Bundesrepublik Deutschland  0

Posted on Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 05:19 AM. About music. About the world.

So it is five in the morning and I'm up late watching a tape of the Bundestag's dissolution vote last week on C-SPAN2 and learning all about the structure of the German government from an unusually informative series of articles on Wikipedia. And geez, DEUTSCHLAND your government is insane. Five political parties! A parliamentarily-elected executive! A "fake president" whose only powers are to give speeches and--oh yeah--dissolve the government! And then there's the architecture, complete with a this-thing! I've always harbored this bitter thought that more people would be interested in American politics if there were a little more surface drama... and you can't get any more dramatic than the Gerhard Schroder telling MPs from his own party to vote against an upcoming vote of confidence in Gerhard Schröder.

So anyway I'm a big wonk, and that's what I've been doing in Iowa the past few months--working like a madman and in my free time reading the paper, watching C-SPAN and hoping this 'nuclear option' nonsense blows over and doesn't lead to the cessation of the 109th Congress.

But I digress. I've also been eagerly awaiting the demolition of two of the oldest buildings in town--Knapp and Storms Halls, the University's thirty year-old "temporary housing" solution, are finally coming down a week from Tuesday. It will be the most exciting thing to happen here this entire summer, and everyone in town will either be there or watching it from their offices. Granted, nothing else is really happening here besides... well, nothing else is happening here, so this is a Big Deal.

Barring that, though, I haven't had much to write about. Oh, I guess I have a new website for the radio show where I will babble about hip-hop and show off all these awesome records we get in at the radio station. I'm no Kevvvy Kev, but... oh yeah,

BONUS PODCAST OF THE WHAT IS THIS PODCAST NONSENSE: KZSU's The Drum, hosted by the indefatigable Kevvvy Kev, has been one of the best hip-hop shows on the planet for over 20 years. Turns out that now you can download the show weekly from some website that records webcasts of the best independent and college radio shows in the country. There is also a podcasting option, whatever that means.
(It is also possible, if you combine the mp3, the playlist thing and this handy software called mp3DirectCut, to make quality digital copies of all the hot new underground hip-hop songs but you didn't hear that from me.)

Kakapo  3

Posted on Friday, 4 February 2005 at 02:16 AM. About the world.

KA KA POI got home from doing TalkChat tonight, and I was wondering about something. We regularly talk about animals on our discussion-type radio show, because that's what my roommate and I talk about around the house. We like animals.

So there's this bird called the kakapo that used to live in New Zealand, back before European settlers arrived. It is believed that at first--millions of years ago--they were unremarkable parrots, except for their strangely fragrant odor, but once they migrated to the pristine and predator-free islands of New Zealand, they got a little lazy. By the time humans arrived, first from Polynesia and later from Europe, the kakapo had evolved into a fat, contented and very friendly parrot that could not fly and was soon poached down to very scant numbers.

Part of the problem was the kakapo's peculiar mating habits. The kakapo mates once every couple of years--or tries to, at least. In order to attract females during mating season, male kakapos dig themselves big bowls in the dirt, then sit in these bowls and screech a very low-pitched, booming screech that can be heard for miles in any direction. However, much like the dilemma of the bass car in the crowded parking lot, the females have a hard time finding where exactly the male is booming from because as a matter of basic physics, bass vibrations are hard to localize. To make up for this, a male kakapo will boom up to six hours every night for months on end in the hopes that a female will actually show up at his hole, but this doesn't always happen.

I guess the lesson is that in nature, as in romance, the secret is in being in the right place at the right time. But whatever. I just thought it was a cool bird, and I wanted to be able to find it later. I mean, for years I've been calling it the ack-ack, which itself is my garbled interpretation of the Aye-Aye lemur. But there's supposedly a video that I would like to watch later too, so... lemurs, man. Lemurs.

Grozny  0

Posted on Tuesday, 31 August 2004 at 01:27 AM. About the world.
At the village of Savelyevskaya, voters were fewer still. But after a few minutes Russian soldiers arrived with a metal detector to sweep for land mines, and a Rottweiler to sniff for explosives. The soldiers led the dog into the polling station, where it ran its nose along the curtains to the booths, then the two cardboard ballot boxes, and at last the flowerpots.

The workers switched on a cassette, filling the room with Chechen music. Vakha Yunoskanov, a voter, and Maria Magomedova, a poll worker, began to dance, circling each other to the music. They said they were showing their joy.

Only minutes before, when asked if anyone in the village would vote for a candidate other than General Alkhanov, Mr. Yunoskanov had said, "No."

Ms. Magomedova quickly corrected him.

"There are some," she said brightly but firmly, as Mr. Yunoskanov, sensing a shift of message, nodded in agreement. "We have a democratic, free, honest election," she continued, as he nodded some more.
--New York Times, 30 Aug 2004

That's news from Chechnya, the breakaway Russian province where the state military is routinely outgunned by separatist rebels. What do you do when there are no good guys? This is the Chechen Dilemma.

A quick system notice: The 'Fish was down for a while going into the weekend. Last month, while I thought I was renewing our hosting agreement online, I accidentally ordered all services cancelled as of last Thursday. Everything is fine now, and this failure won't happen again, ever, for the next eleven months.

More news as events warrant. For now...

It's a bit late, but for the last week I've been enjoying the Olympics web site, Dead F'ing Last: Because they're there and you're not.

At four polling places that foreign journalists were allowed to visit, always accompanied by Russian soldiers and Chechen guards, not a single voter could be found expressing support for any of the six other candidates.

"We voted for Alkhanov," said Hanifa Izayeva, 34, speaking for eight women who were presented by the authorities as voters in the village of Alpatovo. "We hope that he will bring peace.''

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