Saturday, September 29, 2007

Winkin, Blinkin, and Pod: Word doc

The printed word can have a magical quality – the right moment, the right wordsmithy, and the word can pop on off the page.

There is a way of knowing, among others, a type of cognition that derives from neurons firing piston-like, causing ideas’ flowering like fireworks as the eye scans a story – say about science – say in the New York Times.

But there is a way of knowing that derives from hearing the spoken word. It can equal or better the printed word, depending, firing those pretty little brain synapse thingies along another salient.

Working in the Internet medium – cant call it the press, but it does have to do with the visual presentation of words, in this case in electronic form – one wonderswhere it is all going. People are farily ready to download stories and listen to them, perhaps as they jog or drive. You wonder if they just don’t like the act of reading.

My son reads books, but, by and large, he scans magazines, doesn’t pick up a newspaper, and when he reads mags, he hardly reads much of the captions. We were told as journalism students to, when we rode the subway, to watch how people read a paper. It didnt take long to discover that people just pick bits and pieces out of a newspaper as if casting lures into a fishy stream. The scanning mechanism is pretty well known – but now it seems headed for the stratosphere.

I think you learn thins in a certain deep way when you stare at the word, encounter it visually, absorb it as a representative symbolic pattern. Think of College biology or physics, or the rape of Tralala as described by Hubert Selby – what have you..

Is there not a power in words written? I know when I write even usually banal technical thins that contain a well parsed sentence.. that that has a power to drop the damn buster bomb somewhere on the skylight of your awareness. Of course, swinging hips and a sunsuit have p-p-p-power too…

I am thinking people are losing touch with a part of the brain and a part of general cognition when reading is beyond them.

… well maybe si, maybe no. Reading the Tues Sci Times has been often a tedious chore in recent years, as I wonder into the middle ages. And learning about DNA, space, neuroscience, and so on.. once so enticing, ‘various and new,’ is a tough task. Recently my competency with iPodcast buttons has enabled me to begin to listen to the science story from the New York Times. And it is a wake up call.

Of course the fact that I can take care of my really really tedious unavoidable chores – cooking, doing dishes, driving the car – while I dig this science stuff is part of it. I am in dream world where the words of science are sorbed, rather than read, while I place my pedestrian attention on the great mundane.

Listening to the Tues Sci Time podcasts has given me a second chance at learning the history of Sputnik the influence of the theatrical magic on studies of perception.. .and so on. It is good – I am learning. Learning is not over.

I have a real feeling about the [technical] journalist’s trade. Though it may be a minority report. If you don’t get on the phone or out of the office and chat to humans about whatever the topic of interest is, you have a lesser appreciation perhaps of some nuance of inflection in the pool of information. That seems to be in synch with the idea that aural info has an important place. When I think about how science tackled me as a young youth, I have to count visual and aural representations a bit above the printed word. There was Connections; Walter Cronkite on the NASA Program, Monitor Radio reports on Space. the sound of Sputnik. Nova. N so on. Course there was Jules Verne, a great writer, but know best to me through Disney’s 20,000 leagues under the sea. "I am dazzled, blinded."

Next, maybe, the Innocuous Device.

NYT Podcast page - includes handy info on what podcasts are for people over 30.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thanks to Sam - A picture of where Sunnyland’s mortal remains do lay

Guidance: The Devil is a busy man, he will stay right on your trail!

Sad sad day since my friend he went away
Sad sad day since my friend he went away
Once he woke up in a dream – said good things were coming our way.

Fantasia for Piano and Data Base

A weird story about has to do with Joyce Hatto. She was a classical pianist of the old school, something of an invalid in later years, who, through recordings, caught a buzz on the web. Bad news was that many of her multifarious recordings were discovered to be of the school plagiarism. Like grab a tape and put your name on it.

Her hubby, as described in a New Yorker story, came from something of a Wild West, though classical background. In the 50s and 60s he was involved with Bargain Bin Classical Labels that were not above usurping and dubbing the work of Euro Classicos some of who-o might have come from the Iron Curtain Side-o. Put it out, damn the royalties, laugh and chortle. [Sounds rather like some Brits approach to Blues music!]

Hatto’s unmasking was odd. Let’s look on the matter as described in the New Yorker…. One fan unwraps a Hatto disk and places it in his computers secondary storage media. His consternation redoubles as he realizes that his discovery will dampen the buzz baout Hatto.

“Ventura unwrapped the “Studies” disk .. He placed it in his computer’s disk drive and, through Apple’s iTunes software, connected to Gracenote, an Internet database of CDs. According to Gracenote, which identifies a CD by the durations of its individual tracks, Ventura had loaded the “Transcendental Studies,” but the pianist was a Hungarian named László Simon. László Simon? Ventura weighed the possibilities: Gracenote might be mistaken (mislabellings had been known to occur), or someone named László Simon had recorded the same music with precisely the same track timings. When he listened during his commute the next morning, he felt “from the very first piece, it was a remarkable recording.” On his office computer, he went to and found a listing for Simon’s record, including one-minute clips for most of the tracks.

“I started listening,” he recalled. “Going back and forth between the iPod and the Amazon clips for individualistic things—sudden changes in dynamics or ornaments, or a cadenzalike passage where the performer has more leeway in the interpretation. In slower pieces, it’s easier to hear subtleties. I was ninety-five per cent certain that most of the tracks were the same. So I didn’t know what to do. If she was the one that was copying, part of me didn’t want it to come out….”

It was really strange to me the first time my Internet connected computer went out and got some track name and data for a piece I had on my machine. How about you? What is the method by which this happens? People say there is a bit data base out there in Etherland that can identify a song by it’s unique length. But length cannot be that unique, even if we get down to microseconds. There has to be correlated function of some kind, right? Here is what I found on the site of Gracenote describing there patent for this technology…

A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the length information for the records in the database and for the selected recording includes information indicating the length of each segment individually, and wherein said determining includes comparing the length of corresponding segments in the selected recording and the recording corresponding to each approximately matching record.

Artificial Intelligence is about! Someday all your clothes will have RFID tags. And you will be ID’d as you walk about based on your typical unque clothes combination as garnered by a sensor network in a public building, maybe. But, as Hatto shows, the best lies have the best legs! His master’s voice is beyond duplication!

Gracenotes Patents Notes
New Yorker story on Hatto

My Times and Welcome to it - Mighty Google Midget

Louise Story writes about the Mighty Google Midget. Google is bringing out a video widget, its first step toward banner-style advertising. As described in the Times, benefits of the Google widget are ease of development for advertisers and marketers. But it is hard to believe it is all that complicated. I admit I did not go through all the samples, but when you go through the examples posted on Google’s site, they do not look like something you haven’t seen before. Like very bit of technology news, somebody loves it and is ready to be quoted. Thus we have Dimity Ioffe of Media Banners saying “widgets are a dream for marketers.” I guess the key is that it is viral, that you make the widget available when you post it…and some folks may put them on their blogs…where they can last forever. Lasting forever is a miracle, and probably has its drawbacks too, but Google will tell you about that in

Google Program Enlists Mini-Sites as Selling Tool for Advertisers -NYT, Sept 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sunnyland Slim


WHEN Sunnyland Slim, "Mr.Blues Piano," parked his rough blue Dodge wagon in front of my house one Boston evening, 1978, it was a chance stop on a long road ...... that's how I began our book. Thinking about Sunnyland today as it is the 100th anniversary of his birthday. So I am re-posting a pic of Slim that I ran on this site earlier this year. Sad recently to learn that Slim's wife Jerri passed away in 2006.

Sunnyland Slim - Mr. Blues Piano - was hard to capture for sure. One thing about him was a movement. I do have one 8mm film [60 sec] of him driving. Otherwise, its pictures in photos and words on tape - a few misc documents. And these particular picks using my old Brownie Reflex ... which sometimes caught a lot of motion. I took a series of pictures once, as he headed to hail a cab and go to Seattle. i think this was 61st St. See above.

Slim had a deep sense of blues as a music, as an art. His piano style was a wonderful mix of classic blues, Dudlow blues, and jazzy tapdance comps. But his voice, which Sam Charters [Robert Palmer?] pegged as 'stenorian'was what 'brought the women.' what brought him acclaim. He believed in the gospel too. He is just as well remembered as a mentor, bandmaster and, in a good way, 'hustler.' There were rules to live and to blues, he felt. And you lived them. "That's gospel."

