Archive for October, 2009

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It Takes A Pillage

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on October 26, 2009 by admin in Politics

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The public has been slow to react to investment banks’ plundering of the economy, but some protests are finally taking shape in Chicago.

If you’re amongst the nation’s 14 million unemployed, maybe you should see if you can get a job delivering the plasma screen TV’s and cases of champagne that bailed out bankers will be buying to celebrate another year of million-dollar bonuses. Finally, even people like billionaire investor George Soros say you should be angry¬† about the obscene bonuses received by Wall Street. In spite of the fact that the White House “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg is imposing restrictions on certain companies’ compensation, it’s largely agreed that this is pointless, because what bank executives don’t get in salary and cash bonuses, they get through stock options and other benefits. So while New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo releases a study (see No Rhyme or Reason: The ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Lose’ Bank Bonus Culture) that looks in detail at how bailout recipients Merrill and Citigroup both lost more than $27 billion in 2008 but still somehow justified paying nearly $9 billion in bonuses, and while Treasury Department watchdog Neil Barofsky continually points out the appalling misuse of bailout funds, 2009 bonuses at companies like Goldman Sachs will be double what they were in 2008. Call me naiive, but I remain astounded at the idea that one can run global economy into the ground and get a bonus for it. I was originally going to use the analogy of a man with gambling problem for today’s little rant, and thought it a little corny. But Nomi Prins – author of It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street – did just that in The Nation piece Meet the Hazzards. I’ve been prattling on about bailout injustice and public apathy for months, but it seems there’s finally some organized unrest in Chicago; it’ll be interesting to see if The Showdown in Chicago or the SEIU party crashers will get any attention.

The Measured Musical Madness Of Moondog

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on October 25, 2009 by admin in Music

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Moondog is probably the most famous street musician you never heard of.


DJ Mr Scruff’s “Get A Move On” Is Little
More Than Moondog With A Beat

Somehow I managed to listen to an exhaustive variety of music my entire life and not hear about the astounding genius of Moondog until yesterday. Chances are that like me, you’ve heard Moondog and not realized it. His song Stamping Ground was used in The Big Lebowski, and British DJ Mr. Scruff pretty much just added beats and speeded up the Moondog tune Bird’s Lament to create the club hit Get A Move On (clip featured here). Born Louis Thomas Hardin, Moondog’s life is as interesting and unusual as his music. A minister’s son, Moondog lost his sight at the age of 16, began studying music, and in his late 20′s moved to New York. For over 20 years he chose a life playing music on the streets, eventually becoming known as The Viking of 6th Avenue. In spite of his unconventional lifestyle choice, Moondog worked with and/or was respected by such luminaries as Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Igor Stravinsky, Frank Zappa, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Elvis Costello. His music ranges from the charmingly simplistic to the polyrythmically canonic, often utilizing very listenable but unusual meters. As Moondog himself is quoted as saying: “I’m not gonna die in 4/4 time“. Learn more about Moondog on the official site, and maybe search YouTube, there are lots of of audio-only clips available. Read the rest of this entry »

Social Search: Who Gives A Twinglebook?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on October 24, 2009 by admin in Technology

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Will Social Search be an awesome new way to search the web, or a sewage-filled spam hose?

I was wondering why no-one seemed to give a twinglebook about the fact that Microsoft struck search deals with Twitter and Facebook, and that Google not only has their own deal with Twitter, but plans to launch their own “Social Search” in the near future. Then I remembered that the average person doesn’t know their Firefox from a hole in the ground (YouTube link, video is also below). Well, I have to admit that I care; depending on how both Microsoft and Google choose to integrate real-time search results from social networking sites, this could either be really interesting, or really annoying and/or paranoia-inducing. More so the annoying part; ever since SEO became a parasitic, opportunistic business instead of an integrated part of web site development, search results have become less and less useful on a steady downward curve. The beauty of Twitter Search is its real-time results; the ugly downside is that all those results are spam-infested Tweets! Who cares how fast you can search multi-level marketer’s tweets (see Will the Twitter Firehose Become a Sewage-Filled Spam Hose) ? In my opinion, the only real value of these relationships the two search giants are building with Twitter would be real-time search of everything but Twitter noise. Hopefully they’ll pursue that, but Bing’s beta version of Twitter search appears to be just, well, Twitter search. How mixing this stuff in with regular results is going to benefit anyone is beyond me. These moves also come at an odd time, when both Facebook and Twitter’s growth are flattening out. And the paranoia mentioned earlier? Google’s Social Search will require you to be logged in with a Google Profile, and will connect additional search results via your existing “friends” on various social networking services, thereby tracking all your searches and connecting them with people you know. But perhaps I fret about this sort of thing too much. After all, Googoo has a excewent pwivacy powicy. Read the rest of this entry »

Cyberchondria: Is It A Cold, A Flu, Or Airborne Ebola?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on October 23, 2009 by admin in Health & Wellness

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Using the Internet to diagnose yourself, it’s hard to tell if you have Adrenal Cancer, or just drank too much coffee.


A virus is even creepier when viewed
thru this Discovery Channel interactive

As someone with a deranged work ethic who rarely gets sick, I tend to be pretty ignorant when it comes to commonplace things like how to have a cold or flu. Being this ignorant myself, I had NO IDEA that so many of my friends were health experts. Mention you have a few cold or flu symptoms and they all pull a clipboard out of thin air and start with the questions: “Are you getting plenty of fluids? Are you nauseous? Are you congested in your sinuses? It might be BACTERIAL, you know” and so on. Pretty soon I get convinced I have some airborne version of Ebola or something. And then I just get curious. So first of all, the cold vs flu debate: According to both the CDC and WebMD, there’s no way to tell which is which without a test in the early stages. They’re similar viruses, but colds tend to start slowly, last longer, and symptoms are usually confined to headaches and runny noses. A flu comes comes on much faster (the phrase “hits you like a truck” was used on several of the health sites I looked at) has deeper, broader symptoms that include body aches, nausea, etc. and can leave you fatigued for weeks after it’s run its course. Another big difference is that a flu is more likely to set you up for a bacterial infection like pneumonia, and not in the manner we’ve traditionally assumed. If you find this whole topic of viruses interesting, this Discovery Channel interactive wins the creepy award hands down, with its black backgrounds, hacker greens, crimson blood reds, and morbid ambient soundtrack. So just be careful researching health issues on the web. The fact that I’m still ill and a little slow in the brain as I type this, combined with about a half hour of light research, and suddenly I had a mild case of Cyberchondria developing. I mean, did you know that frequent urination and headache can be a sign of adrenal cancer? So be safe. Be sensible. Just get yourself to the doctor, and get a flu shot. Never mind that your shot is made from the diseased flesh of African Green Monkeys.

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How I Almost Became A Russian Gangsta

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on October 22, 2009 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

But Joined the Scissor Gang Mafia Instead


As soon as they done bitin’ yo ankles
they gonna bust a cap in yo ass

A couple of years ago, a Russian friend of mine asked me if I wanted to make some money. Since he said “vould you like to make some money” instead of “I have a job you might be eenterested een“, I raised an eyebrow. He said ” I know vaht you are theenking. There eez no-thing eelegal eenvolved“. He explained that all we had to do was travel around the country going to small retailers that stocked cell phones and offer to buy their entire inventories for cash at very low prices. I suddenly realized why I was a hot prospect; imagine a Russian guy walking into a gadget shop in WTF, California or someplace, and saying “I vant to buy all zee cellphones you have for cash“. A few months later, a different Russian friend asked me the same original question, only in this case, the “opportunity” involved getting a free cell phone and envelopes of cash to buy large numbers of tickets to concerts and sporting events. I said I’d take the job if he could get me a date with t.A.T.u., and he laughed. Whenever someone says “there eez no-thing eelegal eenvolved” when telling you about a great new opportunity, the assumption of course is that “something eleegal eez eenvolved“. Although I knew that in both cases my friends were operating at a relatively safe level, somewhere a little further up the chain was some guy named Boris the Blade. Which didn’t scare me; the real issue was that I have a strict policy of not entering gang organizations at the thug level. With hindsight, I’m happy with my decision. I probably would’ve had to work with these guys. Which on further reflection, might be better than joining the Scissor Gang Mafia. Read the rest of this entry »

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