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Friday, March 11, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

PAPA'S GOT A BRAND NEW ROUTER, SO THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE (though you should check out Thursday's links also):

FRIDAY TIME-WASTER: The Babycal throw. I'm not sure what it is (and I know some Russian); I o­nly know it's hard to stop. It appears that you score more points by hitting a target repeatedly and by hitting more than o­ne at o­nce.

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS: John Darnielle -- a former Iowan -- is interviewed by the Ames Tribune in advance of their April 1st show at the M-Shop.

BILL WYMAN: The former charter Rolling Stone has taken up archaeology. Should I go for an Indiana Jones joke or the "he's going to be exhibiting Mick and Keith" joke?

SONGS TO PLAY AT MY FUNERAL: Not my funeral, really, but European funerals. The Germans -- choosing AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" and Queen's "The Show Must Go o­n" -- have a better sense of humor than their stereotype.

ROBOT ARM-WRESTLING UPDATE: Yesterday, I noted that three robotic arms were each beaten in a matter of seconds by a 17-year-old girl. It turns out that Panna Felsen has a lot going o­n.

HORTON HEARS HOLLYWOOD: 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios have landed the rights to adapt Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who as a CG-animated movie. Blue Sky Studios launches its second feature, Robots, today. ALSO: Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze are working o­n a screenplay for Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are.

GOOGLE NEWS can now be personalized. And you can see a real-time picture of what's hot at Google News with the Newsmap.

IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing o­nly men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, according to Norway's prime minister. The global furniture store fears it might offend Muslims by depicting women assembling everything from cupboards to beds, but Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was quoted Thursday as telling the daily Verdens Gang, "It's important to promote attitudes for sexual equality, not least in Muslim nations."

IRAN OBTAINED CENTRIFUGES FOR ENRICHING URANIUM from the A.Q. Khan weapons ring.

LEBANON: Toppled Prime Minister Omar Karami reluctantly re-accepted the job, ten days after street protests in Beirut led to the collapse of his pro-Syrian Government. But his call for the Opposition to join a government of national unity was rejected amid fears that the country is heading towards prolonged political and economic uncertainty. The momentum in Lebanon may have shifted in Syria's favor following the huge Hezbollah-sponsored rally earlier this week. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Michel Aoun and a spokesperson for Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party have both claimed that Hezbollah and Syrian officials used deceptive and coercive techniques to orchestrate the rally. Of course, both have political motives for making that claim. o­n the other hand, given that Lebanon has a population under four million, the idea that a rally of 500,000 may have included people brought in from Syria cannot be summarily dismissed, either.

SMITHEREENS: Move over, Guided by Voices -- Pat DiNizio is offering a a limited edition 21 disc set of Smithereens demos, outtakes, alternate versions and live tracks.

KINGS OF LEON: Rob G. of the Suburban Voodoo blog has six suggestions for you.

DAVID BYRNE loves PowerPoint.

THE MUSIC BIZ is threatened by the internet, where word of mouth can build a star.

PODCASTING: Since Sylvia Hauser alerted us to the podcasts from KCRW, the station has added "Le Show," a "weekly, hour-long romp through the worlds of media, politics, sports and show business, leavened with an eclectic mix of mysterious music," hosted by Harry Shearer.

HOWARD DEAN looks just heavenly in this picture.

SIN CITY: Yahoo! has exclusive photos and comic book storyboards from the movie, which gives me another opportunity to post the Jessica Alba promo.

BRUCE WILLIS GROPES LINDSAY LOHAN: Two can play that game, Demi!

PORN STAR KARAOKE: Every Tuesday at Sardo's in Burbank. Just thought I would mention it to attract traffic from people searching for porn o­n the internet.

ARE BLOGGERS JOURNALISTS? Jacob Weisberg gets it over at Slate: "The old A.J. Liebling saw about freedom of the press belonging to those who own o­ne no longer obtains. These days, freedom of the press is available not just in theory but in practice to an unlimited number of individuals."

THE POLITCAL INFLUENCE OF BLOGS is the subject of a study by a researcher at Blogpulse. The summary says, "Curiously, 59% of the mentions of John Kerry came from right-leaning bloggers, while 53% of the mentions of George W. Bush came from left-leaning bloggers." That's not curious to me, given that most blogging is criticism of some sort.

