Monday, October 26, 2009

Roger Ebert on health care in America and the social contract

Roger Ebert has this amazing thread going on his blog about health care and the social contract from which libertarians believe they are ideologically exempt.

As some of the commenting readers point out, there are three things that make this post and 90% of the (hundreds of) comments worth reading.

1. The representatives of the libertarian point of view are _very_ courteous and well-spoken.

2. Mr. Ebert takes special care to comment on about 2 out of every 5 comments. This is remarkable because blog posters usually throw out a topic and then refrain from participation in or ignore completely any ensuing discussion.

3. The dialog is thoroughly nuanced and very few points of the conversation on health care are left untouched.

It's been hard keeping up with the discussion. There are 472 comments and counting. I'm hoping things don't spiral into decadence by the time I finish reading them all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monsters Of Folk received!

1 Monsters Of Folk $9.99
Shipped via USPS

Update, Wed, Sept 23, 2009: Holeee crap! My day just got even better!
Greetings from Amazon.com.

You saved $4.00 with Amazon.com's Pre-order Price Guarantee!

The price of the item(s) decreased after you ordered them, and we gave you the lowest price.

The following title(s) decreased in price:

Monsters Of Folk
Price on order date: $11.99
Price charged at shipping: $9.99
Lowest price before release date: $7.99
Amount to be refunded: $2.00
Quantity: 1
Total Savings: $4.00

Update, Tue, Sept 29, 2009: The album arrived in my mailbox yesterday! I am one happy camper.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zombie questions

Just a couple to start with for now I suppose.

1. Are zombies capable of a tactical strike? For instance, I have Masterchief-style body armor. But I have to recharge every so often at a solar power collection point. Will zombies destroy the power charge machine to prevent me from continuing to use my battle suit?

Show your work.

2. Poll: Are zombies cannibals? Yes or no. Will a zombie or mob of zombies ever attack a regular human and devour him or her completely, leaving only the victim's skeleton?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rathering

Rathering the alternate of the inevitable is rather disappointing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Music for Saturday

Thursday I heard that Hope Sandoval has a new album coming out soon and that her band Mazzy Star is currently working on a new album as well. It's been a long time since their last album Among My Swan, so I'm curious to see if Hope and David Roback will do anything new. If this tune is any indication, then probably not. But that's okay, it's still a pretty song.

Hope Sandoval - Blanchard.mp3

****

Monsters of Folk are some of my favorite musicians teamed up. This line-up is what originally got me into M. Ward, because in 2005 when I saw Conor Oberst, Jim James and Matt Ward singing "O'Brien/O'Brien's Nocturne" on Austin City Limits on PBS it instantly became my favorite song. It didn't strike me at the time when I went looking for the writer of the song and found Matt Ward, and promptly bought all his albums, but later it occurred to me that any one of those songwriters could have written that song, but it was Ward. If Oberst or James had written that song, then I would have been listening to a bunch of Bright Eyes or My Morning Jacket albums non-stop for the past 4 years, instead of M. Ward's, but they didn't, and so I didn't. M. Ward is the best songwriter of the three, and in my opinion the most sincere in his delivery. His songs have the continuity and lack of pretension that Oberst's haven't, and the emotional reality that James' don't.

Still, put them all together, and something magical happens. Just like that night when I heard them all singing, "I got a brand new song to show ya, though it probably ain't gonna blow your mind."

So here's a couple brand new from the Monsters. Buy their album when it comes out in September, I think you'll enjoy it. I know I will.

Monsters of Folk - Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.).mp3

Monsters of Folk - Say Please.mp3

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Music for Thursday

I wasn't there, but three years ago at Bonnaroo, Andrew Bird played a show on a stage called Sonic, which I am sure was either well named or very poorly named. There's this video of him singing this song of his called "Why?" and it's very, very good. Shamefully, some other band at the festival is playing too loudly at a nearby stage and ruining the intro and first few verses of the song. Was that what Bonnaroo was like? That sucks, music fans.

Look, I went to Coachella in March for the first time, and there were lots of brilliant performances, but when TV On The Radio came on, they totally drowned out the performer on the second stage. It was impossible to be heard over them. And don't even get me started about M.I.A. and her damn air horns. I'm sorry, but the main stage was colossal and when a band was rocking out with the volume cranked, it was loud and I mean loud. Way louder than 110 decibels, and it projected across the whole polo fields by six sets of speaker towers each over 80 feet tall. Music at the smaller stage? Simply drowned out.

Austin City Limits festival is different. Zilker Park in Austin is vast. Which is lucky, because there are three huge stages with capacity for at least 10-30 thousand people each, and four other stages with capacity for 3-5 thousand. For those three days, there are at least 60-80 thousand people in the park there at any given time. It's nuts. And yet, sound from any given act does not spill into the other stages for the most part, and that's the point, isn't it? A venue has to be large enough to support whatever number of stages a festival offers.

Luckily, Bird has a voice and he rocks this song:


****

On another note, a managing editor for Reuters.com named Richard Baum (@rbaum), sent out a microblog on twitter saying:
Radiohead says no more albums. I guess the pay-what-you-like model didn't work http://bit.ly/jGjaK
What the hell? Okay, first of all...

Radiohead - Harry Patch (in memory of)

Oh look, Radiohead just recorded a song in the studio and released it on their website for one single solitary British Pound. Yeah, it's not "pay-what-you-like". All proceeds will be going to the Royal British Legion, so the site says. Yeah, it's just one song. Yeah, it's probably a one-off because of the unique nature of the song.

But maybe Radiohead will begin releasing tracks whenever they have an idea that gels and they have time to all get together and put down on a track. Personally, I think that's a great idea. How many times in the past year have we heard about corporate music execs and lawyers getting all exec-y and lawyer-y about singles getting leaked onto the net before the studio album is released, or before radio stations receive copies of a single for airtime so they can hype the album prior to release. That's the old corporate music marketing machine drill, and it's been getting punked by online leaks and downloading.

