Saturday 28 February 2009

Working long hours?

Working long hours 'puts us at higher risk of dementia': "Middle-age workers doing more than 55 hours a week have poorer mental skills, including short-term memory and ability to recall words, than those clocking up fewer than 41 hours, a study has found.

The stress and exhaustion of long hours could be as bad for the brain as smoking"
Those doing the most overtime recorded lower scores in two of the five key brain function tests - reasoning and vocabulary. -- or dare I suggest that sub-standard reasoning and poor debate skills might themselves lead to the subject being hoodwinked (by themselves or others) into working those hours? As a monk once told me, "No one diagnosed of a terminal disease ever wished they'd spent more time at the office."
In what is maybe a related story on how animals may be smarter than we think, Daily Grail points out how it is your cat that spends the day lounging on your bed while its you that goes off to work.

Thursday 26 February 2009

The Devil & Michael Cleveland

Wrath of the Grapevine: "Our Red-Horned Bogieman presented young Michael with the ancient Fiddle of Souls, strung with the strings of pity, of hope, of love, of joy, of death.

Not only was young Michael of Cleveland the only person in history to ever own this fiddle who did not have to give up his soul in exchange for it, but our unassuming lad was also the only person humble enough to wield such a mighty instrument safely."

Wednesday 25 February 2009


Japanorama visits with two new additions to the Asimo line

Thursday 19 February 2009

Welcome To The Game


Globaleyes: "Slowly, Michael opened his eyes. There was a group of people standing above him, some smiling, some looking concerned.
'Did they burn - did they burn it?'
There was silence. 'I think you had a fall young man' said a kindly American voice. 'Take your time'.
Two people sat him up and another offered him a hot drink. He sipped at the thermos without saying anything, his breath rasping in the cold. He shook.
'What happened to me?' Michael asked.
'You fainted' said a woman with a British accent.
'The soldiers. Where did the soldiers go?'
'Oh pet,' she giggled, 'there haven't been any soldiers here for decades'."
From the wretched hive of scum and bloggery that is, a multi-media tale to tell that starts at the beginning and runs with it. Be sure to check out the Google Maps Edition


Wednesday 18 February 2009

El Sistema: The Music Miracle

Jose Abreu on kids transformed by music

The State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela (FESNOJIV - Fundaci??n del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela) is a government-funded organization, founded by maestro Jos?? Antonio Abreu, aimed at systematizing music education and promoting the collective practice of music through symphony orchestras and chorus as a means of social organization and communitarian development, a method Jose calls El Sistema:
Music is not only the product of the talent and virtuosity of its creators; it is the reflection of the soul of the peoples and, in this case, is the outgrowth of an education program that over the past 33 years has spread beyond our borders and has surpassed all expectations.

In the past, art was a matter of minorities for minorities; then it became a matter of minorities for majorities. Nowadays it is a matter of majorities for majorities and a key element to educating and allowing people to integrate successfully into society.

So why should a Stephen Harper opt to pay into a scheme such as this and at a scale such as this? The only sane question is rather to ask how any politician could dare to publically not support El Sistema. You could start with the total eradication of poverty, the revitalization of depressed communities, you could step it up a notch to call McLuhan's observation "When deprived of his identity, man becomes violent in diverse ways. Violence is the quest for identity.", or cite the simple unifying effects of synchronous behaviour, or the leadership maturing effects of large-group logistics and social responsibilities, the care and support to others and to one's instrument. We could talk about a great many things, all of them desirable. All of them doable.

If only we had the collective will to want it. Could be the advantage Venezuela has over Canada for social transformation on this scale is that, for them, the mass FAIL of an entire generation is simply not an option.

Blue Yodel No. 9

A recreation of the Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Rodgers session July 16, 1960, this time with Bill Walker on piano and J.R.Cash on guitar, vocals and yodels. And I don't care what you may have heard, no, it is not the least bit strange.

Satchmo: Let's give it to 'em in Black and White! :)
I don't know where they got it, but there is a popular misconception (mostly among 'modern' jazz players) that Country Music and Jazz Music are somehow different, parallel universes, twains that never meet. Nothing could be farther from the truth: Not only did Louis Armstrong know Jimmy Rodgers, Sun Ra mentions playing in country bands in Alabama, Ray Charles was well known to both RnB and Country fans and ... well, the South is only so big, y'know. There's also the tidbit on how Merl Travis learned to play from Mose Rager who, like Bill Monroe and his mentor Kennedy Jones, learned the art of microtonal flatpicking and chord substitutions from Arnold Shultz, a black coal miner from Ohio County.

Y'see, country music is a kind of Jazz, a shared aesthetic, rooted in rags and blues and hollers of the african and native american slave and later prison workgangs, virtuoso improvisation mixed with traditional vocabularies of scales, licks, vamps, ornimentations and turn-arounds strung along a folk-form chord progression modified and modulated rhythmically and harmonically according to the jazz of the moment.

Thursday 12 February 2009

The Evolution Revolution

In honour of Darwin's Birthday, an evolutionary flash from the past from one of my key inspirations to want to play a Fender Stratocaster ... not to mention my also yearning to put secret messages into our song codes. Well, there's the moustache kit too, and the shower phone ...

"Ok Darwin ... what's your theory?

Wednesday 11 February 2009

She's Hip

"Bobby Darin knows my friend, I'm so hip"
Blossom Dearie 1926 ??? 2009 -- known to many of you as the voice of Hires Root Beer and the girl who skates "Figure 8" from Schoolhouse Rock!

Monday 9 February 2009

You can be King for a Day!



King of the Monsters, that is.

On a tip from RoboJapan we learn of the sideline site TOHO Original Goods (???????????? ??????????????????) where, absolutely true and legit, for less than a fifth the cost of a lowly hobby-horse you can rent a real original movie-set Godzilla costume from Final Wars or Mechagodzilla!!!

At first I thought this all had to be a put-on, but no it is all legit. How f***ing cool would it be to stage your own Godzilla battle in the back yard, or cruise around the streets of Tokyo dressed as the big G himself?
Indeed! Google translates the details as 1 day / JPY (tax included) +????????????1,000??? (+ 1,000 yen carry insurance)

Some fine print that may be important:
Transportation cost, insurance cost additional freight costs. If you would like to SUTSUAKUTA, two actors and a production cost will be added. For more information please contact us.
TEL 03-3749-2111 ???????????? FAX 03-3749-2277 TEL 03-3749-2111 (Representative) FAX 03-3749-2277
Contact (Marketing Planning) Okamura County
There's always a catch.

Moonship Journeys


Buying experiences, not possessions, leads to greater happiness: "experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality -- a feeling of being alive.

'These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the greatest well-being,'"

There is a deep marketing lesson in this finding. I've seen the same experiential-valuation said in the context of youth culture and cellphone products, that the money-makers today are those selling the experience, the sense and feeling of the community and belonging of a brand being more important than the products themselves -- this is, of course, something that has been totally obvious to musicians and stagecrafters for hundreds of centuries, going back to Aristophanes and long before: people don't just buy a coca cola, they buy a ticket on the journey of the drinking. And so much the better if the passage actually takes them someplace.

Where we ever got the idea they wanted to buy bits of imprinted plastic is beyond me. At best, maybe for the rarities, they buy a ticket passage into the lands of expos and tradefairs, but most often is all they've really bought into their ipod any more than just a postcard to a place they've never been?

Friday 6 February 2009

New York Times Article Search API

New York Times Announces Article Search API: "The New York Times announced yesterday that a new content API is available — this one is an article search API. This new API covers articles going back to 1981 — that’s over 2.8 million articles, and it’s updated hourly — with search in 35 different fields."
keys are free but you’ll have to register. Keys for this particular API are good for 10000 requests a day. Like many modern APIs, you build the data request in the search URL...
all of which means while most of us will still go to the NYT website, it is now possible, say, for Wiarton Willie to robotically track his U.S. press clippings and have them made instantly presentable for his own website. Should he have any. Which is unlikely, of course, tho not impossible, and brings us to the real question of why, since the BBC and now the NYT both recognize the value in being an Information Resource dare say it may not be before we get the same from our own CBC. Or Quebecor or Osprey News.

Need your Junior League team standings on your team website? Not a problem ... "For sharing" is, after all, why newspapers collect all this data, no?

Thursday 5 February 2009

The Want/Need Glass

Want/Need Glass designed by Inna Alesina, dishwasher-safe.
The small hole divides the volume of the glass into two parts: "need" (below the hole) and "want" (above the hole).

"Alesina Design, Inc. shall not be held responsible for ruined clothes as a result of misuse of this product."
From the comments section at Book of Joe, the final word on this has to be:
According to Aristotle, once your needs are met you should carefully examine your wants so that you can live the best life possible. As in I want to buy this glass but I don't need it and it won't improve my life.

Monday 2 February 2009

Four hours play

2 min time lapse of Charles-Edward playing with his toys and creating chaos in the dinning room. PS: the song is "Ensemble" by Coeur de Pirate.