Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cards spoil Boeheim's 1000th

The basketball Cardinals got a quality win last night, coming back from 14 down with less than 10 minutes left to beat Syracuse by 5 in Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's 1000th game. They outscored the Orange 25-6 in those closing minutes. The win boosts the Cards into a 3-way tie for second place in the Big East, where they were predicted to finish 6th.

Maybe Louisville hasn't completely turned into a football school after all.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Meet your meat

If this doesn't turn you into a vegetarian, it will surely make you think about switching to free-range meats.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Progressives are tired of "Republican Lite" Democrats. Elected with a mandate to end the Iraq war and restore accountability to the federal government, the Democratic leadership appears set to do neither. Whether cowed by the right wing or cozying up to corporate sponsors, the DLC shows very little promise of doing what the people elected them to do. Instead, it's business as usual. The PNAC may have disbanded in disgrace, the K Street Project may be out of favor, but the foxes are still guarding the henhouse.

This is not what we had in mind when we voted Democratic:
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi terrified the oil industry late last year when she outlined her priorities for the new Democratic majorities in Congress. Within the first 100 hours, she promised, they would "roll back the multibillion-dollar subsidies for Big Oil."

Last week, however, when Pelosi (D-San Francisco) won House approval of the much-touted bill socking it to the oil companies, it turned out to be considerably less drastic than many in the industry originally feared. Out of an estimated $32 billion in subsidies and tax breaks that the oil companies are scheduled to receive over the next five years, the final House bill cut $5.5 billion.
Just one more sign that the Democratic whores are in bed with the same corporate clients as the GOP whores. I swear, if they nominate Hillary, I'm voting Green in '08.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Shed a Little Light

Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Shed a little light, oh lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh lord

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill
Don’t give me no light from a tv screen
When I open my eyes
I wanna drink my fill
From the well on the hill

(do you know what I mean? )

Shed a little light, oh lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh lord

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh, let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood

"Shed a Little Light"
James Taylor

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm not ready for the life of a retiree yet - but it's good to know that when the day comes, I'll have something to do. Like Joyce Emery, the 63-year-old cofounder of Green Seniors ("Environmental Action. Age No Limit").

On her own Green Granny blog, Joyce offers some sage advice on first steps toward getting green. Although it's written from the perspective of a senior citizen in the American midwest, it applies to would-be conservationists of all ages and in all places. The first step is learning. Then start making small changes in the way you do things - and don't think you have to be perfectly green beofre you start taking other action. "Just do the best that you can and keep searching and learning," she writes.

Joyce and others like her are helping blaze the trail for the rest of us to follow towards a sustainable economy for our children and their children, and the generations to come. As the old Chinese proverb says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We have a long way to go; we'd best get steppin'.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tributes to Dark Side, from all sides

It's not the best selling album of all time, but it may be the most covered. Sure, the Beatles' "Yesterday" is the most covered song ever, but how many Beatle albums have been covered in their entirety?

Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of the Moon has been, repeatedly.

A few years ago, after hearing an excerpt on NPR, I bought a copy of Dub Side Of the Moon by the Easy Star All Stars. As the name implies, it's a reggae/dub version by the Easy Star label's stable of artists. Pretty cool. Surprising how well some of the tunes translated to the reggae idiom. And they even made it Wizard Of Oz compatible. I was impressed!

Then last week I heard about Dark Side Of the Moon A Cappella, from a group of artists on the Vocomotion a cappella label. This one is so faithful to the original that when I loaded the CD on my computer, iTunes mistook it for Pink Floyd! (Someone told me that iTunes - or the Gracenote CDDB, which iTunes queries - identifies CDs by the number and lengths of the tracks.) Incredibly, these folks (who also say their recording is Wiz compatible, and even throw in a couple of musical allusions for those who are paying attention) recreate many of the synthesized, layered, electronically altered sounds of the original using no instruments and few if any studio effects. I'm not sure which is more impressive: that they did such a great job, or that the 1973 original merits such attention.

The other recorded cover (which I have not heard) is by the Squirrels, a self-described "bubble gum-punk" band out of Seattle. Jam bands Phish and moe have both performed DSOTM in its entirety in Halloween concerts.

Geez! What's next, a country version of The Wall?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Hello! Steve wows 'em at MWSF

Apple (which is to say Steve Jobs) finally announced the long-awaited iPhone today at MacWorld San Francisco, and it's a safe bet it exceeded everyone's expectations in all but one way. It's available only to Cingular subscribers. (That leaves me out in the cold for the next couple of years, since I just re-upped with Verizon in order to get a new phone. What a mistake Verizon has been for me, but that's another story for another time.)

