Repair Teams Try to Calm 'Computer
Technicians Make House Calls to Fix Stubborn Equipment
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Staff
Writer Sunday, May 1, 2005
NOVATO, Calif.-- The young woman at the other end of the phone
wept to Kelly Chessen that the world was against her. She had been in
a minor car accident. A thief had stolen some things from her house.
And now this: The family's computer, which contained her husband's
business files, was dead.
Chessen, a crisis counselor who answered the hotline, soothingly
assured the caller that such things happen to everyone, that it was no
one's fault, that her luck would turn around. It wasn't until 20
minutes into the conversation that Chessen began to address the cause
of the young woman's agony.
Send us the machine, Chessen said, and we'll do everything we
can to help.
Chessen, who once was a manager for a suicide prevention
hotline, now works in customer service for DriveSavers Data Recovery
Inc. "This is a lot like my old job," she said. "Oftentimes the most
helpful thing we can do is just to listen and to let people get
whatever they are feeling off their chests."
Technology has become a bane of modern life. People juggle a
mountain of electronic equipment to store their most important records
and intimate secrets. But the complicated nature of their machines,
with their manuals full with unintelligible acronyms, tangles of cords
and invisible wireless signals, means a breakdown is almost
inevitable. The loss of a computer, cell phone or other gadget can be
so jolting that it is fueling the rise of what some psychologists call
The phenomenon is transforming the nature of technology service,
an industry long infamous for being impersonal.
Business is booming for companies with names like Rent-a-Geek,
Geeks on Call and Geek Squad that make house calls to fix computers.
Television technicians, once near extinction, are again driving to
homes to adjust complicated settings on high-definition sets and hook
them up to multi-component home-entertainment systems. Some of the
world's largest computer makers train their support personnel as much
about customers' delicate psyches as they do about technical matters.
"There's this frustration that you are really dependent on these
things that you don't understand and that you have no idea how to
fix," said Kent L. Norman, a researcher at the University of
Maryland's Laboratory for Automation Psychology and Decision
Processes. "We place so much trust in computers that it gets a little
No one is immune. No device is exempt. Online message boards are
filled with rants about iPods -- sold by the millions on the idea that
they are easy to use -- freezing up, and $50,000 luxury cars with
windows that roll up and down on their own at random times.
The recounting of one's personal technological Armageddon is
often desperate and emotional. A recent survey by Norman found that as
many as one out of 10 users have hit, kicked or otherwise abused their
Barbara Gould said that in the past two years her family's
computers have broken down six times and her cell phone twice. Then,
while she was in the middle of watching the "Lord of the Rings"
trilogy one night, her DVD player mysteriously began to freeze every
"I was ready to throw everything out the window or burn them or
do something violent," said Gould, 53, a contractor for Fannie Mae,
who works on manuals and other technical documentation.
Instead, Gould, who lives in Herndon, ran a search on Google and
found Erik Bursch, a computer-repair consultant who works in the
Tysons Corner area.
Bursch said he has made several hundred house calls over the
past few years and that he is often welcomed as a conquering hero. He
said he has found more and more people willing to pay the $60 to $70
an hour he charges.
The peaceful, park-like setting of the DriveSavers compound in a
San Francisco suburb belies the frenzy inside.
The company's labs operate like a hospital emergency room.
Chessen, 31, and the other 12 customer service representatives
do triage. The challenge is to recognize which of the five stages of
grief -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance -- a given
customer is in, and respond accordingly.
One recent afternoon, a man whose small business had burned down
was telling Chessen how his insurance company was still inspecting the
place so he could not even go in to see the carpets or to fetch his
computer -- on which he had a lot of important documents. "I was
thinking, Why is he yelling at me?" Chessen said later.
In another part of the building, delivery people rush in and out
with oddly shaped cartons containing precious cargo. The contents of
the boxes, hard drives and other data storage devices, are carefully
taken to a clean room where they are dissected by technicians in white
jumpsuits and blue gloves and then "cloned." The copies are sent
upstairs to data specialists who try to retrieve and reconstruct what
people are looking for.
Sometimes the information is important only to the person it
belongs to -- pictures of one's firstborn, musical compositions,
résumés, old e-mail, business plans, love letters. For others, it is
something more: scripts for 12 then-unaired episodes of "The Simpsons";
research data for a cancer scientist at a major East Coast university.
The work is not cheap -- the bill is usually $500 to $2,000 --
but for many the information is priceless. In addition to paying the
company's fees, some customers have sent wine and roses to show their
David K. Schoenkin, executive director and asset management
consultant at Oppenheimer & Co., recently lost his computer, Palm
Pilot and cell phone when he dropped his shoulder bag in a Manhattan
street and an 18-wheeler ran over it. He said the crunch of the truck
going over his equipment was "horrible, deafening" as he thought about
losing his journals from five years of travel to Kenya, Morocco, Chile
and Laos and digital pictures of the paintings he created and sold
years ago when he was an art student.
"You have to understand how devastating this was. Every single
piece of electronic detail in my life was lost," he said.
DriveSavers managed to recover everything.
Not everyone is so fortunate. Ed Sit, the no-nonsense
49-year-old who is the clean-room manager, has the difficult job of
giving people bad news. Some customers politely thank him for trying,
Sit said. Others want to cast blame. They think that if they talk to
his boss or if they pay more money they can get a different result.
