General Accounting Office PDF: DOD Needs to Assess Certain Factors in Determining Whether Hazardous Duty Pay Is Warranted for Duty in the Polar Regions. GAO-03-554, April 29.
General Accounting Office PDF: DOD Needs to Assess Certain Factors in Determining Whether Hazardous Duty Pay Is Warranted for Duty in the Polar Regions. GAO-03-554, April 29.
April 30, 2003 at 19:07 | Permalink
Just finished William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition." A good time -- having never read "Neuromancer," I have no direct frame of reference. But I have plowed through most of Neal Stephenson's stuff, so I can make this comparison: Gibson (from what I can tell) seems less interested in textual and intellectual pryotechnics, and more interested in letting the story dictate how the characters brush up against techno-culture. One beef: I got tired of reading the generic term "hotmail," i.e. any sort of Web-based e-mail account. It's not like "kleenex," dude. Most people I know have jettisoned Hotmail in favor of something less glitchy. Maybe Gibson is paying homage to the fact that pre-Microsoft Hotmail was the first big browser-based system. Maybe he got extra cash for doing pseudo-product-placements for "hotmail." Maybe it's his way of saying the world's Microsoft haters should just get used to the company's cultural impact (an idea that dovetails nicely with the book's themes of product identity). Whatever.
April 30, 2003 at 12:37 | Permalink
Cheers to Tommy Guerrero. Most providers of chillout-ish tracks are vacant-headed stylemongers. It sounds as if Guerrero actually likes his own stuff. The latest disc is far superior to its predecessor, which is still a decent pickup if you're so inclined.
April 30, 2003 at 01:04 | Permalink
Got a good H.L. Mencken quote in my e-mail box a little while ago. I haven't read much Mencken (shame on me, I guess), so I don't have a well-formed opinion of him as a thinker and writer, but this is a juicy piece of wisdom: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and thus clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
April 29, 2003 at 14:29 | Permalink
Was it just me, or was last night's "Six Feet Under" episode more like a network-TV drama than just about any 6FU episode to date? It had lots of moving parts (like a '70s ensemble show) and lots of fortunate coincidences (of course art-teacher Olivier laid pipe with Brenda's mom), but it was reasonably cohesive. I'm waiting for the really dark clouds to gather again -- Alan Ball just can't keep himself away from a good ol' slice of family tragedy.
April 28, 2003 at 17:56 | Permalink
Great Simpsons gag: Marge decides to do some spring cleaning. The family starts going through the junk in the garage. Marge: "I'm glad we're doing this. Those Furbys have turned feral." Next shot: A half-dozen ragged-looking Furbys close in on Maggie. It made my night.
April 27, 2003 at 23:40 | Permalink
Get lost in video highlights from the career of Arvydas Sabonis. Oh, wait, you have to join the club to view the videos. Even more disappointing: Nobody has an online collection of Manute Bol footage. Unrelated: Watching the NFL draft coverage on ESPN, it struck me that the cable network might be the one mainstream media outlet that seamlessly integrates excellent high-end intelligence (Mel Kiper, Peter Gammons) with bulk-fact reporting that is intended for mass consumption (SportsCenter). Everybody knows those guys are as obsessive as anybody in the CIA, but it's accepted as part of the daily flow of news. In fact, sports might be the one place where Americans can't do without analysis, because the Vegas line is always looming. But isn't Wall Street the same thing? That's what mutual funds were created for. Enough of this. Back to the draft.
April 26, 2003 at 12:52 | Permalink
The rise of firms such as Stratfor has great meaning for the regular media: Anyone who niche-publishes information about the government -- or who runs a Washington or New York bureau for a major newspaper or wire service -- will eventually be forced to compete for high-level subscribers on just about every front. (It's already happening, for sure.) Private intel firms can afford to leave the work of reporting bulk facts in the hands of the traditional news outlets. And as that NYT piece says, the private spooks can also afford to be wrong once in awhile. The regular journos, meanwhile, have that pesky responsibility of being accurate as often as humanly possible. Not everybody needs geopolitical predictions to make it through the day (I can usually get by with a cup o' coffee, a good sammich, etc.), so the shifts in the traditional media won't be that obvious -- the public will still crave the daily dish from familiar and reliable sources. But if the Washington Post or New York Times ever launches a self-branded global intelligence product that retails at a Statfor-like price, then you know the market for such stuff is relatively huge, and the profit margin is probably better than anything published on newsprint, even when advertising revenues are high. I once worked for a news company that tried to turn itself into a mainstream version of Statfor -- that company is still trying, it seems. There are only so many George Friedman-style information-gatherers out there; most reporters like a little free time.
April 26, 2003 at 01:57 | Permalink
Apparently the Dixie Chicks figured that the best way to show their patriotism was to improve the economy by providing untold weeks of work for airbrushers. Irony/pun alert: In politics, such largesse -- often done in the name of damage control -- is known as "pork." Anyway, ahem, when my wife stops smacking the snarky opportunistic sexism out of me, I'll write something of more substance. OK, here goes: It seems a little lame that the Chicks are playing it soft and fuzzy -- the damage control instinct is strong, I guess. Acting any tougher or more defiant would just marginalize them further (how sad that such a thing would be predictable), and the world doesn't need a country Ani DiFranco. The wussy country music industry already has done everything it can to blacklist the group, so maybe this was the only way to go.
April 25, 2003 at 19:12 | Permalink
April 24, 2003 at 18:36 | Permalink
My office is moving to a newer joint down the street. The current building has seen its better days -- it has that late '60s/early '70s Eastern Bloc feel, with a nondescript bunker-like facade, and green carpets and beige curtains inside. But it's got a great view of Rock Creek Park and the surrounding neighborhood. I'll miss that -- the new locale faces two hotels that are taller. The company bought pizza for everybody, but sorely underestimated the appetite that can spring from the belly of a building full of journalists. We're on our third shift of pies. The delivery guy looks kinda ticked. It's weird to pack up your desk with the knowledge that you have to set up everything again -- usually that act goes with quitting or being fired. When neither is happening, you find yourself not really wanting to go through anything -- the job won't change, just the location will, so the crap in your drawers (your desk, not your pants) maintains its status as potential reference material. I still managed to get it all into two plastic rent-a-crates. I kinda wish I could crawl into one of the crates, hibernate (ah, blessed sleep) and come out next week on the other side, refreshed. But then I'd miss the weekend.
April 24, 2003 at 17:23 | Permalink
Man, is it me, or is the Blender site a piece of crap? I wanted to link to the Dave Grohl interview, because it's kinda funny. But as you probably know by now, that link is broken. Try this link, and you get a pretty good example of "dummy" text. I don't really have a beef with the print mag itself -- it knows what it is, and it's always good for a few chuckles -- but those dudes need to get their online schitt in order.
April 23, 2003 at 15:42 | Permalink
DEGREES OF SEPARATION
Bruce says this:
The Dixie Chicks have taken a big hit lately for exercising their basic right to express themselves. To me, they're terrific American artists expressing American values by using their American right to free speech. For them to be banished wholesale from radio stations, and even entire radio networks, for speaking out is un-American. The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about - namely freedom. Right now, we are supposedly fighting to create freedom in Iraq, at the same time that some are trying to intimidate and punish people for using that same freedom here at home. I don't know what happens next, but I do want to add my voice to those who think that the Dixie Chicks are getting a raw deal, and an un-American one to boot. I send them my support.OK, dude, that's on-point, truly necessary and tremendously admirable. But what have you done lately that's actually polarized people or gotten anybody but NPR excited? I don't see any pro-war or anti-war statements on that index page of yours. How about writing a good song that sells well and makes the same free-speech point? You don't even have to record it yourself. God knows I ain't got that kind of talent -- but you do.
