Archive for April, 2011

Kung Fu Fighting

So apparently it’s racist now…

I had a friendship that sort of died when he got involved in Asian-American activism.  It never struck me as a thing he believed in, instead it seemed like a way to claim he’s a victim for his own shortcomings.  White Power, Asian Power, Black Power, it’s all somehow seemed like the same to me, it’s too damn dividing.  Racial activism is still a part of the spectrum that we have to stop thinking in.  Racism is probably the motivation for birthers, whom Obama failed to convince with yesterday’s document.

So the British Race Police have banned covering this song.

I bought it on Amazon, well I had some mp3 credits.  Maybe I can find a vinyl on eBay, I am after all trying to get into old LPs.



I don’t believe you…

You’re a liar…

Play fucking loud

Lady Gaga made some noise with her new song, Judas.  This time of year is supposed to be about the resurrection of Christ, at least for Christians.  On this day, the Bible says he died.  He was betrayed by Judas, a disciple.  But was Judas following god’s plan?  Judas and Jesus is a classic story of friendship and betrayal.  This relation has been the topic of many good songs, everyone feels a little inflated about themselves, everyone feels like we’ve got our own personal Judas, someone who betrayed us but how often is it the other way around?  How often are we the ones in need of redemption?

I’ll tell you something
Things you never had you’ll never miss
Tell you something else, a brave man will kill you with a sword
A coward with a kiss

The School Paradox

Education is a valued and it comes in a tiered system.  Simply put some schools are better, others are worse.  Some schools will offer you an open door to a certain element of society, others will find those doors closed.

These schools are adherents to examinations which fail to actually assess the abilities of students.  I’ve taken the PSAT, SAT, GRE, LSAT and god knows what else.  None of the tests are really about what I’ll be doing, it’s a test you’re expected to study for and frankly I’ve grown tired of the bullshit.  I would like to go to law school, I do not want to slave in your fucking law school if the way to prove myself is by wasting time studying for a test that serves no greater purpose in these institutions.  I could spend $1000 on a prep course, and given my past record, I’d score around 175.  I don’t want.  I have nothing to prove to you by slaving for a test that fails to test aptitude.

How do I know it fails to test these abilities?  Simple, you can STUDY for them.  That immediately removes whatever traits it was examining, a good test should be dynamic, no rules in stone, no logic games, no reading, nothing is known, rooms are entered as blank slates, everyone examines the questions and has to answer, any attempts to study would be in vain as questions could be any one of thousands of type.

It could be something like the diner question of how many triangles are drawn into the bigger triangle.  That would be best as an open-ended question, the answers could then be analyzed, to determine popular numbers and develop a real profile.

Another question that would be, to quote the inspirational Bill Cunningham, “marvelous” is as follows.

What year did the French Revolution start?
A – 1776
B – 1789
C – 1812
D – 1912

Immediately, you could draw an understanding of the profile of a person.  1776 should be engraved in the minds of Americans.  We had a war in 1812.  The Titanic sank in 1912.  People who fail to answer this either never learned the fact or cannot deduce things that should be rudimentary knowledge.

These Ivy Tower institutions prefer to support the status quo, which is prohibitively expensive.  Has anyone seen the services LSAC offers?  It’s a giant rip-off.  No test should be so expensive to administrate.  No website that charges so much, should be so difficult to maintain.  It’s 2011 and they haven’t figured out a way to do digital recommendations right.  The site looks like something from Web 1.0 and the schools all subscribe to the monopoly it holds.  Feels like the college board all over again.

Frankly grade inflation could be compensated by LSAT.  It has enough information to be able to deduce reasonable averages from the transcripts and assign a more accurate score.
Let’s say 20 people in School A have taken Political Science 101, 8 of them got an A, 8 of them got A- and 4 of them got a B+
But in School B, Political Science 101 has also had 20 students, 1 got an A, 2 got an A-, 3 got a B+, 4 got a B, 2 got B-, 2 got C+, 2 got C and 4 got an F
What does LSAC do?  Factors them equally in determining your GPA.  Schools don’t look or care for transcript grades because they’re mostly meaningless, in the age of Rate My Professors, few students actually challenged themselves.  I’m sorry I don’t have a 4.0 GPA.  I tried to learn.

