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Thursday, July 31, 2003

good, brief article in reason about offshore outsourcing. one software engineer who has worked with out-sourced labor for years puts it, "If software development in India is so great, why don't they have a single software company worth a crap?"

i tend to agree with this view that there really isn't a need to legislate against such nonsense. the inefficiencies of these practices are already apparent to everyone. crap begets crap. meanwhile, yes, people are out of work b/c of it. but it's not clear for how long. i get emails from dice and monster everyday. and every day there are at least 2 jobs in each email that i could apply for. easily. i'm not sure if that means the jobless rate is decreasing or will decrease. but there certainly look to be more jobs now than there were six months ago.

posted at 11:01 PM | link | (0) comments

some good clean objectivist cartooning

posted at 10:27 PM | link | (0) comments

learn how to use japanese toilets. it's easy, desu ne?

posted at 10:14 PM | link | (0) comments

Sunday, July 27, 2003

i recently read this great article in metropolis magazine about Dan Rockhill (what a name), a "rangy 55-year-old former mechanic" turned architect, who is redefining Kansas modernism in a bare knuckles way. literally. i'm not sure which part of this story i enjoyed more...

- fistfights breaking out over his work. people getting mad enough to fight about a building. to come to blows over it. that's a sort of passion that most architecture, most art, rarely evinces. unless you're talking about eminem. or grafitti (jenny). and in those cases, it just seems silly. art posters? spray paint? there hardly seems to be anything at stake. the art of uselessness is all fine and well. but what about the art of usefulness? i guess it all depends on how you want to fight the war. by mimicry? by outright defiance? or by showing them all how it should be done.

- Rockhill's quote: "We're good at galvanizing neighborhood associations," he says. "If you don't have an association already, you will when we show up."

- this is all happening in kansas. kansas.

- the fact that people aren't pissed off about "the aesthetics of the big-box retailers on the edge of town or the astonishingly banal town houses that could as easily be in suburban Boston or Seattle." no, they are pissed that this guy is creating little houses that look like industrial waste bins in the middle of their faux-french-victorian tract houses.

- his work seems inspired by rothko.

- that there are great architects out there who are actually living the fountainhead. i know next to nothing about architecture, but i can respect the man (and woman) who successfully carries out their vision from start to finish, unbowed by the streaming whirlwind of soppy-headed whiners and cultural ostriches. he's fighting what you see all around you and couldn't care less about. let's plop another conglomeration of tract houses in the middle of an already crappy field. everyone gets a swimming pool. and a golf course. and a house that looks like louis v took a shit.

- the backdrop of a neighborhood doesn't matter until someone challenges it. people don't know what they like anymore. they know what they don't like. we're basically all difference engines. we wake up and see someone building a "machine house" across the street and everything is turned inside out. you can't do that. we don't want the future here.

- the notion that people's tolerance for modernist design is inversely proportional to the level of social upheaval. that rings true to me. sit ensconced inside the traditional tract house (merging all the good old european/western comforts...french structure, victorian gables, greek porticos) and surf the net while playing nintendo and watching a cartoon about pamela anderson's breasts. pick up a paper and read about every possible death from the last 24 hours. of course you want your house to look like a miniature fortress from the renaissance, with the garage quickly accessible to your tank.

posted at 10:08 AM | link | (0) comments

things i noticed yesterday (and last week)

- we've been to several family-themed places the past few weeks, most recently splash movie night at deep eddy, and i've noticed something that, although it has been stated over and over again in the news, in various studies, etc., i hadn't really noticed firsthand. americans are fat. i don't mean 5-10 lbs. overweight. i mean eight out of ten of the people at these places are 30-40 lbs. overweight. or more. and what is really strange is you don't really notice it. you have to almost step back to see it. or go to a pool. rough stuff.

- i realize i'm a prude when it comes to gratuitous sex and violence, but i don't think scooby doo (the live action movie) is really a movie for kids. i think maybe it's a movie for tweens, but even then, i'm a little skeptical of why it is that hollywood producers felt like making fred inhabit daphne's body and then talk about how he was going to have fun touching himself would make a six-year old boy laugh. i don't want to make too much of it, but i had a hunch this movie wasn't for us, and i feel worse for having let my kids watch it.

