.

As I said: Poo-slinging ’till Election Day.

Unless you like cats:

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Phil Ringnalda: “The best-selling political books have absolutely no nuance, no awareness that politics is about compromise, not volume and vitriol… I fear for my country.”

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Rogers Cadenhead:

“There has to come a time in this country when politicians face a backlash for engaging in win-at-any-cost, blatantly false gutter politics. Sixty seven days from now is a good place to start.”

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…not writing about work. Or at least not writing about it here — not intermingling it with the rest of my life.

The thing is that I spend an awful lot of time doing it, talking about it, and thinking about it. When I’m not at work, I spend some precious moments with Cindy. When I’m not spending precious moments, I’m trying to unwind, relax, or sleep.

Writing about sleeping is probably not that interesting, and I’m pretty sure you don’t need to hear about a stranger’s lovey-dovey moments, so for this post at least, I’m going to stick with my own rules for this site, and just write about other stuff that’s going on with me at the moment.

I went to a jam session on Monday night at the Hole in the Wall. I really had a blast, and played the heck out of the first set. It’s funny — I knew I was loose before I even started playing, and that it would go well.

I guess it’s a self-confidence thing, but the reception I got was the best I’ve had since I started going to the jams again… Lots of compliments from other musicians, especially from bassists, whose opinion I feel more apt to respect than those of guitar players. (Just kidding… Not really…)

BB Campbell hosts the Monday night jams there, and he’s about as nice a host as there is. His thing is to make everyone feel like family, and I totally dig that. A welcoming scene is really important, especially at this level. In fact, that’s all that matters, at this level or any other. If people don’t feel welcome, they don’t come back.

On the wedding front, we (finally) got around to registering at a few places for gifts tonight. We really should have done it sooner if we actually expected to receive any gifts, but as they say, “better late than never.”

Also on the wedding front, I’m getting a bit behind on the favors. As you probably don’t remember, I’m making a DVD with a slideshow of pictures of the people who are coming to the wedding to support us, with special musical guests, The Beatles. The authoring is about 1/2 done, but then we have to burn the DVD-R’s, apply labels, and cram them into jewel cases. I’d say we’re at about 35% on this project.

More wedding stuff: We successfully bought the dress, and rented the tux, but at these are ancient history at this point.

Even more wedding stuff: We still have to send revisions of the ceremony text to the Justice of the Peace who’s performing the ceremony. Even more pressing, we haven’t written the text of our vows yet. Cindy and I both (I think) know in our hearts what needs to be said, but we need to hunker down and take the effort to put our feelings into words.

In the meantime, mom was just in town for the weekend. We were glad to see her, and I think we all had a good time. It was especially nice to see that she’s excited about the wedding, and for her to have a chance to spend some time with Cindy again before the knot gets tied. She even talked to Cindy’s mom on the phone.

Dad’s away in the Northwest, visiting houses and people. Next time I have a chance, I really should go visit my brother and his daughter.

My buddy Dave is in Germany doing music the “real” way. Too many other friends are too far away… But with so much to do, when should I go see them? After the wedding I suppose.

One last thing: Vote Kerry (a.k.a. “not Bush”)

Music

vietnamEraRibbons.jpg: Original image URL: http://www.doomsdayreport.com/DUstuff/ribbons2.jpg    Via comment here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x654437#654479

Via a comment on this discussion about a picture in which George W. Bush appears to be wearing an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon — an award for which there is no evidence that Bush had ever received.

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Despite the fact that the IOC has a policy of barring Olympic participants from posting first-hand accounts online, Philip Dunn, ‘A’ standard Olympic racewalker for the USA is keeping an online journal of his experiences at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

He did the same when he competed in Sydney in 2000.

Do check it out…

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This Gizmodo post about a potential price-war in online music sales ends with a wish that music prices would decrease in general:

The upshot of all of this? Ignoring Wal-Mart’s initial lower-price entry into the music download space, this could be the start of the first legal music downloading price war. Apple probably won’t flinch (yet), but hopefully this is a sign of lower prices all around in the near future.

Tell you what. I couldn’t give a rat’s nasty bits about CD pricing. The real reason I haven’t been buying many CDs, and I strongly suspect the real reason that nobody else is either, is that the stuff that’s available from the major labels is, for the most part, and most simply put, crap.

I haven’t heard a new band in over a year whose album I thought was worth buying. Queens of the Stone Age comes to mind. They first started getting serious attention in the spring (or was it still winter) of last year. I can’t remember the last time before that, that I bought music from a new band. It was probably Soundgarden.

$1.00 a song is fine with me, especially since most new acts only have one, or a few songs really worth owning. Why’s that? Because the majors don’t do development deals anymore. They look for one-hit-wonders, with the outside chance that they’ll stumble on a social phenomenon like Nirvana. But for the moment, $1.00 a song is ok with me.

