Thursday, October 28, 2004

i am a criminal

well, let's just say I'm exploiting an opportunity for regulatory arbitrage. okay okay, how about instead we'll say I'm using this great new technology called VoIP! (that sounds so much better) but really, am I not secretly underming the support mechanisms for affordable universal available phone service??? That remains to be decided by the next administration. Until then, I'm a Packet 8 (aka 8X8) subscriber. 20 bucks a month gets me unlimited local and long distance but really, I'm getting it so I can call from Europe and have a sort of land line when I get back. It's really just an experiment in regulatory arbitrage but hey, I'm game. Now if only I can get my parents to sign up for broadband over power lines.

Before I act as a sales agent for packet 8 it totally sucked that they didn't explain until after I had given them all my information (including credit card number etc) that if you cancel before 12 months they charge 60 bucks. Is this bogus? not in itself but in all fairness they should not call their service a month to month contract if in fact it is a year long contract. That's just a lie. Maybe I'll sue them while I still have the chance under California law.

This whole thing reminds me of one other piece of dookie:

It should be against the law to charge a cancellation fee larger than the regular fees associated with the remainder of the contract. ATT mobile (AWE, now Cingular) tried this bullshit with me once, charging me 150 to cancel a contract with three months left. I called them on it and they said dem's da breaks, but when I simply changed my plan to the smallest voice plan available for the remaining three months it only cost me 60 bucks (and I got free voicemail!)

seriously. it should be against the law.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

chalk one up for the little people

first minikiss, now this:

Scientists Find Skeletons of Miniature People
By NICHOLAS WADE

Published: October 27, 2004

Once upon a time, but not so long ago, in a tropical island midway
between Asia and Australia, there lived a race of little people, whose
adults stood just three and a half feet high. Despite their stature,
they were mighty hunters. They made stone tools with which they speared
giant rats, clubbed sleeping dragons, and hunted the packs of pygmy
elephants that roamed their lost world.

Strangest of all, this is no fable. Skeletons of these miniature people
have been excavated from a limestone cave on Flores, an island 370
miles east of Bali, by a team of Australian and Indonesian
archaeologists. Reporting their find in today's issue of Nature, they
assign the people to a new human species, Homo floresiensis.

The little Floresians lived on the island until at least 13,000 years
ago, and possibly to historic times. But they were not a pygmy form of
modern humans. They were a downsized version of Homo erectus, the
eastern cousin of the Neanderthals of Europe. Their discovery means
that archaic humans, who left Africa a million years or so earlier than
modern people, survived far longer into the modern period than was
previously supposed.

The island of Flores is very isolated and, before modern times, was
inhabited only by a select group of animals that managed to reach it.
These then became subject to unusual evolutionary forces that propelled
some toward giantism and downsized others.

The carnivorous lizards that reached Flores, perhaps on natural rafts,
became giant-sized and still survive, though now confined mostly to the
nearby island of Komodo; they are called Komodo dragons. Elephants are
excellent swimmers; those that reached Flores evolved to a dwarf form
the size of an ox.

Previous excavations by Dr. Mike J. Morwood, a member of the team that
found the little Floresians, showed that Homo erectus had arrived on
Flores by 840,000 years ago, to judge from the evidence of crude stone
tools. Presumably the descendants of these Homo erectus became subject
to the same evolutionary forces that downsized the elephants.

In a written commentary accompanying the article, two anthropologists
not connected with the find, Dr. Marta Mirazon Lahr and Dr. Robert
Foley of the University of Cambridge, say it is "among the most
outstanding discoveries in paleoanthropology for half a century."

The first little Floresian, an adult female, was found in September
2003, buried under about 20 feet of silt that coats the floor of the
Liang Bua cave in Flores. A team of paleoanthropologists headed by Dr.
Peter Brown, of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia,
identifies the skeleton, which is not fossilized, as a very small but
otherwise individual, similar to Homo erectus. Because the downsizing
is so extreme - smaller than modern human pygmies - they assign it to a
new species.

In a companion report Dr. Morwood, an archaeologist who is also at the
University of New England, estimates that the skeleton is 18,000 years
old. He has since found the remains of six more individuals in the
cave, with dates ranging from 95,000 to 13,000 years ago, he said in an
interview.

Also buried in the cave are a number of objects that illustrate how the
little Floresians lived. There are bones of Komodo dragons, beasts 10
feet in length, and of an even larger lizard. The dragons can eat
animals the size of deer, but as cold-blooded animals they are sluggish
at low temperatures and not so hard to kill.

