Friday, December 16, 2011

New song from Adam: Better Than I Know Myself

Adam's new single, Better Than I Know Myself, is streaming here, legally and officially. This is the first single off his new, second album, Trespassing. The single will be available for purchase from iTunes, Amazon, etc on Dec. 20; the album will be released in March.

The song has a bit of a modern R&B flavor. It'll work on Top 40 radio and that should mean new fans.

Update:  My favorite thing are the counter-melodies and harmony embellishments in the final chorus.  Stunning.  

Friday, December 09, 2011

Minnesotans United for All Families

This is why later, eventually, someday, when-a-huge-majority-favors-it, is not good enough for legalizing same sex marriage.  Today is already too late.  Together 40 years, but denied the right to marry.  In this season of giving, please consider giving to marriage equality organizations, particularly those battling state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.  Example:  Minnesotans United for All Families.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Biking down some stairs

K and I took up mountain biking in July.  It is the most fun thing that humans can do.  I'm particularly fond of biking down steep, bumpy, tree-rooted downhills.  I think I'm now addicted to the adrenaline rush from the danger.  This has been an awakening for me; before July, I was afraid to ride my bike off a curb.

One of the "features" in my favorite trail is a curved, concrete staircase, with a steep drop off on the outside of the curve.  The first couple times we rode this trail, I was too scared to bike down it.

Here's K trying to bike down these stairs for the first time today:

I like the bike flying down the hill at about 00:48.  He's afraid of heights, so he has avoided riding down these stairs for months.

This video shows my first ride down the stairs a couple months ago:

The whooping and hollering is embarrassing, but it was a personal victory.  It's not technically difficult to bike down these stairs; you just have to conquer the fear.

Legal Writing

To fulfill Continuing Legal Education requirements, I recently attended a seminar on legal writing. The speaker was Ross Guberman. I highly recommend his seminar for all writers.  Take it if you get a chance. He has written a book, Point Made, that I intend to read.

He mentioned a book by a graphic designer/lawyer, Typography for Lawyers, by Matthew Butterick. He didn't really recommend it, but I pass it on because I know at least one of my blog brothers is interested in fonts.  It discusses fonts at length; it also covers document layout and other graphic design topics.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Adam sang with Queen at the MTV EMAs yesterday

It went like this:

Queen is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. MTV European Music Awards gave Queen a Global Icon award yesterday.

I love Adam with Queen. He's not trying to copy Freddie, and his voice is big enough and he's theatrical enough to pull off Queen's music.

Update 11/8: I should note that Freddie did not have a chance to sing this song live before he passed, though he recorded it. Also, after The Show Must Go On, Adam and Queen performed We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. MTV hasn't posted video of that part yet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling = young Brando. It's partly the voice and the smoldering sensuality and the way he rocks a white undershirt, but there's something else too. I just learned of him, though he's been in many things in recent years. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Half Nelson. He's in Drive and Ides of March, in theaters now. He was also in Blue Valentine and the quirky Lars and the Real Girl. He won an MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss for The Notebook. I expect he'll win this award again for the kiss in Drive.

By the way, if you're thirsting for old school movie editing, with loooooooong shots, you want to see Drive. It's amazing how much fun you can have waiting for someone to blink.

Update 10/18/11 9:55 pm: Of COURSE I wasn't the first person to notice Gosling's similarity to Brando. See, for example, Gina Picallo writing at The Daily Beast:
Gosling is the most conspicuous of this latest bunch [of actors influenced by Brando]. As a boy, he deliberately disguised his Canadian accent to give it a little Brando bravado. Then there he was last month on the cover of New York magazine wearing a sexy frown, a tight white T-shirt and a toothpick, a la Stanley Kowalksi. In his harrowing relationship drama Blue Valentine, Gosling’s young working class romantic Dean would have fit right in on the docks next to Brando’s Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront.

“You can’t help but be affected by him,” Gosling recently told The Daily Beast. “I think all of us are.”

And Michael Giltz writing at HuffPo.

And Robert Butler, movie reviewer for the Kansas City Star from 1977-2011, writing on the Senior Correspondent blog:
Ryan Gosling is the new Marlon Brando.
I feel not even a twinge of nervousness about that statement. It’s as obvious as saying that Earth circles the sun.