That’s why we go to college.  It’s not a prep for law school, it’s an opportunity to learn.  I took daring classes like Chinese & Calculus, to learn.  They hurt my GPA but so what.  I got my departmental honors.  I tried, at least I can say that proudly to any admissions officer who actually looks at my record.

So point of the story is, I probably won’t get into a top three law school, that will stop me from being a Supreme Clerk for anyone but Clarence Thomas, which is probably why the law academia hates him, he doesn’t prescribe to the righteous attitude created by the system, which is inherently flawed.

I’ve tried emailing a few professors about a simple question, I’ve wondered about law.  Since I didn’t get into a school, I figured one could answer them.  Unfortunately, nobody has time for me, since at the present, I’m a nobody.  I might be somebody tomorrow, then maybe the rules would be my own.  In that time, don’t come to me, I’d help someone in real need.

I saw on blogs that President Obama would still prefer a trial in NY for Kalid Sheik Mohammad and such individuals, but as someone from New York, I have to wonder how it would be possible with safeguards of our Constitution.  The issue I haven’t seen raised in readings I have done is the lack of partial judges and courtrooms in New York.  Since the proposed courthouse is in NY, I cannot see how any judge would be able to handle the case, given that the courthouse itself was closed in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center.  The area was closed to non-emergency workers in the immediate aftermath, in a period lasting several days.  Employees, many of whom likely still work at the court, were evacuated in the aftermath.  I fail to see how this courthouse could provide any semblance of neutral ground.  The entire hoopla of holding such a trial in NY could in all fairness to the defendant, only last until the judges step aside.  A courthouse cannot as I see it hold a trial if it was part of the crime scene, this would be highly improper.

Additionally, three court officers (for county Family Court) died on that day, and many judges and employees paid some form of tribute.  Those who partook in such activities, would have to step aside for the duration of the case, to prevent any bias.
Is there any possible way for the defense to get a fair trial in NY?
Thank you,
Johannes Dark

PS – Sorry if this was a bother, I hope to one day go to Law School but in the meantime, I decided to email you after seeing you discuss the issue with what seemed like a reasonable opinion in a MAGAZINE.  If this has been discussed, it’s not in a place where I have been able to find, given my lack of access to the resources of a law school library, so I do apologize for that.
That’s my two cents.

My problem with TicketMaster was alluded to in a earlier post. It remains one of the worst elements of music today. I was one of those people who were suckered out of Working on a Dream tour tickets. Since that time, I haven’t had a good chance to see Bruce, nor have I really cared.

I did complain. Just not to the Attorney General. I complained to the Better Business Bureau. If I complained to the AG I would have gotten a settlement of a $100 gift card or access to buy Springsteen tickets. What did I get? An investigation from BBB that led nowhere. Since that time I’ve come to realize BBB is a scam.

I’m good at getting tickets, when the game is fair. With Springsteen tickets were up on scalping sites before the general sale. That broke all rules of fairness.

According to Ticketmaster, it’s cheaper for them to print my tickets? I don’t get how, or why, but apparently they find it cheaper to print your tickets. To print at home, you have to pay more! I buy events well in advance and don’t have this problem with having to get the tickets immediately. They know when you can’t wait, you’ll print yourself. When you do that, you will pay more.

I have a HUGE problem with STUBHUB. It’s not right that the ticket middleman has another middleman site. Ticketmaster is no longer a middleman, it’s an even man. First the artist or team places tickets on sale, then ticketmaster arranges for the scalper to buy it, then the scalper sells it to you via ticketmaster. Apparently, our government doesn’t see the problem in this. They have a vested interest in making sure you resell your tickets, they get their cut twice. This isn’t a courtesy service, this is a pure hard cash creating revenue.

