Gritty, grainy, Pennsylvany

Ah, another weekend approaches, and as usual I haven’t done quite enough work that I won’t have to be slaving away all of Sunday. Also too lazy to un-double-negate that sentence. Hah.

The past couple of weeks have been quite interesting. The Radiohead show at the Shoreline was okay — they just decided to play too many bad songs, including of all things, “Kid A”, very arguably their worst song ever. Inexplicable. To me, their career is quite clearly divided between their first three albums and two EPs, and their last three albums. There isn’t a weak song in the first group; in the second, however, there’s just an album’s worth of great songs. The concert ratio was an unfortunate 5:12 or so. Sadly, Radiohead just aren’t the band they used to be for me.

Martin Sexton (at the Fillmore) was better, luckily.

Then last Friday I went to see Paul Krugman speak about Iraq and the economy at the Business School. I’ve always loved his NYTimes Op-ed articles, and it was good to see that his sense of humor carries over to real life. He didn’t say much that I didn’t already know from reading his columns, but I found fascinating the journalistic restrictions his editors have imposed on him in the past. For instance, during the 2000 Presidential election, he wasn’t allowed to use the word “lie” in reference to any of Bush’s statements, even though he was itching to.

Wednesday night, went to the opening game of the As-Red Sox playoff series (pictures). The game started off with a bang: the national anthem was augmented with fireworks. At the end, as the last fireworks went off after “… home of the brave”, two F18s flying in formation rocketed over stadium, maybe 100 feet over the top bleacher seats, in the most spectacularly timed event I have ever seen. It happened so fast that I didn’t hear anything until they were over us, and by the time I had raised my hands to my ears to stop the deafening roar, they were gone. It took me a couple of minutes to scrape my jaw off the floor.

However much you may want to malign the puppet-masters in Washington who control the military, you pretty much have to admit that the armed forces themselves are capable of some ludicrously impressive things. I also have a soft spot for the military because they pay me (for whatever reason) and also fund a ton of computer science research. Half the published papers in the field are funded by some branch of the military or other, even though much of what we do is totally irrelevant to fighting or national security. It’s always weird (but very commonplace) to see a programming languages paper “sponsored by the Navy Electronics System Command” or something.

Anyway. the game itself was terrific and gut-wrenching at the same time. The Red Sox fought valiantly but due to several bad management decisions, a few crucial failures at the plate and on the field, and some great coaching by the As, they lost in the 12th inning, despite being up 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. There were a lot of Sox fans there, though, which made the loss slightly more palatable (misery likes company, right?). Of course, there was some animosity between the As and Sox fans (I think the As supporters were a little taken aback by how many Bostonites showed up), but the best parts of the night were when we could all agree on something: “Yankees suck! Yankees suck!” chants rang out more than once.

[Anecdote: A couple of years ago I went to a Celtics game back in Boston. It was against the Pacers, I think, and the Celts depressingly lost by about 10 points (the Celtics have depressingly lost by about 10 points every time I’ve seen them, in fact.) Anyway, as we were filing out of the Fleet Center, heads hanging, someone started up the cheer: “Yankees suck! Yankees suck!”. Never mind that this was basketball; there are some fundamental truths that are always appropriate. Within a minute, the entire building was resonating with the chant. It was awesome.]

Back to the present. Sadly, teams that lost the first game of a postseason series in extra innings have only won the series 3 of 19 times; the fact that the Sox lost again yesterday thus comes as no surprise. I’m resigned already.

I think I was on national TV. I was sitting right behind these two guys that had “Nomar/Pedro for Governor” signs. Witty, I agree. ESPN had a couple of cameras on them for a while, and my face was clearly visible behind them. walther said that he did see the “Nomar for Governor” sign on TV, so I must have had my 1.5 seconds of fame.

On a related note, jennnnnnny raised an interesting question a couple of days ago: we’ve all been traveling before, and have no doubt accidentally been extras in other people’s photographs. How many photo albums around the world does your face unknowingly grace? We figured this would be the perfect topic for an artsy movie: track the lives of the people who have inadvertently snapped pictures of you.

… I realize that this journal entry’s length is stretching the bounds of the readable, but I’ll leave you with one last nugget, this article about American misperceptions about the war in Iraq.

The more commercial television news you watch, the more wrong you are likely to be about key elements of the Iraq War and its aftermath, according to a major new study released in Washington on Thursday.

And the more you watch the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News channel, in particular, the more likely it is that your perceptions about the war are wrong, adds the report by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).

The average frequency of misperceptions among respondents who planned to vote for Bush was 45 percent, while among those who plan to vote for a hypothetical Democrat candidate, the frequency averaged only 17 percent.

Asked “Has the US found clear evidence Saddam Hussein was working closely with al-Qaeda”? 68 percent of Bush supporters replied affirmatively. By contrast, two of every three Democrat-backers said no.

For each of the three misperceptions, the study found enormous differences between the viewers of Fox, who held the most misperceptions, and NPR/PBS, who held the fewest by far.

You should really read it.

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One Response to Gritty, grainy, Pennsylvany

  1. johnxorz says:

    Yeah Fox News!

    Eighty percent of Fox viewers were found to hold at least one misperception, compared to 23 percent of NPR/PBS consumers. All the other media fell in between.

    Fair and balanced… right…