Archive for July, 2013

Anybody who’s ever been to a Washington Nationals home game is familiar with the race of the presidents that takes place at some point during each game. Nats fans are also familiar with Teddy Roosevelt usually losing the race because of some calamity or other, a situation not unlike Charlie Brown and the football.  The last time I went to a Nats game, it was a Sharknado that body blocked the other four presidents, which effectively gave the race to Abe Lincoln.

Well, here’s a new one, courtesy of the Nationals’ Tumblr blog:

And if you haven’t seen David Ortiz’s meltdown from a few nights ago, you absolutely must:

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Live Performance

Posted: July 27, 2013 in Music
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Nine Inch Nails – “Copy of A” / “Sanctified”

This is not an Onion headline:

Al-Qaeda tries to soften image with ice cream
By Loveday Morris, Published: July 25

BEIRUT — The jovial tug o’ war and children’s ice-cream-eating contest wouldn’t look out of place at any town fair. But the family festivities in the battle-scarred Syrian city of Aleppo had a surprising organizer: al-Qaeda.

The media arm of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda affiliate, has been churning out videos featuring community gatherings in Syria during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as the group battles to win hearts and minds. It is a far cry from the organization’s usual fare of video offerings, which includes public executions.

The attempt to soften Islamic State’s image comes as it struggles to win support in the areas of Syria that are outside government control. Many residents view the group as a foreign force more concerned with imposing Islamic law than with fighting against President Bashar al-Assad and his allies.

“They are well aware that people out there on principle don’t like lots of foreign fighters coming in to fight jihad in their country. They are aware they need to reassure people their presence isn’t negative,” said Charles Lister, an analyst at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center. “Ramadan parties and ice-cream-eating competitions are one localized example of that. Whether they will be successful remains to be seen, will depend on other armed groups and how they portray them.”

Islamic State has rapidly risen to prominence in Syria since emerging in April. Analysts say the group, which includes established jihadist factions that now fight under a common banner, comprises 2,500 to 3,000 men nationwide. It is most influential in Aleppo and its countryside to the north, in Idlib and in Latakia.

The group, however, is facing increasing isolation as others try to distance themselves from Islamic State’s hard-line tactics.


Seriously, Iron Koala is the name of a nuclear proliferation exercise chaired by the Australian government:

Ever since the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC in 2010 and the follow up in Seoul, South Korea earlier this year, nuclear security has been top of the agenda for world leaders.

Australia has a strong presence in this arena, as exemplified by ANSTO’s recent hosting of a well-attended Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) activity here in Sydney. Known as Iron Koala, the exercise was organised by the GICNT Nuclear Forensic Working Group of which Australia is the Chair. Iron Koala participants (pictured outside the ANSTO Discovery Centre) came from many professions and included: governmental policy makers, law enforcement officers, nuclear regulators and nuclear forensics technical experts

The purpose of the event was to increase awareness that there needs to be legislated, regulated and practiced information sharing between countries and professions, in order to successfully combat nuclear trafficking.

Iron Koala was hailed as extremely successful by the attendees and its timeliness was demonstrated by the fact that it attracted 79 delegates from 24 nations with strong participation from countries in our region.

Iron Koala participants came from many professions and included: governmental policy makers, law enforcement officers, nuclear regulators and nuclear forensics technical experts. This breadth of expertise allowed the participants to better understand each other’s requirements and language, and to forge new communication networks.

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This is absolutely reprehensible:

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A Joint Base Lewis-McChord  soldier was devastated when he returned home from deployment to find his dog was missing — and possibly sold on Craigslist.

Brandon Harker returned last week after an 8-month deployment to Afghanistan. He was excited to see Oakley, his 2-year-old purebred yellow Labrador retriever.

Harker had asked a friend to take care of Oakley while he was deployed. When he contacted the friend to pick him up, he was told the dog had been given away.

He turned to social media to find his dog and was contacted by numerous people who said they’d seen Oakley listed for sale in February on Craigslist. Harker has been calling local veterinarians and shelters, hoping for word on his dog since Oakley is micro-chipped and registered.

“I am just trying to get him back since he was wrongfully given away or sold without my permission while I was deployed,” Harker said.

If you have any information on the dog’s whereabouts, please contact Harker through Craig’s List or Dogs on Deployment.

Live Performance

Posted: July 12, 2013 in Music
Tags: , ,

Crowd waiting for start of Green Day show at Emirates Stadium back in June decides to sing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” before the band takes the stage:

As one of the comments to the YouTube clip noted: “22 years after his death he still makes entire stadiums go wild…”

Update: Here’s a different clip from the same show:

There have been some developments regarding the Alice in Chains project I’ve been working on for nearly two years. I recently signed a deal with a publisher. Here’s the official announcement, it ran in Publisher’s Marketplace yesterday (it’s behind a paywall, text is pasted below):

July 9, 2013

Non-fiction:
Pop Culture
Journalist David de Sola’s TOUCH ON THE DARK, the first and only biography on the band Alice In Chains, promising countless never-before reported stories on the band with exclusive access to producers, journalists, musicians, and many others who have never gone on the record about their time working with the band, to Rob Kirkpatrick at Thomas Dunne Books, by Anthony Mattero at Foundry Literary + Media (NA).

In the meantime, work on the project continues. We are hoping for a late 2014/early 2015 release.

You can read some of my previous reporting on Alice in Chains here, here and here. All of this will be covered in greater depth in the book.

Update: For visitors who have questions about me, I would recommend they read about my background and look at some of my previous work from over the years.
Even though it’s completely unrelated to Alice in Chains, if you want a general idea of how I’m writing the book, I would recommend reading The Man Who Volunteered for Auschwitz.