Obama Bits

Two tidbits of Obama that I came across this week on kottke.org:

First, the omnipresent Obama “Hope” poster by Shepard Fairey was adapted from an AP photo taken at a National Press Club gathering on Darfur, where George Clooney was speaking about his recent trip to that region. So the person Obama is looking at in the iconic poster is either Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas, shudder) or George Clooney.

Second, the new whitehouse.gov is up and running, with no apparent archive of the Bush-era website. However, Kottke points out that the new robots.txt file has changed considerably. The robots.txt is a small file that sits in a web server and tells search engines what to index and what not to. The Bush administrations txt file had almost 2400 lines of DISALLOW. Obama’s has one, the /includes/ directory, which contains no readable content anyway.

Oh, and there’s a White House blog.

The Unlikely Event of a Water Landing

Slade nails it to the wall and puts Christmas lights around it regarding US Airways Flight 1549.

I haven’t yet mentioned that I penned a rather lengthy screed for him just recently on the Joys of Metal. Check it out. I’ll be doing slightly more organized and considered[1] blog entries for him as soon as I come with topics.

1.) Maybe. Probably more so than this place, which really just serves as a silo for instant dispatches from my brain.

The Week in Death

I hope this doesn’t become a theme. A lot of things I’ve enjoyed died this week:

Andrew Wyeth – My first exposure to Wyeth came via the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock where they had some of his smaller works on display. This one, Snowflakes, completely captivated me, and represents one of the few instances in my life where I’ve gone to an art museum and had something completely imprinted on my brain for the rest of my life.

Circuit City – Given the choice, I’ve generally opted for Circuit City over Best Buy, and not just because I’m a inveterate underdogger. I was always impressed by the depth of their CD offerings. They’d have obscure side projects by my favorite artists, and they knew to file them under the name of the parent group, rather than the title of the project.

Zipper Factory – I’ve only been to this Manhattan venue once, to see David Mead, but I was quickly impressed and immediately knew it was a place I wanted to return to. Imagine a cozy theatre where the seats are a mishmash of conventional seating plus vintage bus and car seats, with cup holders. And the decor throughout is junk shop snazzy.

Virgin Megastore Times Square – OK so it’s crowded with tourists and insanely loud music, but its death is symbolic: the demise of the last bastion of retail music as something for tourists to do. The Union Square location, where I’ve been known to shop on occasion, may not be long for this world, either.

Z train – It’s an express train, so I can’t say I’ve used it that much, but as a Brooklyn institution, it made its mark. “Get on the JMZ” will have to become “get on the JM.” And if Wikipedia is to be believed, the JZ trains contributed to Shawn Corey Carter’s stage name.

Ricardo Montalban – “You see, their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion. Later, as they grow, follows madness and death.” ¿Quien Es Mas Macho? Adios, Ricardo Montalban.

In Banks We Trust

Niall Ferguson was on The Colbert Report yesterday and I was excited to hear him say that, basically, money is trust. Since most money is kept in banks, and since banks don’t have your money sitting in a safe somewhere[1], then money is an abstract entity that only exists as a numeric concept that you trust a bank to maintain accurately.

It’s almost like money exists in a quantum state until you go to the ATM.

He went on to point out that money is only worth what everyone agrees that it is worth. I don’t think enough people are aware of this fundamentally psychological law of economics. Perhaps if there were some way we could all convince ourselves that our dollars are worth more, we could reverse inflation. But getting 300 million humans to agree on anything is a tall order. And yet, we all generally agree on what $1.00 can buy. Perhaps economics is a form of mass hypnosis?

Getting everyone to agree on something reminds me of my other pet theory: that all forms of government might be equally successful if only everyone involved agrees to support the system and thoroughly commit to its ideals. The only reason monarchies and dictatorships fail so often is that they’re the forms of government most susceptible to corruption. Communism might have worked if everyone involved, politicians and people, were committed to the ideals. But power corrupts every time, and while the USA certainly has its share of corruption, it still has one of the best systems devised for distributing power to prevent corruption. You won’t come up with anything better as long as human beings are involved.

Speaking of corruption, this reminds me that the root of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is this: people simply trusted him.

1.) As we all learned from George Bailey.

Another Pointless 2008 “Best Of” List

I always read people’s end-of-the-year review lists of music and secretly wish that I kept up with the pace of new music during the year, but honestly I never can. There’s so much to discover in the nooks and crannies of the recent past, and so the amount of music I discover in any given year that actually came out that year is like a snow cone on the tip of the proverbial iceberg. That said, here are some things from 2008 that wound my particular clock.

Steinski – What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective
Steve Stein is hip-hop’s Missing Link between old school rap and today’s collage-sample producers like Prince Paul and DJ Shadow. I wrote about this phenomenal album in-depth here back in July.

Spiraling – Time Travel Made Easy
I have a hard time finding enough great things to say about my favorite band. The new album is more laboratory-crafted syth-pop-rock with a proggy edge. “Victory Kiss” is the greatest radio single you’ll never hear. “Cold Open” is the best album intro (and title for an album intro) I’ve heard in a long time. And “The Future” is one of those songs I wish I’d written about how disappointing it is that we’re almost to 2010 and we haven’t made any headway into the life promised us by the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Jetsons, the 1964 World’s Fair, or hell, even Back to the Future II[1].

Panic at the Disco – Pretty. Odd.

I know the young teenagers like this band a lot, but I don’t hold it against Panic. I still haven’t heard their first record, but this album shines like a thousand Christmas trees. Clearly they wanted to make a grandiose Sgt. Pepper statement with it. It may be the best sophomore record I’ve heard by any band since Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk.

Sonny Landreth – From the Reach
The world’s greatest slide guitarist goes the star-studded route, with help from Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, Vince Gill, Dr. John, and Mark Knopfler. I’ve been dying to see what Sonny and Eric Johnson might do on record, and “The Milky Way Home” does not disappoint.

Other fine releases from 2008: Take Shelter by Boondogs, Play by Brad Paisley, An Invitation by Inara George with Van Dyke Parks, and Other People by American Princes.

Pre-2008 music that I discovered for myself this year: Mew, Mika, Mulatu Astatké, Pelican, The Factory, The Nines, Henry Cow, Soft Machine, Hawkwind and Dada’s amazingly gorgeous final disc, How to Be Found. Honorable mention goes to the distinctly nonmusical but no less compelling Conet Project.

Albums I’m dying to hear in 2009: the new records from The Mercury Program, David Mead, Owen, and The Bird and the Bee.

1.) Although I have to say I’m impressed that my mom’s TV does display her caller ID so we’ll know not to pick up when Flea calls.

Scam Hilarity

Gmail’s spam filter has been preventing me from finding great spam poetry, but this scam message just came through and I found it highly amusing:

United Nations compensation office.

You are selected among the list of beneficiaries to be compensated by United State Government in
collaboration with United nation Organisation office with sum of US$4, 250,000.00 for being;

1)A Victims and one among people that has been scammed from any part of the world,
2)Foreign contractors that may have not received their contract sum,
3)Unpaid beneficiaries, inheritance next of kin that was originated from, Africa, London United Kingdom or any part of the world,
4)And one amone the people that have had an unfinished transaction or international businesses that failed due to Government problems,financial crisis and those people that has delay or failed international funds transfer etc.

This is United Nation Organisation and Queen Elizbeth II initiative.you can contact Barrister William Stevenson of
Crown Chamber Office,London for detail or Get back for detail.


United Kingdom compensation office

God forbid these scammers should ever learn to grasp basic concepts of grammar, punctuation and capitalization. This thing reads like it was written by a LOLCat.