28 October 2005

Prepare to Cancel the Cable Internet

TOKYO (AFX) - Japan's second-largest electric utility firm, Kansai Electric Power Co, said it has developed technology allowing the transmission of a two-hour movie in 0.5 seconds.

27 October 2005

Deployed Again

Salt Lake Tribune:
(D)espite the dangers and the juggling of families and civilian careers with more and longer deployments, (Sgt. 1st Class Ken) Allmon is among the 80 percent of soldiers and airmen responding to a first-ever public survey of the Utah National Guard who indicated they are staying in the military, with nearly 20 percent saying they are getting out.

Utah's high retention rate is typical nationwide, as veterans offset new-recruit shortfalls. In the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the U.S. armed forces missed their recruitment goal by nearly 13,000 new soldiers, squeezing veterans even more.

"The problem is that as the force gets older and higher in rank, the Army has a hard time maintaining lower-rank jobs that are critical to the military," said Mike O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. "I don't know when it will get too disruptive, when one unit has to borrow soldiers from another to fill out its ranks. But it's significant when 5 percent of the force has to serve at the wrong rank."

For his part, Sgt. 1st Class John Kyle Hill, who served two stints in Afghanistan as a medic with the 19th Special Forces, is staying in and hoping for another tour. Hill, a Nebo School District high school science teacher, said that unlike many of his students, his comrades are highly motivated. "We lived on the edge in a life-and-death situation," said Hill, 42. "There was no apathy, no laziness. It was ennobling. It was the greatest thing I've ever done."

1st Lt. Bruce Bishop, 31, a Salt Lake County firefighter, said he'll stay "because as I look around at the state of this nation and see all of the weak little pampered candy-asses that are whining about this or protesting that, I'd be afraid to leave the fate of this nation entirely up to them." Bishop, who served in Afghanistan, is among the 450 Utah Guard members deployed to Louisiana. Most are volunteers.

25 October 2005

Right Song, Right Time, Wrong Speed

One year ago today I came to work per usual, spun up all the machinery, wiggled into my chair, got connected to the world, and promptly fell apart.

I'm a stoic guy, and that goes back to the beginning. Even as a kid I never got too outwardly emotional; I was the even-keeled first child. Related to that or not, I also developed the quirk of taking a while to realize my own feelings about some of life's big happenings. That's me; late to my own party.

What crushed me October 25, 2004, was to learn that John Peel had died. I was as stunned as much by my reaction as I was to the news itself. Here was a man I'd never met, whose death was already working me over more than the death of some blood relatives.
I cite 4 times in my life that music really changed things for me. I hate the word epiphany, but maybe it applies. The first is when I was maybe 3 or 4. My parents would entertain friends at our house, and after I went to bed, it was the music they played that drifted upstairs and lulled me to sleep. I remember Gerry Mulligan, Brubeck & Desmond, Sandler & Young, but mostly the Brazilian Jazz; Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrid Gilberto, and Sergio Mendes. I think that's where I first understood music as atmosphere.

The second spin was in high school and falling in with friends that listened to Neil Young, Creedence, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, and some older country stuff from the 60's. It was such a relief, as I was under the false impression that it was my duty as an adolescent male to eat a steady diet of Van Halen, Rush, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Aerosmith and the like.

Third time was when I got to River Falls and got involved with college radio. Again, it was a time to shed stuff I really wasn't cut out for, and the chance to get excited about the music again with Nirvana, Echo & the Bunnymen, Catherine Wheel, Depeche Mode, The Fall, The Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain, and New Order.

The most recent revolution for me was in the late spring of 2001. After a some time in a Passat on the Autostrade, I found myself really intrigued by European Pop. Upon returning home, I started pinging around various webcasts, eventually discovering BBC 1, and John Peel's show. There was this old man playing a variety of stuff like I'd never heard, all of it interesting to me, and best of all, all of it was interesting to him. I soon realized this wasn't a bit or a gimmick. It was the antithesis of a playlist and a fountain of joy that I rarely missed over 3+ years.

Threaded through #2, #3 and #4 is my rediscovery of music. Whether it's the era, or the cards life's dealt me, or the shitty state of terresrial music radio, I have sagged into the pit of musical non-interest, only to be lifted out again. When Peel died, part of my anguish was from a sense of "now what do I do?"
Well, it became evident; I had to become my own music advocate. I would never go back because I loved music so much. Over the next few months I got a new PC, broadband internet, JBL computer speakers with a subwoofer, a CD burners, Roxio, an MP3 player, a back-up hard drive, a subscription to a great music download site, and a regular habit of perusing music blogs. I'm all over internet radio, I stop people to ask what's coming out of their speakers, and I share what I have with others, hoping that they adopt my deep disdain for the Big Dumb Radio-Industrial Complex and about 95% of record labels.

There are lots of tributes to John written very well by those fortunate to have spent time with him. My favorites are the ones from musicians that he invited to his home for recording sessions. Yup, I cried in my office a year ago today, but with that year to think about it, I realize it was because I knew that I was fortunate to come to know the greatest radio presenter ever, and how easliy I might never have know the joys of his work. To quote Jarvis Cocker, John Peel saved my life, and for that, I'll always be grateful.

There's a whole pile of great archicved media over at BBC1. Look and listen.

John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, OBE, 1939-2004

UPDATE: Radio 6 also has a page with some great audio archives.

24 October 2005

So Long, Reggie

Rest in Peace, Crusher.

I've laughed at Henny Youngman, Steve Martin, Ron White, and Mitch Hedberg, but I'm pretty sure my first exposure to stand up comedy was the Sunday-morning stylings of Reggie Lisowski. I trust, upon reaching heaven, he;ll find the beers are cold, and that they keep 'em comin.'

Cute Software Trick Exposes More U.N. Corruption

The Times of London smells a U.N rat, and his name is Annan

The United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday. The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.

The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.

The mistaken release of the unedited report added further support to the published conclusion that Syria was behind Mr Hariri’s assassination in a bomb blast on Valentine’s Day in Beirut. The murder of Mr Hariri touched off an international outcry and hastened Syria’s departure from Lebanon in April after a 29-year pervasive military presence.

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, described the report’s findings as “deeply troubling”. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: “It is an unpleasant story which the international community will take very seriously indeed.”

Mr Annan had pledged repeatedly through his chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, that he would not change a word of the report by Detlev Mehlis, a German prosecutor. But computer tracking showed that the final edit began at about 11.38am on Thursday — a minute after Herr Mehlis began a meeting with Mr Annan to present his report. The names of Maher al-Assad, General Shawkat and the others were apparently removed at 11.55am, after the meeting ended.

You want irony? The U.N. wants to control the interent for the whole panet.

(Tip to Glenn Reynolds)

A Little Progress Goes A Long Way In Iraq

Over at Stategy Page, there's an essay describing the how as Iraqi secutiry forces take over more of the daily policing activity, more American forces are free to go on the offensive aginst terrorists, especially as they cross into Iraq from Syria.

Over the weekend, intelligence efforts discovered five terrorist safe houses, which resulted in attacks by smart bombs and ground troops. At least twenty terrorists were killed, and large quantities of weapons, bomb making materials and documents were captured. The documents, and interrogations of captured suspects leads to more information on where the terrorists have there safe houses, weapons caches, and travel routes across the Syrian border (the main source of suicide bombers, who are almost all foreigners, and cash.)

Most of these foreigners either get killed as suicide bombers, or stay for a while, then go home. Those who go home are often disillusioned with their experience in Iraq, as they see up close how most of the victims of al Qaeda violence are Iraqi civilians. The really hard core foreigners die as suicide bombers, or in other fighting with American or Iraqi forces. The ones that leave Iraq, often do so out of frustration. These foreign volunteers came to fight the "American occupiers," but are quickly made to realize that going after the Americans is suicidal, especially for largely untrained (in military matters) foreigners (who reveal themselves as foreigners as soon as they speak, using a foreign dialect of Arabic.)

As Col. Kilgore says, "Someday this war's gonna end."

22 October 2005

Stick and Ball Matters

Let's see, the F1 season is in the can, the Premiership is off and running (what happened to the Reds at Craven Cotage today?), and the new-look NHL is going full stream, in which my Wild came back from 2 goals down to dispatch the rough-and-tumble Blues.

I also understad some other stick and ball sport begins its Fall Classic today on the south side of Chicago. Here's a list of baseball voodoo via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

It's Erin's World, and We're All Just Potential Defendants

Back in 2004, we were flogged by one of those tired, old "kids say the darndest things" stories about oh-so-very precious Erin Feehan-Nelson, who decided to run for mayor of St. Mary's Point. MN. Why she wanted to rule over 350 (maybe) people is unclear, as her only platform position was that she was, in her own words, "uncorrupted by years of experience." How cute.

At the time, Erin was 17, not old enough (21) to hold elected office in Minnesota, and not even old enough (18) to vote in the first place. Legally she could run, but she could not take office. Her plan, apparently, was to file suit against whichever government entity she (or mummy and daddy) could find, and to claim some jive about "the people having spoken blah, blah, blah," and try to get the law overturned after the fact.

