Fair Weather Representation

Yesterday afternoon, it was still above 20˚C. Last night, there was a huge thunderstorm. This morning? Snow. The sun comes back tomorrow. Truly, this is a town where Strange Things Happen.

I have finished my tax returns, and I've come to the inescapable conclusion that the Treasury of the United States owes me $375. Excellent. The state only owes me $10, so I've decided to donate that to the State Wildlife Fund, rather than hassling them for a $10 cheque. Incidentally, on the federal tax forms, you can make a donation to offset the public debt, which places a lot of faith in people's altruism: "Why sure! I'll give $100! Let's see, $10 trillion minus $100 is...hang on, perhaps I'll keep it and buy some DVDs instead."

currently playing: Bob Dylan - Sara

Welcome To The Haçienda

I’ve never really understood the concept of rave culture; surely it’s just a bunch of people dancing to some records that a DJ is playing in the distance. This is normally called a disco.


It's just gone 3am. This is the second party you've attended tonight. The directions were given to the group in a confused mess of broken English and French. We're miles away from the campus, somewhere off the interstate. There's over 100 people packed into the house. You've been dancing non-stop for the past two hours. You want to fall down and die. The DJ plays another song. A wave of euphoria envelopes the crowd.

As you begin the third hour, you finally understand.

currently playing: New Order - Mr. Disco

Why The Internet Scares Me


If I'm Eliza, Is Sona Pickering?

The trouble with not drinking very often is that when you do, you tend to find yourself becoming drunk rather quickly. On the other hand, I’m fairly sure that the bartender put the equivalent of four shots in each drink, so I might not have completely let my country down with respect to the drinking situation.

Sona and Rishi have decided to make me their project for the last few weeks I'm here in America. They're breaking me in easily, so far, but I sense bigger things are on the way, especially when Rishi remembers that it's my birthday shortly...

A follow-up to yesterday: still thinking about dropping Global Frequency, but this is really cool. (link nabbed from the debonair Brem X Jones )

This pile of marking sadly is resisting my attempts to make it disappear by giving it stern glances, so I suppose I'll have to get started shortly...

"By George, I think she's got it!"


currently playing: Saint Etienne - Amateur

Get Off My Land!

This makes sense: the UN won’t be allowed to run Iraq once the the Allies finish the liberation, but they will be able to contribute to the running costs. That sounds fair.

Hmm. I seem to be turning into a warblogger. This must stop, before I start to recognise the man who cleans the webcam in Baghdad for Reuters. That must be a fulfilling job. "Bill? The camera's dirty. Get up there and give it a wipe." "But it's been eight hours since the BBC showed the B-52s taking off from Fairford!" "Bill, do you know how many thousands of people are watching, waiting to see if the Americans hit the bus station? Will you disappoint them? Or will you rise above the risk, and maintain our journalistic integrity? For Reuters, Bill! For Reuters!"

I'm sure the universe was laughing at me today; I scrambled around town trying to find a working cash machine, got on the bus to RTP instead of Southpoint, and forgot to go to the one shop in the mall that I went there for in the first place. Bah.

I still haven't decided whether Ellis's decision to write issue #6 of Global Frequency as an extended version of a BBC trailer is a mark of genius or a further example of how this series has failed to live up to expectations. Nice cover, though.

currently playing: Lush - Etheriel

Well, That's Strange

I remember posting an entry here earlier today, but it appears that it never arrived. Hmm.

Courtesy of the United States Navy: How To Jam GPS Signals. And Phrack even has circuit diagrams. Build exciting illegal weapons! Wonder whether Iraq has an extensive chain of Radio Shacks just waiting to be hit by precise Tomahawk missiles!

I didn't update yesterday mainly because I couldn't summon up the effort to talk about the Oscars; even with Michael Moore's antics, it was easily the dullest ceremony I've seen for years. A helpful note to the producers for next time: when the show is starting to drag, it's not a good idea to stop the show dead to introduce us to 50-odd past Oscar winners. In fact, it's a really bad one. I was almost asleep, and I was in a decent time-zone this time.

He's probably not reading this, but I imagine it'll get back to him somehow: well done to Aaron for doing well at school this year. Keep up the good work!

