May 30, 2005
— Ace Rock stars-- is there anything they can't do?
His defense work began in the 1980s, when it occurred to him that much of the hardware and software being developed for military use, like data-compression algorithms and large-capacity storage devices, could also be used for recording music. Mr. Baxters next-door neighbor, a retired engineer who worked on the Pentagons Sidewinder missile program, bought him a subscription to an aviation magazine, and he was soon reading a range of military-related publications.
Mr. Baxter began wondering whether existing military systems could be adapted to meet future threats they werent designed to address, a heretical concept for most defense thinkers. In his spare time, he wrote a five-page paper on a primitive Tandy computer that proposed converting the militarys Aegis program, a ship-based antiplane system, into a rudimentary missile-defense system.
On a whim, he gave the paper to a friend from California, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. To Mr. Baxters surprise, the congressman took it seriously, and the idea proved to be prescient: Aegis missile-defense systems have done well in tests, and the Navy says it will equip at least one ship with the antimissile system by the end of the year.
Skunk really blew my mind with that report, Mr. Rohrabacher says. He was talking over my head half the time, and the fact that he was a rock star who had basically learned it all on his own was mind-boggling.
Note to self: Aid American war cause by 1) learning guitar, 2) joining several multiplatinum acts, 3) then thinking up cool shit involving computers and missiles.
The way I see it, #1 is the bitch of the bunch. But I've got basic music theory down from my days rockin' it old school on the bassoon in my marching band. I figure I can learn to wail on the guitar in just a couple of months.
In fact, scroll down to the bottom at this here link, which shows Baxter as a guest back in 1996, when I was still in college, still smoking pot, and still found Maher's show interesting.
(I wonder if there's any correlation between any of those three factors.)
Posted by: Sean M. at May 30, 2005 10:46 PM (e0H8j)
Because, you know, any minute now President Bush is gonna put on a black robe, start throwing lightning bolts with his bare hands, and start building the Death Star with his apprentice Dark Rove. Annnnny minute now...
Posted by: Xoxotl at May 31, 2005 12:04 AM (MsV2z)
Posted by: See-Dubya at May 31, 2005 12:41 AM (ghlAY)
Didn't Hedy Lamar do the same thing?
Note to ace: 1) learn to act, sort of, 2) fake orgasm on big screen, 3) then think up cool shit involving an idea for a sophisticated anti-jamming device for use in radio-controlled torpedos in order to fuck with nazis.
The toughie will be #2.
Posted by: at May 31, 2005 12:57 AM (toB5y)
At a point in his career when most of his contemporaries are either in rehab for the dozenth-plus time, doing "reunion tours" of 30-seat bars, or on-call session work (under their pre-rock real name, and praying that noone recognizes them)... this guy is flying jetliners.
My hat's off to you, Bruce.
Posted by: DaveP. at May 31, 2005 01:20 AM (Myxg0)
Posted by: Dave in Texas at May 31, 2005 03:40 AM (IRgZ2)
Posted by: Chris at May 31, 2005 03:48 AM (9DUU6)
Boy, this is really going to harsh your gig. I'm afraid you're about 10 years too late on that last bit too. I saw this thing at an air show a fe years back. It picks up cars and shit, scorches them wiht it's nose flame, and then rips them in half with it's mouth and claws. When the show is over it transforms into a semi-trailer.
Posted by: Scot at May 31, 2005 03:58 AM (GDOa/)
I was a huge Iron Maiden fan in the late-80's and early 90's. I must say, his performances in the 90's were pretty messy. He appeared totally hammered to me. It appears he's really got it together now.
Good on ya, mate!
Posted by: W.C. Varones at May 31, 2005 03:59 AM (C8hPs)
Posted by: SWLiP at May 31, 2005 04:15 AM (WfQGW)
Posted by: Master of None at May 31, 2005 04:27 AM (2c7xL)
Posted by: dillene at May 31, 2005 04:37 AM (tac0Z)
Posted by: Jason at May 31, 2005 04:37 AM (Y2Bw/)
Posted by: Joe R. the Unabrewer at May 31, 2005 04:40 AM (K4GP1)
Anyway, the rock & roll missile thing is so pedestrian. Did I ever tell you guys about the time I built an anti-gravity spaceship with only an Apple IIc and a 9-volt battery? (Oh, wait, that was the plot of Explorers. Sorry.)
Posted by: Phinn at May 31, 2005 04:56 AM (DiZv6)
Another example of the limitless expertise of rock stars; Philip Taylor Kramer of Iron Butterfly fame was a physicist working on some high level top secret goodies when he mysteriously died.
Posted by: US Soldier at May 31, 2005 05:19 AM (VicCS)
And yes, I call BS on the marching-bassoonist premise as well. I speak as a former clarinettist who wasn't quite cool enough for the bassoon.
