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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It Was A Robin's Egg...


and it was blue.

I discovered this nest the other day after nearly being side-swipped by Mama Robin.

Having lived in North Carolina for the better part of a decade as well as being a music critic in the Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham area for a large chunk of the '90s, it's almost impossible for me to see a robin's egg and not conjure up the Superchunk song "Mower."

So now I'm going to imprint both audio and video so that you too - when spotting a robin's egg - will forever hum this indie rock chestnut.

[UPDATE: The wrens have hatched, the robin has laid three more eggs and Superchunk is playing a free show. From Ross Grady at "You've probably heard about this by now, but just in case. The Barack Obama campaign is running a huge early-voting push in North Carolina, and this show is part of it. Tickets have been available for a couple of days now at Obama tables near early-voting sites in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Raleigh. It's unclear how many people the Carrboro Town Commons will actually hold--initial reports were that they were planning for 3-4000, but later I heard 6000.

Gates (what gates?) open at 1:00 p.m., with Superchunk tentatively scheduled to go on at 2:00 & the Arcade Fire at 3:00. Nobody is promising an Obama appearance (and since he's at the Dean Dome on Monday . . .) but it'd be amusing to see him drop in via helicopter or something.

But I daresay most folks in possession of tickets--even folks like me who've been rocking Obama bumper-stickers for years now--are more excited about the chance to see Superchunk (or the Arcade Fire, anyway)."]

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All The News That's Fit To Print

Scanning the web this morning as part of the internship I've been doing over at WUNC radio, I came across this fine nuggets.

First up, from my hometown of Durham, NC, is this:

"Traitor" Chinese student threatened

DURHAM, N.C. -- On the day the Olympic torch was carried through San Francisco last week, Grace Wang, a Chinese freshman at Duke University, came out of her dining hall to find a handful of students gathered for a pro-Tibet vigil facing off with a much larger pro-China counterdemonstration.

Ms. Wang, who had friends on both sides, tried to get the two groups to talk, participants said. She began traversing what she called "the middle ground," asking the groups' leaders to meet and making bargains. She said she agreed to write "Free Tibet, Save Tibet" on one student's back only if he would speak with pro-Chinese demonstrators. She pleaded and lectured. In one photo, she is walking toward a phalanx of Chinese flags and banners, her arms overhead in a "timeout" T.

But the would-be referee went unheeded. With Chinese anger stoked by disruption of the Olympic torch relays and criticism of government policy toward Tibet, what was once a favorite campus cause -- the Dalai Lama's people -- had become a dangerous flash point, as Ms. Wang was soon to find out.

The next day, a photo appeared on an Internet forum for Chinese students with a photo of Ms. Wang and the words "traitor to your country" emblazoned in Chinese across her forehead. Ms. Wang's Chinese name, identification number and contact information were posted, along with directions to her parents' apartment in Qingdao, a Chinese port city.

Salted with ugly rumors and manipulated photographs, the story of the young woman who was said to have taken sides with Tibet spread through China's most popular Web sites, at each stop generating hundreds or thousands of raging, derogatory posts, some even suggesting that Ms. Wang -- a slight, rosy 20-year-old -- be burned in oil. Someone posted a photo of what was purported to be a bucket of feces emptied on the doorstep of her parents, who had gone into hiding.

"If you return to China, your dead corpse will be chopped into 10,000 pieces," one person wrote in an e-mail message to Ms. Wang. "Call the human flesh search engines!" another threatened, using an Internet phrase that implies physical, as opposed to virtual, action.

Not to be outdone, there's always are hapless, helpless government as evidence by these two short entries:

"Secure" WTC plans found in trash

It's a good thing Osama wasn't walking through SoHo yesterday morning.

Two sets of confidential blueprints for the planned Freedom Tower, which is set to rise at Ground Zero, were carelessly dumped in a city garbage can on the corner of West Houston and Sullivan streets, The Post has learned.

Experts said the detailed, floor-by-floor schematics contain enough detail for terrorists to plot a devastating attack.

"Secure Document - Confidential," warns the title page on each of the two copies of the 150-page schematic that a homeless, recovering drug addict discovered in the public trash can.


Military doubles felon recruits

The US army doubled its use of "moral waivers" for enlisted soldiers last year to cope with the demands of the Iraq war, allowing sex offenders, people convicted of making terrorist threats, and child abusers into the military, new records released yesterday showed.

The army gave out 511 moral waivers to soldiers with felony convictions last year. Criminals got 249 army waivers in 2006, a sign that the demand for US forces in Iraq has forced a sharp increase in the number of criminals allowed on the battlefield.

The felons accepted into the army and marines included 87 soldiers convicted of assault or maiming, 130 convicted of non-cannabis-related drug offences, seven convicted of making terrorist threats, and two convicted of indecent behaviour with a child. Waivers were also granted to 500 burglars and thieves, 19 arsonists and nine sex offenders.

The new data were released by the oversight committee of the House of Representatives. Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the oversight panel, said that while "providing opportunities to individuals who have served their sentences and rehabilitated themselves" is important, the waivers are a sign that the US military is stretched too thin.

The number of moral waivers in the military, mostly for misdemeanours such as speeding fines, reached 34,476 in 2006, or nearly 20% of all enlisted soldiers, according to the Palm Centre at the University of California. Recruits with felony convictions are more likely than other soldiers to drop out or be released from the military.

And now something to cheer you up:

Wii Fit strip?

As the new Wii Fit made the rounds on morning talk shows this week, a U.K. company was working on a buzzy tidbit of its own: a stripping game for the popular console.

Peekaboo, a company that specializes in temporary at-home stripper polls, including one endorsed by Carmen Electra, announced this week that it's developing a strip aerobics game for the Wii.

"Peekaboo is pleased to confirm that it is in talks to develop a game for the Nintendo Wii that meets mainstream demand for the fun and fitness benefits of pole dancing," the company said in an e-mailed statement. "Peekaboo and its partners are focused on using Wii-friendly hardware to make aerobic pole dancing instantly accessible just as 'Guitar Hero' did for rock'n'roll."

Electra will not be involved in the game, according to the company.

"It would be natural for the platform. ... That's the Wii's strength," said Rob Enderle, a Silicon Valley analyst. "If you wanted to create a stripper poll game, this would be the system you'd target."