I am now one of the pod people

Yeah, I got one for Christmas. I am now the proud owner of a 60 gb video iPod. My wife, my father and my step-mom went thirds on it. I must have been very good this year.

After watching me run around buying an auto power adapter, cassette adapter, protective case and slightly nicer headphones, my step-mom has dubbed it “the gift that keeps on taking.” Wait until she finds out that I am going to upgrade the speakers in my car… which is ironic, considering that the car cost me $100.

All of this means, of course, that I can finally participate in the Norbizness weekly coolness audit. I have to forewarn you, though. I am an insufferable music snob. You have been warned.

1. ‘Sugar Free Jazz (Jazz Free Sucrose Jungle Dub Remix)’ – Soul Coughing: I don’t know who remixed this for Soul Coughing, or if they remixed it themselves. Very cool adaptation of an already fairly cool song- white guy hip-hop that is MUCH better than it sounds on paper, due in no small part to the amazing word-play of singer Mike Doughty and the ‘snare drum of desperation’ as played by Yuval Gabay. While this track does not showcase their Krispy Kreme rattle and thump, what with it being a remix and all, it does stand in very nicely as a trancey bit of jungle. I’d dance to it. (8/10)

2. ‘Apocryphal Son Lying’ – The Unpersons: Noise rock from the fetid student apartments and bongwater-soaked couches arrayed around the Savannah College of Art and Design. Very screamy, perfect revenge for neighbors who fight in the afternoon. I was sort of assigned this by the singer in my band, and I must say, I respect it for its purity of vision, but it’s not my cup of vitriol. Probably, it’s cooler than I am. (5/10)

3. ‘Rude Boy Train’ – Desmond Dekker: Who would have thought that Desmond Dekker and the other pioneers of ska would see their music become the private obsession of post-college band-geeks and post-skinhead guys who never really dug Skrewdriver all that much? I blame Madness, but I don’t think they deserve to burn in hell for it. I reserve said roasting for the fucking Bosstones. Argh. There, I said it. Desmond Dekker is the King of the original Rock Steady Ska, and this is a great song. (9/10)

4. ‘Masikit’ – Meatjack: More noise rock, and more homework from the band. Meatjack is from Baltimore and are fairly experimental. I don’t know if I would compare them to anyone so much as the Melvins or Eye Hate God. Even those aren’t terribly fair comparisons. I would go see Meatjack, and would love to tour with them, though I don’t know where they would fall on the coolness continuum. They score higher than the Unpersons simply because they are somewhat more listenable. (6/10)

5. ‘Moon Sammy’ – Soul Coughing: I really dig this band, and yet, here again is a track that doesn’t stand out as the perfect track to represent them at their best. Doughty’s wor(l)d-play is in good form here, and the song breezes along on a catchy and sunny upright bass hook and Yuval Gabay’s immaculately recorded (and played) kit, but it’s not the purple-Kool-Aid-Queasy wallop of ‘Super Bonbon’ or the 11 am she-left-for-work-and-I-didn’t pensive idle of “True Dreams of Wichita.’ (6/10)

6. ‘Get My Party On’ – Shaggy: Well, declare yourself a music snob, be prepared to be shamed by the fickle Party Shuffle finger of fate. A second rate attempt at a dancehall single by the sort of performer only people who “don’t really dig dancehall” really do dig. Where did this come from? (2/10)

7. ‘Blueberry Hill’ – Fats Domino: Boilerplate soul nostalgia. Everyone knows this song, and it’s not bad, but there’s better stuff in Fats’ own catalog. Right down the middle, I think. Not bad, but not a barn burner. (5/10)

8. ’68’ – Jawbox: Another song that doesn’t really show what alt-rock heroes were the mighty Jawbox. There’s some really flash and tricky drumming from one of the finest drummers of the post-Seattle underground rock scene, but the rest of the band seems content to turn in a kind of sleepy performance. When these guys were on fire, say when I saw them perform ‘Savory’ once in NYC, it could make your hair catch on fire. They should have been so much bigger than that sorry slack-jawed orangutan in Dinosaur, Jr. (6/10)

