Friday, December 31, 2004

 

I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand.

Once again, Kim DuToit hits a home run with his commentary. This one brought up an interesting memory from a couple of years ago. A Muslim co-worker's mother passed away and he had to take a couple of months leave of absence to attend to things in the Old Country with his father (he comes from a large family and apparently there were minor siblings). The natural impulse I have when a friend or co-worker goes through such an event is to offer to help in any way (which of course given that the event occurred in the Old Country, was an impossibility), or at least to comfort the family, usually sending lots of food to the house where the mourners live. I inquired with another Muslim co-worker from the same country if such a thing was appropriate or permissible (never mind possible), and his advice was that it would just be better to make a charitable contribution in the woman's memory. He suggested a particular Islamic charity. I felt chilled to the bone after that conversation.

Kim's readers always contribute incisive comments. This one from Acegarp is a particular favorite:

Our taxes are not supposed to provide welfare for other countries. I don't even like them being used for welfare in THIS country.

Damn straight.

On a much less somber note, I had the opportunity to visit a high-end guitar boutique with my good friend and bandmate yesterday. A seriously cool selection of high-end R5 and R9 top Les Pauls, but my Beatle obsession took over. There was a spanking new Gretsch 6122SP hanging on the wall, and I decided to give it a whirl. Damn, that axe played wonderfully. Beautfiul neck on it, tell the truth, way better than most original examples I've played. The build quality was awesome. Due to time constraints, we really only had about 45 minutes to check things out at the shop, but this place was an absolute pleasure to visit. Guitars only, no pro audio and the like, and very few low-end pieces cluttering up the joint, mostly primo stuff. Great amp selection, and very helpful staff. It's about 75 minutes or so from me, well worth the trip. The only big problem is that playing that Gretsch has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into my Les Paul plans. To quote Bugs Bunny, "If I dood it, i det a whippin". One I can get away with. Two, well, we don't have a doghouse, but the shed in the back yard might serve as an impromptu substitute. Decisions, decisions.....

Finally got around to listening to the new U2 "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" last night. I don't care for "Vertigo" at all as a single, but the rest of the album is in the U2 comfort zone, typical chimy delayed guitars and the like. Decent songs, nothing hugely grabs me yet.

I also watched about half of Glass Hammer's "Lex Live" DVD. I'll post a more detailed review over the weekend, but first take is that it's not bad, but not really extraordinary in the prog vein. The songs reminded me a lot of Yes, with a lot of Keith Emerson-like keyboard parts. The sound mix wasn't great. The background singers could barely be heard over the band and even the band's lead vocals weren't mixed high enough for a good portion of what I heard. Very good chops indeed instrumentally, but nothing hugely original enough that's made enough of an impression yet.

To everyone, my best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

 

The New Toy

It's a Rogue electric sitar, by way of Musician's Friend. They cut the price to $299, and since it's the Kwanzaa season :-) I decided to pull the trigger. As much as the Jerry Jones is a fine instrument, plunking down $650 or more (about the best online price I could find was Ed Roman's) just wasn't in the cards for what's basically a one-trick pony. It immediately has application for me with the band, as we're doing Paint It Black, and I wouldn't mind getting Steely Dan's Do It Again into the set. The big positives about it are that the build quality is quite good, perhaps not at the level of the Jerry Jones, but certainly within the ballpark. The sound, well, it sounds like your average Coral or Jerry Jones sitar, with the only big caveat being the pickups have a pretty low output. I'm sure there are lipstick replacement pickups out there, so I might replace them eventually, but I think a compressor will do nicely to fix the output level in the interim.

The negatives? The pickguard is in an awkward place, and interferes with playing a bit. It's probably just me, and I'll see if I get over it as I get used to this beast. The drone string tuning is a big PITA. I suppose the drone string tuning is why Jerry Jones came out with their new Supreme Sitar (the one that looks like it has a mandolin neck grafted onto the standard Master Sitar), but the Rogue has the same types of wrench-adjusted pegs for the drones as the Coral and Jerry Jones archetypes (visualize piano tuning pegs and you get the idea). Tuning them is an interesting exercise in frustration. A gentleman I very much respect suggested tuning the drone strings chromatically, longest drone string tuned in unison with the Open E on the guitar, then up the full octave. The problem with this is that the wrench adjustment is a bit tough to nail the tuning exactly; I found that either I was extremely flat (> 60 cents below) or fairly sharp (30-40 cents above) the note I was trying to tune to. Again, I've only played with this thing for a couple of hours, and it might just require a more experienced hand (I'd rather tune the drones to this tuning than to the factory-suggested tuning, which is an octave higher; the last thing I want to do is replace the drones until they absolutely need it. Restringing the drones looks like an exercise in frustration on the part of the one you get restringing a Rickenbacker 12-string with the 'R' tailpiece). This thing doesn't really resonate all that much, at least at bedroom volumes on my tiny Fender practice amp. I'll try cranking it a bit today or tomorrow and seeing if I get any good resonant effects from the drones.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

 

Yet another reason why the Sulzberger Entity is clueless and vile

The title of Sontag's obituary speaks volumes about the Times' perception of the vile creature who made a mockery of 9/11 - "Susan Sontag, Social Critic With Verve, Dies at 71". Verve. To me, "Verve" is the great jazz label of Stan Getz and Wes Montgomery (OK, OK, I know the Riverside sides were better, no flames please). It's five pages of HTML on their site, so it's probably a good chunk of a page in the dead tree edition, if not a full page. A few interesting tidbits in there, like how she championed Leni Riefenstahl (the interesting thing about lefties is that they fail to recognize the circular nature of politics, so the further they drift left, they come right back out again somewhere in the vicinity of Martin Bormann).

Interestingly enough, it appears that the new toy will in fact arrive today. Despite being in some indeterminate location at 6am after leaving Louisville at 4am, the latest tracking info shows that it popped up at 8:30 at my local UPS office and is on the truck out for delivery as I write this.

 

Early morning blues and greens

Ein kleines schadenfreude this AM, as that idiot Susan Sontag has assumed room temperature. The likes of her and Chomsky make me ill with their idiotic deconstruction of all that's good about the US. And undoubtedly the media will crow about what an incisive commentator she was, for utterances such as "The white race is the cancer of human history."

And regarding 9/11 (in The New Yorker, of course) :

"Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a `cowardly' attack on `civilization' or `liberty' or `humanity' or `the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?""In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards."

Minor car trouble this AM, so it's off to supplicate to that most beastly of creatures, the Service Writer. Were this my first car, a 1970 massive GM boat, I would've had this thing fixed in a matter of minutes, however, taking a fast look under the hood indicates that some disassembly is required, and basically, other than topping up fluids, I dread doing any work on my cars given the miniscule elbow room and the invariably over-torqued bolts. On that first car, I remember replacing everything from the thermostat to the transmission modulator myself. Great car, unfortunately got rear-ended and it wasn't cost-effective to fix. Sometimes I think that people getting driver's licenses should be required to have cars like that and learn how to handle minor maintenance themselves. Then again, it's all about improving that ongoing revenue stream, eh? And that results in us begging the Service Writer for a quick slot-in. I'd take it to the local gas station to fix, but then I get the dirty look from him why I don't bring the car in for things like oil changes and such, and maybe, if I'm lucky, he'll do it right.

Back in the pre-kids days, the local gas station was my first-line choice for fixing my sports car, which the last year before I got rid of it for a sensible parent's car, had an unbelievable array of electrical and engine problems. The local dealer for that marque was singularly uninterested in working with me, hence I chose the gas station. Unfortunately, said local gas station had the local version of Motti, i.e. "What do you care if it's fixed, the car runs, doesn't it?". Very confidence inspiring. Reminded me of a road trip we'd taken up to Vermont way back in the early 80s for a week to go skiing, with my first car. Unfortunately, the car started acting up, and having no tools handy (I had four friends driving up with me and the car was packed with luggage and skis, so something had to give; I know, dumb move) I ended up taking the car over to the local gas station to be checked out. I knew I was really in trouble when I saw the mechanic, a guy who looked like D-Day from Animal House, but with a sort of mullet, and a very distinctive, vaguely scatalogical nickname emblazoned upon his overalls. Ordinarily that wouldn't faze me in the least, however, there were several letters from dissatisfied customers posted on the station office's walls with specific complaints directed at "D-Day" for not only technical incompetence, but poor customer relations, as we say in the trade. Fortunately, the gentleman in question only kept me waiting for five hours and charged me a mere sixty bucks for what was undoubtedly a minor adjustment. Car worked fine after that, except he did something to the temperature sending unit and I ended up driving home with both the cold engine and overheating indicator glowing brightly.

New toy is supposed to arrive later today, however, looking at UPS' tracking info, I'm not so sure. Anyone answer a stupid question here? Why, if a package is coming to the northern NYC burbs, and it's located in Philly, would UPS send it to Louisville, Kentucky? And of course, since it left Louisville at 4:11am today, it's now somewhere indeterminate, but being scanned?

Dec 29, 2004 6:10 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
5:54 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
4:11 A.M. LOUISVILLE, KY, US DEPARTURE SCAN
Dec 28, 2004 11:47 P.M. LOUISVILLE, KY, US ARRIVAL SCAN
9:49 P.M. PHILADELPHIA, PA, US DEPARTURE SCAN
5:48 P.M. PHILADELPHIA, PA, US ARRIVAL SCAN
2:30 P.M. DES MOINES, IA, US DEPARTURE SCAN
4:05 A.M. DES MOINES, IA, US ARRIVAL SCAN
2:50 A.M. DES MOINES, IA, US DEPARTURE SCAN
1:21 A.M. DES MOINES, IA, US ARRIVAL SCAN
Dec 27, 2004 9:54 P.M. KANSAS CITY, KS, US DEPARTURE SCAN
8:22 P.M. US BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED
5:20 P.M. KANSAS CITY, KS, US ORIGIN SCAN

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

 

Rolling Stone Nonsense

I suppose that my venom has been somewhat transmuted due to holiday cheer, at least as of this moment, however, sufficient spleen and bile will be reserved for next week. A new toy arrives tomorrow, and there will be at least a quickie report on it on Thursday (so please bear with me as it probably won't post till later in the day; potential exists for a field trip on Thursday with a good friend to check out other toys, so there may be additional pithy commentary added to said report).

