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Well, the Internet connection in the hotel was broken (literally, the wires were all torn out of the wall), so we had to wait until coming to Ann Arbor today to get online. We're in this deli right now.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
The World at Large ... Permalink




We're heading to Detroit for the rest of the year to watch hockey, drink and enjoy cheap Canadian entertainment. I don't know if there'll be any 'net access available, but if not I'll post up pictures when we get back, along with a series of 2004-in-review posts.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Administration ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




To the pole, for the airing of grievances!

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
The World at Large ... Permalink




Interesting development -- Juliana Hatfield is now offering free, new songs for download from her website as unrestricted MP3's.

The concept is this: there's a furor raging over the legal and ethical position on free music download and sharing. On the one hand there are huge multinational corporations suing children and grandparents for copying digital files that let them listen to songs so ubiquitous as Paranoid and Happy Birthday. On the other side of the line drawn in the silica is the rest of the world whose sense of entitlement makes them think that the work of artists belongs somehow, inaliebly, to the people. Copy and share, copy and share, this part of the world somehow believes that acquiring the product of artists' labor is somehow helping the artists, just by listening. Maybe it is. At their most honest, the file-sharers admit that the artists' livelihood is really not their issue and the downloading proceeds apace.


When a song is downloaded, you will have an option. You can decide that ownership of this song is your right and freely distribute the files to your friends and to the people who also think it's their right, without payment. Or, you can support the artist who wrote and recorded this song and click the PAYPAL button to the right of the download link and send Juliana a contribution. The iTunes standard of $.99 may seem too high for you, in which case you can send $.50 - though there is virtually nothing else you can buy legally for $.50. Alternatively, you can think of the number of people with whom you might share this file and give a multiple of $.99.

There are four songs posted so far, and they just started a couple weeks ago. I've only listened to them once each, but at least one is quite a bit better than what was on her latest album, so hopefully there's more good stuff to come, maybe even some tracks from her lost album, God's Foot.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




Geez louise, I should have known that George Bush isn't the only stupid idiot from Texas.

This guy calls me up on the 15 minute line and we get to talking. He's from Texas and he wants to know if my boyfriend is home. When I tell him no, he asks if I live in an apartment building. Of course I do! He says he wishes my boyfriend was home so that he could hear him fuck me over the phone. He wants to know if there is anyone in the building that I want to fuck. Of course there is! I tell him there is this guy three doors down who I've had my eye on. He tells me to take off my clothes and go knock on his door in just my bra and panties. I oblige, and head down there. I knock on the wall next to my "phone sex chair" pretending to knock on a door and then I start talking to "George," the guy down the hall, giggling and ask him if he is suprised to see me like this. Guy on the phone tells me to take him back to my apartment, so I tell George to follow me, and of course, he does. See how this is going? Everything phone guy wants, phone guy gets. Until he tells me he wants George to say something. I tell him George can't talk to him because his mouth is full of my pussy. Unfortunately, he is unsatisfied with this answer and starts to accuse me of not really having a guy there.

NO FUCKING SHIT!!!! You fucking perv! Don't ruin your own fantasy by asking for proof! Does a child demand to see Santa on Christmas morning, or does he just rip into the presents? Does a Christian demand to see Jesus, or are they reminded that 'blessed are those who don't see but believe?' And likewise, blessed are the pervs who ejaculate without hearing the voice of the man who is fucking me.

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink ...
Comments (2)




I've been thinking a lot about how to address the siege being waged on BitTorrent sites by the MPAA, the RIAA and the law enforcement agencies of various nations. The situation looks basically like this. The BitTorrent protocol is a distributed peer-to-peer system in which clients connect to trackers to find else what other clients are sharing a particular file. The clients then connect to each other and send data back and forth. The trackers themselves are not actually handling any of the data, which is the defense put forth by the operators.

