Penultimate Shift

I just finished my penultimate shift working @ AAA. I’ve accepted a new job working for RealTraps beginning on Monday. Lots of changes in our reality… good changes.

Lots of details to come, not the least of which is the laptop-wrangling I’ve done this week. I have a new laptop, and I’ll be writing about Liberating it from Vista. I will need XP for my job, and I’ve worked very hard to get XP up and running on my new laptop. Linux went in much more easily, of course.

Of course.

Anyway, tomorrow is the final shift at AAA. I like the turn of phrase on “penultimate shift” because it reminds me that something new is always around the corner.

Gulf of Tonkin redux? and, Zeitgeist

Those who pay attention to what is being said in the corporate media understand that they are, by and large, tools of propaganda to shape public opinion. I still keep an eye on fairly regularly so that I can continue to see this. I’m particularly interested in what is said about both Iran and Venezuela, since it is likely that these two countries will be future targets of the US Military machine (given that these 2 countries have among the largest oil reserves in the world).

Anyway, on today there was another story that reminded me of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that launched the Vietnam War. It was reported that Iranian ships ‘harass’ U.S. Navy, officials say.

Are they for real? What armed force, anywhere in the world, would knowingly “harass” the US military without provocation? Knowing the technological superiority of the US military, and knowing the US military’s unabashed willingness to blow the crap out of anyone they perceive as “enemy,” I think anyone who would “harass” the US military would have to be insane. I just don’t think it’s likely.

Of course, anytime you have boys playing in their war machines, one must account for increased testosterone levels, so who knows. But then again, increased testosterone levels are known to bring about insanity.

On another note, a friend mentioned the Zeitgeist movie in a comment a couple entries down. I’ve watched the film; it’s fantastic. I highly recommend watching it, though I will say that if you are Jewish or a Christian, and unwilling to have your BS (Belief System) challenged by rational argumentation grounded in both history and world myth, don’t bother as you are likely to simply be offended. The film does do a great job of showing how religion (and here I mean organized religion, or as my father would say, the “Big-C” church) is little more than a mechanism for social control and domination, teaching people to submit to external, arbitrary authorities and stop thinking. Or as they say in a quote in the movie, to take authority as the truth rather than truth as the authority. Brilliant.

You can watch the video entirely online, it is available on Google video.

Linux Audio

I was very glad to see this primer on Linux audio: Audio Production Tools for Linux. It looks like audio for Linux is getting closer to ready for prime time.

In general I have the attitude: no matter how many bells and whistles exist in commercial software apps, if I can get the job done with Free software then I should do so. It just so happens that Free software tools have in many places gotten better than what commercial offerings can provide.

In particular, Ardour is growing incredibly, and Hydrogen looks wicked cool as well. Ubuntu Studio is probably what I’ll try first, it also has some video features which look intriguing.

The Joys of Home Ownership

For the most part, I love “owning” my home (though I still have philosophical differences with the notion of “owning” land and homes). It gives me freedom to do whatever I want with the place, and of course the economic benefits are well-known.

But sometimes it’s just a pain in the ass. Like, say, the past 18 hours. We have about 18″ of snow on the ground, and last night it got down to below zero, BEFORE the wind chill.

So last night I went to make dinner…. no gas. Hmm, I thought. If there’s no gas in the stove, then that means….. no furnace.

Indeed, the furnace wasn’t working. It was still reasonably warm at this point. So the first thing I did was go out to see if the propane tanks were full. After a fair amount of time digging a path to them (18″ of snow and all) I discovered that, indeed, they were all about half full. I called our gas guy and he had some advice for me. I tried what he suggested (cleared off the roof around the furnace chimney, and restarted the gas) and, no luck.

So we all spent the night in our room with the space heater on (Mo, LM, myself, our dog, and my daughter’s new gerbils). It was actually warm in there, but of course coming out of the room this morning was no fun.

After another phone call I decided to investigate the regulator at the back of the house. It’s just off the back porch; sadly we have no way to get down from the back porch, it’s basically a small balcony overlooking the hill and our woods. I could, however, see that the regulator was frozen solid.

