Tuesday, August 30, 2005

 

Death Of The Rock Snob

Is the world of digital music causing the demise of the Rock Snob? It would appear so:

While the term "Rock Snob" has a pejorative ring, the label also implies real social advantages. The Rock Snob presides as a musical wise man to whom friends and relatives turn for opinions and recommendations; he can judiciously distribute access to various rare and exotic prizes in his collection. "Oh my God, where did you find this?" are a Rock Snob's favorite words to hear. His highest calling is the creation of lovingly compiled mix CDs designed to dazzle their recipients with a blend of erudition, obscurity, and pure melodic dolomite. Recently, I unearthed a little-known cover of the gentle Gram Parsons country classic "Hickory Wind," bellowed out by Bob Mould and Vic Chestnutt, which moved two different friends to tears. It was Rock Snob bliss.

In some ways, then, the iPod revolution is a Rock Snob's dream. Now, nearly all rock music is easily and almost instantly attainable, either via our friends' computers or through online file-sharing networks. "Music swapping" on a mass scale allows my music collection to grow larger and faster than I'd ever imagined. And I can now summon any rare track from the online ether.

But there's a dark side to the iPod era. Snobbery subsists on exclusivity. And the ownership of a huge and eclectic music collection has become ordinary.

The end is coming for my music collection as a physical entity, but I'm fighting it off as long as I can. I've yet to purchase so much as a single track as a downloadable file. I'll change that soon, I predict. It'll mark a new low point in laziness.

The worst part about having a few thousand songs at my fingertips is that my finely-honed adherence to complete works is fading fast. I never liked the whole idea of the "shuffle" or "random" buttons on CD players, instead prefering to listen to a complete disc - good and bad, dammit! - as a measure of respect to the artist. The act of physically inserting the disc into a player was some sort of handshake, a promise to digest an album as it was intended. That promise is too easily broken with just a couple touches of a scroll wheel, and I'm not comfortable with that.


 

American Governmental Work Ethic Invades Iraq

Sounds just like August in Washington, DC:

Iraq's parliament proposed a law on Monday to sack members of the National Assembly who repeatedly failed to turn up for work -- but the decision was put on hold because too many were absent to hold a vote.

 

"Intelligent" Design And Stupid Treehuggers

George Will is one of my favorite columnists, even though (or because?) I don't always agree with him. He's right-on with his latest, "Don't Feed The Animals, Please", which is centered around this summer's pandemic of nature documentaries.

He starts off with using "March of the Penguins" as evidence against intelligent design, which is a pretty strong argument that probably requires no further commentary from me. I still think that penguins are one of the most amusing animals on earth, even if evolution has been somewhat cruel to them.

Then he tears in Timothy Treadwell, who is currently experiencing 15 minutes of post-mortem fame for his role as bear food in "Grizzly Man". I have to admit that I kinda laughed at Treadwell's misfortune when I first heard about it a couple of years ago, and it's still somewhat amusing. Had he made an honest attempt at self-defense in the presense of predators, I'd feel much differently. I've got no interest in engaging in offensive operations on bears or virtually any other predator for that matter, since I think we need every one we can get.

On the other hand, however, I've also got little respect for someone who wants to go play touchy-feely with an animal that's the size of a small car without being capable of self-defense. I don't think the bears respect a lack of self-defense, given their territorial tendencies, and I've got to imagine that they're laughing their asses off at Mr. Grizzy Chow if indeed they possess the humanistic qualities that Treadwell atributted to them. I'd definitely be in the "tread lightly and carry a big gun" camp if I was wandering around in grizzly country, with emphasis on the treading-lightly part.

Monday, August 29, 2005

 

Greenspan Sees End Of Housing Boom

Alan Greenspan isn't feeling wonderful about housing costs lately, or to be more accurate, he's concerned that rapidly-rising housing costs are driving too much economic growth. He states that "prices could even decrease", which is about as close to a doom-and-gloom prediction that one is likely to get from Greenspan.

