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April 29, 2003

I want a new hard drive...

...and I want Linux on it real bad. Just upgraded Movable Type for the TP.org blogs and had a cow. Several successive cows, in fact. All better now. But I hate using Windows tools to tinker with Unix files. Although it wouldn't be an issue if I got with the program and actually learned the Unix command line....

April 24, 2003

Who's Raed?

Theories are popping up that "Salam Pax" of the Where is Raed? blog may actually be a former Iraqi diplomat's son arrested in New York on March 25, the day after the last blog entry.

Think there's a chance that the pseudonymous Salam Pax is actually Raed Rokan Al-Anbuge, and that his entire blog was a hoax, based on his memories of Iraq and what he was seeing on network news plus inspired guesses and a vivid imagination and maybe information gotten from friends back home? If so, it would explain why he seemed willing to take such a terrible risk, posting comments critical of the regime, and revealing information about himself to a stranger in America. Since he would not have actually been in Baghdad to face the potential hell of arrest by Saddam's secret police, the risk would have actually been negligible.

The blogger admits this may only be a coincidence and there might be a real Salam Pax, but still.... The article linked above also offers an interesting case study of another blogging hoax: Kaycee Nicole, the fictional leukemia patient with a heart of gold (whose photo was actually that of a local high school basketball star whom the hoaxer idolized).

April 23, 2003


With few exceptions, a pop or rock song should not be ten minutes long. Just got through hearing the live version of Carbon Leaf's "Follow the Lady." It's over ten minutes long. The quite-good studio version, available at MP3.com, is five and a half minutes long.

So what do you get in the expanded edition? A lot of mandolin noodling, including a remarkably out of place snippet of "Ode to Joy." It goes nowhere -- and then they suddenly remember that they need to finish the song.

The biggest difference between old Seven Nations and the modern version with Dan Stacey and Scott Long is that they're actually more interested in songs than jamming. Reminds me of Metallica's lead singer once saying that their album with "Enter Sandman" was written as a challenge -- can we make an album full of good songs rather than rely on jamming?

Pop songs should not have "director's cuts." They should be just as long as to make their artistic statement, and no longer. 7N's "Our Day Will Come" on Road Kill Volume One and "Scream/The Surprise Ceilidh Band Set" on The Pictou Sessions fit the bill. "Follow the Lady" live emphatically does not.

I really like Carbon Leaf. I'll like them even more when they get a little more disciplined and focused on stage.


Darn, darn, darn and double darn. (Hey, I'm a parent. I've got to work on my language.)

After a fantastic couple of weekends traveling, including last weekend's visit with my brother in Syracuse, I've got the travel bug. I want to see and do stuff! Alas, the discretionary income for such pursuits is exhausted; there are home improvement chores to do and savings accounts to bolster. So I've been spoiled, and now am paying the price.

So then I discover that three of my favorite bands -- Carbon Leaf, Slainte Mhath (pronounced SLAWN-cha-va) and the Afrocelts (formerly Afro Celt Sound System) -- will be at the Milwaukee Irish Fest in August. Along with other great bands in the genre, including Leahy, the Barra Macneils and Altan.

I could try donating plasma.

I could give up food.


April 15, 2003

There ought to be a word...

...for that odd sensation when you've misplaced a drink, and can't objectively remember whether you actually might have finished it, but you just have this unfinished feeling that comes to sweet resolution when you find the glass, two-thirds empty, just as you (now) remembered it.

April 10, 2003

Words to Live By: On Writing

From an interview with Babylon 5's J. Michael Straczynski:

Write. Write tenaciously. Write neverendingly. Write fearlessly. Never give up your dreams. Never compromise your soul for a buck. And be willing to take risks. Don't listen to the people who will tell you, with every desire to be helpful, that you should play it safe and leave such foolish dreams to others, because they don't want to see you get hurt. Hitting age 50 and realizing that you've never pursued your dreams is one of the great horrors of the human condition. And totally inexcusable. Not following your passions is the greatest sin you can commit, it means surrendering the fire of your ambitions to the fears of other people. It's psychological treason.

I hear people talk about how they don't like where they live, they don't like the work they do. I tell them, "Then move. Then quit and look for something you DO like." They always have a thousand reasons for remaining frozen, a list of yeah-buts that they recite year in and year out until the day they realize they're out of time. If there's anything more terrifying than that moment of realization, the heart-stopping recognition of a life unlived, prospects unpursued and passions unrealized, I can't think of it.

As the poet said, "we are born astride the grave," here for the barest flicker, a quick glimpse of light, and then the darkness comes. How awful, how monumentally unfair, to waste that brief moment of brilliant hope and endless possibilities doing something you don't like, when it can be changed by simply deciding to change it.

Follow your passions. Everything else is window-dressing and coffin-cloth.

"A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age." Meat Loaf

April 7, 2003

My Last Word on Doherty

An April 6 Associated Press story by David Droschak included two very interesting statements by sports information director Steve Kirschner:

  • Kirschner said that Dick Baddour would give Doherty a recommendation for another coaching position. Droschak wrote, "'Mr. Baddour would say positive things about Matt,' Kirschner said. 'But that doesn't change the fact that a change was needed here. Mr. Baddour believes Matt will coach again and be successful.'"

