audio { Tumbling Down the Rabbit-Hole

So I decided this last week that I needed some more vinyl in my life. Plastic platters with musical grooves. I love digital recordings, I think the quality of reproduction is quite a bit better in many ways...

...But there is something cool and nostalgic about vinyl. Not to mention the fun of cranking up my parents original Beatles albums, or Carpenters albums, or the Moody Blues, or a couple classical albums (yeah! they have classical), or heck, there's even a Jethro Tull album in there, and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison!. And singles! I wonder what the "Joe Cuba Sextet" sounds like, or what "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vinton sounds like. Is "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf on a 45 better than on the radio? Does Mama Cass' voice pop out on "Dream a Little Dream of Me"? And I still swear you've never heard "The Thrill is Gone" by B.B. King until you've heard it on vinyl (or live, B.B. is a great showman and a great gentleman of the blues). I think I even have a Pearl Jam single from the days of yore.

Well, a quick survey of my dad's old turntable (a Pioneer PL-12 from the 70's, which is nearly as cool as his Marantz receiver) indicates that it needs a new stylus, a new drive belt, and the smoked dust cover is missing.

One of the things I had not thought about is why records get scratches and pops. The reason is that the needle, which is MADE OF DIAMOND, is dragging across the vinyl with a lot of force. That force, along with dust or contamination, will damage the platter over time. All records degrade over time, so at some point, those recordings will be gone. So much for perfect digital replication. Still, that makes it more akin to a bottle of wine. Pop the cork and enjoy. Oh, and the stylus only lasts a year or two.

Its looking like it will run me $50-100 for a belt and stylus of mild quality. But what the heck.

music { The Pipettes

Old sound, new band. I kinda like them.

'You're Kisses Are Wasted On Me' - the Pipettes


response { Owning your actions

Knight has posted an excellent response to the debate DAV of EvilBobby and I had regarding Naderish Voters. Read it. It is eloquent and well put.


in memoriam { Mstislav Rostropovich

Мстисла́в Леопо́льдович Ростропо́вич (Mstislav Rostropovich), one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century, has died.

As an aspiring (if amateur) cellist, his playing and recordings were an inspiration to me. His talents will be deeply missed.

Mstislav Rostropovich
1927-03-27 to 2007-04-27


politics { speaking the truth

I was unable to watch the Democratic candidates debate, but I heard a quote from Mike Gravel, former senator from Alaska. Obama was talking about Iran and nuclear proliferation. I heard this quote at the end of the video and cheered.

On the military industrial complex

The best... on the other candidates

There's a whole slew of 'em and I really like this guy. He passionate and says what should be said.

politics { Democratic Candidate Debate

I was not able to catch it, but saw recaps on the news. I have to admit, I was pleased with Edwards and his admittance that he made a mistake in voting for the war and that it was a mistake he would live with the rest of his life. It is not often you see politicians admit they made a mistake freely like that.

I salute you Mr. Edwards.

*Update - watch the all the chapters of the Bill Moyer journal Allthingspring posted earlier. Chapter 4 they have flash backs to 2002 and all the Senators, who would either become candidates in 2004 or 2008 (Kerry/Clinton) and listen to what they said. Yes hindsight is 20/20, but our elected officials should have done more scrutiny on the Administration, as should have MSM. Also watch KnightofNothings posting with Bill Moyers and Jon Stewart (I await the full episode for this after it airs).

Admitting you're wrong does not make you less of a leader, it shows you are human and only America's cult of machismo gives a damn, and you know what, they're a minority.

casual_friday { hardwired to concede so much we had to stow it

After yesterday's intensity, I think we need something lighter, and I'm still on a huge MM kick.

Modest Mouse, 'Dashboard'


environment { carbon trading/offsets revisited

The Financial Times had a small piece on their own investigations into the carbon credits industry.

The FT's findings seem to be that the entire carbon trading industry is rife with failings and dubious benefit.

media { Bill Moyers, MSM, War

Bill Moyers Journal on 'Buying the War' - the complete failure of the mainstream media to challenge the lies of the Bush administration to enter us into an unwarranted, illegal war of aggression.

He's ripping the mainstream media a new corn chute.

The media should be a skeptical resource, a critic when governments spout things that aren't true. When thousands of lives depend on those lies being believed or disbelieved, their failure to provide a check to arrogant power becomes criminal.

Worth a watch.

no apologies { Never gonna happen.

I will never apologize for voting for Nader in 2000, which was voting my conscious. So I think everyone will just have to get over it...or go cry in a corner.

But on a more serious note, at this point, continuing to bash 'Naderish Voters' will accomplish nothing except alienate more liberals. Is this not (still for now) a free country and open society? Is not the electorate supposed to be allowed to choose their own candidates?

P.S. Ouch, saying Green Party members work for the Republicans, that's low.

retort { when liberals have no one to blame, they blame liberals

EvilBobby has decided to respond to my response regarding his response, to which I can only respond...


response { Naderish Voter

Evil Bobby has a piece about Naderish Voters to which I feel I need to respond.

To set my stance on this I will provide a little background. First, so its out of the way, I voted for Nader in 2000. I vote progressive and liberal, almost any candidate on the left of the spectrum that I feel represents my views. I am a member of the Green Party and a member of the DFL, even though the DFL makes you sign that loyalty oath. I support the DFL because lately they have been fielding candidates I feel I could stand behind. The DNC, I have far more loyalty to the DFL than I do the DNC. At the national level I think the Democrats have some work to do, they have had a few gems like Kucinich, who I supported in 2004 until he stepped out of the race after the primaries.

