Saturday, July 19, 2008

This Day in History|1961
NOT The Exorcist

Regular in-flight movies began on July 19, 1961, with the showing of By Love Possessed on a TWA flight between New York and Los Angeles.

Sharleen Spiteri
US Release

Check it out here, but make sure you spend some of your hard-earned cash on the TEXAS material which is available in the USA iTMS. Those bastards barely carry enough, so now you know why I'm all for music piracy: I'll spend more in the long run.


Carry more music!

All three eyes are open...

I hate tests!

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Shocking" News

Electrical Risks at Iraq Bases
Are Worse Than Said

Ten buildings were destroyed late last month at a Marine base near Falluja, Iraq, after an electrical fire broke out. ©Evans family, via South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Rarely do I post an entire article from another source, but I don't think too many people will click through and read this article.

The first time I heard about one of our troops getting electrocuted to death by taking a shower (after eight days WITHOUT a shower) I thought I was going to be sick. Since then, it's gotten worse, and it's getting buried in the news.

Kudos to those reporters who are sticking with this topic. And let's see someone lob this question or issue to the presumptive nominees for president.

Personally, I'd love to hear McCain's response.

July 18, 2008
Electrical Risks at Iraq Bases Are Worse Than Said
By JAMES RISEN, The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.

During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.

And while the Pentagon has previously reported that 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq, many more have been injured, some seriously, by shocks, according to the documents. A log compiled earlier this year at one building complex in Baghdad disclosed that soldiers complained of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis.

Electrical problems were the most urgent noncombat safety hazard for soldiers in Iraq, according to an Army survey issued in February 2007. It noted “a safety threat theaterwide created by the poor-quality electrical fixtures procured and installed, sometimes incorrectly, thus resulting in a significant number of fires.”

The Army report said KBR, the Houston-based company that is responsible for providing basic services for American troops in Iraq, including housing, did its own study and found a “systemic problem” with electrical work.

But the Pentagon did little to address the issue until a Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth, was electrocuted in January while showering. His death, caused by poor electrical grounding, drew the attention of lawmakers and Pentagon leaders after his family pushed for answers. Congress and the Pentagon’s inspector general have begun investigations, and this month senior Army officials ordered electrical inspections of all buildings in Iraq maintained by KBR.

“We consider this to be a very serious issue,” Chris Isleib, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday in an e-mail message, while declining to comment on the findings in the Army documents.

Heather Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, would not comment about a company safety study or the reports of electrical fires or shocks, but she said KBR had found no evidence of a link between its work and the electrocutions. She added, “KBR’s commitment to the safety of all employees and those the company serves remains unwavering.”

In public statements, Pentagon officials have not addressed the scope of the hazards, instead mostly focusing on the circumstances surrounding the death of Sergeant Maseth, who lived near Pittsburgh.

But the internal documents, including dozens of memos, e-mail messages and reports from the Army, the Defense Contract Management Agency and other agencies, show that electrical problems were widely recognized as a major safety threat among Pentagon contracting experts. It is impossible to determine the exact number of the resulting deaths and injuries because no single document tallies them up. (The records were compiled for Congressional and Pentagon investigators and obtained independently by The Times.)

The 2007 safety survey was ordered by the top official in Iraq for the Defense Contract Management Agency, which oversees contractors, after the October 2006 electrical fire that killed two soldiers near Tikrit. Paul Dickinson, a Pentagon safety specialist who wrote the report, confirmed its findings, but did not elaborate.

Senior Pentagon officials appear not to have responded to the survey until this May, after Congressional investigators had begun to ask questions. Then they argued that its findings were irrelevant to Sergeant Maseth’s electrocution.

In a memo dated May 26, 2008, a top official of the Defense Contract Management Agency stated that “there is no direct or causal connection” between the problems identified in the survey and those at the Baghdad compound where Sergeant Maseth died.

But in a sworn statement, apparently prepared for an investigation of Sergeant Maseth’s death by the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, a Pentagon contracting official described how both military and KBR officials were aware of the growing danger from poor electrical work.

In the statement, Ingrid Harrison, an official with the Pentagon’s contracting management agency, disclosed that an electrical fire caused by poor wiring in a nearby building two weeks before Sergeant Maseth’s death had endangered two other soldiers.

“The soldiers were lucky because the one window that they could reach did not have bars on it, or there could have been two other fatalities,” Ms. Harrison said in the statement. She said that after Sergeant Maseth died, a more senior Pentagon contracting official in Baghdad denied knowing about the fire, but she asserted that “it was thoroughly discussed” during internal meetings.

Ms. Harrison added that KBR officials also knew of widespread electrical problems at the Radwaniya Palace Complex, near Baghdad’s airport, where Sergeant Maseth died. “KBR has been at R.P.C. for over four years and was fully aware of the safety hazards, violations and concerns regarding the soldiers’ housing,” she said in the statement. She added that the contractor “chose to ignore the known unsafe conditions.”

Ms. Harrison did not respond to a request for comment.

In another internal document written after Sergeant Maseth’s death, a senior Army officer in Baghdad warned that soldiers had to be moved immediately from several buildings because of electrical risks. In a memo asking for emergency repairs at three buildings, the official warned of a “clear and present danger,” adding, “Exposed wiring, ungrounded distribution panels and inappropriate lighting fixtures render these facilities uninhabitable and unsafe.”

The memo added that “over the course of several months, electrical fires and shorts have compounded these unsafe conditions.”

Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, tens of thousands of American troops have been housed in Iraqi buildings that date from the Saddam Hussein era. KBR and other contractors have been paid millions of dollars to repair and upgrade the buildings, including their electrical systems. KBR officials say they handle the maintenance for 4,000 structures and an additional 35,000 containers used as housing in the war zone.

The reports of shoddy electrical work have raised new questions about the Bush administration’s heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq, particularly because they come after other high-profile disputes involving KBR. They include accusations of overbilling, providing unsafe water to soldiers and failing to protect female employees who were sexually assaulted.

Officials say the administration contracted out so much work in Iraq that companies like KBR were simply overwhelmed by the scale of the operations. Some of the electrical work, for example, was turned over to subcontractors, some of which hired unskilled Iraqis who were paid only a few dollars a day.

Government officials responsible for contract oversight, meanwhile, were also unable to keep up, so that unsafe electrical work was not challenged by government auditors.

Several electricians who worked for KBR have said previously in interviews that they repeatedly warned KBR managers and Pentagon and military officials about unsafe electrical work. They said that supervisors had ignored their concerns or, in some cases, lacked the training to understand the problems.

The Army documents cite a number of recent safety threats. One report showed that during a four-day period in late February, soldiers at a Baghdad compound reported being shocked while taking showers in different buildings. The circumstances appear similar to those that led to Sergeant Maseth’s death.

Another entry from early March stated that an entire house used by American troops was electrically charged, making it unlivable.

Since the Pentagon reports were compiled, more episodes linked to electrical problems have occurred. In late June, for example, an electrical fire at a Marine base in Falluja destroyed 10 buildings, forcing marines there to ask for donations from home to replace their personal belongings.

On July 5, Sgt. First Class Anthony Lynn Woodham of the Arkansas National Guard died at his base in Tallil, Iraq. Initial reports blamed electrocution, but his death is being investigated because of conflicting information, according to his wife, Crystal Woodham, and a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard.

Sharleen Spiteri's MELODY
#3 iTMS|UK

But you won't be finding this in the USA iTMS.
NOW do you know why I advocate audio and video piracy?
In order for me to get a copy of the TEXAS PARIS 2001 concert on DVD, Region 0, I had to look high and low, and settle for a rather inexpensive copy from South Korea.

If the music industry doesn't get up off their asses and take notice, sales will continue to plummet, and fans will find the way to get the music they want, by hook or by crook.

Personally? I'd rather pay for what I enjoy. After all, they are artists.

But when legalities and stupid rules get in the way...what options do we have?

Rock on, Shar!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm gonna haunt you...

Diligence, indeed!
Right on target!

Happy Birthday Don Sutherland!

No, not THIS one...
the other one, who served our country...

and who single-handedly turned my entire career around from some kid with a camera to an artist with a vision.

The Daily Heller
Now class, what is satire?

A brilliantly written article on the nature, and definition of, satire, brought to you by THE DAILY HELLER over at PRINT MAGAZINE.

Personally, I am curious why critical mass wasn't reached by the lunatic fringe when they saw an illustration of Barack actually in bed with Hill.

Maybe it's just me...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Dancing Queen!

Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did.
She just did it backwards and in high heels.
– Anne Richards

American Gothic 2008
Michelle & Barack #1 + #2 on Google!

What's more dangerous than McCain in the White House?

Grace Jones|Corporate Cannibal
Your meat is sweet to eat...

Finally! A full-fledged version.
Madonna, move over.
Elton? Shut the fuck up.

The Bitch is truly baaaaaaaaack!

Grace rocks, I don't care how long we have to wait!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

iT's Official!

OK. You can check it out on CNN here!

