Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Holidays

What can I say... things continue to be busy for me at my day gig. So I've had no time for blogging. But I've come up with a couple of quick holiday items to share. First, a shot I took of the Christmas parade in downtown Dallas a couple of Saturdays ago:

Happy Holidays II

And then there's this pleasant surprise from the folks at NBC. Studio 60's Christmas episode featured a group of displaced jazz musicians from New Orleans. They performed a beautiful arrangement of "Oh Holy Night," and NBC has posted an mp3 of it for FREE.

Fighting The Good Fight

I urge you to raise your glasses to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who is trying to keep a constructive eye on the FCC.

"We write to request detailed information on the Federal
Communications Commission's plans regarding recently-announced studies to be conducted as part of the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on media ownership," Hinchey and his House colleagues wrote to Martin. "We are certainly pleased to see that the Commission is moving forward with these studies. However, we are concerned about the lack of information that has been released thus far regarding these endeavors.

"The ten FCC-commissioned studies are focused on: 1) How People Get News and Information; 2) Ownership Structure and Robustness of Media; 3) Effect of Ownership Structure and Robustness on the Quantity and Quality of TV Programming; 4) News Operations; 5) Station Ownership and Programming in Radio; 6) News Coverage of Cross-Owned Newspapers and Television Stations; 7 & 8) Minority Ownership; 9) Vertical Integration; 10) Radio Industry Review: Trends in Ownership, Format, and Finance.

Among other things, Hinchey and his six House colleagues are seeking answers from the FCC regarding: how the topics were selected; the backgrounds of the authors assigned to each of the studies; whether the agency took appropriate steps to prevent any conflicts of interests that could impact the outcome of the studies; the cost of the studies; and how the peer review process for the studies will work.

In 2003, with a Bush-appointed chairman, the FCC sought to further weaken local TV ownership limits, national TV ownership caps, and newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules. If those rules had been enacted, a single corporation would have been allowed to acquire
as many as three television stations, eight radio stations, and the only daily newspaper in a single media market. The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed that the FCC was overstepping its bounds, rejected the new rules, and remanded the issue back to the Commission, which is now reviewing the rules once again. The Court also criticized the FCC for failing to disclose parts of the new rules for public comment.

We do not need Corporate America tightening its hold on our Media. The Republican led FCC (thanks to plenty of help from Telecommunications Acts signed by Clinton and the first Bush in the 90's) will harm Democracy if left unchecked.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Another Look At "The Face On Mars"

The European Space Agency has provided us with the clearest pictures yet of "The Face On Mars." Always worth a look.

Two Books On I.F. Stone

The guy who went journalistically solo decades before the blogosphere booted into existence, I.F. Stone, is the subject of a couple of new books.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Filling Space

This is my busiest time of year--when I'm slammed with audio production work for the the first games of the season for The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network. So my blogging has been non-existent. To fill space, I thought I'd post a recent photo I took in downtown Garland, Tx. It's a little depot for the Kansas City Southern railroad line (with Photoshop enhancements):

Jurassic Park-ish

Scientists, using frozen mammoth sperm found in Siberia, hope to resurrect half a mammoth:

The mammoth is a close genetic cousin of the modern Asian elephant, and scientists think that the two may be capable of interbreeding.

The frozen mammoth sperm could be injected into elephant eggs, producing offspring that would be 50 per cent mammoth.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Word And The World

When blogger Andrew Sullivan comes across politicians who make a standard practice of fusing their ideologies with the Christian Gospels, he labels them Christianists. The term is an intentional play on Islamist--a common label for the violent individuals at the heart of radical Islam.

A few weeks back,
Sully commented on a particularly heinous display of Christianist activity--at Ken Lay's funeral:

In the funeral for corporate thief and crook, Ken Lay, we
have a spectacular display of what is wrong with contemporary Republicanism. We have the famiglia paying their respects to a loyal money-man - Bush senior, Baker, Mosbacher. And we have the exoneration of malfeasance by the Christianist doctrine that if you're on our side, you can do no wrong. Ken Lay up there with Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr? And the amazing thing is that this is sincere. Christianist spiritual hubris - fused with political and financial power - is phariseeism remade.

Which brings me to today's pleasant surprise. A preacher I love to listen to via the Internet is the subject of
a piece in today's New York Times. His name is Greg Boyd. I first encountered him in Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ.

Boyd's an interesting and brilliant character, and I eventually looked him up on the Internet and began listening to his sermons online. More than once over the past few years I've had questions about interpretations of Scripture, and I've e-mailed Greg Boyd with those questions. He has always gotten back to me with extremely helpful thoughts.

One of Boyd's cautionary bits of advice to today's Christian Church is to watch carefully how we mix our politics with our message to the World. His worry is that our message can only be hurt by such a blending. A quote from today's Times piece:

In his six sermons [titled, "The Cross and the Sword"], Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or
fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn't founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was
founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn't bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

Greg Boyd's sermons can be heard online

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cheers To The Honey Badger

You've gotta love a little animal that, without so much as an opposable thumb, makes dinner out of some of the world's most dangerous snakes. According to a two-year-old story in National Geographic, he'll chase a cobra up a tree or square off eye-to-eye with a puff adder--and come out the victor:

One night we saw a young male collapse. He'd been struck in the face by a puff adder just before he bit its head off. We expected that he would die. But after two hours he woke up, groggily finished his meal,and later trotted off into the sunrise. We witnessed other encounters in which honey badgers appeared resistant to even the most potent venoms, though we don't yet understand the physiology that protects them.

Here's to you, Mr. Honey Badger. Mammals everywhere--especially those with snake phobias brought on by Animal Planet viewing binges--salute you.

In The Matrix

Our guy Myers Dupuy cracks me up. CST readers know him from a few of his humorous observation pieces like: Free Fallin' with Haagen-Dazs; and A Triathlon Story (or Voodoo Brine for the Soul).

Yesterday, Myers zapped me an e-mail pointing out one of the lesser known benefits of ping pong:

I play some daily ping pong with a guy here at the office, and while it's not a work out, that “sport” does wonders for the reflexes. I find myself catching things that fall off a desk, like a cup of water before it tips and spills. I imagine as I move through my day that I'm in my own Matrix movie just looking for little reflexive miracles of no material consequence that yet fill my day with joy.

I get this stuff from Myers all the time. When they start writing the sequel to
Office Space, they need to follow Myers around for a few weeks and gather in the gold. Seriously.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Back To The Future

I was recently given a box of old radio and television industry magazines. I'll probably scan quite a few of my discoveries over the coming months and share them here on the CST Blog.

The first item that caught my eye is from the February 1961 edition of Radio-Electronics magazine. The author of the article, Manfred von Ardenne, speculated that, for safety reasons,
cars of the future would be driven backwards! The driver would face the rear of the automobile and would enjoy full head-to-foot shock absorption safety as well as a 210-degree view of the road ahead via a closed-circuit television camera system. The cameras would even boast infrared filters for improved vision in the fog; and, in the event of camera failure, an emergency periscope would be available to the driver.

In an effort to tip his hat to his target demographic, Ardenne was careful to note:

It is quite understandable that [this] solution [to auto safety] has been suggested, not by someone in the automotive field, but by an electronics engineer closely associated with the television industry.


True, True

Slate's Dave Jamieson laments the Death of the Baseball Card.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Beautiful Old Radios

A few years back, I decided to restore my late great grandmother's antique Truetone floor radio that had been sitting in my parents' garage for well over a decade. Now I'm working on my wife's great grandmother's Emerson table radio. I don't know that two projects makes a hobby, but I'm definitely heading that direction.

The radio to the top right is not one of my projects. That's expert work, and I'm a novice at best. But I thought I'd link to, where radios like the above can be viewed and purchased. I haven't come across an online vendor with a more beautiful selection of old wooden, plastic, and bakelite radios.