Posted by: utron at May 31, 2005 05:26 AM (CgIkY)
I guess Baxter was the one that thought of it first.
Posted by: Bill from INDC at May 31, 2005 05:51 AM (yZMsp)
Posted by: 72 DRUNKEN VIRGINS at May 31, 2005 05:54 AM (dhRpo)
Some of them were policemen, teachers, baseball players...some fields attract a spectrum of humanity.
Not sure you can say that about a great many occupations.
Posted by: lauraw at May 31, 2005 06:05 AM (MGgj5)
Still plays with "The Dinosaurs".
Posted by: Mr.Kurtz at May 31, 2005 06:27 AM (Fo7ej)
Perhaps, but I would add that I can't think of too many Nobel Laureates in the music business and too many flakes.
Posted by: 72V at May 31, 2005 06:35 AM (dhRpo)
Posted by: 72 Hanging Gardens of Babylon at May 31, 2005 06:47 AM (dhRpo)
Posted by: lauraw at May 31, 2005 06:48 AM (MGgj5)
I assumed you were more of a Glockenspiel guy tho.
Posted by: Gromulin at May 31, 2005 07:16 AM (x0jT7)
Posted by: compos mentis at May 31, 2005 07:20 AM (uCHTx)
Did you know that David Coverdale is a wilderness guide for baby seal hunters in the Yukon?
Did you know that Poison's tour plane crashed into the South Pacific, and that sole survivor C.C. DeVille is now a shaman for a tribe of cannibals?
Did you know that Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine, and is the also the third largest Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee in China?
Posted by: iowahawk at May 31, 2005 07:47 AM (xKAPd)
Yeah, but I was simply making the point that mentions of rock stars who pursued other eminent careers are the notable exceptions that prove the rule.
Posted by: 72 policemen, teachers, and baseball players at May 31, 2005 07:48 AM (dhRpo)
How is the dog? Haven't seen him appear out of my pipe since I quit smoking. I hope he is well and as wise as he always was.
Posted by: 72 HALLUCINATIONS at May 31, 2005 07:57 AM (dhRpo)
Posted by: iowahawk at May 31, 2005 07:59 AM (xKAPd)
I think it was in Red Storm Rising.
Posted by: Burnitup at May 31, 2005 08:15 AM (IA1FL)
Posted by: David Gillies at May 31, 2005 08:46 AM (L4GhX)
But completely OT, I would nominate welding as the field which like musicianship, requires some skill yet seems to be populated with a lot of burnouts and lowlifes.
Posted by: lauraw at May 31, 2005 09:08 AM (MGgj5)
I'd nominate auto mechanics too.
Perhaps the dog that used to appear out of my pipe wasn't the same one. He told me his name was Gideon, and he was very wise. Wise enough to know that: "if you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas."
Posted by: 72 FLYING MONKEYS at May 31, 2005 09:32 AM (dhRpo)
Actors are creative. Some make big contributions in other fields. Jimmy Stewart became a Major General in the AF Reserve not because he did "It's a Wonderful Life", but because he was a logistic genius. Some actors proved adept politicians. Others became brilliant businessmen - like Gene Autry and Merv Griffin.
Posted by: Cedarford at May 31, 2005 09:50 AM (6krEN)
Seals are ocean creatures, found in and around Newfoundland and Alaska. The Yukon is almost totally landlocked, with just a little finger of land on the incredibly cold Beaufort Sea. Besides, it's Daryl Hall who became a seal hunting guide off the Grand Banks.
Posted by: holdfast at May 31, 2005 09:53 AM (I2n7v)
Posted by: Jeff B. at May 31, 2005 04:34 PM (037AZ)
Of course, I smoked a lot of weed back then, so I may just have misread "was an engineer at Polaroid."
Posted by: Chris of Dangerous Logic at May 31, 2005 04:51 PM (LdCPy)
Oh well. . . Tom *used* to be smart, back when we were all stupid.
BTW, here's my question of the day-- can this whole thing work in reverse? Can I stop being a defense consultant to become an Ex-Steely Dan Guitarist? At least that way, I'd get to reminisce about all the groupies I had back in the day.
Trust me-- there are no defense consultant groupies. None. Nada. Zip-o.
Dave at Garfield Ridge
Posted by: Dave at Garfield Ridge at May 31, 2005 07:09 PM (mrpxK)
James Young, the tall blonde guitarist for Styx, has a mechanical engineering degree.
Hey groupie wannabes - I have a degree in mechanical engineering and I play guitar. Now's your chance to get in on the ground floor...
Posted by: J Bowen at June 05, 2005 08:22 PM (s0RgD)
The Darn News
Posted by: Andrew Johnson at June 16, 2005 01:38 PM (FjhPB)
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