Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Unhappy Medium

Somewhere between punk, with its anger, energy, and utter artlessness, and heavy metal, with its virtuosity and insufferable bombast, lies the bliss point of hard rock. Nirvana nailed it.

Now with links!

Some of my favorites, over on the left below my beautiful portrait. This presentation by Mark Bernstein (or read the paper) discusses his simulations of the concentration of traffic on the web under different assumptions about linking. The take-away for me was that including links to a variety of web sites (a blogroll) creates a positive externality that helps preserve what Bernstein calls the "long tail" of diverse and potentially important but infrequently visited web sites. That kind of web "biodiversity" is worth preserving. Of course, the links can only do any good if someone gets to them in the first place... dear reader...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stay in school

Yeah, the job market for new college grads sucks right now, and lots of evidence suggests they will suffer the ill effects for years, maybe decades to come. But it infuriates me to see people drawing the conclusion that college doesn't pay. David Leonhardt lays that notion to rest in yesterday's column. And money aside, it's not such a bad thing being an educated person.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's in bloom in the garden

Two kinds of native buckwheat...

...and of course monkeyflowers.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Congratulations, New York

A victory for humans, but especially for the gay ones who'd like to be married. I'm waiting for California to catch up. Always so strange reading the objections of the opponents...
"If it passes, we feel it's going to ruin our state and our country," said Dawn Adams, a coordinator of the Norwich Tea Party Patriots.
Really, Dawn? REALLY?
Even with the protections, the state's Catholic bishops, led by Archbishop Timothy Dolan vehemently opposed passage of a gay marriage bill, calling it "bad for society." "Marriage has always been, is now, and always will be the union of one man and one woman in a lifelong, life-giving union," the bishops said in a statement. "Government does not have the authority to change this most basic of truths."
Really, Tim?
I guess it's unsettling, hearing that whooshing sound as history passes by you...

Peter Falk, RIP

I loved and still love "Columbo," one of the few cop shows of its era that still holds up, entirely because Peter Falk was so good. The NYT obit fails to mention, I believe, that he also had a wonderful turn playing himself in Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire."

Update/correction: The print edition does refer to "Wings of Desire."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plenty of blame to go around

Krugman is right, of course, the Fed can and should (and legally must) do more. The Republicans are hopeless; Obama and the Dems (willfully?) helpless. High unemployment means lost output big time, as in: We are poorer than we need be. But it is especially bad for low-wage and minority workers, and for new grads, whose lifetime earnings will be substantially less than they otherwise would be. All for the sake of....?!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Somebody kill it!

I quite enjoyed the premiere episode of AMC's new cop series, "The Killing": stylish TV noir with some very promising characters. Then over the course of the season the show steadily deteriorated, introducing one or two lame plot twists every week, each featuring its own "likely suspect of the day" who turned out not to be so likely after all by the end of the episode.

Now it turns out that I may just have been watching the wrong TV show, because apparently there was a much better series with the same name, over which the NY Times critic Ginia Bellafante gushes, "With its lyrical pacing, restrained performances and a palette so visually cool that it feels as though you are watching from inside a Sub-Zero, 'The Killing' is at once a procedural and a rich exploration of the perils of obsession."

I know for a fact that she was watching a different series, because she concludes from the final episode that there is only a ".0009 percent chance" that the prime suspect is not guilty, whereas the final episode of the series I watched made it rather clear that the prime suspect was being set up.

What I find particularly unforgivable about "The Killing" is the way it spent the entire season developing a main character whom both the viewer and the protagonist come to like and trust, only to turn around and make him into some kind of con man in the final 10 seconds, I guess all for the sake of being "clever" and "unpredictable." It's a cheap trick. Son Aidan was right: "Dad, this show sucks, it's all about Breaking Bad."

I won't make the mistake of watching it again next season, unless I can figure out where to find that excellent show Ms. Bellafante was writing about.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Politics and self-interest...

... who woulda thunk it, the two related somehow? The propertied oldsters in AARP, now that they got theirs, happy to recommend increasing the eligibility age or otherwise reducing benefits for Social Security beneficiaries "far off in the future." Translation: Screw you, kids, and especially you poor kids.

Do they wonder why I tear up their junk mail every time they try to get me to join?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mavs in 6

Ditto what I said below. Not the best game of the series, but plenty of prime hoops. Any randomly chosen 5 minutes would be more exciting than the best 5 minutes of any major-league baseball game.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mavs by 9

When I hear people say the NBA is boring, not what it used to be, etc., I have absolutely no idea what they could be talking about. The world's most complete athletes doing their intricate, collectively improvised ballet, playing every game as if it mattered. Nothing like it.

The Great Hamster of Alsace...

... sounds like it could be the title of a Church official of some sort, or a delicious French preparation, or perhaps a psychedelic band. But no, it is in fact an endangered critter, and one of those fortunate critters that is both handsome and adorable... like George Clooney I suppose.

Rockin' with ukuleles and Tuaregs

A couple of recent recommendations from Robert Christgau do not disappoint:
tUnE-yArDs, W H O K I L L: super-cool set of tuneful but edgy songs by Merrill Garbus, she of the soulful voice, triphoppy loops, and excellent uke.
Bombino, Agadez: Saharan electric guitar godliness.
Still plenty new to be heard under the sun!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beautiful, TNC

I haven't seen X-Men: First Class, and it seems fairly likely that I will not, but I will always gladly read Ta-Nehisi Coates on whatever he wants to write about. His blog is a lot better than mine, so go over there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I love veggies, but...

... if God had intended for us to eat sprouts he would not keep lacing them with E. coli...

Update: The sprouts have been exonerated, for now. I still don't like 'em much...

No, Professor Diamond, a Nobel is not enough...

Maybe you should try bein' a regular dumb-ass like the Senator, instead of insulting him by acting all intelligent and shit.

Manly man, I am?

After dropping my son off in Santa Cruz this afternoon, I popped over to the UCSC Arboretum to check out the South African protea, many still in bloom. Lovely! Then hit the gift shop and examined the Arboretum aprons... handsome, but I decided not to purchase... On my way home I stopped at Piazza's to pick up some fragrant fresh CA peaches, and asparagus for pasta primavera... gotta try that new Cook's Illustrated recipe, you know...

So why is it that I feel the NBA Finals on ABC is not marketing to me?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Like addicts gathered outside the methadone clinic, the bleary-eyed customers line up every morning at Philz Coffee on Middlefield in Palo Alto. Oh yes, I am occasionally among them, even though I also brew my own at home. The prices are a bit steep, but you get what you pay for. I usually drink it black, but the other day I tried their Turkish with cream and medium sugar. Just about the best cup o' joe I've ever had. I'm trying not to order it again anytime soon... that would be a particularly hard habit to shake.