Monday, June 05, 2017

Meeker comments

Mary Meeker's annual report for Kleiner Perkins on the status of Internet commerce is always interesting - chock full of data and packed with gleefully greedy West Coast VC perspective.  Let's look at some highpoints out of the 150-plus Power Point Slide opus.

Do you smell the fear in the Fortune 500? Smells like they could use some baby wipes. They can get them from Amazon, actually, which trails only Huggies and Pampers for online market share. For Duracell, it is deep doodoo, as Amazon surpasses the check out counter champ entirely  - on the Web. All that marketing and technology innovation - not too mention shelf shoving -- over many years seems for little or naught. (Off beat: I worked for 6 months at a drug store on 34th St in the 1970s and among the thing I learned was: "You cannot keep Pampers on the shelf" Translation: Shit happens.)

The sound of foot prints echoes double in network television where the biggies are flat or in decline, but Netflix is on a skyrocket up.

And disruptors (the Internet advertising vehicles  that disrupted convention media) can be disrupted too, especially if they face big hungry disruptors  such as Facebook and Google. They who grow ad revenue in double digits while Everybody Else flatly contests the small pie leftovers.

Maybe Facebook and Google are as much beneficiaries of an underlying sea change in Internet of anything else. While desktop and Laptop Internet use has been steady or in slight decline over the last eight years, Internet   time on the smartphone side has been vaulting forward stridently. What is different about mobile? The message might be real real concise, the ambiance more transactional, and the market more consumerish.

This hear is also posted on the It's the Data Talking blog.

Monday, May 29, 2017




Steps above theater. 
     I watch people come up 
four or five at a time. 

Catch their eyes and give
     them a message. 
They seem High and Holy.

All seem open 
          to some new message 
     They are ready can -- we bring 
it on?

Now that they're ready 
     the message will come from 
their own happy centers, it has happened 
     before we even knew, it was happening. 
There it goes again just now. 
     It can happen anytime 
Blip, another 10,000 opportunities 
coming past all the time.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

On The Information

Jack White & Didley Bo
The Information by James Gleick starts with Claude Shannon and his 1948 paper, and that will be the centerpiece of the book. But the author quickly slides further back into time - back to when the Erupean colonialists were first in encountering the talking drums of 'Dark Africa'.

[At times there are two trains running with this book. That is, one, the argument that the world changed when some essential elements of what is information were conceived (by Shannon) and, two, a history of culture as communication. My interest here is the former, but notes are included on the latter.]

[It might be worthwhile to cite Glieck's sources - the book is built in part on erudition he gained by research/reading.]

It seems some of the missionaries begin to transcribe the language of the drums they heard. I take it this was a culture without written word. The Europeans, some of them, were quick to make the connection between the talking drums and the telegraph. 

Mixing metaphors, if you will, they forwarded the notion of the Signal - the fact that there was something similar underlying very different elements - the drum and the telegraph. Well, in fact, the connection was known. After all, the armies of Napoleon and others used drums as a muster point for armies. The European battle drum message was simple, like a church bell, indicating ''time to go to church.'' while the African drums had more complex messages


From the Vaults: Appreciation of Claude Shannon. 

It's about as hard now to imagine the world of the telegraph as it is to imagine the world of the cuneiform. IT was a distant technology even when I was a lad, although there were Western Union offices in most fair-sized towns. One found telegrams in parents' mementos trunks - and they appeared, read by comically droll Western Union delivery men or boys,  in the old movies -  STOP -  the old movies that filled up so much of the time on early TV - STOP - We knew that telegrams were clipped and sparse- their words precious. The sound of the telegram was the staccato dispatch. The sound of telecommunications was electric dits and dahs, 0's and 1's -- it was the variable length Morse (telegraphic) code and then the fixed-length Baudot and Murray (teletype) codes.


