Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alien Lore No. 138 — Messages to our cousins in the cosmos

For the last forty years or so, we've beamed messages into the cosmos in hopes of contacting our cousins—if we actually have cousins—way Out There. We take our best guess and fire off something we hope they're smart enough to decode or understand. Some of this stuff is pretty strange, to say the least.

photo courtesy of Nasa/Jet Propulsion Lab

The Pioneer Plaques are identical, gold-plated plaques attached to the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft. With a picture of the solar system (which they would presumably understand), a picture of the Pioneer, and a picture of "a hyperfine transition of neutral hydrogen," we were sure that whoever was smart enough to recover our spacecraft would Get It.

The Pioneer Plaque attached to Voyager 10, photo courtesy of Nasa/Jet Propulsion Lab

According to NASA
, The Pioneer Plaque "is designed to show scientifically educated inhabitants of some other star system, who might intercept it millions of years from now, when Pioneer was launched, from where, and by what kind of beings. (With the hope that they would not invade Earth.) The design is etched into a 6 inch by 9 inch gold-anodized aluminum plate, attached to the spacecraft's attenna support struts in a position to help shield it from erosion by interstellar dust. The radiating lines at left represents the positions of 14 pulsars, a cosmic source of radio energy, arranged to indicate our sun as the home star of our civilization. The "1-" symbols at the ends of the lines are binary numbers that represent the frequencies of these pulsars at the time of launch of Pioneer F relative of that to the hydrogen atom shown at the upper left with a "1" unity symbol. The hydrogen atom is thus used as a "universal clock," and the regular decrease in the frequencies of the pulsars will enable another civilization to determine the time that has elapsed since Pioneer F was launched. The hydrogen is also used as a "universal yardstick" for sizing the human figures and outline of the spacecraft shown on the right. The hydrogen wavelength, about 8 inches, multiplied by the binary number representing "8" shown next to the woman gives her height, 64 inches. The figures represent the type of creature that created Pioneer. The man's hand is raised in a gesture of good will. Across the bottom are the planets, ranging outward from the Sun, with the spacecraft trajectory arching away from Earth, passing Mars, and swinging by Jupiter."

The Voyager Record, is literally a metal record...an LP...a long-player. It even includes Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."

Photograph of the Voyager Record photo courtesy of Nasa/Jet Propulsion Lab

The 12 inch gold-plated copper discs contain "greetings in 60 languages, samples of music from different cultures and eras, and natural and man-made sounds from Earth. They also contain electronic information that an advanced technological civilization could convert into diagrams and photographs. Currently, both Voyager probes are sailing adrift in the black sea of interplanetary space, having left our solar system years ago."

The Arecibo Image is a short binary message beamed into space. When decoded, it creates an image that looks similar to an 80's video game.

Dr. Frank Drake, of Cornell University, wrote the message, with help from Carl Sagan, and others. The encoded message has seven parts:

1) the numbers one (1) through ten (10):

2) the atomic numbers of the elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus which make up DNA

3) the formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA/the number of nucleotides in DNA

4) a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA

5) a graphic figure of a man, the dimension (physical height) of an average man, and the human population of Earth

6) a graphic of Earth's solar system

7) a graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the dimension (the physical diameter) of the transmitting antenna dish. [Ed's note: Arecibo in Puerto Rico sends messages to the universe, and is the site where SETI attempts to track blips in the universe and link them to other intelligent beings.]

It will take 25,000 years for the message to reach its target of of stars (and, presumably, an additional 25,000 years for the return trip for any reply). Interestingly, the stars the message is aimed at will no longer be there when it arrives. According to a Cornell News press release of Nov. 12, 1999, the real purpose of the message was not to make contact, but to demonstrate the capabilities of newly installed equipment.

The Teenage Message was beamed into space in 2001. It starts with some radio-transmission Doppler-tuning and then segues into theremin music, and ends with more binary images, including a logo for the Teenage Message program itself.

According to SETI, in 2001, "a group of Russian teens from Moscow, Kaluga, Voronezh, and Zheleznogorsk participated directly and via the Internet in composing a Teen-Age Message (TAM) to extraterrestrial intelligence, and in the selection of target stars. Their messa was transmitted in the Autumn of that year, from the Evpatoria Deep Space Center."

"Two previous interstellar radio messages (IRM), one transmitted from Arecibo in 1974 and the one from Evpatoria in 1999, had digital format and represented binary scans of one (Are) or 23 (Evp) black-and-white stylized images. But one might suppose that transmission of analog IRMs is also possible. So, before composing the message's content (as well as trying to decode future signals from ETI), let us try to determine such a message's possible format and structure."

Television Signals are a longstanding science fiction trope in which greys, or "Martians," or aliens intercept television shows and are so impressed with a show that it becomes the basis for their entire civilization. You may have seen some variation of this story on The Twilight Zone. If our TV signals really do become extraterrestrial messages, who wouldn't love to see the results?

I'd like to see the Hee Haw or the Andy Griffith Show as the basis of a civilization, or maybe Celebrity Boxing, F Troop, The Beverly Hillbillies, My Mother The Car, or maybe even Cop Rock.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Poem: Summer leaves in autumn hit the winter of their life

The crisp dappled grey, mottled rust,
And crumbling mustard leaves and fronds
Tumble to the beckoning loam.

They sink to the brown earth
Like we all do
Sooner or later,

But they get to do it every year,
Reincarnated green in the spring
For one more run at life above the earth.

Photos from The Sarah Palin protest in Anchorage

Contrary to what you may have heard, Sarah Palin is not universally worshipped in Alaska, or Anchorage, or Wasilla. Here are some photographs from a massive--by Alaska standards--protest in Anchorage.

It isn't the largest protest ever (as the organizers claim)...that honor goes to the native Americans who held a protest a few years ago. . .but it does come in second, and as you can see from the photos, The Governor is hardly universally worshipped.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Carbou! Sarah Palin photographed with a caribou she dropped

click the huntress to enlarge

Vice President candidate Governor Sarah Palin is shown here photographed with a Caribou she bagged. I believe that is one of her children in the photo as well--it's either Twelvegauge or Ricochet.

I can't actually find any information on whether this photo is real or not. There are other photos of her with a dead moose, so I am presming this one is probably kosher. If not, hey, Sarah!, sue us!


Painting: our flag was still there, despite the machinations of the false patriots

click to enlarge old glory

Yeah, it's a little tattered around the edges after the economic upheavals of the last year, and particularly the last weeks; it's become a little stained with Senator's McCain's prevarications and delusions, and with his incessant need to wave the flag constantly, like Betsy Ross sewed it just for him; and The President himself who has poked a few holes in it, but thankfully has only 112 days left to besmirch it. . .as everyone of those rascals, miscreants, scallywags, enemies of the state, and false patriots says whenever they're about to stop jabbering. . ."God Bless America."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Apocalypse Now ad for Palin-McCain

click the Apocalypse Now ad to enlarge

I am offering this song free to the G.O.P., to go along with their apocalypse now ad.

[to the tune of my old boy scout song, can't get to heaven]

Oh you can't get to heaven
(Oh you can't get to heaven)
In Barack Obama's car
(In Barack Obama's car)
Because Obama's car
(Because Obama's car)
Can't go that far
(Can't go that far)

Oh you can't get to heaven
In Barack Obama's car
Because Obama's car
Can't go that far
I ain't a going to grieve
My Lord no more.

Obama strengthens his lead based on his debate performance

By Pablo Fanque,
All This Is That National Affairs Editor

The most recent tracking poll data:

• Gallup: Obama 50%, McCain 42% ,
• Rasmussen: Obama 50%, McCain 44%
• Hotline/Diageo: Obama 47%, McCain 42%
• Research 2000: Obama 50%, McCain 43%

Or, Obama is ahead by a rounded margin of 50%-43%. The press and blogs may be calling it a tie, but the voters seem to believe otherwise. . .

Candidate Sarah Palin in the 1984 Miss Alaska contest, swimsuit division

Sarah Heath, who would later become Governor Palin, appears in the swimsuit portion of the 1984 Miss Alaska competition. Apparently there is also footage of her playing flute in the talent competition. We'll let you know when we find it. . .

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Asif Ali Zardari lands in hot water in Pakistan over calling Sarah Palin hot

Governor Palin opened with a "glad to meet you." After shaking Governor Palin's hand last week in a photo op, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari told her "You are more gorgeous than you are on [television]."

"Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you," Zardari told her, as he flashed his famously toothy and pearly-white smile.

The two were urged to shake hands again [sotto voce], for the benefit of the cameras. "I'm supposed to pose again," Palin whispered. Pointing toward the aide that prompted them, Zardari said, "If he's insisting, I might hug."

I can almost hear the off-camera aides saying "nooooooooooooooo." After their extremely brief photo-op, campaign functonaries shuffled Asif Ali Zardari out of the room.

Pakistani newspapers ran prominent accounts of the "embarassing" incident. News anchors smirked after airing the footage.

Obama to McCain: You were wrong! The best video moment of the first Presidential Debate

"You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong. You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shia and Sunni. And you were wrong. " Barack Obama to John McCain, September 26, 2008

"We've spent over $600 billion so far, soon to be $1 trillion. We have lost over 4,000 lives. We have seen 30,000 wounded, and most importantly, from a strategic national security perspective, al-Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001. We took our eye off the ball. " Barack Obama to John McCain, September 26, 2008

All This Is That's Carbon Offsets

What is All This Is That doing to save the planet? Offsets!

click to enlarge

Was it a tie? Obama and McCain survive to fight another day?

By Pablo Fanque
All This Is That National Affairs Editor

I hoped for more from the first Presidential Debate of the 2008 season. In the end, you'd have to call it a tie/dead heat/stalemate. The very fact it was a tie undoubtedly translates to a loss for McCain, who needed the win.

In this first, "foreign policy" debate it took over 30 minutes for the candidates--admittedly facing a national and world economic crisis--to actually get around to foreign policy issues. And when they did, Senator McCain failed to expose any real weakness in Senator Obama's grasp of foreign policy. McCain, now trailing in the tracking polls, needed a big win tonight. No cigar. McCain never seemed in control of his message; Obama never seemed to waver. McCain almost conceded the change issue to Obama. He never brought it up.

