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In my day job, I have ocassion to see a lot of the registration
information for blocks of IP addresses. I run a server that caches
geographic information relating IP to geographic coordinates. I saw
something that caught my eye, a typo in the record that made me think
a large commuications company was in fact in the porn business. Here
is a link to the record
that made me think that
.

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Here’s something that looks cool. I was looking up something on the
library site for Simple Media Direct
Layer
and I saw a reference to Civil, a networked multiplayer game of
strategy set duing the (American) Civil War. Since I live in an former
battleground and keep running across more and more of the historical
markers in my neighborhood, my interest in the Civil War is increasing
(never saw the Ken Burns documentary that so inflamed everyone else –
yet another party I am late to). The beauty of SDL is that this thing
is available in Linux, Windows, MacOS X, and BSD versions. Nice! I
must check this out. Then the problem usually becomes the fact that I
have no one to play the game with.

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I’m listening to the appearance of Bruce
Sterling and Robert Weinberg on Talk of the Nation yesterday
. As
I’m listening, the current caller is John Kessel. Cool, no? I could
live without the Star Wars theme at the end, but whatever. At least it
was a reasonable show, not full of gaga silliness. I suspect Neil
Conan of being a reader in the genre, as he seemed to know a lot of
the SF specific stuff and could identify writers and such.

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I was wondering if the station would play Tift Merrit (who I saw at
that thing with the Indigo Girls a few days ago and is from Raleigh)
and as I was pulling up her web page, one of her songs came on the
radio. That answers that question. I liked that song too.

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The WREK Merzbow marathon is over, but until late next week it will
still be available in their week-long MP3 archive.

Music TopicHere’s something I found out from John Bartley
(from whom I’m getting a lot of these links lately) in a newgroup
post:

There is a station in Research Triangle, NC called WBZB 1090 AM that has an odd and
wonderful programming philosophy – they only play local music. Here
is an article about them.
In fact, since I’ve been writing this
entry I’ve been listening to their webcast and heard a song so good
that I called them up to ask who it was (finding today’s band of the
day in the process.) It’s almost a throwback to stations of 50 years
ago in the era of early rock and roll. The programming is loose enough
that they are playing trippy psychedelic rock (the song I called
about) alongside alt.country or even straight raw country, blues,
southern rock, etc. It’s kind of like a toned-down commercial version
of what WREK does. I strongly applaud this and I really hope this
works out for them. Their slogan is “It’s all about the music”, which
is a rarity in modern commercial radio. The CNN story has some quotes
from radio consultants basically giving WBZB no chance. I’d love to
see them eat their words and WBZB make it – radio consultants are why
commercial radio is now unlistenable. Screw those guys and their
cynical horseshit.

There’s a second level to this, which is that the station has a pretty
small signal range but I in fact really wanted to live in it. When we
moved from Oregon, my wife was going into grad school at either
Georgia Tech or NC State. I really was rooting for the latter, as I
wanted to live in the triangle. I like Atlanta and all (less now than
I did 15 years ago) but Atlanta was the choice of the comfort zone. We
had friends here, history, etc. Raleigh would have been a leap into
the unknown but one I wanted to take. I love the music there – a lot
of bands I really dig come from that area. I just wanted something
different and didn’t think I would have any problem coming up with a
job there. I’ve never even been in the area other than driving
straight to the airport once, but I had in my head that I’d enjoy
living there. I’m impulsive that way. I was completely and totally
prepared to load up the truck and head there. As it played out, the NC
State offer sucked compared to the one Georgia Tech made, so as much
as I wanted to live in the area I really wouldn’t have asked my wife
to make any decision differently than she did. She has worked out a
deal where she is going to be doing an intercomparison of her
atmospheric measurement stuff up there this summer, and maybe
I’ll fly or drive up and visit while she is there. That way my desire
to live there can hopefully be coupled with some empirical data. It’s
still in the south (and frankly, living in Atlanta is less like living
in the south every day as it becomes an island full of transplanted
carpetbaggers), it is close to some family, drivable to the rest. I’m
dreaming a little dream.

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Somewhere today, the Merzbow marathon on WREK should be ending. They
were on disk 36 of 50 as I was driving to work. I’ve actually been
listening less than I normally would because this isn’t my thing, but
I strongly applaud the kids’ balls in doing this thing. Take risks,
for Christ’s sake! That’s something commercial radio hasn’t done in 30 years.

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I can’t say I’ve ever been much in the industrial noise camp so the
WREK Merzbow marathon is of academic interest to me. Some of
what I’ve heard is interesting and all, but I can’t say I’m clamoring
to buy the box set. It has achieved the primary goal, though, of
getting some attention for the station. One of the big problems I
found when we put in the unattended operation stuff last April was how
to publicize the fact that the station no longer leaves the air when
there is no manpower to run it. On the one hand, you want to let the
people who might have been turned off by that know that things are
different. On the other hand, it’s an admission of how bad things used
to be. You don’t get extra-credit for being on the air as a radio
station – that’s pretty much expected as baseline (unless of course
you are a sunup to sundown AM like KQNK 1530 Norton KS, the station I first
worked at.) So although the station has been on the air since April
with only minor outages for transmitter issues like lightning strikes,
that’s not really something that can be publicized. I’ve been urging
them to find other things to publicize, just to let it slowly seep
back into the consciousness that the station exists, and let the
listeners find out for themselves that things are much much better
now.

Since I’ve been typing this, they switched from CD #14 to #15, and
this one actually is pretty cool. It almost has a beat and a
melody. It sounds a little like some of the noisy bits of Dark
Side of the Moon
.

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I forgot to ever weblog this thing that WREK is doing next
week. They are going to air in its entirety the 50 (?!?!) CD
collection of releases by the Japanese artist Merzbow entitled
Merzbox. It’ will take somewhere just shy of 3 days
to do this. I think this is cool as hell. For more information, here
is a link to the press
release.
Don’t forget, fans of the avantgarde, you can hear this
via streaming MP3.

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So far, one hour into our stay,
The Orchard Hotel
is getting Dave’s A+ rating. Nice hotel, nice
amenities, good room. It’s halfway up Nob Hill from Union Square, so
an easy walk to the Moscone and fun stuff. The room has a Ethernet
jack in the wall, and I plugged in my power cord, stuck in a network
cable, woke my laptop from standby and voila – I’m logged into my
linux box at home, checking e-mail and weblogging! They also have
DVD/CD players in the rooms, and DVD rentals are free! It would be
stupid to fly to San Francisco and spend all my time in the hotel
watching movies, but it could be done.

One of the places I’ll be killing a little time is a good looking
shop between here and the Moscone Center, Jefferys Toys and
Comics
. The ad and website make it seem fun, so why not? It’s by
far the closest comic shop, as most of them seem to be outside of the
downtown area.

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Leaving shortly for the airport. I have de-metalled myself as much as
possible. If I go through the glass booth this time it is because my
wedding ring and jeans rivets set it off. What can I do? I’ll try
to paste in some entries from the plane like I have been. The hotels
supposedly has “complimentary DSL access.” The word access bothers me
– is the access free but the service for pay? Even if it is for pay,
the Moscone will have wifi access and I believe Union Square has
plenty of hotspots, so we shall see.

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I may or may not go see Aimee
Mann
tonight. She’ll be in town at the Variety Playhouse, and I
think tickets are still available. It boils down to energy. I hate not
doing things because I’m too tired. That is for old folks, and I’m not
preparted to admit that I’m in that group yet.

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This weekend I’ll be travelling with my wife to San Francisco to
attend the winter meeting of the American Geophysical Union. She’s
presenting a poster there on her research, and me, I have no
responsibilities whatsoever, except to bum around SF for several
days. One thing I know I’ll be doing is to spend some time at the Cartoon Art Museum. I hadn’t
realized it would go this way when we were planning these trips, but
I’ll have spent five consecutive weeks without doing a full five day work
week. Not a terribly bad deal for me.