Babbage's machine.
Some of the chapter stories of The Information will be familiar. I had some knowledge of Babbage that is repeated here. His calculating engines set the stage for modern computing (by influencing Hollderith, at least), tho the machine works of his time were too imprecise for his machines to be built. But reprise was useful as some was new and even more was learned but forgotten. Babbage's great success was conceptual: to envision mechanisms that would "throw the power of thought into wheel-work." Like many of his era, Babbage was a polymath, interested in everything; what was different about him was his interest in both mathematics and the state of the art of machine tooling and industry. He wrote ' On the economy of machinery and manufactures'.   His analysis of pin production makes you think of later Time and Motion studies. His pursuit of the dual interests (math and machining) set a great amount of cross breeding into motion.

The meaning of this to The Information's larger story: calculation becomes ever more intrinsic to understanding. In Babbage's words "Calculation becomes continually more necessary at each step of our progress."  Then came Ada.

Friday, April 28, 2017

100 days of Trump

100 days of Trump make me want to stop reading the news. Sometimes it is funny. That the president is like the Monopoly man, a 30s New Yorker cartoon lampooning the rich, or Flagstaff (?) (Groucho Marx role in Horse Feathers). Then it is imposing, an imposition, barometer pressure oppressively rising - stormy weather. Reading about the tax plan, to make LLC lives even easier - the ones who tear up the city, cut down the trees, put people in boxes, and use your money to turbo charge their life style. And, as has happened to me, suggest they are holier than you because they panned gruel at a food line one morning as cameras snapped. Now, the New York developer is in the vault, throwing dollars like custard pies with relish, and it becomes pain funny bone pain, maybe, but pain.

We may have to go to war in Korea again, unfinished business to finish, and fear. Shooting hibernating bears a problem? - we can make it happen! 100 days of Trump make me want to stop reading the news. On the other side of this for me is the harp music playing crazily as someone close is dying. Hard times come again once more. 100 days of Trump make me want to stop reading the news.

 - Jack Vaughan


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bold Stump Song 2017

Bold stump messed up at school
Bold stump broke the teachers rule
Push the Studebaker over a cliff
end up on monsignors list
Bold stump bold stump bold stump

Bold stump at the running bare camp
Bold stump in the convent vent
M80 in the boys room stall
Bold stump says muck it all
Bold stump bold stump bold stump

Bold stump with the altar wine
Bold stump in the bursar's line
Bold stump with a banshee yell
Bold stump not going to hell
Bold stump bold stump bold stump.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Look out, it's MOAB coming!

Look out, it's MOAB coming!

I read the news
The Mother of All Bombs
Fired away

Mr Trump said
it was huge and
to what's next answered

Make it bigger
Call out the dancers
Get me the doctor
Bring on the enhancers.

- Jack Vaughan


Monday, March 27, 2017

Dylan on triplicate

Been a couple of years, but Dylan has opened up in interview again. The occassion is the 3-cd set called Triplicate.

This music he is recording and discussing, this is what I was listening to before folk music and the Beatles. Really it wasnt until Tamborine Man and Satisfaction that I got with rocknroll. There is still an old time easy listening station on AM in Boston and everyone in my family tunes into it from time to time. The melodies and arrangements are great - and it is so removed from everything else. Through YouTube have been able to track down the Swing Vocal versions of Jazz standards (No Moon at All), and discover more deeply the lush bygone era. (I am reading by coincidence a bio of Bing Crosby by Gary Giddens, with detailed descriptions of the arrangements of his great numbers.)

So given that I appreciate that Dylan appreciates this trove of musical art. And his singing has gotten better through the process of doing the five or so CDs, but he still has so much trouble shifting his voice when the songs shift painful to hear.

I like his dicussion of rocknroll, sounds like he is firing up for a number on Hwy 61.

It was skeleton music, came out of the darkness and rode in on the atom bomb and the artists were star headed like mystical Gods....
Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up. ....

We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over, life was cheap. That was the feeling at the time and I’m not exaggerating....
Groups like the Five Satins and the Meadowlarks seemed to be singing from some imaginary street corner down the block. Jerry Lee Lewis came in like a streaking comet from some far away galaxy. Rock and roll was atomic powered, all zoom and doom.....

