This is an attempt at an automatically scheduled post.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois gives a v-sign to the United States. The meanings of his actions are clear to anyone in the US. Now they can be understood in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand as well.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As AndyC noticed, Amazon UK is strongly promoting its mp3 store. In the US the mp3 store has been running for some time. It is convenient and easy to use. It is clear that the record companies are trying to undercut iTunes by letting Amazon sell mp3s while not allowing Apple to do the same thing (with exceptions). A year ago if I had a craving for a song I would buy it from Apple. Now I will usually buy the song from Amazon to avoid the DRM. Amazon seems to be experimenting with two levels of price point. One is the album for $5 like Tha Carter III or Dear Science. This is a tempting price. But they also are trying albums for $2, which, for the right artist, is almost irresistible. Yesterday you could get Purple Rain and Howlin' Wolf: His Best - Chess 50th Anniversary Collection at this price. Today you cannot. I wonder if Amazon is eating the costs on these experiments in order to determine the price elasticity of demand for mp3s. I also wonder how I can find about these offers without having to check the site every day.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
What is the ugliest plane in the world?
The Airbus A300-600ST Beluga is a modified A300 which is used (mostly) to carry Airbus components ready for final assembly across Europe to Toulouse or Hamburg. I often see these near Chester because Airbus wings are built in Broughton.
The Boeing Dreamlifter (here seen with downtown San Francisco in the background) is a modified 747-400 used for transporting aircraft parts to Boeing from suppliers around the world.
I think Airbus and Boeing should use each other's planes to ferry their parts around. This would be like Apple and Cray. When Seymour Cray was told that Apple Computer had just bought a Cray to help design the next Apple Macintosh, Cray commented that he had just bought a Macintosh to design the next Cray.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The new format is a bad piece of design. Previously you could see the destination of the next two trains at a glance. Now you have to look at the numbers to see what the second train will be. Here, the next two trains are both for Daly City, but you have to look carefully to see that. Why did they make this mistake? They think they are showing more information in a smaller area. This is true, but it is information that is only of interest to BART. Who cares what the train is in 27 minutes? Only those who are trying to run the system. It's the same mistake they make when they earnestly tell you that the system is running 20 minutes behind schedule. We don't care. We want to know when the next train will pull in.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Saturday, December 13, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Photo by ipickmynose at flickr.
This was ages ago. Laura Marling is that youngster who did not win the Mercury Prize because some boring indie rock group must always win. She was second on the bill which meant I got to go home at a sensible time. Did I mention that she is young? She is 18 and I kept thinking of Wayne Rooney (a football player), who similarly seemed to appear at age 17 already fully formed. Her songs are nice. I would like to know who did the arrangements for her band, I suspect the wonderfully named Charlie Fink who seemed to be her main associate. She is intense and the crowd are intent. She looks down when she speaks but stares above the watcher's heads when she sings (Yes, I know she is not doing that in the picture).
Compare and contrast with Taylor Swift, another precocious talent who has taken the quicker route towards stardom. Will Marling ever try to take that step upwards? One of her last songs, a new one, sounded like she has discovered Bob Dylan. I wish her luck.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Anything moving on a web page is very distracting. So I browse the web with flash turned off, ads filtered, and (experimentally) with xss filters in place. But despite all this NYTimes has a tiny icon on their news pages that flashes. To get rid of it you should use your ad blocker to block
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/js/article/articleShare.jsand, hurrah, one less flashing image.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Image from CCSF vs. SJCC (i.e. not the game I saw)
G. has been enjoying playing basketball and I wanted to take her to a game. We went to see the City College women's team (CCSF Rams) play against Santa Rosa Junior College (SJRC). The game was in the new gym at CCSF. It is a very impressive place, with a large hall big enough for 3 basketball courts. In this case the game was played in two thirds of the hall, with one set of bleachers for spectators. There were referees and scoreboards and we had to pay $13 for both of us to get in.
I don't really know much about basketball but any competitive sport is fun to watch. I quickly picked out a few favourite players to follow. CCSF started well but they started swapping out my chosen players very early. SJRC had one outstanding player (possibly a point guard) who played nearly the entire first half and had enough spare energy to continually shout at her teammates. At half-time the game was tied. In the second half CCSF put their starters in again and kept them there. Now I realized that they had been giving the whole squad a run out in the first half. The fresh CCSF team quickly took a ten point lead. Even the SJRC star was looking tired. Suddenly it wasn't very competitive and while a free throw was in progress we snuck down the sidelines and out.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Friday, November 21, 2008
When I got to the Independent support band Blues and Lasers were wailing in a dual guitar, dual drummer frenzy. There was a definite Allman Brothers feel and the band was having fun. When the Nocturnals appeared I realized that there is a big overlap between the two bands. I liked Blues and Lasers but the addition of Grace Potter, a powerful and subtle rock singer with a soulful voice made an even better combination.
The audience for this show was older with a good sprinkling of Deadheads; I usually think of them as a bunch of dopey hippies but the great thing about this particular subset was how friendly they were. Weirdly enough Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are sponsored by Cabot and there were free cheese samples available. This sort of jamming group can take a while to get warmed up, but once they did there was a lot of dancing. There are more adventurous groups in the world but this was a good night out.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
The election of Barack Obama is bound to resonate with black and mixed heritage people throughout the uk.
Having witnessed what once seemed inconceivable in the usa they will ask how long before something similar happens here.
A black prime minster.
Actually I was thinking of Dr Who but yeah, why not!
Monday, November 03, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
I'd never been to this venue before. It is a former Scottish Rite Temple. It is an impressive neo-classical building clad in classy white stone. Although not quite as fabulous as the Oakland Scottish Rite Center which I have explored a few times, this was a great setting for a heavy metal concert. Inside is a large ballroom with a balcony. This upstairs area has unreserved seating and a bar. Downstairs is a first aid station where they are handing out earplugs, plus there are more bars.
The audience was young and more blue collar than at most shows I go to. Mostly white kids with a few blacks but hardly any Asians. Dress was mostly tee-shirts which was lucky as there didn't seem to be much air circulation and the atmosphere was hot and sticky. There was a distinct smell of sweat.
I missed the first support band who apparently only got to play for 17 minutes but I did catch some of High on Fire. They worked hard, with plenty of sweat pouring off the shirtless singer/guitarist. I was a bit disappointed in their sound.
Logos are very important to metal bands and there was a big cheer when Opeth's backdrop was put in place. Like Nightwish, Opeth are a band that is dominated by one person. In this case our guy (Mikael Åkerfeldt) writes the songs, plays guitar, and sings in both growling and normal styles. Over the years there has been a turnover of personnel and on this tour there is a new guitarist. Unfortunately he is not as interesting a guitarist as Mikael. There is a flamboyant keyboard player and some other guys. Everything revolves around Mikael who seems to be a very controlled presence. He does lots of stuff, the songs even have tunes (in places) but I felt the performance never really took off. In some ways it seemed over-rehearsed. I liked the songs I knew more than the ones I didn't. Still, it was fun evening out.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Photo of Gavin Kostick by Juno Lily Kostick.
My pal Gavin Kostick has recently been memorizing and reciting Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. In 2007 he did this as part of the Dublin Fringe festival, and this year he was promoted to the full Dublin Theatre Festival. To do this means learning a book that takes five and a half hours to perform. The performance was a great success by all accounts. I was interested in the effort required in this feat of memorization and Gavin agreed to answer a few questions.
How did you decide to do Heart of Darkness?
Started on an impulse. Then I read it, and realised it could be performed in 5½ hours which is manageable, both for me, and with some structuring, for an audience. It was an interesting challenge.
Then I checked there are no boring sections, which would have killed it. There aren't. it's always interesting at the very least. And astounding at best.
- It's a first person narrative, so I simply have to tell it direct.
- It is a story told to friends - like one lad to another, so it is colloquial, intimate and trusting.
- The story transforms the teller and the listener, always a good thing in drama.
- It's a physical journey.
Then there's the politics. For me it's the classic anti liberal-imperial novel by an imperial insider. It is a savage political denunciation of Belgian crimes in the Congo. It's an anti-racist novel, though of its time and this can make some of the words hard to say and hear (Like Huck Finn), but worth it for the key drive, which is Western Countries going around invading places is to be condemned.
It did it for the same reason Coppolla used it to talk about Vietnam.
How long did it take you to learn it?
9 months from December 2006 to September 2007. I paced myself.
What methods did you use to memorize it?
Brutal repetition. I didn't use any visualisations as they would have hampered the telling. It can't be done while 'seeing' the wrong things.
