Monday, January 29, 2007


I don't care if Arizona is overrated, and I don't care if they're struggling - Saturday's win was huge. Two of the Heels' best players did not play, yet we still won by 28 points. On the road, against a ranked team, in a hostile environment. The only thing better than a statement win is a win against Duke. As luck would have it, we play the Blue Devils next week...get ready.

Next up: Miami, 7 PM Wednesday

Um, Ever Heard of Bad Brains?

The New York Times features an interesting article about black fans of indie rock. Although it oversimplifies a lot of ideas, it covers an interesting subject. Here is a good excerpt:

"But 40 years after black musicians laid down the foundations of rock, then largely left the genre to white artists and fans, some blacks are again looking to reconnect with the rock music scene.
The Internet has made it easier for black fans to find one another, some are adopting rock clothing styles, and a handful of bands with black members have growing followings in colleges and on the alternative or indie radio station circuit. It is not the first time there has been a black presence in modern rock. But some fans and musicians say they feel that a multiethnic rock scene is gathering momentum.“Hip-hop has lost a lot of its originality,” said Mr. Brown of Everything Must Go, the East Harlem skateboard shop. “This is the new thing.”

The article also discusses "blipsters." Black hipsters. Seriously.

For more black and white indie nonsense, check out the comments section on this Prefix link. It spins into all-out e-argument as indie fans argue with one another over the alleged racist undertones of this comment: "Too bad Band of Horses or Mew don’t have a couple African Americans who can contribute some cool beats…"

Friday, January 26, 2007

In the Rotation

Gram Parsons - GP and Grievous Angel
The indie record store guy recommended this one. He said that Gram Parsons was the major influence on alt-country. I can't hear Uncle Tupelo in this record, but I sure as hell can hear Ryan Adams.

The Thermals - The Body The Blood The Machine
This record is everything I wanted it to be: Green Day meets the Strokes meets "Monster"-era R.E.M meets angry political lyrics. Hutch Harris's voice is excellent, too.
Nas - Hip Hop is Dead

There's too much name-dropping on this record. But that's what hip hop's all about, I guess. Despite its pretentiousness, I love the album. Nas is as good as hip hop gets.

Tropicalia - A Brazilian Revolution in Sound
This record catalogues the hits from the late 1960s/early 1970s funky psych-folk scene in Brazil. Tom Ze's song "Jimmy Renda-Se" is invigorating.
Ali Farka Toure - Savane
Malian roots music meets Bob Dylan's blues. I wish I could understand the lyrics - I guess it's time to learn another language.

I Heart Self-Parody

In his review of the Shins' new album, Village Voice writer Nate Cavalieri says this about the band: "After enough time, every other haircut band on the MFA candidate's iPod—from Destroyer to the Decemberists—sounded like thesaurus-driven poseurs by comparison."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Heels Win Twice Against the Golds and Blacks

The Tar Heels beat Wake Forest 88-60 last night.

They beat Georgia Tech 77-61 Saturday night.

Both were standard Heels wins. We get off to slow (ugly, even?) starts in the first half, then we blow it wide open in the second half. Moving right along.......
Next up: Arizona, 1:00 Saturday
(By the way, how about that Dookie miracle win against Clemons tonight? Pretty standard, really. Man, I hhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate those guys.)

Those Tweenies Grows Up So Fast These Days

Abigail Breslin is 10 years old. She is in the news these days because she was nominated for an Academy Award.

Dakota Fanning is 12 years old. She is in the news these days because her new movie features a scene of her being sexually abused and/or raped.


To all 10 of my readers........

I haven't posted in about a week, and the posts will probably be fairly irregular for a little bit. I just started my new old job teaching high school. Since I no longer work for the federal government, I no longer have the copious amounts of free time I once enjoyed. I am no longer bored. I am no longer under-utilized. Alas, I actually have work to do, expectations to meet, problems to get the picture.