I looked up, on the edge of the roof, and sure enough there were a bunch of icicles hanging down above where the regulator is. The exhast vent for the stove is right there; the warm air from the stove melts the snow on the roof, and then the water drips down and lands on the regulator. This is why it was encased in ice. Bad engineering.

So I went around to the back of the house and dug another path through the snow along the edge of the house to the regulator. After some gentle TLC with a hammer and chisel, the regulator was cleared out. I made double-sure the vent was clear; the vent being clogged with ice was the cause of the problem. When this happens the gas flow is designed to shut down.

After that I came back inside, turned on a burner on the stove, and sure enough there was the telltale hissing sound and the smell of propane. Yay!

So I re-lit the pilot lights and we were back in business. In fact the heater just kicked off again a few minutes ago, which means the house is back up to 68 degrees F.

I can’t move the regulator easily, so soon I’ll build a small shelter to cover the regulator, so any dripping water will be deflected away from it.

Don’t wanna have to do this again. Though at least we’re warming up now, we’re up to 6.8 degrees F. :-)

conspiracy theory? Well, duh….

I’ve been very interested in the corporate media reaction to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. The headline in my local paper reads “Conspiracy theories arise in wake of Bhutto’s death.” This is mirrored all over the corporate media, and frankly talk like this burns me up.

“Conspiracy theory” has become a smokescreen phrase; whenever it is applied anywhere — ESPECIALLY in the mass media — it is a cue for people to stop thinking, and consider the person to whom this label has been applied as a crackpot nutjob.

Which of course makes no sense at all. The Bhutto assassination, the 9/11 attacks, the Kennedy assassination, etc etc etc are ALL events that were not carried out only by one person (despite the Warren Commission’s characterization of a “lone gunman”); therefore, any theory about What Really Happened(tm) must by definition be a “conspiracy theory.”

Pretty much anything that happens in politics must also by definition be a conspiracy theory. This obviously included Bhutto’s death, the fact that it was a “conspiracy” goes without saying. There was another attempt on her life in October, and witnesses report both bombs and gunshots going off.

I just wish we could get beyond reactionary ostrich-like putting our heads in the sand at certain trigger words. There are many of these; “conspiracy theory” is one. “Freedom” is another.

But then, as I’ve said many times, there’s a reason they call it “television programming.”

David Byrne on the music industry

There are a fascinating pair of articles on Wired involving David Byrne. First, and most interesting to me, is David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars. Byrne does a good job of outlining 6 possible business models for musicians becoming apparent now that the Major-Label music industry is dead. Definitely a good read for people interested in music and how to earn income from it.

Secondly is David Byrne and Thom Yorke on the Real Value of Music, which is Byrne interviewing Yorke (of Radiohead), mostly about how they released their most recent album, where they offered it as a free download, giving people the opportunity to pay whatever they think it to be worth.

I find this passage from Byrne’s article interesting:

one of Radiohead’s managers, Bryce Edge, told me, “The industry reacted like the end was nigh. ‘They’ve devalued music, giving it away for nothing.’ Which wasn’t true: We asked people to value it, which is very different semantics to me.”

Different semantics indeed. This way of thinking (“they’ve devalued music”) is representative of the muddled thinking so often present in corporate/capitalist reality. Whitehead would have called it the “fallacy of misplaced concreteness,” which is “mistaking the abstract for the concrete.” In other words, it’s not music that is being devalued, it is an outmoded form of parasitic economic exploitation, known as The Major Label Music Industry, that is being devalued.

new gigs

I just realized I haven’t posted about this. I have 2 new gigs going on. I’ll still be doing weekends at my old gig, so that’s remains unchanged. I still have no free weekends except on rare special occasions. :-(

The first is that I am in the process of opening up Crafted Recordings: Quality on-location audio recording in Northern New England. I’m surprised I haven’t blogged about this yet, but I’ve had a separate website going for a while. Hop on over and check it out when you can. My recording rig isn’t quite finished, and I’ve hit some (not insurmountable) snags on the portability end of it. I’ll need to get a truck and/or a trailer to haul it around, and I still need to finish building the rack lids so I can safely move them. I have the materials I need, I’m just waiting for the stars to line up with time and good weather so I can do the carpentry. This is very exciting, as it gives me a chance to earn a living doing what I love.