- i took thomas to the crestview barbershop. the place has probably been in this neighborhood for fifty years. it's the sort of old barbershop where they actually use straight razors and the whole place smells like shaving cream. they even have a barber named floyd. at any rate, i noticed this news article on their wall. apparently, about three months ago, an old guy drove his buick straight through the front of the barbershop and all the way to the back. i don't think it was intentional, although it's still hard to believe that people can mistake the gas for the brake to the point that they're going 40 mph. there were two kids playing on the floor. one of them was messed up pretty bad. the barber who cut thomas' hair was thrown up against the wall and knocked unconscious. floyd said he ran up to the car and the old guy was in shock. no injuries. they've since repaired the place and everyone involved is healed. they even put two boulders out front to stop everything shy of a mac truck. i couldn't get the image of the two kids playing on the floor out of my head.

- i think i've discovered a new mystery of science. my bad toe (the one i had surgery on) has a gravitational pull that is twice that of the earth's. at least. maybe it's not gravitational pull. maybe it's a magnetic field. whatever the case, small and large objects alike, esp. children's feet, are drawn to that toe like a crashing piano to the street. i rub it at the end of the day and whisper, "you're a good toe. thanks for sticking with me."

- when i went to the smog show, i met up with some old college buddies. we sat at buffalo billiards for awhile and talked about all the people we went to school with and what they were doing now. it turns out that jonathon pollei (a good friend my freshman and sophomor years) is now an actor in hollywood. he's changed his name to jonathon brent, which was his grandmother's maiden name. he was raised by his grandmother. we lost touch when he went to london to study acting. one of my friends told me his was in the speilberg flick, catch me if you can. so i looked it up on imdb and there he was as one of the doctors. strange. i'm going to have to rent it just to see him. he was also in walker texas ranger, so i think he's come a long way baby. click on his biography and you'll see his birth name. it doesn't look like he has anything upcoming, but i hope that bit part gets him something.

- it always pours when it rains. i've decided to pretty much give up the whole web design side gig business. it's just too much stress. i work a full work week on this stuff, and i don't much care for it then either. but now that i've decided to give it up, all this shit comes pouring in. i can't turn the jobs away fast enough. where were you people when i needed the money???

- our roadrunner has been spotty for about a week. it has gotten worse this weekend. i called and they're coming to look at it on monday. still, i come and sit down at the computer out of habit to run through checking my email, looking at slate and cnn. it's like being on dialup. so it's not even worth it to me. i mean to say that it's not just the content that matters, it's my time. i won't waste it trying to download something, even if that something may be worth it. i won't chance it. better to wait till my connection is faster. i typed up this whole entry in notepad so i can post it when blogger comes up quickly.

- our next door neighbor, mrs. gambrel bought a new microwave last wed. she called lonanne to ask if she could help her hook it up. she couldn't make heads or tails of it. so lonanne went over to help her. the funny thing wasn't the microwave. the really odd thing about mrs. gambrel is that she doesn't run her air conditioning. nor does she really open the windows. all the shades are drawn in her house. now this woman is 83 years old and grew up without air conditioning. she recently had central air and heat installed, but she said she doesn't need it. she's fine. she certainly could afford to run the air conditioning. she just doesn't. lonanne said that when she stepped outside, it was cooler outside than in her house. and, here i am thinking that roughing it is going without high speed internet access. it's all in the way you live it.

posted at 9:41 AM | link | (0) comments

Thursday, July 24, 2003

went to see smog at emo's last night. i'll keep the review short since i might write a longer one.

opening act: richard buckner
a friend of mine recommended an album of his to my wife. the album was so goddawful that i actually threw it in the garbage. let me repeat that. it was so bad that i did not want some other poor soul to happen upon it in a used cd bin so I THREW IT IN THE GARBAGE. so, then, of course, my friends says it was the wrong album blah blah blah you should see him live, etc. now there he was live. and guess what? HE SUCKED. big surprise. whiney-ass white bread singer songwriter horse crap. it's become a genre.

main act: smog
i know people like him and cat power get bagged on for being shoegazers. i'm so bored and sad. and bored. but the truth is man, if you get inside his vibe, this guy's voice is entrancing and the music sounds like early velvet underground. repetitive in a good way. anyway, i won't tell you that you'd like him. most likely not. but i do.

posted at 11:12 AM | link | (739) comments

Sunday, July 20, 2003

now here's a rally i can get behind. fuck the RIAA and anyone (ANYONE) that thinks i'm stealing music by sharing or otherwise copying it. this nonsense has gotten out of hand. nevermind that they ritually rape artists out of anything resembling a dime. nevermind that, yes, people swapped tapes and any other number of media for years prior. is it morally different now? nevermind that this only drives people to start using anonymous file sharers and merely catches the technically ignorant in the crosshairs. nevermind that the effort that all of these companies have put into shutting down the average person's access to music could've easily been put into figuring out ways to break the monopoly (a la apple) of the $15 album. oh, i'm sorry, or $5 single. nevermind that history and the market always figure out ways to eliminate the middle man. nevermind that the recording industry is the king mafia of all middlemen. nevermind all that. just think about orin hatch saying that he wanted to figure out a way to jail people for ANY copyright infringement that existed on their computer. that he would allow for the government spying to figure out whether you had illegally pirated software on your computer. think about the criminalization of ordinary citizen behavior by the government that you elected and the music and computer industry that you've probably given a large chunk of your income to over the years. welcome to the penal colony.

posted at 12:13 AM | link | (0) comments

Saturday, July 19, 2003

things i learned from our saturday scavenger hunt:

- don't go on a scavenger hunt in july when the high is 96 degrees.

- lonanne's conception of a scavenger hunt is slightly different from mine. she thinks that you pick a well air-conditioned toy store and buy everything that is on the list. i think you drive around town and actually try to find the items.

- if you go in for a scavenger hunt at a toy store where they are also having a fairy costume party, expect to get covered in glitter. additionally, expect to have problems with your sons wanting fairy costumes.

- given an infinite amount of time and, what the hell, let's say an infinite number of oak trees, it is technically impossible to find an acorn crown in the middle of july in texas. of course the people that compiled the list had no way of knowing that acorns bloom in fucking march and, by now, the squirrels and rain and heat have decimated the entire acorn population of central texas. oh yeah, maybe they did.

- if you are nicked for time, a beer bottle cap with a star on it that you found in the a park will suffice for "something that you find in nature that looks like a star."

- they don't make lucky charms advertisements anymore. but you can find anything on the internet.

- my oldest son cannot conceive of, draw, or otherwise recreate a four leaf clover, but he can draw a fairy with gold wings and silver slippers without any visual aids. not the local talent bozy cellar version either. i mean an honest to god fairy. i didn't tell him that it still looked like a guy. these things come in time.

- 3rd place is pretty goddamn good considering.

- when you're still missing four items on your list, pick a well air-conditioned toy store and buy everything on that list.

[terra toys on south congress has scavenger hunts every saturday until school starts. noon - 6pm. 1st prize is $15. 2nd prize is $10. 3rd prize is $5. everybody else gets the treasure chest. let the games begin.]

posted at 11:55 PM | link | (2) comments

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

for those of you keeping score, my mom's latest cancer marker test results came in and it was good news. her cancer cell count is 54. normal is 30. it's just an indicator, but it has gone down significantly and she is feeling great. she was on an every-other-week chemotherapy treatment at m.d. anderson. this is a pretty drastic recovery by all estimates including her doctor. just three months ago, he wasn't giving her past four months.

so there you go. is it a miracle? i don't know. i'm not a saint nor am i gifted with the divination of ordinary or exceptional events. but i'm still thankful. the lord giveth and he taketh away. sometimes it is all you can do to be on the lookout for what he gives.

posted at 8:56 PM | link | (2581) comments

Monday, July 14, 2003

we're rotten fruit
we're damaged goods

- i've been listening to that radiohead song all day, so, naturally, i'm upbeat and positive. my mom would say, garbage in, garbage out. amen. i wish i had more garbage to give. i've mostly been sucking it in.

what the hell
we've got nothing more
to lose

- went to the bookpunk show with blu last wed. night. met up with mark, a guy who is currently in the swt (tsu) creative writing program. he seemed like a nice guy. he has a sixteen year old foster kid and is building an electric car out of an old karmengia (carmengia?). aside from the pony tail and tim o'brien, this is all i can remember about our conversation. he recommended that i come out and sit in on some classes in the fall.

- a girl at bookpunk read a story about her parents. some kid named dakota played some old punk covers. he was skinny as a weed and his adam's apple turned beet red. he was alone with his guitar. blu told me the mic he used was expensive. we went to the back of the bookstore, as he was playing and i asked for a beer. "SMIRNOFF ICE," the girl behind the counter screamed. "WE ONLY HAVE SMIRNOFF ICE." i think she was trying to tell me that she had already said this to several people. i felt like the only proper response, and the only one that she would've really appreciated would be to yell something obscene. i didn't have it in me. and so again, i left with a self-satisfied feeling of having supported the arts and a weak, sleepy buzz. never a good thing.

one gust and we
will probably crumble

- later we ran into some old college buddies at the crown and anchor. i hadn't seen them for well over three years. as usual, everything devolved into politics, about which, i have nothing acceptable to say to anyone anymore. we also talked about blu's tentative album title. he wants it to be "my gemini self." i recommended "jim and i" for short, since this could well be his gay crossover album. one of the college buddies recommended "hey pal, don't jerk me around."

- i told blu i didn't want to take a side job he was offering. i think maybe i've finally admitted i just can't sustain that shit. it's nice having the money, but it's not worth it.

all evidence has been buried
all tapes have been erased

- rob rolled into town on saturday and we all went out saturday night. for some reason that god will hold onto, we ended up at jalisco's slamming mexican martinis. jalisco's. mexican martinis. rob told us that his girlfriend is trying out for a role on sex and the city. good luck there kid. then we rolled over to carlos' fiftieth birthday party at his house. the backyard was a concert with champ hood's son playing fiddle. they were doing all the old standards. rob and carlos were both wearing stetsons. lonanne and i danced in the open air, near their fence, which backs into the old mueller airport. the huge lights of the airport were in the distance. rob and i got into a slap fest over one of carlos' paintings, which we both swore he had promised to the other. it's a painting of the rodney king beating.

this far but no further
i'm hanging off a branch
i'm teetering on the brink

- we ended up at room 710 with nadav and kyle and steve and rob's two brothers. we saw the jacks and the flametrick subs. kyle and i agreed that the jacks were better, but the flametrick subs had their stage act down. maybe too much. an exchange that sums the evening up:

girl to rob: do you mind if i put my drink here? (putting purse on couch across from us)

rob: yes, and get your purse off the couch.

- and then we were all gone, back to our weeks and our months and the things that might tide us over or get us through, but never cover up the fact, that at one point, all we had were friends and the days were over too soon.

we're rotten fruit
we're damaged goods
what the hell
we've got nothing more
to lose

posted at 10:28 PM | link | (241) comments

Sunday, July 13, 2003

i was going to mention good service and i meant it.

got my oil changed at groovy lube. now, i'm prone to avoiding these sorts of places on principle. wheatsville coop. book woman. book people. all very nice places which seem to forget that i'm actually trying to find a good deal when i shop, not help the sacker with his backpacking trip to tibet. however, this place is great. the grrl technician was very helpful and even pointed out that my serpentine belt was cracking. she said if i wanted to buy the part, they'd put it on for ten bucks. i don't want to hear about how easy it is to put on a belt. forget it. ten bucks is me sitting at work surfing google for approx. 15 min.

additionally, and most importantly, they were cheaper than jiffy lube. unbelievable. you're supposed to want to pay more to support these places. or at least, that's what everyone tells me.

posted at 7:40 PM | link | (0) comments

via carlos:

"josh, this reminds me of your reviewing style."

i despise you and your so-called taste

posted at 7:02 PM | link | (758) comments

more titles:

don't go near the fence
how do you say goodnight?
today is yesterday's tomorrow

posted at 12:07 PM | link | (16744) comments

Thursday, July 10, 2003

good update on bush's "lies" about the niger uranium.

posted at 10:44 PM | link | (0) comments

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

via rob...

man speaks after 19-year silence

my favorite line:

It's not just his language abilities that have changed. So, too, has his personality, Terry's parents said. When the speech therapist asked him what she could do for him, "He told her, 'Make love to me,'" said his father.