2000 though was like another time. I am quite upset with people, and especially liberals who have found a convenient scapegoat in those who voted for Nader in 2000 for our current woes. They tend to not want to look back at the ills that were in the party (representation of themselves) back in those days, where a large faction of the more green and peace aligned were not seeing support in the DNC. No one, except maybe Rove, could have predicted the hell that has become America since 2000, and especially since 2001. 9/11 provided a catalyst that opened pandora's box and was like Christmas for the neo-cons. No one expected the SCOTUS to appoint a President. Nader did not lose the election for the Democrats in 2000, they lost it themselves. Remember Gore changing how he acted to seem more macho? That turned people off.

The generalization that Nader voters lost the election especially galls me in states like MN where I hear quite a few DFLers jump on the Nader bashing bandwagon. We have an Electoral College. Gore won MN, by a safe margin. Bush won because of the all or nothing system that awarded Florida's votes to him. Want to blame someone? Blame all of us for not wanting to institute better electoral reforms such as run-off voting, splitting (or abolishing) electoral votes. Blame the MSM if you feel you need a scapegoat. But don't blame your fellow liberals, especially the ones with consciouses and who are free and independent thinkers. The Democrats need to be reminded of their progressive and liberal roots from time to time. They aren't perfect. No one is, especially in this country.

Blaming Naderish voters won't fix the Bush situation. Nor is it justified. America in its early times used to have more than 2 parties. But today, at least at the national level one could almost argue we have one party with two faces.

(O.K. back to work since I'm supposed to be paying attention in this meeting)


politics { Walz

Tim Walz piece in the Times.


warcraft { lvl 60, it used to be a big deal

Pernox, at lvl 60, with the Guildie who helped me get there. It used to be the 'end-game' but now that's lvl 70. Still its an accomplishment.


politics { facist state in 10 easy steps

Yeah I'm on a politics tear today. (perhaps b/c of the music I am listening to at work today: Modest Mouse, She Wants Revenge, Placebo, Ice Cube, Ice-T, Sonic Youth)

Saw this on the Guardian UK: Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

(distilled, how many seem familiar?)

1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2 Create a gulag
3 Develop a thug caste
4 Set up an internal surveillance system
5 Harass citizens' groups
6 Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7 Target key individuals
8 Control the press
9 Dissent equals treason
10 Suspend the rule of law

response/politics { Tim Walz responds to my email

Or why I voted for Walz, it was because of responses like the one below.

A few weeks back I sent a note to Tim Walz (along with probably many) asking for the cessation of torture and the closing of Guatanemo Bay and all the secret torture prisons the U.S., here is his response.

Dear [I choose to anonymous my name],

Thank you for contacting me about protecting civil liberties. As a 24 year veteran of the National Guard, I served to safeguard the personal freedoms of all Americans. You can count on me to stand up for them as your Congressman.

While we must be vigilant against terrorists and use all tools at our disposal, we must never cede our liberties to our government.

On the domestic front, I believe wiretapping and e-mail monitoring are appropriate only after the judicial branch has exercised its Constitutionally-mandated role and approved the action. Congress must ensure that the NSA and FBI follow the law when conducting investigations of U.S citizens and those suspected criminal activists.

Internationally, questions surrounding the treatment and interrogation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay have sunk the credibility of the United States to an all-time low. The President should move to close this facility immediately and the Justice Department must make it clear that torture is never acceptable. Moreover, the Justice Department and the CIA must abandon the practices of using secret prisons to detain suspects indefinitely and using extraordinary renditions to whisk suspects off to "torture-friendly" countries for interrogation.

You will also be happy to know that I have cosponsored H.R. 1678, the Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act of 2007. The legislation will fund domestic treatment centers for victims of torture and broadcast that America stands against all forms of torture. The legislation is pending consideration before the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and I am hopeful it will be enacted into law soon.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me, and I look forward to hearing from you again in the future. For more information about my activities representing southern Minnesota in Congress, please visit http://walz.house.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter.


Tim Walz
Member of Congress

wtf? { Wal-Mart hires former Intelligence Officers

Reading my gmail this morning I saw this link in the sponsored ads bar for my message from FAS Secrecy News:

Wal-Mart Recruits Intelligence Officers

The job description includes collecting information from "professional contacts" and public data to anticipate and assess threats stemming from "world events, regional/national security climates, and suspect individuals and groups."

"Familiarity with a broad spectrum of information resources and data-mining techniques" is listed among the skills sought, along with a foreign language, preferably Chinese or Spanish.


"The idea that Wal-Mart is creating its own personal CIA should make every American _ Wal-Mart customer or not _ nervous about whether Wal-Mart is invading their privacy or could do so in the future," said Chris Kofinis, spokesman for WakeUpWalMart.com.

So of course I had to follow the link.


I can see the need for a company to have its own internal security, but this seems like more than counter-intelligence. Somethings fishy. This goes beyond normal corporate espionage. What makes me pause on this is:

1) Its Wal-Mart so I'm instantly suspect.
2) The Walton family is crazy.
3) Wal-Mart has a history of spying on employees.

The idea of corporations having their own intelligence services and armies used to be the stuff of science fiction, but its fast becoming reality it seems.

dreams { Once there was this guy who...