April 22, 2003 at 14:59 | Permalink
Gotta like it when stuntmen are gainfully employed. The "linebacker" guys aren't necessarily the stars of that video, if you ask me. Other pleasures: Chapelle's Show (be sure to watch all the vids), the 76ers (the Flyers are a tough sell this year, despite their efforts; if I gotta root for a doomed team -- let's be honest here -- it's more fun to root for one led by a little guy, even if he seems eternally confused about why life is the way it is) and The White Stripes' Elephant (much better than I thought it would be, although Pareles is right -- Jack White needs to write some better melodies). My grandmother's Easter Sunday chicken meal (yeah, chicken -- we Slavs eat the ham on Saturday) is No. 1 for the week, though. Sorry for the Larry King vibe of this post ... my elipses are much smaller than his.
April 22, 2003 at 14:26 | Permalink
Further proof that Brooklyn must be neutralized. Has there ever been a hipster regime change? Does grunge count? After the Williamsburg culture wonks have been rounded up like a deck of cards, we'll run a Special Ops hit on Chief Ike's Mambo Room, just for manifesting an apparently Brooklyn-born trend. Then we'll all retire to Bob & Barbara's, because that joint's Pabst special (with a shot o' Jim Beam) is older than dirt.
April 21, 2003 at 00:35 | Permalink
From the Pentagon:
PRESS ADVISORY from the United States Department of Defense
No. 039-P PRESS ADVISORY April 17, 2003
The Pentagon will start its Earth Day celebration Monday, April 21, with exhibits in its Center Courtyard and inside on the Concourse. This year's event, which is being hosted by acting Navy Secretary H. T. Johnson, offers an opportunity to view the latest in fuel cell vehicles and technologies from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT, through Wednesday, April 23. Technical experts from auto manufacturers and their suppliers, the military services, and other federal agencies will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate products. This event is open for media coverage.
April 17, 2003 at 17:26 | Permalink
April 17, 2003 at 14:04 | Permalink
I heard a Jon Spencer song in a Subaru commercial yesterday. Is that the same thing as Don Henley seeing a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac? Actually, there probably have been Jon Spencer stickers on Cadillacs for years, so the point is moot. Unrelated, and put on your spook-culture helmet: when Dan Rather interviewed Saddam Hussein a few months ago, the TV writers made a point to say that the dictator drank coffee during the interview, an apparent attempt to look down-to-earth. Grabbing that coffee cup would've been one way, perhaps, to collect some DNA from Hussein. Just a thought.
April 16, 2003 at 14:31 | Permalink
That scent of ass-and-feet outside your window just might be landscaping mulch. At least twice in the past week, I've been sitting my living room or bedroom, and gotten a whiff of something putrid. My instinct, of course, is to think that it's me who stinks. But it's not -- it's the Shredded Brown Harbinger of Spring, the byproduct of some deciduous or coniferous lumber-milling. I only did a brief Googling of the subject, so I didn't find anything about its ability to temporarily pollute the air, but I'm sure somebody has done a study about it. Earthy, it ain't. This is high-grade chemical emission. May God save us all.
April 14, 2003 at 16:57 | Permalink
After two years in jail, Ol' Dirty Bastard has reinvented himself with a new name -- Dirt McGirt ODB, according to AllHipHop.com. "He's coming out and feels it's time to start over and take the world by storm," manager Jared Weisfeld told the Web site. "He's going to be Ol' Dirty Businessman now." The newly minted Mr. McGirt also wants to release a line of underwear and other clothing, too. Maybe the skivvies will come with built-in skid marks. Ol' Juicy Undies, yo.