Baum's conclusion is laughable in its wrongness. First of all, he assumes that just because a band is continuing its progressive behavior of shirking off old-world music distribution company habits by deciding they're through with recording whole albums at a time, they are giving up on the innovations they've made in the way they do business.

Obviously, Radiohead is not done making music.

Secondly, Radiohead made millions of dollars selling their last album for whatever people wanted to pay for it. It went "platinum" the first day it was released. The data on this is incontrovertible. Fans loved the way Radiohead handled the release of In Rainbows.

****

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have a few singles out there, but lately I've been hearing this one a lot, and that's good because I love it.


Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Home.mp3

Well, hot and heavy, pumpkin pie,
Chocolate candy, Jesus Christ,
Ain't nothing please me more than you.


Awww. 4 hearts for making me smile a lot. ♥♥♥♥

I posted this yesterday, but it was actually today. So I renamed it.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Thanks Anna, for inviting me to see Julie and Julia

This weekend I watched just about every single John Hughes movie that anyone ever told me was any good, and that I haven't already seen a dozen times. This included:

Pretty In Pink
Some Kind Of Wonderful
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Sixteen Candles
The Breakfast Club
St. Elmo's Fire

Yeah, that last one John Hughes had nothing to do with, but the Brat Pack was all there. Had he anything to do with it, Leslie Hunter would have totally chosen Kevin Dolenz instead of opting for no miracles. All of Hughes' movies are completely bogus, but not more so than that Schumacher film. The characters in Elmo's were just simply not believable. Then again, I never realized just how ridiculous and homogeneous most of Hughes' movies were. Elmo's "witty" dialog was almost a welcome change after hours and hours of teenage awkwardness and angst. Was that really how the '80s really were? Was that really how high school was? I never really experienced either of those things, but somehow I doubt it.

Still I honestly enjoyed watching all those movies, a couple of them for the first time all the way through. Their charm just wins out over all the deficiencies that would make me hate other movies like them (except for The Breakfast Club which is pretty much just plain great no matter which way you slice it).

One movie in particular that I really liked this weekend was a new one that I just randomly threw into the Hughes Marathon/Mix -- Adventureland. This '80s throwback movie was so much more believable than any Hughes movie I watched. The music was really good too. Like this song:

INXS - Don't Change.mp3
(This is not to knock the soundtrack of any Hughes movie -- all of which are full of awesome music.)

Watching all those stupid movies was pretty damn depressing though, so it was really nice of my sister Anna to invite me to go see Julie and Julia with her even though she was just going with her girl friends. It really saved my weekend from being a dismal way to start this week. Now, I can start my week on a happy note, having seen a truly enjoyable movie with my awesome sister.

Friday, August 07, 2009

John Hughes passed away yesterday at 59

Can't think of anything to say really. I'm sad. I'll just post some links.

Byrne Fields' blog post, Sincerely, John Hughes
NPR coverage of the Byrne Fields story
YouTube video of the Phoenix "Lisztomania" Brat Pack mashup
YouTube video of Stewie Griffin running to "March Of The Swivelheads" by The English Beat
The soundtrack listing for Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Willie Nelson

My family used to ride around in our orange VW Vanagon and listen to Willie Nelson singing "On The Road Again" on the radio.

In 1984 my parents sold that sweet van and took us on a long flight over the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and then on to the Philippine Islands.

Two years later, this happened:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Amanda Palmer's Cat Stevens cover Twitter flash-gig video

Techdirt has a write-up about a flash-gig that Amanda Palmer did one day after a user suggested that she learn the Cat Stevens song, "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out".

She just told her followers on Twitter to meet up with her at the beach to listen to some songs. So a bunch of people showed up and someone happened to bring a video camera, and recorded this:


[ YouTube, via ]

Monday, August 03, 2009

Spielberg to remake Harvey

Steven Spielberg will begin work on a remake of Harvey. The film's title character is a 6 foot 3 and a half inch tall rabbit who is the imaginary best friend of Elwood P. Dowd played by James Stewart. The original Harvey earned James Stewart an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in 1950. I remember watching this film on cable television when I was a kid and really enjoying it, but I've always like Jimmy Stewart's movies.

I hope this new version from Spielberg will be better than the 2001 remake:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What to govern an information society?

In Texas, when I fail to casually express agreement with someone's expression of a conservative shibboleth, my less tactful friends and acquaintances will often interrogate me about my political views. Recently, some conservative friends of mine, still bitter and resentful from the 2008 election, have asked me if I still lean to the conservative side of political issues in general or not: "You aren't a liberal now, are you?" and, "You didn't vote for Obama, did you?"

Who I vote for is not your business.

Of my government I demand representation and reject constituency pandering. Political activism and party-alignment is just as filthy and foul as media bias, thinly-veiled bribery by lobbyists of public officials, and long-term office holders.

The other day someone said to me, "Everybody wants to think of themselves as independent." His point was that nobody is ever entirely free from bias or from the influence of their world or political views on their expressions and decisions.

Conservatives mostly insist that when it comes down to brass tax, everyone picks one side of an issue, and eventually their political bias is revealed. The notion that anyone can be without bias is a myth, to conservatives. This is a delusion -- the result of an egocentric refusal to set aside one's own selfish convictions and see the world from other perspectives. Of course many people let their political views affect their judgment, but this cannot be true of everyone. There are many who refuse to champion, let alone settle for, a single side of an issue or parrot the go-to focus group study conclusions paid for by political think-tanks, and instead choose to consider multi-faceted solutions that work under a myriad of circumstances for more than one group of people. Real-world social-economic problems rarely have a single best solution and yet our current system insists upon it and segregates those who suggest otherwise and labels them spoilers, "third-party" candidates, dark horses, independents.

Our political system is broken, so I reject it. You should too, and demand an actual meritocratic democracy. This of course requires metrics and endless careful and costly analysis and monitoring of the results of government programs and initiatives. Political theory is great, but until there are actual studies, experiments, and data, it's just some schmuck's fantasy.