This handcolored art above was used as part of promotion for the 45 "Tired But I Havent Got Started" - which we called "Travelling Man Blues" up to the time Slim put it on vinyl. The words went: "The Greyhound Bus and the Trailways, the airplanes did not let me down." Click on the image and access a slightly-larger [full-size] version on my Flckr pages.

The Sunnyland book is finally available we think via the wonder mechansim of the Internet. See the link below or the image link at left of the book. Click, and you go to my Amazon Stuff page, and you can order the book. All profits during the month of September will go toward creating a Sunnyland 100 postage stamp.

As with all things on this blog..this is experimental. If you try to buy the book and have issues please let me know. Jack

Monday, September 03, 2007

Analog Fritz: American Caesar, Drugstore Cowboy

Late summer and I’m on vacation. Have noticed too late August is a time when politicians show up at the yearly conventions of The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A few years ago Dick Cheney used such a convocation to prime the pump for the last push toward going to war in Iraq.

This year’s VFW convention was held in Kansas City. The Legion was a couple of weeks later. And Pres Bush spoke to the vets, choosing this VFW occasion to prime the pump for the upcoming discussions about leaving Iraq by drawing comparisons between our Iraq occupation and our earlier occupations of Viet Nam and Japan.

All summer I have been reading American Caesar, a life of Douglas MacArthur by William Manchester. As chance would have it, I am at the part where MacArthur takes over supreme command of Japan after Allied vitory. At some future point I will review the book. But, when picking up today’s paper I had to remark upon the falsity of the Iraq-Japan analogy.

MacArthur spent over 20 years in the East, spending the whole time studying the people. While he was plotting hid portion of the Pacific war, he also was planning the postwar governing of Japan. Truman placed him in total command of Japan, and he would have nothing less. Machester quotes Arthur Schlesinger [and Richar Rovere] who wrote tha postwar Japan had an ‘overpowering need .. for faith, for a mystique, for a moral revival in the midst of moral collapse. The powerful and dedicated figure of MacArthr filled that need, as probably no other American general could have filled it.”

My marginalia: Whither Tommy Franks? Franks was retired and off to talk shows when the battle ended. One could imagine that a Swartzkopf or a Colin Powell could have cut a better figure in the post war role, but few could imagine Franks taking on a role like MacArthur’s. They do not make them like that anymore – MacArthur’s father, in fact, was a Civil War General [he led a Wisconsin regiment] and MacArthur himself grew up on Army posts across the old West. First principles stuff.

Of course, Bush would like to strike the pose heer as the powerful dedicated figure. He’s not quite up to the task. Since the day he declared ‘mission accomplishe’d with bravura on the carrier deck, he’s increasingly appeared as a drugstore cowboy. MacArthur had studied Napoleon from every angle. He valued him as a military strategist; he faulted him as and administrator. He was ready for peace big time.

MacArthur had a degree of pride that at times crossed over to arrogance. He was extremely conservative, and occasions showed him to be racist. But he is a fascinating figure of history who dwarves today’s figures. He brought unionism and progressivism to post-War Japan. There, as in the Philippines, he was very prepared to cut slack for some pretty dubious people. But, people today say it worked. It’s hard to imagine anything that is a worse example of a US occupation than this Iraq experience. Like many of Bush’s analogies, the Iraq-Japan analogy hold little water. But he has gotten mileage – made a career - from such facile assertions. Let’s recall his degree is in business administration.

It was not all MacArthur in Japan of course. The Japan that MacArthur overcame was a pale version of its former self. That can hardly be said for Iraq after Tommy Frank’s blitzkrieig. Japan lost more than a million soldiers in the war. Casualties were fantastic. The country was completely devastated by years of war. It was ready to listen to Doug.

Bush’s latest analogies are false. What his Democratic foes fail to see however is what will be a pragmatic next stage: a multiyear withdrawal. Many Americans and many party members don’t want to hear that. But if you asked them if they would agree as a compromise to return to the Clinton containment the days of a no fly zone, they’d probably say yeah.

I fact, in Kansas City, Korea was raised by Pres Bush as an example of a successful occupation. It’s been a containment. Has the statue of limits run out on his Axis of Evil proclamation? Korea is an example of a pull back. It is an unresolved conflict. That is troubling to this day. But people can somehow live with it. Again, in nefarious manner, Pres Bush is one step ahead of everyone, even when he is going backward.

American Caesar on Amazon
Pres Bush before the VFW -

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