Love Forever Changes: The concert DVD you really need to hear

I rarely recommend products sight unseen. And I know that when times are tough, folks cut back on their impulse buys. But you won't regret buying this DVD.
My copy turned up earlier this week and although I was too busy working to watch it, I had a chance to download the soundtrack to my in-car audio system before I embarked on a 5 hour drive from Philly to upstate New York. Wow! What a blast.

Note: this is not a product referral post, this link to the DVD at Amazon does not earn me a penny. I just to share the love.

If you already own Forever Changes, the 1967 album by Love, then you will love this DVD. If Forever Changes has not yet entered your life, this DVD is great way to open those doors of perception. It features the entire album, played live, in original sequence, by the creative genius behind the album: Arthur Lee (a musician whose role in the history of rock remains widely under-appreciated).

The concert was recorded in 2003 in England, where Forever Changes was a fixture on record changers throughout 1968. Speaking for myself and a lot of my friends, we listened to Forever Changes way more than Sergeant Pepper.

That Arthur Lee's life took so many tragic turns made it seem unlikely that this concert would be anything more than a dim echo of faded glory days.

Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months

Good news for those of us who intend to keep using Windows XP until a viable alternative emerges: Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months.

But a warning to fellow XPers: Beware XP Service Pack 3. I am now pretty much much convinced that the purpose of SP3 was not to extend the life of XP (why would Redmond want to do that?). The effect, if not the goal, was to mess up a perfectly fine XP install and thereby nudge the user towards Vista.

That conclusion is based on my own experience doing an SP3 install on my test machine, and the oodles of posts I found from people who, like me, ran into problems, and evenetually uninstalled SP3 (after which my machine worked fine). I will not be putting SP3 on my 'main' machines.

An Interesting Lesson in Economics and De-regulation

As a big believer in trying to learn the lessons of the past, I found this short film (less than 15 minutes) to be very instructive, particularly if you are interested in the effects of banking deregulation (about which you will find some straight talk here). You can also watch a trailer for the video right here:

Obama and Terrorists? Try Palin and Witchdoctors

So, once upon a time Obama knew this guy who had been part of the American counter-culture in the sixties (a time when there were violent excesses on both the left AND the right of American politics). Obama emphatically rejected the political philosophy of this guy (who is currently a professor at an accredited American university).

And Palin has a problem with this? Palin, who has been hanging out, quite recently, with this guy Mutthee who boasts of his success in persecuting people in Kenya. This is a man who accuses women of witchcraft, women not convicted of any crime, but personally singled out by him. This friend of Palin then organizes campaigns of ostracism to drive these women from their homes and worse (the burning of women as witches is still practiced in Kenya today, something that doesn't seen to bother this friend of Sarah Palin).

So the question becomes why, after every American media outlet made a big deal about video of Obama's pastor, do so many now ignore video of Palin accepting the blessing of a witch-persecuting preacher? The video is right here.

And why has nobody called on Palin to renounce Mutthee's philosophy, as expressed in his sermon just before Palin accepted his blessing? He wants to take over our public schools and cast out the teaching of witchcraft. And this guy would like to see a lot more tongue-speaking, devil-casting kids in our schools. So a vote for Palin would seem to be a vote for the good old days of witch-hunting in America. But hey, it's [still] a free country.

We're Ba-a-a-ack: And we're looking for our bailout

After spending more than a year on hiatus (which is an entirely legal thing to do despite the slightly pharmaceutical sound of it) this blog may be coming back. Times are tough and we need as many Google Adword click-thrus from blog pages as we can get. Otherwise the bank is gonna own our ass-ets.

But blogging politics is problematic these days. There are so many blogs out there that a lot of them have a readership of 2 or less. So am I willing to wager my time on the possibility that nobody will read what I write? Unlike maverick candidate McCain, I'm not a betting man. 

So I will follow the statistics and see if anyone stops by to read this page. If people read, I will write. In the meantime, here are some posts I have placed eslewhere on the Internet.
And finally, here's a link to some light reading (as in "when I read it I feel light-headed") namely the final version of the $700 billion bankers' bail out bill. I was disappointed to find that no funds had been earmarked to pay off my mortgage, but hey, what was I thinking? I don't work for Goldman, Sachs, Pillages, and Burns.

Broadband Lines That Reach Into Rural Communities, Yes!

If you want to get all selfish and "single issue" about political candidates, then there was one line from the first 2008 Presidential Debate that got my vote: "broadband lines that reach into rural communities."

Of all the energy-saving, eco-friendly, game-changing moves that America could make, which would pay for itself within a few years but also reap dividends for decades, it is "broadband lines that reach into rural communities." The benefits to rural communities would be enormous, more companies could locate there and more people could telecommute from there. America as a whole would benefit because more telecommuting means less traffic, less pollution, less demand for oil.