April 10, 2003 at 13:23 | Permalink
I've been trying, trying, trying to take CNN's Anderson Cooper seriously, but he comes off like such a privileged ninny. The clipped Ivy Leaguer accent, the seemingly premature gray hair and the cheesy lineage (he's the son of designer Gloria Vanderbilt and author Wyatt Cooper) are annoying enough. But I can only remember him as the pseudo-serious anchor of the in-school satellite network Channel One, which is more about advertising than it is about news. I mean, it's cool that a racket like Channel One doesn't create a dark spot on a guy's resume -- we all make early-career sacrifices -- but I'm wondering if Cooper would've gotten where he is without a little high-society help. The only other hip-young-upper-crust journalist who comes close in natural-born pomposity is Serena Altschul. One fan site phrases her background this way: "Her father, Arthur G. Altschul, wrote for the New York Times before becoming a millionaire as an investment banker. Serena is the youngest of three children. She and her two siblings were raised by their mother, Siri von Reis, a Harvard-educated scholar and poet, in a luxurious Fifth Avenue co-op." Am I jealous? No, I just feel used.
April 08, 2003 at 19:27 | Permalink
April 07, 2003 at 23:23 | Permalink
Caught the Black Eyes' record-release show last night at the Black Cat. The multiple-drum, filtered-bass, screaming-dude, skronk-sax sound pretty much lived up to the hype that has been building for months. Their brand of controlled chaos (with a groove) seems right for the times, but last night they refrained from totally tearing shit up, instead opting for a set of mostly new stuff that was more Coltrane/Kirk/Sun Ra than anything. And why not -- the crowd was mostly in-the-know locals. The record itself has that classic Inner Ear/produced-by-Ian texture -- I get the feeling it'll hold up through the summer.
April 04, 2003 at 14:15 | Permalink
First, thanks to Jahbless for tipping me to a story in my own backyard: Seems as if a sex pamphlet is causing a stir on Capitol Hill. The irony of the outrage is huge, because Capitol Hill tends to be one big horny mess o' young people. Go to any of the bars where congressional staffers hang out, and you'll see more hookups than a trailer-hitch factory. Maybe the members themselves are chaste -- some of the born-again types actually do follow the Ten Commandments, from what I can ascertain -- but the rest of the Hill is no less sex-driven than your average high school.
Second, thanks to Jorge for introducing me to the open-decks night at Blue Room. He did a seamless hour of mellow house bracketed by a little new wave. He tells me that anything goes, so next week I might grab my nascent pile of spinnable grooves (there's a fair share of it among the punk stuff in my collection) and do a half-hour myself.
April 03, 2003 at 13:45 | Permalink
Started walking to the train today, and about 100 feet from my front door, the heel of my left shoe caught a golf-ball-sized stone, and I turned my ankle hard. I was wearing my beat-up pair of black wingtips, which have been resoled several times with hard-ass Goodyear oil-resistant rubber. Long life, but no bounce or give, thus my injury. It hurt so bad that I had to sit on the sidewalk for about 30 seconds until my brain recovered. Mind you, I've broken both arms, my left leg, my nose, two fingers and a bone in my right hand, and over the years I've developed a high threshhold for sprain-pain. But this one was killer. A guy passed me on the sidewalk, and asked if he could help, but I couldn't even look at him. After the initial shock wore off, I stumbled back to the apartment and called a cab. The cabbie was listening to Howard Stern, who was playing an Ali G clip where the wacky Brit was grilling some former U.S. official about foreign policy (I think it was Brent Scowcroft). A brief respite. Then it came time to get out of the vehicle. After I paid the cabbie ($1.55 tip), he said, "I have some Thai rub if you want it?" And I was like, "what's that?" He rooted around in the little compartment at the base of the driver's side door, and pulled out a little tin with Asian writing all over it. In the middle of the lid was a monkey, sort of a cross between Curious George and something more feral. A quick Google search for the product landed me only this, which really has nothing to do with what the cabbie showed me. Anyway, he said, "You rub this on, it takes out the blue," meaning bruises, I guess. The first thing that popped into my head was that I'd walk into work smelling like Monkey Vicks Thai Go-Go No-Blue Vapo Paste, so I kindly turned down the offer. Now I regret being so unadventurous.
April 02, 2003 at 13:22 | Permalink