The MPAA and RIAA don't care. They have issued cease and desist letters to some operators, engaged in distributed denial of service attacks against some trackers and actually had police raid some others. A handful of end-users have had lawsuits filed against them, but this is primarily an assault on the servers. Many of these servers (in fact, the vast majority of the high-trafficked ones) are located in Europe and Asia, and subject to American laws; however, local law enforcement agencies appear quite willing to help out. In the last few days, two of the top BitTorrent sites -- Suprnova and TorrentBits -- closed up shop for good. A number of other sites seem to have been lost as well, and those that remain are operating extremely slowly under the burden of new traffic.

(Now comes the part where I try not to incriminate myself too much.)

The problem with this approach is exactly the same as the problem with the way the RIAA approached Napster several years ago. When Napster started to get pinched, Audiogalaxy, WinMX and KaZaa stepped in; meanwhile, people started running private Napster servers using the OpenNap system. In the two days since the closing of TorrentBits became official, I've found about ten new-ish sites that fill the same niche and any of which could become just as big.

BitTorrent alone accounts for about a third of all Internet traffic. It's not very secure when it comes to anonymity, but there are a lot of people working on that problem. It's not going anywhere, and it's an exceptionally well-designed delivery system. The MPAA could look at what happened when the RIAA dragged its feet on legal downloads (about 200,000,000 songs have been purchased for download ever, compared with about 1,500,000,000 that are freely downloaded each month) and decide to use BitTorrent to develop online distribution right now. They could realize that the people using BitTorrent the most don't have much money to sue away but are very enthusiastic about the music, movies and TV that they download. These people are simply not costing anybody any money; the greatest crime they are committing against the entertainment industry is getting the word out early about crap product.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Technophunk ... Permalink



White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, addressing Social Security on ABC's This Week:

We have a responsibility not to pass on problems that we know about to future generations.

Pure class, these guys.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Today's Daily Howler looks at a CBS Evening News report filed on Wednesday by John Roberts, potential successor to Dan Rather.

Roberts says, in part:

Franklin Roosevelt's Social Security safety net is quickly developing huge financial holes. In 1935, the system was flush, 16 workers paid in for every one that drew retirement benefits. That ratio is now just a little more than 3 to 1. By the time all the baby boomers have retired, just 2 to 1. In 2042, Social Security will become insolvent, and today's young workers risk losing their benefits.

"Quickly?" We first started addressing what is now being called the Social Security "crisis" in 1983. And those "huge financial holes" will not even be visible for almost four decades; when Roberts says "insolvent," what he really means that Social Security won't be able to meet the benefits it promises as of right now, based on the long-term projections we have right now. If the economy were to grow at 2% instead of the projected 1.8%, well, then everything would be just fine. This is no more "insolvency" than is buying a new cellphone plan that you might not be able to afford if your Christmas bonus is $1,000 instead of $1,200.

Incredibly, he continued:

President Bush wants to mend the holes, allowing workers to invest a small portion of their weekly payroll taxes in stocks and bonds that will grow or fall with the market.

"A small portion" is likely to be "two-thirds" when the bill hits Congress. This report was such a disservice to the public that Dan Rather actually had to add after it that "many critics" don't buy the Bush Administration's lies about Social Security being in "crisis."

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




So the pundit class is all a-flutter about the withdrawal of Kerik's nomination as Minister of the Homefront. Let's look at the things we know about this situation:

