January 30, 2006

Lawyers, Libel, and Music Criticism

Check out this fun article about lawyers fact-checking the claims of a music critic.

In my job, a paralegal and I have to clear press releases (usually just for proper trademark usage, but also for factual claims that could count as representations). The lawyers in this article seem a bit cautious to me.

Here's a taste, but be sure to read the whole thing (the lawyers' critiques are in italics):

The author alleges the band KISS badly mimed "Beth" and "Detroit Rock City" on "The Paul Lynde Variety Special." Evidence?

I realize the words "KISS" and "Paul Lynde" don't normally appear together in the same sentence. But such a TV-variety special did air in 1977, on which KISS was the musical guest. As for my predicate "badly mimed," consider that during the performance of "Beth," the drummer miraculously played the piano by positioning his fingers 6 inches above the keyboard. You do the math.

Really. What 1970s musical variety show wasn't badly mimed?

(Hat tip: Lynn S. at A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance)

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20th Century Kitsch

If you like James Lileks, you'll enjoy this site.

Love those satin gloves and pearls!


(Found via BoingBoing).

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New Music Carnival Host

Please go and congratulate John Salmon at Magritte's Apple for stepping up to host the Carnival of Music from now on.

I will keep the old archive page up indefinitely, and for the near future, the online drop box will remain active.

Thanks for your previous support. Let's help John make this successful.

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January 25, 2006

Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit...

I discovered a new and very fun-to-read music blog: Terminal Degree.

The author is a music teacher. I discovered her thanks to this fantastic comment she left at The Phantom Professor's recently:

The unhealthy trend I see in my students is over-programming -- they try to "do it all." (I teach music privately and at a university, so my students are from age 8 to adult.) Parents will call to ask about lessons and then tell me their kids are taking soccer, ballet, karate, French lessons, and in Girl Scouts, and they now want to add music lessons to the mix. (I don't take those kids as students -- it's not fair to them to expect them to be Superkids.)

By the time they reach university, they're either burned out, OR they're so overprogrammed that they try to take 18 credits, work a part-time job, do an internship, and join three clubs, all in the same semester. Some get by on four hours of sleep.

By their junior year, they start to go a little nuts as a result.

But the irony is that by this point they are used to juggling so many things that it's hard to concentrate on just one or two priorities--because their attention spans haven't been developing all along.

I'm not really critical of my students, who don't know any better. It's their parents, who let them do so many activities when they're younger, who get my criticism. And the irony is that the parents are doing this (usually) because they want the BEST for their kids.

Luckily, some of my students' parents are resisting this trend. In one family, for example, each kid can pick one art activity (such as music) and one sport. No more. I think it's a very healthy way to live, and those kids seem to be a lot happier -- and a lot more like KIDS.

I felt that was addressed directly to my overachieving Plano, Texas strive-more crowd. In fact, the last paragraph is something my family has already done: we have severely curtailed all three kids' activities this year. No more sports this school year, and nothing extra beyond Scouting and music lessons. I know it runs counter to the "enrichment" mentality so endemic around here, but our kids seem much happier having the freedom to just paint at the kitchen table, play in the driveway, ride bikes, or read. Heck, even to watch some TV or play some video games with me. Not everything needs to be regimented and supervised.

Anyway, what does any of this have to do with the title of this blog post? To find out, go read this entertaining story of a day in the life of a music teacher. I swear that could be my second son.

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Serenity Legos

Two of my favorite things: Legos and the Firefly 'verse.

Check out this picture of the Serenity's drive lit from within.

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January 24, 2006

Worse Than A Wuss


(Hat tip: Jeff Goldstein).

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Cold Comfort

The Phantom Professor used to be an adjunct at Dallas' Southern Methodist University, located in Highland Park/University Park. The Park Cities (as they are known locally) are the lily-white old-money part of Dallas.

She frequently posts an (appropriately anonymized) story about her former students - many of them born and raised in the Park Cities bubble themselves. Painting with a broad brush, she tends to hit her mark (how's that for a mixed metaphor?)

Check out this story, related to her by one of her students. Here's a non-spoiling excerpt to whet your appetite:

Background needed. Many of the sorority girls who deign to take part-time jobs opt to become nannies to the wealthy families in the exclusive neighborhoods around the campus. We're talking estate-like mega-mansions, not the shoddy McMansions of the ugly suburbs. Even a teardown in this area can go for half a mil, with a $5 million, three-story behemoth taking the place of a 1950s one-story brick cottage.

So who lives in these places? Movers, shakers, big deal makers. They are still young, very ambitious and have children who still need minding. To help look after their offspring, lawyer-mommy and mogul-daddy hire a Tri-Delt or a Kappa to pick them up at school, haul them to soccer practice or gymnastics, and maybe get them fed and medicated (they're always medicated) before the parents get home late from their offices.

