Friday, December 28, 2007

"God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."

Rolling Stone | The Death of High Fidelity
David Bendeth, a producer who works with rock bands like Hawthorne Heights and Paramore, knows that the albums he makes are often played through tiny computer speakers by fans who are busy surfing the Internet. So he's not surprised when record labels ask the mastering engineers who work on his CDs to crank up the sound levels so high that even the soft parts sound loud.

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. "I think most everything is mastered a little too loud," Bendeth says. "The industry decided that it's a volume contest."

Producers and engineers call this "the loudness war," and it has changed the way almost every new pop and rock album sounds. But volume isn't the only issue. Computer programs like Pro Tools, which let audio engineers manipulate sound the way a word processor edits text, make musicians sound unnaturally perfect. And today's listeners consume an increasing amount of music on MP3, which eliminates much of the data from the original CD file and can leave music sounding tinny or hollow. "With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse," says Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. "God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."
Ah, you young people. You don't remember.

Way back when FM radio first began to crawl out of its niche and into the mainstream, it sounded beautiful. Compared to the tinny crackle of AM, FM was clean, pure sound, with clear, dynamic highs and quiet lows -- and, almost unheard-of (so to speak) today, the occasional moment of true silence.

Today, I can't hear the difference between AM and FM. The sound I used to associate with FM one must now buy satellite radio to get. The conspicuous exception is public radio. I can't tell for sure if they are actually maintaining the same standards they always have, or have simply not drifted as far downwards, but compared to it, listening to other music stations is like being beaten with a blunt instrument.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The computer's down, so...

Whole Foods Market
Originally uploaded by JustJon.
Hartford Courant | Whole Foods Shows You Can Get Something For Nothing
It could not have happened at a worse time. A major snowstorm was howling outside. Whole Foods supermarket at Bishops Corner in West Hartford was jammed with shoppers anxious to get home for dinner.

Suddenly, the computer crashed. None of the cash registers could function. Ted Donoghue, the assistant manager running the store on the afternoon of Dec. 13, consulted associates and made a snap decision:

All customers passing through the registers would get their food for free until the computers were working again.

"It was clearly a snafu on our end, and it didn't seem right" to punish the customers by making them wait, Manager Kimberly Hall said.
(Heard it from The Consumerist.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What is Santa's favourite pizza?

Originally uploaded by BarryGardner.
Telegraph | Top ten worst Christmas cracker jokes ever
Hold onto your party crown and steady your port glass as we reveal the worst Christmas cracker jokes of all time.

What is Santa's favourite pizza?
One that's deep pan, crisp and even.
(Start singing "Good King Wenceslaus", you'll get it.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

How long before they blame this on Bush?

Originally uploaded by womenvote2020.
Reuters | Clinton urges Iowa voters to caucus on wrong day
DES MOINES (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton may have shot herself in the foot trying to get Iowa voters to pledge support to her -- she is encouraging them to go caucus on January 14, 11 days too late.

At a rally featuring her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Saturday, campaign workers asked supporters to sign and mail cards that said "Yes! I'm an Iowan for Hillary" with their contact information as well as other supportive friends.

One small problem. In the upper right-hand corner of the card, it says "I, _____, pledge to support Hillary Clinton at my precinct caucus on January 14, 2008."

Unfortunately, that's 11 days too late. The Iowa caucuses are January 3 and organization is key to getting voters to go to the events and support their preferred candidate.
With this year's bouncing primaries and caucuses, can you really blame the poor schmo who got it wrong?

Friday, December 21, 2007

So when CAN I name him?

USA Today | Child cannot be named Friday
Italian judges forbade a couple from naming their son Friday, saying it would bring the child shame and ridicule to be named after the character in Robinson Crusoe.

"They thought that it recalled the figure of a savage, thus creating a sense of inferiority and failing to guarantee the boy the necessary decorum," the couple's lawyer, Paola Rossi, said Wednesday.

Mara and Roberto Germano, whose son was born on Sept. 3, 2006, had the boy named and baptized Venerdi, Italian for Friday.

Even though the boy was not born on a Friday — it was Sunday — his parents liked the name, said Rossi.
So what's his name?
What's his name?
Do you know the kid's name?
I should say I do.
Then what is it?
Can't you tell me today?
Of course I can.
Well, tell me the kid's name.
This IS Friday.
So tell me the kid's name.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Hark The Herald Angels Sing ...About Me"

Daily Mail | Mental health charity sparks outrage with spoof Christmas carols
A bad taste top ten of Christmas carols poking fun at mental illness has been slammed as "degrading" and "insensitive" after it was published with the backing of a social services department.

The booklet contains a list titled "Christmas Carols for the Mentally Disturbed".
  1. Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear?
  2. Multiple Personality Disorder - We Three Kings Disorientated Are
  3. Dementia - I Think I'll Be Home For Christmas
  4. Narcissistic - Hark The Herald Angels Sing About Me
  5. Manic - Deck the Halls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and...
  6. Paranoid - Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me
  7. Borderline Personality Disorder - Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire
  8. Personality Disorder - You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why
  9. Attention Deficit Disorder - Silent Night, Holy, ooh look at the froggy - Can I have a chocolate? Why is France so far away?
  10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells.
I'm trying to think of a good #11... Aha.
  • Alcoholism - Here We Come A-Wassailing

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's... THEM!

Mon souper de Fête...
Originally uploaded by viiny.
Spiegel | Seafood Escapes from German Supermarket
Lobsters in Germany took fate into their own claws and broke out of an Asian supermarket. They now face a brighter future in an animal home.

Dozens of lobsters destined to be boiled alive made a successful getaway from an Asian supermarket in the German city of Stuttgart in the early hours of Sunday morning, police said.

The clawed crustaceans, some of them up to 15 centimeters long, managed to crawl out of their crates, which had been poorly secured with wire mesh, then scurried across the floor of the supermarket and squeezed through the metal shutters covering the front of the store. The front door had been left open by mistake.

"The breakout was successful," Katrin Brandeis, spokeswoman for the Stuttgart police, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Passers by alerted the police at 1:45 a.m. reporting a large number of the animals heading down the street."

The escape may have saved their lives. "These animals weren't ever going to be pets," Brandeis said. "Now they've been taken to an animal home. The supermarket hasn't got in touch with us."
"Taken to an animal home"? They're stolen property, not homeless.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, I feel I must point out that Lincoln didn't free any lobsters.

Hell, next they'll be voting and getting drivers' licenses.

*Looks closer at the story"

Ah. Germany. Wait. Lobsters got rights in Germany?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

But wait, there's more

What a deal!
Originally uploaded by peachtree5911.
I wonder how many green eggs they've sold since this promotion started.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

As long as it's on sale

Great for Ramadan, too! (Photo from Seth's Blog.)

In fact, there's only one black family in America.

How do you outrage library patrons? Well, you let them find King & King on your shelves, in which a lonely Prince finds and, ultimately, marries his Prince Charming. Because, of course, parents will just scoop up any old thing and start reading to their kids (well, at least they're reading to their kids) without checking it themselves first.

Or Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides and Beach Music. Because high school students shouldn't be exposed to books that feature violence, suicide and sex. (Parents, do you never check the reading lists your kids bring home? It's a wonder the teen suicide rate isn't double what it is, after they've read On the Beach and 1984. It's a rare assigned book that the protagonist actually lives through.)

And if it's not the books causing trouble, it's the computers, those vile silicon temptresses.

As long as we're in the library, we could check @ the Library,, Librarian Avengers, and The Society for Librarians Who Say Mo--... well, if language is an issue for you, you might think twice about that one.