Eva Mendes HQ

Super hot Cuban-American actress Eva Mendes

Pronounced “pig-zee”, the description off their site is pretty self-explanatory:

A parallel implementation of gzip for modern multi-processor, multi-core machines.

Since most servers now have multi processors, compressing large data can be accelerated using pigz (download here) as opposed to common built-in single-threaded tools like gzip/bzip2.

A quick comparison of gzip vs pigz on a server running CentOS 5 with Dual Xeon 5530 Quad Core cpus shows a noticeable difference in elapsed time. The target file access.log is 5G consisting of typical apache access log entries.

$ time gzip -1 access.log
real    1m53.697s
user    1m45.261s
sys     0m7.221s
$ du -sk access.log.gz
1105524 access.log.gz

$ time pigz -1 access.log
real    0m13.565s
user    3m12.221s
sys     0m9.694s
$ du -sk access.log.gz
1105396 access.log.gz

Thanks pigz! Now to update some db backup scripts :)


“Picture Day” from This American Life: Season 2 

“High school students pose for smiley yearbook snapshots, which capture nothing of the dramas in their lives”

Loved this act from the episode “Going Down In History” on Season 2 of This American Life. The two girls you first meet remind me so much of me and my friends in High School: totally dorky/goofy/innocent, used codenames for our crushes (“Angel”, “Philly Cheese”, and “Cupid” to name just a few), and always excited about everything. We called ourselves SKAT3J (Shari, Karen, Andrea, Teresa, Joyce, Jeeyun, Jessica). SKAT3J, this is for you.

This morning, for reasons that are PERSONAL and MINE,* I wound up watching “I, Borg,” the 1992 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which the crew picks up a wounded Borg and nurses him back to health. Also they name him Hugh, he becomes friends with Geordi, and over the course of several colloquys about humans, individuality, and friendship, he learns to use the word “I” and concludes that “resistance is … not futile?”

(So it’s basically just another example of a hostile race being exposed to Levar Burton and deciding that he seems like a super-nice guy, and why do we dislike them, again?)

But consider the following chain of events:

  1. The deprogramming of Hugh from collective Borg to individual “I,” in this episode, sets the precedent for the 1997 introduction of Seven of Nine, the ex-Borg crew member on Star Trek: Voyager.
  2. The 1997 casting of Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine surely changed the course of her 1999 divorce from Illinois politician Jack Ryan.
  3. In 2004, Jack Ryan sought to replace retiring Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald, and won the Republican primary, but withdrew from the race after details of his divorce were made public, including a bunch of stuff about maybe trying to pressure his wife into swinging or public S&M. “We did go to one avant-garde nightclub in Paris,” he said, “which was more than either one of us felt comfortable with.” (When in doubt, blame the arts and the French; they’re just freaky like that.)
  4. His withdrawal left one Barack Obama running basically unopposed, except by Alan Keyes (who doesn’t count because c’mon, Alan Keyes).
  5. You can take it from there.

So, after the fashion of the butterfly that flaps its wings and causes a hurricane on the other side of the globe, I — as someone who looks forward to one day purchasing fuller health coverage on a standardized exchange — would like to say KUDOS TO YOU, HUGH THE ADOLESCENT BORG WHO LEARNED TO SAY “I,” for your hand in this historic reform.

* Cable marathon, DVR, laziness


Yesterday I posted a fairly peeved note concerning Jessica Hopper’s Chicago Reader article about Vampire Weekend. (She’s responded to that note, very graciously, on her blog, but that seems to have vanished.) My note led to a spike in traffic, which was unexpected: if I’d realized it’d catch much attention, I might have explained myself more carefully. The essay below is an attempt to outline my thoughts beyond the mere pique of the thing. Some of you may have heard me talk about this stuff before, but it seemed worth setting down a full, coherent version of it; read at your leisure.

Let me note first, though, that the point here is not to snipe at Hopper, whose work I enjoy. More importantly, the issue I’m about to outline is not really about the music of Vampire Weekend. I do not need you to like their music. But I do want you to think about the culture of our criticism, because I feel like it’s ever more beholden to a kind of blind posturing that wants to stop it from saying anything useful or true. Let’s go ahead and call this posturing The Game.

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Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.

[Dave Eggers, sent to me by Wes]

I remember when Eggers said this, and I remember wishing he’d used some term other than “a critic” — a term too easily mistaken for a profession, a position — when what he really means is a critical person: the Merriam-Webster 2. definition of critic (“one given to harsh or captious judgment”), rather than either the 1a. (“one who expresses a reasoned opinion” on matters of “value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique”) or 1b. (“one who engages often professionally in the analysis, evaluation, or appreciation” of art). If he meant that last one, all he’d be saying is that he made a spectacularly shitty critic, which is not his point — although he does seem happy to let the lines blur between these things, to let it be inferred that critics are merely critical, just like it says on the label; this is what’s known in the world of not-saying-YES as a “dick move.”