I am as late to this party as I was to the White Stripes party.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Adam Lambert - Outlaws of Love on Album #2

Adam's second album (title unknown) will be out in November, probably. Last night, at a concert in MontrealSte. Agathe, Quebec, he debuted a song, Outlaws of Love, from the new album. Video is courtesy of a fan.

The lyrics are sort of stunning to me. He's gone two years trying to avoid being a mascot for gay rights. In interviews after his Idol season, he specifically described not wanting to be an activist; he just wanted to be a singer. In more recent interviews, he's expressed ambivalence. This song, written by Adam, addresses the political issue of gay marriage, while being intensely personal. Lyrics below.


Oh, nowhere left to go
Are we getting closer, closer?
No, all we know is no,
Nights are getting colder, colder.

Hey, tears all fall the same,
We all feel the rain,
We can't change.

Everywhere we go, we're lookin for the sun,
Nowhere to grow old, we're always on the run.
They say we'll rot in hell, but I don't think we will
They’ve branded us enough, outlaws of love.

Scars make us who we are,
Hearts and homes are broken, broken
Far, we could go so far,
With our minds wide open, open

Hey, tears all fall the same,
We all feel the rain,
We can't change.

And everywhere we go, we're lookin for the sun
Nowhere to grow old, we're always on the run.
They say we'll rot in hell, but I don't think we will.
They’ve branded us enough, outlaws of love.

Everywhere we go, we're looking for the sun.
Nowhere to grow old, we're always on the run.
They say we'll rot in hell, but I don't think we will.
They’ve branded us enough, outlaws of love.
Outlaws of love.
Outlaws of love.
Outlaws of love.
Outlaws of love.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wow. Kids these days . . .

YouTube seems to have become badly underpowered in the last month or so, so now videos take forever to load and can't play without interruption. It helps to lower the resolution to 240. It's worth the hassle to watch this, IMHO:

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Birthday, LJ!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Hero

As detailed by the NYTimes, the road to the vote to legalize same-sex marriage in New York was paved with support from big-dollar donors as well as personal changes of heart stemming from family pressure. But at the heart, it was Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desire to make a meaningful difference, to have a legacy. This is what I wish we could have in a president. (To be clear, I knew when I voted in 2008 that Pres. Obama would not be that kind of a president.)

Andrew Cuomo, you're my hero:
There, in a speech the public would never hear, [Gov. Andrew Cuomo] offered his most direct and impassioned case for allowing gays to wed. Gay couples, he said, wanted recognition from the state that they were no different than the lawmakers in the room. “Their love is worth the same as your love,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”

Monday, June 06, 2011

Discouraging Midwestern Values

I guess barn-raisings are out of the question these days. Obviously I don't know the whole story but one thing I've always admired about the MN, WI, SD, ND cultures is that whole everybody helps everybody else out kind of mentality. Hope that's not changing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sad day for every baseball lover

Harmon Killibrew has passed away after a 5-month battle with esophageal cancer. He's much loved here. A street near the Mall of America (built on the grounds of the old Met Stadium where Harmon played) is named for him. The grounds of the new stadium, Target Field, is home to statues of Twins greats, including Harmon.

Cancer, you suck extra badly this week.

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

The Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), recently released the results of their investigation into the financial crisis in a 650-page report, "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse".

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, summarizes the report thusly:
Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin's small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street's aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Best new of the weekend? Athens goes wettish. Beer and wine soon to be available in Athens. I suppose it's Athens' way of going green by cutting back on gasoline consumption.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


It was a class act for Pres. Obama to invite Pres. Bush to join him at Ground Zero. I think Pres. Bush's decision not to attend is unfortunate, but I think Pres. Bush's intent is classy too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter offering

This almost makes me believe in God:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jessie J singing Big White Room live

This amazing live recording is on her new album Who You Are:

Monday, April 18, 2011

If Gumby could dance . . .

and if Yo-Yo Ma played for him:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Milton's pencil

I guess if Ms. Rand's Atlas Shrugged is coming out tomorrow, I should post this two minute link of Mr. Friedman.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Eagle cam

in Decorah, Iowa

Live streaming video by Ustream

Update 4/2/11: Here's a highlight reel showing the first egg being hatched early this morning.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gravel roads

I'm sure this is bad news for many folks living in rural areas, but I have such fond memories of exploring gravel roads that I can't help being a little bit delighted:

The paved roads that finally brought rural America into the 20th century are starting to disappear across the Midwest in the 21st. Local officials, facing rising pavement prices, shrinking budgets and fewer residents, are making tough decisions to regress.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Memorializing Bob Herbert's last NYT column

I will miss Bob. From his final column:

As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

NYTimes, if you're listening: please hire Ezra Klein.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Reading break

I'm posting this simply to take a break from reading Brothers Karamazov.  I'm in the middle of a single paragraph that goes on for more than eight -- count them, eight -- pages.  I recall Crime and Punishment being considerably easier to read.

