Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Crap. No time for blogging today. I spent all morning in court and all afternoon in a seminar about adequate criminal representation for the elderly and for people with disabilities. The seminar was ok, but there definitely wasn't an entire afternoon's worth of information in it (it could have lasted an hour and still conveyed all of the pertinent information). Oh well.

I hope everyone's doing well. Maybe the brevity of today's post will make up for my longwindedness yesterday.

Happy Fat Tuesday!!! Enjoy your bad self.

Monday, February 27, 2006

By the way, the White House is refusing to appoint a special counsel to investigate the NSA wiretap surveillance program? Consider me shocked...
Well, today is officially Pea Day! Happy birthday, Mandy Wilson!!!!
Congratulations on all of your succesful trips around the sun, and may your future hold many more adventures with happy endings!

The weekend was pretty nice. I hung out with the Wilsons and went to see The Matador on Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse. I was initially skeptical when going in to see this movie (I wanted to go see Good Night and Good Luck, so I threatened Crackbass with an ass kicking if The Matador turned out to be sucky), but upon the recommendation of Jackbart we went to see it, anyway, and it turned out to be pretty good. In short, The Matador is the story of an assassin who goes through something of a mid-life crisis while celebrating a birthday during a mission in Mexico City. The assassin (played by Pierce Brosnan) comes to realize that the life of a solitary killer has largely robbed his life of meaning, and in an act of semi-pathetic desperation, he reaches out to an American executive (played by Greg Kinnear) in the hopes of striking up a friendship. The movie isn't really great in any profound, literary way, but it develops into a good buddy movie that takes potentially stereotypical characters and fleshes them out with quirks and idiosyncracies that not only make them more believable as people, but which make you more interested in where the plot is headed. Anyway, I enjoyed The Matador. It was one of the only movies that I've seen in recent memory in which I actually felt like I sort of liked and related to the characters by the end of the movie. Not groundbreaking, but I recommend it.

After dinner we had a cocktail or two and hung out by the pond at Casa de Wilson.

Saturday.... I'm not sure where Saturday went. I had breakfast with the Wilsons after failing to wake up in time to have breakfast with Larry Lee (I felt like kind of a heel for that, but he went to breakfast early and I went to bed really late). So later (much later) I had breakfast with the Wilsons, watched a movie (Doom on DVD- note: this is a pretty awful movie. It's really not for amateurs), went to the store, played some videogames, took a nap, and ultimately went over to Camp Shaw to watch a bunch of Battlestar Galactica episodes.

I gotta say that B. G. is still a pretty darn good show. I know that there are naysayers out there who get tired of hearing about what they're missing, but it really is a good show. I read an interview with Katee Sackhoff (who plays Starbuck), and she said that she thinks the show has been popular because the writers approach the show as a drama first and as a work of science fiction second. I would have to agree with that assessment. The various Star Trek series always ended up recycling plotlines because they were caught in a science fiction mindset (how many ways we can we see time travel episodes rehashed, or omnipotent aliens placing humans in a trap in order to study them, etc.). Battlestar has managed to avoid a lot of that by having an ongoing, developing storyline which deals with universal human themes (security vs. freedom, religion vs. logic, legality vs. morality, the demonization of outsiders, etc.). Characters make mistakes on Battlestar and demonstrate flaws which take more than one episode to resolve.
Also, there are cool spaceships and lot of stuff gets blown up. Let's not kid ourselves. Space battles are cool.

Sunday I took Cassidy to the dog park, had band practice, and looked at some of my court cases that were set for trial for today (none of which ended up going to trial. Again.) I also watched a "documentary" on Google video called Loose Change (I watched the first edition before realizing that there was, in fact, a second edition which is already out). This video outlines a conspiracy theory surrounding 9/11 in which it is suggested that individuals within our own government plotted and executed a plan to hijack planes and attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The movie is the stuff of classic conspiracy theory- spouting out facts mixed with allegations and conjecture and implying connections between events where no solid evidence exists. Numerous quotes and events are depicted as fact, when in truth they seem largely open to speculation, interpretation, or differences of opinion), and some of the claims in the video just seem to be flat out wrong (one portion of the video contends that the only way to account for the pancake collapse of the Twin Towers is a controlled demolition using previously set charges, but I watched a documentary on National Geographic or the Discovery Channel not six months ago that explained, step by step, how the mechanical structure of the WTC's frame had failed after exposure to extreme heat and concussive force following the collision of the planes).
Anyway, I find the idea of a 9/11 conspiracy to be pretty far fetched, but I'm not going to rule it out completely. I am willing to say that I don't think Loose Change provides anything more than a lot of allegations, speculation, and inuendo. If anyone knows of a web site, book, or article which has done a critical analysis of the Loose Change documentary, I would like to see what someone else made of this film (preferably, I would like to see a review of the movie from someone who isn't already a "conspiracy nut" in order to see an objective, logical evaluation of the movie).

