2009-08-28

FAS: "Vagabond" by Wolfmother

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"Vagabond" by Wolfmother

All the songs up for vote this week were from the movie (500) Days of Summer, which for its "ehh" factor and entertaining but over-hypedness, had two great things going for it. One, the dude from 3rd Rock From The Sun pulled out an amazing performance jumping back into the mainstream. And two, the soundtrack is great.

With fans that include Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Metallica's Lars Ulrich, and noted songster Alice Cooper, Wolfmother bring back the sound from the drug-induced, guitar smashing, distortion pedal days of classic rock. When your sounds has been compared to that of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Cream, Black Sabbath, and "a teenage Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf kind of band" then you know you are doing something right.

And another thing that makes them rock. They are Australian. And as everyone knows, the down-under produces some heavy rockers (AC/DC, Silverchair, Jet, and hotel-thrashing group The Wiggles).

The original, Grammy-winning line-up of the band who released their self-titled album in 2005 unfortunately split up in August 2008 due to "irreconcilable personal and musical differences." The lead singer and guitarist then pledged to continue under the Wolfmother moniker and put together an entirely new group built around him. The new lineup's first album, Cosmic Egg is set to be released on 13 October 2009.

For those of you who haven't heard Wolfmother, or specifically this song, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

And now this week's FAS...

"Vagabond" by Wolfmother


Cheers,

Book of the Month - The Blue Sweater

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Cover of "The Blue Sweater: Bridging the ...Cover via Amazon

If you were to ask me to make a list of my favorite blogs, without question TED.com and Seth Godin's blog would finish in the top 10. Having said that, it shouldn't surprise you that TED regular Jacqueline Novogratz's new book "The Blue Sweater" (Seth provides a review on the back jacket) is the first book I'm recommending.

Before I begin however, let me answer the most important question on behalf of you (the blog reader). Why should I care? Thankfully Steve Cunningham has you covered:
Have you ever wondered what it would take to change the world? That’s what you’ll learn if you read Jacqueline Novogratz’s amazing book The Blue Sweater. It documents her journey from a twenty-something idealist to what she is today – a pragmatic innovator who is helping millions out of poverty. Most importantly, it will show you that true innovation starts with one thing: understanding people and culture.

Summary


The title of the book is pulled directly from Ms. Novogratz's life thanks to an encounter that forever changed her life. One day while jogging on the streets of Rwanda, she stumbled across a child wearing a blue sweater that looked remarkably a lot like one she used to love as a child. Upon further inspection, she discovered that it not only looked like her sweater, it was the very sweater she had donated to Goodwill many years earlier back in the states. Here's how she beings her story:

"They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I took mine and fell flat of my face. As a young woman, I dreamed of changing the world. In my twenties, I went to Africa to try and save the continent, only to learn that Africans neither wanted nor needed saving. Indeed, when I was there, I saw some of the worst that good intentions, traditional charity, and aid can produce: failed programs that left people in the same or worse conditions. The devastating impact of the Rwandan genocide on a people I'd come to love shrank my dreams even further. I concluded that if I could only nudge the world a little bit, maybe that would be enough.

But nudging isn't enough. The gap between rich and poor is widening across the world, creating a dire situation that is neither socially just nor economically sustainable. Moreover, my work in Africa also taught me about the extraordinary resilience of people for whom poverty is a reality not because they don't work hard, but because there are too many obstacles in their way."
Her work in Africa ultimately led to the creation of the Acumen Fund, the world's first non-profit to focus on investing in entrepreneurs / market mechanisms to solve social issues, and a new concept coined by Ms. Novogratz known as "patient capital." However, her journey was not without a few missteps, a fact that ultimately serves as one of the primary strengths of this book, as it reveals that success is never preordained.

The many ups and downs of her career working with the world's poor and various humanitarian groups dedicated to eradicting poverty provide the central narrative of the book, and it is through those encouters that ultimately brings her to the following conclusion (h/t Ed Brenegar):

After more than 20 years of working in African, India, and Pakistan, I've learned that solutions to poverty must be driven by discipline, accountability, and market strength, not easy sentimentality. I've learned that many of the answers to poverty lie in the space between the market and charity and that what is needed most of all is moral leadership willing to build solutions from the perspectives of poor people themselves rather than imposing grand theories and plans upon them.
Indeed.
-------------------------------------------------

For any non-readers out there, here's a great summary from Read It For Me:



And here's the video that persuaded me to buy the book:

2009-08-27

If You Thought the iPhone Was Cool

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Then the video below will absolutely blow your mind. Quick summary: since we can't develop our own 6th sense, MIT Media Labs figured out a way to build one for us (the shenanigans begin around the 3:00 mark):



(h/t Mashable)

2009-08-25

If It's Good Enough for Europe It's Good Enough For Dallas

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Most of you are already aware that I have a certain nostalgia for my time in Paris, France (Exhibit A). What you may not know however (other than Andrea who witnesses my frustration while driving over and over again) is that one of the things that struck me the most during my few months abroad was something that I doubt finds its way into many guide books; France has an extremely efficient highway system.

For some anecdotal evidence let me add that while driving from Paris to Pamplona, Spain, the following quickly became apparent about French highways:

  1. The left lane is only for passing
  2. The horn is there to remind drivers of this fact
  3. Large trucks (update: aka 18 wheelers) have a lower speed limit
  4. Therefore large trucks only drive in the right lane
  5. This really makes for a more pleasurable driving experience; and
  6. Socialism results in $25 tolls on a public highway
I think the uniqueness of the American driving experience prevents us from ever achieving the Nirvana that is #1, and without a doubt #6 is a pretty terrible policy choice. Therefore, upon my return I began championing the cause of #4. Unfortunately I've never really had an empirical evidence to back up my claim in #5.

That is until this morning when I stumbled upon the following from Unfair Park:
For the last four years, the Texas Department of Transportation and the North Central Texas Council of Governments have been restricting big rigs from driving in the left lane along small sections of I-20 and I-30. And they're delighted with the results of the pilot program: Dan Kessler, NTCOG assistant director, will tell the Dallas City Council's Transportation and Environment Committee this afternoon that the restrictions have reduced the number of crashes, increased travel speed and cut down on pollution. Which is why they're recommending, come spring 2010 (or "ozone season"), expanding the restrictions along I-20, I-30 and I-45 south of downtown Dallas (Page 11 of the briefing has the map).
I'd be interested to see if any other cities have already adopted this approach, and if so, what the results have been in terms of highway safety.

2009-08-21

FAS: "Lump" by Presidents of the United States of America

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Ladies and gentlemen, let's just get right down to it. I present this week's Friday Afternoon Song.

"Lump" by Presidents of the United States of America

"Lump lingered last in line for brains
And the ones she got were sorta rotten and insane
Small things so sad that birds could land
Is lump fast asleep or rockin out with the band"



This song, and frankly entire album, has special memories for me recounting early high school days of driving around in my old '82 Chevy Silverado with a 350, saddle gas tanks, and dual exhaust (yes, I am from West Texas. Those things are standard issue and you are expected to know what they do.), and could literally blow up if I ever got hit hard from the side. We got a "Safety Recall" letter from Chevrolet on that one telling us to stop driving it. It is still at our house, live and kicking. But I digress...

For this week's background, I do not think that I can state it any better than our friends at The Burning Ear (a music blog for people who don't have time for music blogs). So take it away:

The Presidents Of The United States Of America exploded onto the scene in 1995 with “Lump,” the endlessly catchy thump-fest that grabbed me by the face and dragged me to my local record store. Anyone else smart enough to pick up their self-titled debut was treated to one of the most solid rock albums of the 90s. “Lump” was followed by “Kitty,” “Peaches,” and “Dune Buggy,” for all I’m concerned, the whole album could have been singles. Surprisingly, POTUSA are still around and recently released their 5th album. I haven’t heard anything since 1996’s disappointing II and I don’t think I will. Unless someone tells me to… Anyway, if you don’t already have it then you should pick their debut from Amazon. It’s going used for a penny. How’s that treatin’ you? Still got an excuse? Yeah, thought so. [check out the original post]

I agree 100% with Mr. Ear, and even considered making this week's FAS a hit list of Dune Buggy, Kitty, Boll Weevil and Kick Out The Jams (which the noted college cover band, Drying Off Grandpa, attempted to cover at one time, which along with Party Hard by Andrew W.K. was unfortunately received with little fan-fare.). But frankly that would take to long. Sorry.

Now, put down your iPhones, close those spreadsheets, grab the closest pin-wheel and/or penny whistle and start finger drumming...

"LUMP" by PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Cheers,


2009-08-19

Martin Feldstein Has No Clothes

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From his Op-Ed in yesterday's WSJ:

The president has emphasized the importance of limiting services to "health care that works." To identify such care, he provided more than $1 billion in the fiscal stimulus package to jump-start Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) and to finance a federal CER advisory council to implement that idea. That could morph over time into a cost-control mechanism of the sort proposed by former Sen. Tom Daschle, Mr. Obama's original choice for White House health czar. Comparative effectiveness could become the vehicle for deciding whether each method of treatment provides enough of an improvement in health care to justify its cost.