BASEBALL o­n STEROIDS: Major League Baseball executives vowed to go to court to stop the House Government Reform Committee from making Jason Giambi, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, among others, testify next week o­n Capitol Hill. MLB lawyer Stanley Brand lashed out at the committee - saying it had no jurisdiction and was merely trying to "satisfy their prurient interest into who may and may not have engaged in this activity." Brand is the perfect choice for MLB; he's Vice President of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the governing body of Minor League Baseball) and a veteran counsel of many Washington scandals -- check the link for how George Stephanopoulos describes him. However, I doubt the jurisdictional issue is a winner for him. Unless the rules for the Committee o­n Government Reform have suddenly changed, the committee "may at any time conduct investigations of any matter ***." Jurisdiction doesn't get much broader than that. Others agree. ALSO: Committee spokesperson Dave Marin told NBC News that the committee has gone out of its way not to ask for specific names attached to drug test results, contrary to what has been alleged by Brand.

ATTORNEY ACCIDENTALLY SUES HIMSELF: Madison County, Illinois, has been a hotbed of class-action litigation in recent years, but this would appear to be a first.

DID THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART get an NPR reporter taken off the air over his report o­n the long-running controversy over the ownership of Egon Schiele's painting, Portrait of Wally? Morley Safer suggests that the broadcaster "has caved in to intimidation by a large, wealthy and powerful cultural institution."

FINALLY, A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Here's a tip for all you kids out there: Don't eat home-baked brownies sent to you anonymously. Sure, they might have hashish in them. But they might not.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS will be playing the M-Shop in Ames o­n April 1st. Their new disc is not sceduled for release until the end of April, but you can sample their last disc at Tower Records (but not Amazon, for some reason).

THE DOVES have their own blog and are streaming their new disc, Some Cities.

FORMER CLASH PRODUCER SANDY PEARLMAN would like to stop the plague of unauthorized music downloads o­n the Internet by changing the entire music industry as we know it, including dropping the price of a legal download to a nickel.

GEORGE W. BUSH MASH-UPS can be downloaded at 3hive, including the President's version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and a medley of "Imagine" and "Walk on the Wild Side."

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND bus driver pleaded guilty Wednesday to dumping 800 pounds of human waste from the vehicle's septic tank onto a sightseeing boat on the Chicago River last summer.

M.I.A.: The mysterious singer is profiled in the Seattle Weekly. The article refers to an essay by Robert Christgau in the Village Voice, which can be found here. A response of sorts to the Christgau essay can be found at the Bliss blog. In turn, Carl Wilson responded to that blog entry at his site.

FAT ACTRESS is upsetting National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy and the National Eating Disorders Association.

LICKING YOUR WOUNDS is o­ne thing; a high school teacher and coach licking them is another.

VIDEOGAME NOTABLES now has a "Walk of Game" in San Francisco. Among the first round of honorees is Pong creator Nolan Bushnell. Somewhere, Frank Black is smiling.

WILL SMITH believes he could be the President of the United States. I think you have to be Governor of California first.

NANOTECH could learn something from biology, according to the recently-reviewed book, Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life.

ASHLEE SIMPSON tells her fans in Chicago, "I've had a tough year. But, I've learned a lot of lessons and the most important is that I don't have to be perfect." Or even good, apparently.

IF IT MAKES YOU HAPPY: British Labour Party adviser Richard Layard argues for utilitarian public policies that create the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Robert McHenry, former Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopædia Britannica argues for the pursuit of happiness.

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: The Israeli Army automatically gives low security clearance to fans of the popular role-playing game. "They're detached from reality and suscepitble to influence," the army says.

ARM-WRESTLING ROBOTS: Not ready for prime time, as they are beaten by a teenaged girl.

SAUDI ARABIA is taking some small steps toward getting serious about terrorists... at least in Saudi Arabia.

POLITICAL BANKRUPTCY: At the Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum blogs about the impending passage of the bankruptcy bill, despite the fact that conservatives and liberals don't like it.

DOGS are dressed for "Barkoween" at photographer Mark Tucker's site. ALSO: A dog was subpoenaed as a witness in an Arkansas murder case. Later, the dog was denied entry to the courthouse under its "No Dogs Allowed" policy.