Well, I'm rambling terribly today. Hope everything is good. I gotta run. Check out Loose Change (or LC II) on the sites that I linked and let me know what you think of it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Last night was Mono E Practice. Here we see Weedo and Jim "Dizzy" Gillespie getting ready to get ready to rock down in the astrometrics lab at the Hop-A-Long Lounge... Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 24, 2006

This is what happens when you lock Cassidy up all day in the house. You get home and she's gotta stretch her legs out. She didn't want to come inside, so I tested out the high speed settings on the new camera.... Posted by Picasa

Zoom!!!!!  Posted by Picasa
Well, Crackbass has survived his lasik surgery and is apparently still able to see. This is good for Crackbass, but a gyp for me because it means that I won't be getting any of his comic books or DVDs. Stupid working corneas.
New Orleans is partying its way through its first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina. Although it's gotta seem kind of weird (parades can't be held in many of the old parade routes around the city due to the flood devastation and subsequent reconstruction efforts), I'm glad to see the town trying to raise itself back onto its feet (so that it can stagger away and throw up in some dumpster, no doubt). There has been debate about whether it's just too soon to hold a traditional Mardi Gras, but Steanso thinks that the celebration is a good thing. It'll give the city an economic boost, help return some semblance of normality, and reassure tourists that there are still good times to be had in the recovering city.
Although Steanso has visited New Orleans a number of times, he's never been to Mardi Gras. The city always seemed plenty chaotic and crazy during non-Mardi gras visits, so the idea of ramping up the revelry tenfold was a bit daunting. Nonetheless, I hope this Mardi Gras goes really well.
Well, it's Friday. I hope you kids have a good weekend. Everyone wish Mandy "The Pea" Wilson a happy birthday on Monday! She's a good hearted woman in love with a good timing man...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This may not be the most critical story of the day, but it bugs me. Apparently Austin, which has been ranked third in the nation in videogame design in the last few years, is losing its hold on the industry by way of increasing competition, the loss of some key players (including Microsoft Corp. and Acclaim Entertainment Inc.), and increased financial incentives in other cities which are luring videogame development firms away from Austin and into other places. The news that Austin is losing ground in videogame development bugs me because I see it as a tremendous opportunity which the city is allowing to slip away. The videogame industry was a $32.6 billion dollar industry last year (with game revenues already surpassing movie box office sales), and analysts are stating that those figures are predicted to double in the next 5 years.
Basically, the videogame industry is already huge, and I think it will continue to grow as games expand in complexity and depth, exploring subject matter that will draw in people who would have previously never though of themselves as gamers. I think the current gaming industry is somewhat akin to Hollywood during its golden age, and if Austin wants to remain a central player in this burgeoning industry, then we need to offer incentives and do all that we can in terms of encouraging gaming companies to come to Austin and remain here. The videogame industry seems a prefect fit for Austin (given the technical know-how and the creative energy of Austin's population), it's got the potential to be a big money maker, and it's a high tech industry which will have little (if any) enviromental impact on the city.
I've previously written about my belief that videogames will become the single most important form of mass media entertainment in the decades to come, so the possibility that Austin will lose out on that industry because of our failure to act now alarms me.
As I said, this isn't a life or death news matter, but I think it's important (and that it will soon be even more important), and I think that protecting this industry (through incentive plans or whatever) should be a priority for the mayor and the city council.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Well, when I first heard about protests over an Arab company gaining control over some U.S. ports, I was kind of annoyed because the whole thing seemed like a vaguely rascist, knee-jerk reaction to what seemed like a pretty commonplace business transaction. I mean, just because a company is Arab doesn't automatically mean that their motives should be suspect or that they are any less dedicated to running a safe and secure operation than any other group of people. But last night on The Newshour I watched an analyst who pointed out that Dubai Ports World (the company seeking to gain management control of ports in New York and New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Miami, Florida; and New Orleans, Louisiana) is actually a government-controlled subsidiary of The United Arab Emirates (the UAE). This means, in effect, that our government is going to be turning over some of our ports to be controlled by part of the government of another country (which seems like a big ol' potential conflict of interest- not to mention the fact that it kind of raises questions about why the U.S. is handing over control of our ports to other countries when these other countries are confident that they can turn a profit by managing them- are these other countries that much more efficient than us?) Then some other guy on The Newshour (I wish I had gotten the names of all of these guys, but I didn't) pointed out that the UAE, although generally considered an ally by the Bush administration, was the home country of two of the 9-11 hijackers, and that terrorist funding for the 9-11 hijackers and other terrorist operations have been traced to financial centers in Dubai, in The United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, the UAE was one of only a few countries to officially recognize the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan when that fundamentalist group was providing shelter for Al Qaeda during the '90's and the earlier portion of this decade. Also, critics maintain that the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist. To sum it up, the UAE may be allies, but their record is hardly spotless.

Anyway, I'm not saying that we should start bombing the UAE, but maybe we should exercise a little caution before we start handing over control of our ports to them. The White House has argued that even if the UAE were to be given managerial control over the ports, security operations would remain in U.S. hands and would not be compromised. Maybe I'm just dense, but it seems to me that granting managerial control of an operation to a foreign group has got to result in that group having increased opportunities to move people or materials in and out of the country (possibly surreptitiously) if they really wish to do so.

I'm still not exactly sure whether or not this whole port handover is a real problem, but I guess my real question is why the White House is so eager to seal this deal if there's even a potential likelihood of weakening our national security. I would guess that it's just a money issue, but for an administration which has tried to build its reputation on protecting the American people, it seems a foolish misstep to rush through this process without first allaying the concerns of the American people. In essence, Bush continues to claim that his greatest concern is the safety and welfare of our country, but once again his actions belie his words.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What a day. This morning was a hectic, chaotic, migraine-inducing mess in court. Believing that I would be in trial by this afternoon, I scarfed down a sandwhich for lunch over at the courthouse, but then the attorney for the defense showed up after lunch and said that he was feeling like he was coming down with the flu, so he asked for a continuance and the judge reset the case.
So now I'm not in trial, but I still feel like pretty worn out just from dealing with the morning docket. The ladies and I had 54 defendants on the docket this morning, which is by no means a record, although it's still a lot of cases to deal with (especially when the defendants and their attorneys all show up late because of bad weather).