Blogcritics points us to Rolling Stone's opinion of who are the 100 best guitarists of all time. The list is reproduced here, along with the expected trenchant comment (those deserving of trenchant comment will be noted in italics, since I'm too lazy to do any fancy formatting at the moment):

1 Jimi Hendrix
2 Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band
3 B.B. King
4 Eric Clapton

No disagreements here, save rankings.

5 Robert Johnson

Important historical figure, but lacks the technical chops.

6 Chuck Berry
7 Stevie Ray Vaughan

No disagreements here, save rankings.

8 Ry Cooder

Great chops, but thoroughly boring


9 Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
10 Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones

No disagreements here, save rankings.

11Kirk Hammett of Metallica
12 Kurt Cobain of Nirvana

No fucking way.

13 Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead

Boring.

14 Jeff Beck
15 Carlos Santana

No disagreements here, save rankings.

16 Johnny Ramone of the Ramones
17 Jack White of the White Stripes
18 John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

No fucking way.

19 Richard Thompson
20 James Burton
21 George Harrison
22 Mike Bloomfield
23 Warren Haynes
24 The Edge of U2
25 Freddy King

No disagreements here, save rankings.

26 Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave

No fucking way
.

27 Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits

No disagreements here, save rankings.

28 Stephen Stills
29 Ron Asheton of the Stooges

Are they kidding?


30 Buddy Guy
31 Dick Dale
32 John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service

No disagreements here, save rankings.

33 & 34 Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth

Boring.

35 John Fahey
36 Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MG's
37 Bo Diddley
38 Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac
39 Brian May of Queen
40 John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival
41 Clarence White of the Byrds
42 Robert Fripp of King Crimson

No disagreements here, save rankings.

43 Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic

Unfortunately I don't know his work well enough, but a great R&B rhythm player is always a pleasure to listen to. Give him a provisional pass.

44 Scotty Moore
45 Frank Zappa
46 Les Paul
47 T-Bone Walker
48 Joe Perry of Aerosmith
49 John McLaughlin
50 Pete Townshend
51 Paul Kossoff of Free
52 Lou Reed
53 Mickey Baker
54 Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane
55 Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple

No disagreements here, save rankings.

56 Tom Verlaine of Television

Nope. No way
.

57 Roy Buchanan
58 Dickey Betts

No disagreements here, save rankings.

59 & 60 Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien of Radiohead

Next victims, please
.

61 Ike Turner

Historically important as a songwriter, performer and wife beater, yes. Not important as a guitar player.


62 Zoot Horn Rollo of the Magic Band
63 Danny Gatton
64 Mick Ronson
65 Hubert Sumlin
66 Vernon Reid of Living Colour
67 Link Wray

No disagreements here, save rankings.

68 Jerry Miller of Moby Grape

Thank you for playing, and there'll be some lovely parting gifts for you
.

69 Steve Howe of Yes
70 Eddie Van Halen
71 Lightnin' Hopkins

No disagreements here, save rankings.

72 Joni Mitchell
73 Trey Anastasio of Phish

As far as Joni goes, great songwriter, but not from the guitar legends. Trey? Boring.

74 Johnny Winter

No disagreements here, save rankings.

75 Adam Jones of Tool
76 Ali Farka Toure
77 Henry Vestine of Canned Heat

Next!


78 Robbie Robertson of the Band

No disagreements here, save rankings.

79 Cliff Gallup of the Blue Caps

Be-Bop-A-Lu-La, then what?

80 Robert Quine of the Voidoids

Must've been reading the Village Voice too often


81 Derek Trucks
82 David Gilmour of Pink Floyd
83 Neil Young
84 Eddie Cochran
85 Randy Rhoads
86 Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath

No disagreements here, save rankings. Interesting that Rhoads and Iommi came in so close together. I well remember the Randy Rhoads cult that Guitar Player fostered during his brief career.

87 Joan Jett

Joanie, we love ya, but as an important guitarist?


88 Dave Davies of the Kinks

No disagreements here, save rankings.

89 D. Boon of the Minutemen

Who?

90 Glen Buxton of Alice Cooper

Mneh.

91 Robby Krieger of the Doors
92 & 93 Fred "Sonic" Smith, Wayne Kramer of the MC5
94 Bert Jansch

No disagreements here, save rankings.

95 Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine

Nope.

96 Angus Young of AC/DC
97 Robert Randolph
98 Leigh Stephens of Blue Cheer

No disagreements here, save rankings.

99 Greg Ginn of Black Flag
100 Kim Thayil of Soundgarden


Where do we keep those lovely parting gifts?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

 

Merry Christmas

My best wishes to everyone for the Merriest of Christmases, may you and your loved ones enjoy the blessings of this holiday season, with good health and happiness for all.

I'll be taking a few days off to rest and recharge. See you on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Friday, December 24, 2004

 

Yes Virginia, There Is A Festivus

From the Sulzberger Entity.

 

I rant, therefore I am

The Honeypot Project claims that an unpatched Linux box connected directly to the Internet will last "several months" before being compromised. The PDF summarizing the data can be found here. Like the project researchers, I'm more amazed that the Solaris boxes (8 and 9) were compromised than the older Red Hat distros, but I was glad to see that SuSE hadn't been compromised. I was also pleased to see that Fedora hadn't been cracked, which given its end-user orientation might've had more avenues open for infection. I would've liked to have seen more detail on their methodology, which the article and PDF implies default installations for all the distros, but the overall question it raises is that is this merely because of a lower perceived value of the boxes to the criminals out there, or is it in fact a better inherent security model?

 

Yeah, I'm A Rockist And Darned Proud Of It

I happened to notice this article on Blogcritics by virtue of its title, the bling bling spelling of the Stones title intriguing me. As soon as I saw the Sulzberger entity mentioned in my first cursory glance of the article (it happened to catch my eye immediately, even though it's toward the middle of the article) my interest was piqued, as most music criticism offered by that less-than-august rag (with the notable exception of Allan Kozinn) is on a par with the dross proffered by its editorial page. The quote which got me was the definition of a "rockist" -
“favoritism toward traditional rock & roll over producer-driven genres like disco, rhythm-and-blues, and hip-hop”

which was actually published in a correction, of all things. This is of course an interesting comment, as of course in the greater context of the article it makes hay of those who accuse us "rockists" of every deadly sin in the politically correct playbook (e.g. racism, homophobia).

I would venture a guess that most "rockists" hold traditional African American music in far higher esteem than most young people who fit that ethnic description. Most "rockists" can quote chapter and verse about Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, B.B., Albert and Freddie King, not to mention the great R&B singers like Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Most "rockists" are incredibly supportive of African American musicians who carry on the tradition, the Robert Crays, Vernon Reids and the Robert Randolphs. So why the hell are we being treated by the music press as if we were on the short list for indictments at Nuremberg?

Quoth a moron at the Village Voice, a paper which has degenerated even from its historic lows to utter drivel:
"...Every single time someone plays the ‘real musician’ card, they're wrong. They're ideologically hobbled and behind the times. They're attacking remarkable music, and defending shit because it replicates the rockist aesthetics that trace back to Clapton Is God etc… You think you're a noncombatant, but in the aesthetic marketplace there's no such thing; if you're buying Alicia (Keys) and Norah, you're buying into the avatars of an utterly perjured and reactionary position. You're holding back the ears, and it won't work. History will judge you harshly.”

Without a doubt, this sounds so much like Marxist polemic (not to mention sheer nonsense) that it would be unworthy of comment however, since I'm fond of fisking idiots like this I suppose that I can't resist. I would hardly consider Ms. Keys and Ms. Jones examples of contemporary rock, there are any number of examples out there such as Spock's Beard and Dream Theater that one could cite, however, the author's neglect in searching out any such examples merely serves to reinforce my position. I would hardly call what is coming out of the "producer-driven" circles great music. There has yet to be a single rap or hip-hop song that moves me. As far as dance music goes, I freely admit to having two left feet, and am firmly of the belief that dancing ability (with the exceptions of legends like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Donald O'Connor and the like) is inversely proportional to intelligence. I'm a musician, and I play the stuff. If I happen to be on the sidelines I can groove to it, but I can't dance to it.

Which brings up disco. Needless to say, back in the 70s, I too was an SMF at unnumbered Twisted Sister shows, damning the genre to the depths. It still grates on me in a lot of ways, but I've mellowed out in my opinion, at least of the stuff on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I suppose that transformation happened when I actually sat through the movie instead of automatically switching the channel and comparing it to a Leni Riefenstahl epic, and seeing that the music fit the subject matter and that the film was actually pretty good (and depicted a lot of characters I recognized from my Brooklyn days). There was good craftsmanship at work there, and I've learned to appreciate it. The same does not go for most of the rest of it, especially things like "Fly Robin Fly" or "More More More". That indeed is producer-driven stuff, and therein lies a bit more observation.

