Monday, May 15, 2006

The American Sector is On the Move!

When blogging's got you down... when you don't think you can ever post on a regular basis again... there's only one thing to do: Change your URL!!!! That way, no one can ever find your useless musings about the meaningless aspects of your life. Everyone will lose interest, forget that you used to be somebody, and you will have to start over from scratch. But at least it will be a fresh scratch with a new car smell. So here it is, folks. http://americansector.wordpress.com/ Different look... same good old American Sector flavor.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The End of the Sidewalk


I found the end of cable television the other night. That point where the channels disappear and you fall off into a Shel Silverstein-like precipice. It was the national paintball championship on ESPN2. I have had the pleasure of playing paintball just once - at a bachelor party. Right before the first round of combat, a teammate (and veteran of the game) asked me if I had played before. I answered no, so he shot me in the stomach at point blank range and said, "It won't get any worse than that, so don't be a pussy." Fantastic good times! But I must admit, it's quite a business model - it's not too much money to enter the paintball "grounds" or rent a gun. Where they get you is the ammo. They charge up the wazoo for the actual paintballs, and they sell them by the thousand. I left the grounds bruised and battered and out $120. Looking back, the whole scene is ripe for someone's PhD thesis. But watching it on television, it lacked the full tilt adrenaline, the chaos, and most of all - the painful welts. Oh well, I guess it's back to bowling.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You Learn Something New Every Day...

...like the fact that space time is flexible. And if something can happen, it will. That's my Cliff Notes version of the Murphy's Law explanation on the workings of universe given by Sean Carroll, everybody's favorite theoretical physicist. He was at the Map Room tonight to kick of the Chicago chapter of Cafe Scientifique. In a mere twenty minutes he explained the birth of the universe, why Boltzmann killed himself when no one listened, and how come the beer won't leap from the floor into my cup. Good times were had by all. We had to go before the Q & A session - but that's ok, because Sean has threatened to go all Socratic on us. And if you need to know what a public radio lackey was doing there.... drinking.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bush Blurbs The American Sector


I've been trying to drum up some more traffic for the American Sector, so I've been looking for some A list celebrities to give me some blurbs. Gretchen Helfrich... so over me. Ira Glass.... busy on the lecture tour. Cass Sunstein... overexposed. Billy Corgan.... can't read. So it was much to my delight to find that our fine President gave this blog an unsolicited endorsement this morning. Thanks President Bush! Now I present to you the back cover of the paperback edition of the American Sector.
"Josh is a creative policy thinker. He's an expert on the budget and our economy. He's respected by members of Congress from both parties. ...He's a man of candor and humor and directness who's comfortable with the responsibility and knows how to lead. ...The next three years will demand much of those who serve our country. We have a global war to fight and win. We have great opportunities to expand the prosperity and compassion of America. We've come far as a nation, yet there's a lot on the road ahead. ...Congratulations, Josh."
- George W. Bush, President of the United States of America.
March 28th, 2006.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Want My 4 Hours Back

Dearest Sister, I am writing with the awkward task of delivering a bill. But first, I must thank you for being such a wonderful host when I was in Seattle last month. Your hospitality was, as always, top notch. That's one of the reasons I felt so bad about stealing your book. You see, I found it in the guest bedroom and figured it wasn't one of your cherished tomes. Needing something to pass the time on my flight home, I just took the book. When it comes down to it, you probably expect such behavior from your little brother. Here's the thing. This book was terrible. I mean really bad. 128 chapters of literary vomit. Passages like, "Susan had gotten used to Hale hitting on her. His favorite line was about interfacing to see if their hardware was compatible," undercut any plot twists that might have sparked my interest. And that blurb from Midwest Book Review on the back cover that reads, "A chilling thrill a minute" - I'm sorry, but that dog won't hunt. So, it's my unfortunate duty to charge you for the 4 hours of my life I wasted on your book. Being salaried, it was hard to come up with a fair figure, so I did a little searching online for freelance rates. Boy, there's a wide range of figure out there, but I'm sure we can agree that $242.63 is a fair price for a worker of my experience. Remember, I will have to pay self-employment tax on this income. So keep an eye out for a package containing the book and an invoice. It should arrive UPS ground within 5-9 days (nothing but the best for you, Sis!). Thanks!

