You are viewing def_fr0g_42

def_fr0g_42
29 October 2014 @ 10:04 am
The Banäna Deäthmüffins comeback continues, fresh off our first American tour, which sold out in basements, parking garages and short-order grills across the heartland and mid-South.

And since our latest “autobiographical” single, “Neopolitan Moose”, turned out to be a big draw, here’s another song based on an absolutely true story.

Also, it’s the first ever authoritative song about kidney stones.

Aren’t you glad you signed on for this?

PRODUCTION NOTE: Yes, the drummer DOES sound a lot like John Bonham. No, he's not secretly alive. 




Let's all sing about the kidney stones!Collapse )
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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Lyrics by dEFROG
Music by Banäna Deäthmüffins

©2014 Terribly Frog Music. Derechos Reservados!

================================================

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Stone free,

This is dF
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Where the hell am I?: Disco Bay
Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Now Playing: Ambient cafe music
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
27 October 2014 @ 09:35 pm
This sums up about 70% of it, actually.

Road Trippin’

[Via Simple Dreams]

As for the other 30%, I’ll tell you about that as soon as I have time to write up my notes.

Expect guest stars. David Bowie! Kurt Vonnegut Jr! Col Sanders! Pigs!

And more.

Cruising for burgers,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Disco Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Blue Oyster Cult, "Sole Survivor"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
27 October 2014 @ 05:45 pm
I brought myyyyyyyyyyyyyy pencil.



Etc and so on and things of that nature generally.

Hello.

Got it made,

This is dF
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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: tiredtired
Now Playing: Dan Sartain, "Smash Up The Tesco"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
06 October 2014 @ 02:46 pm
Back in three weeks.



[Via Steve Niles]

In absentia,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: busybusy
Now Playing: E Rodney Jones & Larry & the Hippies Band, "Right On Right On (Sex Machine)"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
ITEM: There’s an interesting article on io9 that looks at an upcoming trend – white people moving back into city centers – and the potential impact that has on the affected neighborhood, to include the low-income locals already living there.

Turns out it doesn’t end well for the low-income people:

If the incomes of these locals in the U.S. were rising at the same rate as the incomes of whites, this might not be such a problem. Maybe whites would come to town, move into some abandoned places, and spruce up the joint. The problem is that the income disparity between blacks and whites has been growing immensely over the past few decades. Local black residents can't compete with the white infillers for space.

So when whites flock to a black neighborhood, they are often the harbingers of doom. Rents skyrocket to the point where the original population can no longer afford it — and they move to low-income suburbs like Ferguson outside St. Louis.

It’s an interesting article, especially in light of recent events in Ferguson that have raised the spectre of both class and race disparities that commentators on a certain cable TV news channel like to pretend either don’t exist, don't matter or are overblown by liberals as being bigger problems than they really are and are really just an excuse to be lazy and mooch Obamaphones, steak and birth-control off the govt.

Something like that.

Note that the article isn't saying white people are doing this kind of thing on purpose. They’re not. It’s just that they don’t notice the impact they’re having on everyone else.

Which pretty much sums up the history of America, in a way.

“Oh, there are Indians here? Oh well, let’s just settle here, they’ll never even notice we’re here.”

Moving on up,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: The Others, "Revenge"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
Still reading. Still writing half-assed capsule book reports. Still posting ‘em.

And so.

Deus IraeDeus Irae by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve read a lot of Dick (yes), but I’ve only read Zelazny once (and that was in the 80s). So I thought I’d try this collaboration, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where some survivors worship Carleton Lufteufel, the govt official who invented and used the weapon that destroyed most of humanity. Limbless cyborg artist Tibor McMasters is commissioned by the Servants Of Wrath to find Lufteufel (who is believed to still be alive) and paint his likeness for a church mural. His Christian acquaintance Pete Sands vows to stop him at any cost. It might have made an interesting story, and sometimes it is. Unfortunately the narrative suffers from uneven pacing, extremely clunky writing and a tendency to get bogged down in pretentious musings about art and theology. And it really doesn’t really deliver on the concept of Christianity being supplanted by a God Of Wrath, the difference between the two and the nature of godhood. There was just enough here to keep me interested but apart from a few scenes, I didn’t really enjoy it. If Goodreads supported half-stars, I'd give it 1.5.


UFO in Her EyesUFO in Her Eyes by Xiaolu Guo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Satire from novelist/filmmaker Guo about a Chinese peasant named Kwok Yun whose life and small Chinese village of Silver Hill are changed forever after she sees a UFO in a rice field and rescues an American backpacker who was bitten by a poisonous snake. The novel is written in the form of documents and interviews with various villagers conducted by government agents investigating the UFO sighting. Readers expecting a story about actual aliens will be disappointed, since the story focuses more on how China’s modern “capitalism with socialist characteristics” conflicts with the lives of small-town peasants raised on Mao and the Cultural Revolution, as well as the ever-present constant of govt bureaucracy and surveillance. In that sense, it’s more or less on the mark. On the downside, the interview format is stretched thin across over a dozen characters, so it’s somewhat superficial. In fact, it reads more like a film treatment, though that makes sense given Guo’s other career as filmmaker (and she did in fact do a film version of the book after its publication). Anyway, as satire goes, it’s a decent read.


Epitaph for a SpyEpitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d never read Eric Ambler before, but his name kept coming up as a must-read for anyone interested in the spy genre, so I took a chance with this. In this case, the main character, Josef Vadassy, isn’t a spy, but a Yugoslavian refugee and language teacher on vacation who is suspected of being a spy after a roll of film he drops off at the chemist is discovered to have pics of secret French naval installations. Threatened with deportation if he doesn’t cooperate, Vadassy must root out the real spy, who is staying at the small Riviera resort where he’s on holiday. It’s equal parts suspenseful and frustrating, the former due to excellent pacing and the latter due to Vadassy’s complete ineptness as a detective. On the other hand, most people in his situation – who also didn’t have the benefit of decades of espionage pop culture to rely on – wouldn’t do much better, which at least makes it realistic. And indeed, Ambler’s aim was to make espionage stories more realistic and human, as opposed to the patriotic he-man bluster of writers like John Buchan. Anyway, it’s pretty good, and I’ll be trying Ambler again.


Butcher's Moon (Parker, #16)Butcher's Moon by Richard Stark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 16th Parker novel that would also turn out to be the last one for 25 years before Stark revived the series. But it’s a hell of a finale – at 300+ pages, it’s epic by Parker standards, and brings back many of the recurring (and surviving) characters in the series. Parker goes back to the amusement park where he stashed $73,000 in Slayground, only to find someone got to it first. Needless to say, that’s bad news for whoever took it, as Parker stops at nothing to get his money back – not even getting in the middle of a mob takeover. Well told and well plotted, it’s one of the best in the series and would have been a great note to go out on if Stark had decided to leave it there.



The Heart of a DogThe Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part surreal mad science, part satire of Soviet Russia, this is Bulgakov’s tale of Professor Preobrazhensky, a rich surgeon in Moscow who transplants the testicles and pituitary gland of a human into a dog, which then unexpectedly transforms into a man who gradually turns the professor’s life into a living hell – mainly by being rude, uncivilized and a Bolshevik. Like with the other Bulgakov books I’ve read, some of the satirical bits only work if you have a little knowledge about the Russian Revolution, but that’s not a prerequisite for reading and enjoying this. Which I did – I like Bulgakov’s surreal sense of humor, and I like that much of the story is told from the dog’s point of view. Readers who are sensitive dog lovers may find parts of it a little hard to take (especially the surgery scene), and hardcore cat lovers may not find it very funny. But if yr a fan of mad-science books like Frankenstein and The Island Of Dr Moreau, I highly recommend this.

Giving the dog a bone,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Disco Bay
Mood: tiredtired
Now Playing: Ming City R*ckers, "Get Out Of My Head"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
30 September 2014 @ 10:20 am
One of the more amusing angles of the Tea Party Libertarian OMG narrative has always been the threat of “going Galt” – that Ayn Randian fantasy in Atlas Shrugged where Libertarians are all genius capitalist engineers who form their own govt-free Utopia, leaving socialist America to collapse into a chaotic socialist cesspool of socialist tyranny, which serves them right.

To which the rest of us usually respond, “You want to go Galt, you go right ahead. We’ll be here when you decide you want to come back.”

Of course, most Libertarian Ayn Rand fans don’t want to collapse society – they just want to live someplace where there is no govt to tell them what to do (especially pay taxes) and everything is run by private enterprise.

As it turns out, that “someplace” is in South America, where a few Libertarian groups have actually started Galt’s Gulch-type enterprises. There’s La Estancia de Cafayate in Argentina, for example.

There’s also Galt’s Gulch Chile (GGC).

However, the latter is getting some bad press, as it turns out the place is … well, a disaster.

According to co-founder Jeff Berwick, it didn’t start that way, but the whole enterprise apparently went south (literally and figuratively) after his business partner Ken Johnson took over GGC and basically botched the whole project and fleeced a lot of investors in the process by selling them land he had no legal rights to sell.

You can read Berwick’s TL;DR account of the saga here. And you can also read the experience of Wendy McElroy, one of GGC’s customers, here.

Or you could just read this snotty writeup from Gawker.

Some on the left may be tempted to point and laugh and use this to prove Libertarians are insane morons. I wouldn’t go that far. It’s at least theoretically possible that a Galt’s Gulch could be established somewhere, and it might even be able to function as though the rest of the world doesn't exist. Berwick remains hopeful that GGC can be rebooted under better leadership. Maybe.

But I do think there’s two useful takeaways from all this:

1. True libertarianism is a lot harder than Ayn Rand makes it sound – and that’s just for a gated community, let alone an entire nation.

2. Govt may be corrupt and incompetent, but that doesn’t mean private enterprise is the polar opposite. Which probably means that the problem isn’t govt or corporations, but the people in them.

Or, as Gawker put it:

In other words, Galt's Gulch Chile sounds exactly like the sort of plan you would expect from a bunch of fans of a crotchety old millionairess who wrote a book called The Virtue of Selfishness.

Freedom isn’t free,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Turbonegro, "Prince Of The Rodeo"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
29 September 2014 @ 11:29 pm
There is trouble in Hong Kong.

Which you probably know about by now.



If you don’t, you can read a summary of events here. I’d write them up for you, but I’m pressed for time. (I've already covered the background here.)

The short version is this:

Occupy Central is on, and the HK Police tried to bust it up with tear gas. Which is noteworthy because the HK Police generally don’t do that to protesters, ever, even when they’re being idiots and blocking traffic.

The story is developing, of course, but the impression I get is that the HK Govt – which has had at least a year to come up with a contingency plan for this – evidently decided their strategy would be to bust up OC with Shock & Awe™ and scare everyone back home before OC had a chance to get a foothold and inconvenience the financial sector.

That plan has backfired in spectacular fashion. Not only has it encouraged even more people to show up in support of the protesters – because evidently using tear gas and batons on people who generally aren’t kicking in shop windows or flipping over cars or being an actual danger is a very unpopular thing to do here – it’s also summoned the attention of The Entire World thanks to this thing called Social Media.

Even protesters in Ferguson are taking time out from their own protests to send shoutouts to us.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Earlier, I predicted that should Occupy Central go ahead, it would be a futile exercise because they want two things they will never ever get: (1) Chief Executive CY Leung’s resignation and (2) full-on democracy where we get to actually choose our own candidates instead of Beijing picking them out for us. Beijing won’t stand for either.

On the other hand, the wild card now seems to be the HK Police drastically overplaying their hand on a demonstrably non-violent crowd, and the subsequent attention it’s attracted. If this lasts long enough, they might actually force Boss Leung to the negotiating table – something that never would have happened otherwise.

Or not. No one really knows right now. It depends how the next couple of days go, and whether the police deploy any more tear gas, or break out the rubber bullets. They’d be stupid to do so now. For a start, the crowds tonight are much, much bigger than they were last night. And for another, as I said, the world is watching (to coin a phrase). People are already comparing it to Tiananmen Square – it’s not a very good comparison, but I don’t think anyone on the HK Govt wants it to start bearing a closer resemblance, especially with all the international attention.

That said, I can't see the govt backing down from this either, if only because Beijing will be very displeased.

It’s always possible the protesters will blow it by getting impatient and resorting to violence. If they do, they’ll blow their best chance. They’ve got tons of public support and momentum right now. At this point, it’s their game to lose.

Developing …

BONUS TRACK: It’s called the “Umbrella Revolution” because protesters have been carrying them to protect themselves against pepper spray.





Out on the street,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Disco Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Ambient news
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
26 September 2014 @ 11:04 am
It’s us again, folks.

We’ll be on tour in the US soon, so we’ve been working on some new material to sweeten the pot a little.

And we’ve been told that to crack the US market, you have to be more autobiographical and sing yr personal life to everyone. Keeping it real, as they say in the business.

So here you go: an entirely true account of a long-haul flight from Hong Kong to Helsinki and back again.

See? I’m willing to bare my soul for you, the fans. Because ART.



Sing if you know the words ...Collapse )

Like this song? Why not down it and other fine lo-fi tracks from the official Banäna Deäthmüffins page on Soundcloud?

Also, be the first to like us on Facebook.

No such thing as moose abuse,

This is dF

 
This entry was originally posted at http://defrog.dreamwidth.org/1491553.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Now Playing: See above
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
22 September 2014 @ 10:09 am
It’s Banned Book Week in the US again, in which we celebrate freedom of speech by commemorating all the people who try to take it away from us.

I’ve written before about the importance of Banned Book Week at a time when books are easily available outside of libraries (where book banning is usually attempted). You can read that here if yr so inclined.

Meanwhile, I thought it was interesting that Banned Book Week reportedly has a special focus on graphic novels this year – which may be because Jeff Smith’s Bone made the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2013. (Also, the Captain Underpants series – which evidently counts as a graphic novel – has topped the list for two years in a row.)

One reason this interests me is because some people would argue that comics should be more subject to restrictions than books – especially in school libraries – because books are mainly words, see, whereas comics are pictures. It’s one thing to describe sex and violence – it’s another to show it. So it’s okay to ban graphic novels to protect the children. QED.

Something like that.

As you might imagine, I don’t really agree with that. For a start, well-written words can plant images in yr head more powerful and disturbing than any picture/drawing/painting. There are scenes in American Psycho that are extremely nasty. A graphic novel version wouldn’t necessarily be any worse (though I suppose it depends on the artist, of course – and here is where you may make yr Rob Liefield jokes now).

Second of all, the point isn’t whether a particular book or graphic novel is unsuitable for kids – it’s who gets to make that decision. And I’ve always believed that authority belongs to (1) the librarians who decide what to put on the shelves, and (2) parents. It does not belong to some nervous busybody out to make sure no one else gets to make that decision for themselves.

Anyway, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has put together its own list of graphic novels that run afoul of self-appointed library censors. It’s an interesting list – some are predictable (Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, Maurice Sendak), some not so much (J. Michael Straczynski!).

Also, Alan Moore shows up a lot more than you’d think.

Keep on reading,

This is dF


This entry was originally posted at http://defrog.dreamwidth.org/1491212.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, "Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
Thanks to Apple, everyone knows by now that U2 has a new album out, and at least 500 million people found out they already own a copy.

And as mentioned previously, everyone’s got an opinion about that, most of it negative. Ironically, one of the least critical people is Mark Hosler of Negativland, who were once sued by U2’s record label Island. He has some interesting things to say about the whole thing here.

Controversial distribution methods aside, there remains the most important question: is Songs Of Innocence any good? Or is it at least good enough to justify Apple sticking it gratis in yr iTunes?

Reviews have been mixed. And after having listened to it, I can understand why.

The album’s opening shot, “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”, is game enough, but for me it lacks the vigor and punch of songs like “Beautiful Day” and “Vertigo” that helped U2 revive their career in the ‘00s. Which I think is also why the album feels like it’s stuck in second gear for the next four tracks, staying well within the safety zone of atmospheric maturity that U2 is known for these days.

U2 finally gun the engine halfway through with “Volcano”, but it’s the following track, “Raised By Wolves” that really delivers the bristling tension and social commentary that defines many of U2’s best tracks. And from that point on, it’s a pretty engaging listen. But it’s a shame it takes that long for the album to strike sparks.

Overall, it’s a decent but average entry in the U2 library – at least on first pass. The weaker songs may still grow on me after a few listens.

PRODUCTION NOTE: The headline for this post is a Bono quote, in case you were wondering.

Meanwhile, this is probably ubiquitous enough that you don’t need me to provide a preview track, but just in case, here’s their performance at the Apple event.



Not that innocent,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Warren Zevon, "My Ride's Here"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
I’m on Facebook. So I see a lot of political posts, usually via web sites that specialize in hyperpartisan blather that everyone in their respective echo chamber mistakes for fair and balanced journalism.

Usually I ignore them. But this one has a nice dollop of irony with it:



The source for this factoid is PolitiFact, which has started doing PunditFact scorecards for all the cable TV news channels, as well as the main network news programs, to see how often a pundit or on-air talent makes a statement that’s rated mostly/completely false by the PolitiFact fact-checkers.

What Addicting Info leaves out of the headline/lede – which is all that many people on FB who see this will probably read – is that MSNBC, the home of Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and other heroes of the left, has a score of 46% mostly/completely false.

Addicting Info does mention this further on down in the post, but says “they also tell the truth more than they lie, and their “Pants on Fire” percentage is half of what Fox has”.

In other words, yes, MSNBC pundits technically lie a lot, but hey, at least they don't lie as often or as blatantly as Fox News. So ha ha fuck Fox News they suck. Etc etc.

For the record, CNN’s score is 18%. Which isn't that surprising to those of us who know that CNN isn’t biased in favor of anything except grandstanding sensationalism. They may overblow things, but they do get their basic facts straight more often than not.

What does this mean? Not a lot, admittedly. PolitiFact points out the limitations of its own scorecard:

The comparisons are interesting, but be cautious about using them to draw broad conclusions. We use our news judgment to pick the facts we’re going to check, so we certainly don’t fact-check everything. And we don’t fact-check the five network groups evenly. CBS, for instance, doesn’t have a cable network equivalent, so we haven’t fact-checked pundits and CBS personalities as much.

Even if it were more comprehensive, I don't think it would matter – people from both extremes tend to dismiss independent fact-checking sites like PolitiFact and Factcheck.org as biased in favor of the opposition when they don’t like the results of their so-called fact checking.

So this post is pointless, really. But hey, what else is new?

Not intended as a factual statement,

This is dF
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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Blonde Redhead, "Barragain"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
And so we are at war with ISIS now. Or ISIL. Or IS. Or, if yr Fox News, IIG (Islam In General).

Anyway. Good morning, 

I was sitting in the business class lounge in Mactan International Airport just after Presidente Obama unveiled his anti-ISISISILISIIG strategy, which meant I overheard the talking heads on CNN “analyzing” it. On the internet, the commentary has pretty much conformed to the usual party lines.

As it happened, I was working on a post about Obama’s overall foreign policy and the criticisms thereof, which was inspired by his own former Secretary Of State, who was going around saying, “Yr doing it wrong.”