Sit said he thinks to himself: "I'm sorry -- but if your relative is
dead in a hospital, even millions and millions of dollars are just not
going to bring him back."
Posted Sat Apr 30th, 2005 - 10:19pm by
Top of page
Check out this
story about the former Amway insider's (Eric Schebeler) exposé,
entitled Merchants of Deception: An Insider's Look at the Worldwide,
Systematic Conspiracy of Lies That is Amway / Quixtar and their Motivational
"How the multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation recruits
ordinary folks into the 'system,' and uses well-connected politicians
and pastors to become Masters of Deception."
I am in the midst of plowing through the book, which you can download for free
of charge at the author's website
Posted Thu Apr 28th, 2005 - 9:00pm by
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If there's a Will, There's a
I read the following story in a local Asian weekly last night, and it reminded
me to get my will updated. Was happy to find a link to this on the 'net...
Man throws a wild feast...his own body!
Asian News International
Aizawl, April 12, 2005
what could be termed as the strangest will ever made in Mizoram, a man
in Kawkulh village has willed his last remains to wild animals after
New World Laldingliana, 46, made his will with the district
council court's first class magistrate Lalbiakzama in Mizoram last
Friday. The will of Laldingliana, who recently received the Pawngpui
Award, a prestigious wildlife award given by the state's Environment
and Forest Department says, "I, New World Laldingliana, have decided
to give my body to wild animals when my life on earth is over to show
that I had given my life for them (the animals)."
An ordinary farmer in Kawkulh village, Laldingliana has become
well known for his contributions towards the protection of wildlife,
which was confirmed by the award he received from the state's
Environment and Forest Department in 2003.
Laldingliana has established a sanctuary in Kawkulh and planted
large varieties of fruit bearing trees to feed birds and animals.
"One of my greatest wishes is to throw a feast for the wild
animals in Phawngpui forest with my own body. As such, I have made my
will without any coercion or motivation from anyone," the will further
Laldingliana, who believes in the sanctity of life, says that
it's God call to him to work for the protection of wildlife. "But his
ability is very less", he adds.
The magistrate also said that the will is unique and was the
first of its kind that he has ever come across.
Here kitty, kitty!
Posted Wed Apr 27th, 2005 - 7:00pm by
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Bush, God, and the Media
How the president has used religion to control American politics
by David Domke for
mediatransparency.org - Mar 7, 2005
presidents beginning with George Washington have included religious
language in their public addresses. Claims of the United States as a
divinely chosen nation and requests for God to bless U.S. decisions
and actions have been commonplace. Scholars have labeled such
discourse "civil religion," in which political leaders emphasize
religious symbols and transcendent principles to engender a sense of
unity and shared national identity.
George W. Bush is doing something altogether different.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the president and his
administration have converged a religious fundamentalist worldview
with a political agenda -- a distinctly partisan one, wrapped in the
mantle of national interest but crafted by and for only those who
share their outlook. It is a modern form of political fundamentalism,
that is, the adaptation of a self-proclaimed conservative religious
(Christian) rectitude, that uses strategic language choices and
communication approaches designed for a mass-media culture to shape
and implement political policy.
Motivated by this ideology, the Bush administration has sought
to control the national discourse by engendering a climate of
nationalism in which large parts of the public views supporting the
president as a patriotic duty, and where Congress and the United
Nations are compelled to rubber-stamp administration policies.
The goal is a national mood of spiritual superiority under the
guise of a just sovereignty. The ultimate irony is that in combating
the Islamic extremists responsible for the World Trade Center attacks
the administration has crafted, pursued and engendered its own brand
of political fundamentalism, one that, while clearly tailored to a
modern democracy, nonetheless functions ideologically in a manner
similar to the version offered by the terrorists. I'm well aware that
merely by pointing out this fact I become another target for the media
machine behind the Bush Administration.
All of this has a facade of merely politics as usual. It is not.
Unfortunately, as too often occurs with matters of religion, the
mainstream news media have missed the story almost entirely, and thus
so has much of the U.S. public...
Read the rest
Posted Tue Apr 26th, 2005 - 8:13am by
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Paul Martin Mash-Up Challenge
caught this "cut-up" of Martin's "appeal to the nation" speech on the
Martin Promises Election
Check out the
instructions for creating the clips here.
Check out the clips.
Posted Mon Apr 25th, 2005 - 11:04pm by
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Computer Security Hysteria
Hysteria is a box with four corners
Vmyths.com by Rob
I LOOK AT computer security hysteria as a box with four corners.
Pardon me while I crank out yet another cheesy diagram:
In one corner you'll find the media. These folks harbor a fetish
for juicy computer virus stories -- and they'll give free ink to any
clown who talks a great story. Believe it or not, you can actually
read about a narcissistic hacker in Indonesia who declared war against
the United States, or a narcissistic hacker group in Russia that
declared war against the United States, or a bunch of unorganized
wannabees in China who waged war against the United States...
In another corner you'll find hackers & virus writers. These
dweebs delusionally think they can declare war against the United
States, and a willing media feeds their collective narcissistic
personality disorder. Hackers & virus writers provide the backdrop of
evil for our next two corners...
In a third corner you'll find computer security vendors
dominated by the antivirus companies. These firms crave the media's
free ink for marketing reasons. They want reporters to portray them as
the cops of the Internet who fight the rampant crime out there. They
also like to portray themselves as private investigators.
In the fourth corner you'll find the government. Certain
agencies and high-ranking individuals exploit their credentials to
legitimize the heinous threats posed by hackers & virus writers.
Reporters bestow an air of authenticity to their stories whenever they
cite government agencies or individuals. Government agencies can use
their media exposure to increase their budgets, while high-ranking
individuals can use it to beef up their résumés.
Okay, so now you know what I mean when I talk about "the four
corners of hysteria." Let's digress with an anecdote...
Read the rest
Posted Sun Apr 24th, 2005 - 6:14pm by
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The Evil Overlord List
This list (or a variation thereof) has been floating around the
Internet for nearly 10 years. Once upon a time, I would periodically
send friends a "bizarre links" email, and this was a part of one of
the early one of these.
The following is the preamble for this particular list from the
list's compiler, Peter Anspatch:
Posted Sat Apr 23rd, 2005 - 10:55am by
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Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It
pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own
hours. However every Evil Overlord I've read about in books or seen
in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I've
noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged
wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make
the same basic mistakes every single time. With that in mind, allow
me to present...
The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord
Gallery of Unfortunate Cards
Have minutes upon minutes of fun at the
Posted Fri Apr 22nd, 2005 - 11:01pm by
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The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
lookout by Naomi Klein
from the May 2, 2005 issue of
Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush
Administration's doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward.
On August 5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the
Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, headed by former US
Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up
elaborate "post-conflict" plans for up to twenty-five countries that
are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be
able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in
different countries "at the same time," each lasting "five to seven
Fittingly, a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive
deconstruction now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive
Gone are the days of waiting for wars to break out and then
drawing up ad hoc plans to pick up the pieces. In close cooperation
with the National Intelligence Council, Pascual's office keeps "high
risk" countries on a "watch list" and assembles rapid-response teams
ready to engage in prewar planning and to "mobilize and deploy
quickly" after a conflict has gone down. The teams are made up of
private companies, nongovernmental organizations and members of think
tanks--some, Pascual told an audience at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in October, will have "pre-completed" contracts
to rebuild countries that are not yet broken. Doing this paperwork in
advance could "cut off three to six months in your response time."
The plans Pascual's teams have been drawing up in his
little-known office in the State Department are about changing "the
very social fabric of a nation," he told CSIS. The office's mandate is
not to rebuild any old states, you see, but to create "democratic and
market-oriented" ones. So, for instance (and he was just pulling this
example out of his hat, no doubt), his fast-acting reconstructors
might help sell off "state-owned enterprises that created a nonviable
economy." Sometimes rebuilding, he explained, means "tearing apart the
Few ideologues can resist the allure of a blank
slate--that was colonialism's seductive promise: "discovering"
wide-open new lands where utopia seemed possible. But colonialism is
dead, or so we are told; there are no new places to discover, no terra
nullius (there never was), no more blank pages on which, as Mao once
said, "the newest and most beautiful words can be written." There is,
however, plenty of destruction--countries smashed to rubble, whether
by so-called Acts of God or by Acts of Bush (on orders from God). And
where there is destruction there is reconstruction, a chance to grab
hold of "the terrible barrenness," as a UN official recently described
the devastation in Aceh, and fill it with the most perfect, beautiful
Read the rest
Posted Thu Apr 21st, 2005 - 12:47pm by
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Garden Gnome Liberation Front
has a brief blurb about the
Garden Gnome Liberation Front. This is a political movement
dedicated to liberating gnomes from the gardens in which they are
imprisoned. Members of the liberation front remove gnomes from gardens
and either take them out to the woods to set them loose, or smash them
to set their spirit free (personally I think taking them out to the
woods sounds like the more humane option). I wonder if they've ever
considered taking them to the
underwater gnome garden. Anyway, this is an international
movement. The American group calls itself
Gnomes. The Italian group calls itself
MALAG, or the
Independent Movement for the Liberation of the Garden Gnomes.
Posted Wed Apr 20th, 2005 - 10:57pm by
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Brooklyn Cake Master's Supremely Funky
Snip from NY Times story:
years ago, a party planner working for the hip-hop artist Mary J.
Blige ordered a birthday cake for her from a Brooklyn baker who had
long ago retired his given name - Raven Patrick De'Sean Dennis III -
for the shorter if equally titular designation Cake Man Raven.
In celebration of Ms. Blige's 33rd birthday, Mr. Dennis
constructed a cake that paid tribute not to any single one of her
achievements or affinities, but, ostensibly, to all of them. Four feet
wide and 26 inches tall, the cake featured edible approximations of a
CD, a musical note, a Dolce & Gabbana shopping bag, a Christian Dior
purse, a MAC cosmetics compact, a dove and a near-life-size baby,
meant to symbolize Ms. Blige's spiritual rebirth.
Whether by happenstance or design, Cake Man Raven has become the
city's most visually strident opponent of the restrained preciousness
that has overtaken the baking world. Few would confuse the results of
his labor with anything found in Real Simple. Instead, Mr. Dennis's
cakes and Mr. Dennis himself - or Cake, as he identifies himself over
the phone - have a sense of the epic about them. For the Rev. Al
Sharpton, he once made a model of the Bible turned to Timothy 2:15
("Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved"); for Cab
Calloway's 80th birthday, a songbook with a grand piano resting on
top; for Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough President, a replica of
its Borough Hall, twice. When the rapper Jam Master J died in 2002, he
made a cake in the shape of a large Adidas sneaker with a gold chain
and two turntables on it.
