Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
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Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his day job where he works the education beat and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.

Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest. Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.

Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out the on-line journal of Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.

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Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Robert Johnson Overrated? The New York Times (of all places) has an interesting article on the history of the blues that relies heavily on Elijah Wald's new "Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues".

"As far as the evolution of black music goes, Robert Johnson was an extremely minor figure," Mr. Wald writes, "and very little that happened in the decades following his death would have been affected if he had never played a note."

In Mr. Wald's history, the principal players are not lonesome folk singers from dusty hamlets, but seasoned professionals riding the latest trends in black pop. They have names that are largely unknown today except among experts: Peetie Wheatstraw, Leroy Carr and Kokomo Arnold. And most of them were women. The kings of the blues were actually the queens of the blues: Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and dozens of others now all but forgotten, singers like Ida Cox, Victoria Spivey and Sara Martin.

Johnson, who died in 1938, emerges in Mr. Wald's account as a regional player eager to copy the latest hits. And he was only marginally successful. Just 11 of his songs were issued in his lifetime — the biggest stars recorded well over 100 songs, Mr. Wald points out — and his biggest hit, "Terraplane Blues," sold about 5,000 copies.

Mr. Wald and other critics argue that the discrepancy between Johnson's stature and his accomplishments stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of blues music by later, mostly white, writers

The obsession with Johnson at the expense of almost all other blues singers, Mr. Wald suggests, has grossly distorted the history of the blues. Prewar blues musicians were much more versatile and pop oriented than is widely known; Mr. Wald notes that when Alan Lomax interviewed Muddy Waters in Mississippi in the early 1940's, he found that Waters's repertory included "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and seven Gene Autry songs — more pop than blues. And the immediate origins of the blues, Mr. Wald writes, are most likely in black vaudeville, not in field hollers. The blues, in other words, was up-to-the-minute pop, a sign of urbanization, technology and sophistication, not primitivism or tradition.

Music critics tend to be left-wing and elitist, and Johnson's lack of popularity was probably actually a selling point for them. And god forbid that black people should be interested in making money.

posted by Charles at 10:01 AM

Saturday, February 28, 2004
Presidential Data. Thanks to Domenic for sending this link to all sorts of interesting info on presidential elections.

posted by Charles at 9:44 PM

We Are Not Alone. Has anyone come back from the moon sane and well-adhusted?

posted by Charles at 9:41 PM

Bugging the UN
Shocked, Shocked I am that there is spying on Diplomats! Round up the usual Suspects!

But seriously, it would have been irresponsible of the US and UK not to monitor UN diplomats and proceedings using any available means. After all, agree with the decision to invade Iraq or not, it was a vital foreign policy decision and we needed all the intel we could get on how the UN process was working and where the various parties stood. Not that our intel agencies appear to have the ability to analyze data or reach reasonable conclusions based on that data . . .

posted by Chuck at 10:04 AM

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Enough already

This whole Max Clealand/GW Bush/John Kerry "I was more military than you" crap needs to just stop:

1) Anybody who voluntarily serves in the military at any time and under any conditions is in a different league than those who choose not to serve. Period, end of discussion. I don't care if it was out of patriotism, or just to finish your degree, or even in the Guard to avoid the draft. You serve, you worthy of honor. Involuntary servitude (ie drafted, which I absolutely oppose by the way) is a lesser honor - but at least you didn't run.

2) All military service is dangerous. You can't mix humans and big destructive machines and not have accidents and casualties. Most combat isn't much more dangerous than combat training, when compared to most other jobs. Maybe Cleland was injured in a non-combat accident - so what. His response to his loss appears to be admirable.

3) Most combat heros are accidental - and unrecognized.

4) I've heard some critisism of Kerry for taking advantage of the "three combat injuries and out" clause. Absurd and unfair. At least he was there - and I can't find fault with him for not wanting to tempt fate. I've been under hostile fire many times - going back repeatedly is at some point a sign of insanity.