That kind of tactic is at the core of the lefty playbook: Don't like the rules? Use the courts to get a different result. Well, li'l Erin only got 42 votes (mom, dad, and 40 aerosol sniffers), so the news story and the personal crusade died, but I'll bet the whole charade looked bitchin' on the college application.

Whoops, she's back.

Afton (MN) Mayor Dave Engstrom has filed for personal bankruptcy protection, citing a lawsuit brought against him and his wife by a woman who claims she was scarred by the couple's dog as a toddler 17 years ago. Engstrom said he filed for bankruptcy to protect his family's assets because he and his wife do not have accurate records of the insurance they carried in 1988. At the time, his wife, Elizabeth, ran a day care attended by Erin Feehan-Nelson, who filed the suit last winter after she turned 18.

Feehan-Nelson contends the Engstroms' Samoyed dog attacked her without provocation when she was about 18 months old. The attack resulted in scars and painful injuries, according to the Washington County District Court lawsuit. Feehan-Nelson is seeking at least $50,000 in damages.

It seems pumpkin got bit by a dog as a toddler. Her parents didn't think it was problem-enough then to do anything. There's no record of police being involved, nor records indicating Engstrom's daycare license was revoked, but never you mind: Our Little Candidate is all grown up now, see, and now she's found herself a Mass Tort lawyer out of the yellow pages.

I wonder how she arrived at $50K. Is she missing an arm? Is she chock-full of nightmares? Pesonally, I don't remember squat about being 18 months old. Maybe Miss Precocious is just looking for a way to pay for another year at Carleton, or looking for a chance to be on 'Oprah'. Or, perhaps, she has her eyes on something after Carleton, and there's another resume to prepare.

20 October 2005

Unassisted and Shorthanded

Two words that go great together. Sorta like blowing and drifting or locked and loaded.

Last night, the Wild dumped the Sharks going away. Six goals from six different players, including 2 defensemen, 1 enforcer, and an unassisted goal from Marc Chouinard (above) during a penalty kill.

In the third period, they looked invincible. Save some for the rest of the season, fellas.

18 October 2005

Congress Tries to Save Us Some Money

Are you noticing? We are talking about $4.3 billion here.

Sometimes it's hard to keep up with important stuff when CNN peddles this as news. Maybe I should ask if you noticed when they took our tax money for this pork-flavored tripe in the first place? Scroll the whole thing.

As always, contact your elected officials, whether you voted for them or not.

13 October 2005

Auf Wiedersehen Dummer Verlierer

Gateway Pundit has very good coverage of Gerhard Schroeder's exit from office, or, as General Chuck Yeager would call it, his "auger in."
"I will not be a part of the next government -- definitely not be part of it," a tearful looking Schroeder told a rapt audience of union members in his home city of Hanover.

He quickly composed himself, hitting his stride in a passionate defense of a strong German state and lashing out at "Anglo-Saxon" economic policies favoured in Britain and the United States, which he said had "no chance" in Europe.

In an apparent reference to Hurricane Katrina, Schroeder castigated Washington for liberal, hands-off policies that left it exposed in times of crisis. The Bush asministration was widely criticised for its response to the devastating storm.

"I do not want to name any catastrophes where you can see what happens if organised state action is absent. I could name countries, but the position I still hold forbids it, but everyone knows I mean America," he said to loud applause.
Just get out.

Off Topic

I never wanted this blog to be about any one thing, so, with that in mind, here is something else. This caught my eye because I like the way it's written. It's called "Wesley's Directions for Singing," and I first saw it in a Methodist hymnal.

I. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

III. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

IV. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.

V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

VI. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing to slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

VII. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

John Wesley, 1761

Streaming Happiness

Today, the BBC 's Radio 1 is celebrating the first John Peel Day. The special programming is in memory of one of the few people I'll ever cite as a hero, and today is the first anniversary of John's last show. I'll have more to post nearer the anniversary of his death, October 25th, but check out what Radio 1 is archiving. It's really a nice collection of media.

12 October 2005

Darnit, Who Had One of These?

On Saturday, the whole Octane Pack was out road trippin', and I happened to see a car for sale in a front yard, somewhere near Chatfield, if I recall correctly. It was white 1969 Buick LeSabre sedan, sorta like this one:

Not exactly my cup of automotive tea, but it really caught my eye, and stuck in my mind since someone used to have one, but who? Well, duh, about 140,000 people had one, but someone near me had one, in my early formidable years, where I first realized that cars were the coolest thing on Earth.

Those big swoopy fenders, and those faux-turbine hub caps; unforgettable for me. This was the big ol' B-body from the General. Theys became big-block police cars and displacement-hulled family cruisers. Six men could go to the golf course in a B-Body, and the trunk would easily gobble all their golf bags. My grandfather had a '71 Impala, the same car underneath, but this Flint bodywork was a totally different statement. Who had this car?

My dad's uncle always had Buicks; that's a possibility. We had a neighbor in Afton, a farmer that also built houses (including ours), that might have had one. Maybe it was the ride of choice among the weathered, rural people that also attended our church in the early 70's.

Oh well, it was a pretty rare sight, this dreadnought. I'll not be making an offer on the white one in that southeast Minnesota yard, but I feel indebted to the seller for making one of my long-unused synapses fire so surely.

09 October 2005

Lunch in Lanesboro

Sunny Saturday, throw the whole pack in the wagon and go somewhere new. We puttered to Lanesboro, and had lunch at Das Wurst Haus. Sausage, mustard and Schell's, and, as the sign says, there's no charge for the polka music.

As I've preached here before, get in you car and go see what's out there.

That's Just Wrong

I used the think that the Weisman Museum was the ugliest thing I'd seen. Then I saw the 3rd sweater design the Islanders unveiled a couple years ago. Today, we have a new winner.

I saw this thing in Lanesboro, MN yesterday. You know what; just because you can build it doesn't mean you should build it.

07 October 2005

Get Out

Thank God we can have a year off from this Red Sox crap. I am tired of all the former Cub fans with their 'new' Boston caps. Be gone. Out with ye. No one believed you.

Blue Fox Double Buzzer

New Minnesota state record for a largemouth bass.
The lure that Raveling caught the fish with, a Blue Fox Double Buzzer, is a Normark product that went out of production five years ago because of poor sales. Asked whether Normark would bring back the Double Buzzer, Mackin said, "It's something we would consider."

06 October 2005

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

If we could only reach out to the Freakout Koran Smokers, the world would be a better place.
Scott Atran: What can the West, especially the US, do to make the world more peaceful? Abu Bakar Bashir: They have to stop fighting Islam. That's impossible because it is sunnatullah [destiny, a law of nature], as Allah has said in the Koran. If they want to have peace, they have to accept to be governed by Islam.

SA: What if they persist? ABB: We'll keep fighting them and they'll lose. The batil [falsehood] will lose sooner or later. I sent a letter to Bush. I said that you'll lose and there is no point for you [to fight us]. This [concept] is found in the Koran.

SA: So this fight will never end? ABB: Never. This fight is compulsory. Muslims who don't hate America sin. What I mean by America is George Bush's regime. There is no iman [belief] if one doesn't hate America.

SA: How can the American regime and its policies change? ABB: We'll see. As long as there is no intention to fight us and Islam continues to grow there can be peace. This is the doctrine of Islam. Islam can't be ruled by others. Allah's law must stand above human law. There is no [example] of Islam and infidels, the right and the wrong, living together in peace.

Hey It's Good to Be Back Home Again

Sometimes this old X feels like a long lost friend. Wild 6, Flames 3. Quite the track meet. Marc Chouinard with The Trick. Nice to have the NHL back, and with a fresh coat of wax.

03 October 2005

Buried Story du Jour

DURHAM, N.C. -- At least 10 to 30 percent of global warming measured during the past two decades may be due to increased solar output rather than factors such as increased heat-absorbing carbon dioxide gas released by various human activities, two Duke University physicists report.

"The problem is that Earth's atmosphere is not in thermodynamic equilibrium with the sun," Scafetta said. "The longer the time period the stronger the effect will be on the atmosphere, because it takes time to adapt."

Using a longer 22 year interval also allowed the Duke physicists to filter out shorter range effects that can influence surface temperatures but are not related to global warming, their paper said. Examples include volcanic eruptions, which can temporarily cool the climate, and ocean current changes such as el Nino that affect global weather patterns.

02 October 2005

Lazy Stupid Inbred Cajun Neanderthals with Guns

And badges, too, it seems. If you like dogs like we do here on the edge of The Tundra, this is acutely hard to watch.

Part of our post-Katrina giving went to the Best Friends Animal Society. They're the ones wading out into the mess helping those left behind.

Not For Long

That's what I think the acronym N.F.L. likely represents.

I'm so glad I gave up on the Vikings years ago. It's made me a happier person. I still am capable of irrational sports-based emotion, but not for this collection and this surreal league.

The call-in show after the game is high drama on the order of Greek Tragedy, and quite entertaining, especially after a gruesome loss.

01 October 2005

Speed Bump

Wouldn't you love to blow the fartcan off a Civic with this baby?

Someone is finally taking the Beetle seriously, and I am pleased. Makes me forget all about the TT.

Unrelated: What kind of loser do you have to be to attend NecroComicon?