February 29, 2008

29 Feb

This free day reminds me of the infamous 11 missing days from Pynchon's Mason & Dixon (OK, he didn't invent the 11missingdays but he put his own little twist on it). During the Julian-to-Gregorian switch in England, September 2nd 1752 was followed by September 14th. During this period, one of the novel's characters got lost alone in some alternate dimension England, waiting to catch up to the rest of the England that had already jumped ahead.

Oddly, the calendar switch happened across a wide span of time throughout the world. It's amazing history books get any dates right.

With 29 Feb, instead of losing time (something many of 1700s England railed against, superstitiously) all of us have this added day scrunched in between our days. I'm not sure how Pynchon would dramatize this. I can understand the filling-in-of the missing time with a cold, missing space, but how would you represent the freeby that comes with the leap year?

posted by sstrader at 5:21 PM in Language & Literature | permalink

February 26, 2008

Art and politics

Today's episode of Soundcheck on WNYC discussed the NY Philharmonic's recent trip to North Korea (sanctioned by the Bush administration, so enough with the knee-jerk liberal-bashing...). Norman Lebrecht feels great consternation towards the decision, calling it somewhere ... between morally inappropriate and aesthetically offensive. The short argument is that the Philharmonic plays into the propaganda of the Kim Jong-il regime. Lebrecht then mockingly rebuts a quote from music director Lorin Maazel:

[Maazel:] People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw bricks, should they? Is our standing as a country -- the United States -- is our reputation all that clean when it comes to prisoners and the way they are treated? Have we set an example that should be emulated all over the world? If we can answer that question honestly, I think we can then stop being judgmental about the errors made by others.
The unreality of these arguments is almost beyond disputation. North Korea is a rogue state that flouts international law, threatens nuclear war and starves its own people. The U.S. is a democracy which, despite lapses in its treatment of prisoners after 9/11, is committed to the rule of law and the rights of the individual. Any comparison is illusory.

I was immediately reminded of a comment on Reddit this morning regarding the kangaroo court that is Guantanamo: Imagine for a second if sick garbage like this was reported out from China - the right wingers would fall all over themselves to point out how corrupt the system is there. Odd that when we act morally degenerate and those responsible insist on the nobility of those actions, the actions are merely lapses and we are still committed to the rule of law and the rights of the individual, yet others' moral corruption and flouting-of-international-law are unconscionable. The discussion on the show brought up South African apartheid (in defense of isolation) and the more recent Cuban embargo (in defense of diplomacy). And, not to forget a recent example from North Korea, it took the Bush administration to open diplomatic relations with North Korea to get them to shut down their nuclear tests.

posted by sstrader at 3:17 PM in Music | permalink

February 25, 2008

Happy 0th birthday, Lulu

Diane and Brad, in all of their Pennsylvanian glory, had thier first kiddo this past Friday the 22nd. Her name is Lila but for reasons we'll have to ask about later they're calling her Lulu. Seeing as how she was only 6 lbs 4 oz., maybe they're thinking "Little Lulu." Ha.

[ update 26 Feb 2008 ]

And a photo!

posted by sstrader at 3:53 PM in Birthdays | permalink

February 23, 2008

More Asus

Huh. I'm in good company. Apparently Stephen Fry likes him some Asus EEE [ via Boing Boing > Guardian.co.uk ]. I still can't get Opera installed though!

posted by sstrader at 4:20 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

February 22, 2008

More leak

The Intelligence Daily points out that Bank Julius Baer's attempted strong-arming of Wikileaks could serve to scuttle their $1 billion dollar IPO. The media attention on the court order to remove the wikileaks.com hostname from DNS servers, and the befuddlement over the unconstitutionality and technical impotence of such actions, makes BJB appear more shady than solid. Oh, that and the fact that they're laundering money for weathy clients...

Of equal interest, The Register outlines the impregnable wall that Wikileaks' creators (also the parents of The Pirate Bay) have constructed with the help of their ISP, PRQ. The data is encrypted, the server locations are undisclosed, the server logs are destroyed, and PRQ's lawyers are ready to handle empty threats of take-down. The Register is calling it bullet proof hosting, but we're all thinking data haven. As many others have said: this information will never disappear.

posted by sstrader at 12:28 PM in Science & Technology | tagged wikileaks | permalink

February 21, 2008

Where was I?

Last Friday dinner at the Corner Tavern in Little Five Points then The Howlies et al. at The Star Bar. Saturday dinner at Paul's in Buckhead. I give it a medium recommendation: good food, service, and atmosphere, but nothing wow. We had later reservations and so got a table in the main area; I'd like to go back and see what the upstairs looks like.


Tuesday I received my Asus EEE 4G laptop. I had been thinking about getting the Nokia N800 for travel, wifi hotspots, and to use as a portable internet radio machine but then ran across recommendations for the Asus whilst browsing Amazon. The Asus is less handheld but more powerful, so I went with it. Specs: 2 lbs, 7-inch screen, 802.11b/g, 512 MB memory, 4 GB flash drive, 3 USB ports, web cam, Linux Xandros with KDE, Firefox, OpenOffice, etc. I've heard that you can put Java and Eclipse on there, but I'll have to get over my Linux-ignorance first. First impressions are positive. It's fast, typing is easy enough (my mitts are not beefy), and the screen is bright and roomy enough. We'll see what happens with Eclipse...


Lunar eclipse dinner and drinks at Eclipse di Sol (wha-huh?). We had a perfect view of the event from the patio, and the clouds cleared out completely around halfway through. That little sliver in the photo above is the moon taken from my crappy camera phone. First, animated fun at Landmark with The Academy Award Nominated Animated Short Films. Best was Peter and the Wolf [ Wikipedia | IMDB ], an inventive telling of the standard story and without the narration. Peter's duck and bird friends were a-dorable and this version has a noble twist at the end. Descriptions of all five shorts below stolen from the Landmark web site:

Don't miss this rare opportunity to see all 5 of the short films nominated for Best Animated Short at the 2007 Academy Awards. Program includes: I Met the Walrus (Canada), an animated documentary about 14-year-old Jerry Levitan, who snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in 1969 and persuaded him to do an interview; Madame Tutli-Putli (Canada), in which a timid woman boards a mysterious night train and has a series of frightening experiences; Meme Les Pigeons Vont Au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go To Heaven) (France), about a priest who tries to sell an old man a machine that he promises will transport him to heaven; Moya Lyubov (My Love) (Russia), in which a teenage boy in search of love in 19th century Russia is drawn to two very different women; and Peter & The Wolf (UK & Poland), Prokofiev's classical music drama of a young boy and his animal friends who face a hungry wolf.

posted by sstrader at 3:48 PM in Cinema , Where was I? | permalink

February 20, 2008

Sherlock footnotes

Many Britons think that Gandhi and Churchill were fictional and that Sherlock Holmes and King Arthur were not. Ignoring the gee-they're-as-dumb-as-us aspect, I was reminded of the Sherlock scholars' concept of "the game". I had encountered the game before I knew what it was, and was pleasantly baffled. When I got the new Leslie S. Klinger editions, I was entertained by the footnotes that puzzled over dramatic gaffes in the text (e.g. "How could Holmes have missed that clue? Surely Watson was remembering wrong when he wrote of these events..."). "Why are they being silly" was quickly replaced by "hey, this is kinda neat!"

I wonder if this exists in other scholarship.

posted by sstrader at 4:49 PM in Language & Literature | permalink

February 18, 2008

Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure; Michael Chabon

A mix of Scheherazade (with its story begetting story begetting story format) and adventure yarn, Chabon provides a short, swift tale of virtuoso prose and enlightening history, but never too heavy. You don't have to turn to trash to turn off your brain and enjoy an adventure. (read several months back...)

Continue reading "Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure; Michael Chabon"
posted by sstrader at 10:46 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink


Fascinating story about Wikileaks getting taken off the internets. Wikinews reports that they first were the target of a 500Mbps DDoS, then their main servers' UPS was destroyed in a fire at their Swedish hosting site, finally their domain was taken offline in the US after a decision in a District Court in California.

Wikileaks hosted documents leaked from a Swiss bank. The documents revealed possible tax evasion from wealthy and politically sensitive clients in several countries including the US. Although their main site is unavailable, the Wikipedia article lists http://wikileaks.be and as alternatives still accessible in the US. Reddit has a good list of related articles, the most useful is at Daily Kos.

Wikileaks is what makes the internet so valuable and although it's a shame that the US is playing China's tune, this information will never disappear.

posted by sstrader at 2:59 PM in Politics | tagged wikileaks | permalink

February 15, 2008

Sweeney Todd (4/5)

[ IMDB ] [ Rotten Tomatoes ] [ Wikipedia ]

I went reluctantly last night because the wife wanted to catch it before it faded to DVD. After the first song (an overture from Depp and his young companion as they sail in to London), I was completely engaged. The music was outstanding. Melodies developed in unexpected ways, lyrics rolled with imperfect rhymes, harmonies were at times surprisingly dissonant and pregnant with Prokofiev, ABA repeats varied their themes to show the character development. Sondheim is king.

As amazing as the music was the metaphor. There was so much potential in the relationship of the barber (a man-in-the-iron-mask darkly rewritten), the emotionally damaged pie-maker who finds in him a stability of sorts, and the adopted street-urchin (the barber having killed his seedy boss). That triangle seemed to me a shorthand for every family dynamic. And the plight of the barber's teen daughter was grim grim and very Charles Dickens. I had a few minor issues with the denoument but overall outstanding. Go rent it!

posted by sstrader at 7:14 PM in Cinema | permalink

February 14, 2008

Lies and the lying liars you voted into office

TPM has a list of government programs/reports that were discontinued after they produced too much information countering the Bush administration's faulty belief system. Read it; I dare you. My mind has been duly boggled. And don't give me that "every administration moves government a little left or a little right" argument. It's going to take a huge pendulum swing to fix what they've done to government and just get it back to spec.

posted by sstrader at 2:51 PM in Politics | permalink

Things to do/purchase

Get the Daydream Nation reissue. I hate reissues because they usually tack on B-sides and alternate versions immediately after the original tracks. So you're going along nicely, listening to the familiar track order, and BAM! Some weird alternate tracks appear and fuck your head up. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the extras, but I just don't want them to make the original all topsy-turvy.

The reissue of John Coletrane's A Love Supreme (purchased at the record store in Asheville a few years back) is a good example of how-to-do-reissues-right. First disc is the original album, remastered; second disc is a bunch of alternate takes.

SY also has a rarities album called The Destroyed Room. Release at the end of 2006; how did I miss that?!? It includes a 25+ minute long version of "The Diamond Sea" if the 19+ minute long version on Washing Machine was too terse for you.

Get the two Onion books: Our Dumb World and Our Dumb Century. Reddit was on a tear recently with some Onion posts, and the comments brought these up. Should be hi-fucking-larious.

Dave Sim of Cerebus fame has been active on the internets recently. Well, as active as you can be by proxy. He's got a bunch of interviews and dissertations on religion on YouTube and is coming out with a new comic called glamourpuss. I remember in one of the phone books where he was drawing a lot of women from fashion magazines (from the Woody Allen story-line?), he commented in the back that he'd love to spend all his time drawing from fashion magazine photos after Cerebus was complete. I really have to look that quote up, because that's what glamourpuss looks like. I don't have high hopes, but I'll still pick it up. Notable links: The Man himself taking a rare online moment to anounce the first issue, and again, and again, an early review of glamourpuss.

posted by sstrader at 11:03 AM in Personal | permalink

February 8, 2008

On the Transmigration of Souls, ASO

Tickets are available for the Saturday performance: go get them now. I had listened to Adam's work commissioned after 9/11 when the recording came out and was moved. It is at times chaotic in its textures but with a clear linear structure. I didn't expect just how powerful it would feel to hear it live. Notable moments: the ffff section around 2/3s through with full brass and choir, and the taped voice near the end saying "I see water and buildings." An unbeleivable performance that--I'll stress again--you must get tickets for now.

A catharsis of sorts came with Barber's Adagio performed immediately after. Oddly, anything following Adam's work, no matter how moving, become merely "moving." Not to be forgotten, the concert opened with a fine early work from Corigliano; some amazing part writing in there. Intermission and Beethoven's 3rd Symphony. Lively and powerful performance. Again: go brass! It brought us back to earth and less painful thoughts. One of the most outstanding nights at the ASO that we've had.

Dinner at Beleza afterwards. Small plates of fresh fresh food. People go for the Brazilian drinks, but for me it's the food.

posted by sstrader at 12:46 PM in Concerts | permalink

February 6, 2008

Where was I?

Ninth anniversary at Aquaknox in Buckhead. Awesome food and nice view. It was our first meal there and we scored. I had the mussels for an appetizer (a little meaty but fresh and great flavor in the white wine sauce and with enough crusty bread to appreciate the sauce) and filet mignon for the main course (with mashed potatoes and broccoli and a single teenytiny sliced carrot). Despite the meat-and-potatoes quotidian sound of the meal, the flavors were rich and telling. Afterwards was another experiment, this one not so successful, at Beluga. Lisa's comment, now iconic, was simply: "one drink and we get out of here before someone asks us to drop our keys in a bowl." And no, I'm not put off that no one did.

Cathy's wedding at the Episcopal church in the Highlands (Episcopal priests got my money for stand up comedy) and a fun and swankified reception at The Peachtree Club a couple of blocks up (and walk-homeable).

Watching Cowboy Bebop. I got the full 26 episode on 3 CDs for thirty-bucks. When I first watched one episode I was not impressed. Then, I gave it another chance and got sucked in to the nonsense/sincerity. It has the standard mawkishness of all Asian cinema, but with a clowning nature and some well-placed and vague plot points to hook you in.


Listening to Yoko Kanno (although I've been over-listening and am ready to move on). She creates such an unbelievable variety of style that her skill scares me. Simply put: I'm jealous that I'm not her. I'll share the wacky photo that everyone else has:

posted by sstrader at 10:11 PM in Where was I? | tagged anniversary, restaurant, wedding, yoko kanno | permalink

February 5, 2008

My vote cownts

Overseen at the exit polls: (90% going to Obama) I say: oh my ..., Pollster replies: yeah! ...

I'm so fucked up that Clinton's winning right now. I'm even more fucked up that Huckabee won GA. OK. So maybe it's something I could expect (winning the "I'll vote for 'religious' over 'honest'") but still could not accept.

posted by sstrader at 11:49 PM in Personal | permalink

February 1, 2008

Subversive lite-brite

So, I read the news of the Mooninite reenactments in Boston yesterday, and wondered again with embarrassment in what type of country lite-brites could be considered subversive. Then I simply enjoyed the dada phrase "subversive lite-brite," hoping that I had come up with something original but finding that, alas, I'll be only the third site who came up with that phrase.

posted by sstrader at 12:37 PM in Art | permalink