Thursday, July 31, 2008

Off with their mustaches!

Maybe Hamas is progressing. This form of forceful political humiliation is certainly better than torturing or killing political opponents:

The Jerusalem Post reports that "Hamas has resumed its policy of shaving mustaches of political opponents to humiliate them." Among the Gaza regime's victims: Nafez al-Namnam, "a top Fatah operative in the Strip" whose "unusually large," 30-year-old mustache was shaved off by Hamas interrogators during a recent detention. Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades "issued a statement strongly condemning the shaving of Namnam's mustache and threatening retaliation." It's not clear what form the retaliation might take, but Hamas has "accused the Palestinian Authority security forces of shaving the beards of detained Hamas officials in the West Bank."

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Obama continuing tradition of presidential misspeak?

The demands of running for President are hard on people, and with the 24-hour news cycle and the scrutiny of the entire world on you, it's hard to keep things straight sometimes. That may be a big reason why "misspeaking" happens, something President George W. Bush has been crucified by the press for and Obama appears to be starting a habit of. Here's an example of Obama misspeak:

During Sen. Barack Obama's remarks to the press today in Amman, Jordan, he meant to assert that the United States would continue to strongly support Israel. But this is how that sentence came out as he answered foreign policy questions on a broad range of subjects:

"Well let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel's," he said, according to a transcript of the press conference.

Back in May, Obama made another gaffe, where he said that he had visited 57 states with one left to go:

I'm not pointing this out to make Obama look bad, but merely to illustrate that these gaffes are likely the result of the difficult job of campaigning, and, in the case of Bush, of being president. If it continues in a potential Obama presidency, I'd like to see some of the people who have savaged Bush for his misspeaking apologize.

I won't hold my breath, as it seems most will just go on to savage Obama, as is the case with David Letterman in the below video. That's politics!

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Bob Barr on John McCain's $500 shoes and campaign news coverage

I got the following e-mail from Libertarian Party candidate for President Bob Barr's campaign. It seems Bob wrote this off in a heat since there are a few grammatical errors, but overall the message of the absurdity of campaign news coverage rings very true.

Did you notice the top stories from the campaign trail yesterday?

Campaigning for the Presidency leaves me little time to watch much in the way of news coverage but a couple of short glances once again confirms that voters have two poor choices at the top and that news coverage is pathetic.

First, if there is one story that the media is missing BIG TIME, and voters should be outraged at this, is the fact that we are down to 96 days before the election and in some states early and absentee voting begins in nine weeks, and neither candidate has told us who is going to be his running mate!

The second most powerful man in the free world is the Vice President of the United States. Given that power and the even more scary prospect (given the age of one of the candidates and the inexperience of the other) that the next Vice President could one day be President, don't you think voters have a need to know who Senators McCain and Obama think that person should be? Now we hear that another two or even three weeks may pass before we know their choices. The average American spends more time car shopping before a purchase and probably makes a better choice than how they will select the second most powerful person on earth.

It has been two months since the day when my running mate, Nevada businessman Wayne Allyn Root, was made known. The opportunity for voters to get to him, his record of accomplishment and his character has been considerable. Meanwhile, voters wait to see who Senator McCain can lure on to his losing bandwagon, and who "Citizen of the World" Obama will grudgingly name his crown prince.

The second news story was about the latest McCain and Obama campaign ads. Like virtually everything else they have said, they were in agreement. Early in the day McCain charged Obama with arrogance and Obama's negative response was to say that McCain was running a negative campaign.

So, please, tell us something we don't know! The bigger fact is that NEITHER campaign is talking about the important issues that affect the lives of Americans. Neither has a real plan that would result in lower energy costs. Neither is going to do anything about $4 a gallon gasoline, the inflation that looms ahead as well as the overall weakening of our economy. Neither has a short term - much less long term - solution to the problems of global terrorism and the combat that is killing American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The American voters don't get a chance to learn about the issues and they will only have a few short days to get to know who might become the second most powerful person on earth.

Finally, while we may not know where Senator McCain stands on many issues, compliments of CNN, we do know that he stands in a pair of $500 Italian made designer shoes. How absurd is this? While I don't pay $500 for my shoes, I have to think this is the biggest waste of news coverage ever. CNN spends more time talking about Senator McCain's fashion than about my campaign!

After that, the message went into how one can help the Barr campaign, which included a suggestion to do exactly what I'm doing right now.

Whether or not you vote for Barr, I urge you to look into third party candidates. In 2008, you're being given a choice by the mainstream of a Democratic candidate who is running on a platform of empty, vague rhetoric and a Republican candidate who is offering a losing platform of continuing the unpopular incumbent's policies. There are other choices.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

China unleashes incredibly bold anti-smog plan

My friend Jeff told me that China has smog on a good day that is worse than Los Angeles on a bad day. I looked it up and got this picture of the view from the infamous Tiananmen Square:

China is now putting effort into combatting its smog problem in time for their Olympic coming out party:

Environmental officials in China have announced plans to put in place fresh draconian anti-pollution measures to combat the smog in time for the Olympics.

With the official opening of the athletes' village yesterday shrouded in pea-soup fog, pressure is piling on the government to bring the city's air quality problems under control before the start of the Games in just 11 days.

You read that right. They're going to attempt to clear up their smog problem in less than two weeks. Chinese ingenuity, I tell ya.

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Obama and McCain not so different on Iraq

When Obama sealed his party's nomination, alot of pundits were talking about how stark the difference between him and McCain was. Now it appears that their difference on one of the most important issues of the day, Iraq, is narrowing:

Over the last few weeks, Barack Obama and John McCain have seemed to get perilously close to agreeing on what to do in Iraq. Obama continues to talk about a 16-month withdrawal but would let military commanders determine the pace of the withdrawal. McCain is also now in favor of a 16-month timeline—as long as the commanders determine the pace of the withdrawal. After the withdrawal, how many soldiers would be left and what would they do? Both candidates agree on that, too. U.S. forces would continue to train Iraqi soldiers, fight al-Qaida, assist Sunni tribal leaders, and fight Shiite militias. How long they would do all of this, and in what numbers, would be up to the commanders on the ground.

With either candidate, we withdraw from Iraq and focus squarely on Afghanistan. The real difference doesn't come with what each plans to do in the future, but instead what they did in the past. Some may be more comfortable with Obama since he opposed the war from the beginning, while McCain may appeal more to hawks (if there are any left aside from Bill Kristol).

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"Stop the Bill of Rights Blackout - Sign the Petition Today"

It's really pretty hard, after watching the above video and the numerous that I've posted before from Barr's campaign, to argue that Barr's conversion to libertarianism is illegitimate. Barr is using his name to bring much needed attention to some very important issues.

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Strange expectations leave some Europeans disappointed with Obama

H/T to Don Pesci.

I found this video very interesting. A few European commentators cited by The Real News appear to be disappointed that they didn't get in Barack Obama a politician who offered a total repudiation of every aspect of President Bush's war policies. This is a bit of a bizarre expectation since not even their own Presidents, Chancellors and Prime Ministers have done that.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"US firms up for sale to foreign investors"

It seems many Americans are moving towards protectionism as economic growth occurs in foreign countries like India, China and the member states of the European Union. That's really not the solution to lay-offs like those that in the below video. We can build a wall around our country, put our fingers in our ears and pretend that there isn't an increasingly competitive world but it will only make things worse.

We need to reform our schools in order to teach Americans the skills to be competitive with Indians, Chinese or Europeans. It's either that or watch those countries leap ahead of us.

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Getting my knol on

Blogger has a new service called "knols," short for knowledge. A knol is apparently a full-length article of the sort that are often absent in blogs or lost in the flurry of frequent, shorter posts.

It's a perfect forum for which to post articles that couldn't make it to publication or that I think are better suited for self-publication. I posted my first one, which is called "What the Hellboy," a review of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Let me know what you think of it.

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The best (and not so best) McDonald's ad ever

Of course, this is from Japan, where advertisements are often unorthodox:

McDonald's has come a a long, long way from its creepy, early days:

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Monday, July 28, 2008

McCain = Dr. Evil?

Reason takes on John McCain's proposed $300 million gas prize for a super-green car.

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"Gildersleeve's Ghost"

I made this experimental film about a year ago and thought I would post it again for any that haven't seen it. I hope to do something similar once I'm inspired.