McCain accused Barack Obama of compiling "the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate" and accused him by my count seven times, in various forms, of being naive and clueless. For his part, Obama praised McCain too many times. And he let McCain's jabs stand when he should have counterpunched. He let McCain's comments on his 900 million in earmarks stand, when this was clearly one more case of inside baseball. McCain came off as an arrogant and cranky professor lecturing a clueless student. . .while Obama proved time and again his mastery of the facts of numerous and complex foreign policy issues. The new kid on the block relentlessly rattled off facts and figures on the devastating and costly war in Iraq. He didn't just say the war was wrong: he showed how the war was wrong, by proving we were fighting the wrong war.

Obama scored big points for accusing McCain of being wrong on Iraq, and for fighting the wrong war by ignoring the real issue of the growing presence of al Qaeda in Afghansitan and Pakistan. McCain did not rebut him.

Early in the debate, Obama refused to address an arcane point about the inner -workings of Senate committees because it was "inside baseball." However he left several of McCain's inside comments about earmarks stand, and didn't go after McCain on any of his own spending troubles when McCain tried to take the high road.

On the podium, they both looked fine (even McCain, who can look pretty spooky...he had an expert makeup job). It was mostly a tie, but McCain often came off as snarky, and was generally hunched over his podium in what came off--to me at least--as a hostile, closed off posture, while Obama was open and warm. He often turned and looked over at McCain, who refused to ever look directly at Obama.

Both candidates refused to take advantage of the nation's economic woes, and did not differ on much of substance, and, in fact, agreed that greed and deregulation that brought us to this lamentable state of affairs.

It was close to a stalemate...I'd give McCain a few more points for getting in unanswered jabs, and I'd give Obama points for showing grace an charm under fire. Obama absolutely looked Presidential, and I suspect that, even if you'd score this as a tie, Obama clearly showed he would be every bit--if not more--Presidential than John McCain. Following this debate, the populace now understands that Barack Obama could clearly hold his own with the likes of Putin, Chavez, or any foreign leader. This raises the stakes on the next debate. . .right through the roof!

Joe Biden made the rounds post-debate of numerous talk shows. Sarah Palin was, as is often the case, absent, under wraps, and silent. Their turn comes this upcoming week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Head of Skate: The Disney Sarah Palin movie

Thanks to Tony Ravo for this excellent link! Click here to watch Head of Skate.

Stalemate: John McCain rushes back to Washington in a flurry of activity only to witness (and possible create) a stalemate

After all the huffing and puffing about John McCain charging in to rescue the economy. . .nothing happened today. . .pfffffft! They may try to blame the Democratic Party, but in the end, it seems to be the Republicans that queered the deal. . .at least for now.

As late as Tuesday, Senator John McCain hadn't even read the administration's plan! WTF! Hey, we understand. . .it's only been a week or so, and after all, the plan the administration submitted was 2 1/2 pages long! The Senator is a busy man.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Video: Crosby Stills and Nash at Woodstock '69 perform Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (with lyrics)

CSN perform the great song by Stephen Stills, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (aka Judy Collins) at Woodstock in 1969. It was one of their very first public appearances, and as Stephen Stills said "We're scared shitless."

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
by Stephen Stills, performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young At Woodstock, 1969.

It's getting to the point
Where I'm no fun any more
I am sorry
Sometimes it hurts
So badly I must cry out loud
I am lonely

I am yours
You are mine
You are what you are
You make it hard

Remember what we've said, and done
And felt about each other
Oh, babe, have mercy
Don't let the past remind us
Of what we are not now
I am not dreaming


Tearing yourself
Away from me now, you are free
And I am crying
This does not mean
I don't love you, I do, that's forever
Yes, and for always


Something inside
Is telling me that I've got your secret
Are you still listening?
Fear is the lock
And laughter the key to your heart
And I love you

And you make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard

Friday evening
Sunday in the afternoon
What have you got to lose
Tuesday morning
Please be gone, I'm tired of you
What have you got to lose

Can I tell it like it is Catch me I'm falling
Listen to me baby
It's my heart that's suffering Catch me I'm dying
It's dyin' and that's what I have to lose

I've got an answer
I'm going to fly away
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me
Thursdays and Saturdays
What have you got to lose

Chestnut brown canary
Ruby throated sparrow
Sing a song, don't be long
Thrill me to the marrow

Voices of the angels
Ring around the moonlight
Asking me, said she so free
How can you catch the sparrow

Lacy lilting lady
Losing love lamenting
Change my life, make it right
Be my lady

Do do do do do, do do do do do do
Do do do do do, do do do do

McCain Weasels: "I can't debate. It feels like my head is on fire."

"What Are You Going To Do If You're Elected
And Things Get Tough? Suspend Being President?" [1]

By Pablo Fanque
All This Is That National Affairs Editor

In a stunningly desperate move, Senator John McCain "suspended" his campaign for President. He also said he was cancelling or postponing the debate scheduled for Friday night.

With his lead long since obliterated, the Palin bounce now a momentary flash in the pan, and the backlash following his calling the economy "strong" only last week, McCain threw a desperate Hail Mary Wednesday afternoon. The announcement was mocked by the Democrats and seemed to puzzle the Republicans. One Republican congressman, who refuses to be named, told me "I just about s**t my pants! He must have gone off his meds."