It's good to see that the judges over at the U.S. Supreme Court are wasting no time in taking on the abortion issue now that they've got Alito and Roberts on the bench. Apparently their plan of attack is to be incremental- first examining the legality of partial birth abortions before (I suspect) moving on to tackle more fundamental, commonplace abortion rights. Hmmmmm...
Steanso isn't a big fan of abortion (I would guess that most people aren't, if given their druthers), but Steanso is in firm agreement with the ideas that women should have a right to do whatever they please with their bodies and that government shouldn't have the ability to contravene this right.
Ugggh. The abortion debate. I hate it and now it's back.

Not too much else to report. The weekend was good. Mono E and Crack both rocked. Game night was good. We played a game called "Loaded Question", and the answer to a surprising number of questions, as it turns out, is "Greg Wormley".

I'm reading V for Vendetta again in anticipation of the release of the movie. It's still a good book- a graphic novel chock full of anti-fascist sentiment, revolutionary adventure, and a hint of sci-fi. Check it out, because if the movie sucks, it'll be a shame if a bunch of people get scared away from the book.

Later, skaters.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Later that Fateful President's Day....

I put on my powdered wig this morning and went out and bought a digital camera and took this picture of Feral Andy at Crack practice while we were on a break from rockin'. Posted by Picasa

President's Day!

For all of my friends who are working non-government jobs, I just want to say.... HA!!!! I have the day off!!!!!
I will probably spend most of my day thinking about presidents and all of the stuff that presidents do. Maybe I'll dress up as a president and go give a "State of the Union" address somewhere (like at the Food Court at the mall).
Anyway, happy President's Day, everyone!!!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Thanks to Weedo for forwarding this pic of Woodie Guthrie. What a cool mofo. It's funny how time marches on, and yet somehow certain topics just remain timely. I know that none of the music that I make will ever be as important as Woodie Guthrie's stuff, but if I ever even thought he could listen to some of our music and give it a grudging nod of approval, that would probably be good enough for me... Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 17, 2006

Can someone tell me what possible business the White House has getting involved in a lawsuit that involves congressional redistricting in the state of Texas? I mean, I know that the obvious answer is that they're defending Republican interests and helping out their old buddy, Tom Delay, but don't they have to be able to justify the fact they're dedicating federal White House resources to something which is purely a state matter? This move completely floors me, not because I'm surprised that the White House is rooting for the Republican redistricting (the Republicans love a good power grab), but because I can't see why the White House supposedly has an interest in the internal workings of the state government of Texas (unless, perhaps they were acting to rectify some kind of violation of federal law, but I can't see how that is happening here). Shouldn't it be up to the courts and the people of Texas to decide how Texas is represented in Congress?
Anyway, it's good to see that the White House is stepping it up when it comes to take a shot at diluting minority voting rights and slanting the entire democratic process in the Republicans' favor (as if their gigantic war chest didn't do that already).
I've had at least two people ask me why I haven't blogged about the new Abu Ghraib photos that have surfaced. To be honest, I guess it's mostly because I don't think new pictures of something that happened three years ago really constitute new news. Granted, some of these pictures sound even worse than the ones which were released before, but I don't think anyone is arguing that the things which went on at Abu Ghraib weren't pretty darn bad. At this point, the release of more photos is only reopening wounds and inflaming people in an area of the world where protests over cartoons have already resulted in significant violence. Yes, I think the things that happened at Abu Ghraib were pretty horrible, and yes, I think that the people involved and the U.S. military need to be held accountable for the human rights violations which occurred there. I'm not sure what good the public release of more pictures from that time period does, however (I think it's only going to further anger and embarrass Iraq's Muslim citizens- possibly escalating tensions to the point where further violence might occur). I do think that the photos need to be handed over to law enforcement so that the photographers and any other Americans involved can be tracked down and punished. Anyway, that's why I haven't blogged about the new Abu Ghraib photos. I'm not sure that the new photos chnage anything. America looked pretty despicable for committing these crimes when the first photos came out, and we're not fairing any better with this second round.
This is interesting. Crazy world. I used to love a good rant about the government inefficiency and wasted tax dollars that go into the war on drugs (primarily in prosecuting low level offenders), but since I'm now working as a prosecutor, I clearly must not believe that anymore.... Whatever. I've gotta go back to my overcrowded, underfunded family violence court now to go work on prosecuting wife beaters.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

They're going to renew the Patriot Act? Awesome!!!!
What to report....?
We had Crack practice last night, which was good even though it was kind of short. Andy F. has gotten a new work schedule at Apple which is going to make the Crack rehearsal schedule a dicey proposition for awhile. Nonetheless, we managed to come up with a couple of cool new grooves last night and recreate at least one of Gray's previous hooks which may be eventually built into a song (hopefully).
Here's something weird. Being about one of my dreams, most of you will be bored by this, but hopefully not all of you (it's been said that it's a sad fact of life speaking to our inherently self-centered nature that all men are bored by hearing about other people's dreams). About a week ago I had this dream in which Andy and Crackbass and I (and possibly some other people, although I can't clearly remember) were all at Aquarena Springs (we were talking about the fact that it was Aguarena Springs in the dream). Although the place was closed down, we had found our way inside some kind of observation room which let you look underwater, and from this vantage point I could see that the river or pond or stream or whatever it is that we were looking at was full of sharks and pirhanas and stingrays and even (and most frighteningly at the time) those big sharks that have saw-shaped things growing out of their noses. I'm not sure why all of these things were at Aquarena Springs (or even why Aquarena Springs was on my mind when I hadn't thought about it in years), but hey, it was a dream. Anyway, in this dream we're all looking at this tank of death, and then Andy starts getting all excited and telling Jeff and I about how we should all go swimming in that water because it'll be cool, and I'm telling Jeff, "No f*#kin' way!", but then Andy runs off. We follow him up some stairs and to the bank of this river and see him jump in the water and swimming out to a boat. I can still see shark fins and giant stingrays swimming down in the water, but Andy is swimming through it to get to the boat, and then Jeff tells me that we have to swim out to the boat if we want to be able to get a ride home. Jeff jumps in and starts swimming for the boat, and then I get really pissed, but jump in anyway and start swimming for the boat as fast as I can. I feel something bumping up against one of my legs and then something bites me and then I wake up, freaked out and angry at Andy and to a lesser extent Jeff for making me swim through the water of death.
Now here's where it gets weird. I woke up and once I realized what was going on I kind of laughed the dream off and thought about how I should tell Jeff about it (knowing that Jeff would appreciate a crazy dream where Andy gets us in trouble), but the next day I just forgot about the dream and I don't think I ever told Jeff about it. Then last night after band practice I was talking to Andy about scuba diving and snorkeling and he got all excited and started telling me about how he and I and Jeff should make a trip down to San Marcos to go swimming at Aquarena Springs. Suddenly the dream came flooding back and the whole thing just gave me the goosebumps and sent a shiver down my spine. I told Andy about the dream, but I'm not sure he believed me. But it's true.
I'm not really afraid of Aquarena Springs and I don't think there are scary animals there, but I am kind of wary of the whole dream-omen thing.
I've had a couple of semi-prophetic dreams before, including one in the summer before 9th grade when I dreamt that I was getting the hardest English teacher in the world and that she was gonna be this black lady who scared the sh*t out of all of her students. I woke up and told my mom about it the next morning and she kind of stared at me strange and told me that my English teacher for the next year was going to be this black woman named Mrs. Fort who traditionally was considered one of the toughest teachers at the high school I would be attending, but my mom hadn't told me this information previously because she didn't want to hear me bitch about it all summer. I ended up being in Mrs. Fort's class, and she was tough, but I learned a lot from her and it was fine.
I also had a dream a few years ago in which an old friend appeared who had moved away and who I never thought I would see again, and then she reappeared and sent me an email out of the blue a short time later. I never mentioned that one to anyone because I figured no one would care besides me. Freaky deeky.
Most of the time I can't even remember my dreams.
Well, that's the end. Sorry if the blog sucked today, but it's what I got. Maybe something more and better later. Maybe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's been a long, long day at work, chitlins, and Steanso is tired (and the day ain't over!!). Wanted to say hello, but I don't have a lot of what the squares would call "content" for the blog today. There is still Crack practice tonight, and despite his current fatigue, Steanso feels the first twinges of an upswell of energy at the thought. Practice for both of my bands seems to occur in some sort of parallel dimension where the music produces itself, even when you're dead tired. Sometimes while we're playing I find myself just kind of abosrbed in listening to the tunes for awhile without any conscious realization that I'm one of the people who's making the music. Usually this is a good thing, but every once in awhile this sort of autopilot thing leaves you open to making mistakes (moreso with the Mono Ensemble, where the music is liable to change direction and leave you in the dust if you're not paying attention to it- with Crack it's more about the longer, drawn out grooves, although this may be slowly changing). Anyway, band practice is good decompression and it's good for the soul.

Anyway, I hope everyone's having a good one. FOS Erin Stewart (that's Friend of Steanso) has moved back to our area from L.A. and is currently living out in Bastrop (near he family), where she apparently has landed a job at a restaurant or bar or something (which was quick work, because she just got here). Anyway, everyone wish Erin welcome, and let us know if you know of a job opening in Austin, because I think she still wants to move into town.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For Valentine's Day, Steanso has decided that he will compose his top 5 list of the greatest love stories ever told:

No. 5- The Trojan War- Paris (a Trojan) runs off to Troy with Helen (purported to be the most beautiful woman in the world, but also the bride of Menelaus and the sister-in-law of Agamemnon). The kings and princes of Greece are rallied by Menelaus and Agamemnon in order to sail to Troy and get Helen back. They sail over to Troy in 1000 ships, and when the Trojans refuse to return Helen, the Greeks wage a war that lasts ten years in the effort to get Helen back. In the end, the Greeks build a giant wooden horse and sneak into Troy and trash the place, thereby winning the war. Helen is reclaimed by Menelaus and they return together to Sparta.

OK, maybe this isn't exactly the most romantic story ever told, but something's gotta be said for a decade long war that's fought over a single woman.

No. 4- Bonnie and Clyde- They met in 1930 and were gunned down by a group of law enforcement officials (headed by a former Texas Ranger) in 1934. During the intervening four years Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow engaged in a crime spree which included as many as ten bank robberies and innumerable gas station and convenience store robberies. Although Clyde Barrow has been blamed for a number of murders (of both civilians and law enforcement individuals), it has never been shown that Bonnie Parker ever killed anyone. It is generally believed that Parker simply fell in love with a sociopath and simply followed him until they both met their deaths.

No. 3- Flavor Flav and Brigitte Nielsen- Chronicled on VH1's reality shows, The Surreal Life and Strange Love, this magical romance brought tears to the eyes of viewers across the country. The hyperactive, diminutive Flavor paired with the towering, pseudoaristocratic, alcholic Nielsen made for some fascinating viewing (although a lot of the fascination was of the morbid variety, I have to admit). In the end, I guess things didn't work out between them, but they had a great run, and Steanso salutes them for giving it the ol' college try.

No. 2- Antony and Cleopatra- Although their affair and subsequent military collaborations led to a couple of terrible defeats in battle, these kids really had a thing for each other, and they get bonus points for ending the whole thing with a classic double suicide.

