May 30, 2008
I may make this a regular feature of The Wagger, depending on reader response.
By the way, there are only 235 days left until the United States inaugurates a new president!!!
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." -- Greece, NY, May 2005
"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein." -- Washington D.C., May 25, 2004
"Finally, the desk where we'll have our picture taken in front of -- is nine other presidents used it. This was given to us by Queen Victoria in the 1870s, I think it was. President Roosevelt put the door in so people would not know he was in a wheelchair. John Kennedy put his head out the door." -- Washington D.C., May 2006
"This administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate in an efficient way. We're making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end." -- Washington D.C. 2001
"I'm going to talk about the ideal world, Chris. I've read -- I understand reality. If you're asking me as the president, would I understand reality, I do." -- Hardball with Chris Matthews, May 2000
May 28, 2008
If you click on the headline above, you'll see a picture of Trey Anastasio on Rolling Stone's home page with a headline that says: "Anastasio Hints At Phish Reunion -- Guitarist says bandmates "have been talking a lot."
First of all, if you are like me and continue to follow Phish (I have Google alerts set up to send me anything that gets published on the Internet with the names Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell and Jon Fishman included; and interestingly, every single day someone out there publishes something on a website that has their names in it.), you already know that the guys in Phish continue talking on a regular basis. Trey has mentioned this in almost every published interview since Phish officially split up on August 15, 2004, after their last-ever end-of-summer festival called Coventry.
Second, Henrietta has said on more than one occasion, and his statements have been reiterated by Trey, Mike and Page, that he is done with Phish and really has no desire to crank up the beast again. Fishman's been home living his life as a husband (I think he got married for a third time) and father to his two beautiful daughters.
Third, Chris Koruda recently told Jambands.com (in an interview covered here at The Wagger) that Trey has some things in the works for the near future, and CK5 said he plans to be part of it, whatever it may be.
However, I have to say that this latest statement in Rolling Stone from Big Red piques my interest quite a bit. He says:
"When Phish broke up, I made some comment about how I’m not gonna go around playing ‘You Enjoy Myself’ for the rest of my life ... it’s not that I can’t believe that I said that, but its symbolic of how much I lost my mind or how much I lost my bearings or something. Because at this point in time I would give my left nut to play that song five times in a row every day until I die. I certainly thought about that while I was in jail.”
A thought you had in jail while you were clean and sober, I might add, Trey. Are your synapses starting to fire once again Lawn Boy now that your charges have been reduced and you were given three years probation rather than five? Is the fog that surrounds you starting to lift now that you completed a court-ordered drug treatment program? Are you finally realizing that life is better, and thousands of times more fun, with Phish in the world?
I sure hope so. Otherwise, after making a statement like that, I will have to agree with the t-shirts saying "Trey is a Sith Lord" and "Trey is Wilson." If you're going to drop a bomb like that on Phishheads the wide world over, then you better follow up, my friend.
It pisses me off that every magazine in the world catching wind of someone referring to Phish performing together again exploits the quote and runs with a story, or news blurb, claiming the band is getting back together.
But it's not the exploitation that gets me -- it's the fact that I want to see them play again so bad that I am almost willing to believe every last little hint that's out there.
Well, not really believe them, but it does make me drool.
May 27, 2008
If this doesn't grab you by the seat and scare the shit out of you then you are a complete idiot.
The FBI has created a little-known database called N-DEx, or The Law Enforcement National Data Exchange, allowing federal agents and local authorities to "search and analyze crime data on a secure Web site to help connect the dots between people, places and events," according to NextGov.com, an online spin off of the National Journal Group and the Atlantic Media Company.
The fledgling database initially was "populated with data by officers in Delaware, Nebraska and Oregon, as well as the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons and many more (states) are standing by (ready and willing to provide information) as the rollout continues," NextGov.com says.