Tessa worked for such a family. She said the mom was a control freak extraordinaire. Left Post-It notes everywhere about everything. "Put Justine in the pink and black leotards for ballet. NOT the purple ones." Or "Phillip has a birthday party at the DeWildes' on Tuesday. Be sure to ask about peanuts. NO PEANUTS ALLOWED!" Another note said simply: "No TV--Enrichment activities only!"

Trying to raise her children via notes to the hired nanny, the mom rarely interacted with them herself. Tessa said she never saw either parent hug or kiss their kids. Or, for that matter, each other. They were an emotionally chilly family and the kids sometimes acted robotically emotion-free.

By the time you get to the end, you realize that material wealth alone provides - at best - cold comfort.

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January 18, 2006

Another Neat Optical Illusion

Check out this optical illusion.

I'm always amazed at these tricks, which take advantage of some aspect of the brain's hard-wiring.

(Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg).

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January 17, 2006

Great Jefferson Quote

Can you imagine any modern President drafting a statement with the eloquence, economy, and profundity of the following?

[O]ur rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

From the E-text Center, UVA Library.

...It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. There in but nine words is the purest distillation of a libertarian's opposition to criminalizing "victimless" conduct.

(Hat tip: Timothy Sandefur, whose thoughts on Blackstone and the common law you should go read. Now.)

Update: Be sure to read Timothy's co-blogger's thoughts on Blackstone, too. Very, very good stuff.

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January 16, 2006

Mein Echtes Hauptfach

You scored as Linguistics. You should be a Linguistics major!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com

This quiz is astoundingly accurate. If there were a living to be made in linguistics, that's where I would still be. I actually went to UT planning to double-major in computer science and linguistics, with the goal of developing a real AI that could understand and use human language. I was possibly smart enough (who knows?), but definitely not disciplined or committed enough to achieve that goal.

(Hat tip: Mixolydian Mode).

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Carnival of Music - Silver Anniversary Swan Song

Please check out the 25th installment of the Carnival of Music at Pilgrimage to Parnassus. It is a nicely classically-centered affair this week.

Despite the optimistic tone of this week's host, I have not received enough sustained interest to keep the Carnival going. Effective now, the Carnival is on an indefinite hiatus. I will keep the archive page up so that random surfers can find and enjoy the many worthy efforts of the fine hosts and contributors.

Maybe I will resurrect the idea in the future, maybe not.

In the meantime, if you are interested in assuming control of this carnival theme, please let me know. Thanks!

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January 13, 2006

Friday the 13th Linkfest

Unlike most, I don't consider 13 an unlucky number, as I was born on the 13th (of April). Here are 13 items that have caught my eye recently:

Mixolydian Don has an Anime SF Babe poll up at his site. I voted for Priss. More from Don about the poll here.

Ted has posted the first two chapters of his [unfinished] NaNoWriMo story and is soliciting input on a title for the novel. His excerpt has one of the best opening lines I've read in a long time. Until you get to the big surprise in the second chapter, it reads like a perfectly normal coming-of-age young adult novel. I don't know where he's taking the story from here, but I can't wait to read the rest.

Here's an interesting analysis of some recent Mozart recordings (hat tip: Bart at The Well-Tempered Blog).

Allah returns to the blogosphere today with a link-blog entitled Link Mecca (At Least 5 Times A Day).

The Commissar lampoons the Hajj and radical leftists in this hilarious illustrated parody.

Michael Crichton (whose novels I'm not too snobbish to enjoy) gave a speech in November 2005 on environmental alarmism. Here's the text, with nice graphs, quotes, and statistics. He admits that he used to be a run-of-the-mill environmentalist until he had a kind of Bjorn Lomberg moment when researching a new novel and realized that his suppositions about environmental disasters were not supported by the evidence.

Virginia Postrel blogged on the theme of the dumbing-down of American Protestantism (and graciously linked to my related thoughts in this matter). This led to my discovery of the new-to-me blog Impacted Wisdom Truth, who commented on both Ms. Postrel's and my posts on the subject.

Zoe Brain wonders where the feminists are with regard to Iran and its fundamentalist justice system.

Geekpress points us to some hopeful news that Serenity may have a sequel.

The Officers' Club linked to this great collection of color photos from the 1930s and 1940s in America.

NasaWatch asks what your standard little GPS transmitter would look like if NASA designed it.

Fred found a Hooters calendar that even my gay friend Owlish would like.

Jonathan Rowe at Positive Liberty points to some [excessively] academic writings on the quasi-libertarian and -Randian rock group Rush.

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Heinlein Quote of the Month (January 2006)

Belated ---

Government! Three-fourths parasitic and the rest stupid fumbling -- oh, Harshaw conceded that man, a social animal, could not avoid government, any more than an individual could escape bondage to his bowels. But simply because an evil was inescapable was no reason to term it "good." He wished that government would wander off and get lost!

- From Stranger in a Strange Land.

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January 12, 2006

The Movie Queue Game

Inspired by Robbo's recent movie bleg which revealed the names of several movies I would like to add to my Netflix queue, I thought I would start one of those Internet meme/game thingies to get yet more ideas for my already-lengthy list and maybe inspire some of y'all to try some of these.

Here's what you do:

1. Go to your Netflix (or Blockbuster online) queue.
2. List ALL of the movies in the queue (at the very least, try to list at least the first ten).
3. Italicize (or bold) the ones you've seen before.
3a. (OPTIONAL) include snarky commentary or thumbnail reviews where desired.
4. Tag 3 people.

This is what's currently in my queue:

I'm tagging Rob, The Country Pundit, and Professor Hall.

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January 09, 2006

Vacation- The Formula for Success

Since I went on holiday hours around here, I have turned out very little original content, have neglected the Carnival of Music, Aircraft Cheesecake, and SF Babe poll features, and have generally been lazy.

How does the blogosphere reward me? How about these 1000 words:


Not only that, but I'm now a Large Mammal (finally) in TTLB's Ecosystem.

I swear, if all y'all had wanted me to JUST SHUT UP all along, I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort over the last 2 and a half years.

What else have I gained? I've listened to a lot of new-to-me music (check out Nick Drake), started to catch up on my reading, finished another disc from my Buck Rogers in the 25th Century DVD set, and edited a few hours' worth of home movies for DVD.

At this rate, I may never blog again...

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Rising to Robert's Bait

Like lunches at McDonald's, the Ardala-Deering debate comes back at an inopportune time. Inopportune, as I would like to devote more time to this argument than I can afford right now.

Nevertheless, in a nutshell:


Ardala - sultry princess of the powerful Draconian empire. She donned a golden bikini years before Princess Leia. Her hat has horns, for TANJ sake. Her main goals are to conquer Earth and seduce Buck Rogers.

What more would you want, were you Buck Rogers??

Wilma - icy colonel in the Earth Defense Directorate - the incompetent military arm of the Computer Council. Before Buck came along, the pilots relied exclusively on their overrated computer overlords to aim their lasers. Nobody on this emasculated future earth seems ashamed that they are the pets of Speak-and-Spell toys hanging around the necks of diminutive robots.

I would rather deal with a hot-blooded princess than an oppressed bureaucrat any day. Sheesh.

Posted by JohnL at 11:07 PM | Comments (3) | | TrackBack

Carnival of Music

The next Carnival of Music will take place next Monday (16 January 2006) at Pilgrimage to Parnassus.

If anyone is interested in assuming the Carnival of Music, I would be happy to turn it over to a new owner. Please leave a comment or send me an email.

I don't have time to implement the many wonderful ideas proposed previously to revive the concept, and it has been caught in the doldrums for a couple of months now. If no one steps forward, I will put it on indefinite hiatus.

In the meantime send your musical links to the online drop box, and I'll see that they get to Daniel at Pilgrimage to Parnassus for inclusion in the next Carnival. Thanks!

Posted by JohnL at 09:52 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack

January 04, 2006

What OS Am I?

You are Palm OS. Punctual, straightforward and very useful.  Your mother wants you to do more with your life like your cousin Wince, but you're happy with who you are.
Which OS are You?

Shamelessly acquired from Buckethead.

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The Yerba-Laced Plot Thickens

Check out this ad copy describing Pixie Maté:

Maté is the gentle hum of an awakened mind and a vibrant body. It is energy that's balanced, not frantic. The people of the South American rain forest discovered the magic before we did. From these green leaves emerged the tea that sings the body electric. With a llama-load of antioxidants, maté trickles grinning into your system. It won't leave you drooping or demand addiction. Drink deep. You're safe here.

Hmm... Pixie. Llama-load.

We've either found the official drink of Munuviana or further evidence that Pixy's quest for world domination is proceding apace.

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Rose Bowl 2006

We got this picture today from my [Aggie] father-in-law:

Aggie at the Rose Bowl.jpg

(Explanation for readers unfamiliar with Texas football. Aggies are alumni of UT's big in-state rival, Texas A&M University. Their slogan is "Gig 'em, Aggies" and many of their shirts usually depict the Texas Longhorn with broken horns. This is a nice show of in-state solidarity by a respected rival).

Update: What a fantastic game. Final score -- Texas: 41, USC: 38.

Hook 'em Horns!!!

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January 02, 2006

SciFi Babes

Again, in the absence of original content hereabouts, go have a look at this worthy gallery of SFnal babes.

They're even kind enough to link to my (stale) gallery (as well as this SF cheesecake site).

Never fear -- one of my resolutions in this new year is to revive the SF Babe poll, so check back soon.

Posted by JohnL at 10:28 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack