Saturday, January 19, 2008

Les Savy Fav @ The Loft - Updated

Les Savy Fav played an excellent set at the Loft in Dallas tonight. I was set for the after-party but bouncers and a five dollar cover is a little silly in my opinion. Still, it was a great show, though not enough nudity, but the cover of "Debaser" by the Pixies more than made up for that. The crowd, a Dallas crowd at that, was pretty into it, except when Harrington went into the crowd and then people didn't know what to do. The Fatal Flying Guilloteens, one of the openers, was amazing, but the crowd didn't know how to react really. The band was like Baboon on steroids, so of course I loved it. Here's a set of photos I took at the show, including the post-show kiss Harrington gave my friend Chad from fotophonic. Look for more photos from them in a day or so when they have a chance to upload them.

Update: As Emily from fotophonic points out in the comments, they have a video up of Les Savy Fav's cover of "Debaser" by the Pixies.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A 'Stimulating Package' for Bush

Bush Calls for Economic Stimulus Package - William Branigin @ Washington Post

You know, this is one of the few times President Bush has acted something like a real leader. He's set out a goal, an economic plan amounting to nearly 1% of our GDP, weighted heavily on tax cuts but left the details for Congress, himself and the Treasury Dept to work out. Personally, I'd like to see something much more radical in the sense of slashing middle class taxes in half while closing most, if not all, of the corporate tax loopholes and then flattening out corporate taxes downwards by a few percentage points. Index Social Security taxes and remove the cap at $90,000. Cut a lot of the farm subsidies, particularly for farms that net more than ten million a year to make up the loss in revenue from middle class taxes. Increase food stamp availability while shoring up the subprime mortgage mess by backing the homeowners for a limited time if they fall into a hardship and can't pay their mortgages. There's a lot more than can be done, but the most important aspect is giving the middle class the money and assurances that turn into consumer confidence and thus consumer spending. While tax cuts for the rich work in theory that's generally not how it works in real life in terms of stimulating the economy. It's the middle class that we need to focus our efforts on and I do hope Congress realizes this, or at least does something to alieviate the burden on the middle class.

Putting the Black Man in his Place, or the False Victim of Hillary Clinton

Black Dreams, White Liberals - Charles Krauthammer @ Washington Post

I don't normally link to a Charles Krauthammer op-ed piece since most of the time the man is off his wheelchair. He does occasionally come up with a decent piece of writing though and his op-ed today on the Clinton-Obama race issue is a good bit of writing for him, particularly since he gets to slam liberals while appearing to support Sen. Obama. There really isn't anything substantially new to what Krauthammer writes but he does make a point that I hadn't fully considered yet: that the Clintons are treating Sen. Obama like some uppity nigger usurping a white woman's place. It plays to all the key points of the race card in the wrong way for the Clinton campaign to argue that Sen. Obama should wait his turn, especially since he's some ghetto-hood, drug-slinging darkie who only holds his place because the white liberals were nice and let him play with the big boys. Problem is, Sen. Obama is none of those things; he is not an 'uppity nigger' and he certainly was not some ghetto-hood as the Clinton campaign insinuates.
Sen. Obama should not have to wait his turn and, to be sure, Sen. Clinton should stop using this false victimhood by acting like a weak-willed woman who is being denied her due all because of some black man. I do not want the first woman president to win based on her playing the victim, particularly since the potentially first black president has not played such a role at any point. If Sen. Clinton wishes to garner the respect Sen. Obama has then she needs to rise above identity politics and play at the same level as Sen. Obama. And that right there is where I think the Obama campaign has a winning strategy. He isn't playing at the same level as the rest of the Democratic field. He's playing at a much higher level, something all the candidates, both Republican and Democrat, should aspire to.

Update: And it seems that I'm not the only one who thinks Sen. Obama is telling the rest of the field to catch up.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Hero's Journey

Eight Reasons Why The Hero's Journey Sucks - Charlie Anders @ io9

It's posts like this one that remind me we don't all have the same knowledge base nor do we all agree about the same things. This rant about Joseph Campbell is pretty bad in my opinion, though. It's a complaint about lazy writers who follow a formula without playing with the formula. The hero's journey of Campbell's work is one of those formulas but I've seen great authors do amazing things with that formula. All this rant proves is that Anders isn't a well read as he would like us to believe.

