Just a note for my friends I don't connect with on Facebook. I'm still around. Haven't been active in some time. But I do check in here and may occasionally comment.
Today I'm thinking about comic books, a bit complicated. I've also been thinking about clowns. Keep posting if the spirit moves you. I'll try to do the same.
A few days ago, I woke up in the middle of the night after a typical dream about being at a party of s-f fans -- and my brain started chewing on the question of what I get out of belonging to science fiction fandom that has made the experience so important to me. Oddly (or not), I didn't think so much about the fanzines or the years of party hopping at convention hotels; but about all of the good panel discussions in the daytime and the good night-time music circles. Something going on there, when things are right, that's hard to duplicate in other places.
I got out of bed at 3AM, went to my computer and googled some Robin Williamson lyrics that I remembered.
"You're one of my kind;
You're an infinite mind."
Lots of baggage about saying that to just anyone, but maybe Robin Williamson gets away with it where Claude Degler couldn't.http://letras.com/incredible-string-band/624995/
I thought I was in too much of a funk to care about comics fanboy stuff; but leave it to Alan Moore to draw me back in with his amazingly compelling writing, just as he's done in the past. The recently published screed on Pádraig Ó Méalóid's blog, titled "Last Alan Moore Interview?" is fascinating reading -- particularly for someone who's read a lot of comic books written by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.
Given no other source material, it would be easy to fall completely under the sway of Moore's compelling rhetoric in this. (Thanks to kalimac
for the link.): http://slovobooks.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/last-alan-moore-interview/comment-page-1/#comments
But, I couldn't buy into Alan's dismissal of Grant Morrison as a no-talent hack, whatever personal business has passed between him and Morrison. After reading through a bunch of reader comments, I was motivated to click on a response by some of the individuals Alan roasts so devastatingly in this piece.http://comicsbeat.com/the-strange-case-of-grant-morrison-and-alan-moore-as-told-by-grant-morrison/
If you compare this article with Moore's interview, you'll find contradictory statements concerning matters of fact. I'm not scholar enough to resolve them.
Plus, I didn't buy DC's "Before Watchmen," but I was genuinely touched by Darwyn Cooke's work in it -- despite my belief that Alan had the right of it in asking that DC not publish the series.
Life is complicated.
OK, I've been sick, recently, no public details, but I'm getting better. I spent most of the day working on my music. I'm playing guitar again, in my three-to-four chord way. I worked on mixing some recordings in Nero WaveEditor, which has enough features for what I want to do right now. Mostly, I find flaws in my voice and am conscious of stops and small muffs in my playing, but I've got a few recordings on my hard disk, now, that sound good enough, to me, for public distribution -- to a public that might like square folk songs. I've got a one or two personal ballads; been going over recordings from my open mike days in the '90s. I got a little applause back then and am building toward going out in public again.
While I'm out of work, this keeps me going in the daytime. I hope I'm in shape to make it to next year's Minicon, or some Minneapolis music gathering. I miss playing at them.
Links provided in private for anyone curious to listen to what I've been doing.
"Utah politicians accused President Barack Obama of pandering to Latino voters after he vowed Friday to block the deportation of young immigrants as long as they get an education or join the military."
-- The Salt Lake Tribune (via Digby)
See, also, my earlier (only partially whimsical) post on the failure of Congress to pass the Dream Act.
(My opinion about Geoff Johns' relevance to the subject of this post is reserved for another day.)
with a little help from his friends.
I didn't know he had this in him.
A long time ago, in San Francisco, a community of psychedelic freaks appointed outposts to cruise by Winterland and telephone Bill Graham's office several times a week on the off-chance that *tonight* might be a night that the boys were getting together for another dynamite unadvertised concert.
After thirty years or so, this started to get old, along with the energy that often went into the concerts.
But in the last month or so, Phil Lesh seems to have found a way to ignite that old spark in a new form with his new bar/nightclub, Terrapin Xroads. In the last two weeks, he's assembled various combinations of musicians from the Bay Area jamband scene and staged concerts there almost every night -- each night different, each setlist different. In addition to a weekend of free concerts to kick off the nightclub's opening, he's done a number of webcasts And as jaded as I am about the music now produced by the remnants of the Grateful Dead, he's managed to reconvert me into a fan.
