A geography of rock, part 1: Styx, REO Speedwagon, Kansas and the dangerous expanse of the Midwest…

Expansive, windy music produced by Arena Rock icons whose members for the most part grew up in an expansive, windy environment…

“I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free, and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures, and where everything drew a free breath.” – Chief Ten Bears

Styx (image courtesy Pastime Viewpoints)

I was sitting in a steak house with my close friend and lead guitarist, Steve, sipping in a beer and waiting for our food to be served. The restaurant’s music system was playing the Styx hit “Renegade.”

“This band sucks, but there’s a great moment in this song,” Steve said. I agreed.

When the moment came, late in the song, Steve and I yelled simultaneously, “That’s it!”

It was 1-2 second drum roll.

My opinion of the successful arena rock bands that came out of the Midwest in the seventies – Styx, of course (Chicago), Kansas (Topeka), and REO Speedwagon (Champaign/Urbana) has never been particularly high. My iPod (yes, I’m that kind of dinosaur) has about 8000 songs on it. There are none by any of these bands. Continue reading

Floyd Mayweather is going to give Conor McGregor the girlfriend experience

And by “girlfriend experience,” I don’t mean the prostitution/sugar daddy thing. I mean the kind of experience that Floyd Mayweather routinely lays on the women in his life.

My initial reaction to the talk of a Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor match was bafflement: what the fuck are McGregor and Dana White thinking? He’s going to get beaten senseless.

If it’s a pure boxing match, anyway. (I didn’t know the details yet, so I had to speculate.) But White and McGregor wouldn’t do that. These are savvy people interested in protecting their best interests, right?

So it couldn’t be a boxing match. No way Mayweather is dumb enough to agree to MMA rules. And I couldn’t really imagine how you’d craft a hybrid that would level the field. Continue reading

Trump is the tycoon of failure

tmg-article_talljpeg_quality20In the wake of the collapse of the latest Republican plan to eradicate the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump claimed:

“We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they are going to say ‘How do we fix it, how do we fix it’ or ‘How do we come up with a new plan?’ We’ll see what happens, but I am disappointed because for so many years, I’ve been hearing ‘repeal and replace.'”

As is often the case when Trump tries to explain how politics work, he’s wrong. Perhaps, eventually, the kind people on “Fox and Friends” will explain to him that he doesn’t get to pick and choose all of the issues he will be saddled with as president.

There are at least three major reasons why Trump will own this failure.

Continue reading

American dreaming

The weary king of a used garment nation…

An older gentleman dozing in his van while a summer breeze animates an American flag and the late morning sun illuminates the multitude of second-hand clothing he had for sale at the Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco…

(Alemany Flea Market, San Francisco, California 2017. See my other work here and here.)

Some people hate higher ed…but they love their teams….

“While 58 percent of Republicans believe colleges and universities have a negative impact on the direction of the United States, I sincerely doubt they feel the same way about their alma maters, their public flagship institutions, the university hospital where their children were born and especially their chosen intercollegiate basketball and football teams.” – Christopher Marsicano, Inside Higher Ed

Graph of recent Pew poll findings (image courtesy of Forbes)

The academic in me thinks this would make an exercise for students learning about critical thinking.

MSM made much of a recent Pew poll that shows Republicans and Democrats vary widely in their views of various institutions including higher education. The graph on the right shows that nearly two-thirds of self-identified Republicans had negative views of colleges and universities. Left leaning news sources spun this poll data to show that Republican voters are knuckle dragging Troglodytes who revel in their ignorance and want to force that ignorance on everyone else. Right leaning news sources spun this same data to show that these same Republican voters are perspicacious judges of higher education who recognize that universities are hotbeds of political correctness run amok who block free speech, infantilize young people with “safe spaces,” and hire pinko faculty who indoctrinate the youth of America with wrong-headed values.  Continue reading

Tokyo laundromatters

“I’m down at the laundromat trying to get my washing done.” –The Pretenders

Part of my S&R Tokyo Series

When I travel to Tokyo I stay in an apartment building in Nakano 5-chome. There’s a small laundromat a five minute walk away that’s not only convenient for quickly doing several loads of wash, but is also on occasion a great place to photograph people. Behold…

He seemed like a college student to me, but my Japanese is bad so I didn’t ask…

Continue reading

Gannett adopts the blue dot, emblematic of market-driven thinking, at its newspapers

Oh, my. Look at the dot. It’s blue. It’s representative of “one unified network,” says the chief marketing officer of Gannett, owner of the USA Today Network.

screen-shot-2017-07-13-at-4-36-08-pmThe blue dot — and accompanying typographic changes to logos — has begun to appear in the online identities of nine USA Today Network outlets. The remaining 110 news outlets will make the changes in the next several months, says Andy Yost, Gannett’s marketing chief. Even print edition front-page flags will receive typographic makeovers.

It’s just a damned blue dot. But it’s symbolic of ownership-driven “branding” that eliminates distinctive local audience and market identities among its member newspapers. All 110 USA Today Network newspaper logos will have that little blue dot and similar topography.

Inoffensive nationwide blandness has been Gannett’s modus operandi for decades. USA Today was created to be a national constant no matter where a reader consumed it. Hence its nickname — McPaper. A Big Mac tastes the same, no matter whether you eat it in Portland, Maine, or Portland, Oregon. USA Today, dropped before 6 a.m. at the door of your motel room, looks the same in Greenfield, California, as it does in Greenfield, Massachusetts. That kind of thinking pervades Gannett’s newspapers, because, as the logo says, they’re “part of the USA Today Network.”

Continue reading

Climate Science for Everyone: correlation and causation (updated)

Correlation does not prove causation, but lack of correlation doesn’t disprove causation either.

IPCC AR5 WG1 Decadal variation in global temperature (IPCC)

To read other articles in this series, click here.

UPDATE: After some feedback, I’ve added a bunch of graphs to the number lists below to help clarify.

What does it mean when someone says “correlation does not prove causation?” It’s a common phrase uttered by individuals who deny that climate change is happening, that it is dominated by the industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), and that the changes will be disruptive to both ecosystems and human society (aka industrial climate disruption, global warming, or climate change). In order to understand why these deniers of industrial climate disruption are wrong, we first have to understand what they’re talking about when they’re talking about correlation, causation, and the relationships between the two.

What is correlation?

Correlation is a measurement of how related two different sets of numbers are to each other. Continue reading