Renoir: Robot Designer

Giant Robot Repairs the Arc de Triomphe - Kevin Kelly @ io9

Oh that's just too sexy. Impressionist-style art and giant robots fit together so naturally.

More Deacon, Less Religion

Dan Deacon Ultimate Recap - ultra8201

Adding to the already reviewed Dan Deacon show at Emo's this past Friday is this round-up by Ultra-blogger ultra8201. There are links to show reviews, pictures and even a full video provided by the people at SwitchBurn. For the Dallas crowd, let these images burn in your mind as the proper way to get down at a show. Stop posing and start dancing, damnit, or I'll turn this car right around.

New Blog Friends

Femtofrosting - Ann Clemens

I would like to introduce my dear and intimate friend, Ann Clemens, to the blogosphere. While I can't promise anything like a political statement from her, I can promise good information on the way individual cells work within our brains. She's smart and creative, but go easy on her since she's been blogging for all of two seconds now. Still, take a look and find something interesting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More Informational Theory

Physics of Information: Great Panel Discussion - Cory Doctorow @ BoingBoing

The idea has been tossed around for a while that information is potentially more essential to the universe that previously thought. Perhaps it is like the idea of the aether from the 19th century, a substrate holding up all the matter in the universe. Or, as used by Warren Ellis as a concept in his series Planetary, we are all 3d holograms of a 2d informational plane. Similar ideas, I'll grant you that, but the idea that information is perhaps a fundamental part of the universe is an intriguing one.

Looking to Move?

Shiny Metal Garbage City: Chu Enoki's RPM 1200 - Cory Doctorow @ BoingBoing

I want to live in a city like this. All that neo-retro architecture is hot.

Mass of Hot Air not Coming from Washington

Massive Gas Cloud Speeding Toward Collision with Milky Way - Science Daily

Well, I suppose all the hot air coming out of Washington should deflect this hydrogen cloud once it gets here, but you never know.

Building a Better Brain

Culture Influences Brain Function - JohnOneFive @ Truerumors
Culture Influences Brain Function - BJS @ Science Blog

This is the kind of thing I live for. Cultural historians are always looking for new ways to understand the minds of their subjects and how they interpreted the world around them. I don't know how much modern studies of how cultural differences affect the brain will aid historical research but any little bit helps.

The Greeks to the Rescue

The Sophrosyne of Obama - Andrew Sullivan

I like this term, but then again there are many Greek terms that seem to embody multiple meanings. Still, for a civilization that at various times emphasized moderation in all things, including moderation, sophrosyne is an apt term. Sen. Obama's speaking style follows this ideal quite well.

Boring Human Interests

Johnny Depp Donates $2 Million to Hospital - CAK @ Truemors

This is the kind of thing I wish I could do when I feel like I've received something special. Depp's contribution is more than just money. He puts pressure on other Hollywood stars to donate themselves.

Space Porn...Yeah, that about sums it up.

The Biggest Space Explosion Ever Recorded - Charlie Anders @ io9

Mmm...bright shiny space clouds blowing out from dead stars. Am I weird for finding this sexy?

One Degree of Idiocy

Six Degrees of Richard Cohen - publius @ Obsidian Wings

In what is probably the best comment on Richard Cohen's hit piece on Sen. Obama in today's Washington Post, publius of Obsidian Wings makes the startling revelation that perhaps, just maybe, by watching Brokeback Mountain Sen. Obama is connected it Kevin Bacon, a well-known anti-Semite and active al Qaeda agent. They probably met in the same madrassa in grade school and planned this campaign against Sen. Clinton and America from the very start. Who knows theses days?