You'll find a lot of radio fans who love the sound of an old tube radio tuned to an AM music station (Big Band or Jazz, for instance). Many old radios offer a warm and bassy sound. Unfortunately, the new HD Radio technology for the AM dial causes
a good bit of interference on old radios. So some owners and collectors of antique radios choose to buy low power AM transmitters to send music from their iPods, stereos, or computers to their old radios. I haven't yet done this with an AM transmitter, but I understand the sound is terrific!

Maybe the best little transmitter for this purpose is the "
Alfredo Lite" made by Chris Cuff. It's roughly the size of a Walkman and costs around $125. The "Alfredo Lite" is specifically made to broadcast in C-Quam AM Stereo; however, it's also ideal for sending an extremely hi-fi AM signal to your antique radio.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Interesting Visuals In My Backyard

It's not every day that you look out into your suburban backyard and see a grey fox sniffing around...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Gold Rush

Tomorrow, the U.S. Mint will issue its first ever 24-karat coin. It's called the American Buffalo and is based on James Earle Fraser's Buffalo nickel. Quite beautiful.

When In Rome

I'm a sucker for cool online features. Right now, is focusing on ancient Roman ruins under Rome.

Charity For Iraqi Children

Here's a pretty direct way of injecting fun into the lives of children in a war-torn country. For $10 a pop, you can send soccer balls to children in Iraq.


With the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album turning 40, this handy blog is on the beat.

Friday, June 16, 2006


On Tuesday, the surviving members of The Beach Boys got together for the first time in 10 years. They met on the roof of Capitol Records to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their Pet Sounds album (and in recognition of a recent compilation CD going double platinum).

But for serious fans, maybe the most interesting news is that a cleaner recording of "Good Vibrations" has been discovered in the Capitol Records vaults. That cut is set to be re-released as a deluxe CD single. I should add that, though cleaner, it wasn't the lost stereo master that was found. "Good Vibrations" remains mono.

Oh, one more treat: An anniversary edition of Pet Sounds is being released as a double vinyl record. Nice.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Trying to be green? Or just looking for another fun ride? Be the first on your block to own a solar-powered trike bike.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Soccer Humor

The other day, Slate excerpted from The Thinking Fan's Guide To The World Cup. At one point, an explanation is given for soccer's popularity with American youth:

The beauty of soccer for very young people is that, to
create a simulacrum of the game, it requires very little skill. There is no other sport that can bear such incompetence. With soccer, 22 kids can be running around, most of them aimlessly, or picking weeds by the sidelines, or crying for no apparent reason, and yet the game can have the general appearance of an actual soccer match. If there are three or four coordinated kids among the 22 flailing bodies, there will actually be dribbling, a few legal throw-ins, and a couple of times when the ball stretches the back of the net. It will be soccer, more or less.

Who hasn't witnessed this? Later in the excerpt, you'll find an excellent critique of the injury theatrics in soccer.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Cool Collections

When I was at The University of Texas, the Harry Ransom Center was a bit of a well-kept secret. I'm thinking the purchase of Woodward & Bernstein's Watergate notes has changed that.

From the
Gutenberg Bible to the costumes worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, there are worthy rewards for even the briefest visits.

Now, another cool addition to its collections:
The personal film-related materials of Robert De Niro:

The costume portion of the collection ... includes more than 3,000 individual costume items, props from many of De Niro’s films and a full body cast used in the 1994 production of “Frankenstein.”

That's the mug from De Niro's New York City Taxi Driver's License above and to the right. For those of us outside of Austin, the online exhibits will have to do for now.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Range Creek

Utah rancher Waldo Wilcox and his family kept this archaeological site secret for 50 years.