The new job, which I can't really blog about, is fascinating.  The next couple of months will be extremely busy.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Bahrain, not Libya

Bahrain and the Battle Between Iran and Saudi Arabia is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By George Friedman

The world’s attention is focused on Libya, which is now in a state of civil war with the winner far from clear. While crucial for the Libyan people and of some significance to the world’s oil markets, in our view, Libya is not the most important event in the Arab world at the moment. The demonstrations in Bahrain are, in my view, far more significant in their implications for the region and potentially for the world. To understand this, we must place it in a strategic context.

As STRATFOR has been saying for quite a while, a decisive moment is approaching, with the United States currently slated to withdraw the last of its forces from Iraq by the end of the year. Indeed, we are already at a point where the composition of the 50,000 troops remaining in Iraq has shifted from combat troops to training and support personnel. As it stands now, even these will all be gone by Dec. 31, 2011, provided the United States does not negotiate an extended stay. Iraq still does not have a stable government. It also does not have a military and security apparatus able to enforce the will of the government (which is hardly of one mind on anything) on the country, much less defend the country from outside forces.

Filling the Vacuum in Iraq

The decision to withdraw creates a vacuum in Iraq, and the question of the wisdom of the original invasion is at this point moot. The Iranians previously have made clear that they intend to fill this vacuum with their own influence; doing so makes perfect sense from their point of view. Iran and Iraq fought a long and brutal war in the 1980s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran is now secure on all fronts save the western. Tehran’s primary national security imperative now is to prevent a strong government from emerging in Baghdad, and more important, a significant military force from emerging there. Iran never wants to fight another war with Iraq, making keeping Iraq permanently weak and fragmented in Tehran’s interest. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq sets the stage for Iran to pursue this goal, profoundly changing the regional dynamic.

Iran has another, more challenging strategic interest, one it has had since Biblical times. That goal is to be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf.

For Tehran, this is both reasonable and attainable. Iran has the largest and most ideologically committed military of any state in the Persian Gulf region. Despite the apparent technological sophistication of the Gulf states’ militaries, they are shells. Iran’s is not. In addition to being the leading military force in the Persian Gulf, Iran has 75 million people, giving it a larger population than all other Persian Gulf states combined.

Outside powers have prevented Iran from dominating the region since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, first the United Kingdom and then the United States, which consistently have supported the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. It was in the outsiders’ interests to maintain a divided region, and therefore in their interests to block the most powerful country in the region from dominating even when the outsiders were allied with Iran.

With the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, this strategy is being abandoned in the sense that the force needed to contain Iran is being withdrawn. The forces left in Kuwait and U.S air power might be able to limit a conventional Iranian attack. Still, the U.S. withdrawal leaves the Iranians with the most powerful military force in the region regardless of whether they acquire nuclear weapons. Indeed, in my view, the nuclear issue largely has been an Iranian diversion from the more fundamental issue, namely, the regional balance after the departure of the United States. By focusing on the nuclear issue, these other issues appeared subsidiary and have been largely ignored.

The U.S. withdrawal does not mean that the United States is powerless against Iran. It has been reconstituting a pre-positioned heavy brigade combat team set in Kuwait and has substantial air and naval assets in the region. It also can bring more forces back to the region if Iran is aggressive. But it takes at least several months for the United States to bring multidivisional forces into a theater and requires the kind of political will that will be severely lacking in the United States in the years ahead. It is not clear that the forces available on the ground could stop a determined Iranian thrust. In any case, Iraq will be free of American troops, allowing Iran to operate much more freely there.

And Iran does not need to change the balance of power in the region through the overt exercise of military force. Its covert capability, unchecked by American force, is significant. It can covertly support pro-Iranian forces in the region, destabilizing existing regimes. With the psychology of the Arab masses changing, as they are no longer afraid to challenge their rulers, Iran will enjoy an enhanced capacity to cause instability.

As important, the U.S. withdrawal will cause a profound shift in psychological perceptions of power in the region. Recognition of Iran’s relative power based on ground realities will force a very different political perception of Iran, and a desire to accommodate Tehran. The Iranians, who understand the weakness of their military’s logistics and air power, are pursuing a strategy of indirect approach. They are laying the foundation for power based on a perception of greater Iranian power and declining American and Saudi power.

Bahrain, the Test Case

Bahrain is the perfect example and test case. An island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are linked by a causeway. For most purposes, Bahrain is part of Saudi Arabia. Unlike Saudi Arabia, it is not a major oil producer, but it is a banking center. It is also the home of the U.S. 5th Fleet, and has close ties to the United States. The majority of its population is Shia, but its government is Sunni and heavily linked to Saudi Arabia. The Shiite population has not fared as well economically as Shia in other countries in the region, and tensions between the government and the public have long existed.

The toppling of the government of Bahrain by a Shiite movement would potentially embolden Shia in Saudi Arabia, who live primarily in the oil-rich northeast near Bahrain. It also would weaken the U.S. military posture in the region. And it would demonstrate Iranian power.

If the Saudis intervened in Bahrain, the Iranians would have grounds to justify their own intervention, covert or overt. Iran might also use any violent Bahraini government suppression of demonstrators to justify more open intervention. In the meantime, the United States, which has about 1,500 military personnel plus embassy staff on the ground in Bahrain, would face the choice of reinforcing or pulling its troops out.

Certainly, there are internal processes under way in Bahrain that have nothing to do with Iran or foreign issues. But just as the internal dynamic of revolutions affects the international scene, the international scene affects the internal dynamic; observing just one of the two is not sufficient to understand what is going on.

The Iranians clearly have an interest in overthrowing the Bahraini regime. While the degree to which the Iranians are involved in the Bahraini unrest is unclear, they clearly have a great deal of influence over a cleric, Hassan Mushaima, who recently returned to Bahrain from London to participate in the protests. That said, the Bahraini government itself could be using the unrest to achieve its own political goals, much as the Egyptian military used the Egyptian uprising. Like all revolutions, events in Bahrain are enormously complex — and in Bahrain’s case, the stakes are extremely high.

Unlike Libya, where the effects are primarily internal, the events in Bahrain clearly involve Saudi, Iranian and U.S. interests. Bahrain is also the point where the Iranians have their best chance, since it is both the most heavily Shiite nation and one where the Shiites have the most grievances. But the Iranians have other targets, which might be defined as any area adjoining Saudi Arabia with a substantial Shiite population and with American bases. This would include Oman, which the United States uses as a support facility; Qatar, headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to Al Udeid Air Base; and Kuwait, the key logistical hub for Iraqi operations and with major army support, storage and port facilities. All three have experienced or are experiencing demonstrations. Logically, these are Iran’s first targets.

The largest target of all is, of course, Saudi Arabia. That is the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, and its destabilization would change the regional balance of power and the way the world works. Iran has never made a secret of its animosity toward Saudi Arabia, nor vice versa. Saudi Arabia could now be in a vise. There is massive instability in Yemen with potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia’s southern Ismaili-concentrated areas. The situation in Iraq is moving in the Iranians’ favor. Successful regime changes in even one or two of the countries on the littoral of the Persian Gulf could generate massive internal fears regardless of what the Saudi Shia did and could lead to dissension in the royal family. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Saudis are moving aggressively against any sign of unrest among the Shia, arresting dozens who have indicated dissent. The Saudis clearly are uneasy in the extreme.

Iran’s Powerful Position

The Iranians would be delighted to cause regime change throughout the region, but that is not likely to occur, at least not everywhere in the region. They would be equally happy simply to cause massive instability in the region, however. With the United States withdrawing from Iraq, the Saudis represent the major supporter of Iraq’s Sunnis. With the Saudis diverted, this would ease the way for Iranian influence in Iraq. At that point, there would be three options: Turkey intervening broadly, something it is not eager to do; the United States reversing course and surging troops into the region to support tottering regimes, something for which there is no political appetite in the United States; and the United States accepting the changed regional balance of power.

Two processes are under way. The first is that Iran will be the single outside power with the most influence in Iraq, not unlimited and not unchallenged, but certainly the greatest. The second is that as the United States withdraws, Iran will be in a position to pursue its interests more decisively. Those interests divide into three parts:

1. eliminating foreign powers from the region to maximize Iranian power,
2. convincing Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region that they must reach an accommodation with Iran or face potentially dangerous consequences, and
3. a redefinition of the economics of oil in the Persian Gulf in favor of Iran, including Iranian participation in oil projects in other Persian Gulf countries and regional investment in Iranian energy development.