New show tonight!! 7:45PM PST. Internet simulcast at: http://terrapincrossroads.net/news/march-25th-webcast-free-click-here/
If you think that Grateful Dead music is old news, now (which it is), check out this show from earlier this month, featuring Warren Haynes and Jeff Chimenti. These days, the Cryptical Envelopment from Anthem of the Sun segues into a kick-ass version of the Who's Magic Bus, and St. Stephen goes into Layla: (about 0:37 into the show, if your bandwidth lets you fiddle with the Youtube slider)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The United States late Friday lost its triple-A debt rating from Standard & Poor’s for the first time in its history, with the credit-rating agency saying the political system of the world’s top economy has become less stable and that budget cutting announced earlier this week didn’t go far enough.
* * *
"Apparently we're supposed to care about what some idiots at some corrupt organization think about anything."
-- Duncan (Atrios) Black
[In November 2009] "Ten months after launching an investigation, the European Commission formally charged Standard & Poor’s with abusing its position as the sole provider of international securities identification codes for U.S. securities by requiring European financial firms and data vendors to pay licensing fees for their use. “This behavior amounts to unfair pricing,” the European Commission said in its statement of objections which lays the groundwork for an adverse finding against S&P. “The (numbers) are indispensable for a number of operations that financial institutions carry out – for instance, reporting to authorities or clearing and settlement – and cannot be substituted."
--Securities Technology Monitor (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Who is Standard & Poor’s to tell America how much debt it has to shed in order to keep its credit rating? Why, it's the company that Wall Street firms pay bribes to in order to obtain their own AAA credit ratings.
Robert Reich's opinion is here
See also this note from David Atkins
, at Digby's place:
"A downgrade in U.S. debt means functionally that U.S. treasury bills are, in S&P’s oh-so-wise opinion, less trustworthy and a greater credit risk to investors. This comes only a day after investors fled the DOW and S&P500 into the safe and waiting hands of…you guessed it: U.S. treasuries. The same treasuries that S&P suddenly finds a more dangerous buy. So what does that say about the stock market, and the S&P500? Perhaps S&P might wish to re-evaluate the credibility of its own market index."
If you're on my friends list and see this in the next 90 minutes or so, you might really want to set your web browser to: http://www.tristudios.com/liveplayer/Footnote on the day after:
The video and audio quality of Weir's broadcast was the best I've ever seen over the Internet. He claimed that this was the first HDTV live Internet broadcast in history. Part of it included a studio tour, where he showed off amazing technology to instantly harden or soften the acoustics of the room. He demonstrated how he could make a studio room sound like a living room or a cathedral at the touch of a button. Something else he said that I liked: he would like to establish a new trend in bringing live music to Internet audiences. He envisions inviting people like Herbie Hancock to stage performances at his studio. This smacks of the keen inventive ambition of Jerry Garcia (and the rest of the band), when the band was in its formative days; when they had Augustus Stanley Owsley create the "wall of sound."
As for Weir's performance, itself -- I eventually found it to be fairly typical. I loved the introductory acoustic set that showed off his not-incosiderable acoustic guitar skills. But I started to zone out toward the end with the rambling "jam-for-its-own-sake" style of the electric set. This consisted primarily of extensions of melodies and themes that I've heard the Grateful Dead develop hundreds of times. Without the chemistry of improvisational genius that fueled this approach when the Grateful Dead was at its best, the arrangements and songs, with Weir-as-pilot, usually strike me as "tastefully tedious."
I'll be curious to listen to his adventure with the Marin Symphony
, if a good recording of that surfaces, to see if his collaborators on that were able to make arrangements of his familiar songs come alive. The "Jack Straw" performance
referenced in the link above has a certain boomy majesty, but it's a fairly low-bandwidth recording.
Thanks a lot U.S. Senate.*
This is a Spacecrab-style expression of disgust at the current government of the country I was born into. (It may be a bit more Spacecrab than some of you care to read in one sitting. Feel free to let me know.)
In particular, this exercise is provoked by reading about the defeat of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) as dutifully blogged by Digby.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door ....
I spent thirty or forty years of my life taking the Green Lady, her torch, and her engraved inscription for granted. I've always voted for Democrats (even during the time I was registered as a Peace and Freedom party member). I hissed at Ronald Reagan (like anyone); but it took Bush & Cheney achieving executive power to wake up my motive brain to where I'd previously lived my life and where I was now living.