I broke it up into 12 sections (4 for each of the 3 parts of the book as it was originally serialised). Each section is about 20 minutes or so. I took 12 new lines a day, Monday to Friday, and read each sentence 3 times over until I could say it without looking. Then I went on to the next sentence. Eventually I would complete a section. Once I had a section done I would repeat it at least twice a week, so it didn't fade, while I went on with the next section. So I had the first 20 minutes., done by January, and simply kept repeating it so it was still there, right up to September.
So for 9 months I was both keeping up on what I had done, as well as working on the new bit.
I say them to myself as I walk in and out of town each day, which is a 30 min walk. So I get 2 a day in that way.
Eventually it's like that plate spinning trick where the man has to run from one plate to another to keep them going. I have 12 plates to keep spinning.
I found that at first I "saw" the words on a page, but eventually I would hear it like music. So when I said the wrong thing in my head it was (and is) like hitting a bum note.
Occasionally I would use a simple alphabet system or anagrams to remember lists within the story I remember I got "foolish and cheery" as reverse alphabetical. But very little.
Also Conrad is very meaningful and precise in his use of words, so it's easy to remember as you understand everything that is being said. It's not like learning a telephone directory. Of course, it's easier to memorise things that at worth saying.
I also essentially use a bit of CBT on myself. A can-do, positive outlook and visualistion helps.
In the end the only reason to learn it, is to perform it, so I got more and more into the telling aspect.
In normal life do you think you have a good memory?
No. I think any human memory is amazing. After all, entire legal systems were once memorised in some cultures before the invention of writing. As Conrad says, "the mind of man is capable of anything, for everything is in it".
Have you noticed your memory declining as you get older?
Yes. Part of this is simply to keep in trim. My memory was once savagely clear. After 30 it softened a bit.
If you don't practice, how long does it take before you can't recall it all perfectly?
I have it very clear now. I'd say about 4 days and I'd lose a line or two. A week and I'd definitely get the odd missing part. But I'd probably still be able to think it through - it just wouldn't be on the tip of my tongue. I did the first performance in September 2007 and started rememorising in February 2008. Very large amounts were still there, just rusty.
What was your experience preparing for the second set of performances of Heart of Darkness? How was it different?
Odd. Apparently 80% of people who run one marathon don't run another. Yes you know you can do it, but you're also aware of things like how hard it's going to be, like the wall coming. So, yes it was much easier for the words to go in - sometimes I simply read it a couple of times off the page and there it was - but sometimes it was a little hard to face just doing it.
I am actually proud of myself on rainy days, when there were lots of distractions, when I put the work in. Now I'm actually performing it I tell myself I owe it to all the days I put in in training, as it were, to do a good job.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Monday, October 20, 2008
Your result for The Doctor Who Companion Test...
You are The Brigadier. Strong, Intelligent and generally friendly, you are a loyal ally to have
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
I bought the new Metallica CD and found it, well, loud. Isn't that good? It is annoying to have to futz with the volume control. And it is annoying to think I might be missing some subtlety.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Friday, September 19, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
This is a new video made by Jonathan Beamish. It mixes old performance footage with the 1979 Peel session. Best thing about this version is the acoustic drums.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Monday, September 08, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
At the North-East corner of the cathedral they are constructing a Healing Garden for Abuse Survivors. At the center of the garden will be a large piece of basalt, split into three pieces. How to acknowledge the scandal of sexual abuse by priests has been a delicate and contentious issue.
The area around the garden has been temporarily flooded to check the integrity of the concrete. Below you can see the plastic pieces in which the grass is being cultivated.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
The cathedral is scheduled to open on 25 September 2008. Almost all the work being done now is on the interior. You can now walk up to the outside of the building. Here you can see a ramp up the front door, and a crucifix over the main entry.
Friday, August 08, 2008
A top Go professional (Myungwan Kim) lost a handicap game of Go to the MoGo computer program. For years Go has been the game where a strong amateur could beat any computer. But now, through better algorithms rather than faster hardware a computer is competitive. In this case the computer did have a huge advantage in that it got to play 9 stones unopposed at the start of the game. But any win against a pro is a huge advance. The closing position is above with black (MoGo) winning. The game is here in sgf format.
First of all, what does this mean? I think it's drummers who sing and drum at the same time. So that makes it easy. The best three singing drummers are:
Then there are drummers who can (and do) sing.
- Phil Collins
- Robert Wyatt
- Mo Tucker
- Roger Taylor (of Queen)
- Denis Wilson (of the Beach Boys)
- Dave Grohl
- Bobby Gillespie
- Ringo Starr
- That guy from Paper Lace
Then there's the special subcategory of drummers who shout:
- Yamantaka Eye (Boredoms)
- Yoshimi P-We (Boredoms, OOIOO)
- Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins)
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
It's as hot as it ever gets in San Francisco, and I am suffering. Devonte Hynes (i.e. Mr. Lightspeed Champion) is still wearing his signature wooly hat so he is cooler than me. Lightspeed Champion are setting up their own gear. The PA plays the Kinks, the Cure and Pulp. The club is less than half full. I can walk to the front so I lean on the stage. The band play a lot of different styles. I think that Devonte is like Prince cos he is so talented, but that seems lazy as Devonte is a rare black person in rock. Drummer Anna Prior kicks ass. They have nice songs but the best bit is where they play the Star Wars theme. The band and the audience have fun. It all seems so simple.
With all the entrepreneurial energy in the United States, how come no-one has found a way to make the sound check superfluous? Why can’t concerts start on time? I think of these eternal questions as I wait. Tonight it’s particularly annoying to wait as I had come to the venue the night before without a ticket. I got the date wrong. It’s never happened to me before. The staff nodded sympathetically. And 10 minutes earlier people were trying hard to get rid of single tickets. Tonight I’m back again, with a ticket. The audience is young and 50% female. Next to me someone looks at wikipedia on their cell phone. On the other side a bloke shows off his iPhone to a girl. They play bass heavy reggae before the band comes on. I love reggae, there must be a special shop where you can buy boring reggae to play before shows.
It’s six piece band. There are three guitarists, breaking my #2 rule of rock: no band needs more than two guitarists. Wikipedia says that they play Indie Rock, but really they play in a Classic Rock style. It’s a bit Blonde on Blonde, it’s a bit E-Street Band. They’re all good players and the keyboardist is a great colourist. They’re really capable and so they’re not really pushed by the material. At one point the guitarist sings a song and everything brightens up: for once it could all go horribly wrong! But soon we are back to safety.
Conor Oberst is a good singer, and has nice songs. He can totally control that break in his voice that he uses so effectively on record. But he’s cold. There’s almost no interaction with the audience. This is in a tiny club, but I’ve felt more connection with Bruce Springsteen in (enormous) Wembley Stadium. Maybe we’re just there to admire him? People are chatting and taking lots of iPhone photos. Conor jumps on the drum riser. He raises his guitar aloft. I’m sure he feels it but I don’t. The band hits a groove, then changes gears in an instant. There’s a lot of head and not enough gut. I was disappointed.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
A manga cafe (the Manga Cafe Mika) has opened in San Francisco. You pay to go in and then you can read from the extensive stock of 20,000 books. The family manga expert and I went to Japantown to try it out. It costs $5 for the first hour and then $1.25 per 15 minutes after that. When we had looked in the window the other week I had thought it was stocked with English language manga, but in fact 95% is Japanese. The English language section is over 700 books but they are mostly recent kids books, predominately from Viz. There was no Akira, no Osamu Tezuka, no Lone Wolf and Cub. I was a bit disappointed. The local expert happily read Naruto and I read Death Note. I thought everyone there would be children but they were mostly grownups. There are computers too, and a screen continually running anime, which everyone ignored.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Update: got to http://snaplinks.mozdev.org where rautava, mumbly, and atreus have created a proper update site. Thanks to them and everyone else who has worked to keep this excellent plugin working!
Old text for histoprical purposes:
If you need the snap links addon for
firefox 3 then there is a version by Lim-Dul that works here.firefox 3.01 then there is a version here that works. Please note that I did not create this! The real work was done by niko39, Atreus and Mumbly Juergens. Also note you may have to save the file and then tell firefox to open the file with firefox.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Now I understand.
There is a proper intellectual discussion here but it is TLDNR.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008
Before I had a blog I started this series on Rock stars and their favourite games. Here we see the the RZA playing chess (from Invisible Jukebox in the Wire). He has been going around promoting chess to the youth. His new online club for hip hoppers costs $48 a year which isn't going to work I'm afraid. Still, chess is cool and so is the RZA.
I got this dvd from Netflix. You get Coltrane on European TV in 1960, 1961 and 1965.