He sold the land to a non-profit organization in 2001, and, in 2004, the story became public. From the
March Smithsonian magazine:

Part of the excitement rests on hopes that Range Creek may help explain what happened to the Fremont. Along the canyon floor, traces of large villages indicate a flourishing settlement, while pit houses and granaries built high in the cliffs suggest a defensive retreat. "We’ve seen places where people were living in knife-edge ridges, 900 to 1,000 feet above the valley floor, which means to get a jug of water you’d have to send someone on a big long hike and back up," says Jones. "These people were afraid of something. They were obviously trying to protect their food, and it wasn’t from mice."

Cool story. More here (with nice photos).

Funny Video

Here's William Shatner before he realized he had a comedy bit on his hands. If you stick with the video, he'll reward you with a super cool Captain Kirk 70's dance.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Blogging The Bible

Over at Slate, David Plotz is "Blogging the Bible." A self-described "lax but well-educated" Jew, here's part of the preface to his latest blogging project:

My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens
when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based. I think I'm in the same position as many other lazy but faithful people (Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus). I love Judaism; I love (most of) the lessons it has taught me about how to live in the world; and yet I realized I am fundamentally ignorant about its foundation, its essential document. So, what will happen if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents? What will delight and horrify me? How will the Bible relate to the religion I practice, and the lessons I thought I learned in synagogue and Hebrew School?

An interesting project, and probably a common start to many spiritual journeys. I've been there myself. Today, roughly six years after that similar moment in my own life, I'm 5 years a convert to Christianity.

As of today, Mr. Plotz is eight entries deep into Blogging the Bible; but, to cut to the chase, I'd like to go back to
his second day of blogging:

Yesterday, I wrote that God's warning to Adam and Eve about eating the tree of knowledge—"for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die"—seemed like lax parenting by the Lord, since in fact Adam and Eve don't die when they eat it, but are merely punished.

Lots of readers wrote in to critique my reading, and offer another interpretation. They point out that until this point in Creation, death didn't exist in Eden. There was no reason to think that Adam and Eve would ever die. By eating from the tree, Adam and Eve bring death into the world. God does not promise to kill them if they eat the fruit, he just promises that they shall die. And in fact, they do die. My quibble with this interpretation: It ignores, "as soon as you eat of it." Adam and Eve don't die for hundreds of years.
Plotz's readers refer to a common interpretation of the Fruit Story: That Adam and Eve (that is, Humanity) became mortal at the very moment they tasted of the fruit. Like many passages in the Bible, there are several levels on which you can find lessons and meaning. And I happen to believe that we are to understand that they did become mortal at that moment.

But the Christian explanation goes further in at least one important regard. A constant theme in Jesus' teachings is that he is offering Life to his followers--Life, because they are Dead; or, to put it another way: they are living apart from God. When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit, they chose to separate themselves from God; and that, in Biblical terms, is Death. And, yes, to answer Plotz's "quibble," that "Death" was immediate.

By definition, sins are choices we make which further separate us from God. The eating of the fruit was literally (or symbolically, if you prefer an allegorical interpretation of Genesis) the first sin, the Fall, Mankind's first decision which separated it from its Creator.

In Jesus' teachings--in Christianity--we are told how to narrow that separation--how to draw closer to our Creator once again. And so, when one converts to Christianity, and invites God's Holy Spirit into his heart, he begins to enter true Life--the Life Adam & Eve chose to leave. As Jesus says in the Gospel of John 6:32-35:

"...Moses didn't give [bread] to [the Hebrew people in the Wilderness]. My Father did. And now he offers you true Bread from heaven. The true Bread is a Person--the one sent by God from heaven, and he gives life to the world." (my emphasis in bold)
With Jesus, Genesis comes full circle. By
accepting Him as our Messiah, we are given a means to mend our separation from God.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Vintage Star Wars

There are Star Wars purists out there who have been clamoring for the original Star Wars trilogy to be released on DVD. By original, they mean the versions first seen in theaters--not the digitally touched up and "improved" versions George Lucas made available in recent years. Apparently, Lucas is giving them what they want... sort of.

Above, from The Empire Strikes Back, is just one of the many modifications to the Trilogy made by Lucas. For my part, I think I like having access to both.

Compare & Contrast

Here's a pretty thorough listing of the changes made to the Star Wars trilogy over the years. There were even differences between the 70mm and 35mm theatrical versions!

Friday, June 2, 2006

Animal Planet

And then there was the time this guy rented a car and thought someone had thrown a rubber snake across the dash:
[Dan] McBride got into his car ... and saw the snake draped across the console. McBride said he thought it was a rubber snake someone put there as a joke. McBride even gave the snake a pat and put the car into drive. Then, as McBride drove toward the exit, the snake lifted its head.
Police determined the snake was harmless and lured the thing out with a baton. Luckily for everyone involved, the snake was typical of its breed: a
Ball Python.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Henson On Exhibit

That's an extremely young Jim Henson to the right--with an early Kermit puppet.

A friend of mine owns the entire Muppet Show library on VHS tape. A little over a year ago, he lent me some of the tapes, and, now, my three-year-old daughter is a huge Muppets fan. And with last year's release of the Muppet Show's first season
on DVD, I would imagine a new generation of young fans is in the making.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Muppets, the post office has issued
a page of commemorative stamps, and The National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., is currently showcasing a Henson exhibit.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Airbag Justice

Could have been staged. Hope it wasn't.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Coach Humor

Slate's Timothy Noah recently asked readers to submit stories of coaches past. If true, this one's a dandy:

The single best coach story I heard concerned a college football coach who purportedly made his players run wind sprints while each one held a single grape between the cheeks of his buttocks. The unfortunate soul who came in last had to eat the grapes. Haunting though this story is, I can't verify it.
Of course, it may not be true. Follow the above link and check Noah's update to the story to judge for yourself.

Ain't It Orange News

I can't not post this.

Austin's world famous movie review Web site,, has created the animated gif of the year. Harry Knowles-in-a-suit on the UT Tower. Clever. Creative. And so true, true.

"Hook 'Em 2006" rolls on... : )

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Hook 'Em 2006 Continues

My blogging has been pretty light over the past two or three weeks. The reason: my full-time gig has kept me extremely busy. But now that the Cowboys' season is over, I should be getting my blog back on soon enough. In the meantime, a couple of National Championship follow-ups.

If you're not in Austin, you can still enjoy the UT Tower's nightly tribute to the football team's National Championship via the University Co-op's
TOWERCAM. The Tower's special lighting configuration will continue through the end of this weekend. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's an explanation.

Elsewhere, undoubtedly many of you noticed that the Texas players were given National Championship ball caps and T-shirts immediately after the game. So what happened to the boxes of USC gear that went unused? Slate has
the answer.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Hook 'Em 2006: The Day After

This is fun! I remember watching the Texas-OU game a couple of years ago when Vince Young was put in the game as a freshman. Oklahoma ran away with that game, but Vince Young was amazing--more amazing than any freshman had a right to be versus a team that would appear in the National Championship Game later that season. Witnessing his talent for the first time allowed me to remove myself from the moment--another loss to OU--and know that it was only a matter of time before Young would make it possible for Texas to end its losing streak in the Red River Shoot Out.

Of course, I only thought in terms of the Texas/OU game that day. I never considered a National Championship would be in reach. But damn if Vince hasn't made that happen, too.

And I'm no college football expert (my loyalties lie with the NFL), but I wonder how many schedules have been as difficult as this season's Longhorn schedule. Based on the
final AP rankings, Texas beat the number two team on a semi-neutral field (USC), the number four team on the road (Ohio State); plus a couple of Top 25 teams: Texas Tech (20), and Oklahoma (22).

Damn it feels good to be a Longhorn!

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Happy New Year

I came down with a sinus infection a couple of days ago, so I was far too medicated and fatigued to make it to midnight last night. However my dad, who also lives here in Garland, TX, stayed up and recorded audio of the celebratory gun fire traditionally heard in these parts to mark the transition to the new year.

A good reason to stay inside, since: What goes up, must come down.