Monday, March 13, 2006

All Things Austin!

Austin is the new Brooklyn! Or at least it feels that way from the Great Middle West. Adam from Schadenfreude is among the herd down in Austin for SXSW, and get this - he's blogging (No!). Yes! And get this - he's found a wireless connection! But to really understand Austin, you need to go native. For a perspective of the home town crowd, the place to go is Neal Pollack's Maelstrom. Neal (pictured at left...but it could pass as Adam if you squint your eyes) has a new focus for his literary adventures: his family. Boy, if you thought 10 year olds talking about fascism was funny, just wait until you read about 4 year olds talking hairballs. Kids really do say the darndest things! Cosby - it's time somebody gets a blog...

Now I Can Die a Happy Man

Big news over at Schadenfreude.net. Can you spell r-e-d-e-s-i-g-n? Look out Rupert Murdoch, this outfit is looking to become the next Time Warner, only funnier (and more successful). They're bringing the funny via video, audio, and hot pix of chix with short hair on Fridays. And best of all, the whole gang continues blogging - just now they look all "pro" and "Zorn-like" (do I smell a sell out?..). But the real reason that I am bringing this up is that after 9 months of pestering, a certain Justin Kaufmann has finally returned a little link-love back American Sector way. I am getting new servers ready to handle the enormous surge in traffic I expect. The downside is that I have to buy Justin a pack of lipitor for every click through.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Reduced to Blogging About Work

But I'm not ashamed... Here's the deal - a number of workmates are headed down to Austin this week for South By Southwest. We talked them (twisted their arms, really) into blogging about their adventures in the lone star state. First up is Third Coast producer Roman Mars (speaking of divination, Roman is on a panel about the future of radio—I just hope he brings his ipod). By the look of his first few posts, I'm guessing this guy has a secret blog he's not telling us about. Already, he has the quote of the week:
Blogging and web design are a lot like rock n' roll and cinema, but the creatives behind them are even pastier, with even more limited upper body strength.
Well said, Roman! Later in the week, Robin Linn from Sound Opinions will be trying to follow Roman's act by telling the world how if feels to produce the world's only rock and roll talk show (TM). Be sure to check back to the blog throughout the week for all the hot gossip from the conference (I told Robin I want the really really super hot gossip about popstar Jessica Simpson. "Do whatever is necessary to obtain this information!" Maybe there's a session on it? Maybe I could be a panelist!? maybe...).

Will This Help Me Play the Market?

Back in the days of Preposterous Universe, Sean Carroll (now of Cosmic Variance) found the true killer-ap for ipod: divination. Just throw that puppy on shuffle, and let the little white oracle do it's thang. I never got to play the game with PU, but Sean has kept the tradition going over at CV, so I thought I would finally hop on the bandwagon. At first, I admit I had doubts about the power of the ipod to see the future. But then I reminded myself that I'm the person who has a pencil drawing on my wall made by my great grandmother's psychic surgeon (I'm completely serious - it's quite a sight). Anyways, here's Sean's latest glimpse into the future. And here's the tarot code. My humble entry is as follows:
  1. The Covering: Galaxy 500, When Will You Come Home?
  2. The Crossing: Cansecos, A Common State of Being
  3. The Crown: Quasimoto, Another Demo Tape
  4. The Root: The Smiths, This Charming Man
  5. The Past: Kings of Convenience, The Girl From Back Then
  6. The Future: Beatles, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
  7. The Questioner: John Coltrane, You Say You Care
  8. The House: Jimmy McGriff, Funky Junk
  9. The Inside: Nina Simone, I Wish I Knew How It Feels
  10. The Outcome: The Arcade Fire, Neighborhood #4
I have to say, I was really nervous about what was going to come up. My ipod has a lot of the little one's tunes on there (and a number of very, very guilty pleasures), so I lucked out here. What if Hillary Duff had come up as The Past? Or High School: The Musical as The House?! We'd all be up the river for sure. As it stands, The Future is looking repressed. Someone should tell Apple about this game. Maybe these little devices will finally catch on.