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Burn, Don’t Freeze

I'll Be Your Taxloss Lover From Liverpool

The US Tax system is like a fractal; it looks rather simple from a high-level, but as soon as you start looking at the details, it becomes an infinitely-complicated, self-replicating monster. I prefer the British version where the Inland Revenue takes the proper amount out of your paycheque each month. Much simpler, and I don’t have to worry whether I can take the standard deduction, or if my donation to a charity means I have to fill out form 1040NR instead of 1040NR-EZ. And why do students from India get all the tax breaks? Aren’t we supposed to be the ones with a special relationship with the US? Or is that relationship simply an understanding that we’re to be used as target practice…

I've given up on watching the war on television; US news channels annoy me to the point of wanting to put my fist through the screen. Simpering interviews with US/UK officials, reporting rumours as facts (the 51st division has surrendered! Oh hang on, maybe not. They've fired Scuds! Whoops. Our bad! US fired missiles into Iran! Wait, Iran's now saying that they were Iraqi? Gee, we're sorry), or showing us continual pictures from that camera in Baghdad, even when nothing is happening (Ooooh! I can see a lorry driving past. That's why I tuned in, naturally). The web news sites tend to be a little less hysterical.

Good to see that the Americans are believing in the Geneva Convention again...

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Shower Scene

Weapons of Mass Distraction

“Just one last question, Victoria Clarke. How is Two-Face these days?”

Cat Power, Cat's Cradle 21/03/2003

That was…different.

I've heard all the stories about Cat Power concerts. About her chronic stage-fright which can sometimes lead to her spending two hours trying to play a song on her guitar. But this tour was supposed to be different; she has a backing band to provide some stability, and she was apparently looking forward to this tour.

The first signs were rather ominous; the band didn't start playing until 23:30, because they were late getting into Carrboro. They open with 'Baby Doll'. It becomes clear that something is bothering Chan. At the end of the song, she complains that she doesn't think the sound is right (to be fair to her, the monitors at the Cradle do seem to be rather abysmal). The next three songs continue in a similar fashion, with Chan breaking off at the end of the songs to ask for more "whoomph" on her guitar, to turn her vocals up, or to fiddle with her amplifier. It's not going well.

And then the backing band guitarist's amplifier dies.

The rest of the band leaves the stage; Chan says that they'll be back later (they never reappear), and continues alone with her piano and guitar. This turns out to be a mistake. She falls to pieces. For the next hour and a half, she manages to stumble through some songs like 'Names', 'Knocking On Heaven's Door', and 'Evolution', but for the most part she only can play snatches of songs before losing her place, saying that the piano is "too tight and bright".

She seems to get increasingly desperate; she spends the whole show sitting on the edge of a piano stool, tipping the other end up at a distressingly high angle (I really did think that she was going to fall towards the end). She tries to tap out a tune on her guitar using the lead when she's waiting for Matt to attach her amplifier directly into the sound system. She apologises again and again, and does her best to continue. She plays the first song she ever wrote, called "Wizard of Oz', and then lays her head on the piano. She confesses that she doesn't know what she's doing, and that she'll play all night.

After a glance at the long-abandoned set list, she manages to play a few more songs. As it goes past 1am, it's quite tragic; despite having spent money on the concert, all you want is for someone to go onstage, put an arm around her, and say "Chan, you can stop. You don't have to carry on." Eventually, at about 1:30, the tour manager does this, coming into the wings to say that she only has time for one more song. She gets through one last performance on the guitar, says goodbye, and runs upstairs to the dressing room.

As I turned from the front of the stage, I see that the sold-out crowd has dwindled to just a few die-hard fans. Some of the backing band are talking to the remaining audience. It's almost 2am.

currently playing: Bob Dylan - Shelter From The Storm

While I'm Here...

I want to hold Ari Fleischer down and kick him repeatedly. That is all.

Oh, and can we stop with ‘shock-and-awe’, please? Why not call it by the more famous original name: Blitzkrieg…

Marine Cobra helicopter gunships firing Hellfire missiles swept in low from the south. Then the Marine howitzers, with a range of 30 kilometres, opened a sustained barrage over the next eight hours. They were supported by U.S. Navy aircraft, which dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm, a U.S. officer told the Herald.
There are rumours that one of those new MOABs was used in Baghdad. That’s 25,000 tons of TNT. Funnily enough, thats roughly the equivalent power of the bomb dropped in Hiroshima…

We just lost the BBC Iraqi TV feed….