I plan to keep posting, so I urge you to keep checking in. Just be aware that this transition might spell the end of the daily synopses of the Washington Post and the BBC highlight reels.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Camera Ubiquity

Here's an interesting passage from the Slate article "How the Camera Phone Changed the World":

"We e-mail [photos] to our friends, who testify to the enormity of the event, and then we all await the next sensation. This impulse can be positive, but it also fuels the increasingly destructive American habit of oversharing. The snapshot speaks with a small voice: I'm alive and I saw this. The cell phone camera picture or video is a shout from the rooftop: Check out this crazy thing that happened to me...[This new development] testifies to the power of first-person witnessing, and how a digital copy of that witnessing can upend neat narratives and certainties. We'll see the best of things, we'll see the worst of things, we'll see everything."

Is This How the World Sees Us?

The BBC features an interesting article about African-Americans abandoning the United States and moving to Africa to start new businesses and lives. Renee Neblett started her own business in Ghana. "We had such a miserable time in America. Nobody can imagine what it was like to be black in America," she said.

This kind of article and interview have become fairly common in our self-condemning culture of "white guilt." However, I'm struck by the fact that this piece was published by a British source.
Dear Mr. President.

First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley and admire you and have great respect for your office. I talked to Vice President Agnew in Palm Springs 3 weeks ago and expressed my concern for our country. The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do NOT consider me as their enemy or as they call it The Establishment. I call it America and I love it. Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help The Country out. I have no concern or Motives other than helping the country out. . . .

I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large. . . . Sir, I am staying at the Washington Hotel, Room 505-506-507. . . . I am registered under the name of Jon Burrows. I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a Federal Agent. I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good. . . .
I am sending you the short autobiography about myself so you can better understand this approach. I would love to meet you just to say hello if you're not too busy.


Elvis Presley

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Read about this surreal moment in American pop culture here or visit the US Archives' official exhibit, entitled "When Nixon Met Elvis."

The Evolution of the Journalism Industry

The Washington Post continues its coverage:

  • Time Magazine will cut almost 300 jobs. According to company officials: "The layoffs are about the restructuring of our editorial staffs as we move quickly into a future of flexible, multiplatform content creation...we need to continue to evolve to meet the cost pressures and challenges presented by our rapidly shifting industry."
  • Private equity firms have taken an interest in purchasing struggling news companies: "That unsettles some, who fear that private equity's focus on short-term gain will lead to more cuts and quality reductions in an already shaky industry. But Freedom president Scott N. Flanders said private-equity ownership of newspapers is actually the best idea for this turbulent era. "Media companies in transition should be private," Flanders said. "When you're privately backed, you have the flexibility to be nimble."

The Workingman's Millionaire

I'm intrigued by John Edwards and his populist approach to winning the presidential election in 2008. His campaign slogan of valuing "Work over Wealth" has a nice ring to it, his goal of universal health care contains the right ideological framework, and his honesty about raising taxes is refreshing even if it's not appealing.
However, Edwards' romanticization of the proletariat is a bit of a sham. The Washington Post reports on his participation in a controversial real estate deal in which he sold his Georgetown mansion for $5.2 million. He had bought the place for $3.2 million during his tenure as a North Carolina senator.
Another detail that dulls Edwards' workingman's shine is the entreprenuerial spirit of his Princeton-educated daughter. Before moving on to Harvard Law School, Cate Edwards created Urbanista, a shopping blog for young college graduates to consult when they move to New York and need trusted advise on such conundrums as where to get their "Marc Jacobs shoes re-heeled." (Gawker features an interesting blurb about Cate's blog.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

That's More Like It

The Tar Heels got back to their winning ways and dominated the Clemons Tigers last night, beating them 77-55. Sloppy offense was a cause for concern - especially Ty Lawson's 7 turnovers. However, our swarming defense more than made up for the mental errors. Wayne Ellington ended his two-game slump, Danny Green logged quality minutes, and Deon Thompson played his best game of the season.

Next up: Georgia Tech comes to Chapel Hill, 9:00 Saturday

Go Dawgs!

How fratty is this? The Wonkette reports that Georgia Representative and UGA Bulldog fan Jack Kingston was the only Congressman to vote against a House Resolution to recognize the University of Florida Gators for their 2007 Football National Championship. Check out the 414-to-1 final vote here.

The Washington Post to Distribute "The Onion" in DC

The future of journalism is now. The Washington Post has announced that it will distribute a print edition of "The Onion."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Week Ahead

Tomorrow night, the Heels go down to Clemons for a second consecutive ACC road game. Unlike in years past, this road trip to South Carolina is a cause for concern. Clemons is ranked 19th in the nation with a 17-1 record. However, the Tigers could easily still be undefeated - according to, Clemons only lost by five points to a Maryland team that recorded a ridiculous 63% field goal percentage.
The most frightening aspect of the upcoming Clemons game is that, like the VA Tech Hokies, the Tigers feature a talented and experienced backcourt. For the second straight game, the Tar Heel guards will have their work cut for them against good shooters with chips on their shoulders.
On Saturday night, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets come to Chapel Hill for a 9:00 prime time game on ESPN. It will feature a hype-o-licious build-up as ESPN's College Gameday broadcasts from the Smith Center all day. Georgia Tech shouldn't offer too much of a challenge, especially since this is a home game. However, let's not forget that the Yellow Jackets did beat Duke last week.

Will Borat Win This Man an Oscar?

Sasha Baron Cohen, also known as Borat, won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy last night. covers the story and suggests that this award increases the chances that Cohen will be nominated for an Oscar. Can you imagine Borat joining the ranks of Don Corleone and Forest Gump?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Day

"A Letter from a Birmingham Jail" is my favorite of Martin Luther King's writings. It is a call to action, a sermon, a manifesto, and an inspiration that connects modernity to the classical age. If you're looking for a good way to honor MLK on his holiday, I recommend reading the letter in its entirety. Most of the people who read this blog will probably still feel challenged by this passage:

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advices the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from the people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection....We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of bad people, but for the appalling silence of good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy, and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity."

More Hip Hop Education

A while back, I posted an article about the use of hip hop in the classroom. Today's Washington Post features another such story. It's titled "Where Hope Meets Hip-Hop:
D.C. Artists Will Use Reality-Based Rhymes To Reinforce Martin Luther King Jr.'s Message.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ethnocentrism and Blithe Indifference

In the Washington Post editorial "Trapped by Hubris, Again," Robert Kaiser writes,

"In Vietnam, as in Iraq, U.S. military power alone proved unable to achieve the desired political objectives. How did this happen again? After all, we're Americans - practical, common-sense people who know how to get things done. Or so we'd like to think. In truth, we are ethnocentric to a fault, certain of own superiority, convinced that others see us as we do, blithely indifferent to cultural, religious, political, and historical realities far different from our own. These failings - more than any tactical or strategic errors - help explain the U.S. catastrophes in Vietnam and Iraq."

Hokies School the Heels

To be ranked #1 in the nation is to place a huge target on your back. Yesterday, the Virginia Tech Hokies hit the bullseye, defeating the #1 Tar Heels 94-88.
For the most of the game, the Heels played weak, uninspired basketball. While VA Tech was busy overcoming an early 8-point deficit and building a 10-point lead, the Tar Heels exposed their great weakness - no leadership. The vaccum continued for the first 15 minutes of the second half, allowing the Hokies to build a 23 point lead.
Fortunately, the Heels tried to redeem themselves during the final 5 minutes of the game. However, at the 3:36 mark, VA Tech still led by 19 points. In a furious comeback effort, the Heels were able to cut the lead down to 3 points. They never got over the hump, but the frenetic final effort made the loss a lot more palatable.
You see, we Tar Heel fans have the remarkable ability to rationalize a defeat and call it a "good loss." The Number One ranking this early in the season is a curse, so it's good to shed that burden. Furthermore, yesterday's game was the first road game in over a month, and the Hokie squad was much more talented than most of the cupcakes the Heels had previously played. If we had lost by 23, this rationale would not apply. However, we cut 20 points off a lead in 3 minutes, and we did it on the road against a considerable opponent. My optimism is no longer blind - but it is still pretty damn strong. This team is solid, for sure.
Our perimeter offense is still weak, and Brandan Wright missed 7 of his 8 free throws. However, the only thing I'm really worried about is the lack of leadership. Who is our leader? Wes Miller is not a crucial enough player to fill the role. Reyshawn Terry lacks consistency and urgency. Tyler Hansbrough is a good role model, but he's neither vocal nor emotional. If the Heels want to live up to their hype as a National Championship contender, someone on the team needs to channel their inner-David Noel or watch some old Raymond Felton highlights. This team needs a commander-in-chief.
Next up: at Clemons, 9:00 on Wenesday.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Vacation Plans? How About the Mall?