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Barack's hubris

John Tabin at The American Spectator notes that Barack Obama has had a lubricated rise from "community organizer" to the Democratic nomination:

It's possible that Obama forgets that he still needs to be elected because a competitive general election is totally unfamiliar to him. In Chicago, where the Republican Party barely exists, the winner of the Democratic primary automatically wins the general election. During the 2004 race for U.S. Senate, the Illinois GOP was in full meltdown and failed to field a serious candidate, settling instead on the buffoonish perennial election-loser Alan Keyes; Obama easily crushed him.

Indeed, even in primaries Obama has had an amazingly easy time of it. In his first election to the state senate, he played Chicago hardball and got all his opponents kicked off the ballot by challenging their petition signatures. He faced no serious opposition in his reelection campaigns. In the 2004 Senate primary, his most formidable opponent, Blair Hull, lost his considerable lead in the polls when his ex-wife's allegations of domestic abuse became public, clearing the path for Obama. Until he ran for president, Obama's toughest race was the one he lost, for Bobby Rush's seat in the U.S. House.

Apart from his hard-earned victory over Hillary Clinton, Obama has had a largely easy time getting to the top. Someone should tell him that no one stays on top forever.

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Another ridiculous ad

This one isn't ridiculous in the way the "Alex" ad one was, but more ridiculous in a cornball sort of way.

It's worth noting that, in my opinion, is the best representation of Blue State America in contemporary politics. I feel like the people in this ad could be people I've known in Seattle and San Francisco. The same goes for the mom in the "Alex" ad.

That's not saying that the organization represents Barack Obama or his views, just that Moveon is a very good representation of a good deal of the people that will vote for him unconditionally in November.

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McCain is against gay adoption

It looks like McCain is transforming into a member of the Religious Right. That's definitely unfortunate. Sure, having two parents, one male and another female, is preferable to the alternative, as a man is better suited to teach young boys how to be a man and a woman is better suited to teach young girls how to be a woman. However, in a free society this should be the last concern of a politician or beuraucrat. We don't bar widows, widowers, divorcees or unwed couples from having children. Why bar those with different lifestyles?

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A wide stance we can believe in

This is pretty hilarious. It's a short clip, so there's no need to spoil it for you (unless I already did that with the headline).

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

"China sends troops to Darfur as promised"

From Al Jazeera:

China is a staunch supporter of the genocidal government of Sudan, and it also has been allowed legitimacy by being chosen to host this year's Olympic Games. That's ridiculous.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bob Barr on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann"

I was pleasantly surprised at Olbermann's friendliness with a libertarian candidate. Maybe the Left is starting to stop acting like they've been raised by wolves.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Farscape returns in panels

It seems like it's harder than ever to keep a franchise dead these days. The Sci-Fi channel show Farscape, which hasn't been heard or seen except in reruns for the last four years, is coming back in the form of a comic book series that picks off where the show left off. There's not the best record for comic book spin-offs of TV shows and movies, but, given the success of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Farscape comic book may be worth reading.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Megalomania, thy name is Obama

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McCain: Feel the excitement!

This is absolutely hilarious. Good work!

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Noam Chomsky on erotica

I have said for a while that the political spectrum is not a straight line or the tilted square that many libertarians portray it as, but instead a circle. To illustrate my point, take Noam Chomsky, a man so far to the Left that he ends up on the far Right. In the following video he uses far-left obsessiveness with economic unfairness to back up what is at its core a Puritan notion that pornography must be banned:

I don't see the link between sweatshops and pornography, and it's very condescending on Chomsky's part to talk about women in porn as participating in an activity that results from "conditions in which woman cannot get decent jobs." Not everything is related to economics, Mr. Chomsky. Professional wrestling, for instance, is not the most dignified profession, but it's pretty hard to argue that professional wrestlers are suffering from conditions in which they can't get "decent jobs."

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Barack Obama, American Collectivist

The parallels are disturbing:

And while most of the over the top Cult of Personality Obama ads, notably the "A New Hope" Rolling Stone ad, can be defended as not having actually come from Sen. Obama's campaign, his German President of the World ad did.

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"The Time for Liberty"

The best campaign video of the year comes from - Bob Barr? Putting Martin Luther King, Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan really got my attention, and the music gave me the chills.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain = Grandpa Simpson

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Quote of the Day

The following is from Till Lindemann, lead singer of the amazing German rock band Rammstein, on what he did after the Berlin wall fell:

"After the wall had been opened, I drove to West Germany and bought gummy bears and yogurt for my salutation money. But there wasn't anything else."

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A letter from an NPR listener

The following letter was posted as a comment over at the Bryant Park Project's website:

I am very disappointed that NPR has chosen to discontinue funding fof the BPP. As a listener in the midwest (Oklahoma) I was lucky enough to have Sirius Satellite Radio otherwise, I would not have even known BPP existed. Now, it will no longer matter. This is unfortunate and unsatisfying.

As a longtime, tech savy listner, I found the BPP to be my new morning show "home". It is the type of programming that I believe NPR needed to stay relevant to the future NPR listener.

I have been an NPR supporter and contributed to my local station, but I have been resistent to continuing my committment because my local station has failed to introduce other NPR programming that I found enlightening, engaging, entertaining and relevant. I found the BPP met my listening needs and alleviated my concerns about the future of NPR in many ways.

I will continue to listen to NPR and may even be moved to support it financially again in the future. However, as in the past, I am concerned about the future of NPR.


Daniel Howard

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Modelling returns to vintage styles

The popularity of Suicide Girls seems to be bringing a resurgence in vintage pin-ups. This is a welcome break from the Jenna Jameson and Pamela Anderson image of an attractive woman that has become prominent in American culture over the years.

Following are several photos taken by Kelly Hiao, a Bay Area photographer, who specializes in photography that recreates the styles of Jazz Age pin-ups. To put it bluntly, Hiao's work is some of the sexiest stuff I've ever seen. I know there are some pretty conservative folks that read my blog that may object to the following material, so fair warning!

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Arrogance we can believe in

From Politico, b/w of The Next Right's Patrick Ruffini, is a bizarre statement by one of Sen. Obama's advisers:

“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally."

“But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.

Recently, a commenter on my Townhall blog named Diana predicted that John McCain will bow out of the campaign and hand it over to Obama, since the "zeitgeist" is not with him:

This election is already over. The zeitgeist is not with McCain and the Republican party. The best chance the conservatives have is to start a new party, a conservative party, and nominate someone worthy into the race soon. Someone out there's got to have the balls to do it. McCain may very well concede come October or so and endorse Obama, unless he's holding out morbid hopes like Hillary regarding Obama's well-being. He too knows it's not a winning fight. He's not even getting support from Fox News.

That kind of arrogance is completely unwarranted in a campaign where a recent Gallup poll shows Obama maintaining a lead of 3-5% over McCain, and where Obama had to battle it out with Hillary Clinton all the way to the last primary in order to grab the Democratic nomination. Are candidates supposed to suspend democracy whenever the media falls in love with an opposing candidate?

The Obama campaign gets even weirder with this German language ad for the Obama political rally that, according to the adviser quoted by Politico, "is not a political speech or a political rally:"

I will concede that Obama's campaign has some of the sleekest graphic design I've ever seen in a political campaign.

UPDATE: Brian Sikma of Reclaim Our Heritage had this to say about Obama's coming-out party in Deutschland:

Obama needs to wake up and realize that the world is not a stage waiting for his grand entrance. Great leaders do not see the world as a tool to further themselves, great leaders see themselves as a tool to further freedom and liberty around the world.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Obama's uncle recounts liberation of Nazi death camp

I'm always impressed by the humility of veterans who have literally seen history unfold and been part of it:

Payne said he didn't want to say anything to embarrass the Obama campaign and minimized his role in the liberation of Ohrdruf.

"I have no heroic story to tell," he said. "I was just there."

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National Luddite Radio

The first show on NPR that I really enjoyed listening to was cancelled recently. "The Bryant Park Project," a show hosted by Gen Xers and younger, acted as a podcast, blog and radio show wrapped in one. For an organization like NPR that is basically the same as it was ten years ago, this change was good to see. Instead of feeling like I was in a time warp to the days of Vietnam, Woodstock and Jefferson Airplane, as I often did when listening to most of NPR's content, the BPP appealed to my generational sensibilities by bringing on guests like Neil Gaiman and ?uestlove.

The CEO of NPR, Dennis Haarsager, issued this press release on the cancellation:

"In this case, radio carriage was inadequate and web/podcasting usage was hampered -- here's the relearning part -- by having an appointment program in a medium that doesn't excel in that kind of usage. . . .

"I'd like to see good minds like those of the BPP staff think about how we can do good journalism delivered via the web using techniques beyond just throwing up another portal-type web site and expecting people to come to it. Our new open API release is a great tool for that. The realities of how people use the web, how web audiences grow through search, and technologies for tracking attention and tailoring content delivery to match how people spend their attention all need to be considered. Portals still have a place, just as their close cousins radio transmitters do, but we can no longer put all our eggs in that basket.

"NPR will, I hope, be a leader in a new generation of news delivery over multiple platforms, including ones we've never conceived. But we can't make those 2nd generation investments if we continue 1st generation efforts that aren't consistent with what we know about how media usage is maturing."

Back in the 1980s, NPR was a source of creativity that brought us the classic radio adaptations of the Star Wars trilogy. I can't imagine NPR ever investing in an undertaking like that today. Frankly, if NPR doesn't leap into the present there are plenty of people waiting to replace it. The internet is filled with podcasts that rival in quality and creativity Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation or Selected Shorts.

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Don't take Savage seriously

A little advice to journalists, activists and the disabled: Don't take anything Michael Savage says seriously. Talk radio "shock jocks" are the toilet of American media, and Savage is the worst of the worst.

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Comic book writer Robert Kirkman makes it

It looks like Robert Kirkman has finally made it. He must feel great to be featured in the New York Times:

Mr. Kirkman, who began by self-publishing his comics, is a star on the rise. His books are favorites of fans and critics alike. MTV has announced plans to adapt Invincible, his superhero series. And this week at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Image Comics will announce that Mr. Kirkman is becoming its newest partner. Under the company’s structure, partners profit mainly from their own work but also have a say in what will be published.

“This is kind of a big deal for me,” Mr. Kirkman, 29, said by phone from his base in Richmond, Ky. “Image Comics as a company was founded by comic book creators for comic book creators.”

I was surprised to read that Kirkman is only 29. In the first comic book I read by him, Marvel's short-lived The Astounding Ant-Man, his writing came across as that of a seasoned comics veteran. I guess that shows what I know.

Kirkman has a really great sense of humor and achieves a great balance to some of the darker, more serious comic books that have been popular recently. Be sure to check out his stuff and read the linked to article.

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Zack De La Rocha is back

Zack De La Rocha, the leading man of Rage Against the Machine, is finally back with some new music. He's put out only a handful of stuff since his band broke up eight years ago, the best being his anti-war effort with DJ Shadow called "March of Death." His new project is called "One Day as a Lion" and is a collaboration with drummer Jon Theodore of Mars Volta. I'm keeping tightlipped since I haven't heard the album yet, but you can read a full review in the Los Angeles Times.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

The War on Textbooks

Over at Slate, Anne Applebaum provides a sample of Saudi children's propaganda as seen in Saudi school textbooks:

Q. Is belief true in the following instances:
a) A man prays but hates those who are virtuous.
b) A man professes that there is no deity other than God but loves the unbelievers.
c) A man worships God alone, loves the believers, and hates the unbelievers.

The answer is c), of course. Isn't that wonderful?
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On education, Barack Obama supports the status quo

Over at Reason, there is a top notch article by Steve Chapman on Barack Obama and school vouchers. On this critical issue, one with alot of misconceptions and bad information out there, Barack Obama opposes the best idea on education to come out of either side of the political spectrum in a long time. Vouchers would allow low-income students to get out of terrible public schools and be able to get a decent education at a private school on the public dime. As Steve Chapman notes, this is pretty much applying the way we do things in higher education to elementary and secondary education.

I have yet to hear a coherent and consistent argument against vouchers. I've heard everything from vouchers violating separation of church and state to the program benefitting rich people, an argument that makes zero sense since vouchers are aimed at lower-income students who can't otherwise afford to go to private school. It basically comes down to opposition by teacher's unions whose members fear they wouldn't have a job if competition were allowed into the school system, and members of the political left jumping on to the anti-voucher bandwagon to stop something perceived to be coming from the political right.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Ass and Mountain"

My friend Jeff Abplanalp, who designed the banner for this blog, has released a zine called Ass and Mountain which is about a bodily organ and land mass that are experiencing relationship problems. I wrote the afterword to the zine. We sold a few copies at the San Francisco Zine Fest, and I figured as a result a bit of traffic might hit this blog from that since I listed my web address after the afterword. We both were pretty surprised that we sold as many as we did in a relatively short time. We should both be there on Sunday, July 20, whereby we'll sell some collections of my interviews with musicians and writers.

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