Archive for September, 2005

Waste

September 30th, 2005 — Wordman

As “a mind forever meandering”, I occasionally have pangs of guilt about wasting my time with trivial nonsense like lounge covers and papal prophesy. Then I run across this kind of senseless entropy and realize that my time wasting merely a mote compared to the stunning time-wasting of others.

Phallus fondue

September 27th, 2005 — Wordman

Given that I’ve been on a lounge kick recently, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been listening to Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine. His shtick is to take modern songs and “loungify” them. One flaw with this kind of thing is that after you get past the gimmick, most of the music doesn’t stand up to repeated listening. For example, when Pat Boone was in a metal mood, his version of Crazy Train got the air time, but only his incredible version of Holy Diver did he really make his own, and therefore the only track of his still on my play list.

In general, I love unusual covers (like Tori Amos’ version of Smells Like Teen Spirit), so bear that in mind while I list the Richard Cheese tracks that have the legs to have been on my playlist for about of month, which is a long time for me:

Honorable mention: the following tracks are a cut above the others, but have some flaw that gets them tossed off the play list:

  • Longview, from I’d Like a Virgin. The steel slide-guitar and down-tempo of this Green Day tune give this version a cool sipping margaritas on the beach feel, but it’s lacking something I can’t quite put my finger on.
  • Welcome to the Jungle, from Aperitif for Destruction. Imagine the opening guitar part of this Guns ‘N’ Roses song being done on a piano. Totally amazing. The rest of the song, however, doesn’t work as well for me.
  • Hot For Teacher, from Tuxicity. Again, masterful piano work in duplicating the Van Halen introduction, but pedestrian thereafter.

Lawn, apiary, pain

September 12th, 2005 — Wordman

Can you spot the bee hive in this picture?

I couldn’t either, and drove a lawn mower right over it. They say you learn something new every day. I learned that I am not allergic to multiple bee stings to the head and legs.

On being the Unoffcial Apple Weblog’s bitch

September 9th, 2005 — Wordman

The Unoffcial Apple Weblog is offering a contest where if you link to ten of their stories, you might win some sort of trendy music player. In spite of the fact that no mention is made of how this contest will be judged, allow me to prostitute my blog for the benefit of their pagerank:

  1. Occasionally, they cover software choices of pundits you’ve never heard of. Reminds me of my own software recommendations.
  2. TUAW questions the voices of prophets from time to time. So do I.
  3. We are also both concerned with noise, though I worry more about indoor silence.
  4. TUAW tries to be humorous. This TUAW story has a lot in common with one of my own blog entries, in that neither of them is funny.
  5. I like when they hail evolution. I do so love evolution.
  6. While their coverage of a nice recipe program was typically fluffy, it made me appreciate having a superior wife than the one mentioned in the story, who lets me do stuff like this.
  7. Some of their unnecessary editorialization and personal sharing I genuinely agree with.
  8. We also have similar taste in radio.
  9. Every once in a while, TUAW offers a pointless contest. So do I.
  10. Obviously their best story because it links back to me. Well, almost. It actually links to Engadget, who link back to me. That TUAW decided to route through a sister site for no reason doubtless tells you all you need to know about their journalistic integrity.

Update: Shockingly, this didn’t win.

Update 11 Oct 2006: Not long after this contest completed, the post announcing the contest vanished. Over the intervening time, I sent some queries to TUAW about this but never got a reply.

Foreclosing the fourth estate

September 6th, 2005 — Wordman

Imagine the local network news casters are telling you that a storm is coming. This might require imagining yourself as someone who still watches the local news, which may be a stretch, but bear with me. Can you picture your local news people? The male anchor with good teeth and hair and the hot, yet professional, woman of indeterminate ethnicity joke with each other, then put on their “grim face” as they talk about the “Storm of the Century”. Custom made graphics woosh in each time they cut to another story about it. The Wacky Weatherman gesticulates wildly in front of a superimposed map, showing a spiral storm cloud off the coast. Reporters out in the street stand in the rain and warn of heavy winds and describe the storm as the coming apocalypse. The news offers a brief snippet of the governor calling the storm “the real deal” and that “as of right now”, your area “is definitely the target for this hurricane” and suggests you might want to think about going to higher ground, and take “small quantities of food for three to four days”. The local news shows shots of people leaving and interviews of people staying. They assure you that they’ll be there covering it all, so stay tuned.

Do you leave?

I wonder how many people in Louisiana and Mississippi looked at the dire warnings on the news and decided to stay because the local news always makes dire warnings about even insignificant weather. If this happened to even one person who got killed, it’s yet another indication (if you needed one) of the media’s collossal failure to fulfill their basic purpose. As John Stewart observes:

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy. It serves to inform the voting public on matters relevant to its well-being. Why they stopped doing that is a mystery.

I’m breaking my own rules by bitching about this without a solution to suggest, but I’m at a loss on how to fix this. Do we just stop watching until they shape up? I’ve been trying that for years and it doesn’t seem to be working. If anything, reducing the number of viewers used to thinking for themselves just makes it worse. Do we just beg them to stop? The blogosphere is starting to marginalize the press in some ways, but this is a mixed blessing, as most blogs check facts more loosely than television and most follow no editorial standard at all. Maybe the point of the blogosphere is really that of fact checker for mainstream media. It’s proving that it does that job really well. Will this turn the media back into something trustworthy? Was it ever trustworthy?

Looking back at how the press covered Katrina before it hit has been enlightening, and I recommend it. You can see a map showing predictions of flooding scenarios, for example. You can see the director of the National Hurricane Center describing the coming Katrina as “really scary” and “a worse-case scenario”. (I’d be curious to see how local TV covered that.) You can see New Orleans main newspaper’s June 2002 story about New Orleans washing away if hit by a big hurricane. You can see Bush follow three paragraphs about Katrina, in which he urges people to seek safe ground, with a dozen about Iraq. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20, but it’s good to see how the world looked before something bad happened, to see if you could recognize the signs of it if it happened again.