The upside? The Fed chairman thinks that a slowdown in the housing market could improve the national savings rate, decrease imports, and improve the trade deficit. Those would all be great things. It'd be better yet if those same things could be accomplished without immobilizing a large chunk of the population at the same time that jobs become increasingly more difficult to maintain in a particular geographic area.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

 

Ex-Marine Downs Police Chopper

Hey man, nice shot. Actually, it's not cool to shoot down police helicopters for whatever reason (I've heard that he was upset at the noise), but I've got a lot of respect for the marksmanship required to hit a hovering chopper that's 1600 ft away and 400 ft off the ground. I've heard he used a .30-'06, which simply illustrates just how well that round has performed in nearly 100 years of service.

 

Arg

Let me just say that it sucks to be forced into taking a Dremel tool to a brand-new pistol after firing only 100 rounds through it. I traded in my dead-nuts reliable Kel-Tec P11 for a CZ RAMI because I wanted something with a trigger that didn't feel like trying to break a 2x4, and I was hoping to get a firearm that didn't require any work out-of-the-box. I went 1 for 2.

The first 50 or so rounds of WWB 115 gr. 9mm FMJ went through the RAMI just fine, but it only took the first 3 rounds from the 14-round mag for the WWB 147 gr. JHP to highlight a failure to feed (FTF) problem. The nose of the round never came up far enough to climb up the feed ramp. Speer Gold Dot 147 gr. rounds did the exact same thing.

First, I tried cleaning and lubing the mags. No luck. Next, I tried some firmer mag springs from Wolff. That didn't work, either. Finally, I reshaped and polished the feedramp. That seems to have done the trick, but I'll feel better when it runs for a few hundred rounds without stoppages.

Apparently, this is a known problem to CZ, although damn if I could find any mention of this problem during my several hours of pre-purchase research. Why in the world would a compact double-stack semi-auto be sold that can't feed hollowpoints? The assumed mission for this firearm is self-defense, and FMJ 9mm rounds aren't exactly known for their "stopping power".

I can say that the single-action trigger isn't as good as a 1911, but it's a hell of a lot better (to me) than a Glock or Springfield XD "safe action". I love the fact that it can be carried cocked-and-locked like a 1911. When I'm not flinching, it seems to be a very accurate little gun. Why I'm flinching, I have no idea - the recoil is minimal. I think I might just be out of practice in general. In fact, I'm sure I'm out of practice, and the last time I got in any decent amount of shooting, it was with my .44 Mag Redhawk. Maybe that explains my problem...

My FIST IWB holster hasn't shown up yet, so I can't comment on how it will be to carry. I plan on getting one of the 10-round mags (it ships with two 14-round mags that allow a three-finger grip) to shorten up the butt of the gun somewhat, since that's usually the biggest problem I have with hiding something under an untucked shirt. The frame is a bit fat, so I'm not sure how it'll conceal compared to my Kimber Compact. One area where it should be far superior is in weight, but then again most things are lighter than a all-steel 1911. And speaking of steel, hopefully it won't be plagued with corrosion problems like my beloved Kimber (which will soon either be getting a DIY application of GunKote or a trip to Robar).

Saturday, August 27, 2005

 

Why Powerline Sucks

Hmm, maybe it's because if you check out their post slamming Paul Krugman's prediction of a housing bubble, it contains an advertisment that... warns of a housing bubble:


This, apparently, is the sort of integrity that we're to expect of the Blog Of The Year. For what it's worth, the Google Adsense ad points towards Newsmax.com. Just to be clear, any dire predictions of economic problems from the NY Times are to be mocked, while any similar predictions from neoconservative news sites are potential sources of income.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

 

Gallup Compares Poll Data - Iraq vs.Vietnam

Gallup has compiled a variety of poll data from the Vietnam era and compared it to that of Iraq. The conclusion is as follows:

Although public support for both the Vietnam and the Iraq wars was strong as each conflict began, at least as measured by Gallup's "mistake" question, opposition to the latter has escalated much more quickly. Within a year and three months of the Iraq war's inception, a majority of Americans said it was a mistake. It wasn't until over three years after the inception of the Vietnam War that a majority called it a mistake.

At the same, Americans much more quickly perceived that the Vietnam War was a major problem facing the United States, with over two-thirds naming it as the nation's most important problem within the war's second year. By contrast, even today, some two years and five months after the Iraq war began, only a little more than a fourth of Americans say it is the nation's top problem.

In short, Americans have been quicker to oppose the Iraq war, but less likely to consider it the top problem facing the nation.

Bizarre, to say the least.

Something I found interesting in the Vietnam data is that the Tet Offensive didn't really have an impact in the support of Americans for the war (as reflected in the question "Was it a mistaken to send troops to Vietnam?"). It was seven months after Tet before a majority of Americans answered "yes" to that question.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

 

Joining The iPod Cult

I walked into Circuit City last night with the intention of buying a 4 GB iPod Mini for $190, thinking that the extra $60 for the 6 GB version wasn't worth it. My wife agreed with that assessment, and then proceeded to talk me into a 20 GB standard iPod for $270. Who am I to argue?

iTune 4.9's podcasting support is, like, the greatest thing ever.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

 

The War On Drugs, Keeping Us Safer Once Again

So apparently death is an appropriate sentence for possessing two ounces of the funky weed. Considering that I'm currently engrossed in the book "Enemies Foreign And Domestic", this sort of heavy-handed law-enforcement thuggary is sitting even worse than usual right now. What a bunch of crap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

 

An OK Guy

So, a religious-right group is withdrawing support for SC nominee Roberts because he worked on a gay-rights case, and Roberts stated in confirmation hearings that he thinks Congress went too far in the Schivo intervention. This is quite lovely, as maybe - just maybe - we'll get a level-headed guy behind the bench instead of some partisan wackjob like Stevens or Scalia (who isn't nearly the strict constructionalist that Thomas is, based on the Raich decision).

 

The Stones Vs. The Neocons

I've got no problem with musicians taking on political topics in their work, but does Bush-bashing really suit the Rolling Stones? I mean, we're talking about the band who gave us "Gimme Shelter", "Paint It Black", and of course "Sympathy", and now they want to expend time and energy on the 5-year reign of some nitwits? Kinda silly, I think. Leave the specifics to punk bands that are far better at such things, and stick to songs covering larger, arching themes.

Friday, August 05, 2005

 

Quagmire

After this week, I'm seeing fewer and fewer reasons every moment why the Vietnam comparison isn't appropriate. It probably doesn't help that I watched Platoon Wednesday evening. Damn you, Oliver Stone!

At least it's been made official that we're back to fighting a "war", as opposed to being engaged in a mere "struggle". A "struggle" is what would occur if I tried to take the TiVo remote away from Mrs. Angry Engineer while she's watching Angel. Um, no, wait, that'd be a war. A "struggle" is what's happening as I try to think of the right analogy.

I think it might finally be time to rent The Fog Of War this weekend.

 

Next On My Reading List...

Looks like I'll have to hit this one after I tackle Unintended Consequences. Yes, that's a good indication that I'm in a pessimistic mood.

 

Our President Is A Fat Ass

Um, not really. It's just another example of how wack the BMI standard is. Of course, I'm in the "overweight" category right now because of the 10 extra pounds that I'm carrying. But even 20 pounds ago, when I was a mid-level mountain-bike racer, I still fell into the Beefcake! category.

 

Plamegate Grows New Wings

A big "Thank You!" should be going out to Robert Novak from the left wing, as he's single-handledly put the Plame leak story back into the news by throwing a temper tantrum. Nice job, Dark Prince.

 

Maddox On Blogging

Hilarious.

Not to jump on the blog-bashing bandwagon, but if I see one more post in the next few days about dropping The Bomb on Japan, I might puke. It's like everyone wants to believe that I, reader of their blog, might doubt the wartime decision-making of President Truman, but a few hundred words from some wignut hack sitting in front of his computer in a living room might just make me think that Truman is either A) The most couragous human ever and should have his corpse bronzed; or B) A mass-murdering terrorist. But, hey, thanks for your opinion - I'm sure that the next time such a decision needs to be made, the sitting C-in-C will make sure to reflect carefully on what the blogosphere thinks about his decision 60 years later before he cracks open The Football and starts reading off launch codes.

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