Attempting to clarify what it is that I mean by "meritocratic democracy", a conservative friend of mine has asked me, "So, no electing presidents because they are black, right?" He had obviously bought into the conservative editorial rhetoric that Obama has been elected as the President simply because of the color of his skin. This is an employment of a logical fallacy known as a red herring, and it is a common tactic of the conservative media. The question is a leading one, and is designed to divert attention from the plenitude of good reasons why Obama might have been elected President other than his ethnic heritage.

Perhaps voters were fed up with a President who unprecedentedly expanded the power of the executive branch. Perhaps the American people were weary of a President who went to war without consent from Congress. Perhaps the public was tired of being lied to repeatedly about some very important things like the intelligence on the Iraq nuclear program, global warming data, torture of detainees, and warrantless wire-tapping. Perhaps the American people wanted to send a message of rejection to the Republican party in order to communicate just how disappointed they were with George Bush. Perhaps, just maybe, the American people believed Obama when he promised them change. Who knows.

But the suggestion supplanting those considerations with the idea that somehow Obama was nothing more than an affirmative action President, is twisted. It is a verbal slight-of-hand trick at best, and blatant racism at worst.

The democratic republic in which we live is a failure, not only because it fosters this kind of language, but because it is characterized by immobility, rigidity and is crippled by an inability to represent our citizens at a high resolution. Our democratic republic has proven that any asshole can get elected and stay elected if they just provoke or charm the right people.

The social democracy is in error because there can never be enough stopgaps and waste prevention criteria to prevent massive inefficiencies and missteps. Social democracy also fails at both the electorate level, and also at the bureaucratic level due to the fact that there are tons of people in any population who simply don't give a shit. Social democracy only works for small, invested communities with lots of transparency and accountability, but it doesn't seem to work very well for large organizations.

The foundation of any correct form of government and economy is information. Therefore, I am not a liberal, or a conservative. I am an informationist.

Education. Education is the only path to a valid government. Only a population capable of educating itself and critically assessing information can be capable of governing itself. Self government is the only true government. Therefore, the bootstrapping of the new information republic -- a republic where everyone is their own representative -- will be accomplished through the complete and universal reform of education.

But how can a government with such a shift in focus towards education and communication of information ever be brought into power when the voting system in the United States only reinforces the two-party system? My friends Greg Lange and Cory Burkhardt both support a voting system based on multiple candidate ranking. Many people that I have spoken with who are interested in an alternative voting system are inclined towards the preferential voting system. Arrow's impossibility theorem, or Arrow's paradox, states that such a system would never be perfect and would never represent the wishes of every constituency, but if engineered carefully, it could come pretty close.

It's how the best restaurants in the world are compared. It's how the Godfather is selected as the best movie ever made at the movie database website, imdb.com. So what if the Godfather isn't really the best movie ever made? Well it's pretty damn good.

The only way our elections will ever support a ballot that uses a multi-candidate 10-point rating scale is with a public that is smart enough to understand how such a system actually works. Such voters must also be adequately informed and have an ability to accurately assess the true nature and aptitude of candidates. Public intelligence or stupidity is entirely a function of the efficiency, flexibility, tenacity of the education system and the commitment of the people in its ranks to be successful at an individual level. An education system undermined is a society that undermines its government's effectiveness.

Honestly, anyone against a universally educated and thoroughly informed public, should be considered a traitor. In fact, I would go so far as to say that anyone who fosters confusion by creating false information or attempts to limit the communication of legitimate information should be condemned as a terrorist.

Of course, this raises the question, how is information determined to be legitimate? What is the litmus test for information? Testing. Experiments. Confirmation. Corroboration. Understanding. Usefulness. And most importantly, Karl Popper's test: falsifiability. Information should be redundantly verified, peer reviewed, and rated-by-reputation.

We need to move away from the democratic-republic/social-democracy mixed government form, and shift to an informational democracy. Information, and its accuracy is the cornerstone of all freedom. Liars and mutilators of fact and truth should not be tolerated.

People will inevitably reject these ideas saying things like, "That is too difficult." Or, "That will cost too much money." Or, "My tax dollars should not go towards educating someone else's child." Or, "Those who can't do, teach."

Other objections can be made as well. Someone might say something like, "So-and-so is poor, and cannot afford to be educated. Their parents should have worked harder." Such a person apparently values money above information and believes that obfuscation and confusion has a price. Such a person should be considered a traitor to our nation.

If someone says, "So-and-so is lazy, or refuses to be taught," they are only making excuses. Such a person is simply too lazy or too selfish to make the sacrifices necessary to help another person overcome their personal defects or obstacles and be educated despite those challenges.

People often tell me that things will never change because we are stuck with what we have.

False.

The choice of our government is in the hands of the informed population. To be against an informed population, in any way, is to be against the choice of government. Revolution comes from the ground up. Not through internal secession.

It all starts with yourself and your family. It is the movement of self-actualization and transcendence found reiterated innumerable times in eastern philosophy. First, master yourself. Then your family. Then your community. Then your state. Then your nation.

Absorption. The old generation will be eaten by the new. The stupid, old, doddering politicians and representatives will be displaced by the mass of the new informed populace.

There is no stopping it. Critical mass will be reached, and then there can be no reversal.

Information is unstoppable. Ideas cannot be killed. Truth cannot be subdued. Reality will destroy the actors and fiction writers that make up our government and media.

Information, education, and understanding is the new monarch.

The next generation is growing up with the Internet in their playpens.

The status quo "representatives" and legislators will be unable to pry this source of universal information access from the hands of this next generation. The technology to prevent tampering with that information is crystallizing into a perfect shield against meddlers and liars.

Soon all the liars will be silenced and muted. No more fiction. Only history.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Resonance

Silently ignoring is passive aggressive. Sometimes what you want is outright aggression, demanding something more to the effect of 'Your thoughts and ideas are inconsequential and completely unimportant. I'm just going to ignore you from now on.'

-- Mike Nerone, 2009


[ #coredevs ]

Jenny Lewis, Elvis Costello, M. Ward, Zooey Deschanel

Wow.


Don't miss this one, Zooey backs up Jenny on the song "Carpetbaggers".