The events in the Persian Gulf are quite different from the events in North Africa, with much broader implications. Bahrain is the focal point of a struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for control of the western littoral of the Persian Gulf. If Iran is unable to capitalize on events in Bahrain, the place most favorable to it, the moment will pass. If Bahrain’s government falls, the door is opened to further actions. Whether Iran caused the rising in the first place is unclear and unimportant; it is certainly involved now, as are the Saudis.

The Iranians are in a powerful position whatever happens given the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Combine this with a series of regime changes, or simply destabilization on the border of Saudi Arabia, and two things happen. First, the Saudi regime would be in trouble and would have to negotiate some agreement with the Iranians — and not an agreement the Saudis would like. Second, the U.S. basing position in the Persian Gulf would massively destabilize, making U.S. intervention in the region even more difficult.

The problem created by the U.S. leaving Iraq without having been able to install a strong, pro-American government remains the core issue. The instability in the Persian Gulf allows the Iranians a low-risk, high-reward parallel strategy that, if it works, could unhinge the balance of power in the entire region. The threat of an uprising in Iran appears minimal, with the Iranian government having no real difficulty crushing resistance. The resistance on the western shore of the Persian Gulf may be crushed or dissolved as well, in which case Iran would still retain its advantageous position in Iraq. But if the perfect storm presents itself, with Iran increasing its influence in Iraq and massive destabilization on the Arabian Peninsula, then the United States will face some extraordinarily difficult and dangerous choices, beginning with the question of how to resist Iran while keeping the price of oil manageable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Songs in 6/8 time

K has this peculiar thing. He loves all songs that are in 6/8 time. Doesn't matter who the band or singer is, really. The one disappointing thing in Pandora has been that there isn't any way to seed it to return all songs in 6/8 time. You can suggest a batch of 6/8 songs, but it willfully refuses to notice that that's the only attribute you care about.

For K for Valentine's Day yesterday, I made a mix CD of 6/8 songs. In case anyone else has such a fetish, I'll offer the playlist:

I goofed, though. Holding Onto You is definitely not 6/8. And there are a couple others that might be 12/8, but I can't always tell the difference.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How many songs do you hear in Gaga's Born This Way

I (and all of Twitter) heard Express Yourself when we first heard Gaga's Born This Way. Cheeks (aka Brad Bell, musician, comedian, actor, internet personality) heard several songs and does an amazing job singing all of them while Born This Way plays in the background. (This impresses me because I always had trouble concentrating on singing my part of Row, Row, Row Your Boat in round.)

As listed and time coded by commenter AznShmiley, the songs he sings are as follows:
0:00-0:31 TLC- Waterfalls
0:32-1:01 Madonna- Express Yourself
1:02-1:08 Madonna- Vogue
1:09- 1:53 David Guetta- When Love Takes Over
1:54- 2:00 Kelly Clarkson- Walk Away
2:01 - 2:11 P!nk- God is a DJ
2:17 - 2:47 Madonna- Vogue
2:48 - 3:05 Adam Lambert - Fever

Cheeks' YouTube Channel.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Born This Way = Express Yourself

If you're Madonna's copyright lawyer, you should be busy screencapping Twitter trend lists right now. The new Gaga song, "Born This Way", sounds so much like Madonna's "Express Yourself" that the discussion on Twitter is causing "Express Yourself" to trend.

Update 2/11/11, 9:47 CST: Someone has mashed them, so you can compare for yourself:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth | STRATFOR

I know I'm the only one who's been bothered by the numbers that have been thrown around but until now it was just a gut feeling. The link to Stratfor's publication today on the ref'd subject:

Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth STRATFOR

Monday, January 31, 2011

Update on Adam's Charity:Water campaign

From Charity: Water:
. . . Saturday was Adam Lambert’s 29th birthday, where he raised more than $115,000 in one day, all for clean water projects. That’s the most raised in one day on mycharity: water! And this made his campaign the highest-raising one in mycharity: water history (and he hasn’t hit his goal yet!).

We were blown away by his fans’ support and continue to watch his campaign page, excited for him to reach his goal of $290,000 by the campaign’s end. Thank, you Adam! And thanks to your devoted fans.

Go here to donate.