I repeat, the process is like this

Ticketmaster (takes fees for the service)
Scalper (jacks up the price to make a profit)
Stubhub [owned by Ticketmaster] (takes fees for this service)

See where things get screwed? We live in a bad economy because some people aren’t working real jobs, they’re just seeing where they can get money from you.

A fair system would be the Artist can sell tickets to you directly. An acceptable situation is where Ticketmaster sells the tickets to you, taking a reasonable cost for server expenses. If you cannot make the concert, Ticketmaster would allow you to return your ticket, keeping a small amount and place the tickets for sale again. Unsold tickets would either hurt the artist, or result in no issuance of a refund. A fair risk. This would allow Ticketmaster to open sales up again.

And let us gift tickets to friends! That would be a nice thing to be able to do and wouldn’t be hard to program. The problem is scalpers wouldn’t like it, because they couldn’t do it right at checkout and would show themselves in such mass quantities.

Ticketmaster is a monopoly. It should never have been allowed to get so big and it is a part of music that just plain sucks.

Sunday Morning Spirituals

I don’t think of myself as a religious person, nor am I much of an atheist.  I don’t often find inspiration from long drawn out sermons or readings of particularly holy books.  I do however find great inspiration when a person creates a spiritual masterpiece of music.

For a long time, Christian music has produced some beautiful works.  Olden hymns, embodied best by “Amazing Grace” have long served as guidance for people seeking a great discovery.  The earliest recordings were often spiritual in nature and many musicians have had to balance faith and career, at various times facing popular pressure.

I do have an Ipod filled with a good amount of Stanley Brothers material.

This is an older post, that I thought I’d copy over to this blog.

I was inspired by the notion of fiddling with the 3DS Street Pass feature in Manhattan and the nice weather that the city experienced today, to the test the feature out. I took a subway ride from my humble home to enter the concrete canyons of the midtown area, beginning my ride at a station and pondering what path I would walk to attempt to maximize my actual footprint, to reach as many 3DS owners as I could.

The first stop seemed obvious to me, Nintendo World. The store is located around 48th Street, so I could make a nice walk south to further destinations. I decided to hop off on the E Train at the 7th Avenue Subway Station, taking the stairwell out and making a wrong turn pretty quickly. I quickly fixed my internal compass, a point of pride for this New Yorker, walking down the crowds of Madison Avenue, until 48th Street. With a few quick turns, I found my way to Nintendo World.

The 3DS demo units were occupied, but I had mine. It was time for a moment of truth! I had found 3 people. Then almost immediately 2 more! After those, I had found 2 more. My first Street Pass had been a crowd. Nintendo World was crowded. Parents were buying games for their children and at the corners, the kids you would expect to be the standard social outcasts in an academic institution were playing their systems, mostly it seemed the new 3DS. A discussion was happening between two, about which games were worth getting. They dismissed Rayman and Pilot Wings for reasons unknown, but were quick to praise Street Fighter and Steel Diver. The two joked about Nintendogs + Cats, deciding that one of the three games was all they would need. I saw on the floor, giant AR cards, but decided not to try and see if I could trigger a monster battle; it seemed floor space was very restricted. Almost as quickly as I came, I left. My Street Pass army had just received the first seven troops and I was itching for a few more.

Times Square! I decided to head to “Crossroads of America” for my next stop. They had a Toys R Us with a big video game section, which might be a place to check for anymore. I walked, earbuds playing the rock music I adore, as I carefully thread past the tourists, locals and strangers. I wasn’t exactly sure of the address of Toys R Us but I found it without making a wrong turn. The streets were crowded, Broadway Plays were being promoted, it would seem like a bad day for theatres with so many tickets for evening showings still available. Toys R Us was a continuation of the external madness, crowded with endless rows of families off to purchase or examine toys. I made a quick stop over at the basement, where the video games are. I found that my Street Pass had found two more Mii, my Mii army was slowly expanding.

My exit was still swift, I didn’t feel compelled to buy anything and the crowds weren’t making for an easy to appreciate scene. As I left, I continued walking South, now on 7th Avenue, trying to decide where to go next. The Times Square crowds were letting up and I found myself able to walk much more freely. I found my savior in the form of Spider-Man, who I could also see at Broadway for 40% off that night. Midtown Comics seemed like a place to try. I’m not much into comic books, but there seems to be a fairly large overlap of communities, so it would be worth a try. Unfortunately, I found no new recruits for the grand Mii army that I was assembling at Midtown Comics and I headed down further South.

As I walked 7th Avenue, I had decided where I would go next. I would swing past Union Square on my way to Chinatown and St. Marks, where I could visit the more underground videogame stores and see if anything was available. I was feeling confident about my Mii army.

The walk from Midtown Comics to Union Square produced no new members for my Street Pass army, but provided me with a reminder of the eclectic daily life in Manhattan. I saw a romantic couple, two men, forming a checkerboard pattern with their clothes, orange hat for one and an orange jacket for the other, going with a brown jacket or hat. I saw good looking girls, bad looking girls and ugly looking things. I saw homeless people and I saw pranksters. They tried pointing to an object on the ground to the unsuspecting to get a good laugh. When it came my turn, I just stared right at them, passing by with no incident.

My Mii army had not grown and I made my way to Union Square, the weekend Farmer’s Market was closing and with it some of the assembled were leaving. “Hey!” I saw a familiar face saying, but my earbuds had stifled it. I ended the music and greeted the friend that I just saw again. We chatted and decided to hang out for a little bit, I did a final check of my Street Pass, this time like in life; I had encountered one more person. This would be my last virtual encounter for the day; I had made another sort of Street Pass, and felt the need to reconnect. I decided to try and snap a 3D picture of my friend, to impress him, he commented my DS screen was looking weird and I decided this wasn’t the time to educate him, I wasn’t interested in videogames at that point.

I like music, well mostly.  I don’t like some of the rubbish that gets called music these days.  Anyone who like music these days, has to kowtow to the plastic gods of vinyl.  Don’t know why, it’s supposed to be a new “sonic” experience, a revelation that will shatter the dimensions of my hearing and awaken a deep truth within.  I guess, I’ll have to buy a record player.  Before that, I guess, I should pick up a nice collection of music to listen to.  Well that would make Record Store Day just the thing for me!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  I did find the one album I most wanted, but New York feels like a musical wasteland.  Strange, because of the great roots of music in the city, but I don’t see a store that’s a truly great music store.  I saw the list in Rolling Stone, but I wasn’t going to go to Other Records today, the line wrapped around the corner of the block, I wasn’t going to be creating a vinyl collection waiting so desperately for my musical fix.  Besides, the store isn’t all that great.  It’s small and carries music that caters to a crowd that isn’t drawing from the same creative pool as what I want.

I started my musical mecca with a stop at J&R.  They sucked.  They had a good amount of the titles I wanted, but they were apparently sold out.  See, I didn’t have a voucher.  No chance for Springsteen, Beach Boys, Dylan or any of the music that goes behind the counter.  They had multiple copies of all albums, but apparently the vouchers had all been claimed.  I didn’t see anyone buying them, probably flippers waiting to bring their vans in.  But why would J&R care?  They’ll make the sale.

They weren’t even really celebrating the day.  They had a bin for the releases and I saw some things that piqued my interest, but found most of them easy to resist.  I did decide, that I’d pick up Bob Dylan’s Black Friday 45 rpm, the red vinyl Times They Are A-Changin’/Like a Rolling Stone.  The store had at least a dozen of them in the bin for “Record Store Day” and I decided I’d rather buy it at J&R then on eBay with flippers.  I gave a call to customer support, asking about the voucher policy, since I didn’t want to bother the cashiers about it, after three transfers, I was told what I had already figured out.  Wasn’t that big a deal to me, it’s Manhattan, I’ll check the other stores and decide where I want to go.