Who needs mountains and beaches when you've got good malls?

The Charlotte Observer reports that Concord Mills Mall is the #1 Tourist Attraction in the state.

February 18th, 2007: Another Day that Will Live in Infamy

On that fateful day, Nascar veteran Dale Jarrett will drive a Toyota at the Daytona 500.
I'm sure the New Nativists will have a field day with this foreign invastion of an American institution, but Jarrett addresses their concerns in this article:
"As far as Toyota, sure, the parent company is foreign...We could get into the argument about where the Ford Fusion is built; every one of them are built in Mexico. The Monte Carlos are built in Canada." He then goes on to say that Toyota is a great company that employs a large number of American workers. He concludes, "[We] have to be accepting of change. If we don't, then you would still be watching 12-inch TV screens, and that's not a lot of fun whenever you've got everything else that's out there."

Jingoism is So Rad

Bing West's article in this week's National Review is titled "Do or Die in Iraq." There's no link to it on NR's web page, but after reading the introductory blurb in the print edition's table of contents, I don't think I need to read any further. Check out this's vainglooooooooooorious:

"The streets outside the Green Zone are controlled by killers whose souls have been corroded, and who will continue to murder, because that's what they do. They're not going to be won over by jobs cleaning streets or promises of oil-revenue sharing. Like the mafia, they have tasted power and they're not giving it back. They have to be put down, in jail or in the earth." WHOA!

[EDITOR'S NOTE: My idea of a good time is searching for good adjectives. For this post, I chose "vainglorious," but there were so many other tasty options. Check them out for yourself.]

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Dose of Reality

The steamroller was bound to run out of gas eventually. After winning 11 blowouts in a row, the Tar Heels stuggled to beat the pesky Virginia Cavaliers last night. In the end, the good guys prevailed, 79-69 - but it wasn't pretty.
Most of the frustration came from the fact that the Tar Heels missed a lot of easy shots. Despite grabbing a season-high 21 offensive rebounds - a full 13 more than the Cavs - the Heels were unable to convert those boards into second-chance points. Brandan Wright missed 11 of his 16 shots. Tyler Hansbrough missed over half of his. The team only made 37.9% of its shots overall.
The good news is that they never lost control of the game. They never caused me to panic, and I was always sure that the worst case scenario would be a close and ugly victory. Our defense looked great, Quentin Thomas continued his solid play, and Marcus Ginyard submitted more proof that he is the second-coming of the heroic George Lynch.
Next up: VA Tech, 3:30 on Saturday


If you don't read anything else this week, read this Newsweek article: "We're Losing the Infowar." It's disturbing and fascinating.

The article analyzes the way Iraqi insurgents use basic net-roots media technology to spread their propaganda. With cell phone cameras, laptop computer editing programs, and the internet, these guerilla fighters are much more efficient at crafting and speading their message than the United States is. Perhaps the most interesting point the article makes is that insurgents sometimes attack US forces for the sole purpose of filming it. Then, they use that footage to recruit new forces and suggest that the US is losing and retreating. The most disturbing point the article makes is that the US is not only powerless in stopping insurgent propaganda; it is also unable to spread an effective message of its own.

Propaganda and media manipulation have always been key elements to any war effort. As a main component of the military's Psychological Operations (PsyOps), the strategy seeks to win the "hearts-and-minds" of various constituencies.

For years, the United States excelled at this part of warfare. From James K. Polk's declaration of "American blood on American soil" to the Committee on Public Information during World War I, and the Office of War Information during World War II, US commanders controlled most of the information about the wars in which it was engaged. They were masters at using it to drive victorious war efforts.

With the "democratization" of media, information is no longer controlled by a limited number of groups. The proliferation of cell phones, digital cameras, editing software, and internet applications has allowed anyone to manipulate information to fit an agenda.

Last night, President Bush used the traditional media to deliver his new message. This Newsweek article argues that the US is losing on that front, too:

"But at least as critical to success may be whether Bush is convincing. A draft report recently produced by the Baghdad embassy's director of strategic communications Ginger Cruz and obtained by NEWSWEEK makes the stakes clear: "Without popular support from US population, there is the risk that troops will be pulled back ... Thus there is a vital need to save popular support via message."

Today, another traditional media outlet seems to confirm Ginger Cruz's worries: two Washington Post headlines proclaim "Most Americans Opposed to Bush's Iraq Plan" and "Democrats Aim to Block Funds for Plan."

If that's the message we're hearing over here, imagine how the folks in Baghdad are spinning it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The End of the Norman Rockwell Cop?

Reading? Check.
Writing? Check.
Arithmetic? Check.
Police brutality? Coming right up.

The Village Voice runs an interesting article about teaching elementary schoolers about their legal rights. It is a follow-up to the newspaper's coverage of the Sean Bell killing, the unarmed man shot to death by zealous New York police officers. Naturally, many young students struggled to make sense of the episode:

"The conversation was unfortunately devolving into an impassioned 'I hate cops' discussion instead of something more constructive," [South Bronx 6th grade teacher Molly Henderson] recalls. "I tried to point out that not all the officers who fired at Sean Bell and his friends were white. But many of these kids have strong feelings about police officers, and one of them, even at age 12, was very vocal about white cops. I knew we had to talk about it, because there's nothing about police brutality or knowing your rights in the curriculum."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Even if you don't read the article, link to it and check out the photo of Molly Henderson. Where do you think she lives: Williamsburg or the East Village? Hipster teachers are so cool.]

"Surge" = Newspeak

The Washington Post features an intriguing look at the derivation of the word "surge." Along with "the way forward," it is the newest catchphrase in the contemporary political lexicon.

According the article, "Surge" falls into "the Orwellian zone between language and politics," says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which studies and evaluates the media. "The president and his advisers would be remiss if they didn't come up with a term suited to their new policy. But journalists would be equally remiss if they just thoughtlessly repeated the term without pondering the policy and its implications."

The President and His War

When President Bush addresses the nation tonight, he's going to require an additional 20,000 (or more troops) to be sent to Iraq. In calling for this "surge," he will essentially ignore the recommendations of most of his generals, disregard the advice from the Iraq Study Group, and refute the idea that the 2006 election results were a mandate for withdrawal from Iraq. (Read the details in this excellent Washington Post analysis.)

Full disclosure: I haven't paid a lot of attention to the details of the war because it pisses me off so much. And I confess to being a military neophyte with absolutely no real knowledge of good policy. However, this "surge" rankles me.

The most irksome aspect of it is that the White House will disregard the advice of the generals who are actually in Iraq. Yes, Dick Cheney and George Bush, both of whom have zero years of military experience, will act against the advice of the highest military leaders in the land. Instead, the President and Vice President will follow the advice of Frederick Kagan and Jack Keane. Kagan is a fellow at a think tank (American Enterprise Institute) and Keane is a retired general. It's hard not to think that this war is being driven by academics and think tank minions.

The other bothersome point has to do with the abstract idealism of neoconservatism. As Bill Kristol wrote this week, we do not want to lose this war. We do not want to abandon Iraq. We do want to project an image of weakness. Thus, we must fight to the end. We must stick around, put our idealism to work, and win.

This position bothers me because I agree with it - in theory. I think most people agree with it - in theory. That's why it's called idealism. Indeed, the neoconservative viewpoint carries so much weight because it sounds great in a perfect world. The pinch, however, is that the world is not perfect. Idealism only goes so far. In the past, pragmatism has trumped idealism. In this case, the most pragmatic of them all - the generals and the Iraq Study Group - are being ignored.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More Chinese Punks

I posted about Chinese Punk Rock a while ago. Continuing the theme, here's a link to an NPR report on the Beijing Scene, "home to rock 'n' roll rebels, subversive artists and a livelier alternative cultural scene than in any other Chinese city." Government censorship limits what punks and artists can say, but according to NPR, Beijing is the Seattle of China. As for the censors, the article reports, "The government allows these artists to create as long as their influence is limited to the periphery of the cultural world" - whatever that means.