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More public radio stuff. I browsed around and was looking at the site
for This American
Life
. I really think I want to buy the comic
book about the making of the show
. It’s drawn by Jessica Abel of
Artbabe comics. I’ve always
enjoyed the program which is always good and frequently
brilliant. However, my issue with it is that it can be so
hyper-intellectual that it gets soulless. I think that it often is all
ego and no id. Still good. I started listening about five years ago,
shortly after we moved to Portland. In all that time, though, I’ve
never been a regular real-time listener. Luckily they now have every
episode available by RA streaming. One of the shows I particularly
liked since it fits with my fascination with Lucha Libre is the
episode entitled Leave the
Mask On
. Segment three is a story recorded in Mexico with some
Luchadores, including one who was unmasked and thus could never
wrestle again. I find this stuff very moving.

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We were listening to Prairie Home
Companion
this evening, the first time in a while. It made for a calm
pleasant evening, sitting in the living room whilst listening to
it. We saw the show performed while we lived in Portland, and it was
quite an experience. For me, the best part of the show is always “The
news from Lake Woebegon.” They are so often melancholy and wistful,
and that point where the monologue ends and then there are 6 or 8
minutes left of the show always leaves me kind of sad because it is
all over.

Israeli PR

Heard a very interesting episode of
Alternative Radio
on WREK today. This dealt with the
Palestinians and how the news coverage in America has a slant even
more pro-Israeli than that in Israel itself. It had some interesting
stuff about how the Israelis use PR firms as a tool in their
occupation of the West Bank. It’s available on the WREK MP3 archive until December 2, 2002
at
this link
.

Personality Crisis

Music TopicI’m once again listening to
Personality Crisis and Psych Out on the plane. I like this whole
thing. I’m about to hear Jon Kincaid play a few cuts off of
Rise Above, the Henry Rollins assembled disc of Black
Flag covers done to raise money for the West Memphis
Three. Interesting to hear Hank Williams III singing “No Values”, to
say the least. I read about this in the Rolling Stone Avantgo channel,
and it sounded like something worth getting.

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Weblogging from the hotel room at the Westin in downtown
Portland. This was kind of a brutal trip, but fun. I was up at 4:30 AM
EST to get ready for our 8:15 flight. All in all, the flight was
pretty pleasant. The security scan was a huge pain in the ass. I tried
to demetal myself, but missed a single quarter, which set off the
metal detector. The flight was mostly empty, which is always good from
a comfort standpoint. I listened to WREK the whole way in the form
of CDs I have burnt of MP3s saved from the streaming archives. I
listened to Personality Crisis (post-punk/new-wave) and Psych Out
(psychedelic) from September. I also read the first half of Kelley Eskridge’s novel
Solitaire. After getting to PDX, we were pleased to
find out that the light rail goes all the way to the airport. We rode
it to within 2 blocks of the hotel, which allowed us to check-in at
11:45 AM. After some lunch at Pizzicato Pizza, we power shopped at
Nordstrom’s Rack, Ross to get D outfitted for a wedding. After that,
we had some tasty mochas at Coffee People. We went to Lloyd Center for
some mop-up shopping, and then ate at Red Robin. That was the end of
our consumer day, except for a quick run I made to Reading Frenzy,
where I bought the graphic novel of Ghost World, a
Noam Chomsky book, and an issue of Left of the Dial, an
indy music magazine. Basically our agenda was/is to shop at and eat at
places we don’t have in Atlanta. Powells is still open for several
more hours and is only 4 blocks away, but I’m too bushed to go. At
this point, I’ve been up for 18 hours after 4 hours sleep the last
three nights. We haven’t really made much of an effort to hook up with
friends this time, since we didn’t really know what we were doing or
when. I’ll be back in two weeks and will try to be more social then.

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We’re here in Portland. I will probably paste in a few entries the
next time I dial up. I don’t want to burn my time composing entries,
since we only have 2 hours per month on this PeoplePC/AT&T dialup
thingie, without an additional fee. It’s nice to see familiar sites.