Ok so I'm not going to quote 'Crash Test Dummies'. But my dreams have been, not strange, but different. I'm still going through a series where my dreams re-live parts of my younger life. Visions of things that were or things that were, but not in that way. Lately I've been having, not a dream, more of a vision. The scene is its night, and its dark and I'm standing on a loading dock looking out at the late spring/early summer night. A gentle breeze blows through the oaks and maples I can see just across the small concrete area for the trucks to back in. The smell on the air is that of how warm evening just after a rainstorm smell. Wet asphalt, earthy aromas of rich soil, moisture in the breeze. Bugs hover around the single light hanging in the parking lot. I know this place, I've been in this place. I've experienced this, but that was 12 years ago. When I worked night shift at Deluxe. I'm the only one on the dock and I'm wearing a blue smock. This means it was the back of the Red Fox plant. But its deep night the sounds of the city are quiet. The sky is still deep and dark, no pre-dawn yet, it must be 3am. But that's not completely right. I wore a blue smock on second shift when I did printing press maintenance. On third shift I packed boxes. I never turn around to look or confirm that I am where I am.

The trees are lush and green.

politics { when the right can't blame anyone, blame liberals...

...or Rush Limbaugh is a twat.

I was reading my salon.com newsletter this morning when Joan Walsh had found this from Rush.

"This guy had to be a liberal," ... "You start railing against the rich and all this other -- this guy's a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act. Now, the drive-bys will read on a website that I'm attacking liberalism by comparing this guy to them. That's exactly what they do every day, ladies and gentlemen. I'm just pointing out a fact. I am making no extrapolation; I'm just pointing it out."



coffeehouse { I <3 Espresso Expose

Espresso Expose
600 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 378-9604

Most beloved of all coffeehouses I've been to in my travels. It was my first. I stopped in on a whim one day in 1993, while at school. I had been curious about coffeehouses. I fell in love with their excellent mochas, and their rocket fuel (dark roast + espresso). It soon became a major hang-out during my time at University, a place of study, friendship, almost another home. The person who owns this coffeehouse also owned my second most favorite coffeehouse, The Purple Onion (which I had thought closed, but am happy to find just moved).

Sitting in EE right now I am reminded of the good times, the old times. My college years were a roller coaster of euphoric highs and the deepest depths of lows. I regret not finishing my degree, but my time spent here has been of immense value to my life. I spoke with the Barista and asked if the same person still owns the place. She told me yes, I'm happy. We chatted a little bit, she's a current student. I told her I was a student here 14 years ago and this was one of my main places to hangout or study. They managed to survive, right across the street from a Starbucks, and I also see now a Caribou. Its a model of an independent coffeehouse. Inviting atmosphere, excellent coffee, art from local artists on the walls (and at one point, the cleanest public restrooms in the Twin Cities). The place has been remodeled, but its still like home. Its been 14 years, but it really hasn't changed. One of the things I've always liked about the U of MN campus, things are /always/ changing, but yet they manage to stay the same.

concert { Modest Mouse

1 word review: fuckingawesome

When: 4/20 (heheh...yeah there were a lot of references)
Where: Orpheum (not the best place for a concert, the acoustics are funky, but I like the seats

Grand Archives - classic Seattle alternative sound
Love as Laughter - reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, but white
Modest Mouse - fricking awesomeness. They played for a looong time and had a looong encore. They managed to transmit their energy to the audience. The dual-drummers were a thing to see, I was entranced. The lead singer/guitarist at one point in the performance jumped off stage and played and sang in the audience. He also sang /through/ his guitar. I would see them again in a heartbeat. They played songs from all their albums and mixed it up quite a lot, it felt like they played the ones they liked the best and also played a few the audience demanded.

I bought a T-shirt.

"We were fired on exactly the same day...FUCK IT! We were gonna quit anyway."


politics { SC(r)OTUS upholds 'partial-birth' abortion ban

This is bullshit plain and simple.

Broadsheet at salon.com basically expresses my feelings on this issue as well as has some good links. Check out. Be outraged. I whole heartedly agree this is a violation of a woman's right and a limitation on the options a doctor has to give care.

Fuck you Bush and your SCOTUS lackeys (Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and head pooba Roberts).

This goes beyond my feelings that something didn't go the way I want. This is just the truth coming out that Roberts and Alito were hand picked to ignore precedent and legal history (and impartiality) to overturn Roe v Wade as well as a myriad of other civil liberties and rights.

*UPDATE - this whole topic rekindles my who anger, frustration and passion against the so-called 'pro-life'/'culture of life' movement. You have a right to your opinions, but you're also wrong. You're also irrational, so nothing I say or prove can change your mind or you opinion. Regardless I'm still going to outline why you're wrong.

1) you value the unborn over the living
2) most 'pro-life' also are pro-capital punishment
3) remember the bombing of abortion clinics and planned parenthoods? even today doctors and counselors still receive death threats
4) you don't care about healing people or helping people (see 1, you limit doctors ability to provide care)
5) most of you won't fund programs to help those who can't support a child (you term them welfare queens and call welfare a bad thing)
6) most of you have the inability to think beyond yourself and put yourself in someone else's shoes, limitations of rights affect us all even if it doesn't seem to affect you directly.

1+2+3+4+5+6 != life == death

casual/science_friday { MATHS


life { VA Tech Shootings

I've not said anything about this topic because I think others have said it better. It will remain a dark day in our history for as long as there are those who remember. Tragedies such as these are not times of politicizing. These should be times of reflection. When we stop, even if for a little bit and think about the world we live in. Think of those who lost loved ones. Tap that deepest parts of our souls that can sympathize with others that part that has been termed our basic humanity. Mourn for the dead, both for the victims and the shooter.

Round up of links:

Evil Bobby has some good thoughts and links surrounding this topic

Salon.com has a great round up of press from around the world, its interesting what other cultures and societies have taken from this event.

NYTimes coverage on the topic.

Everyone has of course (those that aren't stumping the pro-/anti-gun control issue, or the terrorist sub-plot theories, or the religious arguements) have started to analyze the person, Cho, who did the shootings. I don't think we will really know why, or what led to this. I don't think it could ever be that cut and dried. A person's life, like all the lives that were ended, are rich tapestries.