The last thing artists need is downward price pressure. They have enough trouble making any money from music sales as it is. What we really need is not price decreases, but rather labels that have some enlightened self-interest:

Labels who are willing to work with artists over longer time periods, either with development deals, or by putting young artists with potential in situations where they learn from more experienced artists.

Labels who are willing to spend a tiny bit less money on gigantic advertising campaigns, $100,000 cars for their executives, and extravagant mega-tours for the few big hit "acts". Instead, turn some of that moeny into a better standard of living, and some longer term financial security for the serious, and talented artists who aren’t lucky enough to have trust funds, or big tits and a tight ass for tour poster pictures.

Help the serious musicians do what they’re good at, and make some money, and have some fun in the process. It’s a fact: Treating your work-force well results in greater productivity. It’s been proven over and over, in all kinds of businesses.

And to other artists: Don’t put up with this crap anymore. Don’t sign the bad record deals. Insist on being treated better. Don’t be bullied into taking their shit because that’s all there is to get. Let’s get a clue here. Go grass-roots. DIY.

In the meantime, another year has passed in which I essentially bought no new music. I’ve had a budget for it, but there’s been nothing to buy. Until there is, I’ll be spending my money elsewhere.

Music

So here they are — the 2004 Summer Olympics from Athens.

A symbol of openness, peace, working together, healthy competition, yadda, yadda.

And then we have this completely idiotic hyperlinking policy on the official Athens Olympics website:

For your protection and ours we have established a procedure for parties wishing to introduce a link to the ATHENS 2004 website on their site. By introducing a link to the ATHENS 2004 official Website on your site you are agreeing to comply with the ATHENS 2004 Website General Terms and Conditions. In order to place a link embedded in copy interested parties should:

a) Use the term ATHENS 2004 only, and no other term as the text referent

b) Not associate the link with any image, esp. the ATHENS 2004 Emblem (see paragraph below)

c) Send a request letter to the Internet Department stating:

  • Short description of site
  • Reason for linking
  • Unique URL containing the link (if no unique URL than just the main URL)
  • Publishing period
  • Contact point (e-mail address)

Once the request has been mailed, interested parties can proceed to include the link and will only receive a response if ATHENS 2004 does not accept the link.

Ok, so I was going to complain about lack of syndication support, but really, this is kind of rediculous. I thought we were done with inane linking policies in 2000, but apparently the Olympic Oraganizing Commitee is at least three years behind the times. And they claim it’s “for my protection”??? Harumph.

Thinking about this for a minute, there are two possible motivations for this BS: Either they’re really stupid (not so likely) and trying to actually only allow links that they sign off on, or they’re really stupid (also not so likely) and they’re trying to find out who’s linking to them.

Ok, so they’re stupid. They can’t prevent links, and they don’t know how to look at referer logs. (But then again, if they’re Greek, and they tried to look up "referer" in the English/Greek dictionary, that would be trouble too, but let’s not go there.)

I must admit though, that they’ve stayed up-to-date in the TV-realm: The opening ceremonies were quite impressive in HD. Now if only I could choose to watch the events that I actually want to watch. Oh wait — that’s NBC’s fault…

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“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

— Bob Dylan

Music Politics

I’ve decided to start tracking the Terror Alert Level on a daily basis. Here’s why…

Howad Dean to Wolf Blitzer, regarding changes in the Terror Alert Level:

“I am concerned that every time something happens that’s not good for President Bush he plays this trump card, which is terrorism. His whole campaign is based on the notion that ‘I can keep you safe, therefore at times of difficulty for America stick with me,’ and then out comes Tom Ridge”

His comments are beginning to cause an uproar, with John Kerry half-heartedly disagreeing with Dean, and conservatives blasting Dean for making unfounded accusations.

I decided to look for a little evidence. I did some Google searches looking for a chart of when the Terror Alert Level has changed, and from what to what, but unfortunately didn’t find anything with a few quick searches.

So I’ve decided to start tracking the Terror Alert Level myself, on a daily basis. Once a day, a script running on my computer scrapes the latest Terror Alert Level from this page on whitehouse.gov, and stores the value for that day. If it’s changed since the previous day, an alert pops up, letting me know it’s changed.

When it changes, I’m going to look for news articles related to the change, and also check out what else has been going on for Bush for the last 48 hours or so. After collecting data for some time, hopefully I can get some idea of whether Dean’s comments were groundless or not.

Personally I suspect that Dean’s on to something, and have thought similarly myself for quite some time. What I’d really love to see someone do, and unfortunately it may not happen ’till after the election, is to chart the Terror Alert Level against Bush’s approval rating, and pre-election poll data. Some statistical analysis would tell us what the level of correlation actually is…

But then again, who can really tell whether Dean is right or not. After all, the only ones with access to the intelligence information that the Terror Alert Level is supposedly based on, are higher-ups in the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, maybe the Sennate Intelligence Committee, and of course the Bush Whitehouse.

We’ll see…

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