The iPhone is an impressive piece of gear: a widescreen iPod, an innovative cell phone, and an OS X computer with full-fledged email (including "push IMAP" a la BlackBerry) and web browser. Apple is partnering with both Google and Yahoo! to provide customized content for the device.

Even though I can't use it for awhile, I have to say I'm impressed. Jobs didn't need his fabled Reality Distortion Field today. The iPhone is plenty spectacular enough as it is.

Back, in black

Thanks to all who expressed sympathy over the demise of my PowerBook G4. Your heartfelt condolences made me feel a lot better.

But not as good as my trip to the Apple Store.

I came home with a sleek black MacBook, which I'll be playing with - er, exploring and evaluating over the next few days. I'm interested to see how many of my favorite shareware titles are available for the Intel platform. On paper this thing is wicked fast. I'm going from a single 1.33 GHz processor to dual 2 GHz, with faster graphics, a bigger, brighter display, and a bigger, faster hard drive. I'm taking the day off work tomorrow (well, today, since it's past midnight) to continue my examination and to watch Steve do his thing in San Francisco. I think it's going to be an enjoyable day.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Another Cardinal coach flies the coop

I guess it was bound to happen. Fresh from an Orange Bowl victory, amid whisperings of a possible national championship next season, and just a few months after declaring that he was at the University of Louisville "for the long haul," Bobby Petrino is hauling ass to Atlanta to take over as head coach of the Falcons.

Some guys just don't know when they've got it good. Petrino was king of the Bluegrass. He was already making more money than he'll ever spend, and he was turning the home of Peck Hickman, Denny Crum, Wes Unseld and Darrell "Doctor Dunkenstein" Griffith into a football school. (Well, he had some help in that. More later.)

You might think he would have learned something from his predecessors. Lee Corso left for the Big 10 and was a collossal flop at Indiana. Howard Schnellenberger left for Oklahoma, where he was run out of town on a rail. John L. Smith infamously negotiated a deal with Michigan State via cell phone on the sidelines of his own Cardinal team's bowl game, and is now unemployed. Petrino will likely suffer the same fate in the pros. The life expectancy of an NFL coach is not very long.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals figure to lose some key players to the NFL draft. Junior QB Brian Brohm is projected to be a first-round (possibly #1 overall) draft pick. Senior running back Michael Bush, a legitimate Heisman contender until he broke his leg in the first game of last season, had applied for a medical redshirt year. Receiver Mario Urrutia had already made up his mind to forgo the draft so he could play at U of L with his little brother, who was coming to play for Petrino. The Louisville faithful were hoping all three would return for a run at the national title. Now, unless AD Tom Jurich pulls a rabbit out of his hat before the NFL draft deadline, not many will be surprised to see them all bolt for the big bucks.

Still, you can't put all the blame on Bobby. Jurich is reaping what he has sown. He's getting the same kind of loyalty from his coaches as he showed some of their predecessors - for example, Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Crum. A couple of years after back-to-back Sweet 16 and Elite Eight seasons, Crum was unceremoniously dumped for Rick Pitino, who to his credit did manage an unexpected Final Four aperance - before moving to the Big East and failing to make the conference tournament last year. This year's edition of the Pitino Express doesn't figure to do a whole lot better. They're unlikely to make the NCAA tournament, and may even fail to make the Big East tournament again. And by my figuring Rick has about one more season to get things turned around before his boss lowers the boom.

As for Petrino, Jurich will bring in a replacement, and probably sooner rather than later. He claims always to have the next coach in mind, and he knows he needs to move quickly. Whether it will be an attractive enough name, and soon enough, to prevent massive player defections remains to be seen. There are names circulating already on the rumor boards, some from other colleges, some from the NFL (even New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick figures in some of the pipe dreams). But the chances of Jurich keeping any coach longer than about 5 years are slim. If they don't live up to TJ's expectations, they'll be sent packing; and if they do, they figure to get while the getting's good. That's the only mindset you can afford to have when you work for the George Steinbrenner of college athletics.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Thinking globally, acting locally

After watching An Inconvenient Truth, I resolved to do something every day about global warming, and to post progress reports on my blog. Except I didn't have a blog. But now I do. So I will.

Since making that decision, I resolved to start recycling paper, glass, plastic, and tin and aluminum cans. Living out in the sticks as I do, that's not as easy as putting the recycling bin out front on collection day. I have to cart the stuff to the recycling station myself. But that's a small price to pay when you consider what's at stake. I've been seeing a PSA on television that says the energy saved by recycling a single glass bottle is enough to run my TV for an hour. I guess we need to recycle at least 24 bottles a day then, because that's about how many hours the blasted thing is on.

