Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It seems that 30 years of speculation has come to an end. It has been revealed that former deputy director of the FBI Mark Felt was Deep Throat, the mysterious source that provided reporter Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein crucial information in breaking the Watergate scandal. There have been numerous candidates proposed over the years, including Felt. Some had suggested Deep Throat was not one person but a composite of several sources, perhaps including Woodward himself. Deep Throat's identity had been an incredibly closely kept secret, only Woodward, Berstein, and former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee knowing his true name.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hmmm, kind of a quiet night. I guess everyone is busy doing other things besides reading blogs. Like sleeping? Sometimes I wonder if I really should be a night owl, but various factors make it impractical for me these days.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Its easy to laugh at conspiracy theories. After all they are often so ridiculous you can't imagine anyone taking them seriously. But they can be dangerous. Reportedly conspiracy theories being spread in parts of Africa about vaccination programs against polio are causing many to avoid the vaccines, the result being a rise in polio cases. But don't get all smug and pontificate about the guillibility of African and other Muslims. There are lots of folks in the industrialised world who hold equally foolish beliefs about vaccination, and some of them probably are as quick to see an evil conspiracy at work.

Friday, May 27, 2005

One of the greats of American movies and television has died. Eddie Albert was 99. He died at home due to Alzheimers related health problems. Besides being an actor Albert fought with the US Marines during WW2, winning a Bronze Star for rescuing fellow Marines during the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. His son Edward has also worked as an actor, but in recent years had been taking care of his father.

Canadian guitarist Domenic Troiano passed away this week after a long battle with prostate cancer. Troiano's career saw him play in a wide range of situations, including being guitarist in a post Randy Bachman lineup of the Guess Who, along with numerous session gigs. In the '80s he turned his attention to tv soundtracks, including the theme song to the Canadian produced cop show Night Heat.

And from the odd side of the news Japanese officials are currently investigating reports that a pair of Japanese soldiers who deserted the Japanese Army in WW2 are living on the Phillipine island of Mindanao. Attempts to contact them on Friday were unsuccessful. A number of Japanese soldiers held out for years after WW2, but the last was thought to have returned home in the 1970s.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

To use an old cliche, the plot thickens in Major League Baseball's American League East. Toronto defeated Boston tonight, sweeping them in a 3 game series at Toronto's Rogers Centre. The Yankees won as well. The result? New York and Toronto are tied for second in the division, both at 5 games over .500 with 26 wins and 21 losses each. They're 4 and a half games back of division leaders Baltimore. Boston has slipped to third due to the sweep. Boy, its been a long time since Toronto looked this good.

Unfortunately none of the Boston series was televised out here, for reasons unknown to me. Fortunately Rosetown's CJYM AM on 1330 kHz carried the 3 game series. I listen with my nasty old Sanyo portable cassette player, so its kind of noisey, but clear enough to enjoy the games. Saskatoon's CKOM carried the Jays for a season when they initially adopted the current talk format, but apparently didn't get ratings sufficient to continue the practice.(In their early days they also played Dr. Laura, which apparently did poorly as well.) Speaking of CKOM I had thought about writing a bit about this morning's John Gormley Live program, critiquing his behaviour, but I'm glad I didn't. This kind of post is a lot more fun.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Someone needs to send the members of Motley Crue a US high school civics textbook. They're suing NBC, claiming that an NBC ban on the group appearing on NBC programming is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Of course the really cynical part of me, as opposed to the merely cynical part of me, suspects this is nothing more than a publicity stunt by the Motleys because their reunion gambit isn't paying off like they thought it would.
I was just visiting Long and McQuade's new location in Saskatoon. Its on 43rd Street in a building previously occupied by Crafts Canada, replacing their former 2nd Avenue location. Now instead of a cramped store they have lots of room, allowing for such things as closed rooms for playing guitar amps and acoustic instruments in, and simply more room for merchandise. They definitely needed a bigger space. I do have to wonder if they can afford a place like that, but I assume the folks at head office know what they're doing. One thing I'm a bit leery about is that they've got some of their guitars hanging quite high up. This is of course to keep the more expensive instruments from being banged up by folks casually trying them out. But I can't help but worry there will be accidents when the staff gets up on a ladder or footstool to get them down ie stuff getting dropped.

