B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember?

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Edison Diamond Disc Phonograph
Edison Diamond Disc Phonograph

Chuck Klosterman wrote an interesting essay, with a subject my inner rock historian appreciates: who will be the John Phillips Sousa of rock music, as viewed by students 300 years in the future? What artist will stand in for the genre itself? Will it be The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? Elvis Presley? Or Bob Dylan? Or someone else entirely?

The symbolic value of rock is conflict-based: It emerged as a byproduct of the post-World War II invention of the teenager, soundtracking a 25-year period when the gap between generations was utterly real and uncommonly vast. That dissonance gave rock music a distinctive, nonmusical importance for a long time. But that period is over. Rock — or at least the anthemic, metaphoric, Hard Rock Cafe version of big rock — has become more socially accessible but less socially essential, synchronously shackled by its own formal limitations. Its cultural recession is intertwined with its cultural absorption. As a result, what we’re left with is a youth-oriented music genre that a) isn’t symbolically important; b) lacks creative potential; and c) has no specific tie to young people. It has completed its historical trajectory. Which means, eventually, it will exist primarily as an academic pursuit. It will exist as something people have to be taught to feel and understand.

I imagine a college classroom in 300 years, in which a hip instructor is leading a tutorial filled with students. These students relate to rock music with no more fluency than they do the music of Mesopotamia: It’s a style they’ve learned to recognize, but just barely (and only because they’ve taken this specific class). Nobody in the room can name more than two rock songs, except the professor. He explains the sonic structure of rock, its origins, the way it served as cultural currency and how it shaped and defined three generations of a global superpower. He shows the class a photo, or perhaps a hologram, of an artist who has been intentionally selected to epitomize the entire concept. For these future students, that singular image defines what rock was.

So what’s the image?

(click here to continue reading Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember? – The New York Times.)

Bob Dylan - The U.S. Invasion is Underway
Bob Dylan – The U.S. Invasion is Underway

From my perspective, Bob Dylan is a better candidate than Elvis, simply because his music is more interesting to me. But who knows? It might be Prince, especially if the unreleased music contained in his vault turns out to be good, and culturally resonant for years to come. Or someone else entirely, like Chuck Berry.

All Alone In This World Without You
All Alone In This World Without You

Klosterman’s thought experiment is full of good lines, of course, including this train of inquiry:

In 2014, the jazz historian Ted Gioia published a short essay about music criticism that outraged a class of perpetually outraged music critics. Gioia’s assertion was that 21st‑century music writing has devolved into a form of lifestyle journalism that willfully ignores the technical details of the music itself. Many critics took this attack personally and accused Gioia of devaluing their vocation. Which is odd, considering the colossal degree of power Gioia ascribes to record reviewers: He believes specialists are the people who galvanize history. Critics have almost no impact on what music is popular at any given time, but they’re extraordinarily well positioned to dictate what music is reintroduced after its popularity has waned.

“Over time, critics and historians will play a larger role in deciding whose fame endures,” Gioia wrote me in an email. “Commercial factors will have less impact. I don’t see why rock and pop will follow any different trajectory from jazz and blues.” He rattled off several illustrative examples: Ben Selvin outsold Louis Armstrong in the 1920s. In 1956, Nelson Riddle and Les Baxter outsold “almost every rock ’n’ roll star not named Elvis,” but they’ve been virtually erased from the public record. A year after that, the closeted gay crooner Tab Hunter was bigger than Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino, “but critics and music historians hate sentimental love songs. They’ve constructed a perspective that emphasizes the rise of rock and pushes everything else into the background. Transgressive rockers, in contrast, enjoy lasting fame.” He points to a contemporary version of that phenomenon: “Right now, electronic dance music probably outsells hip‑hop. This is identical to the punk‑versus‑disco trade‑off of the 1970s. My prediction: edgy hip‑hop music will win the fame game in the long run, while E.D.M. will be seen as another mindless dance craze.”

(click here to continue reading Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember? – The New York Times.)

I agree with Gioia in this sense: there is a lot of music in my library that I only encountered because someone wrote about it, either a music critic, or a liner-note scribe, or similar. Word of mouth only covers so much ground. Big Bill Broonzy died before I was born, as did the career of Syd Barrett, The Sonics, The Velvet Underground and many, many other bands I never encountered on the radio, nor in a local tavern. 

Written by Seth Anderson

May 23rd, 2016 at 8:29 am

How To: Take Pinhole Photos

Pinhole Self Portrait Circa 1994
Pinhole Self Portrait Circa 1994 (scanned from a print)

I’ve been thinking of making a pinhole camera of my own. I have an older DSLR (Nikon D80) that I don’t use often. I am thinking of drilling a hole in the lens cap for a lens I also don’t use much, and then following the guidelines here.

A pinhole camera is as minimalist as photography gets: All you need 
is a light-tight box with a tiny hole on the front, and something 
light-sensitive fastened onto the inside rear of the box, and you can 
take a picture. In the process, you will get weirdly beautiful results, including infinite focus from near to far (or, often more accurately, equal slight fuzziness from near to far). “Once you realize that there are no knobs, no flashing lights, no buttons, dials, or digital displays to distract you, making pictures becomes fun again rather than a technical chore,” says Andrew Watson, who made this photo of the beach in Brighton, England on Kodak Ektar 100. You can make your own pinhole camera (out of practically anything), build a kit camera, buy a ready-made camera, or, simplest of all, use the camera you already have, whether film or digital, SLR or ILC, with a pinhole body cap in place of a lens.

You can turn a camera’s body cap into a pinhole with a little fuss. Drill a small (1/8-inch) hole in the center of the cap. For the pinhole itself, use soda-can aluminum. Cut an inch-square piece of the can with a snips, and pierce the center using the smallest needle that will go through. Then tape the pinhole over the hole you drilled in the body cap.

(click here to continue reading How To: Take Pinhole Photos | Popular Photography.)

I also have a 35mm camera that I don’t use, perhaps I should look into getting it running again (it does need some repair that I keep procrastinating over)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 20th, 2016 at 9:34 am

Posted in Photography

Tagged with

Thursday Leftovers – Plate 4

Some morsels you’ve maybe already sampled…

 Urban Roses

Urban Roses. 

What an asshole…

Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday slammed his colleagues’ efforts to pass sweeping criminal justice reforms, saying the United States is actually suffering from an “under-incarceration problem.”

Cotton, who has been an outspoken critic of the bill in Congress that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences, smacked down what he called “baseless” arguments that there are too many offenders locked up for relatively small crimes, that incarceration is too costly, or that “we should show more empathy toward those caught up in the criminal-justice system.”

“Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed,” Cotton said during a speech at The Hudson Institute, according to his prepared remarks. “Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.”

(click here to continue reading Sen. Tom Cotton: U.S. has ‘under-incarceration problem’ – POLITICO.)

http://i2.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7702/27089637486_79e83f1a3c_z.jpg?resize=640%2C307&ssl=1

Good for Google, doing something notEvil…

In its first five years, the Google Cultural Institute scanned and archived 200 works of art in super-high-resolution gigapixel images. Now in just the past few months, it has managed to scan another 1,000.

The sudden expansion is thanks to a new camera developed by Google, simply called the Art Camera. It’s designed to be far simpler to use than other camera setups, making it easier for museums and other institutions to start digitizing the art and documents in their collection. And critically, it’s also much faster.

“The capture time has been reduced drastically,” says Marzia Niccolai, technical program manager at the Cultural Institute. “Previously it could take almost a day to capture an image. To give you an idea, now if you have a one meter by one meter painting, it would take 30 minutes.”

(click here to continue reading Google made an insanely high-res camera to preserve great works of art | The Verge.)

Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn
Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn

Gee, that’s great news, LinkedIn. Remind me why I even have a LinkedIn account?

Hey, do you remember back in 2012 when hackers hit LinkedIn, stole a few million passwords, and released them online? It was a while ago, so don’t feel bad if you don’t. LinkedIn simply can’t leave the breach behind, though: there are now another 117 million e-mail addresses and passwords for sale on an underground marketplace.

…Sure, the data is old, but people do tend to use the same password from one site to another, which means that the credentials might still be useful for accessing other sites, even if users have already changed their passwords, or LinkedIn reset them.

After an initial report on Motherboard that the the cache was for sale for 5 bitcoin ($2,285), LinkedIn confirmed that the leaked information is genuine. “We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords,” the company said in a post on its official blog. “We have no indication that this is as a result of a new security breach.” Well, that’s… still not comforting.

(click here to continue reading Remember That LinkedIn Breach Back In 2012? It May Have Been Bigger – Consumerist.)

 Familiar Ground

Familiar Ground

Still waiting for Ted Cruz to admit he’s told lies, you know, sinned. Oh that’s right, for Ted Cruz’s brand of Christianity, lying your ass off is fine as long as you lie to attack liberals.

Last year liberals took a break from attacking veterans, unborn babies, and Christmas to wage war on cops. Like all the other wars that didn’t actually happen, this one was deserving of a full-court press on Fox News and became a centerpiece of the Cruz campaign. … Cruz, of course, blamed Obama. And complained about Obama’s “complete silence” following the shooting of a deputy—a silence in which Obama had already made comments, issued a statement, and called the deputy’s relatives. But faster than you can repeat “Obama won’t say radical Muslim terrorists,” the entire right was singing the chorus of how liberals hate cops, cops were getting massacred, and it was all the left’s fault for backing horrible, life-threatening ideas like not shooting unarmed 12-year-olds, and accountability. In New York City, the police union went so far as to insist that officers shouldn’t conduct arrests because of “wartime” conditions.

The narrative continued through the year, but now that all the numbers are in …

Data released by the FBI on Monday shows that 2015 was one of the safest years for U.S. law enforcement in recorded history, following a sustained trend of low numbers of on-duty deaths in recent decades. …
Every one of the 41 police officers killed on the job is a tragedy, and every effort should be made to bring that number to zero. Oh, and every one of the at least 1,186 people killed by police in the same period is also a tragedy, and every effort should be made to bring that number to zero.

The number of officers killed on the job was down almost 20 percent from 2014. However, even in 2014, being an active duty police officer was number 15 on the list of dangerous jobs.

(click here to continue reading The ‘war on cops’ leads to … one of the safest years for cops on record.)

Back to You in the Studio…
Back to You in the Studio…

For news organizations, Trump is good for business, so expect the cable news flunkies to line up to kiss his ring

And it’s clear Trump is good for business. According to one Fox News producer, the channel’s ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs. A Fox anchor told me that the message from Roger Ailes’s executives is they need to go easy on Trump. “It’s, ‘Make sure we don’t go after Trump,’” the anchor said. “We’ve thrown in the towel.” Similarly, the New York Post has staked out a pro-Trump position in the marketplace while its rival the Daily News remains one of Trump’s loudest critics. The Post endorsed Trump last month and dubbed him “King Don!” after he won the New York primary. (The outlier among Murdoch’s properties is The Wall Street Journal. “They’re stupid people,” Trump told me back in March).

(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo- Rupert’s game plan .)

Pink Tv
Pink Tv

Case in point: Megyn Kelly is no journalist, but people still pretend she is…

“You are so powerful,” Megyn Kelly, of Fox, said to Donald Trump, with a note of wonder in her voice, as she interviewed him for her special on Tuesday night. They were sitting in a conference room on a high floor, with a view of Central Park behind them, the proper backdrop for an interview characterized by a soft deferral to the grandeur of Trump. Kelly had, in the moments before, remembered his angry response, after she asked a question at the first Republican Presidential debate about his past comments disparaging women. It had caused a “firestorm,” and Trump was the fire. Did he understand the profound effect that he had on people?

And what did Megyn Kelly know? When the special returned to Trump Tower, the Donald let it slip that, in the period when he was loudly claiming to be boycotting her on Fox News, he had, perhaps, peeked at her show. The other big news was Kelly’s unveiling of her new book, “Settle for More”—not a good slogan for the G.O.P. at the moment—which will go on sale after the election and in which, she said, “For the first time, I will speak openly about my year with Donald Trump.” So what did we just watch? “Well, that is it,” Trump tweeted after the broadcast ended. “Well done Megyn—and they all lived happily ever after! Now let us all see how ‘THE MOVEMENT’ does in Oregon tonight!” Trump won the Republican primary in Oregon with about sixty-seven per cent of the vote. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich were still on the ballot, but Trump was, effectively, unopposed—just like he now is on Fox.

(click here to continue reading Megyn Kelly’s Guide to Surrendering to Donald Trump – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 19th, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , ,

Cement Shoes, Fabled Anchor to Watery Grave, Surface in Brooklyn

Broken History
Broken History

Sounds like someone watched a few too many gangster movies…

The body of Peter Martinez, 28, better known on the streets as Petey Crack, had washed up near Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. At one end, his head was wrapped in duct tape. At the other, where his feet should be, was a five-gallon bucket filled with rock-hard concrete — a mix of cement, sand, gravel and water — encasing his legs up to the shins.

The police said Mr. Martinez had a long history of arrests. He had been reported missing in February by his girlfriend. It seems that strong currents dragged Mr. Martinez, despite the homemade anchor, to shore, where he was discovered by a college student. There were no arrests in the case as of Wednesday, and the results of an autopsy were not yet complete.

How long his body had been in the water was just one of the mysteries the police were sorting through; Mr. Martinez’s last outfit — gray sweatpants, blue boxer shorts and a black jacket — was intact, and his tattoo of the Virgin Mary holding a rose was still visible.

Crime historians were mystified, struggling to think of similar cases.

(click here to continue reading Cement Shoes, Fabled Anchor to Watery Grave, Surface in Brooklyn – The New York Times.)

Putzmeister
Putzmeister

Rare because there are probably more efficient ways of killing people besides having them stand in a bucket of concrete, waiting for the concrete to set, and then dragging the bucket, and target, into water. Cement is heavy! And while the cement is hardening, it can be escaped. For how long? An expert says, maybe 12 hours, temperature depending…

But there is one more important ingredient: time. An amount of uninterrupted time not commonly associated with murderers looking to cover their tracks.

How long would cement shoes take to harden? Paul Bartelotti, owner of M&B Concrete in Brooklyn, tried to imagine the process.

“They could have gotten just a bag and added water,” he said. Not too much — the consistency has to be just right. “Like Carvel ice cream. Not, like, paint-thick. A little thicker.”

For several hours, the captive could still pull his feet out. “It would take at least, I would say, the better part of the day to not get your feet out,” Mr. Bartelotti said. “Depends on the temperature.”

Concrete hardens quickly in warm temperatures, he said. Mr. Martinez disappeared in February.

“It was cold,” Mr. Bartelotti mused. “If you let it sit from 12 hours to a day, the guy wouldn’t be able to get his feet out.” He considered the situations. “They could make it wet and make the guy stand in it, or put his legs in and pour the cement around it. He could have been dead and they just stuck his feet in.”

(click here to continue reading Cement Shoes, Fabled Anchor to Watery Grave, Surface in Brooklyn – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2016 at 11:10 am

Posted in crime,News-esque

Tagged with ,

NJ Cops Arrest Woman For Remaining Silent During Traffic Stop

Star
Star Star.

And speaking of police full to the brim with self-righteousness, a woman was arrested in New Jersey for not answering a variant of the question, “Do you know why we pulled you over”…

Two New Jersey state troopers cuffed a woman along a Warren County roadway and hauled her in on an obstruction charge because she refused to answer questions during a routine traffic stop, according to dashboard camera footage obtained by NJ Advance Media.