No. 1- Crackbass and Jackbart- Ever since I first caught these guys spooning together on the Wilson's couch during a screening of The Aristocrats I've known that true love was in the air. Jackbart, when will you finally come to accept the truth? You know that Crackbass can't quit you....

And thus concludes the Steanso's official Valentine's Day post. I hope all of you guys enjoy your V.D., and that you spread the love around!


Monday, February 13, 2006

Well, even if the U.S. doesn't define the treatment of prisoners (ahem... detainees) at Guantanamo Bay as torture, it continues to appear that the rest of the world sees things differently. A draft report of a U.N. investigation came to light Monday which concluded that the U.S. has engaged in acts of torture at Gunatanamo Bay. The report included accusations that the U.S. had denied Gunatanamo prisoners their rights to fair trial, freedom of religion, and health. The report recommend the closing of the Guantanamo base and a revocation of all "special interrogation techniques" currently authorized by the Department of Defense.
The U.S. rejected the report, claiming that the primary flaw with its logic was that it failed to recognize the fact that Guantanamo Bay is a wartime facility, subject to wartime laws and rules rather than peacetime human rights laws.
Steanso has expressed this opinion before, but he thinks that it bears repeating. The so-called War on Terror is not a war in the traditional sense of the word. It didn't have a discernible beginning, and it isn't going to have a discernible end. The War on Terror isn't like Vietnam or World War II. It's more like the War on Drugs or the War on Crime. The War on Terror is a campaing meant to bring about the abatement of a certain type of behavior. Americans seem to have forgotten that Muslims aren't the only ones capable of committing acts of terror (remember Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma City? The guy considered himself a patriot, for crying out loud...).
Anyway, are we supposed to accept the fact that our government is going to run prisons that are devoid of civil rights so long as there are people in the world who are willing to employ terrorism? I don't get it.
Cheney shot one of his friends in the face this weekend in a hunting accident. Despite what you may have guessed, Steanso isn't going to spend a lot of time making fun of the Vice President for this. Despite the Vice President's fairly evil political views, Steanso still clings to the hope that Cheney is (way deep down) a normal human being who feels really bad about hurting one of his friends. Steanso wishes Mr. Whittington a speedy recovery, but Steanso also hopes that Mr. Whittington is upset enough about the incident to quit giving Cheney campaign contributions.

The weekend was nice and relaxing, but uneventful. Mono E had band practice last night (which was good). I also watched Ghost Dog with Crackbass, watched a bunch of episodes of 24 (which Weedo had been kind enough to tape for me), and took Cassidy to the dog park. Crackbass and I went to a couple of music stores, but all I bought were a couple of sticks and some brushes for playing my drums (ok, actually, to be technically correct, they're Weedo's drums). Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How come Minnesota gets all of the best gubernatorial candidates? Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey is running for governor of Minnesota on a platform which includes both satanism and vampirism. Sharkey is completely unapologetic when explaining his involvement in both vampirism and Satanism and maintains that neither practice necessarily makes a person evil (although at other times on his web site, he does kind of admit that he is, in fact, pretty evil). Sharkey's past career has involved military service (he is an army veteran, and it sounds like he draws disability) and he's had some sort of a career as a professional wrestler under the "stage name" of Rocky Flash. Sharkey is strongly against drunk driving and drugs (for those keeping track at home, that's pro blood sucking, but anti booze and drugs), and he has promised to have all terrorists who are caught in Minnesota impaled upon stakes on the lawn in front of the state capitol. I guess it shouldn't really come as a surprise, but Sharkey also says that he was once friends with George W. and Jeb Bush.
I personally find Sharkey's openly evil viewpoint pretty refreshing. We all know that there are a ton of evil politicians out there, but how many actually admit it and include it as part of their platform? The only problem is that when you start to delve deeper into Sharkey's web site it kind of begins to seem that the guy not so much genuinely evil as he is kind of emotionally disturbed and deeply troubled (it sounds like his problems started with the death of a grandmother-which he never got over- and then escalated after some bad relationships, including a romance with a woman with severe alcohol and drug addiction issues). Ultimately, Steanso suspects that Sharkey is actually a kind of kooky but sensitive guy who became "evil" so that he could "out-evil" all of the bad things which kept upsetting him in his life.

But this minor human tradgedy doesn't mean we can't still have fun with Sharkey's campaign! So come one, come all and hop on board the Sharkey train to political greatness! Jesse Ventura be damned- Minnesota ain't seen nothing yet!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Is anyone really surprised by this? I'm pretty sure Brown is no saint, but I also can't believe that the White House wasn't in touch with him during the Katrina crisis. If the White House wasn't in touch with him, then they should be equally if not more ashamed for their lack of interest. But I don't think Brown is lying about keeping the White House in the loop. I think the White House knew what was going on all along and just didn't react. The event was of a magnitude which they refused to appreciate, and it was happening to people whom the Bush Administration couldn't relate- poor people who hadn't been able to evacuate. Dishonesty from the White House? Incompetence? Anyone else getting tired of this...?
Well, Bush released details yesterday of a foiled Al Qaeda plot in 2002 which had aimed at trying to fly a plane into the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles. Obviously Bush's goal in recounting such a story at this juncture was to build support for his national security "plan", and by extension to bolster security for his ongoing NSA domestic wiretapping program. The problem is that 1) intelligence officials broke up the plot early on (so it's not clear that the supposed plot ever posed a real threat to national security), 2) the work done on stopping this terrorist plot in 2002 had absolutely nothing to do with wiretapping and in no way seems to support its usefulness or validity, and 3) in truth, it sounds like we probably wouldn't have discovered this plot at all if it hadn't been for the helpful intervention of some unnamed Southeast Asian nation (which managed to catch a key Al Qaeda operative who was handed over to the U.S. for "debriefing"- and you can bet your ass that we've gotten pretty good at "debriefing" suspected terrorists). Basically, if the plot was real, it was pretty much dumb luck that prevented us from suffering another 911- not any kind of brilliant national defense strategy.

Anyhoo, this whole revelation seemed like a clumsy, desperate, and ham-handed effort by the Bush White House to justify what is clearly an illegal wiretapping operation. If America isn't afraid enough of terrorists to allow the president a little latitude for some illegal wiretapping, then we'll just remind them that terrorists are secretly plotting to destroy our country at every moment, but that the federal government is fighting the good fight to keep them safe. I've got an idea. Why don't we hire some Southeast Asians to hunt down terrorists for us? They seem to be better at it, and I bet they're not even tapping their citizens' phones.
Of course, nowadays so much of the rest of the civilized world hates, fears, and distrusts us (after the whole U.N. WMD presentation and our subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq) that it's not clear that other countries nowadays would even want to bother helping us to foil a terrorist plot even if they had the opportunity. Thanks for the foreign policy, President Bush!!

Well, it's the weekend and the weather is gloomy and funky. I'm looking forward to going home and curling up with a good book and my three legged dog.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I wish I had blogged more today, but I was just uninspired. I haven't really done anything very interesting in the last 24 hours, and the newspapers didn't get me riled up. This evening I will be attending a fundraiser for my boss and friend, Sherri Tibbe, who is running as a Democratic candidate for D.A. in Hays County. Sherri is a good person and a good prosecutor. She's tough, but she's fair and she doesn't play favorites with the attorneys that she deals with. I would vote for her if I lived in Hays County.
I had lunch with Crackbass. We ate Chinese food and then walked over to the music store and looked at guitars, basses, and amps for a few minutes. The music store is like a toy store for adults. I could spend sooooo much money in there if I had it to spend (which is wierd b/c I fundamentally think that too much emphasis is placed on technology and equipment with a lot of musicians these days. I think good ideas are way more important than the particular equipment which is used in executing them- but you at least need serviceable stuff, and new equipment is still fun to play with and sometimes cool new stuff helps you generate new ideas. Sometimes new equipment just changes the sounds of bad ideas, though, and that never makes for good music).
Well, I gotta run. Hope all's well.

Work schedule v. Blog

Just a word of warning. I may be in and out of trial a bit in the upcoming weeks (or any time in the foreseeable future so long as I hold this job), so if a few days pass without a post on The Adventures, I'm probably in court or too busy to write. Steanso is still with you in spirit on those days, but you'll have to fend for yourselves when looking for something to read on your work breaks...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

By the way, since Steanso tends to lean a wee bit to the left (no, no- it's true) and may not always give conservatives their proper due on those occasions when they stand up and fight for the good of the country (instead of simply toeing the Republican party line), I would like to take a second to say that I've been kind of impressed that a few Republicans have actually stood up and expressed their dismay and disapproval over this whole domestic wiretap program. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, has come forward with demands that Bush's eavesdropping program be subjected to a "complete review" in order to determine its legality, Constitutionality, and suitability for continued operation. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania stated that he fundamentally disagreed with the White House's assertion that the 2001 resolution granting the president the authority to go to war also granted the power to eavesdrop on domestic phone conversations. Specter has urged the White House to make the entire NSA eavesdropping program open to Congressional review. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican expressed reservations regarding the program, stating that he "never envisioned" that his vote for the 2001 resolution would be construed as a vote that the president would later use to try to circumvent FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).
Anyway, I just think it's nice to see a few conservatives stand up and say that the law's the law, and we're not going to let you trample on it even if you're the president. I think that the fact that Republicans are breaking ranks on this also shows the severity of the issue (even if most of the American public hasn't really seemed to click to the fact that the president committed numerous federal felony offenses by taking part in this wiretapping scheme without obtaining any warrants).
For those people who are out there who still don't get it, Steanso would just like to point out that illegally ordering an intelligence agency to spy on thousands of Americans is a much bigger deal than getting a B.J. from a White House intern. The only person who should have really cared about Monica Lewinsky was Hillary (and maybe Chelsea). Who should care about having their phones illegally wiretapped by the federal government? Probably everyone in this country who ever wants to hold a private conversation on a phone again.
First of all, since I often miss it or wish it belatedly, let me go ahead and wish Larry Lee Thweatt a happy birthday even though his birthday isn't really until tomorrow, the 9th. Happy birthday, LT! (this way if things get hectic tomorrow I'm already covered) Hope you have a great birthday, and a great upcoming year!
What else....?
Not much, I guess. Crack had practice last night and things went well. We rocketed through a few of our Crack standards and worked on some riffs for new songs. Special Friend Gary Meyer was in attendance and brought some new hooks for us to work on. Weedo showed up and he and Sig got into some kind of hypertechnical analysis of the Superbowl which all of the rest of us immediately tuned out.
Well, I got lots to do and not a lot of items which are crying out for blog commentary, so I'll keep it brief.
Hope everyone's hanging in there.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Warning: Lame Budget Rant