Update 2/4/11: HuffPo has the story on its front page today.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tis the season of high profile Star Spangled Banner performances

None of which Adam is singing.

But here are a couple of past performances, for your patriotic listening pleasure:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What is Money?

Here is an excellent episode of This American Life on the topic of "What is Money". They cover:

Prologue: The use of giant stone sculptures as money, impractical though such a practice may be.
Act I: The creation of a currency fiction to solve Brazil's problems with its voluble currency valuation.
Act II: The Federal Reserve's actions in response to the recent fiscal crisis.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Kanye has tweeted an important life rule that I pass on as a public service:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Livestream from downtown Cairo


Update 1/26/11: No longer providing a live feed. (It has, though, been playing footage recorded yesterday.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kanye and Napoleon Dynamite

Quiz for those of you who've been checking out Kanye's MBDTF: Quote the Napoleon Dynamite reference.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cool site (Hope they play with data better than they spell.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fandom power applied to charity

Earlier this evening, Adam posted an announcement on his official fansite that he'd like fans to make donations to a charity in lieu of sending him birthday gifts. The charity he selected this time is charity : water that funds clean drinking projects (wells and so forth) in areas lacking clean drinking water.

In honor of this being his 29th birthday, he set the goal amount at $29,000 to be raised over 85 days.

In under 6 hours, his fans donated . . . [drum roll] . . . more than $29,000 dollars.

This was accomplished without any distribution of a press release and no announcement on Twitter.

Happy 6oth Birthday!

No, not to Michael. To The Day the Earth Stood Still and thanks to AMC for showing one of my all time faves tonight. Still love Patricia Neal.

And what geek could even mention the classic without quoting this:

Michael Rennie was ill
The day the earth stood still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there
In silver underwear
Claude Rains was the Invisible Man
Then something went wrong
For Fay Wray and King Kong
They got caught in a celluloid jam
Then at a deadly pace
It came from outer space
And this is how the message ran.


Science fiction — double feature
Dr. X will build a creature
See Androids fighting Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Oh — at the late night double feature
Picture show

I knew Leo G. Carrol
Was over a barrel
When tarrantula took to the hills
And I got really hot
When I saw Jeanette Scott
Fight a triffid that spits poison and kills
Dana Andrews said prunes
Gave him the ruhnes
And passing them used lots of skills
And when worlds collide
Said George Pal to his bride
I'm going to give you some terrible thrills
Like a —


"Prunes?" Who knew?

R.I.P. Clarence Prevost

Clarence W. Prevost who alerted law enforcement about Zacarias Moussaoui's suspicious behavior while learning to fly a jumbo jet at a flight school in Eagan, MN, before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, has died at the age of 72.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Kanye

Chris Jackson writing at The Atlantic talks about Kanye, what Kanye is saying, and how to interpret rap:

I was the editor of Decoded, and one of Jay-Z's main ambitions for the book from the beginning is that it give both fans and haters a primer on how to listen to rap, and why it's always more complicated than you think it is. Rap can be free wordplay or linear narrative. Sometimes a rapper uses words as rhythmic devices, as percussion, with little concern about literal meaning. Rap can be polemic or stand-up comedy. It's autobiography, fantasy, confession, satire, lecture, dream. The voice of the rapper can be first-, second-, or third-person, comic or hyperbolic or earnest. Even then it's complicated: Jay-Z's voice, even in earnest first person, is not necessarily Shawn Carter's voice, but then again sometimes it is.


...but at the least I think it's hard to analyze Kanye's lyrics outside of the understanding that he's fundamentally a comic, a sometimes viciously comic, rapper ... and an artist . . ., and operating out of a tradition of which he's conscious (as indicated by the inclusion of Gil Scott-Heron and Chris Rock).


I think the most difficult, and most intriguing, aspect of Kanye as a rapper is that you never know whether he's celebrating or satirizing an idea, or doing both at the same time.


All of which is to say . . . that Kanye West may or may not be a racist and a misogynist, but before making that claim he deserves a fairer hearing than a surface reading of his lyrics. We all know that rap is narrative, with unreliable narrators, and that the point-of-view in any narrative is not necessarily the point of view of the writer, but then we occasionally choose to forget this; in those moments we make judgments on rap songs without making the effort to first understand them on the terms of the form.

H/t Ezra.

T-Paw on Stewart

Former Minnesota governor and potential candidate for President in 2012, Tim Pawlenty, appeared on the Daily Show last night. The interview, including the portion that didn't air, is here.

