Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Too much access to information?

This morning I was looking for a nearby site for us to camp this weekend. While making the reservation, I went to a Google satellite image of the state park to identify the best available site (spacious, good trees, away from the road). Weird and too obsessive, I think. But if I have access to this information, how can I not avail myself?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California has the worst bubble

Assessing the bubble through housing price-to-wage ratio locates the worst disparities in one state: "Six regions - all in California - posted ratios of 15 of greater: Salinas, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Napa, and San Luis Obispo." Other high ratios were in L.A., San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Riverside, California.

I've lived in three of these regions -- Santa Cruz, Napa, and San Francisco -- when property prices were already prohibitory. It makes the midwest, where I now reside, a great relief.

Covering Elton John

Another from My Morning Jacket.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The mythology of working-class labor

Lance Mannion on how class has shaped gender values. He's addressing larger debates about retraining former rust belt workers for so-called "emotional" sorts of labor.
This will be hard, but it shouldn't be. Men have worked as essentially shop keepers and store clerks for a lot longer than they have worked on assembly lines. There have been waiters forever. Lawyers are the world's second oldest profession. Teaching was a male-only profession for centuries. The idea that men are and ought to be unreflective, grunting, two-fisted louts good with their hands but not so much with their hearts and their heads is a class thing not a gender thing and it is imposed upon working class men by a system that needs them to be beasts of burden.

Men who reject certain values and behaviors as "sissy" or "girlie" are rejecting success, and don't think their bosses aren't grateful.

But the flip-side of the stereotype, that women are better at emotional labor, is also useful to bosses, because it often works out in practice to mean that women are more deferential generally, not just to customers but to their bosses. They don't speak up, they don't question, they don't assert themselves, and they don't fight back, not if they are real women in the way that men who accept and live by their stereotypes are real men.

Elliott Smith

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Morning Jacket

Like Bonnie Prince Billy, MMJ is from Louisville (thanks Dad). Faint echos of Pink Floyd in the lead guitar's central riff.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Mondays

Used to have this song on cassette. Yes, that long ago.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I approve

I don't usually like such lists, but the Underwire blog at picked five albums for blasting into space. This would be close to my own list, if I were to undertake such a task. I'm most surprised by the DJ Shadow, which I don't see as being as visible on the radar (DJ Shadow, by the way, started in college radio at UC Davis). These are all favorites of my mine, reflecting a range of pop music that swings from late behop and trip hop to punk, shoegaze and prog rock. I must like "space" music!

Pixies, Doolittle
If Korpa’s going to nostalgically rifle through his record crates, he might as well pick what is arguably the best ’80s album from a group that many artists, from that decade and those that came after, consider to be the best band of the era. Stacked with short, sharp pop shocks, Doolittle starts fast with the surrealist anthem “Debaser” and doesn’t let up until the western noir of “Silver,” before crashing to a close with “Gouge Away.” It’s a bracing blast, especially if you need to stay awake in space. The enviro head-trip “Monkey Gone to Heaven” alone might be worth the ride.

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
Speaking of the late ’80s and early ’90s, this seminal effort — and band — inspired the term “shoegaze,” a misnomer for mesmerizing rock music that pushes the envelope. Whether it’s the straight-ahead fuzz of “When You Sleep” or the underwater distortion of the serenade “Sometimes,” My Bloody Valentine’s last full-length record is well worth the extra fuel need to get it beyond Earth’s atmosphere. To hear it in space, to get redundant, would be out of this world.

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon
A no-brainer; it’s all there in the title. But it’s also there in the suggestive grooves: the kinetic synths of “On the Run,” the grinding rock of “Time” and “Money,” the ethereal gospel of “The Great Gig in the Sky.” You can’t go wrong. There are even a couple tunes about going insane, for those who succumb to space madness.

DJ Shadow, Entroducing
If you can find a more stone-cold set of instrumentals made for interstellar travel, do share. Entroducing is the first musical effort built entirely of samples, which means it’s the perfect sonic soundtrack for boldly going where only a few have gone before. If you want to get culture, pop and otherwise, DJ Shadow’s stunning debut is a go-to spacewalk. The beat palette is deeper than a black hole, and everything from Altered States to Twin Peaks gets mashed into the turntables. You can even train on Earth: Load it up, close your eyes and let it flow. You never know what you might see.

Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool
Jazz and space go hand in hand: Voyager’s Golden Record featured Louis Armstrong’s “Melancholy Blues,” among other standouts. But which jazz works best for astronauts? Charles Mingus seems a shoo-in, but his combo’s eruptions might prove too challenging for a weightless environment. Coltrane, Parker, Sun Ra … where to turn? Perhaps stick with Miles Davis’ classic Birth of the Cool until everyone can agree on something. These legendary sessions marked bebop’s evolution into the ’50s, and inspired a whole new school of cool. Its breezy hypnotics are perfect for the hypoxia of space.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


We should all believe Pelosi

This should go without saying. It's no secret that the CIA has misled, bamboozled, and engaged in domestic psy-ops for its own advantage (see "Bay of Pigs" or "Iran-Contra"). Pelosi is a political operator, but she's speaking truth to power here. And I hope she's able to swat down the politically motivated calls for her resignation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Go Go's

A was playing the Go Go's for the boys tonight. A blast from HER past.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Listening to Dark Night of the Soul, a new album of a collaboration between Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse. It's a downloaded copy. Apparently, EMI refused to distribute it (the album features many guest singers, which may complicate rights issues), so DM will be selling blank CD-Rs, with the implicit invitation to download it. So I downloaded it. Here's Sparklehorse on their own.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Star Wars + San Francisco

Sinister, eerie, and beautiful.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On not needing to know

Matt Taibbi on agnosticism.

As for the actual argument, it’s the same old stuff religious apologists have been croaking out since the days of Bertrand Russell — namely that because science is inadequate to explain the mysteries of existence, faith must be necessary. Life would be meaningless without religion, therefore we must have religion.

But this sort of thinking is exactly what most agnostics find ridiculous about religion and religious people, who seem incapable of looking at the world unless it’s through the prism of some kind of belief system. They seem to think that if one doesn’t believe in God, one must believe in something else, because to live without answers would be intolerable. And maybe that’s true of the humorless Richard Dawkins, who does seem actually to have tried to turn atheism into a kind of religion unto itself. But there are plenty of other people who are simply comfortable not knowing the answers. It always seemed weird to me that this quality of not needing an explanation and just being cool with what few answers we have inspires such verbose indignation in people like Eagleton and Fish. They seem determined to prove that the quality of not believing in heaven and hell and burning bushes and saints is a rigid dogma all unto itself, as though it required a concerted intellectual effort to disbelieve in a God who thinks gays (Leviticus 20:13) or people who work on Sunday (Exodus 35:2) should be put to death. They’ll tie themselves into knots arguing this, and they’ll probably never stop. It’s really strange.

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's come to this

Given my goals for the summer, this article in the New York Times caught my "attention."
“Multitasking is a myth. . . . You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

Attention is a finite resource.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


With the governor of Maine's signature today creating marriage equality there, gay marriage is now legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont (and pending in DC and New Hampshire?). It's gratifying that most (or all?) of these now are acts of legislation rather than court rulings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Handsome Family

Video might as well be blank, but I like the song (and the audio is good).

Monday, May 4, 2009


Covering Ray Davies.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dirty Projectors

Nu-folk from Brooklyn.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fiat - Send us diesels

I've driven Fiats in Europe and, while they aren't the most glamorous cars, they are fun to drive and many of them (like most cars in Europe) feature small, high-revving diesel engines. I'm optimistic about the merger between Chrysler and Fiat. And I'm hoping they plan to sell economical (under 2.0 L) diesel cars in the states. I'm sick of VW being the only option for a small diesel in the U.S.

Growing up, my family did have one of the last Fiats imported to the states, a Brava (I think) in the early eighties. It had its problems, but like our current Subaru it was tight and handled well.

The Decemberists - More from Hazards of Love

I really like the queen's songs on this album, with a touch of classic rock in them and a wonderful female vocalist. Here's another one.