[ Links: YouTube, YouTube ]

Friday, July 24, 2009

America the Fat?

An article concerned with the ostensible culture of waifish waistlines in New York City appeared in the New York Times on Wednesday. Money, the leisure money affords, and a ubiquity of reflective shiny glass windows on buildings seem to be the primary contributors to the 25% lighter BMI of the average Manhattanite compared to the rest of America's poor slobs of whom an alarming 67% are overweight.

While reading I was reminded that it was lunchtime so I called up el Gallito de Jalisco across the street from the office and ordered two chicken fajita tacos on corn torillas to go. There are a couple of things that I dislike about ordering food to go. First, the containers in which the food are placed will soon become just that many more plastic salsa containers and forks that don't seem to cooperate very well with the rest of God's creations. Second, I am eating at my desk which basically means I wolf those tacos down in ten or fifteen minutes so I can get back to work. Well what's wrong with that?

A lot, says this article also from the Times that attempts to draw a correlation between the average time spent eating per day with the body mass index of those eaters. Do you spend less than 80 minutes eating all three meals in a day? Then you're probably fat. And American.

The French apparently spend well over 2 hours each day eating their meals. They are also some of the least obese people in the developed world. What does this mean? Well many conclusions could be drawn, I suppose.

I would wager that many people would look at these statistics and think, "Americans work a lot and don't have much time so they eat more fast food, and that's why they are so fat." Others might think, "I guess when you eat too quickly, your brain doesn't get the message from your body that you are full until it's too late and you're done eating everything on your plate, resulting in over-eating." Still others might consider, "Meals are more of a social event in the culture of other countries and dining with company is perhaps more customary than it is in America. It makes sense that a meal would last longer when you're talking with friends and family at the dinner table."

Or maybe those people are just thinking like sheep and assuming that the information they are being given is correct in the first place. The question should be asked: how much can we trust the New York Times to report accurately on the eating habits of Americans? Surely the Times isn't reporting on all of the studies that have probably been done on this subject. All of those other studies that have been done probably don't support the true message that the Times is trying to send here:

Your American way of life is inferior to the way of life in other countries with more social and liberal composition of government and culture.

The statistics gathered in the study represented in this article are obviously cherry-picked to communicate this message. This could be explained in a number of ways.

For instance, the dining French persons surveyed almost certainly prattled on endlessly about the sensations which they were experiencing with their palate as they ate. In the U.S. the surveyors usually paused their stopwatches when the eaters would stop stuffing their mouths with food long enough to chew or ask their server for a refill on their Coca-Cola. So of course it would appear that Americans eat faster.

Furthermore it is widely understood that the French eat like wusses. They probably surrender to their food twice per meal before they finally give up and push their plate away with half its contents unfinished. Americans know from experience: food is war, and you sure as hell don't leave until the job is done.

Also likely is the inaccuracy of the method of measurement used in other countries like France. They use the metric system, after all -- completely different than the English system of measurement that America uses.

If one considers oneself a critical thinker, one should consider the source of these articles. This is the New York Times. They have been caught red-handed time and time again publishing factual-appearing articles about so-called scientific studies and the like, and then drawing conclusions that are obviously self-serving. Everyone has a bias, and the Times staff and contributors are no exception. This is a fact known by simple psychological projection to most Americans who proudly uphold the values of God and country.

How dare the New York Times attack the American way of life? Our culture is superior to the culture of any other country in every way for the simple fact that our culture is American. Anyone suggesting otherwise is just a liberal America-hater spreading propaganda designed to degrade our great country and its rich history.

In the Times' defense, they have also published an article discussing the correlation between fast eaters and economic growth (with far better quality graphics than their fast-food report, I must say). Predictably, this article was largely panned by other liberal "scholars" and mostly ignored.

So to the New York Times and other eggheads I say this: keep your questionable statistics and let the facts speak for themselves -- quietly and meekly like the nerds who study them. There is nothing wrong with our fast food, and America does not need to change in any way to continue being the great and mighty country that it has always been. We Americans are unique in the history of the world, and chosen by God to be leaders of the free world and grateful recipients of His blessings of Freedom Fries, Doritos Cooler Ranch Tortilla Chips, and the Colonel's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. May God continue to bless America.

Monday, July 20, 2009

And all God's people said Amen

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.

-- Abraham Lincoln
Remark to law partner William Herndon,
quoted in William Elroy Curtis (1902)




[ link ]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Are Living In The Future

This text was originally written for the comments section of a kottke.org post on December 6, 2005.
Some major edits have been made since then.


I don't get this sense very often these days, but I relish it when I do. The first time I experienced the "Holy mackerel! We're living in the future!" feeling, it was a strange sensation triggered by settling into the backseat of my friend's new Nissan Maxima, and listening to his radar detector boot up as his car turned on and the rest of his console lights began to glow, and Nine Inch Nails' "Into The Void" from The Fragile beginning to boom on his kilowatt sound system. Since then, similar such experiences have been few and far between.

But on a more serious note, I believe that our current collective stress-out about petroleum and fossil based fuels and energy, as well as the constant threats from terrorism, global warming, cancer and pandemics, overpopulation, etc., are going to force the human population into some pretty awe-inspiring advances over the next couple of decades. We're talking huge leaps forward. These significant improvements include:

1. Solar power
Complete transition to solar power as the primary source of energy supply to all residential, commercial, and industrial energy demands. All the following improvements will be brought about based on this single momentous accomplishment.

2. Natural/organic habitats
Transition to family and community based habitats which are ecologically and culturally enriching. These constructions will spring up in place of reclaimed land from industrial and commercial sites, and will be interconnected by a brand new nationwide (and soon thereafter planet-wide) transportation network (electric trains, electric computer-navigated automobiles, transition of major airlines from bulk travel to on-demand commuter flights, etc.) making it a seamless and painless process to commute from a major metropolis to your family back on the farm.

