July 12, 2013

blues in the street

Filed under:, , , , , , — cwage @ 4:10 am

I was reading a bit of Nashville history in George Zepp's wonderful Hidden History of Nashville and ran across the story of Cortelia Clark. I was surprised I had never encountered this man or his music before. He was a street musician, and a Nashvillian by way of Chicago. He lived at 934 Jefferson Street in a small wooden frame house, located just up from where the Garden Brunch Cafe is now. Sadly, this house was the site of an unfortunate accident in which his kerosene stove exploded and caught fire. He survived briefly, though eventually passed in the hospital -- his friends claiming that the hospital cooking wasn't as good as his wife's, and he lost his will to live. An album of interviews and his music won a grammy in 1967 for best folk recording.

I understand he performed in a number of places downtown, but most commonly on 5th avenue between Church and Union, which coincidentally is now the locus of a small resurgence in the arts itself. Check out an interview and a song below:

The street sounds in the background crack me up. Sounds like 5th avenue was a livelier place in 1965.

May 10, 2013

pretty as a singer, fine as a stripper

Filed under:, , — cwage @ 5:40 pm

I really like Killer Mike's "R.A.P. Music", but "Southern Fried" has possibly one of the most facepalmingly (a quick google search verifies unfortunately that I did not just invent this word) awful stanzas ever:

Moet? Rolex. Big Benz, no flex
Wedding ring on finger, I married a Trina
Pretty as a singer, Fine as a stripper
When we in the strip club strippers try to tip her

I am not certain it's the sentiment that is terrible so much as the rhyme scheme. Come on, man!

May 6, 2013

why ditching your “loser” friends makes you a giant douche nozzle

Filed under:, — cwage @ 3:57 pm

There's this article floating around called "Why Successful People Leave Their Loser Friends Behind" that I find incredibly repulsive. Let's ignore for the moment the most obviously distasteful things about it: the fact that it's hosted on a domain called "addicted2success.com", and that it has a photo of Richard Branson and two other dudes looking like the world's biggest toolbags. Or that it claims Hemingway was "one of the greatest American writers of all time". Seriously? Top 100. Maybe.

Those are bad, but the actual sentiment of the article is pretty terrible too:

If someone could improve his life, he spent as much time around them as possible. If someone could drag him down, he never spent more than five minutes around them. After following his “make or break” list, the man was able to become a millionaire within three years.

GUYS! Simply ditch your loser friends and YOU could be a MILLIONAIRE within THREE YEARS!! Seriously? What is this, Amway for my social life? I've known people that ditched their "loser" friends. Most of the time they were stellar examples of Dunning-Kruger -- convinced of their own superiority despite all evidence to the contrary, and blaming their failures on the perceived mediocrity of their peers. Often these people were of the "I gotta get out of this shit town" types that fled to a bigger city, because only there would their sparkling majesty be realized.

I've maintained a lot of relationships throughout my life with friends that have taken all sorts of paths in their life, very few of which have made them rich or powerful. Ditching them would not have made me rich or successful, it would have just made me an asshole -- and much poorer (in a quality-of-life sense) than I am now. Certainly there's a valid point to be considered in culling relationships that are clearly damaging to you, but doing it based on some half-assed notion that you need to hang out with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce in order to be successful is setting yourself up for disappointment. (Not in the least because they are all dead!)

Here's how you can be successful: Maintain relationships with people you enjoy the company of, regardless of their objective/material success. Put a little work in reaching out to relationships which are stagnating due to divergent paths (I am admittedly terrible about this one). Don't be a giant douche nozzle.

May 1, 2013

letter to the editor, 1998

Filed under:, , , , , , , , , — cwage @ 9:25 am

I found an old letter to the editor that I wrote in 1998 to Boston U's Daily Free Press in response to some awful opinion piece about how the Internet was terrible. I can't find any trace of the piece I was responding to, but I know they ran it on January 23, 1998. They also published my response, but I can't find any trace of that either. The gist of his opinion was that the Internet was "out of control" and needs to be regulated before things just get out of hand. Hilarious, right? Funny how much things have changed since those simple times. Oh ... wait.

So, for your amusement:


April 23, 2013

who the fuck wants to live in a walled garden?

Filed under:, , , , , , , — cwage @ 2:06 am

Guys, the internet is broken. Can we start over? Let's review a few incredibly infuriating examples of why the internet is driving me nuts, lately:

  • Google invents the ultimate tool for information gathering and sharing (Google Reader), recruits an entire generation of devotees and information addicts, and then brutally murders it, because they want to drive more eyeballs to G+ because they need to compete with Facebook, even though no one actually uses G+. Thanks, shitheads.
  • theoldreader.com (an awesome Google Reader replacement) lets you share posts to Facebook, kinda like how Google Reader does. Awesome! ... Except that facebook now relegates all such shared content to "recent activity" -- a sad little widget outside the main timeline that no one ever sees, rather than showing up in anyone's timeline. Why? Facebook is trying to discourage third-party apps because they want to drive eyeballs to their website, where they can foist ever-increasing levels of "sponsored content".
  • Amazon Kindle's highlighting is basically useless because they only post the content to an obscure hidden URL buried in Amazon's website, and only for Amazon's purchased books, because they want to keep their users buried in an insular corner of their website. Fuck if I know why, but it probably has something to do with some idiot's grand idea to eventually sell ads. Possibly it has something to do with DRM, but that's a rant for a different day.
  • Twitter neuters ifttt.com (an awesome trigger/automation service) by locking down its API because .. why? You guessed it: they want eyeballs on their website.

