Tim and the Tin Titan



I finished reading the book this weekend. I had wanted to read it for a while and now I really had to read it before the movie came out. I am really glad I did. While not a masterpiece, it is clearly a well crafted memoir, entertaining and involving. It makes you see the glory, absurdity, ferocity and boredom of war. I am really curious to see how this will be translated to film. The director is the same as American Beauty, a movie I really like for the way it took a different look at the "ordinary" lives of people all around us. This will probably a bit of the same but cast in a military light. And if they stay true to the character of the book, Jake Gyllenhaal (who I first saw in Donnie Darko) will be a great fit for the role. And I really do hope they stay close to the original spirit. It is not an activist's book, not an "agenda" book, it's one person's war, internal and external.

Anthony Swofford is a grunt, a jarhead, who reads the Iliad and The Stranger while his comrades play poker or peruse smut mags. He doubts the validity of his involvement the Marines, defending not countries but oil companies. While he may not be a typical marine, he is one who has the background to tell a story in a compelling manner. He closes with memoirs with an extract from and Ezra Pound Canto:
Some wars are unavoidable and need well be fought but this doesn't erase warfare's waste. Sorry, we must say to the mothers whose sons will die horribly. This will never end. Sorry.

That should give you a feel for the tone of the book. Now please don't screw-up the movie version.

Toot Your Own Horn

I wish the horn on my car had two settings:

First setting, a little toot that says:
"Excuse me kind sir, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that traffic signaling device has changed state. While I have no desire to precipitate your departure, I would like to proceed with my journey as expediently as possible. I thank you for your promt reaction in this matter."

Second setting, a fog horn that screams:

That should cover most situations...


The Other Mike

On Metafilter, While discussing a tile floor that Michelangelo did that was covered up and just recently rediscovered:
Looks awfully mosque like... Was Michelangelo a Muslim?
posted by Balisong at 11:26 PM PST on October 23

No, he was a turtle that used nunchukas.
posted by chasing at 4:14 AM PST on October 24


The Future Of Music

Two things this week in music news, both diametrically opposed

First, one person sued by the RIAA is finally standing up to them. In this article, they detail how the RIAA operates. What they do is sue "John Does" as a list of IP addresses. They use the court procedure to gather personal information on persons behind the IP addresses. Once the lawyers have the information, they pass it on to the company's representative.

The record companies provide the personal information to Settlement Support Center, which engages in prohibited and deceptive debt collection activities and other illegal conduct to extract money from the people allegedly identified from the secret lawsuits. Most of the people subjected to these secret suits do not learn that they have been sued until demand is made for payment by the record companies' lawyers or Settlement Support Center. Basically they are using the legal system to blackmail and intimidate people to make payments that they do not legally have to make.

This bullying cannot possibly legal. Now there just need to be one district attorney brave enough to bring charges.

Second, the band Harvey Danger just released their new album "Little By Little" for free and without DRM. It's available for download and on BitTorrent. Their reasons for doing this can be read here. And you know what? The album is damn good, not all hits but a solid album.

That may not seem like much, but after you read Courtney Love's "Artist Rights And Record Companies" comment, you understand that if an artists has negotiated a great contract, they may make one dollar for each CD they sell. If they get a bad one, they may only get 25 cents. Imagine a band with 5 members having to split a quarter for every album. Also, most of the time, a band has to borrow money from the record company to be able to record their album traditional way. Once they pay a producer, a recording engineer and a studio for a year, they can be in debt for a quarter to a half million dollars to the record companies. Even if they have a best selling record, they can still be in debt once it's done. They then have to go on tour just to be able to pay off their old debt. If the tour is not completely successful, they then again have to borrow from the record company to be able to record their second album and the cycle continues.

So if I give Harvey Danger 5$ (which I did) for their latest album, not only do they get between 5 and 20 times more money in their pockets but this distribution method costs them almost nothing. They can also now make their albums on home computer mixed on pro-sumer software like PRO Tools. They are cutting out the middle man by doing it themselves. They may not sell as many records because they do not have the huge publicity machine of the record companies behind them but then again, they don
So is this the future of music? The RIAA so pissing off artists and customers that they jump ship en masse and artists completely bypassing the traditionnal system. If the future of music sounds more like Harvey Danger and less like blackmail, I'm all for it.