Too many stores were neglected by corporations or too anti-establishment to partake in Record Store Day, so it took a good while to find a store that had the deals going on.  Other Records was busy, with the line I described.  But I found one store that was doing pretty well.  I think it was A-1 records.  To my surprise, they didn’t have a long line, apparently the crowds had thinned out by now, it was 1PM and I had walked a fair amount in the slight drizzle.

I saw Bob Dylan Brandeis, but decided not to get it.  I was skeptical of getting it before.  Pre-eminent Dylan scholar Greil Marcus provides linear notes for something I got for free for getting Bootleg Series Volume 9 on Amazon!  I could care less, I want the music, I don’t need to know what one person interprets it to mean.  I find it great to listen to music that has a history to it, when the history is presented well.  Bob Dylan can do it, check out Theme Time Radio or his Artist’s Choice contribution for proof, or read Chronicles and listen to some of the music he mentions.  Greil Marcus, whom I don’t know nor actually care to read about why he’s so good, probably can’t.  I got the music before and I’m happy with it like that.

They had Hank III, who is an amazing voice in country music today.  I was very tempted but, I’m not quite ready to make the plunge to vinyl.  I’d definitely pick his albums up if vinyl were my main way of listening to music.

They had Bruce Springsteen and “Gotta Get that Feeling” which comes from a webcast.  I admit, I wanted to be part of the webcast audience.  I like Bruce, I’ve seen him live, but I’m still kind of pissed about the TicketMaster incident, where I apparently don’t get a settlement because I only complained to the BetterBusinessBureau, I won’t make that mistake again, but maybe I just won’t buy tickets to see Bruce.  The webcast was unfortunately lame.  It lacked a lively crowd, that’s the kind of crowd I want for a Bob Dylan concert, not Bruce.  I’ll leave my rant on TicketMaster another day.  I saw this LP? (not up with Vinyl lingo) at J&R, for $15.  I got it for $7!  I guess the flippers missed out on A-1.

I was also ready to consider Green Day, Roy Orbison, Beach Boys and a few other RSD items, but couldn’t find them.  Maybe my vinyl collection will grow by next year, but there are some things Record Store Day has to do…

1 – It needs to improve distribution to real independent stores, J&R has gotten too big for the independent scene and seems to be a strong hog on real resources.  So what if a store can’t sell everything in the day, it can only add to the wonder if in some unknown time someone stumbles upon that rare record.

2 – Limit it to one of each item per person.  This would help stop flippers.

3 – Treat it as a launch party, not as a one time thing.  Have more printings of the singles/albums, or make Record Store Day part of the conversation.  Music is a discussion, not a contest to see who can get what.

The best way to improve RSD in NY would be to move Third Man Records to NY.  Or at least have them open a satellite branch.  They seem like the most AWESOME store in America for music.  New York used to have a vibrant studio scene.  It was Bob Dylan who pointed out in 2001 that his opinion of NY shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, he either wrote or recorded his songs in the city.  I admit, a few days before RSD, I decided to check out what I could buy at Third Man Records, get a feel for records.

Carl Sagan – Glorious Dawn

They sell it!  When I saw that, I was sort of biased towards buying it.  I also picked up a Jack White single, but Glorious Dawn is one of my favorite songs.  I usually hate the manufactured production of Autotune and such, but something about that musical creation amazes me.  I’ve admired the 7″ single that I got, marveling at the package.  The art of the cover (and back) only adds to it.

I might have to venture to Nashville to go to a good record store.  I might just have to explore around New York a little more, try to figure my terms and understand the LP side of music culture a little more.

Record Store Day could be so much more, if it only were to let itself be.

Writing this, I have wondered if I have dormant anger issues, hopefully other posts will be a little more positive!

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