There are bones of the pygmy elephant, giant rat, fish and birds. There
is evidence the Floresians knew the use of fire. And there is a suite
of stone tools, considerably more sophisticated than any yet known to
have been made by Homo erectus. The tools include small blades that
might have been mounted on wooden shafts.

If the stone tools were made by the little Floresians, as Dr. Morwood
believes, that is striking evidence of their cognitive abilities. Dr.
Morwood says they must have hunted cooperatively to bring down the
pygmy elephants. To conduct such hunts, and to fabricate such complex
stone tools, they almost certainly had some form of language, he said.

This will be a surprising finding, if true, because the little people
have brains slightly smaller than a chimpanzee and similar in size to
Australopithecenes, the apelike ancestors of the human line.

Dr. Foley said he would not rule out Dr. Morwood's suggestion but noted
that chimpanzees hunt cooperatively without using language. Modern
humans are known to have reached Australia by at least 40,000 years ago
and were probably in the general neighborhood of Flores at the same
time, so it is plausible that they could have been the makers of the
stone tools. "I think it's a big jump" to assume the Floresians had
language, Dr. Foley said.

Dr. Morwood said he has found no sign of modern humans in Flores before
11,000 years ago so has no basis for associating them with the tools in
the Liang Bua cave. Dr. G. Philip Rightmire, a paleoanthropologist at
Binghamton University in New York, said he was convinced that the tools
were made by the little Floresians.

"It's a wonderful demonstration of apparently 'archaic' humans adapting
to the special conditions on Flores," Dr. Rightmire said. "I wouldn't
have supposed that such small-brained people descended directly from
Homo erectus would be capable of producing these artifacts, but the
evidence is pretty compelling."

The new findings add to the rapidly emerging picture of Homo erectus,
long overshadowed by the better-known Neanderthals of Europe.

Like the Neanderthals, Homo erectus generally disappears from the scene
just before modern humans arrived in its territory. The little
Floresians not only survived long into the modern period but, unlike
most of the other archaic human populations, managed to coexist with
them. They also demonstrate the adaptability of the human form and how
readily humans conformed to the same pressures for pygmification that
affected other island species.

Most of the extraordinary finds in paleontology have been surprising
because they were so old.

"What's exciting about this one is that it's so late, telling us about
the processes and patterns of evolution in a way that's deeply
informative," Dr. Foley said.

do i want to laugh or hurl?


both. definitely both.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

RIP John Ravenscroft

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: October 26, 2004


Filed at 2:09 p.m. ET

LONDON (AP) -- John Peel, a longtime British Broadcasting Corp. disc jockey whose enthusiasm for the offbeat, the eclectic and the obscure launched the careers of dozens of bands, has died, the BBC said Tuesday. He was 65.

The broadcaster said Peel suffered a heart attack Monday while vacationing in Peru with his wife, Sheila.

Dr. Alcides Vargas, who worked to revive Peel, told Peru's Radioprogramas radio that the DJ suffered a heart attack in a hotel in Cuzco, 350 miles southeast of the Peruvian capital, Lima. He was pronounced dead on the way to a clinic.

Peel's program on Radio 1, the BBC's flagship pop music station, exerted a huge influence for more than 30 years. He was often the first to play demo tapes by little-known bands, and his enthusiasm propelled some to fame.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said Blair -- who once played guitar in a college band called Ugly Rumours -- was ``genuinely saddened'' by the news.

He said Peel ``was a unique voice in British broadcasting who used that voice to unearth new talent and different subjects and bring them to the awareness and make them accessible to a much wider audience.''

Peel promoted reggae, hip-hop and punk on the sometimes conservative BBC, and championed acts ranging from Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie to The Smiths, The Fall, Pulp and Northern Irish punks The Undertones, whose ``Teenage Kicks'' Peel rated his favorite song.

His live studio sessions were coveted by bands, and many were released on record as the ``Peel Sessions.''

``Over the years we've had almost everybody, except The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, of the kind of big bands of the past,'' Peel once told an interviewer. ``More recently Oasis -- I never really thought Oasis were much good, to be honest, so they didn't do one.''

Bands Peel did like, such as post-punk outfit Joy Division and its successor, New Order, often remained deeply grateful

``If it wasn't for John Peel, there would be no Joy Division and no New Order,'' band member Bernard Sumner said. ``He was one of the few people to give bands that played alternative music a chance to get heard, and he continued to be a champion of cutting-edge music throughout his life.''

Blur frontman Damon Albarn said, ``John Peel's patronage was for me, like countless other musicians, one of the most significant things that happened to us in our careers.''

Pulp's Jarvis Cocker said Peel ``was one of those few people about whom you could truly say that the world would have been a much different place without him. For many years he almost single-handedly championed new and challenging music in the U.K.''

Elvis Costello called Peel ``a great man, a fabulous curmudgeon -- he was as rare as the music that he loved.''

Guy Garvey, frontman of Manchester band Elbow, said: ``We owe him everything.

``He was the first person to ever play us on the radio, which I am sure lots of people can say.''

Peel was born John Ravenscroft near Liverpool in 1939. As a teenager, he later said, his life was changed by hearing Elvis Presley singing ``Heartbreak Hotel.'' He later joined the British army and worked in a cotton mill.

In the early 1960s he moved to Dallas, where his roots in Liverpool -- newly famous as home of The Beatles -- enabled him to get a job on WRR radio, hosting a program called ``Kat's Karavan.'' He then worked at stations in Oklahoma City and San Bernardino, Calif.

Returning to Britain, he worked on the pirate station Radio London, broadcasting from a boat off the English coast, where he adopted the name John Peel.

He joined the BBC in 1967, broadcasting on Radio 1 and internationally on the World Service. Since 1998, he also presented ``Home Truths,'' a whimsical show about the travails of family life, on the BBC's talk-based Radio 4.

He is survived by his wife and four children. Funeral details were not immediately announced.

Monday, October 25, 2004

more pearls of orkutian wisdom

people cause problems. war kills people -> problem solved.

man, i really, really love the internet

all that bile can't be good for you

Chief Justice Rehnquist Is Being Treated for Thyroid Cancer (this just in)

Must be caused by all that bile from having to work so close to blacks and jews.

Seriously though, this guy is bad news - always has been and always will be - and it's even worse now that his raced based voter intimidation from back in the day seems to have recently come back into vogue with the GOP. Hopefully his spot will be Kerry's first SC apointment.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

more terrifying shit from our government

i'm sure this story makes gale norton cackle in her jackboots. Seriously, what in the hell is wrong with these people?

File Under: Just when I thought I'd seen it all...

Holy shit.

he's speaking in SF this wed. I guess I'm going:
http://www.dorkbot.org/dorkbotsf/

totally bitchin'

thanks for sharing

alchemistical delight

Really great ramblings here. Proving once again that the "next blog" button is N-Gene-E-us.

Anon added so sagely:

Alcohol is a poison.

But the liver is evil and must be punished.



So to anon I add, I've taken care of that quite successfully last night.

suggestions for god

my new favorite blog (well, for a moment at least)

some highlights:

10.8.2004

Dear god,

Pass the tequila, and lay down and love me again.
suggested by al at 15:55 : 0 comments

9.30.2004

Dear god,
If you ever make farts smell like strawberries, could you make me a midget while you're at it?

suggested by Limbs at 21:07 : 0 comments

Dear god,

Please get it over with and split the United States into two parts so they can just fight each other like they want to and leave the rest of the world alone.
suggested by al at 15:04 : 0 comments

opinions on spitzer

as quoted from xinhuanet.com:

BEIJING, Oct. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office now shits their attention to the music industry, particularly its practices for influencing what songs are heard on the public airwaves.

Now, I know he's been busy, and is very opinionated, but "shits their attention"? That's a bit much no?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

national socialism and the GOP

So, I know I'm not the only one seeing an increase in similarities between Post-Weimar Germany and contemporary America, but the sytematic planned "observation" (read: confrontation) at the polls in states that are key swing states seems, well, brownshirts. Seriously, these are Republican states (meaning the state political machine is run predominantly by Republicans) so didn't the GOP have 4 years (at least) to change the voter registration requirements in such a way that their concerns about the legitimacy of "questionable" (read: questioning) voters would be addressed? The only reason I can see them not acting via legitimate means (read, according to standard process and procedure) is that it would weaken their claims for the less than standard (well, in America at least) process and procedure.

My friend Marina pointed it out very well I think when she said:

"it's one thing to criticize germans for sitting by when it happened there, but as it happens here it's very difficult to see what possible action against it is."

And herein lies the problem. What to do? Politicians are clearly to scared to call a spade a spade because the term is so loaded so it falls, says I, to the entertainers (jews and commies the lot), funny that things go in cycles no? Jews and commies were equally despised by the Nazis and America's last great brush with facism, Sen. Joe Macarthy.

So here's my call: We need to make more explicit the exact parallel. It needs to be digestable by the everyman. Intimidation at the polls has happened all over the place in the past 100 years, we should just appropriate the images and draw the parallels for contemporary society. Sure Afghanistan comes to mind, but so do Burmingham and Berlin.

I dunno, maybe I'm inspired by last night's screening of Gentleman's Agreement (not ironically by Elia Kazan) but something really needs to be done.