That says a lot, though what it mainly says is “Hillary 2016” – not least because Obama’s foreign policy accomplishments were, for the most part, a lot more popular back when Hillary was head of State than they are now. Still, the fact does remain that Obama’s foreign policy approval ratings in 2014 are bleak enough that you can’t pin it all on Republican naysaying.

There’s more to that than ISIL, of course. It’s been a rough year for foreign policy issues – Ukraine, Gaza, the Middle East in general, etc. Still, when ISIS is decapitating American journalists on YouTube, that’s an attention getter. And suddenly Obama’s general foreign policy approach (i.e. “don’t do stupid stuff”) doesn’t cut the mustard.

And so now it’s air strikes for IS and anyone who happens to be standing near them when the smart drones kill them. For starters. There may be boots on the ground later. Or perhaps golf shoes.

There are two obvious follow-up questions to this development:

1. Is it the right decision? Depends who you ask. Conservatives are grudgingly approving it, though you can bet they’ll criticize the way Obama handles it. The anti-war section of Obama’s liberal base is against it because they see it as an addendum to Bush’s ill-advised endless-by-design Iraq War 2. Also, there’s a possibility the threat of ISIS has been somewhat exaggerated. Which isn’t exactly unprecedented when it comes to the US GWOT.

2. Will it do any good? Beats me. My gut feeling is it might contain ISIL but create new problems. It won’t stop terrorism or quell the radicalism that fuels it.

Meanwhile, I’m more interested in the overall paradigm that ISIS actually represents and what it means for foreign policy in the future.

The majority of grown-ups in America – as well as in Congress – have had their opinions of foreign policy shaped by the Cold War and Vietnam. Someone said somewhere that Obama would be the first post-Boomer POTUS to come from outside that Cold War mindset, and that this would be a point in his favor, because the 21st Century sociopolitical arena isn’t being driven by major opposing political ideologies. The problem seems to be that while Obama doesn’t think in either/or Cold War terms, he hasn’t really worked out what the 21st Century framework should be beyond “don't do stupid stuff”.

This is one of the better critiques I’ve read (written before the ISIS speech), which makes a good point: Obama’s foreign policy doctrine is really more of an anti-doctrine, which is fine to a point but has its limitations, and the statelessness of ISIL is currently demonstrating that:

Whether you're talking about al-Qaida or ISIL or whatever nihilistic gang comes along next, what you're talking about is a global assault on the very idea of statecraft. And increasingly the operative question will probably be, Do you have a functional government at all? And if you do, can't we find interests that align?

I don’t know if Obama’s ISIS strategy counts as a framework or not. It looks more like another ad hoc solution to a specific situation. I suppose it could serve as a template for similar future situations. Provided it works.

As I said above, I don’t have any wisdom here. But I feel reasonably confident in saying most of Obama’s critics don’t either, especially conservatives who think Instant Disproportionate Violence both counts as a policy and actually solves problems. (Of course, “problems” in this case usually means the problem of Halliburton and other defense companies not making enough money.) And as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, conservative critics have generally demonstrated they’re less interested in offering solutions and more in bashing Obama – hopefully hard enough to damage Hillary’s 2016 chances. So there’s no reason for me to take them seriously.

If nothing else, I suppose the best thing you can say about Obama’s foreign policy is that he doesn’t use Instant Disproportionate Violence and actually takes time to think about it first. I don’t know how effective it will prove to be, but I figure it can’t possibly be worse than Bush’s “shoot now, shoot first and shoot often” approach to everything post-9/11.

Stupid is as stupid does,

This is dF

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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Jet Black Factory, "Mexico City"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
You probably know by now that U2 has a new album out. And odds are you already knew that because it suddenly appeared in your iTunes. Or, if you don’t have an iCloud account, you knew about it because of all the iCloud users going insane on Twitter about finding some f***ing new U2 album on their f***ing iTunes and how the f*** do I f****ing delete it and BTW what the f***ing f***, Apple?

I think the outrage is a little overdone, but I can see why people are annoyed. I admit I didn’t, at first – my first thought was, “It’s in the cloud – it’s only on yr device if you download it. Don’t want it? Just delete it. What’s the big deal?”

This is because my own iTunes account isn’t set for automatic downloads of purchased items. Many people do set their iDevices for auto download, which means an album they didn’t ask for just ate up some of their data plan and is now taking up valuable storage space on their iDevice. So I can see why that would bug people.

Many users are also bugged that Apple is sticking things in their iCloud account without at least asking first, which is also understandable – especially given recent revelations about iCloud’s security issues. It’s sort of like U2 sneaking into yr house and slipping their new album into yr record collection – or, for the auto download people, sticking it in the CD changer of yr stereo.

Of course, it seems a lot of the complaints are based on the premise that U2 fucking sucks and I don't want their fucking albums even for free, fuck you U2. Which suggests that they might object to it less if Apple had given them a free album by a band they actually like.