  • The initial reason for the withdrawal is that Kerik had a surprise "nanny problem." Now it seems that he's had at least two affairs, as well.
  • Kerik has also had a warrant issued for his arrest relating to his ownership of a condo in New Jersey, and appears to be mobbed up.
  • Not to mention his sudden, premature and unexplained departure from his job training Iraqi security forces.
  • The White House claims not to have known about the nanny or the affairs but obfuscates on whether or not their vetting process (run by AG-nom Gonzales) revealed the other stuff; they obviously know that he left Iraq extremely early and for no given reason.
  • Kerik was widely seen as Giuliani's choice and a proxy for the slippery-tongued adulterer himself.
  • Giuliani's rise to national prominence in the last three years has him in the list of likely candidates for the 2008 Republican nomination for President. Despite being pro-choice, pro-gay rights and generally center-left on most social issues and pro-urban on the economic issues that most divide urban and rural voters, some people who would know (including at least one poli. sci. professor here in Madison) believe he has a shot at taking the nomination.
  • The GOP establishment is virulently anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-urban, anti-center-left, etc.
  • The GOP establishment includes virtually everyone involved in the nominating and vetting process within the White House.
  • Since Kerik's downfall, the mainstream media has reminded the audience in every story on the subject that Giuliani made the recommendation. This includes the stories about Giuliani's apology to Bush.

I think you can see where this is going. I think Rove et al. sandbagged Giuliani because they know that nobody's going to ask or even care if the White House knew about these things beforehand. Next week, Bush nominates Asa Hutchinson and he's never linked to Kerik again; in two and a half years, Giuliani can't stop getting asked about the guy.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink ...
Comments (5)



Kevin Drum continues hammering on the made-up Social Security "crisis." It turns out that, in 1994, the Social Security trustees' projection had Social Security hitting serious trouble in 2029, 35 years out. Today, the 2004 projection says 2042, 38 years out. That's right, even though time marches on, the Social Security "crisis" is getting farther away.

Drum's got a nice little graphic here and the absolutely correct solution to the "problem" as well: We should do nothing.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink



The city of Madison wants to install a wireless network that would cover the airport, the convention centers and a 1.5-mile radius around the Capitol:

Many of the wireless hubs could be outfitted for light poles, meaning there will be no large towers incorporated in the plan, according to Twigg. The RFP requests interested vendors to lay out their construction and outfitting plans for the hubs. Vendors would cover the construction of the network hubs.

The winning vendor for the initiative will pay the city, county and state for the right to run the wireless-fidelity (wi-fi), Twig added. No taxpayer dollars will be required in the project.

�The county, city and state working together provides for a seamless, wireless system that will provide great service at no cost to our taxpayers,� Falk said in a release. �Wi-fi will allow people to move about our community for business, study or pleasure and access the Internet.�

Free access to a handful of local websites would be available, and full Internet service will be available for a selected fee. Users could pay for a daily, monthly or long-term fee to access the service.

Meanwhile, near-campus locations not covered by university networks (i.e., the one coffee shop left on State St. that doesn't have its own wireless coverage) would now be covered, and the university could license access for students, rather than paying to expand its own coverage. I can't tell yet if this a great example of the public good being served, or a hackological disaster waiting to happen.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Technophunk ... Permalink




Just got back from seeing the Beauty Pill and the Travis Morrison Band play a free show on campus.

The Beauty Pill had kind of fallen off my radar since their 2001 debut EP, The Cigarette Girl From the Future, but their record, The Unsustainable Lifestyle, is pretty good. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries, they use rhythm the way a lot of the original post-punk bands did (e.g. Gang of Four) and it made for a particularly energetic set. At one point the band's new female lead vocalist/keyboardist Jean Cook began playing a rhythm line on the bottom of a frying pan, which everybody seemed to like. I would've liked to hear more from them, but you've got to know when to get out of the big dog's way.

The Travis Morrison Band (apparently Morrison's career as a purely "solo" artist didn't last long) took the stage and TravMo himself was promptly given a small stuffed frog by somebody at the front of the crowd.

His new solo debut, Travistan, was a disappointment to me, but the live version is pretty exciting, especially in a small venue. They played two new songs, "As We Proceed" and "I'm Not Supposed to Like You (But I Do)," and many of the poor decisions of the album were rethought on stage, with the end result a much fuller and more interesting sound. Morrison's stage presence is still weird, full of squinty faux smiles, but whatcha gonna do?