In the British national health service, a government agency approves only those expensive treatments that add at least one Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) per £30,000 (about $49,685) of additional health-care spending. If a treatment costs more per QALY, the health service will not pay for it. The existence of such a program in the United States would not only deny lifesaving care but would also cast a pall over medical researchers who would fear that government experts might reject their discoveries as "too expensive."

Which is a great reason why Americans really aren't interested in the British system, socialism aside. I'd only add that no one is talking about copying the NHS, or to quote Alex Massie:

There are, I think, two essential truths in international health policy. No-one sees fit to copy the National Health Service and no-one sees fit to copy the American system.
Which is not to say that there aren't legitimate conservative critiques of reform, but this isn't one of them.

This is.

Are You An Angry Person?

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Your answer to the following question is surprisingly a pretty good indicator (h/t Boing Boing):

Here's a test: let's say a meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been moved forward two days. What is the new day of the meeting?
While you're thinking about your answer, I'll go ahead and say that I thought this seemed like a trick question plain and simple. I mean there could only be one possible answer right? Monday comes before Wednesday, so therefore if you move the meeting forward congratulations you've lost two days to prepare for said meeting.

Well apparently my inability to realize that Friday could also be the answer is due to the fact that I'm not an angry person:
If you think [the meeting is] Friday, you imagine time as something you move through. If you think it's Monday, you think of time as something that passes by you. So what? Well, according to the British Psychological Society, "Friday" people have an angrier disposition, than "Monday" people.
Just a quick anecdote to confirm that idea, one time in college I was awarded "best demeanor" by some ladies who were trying to compile the perfect male out of our immediate group of friends (for those of you who know Hal Denbar, he was awarded "best feet").

I didn't consider that to be a scientifically verifiable hypothesis at the time, but now it's clear that this has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

And you guys thought blogging was a waste of time...

2009-08-18

Chart of the Day

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(Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)

2009-08-14

FAS: "Reptilia" by The Strokes

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Another week of Friday Afternoon Song hits the streets with the post-punk song "Reptilia." Hopefully I don't get another nasty email from International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for infringing on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) like I did for the MGMT post last week. If it happens again, I'm going to have to get a player on this B so that you folks can't download it.

"Reptilia" by The Strokes

The Strokes, forever stamped as one of the many "The" bands to hit the stage in the early 2000's (The Hives, The Strokes, The Stills, The Kills, The Darkness, The Justin Timberlake), hail from New York City, where they began playing while attending the Dwight School in Manhattan. Lead by notable leather-lauriette Julian Casablancas - who met lead guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr while attending a Swiss boarding school to resolve a drinking problem and improve his academics - the band received worldwide recognition for their debut album Is This It in 2001.

"Reptilia" is the second single from their second album, Room On Fire. Interestingly, the title refers to the Reptilian Complex, the central part of one's brain that handles basic emotions such as love and hate. Perfect for the subject of any song.

Along with being covered extensively and being a crowd (and Mike Ivey) favorite of noted college cover band, Drying Off Grandpa, it has also been featured in the video games Rock Band, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits.

And the bass line is a blast to play.

Ladies and gentlemen, your FAS...

"Reptilia" by The Strokes


Cheers,

2009-08-10

Jokers to the Right

2 comments

But then again...

Clowns To the Left of Me

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Wondering why paying for health care with a surtax on the rich might not be the best way to go?

2009-08-05

Contra Jay-Z

1 comments

This is the rebirth of auto-tune:




And just because I love this song, here's Jay-Z's "Death of Auto Tune":

2009-08-04

The #1 Reason to Fear Health Care Reform

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In a post designed to calm progressives down, Ezra Klein succinctly explains the primary reason (in my opinion) to fear health care reform; political reality:

Democrats know full well that there are two plausible outcomes to the health-care reform process. Health-care reform will fail, dealing a huge blow to the Democratic Party and giving Republicans tremendous momentum as we enter the 2010 campaign season. Or health-care reform will pass, and Democrats will criss-cross the country touting the largest legislative accomplishment in decades. Republicans may still attack them on the plan. But attacking a historic legislative success is a whole lot harder than attacking a historic legislative failure. Republicans know that, which is why they want to kill the bill. Democrats know it too, which is why they won't let them.

If I'm reading this correctly then what we're likely to see play out is a Democrat party determined to push through a bill that will simply attract the most votes, and a Republican party hell-bent on killing it.

My hunch is that the former will most likely lead to an expansion of coverage, while the latter will distract conservatives enough to ensure that the bill fails to reign in costs.

Which suffice to say isn't a path to single-payer as much as it is a path to financial calamity.

2009-08-01

Parenting Tip of the Day

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Run children, run!!!!


(Sometimes punctuation is the most important part)

Via: Unnecessary Quotes

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