EDUCATION BLOGGING: The fifth Carnival of Education is o­nline.

LIMP BIZKIT'S FRED DURST apologizes -- with a nice note and flowers -- to Gawker Media for naming the blog company in his lawsuit over a hacked sex tape.

ROSIE O'DONNELL: The comedienne has started blogging in blank verse.

RUSSELL CROWE claims that the FBI told him in 2001 that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network wanted to kidnap him as part of a "cultural destabilization plot."

BUBBLE BOYS call it zorbing. Others might call it "imitating a hamster."

CULT OF THE iPod: The iPod battery, long considered to be iPod's dirty secret, is targeted by environmentalists. ALSO: An oldie-but-goodie asks, "Is the iPod better than sliced bread?"

GLOBAL MEDIA GIANTS claim Canada wants to rule the web in a Internet libel claim lodged in Canadian courts.

JOURNO SHOT BY U.S. TROOPS: According to ABC News, a senior U.S. military official believes the investigation into the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence officer by U.S. troops in Iraq will ultimately prove the officer's car was traveling in excess of 100 m.p.h. The driver almost lost control several times before the shooting as the car hydroplaned through large puddles, the official told ABC News. That would be consistent with o­ne of the versions of events related by Giuliana Sgrena, who described the car almost going out of control as the driver attempted to avoid puddles left by rain that day.

HISPANIC TEENS that primarily speak English have had sex at more than twice the percentage of those who speak primarily Spanish, according to a new study. The key question — why? — remains unanswered.

KYGYZSTAN: Opposition parties are stepping up their protests over the results of the first round of parliamentary elections. More people are reportedly making their way to the protests that have been under way in Kyrgyzstan for several days. Demonstrators have occupied government buildings in Jalal-Abad and Osh. They have also blocked a key road in the east of the country. As usual, there's even more at Registan.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

WILCO: If you own a copy of A Ghost is Born, you can now download bonus tracks from the band's site or iTunes.

ON THE PITCHFORK: Brian Wilson is extending the Smile tour through this Summer, including cities like Seattle. I highly recommend it. Prof. Ken King -- not a huge Wilsonite -- saw it and enjoyed it highly, too. ALSO: Sufjan Stevens' next disc, due in July, will be a theme album about Illinois.

THE ROXY MUSIC ARCHIVE is near-complete.

MOUNT ST. HELENS is erupting again, apparently.

DOGS are being electrocuted in Boston.

PETRA NEMCOVA is devastated after learning that the body of her boyfriend has been recovered in tsunami-devastated Thailand.

UNLICENSED CAPITALISM: A Long Island man was ticketed in Brooklyn for selling Girl Scout cookies with his 13-year-old daughter.

KYRGYZSTAN: Election protests continue, with calls for a special session of parliament to consider early presidential elections and an annulment of the results of last month's parliamentary election. There's plenty more (and who can get enough Kyrgyzstanian news?) at Registan.

IRAN: Student protesters -- deeming prior elections futile -- are demanding a referendum for the drafting of a new constitution that is compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all its associated covenants.

LEBANON: Nearly 500,000 pro-Syrian protesters waved flags and chanted anti-American slogans in central Beirut Tuesday, answering a call by the militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group to counter weeks of massive rallies demanding Syrian forces leave Lebanon. Interestingly, the protesters are waving the Lebanese flag, not the flag of Hezbollah. Hezbollah could easily have caused big, violent trouble for those demanding that Syria withdraw from Lebanon; the choice to promote counter-demonstrations instead suggests Hezbollah is hedging its bets.

VIDEO WIZ DAVID LA CHAPPELLE is responsible for this fantastically trippy Burger King ad starring Hootie, Brooke Burke and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (in QuickTime).

AN UNSTOPPABLE VOLCANIC SUPER-ERUPTION will chill the planet and threaten human civilization, though it may be thousands of years away. Yellowstone is a likely candidate for such an eruption.

PLAYGIRL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF explains why she voted Republican in 2004, Matt Drudge reports.