Link to NYT story
Here's the Cake Man's website with more photos:
Posted Tue Apr 19th, 2005 - 11:11am by
Top of page
In February, Google
introduced Google Maps, a faster and better-looking alternative to
MapQuest and other online mapping sites. Last month it added a touch
that made Google Maps different from any competitor: high-resolution
aerial photos of the area covered by the maps, which visitors can zoom
in on for a closer bird's-eye view. (These photos came from
company Google bought last year.) Go to
enter a ZIP code, Postal code or address, and then click the
"satellite" button to switch from map to photo. In either view you can
get driving instructions from one point to another, as with other map
sites. But when the route is traced in the photos, the turns and
waypoints are much more vivid.
But don't try this until you have an hour or two to spare. It is
difficult to resist the temptation to zoom down to your own house,
then your childhood elementary school, then Honolulu, then Disneyland.
Not all places are shown in super-high-resolution: in general, the
greater the population density, the sharper the image. If you click on
the screen, you can pan from place to place, as if flying. A waste of
time, perhaps -- but fascinating!
The real importance of Google's map and satellite program, however,
is not its impressive exterior but the novel technology, known as
Ajax, that lies beneath.
Posted Mon Apr 18th, 2005 - 2:49pm by
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"Buy a Gun Day", 2005
first I thought BAG Day was a joke -- until I realized that these
American folks are dead serious about celebrating their 2nd Amendment
Keeping a happy, but bleary eye on the blogosphere
celebrations, is Aaron at Aaron's C.C. (formerly
Aaron the Liberal Slayer) -- who is tallying this years blogs
against the "them-thar-Liberal anti-gun" crowd.
From the site:
Here it is, the Sunday before Buy A Gun Day, April 15. For the
third year, we’re turning the liberal holiday of forcible asset
seizure into one of our own. It’s a little solace.
I’ve decided to plan the week as follows for linkers to link,
cite and trackback.
Some background… I’ll fess up that I am a relative newbie to the
world of guns, having grown up a public school educated son of a
Jewish Ivy League professor within such close proximity to New York
City that the New York Times was both canon and at the in-city price.
Please forgive my mistakes as those of a late coming enthusiast. I got
on the fence about the Second Amendment during the Bernie Goetz trial
(if you don’t remember riding the NYC subways in the 1970’s, STFU
because you don’t know how bad it was). I became a complete convert
during the Los Angeles riots, when the goblins outnumbered law
enforcement and storefronts within a quarter mile of my home were
burned to the ground. Two years ago, I joined the NRA.
Now, I’m trying to make up for lost time by getting out the word
and encouraging not-yet-owners to at least become better informed and
owners to make an effort to recruit those who may be standing on the
fence or to move from the opposition to the ranks of the uncertain.
That the blogosphere enables me to coordinate the third Buy A
Gun Day while I live in the shadow of the Hollywood sign only makes
the results of my effort sweeter.
The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791, my wife’s
birthday. I find that auspicious.
Read more of the
"Well, IM viruses seem to be the next thing. I think the
legislative branch is going too slowly on raising penalties on
spammers, virus writers, spyware makers, phishers and the like.
LEESBURG, Va. - A man convicted in the nation’s first felony
case against illegal spamming was sentenced to nine years in
prison Friday for bombarding Internet users with millions of junk
I’m almost hoping that the spouse or child of a senator or
prominent congressman or a celebrity gets their identity stolen or
their work raped by a hacker so that teeth are put into the laws.
The recent 9 year sentence is a good start but not enough.
The world would benefit from bounty hunting of spammers and
malicious hackers, dead or alive. I’m not being hyperbolic. Let’s do
One spammer sends out 10 million messages a day, each
requiring 30 seconds of handling. That’s 5 million minutes or 3472
days or roughly 9.5 years of human life “stolen” by the hacker. In
two business weeks at this rate, that’s 10 days or 95 years of human
potential stolen. The way I calculate it, it’s a mitzvah to
aggressively waste these punks before they steal more human
potential. It’ll take a few high-profile cases but until the script
kiddies and their mentors are deathly afraid to waste other people’s
time, we aren’t trying nearly hard enough.
And I think it wouldn’t only be nice but MANDATORY to use
one’s Buy A Gun Day purchase for cleaning up the Internet. Heck, I’d
even let the government subsidize the ammo.
By the way, the spammer hunting license above is just one of
50 available in shirts, hats and other swag. Click on the image to
get your state. I chose Florida to represent to celebrate their
relaxing of carry and defense laws."
Scary. Lots more where this came from:
Christian Guide to Small Arms
Posted Fri Apr 15th, 2005 - 8:45am by
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Is Cheap Broadband Un-American?
Article Available in the Current Edition of "In
Posted Thu Apr 14th, 2005 - 11:59pm by
Top of page
have Big Media to thank for saving Americans from themselves.
Just as the notion of affordable broadband for all was beginning to
take hold in towns and cities across the country, the patriots at
Verizon, Qwest, Comcast, Bell South and SBC Communications have
created legislation that will stop the “red
menace” of community internet before it invades our homes.
And to think that Americans might want to receive high-speed access
at costs below the monopoly rates set by these few Internet Service
Today, monthly broadband packages offered by the national carriers
hover above $50, barring access to millions of Americans who can’t
afford the sticker price.
Cities and towns across the country have taken up the task of
building a cheaper alternative -- often choosing easy-to-build
wireless mesh networks -- to bridge the gap that has kept many on
darker side of the digital divide.
Telecommunications giants have mobilized a well-funded army of
coin-operated think tanks, pliant legislators and lazy journalists
to protect their Internet fiefdoms from these municipal internet
initiatives, painting them as an affront to American innovation and
Their weapon of choice is
industry-crafted legislation that restricts local governments
from offering public service Internet access at reasonable rates.
Laws are already on the books in a dozen states. This year
alone, 10 states are considering similar bills to block public
broadband or to strengthen existing restrictions. Spinning broadband
as theirs alone to provide, ISPs have chalked up some early
victories—including a draconian law now on the books in
Pennsylvania, which strips local governments of the right to choose
their own homegrown broadband solutions without the prior approval
of a monopoly phone company. In late 2004, Verizon
dictated the law word-for-word to local legislators, who then
quietly slipped it into the middle of a 72-page bill that appeared
to call for improved communications infrastructure for all
It will have the opposite effect...
Read the rest
Don't be fooled by the spin on Iraq
By Jonathan Steele,
Saddam Hussein's effigy was pulled down again in Baghdad's
Firdos Square at the weekend. But unlike the made-for-TV event when US
troops first entered the Iraqi capital, the toppling of Saddam on the
occupation's second anniversary was different.
Instead of being done by US marines with a few dozen Iraqi
bystanders, 300,000 Iraqis were on hand. They threw down effigies of
Bush and Blair as well as the old dictator, at a rally that did not
celebrate liberation but called for the immediate departure of foreign
For most Iraqis, with the exception of the Kurds, Washington's
"liberation" never was. Wounded national pride was greater than relief
at Saddam's departure. Iraqis were soon angered by the failure to get
power and water supplies repaired, the brutality of US army tactics,
and the disappearance of their country's precious oil revenues into
inadequately supervised accounts, or handed to foreigners under
contracts that produced no benefits for Iraqis...
rest of this article at
Potemkin Village at
Posted Wed Apr 13th, 2005 - 10:59pm by
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Klaatu is Getting Back Together
Last Updated Tue, 12 Apr 2005 16:22:02 EDT
- The members of Klaatu, the
mystery musicians who were once rumoured to be the Beatles, are
getting back together.
The Canadian trio – made up of Terry Draper, Dee Long, and John
Woloschuck – is reuniting for a weekend gathering in May called
Klaatu Kon: World Contact Day 2005.
Fans who participate will be able to see Klaatu perform an
acoustic set, their first live performance as a band since they toured
for the first – and last – time in the early 1980s.
The band had success in the 1970s with such songs as Calling
Occupants (of Interplanetary Craft), which was later covered by the
But the biggest boost to the group's career was a rumour
circulating in 1977 that Klaatu was actually the reconstituted
Although the band denied starting the rumour, they helped to
fuel it by keeping themselves hidden from public view.
Rabid Beatles fans searched Klaatu and Beatles album covers for
hints that the two groups were linked. They pointed to evidence like
the fact that, on the cover of Ringo Starr's Goodbye Vienna,
the drummer's head is pasted on the alien Klaatu from the movie The
Day the Earth Stood Still.
Driven by the speculation, the band's debut album, 3:47 EST,
rose to No. 32 on the Billboard chart.
Among the other guests at the event will be Steve Smith, the
journalist who was the original source of the 1977 rumour. While
working at a newspaper in Rhode Island, Smith wrote an article setting
forth the theory that the Beatles had reunited in secret and were
recording as Klaatu.
The group's members eventually revealed their true identities,
and Klaatu broke up after five albums.
Klaatu Kon, which takes place May 6 to 8 in Toronto, will also
mark the release of Sun Set: 1973-1981, a CD collection that
includes rare material from the band.
People are coming from as far away as Denmark, Germany and
Switzerland to take part. One of the other planned activities is a
"magical bus tour of Toronto."
"The response to this has been wonderful," said organizer Sharon
Vernon. "Our staff is really looking forward to putting on a show that
these long-time fans will remember for years to come."
Posted Tue Apr 12th,
2005 - 10:20pm by CPC
Top of page
Guitar Synthesizer or Acoustic
that time of year, when all mediocre guitarists get a hankering
for a new axe. Well, no; That's probably just me. I've
been itching to play more electric, and miss my old
SD-300 (owned 1980-1998). Happily, there are lots of cool
electric guitars to consider, and I'm thinking that I may even want to
revisit the world of guitar synthesizers, and particularly the
Roland GR-33 (pictured right). There are lots of high end
electrics with 13-pin Roland synth outs (Godin,
Brian Moore - to name a few), and it's even possible to retrofit
any guitar with a 13 pin midi-out kit. The fantasy? That the artist I
will be touring with says "gee, I wish we have had a Hammond B-3 with
a pair of Leslies on that song...", and I say "hey! I can do that
sound on my great new guitar synth!".
All that said, I have been considering a new acoustic
guitar as well -- something more versatile that those I already own,
and one that is playable every Sunday for worship. I don't need
anything particularly high end -- however, decent electronics,
low/fast action, and a cutaway are a must. On the short list for
consideration are the
Taylor 314 CE (Taylor, the Lay's potato chip of guitars -- you
can't have just one), a
Larrivée OM-5EV, and another guitar I keep coming back to -- the
I am also watching the eBay price for this
feller from Yamaha.