McCain's surprise announcement that he was suspending his presidential campaign was met by a statement from Barack Obama saying it's ``more important than ever'' for the candidates to tell voters how they would deal with the crisis." They can work with Congress while campaigning, Obama said.

"It is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once,'' Obama said.
The move by McCain is "desperate,'' said Linda Fowler, a government professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. "He has been trying to change the conversation every time the press and public starts paying attention to the issues."

Presidential Campaigns have not been suspended before, even during the Civil War, the Depression, World War II, and the Vietnam War. "McCain's move should be judged too clever by half,'' said Stephen Hess, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington.


[1] Some other choice remarks David Letterman made Wednesday:

"In the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, "Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"

Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."

"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sarah Palin. Where is she?"

"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

VP nominee Sarah Palin defends John McCain "the deregulator" (with bonus Palin painting)

In an interview today between Katy Couric of CBS News and Governor Sarah Palin, Couric probed Palin on Senator John McCain's credentials as an economic reformer:

Couric: You've said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Couric: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

Palin: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

*sigh* It was just one of those days

Sometimes, I wish I could break through the Chinese Wall I've erected between this blog and what I do for a living. I've been a good boy for nearly four years now. Why should I suddenly shake that up?

Some days, it's not worth the energy it takes to chew the leather straps, as a wise man once said. And there is always tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Behind the scenes: a John McCain thought bubble.

Click to enlarge...and for intelligibilty

Behind the scenes: a John McCain thought bubble. I don't usually like the snarky caption-photograph school of humor, but when I saw this photo of John McCain and his running mate Governor Palin, I had no choice but to do one. /jack

Sleepy Jackson, their jangled history, and need for a Human Resources Department

I really like this band, whom I recently, and belatedly, discovered. They have had one incredibly wide, revolving door over the years and have funneled more members through this band than Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention (well, not quite!). This article in Wikipedia details the amusing churn of Sleepy Jackson's membership over their career (the lineup sometimes changed mid-tour!). This is maybe the first band I know that could have useda Human Resources Department.

The Sleepy Jackson formed in 1998 with the original lineup featuring Luke Steele (guitars/vocals), Jesse Steele (drums), and Matthew O’Connor (bass). This lineup recorded a self-titled debut and a subsequent single titled "Miniskirt". Both recordings were independently released. In 2000, as a result of non-musical commitments, Luke Steele suggested that his brother should redirect his attentions and concentrate on other happenings in his life which ultimately resulted in Jesse following his advice and departing the band.

The void created by Steele's departure was filled by Paul Keenan (who later drummed with Eskimo Joe at their live performances). Along with numerous shows in their hometown of Perth, in late 2000, The Sleepy Jackson toured nationally with Jebediah. In March 2001, on the eve of the band’s signing with EMI Records, the band toured with Magic Dirt and Motor Ace with Ronan Charles on keyboards joining Steele, O'Connor and Keenan. Five weeks into the tour, with the band broke, exhausted, and sleeping in caravan parks rather than enjoying the luxuries their touring partners were enjoying, O'Connor, Keenan and Charles quit leaving Steele to complete the tour solo.

In signing to EMI, pressure was soon placed on Steele to produce a recording. The result was a 2001 released EP titled Caffeine In The Morning Sun which Steele recorded in Sydney with a collection of session musicians. In addition to playing solo, Steele recruited drummer Malcolm Clark into The Sleepy Jackson fold and, when some serious touring was required in support of the release, the services of Justin Burford (Guitar) and Rodney Aravena (Bass) were enlisted. In addition to The Sleepy Jackson, Steele's three colleagues were also playing around their hometown with Jonathon Dudman under the name End Of Fashion.

The Sleepy Jackson relocated to Sydney where they recorded another EP, Let Your Love Be Love. Songs from this and past releases were put together to form a self titled mini album for release on the UK market. A period of extensive touring quickly followed which saw the band playing in Australia, The United States, and Europe. The later bought the band some very enthusiastic attention from UK music paper NME. In between live appearances, The Sleepy Jackson worked on recordings that were to become their debut album Lovers. During a series of UK appearances in 2003, Burford and Aravena left the band. With a support slot for Silverchair's Diorama tour looming back in Australia, replacements were quickly sought. Clarke ironically called upon the only other End of Fashion member not previously part of The Sleepy Jackson, Jonathon Dudman.

Dudman joined the band in Sydney where he took over bass duties and the second guitarist position was filled by session musician Ben Nightingale. The Sleepy Jackson's revolving door continued when Nightingale was ultimately replaced by Jonathon Dudman's brother, Julian Dudman. But the Dudmans consequently left the band leaving Luke Steele and Malcolm Clark as the only official members of The Sleepy Jackson.

The Sleepy Jackson released their second full length album Personality - One Was A Spider, One Was A Bird in Australia on July 1, 2006 where it debuted at No. 10 on the ARIA Albums Charts the following week. With its predecessor Lovers receiving generous support from both critics and radio alike, the band supported the new album's worldwide release with a series of live appearances in select markets. Joining Clark and Steele are Dave Symes and Felix Bloxsom, who both worked on the album, and Lee Jones who was formerly in Perth band Spencer Tracy.