WALTER CRONKITE says Dan Rather should have been replaced long ago... a few days before rather steps down as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

THE GAY MAFIA: In 2002, when former Hollywood überagent Mike Ovitz blamed a "gay mafia" for his downfall, it was considered career suicide, prompting an apology. However, by 2003, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was entertaining the notion that there might be a generation of gay power-brokers in Hollywood, though they were not the cause of Ovitz's downfall. In 2005, Time magazine decides it's a story. So is it a slow news week, or just slow reporters?

SIN CITY: A new trailer for the movie based o­n Frank Miller's critically-acclaimed graphic novels, directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez, and starring Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Michael Madsen and more is now online. Sadly, while Jessica Alba used to be into the meaningless o­ne-night stand, she now claims she's done dating around.

EDVARD MUNCH ART RECOVERED recovered by Norwegian police, who also made arrests in connection with the theft.

SCHWARTZENEGGER BALLOT INITIATIVES o­n redistricing, state employee pensions, spending caps, and teacher pay and tenure attract the opposition of California for Democracy, the state arm of the group that raised millions of dollars for Howard Dean's presidential run.

PRINCE CHARLES faced a bare-breasted anti-Monarchy protest in New Zealand. I'm sure it wrecked his day.

THE FIGHT BETWEEN CABLE AND SATELLITE TV may be won by souped-up PDAs.

CULT OF THE iPod: Yahoo! announces it will compete against the iTunes music store. Sony announces it will compete against the iPod Shuffle.

ARE BLOGGERS JOURNALISTS? The San Francisco Chronicle has its take o­n the case in which Apple wants to force a blogger to reveal his source for a story about o­ne of its upcoming products and even quotes someone with a clue: "Under the First Amendment of the Constitution, I would be hard-pressed to find any distinction between bloggers and journalists," said Paul Grabowicz, director of the New Media program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. But, he added, "There are some potentially really bad things that could come without any distinction. Principal among them is, if there is no distinction, things like shield laws that protect journalists go away, because they apply to everybody else." Others differ: "Bloggers may very well be entitled to protection as long as they are performing some editorial judgment, as I think most bloggers do," said Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, which may file a brief o­n behalf of the bloggers if the case goes to an appellate court. "There needs to be an editorial screen or filter, an exercise of editorial judgment involved in the decision to publish information," Scheer said. "For example, a site that's effectively a bulletin board, o­n which anyone can publish or post documents at any time -- and that's all that happens in that site -- may not be entitled to special protection." Ironically, the telecom law passed by Congress in the 90s extends special protection to bulletin board functions (though not to those who post o­n them).

ARE COMICS ARTISTS JOURNALISTS? Maybe.

GREEN DAY AWAKENS SCHOOLBOY FROM A COMA: After two weeks o­n life support, American Idiot does the trick. If o­nly Morrissey had known...

SOLOMON BURKE gets by with a little help from his friends, including Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello.

WHAT IS FOOD? According to the European Union, chewing gum is food; an apple o­n the tree is not. Go figure.

IS MILK GOOD FOR YOUR BONES? Not particularly, says a new study, which is attacked by the National Dairy Council as conducted by a strongly pro-vegetarian group that advocates elimination of all animal products, including milk, from the diet.

IT'S VIRUS SEASON for digital devices: Commwarrior propagates through cellphones; A family of worms propagates over instant messaging services, especially MSN.

JOURNO SHOT BY U.S. TROOPS: Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for the Italian communist newspaper Il Manifesto, has claimed that U.S. troops fired between 300 and 400 bullets at her car. That car has been recovered and shown o­n Italian television. The Associated Press has these two photos of the car. So why are there only a handful of bullet holes? There is at least o­ne investigation into this shooting incident; it should be done, as the shooting could be improper without firing 300 or 400 shots. But I suspect it will be concluded fairly quickly.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN became a warrior for campaign finance reform after he was ensnared in the Keating Five scandal. But now questions are being raised about assistance he gave to Cablevision in 2003 and 2004, which was sandwiched around two donations of $100,000 each from Cablevision to The Reform Institute, the tax-exempt group that touts McCain's views and has showcased him at events since his 2000 presidential campaign. ''If it was a PAC [political action committee] or if it was somehow connected to any campaign of mine, I would say to you, that's a legitimate appearance of conflict of interest. But it's not," McCain responded. ''There's not a conflict of interest when you're involved in an organization that is nonpartisan, nonprofit, nonpolitical." However, with the generally McCain-friendly New York Times reporting that the Reform Institute "may look like the headquarters of a nascent McCain presidential bid in 2008," the questions may linger.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

A JOHN-AND-YOKO "BED-IN" is among the videos you can see at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "1960s a GoGo" page. ALSO: It appears that Yoko has sanctioned a John Lennon Museum.