The Oct. 16 incident, which happened near the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border on Route 519, is now the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the woman, Rebecca Musarra, an attorney from Philadelphia.

Musarra claims in the suit the troopers violated basic rules familiar to anybody who’s ever watched a police show on TV, including the right to remain silent.

She claims at least three troopers insisted during the ordeal that her refusal to answer questions was a criminal act. 

NJ Advance Media obtained the footage, along with a dispatch log from that evening, through an Open Public Records Act request filed in April.

The documents show Trooper Matthew Stazzone pulled Musarra over just before 9:30 p.m., suspecting her of speeding. He was quickly joined by a second trooper, Demetric Gosa, records show.

The dashboard camera footage shows Stazzone approached the vehicle on the passenger side and asked Musarra for her license, registration and insurance.

“While you’re looking for that, do you know why you’re being pulled over tonight?” the trooper asked her, according to the tape. She claims she provided the documents but didn’t respond.

After asking her several more times, Stazzone walked to the other side of her car, rapping on the window with his flashlight and again demanding a response.

“You’re going to be placed under arrest if you don’t answer my questions,” he told her. Musarra claims the force of the flashlight chipped her window.

The footage shows she eventually told the trooper she was an attorney and that she did not have to answer questions. Stazzone then ordered her out of the vehicle.

As the two troopers cuffed her and walked her toward a troop car, Musarra asked them, “Are you detaining me because I refused to speak?”

“Yeah,” Stazzone replied, according to the video. “Yeah, obstruction,” Gosa added.

(click here to continue reading WATCH: N.J. troopers arrest woman for remaining silent during traffic stop | NJ.com.)

Obstruction. Yeah, ok. I hope they lose their jobs over this bullying…

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2016 at 10:45 am

You Can Now Pay Someone to Name Your Baby

Stop The Witchcraft
Stop The Witchcraft

Names are power, but still, paying someone $30,000 to come up with a name seems excessive. What happened to randomly opening a dictionary? Or a Bible?

Professional services have popped up in the U.S. and Europe to aid parents with naming their children for a fee. Last year, Marc Hauser, who runs the Switzerland-based naming agency Erfolgswelle, went from solely serving brands to also branding children. His firm charges over $29,000 for every baby it names, devoting two to three weeks and around 100 hours of work to the process. Though Hauser thinks that approaches rating baby names strictly by data (and not emotion) are “overrated,” his firm does check to ensure that a baby name has not already been trademarked. “Even when it’s a little close to an existing brand name, it will not survive,” he said. Historians also vet the name to ensure it goes not have “an aggravating past.” Hauser admits that his own first name, Marc, would never make the cut at his firm because it’s connected to the name of an ancient Roman god of war.

Sherri Suzanne, who runs My Name for Life in New York, said her services begin at several hundred dollars. She spends around 30 hours on a single name report. 

Baby-naming experts have been around since long before Western specialists started marketing the service to nervous parents with high disposable incomes. In South Korea and India, for example, spiritual leaders can offer advice on what to name a child by reviewing scripture, astrology, and local culture. Just as with a wedding, a donation is offered to the spiritual leader in exchange for the service. In some cases, the baby is not named until after it has been born. “A shaman came over to our place and did a ceremony when I was a couple weeks old,” said Seung Lee, a 23-year old San Francisco resident who was named through this process in South Korea. “The shaman gave a couple names for us to mull over.” While the practice is not entirely common, it’s important to those who participate, said Lee.

Some experts recommend a more data-driven route. “I’ve seen parents do just incredible things with their poor children’s names because they were creative and thought they were going to be unique,” Mehrabian said. “If you are getting somebody who really knows the evidence, then I’ll say it’s worth every penny, whether its $500 or $5,000. Believe me, you don’t want to name a child with an unattractive name and have them go through life and suffer the consequences.”

(click here to continue reading You Can Now Pay Someone to Name Your Baby – Bloomberg.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2016 at 10:38 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

Neanderthals Still Roam The Ranks of The Police

Sheriff's Line Do Not Cross
Sheriff’s Rape Line Do Not Cross…

If I lived in Idaho, I’d try to get this guy fired; since I don’t, at least Craig Rowland’s retrograde and reprehensible beliefs can be made public for future Google searches…

An Idaho sheriff says the Legislature shouldn’t have gotten involved in creating a statewide system for collecting and tracking rape kits because many rape accusations are false.

The state lawmaker who introduced the bill immediately denounced the comments.

Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland made the comments Monday to Idaho Falls TV station KIDK before lawmakers unanimously approved the new system and sent the measure to the governor.

Rowland said legislators should let law officers decide which rape kits need testing, the system that is currently in place.

He said: “The majority of our rapes — not to say that we don’t have rapes, we do — but the majority of our rapes that are called in are actually consensual sex.”

Such claims are part of a larger problem of law enforcement harboring unfair skepticism of victims of rape more so than other crimes

Rep. Melissa Wintrow, a Democrat from Boise who introduced the bill, said the sheriff’s remarks were harmful to women.

“Many times people are focused on a woman’s behavior, and the victim’s response,” she said, “when we should be thinking about what are we teaching men in this society. What are we teaching young boys and men about how we should not initiate or cross any physical boundary without consent.”

She pointed to FBI statistics that show only 33 percent of all rape victims report the crime.

(click here to continue reading Rape kit system unnecessary since most accusations false, Idaho sheriff says | OregonLive.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2016 at 10:33 am

Posted in crime

Tagged with , , ,

The big sell: Making people care about infrastructure repair

Waiting for a Rainy Day
Waiting for a Rainy Day

Continuing on the theme of the day, Mary Wisniewski writes:

In comic book movies, transportation infrastructure problems are easy to spot.

Bridges fall. Asphalt shatters. And unless Ironman funds the repairs out of his personal fortune, big public debt issues are ahead.

In real life, damage to roads and rails tends to be gradual, though ultimately just as ruinous to regional well-being.

With a new Illinois capital program delayed as the state goes 11 months without a budget, transit leaders have been sounding the alarm in both Washington, D.C., and Springfield about the dangers of waiting too long to invest in infrastructure. Business, labor and transit leaders will ramp up discussion nationwide Monday for the start of the thrillingly named Infrastructure Week.

It’s a tough sell — roads, buses and trains seem to work just fine until they don’t, and politicians don’t like to raise gas taxes or other user fees. Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Leanne Redden admits that funding for bridges, signals and tunnels is not a sexy topic, but it’s crucial to keep the system going the way it should.

(click here to continue reading The big sell: Making people care about infrastructure repair – Chicago Tribune.)

Nothing Can Go Wrong With the Blues
Nothing Can Go Wrong With the Blues

Infrastructure is ignored until there is a crisis, alternatively, we could invest in the country and its workers before disaster strikes. Or money gets left unspent because Governor Rauner has a different agenda…

For the Chicago Transit Authority, for example, the lack of state capital funding has meant $1 billion in federal money may get left on the table. The passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act last year made federal dollars available, but state matches are needed to access them.

“A capital program would be very helpful, or else those funds could be put at risk,” CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. said. He said the money is needed for projects like the Red and Purple Line modernization, and rail and right of way improvements to prevent slow zones.

CTA needs a total of $13 billion in capital spending over the next decade to get the system in a state of good repair, Carter said.

Metra needs $11.7 billion in capital funding over the next 10 years. Because that’s a tall order, the board has made two programs top priorities — positive train control, a federally mandated computerized system to prevent train collisions, and new or rehabbed rolling stock. That would include 367 new railcars. (The agency currently has funding for 10.)

Some of Metra’s railcars are 63 years old. “They’re eligible for Medicare in a couple of years,” joked Metra CEO Don Orseno ruefully.

Besides new cars and locomotives, Orseno said Metra needs a better maintenance schedule for its old ones. Walking around a big, barnlike rail repair facility on 49th Street last week, Orseno and Metra capital projects manager Lexie Walker showed how cars are stripped down and rebuilt — with new floors, seats, toilets, air conditioning, outlets for plugging in laptops and wheelchairs, plus new wheels and brakes.

The Poem Remained Too Short
The Poem Remained Too Short

What about roads, you ask? They are as neglected, with no positive news forthcoming:

[Illinois] cannot afford to keep up the roads it has now. One of the pressing needs for the Illinois Department of Transportation is a rebuild of the aging and congested Eisenhower Expressway, similar to the reconstruction of the Dan Ryan in 2007, said Peter Skosey, executive vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit focused on regional growth.

“Money for that project isn’t even on the radar,” Skosey said.

He noted that no system is going to be in perfect shape all the time — it’s like your house, you want to keep it in a state of at least 90 percent repair, with a few projects on a to-do list. But Illinois’ state of repair is currently below 80 percent and could drop below 60 percent in the next five years, Skosey said.

Skosey noted that closed roads and bridges lead to gridlock, which already costs the region $7 billion a year. On an individual level, bad roads cost the average Illinois driver $400 to $800 a year in car repairs.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 17th, 2016 at 9:10 pm

The $3,400 Infrastructure Tax You’re Paying

North Winds They Blow
North Winds They Blow

Speaking of infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers have released their latest “Failure To Act” report, and predictably, it isn’t the lead story in corporate media’s front pages and opening moments. But it should be, because we all pay the costs affiliated with ignoring our infrastructure deficiencies…

Isiah J. Poole writes:

But something that is costing each American family on average $3,400 a year is worth at least a few minutes of discussion – especially in the context of this Trump-besotted presidential campaign.

That is the money that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said in its latest “Failure to Act” report that each US household is losing “each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies.”

Not adequately investing in infrastructure is costing the economy more than three times more than what it would cost to bring these systems up to a state of good repair. Seen another way, each family pays a $3,400 annual tax for what federal, state and local governments don’t spend to properly maintain and expand our transportation, water and electricity networks.

Closing the investment gap between what we’re spending now on the range of infrastructure needs – from roads and bridges to airports and waterways – and what we should be spending between now and 2025 would take about $1.4 trillion, the ASCE says. The cost of not spending that money, according to the ASCE? Almost $4 trillion. With that loss comes the loss of 2.5 million jobs.