"That's kind of strange, because he would not have talked dirty before he wrecked."

posted at 9:34 PM | link | (0) comments

new Google Toolbar with BlogThis capability, which basically pops up this little window with the page linked inside your blog. again, small, smart changes make a big impact.

i have a friend who always said he wanted to start a business that was like the paperclip. small and useful. to be of use. that should be every company's motto. google has certainly become the paperclip of the web. forget all these huge companies like oracle selling you the next "everything but the kitchen sink" solution. just about every piece of enterprise software i have ever used sucks. and it will continue to suck until these dipshit ceos realize that it's small and useful that wins out.

posted at 8:47 PM | link | (886) comments

you want proof? hitchens has got your proof.

posted at 8:41 PM | link | (0) comments

Monday, July 07, 2003

more ideas for titles:

i couldn't get the smell out of my nose

doctor, doctor?

lawn time

i think i'm going to give up writing stories and just write titles. this is sort of what i meant in this old poem.

why not just write titles?

introducing another title by josh magnuson. stick figures. thank you.

posted at 10:30 PM | link | (0) comments

it's official. the whole bike-buying business has gotten completely out of hand. i decided that since thomas can now pretty much ride sans training wheels, well, that i needed a bike, too. what kind of bike you ask? oh, sweet daddy...

haro backtrail x1. straight shooter fork with crmo steerer. $85. tektro alloy u-brake. $35. catapult tires. $55. oversized threadless aheadset. $30. watching your dad bite concrete while attempting to pop the bike two feet in the air while spinning the handlbars 360 degrees. priceless.

posted at 10:15 PM | link | (762) comments

Sunday, July 06, 2003

we went out and bought william a bike yesterday at ozone. i highly recommend this place. the guy who helped us was extremely friendly and suffered all my stupid dad questions effortlessly. they cut the seat post down and the guy told me to come back to pick up some better training wheels that were on order. he said they'd fix pretty much any problems i had with the bike and i could bring it in anytime.

it's rare that you get good service anywhere these days. i noticed it more when we came back from japan, the service center of the universe, but it's pretty much faded into the background for me. you expect bad service. you're even helpful about it. don't mind me, i'll count the change out for you. last week i went around to five different garages trying to find one that would do inspections. to a man, each of the sorry slobs behind the counter simply told me no. most ignored me for five minutes before telling me no. none of them would offer up a suggestion of where to go. all of them were short to the point of being assholes. i tried going to our neighborhood garage (it's actually in our neighborhood next to the minimax). support the local local economy and all that. here was the exchange:

(two guys sitting in office, one was mechanic, other guy owner(?))

mechanic: (talking to owner) it's just been one thing after another this whole goddamn week.
owner: yeah.
mechanic: so i told her...(both look up at me at this point)
me: do you guys do inspections?
mechanic: raul. (pointing inexplicably outside) he's out on a run.
me: (looking outside) raul does inspections?
mechanic: yeah, he'll be back in five minutes.

so i stand inside the office looking at a map on the wall for five minutes while the mechanic bitches about his ex-wife. finally i see another mechanic walking up the street. i go outside and meet him. he walks past me and into the garage without saying a word. i follow him into the garage.

me: do you do inspections?
raul: (not looking at me) yeah, but no stickers.
me: no stickers?
raul: maybe wednesday.
me: wednesday?
raul: yeah, we ran out.

so i drove up and down burnet looking for a place. it turned out there was a great little shop wedged behind a car parts place near north loop. i forgot the name, but they had one of those Best of Austin posters. Best No-Hassle Car Inspections. a-fucking-men. cash-only, but quick and, again, friendly to the point of almost making me cry. i get so used to things going wrong that i forget to mention when they go right. i'll try to do that more.

posted at 10:25 AM | link | (2) comments

fight the news.

kausfiles has a good rundown on the labor report for june which every newspaper had as it's headline. at least at the taco shack. most people (i suspect) read the headline and walk away thinking a) the economy sucks and b) bush sucks. but look at the facts.

You have to read Altman's story very carefully to realize that, in one of the two Labor department surveys, total employment rose by 251,000 (sorry, make that "only 251,000"). The problem seems to be that many more people (more than 600,000) entered the work force to look for work, meaning the unemployment rate for those looking for work rose. Call the new job-seekers "encouraged workers." Bush gets routinely (and fairly) bashed by the left when a favorable unemployment rate ignores the "discouraged workers" who leave the work force; shouldn't he get a commensurate break when the unemployment rate rises mainly because workers have been encouraged to reenter the job market? (As Altman reports, in the Labor department's other survey, the payroll survey, the total number of jobs did fall by 30,000--no "only" this time. Altman himself suggests one possible positive explanation: the payroll survey lags and is reporting job losses from earlier this year.)

as i get older, politics always just seems to be accounting for the water in the glass. it's half-empty. no, it's half-full! things are always getting better. and worse.

posted at 10:08 AM | link | (0) comments

Saturday, July 05, 2003

the poor man's aeron. office chairs suck in general. esp. when you have a bad back like me. i have to get up and walk around about once every hour just to keep from throwing my ragged-ass, lumpy, plastic pilot's seat out the window. i never could swallow the price of a new aeron, but $645 doesn't sound too bad. esp. if it saves a window.

posted at 8:22 AM | link | (2534) comments

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

things i noticed today:

thomas is styling his hair. he parts it on the side now and mats it down. he told lonanne he didn't want to look like himself anymore.

i don't care what any of these arthouse snobs say, magnolia is a great bursting heart of a movie. you don't like that movie, i don't know if we have any traffic. also once upon a time in the west with chuck bronson and henry fonda. the last great sergio leone film. a masterpiece.

she was well-read, she just read all the wrong things. this technically isn't an observation. it's a snippet. i have about five snippets per day in me.

the draught house has the worst service in austin. the lady behind the bar sighed and looked annoyed when i went up and ordered a pear cider. if you don't like people ordering cider, don't work at a pub.

william's new favorite saying is "you wanna piece of me?" thanks television.

somebody keyed my car. on the passenger side. i think maybe last night. it was in our driveway too. our driveway for chrissakes! my first reaction, my very first reaction is to think who i might've pissed off. i'm serious. then i think, stupid punks.

everybody has to ask me what we're doing for the 4th. i say "i dunno." what do they want me to say? i got zero for the 4th. it feels like a hallmark holiday. it's like people that go to church on easter. i wouldn't wear an american flag on any other day. i think the great thing about america is that, as a people in general, we aren't all that nationalistic. not like the fucking europeans. no, but seriously, patriotism like so many other isms pretty much scares me in large doses. of course, we'll go see the fireworks. that's always a blast.

i hate the phrase "life choices."

posted at 11:44 PM | link | (597) comments

old guy at the office yesterday is having a meeting with some other folks in my office. he's looking at my family pictures that i carry around with me from job to job to job.

him (looking at picture of lonanne in thailand): is that vietnam?
me: (taking off headphones) what?
him: is that vietnam?
me: no, thailand.
him: looks like nam.
me: nope.
him: huh. brings back memories.
(long pause)
him: i can't remember their names but i knew some missionaries in thailand.

then today he comes into my office.

him: dave and judy.
me: what?
him: that was their names.

posted at 11:23 PM | link | (0) comments

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

2nd draft of the ditch. i tried to cull out the cliched opening pieces with the "we built fortresses" horseshit. you go back and read what you wrote sometimes and just say "gah." other times, "hmmmm." but mostly "gah." also, rob thought for some reason that the story was simply that this poor kid got the shit beat out of him all the time and the narrator was just piling it on. hmmmmm. gah.

posted at 10:15 PM | link | (8130) comments


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