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I’ll be attending two science fiction conventions this fall – Dragon*Con in Atlanta and Orycon in Portland OR. The Dragon*Con
schedule of panels is up, and for the umpteenth time in a row I’m not
actually scheduled on anything, despite filling out in excruciating
detail the programming survery. I’m about tired of this. I may only
attend Dragon*Con for a day or two now that I see how it is going
down. I’ve been declining other things for that weekend, but if I have
no panel responsibilities, who cares when I am and am not there? I’ll
wait until I check in – maybe I’m on programming and just am not
listed on the website. Uh huh.

I’m hoping for a little better at
OryCon. I moderated a panel there a few years ago on literary comics
that was the best panel experience I’ve ever had. It is also notable
for being the time when I gave my first ever autograph of my work,
signing a diskette of my Reality Break ebook. The autograph seeker? My
fellow panelist Larry Niven. He may have just done it to be nice, but
I got quite the kick out of it.

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I don’t believe we have anything on the agenda today. After a few
weeks of serious activity, including cleaning for our house guest, we
just don’t have a lot on the plate today. We might go see Full
Frontal
today, or we might just loaf on the couch all
day. I checked out David Brock’s Blinded by the Right
and am reading that lately. Other than that, I hope for today to be a
battery recharging day.

Ran across this from a random walk – posters for the RIAA education
effort into the evils of downloading, available from Modern Humorist.

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Technology TopicAlthough I should have done this a long time ago, I just got
around to setting up an account with
DynDNS
. I now have dave-slusher.is-a-geek.com pointing to my
house. Here is my
local copy of this weblog.
Pretty slick. If my NetGear router gets
a new IP address via DHCP, it is supposed to notify DynDNS of the new
one. We’ll see if that happens. I don’t think I’ve changed IP address
in the last year, but someday it will happen.

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Music TopicToday’s band is another new one to me. Now that I’ve ran out
of the easy ones that I already knew about, I’m having to dig a little
further to find them. This is a band I’m very glad that I dug
for. They are from my old home of Portland OR, and are called Make
Believe
. I stumbled across their page looking for something else,
and listened to some of the MP3s on their download
page
. I’m hooked. “C’Mon Juliana” is my favorite of the 6 or so
I’ve listened to. Eventually I’ll listen to them all.

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Music TopicTodays band of the day is brand new to me, I just ran across
them today but I really dig the songs they have available. This is the
band Maogojiatta.
I found out about them by cruising through the site of their
publicists. They have two songs available at the site above. I
downloaded both and really like them. “City” has kind of an old
fashioned feel to it, kind of like a Buffalo Springfield vibe. Or
perhaps I’m just tired and talking nonsense. Whatever.

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Last night I spent the evening rushing at my old fraternity, the
Georgia Tech chapter of Zeta Beta
Tau
. Through a series of screwups, the chapter was kicked off
campus three years ago and is only just now ending its exile. I cannot
say that I had any great desire to be attending rush parties into my
mid 30’s, but there you have it. It was good to see my old
compatriots. I still maintain that I look and act significantly less
middle-aged than the rest of these guys.

In some ways I feel the same
about ZBT and WREK – in both cases the main reason for my involvement
was that the organizations were in danger of becoming defunct. It’s the
duty of the current stewards of any such group to keep it alive, out
of respect for the legacy of those who preceded you and as a service
for those who will follow you. I sure hate to see organizations that I
feel fondly towards floundering and in danger of going belly up. I
sure wish that the current custodians of each could handle it without effort
from me but you play the hand you are dealt.

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I’ve been reading some of Paul
Graham’s
writings on Lisp. I had read some time ago his account of
how he used Lisp in Viaweb (later Yahoo Stores) to beat the
competitors. With this renewed interest in Lisp, I had it pointed out
to me that he is now giving away his book
On Lisp
for free. In one of his many articles, he talks about how
pointy-haired bosses always want you to use what they perceive as
being the “hot” language. Towards the bottom of his hilarious essay
Revenge of the Nerds
he includes this little nugget of wisdom:

If you want to trick a pointy-haired boss into letting you write
software in Lisp, you could try telling him it’s XML.

I’m enjoying his essays. I might as well give some Lisp a shot. My
editor program of choice includes a Lisp interpreter anyway, so why not?

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I made a little change to the HTML parsing of my script that reposts
these entries to DM and SFF.net. All the entries before today and
since I rearranged them to post in reverse order had a problem where
the last entry’s timestamp would wrap into the second to last
entry. That seems to be fixed.

I’m listening to the NPR Playhouse version of A Canticle for
Liebowitz
. It is a good production, if a tad long and slow. By the
time it is over, it will be a good 6 hours+. The acting is pretty
good, and I’m enjoying it. I had never read the original book. I
discovered a feature on my beloved iRiver SlimX that I had not known I
had. It has a resume feature so that when you restart a CD, be it MP3
or audio, it can start back at the same point it was playing. Well, it
maintains that history even across CDs. I had listened to other things
in between sessions of Liebowitz, and when I put that
CD back in, I started at the same place I had left it. Amazing! Just
to be sure, I took several CDs and shuffled amongst them and they all
resumed at the right place. I love it!

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Music TopicAnother major lable hedge on the band of the day. Today’s
musician is one of my favorites, the fabulous Warren Zevon. I have loved his
music for my whole life, and I saw him on the last tour. He’s giving
away the MP3 of his song Basket Case
on his page. He’s funny and one of my favorite wordsmiths.