Likewise, consider the plight of people who rely on public transportation. According to the report, more than 40 percent of buses and 25 percent of rail cars are in marginal or poor condition. The average transit bus has been on the road since Bill Clinton was president. Washington’s Metro system, whose recent troubles have gotten national attention, is suffering a lot of self-inflicted wounds, but one of its problems is that it is still running cars that were on the system when it opened in 1976.

(click here to continue reading The $3,400 ‘Tax’ You’re Paying That the Media Just Ignored – BillMoyers.com.)

Talking About My Generation
Talking About My Generation.

from the ASCE report (which you can download in PDF form if you are curious or sanguine):

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which grades the current state of national infrastructure categories on a scale of A through F.

Since 1998, America’s infrastructure has earned persistent D averages, and the failure to close the investment gap with needed maintenance and improvements has continued. When the next Report Card for America’s Infrastructure is released in 2017, it will provide an updated look at the state of our infrastructure conditions, but the larger question at stake is the implication of D+ infrastructure on America’s economic future.

The Failure to Act report series answers this key question — how does the nation’s failure to act to improve the condition of U.S. infrastructure systems affect the nation’s economic performance? In 2011 and 2012, ASCE released four Failure to Act reports in a series covering 10 infrastructure sectors that are critical to the economic prosperity of the U.S.

These reports were followed by a fifth, comprehensive final report, Failure to Act: The Impact of Infrastructure Investment on America’s Economic Future, which addressed the aggregate economic impact of failing to act in more than one sector. The purpose was to provide an aggregate analysis of the economic implications for the U.S. of continuing its current investment trends in multiple infrastructure categories. Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future is an update to the Failure to Act comprehensive report; it addresses the current infrastructure gaps between today’s needs and investment and how they will affect the future productivity of industries, national competitiveness, and future costs to households.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 17th, 2016 at 7:35 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

US Should Speed Digital Infrastructure Deployment

Borrowed Time
Borrowed Time

We talk about infrastructure a lot on this humble blog, but conceptually, the word infrastructure encompasses so much more than just sewer pipes and bridges. Updated electric grids, high speed internet access for all, and other digital infrastructures are key to a prosperous future, and our current government clings to out-dated models and resists change.

The U.S. needs to embed digital technologies into existing infrastructure to take advantage of new economic opportunities, a tech industry think tank said Monday, but outdated regulations, security concerns, a lack of public funding and a small pool of tech-savvy workers may hinder progress.

More digital infrastructure, including “hybridized” infrastructure that involves some mix of physical and digital features, can ultimately cut costs, create jobs and improve overall quality of life, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said in a recent report. Smart water meters, for example, could be used to measure consumption and quality while using real-time data processing to help utilities detect leaks before they happen.

New technologies can also be applied to roads, planes, trains and other systems used to transport goods, people and information. Digital roadway infrastructure, including electronic toll collection and smart traffic lights, could help reduce congestion and fuel consumption and increase travel speeds, boosting overall productivity. It could also enable vehicle-to-infrastructure communications as driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles hit the road.

The foundation made a number of recommendations for policymakers, including:

  • Policymakers should create ‘digital-friendly’ regulations. Current policies are often characterized by overlapping mandates and conflicting goals, ITIF said. And while deployment of some smart meters has increased, governments haven’t yet approved them to use dynamic pricing or other features. “There is a need to modernize existing regulations to reflect significant changes in technology advances and leading industry practices.”
  • Each state and federal agency that influences infrastructure should create a strategy for speeding the transition to digital infrastructures.
  • Increase funding. ITIF suggests Congress enact a “Cement & Chips” funding approach that directs no less than 5% – or about $2.5 billion — of the Highway Trust Fund allocated to states to be devoted to digital infrastructure projects. National governments also need to “take a proactive role in creating national data and software systems that can easily be used across the nation,” the report said.
  • Privacy and security concerns shouldn’t slow deployments. “Rather government should work with the private sector to ensure that public policies support privacy and security in ways that enable innovation” and create value for society.

(click here to continue reading US Should Speed Digital Infrastructure Deployment, Think Tank Says – CIO Journal. – WSJ.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 17th, 2016 at 11:33 am

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

Daryl Hall has a message for critics crying cultural appropriation: “Shut the f*ck up”

I confess that when I was a teenager, I only liked songs with long, loud guitar solos, and Hall & Oats was not on the list of “cool” bands. As I’ve mellowed, and expanded my musical palette, I now can appreciate artists like Daryl Hall.

missed opportunity
missed opportunity

David Masciotra of Salon interviews Daryl Hall, but first introduces him thus:

Daryl Hall is possibly the most interesting man in music. He and John Oates form the most successful musical duo of all time, and even though, their setlists during sold out shows around the world are full of instantly recognizable hits from the 1970s and ‘80s, they are not a nostalgia act. More than other performers in their age bracket, including The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, Daryl Hall and John Oates have constructed a coalition of baby boomers who remember where they were when “Rich Girl” or “Sara Smile” first hit the radio, and thirty and twenty-something fans who enjoy the smooth, soulful, and pop-infused style of “I Can’t Go For That” and “Out of Touch” as if those songs came out yesterday.

Hall owes much of his multigenerational admiration to his songwriting – clandestinely innovative and wildly varied – his voice – one of the best in the business – but also his early adaptation of the internet as an enhancement of art and entertainment, rather as a murderer of creativity, as many often call it. In 2007, Hall launched “Live From Daryl’s House” – an internet show depicting Hall and an invited guest jamming to a variety of songs within the confines of his home. The show still broadcasts from the internet, but also plays on the MTV Live network, and it is now filmed in Hall’s live music club, aptly named “Daryl’s House.”

Guests range from legends like Smokey Robinson, Cheap Trick, and The O’Jays (Cheap Trick was the guest for the debut episode of the current season) to rising stars such as Aloe Blaac, Amos Lee, and another guest of the current season, Wyclef Jean.

The show has a natural excitement. Hall’s band is in peak form – playing grooves so tight it is a wonder there is any oxygen in the room – and Daryl Hall’s voice soars whether he is singing blues based rock alongside Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top or he is shouting with soul to the music of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings.

I recently had a conversation with Hall, and learned that he is as passionate in his perspective as he is in his performance. Like a professor in the Department of Funk, Soul, and Pop Studies, he needs little provocation to provide “adult education” on everything from the state of music commerce to conflicts over cultural appropriation.

 

(click here to continue reading Daryl Hall has a message for critics crying cultural appropriation: “Shut the f*ck up” – Salon.com.)

I’ll have to check this show out…

Written by Seth Anderson

May 16th, 2016 at 9:13 am

Posted in Music

Tagged with ,

More Creation Myths About the “Exile On Main Street” sessions

Exile On Main St Dlx, with Milk Thistle
Exile On Main St Dlx, with Milk Thistle

The Rolling Stones last great album, Exile on Main Street, is also mythical. There are all sorts of stories about the album’s debauched creation, and why not? Forced to flee the U.K., their native country, because their former manager Allen Klein while ripping them off, also didn’t pay any taxes, the Rolling Stones ended up in the south of France. Keith Richards rented a mansion in Villefranche called Nellcôte, a house in the grand European style, with porticos, columns, and gardens, and a basement that the Nazi’s used to torture French partisans and others during WW2. Richards had pharmaceutical grade heroin, and who knows what else, and the band, and friends, hung out, and created a sprawling album while having fun. Well, some fun anyway…

Rich Cohen has a new book out called, “The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones”, I suspect I’ll read it eventually. Here’s how he describes the setup at  Nellcôte

The Stones, then in the process of signing a distribution deal with Ahmet Ertegun and Atlantic Records, needed to make a follow-up to Sticky Fingers. They’d gone into exile with several cuts in the can, leftovers from previous sessions—some recorded at Olympic, some recorded at Stargroves, Mick’s country house. France was scouted for studios, but in the end, unable to find a place that could accommodate Keith’s junkie needs, they decided to record at Nellcôte. Sidemen, engineers, and producers began turning up in June 1971. Ian Stewart drove the Stones’ mobile unit—a recording studio built in the back of a truck—over from England. Parked in the driveway, it was connected via snaking cables to the cellar, which had been insulated, amped, and otherwise made ready, though it was an awkward space. “[The cellar] had been a torture chamber during World War II,” sound engineer Andy Johns told Goldmine magazine.“I didn’t notice until we’d been there for a while that the floor heating vents in the hallway were shaped like swastikas. Gold swastikas. And I said to Keith, ‘ What the fuck is that?’ ‘Oh, I never told you? This was [Gestapo] headquarters.’”

The cellar was a honeycomb of enclosures. As the sessions progressed, the musicians spread out in search of the best sound. In the end, each was like a monk in a cell, connected by technology. Richards and Wyman were in one room, but Watts was by himself and Taylor was under the stairs. Pianist Nicky Hopkins was at the end of one hall and the brass section was at the end of another. “It was a catacomb,” sax player Bobby Keys told me, “dark and creepy. Me and Jim Price—Jim played trumpet—set up far away from the other guys. We couldn’t see anyone. It was fucked up, man.”

Together and alone—the human condition.

The real work began in July. Historians mark it as July 6, but it was messier than that. There was no clean beginning to Exile, or end. It never stopped and never started, but simply emerged out of the everyday routine. It was punishingly hot in the cellar. The musicians played without shirts or shoes. Among the famous images of the sessions is Bobby Keys in a bathing suit, blasting away on his sax. The names of the songs—“Ventilator Blues,”“Turd on the Run”—were inspired by the conditions, as was the album’s working title: Tropical Disease. The Stones might hone a single song for several nights. Some of the best—“Let It Loose,”“Soul Survivor”—emerged from a free-for-all, a seemingly pointless jam, out of which, after hours of nothing much, a melody would appear, shining and new. On outtakes, you can hear Jagger quieting everyone at the key moment: “All right, all right, here we go.” As in life, the music came faster than the words. Now and then, Jagger stood before a microphone, grunting as the groove took shape—vowel sounds that slowly formed into phrases. On one occasion, they employed a modernist technique, the cutout method used by William S. Burroughs. Richards clipped bits of text from newspapers and dropped them into a hat. Selecting at random, Jagger and Richards assembled the lyric of “Casino Boogie”:

Dietrich movies / close up boogies

The record came into focus the same way: slowly, over weeks, along a path determined by metaphysical forces, chaos, noise, and beauty netted via a never-to-be-repeated process.

(click here to continue reading Secrets of the “Exile” sessions: Drugs, sex and madness as the Rolling Stones took over France – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 16th, 2016 at 9:00 am

Evening Full of Cold Facts and Warm Grins was uploaded to Flickr

Rainy summer night

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/GeNaVz

I took Evening Full of Cold Facts and Warm Grins on April 17, 2013 at 03:04PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 14, 2016 at 03:54PM

Written by eggplant

May 14th, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Bill Maher and Michael Moore discuss The Kings of Atheism – A New Film-in-the-making

I forgot to write this up yesterday, but Bill Maher and Michael Moore discussed their new film idea on Overtime With Bill Maher (you’ll have to skip ahead about a minute to hear the beginning of Michael Moore’s response which leads to discussion of the film, or jump ahead to about the 3:30 mark to hear the exact discussion begin)

 

Watch ‘Overtime’: May 13, 2016:

Bill and his roundtable guests – Michael Moore, Jack Hunter, Katty Kay, Fmr. Sen. Bob Graham, and Jeremy Scahill – will answer viewer questions after this week’s show.

 

(Via Real Time with Bill Maher Blog)

The idea for The Kings of Atheism is simple: Michael Moore will follow around several atheist comedians as they tell religious-themed jokes in the Bible Belt area of the South. Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, Ricky Gervais, Seth MacFarlane, and possibly others. Michael Moore says he is not an atheist, and playfully joked about a vengeful god sending down thunderbolts directed towards them, and not wanting to be there for that. 

I’d love to watch this film: make it happen guys!

Ricky Gervais has one of my favorite god jokes, paraphrased thus: “I don’t believe in any gods, if you are Christian or Muslim etc., you are nearly the same, you don’t believe in most of the gods humankind has created either.”

Ricky Gervais tells it better of course 

The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.

(click here to continue reading Ricky Gervais: Why I Don’t Believe in a God – WSJ.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 14th, 2016 at 9:43 am

Posted in Film,religion

Tagged with , ,

which country cooks falafel best?

Freshly cooked falafel is among my most favorite of lunch foods…

It’s most likely that falafel did start in Egypt – one theory being that Coptic Christians created it about 1,000 years ago, another being that it goes back to the time of the pharaohs. In any case, the dish migrated to the Levant, to be consumed by Lebanese, Palestinians and Israelis – and all those countries have at some point claimed falafel as their national dish.

Arguments about origins aside, most people just want to eat the best falafel that can be found. Anissa Helou, the Middle East food expert and writer, tells me what to look out for. “They have to be very crisp on the outside, with a nice crust that is not too dark,” she says. “And – this is the art of proper frying – they should be crumbly and fluffy, without being too wet on the inside.” When it comes to consistency as well as flavour, the ingredients are key: Helou suggests a good mix would be chickpeas and fava beans, along with fresh coriander, leeks, garlic and spices, and a bit of bicarbonate of soda added at the end, so that the falafel balls puff up when fried. What is essential, though, is that they are served on the spot. As Young says: “It’s better to have people wait for the falafel, than to have the falafel wait for people.” Bear that in mind whenever you’re remotely tempted by some pre-packaged, refrigerated fried bean balls masquerading as this champion Middle Eastern food.

(click here to continue reading The falafel battle: which country cooks it best? | Life and style | The Guardian.)

http://i1.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7304/26248954843_8b0dd4b514_z.jpg?resize=640%2C640&ssl=1
garbanzo bean flour

i emailed my mom, she reports

The very best I have ever had were in Toronto on Yonge St. The owners were Lebanese and they only used chick peas that they soaked and ground. Lots of spices, freshly fried for each ordered sandwich. And the sauce had cucumber, sesame paste, yogurt, lots of garlic and parsley. Also the pita were fresh every day. MMMMMMMMM.

The pavement was alive with the sound of music
The pavement was alive with the sound of music, Amsterdam train station.

I remember eating falafel in some public square in Amsterdam on my Italian sojourn in 1993-94. We were nearing the end of our trip, and our funds were getting low, for I think 5 guilders you’d get three falafel balls, pita, and all the cucumber, tomato, lettuce, tahini, humus, hot peppers, pickles, beets and yogurt sauce you could fit. Lebanese probably, but not sure, fried up as you waited. Delicious. I think we ate it 4 or 5 times for lunch.

And a recipe for making your own:

Moustafa Elrefaey’s Egyptian broad bean falafel (Serves 4)

500g dried broad beans, soaked 40g Spanish onions 12g garlic 35g parsley 35g fresh coriander 7g salt 2g ground cumin

Thoroughly wash the beans in a bowl under running water then cover and soak them (unrefrigerated) for at least 8 hours.

Wash and drain the beans well.

In a food processor, puree the vegetables and herbs for 2 mins then add the soaked beans and keep it running for 10 mins. Add the salt and cumin until the mix is slightly foamy.

Heat the oil to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and, if you have one, use an ice-cream scoop to form a ball from the puree. Press it between your fingers into a patty and fry it for 2 mins on each side.

(click here to continue reading The falafel battle: which country cooks it best? | Life and style | The Guardian.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 13th, 2016 at 10:19 am

Posted in Food and Drink

Tagged with ,