August 30, 2003

Switch Ads (But not for who you think)

Switch Ads -- But not for who you think.Those few souls who might be reading this personal blog of mine know that I like my Mac. This ain't about Apple.

And in this I haven't switched. There wasn't anyone to switch from.

Let's take back our country.

August 29, 2003

Thirty's No Big Deal

Thirty's No Big Deal -- Jason Shellen of Blogger/Google talks about turning 30. That decade age gets too much attention. 35 is the one that hits you...the first time you fill out a survey and you find your no longer in the 18-34 group, but now in 35-50. Of course, I'm outta there, too.

I don't know you, Jason, but happy birthday anyway. Have fun.

August 25, 2003

Apple good, PC bad

Apple good, PC bad -- In his Chicago Sun-Times Movie Answer Man column, Roger Ebert passes along the information that...
"The novelist Tom Clancy sends e-mails with this signature line: 'Never ask a man what computer he uses. If it's a Mac, he'll tell you. If it's not, why embarrass him?'"
Have I mentioned what computer I use? Let me tell you...

August 24, 2003

If You Walk Without Rhythm, You Won't Attract the Worm

If You Walk Without Rhythm, You Won't Attract the Worm -- A stick figure flash version of the classic Christopher Walken/Fatboy Slim - Weapon Of Choice video. Original in Real or WinMedia here. You could go with this, or you could go with that.

August 23, 2003

Top Twenty Tunes from iTunes

Top Twenty Tunes from iTunes -- Inspired by Cam, I checked out my iTunes collection for most often played and came up with the following songs => artists => albums after a year and a few months of the application tracking my listening...
Um Canto de Afoxé Para O bloco do Ilê (Ilê Ayê) => Caetano Veloso => Brazil Classics 1 - Beleza Tropical
Man With A Gun => Jerry Harrison => Something Wild Soundtrack
Proof => Paul Simon => The Rhythm Of Saints
Cantaloop (flip fantasia) => US3 => Hand on the Torch
Do Something Different => Brave Combo => Polka Comes To Your Haus!
Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down) => ChumbaWumba => Tubthumper
Black Drawers-Blue Piccolo => The Dirty Dozen Brass Band => Voodoo
Cristo Redento => Donald Byrd => The Best Of Blue Note (Vol. 1)
Mas => Kinky => Kinky
La Isla Bonita => Madonna => The Immaculate Collection
Your Own Sweet Way => The Notting Hillbillies => Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time
How Bizarre => OMC => How Bizzare
Train In The Distance => Paul Simon => Hearts And Bones
Metamorphosis Two => Philip Glass => Solo Piano
WFMU - 128k Version - Freeform Radio the Way it Oughta Be!! => Radio Stream
Diaraby => Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder => Talking Timbuktu
You Still Believe in Me => Beach Boys => Pet Sounds
The Last Words of Sigmund Freud (Always Vienna) => Brave Combo => Polka Comes To Your Haus!
The Tide is High - 12" remix => Debbie Harry - Blondie => Once More Into The Bleach
Hesitation Blues => Hot Tuna => The Best of Hot Tuna
Interesting that Cam and I almost intersected with Philip Glass' Metamorphses...I had number 2 and he had number 5.

August 22, 2003

Babylon 5 - The Complete Third Season

Just finished the DVD set for Babylon 5, Season 3 last night. Eight years later, it's still some of the best television ever. A suggestion for when you get your copy...If you're not going to watch all 22 episodes in one sitting (although it's only 15 hours plus the commentaries and documentaries), I suggest the following breakdown...

1, 2, 3...just to re-immerse yourself back in the B5 Universe (not a lot of arc in 2 and 3, although the end of 2, with Londo and G'Kar, is priceless.)

4...Passing Through Gethsemane is one of the non-arc episodes that is worthy of full attention.

5, 6, 7...Two good arc stories and one Marcus-centric character piece

8, 9, 10...whoa! (If you value your life, be someplace else.) Crank up the Dolby surround for these.

11, 12, 13...a few diversions to catch your breath

Episode 13, "A Late Delivery from Avalon," has my favorite B5 Quote...
"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."
   - J. Michael Straczynski, via his Babylon 5 character, Marcus Cole
(More memorable quotes here.)

14, 15...Bester as ally? Is this the end of Kosh?

16. 17...Two-parter Babylon 4 hijack. Zathras not good at understandings, but good a doings.

18, 19...Good warm-ups to the end of the season.

20, 21, 22...Gospel music while Refa gets his, big battle, and Z'ha'dum

Like I said -- Good television.

August 15, 2003

Monkfish Liver - Yum!

Monkfish Liver - Yum! -- On a recent visit to my new favorite sushi place, Shumi (on Doughty St., in Somerville, NJ), I told the chef to hit me with something special -- his choice. I forgot to mention my lack of appreciation for spicy tuna, and he gave me a roll with spicy tuna and monkfish liver.