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We went to trivia tonight, at which we mostly sucked. We came home to
find that Georgia’s two biggest embarassments in the House of
Representatives, Bob Barr on the right and Cynthia McKinney on the
left, both look as if they’ll lose in the primaries. And WREK is back
on the air, albeit it at 200 watts while they work on repairing the
transmitter. All in all not a bad night. If only I had known that Hank
Aaron never hit over 50 home runs in a year!

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So far, the
OpenCOLA stuff is not as
thrilling as it could be. I set up my folders and have gotten a few
recommendations of stuff that was slightly or not at all related to
what I was looking for. Yesterday I had a new person listed as someone
for whom I have interests in common, but other than that, not a lot of
action. I remain hopeful but we’ll see how it goes. I’m guessing not a
whole lot of folks are on the network yet.

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One of my coworkers popped up with the oddest excuses I’ve ever heard
for failing to vote, which is “I’ve got enough troubles in my life
without figuring out who to vote for.” I’ve been thinking on that for
hours and I can’t find any way to make that make any sense. I voted
around 7:45 AM and I can say it was the least thrilling ballot I’ve
ever cast. Almost no candidates had any opposition, and there was a
single ballot initiative. Still, my desire to vote is not related to
the thrill involved.

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Music TopicI’ve noticed in looking back over them that my band of the day
picks have leaned heavily towards rock, which might lead one to
believe this is all I care about. Not true! I love jazz, my favorite
being that period of 60’s and 70’s postbop, when Coltrane, Sonny
Rollins, Don Cherry, Sun Ra, Miles Davis and many others were doing
such groundbreaking and special work. I really don’t know much about
the scholarship of this kind of music or why I like it so much. I just
know from empirical trial-and-error, when I play a wide variety of
jazz available in the stacks, this is what gets me going. I mentioned
a few days ago that I consider Love Supreme to be the
single most perfect and uplifting work I have ever heard. Back when I
was doing the Friday
jazz shift
I one day played, more or less at random, Don Cherry’s
“Actions” from the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra
album. Wow! It really knocked me out, and some guy called up the
station and we had a 15 minute conversation about it.

Today’s band of the day is a musician whose work I’m familiar with
from WREK – professor, composer and saxophonist Steve Coleman. He
has an amazing amount of his MP3s available on his download page. There are
samples from his in print albums, and his out of print albums and the
unavailable in the US ones are up in their entirety. He says on the
page that soon he’ll be posting an essay answering the question “As a
working musician, why would you make your work available for
download?” I’ll be very interested in what he has to say.

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Music TopicOn WREK automation, the John Cale song
“Paris 1919” just played. That is one tune that can consistently raise
the hairs on the back of my neck. It is a simple and beautiful
sounding melody, but it always feels like there is so much more
happening in the song than what is just on the surface. That seems in
keeping with its theme of casual hauntings. Even with looking up and
reading
the lyrics
, I can’t claim I understand what it is about on any but
the most shallow level. That’s what I like about his work – I feel
like it is always challenging me. I really need to buy this album if
it is in print and available on CD.

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Right now I’m listening to
Alternative Radio
on WREK. Howard Zinn is on this week, as he
was last week. In one of those odd coincidences, he was recorded
talking at Reed College in Portland, OR and one of the places he is
talking about is Albany, GA. I’m not sure how many people have lived
in both towns, but I have. I listened to his show last week about
“Artists in wartime” and found it quite interesting. I tend to believe
that I’m on the left end of the political spectrum, but listening to
these shows makes me feel like I’m a staunch Republican. Thank god
that feeling goes away.

Speaking of politics, tomorrow is primary day here in Atlanta. I need
to spend some time tonight reading up on the candidates. They predict
a 20% turnout. I try very hard to vote in every election, even the
runoff elections for the smallest seat. I consider this my obligation,
my ante into the game of freedom. I noticed last election where I went
at the end of the day that many of my most loudmouthed neighbors
hadn’t shown up (this might be private information, but it’s easy
enough to see the names adjacent to yours when you sign the list and
if they lack signatures.) When they spout off, I always look at them
cross-eyed, knowing that they are full of opinions but too lazy to
drive down the street to vote.

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In a little bit, I’ll be going to what I think will be my last WREK
staff meeting in a long time, possibly ever. There is no hard feelings
and I’ll remain around to do technical things for them but I’ve got
other things I want to do now. It wasn’t single handed effort on my
part , but five people turned around this station from a complete mess in
spring 2001 to a solid, always-on-the-air, good sounding and
reasonably healthy organization today. We just finished what we
believe to be the first summer ever without appreciable off the air
time. Only a few hours after a lightning strike. Even in good summers,
WREK was usually off the air overnight Friday and Saturday. I feel
awfully good about my accomplishments of last summer, and the station
sounds great.

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Here is an experiment mixing together some of my
recent stuff I’ve done in this log. I’ve been playing with
OpenCOLA
some today, and I’ve set up an Active Folder with all the
web pages and some of the MP3s of every group that has been a “Band of
the day” in this blog. We’ll see how that goes. If it works as
advertised, then I should start getting a feedback loop going where I
get new recommendations that I further bubble into increased
relevance. That’s what the brochures say anyway. For those on the OC
network, this is user “biscuithead” with folder “Indy Music”.

The OpenCOLA stuff seems pretty cool, but there is a definite learning
curve to even understanding the concepts. It’s not like Kazaa or
something like that where 10 seconds after you install you are
browsing away. Several hours after setting up my initial folders, I
got my first “peer revelance” recommendation, although he has nothing
shared so I can’t tell why OC thinks we have tastes in common. More to
come.