If Matt Doherty's behavior was so abusive as has been rumored, how could Baddour be so irresponsible as to set him upon another unsuspecting school?

If Matt Doherty's leadership and character were as lacking as Baddour, and especially Chancellor Moeser, claimed during the April 1 press conference, how could Baddour believe that Doherty has a hope of success?

  • Kirschner called Matt Doherty's retention of his own staff rather than Guthridge's "a barrier" which "disappointed" former and current players.

This acknowledgement, along with statements since made by Doherty and other sources connected to the basketball program, suggests that Doherty's greatest sin wasn't his temper or his admitted errors in judgment (which Baddour admitted at the press conference Doherty had "some success" in overcoming). Instead, it's likely that Doherty didn't sufficiently massage his relationships with the UNC power brokers, leaving him vulnerable when player relationship issues developed.

This itself is a legitimate problem for an athletic director to address. But so serious that it required a forced resignation? Under the cover of a press conference that bordered on character assassination?

It certainly seems that the "culture of athletics" which Faculty Council chairperson Sue Estroff claimed Baddour is defending (DTH, April 3) has changed dramatically since I was a student. If Estroff thinks this culture's worth defending, then clearly there's more housecleaning in order at UNC.

April 4, 2003

Department of Badly Needed Escapes

Shannon and I are leaving Will with her parents this Saturday and taking an overnight trip to see Carbon Leaf, a band we discovered opening for Great Big Sea in Raleigh last month. Can't wait. They're a great band with a laid-back vibe, it's an overnight jaunt with my beloved, and it's a band for which I don't do "street team" volunteer work, meaning I can just relax and be entertained.

After this week, I need that!

Department of Inappropriate Analogies

From the Chicago Sun-Times's Greg Couch, in defense of Matt Doherty:

Former DePaul coach Pat Kennedy, now at Montana, is in line to become head of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which met Thursday in New Orleans before the Final Four.

''This one incident has really hit a nerve,'' he said. ''A guy or a group that's not playing a lot is going to have a lot to bitch about. Coaches have to yell at players, but if our administration is not on the same page we are, then we've got a lot of problems.

''Bobby Knight used to put a kid in the defensive stance and tell him to slide sideline to sideline. Let's say it took 10.5 seconds. Then, he would have the kid get in the same stance, and you'd think he would do it slower now because he's tired, right? Well, Bobby would stand right behind him and yell in the kid's ear, and he would take off like a bat out of hell.''

Here's some advice, Pat: Don't use Knight to further your point. Apparently, though, coaches now will be afraid to yell.

Can't say that having Kennedy in your corner is a ringing endorsement, either.

I think Greg Couch is putting too much on the players, though. If a Roy Williams or Larry Brown comes in -- a coach with clout, a better hire than Baddour deserves -- then there's no question that that coach, and not the players, will be in charge.

Players are always going to want more say-so. Any true competitor, whether in athletics or in the workplace, wants more autonomy and influence. It's a coach's -- and further up, an AD or chancellor's -- responsibility to draw the line.

I don't think the problem is with the players. The problem is with how the situation was managed by a certain athletic director.

April 2, 2003

I Just Don't Know

Ned Barnett's column in the Raleigh News and Observer (link will be dead about a week after I post this):

It could be that in expelling Doherty -- a favored player who couldn't fit as a coach -- Carolina basketball is returning to its historical path.

Or this may be just the first turn of many for a program that no longer knows its way.

I have no clue. It just hurts to see my alma mater in such disarray. And I have no idea whether Coach Doherty's situation could have been straightened out. Some commentators have said that the fact that Doherty is gone proves that there were unsolvable problems. Maybe, but how do you apportion the blame? What's Baddour's share? Doherty's? The players'? The media's? The boosters'? Is Doherty's departure the bed he made for himself, or is he a sacrificial lamb?

We won't know the answers to these questions for some time. And as much as I hoped Baddour or Moeser would slip during the press conference and reveal the smoking gun that would clarify exactly what was happening, they didn't. (Which was probably a good thing for Doherty, the players, and the University, when you get right down to it. Employee and student privacy laws likely mean that the University would have been in serious trouble if they answered all of the reporters' -- and my -- questions.)

It's the not-knowing that hurts. Not that I have a right to know, of course.

When I got home from work yesterday, as I expected, Shannon had taken down the UNC flag hanging at our door. I don't blame her.

This morning, she was talking about Will going to Appalachian State instead of Carolina.

OK, now that's scary.

April 1, 2003

Sick to my stomach

InsideCarolina.com -- REPORT: Doherty Out as Head Coach

If true -- and at the time I write this, nothing's been officially confirmed -- then either (1) Matt Doherty is the second coming of Bobby Knight or (2) Dick Baddour's travesty of an athletic directorship has needlessly cost UNC a coach who, while imperfect, was heading in the right direction.

Either prospect has me wanting to take my old UNC Marching Tar Heels jacket out of the closet and ship it back. My love affair with college athletics had cooled a bit since my days of playing in the band and being immersed in the culture. This news has just about killed it, at least as far as basketball's concerned.