I don't agree with him on much policy, of course, but I think he deserves consideration from Republicans who want a serious candidate. He's smart; he's experienced; he's articulate; he's a true believer in a conservative economic philosophy without emphasizing a socially "conservative" agenda.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Samples used in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Over the weekend, K and I saw Four Lions and heard, over the closing credits, a melody that is included in Blame Game on Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. That sent me to Kanye's liner notes that I had not read. That, plus LJ and Scooter's interest in the 21st Century Schizoid Man sample, motivated me to investigate the samples further.

With links to a cool site that streams audio of songs with their samples, side by side, here are Kanye's samples, in track order:

Dark Fantasy: Contains samples of “In High Places” by Mike Oldfield

Gorgeous: Contains portions of the composition “You Showed Me,” written by Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn.

  • Contains elements of “It’s Your Thing,” recorded by the Cold Grits.
  • Contains elements of “Afromerica” (Francois Bernheim/Jean-Pierre Lang/Boris Bergman)
  • Contains material sampled from “21st Century Schizoid Man” performed by King Crimson Taken from the album: In The Court Of The Crimson King.
All of the Lights: None

Monster: None

So Appalled: Contains samples of the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band recording “You Are – I Am.”

Devil in a New Dress: Contains samples of the recording “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” as performed by Smokey Robinson.

  • Contains a sample of “Expo 83” performed by Backyard Heavies.
  • Contains excerpts from Rick James ‘Live at Long Beach, CA’ 1981.
Hell of a Life:
  • Contains samples of the Mojo Men recording “She’s My Baby.”
  • Contains samples of the Tony Joe White recording “Stud-Spider.”
  • Contains portions of “Iron Man,” written by T. Butler, A. Iommi, J. Osbourne and W.T. Ward (Black Sabbath).
Blame Game: Contains elements of “Avril 14” by Richard James, Aphex Twin.

Lost in the World:
  • Contains portions of “Soul Makossa,” written by M. DiBango.
  • Contains a sample of the recording “Think (About It)” as performed by Lyn Collins. Written by James Brown.
  • Contains samples of “The Woods” performed by Bon Iver
  • Contains samples of “Comment No. 1” performed by Gil Scott-Heron.
Who Will Survive in America: Contains samples of “Comment No. 1” performed by Gil Scott-Heron

Of note, the artistic use of autotune at the beginning of Lost in the World, that I'd given Kanye credit for, is almost entirely the doing of Bon Iver.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Here's a great idea

from Ezra:
Treat the question of whether someone is a deficit hawk as a math problem rather than a subjective judgment.

Friday, January 07, 2011

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye's album really really is great. It's COMPOSED. It's orchestrated. It's rap but it's not merely rapping over an unrelenting, unchanging synthesized beat under it. It's a rap album with a lovely cello solo for an interlude, for Pete's sake. Melodic hooks galore. Artistic use of autotune; I kid you not. (I cite the beginning of Lost in the World.) Also, Nicki Minaj growls while rapping in Monster and it's weirdly delightful. It deserves all the Grammies it's going to collect.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I may have played a role in this

According to, as reported by Marketwire:
Adam Lambert has emerged as the best loved topic in social media for 2010, according to Amplicate's annual review of public opinions expressed on social media.
Updated: As USAToday reported it: "Adam Lambert is More Beloved Than Ice Cream."

Karma's first "title"

Karma competed in her third agility competition last weekend. She ran four events. I use the term "ran" loosely. She did run her Tunnelers event well, and "qualified". This is her third "Q" in Tunnelers and that means she has earned her first title. The agility career of a dog is marked by accumulating these titles.

During the other three events, she spent a fair amount of time sniffing the ground or loping casually along. It's puzzling to me why running the tunnels seems to her like something that should be done with great focus and drive, but she doesn't always have the same attitude with other events. She was not alone in having the sniffies; only about 1/3 of the dogs in our "novice" level qualified in most events.

It was a long day for Karma. This was the first time we stayed at a competition for a whole day. Check-in was at 7:00 am and we ran the final event at about 5:30. Between events, she must sit in her kennel which she does not like very much. I don't think she slept a wink all day. The environment, with dogs and people walking past, is just too stimulating. By mid-afternoon, she was exhausted. The mental and emotional demands are a big part of the sport and they may be the hardest thing for Karma.