The FBI quietly announced the rollout of N-DEx this week with news coverage from only one, very unlikely source -- The Hillsboro Argus, a small newspaper located in Hillsboro, Oregon that is basically an arm of Portland's The Oregonian, the largest newspaper, daily or otherwise, published in the state (Incidentally, I interviewed for a reporting position at The Argus back in 1997 just after graduating from the University of Oregon, but I didn't get the job. In a 1998 simple twist of fate, I was hired by The Newberg Graphic, a locally competitive newspaper located in Newberg, a very nostalgic place in my heart, which is just over the Chehalem Mountains from Hillsboro on Oregon Route 219.)
Anyway, the FBI says that once it's fully operational in 2010, N-DEx will let investigators conduct nationwide criminal searches by modus operandi, and "for clothing, tattoos, associates, cars and other identifying factors from a single access point. The software will identify criminal activity hotspots and crime trends; offer virtualization and mapping; and conduct threat level assessments of individuals and addresses," according to information posted on the FBI Web site.
Do you see the potential for invasion of privacy here? They can "conduct threat level assessments of individuals" even if they are not on probation or parole? That's insane, and has the potential to take law enforcement to a whole new level, where officers and officials are able to approach citizens they consider "a threat" and do what? Arrest a person if they believe that person might, or is highly likely to, commit a crime?
There are many things that scare the shit out of me about this database, and they should scare the bejesus out you and everyone you know.
Before I go any further, let me address those of you, oh appreciated readers, or those people out there, who will hear about N-DEx and say, "Well, if you aren't doing anything wrong then you shouldn't have anything to worry about when it comes to this new database."
You obviously live in quiet, dark place of your own volition that shelters you from reality in a warm blanket full of smiles, back rubs and wonderful, soothing, rosy thoughts.
You are either unaware, (OK, let's just call it what it is -- ignorant) unwilling or unable to believe that the Bush Administration slowly pieced together a police state during the last seven-and-a-half years, stripping all Americans of basic civil rights.
You probably believe President Bush when he says Bill Number S.1927 is really used exclusively to combat terrorism, and I'll bet with more assurance than doubling-down next week on Big Brown that you take him on his word when he says they are eavesdropping only on the conversations of criminals and suspects.
Again, in short, you are an idiot, and it's people like you that enable the government to create these types of programs because you don't want to be bothered as you go about shopping and running errands, insulated in your little, home-made bubble.
But who am I to wake you from your blissful, candy-cane, sugar-plum dreams and your belief that Goodnight Moon is actually a manifesto for world peace, holding the secret to living a Jimmy Stewart-like wonderful life.
OK, back to our regularly-scheduled Wagger.
Several things terrify me about The Law Enforcement National Data Exchange:
- The government remains in stealth mode about the existence of N-DEx even after launching the Web site.
- I can't speak with authority about other states, but local law enforcement agencies, and government officials at any level, in Oregon, one of the three states working with the FBI to provide the initial information that populates the database, have not said one word about participation in the program.
- The NextGov.com Web site says privacy advocate groups "have been briefed" about N-DEx. If this is true, none of them have come out to say anything about the existence of the database.
- FBI Division Assistant Director Tom Bush requested $62 million to fund the project through 2010.
- FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the House and Senate Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittees earlier this month but did not mention the initiative by name as he described the FBI’s $7.1 billion FY09 budget request, which includes $434 million for Bush’s division.
- According to the FBI, privacy and civil liberty safeguards are built into N-DEx, with access to the data being controlled by the agency that “owns” the information.
- Each law enforcement agency using the system decides what to share and with whom, and only a small number of users in each agency will have access to the program, meaning this will not be information available to the public, and therefore journalists, the ultimate government watchdogs.
- The FBI says it will keep N-DEx free of intelligence and commercial data, but does not elaborate on what it considers intelligence and commercial data or why it will not use this information.
- The FBI admits N-DEx "is certain to contain inaccurate or incomplete information" and might be an attractive target for illegal access, meaning they expect computer hackers to compromise the database.
- I can't find any information, or as much as a reference, to security safeguards built into the system, or anything about what type of firewalls, if any (you have to assume something will be created), will be in place.