Friday, October 22, 2004

A Seriously Sad Clown

From the NYTimes article on west 71st Street:

"As apartment houses became popular and drained off many of the original row-house families, owners began taking in boarders. They included Frank Oakley, who was known as Slivers the Clown and who toured with the Barnum & Bailey circus. He committed suicide in his room at 308 West 71st Street in 1916. Oakley had fallen for Viola Stoll, a young vaudeville actress, and remained infatuated even after she stole his late wife's jewelry. When he tried to have her paroled from prison by proposing marriage, she rejected him."

It's not bad enough that the clown was named slivers, no, nor is it bad enough that he ultimately killed himself in his bedroom - it's that his love was so unrequited that after stealing his late wife's jewelery from him, his interest would rather do the time than be stuck with him.

OUCH.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

what jail is like

from the ap newswire:

Prisoner Hires Stripper for Culture Night
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: October 21, 2004

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Hoping to boost morale among his fellow inmates, a Norwegian prisoner secretly hired an exotic dancer to spice up the prison's monthly culture night.

The woman got all her clothes off, to the cheers of the male inmates, before guards could react on Wednesday night at the Hof minimum security prison in southern Norway.

``Everything had been agreed in advance with the inmates, who also had permission to invite the woman,'' warden Kjesti Solberg told the P4 radio network Thursday. ``What we didn't know was that the hired dancer could do more than dance.''

Every month, the prisoners are allowed to have a culture night, usually organizing it themselves after the show is approved.

Wednesday's show began tamely, with an inmate doing a standup comedy routine. As he left the stage, raunchy music filled the auditorium, and the woman started dancing and taking her clothes off.

``By the end, she was completely naked,'' Solberg said, adding the woman danced on stage for a few minutes before guards hustled her off to the roar of the inmates' laughter.

Even though Solberg seemed to be a good sport about the surprise, she said the inmate, who was not identified, would have to explain himself.

How will the light be distributed?

Today is the anniversary of T.A. Edison's unveiling of his electric light bulb. (in 1879).

His response (as recorded by th NYTimes):

"Precisely as gas is now distributed. You see that I can turn that burner off entirely if I wish to; I can lower it or I can raise it, just as you can lower or raise a gas jet. Our electricity will go from our central stations just as gas flows from the meter. Whether the company will charge for the light according to the amount of electricity which each consumer uses, or whether so much a month will be charged to each consumer I cannot say. That is a question which the company will determine when the electric light is introduced."

Also note today is the anniversary of the birth of one Mr. Dizzy Gillespie

But I digress, allow me to return to more fascinating trivia on early electrical distribution: (again from the NYTimes)

"It has been asserted by some persons who are supposed to be conversant with the subject of electricity that in order to furnish lights for houses in this City a copper coil as large as an ordinary barrel would be required as a conductor from the central station to the different houses in two or three blocks. Regarding this, Mr. Edison said: "The size and amount of conductors for carrying electricity for lighting purposes depends, of course, upon the distance to which the electricity is to be carried. If I have to carry it 10 miles my conductor must be larger than it must be if I have to carry it 10 feet. My idea is to have central stations to cover, say a square of three or four blocks. The pipes containing the wires on a street, if this idea is carried out, will not exceed in size the circumference of your arm. They will be laid under the flag-stones just at the edge of the sidewalk, as gas-pipes are now laid."

"What will be the cost of these conductors," asked the reporter.

"The cost, compared to gas-pipes, will be very small, and there is very little chance of their getting out of order. The wire itself, which will convey the electricity, will be an ordinary No. 9 telegraph wire, the same wire that you see in use every day by the Western Union Company. That is as near the size of a barrel as I intend to get."

You've come a long way baby.

stolen from orkut

World-wide spam crisis 10/19/2004 10:41 PM
There is a world-wide spam shortage. Many of the high-volume spam factories were located in Florida, which was recently hit by several hurricanes. Many spam installations were forced to halt production or operate at reduced capacity.
The government is advising people to conserve spam as much as possible, leaving fresh spam for the truly needy: the elderly, the infirm and the very young. Government officials are encouraging people who need to see badly mangled ads for viagra, porn sites and Nigerian assassination-based investment opportunities to borrow from friends or find shared sources. Most libraries in the US now have special spam terminals where spam can be browsed, printed, and carefully recycled so as to serve the entire community without straining the spam supply.
Together we can get through this crisis.

castro is a bastreaux

What ever happened to Bastro?
More importantly, check out everyone freaking out over Fidel's breakdancing moves:

