Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Just Remember…

...We aren’t allowed to be judgmental or intervene. Because, you know, it’s a whole ‘nother culture and who are we to judge what with all our rampant consumerism and microwavable pork rinds?

Playing That File

Make it Bigger.

After the Gutter Twins--the mutant pairing of Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli--performed recently in Italy, I was determined to find a bootleg of the set. With patience and regularly skimming through the Mark Lanegan and Queens of the Stone Age boards, I found a guy who seeded the concert and, over a few patient days with my bittorrent client (Azureus), I finally downloaded the over two gigs of concert footage.

And found that I couldn’t open any of the files.


I had expected the typical .mpg, .avi, or .wma file format, but was faced with a bunch of .ifo. .bup, and .vob files--which left me seriously confused as to what I was supposed to do to see the Gutter Twins doing a cover of Screaming Trees’ “Dollar Bill” (among a set of other stuff, of course).

A quick search lead me to a freeware program, VLC Media Player, that plays a variety of media formats, is developed for multiple platforms, is easy to operate, and can even be used to as a streaming server for various video formats. The program is fast and pretty well developed (strangely, it hogs the processor on my older G4, but the program itself never feels slow at all).

Aside from working on Windows and Mac boxes, it also supports a variety of Linux flavors, a couple handheld OS’s, and even BeOS (people still use that?). If your OS doesn’t already have a version ready to be installed, you can download the source code and roll your own.

I’m no longer amazed at the Open Source and freeware products out there--I’ve had far too many good experiences.

Anyway, if you find yourself in need of a cool little program that plays media types that I’ve never even heard of, it’s worth looking at VLC Media Player. And if you’re looking for a cool concert, you should look for the Gutter Twins on your favorite bittorrent site. With the exception the crowd making “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (the scary Lanegan version) into a highly inappropriate sing-along, this is a seriously cool and eclectic set mixing Lanegan’s solo stuff, the Leadbelly song, a Mahalia Jackson tune, and Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs, Screaming Trees, and Queens of the Stone Age songs.

Well worth showing a little patience.

PS- Once I realized what the files were, I also tried to open the folder using Apple’s DVD player--and it worked beautifully. But the other app is still cool.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Things to Do While Not Writing (Pt. I)

While busily not writing today, I’ve made myself busy with a number of tasks, the most important of which is listening to music. Not just any music, of course, but good music.

So, instead of writing, I suggest listening. It’s good exercise.

Playing now: Thomas Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah. You can listen to a sample on the linked page.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Monday Night Football: The Rolling Stones Edition

So, disquietude concerning neo-con oriented rock music aside, how sad was the Rolling Stones’ appearance on Monday Night Football. Not only are the Stones old, tired, and, if the reading of the TelePrompTer was any indicator, slipping slowly into senility, they look old, tired, and as if they were slowly slipping into senility. If that song is any indicator of the quality of the rest of the album, they haven’t managed to regain any relevance with this new release, either.

Anyway, they all reminded me unpleasantly of that old guy in the gym locker-room the other day. I shudder at the thought.


Avast, me groupies! Couldja give me another peanutbutter and jelly sandwich, matey?

Thankyou. Thankyouverymuch.

Because, damnit, it’s talk like a pirate Elvis day.


People getting it wrong: Ace. Andy. Michele.

Fair Warning

Shiny, happy, bubbly, perky, chirpy people piss me off. Go be bouncy and buoyant around somebody else, lady.

All inordinate levels of happiness will be punished.

Not That I’m a Skeptic

I have to wonder how long this latest agreement with North Korea will last.

North Korea on Monday agreed to stop building nuclear weapons and allow international inspections in exchange for energy aid, economic cooperation and security assurances, in a first step toward disarmament after two years of six-nation talks. 

The chief U.S. envoy to the talks praised the breakthrough as a “win-win situation” and “good agreement for all of us.” But he promptly urged Pyongyang to make good on its promises by ending operations at its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon.

The expectation has to be that this is a temporary reprieve that allows us to further shape policy and alliances in the region to prepare for the next showdown with North Korea. Take that for what it’s worth.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

San Diego at Denver: Early Returns

The Broncos aren’t looking as bad as they did last week against the Dolphins, but, then, that would be a hard feat to accomplish two weeks in a row. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be doing enough to beat the Chargers.

The offense had a few, early sustained drives, but the defense is looking as sad as they did at the end of the game last week. The defense simply isn’t stopping the Chargers on third (even in long situations) and rarely stopping them on second. So far, where I was happy to blame last week’s game mostly on the offense (minus Mike Anderson’s fumble on the two yard line), the defense needs to do something to help themselves this time around.

LT’s first touchdown, a 16 yard sweep off of a misdirection, was as ugly as it could get for the Broncos--no one even seemed to notice that he was alone and strolling into the endzone. His second touchdown looked easy (if not quite as easy).

So, as of this writing, the Broncs are down 14-3 and looking like last week may have left some ugly scars on their will to win.

Update: Of course, about as soon as I say that, the defense really starts to come alive.

Which is nice.

And the offense is sputtering.

Which is less nice.

Sometimes, Winning Isn’t Enough

One of the reasons that America stands as a modern, liberal nation is that it has the capacity to act in a far more decisive fashion than most of our allies--and that is both a result of our power (military, economic, and diplomatic) and our system of government. As fractured as our political make-up seems to be, our elections have the capacity to make dramatic changes to our government every few years--where views on taxes, immigration, and foreign policy can be wildly different from one administration to the next. We can go from Carter to Reagan and see a real difference in our country.

Unlike, for example, Germany, where a change doesn’t necessarily mean so much of a change.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Who Would Have Guessed?

I would never have guessed that Donna Brazile could write something that I found touching, heartfelt, and kind, and well-considered. I honestly didn’t think that she had it in her.

I know, maybe better than anyone, that there are times when it seems that our nation is too divided ever to heal. There are times when we feel so different from each other that we can hardly believe that we are all part of the same family. But we are one nation. We are a family. And this is what we do. When the president asked us to pitch in Thursday night, he wasn’t really asking us to do anything spectacular. He was asking us to be Americans, and to do what Americans always do.

Nicely done. Very nicely done.

Read the story. (Stolen from Drudge.)

Update: Jeff has related thoughts and links. Be sure to check out the hilarious Kos link at the end of the post--it’s a hell of a feast for the cannibals.

Friday, September 16, 2005

People Buy Into This Cindy Sheehan Lunacy?

Cindy Sheehan continues to show her increasing detachment from reality. Honestly. From the Huffington Post (via a Drudge link), we learn that she wants the President to pull troops out of “occupied New Orleans” in a peak into what comes across as, essentially, the demented ravings of a woman who has lost her mind.

If George Bush truly listened to God and read the words of the Christ, Iraq and the devastation in New Orleans would have never happened.
I don’t care if a human being is black, brown, white, yellow or pink. I don’t care if a human being is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or pagan. I don’t care what flag a person salutes: if a human being is hungry, then it is up to another human being to feed him/her. George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don’t fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest.

The devestation of New Orleans (we’ll just leave Iraq out of this for the moment) happened because Bush wasn’t a better Christian? I expect that talk from the Fred Phelps types, but not from someone who is counseling Bush to remove troops and the Federal relief efforts from one of the hardest hit (occupied!) cities.

Sheehan cannot be taken seriously as a spokeswoman for any cause; her complete removal from anything resembling the real world, her reliance on tears and overwhelming emotion to convey messages that logic and honesty simply don’t support, and her nagging, opportunistic persona aren’t going to get her supporters the sea change in public opinion that they want. The longer she stays close to the public stage, the less her role will be seen as an honorable one, the more opportunity she’ll have to say idiotic things, and the less anyone will end up caring about her or her son.

So, hey, from those of us to the right of that dividing line: thanks, and keep up the great work!

He may have been ignored by Trackbacks, but he won’t be ignored by me. In the Bullpen linked this post, too. Darned, evil trackbacks.

Pointless Question of the Night (Or Early Morning, Depending on Your Point of View)

So, is it just me or has anyone else been hit by the recent, sudden realization that Neil Diamond’s song “Sweet Caroline” is actually pretty freakin’ cool?

I mean, seriously, that song kicks ass.

Last Night and Today

Last Night: Drinks with Jeff, Steve, Matt, Walter, Andy, and a visiting Matt. Booze (in good quantity), food, loud conversation, and much laughter.

Today: A strange sense of accomplishment when I realize that I resisted the midnight Taco Bell run that always leaves me feeling queasy the next day. It’s my version of waking up next to a stranger after a drunken night of excess and wondering what, precisely, you might have put in your mouth.

Thanks to Matt and his wife for hanging out with us and having a great time. God, Katrina, war memorials, Battlestar Galactica, Serenity, under- and overrated movies, great (and horrible) music, sushi, hockey, and Jennifer Jason Leigh were all discussed thoroughly.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

In Defense of Male Self-Delusions

Boris Johnson constructs a defense of stereotypical male self-delusion in today’s Telegraph. And it’s damned funny.

It is not too trivial to point out that this demented male self-confidence is also vital to human reproduction. It is the role of the male to refuse rejection, and to keep plugging on, in spite of all the evidence that he is getting nowhere, and without that male capability for self-delusion, the species would probably die out.

Read the story.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Speaking of Razors (Because We Were, You Know)

Gillette’s new five (six, including the attached beard and mustache weedwhacker attachment) that comes in both powered and unpowered versions may just be the thing that drives me to the point of razor backlash. I find myself wanting to get a good straightedge razor and trim the facial hair the old fashioned way: with little droplets of my own blood.

Okay, I’m a guy. I just want my razor to remove hair in an efficient, manly manner without the need to resort to trickery and motorized tools.

Is that so wrong?

Update: Oh, and this post from RSong’s past seems strangely appropriate…

Worth Thinking About

  1. I’ve seen Andrew Sullivan being called a conservative recently, and it just ain’ so. Sullivan is a leftist with some hawkish tendencies that he can’t reliably carry through. He’s a person who believes in the power of the government to work miracles (witness his anger over Katrina) but believes that they should work their miracles with a smaller budget. He’s nearly a one-issue voter (gay marriage) with just a touch of hawkishness (both military and budget) to round out his votes. He could be called a lot of things, but conservative just doesn’t seem to work (although, for the record, I have a hard time calling President Bush a conservative and waffle on whether I would use it to describe myself).
  2. The best Weekend Update anchor for Saturday Night Live? Chevy Chase, Dennis Miller, and Norm Macdonald. In that order.
  3. Ted Rall must be getting lonely again, because his latest article is just designed to irritate people.

    Hurricane Katrina has prompted Americans to donate more than $700 million to charity, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. So many suckers, so little foresight.

    His entire concept seems to be that, firstly, since the Evil Reagan was in office, the government has done less and less to help people, and, secondly, that it’s solely the province of the government to help people in unfortunate situations.

    In response to the first assertion, it would be easier to prove that the government has continued to extend its reach--everything from pills for old folks, extra unemployment for people during our latest economic downturn, and extra money made available for education, our government continues to do more and more for the citizens. To say that government has been “shirking its basic responsibilities” is simply not supportable. In regards to his second belief, I would say that the Federal government needs to take less in taxes and abdicate some of those “basic responsibilities” because they can’t be trusted to handle money well, make particularly good decisions, or even handle the money in a predictable, consistent way.

    The more money stays close to the source of problems, the less likely it is to be diminished by bureaucracy and inept politicians. Even worse, his assertion later in the article that the money to help Katrina victims went to the war in Iraq, he’s not only lying, but he’s hitting a nerve with me: the deficit that we’re running is precisely because no one in the government wants to ask us to give up some of our free services to help fund the war effort. That is, they didn’t cut programs, they just expanded them more slowly than someone like Rall can stomach--leaving us with some seriously hefty bills to pay for programs of dubious value (see details about the recent, bloated highway bill for examples).

  4. To the septuagenarian at the gym who just got out of the shower and continues to wander through the locker room naked: dude, put your wrinkled, old dick away. I don’t want to see it. A little modesty wouldn’t hurt.
  5. How the hell did I get on the mailing list for this stuff?

    Reunite families brutally separated by the haphazard and too-late evacuation

    During the evacuation, mothers—almost exclusively African American-- had to choose between remaining with older children and carrying infants to safety. Extended families boarded separate buses, unsure of their fate, only to find themselves separated by thousands of miles and trapped in shelters with no way out. Husbands and wives, parents and children, now in shelters, have to endure the continuing trauma of separation. You can reunite a family today by helping us buy one-way tickets which we are providing, without bureaucratic red tape, to families in shelters identified by our friends at the NAACP, ACORN and other groups on the ground.

    So damned sorry that, in doing their damnedest to save lives, it sometimes necessitated the “brutal” separation of some families. Sadly, there is even more race- and class-baiting commentary in this email from WorkingAssets.com. Fun stuff like this: “As Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center puts it, the governing philosophy of the people who run our government is sink or swim for almost everybody unless you are a crony, and then different rules apply.”

    Yeah, so that 50 billion dollar pledge and the massive relief and rescue effort is how we let the poor and unfortunate “sink” after a natural disaster. Here’s a happy fuck you to the people at WorkingAssets.com who perpetuate the nasty racialization and politicization of one of the worst natural disasters in our nation’s history.

And now, with thanks to Shad0 for sending the Ted Rall story, it’s back to work.

Whew, that felt good…

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I Bet They Voted for Kucinich…

Unicorns L.A.

I only hope that I’m laughing with them.

I have to thank Shawn for this mind-melting experience. Er, thanks…

Update: And for this mind-melting experience, I only have Mary Landrieu to blame. Of course, this isn’t nearly as funny as elf kings and cheesy special effects.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Destruction of the Synagogues: A Surprisingly Blunt Response

With Israel completing its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, rejoicing Palestinians took the opportunity to destroy synagogues. I wasn’t surprised--although that’s far from saying that I wasn’t saddened by the lack of respect and civility unveiled by the acts.

Tonight I came across a short post that attacked--in a surprisingly blunt manner--the vandalism.

Imagine if Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip destroyed two dozen mosques. There would be mass rallies in front of Israeli embassies around the world, and in America organizations like CAIR and MPAC would issue righteous condemnations calling on the American government to restrain Israel. However, as we’ve seen today, when Palestinians streaming into liberated Gaza set fire to synagogues there is deafening silence from most Muslims and certainly from the leadership of the American Muslim community.

Why is this surprising? The author, Farhan Memon, was writing at alt.Muslim, a site devoted to discussing political issues from an Islamic perspective. And, with the exception of a few short paragraphs in the middle, I can’t help but agree with mister Memon.

Read the rest. It’s worth your time--even if you find a few things to disagree with.

Update: What Attitude Problem? has more thoughts on the subject.

Monday Night Football: The Stupid Player Edition (Updated)

A half hour before game time, Jeremiah Trotter and Kevin Mathis got into a physical confrontation and were ejected from the game. Again, they were ejected from the game before the game started.

Some of the ESPN commentators are arguing that Trotter, who apparently didn’t throw a punch, shouldn’t have been ejected from the game. That’s stupid: any player who is dumb enough to get into that kind of an altercation in front of a ref deserves to be tossed from the game. In fact, it’s better that the refs make a stand on a game like this--where the emotions are already getting the best of the players--and make sure that the players understand that fighting and provocation aren’t going to be accepted.

Both of them are idiots and both of them deserved the ejection.

Makes for an awfully funny pre-game show, though.

Update: I hope TO’s bad night continues, because he is looking pretty unremarkable. As much as I like McNabb, as much as I don’t really care who wins this game, I do harbor a growing grudge against Terrell Owens. I hope his season starts to look a little like this first quarter has looked for him: disappointing.

In Case You Were Wondering (The Wilson Pickett Edition)

The Wilson Pickett version of “Hey, Jude” is better than The Beatles. The guitar work is more lively and Pickett’s gruff voice transform the song into something far more passionate than The Beatles managed. Follow it up with “If You Need Me,” and you’ve got yourself about six-and-a-half minutes of musical heaven.

Of course, if you’re me, you might also add Slobberbone’s “You Don’t Know What it’s Like"--which makes the Bee Gees’ pop ballad into a surprisingly good southern rock song.

But that’s just me.


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