You do know that when you are charged with a crime or civil offense, like a traffic ticket, that those files are kept on your permanent record, even when you are found not guilty by a jury of you peers, and that those files are accessible, both virtually (online) and physically (in person), to anyone who pays to conduct a personal background check or has the know-how to research court documents.
If you don't believe me do a background search on yourself and see what pops up. And I know from personal experience that this information is often accessed by potential employers when you are applying for a job. In fact, once in my life I was offered a job only to have the offer removed from the table after the company looked into my past and saw that I was charged with drug possession offenses, even though I was found not guilty on all counts and have no felonies on my record.
I have been on probation before, and when I was in college I got a DWI after being pulled over for having a busted tail light, failing the roadside sobriety test and then blowing a .12 on the breathalizer. So, it's probably safe to assume that I am registered in the N-DEx database, but of course I have no idea what information they have about me.
I probably sound paranoid to some of you, or like I am susceptible to government conspiracy theories, but I'm not. I find conspiracy theories entertaining, but that's as far as it goes. A former editor of mine once descried me to a potential employer as having a "healthy distrust of government," so I guess I do have a propensity toward believing that The Feds take action that is often counterintuitive to the best interests of U.S. citizens, and often enough than not harmful to our basic rights as outlined in the Constitution.
The truth is, I am afraid that as we move further and further into the Cold World War, more popularly known as the War on Terror, that we are fighting against intangible enemies, more and more of our civil liberties are going to be removed, and eventually we will find ourselves living in an Orwellian-type society -- not with a literal Big Brother hanging on the wall watching our every move through two-way television sets, but with programs and databases like N-DEx that pry into our lives and open personal information once considered private to scrutiny by government officials.
N-DEx is a step in this direction, even though its stated intent is to help law enforcement keep tabs on criminals, criminal activity and locations where crime is a problem. If The Law already can use this system to track people "by clothing, tattoos, associates, cars and other identifying factors," and specific agencies will "own" the information with only certain people allowed access to the database, it already can be used for other purposes than law enforcement.
Besides, the FBI says it can track people through known associates. That means if you know anybody who has ever been arrested, or charged with a crime, they can keep tabs on you as well.
And this fact alone, oh beloved readers, should scare the shit out of you too.
May 23, 2008
E!Online published some wonderful news today about Trey Anastasio (The Wagger's favorite musician). According to the story, a Washington County, New York judge reduced Trey's sentence, a result of last year's drug conviction and DWI snag, from five years probation to three after he completed the court mandated drug counseling and treatment program in full and on time.
Additionally, Trey met all of the terms of his probation, except for that one unexplained incident earlier this year where he missed a counseling session and ended up spending a couple of nights in the clink.Oops!
The article goes on to say that Trey's plea was reduced to a misdemeanor, which is really lucky for him considering the charges, because he'll graduate from the drug program on time in June, and because he completed his community service. No word on how many hours he was required to do, or what kind of community service he did. My guess is that he held a lot of talks with youths at risk about doing drugs and his negative experiences with it.
The best news of all is that Trey is scheduled to perform a solo acoustic show, which is about as rare as spotting Santa Claus flying through the air on his sled at Christmas Eve, at the Newport Folk Festival on August 2 (yes, the Newport Folk Festival - the same one where Bob Dylan became famous, cementing his place in pop culture history, and then three or four years later returned to perform an electric set, pissing off most of the folkies in attendance who did not have the benefit of hindsight to realize they were witnessing rock'n'roll history).
Trey also posted some tracks off his "new" (new as in never released, but of course there is no new material on it) live album Original Boardwalk Style on his MySpace page. (I know it's a common thing now, but I still think it's weird that Trey is on MySpace.)
The coolest thing about the new album is that Trey is donating 100% of the proceeds to create scholarships for his artist-in-residence program at The Barn, part of the nonprofit Trey created in 2006 called the Seven Below Arts Initiative, which is focused "on the visual arts - specifically, sculpture, painting, and related media - as its primary area of activity. An outreach component features educational opportunities for students of all ages."
So, at least he's not tossing out some album full of re-treaded material just to make a quick buck, which he could have easily done.
I'm just glad to see some stirrings from Big Red up there in Vermont. Nevertheless ... Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that our hero is back!!!
It's been almost a year-and-a-half since Trey last performed live with his own act. I would imagine the first show with his full band is going to be scorcher. Start checking the tour dates page regularly, because I sense a Summer Tour announcement coming up soon.
And you can bet your bottom dollar that The Wagger is going to do everything possible to make that first show (excluding the guaranteed warm-up performance at Higher Ground.)
I just took a job as the editor of the Cascade Business News, so between trying to learn the ins and outs of a new job, figuring out how to cover the business community in a town of 75,000 people and all of its surrounding small towns, as well as getting to know my staff and all of its ticks, I just haven't had the time to post material here at The Wagger with the frequency it deserves.
I will continue writing here, but for the time being postings are going to be sporadic, at best, although I did manage to post three articles today, more out of guilt than anything. My apologies to those of you who enjoy The Wagger, and communicate with me via e-mail (I would like to encourage all of you regular readers to post your comments on the Blog rather than e-mailing me offline).
And of course if you, oh faithful reader, come across anything that fits here by all means, e-mail it to me and I'll make sure to post it for the world to read!
In the meantime, stay tuned, and keep on Wagging.
Man dies after 150-foot fall at Turner Field
ATLANTA - Alcohol was a factor in the death of a 25-year-old man who fell down a stairwell at Turner Field during the game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets on Wednesday night.
Justin Hayes of Cumming, Ga. suffered head injuries and was (immediately) taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.
The investigation is “pointing toward drinking. Alcohol was a factor,” Atlanta police spokesman Ronald Campbell said on Thursday.
Hayes’ parents said Justin Hayes had “a couple of beers.”
“According to his friends, he had a couple of beers like most people at a game,” said John and Cindy Hayes in a statement released Thursday. “They were leaving and having fun, and he did what he does at home — tried to slide down the railing. Unfortunately, he just slipped over.”
Campbell said Hayes fell about 150 feet from the club level to the landing on the field level during the eighth inning. Braves spokesman Brad Hainje said Thursday the fall was about 50 to 60 feet.
“This was a tragic, horrible accident,” Hayes’ parents said. “Justin was a very strong Christian person, from a strong Christian family, who had never been in any trouble. He really cared about people and went out of his way to help anyone who needed it. We realize most parents will say that about their child, but that was honestly how he was.”
Mark Guilbeau, the senior investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, said an autopsy will be performed.
The Braves issued a statement Thursday expressing sympathy for Hayes’ family.
“The Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Police Department are investigating the tragic accident that resulted in the death of a 25-year old male fan at last night’s game,” the statement said. “Our sincerest and heartfelt condolences go out to his family.”
Braves spokeswoman Beth Marshall said the team had no additional comment pending the investigation.
Turner Field, built for the 1996 Olympics, has been the Braves’ home stadium since 1997. The Braves said it’s the first non-medical fatality at the stadium.
May 8, 2008
There is especially an exciting little comment about the future and Trey Anastasio.
CK: Yes, very solid. Absolutely. I often speak to those guys. Mike calls. Mike lives near my hometown so I see him out and about and around town. He grew up an Aerosmith fan, so he was very happy for me when I got that gig. He’s called me a few times to talk about that. I see Page around often enough. I saw him a week ago, and we’re still very close and we talk. Fish is doing his own thing. I just got off the phone with Trey, two days ago, talking about the future. He’s got some big plans. Hopefully, they’ll all come to fruition and we’ll be able to do some cool things out there.
It’s kind of interesting having to look at my schedule to see if I can fit Trey in. (laughter) That’s been a really funny little joke. Luckily, I am able to fit him in, which is good. (laughter) That is a weird little Twilight Zone there. I’m going to try to fit Trey in.Anybody else ready to see Trey back out on the road? Hopefully, whatever he does next will have a little more umph to it than 70-Volt Parade did. I would love to see Mr. Anastasio bring back the big band.
May 4, 2008
Chipper Jones went 3-for-6 today to raise his Major League-leading batting average to .425, driving in five runs, which tied his career high for one day, with a three-run homer and a two-run single. He hit .538 (7-for-13) in the weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds.
THE BEST PART OF CHIPPER'S PERFORMANCE
Here is Chipper's quote for the newspapers following the game:
"When we learn to play on the road like we did (this weekend), the same aggressiveness, step on somebody's throat when we get them down,* when we learn to do that ... I think wins on the road will come," Jones said.
Chipper is one of three people during the last 25 years to hit above .420 this late in the season; the other two batters were Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez (Texas Rangers, 2000) and Jon Olerud (Toronto Blue Jays, 1993). So, that means if Chipper keeps up this pace for another week or two we are going to start reading about his chances of hitting above .400 for the entire season.
To answer your question, the last person to finish the season hitting above .400 was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox who hit .406 in 1941. Yes, you are reading that correctly -- no one has hit .400 for an entire season since 1941.
Here is the .400 Club: (for more fun checking out stats click on this big, bad, orange link.
*Note -- In 1887, when a player received a base on balls (walk) he was also awarded a hit in the official statistics. Major League Baseball continues to recognize the statistics as they were recorded in 1887, but had to put in that asterisk for Maris and his 61 home runs. Ridiculous.
Also, you also have to keep in mind that before 1901, which is considered the cusp of baseball's "modern era," (you could also consider the beginning of the modern era 1919, the year Babe Ruth started playing for the Yankees, which is when people started hitting home runs. Before that year people would lead the majors in home runs with 11 or 12 per season) they used one ball as long as possible, rather than switching out a ball every time the pitcher requested it, so often times the ball was lumpy, black and literally coming apart at the seams, making it easier for a batter to get a hit once contact was made -- can you imagine trying to field one of those balls??
Still, looking at Hugh Duffy in 1894 batting .440 for the year, that's fucking incredible. That's almost one hit every two times at bat. It comes out to 44 hits out of every 100 at-bats. On top of that, the next closest player to Duffy hit .427 -- a 13-point differential.
|.400 Hitters Club |
In Order By Highest Average
|Rank||Name(s)||AVG (Raw AVG)||Year||Team(s)|
|1||.485 (.48500)||1887|| |
|2||.457 (.45681)||1887|| |
|3||.456 (.45581)||1887|| |
|4||.440 (.43970)||1894|| |
|5||.427 (.42720)||1887|| |
|6||.426 (.42647)||1901|| |
|7||.424 (.42376)||1897|| |
|8||.424 (.42351)||1924|| |
|9||.421 (.42105)||1887|| |
|10||.420 (.42031)||1887|| |
|11||.420 (.41980)||1922|| |
|12||.420 (.41963)||1911|| |
|13||.415 (.41491)||1887|| |
|14||.414 (.41463)||1894|| |
|15||.412 (.41202)||1884|| |
|16||.410 (.40998)||1887|| |
|17||.410 (.40964)||1899|| |
|18||.410 (.40956)||1896|| |
|19||.409 (.40879)||1887|| |
|20||.409 (.40868)||1912|| |
|21||.408 (.40806)||1911|| |
|22||.407 (.40729)||1920|| |
|23||.407 (.40727)||1887|| |
|24||.406 (.40570)||1941|| |
|25||.405 (.40540)||1895|| |
|26||.404 (.40417)||1895|| |
|27||.404 (.40404)||1894|| |
|28||.404 (.40350)||1876|| |
|29||.403 (.40322)||1894|| |
|30||.403 (.40278)||1925|| |
|31||.403 (.40267)||1923|| |
|32||.401 (.40128)||1922|| |
|33||.401 (.40126)||1930|| |
|34||.401 (.40115)||1896|| |
|35||.401 (.40114)||1922|| |