Really what he’s telling in this paragraph is the story of an age cohort, or at least a certain segment of one. He is a person of the 90s, you know, part of a cohort that once rode high on a wave of useful irony and suspicion and overclocked bullshit detectors — all things that seemed necessary, at some point, even refreshing, even productive of real truth. He started a magazine (Might) that thrived on snarky pop-culture jokes at a time when snarky pop-culture jokes seemed to say something useful about the world. But then they didn’t. And then, growing slightly older, this clever cohort turned around and began issuing prophetic warnings about the danger of the very habits they’d once indulged in, mourning the loss of sincerity and belief, lining up against now allegedly oppressive levels of cynicism and snark, urging reconnection with real sincerity and what DFW liked to call “basic human verities,” things that these very same people had once sandblasted with caustic irony/suspicion/cynicism because they’d been handed down in such tarnished condition that they kinda needed a sandblasting. Having successfully, caustically, eroded the gunk off what their ancestors believed, they felt a strong, sudden, imperative urge to figure out what they believed, to act not corrosively but constructively, to talk honestly about finding things to say YES to.

Ah but here’s the rub: meanwhile along come a whole bunch of younger people for whom these issues are not all that vexed or pressing, people who are fluent in irony and sincerity both and don’t need to be told how to love earnestly, people for whom “say YES” is not a profound and meaningful shift in mentalities but just a stitched-sampler reminder of something very, very basic, and maybe in this sense every generation digs a hole and then goes around preaching about the importance of climbing out of it while young people nod politely at them and dig different holes entirely.

In Chicago 1968, amid a tide of social change and political upheaval, a group of artists came together and began to define a uniquely black aesthetic in visual arts. They sought to make art that spoke directly to the needs, aspirations and experiences of black America, and that celebrated what was beautiful and heroic about black culture.

The seed of what would become the AfriCOBRA collective was planted at the “Wall of Respect,” a mural on a Chicago building that depicted black heroes and leaders, painted by the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC). The wall became both a meeting place and the community’s visual affirmation of African American cultural, intellectual and political heritage.

Africoba Themes from AFRICOBRA on Vimeo.

A group of artists who contributed to the wall came together to form the Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists (COBRA) – a collective that began a national dialog that was pro-black without being anti anything else. COBRA added new members, began an international dialog, and evolved into AfriCOBRA, the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. Its members went on to produce work that brought about a major shift in perspective for black Art and black artists. With a new generation of currently active member artists, AfriCOBRA’s legacy within the art community endures.

AfriCOBRA home : See AfriCOBRA art and watch videos on the AfriCOBRA







Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh - Lust For Life 1956  


“An American in Paris” is a romantic comedy/buddy movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Adrien Brody, Steve Carrel, Marion Cotillard and Renee Zellweger.

Jerry Mulligan (Gyllenhaal), a struggling American painter in Paris, is “discovered” by an influential heiress (Zellweger) with an interest in more than Jerry’s art. Jerry in turn falls for Lise (Marion Cotillard), a young French girl already engaged to a cabaret singer (Brody). Jerry jokes, sings and dances with his best friend, a would-be concert pianist (Steve Carrel), while romantic complications abound.

Okay fine, it is actually starring Gene Kelly, Oscar Levant, Leslie Caron, Nina Foch and George Guetary… but just you wait. If they can remake 8 1/2, nothing is sacred.  

To be honest, I wouldn’t mind a remake of “An American in Paris” (1951)  because today’s “buddy” movies seem to focus on getting drunk and having sex with girls, or getting drunk and going back in a time machine to have sex with girls. This genre needs to find a little romance- and if you can’t write it, remake it. 

Please note: I will watch “Hot Tub Time Machine” (2010) because watching a film set in 1986 staring John Cusack aka Lloyd Dobler just seems like the right thing to do.


In 1986 I was a tubby little 14-year old who wanted two things in life: to be pretty and to be with Anthony C. He was two years older, a fact I never realized would bring me such torture from his friends in the years ahead. With a big Roman nose, giant, hazel eyes that framed in long dark eyelashes and curly brown hair, Anthony was an Italian Adonis. A wrestler to boot, his body was lithe and skinny but cut—just the way I like ‘em. My ideal. One look and I was hit by a thunderbolt in my first year of South Jr. High, a very typical schoolgirl crush.

The problem was, I wasn’t very good at hiding it. Everyone knew I was in love with Anthony, and his crowd never stopped torturing me for it. Ant himself was very sweet to me, though clearly not interested. And that was alright; we were kind of friends. But I guess I never gave up hope that one day he’d see how cool I was and want to be my boyfriend. That’s why when his friend Abbie told me after school one day that he was bringing Anthony to the park later that night to “go” with me, I believed him. “Go” meant tongue kiss. I was pretty excited.

