Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A recently diagnosed disorder ...

Do you suffer from Dysphoric Social Attention Consumption Deficit Anxiety Disorder (DSACDAD)?

Sometimes, I wonder if I do ... perhaps I should talk to my doctor ....

website to learn more about treatments

article at Reuters about this recently discovered affliction

Disappearing bees

It's a mystery the NY Times calls worthy of Agatha Christie. Around the US, millions of bees are disappearing. Beekeepers on the East Coast are reporting losses of 70 percent and those on the West Coast are seeing 30 to 60 percent losses. The bee shortage may have a big impact on many crops in the coming months and years.

article at NY Times

I'm just so...special....

A research at San Diego State University has concluded that today's young people are self-centered and narcissistic. The researchers have seen a steady rise since 1982 on a standardized test, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.

And we wonder why young people, spending hours on MySpace and YouTube uploading the most mundane little details of their lives, are so fascinated with idea of celebrity ...

article at HuffingtonPost

Now that's some serious Karma...

Car crashes! Plane wrecks! Near-death experiences!

Nope, it's not the new episode of "24". The NY Times looks at an Olympic athelete that seems to attract major accidents almost every day.

article at NY Times

Controversy at SF Asian newspaper

A San Francisco weekly newspaper aimed at the Asian-American community there has come under fire for publishing a column by a self-proclaimed "Asian Supremicist" titled "Why I Hate Blacks".

Other AsianWeek columns of Eng's -- including "Proof That Whites Inherently Hate Us" and "Why I Hate Asians" -- have resulted in criticism. In the first, he complained about the scarcity of Asian heroes in the media. In the second, he described Asian Americans as apathetic, brown-nosing and lacking in cultural pride.

The newspaper has withdrawn the online version of the column and apologized for any misunderstanding; individuals in the community have called for a town-hall meeting to clear the air over racial issues.

It's interesting to me that there seems to be a resurgence of hate-speech and ultra-conservative poltics among some young people (the writer of the column is in his early 20's); in previous months there have been reports on conservative churches led by young people in the Northwest and rumblings among Young Republicans on college campuses. It's probably a reaction to the more tolerant attitudes among their peers.

article at the SF Gate

Friday, February 23, 2007

The ultimate Moog LP?

Well, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it on ebay.

Someone actually did one of those Moog concept LP's in the late 60's or early 70's featuring the music of ... Buck Owens. Now, with "Switched on Buck", you can hear what "Tiger by the Tail" sounds like played on a Moog.

If it weren't fifty bucks, I'd get it....

auction at ebay

A complex issue

Did you know that the income taxes paid by 90% of Americans - everyone making under $100,000 per year - is given to private companies under contract to the Federal government?

Well, neither did I.

A blogger reflects on Ike's warning of a Military Industrial Complex and links to a recent investigative piece in Vanity Fair about the outsourcing of our government.

blog post at informationclearninghouse.com

PM Blair, I see in your future....

According to recently declassified documents, the British government hired psychics to try to find Osama Bin Laden.

There's nothing really to say here except it shows some desperation on their part. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bush administration tried the same thing.

article at the DailyMail

Silents, please!

Wired magazine takes a look at the growing interest in silent films - the production of new silent films that tackle an art form pretty much dead for the past seven decades. (Odd to run into this article today, considering that I'm going to see my musician friend Gil accompany the 1929 silent feature "Show People" on Saturday at the North Carolina School of the Arts.)

My own theory about the resurgance of interest in silents is the way that our society is becoming more "iPod plugged". Look around you in any big city, high school or college town and you'll see young whipper-snappers wandering around all day plugged, headphones firmly implanted in ear canals, listening to music as they walk to class, jog or study. In a sense, with a constant stream of music and visual cues of the world around them, a big chunk of their lives are becoming a real life silent movie.

article at Wired.com

Painted kitties

Painted cats, or rather photographs of "artistically" painted cats, are making the rounds of the Internet, inspired by a coffee table book that went on sale around Christmas. The book has its own entry at Wikipedia, reminding everyone that it's a parody and isn't real.

examples at the gadny.com blog

An animal painting exercise that is real was done by a colleague at my last employer, Wake Forest University's Art Department. Martine Sherrill, the curator of the visual resources collection, would actually paint her horses for Halloween.

Skylark at Martine's website

Meetings make us dumb

It's no surprise to me, but some scientists have produced research indicating that making group decisions cause individuals to think inside the box.

Yet another reason to really question focus groups and decisions made by groups.

article at MSNBC

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Reno 911 cops interviewed at the AV Club

A very funny interview with two of the actors from "Reno 911", talking "in character" about the new movie based on the series.

interview at the Onion AV Club

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Spyder, baby

Mark Morford moans about the latest development in fun, sort of motorcycle thingies, the Spyder, a kind of "trike" that gives you the thrill of motorcycling riding without all those stability problems.

Mark should lighten up. A hybrid electric golf cart for tooting around the city is great for the environment and should be encouraged. But testosterone fueled fun should be on the agenda as well (in moderation, of course).

commentary with pics at SFgate.com

Medved's afraid you're looking at his naughty bits

Recently, conservative film reviewer and all around annoyance Michael Medved chimed in with his thoughts about NBA player Tim Hardaway's "I hate gays" pronouncement:

"Tim Hardaway (and most of his former NBA teammates) wouldn't welcome openly gay players into the locker room any more than they'd welcome profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women. I specify unattractive females because if a young lady is attractive (or, even better, downright 'hot') most guys, very much including the notorious love machines of the National Basketball Association, would probably welcome her joining their showers. The ill-favored, grossly overweight female is the right counterpart to a gay male because, like the homosexual, she causes discomfort due to the fact that attraction can only operate in one direction. She might well feel drawn to the straight guys with whom she's grouped, while they feel downright repulsed at the very idea of sex with her."


You can read more of Medved's idiocy at TownHall.com

The boot on the other foot

Slate has an interesting essay about torture, considered in the light of Michael Palin's characterization of a benign bureaucratic torturer in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil". The article is an excerpt from Clive James' book "Cultural Amnesia".

article at slate.com

Solar for free?

A new start-up company is trying a different financial model to get solar power to the masses - the solar panels are free and they make money by charging you for the energy the panels generate. There are critics who have called the company a "house of cards", but the concept is intriguing.

article at Wired.com

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fascinating fakery

About a year ago, a classical pianist emerged as a phenomina on the Internet. A woman, battling cancer, released a series of CD's produced by her husband. They were difficult to obtain, but caused such a stir that she was championed as a great artist by Gramophone magazine.

There were doubts, however. Some were skeptical she could have developed such a range and technique without being heard from before. Turns out the skeptics were right.

Someone at the magazine noticed that when he put one of her cd's in his computer, the CDDB (used to automatically put in track and artist listings in iTunes and other programs) identified it as a recording by a different artist. Indeed, it was an exact duplicate of a major label release. Other investigations revealed clumsy attempts to mask the true origins of her recordings by speeding them up or adding equalization.

Classical afficiandos and reviewers couldn't hear that the recordings were exactly like those by well known performers in the first place? Just how critical are these fanboys in evaluating performances?

article at Gramophone

analysis of the recordings at a classical music site

One of a kind GWTW poster

Well, if you believe the auction listing, it appears that someone has unearthed the only existing copy of the 40x60 original release poster for "Gone With the Wind".

Strange - it starts at $165,000 and no one has placed a bid...

auction at ebay

Bye bye bulbs, mate

Australia has become the first country in the world to ban incandescent light bulbs. The simple light bulb, unchanged since Edison unleashed unnatural lighting on an unsuspecting world over one hundred years ago, won't meet the new energy standards being enacted in the country. By 2009, you will only be able to purchase compact flourscent bulbs for your artificial lighting needs.

The new bulbs are certainly brighter and use less energy, but they're a bit annoying. I have several in my apartment and they seem to cause static on my am and shortwave radios.

Perhaps I need to hoard some old fashioned bulbs to use when I want to listen to the BBC or WSM-AM.

article at MSNBC

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sign of the times

I happened to be taking a whiz in the men's room today and noticed some scribbling on the wall.

"For BJ ... XXXXX@yahoo.com"

Funny how, not that long ago, the preferred medium for such hook-ups was a telephone. Now we see ourselves in a state of transition - those who are analogue, offering up phone numbers, and those that are digital, who want to hook up through an anonymous email address.

I suppose a hundred years ago, it might have said "For good time, telegraph Joe ...."

New book on recording the Beatles

A new book has been released that chronicles, in excrutiating detail, how each of the Beatles's albums were originally recorded. The authors, who have done professional recording themselves, interviewed the original engineers and poured over recording logs to reveal the tricks they used in the studio. And there's lots of pictures of vintage equipment, too.

While the Beatles were certainly innovative in the pop music field and changed how music in the genre could be recorded and presented on an lp, I'd like to see a book that takes the same approach to explaining how some of the great classical lp's were recorded - the early Mercury Living Presence albums, the RCA Living Stereo recordings, or even works like Harry Partch's "Delusion of the Fury".

article at Wired.com

Can China create a real hi-fi?

The SF Chronicle takes a look at the growing presence of Chinese companies producing high end audio products. The industry basically developed out of hi-fi enthusiasts in the country tinkering and coming up with their own designs; they face stiff competition from established companies that turn up their nose at the phrase "Made in China" (even as they sometimes buy Chinese equipment, tweak it, and rebrand it for sale under their own names).

article at sfgate.com


Slate has an article about the military's new "pain" gun. It targets individuals in a crowd with an invisible ray that causes a feeling similar to having your clothes on fire.

While they're promoting it now as a tool to use in countries like Iraq to target insurgents and do crowd control, I can see it being used on protestors here in the States. And I could see mass panic breaking out when a crowd thinks the "pain ray" is being used when it really isn't.

Something rather creepy about the thing - it seems part of society's march of progress in warfare and police work, trying to make something very unpleasant and messy more "clean" and scientific.

Bball memior

I'm not a really big fan of basketball (a handicap when one works for the rabid mob of roundball fandom that happens to have a little college attached to it, Duke University). But, this new memior from John Amaechi looks like interesting reading.

Amaechi, who came out of the closet, doesn't use the book as an opportunity to diss fellow players or turn in the usual inspiring "up by your bootstraps" sports story. According to a reviewer at Salon, the book is more about the pain and isolation of being literate. Amaechi's interest in art and poetry probably isolated him more from his teammates than his homosexuality.

It's curious that there's still that jock/nerd separation in society - one can be atheletic, but not intelligent and vice versa. The Onion has its own take on Amaechi's coming out that plays with this idea.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Prop collection

The NY Times does a brief profile of Bob Burns, a Los Angeles resident who has been a collector of movie props in sci-fi films since he was a ten year old kid.

His basement is something of a shrine for sci-fi movie fans; it contains special effects props for everything from some of the classic Universal horror films and Republic serials of the 1940s to more recent big budget blockbusters.

It's a collection waiting for a proper museum exhibition since many of these types of effects props are a disappearing art form with the advent of digital fx in movies.

Video clip - Captain Kangaroo

From YouTube, a wonderful bit of nostalgia for those of us that grew up in the late 60s and early 70s, a clip from the opening of a 1968 episode of "Captain Kangaroo". Sure, we were easily amused, but this seems much more charming than the Teletubbies.

Mummified man found in front of tv

From CNN comes this story.

The mummified body of man who died more than a year ago was found sitting in front of a blaring television set in his Long Island home. Police came to the house to investigate a burst water pipe; his neighbors, who knew he was ill with diabetes, assumed he had been in a nursing home or long term care facility. The low humidity of the house had preserved the body.

Is there anything that's so sad and says more about America?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Reel of the day - DisinHAIRited

Our first reel of the day on the coolcatdaddy blog is DisinHAIRited, RCA Victor TO3-1015, a collection of songs cut from the Broadway production of Hair. The album was released in 1970 as the cast album was climbing up the charts and RCA thought that a followup lp might generate some new revenue.

The songs are quite interesting; some are more raunchy or a little more "out there" than tunes in the final show. The tape, found on ebay, was still sealed and runs at 3.75 ips - the sound is quite good for something recorded at this speed. (I don't know if RCA released it at the 7.5 ips speed.) I'd highly recommend it for your collection.

Here's a brief (400 kb) excerpt so you can get an idea of the sound quality; the MP3 emphasizes the hiss a bit more than what it's like in the original tape. It's one of the better 3.75 ips open reel tapes I've found.

Sirius - OTR as a gay market?

I couldn't have been more surprised Thursday evening. I had my Sirius satellite radio tuned to Radio Classics. It's a channel devoted to old radio shows from the 1930's, 40's and 50's, things like the Jack Benny Show, Suspense, The Shadow and The Burns and Allen Show.

In between the shows, they'll play a bit of music, ads for cd's you can order of old radio shows, and promos for other Sirius channels. Sometimes, they'll play an old commercial or PSA from an old radio show, but they also play regular commercials as well.

Just after the Abbott and Costello Show, they played their usual promo for the channel, an old PSA from Lux Radio Theater, reminding everyone to save thier fat for the War effort, and then ... this ...

listen to mp3, 1.6 MB

Jeans "by gay designers"? "Inspired by the art of Tom of Finland"?

What the fuck?

I'm happy I've got a Sirius S-50 receiver that lets you back up and replay the channel you're listening to, sort of like a Tivo. I really couldn't believe my ears.

If you're curious, RufSkin jeans has their own website: http://www.rufskin.com/. Note that it's not safe for work.

Now, I do know they have ad agencies that are buying time on these channels, but why would they advertise something like this on Radio Classics?

Hmm.. Gay men ... they go to the gym, they shop for clothes, they go to the bar on Saturday night ... they listen to Abbott and Costello when they relax at home on Thursday night ...

After checking out the site, I can only conclude that they're actually targeting the ad towards Gay sugar daddies. The jeans, available in sizes up to 34, aren't aimed at men in the 40s and 50s that listen to Radio Classics, but at middle aged men who would buy them for their twenty-something boy toy that probably has the ... er... assests ... and waist size to wear something like this.

I've noticed they run promos for OutQ, the dreadful Sirius channel devoted to Gay talk and dance music, on Radio Classics. So maybe there's something to my little theory.

Target marketing, indeed.

And isn't that ad for RufSkin jeans a real parody of Gay stereotypes (even if the creators of it don't realize that it is)?

Brittney and Anna Nicole - why should we care?

According to CNN, the troubled star was seen at a tattoo parlor shaving her head. A crowd gathered and pandemonium broke out.

Along with all of the coverage of the troubled (and still dead) Anna Nicole, I'm becoming convinced that Americans's lives must be really fucked up - if they're following the escapades of a trailer park trash nut that couldn't sing her way out of a paper bag and a buxom golddigger with the intellectual capacity of a peanut as a way to feel better about their own existence, then life must be pretty sad.

A friend gave me the first season of Anna Nicole's reality show on DVD for Christmas a few years back. I could only make it through a couple of episodes before outright nausea set in. In the episode I saw, she was looking for a new house and crawled under a table to retreive something she dropped. She promptly got stuck under the table and required assistance from the crew of the show to get out from under it.

Can any homo sapiens be that dumb?

Is this really what we're watching on television these days?

Condi Rice, catwoman

Further proof, seen at CNN's website this morning, that Condi Rice is psychotic - her body language gives it away. She's always snapped by photographers with an expression that says "I'm going to laser beam you with my eyes" or "I'm going to rip your balls off."

Great image for the State Department to show diplomacy to the rest of the world, eh?