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Today I got e-mail informing me that
Open Cola
is in beta. To be honest, I signed up for this so long
ago that I had forgotten about it. I tried to install it and get
registered but the registration server timed out. It’s quite possible
that they are overloaded from just getting fired up. I’ll try at 6 AM
tomorrow, when I’m sure fewer geeks are active. This is the company
that Cory Doctorow cofounded, he who writes good SF and also has one of
pre-eminent blogs.

Oh my god, Cory points out the Hello
Kitty USB hub
. Dear lord I want one. As you type on the keyboard,
Hello Kitty moves and shakes around. I’m an easy mark, aren’t I?

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Busy day. Darlene was phone banking tonight for
, the Georgia pro-choice organization. I declined this one,
for my own reasons. Instead I ended up running a variety of errands,
including logging in to work to check on an urgent bug report. Sigh,
the life of the wicked includes little rest.

Just for my friend Shannon, I changed the logic of the perl script
that reposts the daily weblog entries to SFF-Net and DM. He didn’t
like the top-to-bottom organization. On the website it makes perfect
sense – most recent entry at the top. He didn’t like it in the
newsgroups, so now they are reordered there and only there. I am
nothing if not responsive to the needs of the several people reading

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In a discussion on Dueling Modems I was
asking if the Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp composition “Here Comes
the Flood” was at all influenced by J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned
World. Both are melancholy acceptances of this changed world in which
cities are underwater. That got
me thinking and discussing how much I love Fripp’s Exposure album,
from whence that cut comes. The title cut is one of the coolest songs
in rock history, with Terre Roche – a woman with a fabulous singing
voice – singing the title word over and over in increasingly strained
screeches while a bed of weird Frippertronics ™ plays
underneath. Man o man, does it get better than this?

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I want to go on record with two terms I devised. Neither shows up on
Google, so there is a decent chance I created both. If anyone knows of
earlier uses, please tell me. The first is an Internet acronym for
those people who mean well but through their sheer disorganization and
position as nexii of chaos consistently screw it up. The term (which I
used for the first time to describe a volunteer organization that keep
e-mailing my wife not realizing they already had done it) is
HIRPHUA. It stands for “Heart In Right Place, Head Up Ass.”

The other is to describe the situation, such as at my current
workplace, where all top management are smokers. This means that many
times a day, groups of them meet out front of the building for 5 – 15
minutes at a time for what become defacto policy setting
meetings. Non-management smokers end up being present and having an
effect. Non-smokers end up mostly out of the process, and even if they
go down and hang out, it’s never the same. This situation is a

Here and now, I plant that flag of each of these terms. Use them as
you will. My goal is to see HIRPHUA used in an Usenet post
someday. That will be my success case.

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We did not see Dave Ryan Harris last night (the title of today’s entry
is from one of his songs). Fatigue was the deciding factor. I sure
hate not going to things because we are too tired. That’s for old
people! We only have one more chance to see his “social” as he moves
to LA (as in Los Angeles, not the Louisiana I usually mean) in September.

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One of the things I want to do some research on is the history of the
last twelve years of Atlanta, before after and during the Olympics. I
lived here for the periods 1985-1990, then 1993-1995 and again since 2000. We were here
for the time when the bid was active, during the building, and now
during the aftermath. It is not pretty. I have found my return for
these last two years to be one disappointment after another. Atlanta
is less friendly than it used to be, even worse on city planning
issues. We wanted the Olympics to become a world class city, and now
we are. We have world class traffic congestion, world class pollution
and world class budget shortfalls. Welcome to the big time, friends
and neighbors. Is it everything you dreamed it would be?