The Anti-Black Hillary Clinton

Obama's Farrakhan Test - Richard Cohen @ Washington Post
And So It Continues - Andrew Sullivan

You know, the more we get into this primary season the more I am sickened by the racial politics of America and how the Clinton campaign has used that to further their interests. At this point, if Sen. Clinton wins the nomination, I will not vote for her, I may even vote for a Republican. Anyone so craven as to use this kind of race-baiting in their campaign does not deserve to become President, and after 8 years of sitting with an incompetent president I think this country deserves better. I think it's time Sen. Obama uses his connection with Oprah to talk about black issues and kill this slander once and for all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Required Reading for a Dan Deacon Show: Updated

Dan Deacon @ MySpace
Dan Deacon Home Page
Dan Deacon @ Wikipedia

Things Not To Bring:
Clothing, sharp objects, any sense of personal space, cameras (unless you want to miss out on the fun by sitting on a monitor all night), soft shoes.

Things To Do:
Get acquainted to the people around you because you'll probably leave with a good deal of their sweat on you, drink heavily, hydrate heavily, stretch, when asked if you want to crowd surf politely say no and then point to the guy next to you and help get him up on the crowd, help keep everyone standing, try to touch the skull if you can, go through the tunnel, learn how to dance without being able to move.

Above all, go in knowing that whatever you are wearing will need a serious washing after the show.

Update: Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought the Dan Deacon show at Emo's this past weekend was utter insanity. I was on the other side of the amp for most of those pictures, trying to save myself and have a smoke at the same time, but no, I wasn't one of those posers standing on stage trying to make myself look fabulous. I was down with the masses, with the Deacon, replacing my blood with electricity.
Covert Curiosity

Update 2: Okay, Ultra8201 is cool in my book. Give him his due and visit his site.

Win Butler Backes Sen. Obama, Seeks Cabinet Spot

Arcade Fire's Win Butler Disses Hillary, Backs Obama - Matt Solarski @

Well, it looks like Sen. Obama is starting to wrap up the indie vote.

What a Woman Wants

Singer Bjork Beats Down Photographer - InfinityPro @ Truemors

The girl definitely gets props from me for throwing down with a photog after telling him not to take any pictures. Lesson learned here, don't go snapping photos of jet lagged singers, no matter how sweet and kind you think they are, bitches will stab your fucking eyes out.

Shake Well Before Using.

Things One Should Not Forget - John Scalzi @

Via Sullivan I find my new favorite blog, particularly this post in which Scalzi goes on to give a hilarious history lesson on Mussolini and why Jonah Goldberg is a moron for believing that Mussolini was not a fascist when the man was, inconveniently, the founder and leader of the Fascist Party. It's also pretty accurate as bare-bones history and so I have no problem seeing history used in such a snarky, knives out fashion. Now I'm all warm and happy inside.

Quote of the Day

Having a President Obama would make it feel like the American people were doing a Ctrl+Alt+Delete on the previous eight years. - John Scalzi @

Blood Oath

Blood-Pen Brings New Terror to the Phrase "Write This Out 1000 Times." - Kit Eaton @ Gizmodo

Now this brings a whole new meaning to contracts written in blood.

"But It'll Take a Black One to Move Me"

Wow, it seems things are beginning to heat up for the Clinton campaign's tactics of race-baiting the Obama campaign. Ezra Klein has two posts up on the racially-charged comments of the Clinton campaign in general and Robert Johnson in particular. I think it's only a matter of time before the Obama campaign has to respond but the question is how can Sen. Obama respond without turning into the 'angry black man' the Clinton campaign so wants him to become in the eyes of the public. But again, I think this is a tactic that will only work for so long before it becomes a noose around Sen. Clinton's neck. If Sen. Obama were to call her out on the race-baiting in a debate all the blustering and 'I don't know what you're talking about' lines in the world will fall very flat.
The best tactic that I can think of for Sen. Obama to respond with is an appearance on Oprah to talk about his past drug use and struggles as a black American who wants to put his nationality first before his race. Put Sen. Obama's wife next to him and the Clinton campaign's tactics are pretty much done for.
What troubles me so much about the Clinton campaign is not the typical use of an opposing candidate's past as a weapon against them but how the campaign considers Sen. Obama not as an opponent but as an enemy to fight just as hard as an Republican candidate. And to use such race-baiting to do so is absolutely disgusting for a party that has counted on minority votes and based their principles on civil rights and equality. But, to quote Fry from Futurama "I'm shocked, shocked! Well, not that shocked."