Queen City Represents, University of Florida Makes History

Charlotte-native and former Independence High School star Chris Leak led the Florida Gators to a National Champsionship last night, dogging the Ohio State Buckeyes 41-14.
My interest in NCAA Football this year has been beyond pathetic. I didn't watch a single game in its entirety, and I spent most Saturdays doing something other than sitting on the couch watching sports. My brother is ashamed of me, for sure.
Nevertheless, I'm happy to see a hometown boy do so well. In another article, ESPN says, "Chris Leak's time finally came Monday night, but he and his Florida teammates didn't just finish it off with a championship. They finished it off with something approaching the perfect game."
Of course, now the University of Florida is the first team ever to hold the Football and Basketball National Championship trophies simultaneously. Man, where's the Heels' football program when you need it?

Latin American Economies: What Do You Think?

Newsweek International reveals that of the 603 prominent Latin American politicians, government officials, academics, and journalists that participated in a Zogby survey, "81 percent expect their national economies to improve over the next two years." The article then investigates the sources of such optimism as well as the arguments against it.

The BBC reports that Hugo Chavez has announced plans to nationalize certain energy and telecommunications companies. You'll remember that he essentially nationalized the media last week. These socialist overtures are hurting Venezuela, however. The BBC also reports that his most recent announcement spurred a significant drop in Venezuelan financial markets.

Those Pesky Neocons

William Kristol, editor of the neoconservative bullhorn otherwise known as The Weekly Standard, writes an intriguing article about the hanging of Saddam Hussein. While most other pundits (including fellow neocon Charles Krauthammer) have condemned the execution, Kristol argues that a mass-murderer's death sentence, handed down from a court consisting of his own countrymen, is a good progress-marker for the future of Iraq. Kristol then laments that the "foreign policy cognoscenti and the political elites were happy to dismiss" this achievement:

"Why? Because to dwell on the life and death of this mass murderer might remind Americans of the fundamental justice of the war. It might cause the American people to wonder why, having accomplished this, they should be so quick to give up on accomplishing more. It might cause them to hesitate before succumbing to despair when confronted by the challenges of continued violence and terrorism. It might cause them to wonder whether tyranny might not still be successfully replaced by liberty."

The "fundamental justice of war?" "Tyranny replacing liberty?" Discuss.

Or, if you think Bill Kristol is full of shit - and you're not alone - read this Washington Post article that absolutely rules him.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Auld Links Syne

  • The Charlotte Observer reports that the BMW plant in Spartanburg, SC, has been named a "Top Plant" for "starting a system that uses methane gas from a local landfill to provide more than half the plant's energy."
  • BEWARE! This editorial is as New York Times Left as the New York Times gets. However, it's a fairly reasonable assertion that the Bush Administration has created the "Imperial Presidency 2.0."
  • In an interesting analysis of William Rehnquist's drug addiction, Slate says "The Rehnquist story deserves a third airing today if only to illustrate the ugly double standards that excuse extreme drug use by the powerful, especially if their connection is a prescribing doctor, and condemns to draconian prison terms the guy who purchases his drugs on the street. Reviewing Rehnquist's tale one more time also demonstrates the reluctance of the Senate—and some members of the press—to grade the mental competency of judges and judicial nominees."
  • Country music is so hot right now. Pitchfork and The Economist both write insightful articles about the intricacies and idiosyncricies of the heartland's soundtrack.
  • Time runs an excellent anaylsis of racism in France. The magazine has also redone its web site, and after a casual perusal, I must conclude that it's an excellent overhaul.

