Saturday, January 31, 2009

Miles Davis
Kind of Blue 50th Anniversary -- Almost

I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning... Every day I find something creative to do with my life.
Miles Davis (1926–1991), jazz musician

I woke up the other morning and I heard on National Public Radio (NPR) that it was 50 years [not exactly] since the making of Miles Davis landmark recording of Kind of Blue. I was shocked, not that I recall when it came out. Heck, I didn’t learn about it until I was years out of college, I am sure. But, the more you learn about the record and the recording session the more impressive it all becomes. The shocking aspect is that this CD is still as important as it was the day it was released.

For starters the musicians included Miles Davis on trumpet, John Coltran on tenor saxaphone, Cannonball Adderly on alto saxaphone, Wynton Kelley and Bill Evans on piano, Jimmy Cobb on drums, and Paul Chambers on bass, just about everyone in this sextet was a star in their own right, if not at that time, they eventually became big. Today, Jimmy Cobb, who is in his 80s is the lone surviving member of that CD. On The Mark and I were trading e-mails a few weeks ago about how great the CD “Somethin’” by Cannonball Adderly was and is.

Kind of Blue was recorded in two sessions at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in New York City, on March 2 for the tracks "So What", "Freddie Freeloader", and "Blue in Green", composing side one of the original LP, and April 22 for the tracks "Flamenco Sketches", "All Blues", making up side two. (source: Wikipedia)

Still acknowledged as the height of hip four decades after it was recorded, Kind of Blue is the premier album of its era, jazz or otherwise. Its vapory piano- and- bass introduction is universally recognized. Classical buffs and rage rockers alike praise its subtlety, simplicity and emotional depth. Copies of the album are passed to friends and given to lovers. The album has sold millions of copies around the world, making it the best-selling recording in Miles Davis’ catalog and the best-selling classic jazz album ever. Significantly, a large number of those copies were purchased in the past five years, and undoubtedly not just by old-timers replacing worn vinyl: Kind of Blue is self-perpetuating, continuing to cast its spell on a younger audience more accustomed to the loud-and-fast aesthetic of rock and rap. (source “Kind of Blue, the Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece” by Ashley Kahn)

"Kind of Blue" is known as modal jazz. In a modal jazz song, improvisations are based on individual scales or modes rather than on the overall key of a piece. The result is a song that contains fewer chord changes and allows more time and freedom for melodic improvisation. In essence, it's about a return to melody. (source:

This is a CD worth having in your collection. Once you have listened to it a few times, you’ll soon recognize it in restaurants, stores and in the movies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the Mark -- Bonuses for a Job Poorly Done

If you want to understand why there's no confidence in the financial system, just read one story about the sandbox, childish fight between the heads of Merrill Lynch (former head actually) and Bank of America, which bought Merrill Lynch.

One part of the he-said, he-said fiasco has to do with bonuses paid out to Merrill execs at the end of 2008.

Merrill had a net loss of $27.08 billion (yes, Billion; yes Loss) in 2008.

When did bonuses become perfunctory and not tied to performance?

Rabbit and John Updike at Rest Now

From the NYTimes:

John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire, died Tuesday of lung cancer at age 76.

He published more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. Updike won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for ''Rabbit Is Rich'' and ''Rabbit at Rest,'' and two
National Book Awards.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Free Money

“It's morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.”
W. C. Fields (1880–1946), actor

I am really too busy to reply, but please feel free to contact this shyster, ah, I mean barrister.

Barristers' Chambers:
Address:33 Bedford Row
London WC1R 4JH, England


On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late
Engr.Jürgen Krügger. I once again try to notify you as my earlier
letter was returned undelivered. I hereby attempt to reach you again
by this same email address on the WILL. I wish to notify you that
late Engr. Jürgen Krügger made you a beneficiary to his WILL. He left
the sum of Thirty Million, One Hundred Thousand Dollars (USD$30,
100.000.00) to you in the Codicil and last testament to his WILL.