Yesterday I went to the county dump. I had gotten tired of waiting for the trash to be picked up by the people we pay to do that; they hadn't shown up since about a week before Christmas, and the cans were overflowing. So I hauled the trash to the dump myself, and took along a large box of paper (mostly boxes left over from Santa's visit) for recycling. I hadn't yet accumulated enough of the other stuff to bother taking it. I did make one pleasant discovery, though - I won't have to separate the glass from the plastic from the cans. They all go in the same bin anyway! So now instead of three separate cans for that stuff, I have one. It's filling up pretty quickly, too, although it won't if I start squashing everything before it goes in there like I should.

Today I went through the trash in the kitchen and pulled out a number of plastic and glass bottles and an aluminum can, and walked them out to the garage where I'm keeping the recycling. Hopefully I'll get the family trained soon not to discard what can be recycled, but until we all get in the habit, I'll have to follow behind them.

I've made several trips to the garage with individual bottles since then. It's a longer walk than the kitchen trash can, but hey, I can use the exercise. I need to drop about a hundred pounds anyway. (Yes, a hundred. Really.)


A year and a half after partially passing a four-foot drop test, my PowerBook has finally given up the ghost. The hard drive is failing, and the system won't boot. So now I'm chained to my desktop.

The good news is that I was able to fire it up in Target Disk Mode and copy most of the contents to my desktop machine. The bad news is that unless I get ambitious and install the hard drive out of my daughter's old iBook (whose display failed a similar drop test some time ago), the PowerBook is kaput.

Getting a new MacBook or MacBook Pro is not an entirely unpleasant prospect, and even without this new impetus, could have been justified by my career situation - I'm probably about to enter the ranks of itinerant IT workers, and may have need of a machine that can boot the Operating System From Hell - but I hadn't planned on making that investment just yet. But what's a guy to do? Have you seen the smartphone commercial where the guy is "lost without it"? That's what I feel like without my wireless laptop.

Friday, January 5, 2007

iWeb? Maybe next year

So MacWorld San Francisco is upon us, and rumors are flying about new products from tablet computers to telephones to terrific new software. Me, I'm just hoping they improve the blogging features in iLife. I just bought iLife '06 because of the claims that iWeb, one of its components, could be used for blogs; hopefully, if that's more true of iWeb '07 than it was of iWeb '06, I'll be able to get a free (or at least discounted) upgrade.

Here's one glaring example of how insanely great iWeb isn't: let's say you create a blog and call it "Cheeseburger Soup." The main page of the blog comes from a template file, which by default has a big headline reading "My Blog." You can change it pretty easily to read "Cheeseburger Soup," but that doesn't change what shows up on the individual pages for your entries. Instead, every new entry gets a page with "My Blog" at the top. And every time you post to your blog, you have to override that. It's all determined by the template, which is written in XML and not designed for manual editing. Sure, you can change the template if you want to wade through a huge amount of XML - but that's about as simple and straightforward as trying to redecorate your living room by hiring a blind painter and giving him written instructions in classical Greek.

Apple is supposed to be the company that makes things easy. The whole point of blogging is to make it easy to maintain an online journal. Hopefully Apple will see the light and make it a little easier to blog with the iWeb in iLife '07 than it is with the iWeb in iLife '06. In the meantime, I've come back to Blogger.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Take me back to Random Canyon!

I have no idea what is going to go into this blog, but let's start with a snippet of the song after which it is named. I first heard the tune in a coffeehouse in Louisville, Kentucky. The guy who sang it credited it to Dave van Ronk - who indeed has recorded it, but as it turns out, did not write it. It was penned by Peter Stampfel, who also recorded the song with the Holy Modal Rounders.

I sang the song for years while doing bar gigs in Louisville. It is a pleasantly insane piece of work; although I have never heard van Ronk's version, I can imagine that he sang it a lot like Mike Potter taught it to me back at the Oval Door. The first verse goes like this:

Take me back to Random Canyon,
Where the gryphon's always riffin'
And the unicorn is horny in the spring;
Where the crystal coyote crawls
Over sleepy garden walls,
And the wireless wombat wanders on the wing...

I've long been a fan of the Holy Modal Rounders and I knew they had recorded the song, but not until I was researching this post did I realize that theirs was the original. I'm gonna write Stampfel and see if I can get his permission to post the full lyrics on here.

Anyway, the name appealed to me because of the anticipated randomness of topics I expect to cover, and because it is an obscure musical reference to a really clever song.