The album was released in the United Kingdom on July 26th and in the United States on July 27th. In July 2006 the album was nominated for a J Award by Australian Radio Station, Triple J.

In 2007 The Sleepy Jackson performed at the 2007 Big Day Out, Southbound, Falls Festival and the St Jerome's Laneway festivals in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Luke Steele appeared on the Pnau single "With You Forever", leading Nick Littlemore to state on Pnau's website "...working with Luke Steele... it was amazing, that inspired us to work on a separate project with him all together. It's another album we're doing."

The line-up: Current Band Members

Luke Steele (Guitar, Vocals) 1998–present
Malcolm Clark (Drums, Backing Vocals) 2001–present
Lee Jones (Guitar, Keys, Backing Vocals) 2006–present
Dave Symes (Bass, Backing Vocals) 2006–present
Felix Bloxsom (Percussion, Acoustic Guitar, Synth) 2006–present

Revisionist history: Bill Clinton says Hillary didn't want the Veep job

On The View, Bill Clinton says Hillary Clinton did not want to be Barack Obama's VP. Bill also discusses John McCain's support for diplomatic relations with Vietnam during his second term as president. Clinton claims he supports Obama, but goes onto effusively praise "Crazy" John McCain...


Another list: Blues-men and women

This is a list of my favorite blues performers in no particular order. Disclosure: I lean pretty heavily toward the solo finger-pickin' style of blues, and not so much toward, say, Bonnie Raitt or even the Chicago school of the blues. Right now, however, I am deep into listening to Muddy Waters' 3-CD Chess Box Set.

Skip James
Leadbelly (aka Huddie Ledbetter)
John Mayall
Peg Leg Sam (aka Arthur Jackson)
Mississippi John Hurt
Taj Mahal
Bessie Smith
Koko Taylor
Jimmy Ray Vaughn
Etta James
Henry "Rufe" Johnson
Jesse Fuller
Willie Dixon
Buddy Guy
Paul Butterfield
Ray Charles
Bo Diddley
Billie Holiday
Elmore James
Ray Charles
Jimmy Reed
Son Seals
Big Joe Turner
Jimmy Witherspoon


Brummet Island

Brummet Island is a island in Carroll County, New Hampshire at Latitude: 43.58833Longitude: 71.1425. It is a lake island. I would like to move their and stake my clain.

Monday, September 22, 2008

George Bush's Sewer Treatment Plant

According to the Associated Press, a measure seeking to honor George's Bush's years in office by placing his name on a San Francisco sewage plant has qualified for the November ballot.

The referendum was certified Thursday and will rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

Supporters say the plan is to commemorate the mess they claim Bush left behind in Iraq. What better facility to honor the President, who has been steadily emitting crap from the White House for the last 7 10/12 years?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another list: my favorite Kinks tracks

I was a fan of their British Invasion songs, but really came to love them later, post-1972, with the release of Everybody's In Show Biz, Preservation, Village Green, and Schoolboys. Everybody's in Show Biz, in particular is my favorite, although it was critically panned. This was part of my soundtrack for the years 1972-74, along with Deep Purple's Who Do We Think We Are, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken, CSNY's Four Way Street, Led Zep's Houses of the Holy, the mid to later Beatles (Revolver, White Album, Abbey Road), The Grateful Dead Europe '72, anything by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, The Doors, and my first forays into jazz with Charles Lloyd, Weather Report, and Chick Corea.

By the later 1970's, Kinks songs were being covered by all sorts of people, most notably Val Halen, The Pretenders, Blur, Joan Jett, The Jam, Seattle's Young Fresh Fellows, Mark Lanegan, Yo La Tengo, The Stranglers and many more. . .

Waterloo Sunset

Celluloid Heroes

'Till The End Of The Day
Muswell Hillbilly

Death of a Clown
Sitting in my hotel
Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues

I'm in disgrace
Sunny Afternoon
All Day and all of the night
20th Century Man
Jack the idiot dunce
No More Looking Back
The Hard Way
Set Me Free
Everybody's a star
Top of the pops
David Watts
Stop your sobbing
You really got me
A Face In The Crowd
One of the survivors
Here comes yet another day
Tired of waiting for you


Music video: Lola by The Kinks

This is an excellent and faifhtul endition of the song by The Kinks. When this came out, I was in my mid-teens, and it was scandalous and sometimes censored/not played on the radio. It is undoubtedly one of the great Ray Davies/The Kinks songs (and their greatest hit).

