Archive for December, 2008

Needs versus wants

On the one hand, I own enough already to keep me busy for the rest of my life.

On the other hand, I still want everything on my Amazon wishlist.

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Favorite songs of 2007, #1-25

To continue listing my favorite songs added to my iTunes in 2007…

25. “Kick Out the Jams” by The MC5
24. “Time and Tide” by Basia
23. “Green Tambourine” by The Lemon Pipers
22. “Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James
21. “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed
20. “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe
19. “1st Things 1st” by Phantom Planet
18. “Condoleezza, Check My Posse” by The Majestic Twelve
17. “Five O’Clock World” by The Vogues
16. “All Those Years Ago” by George Harrison
15. “She Bangs the Drums” by The Stone Roses
14. “Windy” by The Association
13. “Long Distance Runaround” by Yes
12. “Goodnight Vienna” by Ringo Starr
11. “This Never Happened Before” by Paul McCartney
10. “16 Military Wives” by The Decemberists
9. “Getting Away with It” by Electronic
8. “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” by The Killers
7. “The Road to Morocco” by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope
6. “God Bless the Absentee” by Paul Simon
5. “Sentimental Lady” by Bob Welch
4. “C’est si bon” by Eartha Kitt
3. “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane
2. “This Town (Mint Royale Extended Remix)” by Frank Sinatra
1. “Any World (That I’m Welcome to)” by Steely Dan

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Favorite songs of 2007, #26-50

Because I was on a blogging hiatus a year ago, I never posted my year-end favorite songs from 2007 (these are songs that I added to iTunes in 2007, most of which were not actually released that year). Here are #50 through #26:

50. “The Vex” by Black Tie Dynasty
49. “Forecast Fascist Future” by Of Montreal
48. “Empire” by Kasabian
47. “Steady as She Goes” by The Raconteurs
46. “Brighter Than Sunshine” by Aqualung
45. “Love is Alive” by Gary Wright
44. “Count on Me” by Jefferson Starship
43. “I Don’t Believe You” by The Magnetic Fields
42. “Commissioning a Symphony in C” by Cake
41. “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy
40. “Jeepster” by T. Rex
39. “Blue Morning, Blue Day” by Foreigner
38. “Both Sides Now” by Judy Collins
37. “The Twentysomething” by Simple Kid
36. “Turn Down Day” by The Cyrkle
35. “Gore Vidal Gomez” by The Hochimen
34. “Simple Twist of Fate” by Bob Dylan
33. “Omorfi Thessaloniki” by Vassilis Tsitsanis
32. “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight?” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
31. “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad
30. “A Question Mark” by Elliott Smith
29. “You’re a Wolf” by Sea Wolf
28. “Davy Jones” by Echo Helstrom
27. “Vertigo” by U2
26. “Space Cowboy” by The Steve Miller Band

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Favorite songs of 2008

These are my 25 favorite songs that I added to my iTunes collection in 2008 (almost all of the songs were released before 2008), limited to one song per artist:

25. “Angela” by Bob James
24. “Gold Dust” by The Hochimen
23. “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” by Sarah Vaughan
22. “Ace in the Hole” by Ella Fitzgerald
21. “Until Tomorrow Then” by Ed Harcourt
20. “Arrow Through Me” by Laurence Juber
19. “Torture” by King Khan and the Shrines
18. “Three Girl Rhumba” by Wire
17. “The Last Time I Looked” by Scritti Politti
16. “Summer Spiders” by The Demigs
15. “Sea of Love” by Tom Waits
14. “Keep on Truckin’ (Pt. 1)” by Eddie Kendricks
13. “The Fairest of the Seasons” by Nico
12. “Brimful of Asha” by Cornershop
11. “You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie” by The Submarines
10. “Hey Joe” by Johnny Hallyday
9. “My Doorbell” by The White Stripes
8. “Oh Conspiracy” by Flat People
7. “Dry the Rain” by The Beta Band
6. “A Bushel & A Peck” by Perry Como and Betty Hutton
5. “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac
4. “Hummingbird” by Seals & Crofts
3. “Josie” by Steely Dan
2. “Blind Willie McTell” by Bob Dylan
1. “Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

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Changing the world

Some book and media titles from the Multnomah County Library:

50 Aircraft That Changed the World

50 Battles That Changed the World

50 Companies That Changed the World

80 Days That Changed the World

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

Bridges That Changed the World

Five Equations That Changed the World

Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World

The Gun That Changed the World

The Invention That Changed the World

The Machine That Changed the World

The Map That Changed the World

On the Dot: The Speck That Changed the World

Paintings That Changed the World

Photos That Changed the World

Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World

The Ship That Changed the World

Six Months That Changed the World


And my favorite:

Atlantic Ocean: The Illustrated History of the Ocean That Changed the World


Is there a book called Cliches That Changed the World?

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight


And funny.

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Sherlock Holmes

When I was a child, I got The Complete Sherlock Holmes Treasury as a Christmas present (probably from Aunt Judy). Of course I read it right away—what nine-year-old can resist Sherlock Holmes?—and would re-read it every two or three years as I forgot how the cases ended (though I could never forget “The Red-Headed League”).

I have this book on hold, which has prompted me to dig that old treasury out of a box in the closet so that I can re-read “The Hound of the Baskervilles” before the hold gets filled. However, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is the very last story in the book, so, clearly, it is my duty—and nothing less!—to read all of the stories which precede it. And to do such reading on a cold and snowy weekend next to a fire…O, the sacrifices I make to duty!

Sherlock Holmes would be proud. (And he would probably also get as much of a laugh as I did from this album.)

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The Barber of Seville

My knowledge of classical music is slight, but I will still venture the opinion that whatever you would call the effect Rossini creates at the end of the overture of The Barber of Seville, no one could surpass his version of that effect. It is at the same time both worthy of awe and a musical dead-end.

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Comcast >>> AT&T

Having given one side, I’ll now give the other.

Comcast has made a strong effort to fix the connectivity problems we have been having, and we are hoping at this point that they have been resolved. We also signed up for cable television service again, which I dropped a year ago (immediately after the Ohio State – Michigan game). I am very happy that Comcast has finally added the Big Ten Network to its channel lineup.

As for AT&T…still fine overall, but when I wanted to call a friend in Greece a few weeks ago, I just went ahead and called, figuring it wouldn’t cost that much. I just got the bill: $2.30 per minute. How in the world does long-distance to a European Union country in 2008 cost $2.30 per minute?

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I’ve come to think of commitments as the structure of life.

Make the right commitments, and I have a platform to stand on.

Make the wrong commitments, and I have a prison to live in.

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During the four weeks that I was just away from this blog, wordpress.com updated the editing interface. I like every change they made, especially the one that makes categories easier to select while writing a post.

Also, I upgraded my iPhone 3G system software to version 2.2, which, as advertised, has stabilized the Safari web browser so that it does not crash daily.

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Ray Taliaferro

When I was in junior high school in the early ’80s, I had terrible insomnia. I used to lay awake at night and listen to the Giants game on KNBR, then listen to the Giants post-game show and the news. If I was still awake (it would be midnight by this point), I would turn the dial to KGO and listen to Ray Taliaferro until I finally dozed off.

I grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb of San Francisco and considered myself to be a Reagan Republican, but I loved to listen to a guy from the City who eloquently and forcefully disagreed with what I had been brought up to believe. He didn’t change my mind, but he helped me understand what other people were thinking and what other ways there were to look at the world.

Taliaferro used to say that the KGO signal reached well into Oregon, Washington, and Nevada, and he would sometimes get calls from small towns hundreds of miles away. I wonder now how many other people in little towns across the West would lay awake at night, in those days before the Internet, listening to Ray Taliaferro spin their mental kaleidoscopes.

All this comes to mind because I have been getting over a cold, which has made it hard to get to sleep at night; so I’ve moved my transistor radio next to my bed and listened to KBOO as I laid awake sniffling. Two nights ago, it was the poetry of Richard Brautigan. Last night, it was reggae Christmas carols. If I can’t sleep tonight, it will be punk music, selected by the awesome Erin Yanke. I love KBOO.

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An iPhone ad touts an app called “Shazam” that allows the iPhone to identify a song that is playing loud enough for the iPhone to detect.

Does it work?

Yes it does, and I now have a copy of “Silly Boy” by The Blue Van.

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Ian F. McNeely and Lisa Wolverton note how the development by the Greeks of libraries, as storehouses of the written word, changed the possibilities of knowledge from what they had been in a purely oral society:

Every library comfortably contains writings and juxtaposes ideas that, if they were represented by their proponents in the flesh, might contrast violently with one another. Yet there they sit, on shelves, awaiting such scholars as may chance upon them to confront their latent contradictions. Libraries […] [construct] a well-made intellectual edifice where every doctrine has its proper place. Where schools [of philosophy] fade or fragment, libraries persist; where schools [of philosophy] sustain fixed arguments and preserve intellectual lineages, libraries absorb new knowledge and accommodate newcomers to learning. This made Greek learning, incubated by oral competition, newly portable to non-Greek landscapes. Abroad, for the first time, writing enabled the accumulation not just of philosophical perspectives but of knowledge of the world more generally.

Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008), page 13.

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A Christmas carol from Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello that sounds…exactly the way you would expect a Christmas carol from Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello to sound.

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