L&M probably would have had a new store long before this, but unfortunately the ceiling of their old store fell in several years ago. After the building was repaired I overheard one of the staff mentioning to a customer that the repairs came out of monies budgeted for an eventual new store.
Wow, I got a hit tonight from Kyrgyzstan. Thats about the most exotic place yet to generate a hit. Oddly it was from a websearch for Megas XLR images.
Damn, am I getting tired of that banner ad for new age nonsense that Adsense keeps pumping out. Its weird, you'd think I would have written enough stuff by now for it to change. For that matter you'd think the mention of Madonna in the post that made it appear would have brought up some sort of Madonna related ad. Then again Ms. Ciccone hasn't done much of note lately other than appearing in the gossip columns. She's probably past due for a new album, even if its the typical contractual obligation greatest hits with a new single as a bonus package.

Tuesday morning's trivia question on CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition dealt with Elton John's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album, which debuted at number one in the US this week in 1975. I imagine a lot of people have forgotten how big Elton was in the early '70s, for a while being probably the biggest solo artists on the planet. Nowadays he's pretty much become one of that class of celebs who are more famous for simply being famous than for anything they actually do in their chosen profession.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Watching the latest Doctor Who tonight and seeing the previews for next week I'm starting to agree a bit with folks who want the series to get away from the Earth finally. The farthest we've gone so far is a couple of space stations in Earth orbit. Its not as if they need to put much effort in making an alien world. If they want to keep the budget down just have the action take place in a tunnel or something.

As I've been poking around online the last little bit I've been noodling away on my trusty old Lake Placid Blue Fender Japan '57 Reissue Stratocaster. I've had this guitar for a long time, close to 2 decades. How the time flies. I've played lots of guitars over the years, but I've never found one that would make me run out and trade the old dear in on it, or sell it to get money to buy the other one. Of course the way prices have been creeping up on the older Fender Japan instruments I sometimes get curious about how much I'd get if I tried to sell it.
I finally finished reading Bradley K. Martin's Under the Loving Care of the Heavenly FAther: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, his profile of North Korean dictators the late Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il. An excellent look at North Korea, albeit a very long one at 868 pages. I wouldn't recommend reading it as fast as I've been trying to. Its interesting to read actual stories from those who have defected from North Korea, Martin having talked to both commoners and those of high standing who have defected. I'm sure most readers will find it hard to imagine living in a country like North Korea has been for most of its history, where the majority of people were inculcated in a rigid ideology with no real knowledge of how the rest of the world really worked. Martin avoids the temptation to portray the Kims as one dimensional boogiemen, and its not hard to gather the impression that they have often been as much victims of the insularity of the North Korean worldview as anyone else, with tragic results. Yet the fact that such a society could actually produce those who could see through all this and act counter to their upbringing, whether to engage in dissent or simply to escape, may be a glimmer of hope that North Korea can make its way out of its current moribund state.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I came across a website for The Temple and Sword, a Christian sci fi novel, recently. The expression on the kid's face on the cover is rather amusing. It looks like he just found that his baby brother pooped all over the floor or something like that. The author refering to Jesus as the "only real Super Hero" is also worth a chuckle. Describing Jesus as a sort of super best friend, as these folks are wont to do, always seems a bit odd to me. Then again my religious education, which ultimately didn't take, is Roman Catholic, a denomination not noted for refering to Jesus in such terms.
Are your evil neighbours bombarding your house with radiation? If so you might want to get in touch with these folks. Perhaps you can exchange tips and tricks on how to protect yourselves.
I'm currently listening to CKOM, 650 kHz. Its ridiculous how long their ad breaks go. I think the current one has been running close to four minutes. It really makes me appreciate having no commercials on CBC Radio.
I've been spending too much time in front of this computer lately. I really should be out getting more exercise while the weather's nice. At least I managed to get a walk in Sunday night. And I have been doing a lot of book reading over the past few days. Hmmm, perhaps its time to start refering to that as analog reading, versus digital reading on a computer.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Here's an oldy but a goody from Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.

I think its time to go take a look out the window. I keep smelling what smells like rain.
Another sign that summer is on the way. A woman across the street was out doing yard work this afternoon wearing shorts and a bikini top. Fortunately she's got the kind of build that she can get away with that kind of thing.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

If you've ever wanted to listen in on the Saskatoon Police Service and other Saskatoon area emergency services check out the Saskatoon Scanner page. I used to listen in to the police frequently with a Realistic PRO2024 scanner, but this ended when the Saskatoon police, fire, and other civic departments switched over to an 800 mHz trunking radio system, a frequency range my unit doesn't cover. I never seemed to have the money available to replace it. I'm starting to wonder if I should try and get 40 or so bucks off of the old dear on eBay, since I virtually never use it anymore, as the only thing I can hear that I'm much interested in is transmissions from the local airport.
I recently posted a link to Darth Vader's blog. For those of you inclined to the other side of the Force there's good news. Yoda has a blog. Betcha didn't know Yoda would say something like "Holy crap!" Unfortunately that rapscallion Boba Fett also has a blog.

Personally I'd like someone from Moonbase Alpha to do a blog. Unfortunately it would probably be poor old Yasko, Alpha's queen of mangled English. Or a blog by Tony Verdeschi on his latest beer making experiments.
This afternoon TBS is playing Gone In 60 Seconds. Its odd to see Christopher Eccleston as a villain, and with hair, or more hair at least. If Doctor Who had an American tv outlet I bet Gone In 60 Seconds would be on the airwaves a lot more these days.
Looks like George Lucas won't have to worry about making his money back on Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith. The film reportedly grossed 50 million dollars on Thursday, the highest one day ever sales total for a film.

Somehow I doubt I'll see this in a theatre. I didn't see Episode I or Episode II on the big screen, and in fact haven't seen either film at all. I've just never been interested enough I guess. For that matter I haven't seen the Matrix sequels either. In a way I think they were redundant. The ending of the original film reads very well as a conclusion to the story set out in the film, without the need for sequels.

I can still remember fairly well the ads for the original Star Wars. My parents, brother, and I saw it fairly soon after it opened at a drive in. Given how few drive ins are apparently still around I doubt this happens very often anymore.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I'm sure its gonna be loads of fun to be a Canadian cop this weekend. Its Victoria Day, effectively the first long weekend of the summer vacation season even if school doesn't get out for elementary and high school kids for another month. And of course being a long weekend this means more folks will be out drinking and doing stupid things, like driving after drinking enough booze to fill a bathtub. You can probably add in high school grads in a number of places to up the problem party factor. Good thing for me I don't intend to be spending much time out and about late night this weekend.
I saw Jerry Garcia on the bus today. Another passenger on the bus looked like a thinner version of the late Grateful Dead leader. I wonder if anyone has told him he looks like Garcia.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A great line in a post at Stupid Evil Bastard: Of course, leading an anti-gay protest in San Francisco is like going to Mississippi and yelling stop loving Jesus!. Not very effective.

I just discovered another site that discusses the dark side of fanfiction. Its Godawful Fan Fiction. But they don't limit themselves to the world of fanfics, but also critique horrors in other forms of entertainment. As always I take no responsibility if they skewer something you loved, or more importantly you produced.
Oh boy. I came across this dating site via the Adsense banner. Personally I find the guy in the 2nd photo made up to look like a demon or whatever very funny.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

According to the gossip column published in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix Madonna and film director husband Guy Richie are trying to have a kid. As a result they're reportedly taking some form of ayurvedic, or Ayurvedic if you prefer, treatment. This brings up a couple of questions. Are they getting it from the Maharishi, or his former disciple, new age health guru Deepak Chopra? And what does this say about their much publicised Kabbalah involvement? Probably not much about the latter. Given that the version of Jewish mysticism she's involved with has drawn much criticism from traditional practitioners I'd guess they won't have much problem with their devotees using Indian new age medicine. After all getting too tight assed about that kind of thing will just chase away some potential clients.

