Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Kingfish

So watched an Austin City Limits that was 100% Randy Newman, solo at the piano. That got me thinking of his song "Kingfish", which was recently covered by Levon Helm on his excellent album "Electric Dirt". I love the lines:
Who took on the Standard Oil men and whipped their ass,
Just like he promised he'd do?
Ain't no Standard Oil men gonna run this state,
Gonna be run by little folks like me and you.
Kind of reminiscent of what Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) is all about, isn't it? Here in Kentucky, we could substitute "Massey Energy" for "Standard Oil".

So I looked up Huey Long, aka The Kingfish on Wikipedia. All in all, sounds like we could use him today.

He was a populist. His motto was "Every Man a King". I think his speaking style drew comparisons to Hitler, but his song is pretty damn catchy.

I like this one too. It reminds me of my wondering, how much do the ultra-rich really want? (Answer, all of it.)

Huey Long was a demagogue, which I thought pretty much meant "rabble-rouser". But here's the definition from google. Note particularly the second, older meaning:

  1. A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.
  2. (in ancient Greece and Rome) A leader or orator who espoused the cause of the common people.
So I wonder how long it took the old lizards to get "espousing the cause of the common people" redefined to be "rather than by using rational argument". Nice trick, that.

I think my impression of Huey Long from growing up was that he was tyrannical and dictatorial. I probably got that from seeing the movie "All the King's Men", with Broderick Crawford as the Huey Long inspired central character. But from the wikipedia article, it looks like FDR did a lot to portray Huey in that light when Huey decided to run against him.

Right now, I think the rabble are pretty much roused already. So the question is, can OWS harness that energy, that righteous anger at the appropriation of our democracy by big money and big business, via the internet and social media, to get some real change accomplished here? Or will it take someone like Huey?

Maybe in a second term, Obama could push for the things we need to fix this, like real campaign finance reform and a much fairer tax structure. But, even tho Barack is my BFF, from what we've seen so far, I doubt it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Generative Grammars

So basically, all human languages are generative -- which means, there is no limit to the complexity of the statements that can be constructed. For example:
I saw the boy with the telescope who was watching the girl with the binoculars who was watching ... "
And, basically, this made our brains get big, but it is not hard tech.

I have written an interpreter and a compiler with a corresponding pcode machine, both of which are still in production and generating $millions of income. Both of them, it is so cool, when someone gives you logic 10s of times more complex than any you ever imagined, 100s of parentheses, and it just keeps pushing it up onto the stack, and then, it just works!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not the Sharpest ..

I have been working full-time out of my home office since late June. The whole time there has been a very sporadic rattling of the screen in the window behind me. That window has a large burning bush in front of it. I assumed it was the wind blowing the burning bush against the screen -- although there would also sometimes be a bird chirping to accompany the rattling.

Inside that window in my office is the ficus that was originally given to me as a winter solstice present by my employees at Renlar, so sometime before 1995.

So a few days ago I finally looked around during the rattling and there is a male cardinal hanging on the screen. He looks like he really wants to get to that ficus -- not sure why. But he's been trying for 5 months now ?!?!?

Wind Advisory

From mid-morning to mid-afternoon. So didn't bike far. Out Keene Rd to Keene, back via 169 to 1967 to Military Pike and Parkers Mill. 22.1 miles, 1h40m, top speed 30.0 mph.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

He Would Have Kicked Its Ass

Holy crap! Got home, turned on the back lights, let Dexter out. Looked out and saw ... a full grown possum 10 ft from the door. Got between them and ran the possum off into the bushes, thought Dexter was following me in, then into the bushes he goes! Possum got him on the nose. Finally got Dexter corralled and carried him in. Put some neosporin on Dexter's nose.