*Update - Seriously, read the salon.com round-up. The news from the world is shock and sympathy for the lost coupled with a sort of 'when will America wake up?' message. *


music { I am so smart! S-M-R-T!

Classical music does not make you SMRT!


Contrary to the common quip that listening to Mozart will actually increase one's IQ, a systematic review of literature on the subject performed by the German research ministry concluded there to be no affect on intelligence by passively listening to Mozart

lists { what I'm reading/what I'm playing

What I'm playing:

X3: The Reunion - one of the best space games I've played in years. I've been playing this one for about a year now. I'm playing in free form mode. The premise, you have a small ship and some creds and the whole galaxy before you to make your way. I've built a sizable commerce empire. CubeZoo Galactic Inc. is entering its next fiscal year with two cruiser class transports, a flotilla of independent 'universe traders' who represent my interests far and wide and send me the cash. Two 'space fuel' distillery complexes (distillery + wheat farm) making 'CubeZoo's Special Brew' whiskey, contraband in most civilized space, but damn profitable. Nine ore and silicon mining complexes fueling the hi-tech, weapon, and ship building industries of various races. A very lucrative Solar Power Plant in a vital trade hub of 'Argon' (human) space, I undercut competition in the universally needed commodity of 'energy cells' by about 15% and I can't keep'em in stock, pure profit. One Mega-complex (3 cattle farms, 3 wheat farms, 1 chelt aquarium, 1 scruffin farm, 1 flower farm, ore mine, silicon mine, XL class solar power plant, 3 crytsal fabs, 1 quantum tube fab, 1 mass driver forge, 1 AHEPT forge, 1 ammo fac, 1 25MJ shield fac, 1 Teladianium plant, 1 cloth rimes fac, 1 microship fab, 1 computer component fab) all setup to feed 'CubeZoo Galactic HQ' my ship building heart of my commercial, and increasingly military empire. I have a profitable 1MJ Shield Complex that I ignore and just make money on. And finally, I have a Free Trade Station staking claim to an 'Unknown Sector' I've claimed 'Area 51', once I have the military might to force open trade lanes, I will be migrating my HQ and Megacomplex back there. I had to move it in order to be closer to the primary markets.

World of Warcraft - Pernox the Undead Rogue is lvl 57 and climbing. I've joined a guild and have new friends.

Vampire: The Masquerade, Bloodlines - just got it out of the bargin bin and want to try.

Dawn of War: Dark Crusade - latest xpac for the Dawn of War series...beautiful, chilling, campaign mode is awesome. I'm playing the Tau.

Aces High II - sadly the old squadron fell apart again, so I canceled my subscription.

EVE: Online - I've been looking at this pretty closely, looks a lot like X3, but I play with/against other people and not NPCs, could be fun and potentially a giant time sink.

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - beautiful graphics, forced linear campaign progress though.

Guitar Hero I and II - my band 'Goatsex UK', rocking da house!

Destroy All Humans 1 and 2 - the first one is better, campy 50s style sci-fi movie...in game form!

Games I'm waiting for: Serenity MMO, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (MMO)

What I'm reading:

God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - so far not a bad read, I have issues with some of his points, mainly in terms of his philosophical arguments around the concept of faith. He applies a bit of the 'blind them with science' approach in some of his arguments. I haven't finished the book so I'm reserving final judgement.

Warpsword by Dan Abnett - a continuation of the Malus Darkblade series. I'm a big Dan Abnett fan.

Victorian Life and Times - research for my 'Nox' campaign.

Five Fists of Science - graphic novel (reread), research for my 'Nox' campaign.

The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana - research for my 'Nox' campaign.

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army - horrifying

Bass Guitar for Dummies - I have to start somewhere.

Cosmicomics - per a recommendation from Nerdwife.

Salt: A World History - fascinating history of salt. He has another book 'Cod' that I may get next. I became fascinated with this kinds of books after reading 'Coffee: A Dark History'.

Of Empire - this is what I read on the bus ride to/from home. Its a small book and fits easily into my bag. Slow going due to the old style of language, not quite as bad as Shakespeare, but close.

I have a few more dustier ones on my 'to read' shelf, but these are the ones I plan to get through first or have started or have read recently.


thought experiment { trade and barter in the modern age

Kyle MacDonald traded his way from 1 red paper clip to a house.

Back to some of the earliest times of humankind, we've traded and bartered with others for goods and/or services we've needed. Overtime the face to face bartering was replaced by currency of set value.

What would it take in this modern time to achieve a trade and barter system again?

Would/can the gov't tax it? If so how do you tax an exchange of 1 hour of web support for a dozen farm raised eggs for example?

Just was pondering this while walking in to work. Please discuss.


politics { Bill Maher

Wow. Righteous rant by Bill Maher over at salon.com.

While I personally don't like the phrase 'elite', I must say, his rant is spot on in my opinion. Especially the 'President Shit-for-Brains' part.

Also chilling the number of graduates who hold high positions in government...


grifting { this totally flew under my radar

Fees for copyrights of internet radio went up...big time.

An overview here.

What does this mean? Quite a bit. For stations like MPR, it can mean they pay as much for their internet radio portions as they do for the airwaves. This means we will probably see the number of 'legal' internet radio sites drop dramatically, and many internet only radio stations disappear entirely.

I await the day when the recording industry, RIAA, the big labels and the shills in congress who support them disappear. More and more artists are realizing if they release their sutff on their own via the internet's tubes, and sell the CDs themselves, they not only have more control over their songs, but they get more money.

blog { Phillip K. Dick blog


For Phillip K. Dick fans.

I enjoyed the movie 'A Scanner Darkly' and 'Blade Runner' and I plan to read the books. I also plan to start working through the mountain of Dick Nerdwife has at home.

lockerer Freitag { mit die Achtzigerjahre Gütigkeit

Nena ist sehr schön!

(auf Deutsch)

(auf English)

Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst Du vielleicht grad' an mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Und dass sowas von sowas kommt

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one, they were gone.
Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, Something's out there.
Floating in the summer sky.
99 red balloons go by.

99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Hielt man fuer UFOs aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General
Eine Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn es so war
Dabei war da am Horizont
Nur 99 Luftballons

99 red balloons.
floating in the summer sky.
Panic bells, it's red alert.
There's something here from somewhere else.
The war machine springs to life.
Opens up one eager eye.
Focusing it on the sky.
Where 99 red balloons go by.

99 Duesenjaeger
Jeder war ein grosser Krieger
Hielten sich fuer Captain Kirk
Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft
Und fuehlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont
Auf 99 Luftballons

99 Decision Street.
99 ministers meet.
To worry, worry, super-scurry.
Call the troops out in a hurry.
This is what we've waited for.
This is it boys, this is war.
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by.

99 Kriegsminister
Streichholz und Benzinkanister
Hielten sich fuer schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen: Krieg und wollten Macht
Mann, wer haette das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt
Wegen 99 Luftballons

99 Knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero.
Everyone's a Captain Kirk.
With orders to identify.
To clarify and classify.
Scramble in the summer sky.
As 99 red balloons go by.

99 Jahre Krieg
Liessen keinen Platz fuer Sieger
Kriegsminister gibt es nicht mehr
Und auch keine Duesenflieger
Heute zieh ich meine Runden
Seh die Welt in Truemmern liegen
Hab' nen Luftballon gefunden
Denk' an Dich und lass' ihn fliegen

99 dreams I have had.
In every one a red balloon.
It's all over and I'm standing pretty.
In this dust that was a city.
If I could find a souvenier.
Just to prove the world was here.
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go.


musings { spring

I read Knight of Nothing's post about how busy he is and it made me reflect about my own situation. I'm busy as hell as well. But then again I've been 'go' since about six months after starting my job here in Rochester. Upon deeper reflection, I've been busy for as long as I've been an 'adult'. The last nine months especially have been busier than usual. DST patching was a stone-cold bitch. Now that it is over, the deluge of projects that backed up behind it have released. Everyone's trying to get things in both before the summer, when the budget traditionally starts to get sliced and in case the rumored code freeze happens. The nice thing is your mind can only process so much, it varies by person, but you reach that certain point where adding one more thing to the pile isn't any worse from a workload perspective or mental health one either. Its just another voice in a chorus of people who want your time, resources, advice, etc.

I've also ramped my personal life up quite a bit, which I need to watch to make sure I don't over-commit. But that is always a see-saw, I'm either bored off my ass with nothing to do, or missed chances, or I have too many things I want to do all at once. I think this is why I make my weekends Sacrosanct, or try to, I'm bad at it. Someday perhaps I will find that balance.

There are quite a few things I want to do this year:

*learn bass guitar, this has been one of those 12 year plans
*get my Nox D&D campaign setting fleshed out enough to run players through at least one adventure
*clear out a large majority of my 'to-read' bookshelf
*write more, especially creative writing and possibly philosophical shit, good shit
*go back to school and start picking off those classes toward my graduation
*see Europe
*get through 1/2 of my 90 deep Netflix queue
*decaffeinate (working on this, so far I've only had 3 caffeinated cups of coffee in the last 3 weeks), not completely, just enough to sleep better
*lose 10 pounds (I set a goal for 20 last year, but only accomplished 5) or fight into an old 'goal' pair of pants I have, whichever comes first, if 10 pounds is reached, I'll try for 20
*fish at least once per week, I almost accomplished this last year
*clean out the garage and reduce what I have in general by about 20%
*get a new car (my Saturn laser chicken is starting to show its age)
*start a book club for sci-fi

I hope I can make these happen with a work schedule that promises to be 45-65 hours/week at points. There's also politics. But following politics and news have been what I've sacrificed lately. I play WoW, and have a new set of friends there, I also try to integrate that into my life too. I know I play a little more than I have time for, but, its what I want to do right now at this point in my life. I'm probably addicted, but I've played video games I know the signs for when too much is enough and to tone it down.

politics { RIAA shill to run DNC Public Affairs

As reported in this article on boingboing.

Today, Jenni Engebretsen was named "Deputy CEO for Public Affairs," for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver -- but she is better known as the Director of Communications for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The RIAA is the most hated "company" in America, according to a recent poll on the Consumerist. The RIAA's campaign of suing thousands of American music lovers has been the single biggest PR disaster in recent industrial history -- which is why Engebretsen's employer beat out Halliburton, Blackwater and Wal-Mart for the coveted "Worst Company" slot.

Feel free to furrow your brow and growl "GRRRRR" at the DNC. Its ok. They need it sometimes as much as the RNC.

politics { 18 1/2 minutes of tape


Yeah, Nixonesque America is back and boy is it popular.

How many more crimes will these people be allowed to commit before they are removed from positions of power? Any one of the major scandals that this administration seems to have been part of would have earned the lot of them a prison cell. Almost every day there is a new one.

If this criminal syndicate in the executive branch is not brought to answer for their total failure to live up to any standards of justice and accountability, then it won't matter what happens in 2008, because the government will have revealed itself as so fundamentally broken so as to not be salvageable.