9. ‘Can’t Get Enough of Your Love’ – Barry White: I was prepared to say exactly the same thing about this as I did about ‘Blueberry Hill,’ but while it’s playing on the ‘pod right now, I realize… this song is one sexy muthafucka, despite all the hype around it. That and, well…. it has MORE COWBELL. (8/10)

10. ‘Ghetto Scandalous [feat. Amu & KB]’ – Zola: Remember what I said about being an insufferable music snob? It’s because I know you’re reading the title of this track and thinking “Jesus, what’s he on about, now? Who the fuck is ‘Zola?'” Zola was, at the time of this downloading, anyway, the king of Kwaito. Kwaito is hip-hop from South Africa, and while I dove DEEP into it after reading a story in the WaPo about the rap scene in Soweto, I must admit, however, that while I found some kwaito kinda compelling, I had one of those Sasha-tells-the-truth-about-how-he-feels-about-Fela moments, and I thought, most of this stuff isn’t that great. Not moving my pendulum, as it were. And this track? dead boring. There, I said that, too. (2/10)

Hm… 5.7 out of a possible 10. One Al Green song or something from ‘What’s Going On?’ could have popped this up over 7, but that’s the luck of the draw, I guess.

More like Nixon Every Day

So… just foreign telephone intercepts, y’say? Just bombers of weddings and commuter trains?

Despite all the news accounts and punditry since the New York Times published its Dec. 16 bombshell about the National Security Agency’s domestic spying, the media coverage has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq.

That spying had nothing to do with protecting the United States from a terrorist attack. The entire purpose of the NSA surveillance was to help the White House gain leverage, by whatever means possible, for a resolution in the U.N. Security Council to green light an invasion. When that surveillance was exposed nearly three years ago, the mainstream U.S. media winked at Bush’s illegal use of the NSA for his Iraq invasion agenda.

Um… aheh… yeah, well then there’s that, right?

“As part of its battle to win votes in favor of war against Iraq,” the Observer had reported on March 2, 2003, the U.S. government developed an “aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the e-mails of U.N. delegates.” The smoking gun was “a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency — the U.S. body which intercepts communications around the world — and circulated to both senior agents in his organization and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency.” The friendly agency was Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters.

Back in March? of 2003!??! Why are US media outlets sleeping on this story? How much grass has to grow under their feet before they’re just lawn jockeys for the White House?

These sound an awful lot like impeachable offenses to me.

Contract workers fucking it up for everyone

Two big stories in the news this week where contract workers were used in place of Union workers and/or career employees, and promptly fucked things up royally.

First, we have the explosive decompression of an airplane, and the terrifying flight back to the airport while the passengers wore those drop-down plastic masks. Sweating, praying and pants-wetting all around, I am sure. The cause of the hole in the fuselage? Scab workers ran into it with a forklift.

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said baggage handlers had bumped the plane’s fuselage with loading equipment and caused “a crease” in the side of the aircraft. The handlers are contract workers hired to replace unionized workers in May.

About 20 minutes after takeoff, the crease blew into a 1-foot-by-6-inch hole, said Jim Struhsaker, an NTSB senior air-safety investigator.

Good thing those awful union workers weren’t around to slow things down with their silly “procedures” and “policies.”

Additionally, some private company was kind enough to provide the Red Cross with some contract workers who promptly milked the system for cash meant for Katrina victims.

This is what happens when the race for the bottom line throws out people who know their jobs and replaces them with people who will work on the cheap. You get what you pay for.

I had a long discussion on the train last night with someone who was downing transit workers for striking to protect their pensions. Look, you pay people in the public sector crap wages in exchange for good pensions and decent benefits. That’s the trade-off. Going back on that deal as these folks approach retirement is dishonorable and cheap. If they strike and they are fired for striking, then replaced with scab labor, well, you get what you pay for. Do you really want some guy who the temp agency provided driving your train?

A Festive Pressure’s Off-mas to you all!

Hope everyone is enjoying Pressure’s Off-mas.

Somehow our P.O. holiday has been postponed in favor of ten hours of driving today.

Watching this space for the usual content will probably not avail you of much of interest today.