3. Sane climate control
Regulation of the Earth's climate by means of a world-wide biosphere control scheme. This will include doing things like using phytoplankton fertilized with iron deposits in the oceans, as well as a number of other measures. The world will no longer depend on petroleum and fossil fuels for energy, pollution and carbon emissions over time will be drastically reduced. Biosphere control mechanisms built into energy-harvesting technology will begin to terraform whole swathes of uninhabitable and non-cultivatable land into useful regions which will nearly immediately (within a span of five to ten years) cause tremendous cultural and global change. Our planet's appearance from space will be significantly altered. These global processes will be controlled with complete assurance and confidence by our civilization, and will not get out of control. (No over-cooling or wildly fluctuating temperatures -- these technologies and their effects can be carefully modeled and monitored using evermore advancing computing techniques and information about the planet's weather machinery and its internal relationships.)

4. Geo-political stabilization
Furthermore, since the dependence on petroleum will be eliminated, the economic (and hence, political) interests of the US in Middle Eastern countries will diminish greatly, reducing the strain on that region's already oppressed people, which in turn will have a calming effect on the activity of terrorists.

5. Digital-only information distribution
Elimination of content and information distribution entities such as the recording and motion picture industries. While this will simply exchange power from one entity to another (network service providers) it will serve to streamline the process of production and distribution making it easier than ever for individuals and organizations to create and communicate information. Happily, even network service providers will be rendered obsolete as free, accessible, and ubiquitous high-speed wireless networks begin to organically blanket the North American continent within the next 15 or 20 years, and also the rest of the globe within 50 years. Continuing advances in wireless networking technology makes it a sure bet that this will happen. These networks will be maintained as a public utility, and regulated only by local and regional community technicians and benefactors, thereby eliminating telecoms such as SBC/AT&T and Comcast once and for all. Finally, the true vision of free speech will be realized as seamless, obstacle-free distribution networks deliver content from its sources to a global audience. Such a network will obviate most concerns about government wiretapping, since most communications will occur without bottlenecks or major backbones. Eliminating single points of large bandwidth usage will remove the ability of the spy agencies to route large amounts of communication traffic from single sources.

6. No more government-sponsored resource mongering (imperialism)
Because energy will become a non-issue, governments around the world will be able to shift attention away from internal economic problems caused by diminishing resources and focus more on forward thinking policies and technological advancements brought about by open collaboration with multi-national coalitions and government sponsored partnered entities.

7. Space travel
Fast. And soon. Within the next thirty years.

8. World peace
Without strain on population for competition for scarce resources such as energy sources for the industries of developing nations, there will be little to no political wrangling for power or military action required between nations.

9. True free markets
When information and energy becomes completely free, the markets for goods and services will also become completely free. This is because no market is truly free without the complete freedom of information. When all buyers instantaneously know the real-time value of any good and service, then all sellers must sell at that price, or else lose the sale because of a failure to meet the price agreed upon by the market. However, this is not how the markets currently work. Normally, buyers bet blindly at prices, without conferring amongst themselves. The markets rely very nearly solely upon speculative pricing. This speculative pricing engaged in by buyers only gives sellers and producers an advantage because they control the quantities of goods produced based on an unbalanced mixture of speculation on market demand and just shear capriciousness. When resources become a function of free energy, the only true product will be the quality of a given product's design and its execution. Because of a mutual understanding of all options for a particular product, its price will be clearly determinable by purchasers in the marketplace. Energy sums per product will no longer be a factor. Instead, only time, thought, and (in rare cases) rare, non-recyclable materials will be considered as contributing to the actual value of a product. Barrier-to-entry into a market will be as thin or as thick as the challenge to compete against other designs, conceptions, and implementations of a given product.

10. No more hunger
With unlimited energy at our fingertips, the developed world will be able to manufacture and transport all the modern equipment necessary for industrialized agricultural in regions of the world where food is scarce and at famine levels of unavailability. Nowhere will water be scarce or limited -- ocean desalinization will be cheap and easy without energy restrictions.

11. Destabilization of Earth's electromagnetic sphere
Instability of Earth's electromagnetic sphere will cause problems for long distance communication using signals transmitted over radio spectrum. However, the global network of broadband short-access wireless networking will make the problem moot. Unfortunately, many thousands of people will die from cancer due to the increased ultraviolet radiation from the Sun that the weakened electromagnetic sphere will allow to penetrate to the Earth's surface. Thankfully, all types of cancer will be cured within five years of its worst outbreak among the global population. That's what happens when a global killer comes along and begins to kill indiscriminately and widely. When rich people start dying early for no reason, cures are discovered.

12. Global population stabilization
Global population will go through some severe fluctuations on its course to stabilizing at around 11 billion people, and while this will cause severe heartache for individuals worldwide and leave a psychological and emotional imprint on our cultural consciousness which will be remembered in our history books and stories passed down throughout the generations for centuries to follow, the overall standard of living for all peoples in all nations will improve, and human atrocities and suffering will be reduced and practically eliminated, even during the most traumatic periods of our civilization's growing pains. Why? Because of free, ubiquitous, real time information distribution and communication, when the entire world witnesses their own families dying at the same time as the families of those in other parts of the world dying from causes outside of anyone's control, we will become that much closer to each other, despite our cultural differences and the illusion of national boundaries. We will unite against the prevailing forces that thwart our survival.

13. No man-made apocalypse
Nuclear war will never erupt between any nations, because political and militaristic posturing, manipulation, and confrontation will all cease to be tools of national entities, due to the fact that energy is no longer a commodity, and complete land reclamation and restoration from desert regions and polluted areas is commonplace.

Why I am so optimistic about our future?

I believe that stress on a population causes characteristics to emerge which make the population at large more effective at survival. Continued future stress on the ever growing human civilization will force innovation and adaptation the likes of which we have never seen or imagined before. People are capable of great things, and will do great things, if they are done right. All it takes is a balance of careful, metered trust in the genius of inventors and innovators, determination, spirit and will. I believe that these things will win out over corruption, greed, and apathy. They have to. Corrupt, greedy and apathetic individuals will get naturally selected out of the gene pool, leaving the rest of us to become careful, caring, clever and conscionable stewards of our planet and solar system.

If these things don't happen, well, who cares? We will just go extinct. And one doesn't worry much about dying when one is dead.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Auto-add music to iTunes playlist

A macrumors newbie going by "wholesaledaddy" outlined the following steps for automatically adding new music files to an iTunes library playlist:
1) Open automator. It should be on your dock or in your applications folder. It think it's pre-installed on all osx macs.
2) On the first screen keep the selection on "custom" and hit the "choose" button.
3) In the left hand column under "Library" select "Files and Folders"
4) In the next column double-click "Get Specified Finder items"
5) A "Get Specified Finder Items" pane should open on the main screen.
6) Click the "Add" button on this screen and select the folder that you download music into
7) Now from the second column from the left double-click on the "Get Folder Contents" action.
8) I wouldn't click on the "Repeat for all each subfolder found" checkbox unless you want all the subfolders to be put into the same permanent folder.
9) Now on the left-most column click on "music" then in the next column dobule-click on "Import Files into iTunes"
10) On this action pane you can adjust the settings to have the selected music files put into whatever playlist you want
11) Almost done. Now you need to create a folder where these imported songs can be moved to so they will not be imported again. This can be a subfolder of the folder you just imported music from or anywhere else you want to store your songs.
12) In the leftmost column click on "Files and Folders" then in the next column click on "Move Finder Items"
13) In this pane select the new folder you just created
14) Now simply save this series of steps that you have created (which is called a "workflow" file). Go to file and click save-as. Note: I created a separate "automator workflows" folder in Music to store these files
It would be nice to attach this work-flow to a "download" action in your primary web browser, and then monitor a list of folders or directories to which you commonly download music files. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to do this.

Instead, you will have to attach this task to each folder that you want to monitor. In order to do that, you should first make sure that the first step of the Automator work-flow monitors only the folder to which you will be attaching the work-flow.

See that first step? There is only one folder being watched. The work-flow has been named so that it is specific to the folder on which it will be operating, in this case "Add Music (tmp).workflow".

To get this work-flow attached to the folder that will "catch" all your new music files, just follow these steps:
  1. With the work-flow opened in the Automator application, choose "Save As Plug-in..." from the File menu.
  2. In the "Save Plug-in As:" field, enter the name of your work-flow.
  3. The "Plug-in for:" selector should currently be "Finder". Choose "Folder Actions" instead. A new "Attached to Folder:" selector will appear.
  4. Choose "Other..." and select your special folder that will be catching your new music files.
  5. Click the Save button.
  6. Done!
Here's the part that sucks that the "It would be nice" stuff would take care of: You will have to redo all 20 of these steps for each folder that you want to monitor. For instance, it would be nice to monitor three different folders: a special music downloads folder, the Desktop, and the Downloads folder. That's 60 steps. Lame.

Once again, an example of how shitty iTunes really is, and why everytime I hear someone parroting the stupid Apple marketing catch-phrase, "Macs just work, you know?" I want to slap them in the face with a large trout.

Apple fan-boys will no doubt palliate and gloze for Apple and iTunes, "Well, why are you downloading music from sources other than the iTunes Store??" To them I say, "Shut your pie hole. It's a computer. I write software for a living. A COMPUTER SHOULD JUST DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT IT TO DO."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What the f--- it's Tuesday

Generally speaking, I'm feeling good. I've pretty much wrapped up a project at work with three other programmers and annoying QA defects are just barely trickling in. Most is quiet on the UAT front, and release is coming up next Monday after code freezing Thursday.

I've been able to get my hands on tons of good new music lately because my rental car has XM satellite radio, and I have been keeping track of all the songs I like by jotting them down on a pad of paper on the ample arm rest. Looking those songs and musicians up on google and hypem.com have delivered an astounding crop of new-to-me music blogs and enough mp3s for days.

Cooking has been on my agenda again lately, so I've never been hungry. I've been running at least three to four miles a week and that means so has Flora. I quit smoking after Coachella so running has been getting gradually easier day by day as my lungs slowly recover. There's really no comparison at any other time in my life to how out of shape I've been. Getting out of this wretched malaise has been like pulling teeth every step of the way through quicksand.

As you already know, Michael Jackson died this week. To be honest, I never really cared for his music because I was completely prejudiced against it by his personal defects. Although, I will say that I have always enjoyed listening to Thriller and Billie Jean.

Now that he is dead, and no longer allegedly assaulting children (or the suppressed but still highly influential Presbyterian sensibilities intensely cultivated in my youth that have retarded my social capabilities) I am somehow more willing to give his music a chance. How pathetic is that? However pathetic it is or isn't, my spirit has been lifted up by such tunes as PYT, Butterflies and remixes of Billie Jean.

Sunday, I watched the movie Walk The Line for the first time and I really enjoyed it. I've always liked Johnny Cash, and was sad when he passed away in 2003, but I never knew what a troubled person he was until June helped him turn it all around. The movie may have taken liberties with the biographical facts, but it made me wonder what could have been if Elvis had someone in his life like June Carter -- someone strong and willful, seemingly so full of self-respect and dignity -- instead of his wife, Priscilla. It made me wonder about Michael, too. What if?

God bless Michael Jackson.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jenny Lewis at Stubb's Monday, June 22, 2009

Here's a YouTube playlist of some videos I recorded of the Jenny Lewis show I went to last Monday. It was a really good show.

This playlist doesn't include some of the very best songs of the set, because I was too busy enjoying them without a camera in front of my face.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Valerie Plame" by The Decemberists (just so I don't forget)

The song "Valerie Plame" by The Decemberists from way back in 2008 makes me grin everytime.

The lyrics are priceless.

[ mp3 ]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

She's Keeping Two Chevrons Apart

I always wondered what this song meant. I mean, I always pretty much knew, but now I really know.


[ mp3 ]

Monday, June 15, 2009

P J Harvey

Back in March I decided to take the day off and drive up to Austin on the Friday of SXSW, and again that Saturday.

Friday I went to see Matt Ward play at La Zona Rosa, but Saturday I had no idea who I was going to see. So after getting a drink with a friend of mine at the Omni hotel bar, I wandered around Austin looking for places that looked like they might have a good show.

I wound up at Stubb's waiting in line to buy tickets to a show in 90 degree heat at 5:00 pm. I didn't know who was playing there.

Her.


Here's one of my favorites of her songs from one of her first albums, To Bring You My Love, "Teclo":

[ mp3, mp3 ]

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fur

My sister Anna has written a paper about the conflict in Darfur for one of her classes at university. It's a good read and makes a couple of excellent points -- like how people are using the Internet in several different ways to try to help the Darfuris, and how this sort of broad support from otherwise non-grouped individuals is unprecedented with respect to these kinds of ongoing atrocities.

[ Link ]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

can't activate rails (= 2.2.2, runtime)

Is your computer being uncooperative when you try to run rake or some other ruby or rails software?
$rake
rake aborted!
can't activate rails (= 2.2.2, runtime), already activated rails-2.3.2
From my experience, this probably means that you have installed other versions of rails or some other conflicting gems in your local gem repository (~/.gem).

How did this happen? Well, you probably installed those gems without using the sudo command.

When you install ruby gems as a user without root or admin privileges, ruby will warn you that you are not installing those gems for the entire system.
WARNING: Installing to ~/.gem since /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8 and
/usr/bin aren't both writable.
WARNING: You don't have /Users/nels.nelson/.gem/ruby/1.8/bin in your PATH,
gem executables will not run.
Don't worry -- you can recover from this misstep. Those locally installed gems will probably interfere with gems that have been installed system-wide. No problem.

Remove them!
$rm -rf ~/.gem/ruby/*/cache/*
$rm -rf ~/.gem/ruby/*/doc/*
$rm -rf ~/.gem/ruby/*/gems/*
$rm -rf ~/.gem/ruby/*/specifications/*
BUT WAIT!!

Don't just delete stuff because you are told to. Examine those directories, and make sure that you have already installed those gems for the entire system. If not you will have to reinstall them for the entire system if you still need to, and if you have admin privileges (you can use the sudo command).
$sudo gem install <your gem>
Now that you have removed those gems from your user-local gem repository, you should be able to actually reinstall them. This means that you should make a list of what you had previously installed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lovin's For Fools


Justin Vernon, or Bon Iver, often plays a very pretty cover of "Lovin's For Fools" by Sarah Siskind.

Here he gets together with Bill Frisell and Sarah Siskind herself to sing it. Enjoy.

[ via Ghost Electricity ]

Friday, May 22, 2009

12 free songs from Amazon.com (The Free Mixtape)


Several record labels are using Amazon.com to give their sampler albums away. That's right, free mp3s. No DRM. No pirating. No guilt. And the best part? You can pick and choose which individual songs to download from the sampler album. So, unless you already have that Vaselines song, why not download it? Just click. It doesn't get freer and easier than that.

My playlist:
SongArtistRecord Label
1.Hurt FeelingsFlight Of The ConchordsSub Pop
2.Son of a GunVaselinesSub Pop
3.FurrBlitzen TrapperSub Pop
4.MykonosFleet FoxesSub Pop
5.Belated Promise RingIron & WineSub Pop
6.People Got A Lotta NerveNeko CaseAnti
7.Ghosts Under RocksRa Ra RiotBarsuk
8.My Only OfferMates Of StateBarsuk
9.For What ReasonDeath Cab For CutieBarsuk
10.Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh OhSay HiBarsuk
11.When Planets CollideViva VoceBarsuk
12.PushoverThe Long WintersBarsuk
[ playlist.m3u ]

It's like a label promoter person standing outside a music show and handing out CDs to fans, except in cyberspace.

If you've never downloaded music from Amazon.com before, you're in for a treat. Amazon has a music downloading software application (for any operating system), which automatically downloads purchased music for you, and puts in your music folder or loads it into iTunes.

[ Link ]

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Currently listening to...


...This cool live version of Portishead's "Sour Times".

Also, check out this video of a live performance by Portishead of their song "Only You". I don't think I can express how good this is. I must have listened to this song a thousand times after it came out when I was 19. The song is complex, yet simple. It is understated, and yet Beth's lyrics get stuck in my throat just thinking them in my head because they're just that dramatic. This tune makes me want to hug people I don't know and cry because jazz is so beautiful and darkness is so soothing.

[ mp3 ]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jenny Lewis at Coachella 2009

Here's a little video I took on my Canon PowerShot SD790 IS digital camera at Coachella on Saturday night.

I &hearts Jenny Lewis.

The songs are "Silver Lining" (a Rilo Kiley song) and the title track from her latest solo album, Acid Tongue.

[ YouTube Link ]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Are you ready for the Rapture?

Did you know that the global climate is warming?

Well, today's Rapture index (166 and rising) is really high. So in terms of a spiritual global climate our planet is practically boiling!

The Rapture Index is a useful and extraordinarily accurate aggregation of all the factors that prophetically contribute to the likelihood that the Rapture will occur today (or pretty soon).

Hosted at RaptureReady.com, the Rapture Index is apparently put together by Todd Strandberg, the website's creator.

There are 45 categories used to calculate the Rapture Index. My favorite category that is considered to be directly contributing to the Rapture is probably "Liberalism". The site defines this category this way:
29. Liberalism
It's not just a part of the Democrat Party. liberalism is what could be called the "true conspiracy." Liberal media are 100 percent controlled by the forces that bow to humanistic ideology. [sic]
Liberalism is currently at a 4. I guess that's sort of like condition orange.

My analogy isn't very original though. Mollie Ziegler over at GetReligion.org used Department of Homeland Security's chart to illustrate her Rapture article way back in 2007.

Just in case you aren't paying attention to the index and you find that you have forgotten your Rapture Umbrella when it arrives, here's what to do:
If you're a wussy unbeliever, and you don't think you'll be able to control your bowel movements during the impending Rapture, you can stop worrying. The folks over at Tribulation Central have got you covered -- with Rapture Adult Diapers as well as other Rapture preparedness items.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ginobili not flopping well

At this point, I'm lucky if I'm getting 8 on a good flop. My wailing is good, but I need to be hitting the floor a lot harder

[ Link ]

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ben Folds

Uh, way back in 2005, Ben Folds released a cover version of Bitches Ain't Shit by Dr. Dre which reached #71 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Here it is for your listening pleasure.