Way back when, I went to singles weekends at various Catskills hotels, which was an eminently bizarre experience that warrants an article in itself, but one evening, the "group" that performed "In The Bush" was the musical act. They were backed up by the hotel's band, an outfit consisting of a seriously old guy channeling Lester Lanin (albeit in a seriously bad tux), and a couple of obviously frustrated fortyish musicians (this was of course in the days when the hotels were already in serious decline, so no lush orchestras like at the Concord in the glory days) playing bass and drums. The group came out, played a lackluster set, and did their "signature" piece, which always annoyed the hell out of me (I mean, come on, we all know pop music is about sex, but for cryin' out loud a touch of subtlety sometimes communicates a heck of a lot more effectively). And it came to me. This stuff cannot effectively be reproduced on stage. Nope. No how. You can throw the same number and quality of musicians at it, but this is ultimately soulless music that doesn't have a life outside the studio recording. I happened to catch a Saturday Night Live rerun with Mrs. Federline the other day, and her performance was blatantly lip synched. The mantra with people who like "producer-driven" music is that the visual is ultimately more important than the music. Asking Mrs. Federline to merely sit on a stool and reproduce her repertoire would fail miserably, whereas you could hand Mr. Clapton a low-end Takamine, place him on the same stool, and he would blow the audience away.

The term "producer-driven" is of course a serious misnomer, as names like Phil Spector and George Martin come to mind when the word "producer" is mentioned. The punditry mentioned in this article prefers the like of The Neptunes, whose quote unquote art is a complete mystery to me. The magic of record production is in creating something durable. As loopy and dangerous as Philly is, even The Neptunes would have to acknowledge that "Be My Baby", "You've Lost That Lovin Feeling" and "River Deep Mountain High" have long since stood the test of time, and warrant playing loud to this day. I venture that most of the quote unquote classics of the dance/hip-hop genre are rarely played today (when was the last time you heard "Rapper's Delight"?) but you will hear R&B from that time frame still played. Why? To use that godawful Broadway show metaphor, "Tradition!".

It's of course a bit of a left-wing thing, as we rockists honestly don't give a crap about melanin, where the loonies have to inject some form of victimization into every issue. We care about supporting artists who make lasting, powerful music that's fun and musically valid. Ever hear a kid when he gets his first electric guitar? Odds are that kid will be plunking out "Smoke On The Water" within minutes. Thirty two years after the fact. I suppose the authors who made the inane commentary about us rockists will comment all about how some kid got his first turntable and scratched out a classic beat. Spare me.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

 

The lights go on and the roaches scatter

My painful excursion into bureaucracy and the wonderful world of work products is winding down, and it looks as anyone of consequence is disappearing for the holidays. We've technically got Friday off (Designated Holiday, you know) and Esteemed Client shuts down at noon on Friday (why they even bother coming in is beyond me), so with a little luck, things will remain at a low boil and the aggro meter won't act up again until January 3.

The bureaucracy actually worked well for once, resolving a minor administrivia issue for me, but another bit of bureaucracy has screwed up something else and it won't be addressed until after New Years. It defies description, save to say that of course it involves money owed me. Harbingers of T&E trouble are setting off my inner radar, but hopefull those won't crop up. Have I mentioned that I hate bureaucracy? And Process? (I really wish I had the Dilbert strip with Patty Process. Damn, that one had us on the floor laughing. Update - I found that strip in one of the Dilbert anthologies - it was from April 99. Don't know if I want to spring for it, although I'm tempted).

Last evening's tape du jour was an out-of-print jazz instructional video by Mundell Lowe. I've previously mentioned Lowe on this blog as one of my favorite jazzers, and unlike a lot of guitar instructional videos, there's a lot of cool stuff on here that's comprehensible and presented in a time-aligned manner. Lowe had a great band with him on the tape, including Sal Salvador on guitar. Darned shame that Hot Licks has let the Lowe tape, along with Salvador's and Charlie Byrd's go out of print. Arlen - there are people out there who aren't particularly moved by the shred metallers of the world; even us classic rock fans recognize the coolness of players like Joe Pass and Mundell Lowe. (The only downer was that I bought this tape off eBay, and unfortunately the seller had lost the tab booklet which came with the tape).

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

 

Public Service Announcement Du Jour

SpoofStick. Nearly every phishing attack has something obvious that gives it away (bad English or punctuation are the usual indicators) but sooner or later there will be phishing mails that won't have anything obvious to the naked eye. SpoofStick is a good defense, although it should be part of a layered defense (as always, let you common sense guide you. If it doesn't seem to be personalized, it's a phishing attempt)

 

I'd Like To See The Subnet Mask On This One


An excerpt of a cease and desist letter sent to a hosting service regarding BitTorrent content hosted there, courtesy of the gang at Broadband Reports. Notice the third octet of the IP address. Since most of my attorney friends do things like house closings and estate stuff, I don't know if they'd feel this was material enough to blow this out of court. Gut check it isn't enough, but it shows a) how dumb the attorneys are and b) how venal the entertainment industry is to shut down a perceived threat even without checking their facts. Hint - if you put out quality stuff at reasonable prices and let people make a backup without going through convolutions you might not have this problem.

A letter to the editor in the new Stereophile summarizes it nicely. The entertainment industry can't have it both ways. Either the most important part of the equation is the intellectual property, meaning that replacement media should be provided at cost or on a minimal cost plus basis, or the media itself is more important, justifying a full value replacement cost, which means the intellectual property is worth bupkis.

 

There's no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting

Bureaucracy day today, as I delve into logistical nightmares associated with Respected Employer guaranteed to make me nauesous. Said nightmares actually received some minor constructive criticism on the intranet, an amazing concept, as HR here seems to operate on the Lavrenti Beria model (exile people to Siberia for indeterminate periods and work them to death; if they survive, they can come home briefly and try for another stint in the Socialist Paradise of client service work; occasional bullet in back of head pour encourager les autres).

I think I'll watch Paths Of Glory tonight. I need to watch something that demonstrates even more cynicism than I have in my considerably farbissiner soul, and besides, I need a bit of French-bashing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

 

Carpe per diem - seize the check

Crunching out reports, methods, processes and metrics that I must get out before COB. Such a joyous holiday season. I think I'll tell the salesman responsible for this about a wonderful opportunity to sell an HR and ERP system to Hezbollah. And you know, the stupid SOB would probably bite....

The best definition ever of corporate life -


Monday, December 20, 2004

 

Phudniks

In my last post I got royally ticked off at the sales types who are making my life fairly miserable when it comes to Esteemed Client. I just had another type get involved, this one is a PhD, no less, who quote unquote manages the relationship. A phudnik is of course a nudnik with a PhD, an indicator of considerable academic achievement with usually a fairly low correlation with actual business and operational expertise (unless you're talking actuaries, HMO administrators and other similar forms of vermin). It's only 9:15 on Monday morning and I'm already aggravated by all forms of Relationship Management. Perhaps an empirical approach to clients would be simpler - if they require that much "high touch" that it impacts the ability of the people who actually deliver to the client to do so (and take away from delivery budgets so these clowns can walk the halls and schmooze), and if the client is excessively price-sensitive (as it's so euphemistically known) then perhaps a simple decision to not bother with that client for a project (or at all) might be indicated.

Then again, all of these sales and relationship types can quote Zero Mostel in The Producers verbatim - "I want that money!".

Any further intrusion on the part of sales or relationship management types on my routine today will result in their evisceration, impalement and potentially public ridicule.

 

I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it

A bit crunched for time today and tomorrow, as Genus Salesman Loudmouthus shot his big yap off to the client that we would have some docs for them by COB Tuesday. This lower form of life is constantly managing the account relationship, which is a seriously bad indicator if you ask me. There's another project going on at Esteemed Client staffed by Respected Employer which has been seriously farked, and Respected Employer's team on said project isn't respected at all by Esteemed Client. However, my project is merely a low-budget proof of concept, just playing with some cool new toys just to see if they work. By low-budget I mean two, count 'em, two, Respected Employer types including myself, for about five or six weeks total. If this thing goes over $100K I'd be amazed, and frankly, it'll probably come in around $70K. The other project is in the high seven, possibly low eight figures range. The problem of course is that with new toys (and unfortunately, a new Buzzword is involved, so people have their eyes on it) sometimes there are major changes associated with those toys, and a traditional analytical approach to documenting how one might actually use them to make some money might take a bit more time. I'd figured on having the docs done by Friday morning, a good quality job. But since the loudmouth opened his trap and wouldn't let me contradict him, I'm now committed to crunching something out that may or may not be ready, and it doesn't get me enough time to seek feedback from domain experts (I happen to know the technology and processes well in this technical discipline, but it's a different business domain from the one I'm used to, so I'd like to have another pair of eyes take a look at the thing before I bless it for client consumption).

A Modest Proposal - Make Salesmen Responsible. Don't blame the consultants necessarily when projects get into trouble. My experience is that in most cases salesmen promise entirely too much and change the meaning of proposals in ways that impact projects to their detriment. The salesman only wants to see the sale or the qual racked up on his chit, and doesn't know whether it is indeed possible to do the miracles they promise. Most technology sales people I know are completely oblivious to whether their products actually work in a given situation. The exceptions are probably with highly specialized companies like Cisco, but then again in their case the usage and problem domains are well understood, and a good salesman merely needs to keep logistics (especially WRT spares) smooth and to keep his ear open for when the next technology refresh cycle will happen. In the case where a company is selling an underlying technology that needs vast amounts of value-added work (customization, process, etc) the salesmen usually chant the mantra that the product will Do More With Less and cure halitosis, while obliviously telling the PMs and grunts to make the thing work even if the client's process and procedures are completely incompatible with what you're trying to do or the best estimate you can come up with from your methodology figures that you should complete it sometime around the time your great-grandchildren will be retiring.

If I get another salesman doing this, I'll thrash him.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

 

Cool Christmas Music

I've noted that I'm not necessarily one for Christmas music, but it looks like we have a worthy successor to the Ventures' Christmas album here. Since it's coming from Little Steven's Underground Garage site, Davie Allan looks like a great bet for those of us who love fuzz boxes. Davie's main site can be found here. and check out his live version of Apache, cool stuff - almost like Neil Young meets The Shadows. Almost (but not quite) as cool as the Ventures sneaking "I Feel Fine" into Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. The Ventures' Christmas album is available at Amazon (have I said that I'm a Ventures fan?).

