Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Chinese Democracy and Chinese Democracy.

I heard a report on the radio today that Chinese Democracy, the long, long delayed Guns N' Roses album, may have a September 17th release date. Personally I predict we're more likely to see a truly democratic election in the People's Republic than that album actually appear this year. Either that or the album will ship, only to have untold numbers of buyers disappointed when the actual content of the disc is a badly mastered version of Phil Collins' Hello, I Must Be Going. Surely ole Waxl must realise that everyone wants to hear this album to see how truly horrid it is, not because they actually want to hear a new GnR album.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ian Wallace, RIP

I just found today that former King Crimson drummer Ian Wallace died of cancer on Thursday. He had only been diagnosed with esophogeal cancer in August of last year. Wallace joined King Crimson in 1971 and appeared on the album Islands. In the '60s he'd been drummer for the British group the Warriors, whose vocalist Johhny Anderson would become internationally known as Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. Wallace's post Crimson career was varied, with Bob Dylan, Don Henley, and David Lindley just three of his employers. Wallace is the second member of King Crimson to die, fellow Islands lineup member Boz Burrell having died last year of a heart attack.

In tribute I decided to give Islands a spin. The album has long been seen as one of the lesser entries in the Crimson catalogue. There is a certain fussiness to much of what's on the album, especially Peter Sinfield's lyrics. On the other hand there's the heavily processed "electronic banjo" sounding guitar solo on "Sailor's Tale," and its not hard to hear "Ladies of the Road" as another tip of the hat to the Beatles a la "Happy Family" from KC's album Lizard, and a superior one at that.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Take That Action.

Many professional poker players also like to bet on other things, and the bets are sometimes whimsical or outrageous. For example vegetarian Howard Lederer won a bunch of money when someone bet him he couldn't eat a hamburger and he did. Given such bets it makes me wonder if someone has this bet going: When and by whom will Mike "the Mouth" Matusow get punched out at a major poker tournament or on TV after he makes one of his typical nasty comments. If you've seen Matusow on something like Poker Superstars you know what I mean.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I can't say I'm too impressed with Technorati right now. Apparently their "blogcrawler" isn't very good, as according to them I last posted here 9 days ago. It hasn't picked up any of this week's posts at all. This is certainly not one of the major blogs online, but you'd think current posts would show up quickly since I did "claim" my blog with them. Not to mention I've been less than impressed of late with the effectiveness of the search function that's part of the Technorati banner I've got up. It misses a lot of the topics I've posted about here if I search for them. At least Google's blog search engine picks me up quickly.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

There She Is.

One thing a lot of Undergrads fans apparently want to know is what happened to Jene Yeo. I regularly receive hits as a result of the two or three posts on here that mention her name. As a result of one of those hits I found out at least some of what she has been doing in the past few years. She's listed as Flash Animator on the crew list for the cartoon series This Just In on that series' Yahoo!TV entry. Of course this isn't much of a surprise if you'd seen her listed as an animator on the IMDB entry for the cartoon Little Bill. I would imagine that being a voice actress on Undergrads was probably a one off thing totally due to her being the inspiration for Jesse in the first place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Orville Would Be Disturbed.

As with any other business there are always interesting rumours floating around about various guitar makers. But a new rumour about Gibson is rather bizarre. According to a regular poster on the Gear Page, a guitar discussion forum, Gibson is planning to discontinue production of archtop guitars. If true this would be a major shock, since it was Gibson founder Orville Gibson who invented the archtop guitar in the 1890s, and the improved archtops developed by luthier Lloyd Loar in the 1920s became the basis for some of the first practical electric guitars. Archtop electrics are still favoured by many jazz guitarists, but the rumour has it too many of them are buying brands other than Gibson. Its unclear, assuming this is true, whether this will also effect another Gibson's semisolid ES335 line, which also have arched tops and f holes. In any case its hard to imagine such classic instruments as the ES175 leaving production, and such a decision will certainly bolster the belief of many guitarists that the current Gibson ownership is too interested in wringing every available cent out of the Gibson name, and not interested enough in making quality instruments.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


If you're in Saskatoon I hope you've found some way to enjoy the weather over the last few days. It sure is nice compared to the deep freeze we went through for most of February.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tapping Your Way To Health.

I'm not Orac, and this isn't Friday. But once again I'll take a crack at taking a poke at some woo.

Of late while passing the pamphlet bin at the Saskatoon Public Library's main branch I noticed what appeared to be pamphlets for some sort of so-called alternate medicine seminar. Picking one up today it turned out to be for something called BodyTalk Access. This is the "lite" version of the more elaborate BodyTalk system as the International BodyTalk Association "has recognized the critical need for a simplied version of the system to provide access to many of the key benefits of BodyTalk to as many people as possible." The cynical part of me figures they've realised a cut price version of this stuff will attract a bigger clientel, and hence a bigger revenue base, than the full blown system. A local practitioner will be offering courses on BodyTalk Access for a mere $140 per person, $125 if you register early.

What is BodyTalk, you ask?

The BodyTalk System is a well-established system of health care utilizing state-of-the-art energy medicine in a safe and comprehensive manner. Its power is based on increasing the levels of internal communication within the body-stimulating the body's own ability to regain and maintain a healthy balance.

If you've had a bit of exposure to altmed stuff this will seem familiar. Energy fields are a popular concept in this kind of thing. The fact that conventional science has found no evidence these energy fields exist doesn't stop woo merchants from using the concept. Vague ideas of the body being out of balance when ill, and in balance when healthy, are quite common. Another is the idea that your brain isn't being used at its full power, something that is supposedly improved by the BodyTalk Access Cortices technique:

The Cortices technique is designed to improve and balance the communication between the two halves of the brain. (It's like hitting the rest button on your brain's computer.) This will improve the efficiency of the brain-thereby improving overall health.

Wow, betcha didn't know your brain had a computer, and one with a reset button no less! This of course is a variation on the old, and inaccurate, saw about humans only using 10% of their brain power, and how much more wonderful we'd all be if we used the other 90%.

A look at the BodyTalk system website turns up more familiar ideas, such as that "Each system, cell and atom is in constant communication with each other at all times." No doubt this was inspired by some of the misreadings of quantum physics all too common these days. The system is a creation of Australian Dr. John Veltheim, an acupuncturist and chiropractor. Veltheim admits on a video on the website that many of the concepts he incorporated into BodyTalk come from previous alternative medicine practices, such as Applied kinesiology.

And how do BodyTalk treatments work? By the practitioner tapping you on the head and breastbone. Yep, after determining what's out of whack they whack you on the noggin. To quote the website:

The BodyTalk system works by first identifying the weak energy circuits that exist within the body. The practitioner relies on the innate wisdom of the body to locate the energy circuits that need repair by using a form of biofeedback, which is a subtle muscle testing technique.

For every malfunctioning energy circuit that is found, the practitioner or client contacts the corresponding "points" with their hands. The practitioner then lightly taps the client on the top of the head, which stimulates the brain centers and causes the brain to re-evaluate the state of the body's health. The result is that the general energy balance of the body is greatly improved.

The practitioner then taps the client on the sternum to "announce" the corrected energy flows to the rest of the body. This is beneficial because the heart is responsible for communicating the state of the body's health to the rest of the body. Stimulating the heart by tapping the sternum forces the heart to store the corrected energy patterns in the body's cellular memory. This means that the body will remember these changes after the treatment.

It's interesting that one of the pluses given for BodyTalk is that it's non-invasive. I agree. At least it's not like some other woo that requires you to ingest questionable compounds or flood your lower intestine with coffee. But I don't agree that one has "nothing to lose and everything to gain" by using BodyTalk, since an "incorrectly" performed BodyTalk proceedure will have no effect. Someone going to a practitioner of such nonsense will lose valuable money, but more importantly could risk their health deteriorating by wasting time getting tapped on the head instead of getting a treatment that actually works.

No diagnosis is given, no medications prescribed, and no invasive techniques imposed upon the patient. The BodyTalk System does not conflict with, or legally contravene, any existing health care system or law.

Nice ass covering there. If a BodyTalk client doesn't go see their doctor as well as their BodyTalk practitioner and gets sicker it's not their fault, since they didn't tell them they shouldn't see a mainstream doctor as well. Conversely you know BodyTalk proponents will claim that someone's illness being healed was primarily the result of BodyTalk if a person does see conventional doctors. It's also interesting that they state in several places that no diagnosis is given, another way of protecting themselves from legal problems if someone becomes sicker after their BodyTalk sessions, or for that matter from treating someone when they don't actually suffer from any illness at all.

It should be hard to imagine that there are people who seriously think that getting tapped on the head and chest is a cure for anything. But it really isn't. We live in a world where large numbers of people think that having someone wave their hands over your chest will change your energy field, or that a vial of liquid with every last bit of active ingredient diluted out of it will cure their affliction. An idea like BodyTalk really isn't a stretch.

Addenda: One oddity on the seminar info sheet that came with this pamphlet was this:

The BodyTalk System is registered with the Saskatchewan CASS(Canadian Agricultural Skills Service) Program as a Learning Activity Provider.

Eligible students may be sponsored in full to take BodyTalk Courses.

Say what? It would be bad but understandable if Health and Welfare was giving this stuff credence and support, but the Agriculture Department? Someone in Regina seems to have forgotten what their department is supposed to be doing.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Porn, Is There Anywhere It Can't Go?

Ah, the amazing things technology offers us. The cell phone company Tellus has begun offering porn in photographic and video form on its telephones, much to the distaste of many. Of course, as Tellus spokesman Jim Johannsson noted porn has been available for mobile download ever since web capable phones hit the market. The new Tellus service will provide material that is legal under Canadian law and will attempt to block underage users from accessing said content. Of course there's also the fact that they might end up making a good bit of money doing so if a prediction by a British research group proves true. Juniper Research says that mobile porn content could generate as much as 14.5 billion dollars US over the next 5 years.

Personally I have a hard enough time seeing why someone would want to watch a TV program on their cell phone. But porn? Do people really need that much help getting horny that they will squint at a tiny cell phone screen to see some boobs? And frankly I hear enough about random people's sex lives in public without them getting more encouragement to blab about it by watching sex vids on the bus or in a mall food court.

Name Recognition.

Barack Obama, potential candidate for the US Presidency, still needs some more public exposure it seems. I received a hit this morning from someone trying to find out how old Orac Obama is. Whoops. Oh well, at least it's not someone confusing him with Osama bin Laden again. Hmm, could they be confusing him with my fellow blogger Orac?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Keith Rowe Goes Boutique?

These days there are a lot of small companies, generally refered to as boutique makers, that make guitar effects pedals. One of the more original and distinctive makes is Zachary Vex's ZVex line, a collection of boxes known for their funky graphics and imaginative circuitry in a market that tends towards making variations on Ibanez Tube Screamers. But even given the originality of Zvex's stomp boxes I was rather surprised to see in some recent pictures of Keith Rowe tonight that he's apparently started using a couple of their products. Rowe is not what one would call a conventional guitarist. Indeed many folks would question whether he's a guitar player at all. A founding member of the improvised music group AMM Rowe lays his guitar on a table and manipulates it in very unguitar like ways, uses all sorts of odd things to excite it's strings, and feeds radio and other audio signals through it's pickups. He is not the kind of guy who sits around reading Guitar Player to see what the latest hip trends for trendy guitarist are. Yet he's now using devices that those kind of folks would think of as cool and hip. One appears to be a Lo Fi Loop Junky, a low tech, low fidelity device that allows you to record up to 20 seconds of audio and loop it. This wouldn't be that much of a surprise, since of late Rowe had been using a Boss RC20 Loop Station. Can't tell what the other box might be.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Yes, It Was Cold Today.

I spent most of this morning walking outside. In one outer pocket of the jacket I was wearing I was carrying a bottle of water. (Life Brand, which is about the cheapest around.) Much to my amusement at one point I pulled the bottle out to take a swig and found that the water was half frozen, with a large chunk of ice sitting in it. Not that I had much to worry about. I was well dressed for the weather.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Where Are The TV Western Remakes?

In recent years we've seen an increasing number of movies based on old, and sometimes not so old, TV shows. But one genre that hasn't been exploited to date is the TV western. Other than the Mel Gibson big screen Maverick and the disastrous Wil Smith vehicle Wild Wild West we haven't seen any of the westerns of the '50s and '60s adapted into movies. You'd think at the very least someone would acquire the rights to one and make a parody movie a la the Brady Bunch movies, or along the line of Mel Brooks' classic Blazing Saddles, which itself is probably old enough for a remake. Although westerns aren't particulary popular these days the right concept could bring the crowds to the theatres. Any arguements that these old shows aren't familiar enough to today's movie audience don't ring true given some of the stuff that has been brought to the big screen in recent years. Then again maybe the lack of success of many of them is an argument against exploiting the western genre.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Count Me Out.

As I write this millions of people will be watching the Superbowl. I'm not one of them. You frequently see the ratings for the Superbowl, how many millions watched, but I wonder how many potential viewers won't watch this year's edition. You can bet the networks and advertisers have a pretty good idea what that figure is.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's Quiet, Too Quiet.

It's 5:23 pm and I haven't had a single hit today on the blog. Very odd. Of course when I tried to visit from a public terminal this morning I couldn't get in, so perhaps that's the reason. Hopefully this post will stir up the pot a bit.