Shows on the Horizon

  • Jeff Tweedy - January 31 - Paramount Theatre (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Corey Harris - February 2 - Blues Alley
  • Midlake - February 7 - Rock and Roll Hotel (SIKE! UNC plays Duke that night)
  • The Thermals - March 2 - Black Cat
  • Bright Eyes - March 5 - 930 Club
  • The Books - April 17 - 930 Club
  • John Vanderslice - April 25 - Rock and Roll Hotel

Hip Hop Milestone

Not that the Hall of Fame means much, but hip hop just kicked the door down.

Pitchfork reports that Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. According to my basic search on Wikipedia, the group is the first hip hop act ever to receive such an honor.

Venezuela to Macedonia - WTF?

The BBC reports that Macedonian police confiscated 400 kg of Venezuelan cocaine from a truck headed to Greece. It was the largest drug bust in Macedonian history, and the contraband was estimated to have a $50 million street value.

I wonder....
  • is Venezuela a player in the War on Drugs? I wonder how much Hugo Chavez knows.
  • how on Earth does 400 kg of anything - especially illegal cargo - get from Venezuela to Macedonia?

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Forget Christmas - ACC basketball season is the best time of the year.

Last night was more of the same. Domination, yet again. The Heels rolled over the Florida State Seminoles en route to a 84-58 victory.

I've listed the best excerpts from Inside Carolina's wrap-up:

"Carolina’s post-tandem of Tyler Hansbrough (8-12 FG, 9-10 FT, 25 pts.) and Brandan Wright (9-13 FG, 2-2 FT, 20 pts.) dominated down low, as the Tar Heels converted over twice as many field goals in the paint as FSU (28-12)."

"UNC has eclipsed 50 percent field goal shooting in the second half of 11 games this year including the last 6 in a row."

"Quentin Thomas has seven assists without a turnover since returning from injury two games ago."

Next up: UVA comes to Chapel Hill, 9 PM Wednesday night.

Two Big Losses

Duke lost to Virginia Tech in Overtime, 69-67. A Duke loss makes me feel like everything's gonna be all right. We're still at war, and it's getting worse - but at least Carolina is better than Duke this year.

UCLA lost to Oregon, 68-66. That means the Tar Heels will probably be ranked #1 this week. Huzzah Huzzah Huzzah!


I think it's time to admit that Clemson is for real this year. Saturday's last second win against Georgia Tech preserved the Tigers' unbeaten streak. They're the only undefeated team in the country. True, their schedule has been weak, but no team puts together 16 straight wins based on luck alone.

A Belated, Begrudging Congratulations

Most of us knew that this would happen sooner or later...

Most Wins in a Coaching Career:
#1: Bob Knight
#2: Dean Smith
Congrats, Bobby - you dog.

ESPN runs the story of Bob Knight's 880th win, a 70-68 sqeaker over New Mexico.

This Guy is Everywhere

The label of "Sell Out" is overused, usually by people who have no idea what they're talking about. I'm sure Jay-Z would call those people "haters."

Thus, I won't say that Jay-Z has "sold out." But I will say that he's doin' somethin'. In the past 6 months, Young Hova has interviewed with Barbara Walters, met with Kofi Annan, headlined a UN-endorsed world tour, and appeared in a Budweiser commercial that featured one of his songs. Now, he's working with General Motors to customize a Yukon. The JZSUV will be painted "Jay-Z Blue" - read about it here.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What exactly was the Phoenix Foundation?

MacGyver's boss Pete Thornton (left) worked for the Phoenix Foundation. What exactly was the the purpose of that organization? Was it an arm of the US Executive branch? A rogue intelligence group? A non-profit world-saver? While you ponder that, check out the MacGyver post on's a classic.

What's Henry Gonna Do?

Nancy Pelosi will probably get the most media attention in the 110th Congress, but the Congressman I'll be most interested in is Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. He'll be in charge of "investigating" the Bush Administration and Congressional corruption. What does that mean, really? I don't know - but I can't wait to find out.