 

Worthy Bloggage Reading Du Jour

Some very cool articles at Freedom To Tinker on DVD region encoding and why it's an anti-consumer tactic.

 

iPod Special Editions

By way of the gang at Beat Gear and Voxtalks, check out these elaborations on the theme started by the U2 signature iPod:


More can be found here.


Saturday, December 18, 2004

 

Proof Once Again That The News Media Are a Bunch Of Morons

I know, Department of Redundancy Department, but I just caught this one. The George Harrison SG was auctioned off yesterday, going for about $570K (I frankly expected it to go for more, and I sincerely hope that like the rosewood Tele, it's now back with George's family). However, the howler associated with this comes from Myway.com. In order to illustrate the story about the SG, they post a picture of Keith Richards playing an ES-355. Great logic here, after all, a Gibson is just a Gibson (right Henry?), and heck, what's the difference between a Beatle and a Rolling Stone? They're both skinny and English, right?

And for whatever it's worth, Keef's axe didn't make reserve at the auction yesterday.

 

The Christmas Thing

It seems that there's finally a backlash to the "Happy Holidays" PC crowd, and you know something, I'm actually glad about that.

Obviously I don't celebrate Christmas, but I'm secure enough in my identity that if someone says "Merry Christmas" or if I see a Nativity scene it doesn't freak me out. Far from it. I think it's rather pleasant, people actually being nice (although that asshole who was tailgating me, flashing his brights and flipping the bird to me at 75mph on I-93 on Thursday should get prostate trouble) for a change, and it's a welcome respite from the usual grind of the year. I'm secure enough in my kids' identity to not worry that they'll be proselytized. They get a solid religious education, and I think there's the interesting observation. Most of the people who squawk about Christmas carols and Nativity scenes are the types who received very little, if any, religious education. If you ask your average frummie about Christmas, the reaction you'll get will likely be along the lines of "So? Let them enjoy". That's the way I look at things. And if that happens to mean religious themed carols and Nativity scenes and the like, fine. If my kids have questions, their religious school teachers and I can handle them and explain the way we view and do things.

I'll admit to a low tolerance for Christmas music when it's overplayed, but if it's truly classic stuff, I'll take a listen. Including stuff like "The Little Drummer Boy", even with the religious theme. It's not as if Hanukkah has such great toetappers. It's really a sense of perspective. Hanukkah is a minor holiday whereas Christmas is, next to Easter, most important for Christians. I have a couple of very close friends who are very pious Evangelical Christians, and if anything, our relationships over the holidays increases our bonds, because they understand the importance and significance of all religious holidays and what it means in their faith. We share a huge mutual respect for each others' traditions, and I would never deny them or their loved ones the chance to celebrate in their manner, wherever and whenever they want.

There's of course the old joke about a Jewish Christmas celebration in the Old Country, "we hid in the cellar until it was over", and of course I think some of the people who make geshreis over the whole religious holiday celebration thing have never forgotten Zayde's tales of the Cossacks, but I think most of the people who look to stop religious celebrations are merely attention whores or are far-left indoctrinated (the types who attend Unitarian services because they think the local Reconstructionist shul is filled with reactionaries). As Shatner said so memorably, "Get a life".

Somewhat related, this week I happened to catch Scarborough Country and caught the exchange between Shmuley and Bill Donohue. The irony of Obergruppenfuhrer Buchanan "moderating" the exchange didn't escape me (look, sil il marche comme une canard, and see Safire for his opinion of Pat). The transcript can be found here, but of course I have to point out the money quote:

BOTEACH: I‘m amazed that we‘ve made this a discussion about secular Jews. I have got to tell you that Bill Donahue, who I otherwise love and so respect, ought to be ashamed of himself, the way he‘s spoken about secular Jews hating Christians. That is a bunch of crap, OK?

DONAHUE: Who‘s making the movies? Who‘s making the movies?

BOTEACH: That is a bunch of crap. (CROSSTALK)

BOTEACH: Stop the anti-Semitic garbage, OK? (CROSSTALK)

DONAHUE: Who‘s making the movies? The Irishmen?

There's a joke floating around at the moment which tells of three synagogues infested with squirrels, and the punchline has the Reform temple making the squirrels members, therefore they wouldn't see the squirrels except on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. I would bet that most of the quote unquote landsleit in Hollywood don't see the inside of a temple except on those days, if at all, unless they put up a stained glass window in memory of Bubbie (for the photo op, of course).

That doesn't of course excuse Donahue. He's another attention whore who sees red when anything doesn't agree with his weltanschaung. He's very good at getting himself into the New York Post whenever such an item pops up, especially around Mr. Gibson's epic. I had a long discussion with my evangelical friends about the movie when it came out, they were mightily moved by the film, but they were concerned about my feelings. I told them my feelings were very simple, that if this was something that brings them closer to God, more power to you. On a sheer historical basis, I pointed out that the film was based on Anne Emmerich's quote unquote visions, and not on the historical record in the Gospels. I'd venture that Rabbi Boteach (who I dislike because he's a bit too showbiz, hanging out with Mr. Jackson is enough to slash credibility with me) knows the New Testament a bit better than Mr. Donahue, who I doubt ever attended divinity school (there are plenty of frummies who take comparative religion courses, and as I've previously mentioned, I have a close frummie friend who teaches at a Jesuit-run school). The Rabbi was able to cite chapter and verse, if you read the transcript.


Friday, December 17, 2004

 

The Kwanzaa Racket

Even USA Today, that blandest of blandburger editorialist, recognizes that this holiday is as phony as a three dollar bill. Money quotes:

I asked a friend from Kenya. "No," he said, "we don't celebrate Kwanzaa in Kenya. I think that is an Ethiopian holiday." An Ethiopian acquaintance demurred, "I think that is a Tanzanian holiday." A Tanzanian said he thought it was Gambian. The Gambian believed it to be a holiday in Guinea-Bissau. "No," said my friend from Guinea-Bissau. " We don't celebrate Kwanzaa. I think that is a holiday in Kenya."


So where does that leave us? For my answer, I went to The Complete Kwanzaa by Detroit public school administrator Dorothy Winbush Riley. The first Kwanzaa celebration took place in Los Angeles in 1966. Maulana Karenga celebrated Kwanzaa that year with his family and friends, setting the dates for the observation between Christmas and New Year's Day.

(Edited for brevity)


Karenga, arguably the father of Kwanzaa, repeatedly uses the word "African" to describe the holiday and borrows from the continent's languages to describe its foundations. Although I never got through to him, I did get an interesting response about Kwanzaa from the nice lady at the Black History Museum in Alexandria, Va.
"I would say you would find no African nations and one American nation celebrating Kwanzaa," she said.



Pas de merde, Sherlock.

Ordinarily I wouldn't comment about this under the principle of "If it makes them happy and doesn't harm me let them enjoy" (see tomorrow's post re: that) but it isn't a real African holiday and it's being crammed down my kids' throats at that unlovely public school. Remember that Karenga is a convicted felon (for torturing women with a soldering iron and a vise). Real example here for the young'uns.


 

I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it

Finally a decent night's sleep after Chain Hotel Madness. I feel wefweshed.

Had dinner on Wednesday night at Legal Seafoods. Too much PC crap all over the place about renewable resources and all of how they're saving the world so that it can be overfished, but the coconut shrimp were terrific, and the mahi-mahi specialty was quite good. Reasonable enough under the circumstances, but they were very stingy with rolls, and they forgot my co-worker's raw bar appetizer. Reasonable wine list, too. I was very surprised at that; there was a very nice Gevrey-Chambertin on the list for around $40, but what kind of a philistine is going to have that with seafood? (For the record, it was Sierra Nevada for me that night).

I dropped in on both the Guitar Center and the local music shop I had found on the way home. The local shop was quite a nice little place, friendly help, they had a couple of nice Les Paul Standards there that looked quite attractive (one of the Standards had the Iced Tea finish, and the owner assured me that Henry & Company were quite consistent with that finish, so that's pretty much what I'm settled on - unless there's a gold top that really grabs me; if this guy can do a deal with me I might just pull the trigger on that one when I head back up after New Years). Good selection of amps, no "zoid" stuff, just a nice selection of Marshalls, real tube Fenders, and a couple of Voxes. And a couple of good Gretsches as well, including a Tenny reissue with a "Tennessean" pickguard (I thought only North Coast had those still). Guitar Center was well, Guitar Center. I hit them at an off hour so a salesman immediately zeroed in on me. Their Les Paul selection was pretty pathetic, a couple of decent SGs, but the oddball was a new Gibson Korina Explorer with a split V headstock (like on a Dean) for ten grand. Unreal. There's an Orville (Gibson Japan) Korina Explorer up on eBay now at around $800, and I'd venture that the various Korina Explorer reissues from the 70s, 80s and 90s could be found for no more that $3K (based on a quick perusal of GBase). Henry's insane when it comes to pricing. I sort of have an itch for an Explorer (too much U2 on the MP3 player, I guess; then again, most of Edge's real classics are played on Strats), and the Epis with the Korina veneer are reasonable enough to scratch that itch.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

 

Winding Down On-Site

A couple of meetings this AM, then I'll probably be able to start heading home mid-afternoon. To be sure, Esteemed Client has some very nice folk working here, although they've got some seriously farked procedures (our client face-off has had to deal with the dreaded Internal Certification this week, driving her Cynicism Meter off the scale; plus they're a tad sensitive about things like laptops and cell phones with cameras). Esteemed Client is beginning the virtual holiday shutdown (they'll be closed from Christmas Eve till New Years, so everyone is preparing to hightail it out early next week to use up their "use it or lose it"), so there's no reason for us to be on-site next week (thankfully!). Sometimes conference calls can be a good thing (although in the case of Meeting #2 this AM, sometimes not so good. The person who set it up is a classic example of Genus Clueless, in that he makes a big huge deal out of this meeting, and neglects to send out a dial-in number. It should be fairly interesting when he does send out the dial-in, as he will undoubtedly use our toll-free conference bridge. Unfortunately, since it's an 800 number, there's no way for people outside the US to dial in. Guess where the honchos are dialing in from....)

