Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sen. McCain Is Getting A Bit Testy

I think John McCain is beginning to experience the same Obama affect that afflicted Hillary. Notice the McCain invective leveled at Obama during his European tour, the "press loves him more" pronouncements. Now there's this and this.You've got to give Obama his props for running a flawless media campaign so far that has been impossible to surmount or surpass, by either Hillary or McCain. A fierce political foe. John should run his own campaign. He will lose fighting directly against Obama.

Monday, July 28, 2008

McCain Can't Find The Confounded Bridge

Interesting analysis here on Newsweek's blog of where music artists stand versus the candidates...

Last week, Team McCain posted a montage of media personalities fawning over Democratic nominee Barack Obama on its website and YouTube channel. Called "Obama Love," the fundraising video asked viewers to choose which song--Frank Valli's "My Eyes Adored You" or "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"--served as a more stirring accompaniment for the footage. It immediately amassed 260,000 views and rocketed to the top Unruly Media's presidential campaign viral video chart. And then, as quickly as it appeared, "Obama Love" vanished into the ether. (Or would it be e-ther?)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pixels Of Mass Destruction

A great analysis of the Iran missle photos showing how an additional missle was included and a mis-fired missle was erased can be found here.

This is the second time Photoshop has played a role in overstating the firepower or destruction of a Middle Eastern entity, published in major media around the world. C'mon guys. Don't you inspect these things before you take them as facts? What has happened to the state of photo journalistic integrity?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss At Chastain

Not the greatest cell phone shot in the world, but my view of last night's Robert Plant/Alison Krauss/T-Bone Burnett concert at Chastain. After listening to their Raising Sand CD for all these months, I knew the show would be good, but it far exceeded my expectations.

I have been telling folks today that the show was a kind of history of rock'n'roll from Appalachia to present, with the middle being represented by Led Zepplelin tunes. There were plenty of Alison songs, songs from O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, T-Bone songs, Raising Sand songs, Robert Plant songs, and plenty of Zeppelin.

The band consisted of T-Bone Burnett on guitar, Stuart Duncan on violin, banjo, mandolin, autoharp, and guitar, Dennis Crouch on upright bass, and Jay Bellerose on drums and percussion, with the addition of Buddy Miller on guitar and pedal steel. Alison provided her stellar fiddle playing.

Standouts in my mind: The Battle of Evermore, with Alison singing the high parts and Robert singing the low parts. Alison singing Down In The River To Pray with Robert, Stuart, and Buddy singing the tight harmony vocals. And all the Raising Sand songs: Through The Morning, Through The Night, Trampled Rose, Please Read The Letter, Rich Woman, Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On), Fortune Teller, Nothin', and Your Long Journey. All superb.

Clearly everyone was having fun on stage, and there was a great respect for each other and the music obviously being demonstrated. It was refreshing to watch Robert literally recede into the shadows to sing background harmonies on several songs where Alison was the focus. And Alison folded back into the band when her violin was supporting Robert's songs. Both of them even grabbed the beach ball being batted around the audience when it bounced on stage.

This was a show founded on the idea of perceived opposites actually being close together. Who could have predicted the outcome of mixing a Rock God with a Bluegrass Diva? Robert mentioned how the idea of their collaboration was one of "how will it work" and "what will we play". Alison wore a flowing white dress at the show and Robert wore what looked to be gun-metal grey leather pants and satin shirt. The band dressed in black and white. The electric guitars and the acoustic instruments melded together, the angelic voices intertwined, the understated presentation more powerful than perhaps a Led Zeppelin show.

I missed seeing Zep in my youth and had never seen Alison in person. This show confirmed my convictions that music is based on traditions that have become universal and genetic. What we do is reinterpret those traditions for the present, reinventing the wellspring of our souls. Music has always been my spiritial refuge and the Plant/Krauss show brilliantly showed the audience how the gospel of bluegrass and the fantasy of heavy metal are simply two sides of the same coin.

David Ford's "Go To Hell" Video

Pretty amazing use of looping for alt pop folk rock music.

Thanks to Kim Ware for pointing this out to me.

Ron Paul comments on Obama's "Change"

Friday, July 4, 2008

Moog Groom's Cake

The groom's cake made for my friend Jeff Kunzelman's recent wedding. It matches his wonderfully restored, by Kevin Lightner, Mini Moog. Someone actually tried to play it (see crushed B key).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Reach Out And Touch Someone

A new study published by JWT BOOM/ThirdAge states less than one-quarter of US Internet users ages 40 and over use social networking Web sites, while three-quarters of 15-24 year olds use them. How will this affect interaction between the generations?
The JWT BOOM/Third Age figures on social networking usage by those 40 and older generally agree with a study by ExactTarget conducted last month.

Instead of using one large category of older Internet users, ExactTarget divided users who were ages 35 and older into 10-year increments, with 65 and over being the oldest cohort. Although 39% of 35 to 44 year-olds used social networks, use fell sharply with age: Only 13% of 55 to 64 year-olds were social networkers, and only 4% of those ages 65 and older. In comparison, three-quarters of Internet users ages 15 to 24 use social networking sites.
My household is currently struggling with this dicotomy and, like new math versus the math being taught today, is another issue that divides the generations affecting how we parent in this brave new world.

I've been using computers in one form or another for over 30 years. I saw my first computer around 1970 on a Boy Scout field trip to Frito Lay. I'm sure it must of been a room full of IBM System/360s like the photo above. I definitely remember the hard drive, which was one of these, which held a whopping 28 Megabytes:

I got to try my hand a programming these beauties as an undergrad mechanical engineering student at the University of Oklahoma in 1976-1977. This was the punchcard days of programming, and I was cursed out by the Graduate Assistant for causing a massive recursive loop with my resplendent programing skills. I switched to Journalism: Radio, TV, Film my next semester.

When I worked for CBS Records in the early 1980s, my job as Single Records Coordinator required me to pull weekly sales figures out of the headquarters mainframe using the Dallas branch office terminal.

In my late 20s, I managed an Apple dealership in New York City. The Macintosh computer had just been introduced, but we still sold Apple IIe and IIc computers. I was getting my Masters degree at NYU, so was also working on IBM PCs.

School was where I was introduced to online bulletin board systems and was a user of The Well, the Whole Earth 'Lectric Link, started by Stewart Brand and his California Whole Earth Catalog folk. My classmate Stacy Horn start ECHO NYC in the early '90s, the East Coast equivalent to The Well, and I was one of her first topic hosts.

So while systems like MySpace, Facebook, and the plethora of other social networking sites promote themselves as the latest, greatest thing, from my vantage point the reason people use these systems has not changed since those early days of The Well and ECHO. People like to connect with others to share common interests and learn new things. They like to feel apart of something larger.

What has changed is that business forces have monetized that desire for connection. The Well and ECHO were subscription services. MySpace and Facebook, et al, are primarily advertising driven models.

It is this commercialized aspect of the network that is most worrisome to me, even more than the privacy and personal security issues that swirl around in discussions of the internet. In the old days, the biggest threat to a bulletin board was an abusive poster (someone who was a bully in an online discussion). Nowadays, the commercial venture posing as a friend seems far more stealthy and sinister.

Do 15-24 year olds realize this? Or is it just a part of the landscape they grow up with, much like the TV advertising I grew up with?

Ultimately, we humans just want to talk to someone. And like the ELIZA experiments of the 1960's proved, we're easily amused and delighted when we can get that connection through a machine.

I remain hopeful that the internet provides connections between humans. But I remain fearful of the connection between humans and disembodied corporations masquerading as machines.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Candidates and Their Wives

I'm getting lots of emails across the transom regarding the wives of the candidates and how each is or isn't the best/worst thing to happen to America. We don't elect the wives of course, but the role of family is being used as both carrot and stick, comfort and fear in this campaign.

Here are two links that are factual starting points:

Wall Street Journal article on Cindy McCain

About.com article on Michelle Obama

Rolling Gallery