Seriously though, women, like all people, should be respected, honored and cherished. But everybody knows bitches can't hang with the muther fucking streets.

[ More Folds ]

How do you cook Brussel sprouts?

I steam them.

Get a pot full of boiling water and throw them in one of those colander thingies.

But I cut off the bottoms, first.

After I steam them for about nine or ten minutes (I like 'em tender), I will salt them with finely ground sea or kosher salt (with kosher salt you can just pinch the crystals between your thumb and finger to get a salty powder) and serve 'em.

Or, once they're steamed a bit you can throw them in a pan and saute on medium-high (5-7) for a couple minutes with a tablespoon (a slice or two) of butter, or a little bit of olive oil (butter is better for Brussels sprouts).

That's it.

Oh, you can also steam them in a pan. Take any old saute pan with a half cup of water or so and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low-medium (2-4) and throw the sprouts into the pan. Cover the pan with a lid, and let them sit there for five minutes or until they're bright green.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Unicode fonts and the symbols they contain









Can you see that character? If you can, it's because you are using a font in the sans-serif font-family that supports unicode to display this text. Check out all the other awesome unicode symbols. Evil Chuck said that I should try to make the css do its best to get your browser to use a unicode-compliant font somehow. Hopefully, I'll get around to that soon.

Until then, make sure you have a unicode-compliant font like Helvetica installed and rock that link. It seems that the variety of characters are endless. Helvetica appears to contain the entire Chinese caligraphy word list.

[ Link ]

Monday, March 23, 2009

M. Ward: "Medley: Rag/Duet for Guitars #3"

Watching M. Ward play at the SXSW La Zona Rosa party on Friday was a real treat. This must make it like, the 3rd or 4th time I've seen him play, and he just keeps getting better and better.

Even though it was a small set, all the songs he played were ones I count in my favorites of his. Which of his many instrumental songs he started with, I cannot remember, but he seems to like to get straight to it in his solo live shows and his albums. Here's a solid example of one of his original instrumental songs:


Watch him play his song "One Hundred Million Years" off his new album Hold Time live at SXSW, must've been Thursday at Auditorium Shores Stage (Lady Bird Lake).


Update: It looks like he started out that La Zona set with "Duet for Guitars #3" after all. Somebody who must have been standing five feet away from me got an excellent video. Makes me wish I had smuggled my camera in.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Conan O'Brien's favorite clip from Late Night


Laughing that hard makes me get a little teary-eyed.
[ via //beconfused ]

Infant gangster clothing line

Do you want your brat to look like a little hood rat gangster from LA? Here ya go.

[Aw ain't he cute?]
Why anybody would put so much Adobe Macromedia Flash behind a store for a toddler clothing line to make your kid look like a Yakuza is beyond me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Red Video

Red Digital is a camera maker that specializes in high quality professional cameras. In 2007 they released their camera, Red One which is capable of recording at resolutions up to 2048 horizontal by 1152 vertical pixels at 120 frames per second, directly to flash or hard disk.

Here's an example of some of the video that can be recorded using the camera. The footage is slowed down and the effect along with music by the Icelandic band Bang Gang is pretty hypnotizing.

skate - shot on red #1347 - 120 fps from www.theglobules.com on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A mysterious inscription in Lincoln's watch

This is pretty much the most popular story on NPR.com right now so I'm sure most of you have already heard about this. Here it is though, just in case you haven't.

President Lincoln was given a pocket watch and it broke soon after his election. He took it to a watchmaker to have it repaired and the rest, as they say, is history.
Did a repairman really engrave a secret message on Abraham Lincoln's watch the day the Civil War began?

That's what watchmaker Jonathan Dillon told his family in the late 19th century. He claimed he was working in a posh jewelry store in Washington, D.C., in April 1861, just after Lincoln was elected. And he was assigned to fix the president's beloved gold pocket watch — reportedly the first watch the humble Lincoln had ever owned.
I was listening to this story on the radio last night, in which a descendant of the watchmaker narrated his opening of the famous watch, and settled the mystery once and for all. I thought that was so cool, even though I'd never before heard of this watch or the mystery surrounding it.

This morning I noticed the same story on the Times' website so I figured NPR must have the audio on their website. Sure enough, there it was. Check out the NPR audio story about Lincoln's watch.

And then mosey on over to the New York Times and their check out their story on Lincoln's watch too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No wonder I keep seeing Jesus in my toast

Middle-aged? Working a lot? British?

You're probably a going a little bit fruit-loops, according to The Telegraph in an article about a study of middle-aged over-achievers in Britain.
Extreme tiredness and stress could be as bad for the brain as smoking, according to the study.

As bad as smoking maybe, but there's no second hand smoke when you're working too hard -- unless you have this job.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Dinner with a stranger story

Here is an interesting little picture story about a fellow who invited himself to dinner in exchange for the promise to donate $200 to charity.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Kutiman Thru-You playlist on YouTube

Kutiman's website is so popular right now that none of my friends are actually getting to see the videos. Update: So Kutiman is posting them all on his YouTube at this very moment.

Here's a playlist of all the music videos for Kutiman's Thru-You project:


Track 5 is my favorite because the girl Kutiman samples vocals from, Sarah, has such a beautiful tone to her voice, and her original song is actually pretty damn good. Track 3 - I'm New features perhaps the coolest freestyle rap I have seen in a long time.

[ via #coredevs, btw, ftw! ]

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Kutiman mixes YouTube

Kutiman mixes YouTube



There have been many amazing videos on YouTube that use video mixing to produce awesome results, like this acapella video mix cover of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" by François Macré.

Not quite the same thing, but still amusing is the Family Guy sketch, "The Four Peters".


But Kutiman simply takes the cake by composing original songs using actual YouTube videos for audio/visual samples. Wow. Wow!

[ Link ]