I've located the local Guitar Center and a local Gibson dealer as well. I'll stop by both on the way home to see if any goodies tickle my fancy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

 

Sniffling and Miserable Is No Way To Go Through A Customer Engagement

I'm busy trying to produce a Powerpoint for people who are completely clueless about what we're actually trying to do here, and we found out that (at least according to the docs) Veritas doesn't support JFS or JFS2 file systems under AIX. This may seem to be a stunningly irrelevant factoid, but has some interesting implications for what I'm trying to do here. A quick question to my local DBA about file systems here produced the tidbit that depending on the box's use, one or both of those file systems will be used. Oops. Nothing in the docs that it won't work, but the words "Not Recommended" are quite prominently displayed. We have a few database version mismatch concerns as well. My sneaking suspicion is that the database will come up fine, but the applications will break, big time. Oh well, at least the only thing we're charged with here is proof of concept. I stated from the top that I didn't want to go near integration testing. Oh well.

Status report's due Friday. It should be some of my funniest writing yet. Perhaps I'll post a sanitized version for your amusement, or at least the pithier excerpts.

Esteemed Client isn't a terribly bad place to work, but the security constraints make it difficult to get out for lunch, so we've been stuck in their cafeteria for lunch. Not one of the better ones I've frequented. Admittedly there's only so much you can do to a cold cut sandwich (although the cafeteria at my office in the Big Town frankly manages to louse even that up) but the remainder of the offerings are blah or induce gastric distress. Back at Stalag 13, we had a tame grill man in their cafeteria, so we always got something fairly reasonable, and the soups were good, but the grill man rotated out to another corporate client, and we were stuck with slop thereafter. I did better going down to the gyro vendor in front. I suppose I'm a bit on the warpath as there are only chain restaurants around here and only one really decent upscale place, but then again, being on our quote unquote meal allowance, we only can afford the Applebees of the region. Respected Employer's T&E types tend to scrutinize expense reports very closely.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

 

Road Rants

On the road again, back in my favorite chain hotel near Esteemed Client. Gotta love "preferred travel providers", as I had conked out about 10:15 or so, and at 12:04 am heard some very loud conversation in the hallway outside my front door, along with about four or five nearby room occupants telling the revelers to shut the f*ck up (and slamming their doors). What a classy joint. Needless to say I'm a touch short on REM sleep today and I'm in a seriously grouchy mood. On top of it all, my cold is coming back.

Rant du jour is about the freaking ADA, which resulted in my getting one of those rooms with the handicapped shower. The nanny state strikes again, in that not only does it impose unbelievable costs on public accommodations, but for crying out loud, you can't get clean in one of those freaking walk-ins. No water pressure whatsoever, impossible to maneuver the head the way you want it, and the bathroom floor is soaked until everything hits the drain. It's like being in France. Ever see a crummy French picture called "Pret A Porter"? They called it "Ready To Wear" in the Americanized version. Some allegedly funny plot about the fashion industry. About as funny as a migraine in actuality. Anyway, there's one scene in the movie where some of the characters are checking into a Paris hotel, and my wife and I looked at each other in amazement and realized that this was an establishment that we actually spent a night in (it's located right off the Etoile, if you're curious; I flatly refuse to call it Place Charles De Gaulle). Said establishment was not air conditioned and of course being about 10 paces from the Arc De Triomphe had a load of traffic noise. We figured, OK, one night, not so bad. Then we got a look at the bathroom. There was a tub and some odd contraption for taking a shower attached to it, unfortunately said contraption didn't permit actually standing up and holding it, therefore if you wanted to take a shower you had to either lie in the tub or sit on your knees. The French attitude towards personal cleanliness strikes again. Apparently my hotel is nearly full up, so there's precious little selection, but for crying out loud, this is about the 12th time in the last year I've gotten stuck with these ferkackte handicapped rooms on various business trips.

It's too early, haven't had any coffee yet, so no Scott Peterson commentary. I presume he'll take a breather one of these years.....

And you know what I hate the most about being on the road at this time of the year? The Christmas music with all the lyrics about being home for the holidays being played incessantly. Last night in the hotel restaurant I was sitting at a table by myself devouring my dinner when the Ronette's great version of "Frosty The Snowman" came on as background music. I thought I was going to burst out in tears from being away from home....

Monday, December 13, 2004

 

Top Cat - The Complete Series

Also posted on Blogcritics.

Most animation aficionados cringe at the thought of post-MGM Hanna Barbera efforts, with characters that are bland and underdeveloped (and which sometimes venture into the downright annoying territory, Yakky Doodle being a particularly egregious example) and with horrendous animation. The short subjects created for various TV syndication efforts are generally unmemorable, with the possible exception of Quick Draw McGraw (apparently missing in action due to Baba Louie's accent, political correctness runs amok again). H-B's later efforts such as Wacky Races and Scooby Doo were downright painful. And interestingly enough, their prime time efforts were nicked at least partially from live action shows, the most obvious examples being The Flintstones' heritage arising from 323 Chauncey Street (if you don't know that address you haven't been watching enough classic TV) and the subject of this review, lifted from Fort Baxter.

The Bilko connection to Top Cat is of course reinforced by Maurice Gosfield's appearance in the voice cast. Top Cat was more or less contemporaneous with another memorable Bilko spinoff, Car 54 Where Are You?. In Car 54, Nat Hiken neatly transplanted several alumni of Bilko to the Bronx, and basically turned Joe E. Ross and Beatrice Pons loose for hilarious results. In a lot of ways, Top Cat works far better than most other Hanna Barbera efforts because it leverages the New York City feel for a touch of edginess often absent in other animation of that time frame. Some of Bugs Bunny's best unsung moments were in cartoons set in New York, including "Bowery Bugs" and "Baseball Bugs".

The voice cast of Top Cat includes not only the late Mr. Gosfield, beloved as Doberman on Bilko, as Benny The Ball, but Arnold Stang as the title character, Marvin Kaplan as Choo Choo, Leo De Lyon as Brain and Spook, John Stephenson as Fancy Fancy, and Allen Jenkins as Officer Dibble. The cast's New York twangs really add local color to the show, unlike other Hanna Barbera shows which merely featured recognizable voices such as Paul Winchell's or the considerable talents of Daws Butler (Mr. Butler's voices to my ears were a touch too generic, and his tones were always a bit measured. I'd contrast this with Mel Blanc, who could do a wonderful screaming voice when the occasion called for it - think of "Big House Bunny". I particularly like Marvin Kaplan's characterization of Choo Choo, and Mr. Kaplan mentions in an interview in the special features that Choo Choo went to CCNY, a delicious tidbit that fits perfectly with the character.

The plots of the Top Cat shows are generic Bilko-type escapades, with the occasional "doing a good deed" plot common to shows looking to temper the farcical element. Car 54 was faced with similar issues because of the objections of various critics to the absurdity of the situations in the show. The usual stolen diamond capers and similar archtypical Hanna Barbera plot devices were present, however, there were other shows in the canon which concerned romantic misadventures of Top Cat and Choo Choo (along with running gags about Fancy Fancy's love life). The one hallmark of the shows I noticed going through them was that the writing was definitely on a higher plane than most Hanna Barbera shows, and unlike the Flintstones and Jetsons, the adult appeal is still definitely palpable.

The big test of this was of course my young'uns. They haven't started getting the adult jokes in Rocky and Bullwinkle yet (nor for that matter Sponge Bob; they couldn't understand my disappointment in the recent feature when I noted that Squidward's part was nonexistent). My brood has quite embraced Top Cat, liking the "gang" comedy and its gentle urban humor. As for me, it was a great blast from the past watching this, and I didn't find myself tiring of it quickly, as so many boxed sets of childhood favorites have done to me (the most amazing example of which for me was Fireball XL5, a show I positively drooled over as a kid, along with the rest of the Gerry Anderson canon; I got through about five episodes of it before fading out).

Recommended.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

 

I can speak Esperanto like a native

My cold is worsening so I'm going to head back to bed in a few minutes, but I did want to mention that I started taking a look at the Focus Live In America DVD. I naturally skipped directly to Hocus Pocus, and to put it mildly, I was disappointed. Thijs Van Leer is there in all of his jolly Eurognomeness (he actually looks like an aging hippie version of the hangman in the Clint Eastwood spaghetti western "Hang Em High"; funny enough, Akkerman looks like Robert DeNiro nowadays), sitting behind a B3. Obvisouly, the rest of the band isn't remotely related to the classic lineup of the Moving Waves era. Without too much ado, we'll directly address the new guitarist, Jan Dumee. Other than sharing a givien name with Mr. Akkerman, there's no comparison. He's playing what looks like an old Gibson Ripper (picture an el-cheezo Les Paul shaped body with a bolt-on neck with a Flying V headstock, and a propeller-shaped pickguard that extends over most of the face of the instrument) through a relatively recent full Marshall stack (in other words, one of the heads with two rows of knobs; one of my pet peeves - Jim got it right with the Plexis and the early JCMs, these new ones, feh). The performance was too fast, and Dumee just didn't get Akkerman's attack quite right. Van Leer did the yodeling and weird noises bits well enough, but the performance didn't seem to feel very together. I'll watch more later after the cough settles down, but so far, I'm not wowed by it...

Update 9:26pm - I took a look on IMDB and found that the actor that Thijs Van Leer reminded me of is named Bert Freed.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

 

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.


I've been joking about this for years, but actually seeing a Lubavitcher doing reggae-style toasting warrants a mention, even if the photo does come from the Sulzberger Entity.