Waxman made an interesting comment as a guest today on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopolous." Stephanopolous asked him whom he would subpoena about the Iraq War and other matters. Waxman said that he had no agenda (yeah right!), but that he would not repeat the "disgraceful" performance that Republicans demonstrated during the Clinton Impeachment debacle. A lot of people have argued that the Republican-led witch hunt during the Clinton/Lewinsky affair was a reaction to the Democrat-led witch hunt during Watergate. I'm interested to see if the cycle continues.

I Drank the Kool-Aid

It's no big surprise that I've become a rabid fan of HBO's The Wire. I'm a sucker for hype, and I love not-so-subtle creative statements on how effed-up our country is.

Sinister Joe and I watched the entire first season in a weekend, and we're already 2 episodes into Season 2. I've also loaded up my Netflix queue with Wire discs all the way through the final episode of Season 3. That's close to 30 hours of television - and I bet we'll knock it out before February. Seriously, I haven't been this into a show since my dad, brother, and I watched MacGuyver every week.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I'm Excited About This Band and I Haven't Even Heard Them Yet!

Y'all like irony? My devout Presbyterian grandma gave me a Borders gift card for Christmas, and I used it to purchase The Thermals' The Body The Blood The Machine, an anti-religion punk rock album.

I'm also planning to see these guys when they come to the Black Cat in March. Finally, Pitchfork reported in March that The Thermals turned down a $50,000 offer from Hummer to use one of their songs in an SUV commercial. Sticking it to the man is a bit unwise and a lot hypocritical - but, damn, is it not fun to read about?

HCYB Featured Album - Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

Sinister Joe gave me this one for Christmas. A little birdie told her that these guys are some of Jeff Tweedy's favorites. In fact, Wilco covers Wright's peace/love/happiness ditty called "Comment." I'd say Tweedy chose a blueblood. Wright was born at the Crossroads itself - Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1941.

This whole record is solid, and it lives up to its billing as "the link between Otis Redding and James Brown." The best song is the classic "Express Yourself." Listen to it at Charles Wright's grafitti-strewn website. Although I'm still not quite sure what these lyrics mean, I love them just the same:

"It’s not what you look like, when you’re doin´ what you’re doin´. It’s what you’re doin´ when you’re doin´ what you look like you’re doin´! Express Yourself!"

Whole-y Rip Off

I bought a cup of split pea soup, a small serving of chicken mushroom pasta, and a neo-hippie globo-zine at Whole Foods last night for the same price as a month's subscription to Netflix: $13.42.

Slate features an interesting article on why Whole Foods' stock price is falling. It features another article about the misleading nature of Whole Foods' eco-friendly/socially conscious sales pitch. The article is titled "The Dark Secrets of the Organic Food Movement."

Does this really surprise any of you?

A Tribe Called Quest once said, "Industry rule No # 4080, record company people are shady."

Acknowledging the cheese of this joke, I'd like add Rule # 4081 - U.S. government people are shadier.

The Washington Post reports that Chief Justice William Rehnquist was hooked on sleeping pills and became delusional as he went through withdrawal from the drugs. He also allegedly intimidated black voters in the 1960s. Finally, the Department of Justice allegedly told the FBI to investigate how witnesses would testify against Rehnquist during his confirmation hearing. All of this - and more! - was revealed this week as the FBI released its Rehnquist file under the Freedom of Information Act.

Here is what we learn from this episode:

1. Vaunted leaders can be hooked on drugs and we'll never know about it until they're dead.
2. The FBI keeps files on lots of people - maybe even YOU.
3. The FBI works for political purposes, allegedly.
4. Conspiracy theorists may have a nugget or two of truth buried deep beneath their bullshit.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bring on the ACC

A pattern has developed: first half slop, second half blow out. The Heels did it again last night, drowning the Quakers 102-64. It was another highlight reel kind of game. Reyshawn Terry scored 16 of his 19 points in the 2nd Half, Wayne Ellington continued to define "smoothe," and Bobby Frasor and Quentin Thomas returned from injuries to log quality minutes.

Carolina has won 10 games in a row. ACC play begins Sunday. This year's team is already being compared to the 2005 National Championship squad, and the freshmen get a little better each game.

Get ready for the major hype, y'all - this is what we've been waiting for.
Next up: Florida State comes to Chapel Hill Sunday evening.