Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

31 January, 2005

Questions Questions

I wrote an entry yesterday but never got around to publishing it. D’oh! Work is going slowly. We’ve had about 5 cases come in so far and I’ve dealt with 2 of them and I’m now just festering. There is a womyn in Milwaukee that I’ve been trying to get a hold of since last week but she remains unwilling to call or email me. What can I do?

I hope everyone had a good weekend. The elections in Iraq went off hitches and all. Not only is it too early to know who the victor is, but it’s also too early to say that democracy has taken hold. But it’s a start and I’m glad that it went off without mass killings. Honestly, I don’t know much about how it went other than there were a few dozen killed and more injured by mortar attacks and such. Supposedly 60% of eligible voters cast ballots. Will they be counted correctly? Will insurgents start assassinating elected officials? I was against our invasion of Iraq, am still furious with the Bush administration for their justifications of the it but find myself to be ambivalent about what’s happening now. First Bushy pushed the idea that Hussein harbored, aided, and abetted terrorists. When it was pointed out that Iraq was no Islamic state and was, in fact, a secular government – something that Osama bin Laden abhors - then it became the threat of WMDs. When this became suspect, we then stopped acting out of self-interest and were cast by Bushy as the good guys deposing a brutal dictator with nary a mention of WMDs or ties to Al Queda. So we went from self-defense to altruism. And who among use actually believes that our invasion was done expressly out of altruism? No one in this country is distraught over Hussein’s removal from power. The question is motive. Who is the more morally just: a person who desires to kill someone but refrains for fear of punishment or a person who harbors anger towards someone else but refrains from killing him or her because the act of murder is morally repugnant? I’ll admit wholeheartedly that geopolitics is not my strong suit but my country has a history of imperialism. To be sure, not exactly on par with that of, say, England, but it’s still there. I don’t recall King Kamehameha inviting the U.S. over for dinner and cocktails. Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Mexico – we’ve been fighting other countries for land and resources throughout most, if not all of, our existence.

Here’s a question that I’ve been pondering lately: Is it morally right for the Untied States to invade another country that does not pose a threat if for the express purpose of making it into a republic? Republican democracy is certainly the best choice for this country but does that mean it is the best choice for all countries? If we support freedom as an idea, must we also support the freedom of other peoples to reject democracy? OK, I should have written “some questions that I’ve been pondering” instead. Everyone on the left and right can agree that Hussein’s disappearance from the scene was good regardless of anything else. And I think that everyone agrees that our invasion of Afghanistan was just in that it aided and abetted Al Queda members. If people like David Horowitz are right and our invasion of Iraq was justified by the evil of Hussein, then what are our moral obligations now? Are we now required to invade Iran and North Korea? What about Saudi Arabia?

Any notion that the United States should, for any reason, spread democracy scares me a bit. All of this talk about when freedom spreads, America is safer sounds like a justification of taking measures to ensure that democracy is propagated which sounds a lot like the old “white man’s burden”. How do we address the problem of the Arab world’s perception of the USA however wrong it may be? Lots of folks in the Middle East hate us. Even if their reasons are wrong, it’s still a massive PR problem that needs to be addressed.

Ugh! So many questions, so few answers.

I joined my 3rd Genesis group recently so now I’m a member of 3 Yahoo groups and 1 Google group. Mark Batatis is a long-tim Genesis collector and the Google group is his. Unfortunately there’s been precious little discussion about Genesis’ music or trading bootlegs as most of the discussion has been about trashing Alan Hewitt, the publisher of the Genesis fanzine, The Waiting Room. I personally have had only the most minimal contact with the guy although I know that he’s been rude to various folks at the Genesis Forum. Regardless of how deserving he is of criticism, must the whole group be dedicated to giving him a slogging?
|| Palmer, 1:40 PM || link || (1) comments |

30 January, 2005

No Monday, Please

Another weekend draws to a close, unfortunately. As The Simpsons nears, I’m watching a symposium on Tom Wolfe’s latest book, I Am Charlotte Simmons or whatever it’s called.

It was a pretty good past couple days. The Dulcinea came over for 45 minutes yesterday before I left to grab Pete and go play D&D. I was delighted to find that Marv, our DM, is taking us on a little side venture to Hellgate Keep. Severus has wanted to go there since he heard of the place. Someone has gotta die if we end up going there. Once again, Miss Regan hung out with us in the basement. At one point, Chris had her up on his shoulder and he said, “Who runs Bartertown?” Geek humor at its best.

The Dulcinea spent some more time together today. We went to the Cottage Café for breakfast. Unfortunately, Botox Lady was not there. So we ate heartily and then zipped over to TH for a spell. I hadn’t seen Miss Vicki in a while so she and I caught up on one another’s lives. Ronaldo and Beth were there as well so I shot the fecal matter with them. From there it was off to Border’s where I bought Russian Ark and a photobook about Stanley Kubrick. Then it was back to my place for a short stint and over to The Dulcinea’s. Her kids were returning at 4 so we only had a couple hours together.

I see that Roger Dean is making an animated movie . You may know him as the guy that painted all the classic Yes album covers. I had no idea that “There is a secret story embedded in the art that Roger has painted for the Yes album covers.” Here’s what it’s all about:

The story is of a boy Loki, growing up, his imagination fired by the myths and legends his uncle had read to him as a child. One story in particular, about a tiny planet that breaks up and is rescued by a hero who builds a space ark, inspires him.

As a young man, visiting his uncle, Loki tells him that he wants look for the missing space ark and asks his uncle for help. His uncle at first refuses, telling him of the incredible difficulties, the very real dangers, the immense scale of the task. Eventually his uncle relents but will only help if Loki takes very seriously his preparations for the journey. The film is about a coming of age, a quest and a love story.

Porcupine Tree’s new single, “Shallow”, is available now online. I snagged a copy of it at Napter which is offering a week of free service right now. The song is a lot like “Futile” but a bit less dark and more poppy. It’s a good song and Steve Wilson hasn’t lost his fascination for the darker side of humanity. In other music news, I’m downloading a copy of the Jethro Tull show from here in Madison back in November – an excellent audience recording. Also downloading is a sweet Wilco show from last year. “The Late Greats” is such a blatantly catchy tune! And I’ve got part 1 of a Gentle Giant video. Now I’ve gotta figure out how to play PAL vids correctly.
|| Palmer, 6:22 PM || link || (0) comments |

28 January, 2005

It's Been A Long, Long Time

OK, not that long.

Let me begin by getting some geeky stuff out of the way first. To wit:

His Highness, George Lucas, has released the opening crawl for Revenge of the Sith. For those too lazy to follow the link, here it is:

War! The Republic is crumbling under the attacks by the ruthless Sith Lord, Count Dooku. There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.

In a stunning move, the fiendish droid leader, General Grievous, has swept into the republic capital and kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine, leader of the Galactic Senate.

As the Separatist Droid Army attempts to flee the besieged capital with their valuable hostage, two Jedi Knights lead a desperate mission to rescue the captive Chancellor...

Firefox has surpassed 20 million downloads! I highly recommend that all Internet Exploder users go grab a copy. Not only will it make browsing easier, but it also goes a long way in avoiding spyware. Plus you can avoid being arrested for making a donation to a tsunami relief fund.

In geeky news closer to home, I’ve finally got my PC up and running again after having bought a new motherboard and CPU. The mobo has SATA if I should ever decide to go in that direction plus two USB 2.0 heads. It took me hours and hours but it’s all back to normal. Before I left for work, I had DC++ up and running with a couple shows downloading. One is a David Bowie gig recorded here in Madtown in October ’74 and some outtakes of Nirvana down at Smart Studios as they readied the material for Nevermind. I have also jumped on a couple weeks recently so I’ve got BURP29 on its way as well as Tull’s complete performance of Aqualung recorded in November in the studios of XM Radio. BURP is a remastering group for Genesis bootlegs. 29 is an audience recording from Leiden, Holland on May 20, 1978. The boys do “Down and Out” so I’m looking forward to eharing it. Thanks to Usenet, I now have the latest Doctor Who audio adventure, The Juggernauts. Haven’t listened to it yet, though. On a related note, BF (Big Finish – the folks who make the DW audio dramas) have started a series about the adventures of UNIT. They’re an earthbound organization in Doctor Who with the venerable Brigadier. The first of the series is Time Heals. Now I’m on the lookout for Her Final Flight and A Storm of Angles.

I’m all fired up because I got front row tickets for the Tempest show in Stoughton come April. I saw them in 1996 at The Chamber which is now the Opus Club or something similar. It went from a place where the gals at Pachinko shows could kick my ass to a place where the womyn can’t get through life without a cell phone and credit card. Progress! Why the band decided to play in Stoughton is beyond me. Yeah, the lead singer is Norwegian and Stoughton is populated by a bunch of Norwegians on LSD, but can one really expect buncha hicks to flock to the Stoughton Opera House for this? There had better be some publicity for this show soon. I'd swear that there’s a gig coming up next month that I wanna see but can’t remember what the hell it is. I do know that Porcupine Tree returns to the States in May in support of Deadwing and I’m psyched to see them again.

Things with The Dulcinea and I had been going alright until last night when she got all liquored up and wanted to see me. I, however, was ensconced in paperwork and drew her ire. It’s been a while since either of us had boy/girlfriend that we’re a bit rusty on the whole deal. Outside of this, it’s been good. Lots of sex, of course, which seems to get kinkier by the day. It’s ironic that, upon beginning to date earlier this month, we resolved to try to have a real relationship which involved more than sex yet sex has been the focus of our time together. Well, we’ll get used to the situation sooner or later.

I read a post up at the Isthmus forum about a new radio station in one of the Twin Cities that A) is not owned by Clear Channel and B) plays “real” “alternative” rock all the time. The author of the post pondered as to whether such an idea would fly here in Madison. Perhaps. But why the fuck would we want one? Between WORT and WSUM, I’m thinking we’ve got more than enough alternative rock on the airwaves to satisfy all the cynical hipsters in town. Some people in this city need to understand that there’s more good music in this world than rock and that just because some someone can play 3 chords and her band is on an independent label doesn’t automatically make the band any good.

Right now I’m listening to Meek’s Genesis Café. Meek is a guy in New York with a huge collection of Genesis boots and he webcasts on Friday evenings/nights. I requested “The Lady Lies” and it’s playing right now. I’d like to give it a try. I suppose I’ll have to check out Shoutcast. If I don’t go to Andy’s tonight to lose money playing poker, I may download it and see what it can do. Otherwise I’ve got to redo Severus and get ready for gaming tomorrow. The plot has unfolded and it’s quite a predicament we find ourselves in at the moment. We killed a priest of Shar named Keshaba so a couple priests were sent out to find us and avenge his death. Along the way, they ran into some illithids and came under their control. The priests were used by the illithids as they pillaged the land. Then they found the lair of a white dragon. One of the priests found a potent magic item and the minions of Shar escaped. Meanwhile we killed some, if not all, of the dragon's progeny. And so we have these priests after us to avenge the death of one of their own, a dragon wanting to avenge the death of its children, and some angry illithids who want us as we double-crossed them. We have to escape death from folks out for revenge, recover the magic object, and, as always, avoid orcs coming in from the north. It’ll be amusing.
|| Palmer, 4:45 PM || link || (0) comments |

20 January, 2005

Stop Ashlee Simpson!

Stop Ashlee Simpson!
|| Palmer, 2:30 PM || link || (1) comments |

13 January, 2005

Violent Death Will Be Unavailable

"Violent Death will be unavailable from 08:00 Sunday 01/16/05 until further notice."

You heard it here first.

I'm at NPR's site listening to an excerpt from a new Son Volt song called "Afterglow 61". It sounds really great.

I spent New Year's Eve with Marv and Old Man Standiford at a few taverns. A day or 2 after that, The Dulcinea and I talked and got back together. While there is much more to be said about this, it will have to wait for a later time. But I will say that it's been fun. Last weekend, I went to see Spamalot! with Dogger, Mel, and Old Man Standiford. It was awesome! Tim Curry walked by us in the lobby as we were waiting. If Standiford had know the cast were to be coming through the front door, he'd have had a Rocky Horror Picture Show line ready for him. I think a lot of the secondary cast members thought we were somehow associated with the show as they acknowledged our presence as they traipsed on by. We were the only audience members in that part of the lobby as we had Mel in her wheelchair and the usher said that we could wait there.

I got a special mini-issue of Progression which was dedicated to the career of Gentle Giant and now I can stop listening to them. I've got a CD here that has a medley of "Knots" & "The Advent of Panurge" from a 1974 concert recorded by the King Biscuit Flower Hour. The opening of "Knots" has John Weathers just pounding the living fuck out of the drums.

Freethinkers is quite good so far. A lot about Thomas Paine. At this point, I'm in mid-19th century and so the role of freethinkers in the abolition movement is the central topic. However, Jacoby has also brought in the women's rights movement and is discussing how the 2 interacted and how freethinkers in each camp were perceived.

Here's what's in my craw at the moment: reality TV. I am so fucking tired of Monster Garage, Monster House, Monster Outhouse, Monster Dinghy, etc. Remember back in the 90s when Beverly Hills 90125 spawned all those imitators? The shows were labeled "rich kids with problems". Today we find ourselves with a glut of "men arguing while remodeling" shows. It really disappoints me that most of this crap is on The Learning Channel and the Discovery Channel. I have no desire to learn about how a father & son fight over a motorcyle rim or discover how some slacker doesn't pull his weight and gets booted. I give the makers of these shows credit for the use of editing and staging. They impose a dramatic narrative on a really boring and almost narrative-free series of events.

How Stevie can sit around for hours on end watching this crap is beyond me. It's not that I seek to ban these shows but - christ! - how many of them does a channel need? For every one of these atrocities on the air, it fills time that could potentially be filled with something interesting. It's just done to death. These shows have as much educational value as Coke has nutrition.
|| Palmer, 1:24 PM || link || (0) comments |