Too many comic books? Maybe.
This Sunday, I can't help seeing this as a substitute for a poster of Uncle Sam.
If I really hope to persuade people reading this to share my feelings of disappointment and disgust with the U.S. Government, then framing an expression of discontent inside those graphic links may be a tactical mistake. I grew up believing in the power of art to shake the world and inspire right action. It's hard for me to shake my old, learned neural responses.
I don't see that we have any chance of replacing Mr. Obama in 2012 with a ticket of (say) Bernie Sanders and Barney Frank. So my natural tendency is to dream about what might happen if we tried putting Bruce Springsteen into the VP slot.
In the '80s, I was a guitar-carrying space cadet. I wrote and sang the following in any coffee house that could tolerate my 3-chord guitar playing:
Society's complex here, time is yoked
ten thousand ways.
With their multipack indulgence, ad men
tell you how it pays.
(Madmen tell you how it pays!)
Who will face the world and see
Our cover act is real?
We solicit a subconscious mind
That starving men can't feel.
If we leave it there to settle,
If we leave it there to choose,
They'll just paint their gaudy eagle
And commercialize the blues.
.... We presumably-rational Boomers all know that Mother Jones magazine is a slightly out-of-control, left wing platform for impractical raving about the system that governs our lives. Or, anyway, that's something we all *knew* in the 20th Century.
But, as far as I'm concerned, The New American Oligarchy: Creating a Country of the Rich, by the Rich, and for the Rich, by Andy Kroll is the most logical and plausible summary around of how the United States developed its current, self-defeating political and economic dynamics. Thanks to Avedon for turning up this link.
I'm no Avedon. (Gort above grant her the energy to continue patrolling our sector.) Nor am I a fine dude like supergee, who dutifully follows David Bowie's time-honored prescription to Carry the News.
Unlike Bradley Manning, I'm not currently being tortured by my country for the *alleged* crime of passing on unclassified (but embarrassing) information about what World Dignitaries have done or whispered behind their hands. (Thank you, Supergee, for carrying this news to where my silly head might find it.)
Another push, there, to rise from my now-comfortable theater seat and move more than my fingers to defend principles I say I believe in.
*Post slightly reworded two hours after original publication to clean up a few dyslexic brainfarts.
FWIW, my first reaction to Starship Sofa
winning the fan Hugo award is here
If it were just a case of Starship Sofa
winning because a plurality of voters preferred it to other nominees (several of which rate higher in my personal aesthetic tastes), I would have a slightly different reaction -- which I'm guessing might be shared by a larger demographic of potential Hugo voters. "Times are changing. It's difficult to apply some award categories set up forty years ago to evolving forms of media presentation and to a larger voting population that may not share the aesthetic values that predominated in the first fifty years of s-f fandom."
Setting aside the issue of whether *blatant* solicitation of a subscriber-base for votes may affect the way a longtime fan feels about the awards, I have only my usual reaction to this year's results: agreement that some winners are work (or people) deserving acclamation as "the best in the field," disappointment at the selection of some winners, and no opinion about others (covering categories where I'm not as well-read as I might be).
Congratulations to pnh
, who helmed a good and relevant book
to publication, two years ago -- and another one
this year. (I managed to alienate pnh
considerably with some nitpicking shortly after the publication of the first one, but am attempting to absorb his response in an ongoing attempt to evolve into a more well-tempered Crab.)Footnote
: I didn't remember until I read through the Hugo balloting results that pnh
was also the editor on Robert Wilson's excellent Julian Comstock
, also nominated this year for best novel. This is a great and clever book about life in 22nd Century America, after the world's oil-driven technologies and economies collapse. It has some resonance with Edgar Pangborn's Davy
-- and a little bit of the flavor of John Barth's Sotweed Factor
thrown into the mix. I can only wish we had more s-f novels that are this readable being published.10-24-10 Footnote 2
: I see, belatedly, that the N-H website says Julian Comstock was edited by tnh
rather than pnh
"Congress has approved a six-month extension of emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. On a vote of 272 to 152, the House gave the measure final approval and sent it on to the White House, where aides said President Obama plans to sign it immediately.