 

Crosstown Traffic

Courtesy of Serenade, we find this hilarious article on driving in New York at the Capitalist Lion. My blogging colleague speaks authoritatively, but has left out several potentially relevant bits of information that might assist drivers attempting to navigate the roads in the big town. Ferinstance, there are several types of drivers not listed in his taxonomy which are important to be aware of. Important examples include:

The Frummie Should be self-explanatory. Regardless of whether they're merely black-hatters or shtreimel types, the Frummie has but one mission, to get quickly to or from Borough Park and/or Williamsburgh. Occasionally to Midwood and Riverdale as well. Responsible for the annual road race slash demolition derby on Ocean Parkway known as the "Shavuos 500". No distinct vehicle type for this genus, but generally serviced by mechanics named Motti whose siren call is, "What do you care if it's fixed, the car runs, doesn't it?".

The Greaser Genus specifically observed in Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge. General appearance includes vague resemblance to John Travolta circa 1977, and the vehicle of choice is generally some overpriced, underpowered General Motors vehicle which looks flashy. Common accessories include long-suffering girlfriend or wife named Theresa. Usual behavior is schizoid mix between cruising slowly with high SPL music audible through open windows, usually on main drags such as 86th Street and Bay Parkway (Brooklyn), or autobahn-style driving on Belt Parkway (especially including tailgating, flashing brights and flipping the bird). Usually completely clueless when entering Manhattan, although willing to brawl for a parking spot.


The habitats of The Frummie and The Greaser intersect here

The Lawn Guylander Not necessarily confined to Nassau and Suffolk, also observed in Westchester, Monmouth, Putnam and Fairfield counties. Similar to Capitalist Lion's "The Jersey Driver" and "The Out Of State Driver" in the same sense that humans and primates share some genetic background, however, especially dangerous because this creature is usually a former New Yorker, and believes they know the city and can function well within the confines of the boroughs. Obvious examples of functional city illiteracy include thinking that the East Side is better than the West Side for north/south movements, ignoring better approaches to toll facilities to duck traffic (e.g. Borden Avenue, Riverside Drive), driving to major shopping areas best approached on foot or by public transit (e.g. Orchard Street, Brighton Beach / Coney Island Avenue, 13th Avenue) and unnecessary movements on Amateur Nights (e.g. Friday, Saturday and most major holidays) which cause unnecessary congestion. Generally this creature's vehicle is a luxury brand, which is often a garage bunny whose dealer service manager is an Anglified version of Motti. Often characterized by improper use or lack of an EZ-Pass toll transponder. Occasional aggresive behavior, but usually tempered by shrewish spouse.

The Fashionably Urban Characterized by driving large GM vehicles that will either be converted to or from car service use eventually. Spoken English is usually poor, and the radio will be blaring a program in Urdu, Creole, Spanish or Russian. For recreational driving, shares certain characteristics with The Greaser, although has a disturbing habit of large parking swarms along major arteries on summer weekends that are guaranteed to cause rubbernecking or cautious behavior in case whatever sport they are playing at said bucolic locations spills over onto the highway. Tends to accumulate lots of traffic summonses and to carry less than legal minimum insurance, if any. Also tends to take vacations in native territories after a fender bender.

And of course, what guide to driving in New York City would be complete without a Baedeker for the roads? The cognoscenti prefer "The Roads Of Metro New York" along with its' complementary site "The Crossings Of Metro New York". The webmaster also has sites for Boston and Philly which are worth visiting. Needless to say I've got my own user's opinions of various roads and crossings, which one day may make up a related article. Examples would include:

Clearview Expressway Speed trap. Utility severely impeded by dead-end at Hillside Avenue.
Sheridan Expressway Why bother?
Richmond Parkway See observation re: Sheridan Expressway

Friday, December 10, 2004

 

At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom.

A quick perusal of some links found that DAK is back. Always liked getting Drew's catalogs back when, and I bought a bread machine from them about 12 or 13 years ago. Other than the R2D2 appearance of the thing it actually wasn't bad at all (the egg bread recipe was a decent facsimile for challah if you couldn't get out to a bakery) although I didn't care for the dough paddle baking into the bread and having to tear the crust to get it out. He's got a phono interface that will plug between a turntable and your PC's sound card, and I'm toying with the idea of picking it up, as there's still some vinyl in my collection that is still unreleased in any digital format. I'm really considering it for a couple of bits of vinyl that I haven't purchased as of yet (although I see them periodically on eBay). Those discs are Christine Nelson's album with "Marvin" (see way back about 6 months ago for my revelation on that) and Kai Winding's "Soul Surfing", with Kenny Burrell. Burell is a very tasteful jazz player, and as much as I hate to admit it, I really do like Winding's version of "More", which does have some RnR credentials (the lead part on Winding's version was played on an ondioline, a very similar instrument to the clavioline best known as the "string" sound on Del Shannon's "Runaway"). Some people despise anything that Creed Taylor touched (especially his work on Wes Montgomery's canon) but it's an interesting record to me. Sort of lounge-ish.

Back home again, but back up to Lurch Country on Monday. DVD cued up for review is "Focus Live In America", which of course doesn't feature Jan Akkerman (but does have plenty of "Moving Waves" on it). I also was supposed to have Glass Hammer's "Lex Live" cued for review this weekend but Amazon goofed and sent one of their earlier CDs instead (most unusual for Amazon, as I've been ordering from them since 1996 and have never had a goofed order before; must be because it's the holiday season and they're scrambling). I actually tried purchasing the DVD from a local shop which is usually good about having obscurities such as this, but apparently their distributors can't get it for some reason (the store thinks it's a fan club only release, however, I've seen other obscurities ordinarily available only from the artist or producer pop up on Amazon; one particular DVD especially, although there was some minor grumbling about the lower margins associated with having Amazon visibility).

And finally, glad to see VoxTalks back up and running.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

 

RIP Dimebag Darrell

A while back I zinged Mr. Abbott in a missive about some inane poll of great guitar songs, as he had some of his tracks place higher in the poll than certain classic rock pieces, and of course anyone so declasse as to choose their nom de guerre as a nudge nudge wink wink reference to controlled substances won't exactly rank highly on the esteem meter in these quarters. However, by all accounts, he was a terrific musician, and even if his tracks with Pantera weren't quite my speed, in no manner shape or form did he deserve what happened to him. The irony of the date on which it occurred is painful as of course is the manner. The rumored reason for the deed is sickening.

I dread the thought of the renewed calls to restrict handgun ownership as a result of this. The law-abiding gun owner is a safety conscious, rational being. There is little or no defense against the crazy, willing to die in an effort, who can use improvised or unexpected weapons if a firearm isn't available. Anyone who is willing to murder over an inanity as the alleged motive for this crime certainly fits that criteria.

Condolences to his family, friends and fans.

 

Existential Yawning

Early meeting today to whiteboard out a potential solution with a vendor. Unfortunately, due to weird locationing and calendaring (I think Safire is quitting merely because of the damage done to the English language by consultants and the buzzword crowd in general) I've got to meet the vendor at one of their sales offices somewhere astonishingly inconvenient for both of us. The good part is that this should only take a couple of hours and I should be home by mid-afternoon. Good to get out of the hotel, lots of door slammers and hall talkers showed up the last two nights, a real kaffeeklatsch right outside my door at 12:49am put me into an even worse mood than I'm normally in (the place was filled with a bunch of characters wearing name tags for some incomprehensible organization that surely feels it's doing something on the side of the angels; I held my tongue remembering that I'm in the heart of Lurch country).

Technical Person at Esteemed Client made some interesting observations in that one of the main issues they're experiencing has to do with branch office response time, specifically in sunnier climes in both hemispheres. Although Esteemed Client has beaucoup bandwidth between major locations, small offices are on small pipes (there's a blinding glimpse of the obvious). I quoted what it cost to run a DS3 from this very metropolitan area to said sunnier climes a couple of years back and Technical Person was horrified, yet unsurprised at the Really Expensive MRC. I blithely said, "Tell the business at the offices that want the fat pipe to put it on their P&L, and you'll see how fast they shut up". For business reasons, VPN isn't an option for branch offices, and even if it were, who wants to be dependent on an ISP in an area where mission-critical means 8/5?

The rant du jour concerns my MP3 player, a Rio Nitrus I purchased about a year ago. Nice player and form factor, with 1.5 GB capacity. It usually holds about 330 songs, give or take depending on whether I have some long tunes on there (I can think of at least ten 10 minute+ songs on there off the top of my head). At first all was wonderful and peachy, with great battery life, however, there's the rub. The battery is no longer holding a charge that well and fades out fairly rapidly, say after three hours of play at the most, or if it sits without being played for a few days. Needless to say the battery isn't replaceable, and Rio only offers a 90 day warranty, long since expired. Since it's the holiday season I thought it might be nice to pick up a new MP3 player with larger capacity, and took a look in Best Buy to assuage my curiosity. I liked the iPod (except for the refrigerator white color; despite being a U2 fan I'm not about to plunk down 50 extra hard-earned ones for the special edition just because it looks better), but there's something interesting going on with them. There's an Apple iPod, then there's the iPod by HP. Apparently some sort of licensing deal, but as I understand it iTunes for the HP player is different from the Apple player's version, and Apple doesn't support the HP version. The SOL meter is just waiting to be pegged here in a fingerpointing scenario. All I want is something with a nice big capacity (20 gigs would be perfect), reasonable battery life and the ability to replace the damn battery myself. I really doubt I'll go with Rio for another unit, but when it worked right, I was really pleased with it. The consumer electronics industry really has a great ongoing revenue stream for these players......

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

 

Cold And Bored

Day 3 on the road, and I've got a nasty cold already. Nothing spectacular going on, still investigating the design portion of the project, and trying to align the zillion variables into some coherent form to see if this thing can actually work. Nothing worse than going to work feeling like crap, then having to eat in a restaurant with a bunch of other sniffling people, sleeping in a strange bed with lights from outside shining in (despite drawing the heavy curtains to the best of your ability) and waking up three, four times during the night.