The second is that I’ve entered into a part-time consulting relationship with Realtraps. Realtraps, “the experts in acoustic treatment,” is an acoustics company run by Ethan Winer (and his partner Doug Ferrara, as well has a half-dozen-ish employees). Ethan wrote the single best introduction to listening room acoustics that I know of; this article was my point of departure in developing an understanding of how to make rooms sound good. In addition to this (and other) articles, Ethan is more than generous with his expertise on various forums online that I hang out on. We started communicating a while ago via these forums, and we became friends.

So these are exciting developments for me, as both of these mean I will be starting to earn (at least part of) a living through music.


After all this time, I’ve finally gotten round to reinstalling Linux, both on the laptop and on the desktop. I tried Ubuntu again, but at this point I am of the opinion that PCLinuxOS completely smokes Ubuntu.

Full featured, easy to install. No hassle. It just works, with all the software you will ever need.

If you are contemplating whether or not to run Vista, just don’t. Get PCLinuxOS instead.

Internet Bill Of Rights

Looks like the Brazilian and Italian governments are getting together to draft an Internet Bill Of Rights. This is a good idea, and it would appear that they are on the right track, since they are discussing

Privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, universal accessibility, network neutrability, interoperability, use of format and open standards, free access to information and knowledge, right to innovation and a fair and competitive market and consumers safeguard.

Among the signees of this resolution are Gilberto Gil, a Brazilian musician who is also the Brazilian Minister for Culture. I have respect for Gil and what he does as a politician. I remember Lawrence Lessig writing about an encounter he had with Gil a couple of years ago:

This was a scene that was astonishing on a million levels. I’ve seen rallies for free software in many placed around the world. I’ve never seen anything like this. There were geeks, to be sure. But not many. The mix was broad-based and young. They cheered free software as if it were a candidate for President. But more striking still was just the dynamic of this democracy. Barlow captured the picture at the top, which in a sense captures it all. Here’s a Minister of the government, face to face with supporters, and opponents. He speaks, people protest, and he engages their protest. Passionately and directly, he stands at their level. There is no distance. There is no “free speech zone.” Or rather, Brazil is the free speech zone. Gil practices zone rules.

Let’s hope this sees the light of day; the values contained in this declaration do need to be foregrounded in discussion.

please tell me I don’t have to boycott Harry Potter….

Yes, I happily admit that I’m a Harry Potter fan. I think it’s a great series, incredibly imaginative, reasonably well-written, and the movies aren’t bad.

It goes without saying that J. K. Rowling has become one of the most famous authors in the world, her books have sold millions in dozens of languages, academics are studying them and writing about them, along with other famous writers firmly established in the western canon. Tolkien comes to mind; they are similarly famous, in related genres, and both have had blockbuster movies made within the past decade.

But, J.K. Rowling has gone over the top. Apparently, she is suing a publisher for having the audacity to publish a reference book about the Harry Potter universe.

Rowling’s argument is clear, albeit misguided:

It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author’s hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else’s work, it does not become theirs to sell.

If this argument were sound, then there would be no reference books at all for any copyrighted work, apart from reference books published by the original copyright holders of the material.

No Cliffs Notes.

No reference books on Lord of The Rings.

No reference books on Narnia.

No reference books on Star Wars.

No reference books on the His Dark Materials trilogy.

And curiously enough, no Harry Potter reference books, dozens of which have already been published.

I truly hope that J. K. Rowling isn’t vain enough to actually believe that she, the richest woman in the UK, richer than even the Queen, should exclusively profit from the hard work of other people, in this case people who compile the reference materials.

If she does, well. It’s too late to boycott since my family already owns all 7 books.

Which brings up another point: does Rowling truly believe that people are going to buy these reference books INSTEAD fo the original novels? That there will be ANYONE who buys this reference book who doesn’t already own all 7 books, probably in both paperback and hardcover, all the DVDs from the movies made, and at least a dozen tickets to each movie in the theater?

Reality check. J.K. Rowling is often portrayed as a hardworking mom who struck big with an imaginative idea. That may have once been true; but if she really believes this then she is now nothing more than a fabulously wealthy node in the corporate network.