So I'm voting for the candidate who talks about this topic like he means it, the candidate who is smart enough to make it a priority and put it out there on the national stage. Yep, that's my candidate. Can you guess who it is?

Yes! It was Senator Obama who said "I also think that we're going to have to rebuild our infrastructure, which is falling behind, our roads, our bridges, but also broadband lines that reach into rural communities." (Check the debate transcript at CNN if you think I'm making this up.) It looks like we actually might have a presidential candidate smart enough to understand the difference between broadband lines and inferior alternatives like dialup and satellite. If my brother can get a 6Mbps line in a small fishing village in Spain, surely every village in upstate New York should be able to get the same.

CDS: My question for the presidential candidates tonight

Senator Obama, Senator McCain,

As you know, under the Bush administration unregulated credit default swaps--which billionaire Warren Buffet describes as "financial weapons of mass destruction"--now exceed $40 trillion. Can you explain to the American taxpayer

a. What a credit default swap is;

b. Why credit default swaps are currently unregulated;

c. How a company with $1 billion of outstanding debt can have $10 billion of outstanding CDS contracts and;

d. How a default on $1 billion in corporate debt, assuming debt recovery at 40 cents on the dollar, becomes a $6 billion loss to credit default swap sellers.

Oh, and a follow-up if I may: What are your plans, if any, to regulate the CDS market in the future? Please be as specific as possible in your responses.

Thank you.
p.s. This is a closed book test, but candidates may refer to the Wikipedia article and this diagram.

Under Pressure? Wikipedia can help

A few posts ago I wrote about the need to have the right amount of air in our tires. I was going to make a witty reference to the song "Under Pressure," you know, the one with the wicked bassline that's been used in ad campaigns for everything from Propel Fitness Water to Zales Jewelry, and movies such as Grosse Pointe Blank, The Players Club, Stepmom, 40 Days and 40 Nights, The Girl Next Door, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and The Heartbreak Kid. It's the one that rapper Vanilla Ice sampled without permission for his big hit, "Ice Ice Baby."

My problem was not that I couldn't remember the name of the song but I wanted to say who wrote it and that's where things get tricky. Was it Queen or David Bowie? This was not immediately clear from my initial Googling. A few days after the post I realized that all I needed to do was to go to Wikipedia, where an entire page is devoted to the song at this URL:

It seems that rock music is one area where Wikipedia is growing at a phenomenal rate, adding details down to a level that some people might think obsessive, but others, like me, find fascinating, and actually rather helpful. Thanks Wikipedia!

Oil Prices Down as Supply Drops? There goes the froth

A Wall Street Journal headline today said "Crude Hits Seven-Month Low" which is good news, but infuriating. First of all, it strikes me as proof positive that most of the dollars per gallon in excess of $100 were pure speculative froth, that is, rich people gambling as they try to get richer by distorting the value of a vital ingredient of the world economy, one that is not far behind food and water in term of human survival (given the extent to which current economies are petroleum-based).

In the midst of hurricane season with oil rigs knocked off line and Nigerian rebels blowing up pipelines left and right, in other words, with supply in doubt, oil drops. Where are all those Wall Street talking heads who popped up to parrot the line that $140 a barrel oil "is simply a reflection of supply and demand"? My gut feeling is that they should be publicly stoned with Economics 101 textbooks (obviously it is not stoning when a wood-based material is used, and it probably wouldn't be deadly, just painful and humiliating).

Second reason this situation made me angry was that gas is still close to $4.00 a gallon in New York and it really should be a lot less. Let's say the price of a US gallon of gasoline topped out around here at $4.30 when crude was $142 a barrel (mid-July). That's a little more than 3 cents per dollar of crude. With oil at $100, gasoline should surely be about $3, not $3.85, which is what I paid yesterday. I realize that the finer points of this calculation vary by state, and some states have taxes that are per gallon and per dollar of retail value. But it seems to be that if oil is close to $100 a barrel then gas should be a lot close to $3.00 a gallon than it is. One thing's for sure, you can bet on another quarter of record profits for Exxon-Mobil-BP-Shell-Chevron-Etc.

Labor Day for Virtual Workers?

A few days ago I wrote a post over on the Monetate Blog to make the point that every worker should be proud on Labor Day, even those of us who work with bits and pixels and other nebulous, virtual things. Code slingers and geeks and digital tinkerers are responsible for a significant percentage of the GDP, not to mention the joys of MP3s and Hi-Def TVs and cell phones and IM and texting and such.

Happy Labor Day!