Archive for October, 2008

31
Oct
08

Chicago Giant Studs Terkel Passes, Chicago Tribune Stays Classy

It is my fondest hope that Chicago institution Studs Terkel will begin his air shift in the afterlife by, in fact, surprising Mahalia Jackson with a bigger penis.

31
Oct
08

Dispatch From The Titanic’s Bridge

I didn’t see the October 18th editorial in The Economist sooner than this morning for reasons connected to my current work situation.  I bought the issue last week after leaving a job interview downtown, stuffed the copy in my briefcase and forgot it was in there until this morning.  Chalk it up to the disruptions inherent in the unpaid toil of job-hunting.

That’s a shame, because written therein, during the height of unregulated capital’s global financial crisis, is some incredible stuff.

In the editorial entitled “Capitalism At Bay”, we are predictably fed the false binary choice in a dire warning:  a larger role for the state in regulating capitalism necessarily means a “smaller and more constrained private sector.”

We could stop right there and exit on a laugh line. Imagine that someone had instead written that “a greater number of prisons necessarily means fewer crimes are committed” or “having traffic signals at intersections necessarily reduces the number of vehicles on the streets”.

Poor, put-upon private sector!  If not for that nasty old state, you could really spread your wings and fly!

That howler is eclipsed three paragraphs later:

Even if it staves off disaster, the bail-out will cause huge problems. It creates moral hazard: such a visible safety net encourages risky behavior.

Can the free-market fundamentalist who penned the above be serious?  A visible safety net  – not widespread deregulation of securities trading – encourages risky behavior? Speaking as a US taxpayer and an unwilling part of that safety net, I can only ask: who among the unregulated credit derivative dealers of the past eight years, as they piled untold trillions into these insane instruments until banks and nations everywhere dropped to their knees, ever once thought past pocketing their own commissions?

How is it that the individual moral hazard is accepted or ignored, even lauded as a feature of “economic freedom” while nothing but scorn is reserved for the notion of having a pit boss at the blackjack tables?

The Economist: Denigrating the telescope and cheering the iceberg since 1843.

30
Oct
08

Triumph Of The Whistleblowers: taf.org

Assuming an Obama presidency, the wholesale looting of public funds by fraudulent private contractors may well have reached a historic peak.  Indicators are strong that a philosophical shift away from free-market fundamentalism will accompany Obama to the Oval Office, which could mean the brakes will be put on the wild Washington joyride business interests have for decades enjoyed at the public’s expense.

While serious  study of government contracting abuse means mountains of generally dry and abstruse stuff, observers of this cultural struggle for the taxpayer’s dollar are not necessarily condemned to slog through government reports or to parse isolated news pieces to get a working sense of the culture, players, sums and offenses involved.

Taxpayers Against Fraud or the False Claims Legal Center is a non-profit group that publishes the terrific taf.org website.  TAF shows the results of fraud litigation instigated by whistelblowers under the False Claims Act of 1863, sometimes referred to as the “Lincoln law“.  Ever since the first US military contractor was sued under the FCA for selling Uncle Sam the first beaten-down mules or non-firing rifles, the act’s litigation history has been a fascinating peek into the mindset of corporate crime – and a chronicle of its defeat.

Since 1998, TAF has served as a kind of victory parade for the public, documenting billion after billion in funds recovered from corporations who were caught red-handed pickpocketing the public. Given the past thirty years of insanely deregulated, overprivatized government, It’s hard to find as dense a concentration of good news in one place as TAF.

30
Oct
08

Random Garbage Or Cryptic Message From Local Sandwich Gang?

Discovered 7:33 AM, CST, In front of my house:

Am I a “jelly” being sent a message that I’m on the “peanut butter” side of town?  Or is this merely the flotsam resulting from a late-night prowl by a gang of choosy mothers?

29
Oct
08

Johnny Marr Gives It Up To Bohannon and Bo Diddley

While it may not exactly have broken a lot of new ground, BBC One’s series “The Story Of The Guitar” has its moments, and here’s one: Johnny Marr lifts the hood on the riff from the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now” and shows what led to what – electrically and culturally.

Watch also for the joyous clip of Buzzcocks where Steve Diggle is found ah-ah-ing in the vicinty of a Shure SM-81, an odd, if great-looking choice of microphone for vocals.

23
Oct
08

OSX 10.5.5 Update Breaks OpenOffice 2.4

Gee, thanks Apple.  No, I didn’t need OpenOffice this morning.  Nah, it’s cool, I only had a printer fail and had to come to Kinko’s, which is my favorite place to get surprises – surprises like OpenOffice 2.4 failing to, well, open.

“Command timed out” says OpenOffice on boot while it reaches for X11 – a windowing system which apparently you just had to delete with your 10.5.5 update.

No, really, it’s okay.  The Kinko’s LapNet I’m on will only take 45 more minutes to download OpenOffice 3.  I haven’t been on dialup in a long time, it’s fun! And not only that, it’s six bucks an hour.

I mean, I have all kinds of time for stuff like this, no sweat.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=2126

22
Oct
08

Pro Tools: “Everything You Want, And Nothing You Need”

At the 2008 Audio Engineering Society convention in San Francisco:  a slip of the tongue from the Digidesign presenter while demoing the new Pro Tools version 8 inadvertantly speaks to the radically altered landscape in digital audio workstation software.   (Gaffe occurs at 3:54)

Worth a chuckle, but certainly not at Mr. Jackson’s expense.  His employer, however, is another story.  Thanks to their business model, the slip has more than a hint of truth to it.   Digi’s rigid adherence to hardware bundling built an empire, but is part of a philosophy that has resulted in each new iteration of its DAW application being less and less exciting while competing titles are steadily eating Digi’s market share and capturing users by the thousands.

PT8’s Sibelius-scoring features and GUI face lift are a real shrug of the shoulders when put up against the kind of development work being turned in by the good people at Cockos with their REAPER DAW.  If you’re recording anything from any source for any reason and you’ve never checked out REAPER, it’s time.   REAPER is a case of everything you need and nothing you don’t want.




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1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
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