March 29, 2008

Why we must elect Obama --or-- a couple of hilarious ICQ pranks involving robots

When I got out of bed this afternoon (eat your hearts out, dads!), I had intended to write a blog piece about why Hillary Clinton and John McCain are not qualified to be President. Yet, I grow fatigued by this (seemingly endless) election cycle.

I know I'm not alone. My mom told me the other day she can't read or watch the news anymore, because the Bush administration, McCain, and now Hillary Clinton, make her too angry.

I think it's notable that my mother supported Clinton when Alaska had its caucuses last month. Here's another message for the Clinton campaign to foolishly ignore: You Lost My Mom.

But enough of that. Here are two ICQ pranks recorded on (years ago), both featuring ROBOTS, which made me laugh:

Space Robot Bonanza!

Amamrican Robot Lesbians

(Now I'll go play EverQuest or learn to play the drums...)

March 28, 2008

NYT: The Phonoautogram of 1860.

A french girl sings a song, Au Clair de La'Lune.

But there is another version, from 1860. It's recorded on what was called a phonoautogram, which was not intended to reproduce sound, but create a visual interpretation of it. The French inventor was irritated by Edison's foray into the field 20 years later.

Here's the recording, and the story from the NYT. Haunting and beautiful in the haze of it's murky texture.

March 25, 2008


I like this song (2080) by Yeasayer, out of Brooklyn. Moving, arty pop arrangements. Also, in a TV performance recently, the chorus stood frozen for three minutes until they had a line.

Also, I still like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Hmm. Yeah.

March 24, 2008

The Surge Was Working

McClatchy Washington Bureau: Is 'success' of U.S. surge in Iraq about to unravel?

March 21, 2008

The Brand of Putting Me Off My Breakfast

Because Seattle isn't really brimming right-wing neo-fascists, there are only a few nearby cafe conversations that send me into boiling rage.

Such as the the one to my left - about high-end luxury good and general content marketing opportunities in "cutting edge music," creating "a page of you love us, we love you, give us your information" (quoting here) web content connected to distribution of music through multi-layered corporate co-sponsorship, scalable marketing and brand enhancement. What has me worried is that the one part of this conversation is being conducted with someone who works at KEXP, trying to lure her into this swamp of cult-capitalism, inspiring her to use her knowledge to create dynamic marketing opportunities between authentic music niches and cloven-footed demons spewing fire and black bile, sucking the marrow from the sacrums of the dead. Sorry- typo there, I meant "scalable marketing."

This blather is interrupting its strip mining of the last little pebbles of authentic American culture only with a self-congratulatory dusting of coolness. Nice soul patch, Bro!

Look, I'm not against advertising per se. Sell me things. Fine. Some things I can use. What I'm against is modern Advertising's inexhaustible greed and reach, it's unquenchable consumption of every shred of love and hope and feeling we still possess, the endless dissociation of our best ideas and efforts and imagination from their substance, and the subsequent attachment of our whole culture to cigarettes, soda, mutual funds, and ski resorts (these are topics at hand, over there, at the vacuum-souled round table.)

Marketing utterly dominates our national cultural production - dancers, actors, writers, musicians, artists. What's the percent of artists sucked into this sinkhole- 70? 80? 95%? 99%? To people like this, Art is only, and ever, a niche branding opportunity. They smart enough, and they can't seem to see what they're doing, or have rationalized the damage long ago.

This is the enemy. This is the shard of ice stabbed in the soul every goddamn day, crystalizing out of the spit of every cold media mouth. This is the cult of Product, demanding its human sacrifice.

It's all I can do to digest my rhubarb bar.

We'll now they're leaving. Someone's late. Music isn't going to just kill itself.

March 19, 2008

The fall of the Soviet Union is complete

For proof, look no further than this:

Lenin must be rolling (and rockin'!) in his grave.

For the backstory, go here.

Can Dr. X's endorsement be far behind?

Wanna rock? Twisted Sister guitarist wants Barack --

Truth is Like Oxygen


March 17, 2008

This Truly Blew Me Away

I'm not one to go on about guitar solos (I've never been a huge fan of guitar-solo-centric rock), and I haven't seen all the "greats" play, but even so I'm guessing this solo by Eric Clapton has to be one of the top-five electric guitar performances of all time. His tone, melodic expression, and rhythmic syncopation are flawless and awe-inspiring.

Stepping in the Steaming Economy

Dr. X is otherwise engaged in this matter; I'm sure he'll have it all fixed up in no time. In the meantime, we here at are here to provide economic solutions.

Problem 1: Highly complex derivatives are collapsing like a domino set of slightly less complex derivatives.

Solution: Starting immediately, investors must write out derivative formulas in longhand, and show their work, and be able to explain it clearly to an English teacher, who will then execute the actual investment.

Problem 2: The United States is devaluing the currency to pay for the Iraq war. Meanwhile, China is all getting empire-ry.

Solution: Value-add the dollar by hiring Apple's marketing team to release the "iDollar". Goad China into invading Iraq by calling them "Sissies." We invade the Cayman islands instead.

Problem 3: 30 years of flat real wages and a decade of super-hyper real estate speculation seem to have created some kind of housing bubble, which is now laying waste the world economy. No one could have seen that coming, except the Japanese, and everyone else who wasn't actually selling or buying real estate at the time.

A. A 5000% tax on Tyvek.

B. Redistribute income to poor people, who spend it. They rarely sock it away in currency speculation in the Caymans. Also, take it from people who have it, because taking from people who don't is very ineffective.

Problem 4: Energy. There is no energy problem America faces that the industry can't worsen. Take the land grab in the Arctic for oil, made possible by Global climate instability- from oil! That's an industry solution.

Solution: NTF- Nationalize Those F*ckers. These are companies that if socialized, would stop pushing governments around. It would generate critical revenue to address war-related deficit spending, and if run with alleged government inefficiency, would do the planet a world of good.

Problem 5. Health Care. Canada does it okay, so let's give everyone in America a Canadian health care card. (Thanks for the solution, Dave Chappelle.)

Problem 6: The Dwindlies. Everything on Earth is dying. We are killing it as fast as our collective ingenuity allows us; it's profitable. The Earth is the apex of public goods, so globalized capitalism has no real mechanism to save it in time. If it did, it would be not be an open market, but rather a form of hegemonic monetarist oligarchy. (So....there is hope? )
In the meantime, Captialistic communism turns out to be another, more acidic form, only without the freedom part.

Solution: Reeducation camps. (Look how great China's doing!) Big ones - Ontario, maybe. Demanding crafts: woodworking, wine-making, beekeeping, crocheting, pottery. Mandatory poetry workshops. Make your own list of involuntary attendants. Worry about the economy after we run out of blackberry wine.

March 12, 2008

"Honey, are you gonna be in there all decade?"

Sheriff: Woman sat on toilet for 2 years - Yahoo! News

The U.S.: Between a Rock and a Hard Spot

From the North:

From the South:

I think it's time to renegotiate NAFTA.

March 11, 2008

I like a tasteless joke as much as the next guy...

... but if this was done on purpose, someone at Google needs to be fired.

Go to:

Now note the "Also Try:" link.

At this point my theory is either a disgruntled employee or a fight-club style hack.

Okay, maybe that's more of a hope than a theory.

[EDIT: As of today, it looks like someone at Google cleaned things up, so searching for "Yiddish" no longer suggests an Also Try link to "zyklon b"]


Food Fight


March 09, 2008

"Mr. Momentum" meet "Mr. Math"

According to the press' narrative, Hillary has broken the Obama momentum and it's a neck-and-neck fight to the finish.

But let's take a moment to examine that...

There are 611 delegates up for grabs in the remaining 12 contests. Unless there's a pretty big landslide with those (unlikely), it's going to come down to the Superdelegates.

Still, if the upcoming 611 delegates at stake split 59/41 for Clinton -- 360 would go to Clinton and 251 would go to Obama -- Clinton would have a net gain of 109 delegates. . . which would be just enough to overcome Obama's current 106 delegate lead. Clinton wins the popular vote (well, actually, I believe she still loses that, but I digress) and has a good case for being the nominee.

I don't think anyone predicts that happening, unless Hillary gets them to count the Florida and Michigan delegates 'as is'

Alternatively, she's going for a "get the superdelegates" strategy that says "well, I lost the popular vote, but only I won the big states, and (thanks to my negative campaigning) I'm picking up more votes now than before, so if we held the whole thing over again, I'd win."

Either one of which is, what's the word... slimy.

My only real question (besides "Is Hillary stupid enough to think she could overcome the extra 'negatives' she'd pick up with the tactics mentioned above") is "why isn't the press calling her campaign finished"?

Or I'm being terribly naive about what sort of wheeling and dealing is possible with the Superdelegates.

March 06, 2008

The Buildup to Civil War is Working

The Myth of the Surge : Rolling Stone

March 04, 2008

White Box D&D

Nice to see that one can still get a set of the original white box manuals. I hope they go to a good home.

Gary Gygax...

...fails saving throw against Death.

Nerd jokes aside, dungeons and dragons will always hold a special place in my adolescent memories. And dare I say it, some of my adult memories too.

And while D & D has long since been supplanted as favorite pastime of socially maladjusted males, and has even spawned certain elements of increasingly mainstream culture, it still remains the archetype.

So a moment of silence please.

March 03, 2008

Krugman on Obama - A Progressive Critique from Daily Kos

Going right to heart of it, this critique from Daily Kos of Paul Krugman's increasingly dispiriting dismissals of Barack Obama describes what I think is the real conflict in the Democratic Party right now: progressive democracy vs. representative corporatism, to coin a phrase.

The argument is that an ostensibly more aggressive health care plan is more corporatist is terms of a philosophy of power, and is a primary division between Clinton and Obama; a more glaring example, in my view, is that Obama makes a return to constitutional control a priority, whereas Clinton has not fought hard to limit executive power. Far from it, on occasion.

Here too, Clinton is arguing only for the substance of policy. Obama is arguing for policy proceeding from much more strongly democratic view of power. In civil liberties this has been my point for some years - as brilliant as the Constitution is, the history shows that when the democratic values of the people are divorced from power, or when the values erode, the law tends hierachical, or now, even fascistic.

Start with the Bill of Rights, and convince Americans through endless concentrations of social, political, and financial power that they have no real voice in their own lives. The result is...mere words.

The core of the cure is revitalization of the democracy, in values, form, and law. The very test of leadership now is to bring Americans toward broad involvement in their government, not merely organizing them for collective adoration of a wise leader and her wise policies.

Obama, I believe, is demonstrating this capability now. His skill has been to locate and touch off the loaded spring of Americans' instinct for active involvement in the democracy.