This may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and
true. Being a widely travelled man, he must have been in contact with
you in the past or simply you were nominated to him by one of his
numerous friends abroad who wished you good. Engr. Jürgen Krügger
until his death was a member of the Helicopter Society and the
Institute of Electronic & Electrical Engineers. He was a very
dedicated Christian who loved to give out. His great philanthropy
earned him numerous awards during his life time. Late Engr. Jürgen
Krügger died on the 13th day of December, 2004 at the age of 80 years, and his WILL is now ready for execution.

According to him this money is to support your humanitarian
activities and to help the poor and the needy in our society. Please
if I reach you as I am hopeful, endeavour to get back to me as soon as
possible to enable me conclude my job. I hope to hear from you in no
distant time.

Note: You are advise to contact me with my personal email address

Call me upon the receipt of this mail: Tel:+44 704 570 8111

I await your prompt response.

Yours in Service,
PRINCIPAL PARTNERS: Barrister Aidan Walsh Esq. Markus Wolfgang, Mr.
John Marvey Esq. Mr. Jerry Smith Esq.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Deconstructing the Republican Logo

Deconstructing Dumbo features 100 of these retooled GOP logos. Click here for the guys who made it.

[Hat tip to Boing Boing.]

On The Mark -- Virginity for Sale

A 22-year-old woman in San Diego has put her virginity up for auction on the internet. The highest bid so far is from a gentleman in Australia. He has offered $3.8 million. Some people are in an uproar about this, calling it all-out prostitution. Working prostitutes question whether this woman will continue in the business.

I say, "you go girl." If she can truly get that kind of money from some dude who's looking for a purity trophy, go for it. Ka-ching. Ka-ching. $3.8 million will be a much more lasting memory for her than some Cinderella first-love fantasy. I'm quite jealous.

I think it's brilliant on her part. If you ask me, she's a shoe-in for entrepreneur of the year.

(Note: I guess I haven't retired just yet.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Meme from The Misanthrope

FeefiFoto, I am happy to do your meme, I’ve yet to turn one down. However, I must point out that you tagged B2, who I don’t think has ever done one. The only reason I figured out you were referring to me is that I read your meme and you tagged The Misanthrope. I have no first name unless you count “The.” By the way, your pottery is very, very nice!

1. I am one of three bloggers who post at Toner Mishap. We had our reign for a year. I think it was 2005, when we blogged daily and had some truly great stuff. After a year we all said good-bye (here, here, and here) to daily blogging. Since that time we have been like one of those classic rock bands that keep popping up, except we don’t make any money. Well, B2 does but that because he is a talented artist. On The Mark has gone into blogging retirement. Me, I blog when I am not working crazy long hours with insane deadlines.

2. I am going to start organized bike riding, no it’s nothing like synchronized biking, but I’ll ride my bike with a group.

3. I no longer have a gallbladder, which I kind of miss. However, I do now have a sadly, anger inducing story to tell about the emergency room in my conservative family community.

4. My daughter continues to make me very proud. If I did one thing right in this world it was making sure she turned out just like me.

5. I enjoy reading. Now I am finding that I like a good story as opposed to a literary story. “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane is both.

6. My favorite TV is “Californication.” When that is not on “Life” is also fun. “Weeds” has gone down hill.

7. The blogger friends that I have made and met in real life are very nice and a pleasure to have met. Jack (from the shack, see the link on the right), who I have e-mailed seems nice, but we have never met.

8. I hope to get into taking pictures. I would like to model my posts similar to Hoarded Ordinaries.

9. I love music. I have 43 days of continual music on my computer. Surprisingly I have a number of country style artists. The most recent purchase was Jamey Johnson, “The Lonesome Song.”

10. My desk is a mess that I have told myself I was going to clean since before Christmas.

11. I have a new found admiration for Pete Seeger after watching the documentary about him. What an incredible person.

12. I am really a closet optimist. I have found that I am not really an extremist despite what some of my posts my lead one to believe.