In truth, any of my
equipped with electronics do quite well in most situations. I'm either
"emotionally" due for a change, or trying to mask something that I
cannot change! While my vote is for the latter -- I'm sincere in
thinking that my playing will improve with a new "love" in my life.
I know, I know... guitars don't love people, PEOPLE love
Posted Mon Apr 11th,
2005 - 8:09pm by CPC
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Save the Cod, Eat a Seal
that time of year, when most good Newfoundlanders get a
hankering for a feed of fresh seal. The years I spent in St. John's
while my Grandfather was alive would include at least one obligatory
trip to the harbourfront to buy some flipper or seal backs off the
boats coming in from the ice. This part of the ordeal was
absolutely disgusting, as a bayman with a lit smoke hanging out the
corner of his gob would don rubber gloves and dig deep into a bloody
bucket, barrel or fish box, and pull out seal meat in butchered chunks
of 5 lbs or more. This dripping mess would go into a couple of
plastic bags, money would exchange hands, and the stinky prize would
be followed out to the trunk of the car by a swarm of flies.
Baked or roasted seal meat is very dark and rich, with a
slight fishy aroma. This is not high on my list of things to eat --
but it is definitely a taste of home. I enjoyed a least one meal of
seal a year -- usually a part of a fundraising dinner (although my
Grandfather would often send me home with a "cooked dinner" plate of
seal roast -- sometime after our excursion to the harbour apron).
I'm all for the seal cull, and believe strongly that the
seal populations in the Northwest Atlantic need to be carefully
managed as part of a strategy to allow every opportunity for the cod
stock to return from the brink of extinction. While the
disappearance of cod off the coast of Newfoundland can mostly be
attributed to climatic change and over fishing (read: Canadian Federal
Government mismanagement of the resource), an unchecked seal
population has much to do with the inability for the fish to make much
of a comeback. It has long been proven that 100% of the seal can be
utilized, and a sustained hunt could support many disenfranchised
fishers -- removing them from the revolving door of social assistance.
What if young lobsters were cute? Or sculpins?
Or baymen? (Latter two pictured below).
Anna Nicole Smith Cancels Protest Trip
Friday, April 08, 2005
NEW YORK — Anna Nicole Smith has canceled a trip to Newfoundland to
protest the killing of seals because of concerns about safety.
The model and reality TV star had been scheduled to join a protest
by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in the Canadian
province. When the animal rights group learned that her security could
not be guaranteed, they advised her to cancel.
"We felt it just wasn't safe to put her in that position," PETA
spokesman Michael McGraw told The Associated Press Friday. "Working
with activists who are protesting on the ice floe last week and again
this week, they found that the seal hunters became physically violent
and actually attacked many of the protesters on the ice."
Instead, Smith issued a statement on
a PETA Web site.
"The sealing industry says that it is killing more seals because of
an increase in demand for fur — all fur," says Smith. "Anyone who buys
a mink or fox fur coat or a jacket trimmed in fur bears responsibility
for creating an environment of demand for the furs of these baby
Update: Phony Seal Hunt (from
the Museum of Hoaxes)
The latest nugget of fake news from the world of journalism
concerns a seal hunt that never took place. A Boston Globe writer,
Barbara Stewart, described the
slaughter of baby seals off the coast of Newfoundland in great
detail. What she didn't know was that the hunt had been delayed, and
so hadn't begun yet. Oops.
Posted Sat Apr 9th,
2005 - 5:37pm by CPC
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Cookie Monster Cuts Back
on his Favourite Food
YORK - Cookie Monster, the blue-furred Muppet known for his voracious
appetite (seen with Hoots the Owl on the right), will be eating less
of his favourite food in the coming season.
The change in Cookie Monster's diet is part of a new focus on
television's Sesame Street, one that will stress healthy eating
habits for children.
Cookie Monster is famous for scarfing down cookies by the
plateful. He is so enamoured of cookies that he has been known to
burst into song, chanting in his throaty voice, "'C' is for cookie,
that's good enough for me."
Now that Sesame Street is in its 36th season, which
kicked off this week, he will be singing a different tune – called
Cookies Are a Sometimes Food.
The song will preach restraint, telling children that some foods
can be eaten "anytime," while others – like cookies – should be eaten
Each new episode of Sesame Street will also open with a health
tip for kids about nutrition or exercise.
Guest stars, like singer Alicia Keys and New York Senator
Hillary Clinton, will talk about the same topics.
New characters will be featured, including talking eggplants and
carrots. The segment American Fruit Stand will parody
Posted Sat Apr 9th,
2005 - 3:35pm by CPC
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The Madonna Syndrome in the
recent days -- with Papists and Neo-Conservatives speculating on who
should be given full credit for the demise of Communism in eastern
Europe (in reality, while Reagan would have been delighted to take the
honor, John Paul II made it very clear that communism was a rotten
tree that he had but pushed) -- it occurs to me that the lurid side of
Western Culture had (and has) a major impact for ideological change.
It was often said that Madonna videos and the mass appeal of
western youth culture played a large role in eroding the moral
legitimacy of the communist world. Wannabe hipsters living behind the
iron or bamboo curtains (remember those?) just couldn't be sold on the
Marxist theology of
dialectical materialism: they wanted the
Now the NY Sun's often flaky, Washington DC-based Iraqi columnist
Nibras Kazimi observes that home-grown Arab pop stars like Lebanon's
Nancy Ajram and
May Hariri or Egypt's
Maria may be
about to do the same thing to the traditional order in the mideast:
The old order in the Arab Middle East is doomed and it shall
be vanquished by the power of cleavage; specifically, the power of
the commercially overexposed cleavage of a certain Middle Eastern
sex siren with the name of Heifa Wehbe.