5) The fact that an individual served has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING ON SUBSEQUENT BEHAVIOR, or value for elected office. Kerry forfeited any honor he may have accrued in Vietnam by hanging out with Jane Fonda. It's one thing to oppose the policies of your government - falsely accusing your comrades of war crimes in unforgiveable. Same for Max and his spear catching for Clinton. McCain has squandered his heroic status by sponsoring odious and unconsitutional "campaign finance reform". Ollie North's activities in the 80's were outright stupid. The list is combat heros turned dishonorable vets and leaders is endless.


posted by Chuck at 10:49 AM

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
The Right Stuff. Is Chuck Yeager's new wife a golddigger? Are his kids selfish bastards? I don't know.

But I want all my friends and family to know this. If I make it to my 80s (fat chance) and take up with an attractive younger woman, and you believe she's just after me for my money (like I'll have any), KEEP YOUR MOUTHS SHUT!

posted by Charles at 9:45 PM

Sunday, February 15, 2004
Inflation? From MSNBC:

Since [1927], through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf and all the engagements in between, right through the Afghan campaign, only 3,300 DFC’s were awarded, according to the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, an organization of DFC recipients.

Yet since March 2002, the Air Force has awarded 463 of these coveted decorations, angering some veterans and rekindling a debate over how and why these honors are bestowed.

More than 69,000 awards and other honors have been handed out by the Air Force for the Iraq war, according to Air Force Capt. Richard Johnson. The list also includes four Air Force Crosses, one step below the Medal of Honor, plus 21 Silver Stars and over 1,900 Bronze Stars.

The Army trails just behind with 40,000 medals issued and approved, including 111 Silver Stars and more than 13,000 Bronze Stars.

The Marines, however, appear to have found a way to keep inflation in check.

Stephen Mackey, director of the Marine Corps medals and decorations branch, says the Corps has issued no Silver Stars or Navy Crosses to date for Iraq war service.

“We have a good number of medals in the pipeline, and it represents about the right scale given the scope and fighting the Marines did,” he says.

Medals to date include 200 Bronze Stars, 447 Purple Hearts, a number of air and commendation medals. A bit over 1,000 in all.

posted by Charles at 10:37 PM

Saturday, February 14, 2004
Ann Coulter. Still factually challenged. Still alienating everyone who doesn't already agree with her. Still trying to pass it all of as humor, too, I would imagine.

Not that I have a lot of sympathy for Max Cleland, who can't distinguish between and attack on his policy views and an attack on his patriotism.

posted by Charles at 12:24 PM

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Well, it's finally official: NASA is not going to repair Hubble. Why, you may ask, would an agency allow its most sucessful and popular project in the last 20 years to die when a simple mission could extent its life? Because a repair mission would be "too risky". Only missions to ISS will be allowed in the future to give astronauts a "safe haven" in case of problems.

In reality, the harsh truth is because NASA administrators have become so risk averse that they have no business being in the space game anymore.

This is absurd. Despite the "improvements" and "safety enhancements" in the post-Columbia program, there is a one in fifty chance the next shuttle will blow up. If you're going to fly, at least fly for a reason. Hauling pizza to ISS could be done by Progress and Soyuz, and in my view certainly isn't worth a 1 in 50 risk. The claim that Souyz can't bring back enough from orbit doesn't hold up to either.

posted by Chuck at 1:00 PM

Thursday, February 05, 2004
Glad I'm not from around here, aka local news roundup.
As Charles noted earlier, Georgia is revisiting the Scopes trial and trying to move itself from 49th to 50th in science education.

As if that wasn't enough to boost the reputation for education, a local high school student was getting credit by working at Hooters. Only the school system, after first giving permission, later decided it wasn't such a good environment.
Now it seems the family is going to sue (of course).

And here's the obligatory photo . . .

posted by Chuck at 4:42 PM

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