Well, Bush has got a new budget, and everyone but the wealthy and the military are gonna take some bruises. In his $2.77 billion budget, Bush asks Congress to sharply cut or eliminate 141 government programs. Almost one-third of the targeted programs are in education, including ones that provide money to support the arts, vocational education, parent resource centers and drug-free schools. Bush plans on increasing funding for the military so that we can continue to fight unneccessary wars, and plans on trying to make his tax cuts permanent so that the wealthy can continue to get wealthier while the country's deficit continues to grow exponentially.
To quote the Washington Post, "As the president was taking office in January 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal budget would run a surplus in excess of $5.6 trillion between 2002 and 2011. Now, after tax cuts, a terror attack, a recession and a war in Iraq that has proven far more expensive than the administration projected, the budget office predicts deficits for the five years starting Oct. 1 totaling more than $2.2 trillion."
Bush has had unexpected difficulties during his term in office- September 11th, an elective war in Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina to name a few- but his continued insistence upon creating new tax cuts and making them permanent is simply unrealistic in the face of these problems. Slashing the budget in ways which take away programs that are vital to millions of Americans so that the wealthiest members of our society might become more wealthy is immoral.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Well, there's not too much in the news that Steanso feels compelled to comment on today. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee today to testify that Bush's domestic surveillance program was/is 100% legal and necessary for the defense of the nation in the ongoing war on terror. It seems like most of the senators in attendance, including some prominent Republicans (such as panel chairman Arlen Specter), expressed skepticism of and disagreement with Gonzales's contention that The President's authorization of these domestic NSA wiretaps was permissible under law. I'm sure that this argument is going to go on for a long, long time. I'm also sure that The President acted illegally. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that President Bush will ulitmately avoid responbility for this (the same way he dodged responsibility for lying about WMD, about the CIA leak within his administration, and the same way he is currently taking careful steps to avoid having his name associated with Jack Abramoff). Man, I hate this president.
Not too much to report from the weekend. I hung out with Jackbart and Crackbass both Friday and Saturday night. We watched The Aristocrats and National Treasure. The Aristocrats was pretty funny, but also (and more unexpectedly) kind of interesting in the glimpses that it gave into the "behind the scenes" world of comedy and comedians. It's kind of crazy how you really can get a sense of the different personal styles of various comedians just by listening to the different ways that they all tell one joke. National Treasure was pretty much just a dumb action adventure movie with lots of tidbits of American history trivia thrown in. Very mindless, but kind of fun. Sort of.
I also took Cassidy to the dog park, took a big ol' Saturday nap, and finished watching some Battlestar Galactica episodes that Weedo had taped for me (which were good- I've heard some people say that the show is slipping this season, but from what I've seen, I disagree).
I also spent some time going through a case file for a trial that I thought was going to happen today, but in the end, the case didn't go to trial (at least not yet).
Then I went to Kim and Sigmund's place to watch the Superbowl, and they had good food and good beer and I got to watch Sigmund get cranked through the emotional wringer as his beloved Steelers faced off against the Seahawks. In the end (and after terrifying his cat with his yelling and after spraying me with beer), Sigmund's Steelers were victorious and all was once again right in the world.
Well, that's all I got at the moment.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Betty Friedan, feminist author, leader, and activist, died Saturday from heart failure. Friedan, in her activism and through her 1963 book, "The Feminine Mystique", pushed for equal pay for women, maternity leave, child care for working mothers, legal abortion, and other feminist issues. She helped found and was the first president of the National Organization for Women, and spent much of her later life working on other human rights issues aside from feminism (such as ageism, family issues, and economic empowerment).
Friedan's death, combined with the death of Coretta Scott King (civil rights activist and widow of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.) earlier last week, means that we have lost two great women in one week who were central to the struggle for civil rights. The Adventures salutes both women for their work in securing human rights and their contributions to American society.
Uh oh. This can't be good. AOL and Yahoo are about to start instituting a system of email "postage", giving preferential treatment to emails which have been specially designated as having a higher priority status attached to them (meaning these higher priority emails will be less likely to be inadvertantly removed from the system because of the use of spam filters and the like). Of course, getting your email designated as a high priority item will cost money (although maybe as little as a quarter of a cent).
The system is meant to help email providers filter out junk mail ( which by some estimates comprises 60% of all email sent) which is surely an understandable goal, but I guess I'm just not sure why they're so confident that mass marketers won't just accept the small fee as a normal part of doing business and continue to send junk mail anyway (although AOL and Yahoo have both said this would make them very angry). Ultimately, it just seems like we're taking a step backward if we have to start paying for something that we've already been getting for free for over a decade. Now if my email provider could promise me that the U.S. government or anyone else would not be able to intercept and spy on my email if I paid a tiny fee, then that might be something that I would be willing to pay for.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Muslim protestors torched Danish and Swedish embassies in Syria today in retaliation for the printing of cartoons containing what they consider to be blasphenous depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. Although the story seemed a little ridiculous at first, when I really thought about it it kind of freaked me out. Here are people from one culture who are resorting to violence because of something printed in a cartoon from another culture. Talk about a disconnect between cultural values.
My first instinct was to kind of scoff at these Muslims for being uncivilized religious zealots who clearly don't understand the value of free speech. But is that view a bit ethnocentric? Is it possible that these Muslims understand free speech, but expect people who exercise that speech to be held more accountable for its content than the way that we typically hold writers accountable here in the west? After all, western culture tends to encourage criticism of and challenges to ideas on an almost reckless basis- I mean, normally political or humor writings are expected to be shrugged off in good humor or to be responded to in kind by the criticized (with similar writings or counterarguments). In the west, we value the open discussion of ideas over the protection of concepts (regardless of whether the open discussion of these ideas might constitute sacrilege to someone else). Westerners seem to have kind of abandoned the concept of "fighting words", or the concept that there are some subjects so sacrosanct that to attack them is an open call for hostility.
Part of the disconnect comes from the fact that it's hard for a lot of people in non-Muslim nations to understand the depth and scope of commiment involved in the religious faith of many Muslim believers. I think that for many Muslims, the faith that they pracitice is not akin to religion in the west. Muslim faith is not something which quietly lies below the surface, truly practiced and discussed only on weekends or at church. Instead, religion is a central keystone of their daily existence- a central component of their usual decision making processes and belief structure (yes, yes, I can hear Christians rising to clamor that it is the same for them, but I would assert that the very structure of western society in which we allow for and respect the freedom to practice different forms of religion precludes the kind of faith based daily living which occurs in the Muslim world. I mean, in Pakistan it is a crime punsihable by death to insult Mohammed or the Quran. Muslim followers are called to daily prayer in many middle eastern cities by the voices of imams being blared over loudspeakers in public places. Compare this to western tolerance of other religions combined with the largely secular western governments and you get an environment where tolerance of opposing ideas becomes more practically important than the pursuit of a life in keeping with perfectly practiced relgion).

Ah, crap. I gotta go over to Crackbass's house for dinner. Suffice it to say that I was gonna wrap this whole cultural relativity exploration by saying that I think ultimately the Muslims who torched the embassy were wrong for doing so, despite their religious convictions. I think that the failure to at least restrict their protests to argument (as opposed to the violence involved in burning down diplomatic embassies) leads only to a fascist, totalitarian state. Steanso is still a big believer in rights for ideological minorities, and the Muslims here are not leaving room for beliefs other than their own. Gotta go eat. Whooo hooo!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Here's a guest rant from Steanso contributor Larry Lee Thweatt. Read and enjoy:

Listen to this. Tom DeLay at his predictable worst, opposing ethics reformsponsored by a Republican colleague this week in Congress.http://www.lampson.com/delayclip.wmaThe temerity of this man accusing ethics reform proponents of"isolationism", engaging in the "politics of personal destruction" and"character assassination" in the wake of Black Jack Ambramoff's GUILTY plea,Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham's GUILTY plea, and let's not forget,DeLay's thrice repeated admonishment from his peers in Congress, on top ofhis own felony indictment, is remarkable. Sadly, it is also altogetherunsurprising. Nick Lampson is neck and neck with DeLay in fundraising rightnow, an accomplishment in and of itself given DeLay's former fund-raisingprowess. Certainly DeLay has been weakened by the foreseeable results ofhis own hubris, and ironically, by his own redistricting effort which hasstrengthened the Democratic voting presence in DeLay's newly drawn district.Nonetheless, let's give props where props are due: Lampson is running onehell of a campaign right now. The money is even now, the polling isactually leaning slightly in favor of Lampson, and if the winds continueblowing this direction, Tom DeLay will be back in the pesticide businesscome November 5, 2006. Better yet, the sumbitch will be funding an appealof his Travis County conviction.Larry Lee
Well, it's Friday and Steanso is a bit tired after attending last night's Spoon show with Crackbass. Spoon was pretty good, but not really "knock you on your ass" good. Kind of fairly creative power pop. The crowd was really young (making Steanso feel a little old), and the band struggled with some minor technical difficulties in their sound system during the first half of their set. All in all a good show, though.
We also caught the end of I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, and I thought their drummer was really interesting.
Too tired and still have much work to do.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Steanso spent just about all day today in court. He sat second chair for a bench trial with Laura, but the bad guy slipped away.
Tonight Steanso is attending a Spoon show with Crackbass. I hope it's good.
Not too much news. Mono E practice last night was good. Having become pissed off while watching Bush's address on Wednesday night, Captain Gottula put pen to paper and wrote the band a solid new tune called State of the Union. It's undoubtedly the best thing to come out of that speech.
And here's sopmething that's funny. The Aggies are suing the Seattle Seahawks for using their "12th Man" phrase, and apparently the Seahawks may actually put up a fight. The Seahawks filed motions to transfer the case to a federal court in Houston, moving the case 100 miles away from the original venue in Brazos County.
The whole thing is stupid for several reasons. First of all, the suit just reinforces the notion that Aggies are a bunch of humorless, overly fanatical nuts who place way too much emphasis on silly traditions. Second, the Seahawks should probably just dump the phrase (who needs it?), but if the multimillion dollar corporation which is the Seahawks actually choose to fight the Ags on this, the Ags are gonna end up spending countless dollars defending a stupid phrase- money which could be going to scholarships, infrastructure improvements, or even a big party for the student body (rather than into the pockets of a bunch of lawyers). What I'm saying here is, if they have to litigate this, even a win is really a loss for the Ags. Finally, as anyone who's ever made a trip to College Station knows, the Ags have more traditions than any reasonable person could count. You can't protect all of these absurdities. What's next? Suing people with pet Collies? Injunctions against individuals who refuse to let their neighbors walk on their lawns? Protests against other schools that are dumb enough to have all male yell leaders instead of attractive cheerleaders in short skirts? A ban against people who's campfires grow large enough that they might be in danger of being considered bonfires?
Lighten up, Ags!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Well, Steanso watched a good chunk of the State of the Union address last night, and although George came across as likeable and optimistic, he was no less full of B.S. than usual. He stood on his podium and promised sweeping initiatives in health care reform, alternative energy, immigration control, education, and a hundred other areas, all of the time speaking as though he hasn't already had six years to make improvements in these areas. He spoke in soaring, dramatic terms about spreading democracy throughout the world, all the while avoiding any discussion of the messy, troublesome details regarding the costs involved in implementing his "policies". Anyway, Steanso was nonplussed and eventually gave up on the speech in order to watch a videotaped episode of Battlestar Galactica (which was much more satisfying).
Not too much other news.
Hope everyone is doing ok out there.

p.s.- looks like I'll probably be going to Spoon tomorrow night at La Zona Rosa after all, so come join Steanso and Crackbass for some rockin!!!