False Media, We Don't Need It

Both Sullivan and Yglesias mention the contradictions in the Clinton campaign's tactic of pointing to Sen. Obama's war record and aye votes on war spending. I think this is the kind of narrative the Clinton's want to keep up and bury Sen. Clinton's voting record as much as possible. Of course, by taking this tack, Sen. Clinton is easily opening herself up to a rebuttal by the Obama campaign or by the major news networks. This kind of tactic can only work for so long before someone in the MSM wises up and does the comparison. This tactic isn't a long term one, it just has to hold up long enough through the major primaries.

Who's Got the Bias?

I wasn't able to watch Sen. Clinton's interview on Meet the Press yesterday but after reading the transcript I must say she spent more time attacking Sen. Obama than explaining why she would make a good president. But it seems that the people over at Media Matters are more concerned with attacking Tim Russert for looking at her past record of the last few months and arguing that Mr. Russert is being heavily biased against Sen. Clinton. Given the nature of the media and Mr. Russert's long career as hosting Meet the Press I find it surprising that Media Matters would get themselves up in a tizzy over his use of clips and quotes that by nature are outside of context. Moreover, one would think Media Matters would note how easily Sen. Clinton deflected Mr. Russert's questions. Instead, they continue the Clinton campaign narrative that Sen. Obama has not been truthful about his war record, flip-flopping when it suited him, while letting Sen. Clinton's record on the war pass.
I'm no fan of Tim Russert nor of Sen. Clinton. I support Sen. Obama and will vote for him when I have the chance in my primary election. So, with my biases out of the way, I have to say that Media Matters is clearly siding with the Clinton campaign by interpreting Mr. Russert's interview style as an attack on Sen. Clinton without noting the basic idea that any quote is one taken out of context by its very nature. This is very sophomoric of an organization that claims to police the biases of the media. If Media Matters wishes to maintain a separation between itself and any particular campaign then regurgitating the talking points of a campaign is not the way to do it. But if Media Matters wishes to voice their support for the Clinton campaign, which is their prerogative as a progressive organization, then they should do so and do so clearly and as upfront as they hold other media organizations. However, as a 501(c)3 organization that does not engage in lobbying activities as a public charity, they cannot do this. So, in other words, Media Matters, by only questioning Mr. Russert's interview style versus taking the whole context of the interview--in which Sen. Clinton did not fully and truthfully answer each question, particularly in not noting her own record on war-funding and such--basically violated the terms of their non-profit status. Certainly they have a right to point out media bias and do so from a progressive perspective but they do not have the right to criticize the media for asking 'gotcha' questions to their preferred candidate which, judging by the comments on the post about Mr. Russert's interview, is Sen. Clinton.
It's this sort of biased posting that keeps me away from sites like Media Matters for the most part. Rarely are the issues fully debated and rarely is the particular kind of bias noted plainly and clearly to its audience. If Media Matters wishes to support Sen. Clinton that is fine by me, and their coverage of Chris Matthews' comments on Sen. Clinton is right and appropriate, but do not expect me to respect their opinions and journalism when they cannot even separate their own reporting from Clinton campaign talking points.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Timewave Zero

Sunspot Announces New Cycle, End of the World - Graeme McMillian @ io9

I love how the words 'timewave zero' sound but I'm not quite buying the whole timewave reaching zero on Dec. 21st, 2012 (the end of the Mayan calendar also) being the moment a singularity happens. I do know that a new solar cycle will play havoc with our electronic devices and it's peak will occur around 2011 or 2012. What I didn't know what the coincidence of the solar cycle and civil unrest. Just one of those weird things of history I suppose.

Glass Cubes In Germany

A Giant, Glowing Cube in the Middle of Berlin - Lisa Katayama @ io9

This is probably one of the cooler things I've seen in supermodernist architecture. Apparently it's the new headquarters of railroad company Deutsche Bahn but you can't tell by just looking at the building. It's a perfect abstract piece of architecture.