Friday, March 27, 2009
It's a slow blog week. We're getting ready for vacation--2.5 weeks between Croatia and Amsterdam--and haven't had much time for anything but work. But it'll all soon be worth it. We'll visit friends, we'll eat and drink more than our fair share, and we'll relax relax relax.
I'll be blogging it over at chrishess.blogspot.com as the interwebs are available, so check in over there if you want to see the gratuitous vacation snaps.
Happy Spring, y'all.
(That's the Croatian coast pictured up there.)
Monday, March 23, 2009
At a time when daily newspapers seem to be going away at the rate of one a week and weeklies are madly cutting to stay afloat, The Chronicle, which has revenue of approximately $8.5 million a year, has not laid off anyone, has no plans to do so, and its business is off just 7 percent in the last three years.
Major dailies are dying off at an alarming rate. But the Chronicle thrives. A big part of this can be credited to SXSW, which is run by the Chron. But, also, it's the paper itself. I've never seen a paper tied so closely to a community the way Austin is to its Chronicle. It's all local stuff. Everyone reads it every week. And people talk about it.
Writing for that paper was an honor, and if I still lived there, I'd still write for them. Here's hoping they continue to thrive.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
You know Rick Steves. He's the PBS travel show guy, glasses and a backpack, friendly well-meaning slightly nerdy dude who gets to go to all the cool places.
Well, there's a lot more to him that we thought. This piece in Salon goes deeper into issues more controversial than he addresses in his shows, like politics, Iran, terrorism, and legalization of marijuana.
The funny thing, to me, is that his views seem so radical when indeed they are just common sense gleaned from having seen more of the world than his own backyard. Maybe coming from him, more people will pay attention.
For some footage of Panda Bear performing live, from a film being made by Mike Tyson. (No, I doubt it's that Mike Tyson), jump on over to Pitchfork. Click to the last bit, with Panda Bear performing.
UPDATE: I was re-hosting this video, but I couldn't figure out how to make it not start automatically on loading the page, so I took it off.
Some firms are taking bailout money and donating it to political campaigns.
Outrage can be tiring.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Rain's expected this weekend, and a friend said the trails above the Military Reserve were dry. So I aired up the IF and hit it at lunch. Glad I did. Awesome ride, and the trails today are nice and dry and grippy.
Time to get back out there, y'all. Happy Spring.
The man is making the effort. He's using media in new (for the White House) ways and getting his message out to everyone he thinks needs to hear it. And this is an interesting way to show he's got the balls to talk directly to Iran, to the government and the people.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
That's right, I'll have 2 spots on the guest list, +1 each, for the Ratatat show at the Knitting Factory on March 28. That's next Saturday. It's gonna be a killer show, so tune in, wait for the announcement, and give me a call. (Good during Wednesday's show only.)
And as for new music, pff: NASA, Obits, Lady Sovereign, The Submarines, The Very Most, Condo Fucks, Dan Deacon, Upsidedown Astronauts, St. Vincent, Blind Pilot, Electric President--the list goes on and on. More Neko, more AC, more M.Ward, more of all the good stuff.
Tune in Wednesday, 5 to 7mst, at www.radioboise.org.
Everyone's pissed off about the AIG brokers getting bonuses, as he says, "after their company — 80 percent of which is owned by U.S. taxpayers — racked up the biggest quarterly loss in the history of the Milky Way Galaxy." No kidding. But, as he also rightly points out, horrible as it is to swallow, our government can't just break the law to prevent them from getting their bonuses.
What it boils down to is that these brokers need to show the decency that so many Americans are showing right now. They need to step up and sacrifice. They need to give the bonuses back. A powerful point:
I live in Montgomery Country, Md. The schoolteachers here, who make on average $67,000 a year, recently voted to voluntarily give up their 5 percent pay raise that was contractually agreed to for next year, saving our school system $89 million — so programs and teachers would not have to be terminated. If public schoolteachers can take one for schoolchildren and fellow teachers, A.I.G. brokers can take one for the country.
Now, I agree with you: Hoping for common decency from these people, who as we have seen by their actions are certainly driven by nothing but money and greed, is a long shot to say the least. But if they did, it'd send a signal, and it'd help Obama deal with the backlash from this.
We as a people have lots of anger management issues right now. It's a tough time to be calm. But we need to find solutions, not just scream and cry. This, unlikely as it seems, is a small piece of a good solution.
Read the column, it's good stuff.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Entitlement (in the non-governmental sense) breeds spoilt kids. That only makes sense. When 6-year-olds have cell phones and every single kid who can push a button has an X-Box or Playstation, when toys worth hundreds of dollars are just expected, when after-school activities and summer camps and sports camps and kid clubs keep kids from doing chores or having real responsibilities, we've got a problem.
Interesting opinion on this in the Detroit Free Press. From that:
By and large, today's kids have no chores. Their parents are too busy running them to completely superfluous after-school activities that may build certain skills, but fail to build what endures: good citizenship -- which, by the way, parents once maintained began in the home. Not on the ball field.
I don't have kids yet, but again, I have a hard time arguing with this. Chores are good. Responsibility to family is good. Expecting to have things handed to you is bad. So, maybe the downturn is good in this way, too. Silver linings, right?
Monday, March 16, 2009
But, like lobbyists, all earmarks are not bad. Every person who complains about them has them inserted into bill after bill by the rep or senator for whom they voted. No matter who you are. And, most likely, you're in favor of the things the earmarks brought or would bring to your state.
As Obama's critics continue use earmarks as their most common artillery, it's worth looking at who's doing the earmarking. Slate provides such a service today. Here are the top 10:
1. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.: $474 million
2. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.: $391 million
3. Mary Landrieu, D-La.: $332 million
4. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa: $292 million
5. David Vitter, R-La.: $249 million
6. Christopher Bond, R-Mo.: $248 million
7. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: $235 million
8. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii: $225 million
9. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.: $219 million
10. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: $199 million
Notice anything? Maybe that 6 of the top 10 are Republicans? And that the top 2, who dwarf everyone else, are Republicans?
And that's not even the best stuff. How about the hypocrisy of righties like Mitch McConnell: After inserting $76 million of his own earmarks, he voted against the bill because it spent too many taxpayer dollars. WTF? And Vitter and Grassley, both on the list above, followed suit, voting against the bill they helped inflate.
So, enough with the talking points. Enough ignorant railing against the evil earmark. Pay attention to what your reps are doing, look a little deeper (like, beyond the word "earmark") and see what the money's for, and maybe, just maybe, try understanding that this is no normal budget or spending bill for no normal time. We're taking drastic measures because the Republican administration of the past 8 years screwed us so badly that we have to.
Every administration needs opposition, even very vocal opposition. But educate yourself first. Otherwise, you're just Rush Limbaugh.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
More and more prominent climate and energy scientists have expressed support for studies into various geoengineering approaches, such as sequestering carbon in the ocean by growing large swaths of algae.From TPM
Fascinating article about the unearthing of Detroit proto-punk band Death, in today's NY Times. I, like most, I suspect, had never heard of these guys. Which only makes the legend all the cooler. And now I look forward to getting my hands on their re-released record.
The Max interview is interesting in its look at Wallace's work and the expectations put upon him by himself and by the literary community. It also dips into Wallace's suicide and the depression that plagued him.
The story, or excerpt, is as dense and wonderful and frustrating and impressive as is the rest of Wallace's work. Apparently the entirety of the unfinished novel will be published, though of course it is impossible, given Wallace's drive for precision or pursuit of perfection in voice and assembly of his larger works, to know if what we end up with is what he would have released on the world.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Great long interview with Animal Collective in Pitchfork today. It takes a while but if you're into them it's a good read.
One of these days I might have something to say about their new record, Merriweather Post Pavillion. I have plenty to say, I just haven't written anything down yet. So in lieu of that, check out this.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The prevailing line seems to be that this all came about because of some perfect financial storm, that the big fellas (Bear Stearns, Lehmann, etc) didn't see any of this coming, and that the crash of all these mortgage-based securities was completely beyond their control.
At least someone's calling BS on this. They knew, they took unconscionable risks, and it was all due to one simple thing: Greed. That, and people who couldn't figure out how to make these companies sufficiently profitable without taking this low-road of least effort and resistance. So, Greed, and people who suck at their jobs.
Let's hope they can't slither out of this so easily.
Reporters from the now-defunct Colorado daily are blogging on a site that looks remarkably like the former paper's online version. Good for them.
I've been talking to a co-worker about this, following the Seattle P-I in their downward spiral. She used to be an editor for that paper so has insights to its demise. It's a disturbing trend, mostly because we still need what these people do, it's just that no one's yet figured out a good business model for it in the online world.
We get our news aggregated for us, but that's only worked as long as it has because there are still reporters working local beats. Once they're all out of work, what will there be to be aggregated? AP stories are great, but you can't get all your news there.
Here's a piece on the RMN and the blog that followed it in Finding Dulcinea, a really cool blog and info portal/aggregator that serves a new purpose but, like others, won't fill the gap left by the death of local reporting.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Neko Case, M. Ward, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah all have new music out, just to name some of the heavy hitters. I've also got fresh tracks from Bosque Brown, St. Vincent, Art Brut, Iran, Wavves, Say Hi, Beirut, Superchunk, Asobi Seksu, Obits, and newish stuff from a few bands headed our way: Starfucker, Portugal. The Man, No Kids, and Paranthetical Girls.
Plus, between the Dark Was the Night and Selected + Collected compilations, there's just too much for a single show. So tune in and see how much I can cram in. Wednesday 5 to 7 pm MST, and Friday 1 to 3 pm MST, on www.radioboise.org.
Snark is easy, and therefore it has wiggled its way into all avenues of discourse, none so completely as the Internet and its abundance of forums on celebrity. It's most often a vapid and cowardly exercise, dashing off snotty comments with no accountability or logical justification, and pretty much everyone who strings words together is guilty of it at some point.
But there's snark, and there's snark. There are miles between Pitchfork and Perez Hilton, and the relative value of the snark in these venues should not be mistaken. (Perez Hilton is a nauseating parasite, while Pitchfork, for all its snark, engages more often than not in thoughtful discussion and criticism of some of the best pop music going.)
Check out Ebert's post--it's a long read, but worth it. And perhaps more of us who write for an audience can take his pledge, namely, to be better behaved:
I must resolve not to take cheap shots, except in those cases of truly bad movies [music, etc]; in such reviews, I believe readers understand the rules can be bent. In true snarking, there is no such thing as a cheap shot; the gold standard is the Good Shot. It's important sometimes to be reminded that it's okay to admire. To praise. To enjoy yourself. To admit to having a good time. To not care about what other, snarkier, people might say. I need to keep in mind the words of Robert Warshow I like to quote: A man goes to the movies [listens to music]. The critic must be honest enough to admit he is that man.
Hat tip: Sullivan
Monday, March 09, 2009
Check it out:
Thursday, March 05, 2009
The things we never had
The things we wish would come back
Because we need this oh so bad,
We need this oh so bad
And we tremble in the night
For the things we wish were right
Because we need this oh so bad
Because I need you oh so bad
~ Don't Haunt This Place, The Rural Alberta Advantage
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Tune in for new stuff from Yo La Tengo, Art Brut, Girls, Beirut, Diego Bernal, DJ Signify, Andrew Bird, Telefon Tel Aviv, and a whole lot more. We'll also dive deeper into Animal Collective, Women, Grizzly Bear, and whatever else bubbles to the surface. Tune in 5 to 7 MST tonight, and again 1 to 3 MST Friday, at www.radioboise.org.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009
I can't help but like this guy. He spins, but he's sharp, and he's not afraid to call people out on BS.
He's polite, well-spoken, and a bit menacing. I guess those are the traits you want in a Chief of Staff.
And so begins the new talking point: Rush Limbaugh is the face and the intellectual force of the Republican party.
As if that weren't bad enough, turns out his family history is a bit embellished, too. From Rich:
Listening to Jindal talk Tuesday night about his immigrant father’s inability to pay for an obstetrician, you’d never guess that at the time his father was an engineer and his mother an L.S.U. doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. Sanford’s first political ad in 2002 told of how growing up on his “family’s farm” taught him “about hard work and responsibility.” That “farm,” the Charlotte Observer reported, was a historic plantation appraised at $1.5 million in the early 1980s. From that hardscrabble background, he struggled on to an internship at Goldman Sachs.