Monthly Archives: January 2006


The more obscure (un)States of our Union: [ref.]

  • Navassa Island – Captured using the little-known Guano Act, a sadly neglected statute given its immense comic possibility.
  • Baker Island – Another Guano Act island, this one had a colony of four from 1935-42 until WWII came and the government took it away. Also a cemetary where the seamen of various Pacific whalers were buried.
  • Howland Island – A tiny, sun-drenched pacific island famous for its gorgeous boobies. Also the unreached terminus in what turned out to be the final leg of Amelia Earhart’s attempt to circumnavigate.
  • Jarvis Island – More guano, more tiny squads of settlers, more attacks from Japanese submarines. It’s all starting to get a bit repetitive no?
  • Johnston Atoll – Surprise, surprise, another speck acquired in the name of Guano. To all of you who were already well aware of the central role bird sh*t played in establishing our 19th-century maritime empire of tiny islands, you are more attentive students of American history than I. This one was inhabited for real until 2004. Back in the Dr. Strangelove days we were launching intermediate range ballistic missiles from the island and detonating the nuclear warheads they carried in the atmosphere…yuck. On July 9th, 1962 we made an oopsie and exploded one of our missiles a bit early, while it was still on its launch pad, leaving the immediate area heavily contaminated with plutonium. This fissile material, popular in apocalyptic rockets of death the world over, has a half-life of 24,000 years and can be fatal to hominids in amounts as low as 0.29µg. After three months, or 0.25 years the area was deemed safe for human use. Later on we started de-commissioning chemical weapons there, more fun stuff. We tore down the chemical-weapons-burning factory, the golf course and the outdoor theatre before we left, and put the whole thing up for auction in 2005…any takers?
  • Kingman Reef – Called ‘Danger Island‘ when it was first listed as an American possession under, wait for it, the Guano Act of 1856, although as a roughly boomerang-shaped crescent of coral it’s doubtful there was much of the stuff to be had. The coral reef was a refueling spot for Pan Am flights from Hawaii to American Samoa in the 1930s, until Pan Am realized staffing a boat in the middle of the pacific 24/7 for a once-a-week flight in the midst of the Great Depression just wasn’t going to work out.
  • Palmyra Atoll – The 2nd largest atoll under our benevolent eye. In 1974 an adventuresome couple, “Mac” and “Muff” Graham, looking for a yearlong tropical holiday landed on the island, only to find another couple had arrived before them “Buck” Walter and Stephanie Stearns. Apparently tensions rose and at some point between August 28 and 30, the Grahams, “disappeared” according to Stearns. Eventually Buck and Stephanie set sail for Hawaii in the Grahams’ boat where, despite a new paint job and new name, it was soon recognized by acquaintances of the Grahams, leading to an arrest, conviction and time served for the pair. In a twist that would please fans of Patricia Highsmith and /or The Talented Mr. Ripley (or at least the 1960 film version Purple Noon), a visitor to the island discovered what turned out to be Muff’s burnt and dismembered remains near a metal container, which is thought to have been meant to hide the remains at sea but was brought to shore by the surf. Stearns was acquitted but Buck was not and his first parole hearing is this year. Mac’s body has not been found. The atoll now hosts a handful of scientists sponsored by the Nature Conservancy.
  • Wake Island – The prettiest of the islands, at least from space. And the site of a minor WWII battle which marked the only occasion during the Great War where an amphibious assault was defeated by shore-based guns. Civilian army contractors made up the majority of the U.S. defense force repulsing the assault.
  • The remaining unincorps are American Samoa (American Samoans are 40 times more likely to be employed as athletes in the National Football League than non-Samoan Americans), Guam (snake-free until the Americans arrived, the island now enjoys one of the highest snake densities in the world at over 2000/km^2 and a virtually extinct native bird population), Puerto Rico (for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, islanders enjoy turkey stuffed with a ground beef and/or pork mixture containing such varied ingredients as almonds, raisins, olives, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes and garlic) and the Virgin Islands (the only U.S. territory that drives on the left), but they all rank a bit higher on the familiarity index. ps – we also have “compacts of free association” with the Republic of the Marshall Islands (includes the Bikini Atoll, home to over 20 above-ground hydrogen bomb detonations), the Federated States of Micronesia (includes the island of Yap which uses stone disks 4m in diameter as currency) and Palau (there are no intellectual property restrictions on the island, so I wouldn’t hold your breath for “iTunes Palau”) as well as a political union with the Northern Mariana Islands (where island textile concerns retained Jack Abramoff to scuttle congressional plans to bring labor conditions in their factories up to par with the mainland – the Marianas can use “Made in U.S.A.” tags but their labor costs are much lower and many regard the factories as sweatshops – and Jack succeeded admirably, however his recent wire fraud conviction in connection with improper gifts and bribes to U.S. legislators tarnishes that win somewhat), just for completeness’ sake.

And this concludes today’s whirlwind tour of Wikipedia, except to note that today is Mozart’s birthday in case you missed Google.

Burn It :: mixCDswap 3

Many things come in threes, and after a lengthy hiatus, so does our little cd-swap.

Simple idea: a bunch of folks get together in small groups and swap mix CDs with one another. If you are reading this, chances are pretty good that you possess both the knowledge and hardware to “burn” a music CD (if not…) in which case you can play along with us (if you’re not so sure but you still want to play, the above link can get you started, and you’ve got at least four weeks to figure it out!).

Here’s how it works:

For people who want a theme, here’s what I will be thinking about while putting my album together. Feel free to use the same or invent your own…I think mixed themes within the groups are fun, but it always makes sense to give your actual album at least some semblance of unity.

Theme: “Where do worms go when it’s winter?”

  • We’re past the solstice but the nights are still long and the days are still cold. Where do the worms go? Down baby, down. So dig deep, mix a set that you’d take with you into hibernation, songs that make you feel wrapped head to toe in a thick soft blanket you’re not leaving until someone turns the heat back on. Songs that say snuggle, songs that say it may be cold out there but it’s en fuego in here. Salsa, psychedelic trance, electroclash, medieval turkish choral…you know, surprise us.
  • Songs that start one way and end another.
  • Songs that make you wish you were somewhere else.

After the signup period, people will be put into groups of 4. You will then receive an e-mail from me telling you the names and addresses of the people in your group. You burn 5 identical CDs. Keep one for yourself and send three to the other people in your group plus one to me.

The rules:

  1. You should can have a blog if you want to. I would like this to be a fun way to connect people in the blogosphere. If you don’t, feel free to go over to Xanga or Blogspot or LiveJournal and start one for free.
  2. If you’re not going to follow through and make your CDs, please don’t bother signing up. It would be a shame if one or two people ruined this for their group. If you signed up last swap and didn’t send your CDs out, don’t sign up this time.
  3. You must live in the US or Canada.
  4. If you live in the US, you should be willing to ship to Canada. If you live in Canada, you should be willing to ship to the US. The postage is a teeny bit more, but nothing that’s going to break the bank.
  5. Remember that most people can’t play mp3s in their car, so make sure they’re something that will play in a standard car stereo. I tend to use cda or wav files. I have put together a list of Burn It resources for those not familiar with making CDs. (ed. – do your best…I think participation is better than “standards”…seems to me if you’re really into this then you’re going to find a way to hear what’s on that disc)
  6. Please send a copy of your cd to me as well as to the group, so that I can arbitrate any “You didn’t mail your CD!” “Yes I did!” disputes. And please remember to put your name, URL, or e-mail on your CD somewhere. I got several last time that I liked, but have no idea who sent them.

Guidlines on creating your CDs:

  • Include a track listing. If someone like an artist, they might want to buy more music by them. Let us know who it is.
  • Fill up the CD as much as you can. There’s 80 minutes on a blank CD. Don’t half-ass it and make a 30 minute CD.
  • You should definitely use a jewel case when sending your CDs to protect it during mailing. You can get them cheap anywhere. (ed. – or reuse an old, empty one)
  • I know a lot of some of you people are graphically inclined, so feel free to make your CD a work of art.
  • Don’t be afraid to burn “cheesy” music. If you like it, others probably will too.
  • Don’t be afraid to put on music that you think no one has probably ever heard before either. Billboard or MTV may never have known this music, but you did, so that’s what counts.

If you’ve gotten this far and you still want to sign up, send an e-mail to me denshi at gmail dot com and make sure you reference the CD swap in the subject line. You must include the following information or you won’t get to play:

  • Your name
  • Mailing address
  • Your blog URL (IF applicable)
  • Your e-mail address

Sign-ups start Thursday, January 19th and continue through Thursday, February 2nd. By Monday, February 6th, I will send e-mails to everyone letting you know who is in your group. You should have all of your CDs burned and in the mail NO LATER THAN Monday, March 6th (so many dates!) This gives you a full FOUR weeks to create and ship CDs to your three group partners.

Please spread the word! More people equals more music! Just be sure to link to this URL because eventually this entry will cycle off the main page. ref.

If you have any other questions, you can e-mail me at denshi at gmail dot com. Please put CDswap in the subject line. Cheers!