MEMO TO PHIL SPECTOR: There is a reason why you have the right to remain silent.

SWEET HOME JAMAICA: Bob Marley is given a retrospective in the new Rolling Stone.

LIMP BIZKIT'S FRED DURST has filed an 80 million dollar lawsuit against web sites that posted the footage and stills from the singer's X-rated romp with a former girlfriend. Gawker, the main blog of the lead defendant Gawker Media, responds in typical Gawker fashion.

KATHLEEN EDWARDS: The alt-country singer/songwriter, fresh off a third appearance o­n Late Night with David Letterman, is interviewed by Canada's National Post. You can hear streams from her new disc Back to Me, at her web site.

ROYALTIES BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT: The Cleveland Plain Dealer recounts a tale of royalties, lawsuits and Meatloaf.

JOHNNY DEPP AND JOHN CUSACK attended the memorial services for Hunter S. Thompson.

HAMSTER HOME ALONE prompted a police raid in Berlin.

CATS: Image-recognition software is being used to stop Flo the cat from entering her house with a dead animal in her mouth. ALSO: A Madison, Wisconsin firefighter wants a law legalizing the hunting of stray cats. And I don't think he means Brian Setzer, either.

DOGS: The web site promoting the British comedy Gone to the Dogs features an o­nline quiz, "What Kind of Dog Are You?" It turns out I am a Dogue de Bordeaux, the breed featured in Turner and Hooch.

REAL INTERACTIVITY: Acts of Volition blogs that the interactivity of the internet goes far beyond the computer. Hey, the 2003 Claude Pate reunion and the very existence of this site prove the point.

PRESIDENT BUSH'S MOVIE WATCHING prompted him to meet with Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero depicted in Hotel Rwanda. Mr. Rusesabagina said that Mr. Bush was well briefed about what happened at the hotel; the two also talked about the mass killings in the Darfur region of Sudan, which the United States has labeled genocide.

MONTY PYTHON AND FOREIGN POLICY: Gerard Baker wites a column for the Times of London looking at U.S. foreign policy as filtered through Monty Python's Life of Brian.

A TINY BIT OF HISTORY is amde when fishbowl DC becomes the first blog admitted to the daily White House "press gaggle."

SATURDAY NIGHT LOOKS GOOD TO ME is a band from Ann Arbor that's going to be playing Chicago and SXSW. The band's site has some downloads that are very groovy, very Fauxtown in a late Jam sort of way, but with a cute lead singer anmed Betty Marie West.

A GIRL CALLED EDDY, in contrast, is cool chanteusery in a Dusty Springfield, Burt Bacharach sort of way. A Flash-based site allows you to listen to song snippets o­n a virtual turn table -- you drag a tone arm to the track you want to hear.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK is profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle, with a focus o­n Spooked, his collaboration with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.

JOURNO SHOT BY U.S. TROOPS: The Moderate Voice has collected a boatload of links updating and reacting to the shooting incident that killed an Italian intel officer and wounded Giuliana Sgrena, a journalist being freed from the captivity of insurgents. I noted that the reporting of this story has shown some inconsistencies. CNN reprints Sgrena's story for her newspaper, the communist Il Manifesto. In this version of the story, Sgrena writes that the driver almost lost control of the car while trying to avoid puddles shortly before the shooting -- a detail not reported previously. Sgrena's article is also pretty revealing about her opinion of the war and the opinion of residents of Fallujah about her. Corriere Della Serra, an Italian newspaper described by the Guardian's media guide as a "centre-right daily that is critical of the country's current prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is raising a number of questions about Sgrena's story, including, "Are we really to believe Giuliana Sgrena when she says that she personally picked 'handfuls of bullets' off the seat, but that, in this premeditated rain of fire from an armored vehicle against an automobile with no armor plating, only one passenger actually died?" It also looks like what we have here is Italy's failure to communicate, based o­n reporting from the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the politics of which are not identified by the Guardian's media guide, but which has been described as centrist by the BBC. It's possible that the trajectory of this story is being affected by the fact that Italy has elections next month. All the more reason to see what an investiagtion of the shooting discloses.

CULT OF THE iPod: Alexander Payne (not the film director, afaik) blogs about flirting through iTunes. The Washington Post rounds up a few gadgets to help mximize the hidden benefits of the iPod, including Bose's SoundDock, which my friend Shahin enjoys very much. And Associated Press reporter David Bauder believes his iPod is taunting him like a Greek chorus.

STEROIDS IN BASEBALL: There are plenty of links, plus commentary at Only Baseball Matters. Imho (and I claim no expertise), the commentary is dead o­n about used car salesman Bud Selig, but probably goes a bit easy o­n Barry Bonds.

THE TABLOIDIZATION OF SCIENCE: Iain Murray looks at a disturbing trend among science journals to chase headlines at the expense of the sort of nuance o­ne expects from a scientific journal reporting medical studies. Although this article is published at National Review Online, o­nly o­ne of Murray's objections has to do with politics.

ANTI-MUSLIM BIAS IN EUROPE: The BBC reports o­n a study by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights that looks at "widespread" negative attitudes towards Muslims, including unbalanced media reporting which depict Muslims as "an enemy within." The main example used in the article -- the French ban o­n wearing head scarves in school -- may not be the best of examples: it appears that the hijab is a traditional, not religious head cover that dates back to ancient civilizations, and is not supported or advocated by the Quran.

THIS AIN'T NO MUDD CLUB, NO CBGB: New York's legendary rock club CBGB, which helped launch everybody from Blondie to the Ramones, faces closure if it does not resolve a dispute over unpaid rent with the homeless charity that owns the building.

KYRGYZSTAN: Regular readers of this site probably thought I was joking when I noted a growing democracy movement in the former Soviet Republic, but things are heating up there quickly after alleged violations of the election law in the first round of the parliamentary elections.

SUFFRAGETTE CITY: Women are protesting for the right to vote in Kuwait.

WONKETTE: Ana Marie Cox, the DC-base gossipblogger (who is even less family-friendly than I am) models for the Lucky magalog.

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Monday, March 07, 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

BOB DYLAN AND JOHNNY CASH: The infamous Trademark of Quality (TMQ) bootlegs of the duo's 1969 Nashville sessions have surfaced at Between thought And Expression. IIRC, they're quite good.

AND THE BEAT GOES o­n: Sonny's heirs and Cher are suing Warner/Chappell Music Inc. for breach of contract o­n claims that it failed to pay royalties estimated at more than 250,000 bucks.

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS: Patterson Hood answers the eternal question, Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers Band? It's like a Southern echo of Diner.

ARE YOU A YANKEE OR A REBEL? Take a language test to find out. There are more than a few midwesternisms in there, too.

THE FIFTH LARGEST U.S. TV NETWORK is Wal-Mart.

CATS AND DOGS: A cat named Cuddle Bug rode for ten miles o­n the roof of its owner's car without giving up o­ne of its lives.

MORE IMPROPER TEACHER-STUDENT RELATIONS, this time with a twist: music teacher Carol Boynton is accused of being involved with an 11-year-old former student and the boy’s father at the same time.

BILL CLINTON has been making bizzare remarks about Iran lately. At a meeting near the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a few weeks ago, he said: "Iran today is, in a sense, the o­nly country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority." A transcript and MP3 audio are available online. He also told Charlie Rose that Iran is the o­nly country "where the liberals, or the progressives, have won two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote in six elections." Maybe former President Clinton was too busy to notive that even the European Union criticized the 2004 elections in Iran, stating that they had not been held according to international standards after the Mullahs disqualified around 2,500 reformist candidates. But he should know that in 1997, only 4 out of 238 reform candidates were approved by the Mullahs. Some of the candidates who won those elections were marginally better than the Mullahs themselves but this is a case where it very much depends o­n what the definition of "liberal" and "progressive" is.

IRAN VOWS TO MAKE NUCLEAR FUEL if the issue is sent to the U.N. Security Council.

"FROZEN DEAD GUY" FESTIVAL in Boulder, Colorado, March 11-13. I guess it's the Rockies' answer to Burning Man.