March 28 1960 (Germany) with Paul Chambers (bass), Wynton Kelly (piano) and Jimmy Cobb (drums). This is most of the band that Played with Miles on Kind of Blue. They play classic bebop and it is nice.
- On Green Dolphin Street
- The Theme
- Autumn Leaves / What's New / Moonlight in Vermont (with Stan Getz)
- Hackensack (with Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson)
- My Favourite Things
- Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye
- My Favourite Things
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
I saw support band Tussle. They play synths, bass + synths, drums, drums. It made me optimistic to see two drummers after seeing the Boredoms with three. They play a bit of synth noodling then the two drummers and bassist lock into a motorik groove. Pretty simple but it works for me. During the whole gig there were images projected on the bands and stage. There were fractals and hexagons, and vintage video games, and more and more semi-psychedelic images. There were no vocals and the band didn't say a word. They had a bit of a post punk feel (that's a good thing). I thought of Delta 5 and Shriekback - both bands who featured a lot of bass. I liked Tussle.
You can see in the poster above that Cluster used to have lots of nice piles of analog equipment. Now all that they need is easily laid out on two tables. In the interval I wander to the front and watch the setup. It takes me a while to realize that neither guy has a laptop, which is strange, even guitar bands have laptops nowadays.
Eventually the duo wanders on. They don't look at each other, but each sits at his table. Hans-Joachim Roedelius has a keyboard, some CD players, and a glass of wine. He sits on a bar stool. Dieter Moebius has some boxes with knobs on. He perches on a flight case. The sounds are ambient and gentle. Things change slowly. It is nice, but I wish for the motorik groove. I'm glad I'm right at the front so I know I'm not missing anything. I can see when they tap their feet. The sound cuts out for a second and Moebius glances across sheepishly; Roedelius is looking away. After 25 minutes there's a pause. Roedelius has a drink and raises his glass. There's quite a murmur behind me, I think there are quite a few conversations going on. Many people are intent on videoing or photographing the performance. Sometimes I wonder what is the point of live performances. Cluster are very serious and they are definitely making decisions that affect the music all the time. After a while I go home. I'm glad I went.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I finished in 58:16, a new record for me, and under an hour. I was 863rd in the race. Knocking 5 minutes off my time was a big achievement for me. I paced myself better, I think, in that I had nothing left at the end. But the big thing I did was to train at different speeds. That was hard but it made a difference.
Friday, May 23, 2008
From A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies by William Nordhaus
Whether someone is serious about tackling the global-warming problem can be readily gauged by listening to what he or she says about the carbon price. Suppose you hear a public figure who speaks eloquently of the perils of global warming and proposes that the nation should move urgently to slow climate change. Suppose that person proposes regulating the fuel efficiency of cars, or requiring high-efficiency lightbulbs, or subsidizing ethanol, or providing research support for solar power—but nowhere does the proposal raise the price of carbon. You should conclude that the proposal is not really serious and does not recognize the central economic message about how to slow climate change. To a first approximation, raising the price of carbon is a necessary and sufficient step for tackling global warming. The rest is at best rhetoric and may actually be harmful in inducing economic inefficiencies.
I have not read this book but this quote summarizes my position. This is quoted in an interesting article by Freeman Dyson. Dyson is often labeled as a global warming sceptic. It seems to me he admits the problem, but is sceptical about how to tackle it.
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
My Score: Macbeth
I scored 44% = Tragic, 34% = Comic, 34% = Romantic, 49% = Historic
I am Macbeth! A supposed retelling of the true story of King Macbeth of Scotland, Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's bloodiest plays. Macbeth, after hearing the prophesy of three witches, believes he will be named king of Scotland. However, this line of thinking eventually leads Macbeth down a horrible road of blood and death as he fights first to gain, and then to keep hold of the crown. Believing the play to be cursed, many actors will not even say the name of the play inside of a theater unless it is being performed and refer to it simply as "The Scottish Play". But you probably don't care about some stupid old curse. As Macbeth you most likely don't take warnings too well and you are so headstrong that you can't take good advice when it comes your way, even if it is for your own good. But being Macbeth isn't all bad. You are most likely a man (or woman) of action. People probably like you because you are good at thinking on your feet and making quick decisions. But be careful, as your rash behavior may also get you in to trouble along the way.
|Link: The Which Shakespeare Play Are You? Test|
Posted by Andrew Sherman on Monday, May 12, 2008