American Gothic 2008
Michelle & Barack Obama

This image has an embedded watermark,
and may not be reposted without explicit written permission.

CNN's iReport!

Satisfy Your Software Appetite!
Tasty Apps!

Whether you want to stamp it (FlagIt! for $8), screen it (Videobox for $15), or snag it (Web Snapper, $15), not only is there something for everyone, but Tim and the gang are working on some new "can't do without" apps surely to fill your Mac's expanding belly!

Sharleen Spiteri #4 on iTMS – UK

OK. So with the soundtrack to MAMMA MIA! and Abba's Gold eclipsing Sharleen Spiteri's MELODY, her real competition materialized in the form of COLDPLAY's Viva la Vida; seems to me Sharleen's headed straight for the number 1 slot on the iTMS in the UK.

Hey! iTunes|US.

Aren't you listening?

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Origin of "The Obama Fist Bump"

The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, made their debut in The All-New Super Friends Hour. Zan and Jayna are siblings from the planet Exxor (also spelled Exor) who were being informally trained by the superheroes. Unlike their predecessors, Wendy Harris and Marvin White, this pair was able to participate in combat with abilities of their own. Their powers were activated when the twins touched each other and spoke the words "Wonder Twin powers, activate!". (In the comics, it was revealed that this phrase was unnecessary, just a habit of theirs.) As they were about to transform, they would each announce their intended form. For example, Zan would announce, "Form of a glacier!"

Free Angela Michelle Obama Davis!

Is it me, or....?

Barack & Michelle Obama
The New Yorker Cover

from the BBC:
The image, drawn by Barry Blitt and featured on the front cover of this week's New Yorker, shows Mr Obama wearing traditional Muslim dress, while his wife, Michelle, is dressed in combat trousers and carrying a machine-gun.

The couple are shown standing in the Oval Office, greeting one another with a "fist bump", with an American flag burning in the fireplace, and a portrait of Osama Bin Laden on the wall.

Gimme Kandi.
Keep the Hed.

I gotta say, I'm always groovin' to one of the latest offerings from HedKandi (especially their TWISTED DISCO series) but the artwork kinda makes me feel left out of the picture, so to speak. Nothing wrong with a coupla highly-stylized bimbos in a vaguely animé style on the cover, but how 'bout sneaking in a himbo or three?

Sharleen WHO?

I just woke up...

Why the iTunes Music Store USA SUCKS!

Sir, there's no one by that name in our database.
Perhaps you're spelling it wrong?
Are you SURE you've got the right name?

No, sorry, can't help you.
And no, I won't do a search on the name of the disc.

What's that MELODY you're singing?

1º of birthday separation

Menage a trois.

Is there a fire in the sky? is there a moon up there?
Is there anything alive? now this darkness is what I hear.
This is a breathless silence, a moment out of time.
I see your face in the shadows, the tell tale signs are in your eyes.
More than I can hold in my hands, running through the cracks like water,
Aching with a passion inside as deep as the river.

All desire the ashes and the fire.
Turning the night inside and the light from you.

Is there a flame in the dark? is there a bright hard star?
These creatures look the same now.
We freeze wherever we are.
We wake alone in blackness.
We sleep wherever we fall.
One dream all around us, this big hush infects us all.
Holding up on animal fear, soaking up the waves underwater.
Turned to music no one can hear.
Forever in this half lit light

the ashes and the fire...

In the beginning...

Shar kicks Paris' ass!

Gotta love her for this, among other things!
And it's not even censored!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Absolut Ripoff

from The New York Times:

But what happens when the tables are turned? In recent years a number of advertising campaigns have seemed to draw their inspiration directly from high-profile works of contemporary art. And the artists who believe their images and ideas have been appropriated are not happy about it.

Donn Zaretsky, a lawyer in New York who specializes in art law, is often approached by artists who perceive echoes of their own work in advertisements. “It does seem like advertising people are pushing the envelope on this,” he said. “They’re being more and more brazen in their borrowing. On the one hand they should be mining the art world for inspiration, and you would expect them to be referencing works that people are familiar with. But more and more they seem to be getting into the territory of blatant rip-offs.”

The law governing the unauthorized use of copyrighted images and ideas, he said, is notoriously murky. “Copyright law doesn’t protect ideas, it only protects expression. The question is, where do you draw the line? Is the agency being inspired by the idea? Or did they copy the artist’s expression?”

When artists go after advertisers in such cases, the disputes are most often settled out of court. But there have been a few notable cases in which artists successfully sued advertisers for copyright infringement.

Local boy's birthday!

Snuff or script?

Either way, this one's tough to watch.