More Listens

John Prine – John Prine

Here’s another case of an old album just kicking the crap out of today’s so-called popular music. This CD – from over 30 years ago (1971)- is just a joy. This is Prine’s first, and – for my money – his best, although he’s had a lot of great music since then. The album also has a great liner note – an intro of sorts – by Kris Kristofferson, which is not to be missed.

Prine’s music – often topical – oddly never ages. Weird. This album’s (yes, when it came out there weren’t any such things as CDs or MPs) cuts include such treats as “Illegal Smile” (drug use), “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” (about Vietnam – as is “Sam Stone” – but could just as well be the Iraq invasion liberation).

This album also contains what I find to be my favorite Prine song: “Hello in There” – and he was only 24 when he wrote this. Wow. Poignant beyond belief.

We lost Davy in the Korean War

I still don’t know what for

Don’t matter anymore…

And his song “Angel From Montgomery” is strong in the same emotional way as “Hello in There” (How the hell can a person / Go to work in the morning / And come home in the evening / With nothing to say) – and it’s written from the viewpoint of an old woman! How many other twenty-something males would even think of attempting this? Much less carrying if off so masterfully.

Bonnie Raitt owns what is probably the most popular version of this song; I find Prine’s version far superior, and I like Raitt. But just wrap your head around lyrics such as:

My old man is another

Child that’s grown old

If dreams were lightening

And thunder desire

This old house would have burnt down

A long time ago

Somehow Brittany Spears’ work just doesn’t measure up to the mailman from Maywood, IL. Could she pull off this?:

Tragic magic tears of passion

Stays the same through changing fashions

They freeze my mind

Like water on a winter’s night

There is no valid reason to not own and enjoy this ablum.

Backups matter

For reasons that I can’t explain (uh, sure I can: “I’m an idiot!”), I haven’t been backing up all my scans and stuff like that in a regular manner.

I have a CD-RW disc that I’ve been copying the stuff to, oh, whenever I remember to do so (and feel like killing the hour or so doing so…).

Yep. Bad.

Backup shell script added. Following tests (running in background), will add to CRON.

200M of scans, backup up daily, keep at least five day’s worth of zips.


Well I feel better…

ET Stay Home

By ET, I mean us.

By that I mean, why the hell are we talking about sending humans to Mars?

Sure, President Bush is pushing for something like this, but that’s just election-year posturing for the most part. But I heard some guy on NPR yesterday – in town (Chicago) for some type of “Let’s get man to Mars” convention (I dunno what it was).

The guy was kind of a wing nut, but – still – there is an interest in putting people on Mars.

I just don’t get it.

Now, I’m probably more science oriented than the average person, and I strongly support the space program and all that. I fully understand that the benefits of a space program cannot really be seen in advance; you just have to do it because you’re curious and benefits sometimes appear.

For example, putting man on the moon was really an exercise in nationalism, kind of a key battle in the Cold War. Yet out of this came the integrated circuit, advances in computing, aerospace materials (composites, for example) and so on. But we didn’t go for that; the benefits were gravy.

All space exploration is like that. Will the current Saturn probe or the recently launched Mercury probe bring any benefits beyond more info about these far-flung bodies? Who knows? Who cares? The point is to understand more about these planets.

Again, everything else is gravy.

OK, what does this have to do with men on Mars, fer Christ’s sake?

Well, I look at it this way: Putting a man on Mars would cost (time and dollars) incredibly more than a unmanned mission. This can’t be disputed. I just don’t see the benefit – what we’ll gain – from sending one manned mission (for example) to Mars instead of numerous unmanned missions there.

Just getting a person there is a huge task; and – once there – that one mission will examine one area. Period. And roving is very limited due to the human factor. Need a certain amount of oxygen, protection against extreme cold, extreme warmth, cosmic rays and so on. And humans get tired, need sleep, need to dispose of waste and so on.

Unmanned probes are far less fussy. We could scatter roving probes all over the planet for far less than a single manned mission.

Sure, a human has better processing ability and can easily change the mission (not that rock, this rock is more interesting…), but the sheer volume of data points that can be gained by multiple missions – probably at a lower cost – make the whole manned mission to Mars talk silly to me.

To be fair, my argument is undercut by my own statement that one really can’t tell what benefits will accrue before it all happens. Yes, it’s possible the effort of putting a man on Mars – or what he finds there – will be so great that it will make all the cost/effort worth it.

Yet the same could be said about the unmanned missions. And – with more unmanned missions possible for same time/effort/cost – the odds of something good coming out of the unmanned missions seems higher.

Things I Really Don’t Give a Rat’s Ass About

Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore

Is this biased? Yes. Does it just portray one side of the story and attempt to belittle the other side(s) of the story? Sure. Does it dwell on just one part of a bigger story? Yep.

Is it exceptionally well done? Yes. Are the clips presented misrepresented? No.

Should this movie infuriate the World? Yes.

Yep, this it your standard Moore film, but an interesting examination of one facet of the war in Iran: His take on just why we invaded liberated Iraq.


It’s the OIL, stupid.

Agree or disagree, the movie raises a lot of points that are difficult to push aside, and – as I’ve mentioned – it’s done very well. Over the top at times, too maudlin at times, but that’s my bias.

Lot of facts that are hard to ignore behind the curtain of Moore’s ham-handed handling of some aspects of the film. Watch. Discuss. Be informed.

All movies

This is not an exhausive list, but just some things that have occurred to me recently.

I don’t care about:

The Olympics

While I’ve felt this way for some years, with the Olympics firing up again it just brought it to the forefront of my (little) mind.

Why the apathy? I don’t know exactly; it’s a number of factors:

  • Since the whole pretense of the Olympics as venue of amatuer athletes has gone the way of all sponsorship, it’s hard to get excited about drama behind an individual getting there and all that. Sure, the Eastern Block countries went this way long ago – and the U.S. and others were fraudulent in their own ways – but now it’s just another Super Bowl. Super Bore is more like it.
  • As I gotten older I follow sports less and less. So that’s an issue to deal with.
  • I read a comment on a blog somewhere to the effect that the Olympics became less interesting with the end of the Cold War. I think that’s true, to a degree – the “us” vs. “them” competition added a charge to the the event, at least for the U.S. and Soviet countries. Remember the 1980 “miracle” hockey team?

Network TV – or much TV at all

It’s summer, and time for all the summer reruns, test programs, special programs (the Olympics and shows such as “America’s Funniest Game Show Bloopers” or what have you).

There isn’t much to watch, and – frankly – I don’t miss missing whatever I’m not seeing. Know what I mean?

Current Pop Music

Just haven’t been listening to the radio recently, and when I do – there’ s little to listen to.

How many more times do I have to hear “that” song by Nora Jones (i.e., any song; they all sound the same) before I slip into a permanent coma?

I’ve had the radio on for a couple of hours so far today; right now the first interesting song played is on right now: A Led Zepplin song from the 70s or so. (A nice song from Modest Mouse before that, however – I’ll give you that).

Or maybe I’m just grumpy…

End-of-Summer Panic

Gallery Additions:

Yes, it’s the time of the year where you go, “Eep!, where did the summer go? I still need to do [list of chores].”

So I’ve been doing a lot of that.

Refinanced the house – finally!, got a quote on a new furnace (getting ready for when summer wanes), got the blade on the lawnmower sharpened, so it wasn’t just “gumming” the grass and so on.

Many little tasks, each taking little time, all adding up to large blocks of time.

Now if it would only rain so I could do the late-summer fertilizing, I’d be a happier camper…

It’s actually been a crappy summer weather-wise this year. Cold and rainy in the early part of the summer, and it never really got those nice sunny days that plants need to really get established.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Beyond that, working hard and enjoying (? is that the right word?) all the frivolity that is surrounding the whole election process.

Unfortunately, it is sad that the process is so comical – because the results can be so devastating.

Still, how can you not crack a smile – or laugh because you’d otherwise cry – at the scripting, pandering politicos and their often frightenly rabid followers?

It’s just sad…

I guess it’s a wonderful thing that we’re trying to bring this brilliant form of government to Iraq. Yeah, that’ll work well. Look how well it’s worked thus far. Not a pretty sight from any point of view (Republican, Democrat, American/Anti-Amercian, Iraqi leadership, Iraqi warriors and so on).

It’ll be interesting to see how all of this plays out in an historical light, like going back and seeing the actions/re-actions that led to the carnage that was WWI.

On an unrelated note: Today’s spam percentage: hoving in the high 90s. Yes, spam filters catch virtually all of this, but…why? Tell me e-mail’s not broken is some fundamental way.