BTW, if you're reading this, Madonna, I hope you're using Western medicine that actually works as well, instead of just stuff from snake oil salesmen like Chopra.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A couple of music related links for the guitar nuts passing through. First of all we have a dog with good taste in stompboxes. Then we have something you might not want to look at if you've got a weak stomach, another homemade guitar monstrosity. Yech!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Here's another interesting tidbit from Bradley K. Martin's Under the Care of the Fatherly Leader, his look at North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il. It seems that however Communist North Korea may claim to be elements of Korea's folk medicine tradition continue to linger. As Kim Il Sung aged the Kim Il Sun Institute of Health and Longevity was established(at the behest of Kim Jong Il) to help the Great Leader live a longer and healthier life. One of its recommendations was that Kim Il Sung consume dog penises of at least 7 centimetres in length.

Of course my response, as it would be of most Western readers of such a prescription, was disgust. Eating dog is bad enough, but dog penises is even worse. But as we all realise this is a culturally ingrained response. Koreans have long consumed dog and so would not find consuming unusual bits of dogs for health reasons odd. Similarily people who grow up in Muslim countries, even if they are not Muslims themselves or abandon the faith, may find the idea of eating pig odd and disturbing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

We have a bird bath in the backyard, a wide ceramic dish that sits on the stump of an old tree we cut down a few years back. Today one of the local crows was drinking from it. This is the first time I've seen one do this, but I imagine it won't be the last. It was interesting to watch him stand on the edge of the dish and move around the edge as he drank. Afterwards I wondered if a crow would be heavy enough to tip it over. Probably not.

The crow population in Saskatoon has gone up quite a bit over the last few years. Crows seem to be the kind of birds that actually benefit from human activity. Tokyo apparently has seen a major increase in crows over the last decade or so. Because of government regulations plastic garbage bags are clear, and supposedly this attracts crows because they can see there is something they want to eat in the bags.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

While I'm at it I must mention my amusement at the Google Adsense output when I updated the blog. Alongside an ad for a Christian sci fi novel (how's that for a genre!) it has ads for lesbian pulp fiction and "quality lesbian eBooks," as well as an ad for a vampire novel. "One of these things is not like the others...."
Wow, check out the reDiscovery Institute. They're taking up the fight against those horrible Godless scientists and secular humanists with their cockamamie periodic table of the elements theory. (This important website came to me from a post at Orac's blog.)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I've mentioned the Teletoon cartoon series Braceface a couple of times on here. As a result I get regular search engine hits for the phrase "braceface porn." The scary thing is that given some of the other hits I get, including ones for "Sharon Spitz porn," I suspect these folks actually are looking for explicit pictures of the characters in a cartoon show intended for pre-teen and teen girls. I get hits for "Megas XLR porn," but at least the hot babe character in that show is an adult. Unless of course people are looking for pornographic images of Megas, the titular giant robot. Don't say it couldn't happen, because some people have actually written sexually explicit fanfics involving robots from the '80s classic Transformers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I did quite a bit more magazine cutting up the past couple of days. It sure is a lot of work when you have dozens to go through. I was chopping up old Vintage Guitar mags today and ended up with lots of ink on my fingers as those were printed on newsprint. It was interesting to thumb through an old issue of Option Magazine(now defunct, unfortunately) and come across an article on Green Day just after they released Dookie. The article speculated on whether signing with a major would help or harm the band. Guess we know the answer to that. The group took a lot of flack at the time from punk "purists" for "selling out," but as Billie Joe Armstrong pointed out its easy to be a purist when you're not looking at music as a step up for your life as the working class members of Green Day were at the time.

Had a bit of a chuckle this afternoon when I saw a FedEx driver who could have been Jude from 6TEEN. He was a blond kid with a baggy shirt and a toque, just like the cartoon character. Wouldn't surprise me if he was a skater, the hat looked like the kind a skater would wear.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Right now I'm listening to Barry Gray's music for the Space: 1999 episode "War Games." Powerful stuff. Gray wrote a fascinating mix of stuff for the first season of the series, from straight orchestral stuff like this, to the very abstract piece used in "Force of Life." I think it sounds more timeless than Derek Wadsworth's year 2 music, which sounds a lot like much of what else was being written in the mid 70s, although I do in fact like his writing as well. Considerably more library music, including quite a bit from Gray, was used in year one versus year two. The decrease was probably due to budget constraints. Despite what was claimed at the time the evidence would seem to indicate that year two had a considerably reduced budget over year one.

Monday, May 09, 2005

In an effort to clean up some of the clutter around here I spent quite a bit of today going through old magazines (pretty much all music mags) to cut out the articles I'm still interested in and disposing of the rest. There's really no point in keeping a hundred pages of paper around when you only want 15 or 20. But I had a rather interesting moment of realisation when I noticed something about the stuff from the '80s and early '90s. A complete lack of internet related things. No e-mail addresses or urls. Compare this with today, when even the smallest of record labels and the most of obscure of artists will at the very least have an e-mail address, if not a website. I haven't even noticed contact information for the computer networking organisations that did exist at the time like Compuserve or Fidonet. In 15 years its all gone from a fringe activity largely unfamiliar to most of society to an ubiquitous presence. I suppose people in early 1930s must have felt something the same when they went through old magazines and newspapers they wanted to throw out and noticed the absense of mentions of radio broadcasts.
An update on Toronto Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun. He's been diagnosed as having a concussion, and will be placed on the 15 day disabled list.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

By the way, in case you didn't know there actually is such a thing as Bible fanfiction. For example the popular fanfiction archive has a Bible section. There are even people who write Bible slash fics, which you can be sure will offend a lot of people.
Bad news on the Blue Jays front. Catcher Gregg Zaun was seriously injured in today's game. I was watching the game on TSN when it happened. Very nasty. Hopefully there was no permanent damage.

If you're the owner or employee of a San Diego bodyguard firm you might want to get in touch with Anne Rice. The novelist, famous for her various vampire books, plans to release a book detailing the early years of the life of Jesus later this year. You can bet someone as high profile as Rice doing this will heavily piss off a lot of people, especially given the content of her books. Some folks find it rather ironic that Rice, who has very aggressively attacked writers of fanfiction based on her novels in recent years, is writing what could be considered a piece of fanfiction herself.
I've been prowling eBay a lot lately looking for musical equipment to pick up cheap, and I'm starting to notice some of the same stuff for auction over and over again. A good example is this auction for a Roland SH3 synthesizer. This is the third or fourth time I've seen this on offer in the past month or so. You'd think he'd figure out by now that his starting bid is far too high. Frankly even with a low starting bid he's likely not gonna get 1300 bucks for an SH3, which is one of Roland's earliest and most primitive synths.

I could have bought an SH3A, the followup to this keyboard, years ago for dirt cheap, as it sat in the basement of a now defunct music store for a long time. Even better would have been the Roland MC202 synthesizer/sequencer I could have bought from another shop, but was too chicken to ask the guy about. I probably could sell it today for twice what I would have paid for it.
I would love to know what kind of parameters Google's Adsense system uses to determine what ads should be shown on your ad banner. I've been getting ads for arthritis treatments and alternatives to the painkiller Vioxx of late. Neither topic has come up on this blog. I would assume the ads have shown up because the word nutrition appeared in a couple of recent posts. If I'm correct in this assumption I'm surprised that cancer treatment ads haven't appeared given the role nutrition is believed by some to play in either getting or treating cancer. Its kind of amusing sometimes when an ad pops up in response to a negative post on something. A post about a webpage for those who hate the Hummer H2 lead to Hummer related ads appearing on the ad banner. Yet my mention of Darth Vader didn't lead to any Star Wars related ads. How odd, especially with Revenge of the Sith about to hit the theatres.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I was just reading a segment from the book Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, by Bradley K. Martin. It mentioned that one of the things US troops found when they briefly seized Kim Il Sung's command bunker in the North Korean capital Pyongyang in 1950 was an organ. Kim had played the organ as a youth. Kim's cult of personality, along with the mention of his musical interests, made me think of another cultish leader, Shoko Asahara of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo. Although most of the world first heard of Asahara after Aum's 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway system I knew of him for at least a couple of years before that. In the early '90s I listened to quite a bit of shortwave radio, and at the time Radio Moscow was selling airtime to interested parties. One of them was Aum, and their broadcasts quickly became familiar to many shortwave listeners. Included in each broadcast was a hymn or two, supposedly written by Asahara. After they were played the Japanese lyrics were explained. Unfortunately like the rest of their program the English speakers they used weren't particularly good, and listening was rather surreal. The vagueries of shortwave broadcasting, such as fading and interference, didn't help.

It would seem that their Russian programs were rather more successful. Russia proved to be the most successful area outside Japan for Aum recruiting, and a decade later many of the converts to the group hold their allegiance. Some reports even claim Aum, or Aleph as it calls itself now, currently has more followers in Russia than Japan.

When the first news reports hit Canadian radio and tv about the 1995 subway attack and the possible involvement of a Japanese cult I almost instantly began to wonder if it was Aum. I wasn't all that surprised when the answer was yes. What had been merely some amusing broadcasts of some weird religious sect suddenly became much more disturbing. Over the next few years we learned of what Aum had been doing before the subway attack, activities that included the murder of a critic of the group and his family, attempts to spread disease organisms, and attempts to develop or obtain weapons even more dangerous than the homemade sarin gas they actually used. Shoko Asahara was convicted as the mastermind of the Aum attack, and last year was sentenced to death, although this doesn't appear to be going to happen anytime soon.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Got bitten by technology again tonight. I decided to haul out an old album I hadn't played in a good long time, Decoder by Cypher 7. Unfortunately it wouldn't play on the CD drive on the computer, which is how I listen to a lot of music these days. It has a software data track as the first cut, and the computer wouldn't recognise it as a music CD. Grrrr! This CD is from the early Windows 95 era, which likely doesn't help when using a computer with Windows XP. So it was off to the bedroom to unplug the portable CD player I run into my ancient Sony ghettoblaster and drag it back in here. Listening via headphones revealed something I never noticed before, that the portable is kind of hissy.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Another one for the guitar nuts out there. Unfortunately its a case of the uglies again. Oddly enough this poor thing has received a bunch of bids. I guess someone besides the seller likes the look of that monster.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Thanks to Orac I found out a very well know celeb has taken up blogging, and on no less. Darth Vader! Boy, does the fella ever get pissed off a lot! Perhaps he needs to take up yoga, or tai chi, or some other form of relaxation practice.
With all the talk in recent years of atheletes using steroids and other performance enhancers I've often wondered if people were using them years ago. The answer is yes, they were.

Monday, May 02, 2005

If you're a baseball fan check out the April 24th issue of the New York Time Magazine. The cover story discusses whether power hitting is being overemphasised instead of more subtle ways of getting on base.

The Blue Jays managed to take 2 out of 3 games from the Yankees on the weekend. I wonder when the last time that happened was. The Yankees are currently 7 and a half games behind division leading Baltimore, something that hasn't happened since September of 1997, and are 5 games below .500. They're hoping to pick up some ground playing against Tampa Bay over the next few days, the Devil Rays having lost 7 straight. You can only imagine the kind of howling out of the Yankees' front offices if Tampa should stomp them.

As a followup to my comment about the "Nutrition facts" on some Breathe Savers I bought I purchased some Aquafina bottled water today and it had such a listing. It told me that bottled water is not a source of any significant amounts of nutrients or of fats, all of which makes the inclusion of such information rather redundant. Did the company actually have to officially test the water to come up with those stats? Bottled water is arguably a bigger moneymaking scam than soft drinks. At least the company has to pay for some sugar and other flavourings. With bottled water all they have to do is filter it, if that.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Boy, do I feel down right now. Oh well, things can always be worse.