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

fuyu persimmons and pomegranites

tonight, I will make the salad again:
Fuyus cut like apple wedges
pomegranite seeds sprinkled liberally
arugula (yes, lots of it)
balsamic vinegar (with just a splash of figs)
candied walnuts (if'n yr in the groovie)
crumbled gorgonzola (or stilton)

This is served in total contrast to the main dish, which will be cuban black beans and rice. but since I'm the one making dinner, it's really my call now isn't it?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

ah sunny portland

great link in the fixie list to this fab snap of mt. saint helens from portland (okay, technically not from portland but you get the idea):

uncle amma

I suppose the big news on the family front is that sunday the 17th around 5pm eastern I became an uncle to one mister zachary douglas shumavon. This is kinda cool actually, and not just for Greg and Tricia. We'll have to see when we can actually meet the bugger.

In other news Deanna took off (just barely) before the first storm of the season hit. There are currently two leaks in our ceiling. very classy. We've documented both the landlord so it shouldn't be too long before either he fixes them or we fix them for him but it would have been nice if he had gotten them fixed before the first storm.

In still more news I'm finally getting around to setting up a midi rig, sampler etc. I've really been putting this off for too long but it seems like enough is enough...I'll update this space with the setup when all is said and done, should be a week before the rig is up and running completely.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Will You Please Join My Cult?

For the record, Arshad does not like this band:

whilst a sleeping tiger lies...

I have finally gotten around to getting some aspect of arghitecture up and running. For those of you who don't know (pretty much everyone except Ted Rzad, Salim Virji, and Greg Bolsinga at this point, arghitecture is an homage to one of my favorite things: failure! I should point out however that it's a very particular kind of failure (woe be we to mourn the passing of Jacques Derrida last week, who might have regretted the restriction): The structural failure of constructed things. You know, bridges, buildings, walkways, balconies. I'm even interested in the structural failure of things more oriented toward industrial design than architecture, but for the sake of simplicity at the onset I've started with just buildings. Please check it out and feel free to add anything you see, hear about etc. comments are welcomed on all posts and anyone who emails me can be added to the members of the blog with posting privledges.

A Low Tide Sinks All Ships

A particularly low tide yesterday when Deanna Varagona and I went to Muir Beach. On display were really too many sea stars to count, thousands of sea anenomaes, including several very large ones, and disturbingly large mussels.

After beer and scotch with Arshad and Laura we headed to my least favorite icredibly tastey restraunt in the city, Burma Superstar, which warned me that my okra and egg dish (which I requested very spice) was "extreme". It was not, but it was delicious as always. I know some stuff is still spicey out there but I fear I may have lost the burn. Much talk was directed toward the upcoming tour, and various musical elements to be worked on this weekend. Waiting for over an hour for a table certainly helped (thank god for the blue danube arangement). Today, in addition to computer and sample stuff there'll be apron making for Raf and Margot's annual chili cookoff and some rock collecting for Chris and Rebecca's house/engagement warming. In answer to the question "whaddaya got in your bag, a bunch of rocks?" the answer is always "yes".
One major bummer was, after driving through the fog with Deanna while listening to M Ward we discovered after dinner (which was LATE) he had been playing with Conner/Bright Eyes in the east bay. A quick check of the internet showed a Portland show today so they were certainly on their way by the time we got home. So close yet so far...reminds me of the near collission with Bob (and the rest of Shellac) in London in Dec. Well, at least in that situation there will be a reason for not hooking up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

respite despite the brevity

Well, Gordon and Belinda are gone, as are Graham, Sarah and Lucy. Mary and I celebrated by heading to Tenessee valley and breaking my heel on a large jade rock. In addition to half of yesterday and all of today, we have half of tomorrow before Mary leaves. Then Thursday is the arrival of Doug and Deanna. Which brings me to :
Big news on the nuptuals:
Not only did Raf and Margot get hitched this Sept 4. but CCR and Rebecca are getting hitched. Deanna will be my Mary stand in for two parties (the annual chili cookoff and a house/engagement warming party for Chris and Rebecca) this Sat.
It does dawn on me that my life, which by most standards is pretty hectic, is really fucking hectic. Amidst all this out of townery my tickets are officially purchased for the Sunrise tour with Lambchop. I'll post dates shortly.

Friday, October 08, 2004

back on desk duty

Mary and I returned last night from the big sur hetch hetchy experience. pics will be posted shortly. along with summaries of points between, which included: Fresno, Justin winery, Aunt Jo's crib and another fab trip to Lee Vining *last room in town donchya know!

Best pic (of the ones I didn't lose) the post beach picnic trip to the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo (please imagine a tilde there):