On artistic creation:

...most everything is a knockoff of something else. You could have some monstrous vision, or a perplexing idea that you can’t quite get down, can’t handle the theme. But then you’ll see a newspaper clipping or a billboard sign, or a paragraph from an old Dickens novel, or you’ll hear some line from another song, or something you might overhear somebody say just might be something in your mind that you didn’t know you remembered. That will give you the point of approach and specific details. It’s like you’re sleepwalking, not searching or seeking; things are transmitted to you. It’s as if you were looking at something far off and now you’re standing in the middle of it. Once you get the idea, everything you see, read, taste or smell becomes an allusion to it. It’s the art of transforming things. You don’t really serve art, art serves you and it’s only an expression of life anyway; it’s not real life. It’s tricky, you have to have the right touch and integrity or you could end up with something stupid....Some people never get this and they’re left outside in the dark. Try to create something original, you’re in for a surprise.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Homage to Chuck Berry - No Money Down

Chuck Berry (Oct 28, 1926-Mar 18, 2016)

No Money Down

My cousin Derrick's Chevy!

As I was motivatin'
Back in town
I saw a Cadillac signSayin' "No Money Down"

So I eased on my brakes
And I pulled in the drive
Gunned my motor twice
Then I walked inside
Dealer came to me
Said "Trade in you Ford
And I'll put you in a car
That'll eat up the road
Just tell me what you want
And then sign on that line
And I'll have it brought down to you
In a hour's time"

I'm gonna get me a car
And I'll be headed on down the road
Then I won't have to worry
About that broken - down, raggedy Ford

"Well Mister I want a yellow convertible
Four - door de Ville
With a Continental spare
And a wide chrome wheel
I want power steering
And power brakes
I want a powerful motor
With a jet off - take
I want air condition
I want automatic heat
And I want a full Murphy bed
In my back seat
I want short - wave radio
I want TV and a phone
You know I gotta talk to my baby
When I'm ridin' alone"

Yes I'm gonna get that car
And I'm gonna head on down the road
Yeah, then I won't have to worry
About that broken - down, raggedy Ford

"I want four carburetors
And two straight exhausts
I'm burnin' aviation fuel
No matter what the cost
I want railroad air horns
And a military spark
And I want a five - year guarantee
On everything I got
I want ten - dollar deductible
I want twenty dollar notes
I want thirty thousand liability"
That's all she wrote

I got me a car
And I'm headed on down the road
No money down
I don't have to worry
About that broken - down, raggedy Ford

Friday, March 17, 2017

Let me riff a little on Kuno Meyer

Power9 die
Let me riff a little on Kuno Meyer. His name surfaced on my horizon way back. The book was Selections of Ancient Irish Poetry (1911). I bought a replicated version of the book - which was something you did back in the day on out-of-print books whose copyrights had expired. A nifty version of Selections of Ancient Irish Poetry is now on the Web via the Way Back machine.

Memorable name and it belonged to a guy who was very deep into early Irish poetry. His translations were amazing. You know there are some people (Angel Flores is another) who get it, when it comes to translating poetry.

I didn’t really know anything about Kuno himself. And was disappointed when I looked him up (cursorily) that there wasn’t much about his talent .. but there was a whole lot about his controversy.

I just learned today he was a German scholar, and he went to Great Britain as a student, and he developed a love for Irish poetry. But what he became famous for was something completely other. During WW I, before U.S. joined, he was at Harvard, and vocally favored Germany (Kaiser-era Germany, this was) ,and so he got blackballed by the English and the Irish (who were then dominated by English) and by the Americans even though it was a time when we were still neutral. Later on, after independence, the Irish reinstated some of his honorariums.

Well, here is some flavor of the scholar Meyer. An intro to Ancient Irish Poetry.  Let him speak:

" Slowly, ..., the fact is becoming recognised in ever wider circles that the vernacular literature of ancient Ireland is the most primitive and original among the literatures of Western Europe, and that in its origins and development it affords a most fascinating study. Whatever may be its intrinsic merit, its importance as the earliest voice from the dawn of West European civilisation cannot be denied."