About the only minor amusement I had last evening was happening across some PBS program on the idiot box that had old rock performance clips from the Ed Sullivan show, with "commentary" from Michelle Phillips. The great (read as really live, not lip-synched) stuff - Roy Orbison doing "Pretty Woman", the Rascals doing "Good Lovin", Janis doing "Maybe" (yeah, the Chantels song; after all of the Jessicas and Ashlees and Madges and Jennifers it was quite refreshing to hear a singer pour out her heart with a real horn band - poetic justice would require the alleged chanteuses I mentioned to be forced to watch Janis over and over to see what a real singer could do), and of course the Fabs (oddly enough they showed "I Saw Her Standing There" from the first Sullivan show; methinks that one might be a touch easier to clear the performance rights for as the Beatles publishing was a bit messed up in the very early days and it's possible Sir Paul may have acquired the rights to ISHST, as he has with "Love Me Do"). The irony of mentioning the Fabs' first Sullivan performance on this date doesn't escape me.

The bad stuff - horrendous lip-synchs from the Lovin' Spoonful and the Mamas and the Papas (ever see "Monterey Pop"? Jeez, were they out of tune live; Papa John's ES-335/12 was painfully out, and anyone would be well advised to avoid the performance of "Monday Monday" on the boxed set). And one unfortunate bit, where Ms. Phillips simply found it necessary to comment about the Rascals attire as a voice-over during their very hot performance (OK, the outfits were really geeky, then again, Paul Revere and the Raiders looked like geeks also, and they kicked butt as well). Gene Cornish played his heart out on that Gibson Barney Kessel (weird looking axe, that's for sure!) but the real madman was drummer Dino Danelli - he was doing Keith Moon before we'd ever heard of such things. About the only jarring note (other than the cockamamie getup) was that of course the Rascals didn't have a bass player, so their sound was thin. I'm assuming Felix Cavaliere used the bass pedals of the B-3 for bottom live, but if he was on this performance, it wasn't coming through. One other item of note was Roy Orbison's drummer. It looked as if he wasn't hitting his hi-hat during "Pretty Woman" and didn't sound as if he was using his ride cymbal (although his kit was miked strangely, basically the only thing coming through was the snare). Contrast that with Ringo's playing on "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on the first Sullivan performance. On both "and when I touch you...." bits the camera does a crane shot over John, Paul and George and zooms in on Ringo and you get unbelievably good audio of Ringo's playing in the forefront, lots of cymbal sizzle and nuance.

Since the weather was awful last night I decided to check out the hotel's dining offerings, and ended up in their pub-type restaurant. Actually not half bad, great Scotch selection, but only one thing marred the dinner. Like all such establishments there are multiple TV screens, usually turned to some sporting event. As it was before the usual starting time for most such events common on a Tuesday evening, I ignored the tube for the most part, noticing only that they had some ghastly entertainment show on, you know, they type where they plug every nonentity's latest offering. The waitress came by and asked if my dinner was OK, and in my momentary distraction from my food I noticed who was on the screen. None other than my least favorite alumna of Erasmus Hall, the woman who thinks she is the arbiter of taste and ethics for popular culture, none other than Mrs. James Brolin. The site of her was enough to nauseate me and ruin my enjoyment of my pub grub. Additional Macallan was required to numb me to the point of being able to ignore her.

Home tomorrow. Thankfully.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

 

What's another word for thesaurus?

Ahhh, the joys of the road again. Same lovely chain hotel as last week, although the room's on a higher floor and a touch quieter. The project continues to stumble along, as we take a look at various alternatives, including using the new high-speed import/export utility of the database in concert with file and block level replication, or using the native message queueing-like database replication technology, which is really neato-whizbang (I rather like the pub-sub features of it) but this can quickly turn into a DBA nightmare (building a series of scripts to handle a full mesh of the various databases), especially when building this beast in concert with the more standard HA techniques preferred by this database vendor. It's not a high-pressure environment, so I can't complain, and I've got a good wingman working with me. It's mostly RTFMing at this point to make an intelligent call as to what we're going to do, but we can already see that the client has probably overstated the actual daily transactions applied to the current database, therefore I needn't sweat about needing some very expensive (and ultra-long lead time) OC12 circuits (as expensive as OC12s are, trust me, for the distances involved here the MRC would probably exceed the GNP of the type of country that generates regular supplies of insurgents, militants and activists).

From Broadband Reports, we find an article entitled France Telecom Signs IPv6 Clients. I haven't had my coffee yet, so give me a bit to come up with a good surrender joke related to this.

Monday, December 06, 2004

 

Virtue has never been as respectable as money.

Mark Twain certainly had it right. Our friends over at Hinet (hosts) and Kornet (senders) bring me the spam du jour, the product itself being irrelevant, but the domain name warrants special mention for its offensiveness. The domain name? r a p e d r u g dot b i z. I shan't bother looking up the registrar for the name, but needless to say my contempt is equal for them as well.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. ISPs should block inbound port TCP 25 from Korea, Taiwan, China, Brazil and Romania. Outbound, block port 25 unless it's going to your known SMTP server. The interesting thing is that the Direct Marketing Association resists any anti-spam measure because it potentially infringes on their operations. Bull. If I get a catalog or flyer from someplace I'm not interested in it's usually inoffensive (and sometimes downright hilarious, my personal favorites being the holiday food catalogs that are packed with cheeses and meats with descriptions that describe the eating experience as being akin to something served in Valhalla).

Heading back up to Respected New Client today and will be on-site there for most of this week, so expect postings either very late or very early in the day this week. Oh joy. Several days of eating in restaurants on Respected Employer's idea of a per diem. For example, the per diem for Chicago is $37, which unless you're eating in a chain restaurant or diner is very easy to bump up against for dinner alone. Not to mention if you're in the hotel and don't feel like searching out a coffee shop or donut house for breakfast. Understood that lunch is fair game while on the road, after all, most folks don't brown bag it, so you'd be spending for lunch anyway, but there's a simple moral equation here. The road warrior is away from home, therefore he's entitled to some small compensation for the inconvenience and stress of being away from the family. They won't pay for the in-room movies, so is it so horrible to have a little leeway when eating out? Not everyone wants to eat at Applebee's or that sort of boite every night when on the road (in the case of a friend, who's a road warrior for another company providing DBA services for a particular business function, his food per diem on the road is ridiculously small, really only allowing for three meals at fast food joints).

Sunday, December 05, 2004

 

Delays, delays....

As I mentioned a few days ago, I've been looking at delay pedals that can also do looping overdubs, and I'd narrowed down the choice to the Line6 DL-4 and the Boss DD-20. Since my travels this week took me past not one but two Guitar Center stores I decided to stop in and check things out. There was a Les Paul that momentarily distracted me (although amazingly enough for Guitar Center the salesman was willing to cut me a deal that would've saved me about $150 on the guitar), but it didn't really scream "take me home" at me (the honeyburst finish was a bit wishy-washy for my taste, and the sound was just OK). I suppose I'll have to wait till Xmas week and head down to Music Zoo in Queens to take a look at their stock of Les Pauls. My local dealer had a nice PRS Custom 24 that I liked yesterday, but I digress.

Since my local dealer had neither pedal in stock (he did have another Boss pedal that just did loops, but since I've kind of really gotten into Edge's sound lately I wanted one that had a fine-grained delay control). That's what cinched getting the Boss pedal for me, as when I got to GC and took a look at both pedals side-by-side, the digital readout of delay time was important, this way you can dial in whatever is the right delay (although of course you've got to agree on what the right tempo is; every so often at band rehearsal we have a funny conversation about whether the preceding song was too slow or fast, and of course trying to dial in a delay for U2 stuff could prove to be a load of laughs when you're trying to dope out tempo). The Line6 had loads of emulations of various echo units, which I really don't care about (the originals didn't sound all that great, if you ask me. The clincher came for me when I found myself totally fascinated with Tom Scholz's sound way back when, and I read that he used a heavily modified Echoplex. I saw Boston at the Garden back in '78, on the Don't Look Back tour, and the echo sound he got out of that thing was so cheesy wimpy, it really cooled my interest in Boston for anything other than hearing the first side - you do remember those on LPs, don't you? - of the first album, which still ranks as one of the finest pieces of 70s rock IMHO). However, the Line6 didn't have any sort of readout other than the positions of the knobs, and it just wasn't grabbing me.

The Boss pedal is a typical double-wide pedal from them, with a small LCD readout in the middle, along with a fine-grain control for setting the delay time. I just set it to its "standard" setting, dialed in 3-4 repeats, dialed in 425ms delay, and started in on "Pride (In The Name Of Love)". How'd I get 425ms? The song is usually reported as having a tempo of 106bpm, therefore a quarter note would be about 566 ms (60,000 / 106). Since Edge likes to use a dotted eighth note for a delay effect, a dotted eighth would be three quarters of that quarter note value (an eighth of course would be half, or 283ms). Sounded real good, even though I was only playing through headphones.

Next test was trying looping, and this is where it got interesting. The idea with looping of course is to set up some kind of base track over a few measures, record that using your delay line, then let that loop, solo over it, and perhaps overdub some of that solo to start layering or harmonizing sounds. I pulled out my Roland GR-33 guitar synth for this bit, and played a C-G-F-Am chord progression using a strings patch and set that to loop. Then, I set the GR-33 to a grand piano patch, and overdubbed the bass note of each chord onto that loop. It sounded great, except that I wasn't happy with the loop level (it sounded a bit too low for my taste, but since I didn't really tweak the delay that might be easily fixable) and the transition from the end of the loop back to the beginning was very abrupt. That could've been due to not letting notes ring enough, or being a bit off on timing my foot on the pedal. I'm pretty sure it was the latter, since I then put the Roland into a patch that emulated a Strat through a Roland JC120 amp, and started playing a simple G-C-D barre chord progression (the "Sloopy" chords, but I was playing it with a different rhythm) over 8 bars, and I got that transition pretty smooth. I then flipped the Roland over to a sax patch, and played something vaguely Clarence Clemons-ish over the progression, then started going a bit crazy with adding in some other horn and organ patches. By the time I was finished it sounded like a big old horn band, even though it was just me and the Brian Moore/Roland combo. Unfortunately, I hit a bum note in the last layer, hit the off switch, and there it went, into the bit bucket. Gotta try that one again.