Now, my wife and I are fans of Iron Chef, but we never quite warmed up to the use of the whole fish, or at least the parts that we in the US usually leave behind when gutting one. We had a running joke about fish liver. But when I saw it on the menu at Shumi, I was intrigued, but not brave enough to order. I have since thanked Ike (owner/chef) for slipping it to me. I poked around the spicy tuna in the roll to taste the cooked monkfish liver paste -- kind of a course puree...

Tasty.

The only drawback was when I told my wife about it, she made me wash my face before kissing her with "liver lips." Goin' back for more, soon.

a klog apart

In a klog apart, Phil Wolff mentions that...
"...former Congressman Newt Gingrich calls for reinventing the State Department.
"Anti-American sentiment is rising unabated around the globe because the U.S. State Department has abdicated values and principles in favor of accommodation and passivity. Only a top-to-bottom reform and culture shock will enable the State Department to effectively spread U.S. values and carry out President George W. Bush's foreign policy."
Concerns about Dubya's foreign policy aside, if I've seen anything like "accommodation and passivity" shown by State, it has not been in the direction of any foreign entity, but rather in it's deference to Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, and to ill-advised cowboy policy.

August 13, 2003

Doctors Call for Universal, Single-Payer Healthcare

Doctors Call for Universal, Single-Payer Healthcare -- The Journal of the American Medical Association has published a proposal, endorsed by more than 8,000 doctors, calling for an enhanced "Medicare for everyone" universal healthcare system, citing economic as well as humanitarian and service provisioning reasons...
"Currently, about 26 cents on every US health care dollar is spent on paperwork and administration. Replacing private health insurance companies with a single, government insurer like Medicare, which spends about 3 percent on administration, would save the country $200 billion dollars annually.

'The single payer system is the only one that's economically feasibly,' says Dr. Richard Brown, a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, which wrote the proposal featured in JAMA. 'And of course it's open, it doesn't exclude people because they're a bad health risk.'

Currently, the United States is the only major industrialized country that doesn't provide some kind of universal coverage, even though it spends more than 14 percent of its GNP on healthcare. According to the World Health Organization, that's more than any other in the developed world and yet it remains the only one with tens of millions of uninsured. The quality of care in the United States also fares only modestly when compared with other countries. Out of 181 rated by the WHO in 2000, the US came in 35, just two slots above Cuba."
As a self-employed person living in the state of New Jersey, where individuals can't form non-employee groups for health insurance, and as a result using an expensive HMO, the proposal sounds good to me.

And watching the rigamarole my wife had to go through managing her mother's healthcare bills in the last year of her life, the current situation is even worse for others. I couldn't picture her elderly parents wading through the paperwork that continued to come in a year after her death as her secondary insurance and Medicare kept pointing fingers at each other. With one less player in such a situation, the communication breakdowns would go away. The current situation is a farce. Even the often-denigrated "Hillary-care" couldn't have been worse than what we have today in "the world's greatest superpower."

August 12, 2003

Coming Attractions II - Less Action

Coming Attractions II - Less Action -- A few days ago, I listed a number of films that got my attention for the fall and winter, and was taken aback at the predominance of action and sfx films in the list. I dug around a bit more and came up with a few that seem to promise some more cerebral satisfaction...
American Splendor - Some days in the life of a day in the life cartoonist, played by Paul Giamatti (who was stellar as "Pig Vomit" in Howard Stern's Private Parts, and looks perfect for this one).

Luther - Joseph Fiennes as the Reformation monk. Strange casting, but intriguing nonetheless.

Wonderland - Val Kilmer in Roshomon-like study of actual murders.

Garage Days - A band on the run by the director of one of my favorite science fiction films (Dark City).

In America - An immigrant Irish family dealing with loss and change.

The Cuckoo - A Finn soldier, a Russian soldier, and a Lapp widow at the end of WWII, non of which can speak the others' languages.

August 11, 2003

Where the Mind is Without Fear

Where the Mind is Without Fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection:
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is lead forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

   - Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
(via Martin Sheen on In the Actor's Studio and Phil Wolff.)

August 09, 2003

Ansel Adams at 100

Ansel Adams at 100 -- Cool. I just found out that the physical exhibit associated with one of the best art exhibit sites on the web is just across two rivers from me, at the temporary Queens outpost of the Museum of Modern Art.

Flash Animation - The Elements, by Tom Lehrer

Flash Animation - The Elements, by Tom Lehrer -- Struck another of my aging aural funny bones. Good for a memory and a smile. And we all need a smile from time to time these days. (via Channeling Cupertino)

August 06, 2003

Coming Attractions

Coming Attractions -- After a disappointing summer, here's a few to look forward to these this fall and winter...
Once Upon a Time in Mexico - From Robert Rodriguez, a sequel to Desparado, adding Johnny Depp to a reunited Banderas, Hayak, and Cheech Marin.

Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World - Russell Crowe swashbuckler.

The Last Samurai - Tom Cruises to Japan.

Kill Bill - Tarantino's 4th...Together again with Madsen (of Reservoir Dogs) and Thurman (of Pulp Fiction), plus Liu, Carradine, and Hong Kong wire work. -- Either one long one or two releases with a cliffhanger interstitial.

and of course...Lord of the Rings - Return of the King
hmmm...Looking at these together, they seem to make up an "adult action" list. I wonder if there's anything more cerebral coming as well.

August 05, 2003

Who's the Real Howard Dean?

Who's the Real Howard Dean? -- By now, everybody who cares about such things knows that Howard Dean is on the covers of Time and Newsweek this week, but there are also quite complimentary (or at least respectful) articles on him in those bastions of left-wing wackiness -- Business Week and US News & World Report. From the Business Week piece...
"'He was not a left-wing wacko,' says Bill Stenger, a Republican and president of Jay Peak Resort, who says he supported Dean because of his 'fiscally responsible, socially conscious policies.'"
Maybe he wasn't kidding in the Larry King interview when he said he was the center.

August 04, 2003

The Year the Internet Changes Politics

The Year the Internet Changes Politics: Relating to the previous post regarding opportunities, there's another factor going on as well...
"Any way you look at it, though, it appears that the Internet is now getting to the point where it will affect the presidential race. With over half of all Americans now being online, it is obvious that the net will have some impact. As to whether this impact will be major or not, it is too early to tell but, at the current time, it looks like 2004 may join 1960 as a year when a new medium changes the political landscape."
The difference, though, between '60 and '04 is that the new medium is 2-way. And Dean is clearly a frontrunner in its use for both fund-raising and communication.

Opportunists and Opportunity

Opportunists and Opportunity -- Britt Blaser has gone off on a riff about political opportunism today that's worth a look. An excerpt...
It's the Opportunism, Stupid

Politicians are naturally opportunistic, but at each point in the trajectory of a nation's evolution, there are levels of opportunism that even they won't sink to. For two centuries it was inconceivable that states would operate a numbers game because property owners prefer not to pay for proper schooling. Lottery income isn't a fiscal necessity, it's the product of a lack of the political leadership to lead people to pay for what's important in an informed and civil society.

Since the phone tap was invented, it was literally inconceivable that the government would eavesdrop on your line without a warrant. That's a nicety that evaporated when our TV culture got its high-profile WTC face slap.

Just as opportunists in state government couldn't resist the siren call of lottery profits, so too was the big-gummint temptation too great for the opportunistic Ashcroft, Bush and Cheney. Like any government, they want to control our lives, ensure their power and shrink the opposition into oblivion. The odd thing is that they claim to be conservatives while violating the conservative aesthetic of small government, fiscal responsibility and avoiding foreign entanglements.
The same kinds of comments go for the opportunists associated with large economic entities. Power plus circumstances plus chaos usually ends up with more power going to the powerful. In our society, we seem to have forgotten -- or maybe given up on -- the idea that power comes from the consent of the governed -- the people.

Britt's piece on opportunism reminded me of a poem recently featured on the "birthday-quote-word-poem of the day" page at Bartlebly.com...
Opportunity

"MASTER of human destinies am I!
Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and passing by
Hovel and mart and palace—soon or late
I knock unbidden once at every gate!

"If sleeping, wake—if feasting, rise before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who doubt or hesitate,
Condemned to failure, penury, and woe,
Seek me in vain and uselessly implore.
I answer not, and I return no more!"


-- John James Ingalls. 1833–1900
Fortunately, American society has the chance to wake up, rise and answer the knock on the door of opportunity every four years -- the opportunity to take back the power. It doesn't often seem like the opportunity is real, since most of the time, in order to get into office, politicians at that level -- opportunists one and all -- tend to gravitate toward the easy to tap, concentrated sources of power for support. But I think I'm seeing -- perhaps somewhat naively, but forever hopefully -- the makings of one such opportunity in the unusual combination of grassroots and major party politics in the Dean Campaign. It's the first time since the campaign for the 18-year-old vote 35 years ago that I'm really tempted to get involved again. Interesting that both were/are about the opportunity to expand the powerbase of the governed.

August 03, 2003

Another Weather Picture

Another Weather Picture -- A "Whoa!" to accompany the recent "Wow!" (With a tip o' the hat to lipsman.com for the pointage.)

August 02, 2003

Jean Shepherd Page

Jean Shepherd Page -- More on Shep, via Dean via Doc's discussion page, adding to my previous posting. This one's got some video of him in concert action (Quicktime or Real required).

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day -- From The Quotations Page: "Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves." - Rudyard Kipling