The last thing I need is my 16 YO dog fighting a possum -- although he has done some serious possum ass-kicking in his younger days. Phew -- thump, thump, thump. Definitely more excitement than I was expecting.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Borealis Maximus

So actually got some new yellow on my biking maps, and went the farthest north I have been. I took the Heritage Trail to Ironworks Pike, then east to Newtown Pike and north another 3-4 miles. Left (west) on Lemons Mill Rd. The northern maximum came at the intersection of Lemons Mill Rd and Lisle Rd (KY 1962 and 1963). Took Lisle back south to Georgetown Rd, then Ironworks to Yarnallton to Elkchester. 3h21m, 40.5 miles, top speed 31.5 mph.

The Heritage Trail is definitely one of the flattest routes I take around here. At the one hour mark I was just about to Ironworks Work and I had done 14.5 miles -- considerably above the 12-13 mph I normally average. Of course, I always get slower and slower the longer I ride.

Last week I spooked a female deer off the side of the road. This week I spooked a 6-point buck, just off Citation Blvd.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Music In

I feel like I've been doing better keeping up here -- except maybe for music in. Still need to figure out how to keep it from being quite so boring. Anyways, here's the Music In for August and September.
  • "Cruisin with Ruben and the Jets", Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (1968). One of the guys I play music with started talking about this, I offered to burn it for him. Turned out I didn't have it, and it's not available in MP3 form. So, I got out the vinyl and used the USB turntable my kids got me a few years ago. It worked a lot easier than the first time I tried, and the quality was surprisingly good. The Mothers basically created an alter ego and recorded an album of doo-wop songs. Great fun, 4 stars.

    They brought back lead singer Ray Collins for this. I talked to him, along with Ian Underwood, who had just joined, and Jimmie Carl Black, when I saw The Mothers in the spring of 1968 at Changes Unlimited, a hippie club on Hill Street in Louisville. Collins had a beautiful, silky lounge lizard type voice. I looked him up on Wikipedia. There is a link to an article about him in the Claremont CA (where he lives) local paper. It says he quit The Mothers after a few albums because he wanted to be a serious singer like Nat King Cole and didn't like all the satire and snarkiness, and that basically nothing he did since ever came to fruition. He was the one who invited Frank Zappa to join Soul Giants, which became The Mothers. Crazy.

  • Ollabelle, "Neon Blue Bird". Levon Helm's daughter Amy is in this band. This album is really all over the place. I put it in as Southern Rock. 3 stars, 4 stars for "Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes", a Taj Mahal song I think I'd heard before, and "Wait For The Sun".
  • St. Vincent, "Strange Mercy". I don't know that it is about her music that I like so well. Just thinking about, it kind of reminded me of how Radiohead seemed to suddenly realize, we can do whatever the hell we want -- we are in complete control. Annie Clark seems to mix such diverse styles and orchestration, with mostly sweet, emo lyrics. I'm a fan-boy. 4 stars.
  • Sunset Hearts, "Haunted Cloud". A Portland Maine 8 piece super group put together with members of 3 other bands. My nephew Max is the most excellent drummer. Lots of 80's sound, Beach Boys, many influences. Very nice tunes, an excellent effort, 4 stars.
  • The Boxer Rebellion, "The Cold Still". Very nice alternative mostly guitar sound. I don't think a weak song. 3 stars, 4 stars for "Step Out Of The Car".
  • Beiirut, "The Rip Tide". Very listenable, very consistent with their earlier work. Featuring Kelley Pratt, a Dunbar grad and friend of Erica's on brass. They are playing in Lexington this Wednesday, if I weren't playing I might have gone to see them. 3 stars.
  • Ivy, "Long Distance", 2001. I had really liked this groups earlier "ApartmentLife" and then kind of lost track of them. At first I thought, this is just too peppy and emo, but then, of course it grew on me. I am such a sucker for this stuff. 4 stars.
  • 50 tracks of flamenco from my friend Patrick that my daughter Christie wanted for her wedding. What a great genre this is! We saw a movie recently that had a great flamenco performance, an older (50ish) woman singing and dancing. I'll have to track that down.
OK, thats through September, the October stuff still needs more listens. Maybe that's why I wind up getting behind on Music In, because anymore I have to listen to most things 5-10 times before they're sufficiently burned in.