So I dolled myself up in Wet n’ Wild, teased my permed hair to the proper height, straightened the cat eyes and off I went. The park was pretty empty that summer night. No ball games, I guess. A few friends straggled here and there and then I saw Abbie and his friend Des. Anthony was nowhere in sight. “He’s coming,” they promised, as the shadows grew longer. I waited but knew in my heart he wasn’t coming. It gets a little fuzzy here, but somehow I wound up walking down what we called the tow path with Abbie and Des. It’s a dirt road that runs elevated next to a brook shrouded in trees and brush. Not completely desolate; houses line the other side of the brook, but it was certainly a place where miscreant behavior could go unnoticed. All along the walk Abbie and Des assured me that Anthony wanted to come, but they didn’t know what happened. Silly, young girl, I didn’t realize what they were up to.

The next thing I knew we’re sitting on the edge of the brook just talking, when the subject of blowjobs comes up and how I should give Abbie one. Now Abbie was hot—all the girls loved him, but a blowjob? Me? I didn’t think so. Yet instead of running away instantly I remember standing there for what seemed like half an hour while each of them explained why I should do it. At one point I remember Des pulling me aside and really trying to talk me into it using logic. I looked over and Abbie was standing there with his arms draped over a tree with a fuck me look on his face. I wasn’t so naïve that I didn’t think about things like that. I’d been masturbating since the time I was 10, so such thoughts weren’t new. I’d even thought about Abbie in the past. He might not have been such a bad substitute for Anthony.

I don’t know what made me finally decide to leave after saying “No” a thousand times. Though I was young and impressionable and desperate to be liked by boys, somewhere inside me was the confidence and the brains to get the fuck out of there—and also be really insulted and hurt by the whole thing. As I walked off toward my house, just outside the park’s gate, they called to me still, begging for me to blow Abbie. “Just one time, please?” I guess I’m lucky they weren’t more aggressive. Anything could have happened down there.

When I got home I sat on my front steps crying. I remember watching my tears hit the concrete and wondering why that happened to me. Why did they have to trick me like that and try to get me to do that. And thank god I had enough sense not to. My brother came outside and asked me what happened. I wished for him to become enraged and go searching for them. I wanted him to beat the shit out of them for doing that to his little sister. But that kind of justice never came. I never told anyone else. I had to sit with the knowledge that I could possibly have gotten raped, that Anthony didn’t love me, and that I was thought of as the kind of girl who had so little self-esteem I’d dish out blowjobs under a bridge in broad daylight.

I am more then aware the the news you have heard of seems rash, and probably hasty. I wanted to be able to  write a few thing down here to maybe help you understand a bit, or at least clear up the rumor mill before it starts grind like a mo fo’.

1. Underoath and i have parted ways. Yes that is a true statement. There is no bad blood, there is no anger, i was in that band for eleven years, i love every person with my whole heart, i love the music we made together, the shows we played and the good times we had. People change, times change, and sometimes change just comes hunting for you.

2. Yes i will continue to play in the almost. I will also play acoustic, as well as speak and do other musical/ ministry type things.

3. Yes underoath will remain a band, yes without me.

4. I really still love you, alot.

5. I am still giving drum lessons, all your appointments will be honored and kept.

6. Everything you read here is true, regardless of what your friends or internet connection might tell you. 

7. Its all good. listen to uo, listen to the almost if you want, times change, roll with the hurricane.

I love ya,



For those who don’t follow me on Twitter, I’ve spent a few hours today getting “share” buttons on my site. I ran into a few hiccups along the way, so I’m posting a brief recap, in case it helps anyone else.

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We just pushed what we think is an excellent new feature on 8tracks.  Look to the right of the searchbox on any mixpage, and you’ll see a new link called “Next mix ->”.

If you’re listening to a mix and are ready for something new or different, you can click this link, and it’ll automatically open up a new, RANDOM mixpage on the 8tracks network — and instantly start playing it.  It’s sort of like the “Next blog »” button on Blogger/Blogspot.  Or a network-wide “mix skip” button.

In addition, when a given mix you’ve been listening to is finished, you now have the option to automatically jump to a new, random mix.  We present you with a”lightbox” (as below) the first time ‘round, giving you the option to stay on the current mixpage or play the next mix (the latter is the default option, after a 10-second countdown).

If you’d like, you can choose to “Always take this action” so won’t have to pick an option at the end of each mix in the future.  And this option can always be revised on our Settings page.

next mix box

We’re pretty excited about the next mix feature.  In the coming month or 2, we’ll introduce more intelligent selection of the next mix, i.e. based on tag match and social connections (though will probably retain the randomized selection as an option).

In addition, we’ll likely give DJs who subscribe to the forthcoming premium service a way to control this feature to create a “mix of mixes” — effectively, a channel that comprises their own mixes or other mixes they like.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback.