Thursday, September 26, 2002

The Rantings of a Lunatic Mind
Al Gore is a moron.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Part #1 (of a series): Jim's Favorite Musical Genre: Math Rock
Contrary to belief, Math Rock is not the application of SOHCAHTOA set to music. Don't worry about the guitar god's raging hypotenuse. No, Math Rock is an interesting subset within the whole punk/indie universe that explores unique and separate territory. Math Rock is often described as "angular" and combines punk sensibilities with an intelligent, thoughtful approach to the music (Hence the geeky "Math" moniker). Often instrumental or lyrically sparse, Math Rock reveals a motif of intricate drum work and guitar/bass progressions that by and large are centered on delivering "clean" distinct notes with minimal distortion. In fact minimalism is an integral aspect of the Math Rock sound which separates it from more classic punk structures. Oftentimes an analog style sound is incorporated (the buzzing/popping of amps and employment of unclean non-digitized recording/production techniques). Granted, there are times when the distortion attack is laid down by Math Rock bands, but these tend to be interludes or bridges between the stripped down "angular" (non distorted, note distinct) verses. Rhythms are tight in Math Rock and the drums work closely with the bass/guitars to channel the sense of rhythm over melody (with various moments where the drums diverge and the melodies of the bass/guitar take off). This is precise, structured, experimental music. While there are many Math Rock bands out there, one's that I listen to and are fair representatives of the genre are Shellac, Arcwelder, and Lumen, and A Minor Forest.

Selected Math Rock MP3 Selections
Shellac: "Watch Song"
Arcwelder: "Do Something Right"
Lumen: (Movement: I)
A Minor Forest: "John Gets Leftovers Again"

Wall of Sound
No, not Phil Spector's version. I love music that hits you with what I call a Wall of Sound. Multiple layers of noise that cascade like a waterfall into your cranium. Sometimes I wonder how long my hearing will last (and Vicki will say it's already gone) but I just love loud music. You just can't hear the subtleties or the space within music unless it's cranked up. I also pay attention to recording technique (here would be an appropriate discussion of Phil Spector) and production. Some producers out there know bunk about recording and do all the production digitally through the board. Other producers, such as Steve Albini rely primarily on microphone placement within the studio to determine how the band will sound on the album. This is the approach I favor because you can pick up on the sense of space between the instruments (the source of the sound) and the microphone receiver. Also, any echoes within the studio will bounce around and reflect back to the microphones, further developing a sense of space and resonance.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Servings from the Skunk Works
I've come across some interesting articles about alternative propulsion systems. You never know what is going to come out of Area 51. One technology that the Chinese are thinking about in their drive for space exploration is to engineer rockets propelled by nuclear explosions. Also, a possible theory behind UFO sightings, the US is believed to be tinkering with Anti-Gravity engines. Woah Dude!

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Flags on the 48
In memory of last year's 9/11 attacks, various members of the hiking community got together in the spirit of patriotism to fly our nation's flag atop all peaks 4000' and higher in New Hampshire. (Linked photo was taken atop Mt. Eisenhower). The effort took place this past Saturday (9/14) and a hearty Bravo to all who participated. This photo is especially appropriate and was taken atop Mt. Moosilauke. Go here for the full photo gallery

Monday, September 16, 2002

Masturbate for Peace
The Peace Movement reveals itself to be the jackoffs everyone knew them to be.

Friday, September 13, 2002

To Boldly Scam Where No Scam Has Gone Before...
Ever wonder what happens if one actually responds to the Nigerian Spam Scam? James T. Kirk knows, or at least someone using his name as an alias. This is WAY TOO FUNNY.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Great White North
Forget Alanis Morisette, RUSH, and Peter Jennings. The finest Canadian import to cross the border is this crisp, clean, refreshing air mass currently over NH.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Solidarity with our Iranian Friends
Interesting things going on in Iran. You won't find this in the media because it doesn't fit in well with the stereotyped "Arab street" nonsense that the Arafat sympathizers in the media have framed the situation with. Lots of Iranians in sympathy with the US on this day of 9/11 remembrance are being beaten and attacked by Taliban and Al-Qeada goons hired by the ruling thugocracy to serve as muscle. The day of reckoning for this tyrannical regime is approaching.

The UK Rocks!
Here's why.

Witness to Terror
Please view this picture.

Made Me Want to Puke
I was checking out my tomato plants yesterday. What I thought was a branch turned out to be gigantic catapillar 4 inches long. I had happened to squeeze it and it felt rubbery - like a gummy worm.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

The Democratic Circus (Elevated from One Ring to Three...)
So I developed a matrix to grade the various candidates and assist me in my vote. I graded the candidates on important elements. Did they offer free "get-out-the-vote" barbecues so I didn't have to make my own dinner? Were their attack ads well produced? Was the background music of these ads sinister enough? How grainy, unflattering, and grotesque was the photo of their opponent that they used? Did the captions underneath the photo scream out as strongly as possible such alarming phrases as Tax & Spender! "....associated with Enron!" or defender of the Corporate Crooks and the Special Interests? Were character witnesses used to relay personal stories revealing proof of the opponent's sexual bias, moral failings, or straightforward nefariousness? How about the usage of prerecorded messages, phoned in at all hours of the day and evening. Was the dinnertime hour thoroughly carpet-bombed enough with these important calls? How personal did the prerecorded voices sound? Did they convey enough warmth for me to listen to the 20 minute spiel regarding the candidates "real record of reform?"