The end result, increasingly, is that no one can fucking interact with anyone. What happened to the Internet where information was shared anywhere you liked as quickly as you could read it, and every awesome new web 2.0 app that emerged held the potential to interact in a million different ways with the rest? Remember when people read and shared stuff other than the same 3 damn huffingtonpost.com URLs circulated all fuckin day long? I actually distinctly remember a conversation I had with Marcus Whitney over delicious beers at the broadway brewhouse when facebook was first released. We were both ranting about how awesome it was, and how much potential it had. It really was an exciting prospect at the time. I specifically remember telling him I thought it was amazing because it had the potential to be sortof a central repository/clearing-house/aggregator for all of our different websites/feeds/data: my blog, my google reader shared items, my flickr stream. A true internet "presence" by way of all the different ways I could hook my data into it. This was true, at the time, too. Oh, how things changed. Oh, how wrong, wrong, wrong I was.

I miss those days. Social media doesn't deserve its name anymore -- there's nothing social about it. They're all high-walled gardens. I don't know how to extend the metaphor to make it clear how much this sucks. Maybe imagine some dudes on the top of the walls peeing on all of us. That works. We're getting peed on, guys.

April 10, 2013

a few things about the bitcoin turbulence

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 10:03 pm

DISCLAIMER: a lot of people are going to skim or not read this at all and just assume I'm another neckbeard technocrat bitcoin fanboy. That's fine. I am fascinated by the bitcoin experiment, and the prospect of an alternative currency pegged to a steady rate of growth mathematically, whether it's deflationary or inflationary. I have not invested any money in bitcoin, in any case, so this is not a personal or defensive screed.

  • Bitcoin is a currency designed to be a medium for exchange of value. It's a commodity, but it has no intrinsic purpose or use (as opposed to, say, gold -- making analogies with it close, but flawed). The fact that people are choosing to invest in it now is in no way related to its intended purpose.
  • The current hyperdeflation is not the sort of deflation people talk about when they refer to Bitcoin's inherent deflation. There is inherent deflation in bitcoin caused by the fixed target supply of 21 million BTC (relative to the natural expansive tendency of an economy's productive capacity), and natural attrition by loss/deletion, but this is stable and minor compared to the volatility currently being experienced.
  • The current hyperdeflation is being caused by rampant speculation and hedging that is multicausal, and many of the causes are unknown. Some of the best guesses are simple "get rich quick" investors pushing the bubble. Another is that people are hedging their bets because of the Cyprus bailout and the increasingly likely implosion of the eurozone.
  • Predicting that the current very high price of bitcoin will drop is not exactly a stunning observation. An intense speculative bubble is destined to pop. Most everyone buying BTC surely knows this. Identifying this fact means you're able to utilize common sense. Braying about it self-righteously with I-told-you-so's (directed at whom, exactly?) makes you sound like kindof a jerk.
  • ... it also makes you quite wrong, considering many people almost certainly did become very rich in the selloff today.
  • Others will probably lose money, and they'll probably whine about it. This happens in any bubble of speculation. Tulips, anyone? Gambling real money on a speculative bubble is a very stupid move unless you're very rich.
  • Thinking that this bubble popping means the end of the experiment is also a bit silly. Especially considering it's far from over, and that the price of BTC is up over, what, 2800% from this time a year ago? A decrease from $260 to $165 means a lot of volatility and lost money, but it will not end here. It means that the experiment is going to be annoyed and hampered by speculation. If you think that BTC is the only currency ever to have been inconvenienced by speculation, well ... that's a thing you think that's wrong. You wrong-thinker. The wild volatility we're seeing right now has no bearing on the future success or failure of the real bitcoin experiment (see above), except insofar as the volatility and extreme volume may put the infrastructure and technology to the test -- which is a good thing. It it fails, we can try something else.
  • If you think that Bitcoin is an imaginary fake currency, you're wrong. Trust me on this, or verify it for yourself if you like. Millions of USD worth of BTC aren't flying around because people are just really that keen on being in on the next grand economic experiment. People are using it. That doesn't mean it's a permanent success, but it's not imaginary.
  • I forgot what the last bullet point was

April 6, 2013

Satoshi Nakamoto == Milton Friedman duh

Filed under:, , , , , , , , — cwage @ 7:20 pm

"I've always been in favor of abolishing the federal reserve, and substituting a machine program that would keep the supply of money going up at a steady rate."

-- Milton Friedman

So .. basically we acknowledge that Satoshi Nakamoto is Milton Friedman, right?

April 3, 2013

vegetable protein

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 7:47 pm

Disclaimer: this is not a rah rah meat post. I love meat. I also love vegetables.