I heard tell today of a writer for the Atlanta Journal/Constitution who did a series of critical stories on the subject. I must look them up. Money was made, but the question
is in whose pockets did it wind up? Six years after an event that
was sold to us as bringing economic benefits, the city is in
terrible financial shape. Our services are being cut, our taxes
raised. Parts of the infrastructure like water and sewer are literally
falling apart and can’t be addressed with any finality because the
city is scrambling to pay its bills. We all know now that the Olympics
is a corrupt organization, with officials who use the goodwill of the
events and the glory thereof to stuff their pockets with money with
both fists. I think potential host cities should be asking themselves
“Do we want to be licking the ass of these crooks and scumbags for
most of the next decade? And if we do, how much of our future are we
willing to mortgage for that privilege?” It seemed so wonderful twelve years ago that
we would get to host them and the reality was really kind of
ugly. Ultimately, the endeavor is like trying to join the rich kid
clique at school by throwing a big fancy, expensive party. They will
come, eat your food and drink your drink, and then make fun of you for
thinking you could be one of them. If you aren’t in the club already,
it’s almost impossible to buy your way in.

I will be searching for the journalism on this topic and post
references here
if I can find any. Meanwhile I’ll be breathing smoggy air as assholes
in SUVs run stop signs and try to kill me every day I live here.

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Music TopicToday’s band is Mary Timony. She seems not to have a web page
of her own, but she does have one at
Matador Records
. I heard of her recently when she opened up for
Sonic Youth. Dumbass that I am, I missed her set but I listened to the
MP3 Matador has up there and I really like it. It’s kind of trippy and
dreamy ala some of the quieter Liz Phair songs. You can hear it


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The BlogMax upload the month function is definitely screwed up. I’m
not sure what I did to make it stop working, but the calendar won’t
regenerate unless I explicitly open and resave every previous day. The
only day it continues to work for is the first day of the month. I
really don’t know Lisp well enough to do much debugging. I once heard
a comedian describe that act of looking under the hood when your car
conks out as “looking for a giant on/off switch in the ‘off’
position.” This is what I’m looking for in the Lisp code.

World record record

The debate over “best” album in rock history seems to not be terribly
vituperative. Craig Shaw Gardner floated the soundtrack to Saturday
Night Fever under the “best representative of the zeitgeist of its
time” and I can’t really disagree with that. That’s the criteria by
which I rank Nevermind and London Calling highly as well. If I had to
start from scratch this instant, I think being a music historian and
critic would be a good career for me. And my pick for best album of
all time under the “when I hear it I feel in tune with the notion that
anything in this world is possible and am uplifted by the sound” category
would have to be Coltrane’s Love Supreme.

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I’m officially attempting to get into the Ponzi scheme – this morning
I registered with Blogdex,
so we’ll see what happens with that. It would be interesting to see my
band of the day picks start showing up in there. If so, I might run
back through them so as to get them all represented better.

I realized that my late-night, bleary eyed entry was the only one for
yesterday. I seem to have forgotten to make any more. I believe I’ve
made my last notice of when I miss posting the band of the day. I’ll
try not to miss it, but if I do it will pass without comment.

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Music TopicI’m up atypically late tonight. On Dueling Modems I got involved in a discussion
of what the best album of rock history is. Author Craig Shaw Gardner
was posting from MOJO magazine that cited the Beach Boys Pet Sounds as
holding that title. I’m not sure I buy that, and I proposed a list of
possible contenders – not that I say any of this is, but ones that
could reasonably be mentioned in such a discussion. They include:
Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
Mothers of Invention – We’re only in it for the Money
Nirvana – Nevermind
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
Beatles – Abbey Road
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
Everclear – Sparkle and Fade
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks
Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
Captain Beefheart – Safe as Milk (or Trout Mask Replica [ or Bat Chain
Puller]) or …
Alice in Chains – Dirt
Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
Pixies – Doolittle
Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks

And I cited my pick for the single most solid album of rock history,
Richard and Linda Thompson – Shoot Out the Lights

Then later on I added:
Velvet Underground and Nico
Television – Marquee Moon
The Ramones
Smiths – Meat is Murder
REM – Fables of the Reconstruction
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Patti Smith – Easter
Grateful Dead – American Beauty
The Clash – London Calling
Neil Young – Harvest
Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets (how did I miss this one first post?!!?!)

This is the kind of discussion I could have forever. I love it!