Huzzahs to the gang at The Alternate Brain for blogging at their usual pace despite the pressing responsibilities of leftovers and other holiday distractions.

Fixer in particular has a fantastic essay up that defies short and/or pithy description.

Well. Out to the car and after, the highway.

More from Northern Virginia when we get there.

Hey, Happy Christmas, everyone.

Mrs. Dog and I are dashing around seeing family and old friends here on Christmas Eve, so you probably won’t hear from me again until Pressure’s Off-mas starts on the 26th.

Here’s hoping everyone has safe travels and good cheer for the holidays.

Best,

-patrick

Hey Mister…

Fucking Ted Stevens…. this guy would pimp his sister to Big Oil for a little piece of the action. He’s been trying to get some sort of three way going between the federal government, Exxon and ANWR for what, now, twelve years?

Well, with all due respect: fuck you, Senator. Again.

Slouching towards Washington

The monster that is Jack Abramoff’s knife in Tom DeLay’s back is coming up the stairs to Little Tommy’s bedroom. Pull the covers up tight, Little Tommy! He’s gonna getcha!!

At the same time, prosecutors in Washington have been sifting through evidence of what they believe is a corruption scheme involving at least a dozen lawmakers and their former staff members, many of whom worked closely on legislation with Mr. Abramoff and accepted gifts and favors from him. Although Mr. Abramoff is also in negotiations in that case, it is unclear whether a settlement can be reached in time for both agreements to be announced at once.

Man. I bet Tom DeLay’s soaking up a quart of gin a night just so he can close his eyes and recharge his batteries for another day of nervously pacing the floors of his office and screaming at his staff.

My grandmother used to say “Lay down with dogs, get covered in fleas.”

Bow wow, motherfuckers.

The emerging threat

The NYPD apparently feel like there’s a connection between protesting bike messengers and the rise of militant islam. Or something.

It’s apparently important enough to infiltrate their organization, then stage a mock arrest (!?) of one of their agents provocateurs to get everyone stirred up.

Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.

Well, clearly, since it was the RNC, y’know, uh… law and order, y’know….

Can anyone come up with some reason to do this other than a replay of Cointelpro?

COINTELPRO used a broad array of methods, including:
1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
2. Psychological warfare from the outside: The FBI and police used myriad other “dirty tricks” to undermine these movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.
3. Harassment through the legal system: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.
4. Break-ins: The FBI conducted “black bag” jobs against the targeted groups and their members.[5]
Extralegal force and violence: The FBI instigated violence, and its paid informants carried out assaults, beatings, and, in one case, a murder.

Infiltration and harassment of (1st Amendment protected!) protest groups are just one more reason to suspect the motives of a government hell-bent on suspending constitutional protections in the interest of “security.” It looks a lot more like “stifling of dissent” to me.

Credit Where Credit is Due

It seems that in his short blogging career, my dearest Twin Brother has created an internet phenomenon, referred to as “Trexxing.”

The term is based on his nomme de guerrre, TRex, and it seems to have caught on over at firedoglake and it works like this-

If you have a weblog and you are having trouble with a troll, you simply log into your comments management and change the text of their message to something less annoying.

For example, a troll comment like the following:

I honestly think that you’d rather believe ANYONE than any person associated with this country, you moonbat.

Yeah, I’ll call the majority of the muslim world (which is a geographical area, not a RACE) savage. Almost all armed conflict in the world involves 2 or more islamic factions. They mutilate and savagely treat their women. They think it is a golden key to heaven to take Jews out on the way. You can argue all you want that this doesn’t represent the mainstream, but you’re obviously not reading Saudi news, are you?
-Luvitrleavit#1!!!

can be simply modified to read:

I have no idea what the fuck I am talking about, but I know I don’t like the look of those swarthy brown people over there and I am not afraid to make racist blanket statements about all of them. They are different and therefore bad.

Your failure to sign on to fearless Leader’s Jolly Little War confuses and angers me.

I am off my meds.

Ook ook.

-Luvitrleavit#1!!!

Mission Accomplished. Aheh.

If you find yourself being trolled, you should try it. It’s a great stress reliever.