JAPANESE CARS dominate the latest annual "Best Cars" issue of Consumer Reports magazine, which hits newsstands next week.

HUNTER S. THOMPSON: The circumstances of his suicide is attracting conspiracy theories.

MUSIC BLOGS: The Village Voice profiles Fluxblog and links to a couple of others. Claude Pate fans cannot help but enjoy a blog named One Louder. And Pitchfork (to which I often link here) should be amused by the reviews of its reviews o­n a blog named Tuning Fork.

BEN LEE (who Ken King and I enjoyed when he opened for some band we saw last year) has started his own blog. Plenty of his photos there.

PHIL SPECTOR: the Wall of Sound producer facing a murder rap may be married by the time you read this.

MARK KNOPFLER is all about "the now" after a near-fatal accident left him with a broken collarbone and six broken ribs.

CULT OF THE iPod: I have been assimilated. I am now a pod person. You probably knew that already. But now I have an iPod also.

PODCASTING: Downloadable content continues to diversify, from special commentaries for the new version of Battlestar Galactica to cyber-sermons for Christians, Buddhists and Pagans, to reformist podcasting from Iran.

DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! A couple is nearly killed by a chimpanzee attack at an animal sanctuary.

US. TROOPS FIRE ON FREED JOURNO: An Italian journalist shot by U.S. forces in Iraq shortly after being freed from her captors disputes a U.S. account of the incident in which she was wounded and a security agent protecting her was killed. The shooting warrants investigation. However, the CNN story is a bit vague o­n some details reported elsewhere. For example, the CNN story says Giuliana Sgrena described a "rain of fire and bullets" in the incident. The Observer, in contrast, reports that Sgrena claimed the troops fired between 300 and 400 bullets at if from an armoured vehicle. The BBC has her claiming she was fired on by tanks, destroying the car -- a version that would do away with questions of producing a bullet-riddled car as evidence. Plus, in the BBC interview, Sgrena rightly admits that she cannot say whether the shooting was deliberate. The CNN story refers to Sgrena's newspaper as the "left-leaning Il Manifesto." In contrast, the Associated Press refers to the paper as communist. Moreover, the AP story quotes Sgrena's father as saying she "hates the war," so her opinion that her driver was not going too fast for the situation might be biased. Italy seems to be assuming that there are guilty soldiers to be punished; imho, having an investigation and, if warranted, a trial first would be better.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer is now painting with his own blood for the cover of a free literary magazine.

EX-KORN AXE MAN, who left the band for religious reasons, was baptized Saturday in the Jordan River. Seems serious to me.

IRAQI DEMOCRACY UPDATE: Those who thought that a strong showing by the Shi'a in the election might foster a theocracy should note that the Shiite coalition is showing some cracks. ALSO: Iraqis are beginning to publicly protest the so-called "insurgents," suggesting that there is less fear of them since the election.

IRAQI EXPLOSIVE DEVICE fails due to a cellphone glich. A cool picture at the link also.

...AND I FEEL SO BOHEMIAN LIKE YOU, Olsen twins.

JACKO JUSTICE: Jay Leno fell under the court's gag order when he was put o­n Jacko's witness list, so Brad Garrett will step in to tell them o­n The Tonight Show.

WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR'S RACE UPDATE: The recount challenge drags o­n, with Democrats poking holes in the GOP's list of allegedly illegal voters. But that list still seems kinda long, so it's not over yet.

TERROR IN THE NETHERLANDS: The Dutch government approved a new terrorism bill Friday that grants law-enforcement authorities far-reaching powers of investigation and allowing them to hold suspects for up to two weeks without charges. The proposal was spurred by the Nov. 2 killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, whose throat was slit allegedly by a young Muslim radical who associated with a suspected terrorist cell (as has been noted here before).

DEMOCRATIC DIAGNOSIS: Matthew Yglesias, blogging for The American Prospect, questions the DNC's creation of a Vice-Chair for Veteran and Military Family Outreach and looks at the latest Democracy Corps poll (which is run by Clinton alums Stanley Greenburg and James Carville). The New York Times holds a roundtable o­n liberalism with Peter Beinart, the editor of The New Republic; Michael Tomasky, the executive editor of The American Prospect; and Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation.

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