The pedal itself is built solidly, typical Boss construction. Since I've only messed with it for a couple of hours I can't comment yet on how long the batteries will last. One minor annoyance which may not be one for everyone is that if an AC adapter isn't used, the pedal will turn itself on when a guitar cable is inserted into the input. There's no separate on/off switch ala the old Electro Harmonix pedals or the big Boss ME-50 multi-effects unit, and the documentation sort of implies that hitting the foot pedal will turn the power on and off (if you read it carefully, it actually does describe the pedal's behavior accurately, but being an impatient sort who didn't want to RTFM, I was momentarily concerned). LEDs are nice and bright, but I don't think the display is backlit (there's that RTFMing again), so that might be a pain on stage. Then again, there are plenty of preset slots you can program, so unless you're going nuts changing delay times around you probably won't be impacted.

So far it looks like a nice box.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

 

Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we"

Perusing this morning's Sulzberger Entity (hey, it's Saturday and I need my fill of polysyllabic words, besides, no Journal or Sun today), we find that the main editorial is a screed against the proposed football stadium for the Jets over the rail yards on Manhattan's West Side (you see, it simply must be capitalized as a proper noun, otherwise how else would someone pay proper obeisance to the Times' leadership and readership). The editorial is nothing out of the ordinary (it makes a few good points, actually) but I wouldn't be posting this unless there was a howler, and here 'tis:
THE SUBWAY The No. 7 subway line currently runs from Queens across Midtown Manhattan, stopping at Grand Central Terminal before coming to an abrupt end at Times Square. Logically, the line should continue across the West Side, then ultimately connect to Penn Station. That service is crucial to Mr. Bloomberg's development dreams. But the M.T.A. has other priorities, most notably the expansion of the No. 2 subway line on the East Side. That's the longtime dream of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who happens to represent the Lower East Side. Rather than wait for the No. 2 to be finished or for Mr. Silver to retire, neither of which seems likely to happen in Mr. Bloomberg's political lifetime, the mayor's team has decided that the city should use its own money

Now, this may seem perfectly coherent and cogent to the average reader, but anyone who actually uses the subways will laugh out loud at this. The No. 2 subway line runs on the West Side. Always has. Up 7th Avenue, then Broadway. It even runs, gasp, into the Bronx and Brooklyn! The writer is obviously referring to the long-delayed Second Avenue Subway, which of course would indeed run on the East Side (unfortunately under the MTA's brilliant planning, the current plan would have the new line run from Harlem down to 63rd Street, where it would then join an existing line. And precisely how will this alleviate overcrowding?).

Needless to say, if a New York City paper can't even correctly describe its own transportation infrastructure correctly, it says something about its credibility in commenting on other affairs. I take a small bit of schadenfreude in realizing that this editorial writer likely has never set foot on the subway and probably will never do so in the future. The correction should be buried on page B-36 in a few days.

 

Noise proves nothing; often a hen that has merely laid an egg cackles as she has laid an asteroid

Mr. Jackson's domicile has been searched again, and surely as the sun rises in the East there will be the commensurate denouncements, denials and other chatter from every party connected with Mr. Jackson who isn't covered by the gag order in the case. While Materfamilias Jackson's and Brian Oxman's protestations will be the predictable tripe they always provide the tabloid press whenever there is some newsworthy development in the case, this search brings up an interesting point. Unless you're a complete liberal naif, most people realize that judges don't sign search warrants unless there's probable cause, therefore there's either significant new evidence identified in the current case or there's a potential new case involved. The latter scenario is bloody unlikely unless Mr. Jackson, his family, staff and attorneys are so far removed from reality as to not watch his every move like a hawk lest precisely such an event occur. Ms. Van Susteren cannot summon such events to keep her gaggling crew of legal talking heads busy simply at her whim, therefore barring some spectacular misstep by Mr. Jackson, some information relevant to the current case has been developed and it requires a search to validate.

Speaking of Greta's bunch, I've already addressed my contempt for Gloria Allred in another piece on this blog, but the rest of them are utterly worthless as far as a reasonable, rational explanation of the legal issues involved to us laymen. The one attorney in the media who does indeed provide such explanations, very cogent ones indeed is none other than Ron Kuby. Say what? Kunstler's protege? The guy who's so far left he thinks Khruschev was a reactionary? Listening to him on the radio though, it's like a switch flips when an explanation of a legal concept or issue comes up in the conversation. He suddenly switches gear to an almost pedagogic approach toward explaining the concepts to the profanum vulgus, using everyday terminology to clarify and explain concepts. As much as I loathe the guy's political position, if he wrote a book on law for the layman, I'd buy it in an instant.

As for Mr. Jackson, innocent until proven guilty. But the concept of "where there's smoke there's fire" is going to irrevocably impact his non-passive income stream.

Friday, December 03, 2004

 

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

As always, it takes the New York Sun to write an article that actually tells things in an accurate, balanced way. It goes without saying that I loathe the Sulzberger paper, however, it's my failover for business news if the Journal comes too late or is sold out, and the Post and News are merely entertaining. At least the Post's editorial page is in the right place, and the News' editorials are pretty close, but I dislike papers that are mainly written for monosyllabic types with altogether too much coverage of popular culture (just for once, I would like to see these papers go a week without a mention of Mr. Combs, Mrs. Federline or Mrs. Ritchie).

Back to the point at hand. The Sun notes this morning that the NY State Senate has put the kibosh (at least temporarily) on the UN's land grab in Manhattan. Although the politically correct terminology of "community opposition" was used, the real zing came here:

According to Mr. Bruno's press release, the U.N. Development Corporation was expected to provide $600 million in bonds to finance the expansion. Fees collected from U.N. member nations would pay for the debt service on the bonds, but there would be no oversight of the finances by the state Public Authorities Control Board.


"Without any state oversight or review of the project's financing through the PACB, it is difficult to determine exactly who would be liable to pay off the debt, should there be a default. It certainly should not be State or City taxpayers," said Mr. Bruno. He questioned whether the U.N. could be trusted to pay off its debts, considering that U.N. representatives from roughly 200 countries already owe more than $195 million in city parking fines.


Hmmm. $195 mil in parking fees. Almost enough to build a new public school in NYC. The quote about "community opposition" is always an interesting one, because it invokes some of the most poignant parts of Robert Caro's masterwork "The Power Broker" (if you don't own this book, get it now. Perhaps the single best treatise on how local government can be absolutely corrupt and ineffective). The irony was that Mr. Moses had contemporaneously intended to expand the parking lot of Central Park's Tavern On The Green and finish putting through the Cross-Bronx Expressway. The expressway was routed through a middle class neighborhood, and could've been detoured through a nearby private bus terminal with minimal cost or project impact, while saving the neighborhood from the impact of construction and the quality of life issues associated with having a major highway next door. Needless to say, the liberal glitterati surrounding Central Park took offense at having their stretch of green impinged, and balked in much the same manner as the Italian and Jewish people in the Bronx did at the highway. The glitterati got an injunction and won, yet Mr. Moses handily prevailed in the Bronx, and one doesn't need too much of an eyeful to see what that wrought.

Some of the Assemblymen and State Senators got their digs into the UN as well:

State Senator Martin Golden of Brooklyn was quoted by the AP yesterday as saying that Americans "have been insulted by the U.N. repeatedly since September 11, 2001, as we have sought to defend ourselves from terrorism. This is hardly the time to assist the United Nations with expansion efforts on American soil."


And state Senator Serphin Maltese, a Republican from Queens, also weighed in on the embattled U.N.: "It has evolved into an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic group of petty, sniping bigots who are pursuing an anti-freedom, antidemocratic, anti-American agenda. To authorize an expansion of their headquarters would be a slap in the face of American citizens."


As well as my personal favorite, Assemblyman Dov Hikind,
"I was gratified to have the opportunity in Albany to work on the Assembly side to organize people against the U.N.'s doing anything in New York," Mr. Hikind said. "I'm so delighted, on behalf of my community and New Yorkers, to tell the U.N. to go to hell, plain and simple. They want to expand? Forget it!" he added. "Let them move to Mozambique, or Paris, or God knows where."

Dov's one of the few things I miss about Brooklyn. Him and Noach Dear. The most dangerous place in the world was between those guys and a reporter or photographer. Some wiseacre put out a terrific parody of The Jewish Press years ago that included amongst other things, a series of "Dear Crossings" being prepared to preserve the wildlife in Borough Park (although my personal favorite item in that issue was a cannily-crafted article that made it appear that the Mill Basin Drawbridge (that's on the Belt Parkway for the NY-impaired) was to have tolls put in place. Needless to say, putting tolls on said facility would've been a completely idiotic idea and would be handily disimissed by anyone with the remotest knowledge of traffic engineering, but for grins and giggles I clipped the article and sent it to a local community "activist" (read as a busybody dreck yenta who loved her very minor political leverage). Watching the fireworks was most amusing.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

 

Either he's dead or my watch has stopped.

Blogspot is being peripatetic again today, so posting may be intermittent. Respected New Client is under the gun to do a couple of real work items, so my small project is put on the back burner for a couple of days, no real problems here. I had hoped to knock the thing out before Christmas, but since they're shutting down for the holiday week there's no big deal to get the thing done until mid-January. Odds are I'll be out of town for a conference in mid-January anyway, so it'll probably slip even further. Gotta love these proof-of-concepts.

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