This culture of corruption sickens me. These men and women are sociopaths, and way outside the standards of acceptable behavior.

in memoriam { Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"There were one quadrillion nations in the Universe, but the nation Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout belonged to was the only one with a national anthem which was gibberish sprinkled with question marks." - 'Breakfast of Champions'

His humor and humanism will be missed.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
1922-11-11 to 2007-04-11



politics { can someone help me understand this?

I'm not sure if my minds not working today or what, but I can't seem to wrap my head around this article in the NYTimes.

So...if I read this right, a federal panel played down results from experts that there was little voter fraud, which upsets the Administration, because they all want us to have ID cards, which are meant to intimidate people from voting, disenfranchise the lefties, exclude minorities and amount to what would be a new poll tax of sorts because a lot of Republican law makers want the ID card tied to Driver's Licenses. Basically, the problem is that a federal panel is omitting or downplaying findings that don't match the agenda of their Republican overlords right?

I do think voter fraud of any kind should be researched and investigated (though I wish they would open the books back up farther than 2006, say to oh, 2000). But in the possible solutions, I think a voter ID system is bad, and not merely because of the Orwellian implications of Big Brother tracking you, but for many of the reasons the Democrats cite as opposition to such a law. I remember the first time I voted, it was a scary and nervous affair. I was a part of something bigger than myself. I didn't know how to register, but I looked up what I needed to vote and took those things with me to the polling place. The people running the place were very friendly and encouraging and helped me get registered and I cast my ballot. What an awesome feeling it was to feel I tried to make a difference. That was 1998. In 2000, that feeling turned to ashes in my mouth. I voted in my first Presidential election...and no one won. Florida was a clusterfuck. Rumors and accusations of tampering were flying everywhere. The Supreme Court crowned a new Empero...I mean President. I was horrified. Then 2002 happened. For MN it was another clusterfuck. Wellstone, the beloved, was killed tragically very shortly before the elections. Conspiracy theorists cried foul. The DFL had to scramble to get another candidate. A poorly chosen speech at the funeral of Wellstone painted a perception that soured voters and the ass-hat Coleman was elected. 2004 came around, I caucused for the first time. Once again renewed and energized in the political process and the in-your-face, hardcore, full-frontal politics that is MN DFL caucuses. But again, rumors of shenanigans at the polls. 4 hour+ lines to vote due to 'shortages' and 'breakdowns' of voting equipment, in some of the most populous precincts (as well as ones that had high minority and/or liberal populations). Ohio became the clusterfuck, due again to a morally corrupt Secretary of State. Electronic voting machines replaced paper ballots, many of which left no paper trail, were easily hackable and rumors persisted of malfunctions causing incorrect votes to be cast for wrong candidates. UN Inspectors were invited to oversee elections in some places (something that used to happen in other places and you only read about them in newspapers or heard about it on the TV or radio). 2006 happened, things were better. Things went smoother. Rumors of clusterfuckage and shenanigans still happened, as they always do, but they were lesser, less general. 2008 will be a circus, if the previews we're seeing now are any indication.

Republicans have been calling for a National ID Card for sometime. I can't help but feel this is another case, like immigration issues or gay marriage, where if there is no clear or existent enemy, make one and start the spinning and manufacture one. I would like to find out specifically where they incidents of 'intimidation' happened and know if they were in more liberal or progressive portions of Red States (or even Red portions of Blue States). I heard about incidents of intimidation, especially against minorities in Florida, which is a Red State, whose Governor at the time is the brother to the President.

I remember the first time I voted, and had their been someone requiring I get an ID card /ahead/ of time or who had subjected me to any kind of intimidation, I doubt I would have voted then, or ever again.


weather { snow

I haven't seen snow this late in April in Minnesota since I was a junior in High School (so since 1992). Isn't it funny how dates like 1992 now sound old-timey?

frustration { a decade of resistance

and the Twin's ballpark deal is almost a reality.

This really bothers me. I've been involved in one form or another (from letter writing, caucusing, moral support, etc.) from stopping the Twin's from getting this ball park. Over 10 years of fighting it. People in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. For naught. The Hennepin County council cut a deal with the Twins. Now they will take the land for the stadium by force (condemnation and imminent domain) if need be, and the poeple of Hennepin County get a nice tax to pay for it, while the Twin's will contribute more than any plan in the past has required them to do, but still they are getting damn near a free ride on the backs of the tax payers.

music/culture { a little music on the way to work

A fascinating piece in the WaPo.

One of the finest classical musicians of his age dons street clothes and plays some of the most beautiful music ever written on a multimillion dollar Stradivarius violin in the Metro station in Washington during the morning commute.

An interesting experiment in human nature with an outcome you might not expect.

This one is worth a read.


language { Languacide

...or 'Those words had letters back home!'

After reading this superb post on 20 Sided while looking for the next installment of 'DM of the Rings' I had to laugh. And laugh hard.

I play MMOs, so I am subjected to this almost daily. People who, while not necessarily illiterate, are too lazy 2 typ al teh lettrz. But this phenomena is not limited to the written word, no, it occurs in everyday speech, usually among members of the younger type. For evidence I offer up an older post regarding a conversation I heard in a public square.

I must be getting older and more curmudgeonly, because I find myself relying more and more on sites like http://www.urbandictionary.com just to figure out what the hell people are saying. Thankfully it also has MMO-enese, so I can decipher stuff like:

Hey n00bz! L2P bitches. We need some AOE skillz dropped on the mobs SE of TM near DG and west of AH. We also need some DOTS dropped for max DPS kk? If someone doesn't get this shit going right now its -50 DKPs to all you bitches!

And thats an example (fictional) of stuff /older/ gamers (read 20+, I'm ancient at 31, Avindair is venerable at 40). The under 18 (mentally as well as physically) just say stuff like this:

GAY! l2p n00b kthxbai

So everyone, please, chill. Slow down. Think about what you are saying before saying it. Those words you save may be your own. 'l337 sp333k' isn't cool, or cool sounding or cool to read. You're just making yourself sound like a dumbass. Or for those who might not understand...

L2S n00bz!

(L2S = Learn to Spell)

response { nerd

Over at EvilBobby, he sent the clip I had posted (Fear of Girls) to some friends overseas, who sent these clips back in response:

(caution the second clip has some NSFW material)

The language of nerd is universal...like math.

holiday { Zombie Jesus Day

Knight of Nothing's post about Easter made me reflect on my own feelings. I'm not (C|c)hristian. I haven't been since I was 11 years old and realized this isn't for me. Eventhough at a young age I was indoctrinated into the world of 'Jesus has risen' on Easter, it was always about the egg hunts, candy, and Grandma Ham for me.

About two years ago, the height of my zombie interest, I realized that the story of Christ's resurrection is plot for a zombie movie, so I started calling Easter, Zombie Jesus Day. I've always figured the tag line for the movie poster would be something like this:

Your lord has risen...and now he wants your BRAINS!

So Happy Belated Zombie Jesus Day to everyone.


casual_friday { Cubefarm News

Kindred spirit.


DandD { The Realm of Nox

After almost 12 years, I'm finally getting off my butt and starting to coalesce my ideas and thoughts into a campaign world that I will run the Nerdpod through. The is called 'Nox' (latin for night) and it is a dark and not so nice place. Here is a bit of fluff I've created for my players to give them a taste:

[From the journal of Inquisitor Ravenscliff, dated Autumnal Equinox,
2953 P1S/10 P2S, titled 'Chapter One: The First Sundering and the
Early Times]
---begin journal entry---
The world has grown dark, and not just from the lack of sunlight
caused by the funeral pyres. There is simply not much light left, or
hope that I can see. The world is...broken. I write these pages in
hopes that if there is a future, something of this time can be
remember, a lesson of the things that were, and why not to repeat

First a brief history of how we've come to be here. The origins of
the world were thought to be once understood, but that knowledge is
lost. Lost in the First Sundering of the World. All we do know is of
the 'Great Empire of Man' that existed. There knowledge, from what
artifacts we have was great. Their mastery of the natural world and
arcane lore almost complete, greater even than the elves. From what
historians and theologians have pieced together, it was this mastery
that bred an arrogance, an arrogance that undid the world. In their
quest for ever more power they opened a portal to, elsewhere, and
unleashed an evil upon the world never before seen. Those that were
not corrupted, were destroyed. Those that were not destroyed went
feral, and almost all knowledge was lost. Only pieces and fragments
from that time remain. Kept in remote and secret locations. The
knowledge itself became worshiped as scripture. The keepers of the
secrets no longer able to understand what they keep. Cults of
Enlightenment formed and gathered followers, waging war on each other.
All except one, the Hermetics of Thelmorn, kept the knowledge and
over the centuries learned from it, piecing together and expanding
what they had, these monks formed the core of what would become the
Imperial Thatamurgists School.
Over time the evil, only referred to as the 'Dark Ones' were driven
back by a coalition of the Hermetics working with the Naturalists (a
Cult of Enlightenment focused on understanding through the Natural
World). Strength of arms was provided by the most powerful of the
Clans of Man, the Dokdar, who would later be the uniters and founders
of the Second Empire of Man. The Dokdar were the most advanced of the
feral tribes that were mankind following the Sundering. They were
forceful, but not cruel. Their rage tempered by the Enlightenment of
Hermetics and Naturalists with whom they had trade and contact. Sadly
much information from the Great Battle was lost in the 2nd Sundering
when the towers of the Thatamurgists were lost. From what fragments
we could recover and correlation with the disparate oral histories,
the battle was somewhat anti-climactic, the portal had actually sealed
itself shortly after events that was the First Sundering. The 'Dark
Ones' had decreased in power, and many had vanished. Only those that
were able to corrupt followers remained, and even then their heretical
ways resulted in the diminishment of their numbers. The coalition,
formed 500 years after the First Sundering were able to, rather easily
destroy what remained of the evil ones. In doing so they destroyed
the structure that was thought to be the portal. Using the heads of
the defeated 'Dark Ones' as icons of their victory the Dokdar, with
their charismatic leader Solimere, set forth on a crusade of
unification that would last for 100 years and result in the founding
of the Second Empire of Man.

---end chapter---

politics { Is a Cheney in the bush worth one in the open?

What was he doing in the bushes? From very careful (and slightly drunken) analysis of the footage I can conclude only two things:

1) He is casting the 'imperious' spell and controlling Bush. Look closely at the muttering and the lack of blinking. Two requirements to effectively cast spells of control on someone. It must be a minor spell since I can't see any sacrificial creatures nearby...unless...oh no! What if the Iraq War is one giant source of unlimited power for the Dark Master???!!!??

2) He's a zombie. Note the drool and and fixation. The muttering looks a lot like 'braaaaaiiiiinnnsssss'.


humor { nerd

While on break today I re-found this gem of a link to a video clip while cleaning out old email:


science { its all relative

Very cool story link over on Omninerd: http://www.omninerd.com/2007/03/31/news/1204

It discusses a hypothesis by Dr. Vay using Special Relativity to reduce the time to simulate systems with multiple dimensions of scale (long/short) in both distance and time. Very cool stuff.

From the abstract:

Noninvariance of Space- and Time-Scale Ranges under a Lorentz Transformation and the Implications for the Study of Relativistic Interactions

J.-L. Vay
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

(Received 16 January 2007; published 30 March 2007)

We present an analysis which shows that the ranges of space and time scales spanned by a system are not invariant under Lorentz transformation. This implies the existence of a frame of reference which minimizes an aggregate measure of the range of space and time scales. Such a frame is derived, for example, for the following cases: free electron laser, laser-plasma accelerator, and particle beams interacting with electron clouds. The implications for experimental, theoretical, and numerical studies are discussed. The most immediate relevance is the reduction by orders of magnitude in computer simulation run times for such systems.

Omninerd's tiny overview said his first test reduced the compute time from a week down to 30 minutes. This could represent a great leap in scientific study in the field of physics if this catches on.

environment { put your money where your carbon is


From what I've been able to find out, this non-profit buys carbon emission rights and retires them.


According to their calculator, Nerdwife and I generate 36.79 tons of CO2/year for our home life (didn't calculate our respective jobs, but I just guess that mine alone will generate enough carbon to plunge the world into a second dark age).

I'm considering donating. Its a first step. I'm also looking into ways to reduce our consumption and decrease our carbon dependence.

politics/humor { Terry Jone's Op-Ed from Guardian UK

Saw the link for this on EvilBobby, thought I would repost here.

Call that humiliation?

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

Terry Jones
Saturday March 31, 2007
The Guardian

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

Article continues
It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.

And what's all this about allowing the captives to write letters home saying they are all right? It's time the Iranians fell into line with the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the privacy of solitary confinement. That's one of the many privileges the US grants to its captives in Guantánamo Bay.

The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn't rush into charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it's just invaded. The inmates of Guantánamo, for example, have been enjoying all the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush to parade their captives before the cameras!

What's more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting "stress positions", which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and, finally, muscle failure. It's all good healthy fun and has the bonus that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.

And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is "unhappy and stressed".

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her "unhappy and stressed". She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.

As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen, but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer - whether by beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python

Cutting and poignant. I've been a long admirer of Terry Jones and his work (as well as that of many of the Python cast who've gone on to do other things). I think his framing of these atrocities in humor and sarcasm detract nothing from the seriousness of the points he is making. We (both the US and Britain) no longer have the moral high ground on anything, nor can we condemn others of human rights violations when we ourselves allow things like Guantanamo to happen.

quiz { Which Firefly/Serenity Character are you?

Saw this on Northern Misfit and had to try it.

Your results:
You are Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)

Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
River (Stowaway)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Honest and a defender of the innocent.
You sometimes make mistakes in judgment
but you are generally good and
would protect your crew from harm.

Click here to take the Serenity Personality Quiz

Hmmm...I'm flattered but am I the leadership type?


musings { these dreams are made of this

I had a strange dream this morning. In reflections I think it is a mish-mash of my life with a warning in it. It was a short dream that happened between 9am and 10am this morning, during the time I refused to get up, because its Sunday damn it.

The dream started, I was on the bus riding into work, like any of the couple hundred days I've been doing it. It was spring and the day was gray. At a bus stop a girl gets on, she wearing a nurse's uniform and very pregnant. I recognize her. She was the redhead who was a few grades behind me who rode my bus back when I was in high school. Except now she is a woman (or what she looks like as a woman as my mind aged her) and a nurse. She was always mean and hateful. She sits next to me because for some reason now all the seats in the bus are full. I allow her to sit and say hi and ask her if she was who I thought she was (I knew her name in my dream but during the waking world I can't remember who she is). She says yes and we talk a little bit about what has happened since school She is pregnant and she does not know who the father is because she had never had a stable relationship that lasted for any amount of time. We ride the bus and it pulls up to our stop...Moos Tower at the U of MN. Which is not where I work, but in my dream is a place where I get off. We walk to Coffman union, it both is and isn't Coffman Union, its a cross of the U of MN student union and Augsburg College's union. She asks me if I would wait with her until she has to go to her appointment, I say yes. We walk up to the mezzanine level and find two chairs. Its cold so I share my coat with her. She falls asleep and shortly later I do, which is a first, I've never had dreams that I was sleeping in a dream before. I awake to the sound of two students picking on her. I both know and don't know these students the kind of, depending upon the angle shift between people I know. One of them shifted through a succession of guys I know, the greasy guy from student honor college, the fellow classmate accused of child molestation while babysitting, a motorhead who like El'Dorados. The other was a mish-mash of students from my CompSci class at the U of MN, the ones who were unwashed and had the social graces of young nerds. She was hurt by their comments and I defended her and drove them off. In school I hated this girl. But in my dream I defended her.

She left for her appointment and I was left alone on the mezzanine. I fall back asleep in my dream again. I awaken to two young but cute girls staring at me. They ask if I play D&D and I say yes and they squeal with girlish glee. One of them asks me to come over and look at her character sheet and give an opinion of whether it was a good character or not. I do while, her character sheet is pretty lame, and pre-generated. I turn around and her friend had moved my chair, and in its place she put a folding table on which they had various things for sale. They were all free D&D modules that were printed off the internet and sold for $10-$15 a piece. They were all crap. I was upset my chair, which was by a big window and was warm was moved. I felt duped. I was upset at the price of the gaming modules they were selling. I looked around for my chair. All around me the mezzanine level turned into a bazaar of sorts where college students were selling wares of all types. In dismay I decide to find the campus movie theater and see a movie. I go downstairs. Its suddenly night, the college students have cleared out and the lower level is full of people in suits, it looks like the lobby of a nice hotel, like the one we stayed in San Francisco. No one acknowledges my presence I go to the bell hop who looks at me with mild disgust.

I wake up before I can ask him where the movie theater is or what's playing.