Anyway, the whole episode is a bit strange, as new album promotions go. Reportedly Apple, U2 and Universal were negotiating this for about a year. U2’s motivations are pretty obvious – Apple’s are less clear. According to Forbes, it’s probably a tactic to beef up iTunes (which saw music sales drop last year, due to more popular streaming services like Spotify and Pandora) and a way to promote Beats Music (the streaming music service Apple bought a few months ago).

Whatever Apple in mind, they clearly didn't really think it through in terms of how users would react to it. I guess you can look at it as an interesting consumer experiment in music distribution. Lesson learned: if you want to give away music online, ask first. I mean, the deal with U2 included a $100 million marketing campaign. Surely some of that money could have covered the cost of sending every iTunes user an email with a link to the album if they wanted to download it. The reaction probably would have been more favorable.

Of course, if they did it that way, then Tim Cook wouldn’t be able to say that Songs Of Innocence is the “largest album release in history” (on the grounds that Apple’s 500 million iTunes users “purchased” it). But Billboard has said it isn't playing along with that tactic.

And so much for that.

As for the actual album … is it any good?

I’ll let you know when I listen to it. I will say two things in advance:

1. I do like U2, but not all of their albums are great. That’s particularly true of their previous album No Line On The Horizon, IMO.

2. The preview tracks I heard on iTunes before I downloaded it weren’t very inspiring. But you can’t always tell with previews. And hey, free album.

Well, we’ll see. Stay tuned.

All that you can't leave behind, 

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Disco Bay
Mood: tiredtired
Now Playing: Ambient news
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
09 September 2014 @ 11:34 pm
It’s the Moon Festival in this part of the world.

I’m spending it in Mactan, as it happens. On business, sadly.


Anyway, here’s what the moon looks like over my hotel right now.



Meanwhile, here’s something appropriate for the holiday. More or less.



Liftoff,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Mactan, Cebu
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: See above
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
And now here’s the original Six Million Dollar Man theme song.

By Dusty Springfield.

True!



This is from the TV movie that served as the pilot for the actual show.

Obviously, they decided to go with a different theme for the series.



I think they made the right decision. Dusty Springfield is great and all, but I can’t imagine that song opening the show every week.

Catch him if you can,

This is dF

 
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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Devo, "Later Is Now"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
When news broke of all those nude celebrity photos being hacked out of iCloud (allegedly) and set loose on the interwubs, my Facebook feed was filled with posts blaming the celebrities for (1) taking nude pictures of themselves in the first place (because who DOES that?), (2) being dumb enough to put them “in the cloud” and then (3) having the nerve to complain that the pictures were made public.

Oh, and okay, yes, hacking bad. But godDAMN, celebrities, what were you THINKING?

Which annoys me in all kinds of ways, the main one being that it’s another case of blaming the victims, slut-shaming them and passing moral judgments on their behavior – as if Jennifer Lawrence was asking to have her private pictures distributed on Reddit because she actually let herself be photographed naked and put the pics in the cloud where hackers could get to them (unlike, say, the hard drive on her laptop or a thumb drive, which would be so much safer). Which is like arguing that if someone robs my bank, it’s my own fault for depositing my money where bank robbers could steal it.

I could go on. Fortunately this piece from Forbes (of all places) saves me a lot of typing. The short version: (1) nude selfies and sexting are part of human sexuality whether you personally approve or not, (2) “the cloud” isn’t some public park on the internet, and (3) cloud storage services like iCloud are designed to be both automated and – to the average user – indistinguishable from having content stored on your hard drive, all in the name of ease of use (which in turn means getting more people to use cloud services).

So lay off, maybe.

But then, for a lot of people, celebrities exist for us to kick around. The “blame the celebrities” meme is emblematic of society’s strange love/hate relationship with Good Looking Famous People, where Normal Decent People obsess over the juicy details of celebrities’ private lives so that when they do something outrageous or extremely naughty, we can hold it against them.

Invasion of Celebrity Privacy (a.k.a. celebrity gossip media) is a multi-billion dollar industry, and “candid” pics are a major component of that business. And it’s not just rags like New York Daily News or TMZ. Go look at The Huffington Post, where the “most popular stories ” sidebar is usually populated with stories about Kim Kardashian wearing something inappropriate in a restaurant or Miley Cyrus at a topless beach or a Beyonce nip-slip/sideboob picture or Taylor Swift’s sex tape. Because the public has a right to know, you see.

So in that context, it seems disingenuous for people to say “Shame on you for taking those pics” when there’s so much public demand for them.

To be fair, some people have focused their criticism in terms of “personal responsibility”. As in: “If you take naughty pics of yself, you should own up to it. Don't do it if you’d be embarrassed by it.”

I don’t really care for that line either, for a couple of reasons besides the ones I mentioned above: (1) everyone has aspects of themselves they want to keep private, including the critics, and (2) it suggests that you should always act as though you are being watched. Given how even the assumption of panopticon surveillance affects behavior, that grates against my more libertarian instincts.

The other “personal responsibility” angle is taking responsibility for security of yr private data, especially when so much of yr private data is constantly being collected and sold (legally and otherwise), in which case we should all know better by now so yr an idiot for not being more careful.

Technically this is a good point. But as mentioned above, not everyone knows how to go about doing that, and in this specific case they often assume that the cloud service provider has that covered. In which case the more helpful response isn’t “don’t take nude pics, slut” but “here’s how you can take steps to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands”.

Violet Blue has some great advice about that here. She also makes a good point: this isn’t just about celebrity pics getting stolen. This is everyone’s problem – and even more so for women, because the consequences can be more serious than minor embarrassment:

In the celebrity nudes aftermath this week I've seen tweets -- even from security professionals -- saying things like, "she shouldn't have spread her legs for an iPhone."

What BS. As if we deserve to lose our jobs, our friends, custody of our kids, our personal safety, our emotional well-being, or our mental health because we did what lots of people do voluntarily on Twitter every week (or what a million creepy dudes do on Tinder every day with their own "dick pics"). That’s stupid and just plain wrong.

When someone takes our personal photos and posts them online, it's not a joke.

It is a violation. It drives some women -- especially young women -- to suicide.

Suggesting that the violation of our consent is our fault is harassment.

Exactly. Which is why all the shame-based criticism comes across to me as the equivalent of “she asked for it” and abstinence-only sex education. It may not be intended that way. But that’s what it sounds like to me.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have taken nude selfies. I think it’s fun. And no, you can’t see them.

Ain’t that a shame,

This is dF


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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: annoyedannoyed
Now Playing: !!!, "Jump Back"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
1. IN THE STUDIO WITH THE DOOBIE BROTHERS

I am either Warren Zevon, or sitting in for him. I’m attending a kind of roundtable in a studio with the Doobie Brothers (circa “Black Water”). They’re jamming and recording, and they set up a drum kit for me so I can fill in for Warren. The drum kit is cramped, with the drums and cymbals placed too close together, and also set up for a left-handed drummer. I try to explain I’m right-handed, but they say don’t worry about that, just give it a shot. We start rolling, but I’m not sure what to do. I can keep a beat but I have to really concentrate. We stop and they decide to rearrange the room. We’re talking and joking, and I make sure the roadies set up the drums so I can play them better.

2. JAMES BOND WILL RETURN

A James Bond caper in which I’m in an experimental aircraft disguised as a cropduster. We’re chasing a cargo plane that has been souped up to fly at higher speeds. We are zipping around over the Thames – and I can see that it’s a late-70s Bond film because I see banners advertising the new Queen album, News Of The World. Somehow I end up straddling the plane’s runner as we get closer to the river’s surface, and inevitably I lose my balance and go skipping across the surface. I come to a stop in front of a riverside food stall selling rice crackers shaped like various fruits. The water is only knee deep, so I stand up and climb onto the waterfront.

3. GUITAR LESSON WITH ANGUS YOUNG

Angus Young shows me how to play “C.O.D.” on guitar. He uses a Saltine cracker for a pick, which makes the open strings vibrate differently. “That’s how you get that rich full-chord sound,” he says.

4. THE MIST

Teenage kids are on a rooftop, throwing balls into the mist below that shrouds the streets. It’s some kind of contest but they’re not sure what the objective is, since they can't see anything below the mist. As the mist clears, they see that the object is to bounce the ball as far as you can – there’s an invisible shield between rooftops, and you can walk on it. They bond over this and find some signage at the edge of a building that is overlooking a running track of some kind. They rearrange the signs so they overlap and say things like “Ericsson supports gay pride”.

5. JOIN THE ARMY

I am staying in some dorm-like place. I meet a bearded black guy who tells me he’s going into the military. I ask what branch, and try to give him some advice on what to expect. It occurs to me he’s the fifth guy I’ve met in this building who has signed up for the military – or possibly has been called up. This makes me wonder if there’s something going on.

Yr in the army now,

This is dF
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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Three Dog Night, "Jam"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
03 September 2014 @ 10:53 pm
There is trouble in Hong Kong.

The problem goes something like this:

We do not have universal suffrage when it comes to choosing a Chief Executive (CE). We have been promised by Beijing that at some point we can have universal suffrage as soon as they think we’re ready to have it. That time is theoretically 2017 (around ten years after the last time Beijing said we could have it, then decided we weren’t “ready”).

The past year has seen a lot of debate over how to implement universal suffrage in 2017, with several proposals being kicked around. This week, Beijing’s National People’s Congress (NPC) effectively picked one for us: we all get to vote for the next CE, but we don’t get to actually nominate who gets to run for CE. That will be determined by a “nominating committee” of 1,200 people who will, theoretically, represent all groups in HK, but in practice will pretty much nominate only candidates that Beijing likes.

That way, no matter who loses, Beijing wins.

The pan-democratic parties (i.e. political parties that have been pushing hard for democracy) find this unacceptable, not least because one of the criteria for nomination is being a “patriotic” person who “loves Hong Kong”. Which is as ominous as it sounds when Beijing is the one deciding who is patriotic and who isn’t.

And so now the showdown is about to begin. Possibly.

Activist groups have organized on both sides of the debate. Occupy Central opposes the NPC-approved framework and plans to shut down the Central business district with massive sit-in protests until the HK Govt approves a framework allowing the people to nominate their own candidates. Anti-Occupy groups like Alliance for Peace and Democracy argue that if we don’t take this deal, we’re not going to make any progress on universal suffrage for at least another decade, if ever.

That’s certainly how the HK Govt has been framing it with a PSA that suggest if Occupy Central goes ahead, the deal is off and we get nothing (and you can blame them gawdamn Occupy protesters for that). The HK Govt has also said that the planned Occupy Central protest would be illegal anyway, and they’re not in the business of negotiating with lawbreakers. So there.

What happens from here is a big question mark, if only because Occupy Central leader Benny Chan has already admitted support for his group has dwindled following the NPC decision (although he’s since backtracked and said the people backing out due to “pragmatism” will be replaced by unpragmatic college students pissed off about the decision, so game on).

So if Occupy Central goes ahead, it’s either going to be a poor turnout, or a bigger and much angrier turnout.

In which case this probably isn’t going to end well.

TL;DRCollapse )

I could be wrong. I have a feeling we're going to find out. 

Developing ....

The revolution starts soon,

This is dF

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Where the hell am I?: Disco Bay
Mood: blahblah
Now Playing: Grinderman, "Depth Charge Ethel"
 
 
 
def_fr0g_42
Drive-by news analysis from Team Frog Batshit Political Curator Lucky Bensonhurst

ITEM: Finally, something Democrat and Republican voters can agree on: they both hate Congressional Republicans.

That’s according to a poll from Quinnipiac University, which found that, overall, the majority of Republicans polled (56%) disapprove of their own party in Congress. Democrats, by contrast, are more overwhelmingly supportive of Congressional Democrats (63%).

More details at HuffPo.

We all know about polls, of course (though this is an academic poll, not an online Fox News poll, but still, polls eh?). But the results aren't really that surprising. Establishment Republicans running for Congress this year have been fighting off Tea Party challengers. And while many of the establishment candidates have been successful, some have lost. And pretty much all of my Republican colleagues tended to back the Tea Party person for the usual reason – namely, the Establishment GOP is too fucking liberal for them. They want Real Conservatives who will stand up to the tyranny of Lord Obama, not these pansy bleeding-heart moderates who talk about weak bullshit like compromise. FUCK COMPROMISE, JIM! OBAMA IS TOO DANGEROUS FOR COMPROMISE! NEVER GIVE IN! Et cetera.

Yes. Ha ha.

So in terms of approval/disapproval, it’s no surprise the GOP is getting hammered from their own side.

For the liberals tempted to make serious hay of this and predict the Democrats are going to kick ass in November, sorry kids, but no. They don’t stand a chance in the House this year and their odds of keeping the Senate are slim. The meaningful takeaway here is that the Tea Party still has a lot of clout, and isn’t going to go away quietly like John Boehner was perhaps hoping they would.

Which, ironically, is bad news for the GOP in the longer term, according to John A. Tures, political science professor at LaGrange College in Georgia, because polls also suggest that the Tea Party’s hardcore policies are not really very popular:

But long term, this isn't a positive sign for the GOP for two reasons. First, they are likely to interpret their 2014 electoral victories as a sign that they are loved by the people, and will stay the course. Second, as demographics continue to take their course, the Republicans will fall further behind. The policies, such as their hard line on immigration, will only get worse.

Perhaps. On the other hand, that also assumes that Republican voters who prefer an establishment candidate would rather vote Demo than vote for a Tea Party Republican. I’m not too convinced of that. Tures does say “long term”, but that could mean anywhere from four to 40 years. Given both current demographic realities and the prospect of President Hillary Clinton in 2016 – and Hillary can expect the same amount of cooperation from a GOP-controlled House and/or Senate that Glorious Leader Obama is getting now (which is to say, none whatsoever) – Repub voters will probably stick to the GOP for at least the next decade no matter how batshit they become. Better a dysfunctional batshit democracy than a Socialist dictatorship, eh Ted?

Either way, it does indicate weird times ahead for the GOP. It will spend the next few election cycles at war with itself and – I suspect – adopting more unpopular positions that they’ll back as long as it doesn’t hurt their overall election chances, if only because of voter inertia. In which case the GOP could possibly* go down in American history as the most successful political party with the lowest approval ratings ever.

*PRODUCTION NOTE: I say “possibly” because I’m not sure what the current record is for party wins vs approval ratings. It’s worth remembering too that the Demos’ approval ratings aren’t exactly stellar right now (though they’re still higher than the GOP). Still.

– L. Bensonhurst
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Where the hell am I?: Causeway Bay
Mood: awakeawake
Now Playing: Pat Benatar, "It's A Tuff Life"