The Senate passed the measure Wednesday."
-- Washington Post
Ten Democrats in the House voted "Nay" on H.R.4213 - Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010. In the Senate several Democrats also voted "Nay" and several Democrats abstained.
Here are the House roll call
and the Senate roll call
. Please feel free to spread these links around.
Presented with a three-day weekend in which I didn't have to grade student papers, compose lesson plans, or work on IT course design for my night-job, it would seem I've managed to discover another timesink way to geek out, instead of partying with friends and eating hot dogs.
But, in my own twisted mind, there was something fannish and noteworthy in the experience. So I've decided to record it.
To appreciate the story you need to know that I love working with my Dell Inspiron E1705 laptop, the possible scorn of Charlie Stross notwithstanding. Every time I use the machine, I feel a sense of well being that I am working with a good tool. In particular, the LCD display is (or has been) perfect to my subjective aesthetic senses. I appreciate, on a daily basis, the pleasant experience the LCD provides to do my work, scroll through blogs, and browse scanned comic books.
Two weeks ago, my perfect (or near-Perfect) LCD developed some stuck pixels near the edge of the screen. Giving in to an obsessive-compulsive impulse, I called Dell and complained, so they arranged to ship out a replacement LCD.
On the day that Dell replaced the LCD, I was teleported from my world of RGB-CYMK perfection into a hell-dimension of generally decreased luminosity, over-blue blues, and distorted gamma correction. The green headings and yellow-green background of my LJ were replaced by shoe-polish greenish black foreground and yellow-white background. The familiar maroon/dark brown banner and luminous light blue/ink blue colors of Making Light were distorted into some unknown parallel-world color scheme. And let's not even talk about the new RGB colors of scanned images.
So what was wrong? The old LCD was fine in booting from the same OS settings.
Google is my friend, and I learned. This particular Dell model ships with LCDs produced by three manufacturers: Philips, Samsung, and Sharp. The LCD that I used and loved until last week was a Sharp model. The replacement was a Philips. Google yielded up numerous complaints about the Philips model - its "sparkle effect," "light leakage," and instability.
Dell was willing to replace the LCD again, and my technician recognized my request to send either a Samsung or Sharp model. But when replacement #2
arrived, it was another Philips with the same miscalibrated display colors.
Necessity is the mother of invention. The foregoing tale of woe is the prequel to my weekend experience, wherein I learn to shadow-walk the Worlds of the ICC
First principle: If one has determined that one's LCD is living in a Shadow Dimension, one must fix one's mind on the location of the true color homeworld. (See http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/
Second principle: One must obtain the necessary shamanic talismans
to walk between worlds (or more prosaically, to create an International Color Consortium color matching profile for one's monitor).
Then, one begins the journey: "Arsenic, Ash, Bistre; Cadet, Sable, Silver
;" "Army, Electric, Emerald, India
;" (narrow the channel) Office, Olive, Pear
. Single Channel Gamma: 2.2, 1.8, 1.0! Oof! Looks like the Spacecrab homeworld! And over at the Nielsen-Haydens, dark blue foreground text on light Ciel/light Carolina background -- with Maroon banner. That looks like a recognizable version of ML, too.
*Sigh.* Coffee house closing. Time to go home and get ready to go back to work. And maybe order a Sharp LCD from EBay, if I can't convince Dell to stop sending me Philips units.
Subjective reaction: Two op-eds linked on Google News right now are making me feel sick, myself. This guy
should probably be classified as a direct infection vector for this disease
belongs to a known species of bacteria that has a more subtle effect on the ecosystem. What should we do about the problem of health care delivery in the United States? Fareed Zakariah (a well-known, well-dressed pundit) Views With Alarm the potential increased cost to taxpayers of health care under the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
How does he know that potential for increased cost is there? Well, how do we know it isn't there? What's the answer to this fear of an uncertain future? Well, universal health care is a nice dream for children, but (alas), well-heeled, well-dressed people like Fareed Zakariah (who already have and can pay for their health insurance) can't afford to gamble with uncertainty. Just raise the price of everything for medical consumers! Let the Invisible Hand of the Market sort things out. That'll solve the problem. Don't think too hard about why every other First World country spends less money on health care than we do in the U.S. Just believe what the well-dressed, grownup bacterium tells you: governments can't be trusted to provide for the common welfare of their citizens.
Andy Warhol predicted that in the world of the future we'd all be famous for about 15 minutes.
You can see some recent brief bids for attention from me here
(s-f/comics reviews) and here
(software reviews/computer tips and tricks).
Thirty years ago, when I was a longer-haired indigent hippie, I realized that science fiction had warned me about certain ethical perils of everyday life.
If anyone younger than 35 is reading this, you may not know that Piers Anthony, circa 1975, was thought of as a leading-edge science fiction writer. The Xanth books were years in the future. The protagonist of Cthon
, Anthony's first novel, was a character who'd been exiled to a prison planet for falling in love with and courting a Minionette. Anthony's Minionettes were sensuous alien females, indigenous to the Planet Minion -- where the emotional spectrum and responses of the inhabitants are the inverse of normal human emotions.
For Minionettes, pain equal pleasure, pleasure equals pain. Or, as Jethro Tull told us around the same time:
Lend me your ear while I call you a fool.
You were kissed by a witch one night in the wood,
and later insisted your feelings were true.
The witch's promise was coming,
believing he listened while laughing you flew.
Leaves falling red, yellow, brown, all are the same,
and the love you have found lay outside in the rain.
Washed clean by the water but nursing its pain.
The witch's promise was coming, and you're looking
elsewhere for your own selfish gain.
-- Witch's Promise -- Jethro Tull
What has all this hippie chestnut stuff got to do with anything now? Well... I can't say they never warned me if my train gets lost.
Like many aging Boomers, I now have a certain percentage of my retirement savings sunk into -- mining operations on the Planet Minion. I monitor economic processes on the planet during coffee breaks at work, hoping that at the end of the day I'll have at least as much in my savings accounts as I had at the beginning of the day. On days where the little Dow and NASDAQ status reports are green, I congratulate myself for not being completely locked down to the miserable investment rates of CDs.
Except that the following news note reminds me of what my younger self already knew. I'm turning myself in, for the benefit of Pastwatch and Futurewatch time-monitoring versions of myself. (No idea whether any other entities will care.)
From Google News
, Wed Nov 4, 2009 3:42pm EST:
... In the hour following the FOMC statement, the S&P 500 rose as high as 1,061.00 and the Nasdaq touched 2,081.00. With less than 30 minutes before the closing bell, though, those late-day gains began to fade somewhat.
The healthcare sector jumped on hopes the Obama administration's healthcare reforms may be slowed after Republicans scored some key election victories.
In an entry dated today, Atrios (Duncan Black) expresses "cautious optimism"
about Obama's plans for health care reform, based on some remarks
that Obama just made in Minneapolis.
Breaking with the healthy skepticism that is usually the signature element of his blog, Atrios says:
"While this process has been rather maddening, I've still remained just on the side of cautious optimism about the final result of health care reform. I don't expect it to be awesome, but it might be just be good enough."
But Obama's speech that Atrios and Digby link to for "new hope" sounds like it does nothing except reiterate support for the crippled "public option" proposal
that will insure, at most, 10 million additional people above the current Medicare rolls
[- correction, 9/14-LB].
It wouldn't be exactly nothing to establish a safety net for 10 million people who don't currently have (and can't afford to buy) *any* insurance. But the rest of the citizens of the U.S. need more than that and deserve more. I can't see anything in the "co-op" shopping plans that Obama seems to be supporting that will reduce the obscene prices the insurance companies can and do charge the
200 million 45 million of us
[thanks wild_irises for catching that
] who don't qualify for "group" insurance.
That's good enough? (By the way, I'd definitely like to see more information about what would happen to the employer-funded "Group" plans under Obama health care reform. If the Republicans have their way "Health Care Reform" may also tax those out of existence.)
Excerpt from Tiny Titans #18
, the current issue.
Apparently, some people at DC Comics are still resisting the Anti-Life Equations. To appreciate this, you may need to be a certain kind of comic book geek.
FWIW: You may recognize the high school janitor in this TT excerpt as Darkseid, who had a one-day gig as the school principal in a previous issue.
The green lantern scarcity and "Blackest Night" refer to a too-wretched-for-words current DC story arc, in which all currently-dead DC superheros come back from the grave as flesh-eating zombies. (No