So I plugged in all these variables, criteria, and parameters and hit the "tabulate" button on my trusty Commodore 64 - specially built for this purpose. The dot-matrix printer buzzed, whirred, and whirligigged around as it printed the calculated result. The most trustful entity in NH. The visage firmly entrenched in the bedrock of this state. The one who stands above the hills and valleys of the greater landscape. No better vote could be cast than for this icon of NH values. Yep, you guessed it. A series of granite ledges and outcroppings increasingly held together by rebar, cement, and iron cables. The venerable Great Stone Face.

Children of the Corn
There's a neighbor of ours who was reluctant to meet us. We'd be out in the yard doing stuff and I knew he had seen us, but there was no attempt at an introduction. Instead, he has dispatched his pre-teen child on us. Almost on a daily basis the pre-teen stands at the beginning of our driveway looking to see if we are out of the house. Sometimes she even comes down the driveway and searches our backyard to see if we're in some obscure portion of our property. Her conversation revolves around hamsters, school, rilly-cool movies, what kinds of profanity her friends say to their parents, and various boys she makes fun of at school. There is nothing more interesting than listening to this endless minutae. So now we look out the windows first to see if the coast is clear before venturing outside. I've even caught myself hiding out of sight at the slightest hint of her voice off in the distance. She makes her rounds in the neighborhood and knows everybody's business. The peace and solace I had hoped home ownership would offer has vanished.....

Oh well, I guess it's off to Home Depot to find the pieces to building a really big wall.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Limerick of the Day
Lewinsky and Clinton have shown
What Kaczynski must surely have known -
That an intern is better
Than a bomb in a letter
When deciding how best to be blown

-Courtesy Samizdata

Not Just Another Conspiracy Theory
As has been reported earlier, there have been some curious links between the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks. The plot gets thicker and thicker....

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Pulitzer Prize
I'm reading the most gripping account of 9/11 I think could possibly be written. I recently subscribed to the Atlantic Monthly for a number of reasons: a good writeup about the magazine in the Boston Globe; a mix of writers I enjoy reading (Chris Hitchens, PJ O'Rourke, Robert Kaplan); and the overall focus of the magazine itself - especially the aim to tell stories in a longer, more detailed manner.

But as I was saying, the Atlantic has published a 3 part, 20,000 word account of the WTC attack, collapse, and subsequent recovery effort. The detail is astounding. The author had unrestricted access to Ground Zero for 9 months and got to know all the major and many of the minor characters involved in the planning, direction, and execution of the excavation of the site. The science of the event is explored - the manner in which the towers were constructed, how they were able to absorb the impacts of fuel laden Boeings travelling in excess of 500 MPH at time of impact. Detail is given how the buildings collapsed - what forces acted on them to cause them to implode. Personal stories are told by survivors and the decisions great and minor that allowed them to live. In the case of one man (who was in a stairwell on a floor in the 20s of the North Tower), the collapse happened around him. He heard the tremendous roar of floors collapsing above him. As the sound approached and certain death seemed imminent, he held himself tight and closed his eyes. He saw stars about 4 times as he was struck on the head by debris. He could hear entire walls pulling away from around him - then the feel of momentary weightlessness as the floor underneath him gave way. His final impact landed him on the top of a suspended concrete slab, blue sky, smoke, and pulverized concrete all around him. He at first thought he was in heaven. But the pain of a broken ankle told him otherwise (his most serious injury). He was alive, and somehow survived the entire shedding of the concrete and steel skin that was part of the North Tower. Somehow, the 70-80 floors that were above him had managed to fall around him rather than on him.

Other details are given, and problems that the dominant media outlets rarely (if at all) touched upon. The suspect integrity of the slurry wall that protected the entire WTC foundation from the tidal flows of the Hudson and NY Harbor. The mechanics of soil and water pressure and the danger they posed for the engineers on the site. The coordination of municipal, state, and federal agencies along with the contracting of numerous private firms to get the recovery effort underway as quickly as possible. The personalities involved, the procedures that were written, reimagined, or largely ignored as the magnitude of the effort came into focus and as it became clear that nobody really had any idea at first how something like this could happen and how it could be cleaned up.

We will no doubt be inundated with 9/11 imagery, retrospection, and rehashing ad nauseum from the major news networks. However repetious and crass it may be (hopefully not), we must never forget that terrible day - not because we need to relive the sadness and horror of the event, but because we can learn so much about what is right and what is just and what is honorable in those people who died only because they showed up for work one day in September, and as well as from those people who continue to work right now in their memory. The police, the fire departments, the EMTs, the nurses, the construction engineers, the sandhogs, the ironworkers, the soldiers, the pilots, the tech gurus poring over satellite data, the special ops guys, the relief workers delivering food, school materials, and hope. Don't freeze 9/11 with the familiar imagery of horror, death, and destruction. Instead remember 9/11 with what continues today - a renewed spirit, a greater sense of purpose, a promise to live a fuller life, and a determination to make sure that justice prevails.

Thought of the Day
Why is it that new mothers sometimes complain about not having enough "adult conversation" - especially if they are talking to their baby for most of the day? I mean, the bulk of adult conversation I hear from new mothers is mostly them talking about their baby.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Would You Like Thin Crust or Chicago Deep Dish, Yitzhak?
While Saddam & the Mullahs (sounds like a 50's musical troupe) keep Hamas and Islamic Jihad stocked up with explosives and Semtex belts, you can do your part to supply the Israeli Defense Forces with pizza and ice cream.