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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is Yo La Tengo. I’ve been familiar
with them for many years from the radio station, but I went to their
website for the first time today. They have a song from their new
album The Sounds of the Sounds of Science up there,
an 11 minute awesome instrumental called “The Love Life of the
Octopus”. This album is only available from them, and is all music
they wrote to accompany underwater documentary films by Jean
Painleve. Add this to the Aimee Mann album as ones where I woudn’t
have had a purchasing decision unless I had heard about it via the

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One of the ultra-dorky things I do is enter my bills into Where’s George. I’ve been doing
it for over two years and have now entered over 3300 bills into the
system. Here is my
. One thing people always are increduluous about is the
amount of time it takes to do this. Well, it takes about 1 minute per
bill and I’ve done 3300 bills in 800 days, so about 4 minutes a
day. I’ve been trying like the devil to convince people (at work, at
WREK, everywhere) that forward progress is the sum of lots of tiny
bits of work. People seem to be more comfortable with infrequent but
heroic efforts, doing nothing for a long time then working for 18
hours straight on something. It’s been my experience that sustained
and consistent effort always gets you more real results than
occasional bursts of enthusiasm.

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Movie TopicLast night we watched a great movie, Wet Hot American
. It’s broadly a parody of summer camp movies and teen
coming of age movies, but also includes much of the weird dark humor
that infested my favorite skit comedy show, MTV’s The
. Most of the cast members are there as are several of
the creative forces. And I’m serious that I think The
is a better show than Kids in the
, better than Monty Python. It is a
show that I’d buy every episode on DVD in a heartbeat. To this day, I
cannot hear the phrase “Porcupine racetrack” without grinning.

Alice in Radioland

I skipped the band of the day yesterday as well, but not for lack of
trying. I wanted to put in
Randy Greif
but he gives away no MP3s on
his website. We have this album of his in rotation at WREK that is
fabulous – a five(?!) CD treatment of Alice in Wonderland. It has all
the dialog of the book spread out over 6 hours of tape loops,
industrial and electronic noises and really odd soundscapes. It’s $50
from Soleilmoon Records
(located in my old stomping grounds of Portland OR) and I’m going to
treat myself one of these days and buy it. It’s one of my more
favoriter things they play at the station.

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I’ve about enjoyed all this I can stand. I’m
currently digitizing some stuff from the ambient format, and it sure
is weird! One of the tracks is 10 minutes through which every possible
PCM value is played once. Another is data recorded in Australia and
Antartica of the Indian nuclear tests, rendered as audio. It’s on the
CD Parallel Lines/Parallel Rhythms. It’s on the
edition… label, which is run by another WREK alumnus. As Johnny
Carson would say, “wild weird stuff.”

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This decision to do everything from the Linux box rather than set up
umpteen copies of BlogMax on every computer I use was a good one. I’m
at this moment in the radio station, digitizing new music for the
robots to use and I’m logged into home, weblogging. Today I’m putting
in some Pixies, Sonic Youth and Toenut as oldies. We used to have
these big freaking reels of music, about 30 songs on them, that were
our oldies. New music was recorded on carts with announcements of what
they were. Two reels would be loaded, and reel A would play, then a
cart, reel B, a cart, reel A, etc. If you listened to WREK between
1973 and 1997, you surely heard this sometime or another. Well, the
last reels were made around 1993 and most were made in the early/mid
80’s. When we went digital, we digitized the old reels to give us a
starting place. However, we have a big gap in our oldies from the late
80s to the late 90’s. I’m trying to put in stuff to plug that a
little. I’m not as far on the edge as most of these people, I’m going
“Teenage Riot” and “Gouge Away.” In the WREK spectrum, I’m a
centrist. By commercial radio tastes, i’m way out on the edge but
these folks look at me as if I was top 40. Stuck in the middle again!

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I’m going to go into WREK and do a little work this morning. I’ve
given them a timetable – by 10/31 (Halloween) I will stop doing almost
everything I do for them. It’s time for the young birdies to leave the
nest. I have dumped so much energy into that place over the last year
and a half, and it has helped quite a bit. When I started back, the
place was in turmoil, everything was broken, they were off the air 30
or 40 hours a week during the normal semesters, 60 or 70 hours a week
over summer and breaks. Now, most things are fixed (I didn’t fix them,
there are a few other alumni and a new student chief engineer who are
doing that), their automation is rebuilt (that I did) and so stable
that the station is always on 24X7, whether or not there is the
manpower to cover the station. My main goals are accomplished, so I
want to selfishly spend that time and energy on myself and my family
and my own projects now.

And I can do that, listening to a 91.1 FM
that is always on the air. It sounds so basic, but
that’s always been an issue at WREK. I was operation manager 14 years
ago, and it took 15-30 hours a week to make sure the station was
always staffed. I kept it on the air for three months without a
signoff back then, and it was an excruciating, back breaking
effort. As of today, WREK has been on the air for four months for
free. When someone leaves the station, they turn on the robots and
away it goes. I love it.

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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is one that I’m pretty new to. I found
out about them by hearing them on WREK in the last few months. They
are Woozy Helmet from
Texas. I like the way they sound, “Not Real” being my favorite of the
ones I’ve heard so far. They have a lot of MP3s up on the site. The
Macromedia Flash shit is really annoying, but artistic sorts and
musicians seem to love it. Anyway, check it out and listen. If you go
to the “Recordings” page, there are actually more MP3s that aren’t
listed on the downloads page. They rawk, dood!

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Thus far, I haven’t written anything political or controversial in
this log. It’s all been pretty standard day to day stuff. In posts on
Dueling Modems I have been debating with a
few people the question of whether or not downloading of free files
(music via MP3, free books) hurts the livelihood of the creators. My
belief (just my belief – if we had facts we wouldn’t all be arguing)
is that they do not. Here is a post I made on that subject, slightly
edited to remove some of the personal remarks between myself and the
person I was responding to and make it more of a statement of my
philosophy. I was going to edit out every personal you/me type of
remark, but just pretend I am addressing all affected creators, and
they are the “you”. I’ll still be the “me.” Alle ist klar, kommisar?

No one has all the answers. We are still miles away from even having all
the questions. We are all fumbling around here. Please please please,
understand that doesn’t mean I want to see your livelihood
impaired. It is my gut feeling that in a world where less friction is
spent fighting free downloads, you would make more money. I’d rather
see all the money spent in fighting them (via the expense of DRM,
opportunity costs of sales not made, etc) go straight into your pocket.

I keep mentioning this stuff because some people are finding success in
making free downloads work for them. Janis Ian seems to have, the
musicians I know are having varying of degrees of success with it. I’m
not a wild-eyed “Intellectual property is theft” slashdotter and I’m not
advocating anyone doing anything without the permission of the rights
holder(s). However, I think loosening up might very well make y’all more
money. I don’t know this and cannot provide you with evidence for it,
but I feel it in my rheumatism. I also feel there are benefits that the
rights holder get that we have no models to describe or measure, an
“enthusiasm” value that increases when people have cheap or free access
to some of their work.

Here’s one example: I preordered
Aimee Mann’s new album
this week. Right
now, I can hear the entire thing for free via her website. Its in high
quality RealAudio files, but with about an hours worth of work a dork
like me could create my own audio CD that would have better audio
quality than a cassette copy of the CD. Why did I order the CD rather
than doing that? A variety of reasons, hard and soft, that include:

  • It cost $15 and 2 minutes to order it. The value of my time that it
    would have taken to burn an illicit copy far exceeds that cost

  • The CD includes a booklet with illustration by Seth, an artist I like
  • A bonus CD with unreleased tracks is included for those who preorder
    (also a reason for buying now rather than later)

  • I like Aimee Mann and want her to continue putting out albums, rather
    than quitting and going into advertising jingles

  • Burnt CDs are cheezy and I’d rather have the “real thing”
  • It would be a hassle and not be fun
  • I give her extra credit for the way she has stuck her middle finger
    out at the major labels and that’s worth some money to me

I believe that this great loss of money you are worried about is a
bugaboo to keep power in the hands of the same plutocrats who at best
don’t help writers much and at worst rob them blind for their entire
careers (and y’all have it good compared to the indentured servitude of
major label musicians.) I think you as a writer would be better off with
a system that would force publishers to be more efficient, to not have
sales forces claim “But I can’t sell a book about that”, with a market
place with lower friction. It is my belief that, ala Jack Valenti
fighting against VCRs in 1980, the world you are fearful of is one that
will be better for you and that will increase the market. I could be
wrong but dear god I hope I’m not.