"Religious poetry ranges from single quatrains to lengthy compositions dealing with all the varied aspects of religious life. Many of them give us a fascinating insight into the peculiar character of the early Irish Church, which differed in so many ways from the rest of the Christian world."

"In Nature poetry the Gaelic muse may vie with that of any other nation. Indeed, these poems occupy a unique position in the literature of the world. To seek out and watch and love Nature, in its tiniest phenomena as in its grandest, was given to no people so early and so fully as to the Celt. Many hundreds of Gaelic and Welsh poems testify to this fact."

Let's take a look at Meyer's thoughts on the Irish and Japanese poetry - as they dovetail with those of the recent Irish poetry champ, the late Seamus Heaney. [All this cadged from author Irene DeAngelis.] In an introduction to Ancient Irish Poetry Kuno noted that the Celts, like the Japanese, avoided the obvious in composition. "The half said thing to them is dearest." he writes. Heaney in an interview too sees a poetic kinship - a deep one:

"A devotion to succinctness, to formal concision, to delight in the natural world" as well as monkishness, asceticism, hermitage and "a response to a detail of the world that was a response to its whole mystery." 

If you follow this link… it leads to more .. and more .. of these St Patrick's Day Irish Poetry posts.

I am not much of a nature poet. In a way, I am a city boy. But I do appreciate the view on Nature of Ireland obtained in this PBS Nature documentary, while warning that this link probably wont be live forever.

And finally (see below) let's go to SoundCloud for a reading of Meyer (translation) with Cold, Cold Tonight , Heaney with Molyullah. - Jack Vaughan

The fish of Ireland are a-roaming,
There is no strand which the wave does not pound,
Not a town there is in the land,
Nor a bell is heard, no crane talks.
-From Cold Tonight

Sunday, March 12, 2017

People I saw

Jerry Garcia - After concert - We decided there was a certain energy missing that night. And as we walked from the concert we in unison sang "I'm Ready" the Muddy Waters song where he "hopes some screwball wants to fight" and lo and behold in a Checker Cab about to depart were the Gratefuls. And Jerry hearing us singing, with a bit of a limp smile somewhat nodded in our direction...Shook hands with Dick Waterman who managed Muddy, Bonnie Raitt, Skip James, Son House, many others… he had a booth...It was the Boston Blues Fest  ....William Burroughs -  I went up to him after a reading at Charles St. Reading House in 1973 and asked him a couple of questions for a story I wrote maybe for journalism class. He was open. He'd just moved back to US after many years overseas. "Is America a more or less a repressive state now?" I asked. "It's a lot more open," he said...Saw Danny Kaye around Christmas at Brentano's Book Store on 5th Ave. He was a star. Everyone fawned over him, and he was full of wit. Very New Yorkish....WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee - I ran up and questioned him after a conf keynote in Boston at Hynes. All flustered was I. Send the question via email he said, it is much better for clarity. So true, not least of all because he talks fast. I saved the email- it's around here somewhere...Rex Harrison - At Mugar Library. He was making a visit to the Special Collections, where his letters were housed. Handsome beyond description. And suave. The entrance there was confusing, and a woman with him had trouble figuring it out. As she entered, Jim Duhamel, the security person (and an amateur actor) said "I think she's got it!" And Rex turned quick to Jim and asked "And where does it rain?" ....Saul Alinsky - did a lecture at Dominican College in Racine ca. 1968. Surprised us - we expected author of Rules for Radicals to look more like Abbie H. I was amazed when I looked him up on Pinterest by the amt of vitriol in his direction that was directed..unfortunately, he is not in a place now where he can meet these folks indivdiually to convince him of his humanity...Floyd McKissick - leader of Congress On Racial Equality on Main St. in Racine one night. I was waiting for bus. He asked me for where he could buy some whiskey. I had no idea. I asked: "Are you Mr. Floyd McKissik?" Chagrined when he looked behind me, and saw whiskey on sale at the Walgreens. Who knew? That was a Prohibition leftover, liquor on sale at drugstores ... TBC

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