Friday, July 30, 2010

Idiot Alert

Megan McArdle is a definite contender for dumbest professional blogger out there.  I don't think I agree with her, ever.  And it is not just that I disagree with her conclusions, but her sense of logic is from another planet.  For example, today she writes:
All the carbon we're burning used to be in the atmosphere.  Yet the planet supported life.  Indeed, the oil we're burning comes from the compressed, decayed bodies of . . . phytoplankton.  This suggests that some number of phytoplankton should be able to survive high concentrations of the stuff.
Holy fuck, this is wrong.  If I were still in 6th grade, I probably would have called it gay-retarded wrong (on a side note, that calling someone gay or retarded was certainly a common insult on the playgrounds of NJ in the mid 80s says a lot.  I wonder what now-common-but-later-horrible insults our children will use?).  Let's try some other version of this sentence.  "Ammonia used to be in the atmosphere.  Yet the planet supported life.  Indeed, the synthesis of many amino acids uses ammonia as a building block.  Even though I'm describing the state of the earth billions of years ago, clearly modern incarnations of organisms could survive a rapid increase in ammonia concentrations, because that's how evolution works, very very quickly.  Indeed, I kinda like the smell of Windex!"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Who's my daddy?

First, Matt replied to my Springsteen post.  Go read it, but note that the quote by the Boss that Matt found actually supports his argument that Thunder Road should go last.  If Thunder Road sums up the album best, as Springsteen says, then that song should go last, so that the album ends on a note of some hope of redemption, rather than the total despair of Jungleland. 

But I thought of a good idea for a website or an app or whatnot, so if someone wants to make it and include me on the profits, go nuts.  You upload a picture of your baby, your spouse, and yourself.  Other users are then presented with a picture of your baby and several possible fathers and several possible mothers (using fathers and mothers that were uploaded by other users).  You could then find out if random others think that you actually look like your child.  You could certainly structure it so that in order to get the reward (other people's opinion) you have to give your opinion on x number of other families.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bossing around the Boss

Over at his blog and in the context of a larger topic, M.G. was debating the proper order for the tracks on Born to Run.  Not surprisingly, I have an opinion on this matter.  Just so you don't have to go to the trouble of using your mouse to click on a link, Matt proposes the order of:
1) Night
2) Backstreets
3) Born to Run
4) Jungleland
5) Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
6) She's the One
7) Meeting Across the River
8) Thunder Road

This is in contrast to the original order of:
1) Thunder Road
2) Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
3) Night
4) Backstreets
5) Born to Run
6) She's the One
7) Meeting Across the River
8) Jungleland

Okay, where to start... first, I think that Thunder Road ends on a relatively too positive note than what the overall album appears to be about: It's a town full of losers, we're pulling outta here to win.  That suggests some hope, when this isn't an album about hope.  Indeed, the title track suggests it is an album of leaving (indeed, there's a story that the New Jersey legislature wanted to make Born to Run the official song of the state, until someone pointed out the lyrics: at night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines... it's a death trap, it's a suicide rap... I want to die with you Wendy on the streets tonight... ).  Anyway, my point is that this album isn't really meant to suggest a whole lot of hope out there, and Jungleland certainly captures that, as the song ends in date rape and murder.  So I think Jungleland still closes the album (although I agree with Matt that I could do without Springsteen howling at the end).

In trying to come up with my own order, I realized that the only song I couldn't consider moving was Backstreets leading into Born to Run (although I was open to moving them elsewhere, as long as one leads into the others).   Musically, they lead into each other perfectly, with the great piano outro leading into the sax and drum blast intro.  Plus, the themes progress too... hiding on the Backstreets to a runaway American dream -- you're hiding, and then you're running.  If you want to push the building theme of desperation, then Meeting Across the River does feed well into Jungleland (also providing a needed breather between the high energy Born to Run and the epic Jungleland).  So I've moved She's the One off side two, and otherwise kept the structure intact.

But what gets me is how to structure the other songs.  Part of it is that 2 songs don't fit with the other 6: Tenth Avenue Freeze Out and She's the One.  Don't get me wrong, they are good and great songs, respectively, but I just don't think they fit the theme all that well, or if they do, they are very subtle about it.  Indeed, while all the other songs pretty explicitly take place at night, these two could be "day" songs, especially Tenth Avenue Freeze Out (yes, I know the word "night" appears in the lyrics, but it is lined with the light of the living).  So after further mulling, I'd like to open the album with Night, per Matt's suggestion.  Then Tenth Avenue Freeze Out (because I don't know where else to put it).  Given the two that are left, I think She's the One take the #3 slot, and then close out side one with Thunder Road. 

I'll put it on my iPod and give it a shot...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Once in a lifetime?

I've been watching baseball since about 1984.  Let's assume that for the past 26 years, I've watched/listened to about 100 games a year (probably an underestimate).  That's 2,600 games.  I've seen perfect games, unassisted triple plays, even guys hitting a grand slam on their first pitch in the bigs.  But I've never ever ever seen the fake-to-third-throw-to-first pick-off attempt actually work, until tonight, when Tim Wakefield snared some hapless Tampa Bay Ray. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Explosions in the air

I can't help but enjoy the irony of Americans tuning into the Boston Pops fireworks, which kicks off with the 1812 Overture.  I wonder how many of the people wearing Statue of Liberty hats and waving American flags know that the song was written to commemorate a Russian military victory...

I think that's what bugs me most about the Tea Party.  Not that they want the government to get its hands off their Medicare, not that they want to balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting anything that isn't "wasteful" spending (whatever that is) but rather that these ahistorical idiots are appropriating a time in history I hold dear. 

Friday, July 2, 2010


Well, at least this confirms a few things I've thought, namely, the South has a lot of idiots: