Monday, January 29, 2007

What's Your Baby Called?

Alberta just released its list of popular baby names for 2006. For some reason Ava was popular last year, pushing Emma out for most popular girl's name. Unfortunately they also presented a number of names that make want to hunt down the parents and smack them good for giving their kids such stupid names. What kind of idiot names their kid DiezelBlaze? And the parents who named their children Rowdy and Tyrant are just asking for trouble. It's also interesting that Alberta parents who named their daughters Abigail managed to find 21 different ways to spell it. Take it from someone who has a last name that needs to be spelled for people frequently, giving your kid an odd spelling of what should be an easy to spell name is just going to cause problems for the poor tike.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Send Me Some Warm Weather.

I have to do some work outside this week and I'd rather it be near freezing instead of -14.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cowboys, Back To Back.

A common complaint about online poker sites is the hands dealt by their hand dealing algorithms. And sometimes you do kind of have to wonder. Tonight during a freeroll on PokerStars I was dealt KK. During the course of the hand another K came down and I won the hand with a set. I passed on a couple of hands due to poor cards and was then dealt KK again. Once again I ended up with trips, much to the chagrin of another player who had AA as a starting hand. How often in a real world game will a player be dealt Kings in one hand, win with 3 Kings, be dealt Kings a few hands later and win yet again with trips? On the other hand I was playing a freeroll on Full Tilt the other night where I was dealt JJ 3 times during the course of my participation and managed to win absolutely nothing with those Jacks, so like real world runs of cards it probably averages out in the end.

Happy 102nd, Charles Lane.

That name may not be familiar, but if you're a fan of old TV shows, or just older than thirty you've seen Charles Lane. Funny how he looked old 40 years ago. And much to my surprise Ernest Borgnine turned 90 this week. I didn't realise he was that old.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bobby You're A Rich Man?

Driving around a bit ago I had the radio going, and one of the local stations played "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles. The DJ mentioned that Bob Seeger co-wrote the tune, and it got me thinking about how well off Seeger might be. Seeger hasn't had a hit in a long time, but his back catalogue must generate a good bit of income. A number one hit like "Heartache" alone must generate a nice income even if he was a co-writer and not sole composer. Seeger's Greatest Hits album alone has sold 8 million copies to date. Chevy using "Like A Rock" in their ads for years must be worth some major coin as well. But of course as anyone who knows much about the music business is well aware even being a hit songwriter won't make you rich if your contracts are bad or you have deficient management. I've never heard of Seeger having such problems, so I'd bet he's not hurting even if he isn't a chart topper anymore.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Madame President?

Yes, I'm back. Not that I really went anyplace, but I just didn't get around to posting anything the last few days.

This post will of course hardly be the first, and far from the only one today on this subject: Hillary Clinton has announced her intention to run for US President. The obvious question is whether this will be a viable candidacy, or a trainwreck for the Democrats. If anything might swing some disenchanted voters back to the Republicans it's the idea of "Demon Hillary" getting (back) into the White House. More than any other potential candidate Senator Clinton has a boatload of baggage, both from Bill Clinton's presidency itself and the more general facts of their marriage given the emphasis many Americans place on issues of personal morality. Of course she actually has to make it to the nomination, and it's not hard to guess that many in the Democratic Party will not want to take the risk of losing all the moment they've picked up via the Bush administration's failings with Iraq by nominating a candidate likely to be subject to some very dirty negative campaigning based around Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater.

There's also a good chance Barack Obama may run for President, as he announced his intent this week to investigate whether he will run in 2008 via a "Presidential Exploratory Committee." A decision will apparently be made by February 10th. Personally I tend to think it's too soon for Obama to run. He needs more experience on the federal level, and needs more time in the public eye to become a completely familiar name to most Americans. Whether he'll have any chance of transcending the race issue in America of course remains to be seen. He'll need to think long and hard about running in 2008, because if it is too early he'll likely have blown his chance, as these days you only seem to get one real shot at the nomination.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bad News From The World Of Music.

Unfortunately I've got a big batch of bad news related to music to report.

Jazz keyboardist Alice Coltrane died Friday, apparently due respiratory problems. She was 69. It was as a member of John Coltrane's last groups that she came to widespread recognition, marrying the jazz saxophone titan in 1966. After his death she continued to perform, developing an original style of music influenced by her interest in Eastern religion, and was one of the few jazz musicians to play the harp.

Jazz lost another voice Saturday with the death of tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker at 58. Brecker had been suffering with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of leukemia. Brecker played in numerous contexts in a career that lasted nearly 40 years, including the group The Brecker Brothers with his older brother Randy, and the fusion group Steps Ahead. Brecker was a major proponent of the Electronic Wind Instrument, a synthesizer controller designed to be played like a saxophone.

Electronic music equipment designer Doug Curtis also died this week. The CEM integrated circuits he helped design were used by a wide range of synthesizers sold in the late '70s and '80s, such as the Rev 3 version of the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 analog synthesizer.

And I just found out that Wally Ingram, a frequent collaborator in recent years with string wizard David Lindley, is currently fighting throat and neck cancer. Hopefully he'll beat his illness.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Note To Young (And Not So Young) People.

Sticking metal things in your face is not sexy. A nose ring or stud is about as far as you can go before stuffing metal bits into your visage is just kind of icky. Please, can you all pull that crap out and put this little fad to bed?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

As If We Needed Any Proof.

Yep, you know Saskatoon has been hit by a bad blizzard when the Public and Catholic school boards announce all schools will be closed tomorrow. Saskatoon is just not the kind of city where entire schools systems shut down because of some snow. We got rather a bit more than "some snow" today. I can't remember a worse blizzard. It was so bad folks actually found themselves stuck in some of the more isolated parts of the city, such as something like 100 who ended up stuck at Costco tonight. Cars were getting stuck all over the place, and many remain stuck tonight. Crazy that I am I just had to go out this morning, and I got very lucky. I caught my usual bus at its usual time, although its entirely possible it was actually half an hour late. I'm probably lucky I didn't end up stuck someplace, as the bus schedule kind of fell apart as the morning wore on. Conditions were near white out across much of the city, and the local malls were almost ghost towns. Hopefully no one has died.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Iwao Takamoto, RIP.

The name may not be familiar, but you've seen lots of his work. Animator Iwao Takamoto has died at 81. Takamoto worked on numerous animated projects, but his best known creation was Scooby Doo. Scooby may not have been high art, animated or otherwise, but he has been one of the more enduring animated characters of the post WW2 era. It's funny to read about this just a few weeks after Joe Barbera, Takamoto's boss at Hanna-Barbera, died. It's also interesting to read his history given that I've noticed his name in the credits of several Hanna-Barbera productions.

Strom Addenda.

I forget to mention in the last post my prediction that some of Strom's supporters would come up with conspiracy theories to explain his arrest. Not surprisingly a quick scan via Google's blog search engine shows that to be the case. "It's all a ZOG plot!" goes the cry. (ZOG is the supposed evil cabal of Jews who run the US, in case you didn't know.) Of course not all racist weenies go for such a rationalisation. White power types tend to be rather fractious, and some of the ones who don't like Strom are more than willing to believe he's been diddling kids.

I'll forego providing any links. If you simply must see for yourself the stupidity of these people you can find their websites and blogs without much effort.

Kevin Gets Caught.

Now I actually have something interesting to write about. I just learned via this post from Orac that my old "buddy" Kevin Alfred Strom of the National Vanguard has been busted for child porn and witness tampering. Strom was a major player in the "White power" group the National Alliance under the late Dr. William Pierce, and was the radio voice of the NA's radio program American Dissident Voices. Although he continued to play an important role in the NA after Pierce's death he was eventually kicked out over a dispute with the group's leadership and founded his own group National Vanguard.

I found this section of the ABC article linked above amusing given the charges against Strom:

Strom wrote frequently about art and beauty, often rhapsodizing about the physical attributes of white women and girls.

In an 2003 essay titled "Millstone for the Mogul" for the National Alliance's Web site, he condemned the producers of the movie "Thirteen" for "what they are doing to our little children — teen and preteen White children — to normalize perverse and degenerate sexual behavior for them, to normalize homosexuality, to prematurely sexualize them, and to make interracial sex fashionable to them — can never be forgiven, can never be explained away. The media moguls who are doing this to our children deserve to be tried and punished for conspiracy, rape, gang rape, murder and attempted murder."

Funny that Strom thinks homosexuality and interracial relationships are wrong, yet has no problem with sexual relationships with presumably female children. Of course he would hardly be the first person whose personal behaviour contradicted his publically expressed beliefs.

I had some dealings with Strom on Usenet back in the days when I posted on there a lot. He was polite compared to some of his fellow racists, but was still the promoter of pernicious and stupid ideas. I can still remember the subtle sneer in his voice on American Dissident Voices, which I heard multiple times in the early and mid '90s on various US shortwave outlets. You'll forgive me if I have no sympathy for Strom no matter what happens to him. Given he's a racist and an accused child molestor he will probably be at great risk of harm in jail, where neither flaw is popular with much of the inmate population.

Monday, January 08, 2007

This Week's Reading.

Yep, you got it. I'm so hard up for something to write to prove I'm not dead that I'm going to post what I'll be reading this week. On the agenda are:

MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero by Stanley Weintraub

Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em by Phil Gordon. Boy, I bet you were surprised to find out that book was written by Phil Gordon.

I'll probably be reading something else this week as well.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Time Travel.

Want to time travel? Just pop a CD into your player. You may be listening to it now, but it will always be say 1971 on that CD, like Can's Tago Mago, to which I'm currently listening.

Unless of course someone has been sticking things on the masters not recorded in that time period. Mr. Fripp, Mr. Froese, Mr. Gibbons, I'm looking at you.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome To 2007.

If you're reading this you're one of the lucky folks who made it into a new year. Glad to have you along. Hopefully this year we can all become better people, even those of you who are already pretty terrific people. Just don't get a swelled head about, okay?