If one were to canvass young Arab Middle Easterners between the
ages of 15 and 25, and ask them about the most prominent Lebanese
personality of their times, they would not cite the melancholy-faced
opposition politician Walid Jumbulat, but rather the buxom bomb of
foxy sexuality and mediocre pop singer Heifa Wehbe. What about the
most prominent Egyptian national? Mubarak who? No, it’s got to be
Ruby, or her upstart challenger, Maria.
This young generation accounts for more than half of the
population of the Middle East. Their TV viewing habits, according to
studies and anecdotal evidence, would have them allocating five
minutes a day to Al Jazeera and news outlets, and five hours daily
to Rotana, Mazzika, Melody Arabia and other MTV-like satellite
channels. Instead of news tickers on the bottom of these screens,
young Middle Easterners send love notes to each other via cellular
text messaging. . .
rest of it.
proof that you should not blog while under the influence.
Posted Fri Apr 8th,
2005 - 1:34pm by CPC
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Like most folks in the these here parts, I have been both curious
and amazed by the effluent coming from the ever-leaking
As I would be in
contempt of court for discussing this, please do not visit the
link provided above.
Posted Thu Apr 7th,
2005 - 11:47am by CPC
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Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I'll be here 'til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
It's always tease, tease, tease
You're happy when I'm on my knees
One day is fine the next is black
So if you want me off your back
Well come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An' if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know...
Should I Stay or Should I Go? - The Clash
I really enjoy "This American Life" on
NPR and I am
delighted that you can listen to
the web. I tend to keep going back to old favorites, again and again.
One episode that I heard not too long ago was entitled: "Not Far
From The Tree". It is “Act 2” of the set of 3 stories under the topic:
“Should I Stay or Should I Go.” - Stories about people teetering on
the edge of this question: should they stay or go?
It is the story of a software writer at Apple Computer whose job
contract ends, but he refuses to simply move on. Instead, he continues
to show up at work every day, sneaking in the front door, hiding out
in empty offices, and putting in long hours on a project the company
has long since cancelled. There were no meetings, no office politics,
no managers interfering with his work. Soon he had written a perfect
piece of software. His final problem is figuring out how to secretly
install it in Apple’s new computers without anyone noticing. He even
does a presentation of the new Apple products to some computer
technicians in Ireland… and then comes clean that he doesn’t even work
There is a happy ending! His software ends up on hundreds of
thousands of Apple Computers, and he actually gets paid for his work…
by Apple. And yes, this really is a true story. Check
I’m sure there is a movie in the works… there should at least be a
book. However, I still love having stories read to me, and that story
I heard over the car stereo hit me as fabulously quirky, and for some
strange reason -- it still resonates with me.
Posted Wed Apr 6th,
2005 - 12:05pm by CPC
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The World is Flat!
"In the land where I come from," said the Man in the Hat,
"It's a known fact that world is flat.
"People may laugh at me, and people may scoff,
But I know of someone who's fallen off."
--Michael Palin/Daniel González
Illustration by Michael Foreman
It's a Flat World, After All
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published in the
NYT: April 3, 2005
In 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail for India, going west. He
had the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. He never did find India,
but he called the people he met ''Indians'' and came home and reported
to his king and queen: ''The world is round.'' I set off for India 512
years later. I knew just which direction I was going. I went east. I
had Lufthansa business class, and I came home and reported only to my
wife and only in a whisper: ''The world is flat.''
And therein lies a tale of technology and geoeconomics that is
fundamentally reshaping our lives -- much, much more quickly than many
people realize. It all happened while we were sleeping, or rather
while we were focused on 9/11, the dot-com bust and Enron -- which
even prompted some to wonder whether globalization was over. Actually,
just the opposite was true, which is why it's time to wake up and
prepare ourselves for this flat world, because others already are, and
there is no time to waste.
I wish I could say I saw it all coming. Alas, I encountered the
flattening of the world quite by accident. It was in late February of
last year, and I was visiting the Indian high-tech capital, Bangalore,
working on a documentary for the Discovery Times channel about
outsourcing. In short order, I interviewed Indian entrepreneurs who
wanted to prepare my taxes from Bangalore, read my X-rays from
Bangalore, trace my lost luggage from Bangalore and write my new
software from Bangalore. The longer I was there, the more upset I
became -- upset at the realization that while I had been off covering
the 9/11 wars, globalization had entered a whole new phase, and I had
missed it. I guess the eureka moment came on a visit to the campus of
Infosys Technologies, one of the crown jewels of the Indian
outsourcing and software industry. Nandan Nilekani, the Infosys
C.E.O., was showing me his global video-conference room, pointing with
pride to a wall-size flat-screen TV, which he said was the biggest in
Asia. Infosys, he explained, could hold a virtual meeting of the key
players from its entire global supply chain for any project at any
time on that supersize screen. So its American designers could be on
the screen speaking with their Indian software writers and their Asian
manufacturers all at once. That's what globalization is all about
today, Nilekani said. Above the screen there were eight clocks that
pretty well summed up the Infosys workday: 24/7/365. The clocks were
labeled U.S. West, U.S. East, G.M.T., India, Singapore, Hong Kong,
Read the rest
If the link to the NYT does not work, read it
Posted Tue Apr 5th,
2005 - 11:38am by CPC
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The Sound of One Hand
experienced something of a sad realization last night. While I would
have trouble putting the details into words, I can sum up the jist of
it all with "the sound of one hand clapping".
Now, I've tried this at home; While not quite as effective as two
hands enthusiastically going at it -- one hand can clap rather
noticeably, thank you very much! "But what does it all mean?"
you may well ask. Honestly, I don't know yet -- but it feels
Fuzzy memories of long-ago studies in comparative religion and
eastern philosophy are not helpful (as a Christian, I can attest that
these provide convoluted mirrors of God's own Truth at best).
Consider the following ubiquitous Zen blither on the subject at hand
What is the Sound of the Single Hand? When you clap together
both hands a sharp sound is heard; when you raise the one hand there
is neither sound nor smell. Is this the High Heaven of which Confucius
speaks? Or is it the essentials of what Yamamba describes in these
words: "The echo of the completely empty valley bears tidings heard
from the soundless sound?" This is something that can by no means be
heard with the ear. If conceptions and discriminations are not mixed
within it and it is quite apart from seeing, hearing, perceiving, and
knowing, and if, while walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, you
proceed straightforwardly without interruption in the study of this
koan, you will suddenly pluck out the karmic root of birth and death
and break down the cave of ignorance. Thus you will attain to a peace
in which the phoenix has left the golden net and the crane has been
set free of the basket. At this time the basis of mind, consciousness,
and emotion is suddenly shattered; the realm of illusion with its
endless sinking in the cycle of birth and death is overturned. The
treasure accumulation of the Three Bodies and the Four Wisdoms is
taken away, and the miraculous realms of the Six Supernatural Powers
and Three Insights is transcended. *
Despite having read
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff nearly 20 years ago, I can barely
understand Taoist philosophy either.
* From p. 164, Yabukoji, in The Zen Master Hakuin:
Selected Writings, Translated by Philip B. Yampolsky, Columbia
University Press, New York and London, 1971.
Posted Mon Apr 4th,
2005 - 11:47am by CPC
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For John Paul II
September 1984, I just happened to be be where the pope was
visiting. Although not a Roman Catholic (and not exercising much
faith of any sort at the time), I was struck by the profound and
lingering effect this man had on folks around me. I always
admired him as a multi-linguist and champion for peace and justice --
but only now have a inkling of the incredible weight of his office,
and the grace, humility, dignity, faith and integrity with which he
bore that cross. Truly he is a man who loves Jesus Christ, and
one who has served God with all that he has within himself.
LORD, look down from heaven behold visit and relieve this thy servant.
Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy, give him comfort and sure
confidence in thee, defend him from the danger of the enemy, and keep
him in perpetual peace and safety; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
UNTO God’s gracious mercy and protection we commit thee. The Lord
bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee,
and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee,
and give thee peace, both now and evermore. Amen.
image and prayer lifted from RAF(wN)
Posted Sat Apr 2nd,
2005 - 1:32pm by CPC
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America’s Next Top Monk
Fox Network has rolled out a new reality TV show, "America’s Next
Top Monk" that pits humble, celibate men against each other in a
battle to win coveted titles.
According a Fox Network spokesman, "Ten monks, who have been chosen
from Christian and Buddhist monasteries across the country, compete
against each other in various categories, such as meditation/prayer,
chanting, fruitcake baking, and fasting. "
the following story is from
Move Over, 'Top Model' --Meet 'America’s Next Top Monk'
New reality series pits low-key cloistered men against each
other in battle to win coveted titles.
Los Angeles, April 1-- From the creators of "Nun
Makeovers" and in the tradition of "America's Next Top Model," FOX’s
new reality show, "America’s Next Top Monk" pits humble, celibate
men against each other in a battle to win coveted titles like "Best
Ten monks, who have been chosen from Christian and Buddhist
monasteries across the country, compete against each other in
various categories, such as meditation/prayer, chanting, fruitcake
baking, and fasting.
the category of Habit Haberdashery, one Carthusian brother fared
well when celebrity judge Carson Kressley--of Queer Eye for the
Straight Guy--chose him to go on a fashion outing. Friar Malcolm
Harris won praise for his orange habit with a purple and white
striped tie wrapped around his waist as a cincture. “He looked
smashing,” said Kressley. “Orange is the new brown and the splash of
purple was fabuloso.”
Viewers call in at the end of every episode and vote off the monk
of their choice. The remaining monk will get $1,000,000 toward the
charity of his choice and a lifetime supply of Birkenstocks.
Competition has been fierce so far. Last week in the series
premiere, Friar Robert Marcano of New York City, who was later the
first to be eliminated, told Friar Patrick O’ Reilly of San
Francisco that his fruitcake was so horrible that he wouldn’t give
it away in the soup kitchen he runs “for fear the homeless might
“Top Monk” creator Jason Johnson says that it was tough choosing
the ten that ultimately made the cut. “There was an extensive
casting call,” he says. “We went to shopping malls all over the
country. The line of monks went all the way from the Sports
Authority to the Piercing Pagoda at one place. I couldn’t believe
Johnson also says that he has another show in the works for next
season, though he refuses to tell what it’s titled. “Let’s just say
it involves priests and lots and lots of sacramental wine,” he says
with a chuckle.
Posted Fri Apr 1st,
2005 - 11:00am by CPC
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