May 31, 2004

Indian influence

I'm kinda tired of all of the "Engrish" influenced Japanese sites that have dominate the Internet Multiverse. For a change of pace, India may be taking over, and I hope it stays as fresh as these movies:

Vanilla Coke (click "View the Ice Creamy Thanda TVC" for the Best. Commercial. Ever.)

Absolut mini-Bollywood movie (~100k download, but well worth it, or check out the source site which offers streaming)

(Boing Boing gets full marks for the Absolut ad.)

Continue reading "Indian influence"
posted by sstrader at 11:41 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Review: Shattered Glass (4/5)

In 1998, the nascent online journal published an article exposing that a writer for the 84 year old print journal The New Republic completely fabricated his story on hackers. The author of the hacker article, Stephen Glass, was a respected writer at TNR and had articles published in several other major magazines including Rolling Stone and (a favorite of mine) Harper's. Twenty-seven of his 41 articles for TNR (touted as "the in-flight magazine of Air Force One") were later found to be either partially or completely fabricated. Shattered Glass attempts to show how someone with so much influence deceived the system for as long as he did.

Continue reading "Review: Shattered Glass (4/5)"
posted by sstrader at 4:02 PM in Cinema | permalink

May 30, 2004

Flip-flop flack

This election has become about accusations of lack of consistency. That is: the Bush campaign is trying to push the label of flip-flopper on Kerry, so Kerry supporters have responded with counter-accusations. Let's have a looksee...

Continue reading "Flip-flop flack"
posted by sstrader at 10:12 PM in Politics | permalink

Two Radiohead songs

I've been re-listening to Radiohead's CD Hail to the Thief. I want to do a piano arrangement of "Myxomatosis" and "Scatterbrain." They're tracks 12 and 13 on the recording, but they work well together paired in isolation.

"Myxomatosis" would be an interesting challenge with the polytonality of the dense keyboard chords introduced above the doubled bass line. "Scatterbrain" is musically less interesting, but it requires a transfer of the hi-hat rhythm into the music. Transferring the sometimes dominant role that the percussion plays in rock songs to the piano is always a good exercise.

Continue reading "Two Radiohead songs"
posted by sstrader at 6:41 PM in Music | permalink

May 29, 2004

Review: The Saddest Music in the World (4/5)

The dream logic that makes up The Saddest Music in the World won't be for everyone (we had two people walk out 2/3s into the film), but its surprising and surprisingly unique imagery and keen satirical rhapsodizing on grief should temper any criticisms of quality. It has both a unique vision and the depth to support that vision.

Continue reading "Review: The Saddest Music in the World (4/5)"
posted by sstrader at 10:57 AM in Cinema | permalink

May 28, 2004

Notes: Chapter 7 from Harmony, Walter Piston

The mental steps involved in the process of harmonization make it one of the most valuable exercises in the study of harmony. ... The attempt to solve the same problems as the composer will afford an insight into the nature and details of these problems and into the manner and variation of their solution.

True harmonization means a consideration of the alternatives in available chords, the reasoned selection of one of these alternatives, and the tasteful arrangement of the texture of the added parts with due regard for consistency of style.

Continue reading "Notes: Chapter 7 from Harmony, Walter Piston"
posted by sstrader at 4:13 PM in Music | permalink

Gore again

Laurence emailed a link to another good Gore speech. In it, Gore discusses the examples of how America has been ruled recently by fear instead of trust. He goes on to point out that fear stifles progress and that the fear foisted on our society will outlive the current administration, as will the detrimental effects of its fear-inspired policies.

It contains a relevant historical reference to Nixon's paranoia-fueled fear and contrasts it with an Eisenhower quote:

Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America.

And here's a video of his previous speech I spoke about earlier that you can watch online or buy on DVD for $5.

posted by sstrader at 2:22 PM in Politics | permalink

No one expects Flamenco!

An ex-coworker of my wife is married to a flamenco dancer named Julie. She was dancing again at Compound off of Howell Mill last night, so we went to see the spectacle.

Continue reading "No one expects Flamenco!"
posted by sstrader at 1:46 PM in Misc | permalink

May 27, 2004

Gore, articulate and angry

Everybody's linking it. So am I.

Al Gore excoriates Bush.

And all people have against him are spurious arguments about the Internet.

Gore is one of the most intelligent people I've ever read interviewed. During a profile done several years ago in The New Yorker, he casually segued into a discussion on the effects of animist religious beliefs on societal advancement and how it avoids the search for deeper explanations. Now, I don't like being an intellectualist, bug geez, what an interesting concept to discuss.

Compare with Bush.

One criticism: Gore should have included references in the written version of his speach. Maybe he has elsewhere, or maybe someone will annotate it.

posted by sstrader at 11:50 AM in Politics | permalink

Warnings and errors

MovableType doesn't produce valid HTML.

I suspected it as I was slowly modifying my templates, but I finally ran it through the validator and was attacked by tiny, unpaired, angle-bracketed fists of fury. Sure, they're probably cascaded from one or two errors early on, but how can you tell by looking at a page with 100s of errors?

But with even Google failing validation, is it hopeless? Should we just accept the chaos?

Continue reading "Warnings and errors"
posted by sstrader at 10:32 AM in Programming | permalink

May 26, 2004

TV Revolution

Just watched the "Black & White & Living Color" episode of Bravo's series TV Revolution. It is at times a surfacy, self-involved documentary ("TV has the power to change society"), but it covers enough material and enough of a time span to be entertaining. We watched the "Out of the Closet" episode last night, and tonight's evoked a similar feeling of historical shame. Maybe more.

Ossie Davis was one of the main commentators, and he discussed a clip of his from an episode of Bonanza where he was an ex-slave. Davis was emphasizing how monumental it was, and I rolled my eyes at the self-praise until they showed the clip.

Continue reading "TV Revolution"
posted by sstrader at 11:45 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Death to SUVs

This blog entry hits it home in defeating the argument that larger cars are safer. It draws from an earlier article from The New Yorker but includes side-by-side photos of a crash-tested BMW Mini and Ford F150.

Now there's no question what would win in a head-on collesion [sic] between the two but then again the majority of accidents involve only a single car.

posted by sstrader at 9:03 AM in Science & Technology | permalink

May 25, 2004

Classical music order

I'm such a sucker for inexpensive classical CDs. Just got the new Daedalus catalog:

46283 Haydn String Quartets Op. 20 & 76 $5.98 46288 Haydn String Quartets Op. 1 & 54 $5.98 46294 Haydn String Quartets Op. 64, 74 & 77 $5.98 47200 Bartˇk Piano Transcriptions—Italian Keyboard Music of the 17th & 18th Centuries $6.98 47252 Arthur Foote Piano Quintet Op. 38; String Quartets Nos. 2 & 3 $6.98

Haydn quartets are models of classical chamber music and always worth picking up. The Bartok sounded interesting ... I'm completely unfamiliar with the works. They may be similar to Stravinsky's arrangement of Pergolesi's music for his ballet Pulcinella (the opening was our wedding party exit music).

I have only a violin sontata by Arthur Foote, so it will be interesting to hear more of his chamber works.

posted by sstrader at 11:46 PM in Music | permalink

Review: The Man Without Content, Giorgio Agamben (3/5)

I picked up The Man Without Content in San Francisco on a whim. I had never heard of the author, but part of the blurb on the back got my attention:

In this book, [Agamben] considers the status of art in the modern era ... [H]e argues that the birth of modern aesthetics is the result of a series of schisms that are manifestations of the deeper, self-negating yet self-perpetuating movement of irony.

The contained collection of essays provided an inventive, scholarly analysis of the state of art and aesthetics in the present day.

Continue reading "Review: The Man Without Content, Giorgio Agamben (3/5)"
posted by sstrader at 9:28 PM in Language & Literature | permalink

New CD by Tony Banks

Groovy. Tony Banks, the keyboard player from Genesis, has a new CD of orchestral music called Seven: Suite for Orchestra.

Amazon gives us five, minute-long clips to help make a decision.

Continue reading "New CD by Tony Banks"
posted by sstrader at 12:07 PM in Music | permalink

Analysis of Quadrophenia: Part I, Primary Themes

The Who's Quadrophenia (1973) was their sixth studio album and their second rock opera. Much has been written about the story (see and, but little of it covers the musical themes and structure contained in the songs, or how those themes are shared and modified across the songs. I intend this analysis to be a description of the music and a musical map of Quadrophenia as a whole.

Unless necessary, I will avoid aspects of Quadrophenia involving themes that are textual (repeated words or lingo such as "street," "scooter," or "face"), dramatic (isolation, youthful rebellion), or conceptual (symbolic use of water or physical transformations). Although the aesthetics of these are most effective when viewed in combination, it is beyond the scope of the current discussion.

This is a work in progress, and may be updated periodically as I research and write subsequent articles.

Continue reading "Analysis of Quadrophenia: Part I, Primary Themes"
posted by sstrader at 1:11 AM in Music | tagged the who | permalink

May 24, 2004

HTML design issue with links

One of the eminently respectable HTML design gurus declared links that open new browser windows as UI-unfriendly. This is obviously something I use consciously and consistently, and now I have to rethink that decision.

My main argument was based on personal habit. When articles reference an external source, I always open that external source in a new window. I don't like having to use the back and next buttons to refer to both texts.

Nielsen's argument is that opening new windows is a hostile way to try to keep users on your site. He also points out that the user can choose to open a new window if they want to.

The second argument, although Nielsen glosses over it very quickly, is complelling. A _blank target eliminates a choice they would otherwise have from the context menu.

I am undecided.

posted by sstrader at 10:14 PM in Programming | permalink

Trapping element events from a Web Browser control

This entry explains how to trap HTML element events in MFC using the Microsoft Web Control. This will allow you to respond to events such as button clicks and selection changes as they are fired by any element within a Web page.

Setting this up is mostly straightforward. The only tricks are making sure you get the Internet Development SDK from Microsoft's Platform SDK and that you use the correct element type in your HTML.

This was all learned recently, so there are some as yet un-explained caveats.

Continue reading "Trapping element events from a Web Browser control"
posted by sstrader at 11:30 AM in Programming | tagged mobile development | permalink

May 23, 2004

Review: The Rundown (3/5)

The Rundown begins as a smart action movie. We get a colorful and colofully filmed night club brawl, where The Rock takes care of bidness within a collection of jarring camera cuts and Monday Night Football-influenced on-screen graphics. Much of the editing creativity is carried on later in the movie, but it's always strategic and never overdone. After the opening scene, we're presented with The Rock as the flawed hero hoping to get out of a debt owed from a Bad Mistake in his past. The details of the mistake are never outlined, but with just one more job he can go free and pursue his dream of opening a restaurant.

Continue reading "Review: The Rundown (3/5)"
posted by sstrader at 5:23 PM in Cinema | permalink

Musical focus

Pop music often has an irritating flaw w/r/t focus.

In some instances, the music focuses too much on one theme without developing it in any way. This is the general character of jam rock. The primary, and only, theme is stated over and over with no variation. The composers never give a second thought to investigating the theme for further creative expression. More importantly, the uninventive repetition loses the listeners' interest.

The opposite problem with focus is when a good theme is presented but then neither developed nor repeated. The idea is thrown into the song and then abandoned.

Are these issues bad writing, or is the very style of pop music flawed? A style limits expression by limiting what is generally acceptable. This is more likely just bad writing.

posted by sstrader at 4:17 PM in Music | permalink

Notes: Chapter 11 from Harmony, Walter Piston

I've been re-reading chapters from Walter Piston's book Harmony, 3rd Edition.

Chapter 11 is titled "Harmonic Rhythm."

Continue reading "Notes: Chapter 11 from Harmony, Walter Piston"
posted by sstrader at 1:19 PM in Music | permalink

Weekend music experience

Music at the Earl again. This time, it was planned.

Telegram was up first with some slightly Jeff Buckley-esque songs. The singer mixed it up with some short, noise-heavy solos that really worked with the music.

Elevado was the integral part of the plan (friends of friends), but damned if I can remember exactly what went on. No offense to them, it's just that I think we were socializing too much. And the upright bass player for Telegram almost spilled a drink on me. Golly!

The headliner was Hope for a Golden Summer, and although they looked to be some fun we first got pelted with an extended acoustic set from an unnamed refugee from Eddie's Attic. She. Went. On. For. Ever. Around half the crowd was driven away, including us, so we abandoned friends and music to go do the Atkins Park thing.

posted by sstrader at 6:52 AM in Music | permalink

May 21, 2004

Review: Van Helsing (2/5)

This is going to be short.

I need to come up with a new phrase for movies that, although not good, are distracting enough to be inoffensive. Movies that don't shoot very high and attain their goal. Movies that should get a thumbs-sideways. Movies that are value agnostic.

Whenever I come up with that phrase, I will use it for Van Helsing.

The only complaint: beware of the Lifetime Television For Women ending. It comes out of nowhere and is incredibly bad. All of the story has resolved itself, but the cinematography of the last couple of minutes is ... well, just weird and sappy.

posted by sstrader at 5:10 PM in Cinema | permalink


The June 2004 C/C++ Users Journal has an article by Herb Sutter on the recent C++ Standards committee meeting. He talks about some of the new extensions to the C++ Standard Library that will be included in the Library Extensions Technical Report 1 (Library TR1) due out later in the year. Vendors should be releasing implementations soon after.

Continue reading "C++0x"
posted by sstrader at 1:36 PM in Programming | permalink

Comedian coincidence

When Jerry Seinfeld was on Jay Leno a week ago, he performed a very funny standup routine. As Kramer said, he "had some good observations." Check out his American Express video. He makes Superman/Puddy out to be a little bit too much of a rambling goofball at times, but it's still entertaining. Like a lost episode of Seinfeld.

Tavis Smiley had a comedian on this morning, Rodney Perry, who covered very similar material to Jerry's. It wasn't plagarism at all ... just a zeitgeisty sort of thing.

Continue reading "Comedian coincidence"
posted by sstrader at 11:52 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

May 20, 2004

Branch causes

At this hypothetical company, we have a shared code base linked across several branches in source control to accommodate customizations for each client. Customizations include not only configuration file changes but also source code changes that cause the code to be branched from the "base" code. The base code is simply that subset (perhaps 80%) which is linked across all client branches and has no breaks. It's interesting for the fact that it exists only in concept.

This branching is an obvious source of distress. Linked code causes long-distance (cross-client) bugs; branched code isolates features and fixes. What to do?

Continue reading "Branch causes"
posted by sstrader at 9:31 AM in Programming | permalink


Overheard misconception about keyboard players:

Musicians who can play two keyboards at once are extremely skilled.

Continue reading "Misconceptions"
posted by sstrader at 1:11 AM in Music | permalink

May 19, 2004

Corporate chaos

There's this hypothetical company, see? And they give developers' phone numbers out to clients so that they can be contacted at any time of the day. Forget the egregious mistake (see Fact 4) made by allowing developers to be interrupted at any time for any length of time while they're focused on writing code. Just know that this is considered standard.

Well, a funny thing happened this morning at said hypothetical company...

Continue reading "Corporate chaos"
posted by sstrader at 2:05 PM in Programming | permalink

May 18, 2004

Melancholy dream

Someone told me about a dream they had recently.

In the dream, they were dead. However, they had a certain number of days after death where they could walk around and spend time with those they cared about. During that time, they visited with friends and expressed all of the last-time-you'll-see-this-person confessions that could never otherwise be expressed. A relative bought thoughtful gifts, but there was no time to enjoy them. The few days passed.

And strangely, only certain people could see them.

posted by sstrader at 9:36 PM in Misc | permalink


Today is the 108th anniversary of the Supreme Court's 7-1 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson supporting the constitutionality of racial segregation. The argument, that it violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was defeated with the assertion that equal, but separate, resources would still treat citizens equally. The economics of dual facilities hastened the breakdown of that argument.

And yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education. There, the Supreme Court decided that "separate but equal" in schools was detrimental to black students and therefore unconstitutional.

It took an embarrasingly long time for the logic behind Plessy to break down.

A couple of interesting historical points taken from Tavis Smiley's discussions:

  • One argument in Brown was against allowing the Supreme Court to reverse its Plessy decision, and therefore effectively change the meaning of the Constitution. If the Constitution wasn't treated as a living document, where would we be now?
  • The communist countries were using America's institutionalised racism to embarass it in the international arena. Whenever the U.S. accused them of human rights violations, they would respond with photos of KKK lynchings. No one should be above international policing.
Continue reading "Segregation"
posted by sstrader at 1:47 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

War update

The current state of WMDs, Colin Powell, and Nick Berg.

Continue reading "War update"
posted by sstrader at 12:15 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

May 17, 2004

Hispanic directors

Pedro Almod´┐Żvar's got a new movie coming out called La Mala educaci´┐Żn (Bad Education). Let's get our hispanic directors straight.


Almodovar and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo are from Spain. Almodovar's recent film was Hable con ella (2002) (Talk To Her) and before that was Todo sobre mi madre (1999) (All About My Mother). He's been a director for several decades. His films deal with relationships under very unusual circumstances. He handles his subjects with considerable humor and candor.

I've only seen Fresnadillo's movie Intacto (2001) (Intact). It deals with a group of people who possess and trade "luck" by competing in various games that emphasize randomness over skill. His style could be compared to the magic realism of Latin American artists. He has had a much shorter career than Almodovar.


Alejandro Gonz´┐Żlez I´┐Ż´┐Żrritu and Alfonso Cuar´┐Żn are from Mexico City. I´┐Ż´┐Żrritu directed Amores Perros (2000) (Life's a Bitch) and most recently 21 Grams (2003). His movies tell stories of several people whose lives intersect in dramatic and sometimes ironic ways.

Cuar´┐Żn directed Y tu mam´┐Ż tambi´┐Żn (2001) (And Your Mother Too) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Y tu was a very raw depiction of two teen boys "coming of age" during a road trip with an older woman.

posted by sstrader at 2:17 PM in Cinema | tagged harry potter | permalink


I always admired Ernest Bloch for a statement he made on his composition process:

I always write in ink.

I don't particularly like his music, but the skill required to compose in that manner is both impressive and terrifying to me. I'll always consider myself a hack or hobbyist as long as I am unable to compose completely away from an instrument.

Continue reading "Permanence"
posted by sstrader at 11:57 AM in Music | permalink

May 15, 2004

Schumann Symphonies

I've been re-listening to Robert Schumann's symphonies recently on Rhapsody.

I have the MP3s ripped from a ShoutCast feed, but for convenience I've begun using Rhapsody as my primary music source. I can use it at work (IT doesn't keep track of bandwidth comsumption) and at home and it keeps track of "my library."

As a further digression, I recently discovered Schumann's violin sonatas on Rhapsody. Very nice pieces.

Continue reading "Schumann Symphonies"
posted by sstrader at 11:43 AM in Music | permalink

May 14, 2004

Voting irregularities

So, we've all read news articles at sites that let you vote on how good the article was, right? Well the one I read today had the following statistics:

  • You can rate the article on a scale of 1 to 5,
  • Seven people have voted so far,
  • The average of the votes was 2.85

OK? Now, how can we calculate the possible combinations of votes that would satisfy these values? I quickly realized that this was some math that was beyond a Fine Arts degree programmer such as myself (and also beyond a couple of CS degree programmers in the office).

We came up with a few clumsy stabs at describing it, but were woefully underequipped in solving it or even explaining what form the solution might take.

We can state the equation like this:

S(i = 1..7) V[i] = 2.85 | V = {1..5} (the sum of the 7 votes = 2.85, where the votes are between 1 and 5)

[add more later]

Continue reading "Voting irregularities"
posted by sstrader at 7:17 PM in Programming | permalink


Alienating by force a fragment of the past from its historical context, the quotation at once makes it lose its character of authentic testimony and invest it with an alienating power that constitutes its unmistakable aggressive force.

- Chapter 10, "The Melancholy Angel," from The Man Without Content (1994) by Giorgio Agamben

(review to come)

Continue reading "Disengage"
posted by sstrader at 1:07 AM in Language & Literature | permalink

May 13, 2004

Glass. Works.

Minimalism in music arose in response to the sometimes astringent academic serialism of the 1950s and 1960s. (This is an oversimplification, even if admitted to by some of its practitioners, but let's go with it for now--shorthand definitions can often help us absorb initially foreign concepts.) If we look more closely at minimalism, we can see that the rebellion against "difficult" music has only shifted complexity from one dimension (melody and harmony) to another (metric).

Continue reading "Glass. Works."
posted by sstrader at 10:10 PM in Music | permalink

May 12, 2004

Futurama reference

OK, no one's gonna care, but I'm throwing this out anyway.

In tonight's (TiVoed) episode of Futurama, "My Problem With Popplers," we find out that Lela's first name is Turonga.

No so much interesting in itself, but I think it's a weird reference (for no apparent reason) to Olivier Messien's orchestral work Turangalţla-symphonie which the ASO just performed. It's like one of the major works of the 20th century, so listen to it if you get the chance. We were in NYC that weekend (rats).

I know, I know ... you'll find any number of coincidences if you're looking hard enough, but isn't that kinda weird?

Continue reading "Futurama reference"
posted by sstrader at 9:37 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Who are these people?

Two "anonymous" calls on my cell phone that Google helped identify:

  • 10 May 2004, 11:01:58 PM, 770-537-6149

    name withheld - (770) 537-6149 - 315 Field St, Bremen, GA 30110

  • 11 May 2004, 8:03:06 PM, 770-537-9076

    name withheld - (770) 537-9076 - 117 Greystone Dr, Bremen, GA 30110

    Who are these people? A couple of blocks away from each other and calling me here.

    How easy would it be (rather, how practical) to hook that up to caller ID? Visual caller ID.

    posted by sstrader at 3:17 PM in Misc | permalink
  • Media client snobs

    This recent quote got me thinking again about the pervasive Real-bashing that goes on in Internet-land:

    As someone who refuses to use either Real or WM, I cannot listen to anything on the Fresh Air site.

    It may only be a fringe-geek obsession, but often as goes the geeks so go those who listen to the geeks.

    Continue reading "Media client snobs"
    posted by sstrader at 2:01 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

    May 11, 2004

    Musical thesaurus

    musicplasma just got posted on BoingBoing a few days ago. It's one of those fascinating-but-what-to-do-with-it-after-five-minutes technologies.

    Continue reading "Musical thesaurus"
    posted by sstrader at 2:08 PM in Music | permalink

    May 10, 2004

    Weekend music experience

    Friday nite we ended up at The Earl in East Atlanta to see whatever-bands-were-playing. That turned out to be:

  • Good Friday Experiment - Groovy, noisy, hippie-rock ... maybe too many "jams," but overall enjoyable for the venue. Ironically, their last song they cut short just as they were warming up to a very strong dramatic story.
  • Trances Arc - Pure 99x (take that whichever way you'd like), very solid, but they never gave us anything surprising at all.
  • The Corsairs - Inventive, edgy power-pop. What! No Web page? Well, I know I've heard their name for a while, so maybe they live by word-of-mouth. Probably the most interesting band of the evening.

    Only 5-bucks from each of us (that's only $1.66 per person per band) and an evening of fun ensued.

    posted by sstrader at 1:28 PM in Music | permalink
  • May 9, 2004

    Review: Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson (4/5)

    I (finally) finished Quicksilver last week. Here's a review, and some additional links for reference:

    Continue reading "Review: Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson (4/5)"
    posted by sstrader at 4:57 PM in Language & Literature | permalink