Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pakistan: Cricket star Khan freed

Imram Khan, the Pakistani cricket star who started a hunger strike Monday to protest the state of emergency imposed in Pakistan, was freed with hundreds of other political prisoners!

Monday, November 19, 2007

From the Seattle Post-Intellingencer: Dissent starts with a YouTube clip.

Mark Trahant, editor of the Seattle Post-Intellingencer editorial page, wrote an opinion piece on Pakistan, dissent, and YouTube. Please check out the article here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Holy f'in Meat Puppets!!!!!

Two mornings after the Meat Puppets' Saturday night show at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, I am still on the floor!

First off, the Varsity is a very nice venue. It is carpeted, warm, clean, with tables on both sides and above the main floor. It has the ambiance of a jazz-dinner club, which was inviting and frankly, quite a bit better on the feet than standing on the hardened floor of most other venues. As part of the now 40+ club, it was great walking into the Varsity and not fee like the normally out-of-place, maturing, male rock fan, aka "the creepy old guy," (ala Greg Behrendt). Part of my tribe now includes other aging hipsters, and we weathered and peppered-haired individuals were a majority on Saturday!

Ha Ha Tonka, a band from the Ozarks, opened. They played the typical 30 or so minutes, and they had enough diversity and energy to keep me engaged the entire time. Two songs in particular stick out. They performed an a cappella piece, later followed by Black Betty. They closed their set with a country-flavored morsel that was a good appetizer before the Puppets came on.

It has been 19 years since I saw them in the Cleveland Flats at Peabody's Down Under. My head at the time was filled with both Grateful Dead and many punk songs. I was wondering how they would sound after a long break filled with personal struggles. (The Onion did a good interview with them.)

Curt came out, followed by Ted, followed by Cris. I was fortunate to get a space right in front of Cris. They warmed up with a couple bars, then we were Attacked by Monsters for the opener!

Cris was wiry and on fire as he beat on his bass, while Curt played fluidly. Ted Marcus, although not the original drummer, played well with the Kirkwoods throughout the set, which included Up On the Sun, Plateau, Looking at the Rain, Lost, and The Whistling Song.

As they were nearing the end of the show, they pulled out their ferocious jams, a mixture between very fast punk rhythm and psychedelic jams. Those couple of interludes amazed me, and I felt they played even stronger when I saw them years ago!

They wrapped up an encore of Climbing, Maiden's Milk, and Backwater. The latter was their only hit song, but one that many in the audience were excited to hear.

I was gratified to see them play again and with so much intensity!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Conference on the Grateful Dead

Weirophile Irenie, at Weir Freaking, wrote a post partially about the upcoming conference, Unbroken Chain: The Grateful Dead in Music, Culture and Memory at the University of Massachusetts. As noted in the comments section, Steve Gimbel will be blogging about the conference at his blog, Philosophers' Playground.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Interesting lecture last night by Fred Pearce

Last evening I went to Macalester College for Fred Pearce's lecture based on his book When the Rivers Run Dry. The main premise is that the downside of the Green Revolution, which prevented even more widespread hunger, is that there are now water shortages in different parts of the world. These shortages may be responsible for conflicts in the future.

Many crops that we enjoy, such as cotton, alfalfa, and coffee, require huge amounts of water for their growth. The amount of "virtual water" that gets traded in the forms of goods is enormous; there is no feasible way to move that amount of actual water around the globe.

As dire as some of this talk was, he highlighted the use of different technologies, such as drip irrigation, that made efficient use of water for crops in some countries.

Reasonable and just water usage is something that we as a human family need to examine carefully.

Game One, Joe v Dad

Here's the first game I played with my father. I realized 29. g5 was a mistake, and I held my breath while he looked at a different part of the position.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Much too busy lately...

...although it has all been rather good. I just had my parents in town to celebrate a big birthday with me (a hint: it begins with a 4.) It was great, as I haven't had a birthday with them since I moved to Minnesota. We had a relatively quiet Friday, the day of my birthday, and a busy Saturday, with a party at Buca's in St. Paul.

They got me a special present of a set of wooden chess pieces. I have only used it twice now, and those two games were with my dad. I greatly appreciate that surprise present--it was over and above the gift of their presence in town!

This weekend I co-ran the computer work for Minneapolis Public School's Check It Out tournament. It was great to see so many students, from beginner to well skilled, play.

Yesterday we had a pleasant day working in the yard. It was very nice, as today it is blustery!