By Ray Davies

I met her in a club down in old soho
Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola [lp version:
C-o-l-a cola
She walked up to me and she asked me to dance
I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said lola
L-o-l-a lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Well Im not the worlds most physical guy
But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine
Oh my lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Well Im not dumb but I cant understand
Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man
Oh my lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Well we drank champagne and danced all night
Under electric candlelight
She picked me up and sat me on her knee
And said dear boy wont you come home with me
Well Im not the worlds most passionate guy
But when I looked in her eyes well I almost fell for my lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

I pushed her away
I walked to the door
I fell to the floor
I got down on my knees
Then I looked at her and she at me

Well thats the way that I want it to stay
And I always want it to be that way for my lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
Its a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Well I left home just a week before
And Id never ever kissed a woman before
But lola smiled and took me by the hand
And said dear boy Im gonna make you a man

Well Im not the worlds most masculine man
But I know what I am and Im glad Im a man
And so is lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Barack's favorite Bob Dylan song: Maggie's Farm (with song)

I too was moved when I read that "Maggie's Farm" was Barack Obama's favorite Bob Dylan song. Wow. Of all the songs he could have picked. . .here is a post from the Deadhead section on Barack's website:

I Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm No More
By Jonathan Juillerat - Sep 19th, 2008 at 1:07 am EDT
Also listed in: Deadheads For Obama

One of the watershed moments for me over the last few months was when I was reading the Rolling Stone interview with Obama, and they asked him if he had any favorite Bob Dylan songs. My jaw hit the floor when he said “Maggie’s Farm” and claimed “it speaks to me”. I mean, there are about fifty safe answers to that question, and that isn’t one of them. At that moment I realized that this guy actually has the guts to face down whatever is in front of us as a country. Since then, for inspiration, I’ve listened to that song every time I get complacent or think that I can’t make a difference. And damn it…I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.

If you have the song, I recommend a listen to get you fired up for the next several weeks. If you don't have it, just give the lyrics a good read for some and inspiration.

Maggie's Farm

by Bob Dylan

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
Well, I wake in the morning,
Fold my hands and pray for rain.
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane.
It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.
No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.
Well, he hands you a nickel,
He hands you a dime,
He asks you with a grin
If you're havin' a good time,
Then he fines you every time you slam the door.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.

I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.
No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks.
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks.
The National Guard stands around his door.
Ah, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.

I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.
No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.
Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law.
Everybody says
She's the brains behind pa.
She's sixty-eight, but she says she's twenty-four.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
They say sing while you slave and I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

Traffic videos from YouTube

Here are some of my favorite traffic videos, taken in India, Saigon, and Cairo. I have to admit, however, the two times recently I've driven in Boston didn't seem all that different from these!

Dead Heads for Obama, with a video message from Barack to the Heads

Click to enlarge...


Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Palin bump is over; it's all downhill from here

"McCain is being viewed as running for Bush's Third Term. The Palinpalooza is basically over, despite the attempts of some to keep it going." - From Big Ticket Democrat/Talk Left

Another piece in Talk Left said: "Obama [is] regaining the momentum in the presidential race and leading John McCain. It's not just the economy. It's also McCain's opportunistic pick of Gov. Sarah Palin for Vice President. A majority of those polled (pdf)find her unqualified and 3/4 of them believe she was selected primarily to help McCain win. "

"More than half of registered voters do not think she is prepared for the job of Vice President, and a majority express concern about Palin being able to take over the presidency, if necessary. Even supporters of John McCain cite “inexperience” as what they like least about her. Palin’s unfavorable rating is also up eight points from last week."

Palin-McCain Halloween Card

From the often amusing blog site, BartCop.com, a Halloween card. . .

Friday, September 19, 2008

John McCain: "I have oversight over every part of the economy." Nice job, John. You're starting to look like Herbert Hoover.

"Sen. McCain bragged about how as chairman of the Commerce Committee in the Senate, he had oversight of every part of the economy. Well, all I can say to Sen. McCain is, 'Nice job. Nice job,'" said Barack Obama to a rally at a baseball stadium in Las Vegas.

"Where is he getting these lines? The lobbyists running his campaign?"


60 Frames campaign ad video: "I masturbated to Sarah Palin."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Get tough. get mad, supporters tell Obama

According to an Associated Press story today, "Worried Democrats want Barack Obama to get tougher, show more passion. Why is he so calm, supporters ask, so close to an election that looks so tight.

"Just keep steady," Obama tells the nervous Nellies. "I'm skinny but I'm tough. I'm from Chicago."

"Obama hears the concern, from senior Democrats and big-money contributors, from columnists and supporters along the rope lines at campaign events. He heard it again as he stood in an hour-long receiving line in Hollywood to pose for pictures with donors who paid $28,500 to be with him Tuesday night." The full story can be found here.

Holy S**t! The October surprise? It Depends®

By Pablo Fanque,
All This Is That National Affairs editor
Washington, D.C. 9-18-2008 12:15 AM EDT

No one quite expected this October surprise, if it comes to that. All This Is That received a tip over the weekend from a G.O.P. insider that John McCain is incontinent and wears adult diapers around the clock.

I jumped onto the story Sunday, after Jack Brummet called from the All This Is That offices. The first call I made was to sources in the Democratic Party. Interestingly, they wouldn't touch the story. The first two people I called told me to drop it. "Pablo, this story is going nowhere. This is just some crap a blogger cooked up in San Francisco."

My next call was to a Democrat I knew would never lie. She may not tell me the truth, but she would never lie about the facts. "Look, just drop it," she said. "We can't even come within 50 miles of this story. Yeah. I've heard some stuff. But there is no way we're going to touch this story. We have nothing to gain and everything to lose. If it comes out, fine. But no way is it coming out of here."

"How so?," I asked? "Look, Pablo. . .the second this story comes out, the McCain campaign will tie it to the P.O.W. years. This malady, this incontinence, will be attributed to his years in the prison camp. It will become a net positive—another hero's scars—and we will be skewered for playing the politics of personal destruction. And the McCain campaign will milk the P.O.W. angle for another month. I did hear some Dem P.A.C. has been working this, and they have photographic evidence, and someone willing to talk."

I called a Republican friend who works for the R.N.C. "How high are you, Pablo? The Democrats are putting their heads in the sand on this one. They'll bide their time in hopes the story emerges elsewhere. They're way more spooked than we are on this one." "But why has nothing been mentioned in the press? Or the blogs and websites, even?" I asked. "You thought the John Edwards story was bottled up? No one wants to make the first move! Yuk."

The story slowly percolates, and it may be only a matter of time before it hits the mainstream media. There are rumors at least one tabloid has enough evidence—flimsy and otherwise—to break the story in the next week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Democratic carbon offsets stiff at the box office

By Pablo Fanque
All This Is That National Affairs Editor

The Aspen Canary Initiative to sell carbon offset credits to Democratic National Convention can only be described as pathetically moribund and doomed from the start. The program, set up by the Dem's Host Committee raised a total of $18.34 worth of Canary Tags, offsetting .9 tons of carbon emissions, or, approximately, not enough to offset a fraction of one state's airfare to the convention let alone thousands of delegates and guests.

The offsets were aimed at DNC-goers other than the official delegates, who had a separate carbon offset program through Vermont-based Native Energy. That program, set up in January through the Democratic National Convention Committee, was utilized by 65 percent of the DNC’s 4,440 delegates, and may have actually made a difference.

An amazing Guiness record

Svetlana Pankratova is the Guinness World Record-holder for the woman with the longest legs.

She recently met China’s He Pingping, who, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the world’s shortest man.

The photo op you see above took place yesterday at London’s Trafalgar Square. Pankratova’s legs measure 4.33 feet [jack note: my inseam is a meager 29 inches]. She is 6′7″ and the 20 year old He Pingping, is 2′5″.

From Robo-poet: The Throbbing Vortex

Robo-poet is a cut-up style poetry generator (cut-ups are a form "popularized" by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin).

Clearly they structured this poetry generator around lines beginning with an adjective and noun, and ending with a verb paired with an -ly adverb. This might be OK for a couplet, but any longer generated poems end up seeming rote.

This poem would be better if you deleted all the line-ending adverbs (like most writing), and varied the adjective-noun constructions. However, as I dip into all the internet poetry generators, I do want to give you their flavor. Clearly, moving the verbs around in the sentence would also help.

Robo-poet uses a fairly interesting vocabulary, and you could, with some editing, create interesting poems from its output. Robot-poet would work better without such a fomulaic approach to the line.

aggressive street dies thinly
dingy corduroy sucks impersonally
soundless rider sullies unholily

broken dream capitulates bleakly
throbbing dream usurps perfunctorily
perfect rider nags dimly

vestigal life boils grimly
capricious dope crashes irritably
concrete nothing defies awfully

deliberate enticement sucks triumphantly
uniform body smotes awfully
traveled vortex capitulates dazzlingly

foul light concocts sleeplessly
stout enticement looks hysterically
throbbing vortex shrieks completely

undisciplined entry mars completely
baleful enticement envelops dimly
raveled vowel nourishes dryly

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Puzzle, my dogtags, my avatar

The Generator Blog leads you to all sorts of internet toys, mostly similar to our beloved church sign generator. Here are my puzzle, my dogtags, and my avatar.


A poem from the Poetry Generator: The Cloud Endures

The cloud endures like a red sun.
Winds calmly rise like a dead captain.

Love, adventure, and anger.
Work, anger, and death.

Laughter, anger and death.
The dusty skyscraper grabs the truck.


Monday, September 15, 2008

33 year old mom steals daughter's identity to attend high school and earn her pom-poms

Wendy Brown is shown in a booking mug shot on Sept. 4, 2008, in
Green Bay, Wis. after her arrest for felony identity theft after
enrolling in Ashwaubenon High School as her daughter
(Photo: Brown County Sheriff's Office)

According to sketchy reports stitched together from various media outlets, Wendy Brown is being charged with felony identity theft after enrolling in High School, posing as her 15-year-old daughter, who lives with her grandparents in another state.

Brown wanted to earn her high school degree and become a cheerleader "because she didn't have a childhood and wanted to regain a part of her life that she'd missed," says the complaint.

She attended classes, and even went to cheer practice and a cheer pool party at the coaches' [1] home . If she is convicted, she could face up to six years in prison, and a large fine as well. We have no word if she snagged a boyfriend (which would be good for another six years if she consummated with said BF), or earned her pom-poms in her short stint at Ashwaubenon.

School officials were immediately suspicious and began investigating the long-in-the-tooth freshman after the first day of school.

[ (1) the plural possessive of coach just doesn't look right to us. But it is, at least according to our usual grammar sources.]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Palin's cronies--Agriculture Head: "I liked cows when I was a kid"

The New York Times has a fascinating article this morning on page 1 in the "print" version. You can read it online here, but you may have to sign up (you may have to be a subscriber...I'm not sure).

"Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.

"So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency."

Dolly Parton Concert in Seattle, August 8, 2008

Dolly Parton came to Seattle in August and played a great show at a miserable venue--the WaMu Theatre near the Seahawks Stadium and Safeco Field. I started writing about it in August, and just bumped into it again, so I thought I'd finish this now.

Dolly brought along an eight piece band and three back-up singers. The singers were great. The band itself, serviceable. They may have been great (there were no flubs or clams or anything) but they never got much of a chance to stretch out.

Dolly did what is apparently her standard show, just under two hours, with a lot of corny jokes and reminiscences of growing up in a poor family in Smoky Mountain Tennessee. Interestingly, she never mentioned her first big job in the music business, working with Porter Wagner.

Dolly's voice was near-perfect. Unbelievably, heartbreakingly true, and maybe even better than it was on her debut record in the early 70's. When I first heard her sing way back then it was stunning, but thirty-five plus years later, unlike, say Brian Wilson, Joni Mitchell, Mick Jagger, and other 60+ year olds who use back-up singers to hit the high notes, and keep them on pitch, Dolly did the heavy lifting. This was nowhere more apparent than her rendition of "Little Sparrow" a capella. It was absolutely stunning and spot on, and maybe even better than the version she recorded a few years ago on one of her fairly recent bluegrass albums.

Her eight-piece band took the stage at the stroke of eight and Dolly was singing on her headset mic before some of the crowd was even in their seats. The audience for this stop on the "Backwoods Barbie" tour was not a sell-out, but Parton immediately made those who showed up feel at home.

She performed quite a few covers. The first was a version of John Denver's Thank God I'm A Country Boy. It was OK (better than the original). She also had a hunky roadie or guitar tech in overalls dance a sort of hillbilly shuffle. She named him her "Backwoods Ken." During the show, she also covered Great Balls of Fire (which seemed pointless). Her cover of the Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy," complete with hoedown, was wonderful, both her arrangement, and the hoedown she interpolated.

All the glitz and cornpone humor didn't distract from the heart and country soul behind her classic tunes like "Coat of Many Colors," "Jolene," "Tennessee Mountain Home" and many others.

During the course of the show she played an a rhinestone-encrusted autoharp (or is it a dulcimer), an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, the piano, a harmonica, a banjo, and maybe one or two other instruments. It was hard to tell if it was shtick or not. . .but she could play them all. I don't know how she was able to play the harmonica without turning her lipstick into a clown job. Whether it was showmanship or not, it helped break up the show and made each song unique.

She played about half the songs from her current album, "Backwoods Barbie" album, a couple of which I could have lived without.

After a 20-minute intermission, the second set peaked with a remarkable doo-wop arrangement of Parton's "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind," featuring Dolly and the men of her ensemble singing a cappella. They followed that with Parton singing the heartbreaking "Little Sparrow," from her 2001 album, ranging from soft and breathy to a piercing belt and back again in the space of a few seconds. After that, it was time to wrap things up, and Parton served up her broadest pop-oriented megahits (though not necessarily her best tunes), as fans of every age, background and sexual orientation (she draw a large gay and lesbian audience, at least in Seattle), danced, sang along and generally had a blast. Of course, she sang the biggest cash cow from her songbook, "I Will Always Love You."

At just past ten, Parton walked offstage, and returned for a one-song encore.

Parton's chops as a songwriter and singer almost have no peer, but equally remarkable is that larger-than-life personality, in which tackiness and sincerity somehow co-exist in a rhinestone world.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Still. . .the latest Obama campagn ad

An amusing ad about John McCain's not understanding computers, email, or the economy.


A public service announcement from All This Is That

click to enlarge

A list of movies that always make me laugh

Not a comprehensive list, but a list of some sort. In no particular order, here are some of the funnest movies I know. I left off really new (the Hilarious Tropic Thunder) and unintentionally funny movies (Reefer Madness, Titanic, etc):

  • Dr. Strangelove (a tragicomedy, really, ending as it does in a mushroom cloud. "Gentlemen! You can't fight in here, this is a War Room!")
  • Office Space (So, exactly what is it you do here?)
  • Spinal Tap
  • Animal House (the greatest celebration of failure ever. "Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?")
  • Team America: World Police
  • National Lampoon's Vacation
  • Meet The Parents
  • Idiocracy (sometimes it almost seems like a documentary of the future)
  • Super Troopers
  • Grandma's Boy
  • Modern Times
  • Duck Soup
  • My Cousin Vinny
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High ("All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.")
  • Airplane! ("Joey, you ever see a grown man naked?")
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
  • M*A*S*H*
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Spaceballs
  • Young Frankenstein ("You know, I'm a rather brilliant surgeon, perhaps I can help you with that hump. ")
  • Clerks ("I'm not supposed to be here today!")


Photomontage: One of these things is not like the other: Kerry, Stevenson, Humphrey, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter, McGovern, Gore, Obama

click to enlarge

Left to right, top to bottom: John Kerry, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Al Gore, Barack Obama.