The Best Country Artist You’ve Never Heard Of

Billy Joe Shaver has had one hell of a year — and a hell of a life before that. MSNBC is running a long piece on him right now. I’ve been a fan for years; if you don’t know him, check him out. Here is a good place to start: his 1996 album Tramp On Your Street, featuring his son Eddy on lead guitar.

Eddy died last New Year’s Eve.

Tiny machines, tiny bugs

Micromachines are incredibly tiny devices, almost imperceptible to the unaided eye. We’re talking about something the size of a grain of pollen. There are all sorts of implications of this kind of technology, but one is particularly, er, creepy.

And Sandia Labs, they’ve got pictures of bugs on their micromachines. Tiny, tiny bugs. Mites, really. But damn they’re creepy.

Dept of Edgy Advertising

I admit it: I enjoy the newish trend of goofily edgy advertising — except the ones for Old Navy. Sometimes, it’s fun to watch. Though I can’t imagine that any of these ads make me more likely to consume whatever it is they’re hawking.

Lipton’s latest take on this concept is covered in the New York Times today. By way of enticement, all I can say is this: a commercial involving Loni Anderson, Mr. T, and George Hamilton playing a video game.

Dept. of Missing the Point Entirely

Confused by Kandinsky? Baffled by Pollock? Just plain don’t get modern art? Turn your bewilderment into objective judgement! Here’s a guy who purports to illustrate which artists are just plain bad in his Rogues Gallery of Bad Art and Non Art. Charlatans! Frauds! Give me some more pretty pictures! Out with Duchamp! More Dogs Playing Poker!

I’m so glad he’s cleared all that up for us. Maybe this means I can get a de Kooning on the cheap now.

If that wasn’t enough, by the way, more fun can be had by investigating the degree to which this guy embraces the technical/engineering stereotype the rest of us work so hard to escape. Hint: bad, 1994-esque web design; rabid prog-rock (Yes/Marillion/Alan Parsons) fandom; Rush-esque disdain for the Clintons; and (was there any doubt?) Ayn Rand worship.

(The really sad part: I’m sure he’s on the short list to head the Bush Administration’s National Endowment for the Arts.)

Okay, Check This Out

There exists a program on MTV called Total Request Live, or TRL. Apparently, it’s a big hit among the teeny-bopper set. The conceit is this: viewers request videos via the Internet, and the playlist is determined accordingly. Wonderfully ripe, of course, for a little subversion.

The plan: submit as many votes as you like via this site for Bhangra artist Daler Mehndi’s video for Tunak Tunak Tun (I don’t know what it means, either). My guess is that the core demographic for said program will have NO idea who this is.

Call Center Hell

Some poor guy working a call center somewhere in Texas has captured some of the real doozies that come across his desk, but with a twist. Instead of the “aren’t-these-users-stupid” jokes we’ve come to expect from the help desk crowd (and I’ve been there and done that), this particular site chronicles the absurdly bad trouble tickets written by one of his cow-orkers. It would be funny if it wasn’t almost certainly authentic.

Like You Care

Well, some of you might. New photos of a recent trip to Birmingham, featuring people you might know. But if you weren’t there, and you’re not Joy, Carl, Carla, Eric, Andy, Michelle, Clare, or a few others, odds are you won’t care.

“Military Intelligence” on Parade

This story is rich. First, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki decided late last year that the whole Army should get new black berets as part of a morale-building effort designed to conicide with the Army’s birthday this June 14.

Predictably, the Rangers were a bit annoyed by this; heretofore, only their elite group was able to wear black berets. They understandably insisted that Army-wide deployment thereof would cheapen the emblem of their unit. Somehow, a compromise was reached allowing the Rangers to get some other color hat, which frankly still strikes me as wrong, but at least they still get to be unique.

Then is comes to light that the only way to get enough — 2.6 million — berets by the deadline would be to use foreign suppliers. Including China, who would be supplying 600,000 black hats. Once again, a PR issue ensued — “shouldn’t the Army buy American goods?” people asked. Lawmakers got nervous.

Not nearly as nervous, though, as they are now, since China has been elevated to Bad Guy in the wake of the mid-air collision last month. Tuesday night, the Pentagon announced that no Army personnel would wear Chinese-made berets, and directed the Army to dispose of all said berets with “Chinese content.”

That’ll show those pesky Chinese. “We’re gonna buy 600,000 black berets from you — and then throw ’em out!. Nyah Nyah Nyah!”

Link: Army Drops Chinese Berets Plan