13. This is my lucky number. It shows up in the most unlikely ways.

Now this is where I break the rules. I hate asking people to donate money, but I have done it twice for good causes such as the “Inside Out” organization and for “Autism.” This is my long way of saying that I don’t ask others to do memes.

Thank you for tagging me, unless you really meant to tag B2 because he is the one with all the clever posts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dear President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I think that this year you will have to do a lot of work. One thing that you will have to do is to make school more important for everyone. That way, kids will always do a good job. If I were the president, I would work really hard to change Boston and other cities. I would make the world very smart. I would make all of the world work really hard and always do the best job that they can.

Gabriela Quezada, age 7, Boston

From a funny new book I read about at McSweeney's, called Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama.

"I really hope you put America back together. No pressure though."
— Sheenie Shannon Yip, age 13, Seattle

Best Buy's Customer Service

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.
Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005), management consultant, writer

Have you noticed that Best Buy seems to have taken up the same customer service practices as their now out-of-business competitor Circuit City? I received a $20 gift certificate based on my purchases over a period of time. I went to buy a CD and because it was less than $20 they could not process it. I told the woman fine keep the extra money and she said she could not. I had to add two packets of candy to bring the balance up to a tad over $20 in order to use the certificate. What a pathetic method of gaining a few cents or dollars more from their loyal customers.

This is the second run in I’ve had with customer service. The first was aggravating enough that I wrote a letter to the CEO, but to the true form of their customer service there was no reply.

And, in true form of customer dissatisfaction I have stopped shopping at Best Buy, and I was a consistent and loyal buyer, but no more.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

There will be and there have been a number of references to Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, for your reading pleasure we have posted it for you.

Second Inaugural Address
Washington, D.C.
March 4, 1865

Journalist Noah Brooks, an eyewitness to the speech, said that as Lincoln advanced from his seat, "a roar of applause shook the air, and, again and again repeated, finally died away on the outer fringe of the throng, like a sweeping wave upon the shore. Just at that moment the sun, which had been obscured all day, burst forth in its unclouded meridian splendor, and flooded the spectacle with glory and with light." Brooks said Lincoln told him the next day, "Did you notice that sunburst? It made my heart jump." According to Brooks, the audience received the speech in "profound silence," although some passages provoked cheers and applause. "Looking down into the faces of the people, illuminated by the bright rays of the sun, one could see moist eyes and even tearful faces." Brooks also observed, "But chiefly memorable in the mind of those who saw that second inauguration must still remain the tall, pathetic, melancholy figure of the man who, then inducted into office in the midst of the glad acclaim of thousands of people, and illumined by the deceptive brilliance of a March sunburst, was already standing in the shadow of death."

At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it--all sought to avert it. While the inaugeral [sic] address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to dissole [sic] the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hope -- A Wonderful Feeling

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865), 16th president of the United States

Watching the festivities surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama one gets to see real patriotism, which is a pride for one’s country, not a blind following of a leader whether he is right or wrong.

There are a lot of expectations surrounding the 44th president of the United States because of the disarray this country has been left. However, I feel people (except for the extremes on the right and left) will provide him the leeway to get things done because there will be a sense of doing the right thing as opposed to being forced with secret plans, employing contradicting presidential orders while signing bills, and less than honest agendas.

I feel a new sense of patriotism that I have not felt in at least six years.

A Video on How to Over Come

Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.
Albert Camus, (1913 -- 1960), author, philosopher

Pete Seeger shows how we can over come the incredible odds.

I highly recommend “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.” This is a wonderfully done documentary on the power of music and one man’s ability to unite and fight ongoing ignorance.

He is amazing. I bet you didn’t know that after Martin Luther King Jr. met with Seeger and watched perform the mid-1950s, King was inspired to use “We Shall Over Come.”

Last night on HBO, the "We Are One" special celebrating the coming inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, and who should be the penultimate performer, none other than Peter Seeger singing "This Land is Our Land," which he sang in the 1930s with Woody Guthrie during the depression. The dream has the potential of coming true everyone, finally.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Books Read in 2008

What is the use of a book', thought Alice,
'without pictures or conversations?'
~ Lewis Carroll ~

My annual list of books read in 2008.
The best book of the year for me was “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane. It had a terrific story and memorable characters. The worst book was “Snuff “by Chuck Palahniuk. The most overrated book of the year was “All the Sad Young Literary Men” by Keith Gessen.

1. “Blonde Faith” by Walter Mosley (The end of Easy Rawlins)
2. “The Book of Air and Shadows” by Michael Gruber
3. “Dispatches from the Edge” by Anderson Cooper (A hard working journalist)
4. “Diablerie” by Walter Mosley (A more sexy style for Mosley)
5. “Beautiful Children” by Charles Bock (Didn’t knock my socks off)
6. “The Good Rat” by Jimmy Breslin (Interesting and sad)
7. “Ant Farm” by Simon Rich (Very funny thank you again B2)
8. “L.A. Outlaws” by T. Jefferson Parker (A fast moving detective story)
9. “The Finder” by Colin Harrison (An outstanding mystery detective novel)
10. “The Appeal” by John Grisham (ho hum, more of a political message book)
11. “Snuff” by Chuck Palahniuk (Utter crap)
12. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett (A perfect summer novel)
13. “All the Sad Young Literary Men” by Keith Gessen (Didn’t knock my socks off)
14. “Sun Going Down” by Jack Todd (an interesting story of the mid-1800s to early 1900s)
15. “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane (Simply outstanding)
16. “Something to Tell You” by Hanif Kureish (I wrote down a number of quotes such as "There are few people who, when they are old, wish they'd lived a more virtuous life")
17. “Lush Life” by Richard Price (A week or two on a case in New York. Made me realize that I couldn’t handle being a detective; far too much of the dark side of humanity)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

High Water Rising--
Bush Farewell Speech

High water risin', six inches 'bove my head
Coffins droppin' in the street
Like balloons made out of lead
Water pourin' into Vicksburg, don't know what I'm going to do
"Don't reach out for me," she said
"Can't you see I'm drownin' too?"
It's rough out there
High water everywhere
Bob Dylan "High Water (for Charley Patton)"

I was listening the Bob Dylan song “High water” with the chorus “High water everywhere,” and it dawned on me that what Bush the Decider, the Jr., and the worse president since Hoover has done for this country what he has done for New Orleans. He is running around now giving interviews in essence telling the country that his administration has done a heck of a job. They sure have! So as Bush ends his whitewashing tonight with a speech to the nation and pardons all his cronies Tuesday morning, let’s recap why the country is counting the minutes until Tuesday noon.

  • We now have the highest unemployment since 1945.
  • Terri Schiavo -- While he let New Orleans drown for three days, our wonderful president wasted no time getting from Crawford to Washington to sign a bill interfering in Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life medical care. Nice priorities Mr. President
  • Harriet Miers for a Supreme Court role!
  • Commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence, but watch Tuesday for the Pardoned for exposing Valerie Wilson (this was a pleasant surprise that he didn't pardon Libby, but the guy still belongs in jail, even though Dick Cheeney believes otherwise)
  • There have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments:
Homeland Security
Veterans Affairs
Health and Human Services
Housing and Urban Development
  • Let’s not forget State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, who was investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. what reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance is that no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves were investigated simultaneously — an all-time record.
  • He install a political hack, his 2000 campaign manager, Joe Allbaugh, at the top of FEMA, the president foreordained the hiring of Brownie and the disastrous response to Katrina. At the Education Department, the signature No Child Left Behind program, Reading First, is turning out to be a cesspool of contracting conflicts of interest. It’s also at that department that Bush loyalists stood passively by while the student-loan industry scandal exploded; at its center is Nelnet, the single largest corporate campaign contributor to the 2006 G.O.P. Congressional campaign committee. Back at Alberto Gonzales’s operation, where revelations of politicization and cover-ups mount daily, it turns out that no black lawyers have been hired in the nearly all-white criminal section of the civil rights division since 2003.
  • Gonzales’s politicizing of the Justice Department that paved the way for Abu Ghraib, the episode that destroyed America’s image (which of course Bush the Jr. disagrees with) and gave terrorists a moral victory. But his efforts to sabotage national security didn’t end there. Oh and Gonzales did a heck of a job vetting the nomination of Bernard Kerik as secretary of homeland security in December 2004.
  • Paul Wolfowitz’s scandal. Not only did he help secure Shaha Riza her over-the-top raise in 2005, but as The NYTimes reported, he also helped get her a junket to Iraq when he was riding high at the Pentagon in 2003.
  • The White House’s practice of bestowing better jobs on those who bungled the war might be a form of hush money. Wolfowitz was promoted to the World Bank despite a Pentagon record that included (in part) his prewar hyping of bogus intelligence about W.M.D. and a nonexistent 9/11-Saddam connection; his assurance to the world that Iraq’s oil revenues would pay for reconstruction; and his public humiliation of Gen. Eric Shinseki after the general dared tell Congress (correctly) that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to secure Iraq after the invasion. Once the war began, Wolfowitz cited national security to bar businesses from non-coalition countries (like Germany) from competing for major contracts in Iraq. That helped ensure the disastrous monopoly of Halliburton and other White House-connected companies, including the one that employed Ms. Riza.
  • Carol Lam. She was fired from her post in San Diego after her successful prosecution of Representative Duke Cunningham, the California Republican who took $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. Mr. Rove has publicly suggested that Ms. Lam got the ax because “she would not commit resources to prosecute immigration offenses.” That’s false. Just prior an assistant attorney general praised her for doubling her immigration prosecutions; USA Today crunched the statistics and found that she ranked seventh among her 93 peers in successful prosecutions for 2006, with immigration violations accounting for the largest single crime category prosecuted during her tenure.
  • Even as more American troops were being thrown into the grinder in Iraq, existing troops lack the guns and ammunition to “effectively complete their missions.” Army and Marine Corps commanders told The Washington Post that both armor and trucks were in such short supply that their best hope is that “five brigades of up-armored Humvees fall out of the sky.”
  • The Interior Department, where the inspector general found that officials “had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” Two officials tasked with marketing oil on behalf of American taxpayers got so blotto at a daytime golf event sponsored by Shell that they became too incapacitated to drive and had to be put up by the oil company.
  • Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne spent $235,000 from taxpayers to redo his office bathroom (monogrammed towels included).
  • Who put that bogus “uranium from Africa” into the crucial prewar State of the Union address after the C.I.A. removed it from previous Bush speeches?
Mission Accomplished

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Harper's Index: the Bush Years

Harper's Magazine has an index at the front of eash monthly issue with stats about the world around us -- here's Harper's Index for the Bush years, including these outstanding selections:

Number of members of the rock band Anthrax who said they hoarded Cipro so as to avoid an “ironic death”: 1

Total amount the Bush campaign paid Enron and Halliburton for use of corporate jets during the 2000 recount: $15,400

Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069

Minimum number of close-up photographs of Bush’s hands owned by his current chief of staff, Josh Bolten: 4

Minimum amount that religious groups received in congressional earmarks from 2003 to 2006: $209,000,000

Amount such groups received during the previous fourteen years: $107,000,000

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

Average percentage of Americans who approved of the job Bush was doing during his second term: 37

Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin: 37

(Hat tip to Boing Boing.)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What it feels like to die in a black hole

An astrophysicist who uses the word "spaghettification" -- gotta love it.

BoingBoing told me about this: astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, author of Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, telling the entertaining story of what it's like to be sucked into a black hole.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.
Ellen Goodman, journalist, writer