Their encore was Morrison's unfairly and very overly derided cover of Ludacris's "What's Your Fantasy?," complete with Morrison briefly necking with some guy near the stage. Somehow this song, out of all of them, balanced the ironic and sincere in the way I thought they'd been trying for and missing most of the set.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




Social Security is going to be privatized; I'd bet my retirement on it. The only things they're waiting for are:

  • The next session of Congress to come to order
  • A relatively unassailable marketing plan to sell it to economic moderates (according to the Washington Post, they'll be using the same strategy they used to sell the war)
  • An actual plan to write into the bill

The way you can tell the fix is in is that "news" organizations like CNN are no longer even pretending that there isn't consensus on this issue:

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Social Security is in trouble. Politicians like South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham know it.

SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Between 2011 and 2030, there will be a 65 percent increase in retirees and an eight percent increase in the workforce. We're short of money to pay the benefits. If we do nothing, the cost will be trillions.

MORTON: Non-politicians like Chelsea Naja (ph) know it too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The problem is, is I'm 27 years old. And every week -- every two weeks, I get my paycheck and I see the chunk that goes to Social Security. And what worries me is I'm not going to have that there when I retire.

MORTON: The problem is all those baby boomers rushing toward retirement. But the real problem is that the obvious remedies, raise taxes, cut benefits, raise the retirement age, involve pain. And politicians hate to vote for pain. So can you fix it?

ROBERT BIXBY, THE CONCORD COALITION: What we have is a system that promises far more future benefit than it can afford to deliver. So, somehow, you need to bring the benefit promises in line with the money coming into the system. If you take out benefit cuts, if you take out tax increases, or contribution increases, I don't know how you can get from here to there.

In fact, Social Security is not going broke at all. It's not going anywhere.

Click to read more

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Some nights it seems like there is only one phone girl and only one pervert out there. Last night it was quiet quiet quiet, tumbleweed blowing over my headset as I wait for a call.

The phone rings. Fantasy X; this guy says hello, his name is Andy and tells me he is in bed. I ask him flirtatously if he is tired and he hangs up on me. Oh well, less than 2 minutes so I didn't care.

The phone rings again. Fantasy X. "Hi Kelly, it's Andy again." Since he randomly got me again, I guess he decided to give me a try and we chatted away for about 10 minutes before he plunked down the receiever with no warning.

Quiet night, no calls...... but then finally the phone rings again. Same exact prompt, same voice demanding who it was. Upon hearing it was me, Kelly, the caller hung up. I'm pretty sure it was Andy.

With all the phone girls and all the callers, it seems weird to me that we would keep getting hooked up together.

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




Man, do my callers LOVE to eat pussy. Well, that's what they claim. Here's a few examples of promises to please my pussy:

"I'm gonna eat your pussy all day."

"I'm gonna eat your pussy for hours and hours."

"I'm gonna eat your pussy 'til 2006!"

"I'm gonna eat your pussy with lettuce and tomato and have a pussy hero!"

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink



posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... The World at Large ... Permalink




I've completed the third in my series of year-end mixes:

Disc 1:

  1. The Reputation, "Bone-Tired" (from To Force a Fate)
  2. The Get Up Kids, "The One You Want" (from Guilt Show)
  3. Ash, "Evil Eye" (from Meltdown)
  4. My Chemical Romance, "Thanks For the Venom" (from Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)
  5. Piebald, "Present Tense" (from All Ears, All Eyes, All the Time)
  6. N.E.R.D., "Don't Worry About It" (from Fly or Die)
  7. John Frusciante, "Omission" (from Shadows Collide With People)
  8. Gomez, "Sweet Virginia" (from Split the Difference)
  9. Rilo Kiley, "Portions For Foxes" (from More Adventurous)
  10. Andy Partridge, "I Wonder Why the Wonderfalls" (theme song from Wonderfalls)
  11. Washington Social Club, "Simple Sound" (from Catching Looks)
  12. The Box Social, "Hot Damn!" (from Golly Gee Whiz)
  13. Head Automatica, "Beating Heart Baby" (from Decadence)
  14. Breaking Benjamin, "Breakdown" (from We Are Not Alone)
  15. Trey Parker, "America, Fuck Yeah" (from "Team America: World Police")
  16. Descendents, "Nothing With You" (from Cool to Be You)
  17. TV on the Radio, "Staring at the Sun" (from Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes)
  18. A.C. Newman, "The Town Halo" (from The Slow Wonder)
  19. The Delgados, "Come Undone" (from Universal Audio)
  20. Interpol, "Evil" (from Antics)
  21. Pixies, "Bam Thwok" (available exclusively through iTunes)
  22. Mr. T Experience, "Sorry For Freaking Out on the Phone Last Night" (from Yesterday Rules)

Disc 2:

  1. Sugarcult, "She's the Blade" (from Palm Trees and Power Lines)
  2. Avril Lavigne, "Together" (from Under My Skin)
  3. Alkaline Trio, "Fine Without You" (from BYO Split Series Vol. 5)
  4. The Presidents of the United States of America, "Some Postman" (from Love Everybody)
  5. Incubus, "Pistola" (from A Crow Left of the Murder)
  6. Secret Machines, "Nowhere Again" (from Now Here Is Nowhere)
  7. Modest Mouse, "Bury Me With It" (from Good News For People Who Love Bad News)
  8. Channels, "Disconnection Day" (from Open)
  9. Rachael Yamagata, "Letter Read" (from Happenstance)
  10. Of Montreal, "Your Magic Is Working" (from Satanic Panic in the Attic)
  11. Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, "Crazy = Cute" (from Popsicle)
  12. They Might Be Giants, "Experimental Film" (from The Spine)
  13. Lit, "Needle & Thread" (from Lit)
  14. Mates of State, "Along For the Ride" (from All Day)
  15. Marcy Playground, "Death of a Cheerleader" (from MP3)
  16. The Bens, "XFire" (from The Bens)
  17. Eagles of Death Metal, "So Easy" (from Peace Love Death Metal)
  18. Jimmy Eat World, "Work" (from Futures)
  19. Bad Religion, "God's Love" (from The Empire Strikes First)
  20. Green Day, "Wake Me Up When September Ends" (from American Idiot)
  21. The Delays, "Hey Girl" (from Faded Seaside Glamour)
  22. Franz Ferdinand, "40 Ft." (from Franz Ferdinand)

Click to read more

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink



I'm turning comments back on for new posts but probably won't go through the hassle of turning them back on for old ones. From now on, you'll have to type in a security code (that requires a human to read, not a spam script) to post any comments.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Administration ... Permalink ...
Comments (2)




So this guy calls me up last night on the Fantasy X line and tells me that he saw an ad in Rolling Stone magazine with a number you could call to meet local singles. He said he was in the computer lab at school and he just needed to talk to someone while his final project of the semester was printing out so he could keep his mind off of it and not worry about the printer failing or his files being ruined.

Click to read more

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




I was on a bus with two teenage hookers today. I got on and one of them was talking about her friends getting tested for AIDS. The other said she was "smarter than most people" -- she gets tested every month for STD's.

The monthly tester is also a lesbian, apparently. She kisses "other females" with no regard as to whether they've recently sucked any dicks, etc., etc. It occurred to me as I was getting off the bus that they might be cops, doing a really involved undercover job where they pose as teenage hookers, ride the bus all day, and arrest whichever pervs overhear and approach. But I suspect they're actually just regular teenage hookers.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink



I've turned off comments after 300 spam posts showed up today. If I can find a reasonable way to deal with this problem (possibly in Movable Type 3.0), they may get turned back on.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Administration ... Permalink



I've never really wanted to be taller or shorter, just skinnier and firmer. But some pervs call up and they have this incredible desire to be much much smaller than the women they are with. Two examples....

Click to read more

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink