Archive for March, 2004

Moldy meatless chicken and Max Headroom hijackers

Mar 22, 2004 in Pop Culture

Yahoo! News - Maybe it tastes like chicken, but activists aren’t buying it

By way of Fark, the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune comes this article about Quorn, a fungus-based meat substitute that’s popular in Europe and America. When I read the quote in the Fark headline about “dangerous vat-grown ‘vomit burgers’ that are sickening many consumers,” my first reaction was: “Hey, I’m vegetarian. This doesn’t concern me…”

Quorn makes meatless chicken nuggets out of pure mycoprotein, which is derived from the fungus Fusarium venenatum. The mycoprotein gives it a sponginess and texture similar to chicken, and that meat-like quality is much sought after by ex-meat eating vegetarians.

But one anti-food whacko insists that it’s making people sick. This is the same guy who is responsible for the warning labels on Olestra, and the new warning labels about trans-fats.

I was at the supermarket tonight, eying the box of Quorn meatless nuggets suspiciously. I think ‘ve tried them once, but I can’t remember how they taste. Frankly, I think the soy-based fake chicken products are just fine. Processed chicken is an easy food to fake.

Also, for your reading pleasure is a link from a fantastic site, On November 22, 1987, a group of “video terrorists” hacked into the signals of two Chicago area TV stations. This 90 second clip from TV Party is from the Chicago PBS affiliate, where the hooligans pulled off a bizzare Max Headroom impression, topped off with a bare-bottom flyswatter spanking. This is a rare and fascinating piece of guerilla performance art indeed.

Also on this site are clips from other TV incidents, including a suprise protest on CBS Evening News, Arsenio’s argument with a gay-activist audience member, and a censored Robert Smigel cartoon from SNL.

My psych-nurse friend calls it OCD…

Mar 20, 2004 in Personal

Lately I’ve been contemplating the idea of starting a web hosting business. Running my own websites has become a fulfilling hobby, and the money I’ve been making from affiliate programs is pretty nice. I’m intrigued by the challenge of running a home business, and I’m confident that I have the technical skills and experience to do it. The start-up costs are low enough for me to be able to finance the business myself.

But, the webhosting market is quite crowded, and it would take a lot of work in the beginning, for little money. There’s always a chance of failure. I’m working on a business plan and doing a lot of research, but I’m not rushing into this, if I even do it at all.

I have this tendency of taking intense interest in a subject (whether it be poker, blogging or webhosting) and then absorbing myself in learning as much as I can about it, to the (temporary) exclusion of everything else. (Thus the lack of updates in the last few days). This’ll go on for a while, and eventually I’ll lose interest in it altogether.

Spring Break is this coming week, and I have the next nine days with nothing to do. I should have enough money saved up now to buy a (cheap) car within the next week.

Because I was bored

Mar 16, 2004 in Humor

Just some of the more unusual search phrases that have led people to this site. This will also be the track list to my upcoming album of undetermined release date (probably never):

my room is big and simple (yeah, it is)
blog bdsm video
opposition my room
dennis wilson bootlegs (cuz we all know he’s the real talent in the family)
i suck my butler (???)
welcome to candy stations!
enormous foreskin
hare krishna tattoos
penguin atari gore

Is anyone else outraged besides me?

Mar 16, 2004 in Current Events

The Village Voice: Features: Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young: The Ambition Tax by Brendan I. Koerner

The lead article in the latest issue of Village Voice is the first in a series examining the effect of today’s economy on young people.

If you’re a college student, little of this will be new to you. But, as Koerner points out, hardly anyone is discussing the impact that student loan debt, credit card debt, and unattainable health insurance is having on today’s 18-34 year-olds.

“The system punishes the young who dare strive for something better. For those on the young side of 35, debt and its ripple effects have made upward mobility a fiction more often than not.

“Yet the presidential candidates seldom address the economic burdens of the young. Ask a candidate to outline his economic plans, and it’s all about Medicare, Social Security, slashing the deficit?important issues, to be sure, but of little consequence to the millions of Americans in their twenties and thirties who agonize every month over their avalanche of debt and diminishing prospects.”

Yes, Dean and Edwards did talk a little bit about student loans, but, of course, they’re no longer in the running.

In the related article, “The New Graduate” Natasha Degen refers to the popular book Quarter Life Crisis and an attempt to start a new organization for twenty-somethings, the NARG (National Association of Recent Grads). It’s intended to be an AARP for our generation.

I can’t help but think of all the attention paid to senior citizens and their needs (Medicare, SS, prescription drugs). While these concerns are important, it seems that politicians pay far more attention to the needs of seniors — doubtless because they are a powerful voting bloc — than to the needs of those of us who will be paying their Social Security checks.

Steve Albini came to my school…

Mar 16, 2004 in Music

… this past Friday, and I wrote it up for our student newspaper, MTSU Sidelines - Albini laments age of over-production..

For those of you who are not aware, Steve Albini is one of independent music’s most prolific recording engineers. He is best known for his work with bands such as Nirvana (In Utero), the Pixies (Surfer Rosa), PJ Harvey (Man Size), Helmet (Meantime) and over 1000 other bands.

Steve came to our university to speak to students in the recording industry program about engineering. For those of you who are interested in Steve’s views on the recording industry, and on engineering in general, here is the unedited story with unpublished material.

The Black and Blue Album

Mar 16, 2004 in Music

The latest salvo in the Jay-Z remix craze: Jay-Zeezer.

Some indie rocker decided to mash Jay-Z with the first Weezer album. Interesting concept, but the results don’t quite flow well together.

I’m still waiting for the Back in Black Album (Jay-Z and AC/DC). Now that would rock.

And at a mall record store, no less…

Mar 14, 2004 in Personal

Yesterday, when I was at the mall, I picked up a Peter Tosh box set, brand new, for only $2. (I didn’t notice it was on cassette until I got home. But that’s fine, since I have a cassette player. Guess that explains why it was a bargain.)

There are photos of him holding this bad-ass custom Stratocaster modified to resemble an AK-47. Wish I had a scanner.

While unwrapping one of the brand new cassettes, it reminded me of the thrill of holding a new cassette when I was younger. It’s something different, to have that small, rectangular box in your hand, as opposed to a 5″ CD case. I was reminiscing on the excitement of going to the mall and picking up some new music to hear (Ok, there were no hip record stores within 50 miles of my house then.)

It’s a step backward to realise that, for instance, you can’t just hit a button to skip a song. Instead of a digital push-button, you actually have to engage a mechanical process with the play button. It takes at least 7 seconds for the damn thing to start playing. And there’s a lot of fast-forward and rewinding.

Come to think of it, I don’t miss cassettes. Just the thrill that came with unwrapping a new piece of music. I’m so jaded now, especially considering that I can occasionally get my mitts on the hottest new indie releases days before most people get to hear them.

I just spent the last five hours writing a 1500-word news article on a lecturer that came to our school on Friday. (More on that later.) I just hope it’s not too damn long for publication.

Gratuitous Self-promotion #1

Mar 13, 2004 in Linkage

Review: Nellie McKay - Get Away From Me

Latest musical obsession: Serge Gainsbourg

Mar 13, 2004 in Music

Serge Gainsbourg was the dirty old man of French pop. A droll vocalist and lecherous lyricist, Gainsbourg was nonetheless one of the best French pop composers and an enormous influence on French music in general. Serge first came on the scene in the early 1960’s, pioneering a combination of French cabaret, jazz and exotica. He composed popular songs for vocalists such as Petula Clark, Frances Gall and Francoise Hardy, and achieved success with the ye-ye pop movement of the 60s.

In the late 60s, Serge became lovers with actress Brigette Bardot, and the pair dueted on his next two albums, Initials B.B. and Bonnie and Clyde. The relationship ended soon thereafter, and Serge then paired up with a young English actress named Jane Birkin.

Serge and Jane recorded the song Je t’aime… moi non plus, a sensually scandalous number featuring some passionate heavy breathing on Jane’s part. The song was originally recorded with Bardot, but due to her objections, that track was not released until years later. Je t’aime shot to number one on the French pop charts. The song was banned in Spain, Sweden, Britain and Italy, and even went as far as number 69 (ironically enough) on the US charts.

In the late 70s, it appears that Serge was inspired by listening to Bob Marley records. He traveled to Kingston, Jamaica and lined-up Marley’s own back-up group, the Wailers, to record two suprisingly decent reggae albums, Aux Armes et Caetera and Mauvaises Nouvelles des Etoiles. Aux Armes et Caetera featured a reggae version of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” which caused quite a scandal back home.

Serge performed many notable antics on live television in the 80s, such as sticking an long pink inflated balloon through his trousers, burning a 500 franc bill as a tax protest, and telling Whitney Houston “I’d like to fuck you” on stage. In 1985 he performed “Lemon Incest,” a notorious song featuring his 14-year-old daughter Charlotte on vocals. The music video featured a scantily-clad Serge and Charlotte in bed together performing the song.

Despite the fact that Serge is practically a cultural institution in France, he is virtually unknown here in the States, except as a cult figure. He died of a heart attack in 1991.

Songs in (to the right)

  • Initials B.B. (with Brigette Bardot)
  • Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus (1969, with Jane Birkin)
  • Aux Armes et Caetera (reggae French national anthem)

Why aren’t companies hiring?

Mar 12, 2004 in Current Events

Despite the fact that the economy is finally crawling out of it’s doldrums and poised to make a comeback, job creation is still remarkably sluggish. The Decembrist examines this phenomena in a startling and thought-provoking post: The Economy Summed Up: Pay Any Price, Bear Any Burden, to Avoid Creating Jobs

Mark Schmitt quotes Charlie Cook, a political campaign analyst who offers this quote from a California tech CEO:

“There is no amount of overtime that we will not pay, there is no level of temporary services that we will not use, there is no level of outsourcing or offshoring that we will not do, in order to prevent us from having to hire one new, permanent worker in the U.S.”

And why is this, you might ask? The consensus, according to Mark and the commenters to this post, is skyrocketing health care costs. The cost of employee benefits has gotten so high that it’s cheaper to resort to temp agencies and mandatory overtime than to pay health care benefits for a new employee.

Sounds like we’re back to cracking an old chestnut that is more systemic in nature than tax breaks and productivity increases can fix.