Friday, September 30, 2005

Wow, rather a long stretch of not writing anything here. I really haven't had anything I wanted to gab about the last few days. The most interesting thing to happen to me this week is that my Where's Willy index reached 800 on Friday with this hit in Montreal. My 200th hit should come some time in the next week or so.

And to answer your question Gandalf...

...despite Jesse's obvious skepticism work is getting done. Not as quickly as I'd like, but at least some progress occured over the last week. And yes, I will almost certainly get something out before year's end. Hopefully before the end of October even if I have to force it out like the last drop of toothpaste in a tube.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Yet another face from my TV childhood has died. Don Adams was 82. Get Smart, a spoof of spy movies that appeared as part of the "spy boom" let loose in the 1960s by the success of the James Bond franchise, made Adams an icon to millions of TV viewers as the bumbling Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 of CONTROL. Many of the show's catch phrases, such as "Missed me by that much!" became common lingo. However the show also typecast Adams, as is often the case when a show is so successful. Adams would go on to be the voice of cartoon detective Inspector Gadget in the early '80s, a character very obviously based on Maxwell Smart. Adams starred in the mid '80s Canadian sitcom Check It Out, about the goings on in a grocery store his character managed. (The show also featured NYPD Blue's Gordon Clapp as the dumber than dumb janitor Viker.) He reprised the Smart role in a 1995 revival of the series which was poorly done and only lasted 7 episodes, the best of which was the final episode aired in which Smart once more encountered his arch nemesis, veteran KAOS agent Siegfried, played by Bernie Kopell.

It was interesting to read in Adams' obituary that he was a US Marine who fought in the battle of Guadalcanal, and that a jungle illness resulted in him being set home to be a drill instructor. Its hard to imagine Maxwell Smart convincingly bossing around a bunch of Marines, but as always we shouldn't confuse the actor with his roles.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Many people are trying to draw parallels between the current war in Iraq and the mess that was the Vietnam War. One definite similiarity between the two conflicts is that US military deserters have been making their way into Canada. 12 of them so far have made claims for refugee status, and one group supporting them claim that at least another 75 are also living in Canada at the moment. Kyle Snyder is one of them. Snyder ended up in Iraq in January, but what he saw there made him flee into Canada in April. Snyder joined the US Army in 2003 in an effort to get health care for his pregnant girlfriend, a move that ultimately failed. He claims that he was lied to because among other things the recruiter didn't mention the Iraq war.

Personally this strikes me as incredibly naive. How could anyone join the US military in 2003 and not reasonably expect they might end up in Iraq, no matter what position they were to be trained for? For that matter anyone who joins a military is living in dreamland if they don't go in with the expectation that they might end up in harm's way and be put in a situation where they may have to use violence.

As for claims about the higher ups lieing about conditions in Iraq ultimately I think naivete is also involved. Namely the impression I've long had is that many of the top officials in the Bush adminstration believed that all they had to was get rid of Saddam and the Iraqi people would throw flowers at the feet of American soldiers. Apparently they confused Baghdad with Paris in 1944, which is ironic given the frequent comparisons of Hussein to Adolf Hitler. Rather they should have been thinking of Berlin in 1945.

As for Snyder and the other deserters I doubt they have much chance of getting refugee status. The United States is a democracy that operates, however imperfectly, via the rule of law, and is home to a free press to which someone like Snyder has access to. The deserters voluntarily joined the US military, they were not forced to do so by a dictatorial government. And there is sure to be consideration by the refugee board at the potential problems granting them refugee status will have on US/Canada relations.
I just looked at the hits this month on the blog, and they've just reached 666. Look out!

Friday, September 23, 2005

A rather amusing thing happened in tonight's Saskatchewan Roughriders/Toronto Argonauts game. Play was stopped for several minutes during the first quarter when a hare came onto Taylor Field in Regina. The hare had a good run around the field before he was chased away. Its not hard to imagine how confused that creature must have been to encounter that many people in one place at once.
Its always interesting the things you notice when you listen to a recording through different speakers, in a different listening position and so on. I was just listening to Tangerine Dream's "Cloudburst Flight," off the album Force Majeure, while reading and noticed for the first time drummer Klaus Krieger's bass drum patterns on that piece. In places he's playing multiple bass drum hits per bar instead of the standard hits on the 1st and 3rd beats or variations thereof. I suppose he's trying to emphasis the sequencer patterns being used or something along those lines. Krieger had gotten involved with the band on their previous album Cyclone along with vocalist/keyboardist/horn player Steve Joliffe, an album most TD fans, and Chris Franke and Edgar Froese for that matter, tend to view as a failed experiment. Krieger would not be back for the next TD album Tangram, which is kind of ironic given that they got pretty heavily into drum machines as the '80s began.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Part of Saskatoon's broadcast history disappeared this week. CKOM's old home on 8th Street near Acadia Drive has been demolished. For several decades the building housed CKOM 650 khz, and later several other radio stations owned by Rawlco Radio, including C95 on 95.1 mhz FM. The building has sat empty for several years since Rawlco built a new headquarters for its Saskatoon stations on Saskatchewan Crescent. The distinctive radio mast that topped the building for as long as I can remember was removed a couple of years ago. The demolition of the old building is something I've been expecting for a while now. Given what the interior of the building would have been like given that it housed several radio stations at one point it would have needed heavy renovations to make it usable for some other project, and so it likely would have been easier to just build a new purpose built building. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for a new tenant to appear and what it will be. At one point just after Rawlco began the process of building its new building there were rumours the nearby McDonald's, located in the parking lot of Wildwood Mall a block away, would build a new restaurant on the land. A small strip mall containing a Moneymart, a Vern's Pizza(a popular local chain) and a hair salon sits next door, so perhaps its days are numbered as well. Its not hard to imagine someone wanting that space as a parking lot for their new building next door if its expected to generate a lot of traffic.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I got a piece of spam in my e-mail box this morning with a title line that read "Stop suffering! We have the medication you need to help with your pain!" Unfortunately it wasn't for a medication that would help deal with the pain of spam. Even if I was in need of medications I wouldn't order them from an e-mail spamming outfit. There's no way of being sure you'd get anything near safe.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I decided to grab an album to accompany my reading tonight, and decided it should be something I hadn't listened to in a long time. My choice was Smash and Scatteration, a 1985 duo release by guitarists Vernon Reid and Bill Frisell. Interestingly the final piece on the album, a Frisell composition called "Black Light," sounds a lot like "Industry" off of King Crimson's 1984 album 3 of a Perfect Pair. Coincidence, or was Frisell influenced by the Crimson tune? Of course the fact that Frisell used a Roland GR300 guitar synth a lot on this album got me thinking about King Crimson, since the '300 was a central part of Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew's setups in the 1980s. The '300 has a very identifiable sound, and due to its limited controls tends to produce certain sounds no matter who might be using it. I've mentioned Andy Summers use of the '300 in a past post, and another big fan of the "blue box and brown guitar" is Pat Metheny, who apparently still uses his at times. In fact its been claimed that Metheny regularly buys GR300s that turn up on eBay as spares for his own unit.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

In the past I've mentioned a group called Christian Exodus that wants to turn South Carolina into a "Christian state" by getting like minded people to move there and take over the government. But its not just the religious with such ideas. A group called the Free State Project has a similar idea for New Hampshire. Only their intent is to turn New Hampshire into a libertarian haven of minimal government. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to succeed. Although they have 6,750 particpants in their group only 377 currently reside in New Hampshire. I find it amusing that one of the positive qualities they mention about the state is the absense of seatbelt and bike helmet laws, this apparently being an indication of "a culture of individual responsibility." New Hampshire's population is around 1.3 million, so I suppose that if they could get 20,000 supporters to live there they might have a moderate chance at making some changes.
Doing a bit of poking around tonight on Google for general fanfiction archives I came across the GI Joe Erotica Fan Fiction Archive. My surprise that anyone would have such a site immediately changed to me chastising myself for being surprised. I've seen more than enough smutfics over the years to know that if you can name a title that has more than a couple of fanfics to its credit someone has written a sexfic for it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I'm a regular reader and poster to Space: The Imagination Station's bulletin board. If you've checked out my links on here you've seen the link I have for it. A lot of the regulars are very upset and confused right now. One of the regulars was Malcolm Xerxes, a Toronto based actor and stuntman. Today the board received some horrible news, that he reportedly shot his ex-girlfriend several times Monday before committing suicide sometime on Tuesday. The woman survived, but is horribly injured. As you can imagine I was sad to hear this. But for other Spacecast regulars, who knew Malcolm, or had the opportunity to meet him, the whole thing is much harder to deal with. Someone they had come to know had that dark part we all have inside us burst out in the worst possible way, and they're left wondering why, and whether they should have been able to see it. He didn't strike them as the kind of person who would do something like that, yet here we are, with a familiar face dead in a violent fashion of his own making. Some will try to look for clues in his "public" life to what he did, like his often expressed fondness for the Marvel Comics vigilante character The Punisher. But in the end no one can truly know what lead up to this no matter how many clues the next days and weeks may provide.
Here's a headstratcher. We received a letter in the mail today, advertising from a realtor. The address is right, the last name is spelt properly. But the letter is addressed to Brian Gueguen. Ain't nobody here by that name. Nobody in the phone book with that name. So why Brian? I'm used to my last name being spelled wrong, in numerous variations. A common one is the second u being missing. My father occasionally gets stuff addressed to Louise Gueguen instead of Louis Gueguen. But where Brian came from I haven't a clue.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I just got what may be my first con job spam mail connected with Hurricane Katrina. It was an e-mail purporting to be from someone connected to Worldvision. But my BS meter was activated by the fact that it only gave a contact e-mail address, no postal address, and the e-mail itself was sent from a Hotmail account.
If you're from Norway and you discuss current Norweigian politics with North Americans don't be surprised if you get some funny looks or snickers if you mention the September 12th parliamentary elections. They're not trying to be rude, its just that hearing the Red-Green Coalition won the majority of seats in the Storting sounds funny to our ears. That's because Red Green is a popular comedy character on North American TV. So when we hear someone talk about Red Green we're likely to think of him.
As regular visitors here know I've tried a number of times to use random phrases to get hits on my blog, and that they pretty much haven't worked. Even using words and phrases others have had success with haven't worked, such as discussing Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. On the other hand the mere use of the word porn in a single entry for a single month will generate various hits, often in horribly weird combinations of other words, such as the regular hits for Megas XLR porn. Hence the whole point of this post, which combined with my post Monday about Eva Longoria should now generate regular hits. Now if some of these folks would hang around for a while, and click on some of the links found here, we'd all be happy. Well, okay, maybe I'd be happy if they clicked certain links.

I shouldn't complain. Posting a link to several web forums I regularly visit to my "thermometer spider" post generated quite a few hits.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Wow, I just about let this day go by without commenting on the anniversary. Yes, it was 6 years ago today that the Moon left orbit. Time to go watch the program commemorating that terrible day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Its a cliche that fame is so often fleeting. But the rise to fame can be equally rapid. This thought was inspired by hearing mention of Eva Longoria on the radio this morning. Only a couple of years ago Longoria was pretty much a nobody. She'd appeared on the Young and the Restless for a couple of years, and was on the shortlived Dragnet revival. Otherwise it looked like her career had a good chance of ending up in straight to video hell. If you'd asked people about her maybe you'd run across a soap fan or two who'd recognise the name. But Longoria got lucky and ended up on Desperate Housewives, which proved to be one of that handful of shows that appears each TV season and takes off. Suddenly she went from being just another attractive actress in a profession full of them, to being someone everyone is supposed to pay attention to, fodder for the tabloids, gossip columns, and entertainment programs like Entertainment Tonite.

Hopefully Longoria will remember that the shelflife of the hot actress tends to be rather a short one and make as much money as possible out of her current fame. All she has to do is look at the careers of some of her costars, which have had their ups and downs. Better yet look at the careers of some of her costars own former costars, like Marcia Cross's former fellow Melrose Place cast member Josie Bissett. Bissett was on what was for a while one of the hottest shows on TV, yet her post Melrose career hasn't exactly made headlines. The same can be said for much of the rest of the cast.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Another of the great American roots musicians has died. Clarence Gatemouth Brown was 81. He had been suffering from declining health, including cancer, for the past several years, but the destruction of his home by Hurricane Katrina may have been the last straw. I was fortunate to see him in the late 1980s when he played at Saskatoon's Broadway Theatre. Brown was commonly refered to as a blues musician, but he disliked this, considering the term a putdown.

There are getting to be fewer and fewer of his generation of musicians left. I was fortunate enough to see BB King on his last tour through Western Canada, and I'm glad I did, because who knows whether he'll pass this way again. So if you get a chance to see some of these guys do it.
Wednesday saw what appears to be the first death of a former Saskatchewan resident in the current Iraq conflict. Robert McCoy died when the vehicle he was in was attacked by a roadside bomb in Basra. McCoy held dual US-Canadian citizenship, his father coming from Thunderchild First Nation near Turtleford, and his mother coming from Texas. McCoy was a former member of both the Canadian Armed Forces and the US Marine Corps, and was working for Virginia based Triple Canopy Inc., a private security contractor working in Iraq. McCoy had served two terms in Iraq as a US Marine, and signed on with Triple Canopy when he mustered out. Triple Canopy has a contract with the US State Department to provide security in Iraq.

The use of private security firms in Iraq is a further expansion of what has been a growing trend in recent years, namely the use of private contractors to provide support services for operations by the US military, and the militaries of other countries.(The Canadian military for example uses commercial firms to move some of its equipment, which lead to an embarrassing situation several years ago when a shipping company refused to turn over some Canadian military vehicles on one of its ships.) The use of private firms to provide things like logistics is controversial enough given the size of some of the contracts involved. But there are even more questions when private companies are allowed to take on contracts that involve the use of lethal force. For example in a situation like Iraq, where the mechanisms of government are lacking, who policies what these groups are doing? Members of the US military must follow established military codes of conduct, and can be punished if they break them via military justice, but who does so for the employee of a private company that engages in what could be considered illegitimate activities. There's also the question of whether governments would consider using private firms to do their dirty work like the abuse of prisoners. This would allow them "plausible deniability," allowing them to claim that they had never authorised such conduct, that it was solely the doing of the company involved, if the occurance of such activities came out.

Daniel Bergner wrote an interesting piece on private security firm operating in Iraq, including Triple Canopy. Originally published in The New York Times Magazine you can read it here.

In some ways the return of mercenaries is a throwback to an earlier age. There was a time when the use of mercenaries by European powers was quite common. The Swiss Guards who provide security to the Vatican and the Pope are a remnant from the days when the Swiss provided some of the best mercenaries in Europe to whoever needed them. However as times changed the use of mercenaries declined, and by the second half of the 20th Century the profession was seen as a marginal one, at worst being perceived as a refuge for wannabe heroes with delusions of grandeur and psychopaths looking for an outlet for their violent tendencies.

Not everyone disapproves of soldiers for hire. In fact one strain of libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism, believes that there is no need for government, that everything, including policing and defense, can be done by private firms. Personally I think their arguments are naive, but they do exist. Of course it should be noted that such people generally disapprove of military interventions like Iraq in the first place.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Crap, I got burned on my last post. That Robertson article is a pretend one from a parody site, as you can see from their other articles. But the funny thing is it rings true given some of the stuff Robertson has said in the past.
Not surprisingly a number of the dumber hardline religious types have blamed the Hurricane Katrina disaster on "immorality" of one sort or another. Ironically amongst the least damaged areas of New Orleans was the French Quarter and other areas where this "immorality" is supposedly most common. And leave it to Pat Robertson to make a really dumb statement. Robertson claimed this week that Katrina is the result of Ellen Degeneres being chosen to host the Emmys this year. Robertson also claimed her prominence resulted in other tragedies, such as the 911 attack. Is Robertson perhaps starting to go senile? Nah, he's always made blockhead statements like that.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

One thing I'm surprised the Katrina disaster has yet to generate is lawsuits, or at the very least talk of lawsuits. Its a target rich enviroment for potential litigants, with the federal government, the Louisiana government, the city of New Orleans, various US government agencies and more all being potential respondents in lawsuits. Of course it may simply be the case that lawyers are having trouble getting in touch with potential clients because the disaster is ongoing. Until the displaced have found permanent or semipermanent places to live it will be nearly impossible to have consistent contact with them.

I would guess that con artists are already working to exploit the charity angle. If you're interested in donating money to the relief efforts it would be best to donate to a well established charitable organisation like United Way or the Red Cross. I'm sure the Nigerian scam crowd and their emulators will soon be sending out letters claiming to be from some poor victim of the disaster who really needs your help to get that 20 million bucks out of his bank account, and he'll share 10 percent with you to thank you for your help.

Many New Orleans residents will not be returning to the city, including many of its poor. And some people in the city are saying good riddance to the latter. They see this as an opportunity to get rid of the lower classes who they say cause crime and hurt the city's image. The fact that the city's underclass is heavily black of course leads one to suspect racism plays a role in some of these attitudes, although I would suspect you'd find such thinking amongst some of the city's well to do blacks as well. As is often the case with such attitudes those who hold them apparently have no problem with these people continuing their supposed evil ways, just as long as they do it in someone else's backyard.

Speaking of racism those idiots at the New Order, who I mentioned in a previous post as a source of some of my e-mail spam, have been more active of late. They see the disaster as a perfect excuse to spew more of their poison. I would imagine their fellow travelers in other such groups have been doing the same thing.

And some responses to the Katrina disaster are just silly and tasteless. Some writers of fanfiction are already using the disaster in their stories. Take this example, courtesy of the Godawful Fan Fiction Forum, of a Harry Potter story where evil Chinese wizards cause Katrina. Riiiiight.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Yet another familiar face from '60s TV has died. Bob Denver died Friday of complications connnected with cancer. He was 70. I'd guess there are few people over the age of 30 who didn't see a good chunk of Gilligan's Island at some point or another. I remember as a child being upset when the local station that carried the series in syndication replaced it with something else.
How's this for a headscratching programming decision. Treehouse TV, a Canadian children's televison channel, is currently airing programming.

In the middle of the night.

As I write this its 4:47 AM in Newfoundland. Somehow I doubt even there too many kids are up and about yet, especially the under six demographic they're programming to. On the opposite side of the country all the kids have gone to bed by now. So it seems kind of pointless that they're airing anything at the moment. I doubt too many adults, other than maybe the occasional drunk or high college kid, tune in to a channel like that in the middle of the night.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

As if Americans didn't have enough to worry about right now. US Supreme Court Justice William Renquist died Saturday of thyroid cancer. Combined with the recent retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor that means two slots are open on the US Supreme Court. And since the appointment of Supreme Court Justices is such a politicised mess in the states you folks south of the 49th might want to find a nice bomb shelter someplace to hide out until its settled. Hell, I'm thinking that might be a good idea up here too.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Orac has reported one bright note from the Katrina disaster. It destroyed the headquarters of racist creep David Duke. Hopefully this will be sufficient to keep him out of action for a good long time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Apparently Fats Domino is alive. Unfortunately there is no word about the rest of his family. But another New Orleans musical figure, keyboardist and record producer Allan Toussaint, has been reported missing.
As a followup to my last post this morning's Star Phoenix mentioned that two Ottawa FM radio stations have pulled "New Orleans is Sinking" by the Tragically Hip from their rotation for the moment. The Bear 106.9 mHz and CHEZ 106.1 mHz have both pulled the song until things improve in the effected areas. I doubt they'll be the last to do so either.

The Katrina disaster has resulted in the disappearance of a music legend. Early rock and roll pianist/vocalist Fats Domino is currently missing. Domino decided to stay with members of his family in New Orleans, and no one has been able to contact him since Sunday. Also missing are Domino's wife, children, and grandchildren. Hopefully they turn up healthy.

From the "With friends like these, who needs enemies?" department pot legalisation crusader Marc Emery's big mouth has got him in trouble again. He apologised this week for refering to Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler as a "Nazi-Jew" for his role in administering Canada's drug laws. Emery also compared the treatment of marijuana activists to the Nazi treatment of Jews. It would seem Emery needs to be locked in a room with some history books. Whatever one thinks of marijuana legalisation pot smokers are not locked up camps and murdered simply for existing. This is what happened to Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and all sorts of others who the Nazis disapproved of, or who stood up to them. Emery has gone to jail because he smoked what is currently a prohibited substance and aided in the growing of this substance. Besides comparing pot prohibition to Nazism Emery has compared himself to such figures as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. Rather the ego the man has.