So, I normally don't bite on stupid facebook memes, but this one is so egregiously stupid I had to comment -- especially because nutrition is a pet topic/peeve of mine. So this image is floating around facebook:


So, you don't have to be a nutritional expert to get the impression these numbers are ... amiss. Cucumbers? 24% protein? So, I can't pretend to know where they got these numbers, but the numbers for beef, chicken and egg are accurate, as a calculation of % protein by weight. So I fixed the image using that as a calculation for the vegetables:


These are a little off in some regards -- I used small gram amounts, so some figures yielded 0g when really there's some fractional amount. Also, to be fair, using percentages by weight doesn't really mean anything. What you should really look at is percentage by kilocalorie content. So here's the real version fixed:


Spinach is awesome. This is why I eat bales of it. I think my favorites on this list are cucumbers, which have hardly any protein at all. That, and parsley. Listing parsley on a protein content infographic is hilarious. I would love to watch someone eat enough parsley to get their RDA of protein.

March 5, 2013

the scene’s 2013 photo contest

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 9:49 pm

Some of the photos from the Scene's photo contest that I thought were noteworthy:

  • Scott Simontacchi, “Eloise,” Bowling Avenue
  • Holden Head, “Pasiphae,” East Nashville -- I actually found this photograph to be grotesque, but that doesn't make it a bad one. It did get me reading about Pasiphae. Pasiphae, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Helios that fucked a bull and gave birth to the Minotaur, and represented the evils of feminine lust and excess. I am not 100% certain what the connection between her and this photograph is, but it got me thinking/reading, so there's that.

February 25, 2013

on cunt

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 11:47 pm

I thought the onion's joke was hilarious. The joke:

"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhan Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?"

For those (like me) that maybe didn't actually watch the Oscars: Quvenzhan Wallis is a 9-year old actress up for an award at the ceremony. A few of the hypothetical reasons proposed that this joke was horrible and should have immediately been deleted, and my response to them:

The word "cunt" is horrible and offensive and should never be used ever.

Yeah ... no.

Still, it was kinda funny, but they should have chosen a less inflammatory word, like "bitch".

What? Frankly, bitch is just as horrible a word in a colloquial context. The inflammatory, derogatory gendered nature of the word is specifically what made the joke so funny.

I don't get it. Why are they calling a 9-year old a cunt?

Because calling a 9 year old girl a cunt is a horrible, horrible thing to do -- similar to all the horrible, horrible things floated in the name of snarky Oscars commentary. Often, these things center around highly contentious and offensive gender notions/roles. Get it? This is not horribly complicated humor.

I still don't get it -- I find it easier to be obtuse and pretend I've never read The Onion and I don't really get how humor works, because I really love Being Offended.

Er .. okay.

Okay, fine, you're right. The onion is pretty hilarious and often risque. But still, no one should ever objectify a 9 year old in that way, no matter what their intent. If anyone called my little girl a cunt, I'd kidneypunch them.

If we're going to go down the "protect the virgin ears of an oh so innocent child" route, might I remind you that this is a 9 year old actress that was in a movie that spent the evening at the Oscars -- a gathering of arguably some of the worst people in the world. I find it hard to believe that being called a cunt on the internet is really the most damaging aspect of her experience for her, assuming she would have heard about it at all. It's not like the Onion sent a correspondent on to the red carpet to call a little girl a cunt to her face. But she will hear about it, now, undoubtedly -- thanks to the indignant claims of offense and raucous calls for censure. It's headline news, now. (Nice work, indignant public!)

So yes, she probably has heard about it. What horrible things exactly are we imagining have happened as a result? A brief explanation by her parents that it was a joke poking fun at institutional sexism and the vacuity of celebrity viciousness in general? A more in-depth conversation about the power of the word "cunt" and how its colloquial usage is pernicious and should be avoided, and how the Onion turned that on its head to make a rather biting point? A quick lesson that the Onion is, in fact, hilarious? Are we really claiming exasperated offense at this idea because we are so cynical so as to assume that she's so stupid she won't understand any of this? Or that her parents are too stupid to explain it to her?

Okay, yeah, but ... the word "cunt" is horrible and should never be used ever.


It seems to me that any reasonably intelligent adult (I realize this rules out a lot of the American population, but stay with me here, dear reader) can discern the difference between using a slur in a casual way that promulgates a negative stereotype (which I have talked about at length) and using it in a specific way to make a point, or a joke. Given that, the crux of the Onion's supposedly horrible offense was making the joke in a context where this 9 year old girl might hear about it (and ignoring for the moment the relative initial implausibility of this), let's examine this for what it is: the rough equivalent of grown adults making a joke to eachother using a word in a context that a 9 year old might not understand, and a 9 year old in the next room maybe overhearing it. Do you: a) pull the kid aside, explain to them that "cunt" is a horrible word and that mommy was making a joke, or b) freak the fuck out and accuse the person telling the joke of being a horrible misogynist bully, even though you know they're not and that you're being willfully obtuse so you can be a big jerk?

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