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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daily Log

Over on Facebook, Erik Best quoted my Wussy Attica! review under the title "Tom Hull rags on Witnesses and Their Wussy Fetish." OK, nice to see someone was paying attention, even if mostly to themselves and their fetishes. (Seventy-one other records in that Streamnotes column. Wussy was one of 13 A- records there, trailing three A records.)

Steve Mayer:

Erik, I respect Tom's quick takes very much. We don't always agree, but I find I match him far more on a lot of 1970s and 1980s albums than I do with Xgau.

Bradley Sroka:

I can't imagine listening to Attica and thinking the music is loud and samey.

Jeffrey Melnick:

Wow. If I ever say "loud and samey" in a music context I would like you all to promise that you will gently and lovingly say "It is done, old wise one" and give my canoe a final push out into the welcoming waters of the ultimate river.

Dan ex machina:

i like grouchy tom, attica's my #3 wussy but at first i thought it was #4

Jeffrey D. Callahan

"Loud and samey." He does know Wussy is a rock band, right?

Michael Wolfe:

"I can't imagine listening to Attica and thinking the music is loud and samey."

This. I took a friend who was unfamiliar with Wussy to one of their shows. She had two impressions as we were listening to the CD on the drive back to Indy. 1) Wow, this CD sounds a lot more mellow than the band did live 2) Every song sounds very different.

Chuck Cleaver:

I'm just glad that most of you seem to like our records more than I do.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Daily Log

Todd Tiahrt announced he's running against Mike Pompeo in the Republican primary. Tiahrt was in Congress for eight terms, establishing himself as quite possibly the worst US Representative of his era.

The Wichita Eagle's front page article was "Final Air Force plane leaves Boeing Wichita." Tiahrt was an employee of Boeing before he was elected to Congress, and became a "consultant" after he was retired. Among other things, he was prominent in explaining that Boeing had to close their Wichita plant due to its excessive labor costs, so rather than fight for Wichita jobs, he helped end them. Boeing has been slowly shutting down, and this is their final Wichita project.

I tweeted:

Great timing that Boeing "consultant" Todd Tiahrt announces his Congressional campaign on the day the last Boeing plane leaves Wichita.

I also sent this to the Eagle's "Opinion Line":

Terrific timing by longtime Boeing flack Todd Tiahrt to announce his campaign the same day Boeing Wichita delivers their last plane. At least the Koch flunky belongs to a company that still employs Wichitans.

Got a 5 PM dinner reservation at Brookville Hotel, so we -- Naomi is visiting -- drove around Lindsborg, stopped at Coronado Heights, walked around the Eisenhower grounds in Abilene, and had lots of fried chicken. Sky was spectacularly "partly cloudy" all day, but caught a little rain northeast of Newton and saw several rainbows -- even when it briefly rained hard the sky was mostly sunlight.

When I got back, I tweeted:

Drove around central KS today, took @naomigl to Coronado Heights [Lindsborg], Brookville Hotel [Abilene], caught a double rainbow.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rhapsody Streamnotes (May 2014, Part 2)

Pick up text here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bill Roy (1926-2014)

It's often noted these days that Kansas hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since George McGill in 1932, serving until 1939. (For the record, John Martin was elected to a short term 1893-95, and William H. Thompson served a full term 1913-19. The only other non-Republicans were populists William A. Peffer, 1891-97, and William A. Harris, 1897-1903.) But people forget that the closest a Democrat has come since 1932 was 1974, when Bill Roy came within a few thousand votes of defeating incumbent Bob Dole.

It was one of the most memorable, and fateful, political campaigns in my memory. Many people nowadays regard Dole as a relatively moderate senior statesman, as one of the few Republicans who could work constructively with Democrats, but that ultimately says more about later generations of Republicans than it does about Dole -- whose last significant act in Congress was to force a government shutdown attempting to cower Bill Clinton. I'll return to Dole before I'm through here, but back in 1974 no one was thinking of Dole as anything other than as a far-right dogmatist (or a money-grubbing hack). Dole won his first Senate term in 1968 after what was then one of the dirtiest campaigns in memory, defeating popular Republican governor Bill Avery. And his reelection campaign in 1974 was even shadier, not least because it was the first time that abortion was used as a political issue in Kansas.

William R. Roy died on Monday, aged 88. He was a two-term Democratic congressman from Topeka, and ran twice for the Senate, losing by narrow margins to two Republicans who easily topped 60% running against anyone else. He was uncommonly qualified -- a medical doctor (OBGYN) from 1949-70, when he picked up a law degree and ran for congress. He was one of the smartest people to run for office in my lifetime, and one of the most fundamentally decent too -- a rare counterexample to the rule that American politics has descended from the "founding fathers" (many of the most broadly talented individuals in the nation) to the sort of "empty suit" hacks that populate Washington today.

Since leaving politics, Roy wrote regular columns for The Topeka Capital-Journal, some of which were picked up by The Wichita Eagle -- by far the best pieces to have appeared in the paper since I moved back to Kansas. (Oddly, the Eagle didn't run a piece on his death -- only a brief quote from their blog.) Kansas was lucky to have had him, even if ultimately we didn't deserve him.


A couple postscripts on Dole. Roy's Wikipedia page quotes him on running against Dole: "I was far from an admirer of Bob Dole, I'll tell you that. He'd been around and he had been pretty much a hatchet man, both in Kansas, and as far as President Nixon was concerned. And so I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to take him out of politics, which I thought was very important at that time." A lot of people fell for Dole's act later on, mostly I suspect out of a misguided sense of nostalgia, so I think it's important to remind us of what a miserable being Dole was in his prime. (The worst example I can think of in trying to present Dole as a folksy small-town lawyer appears in Tom Carson's otherwise brilliant novel Gilligan's Wake, drawn heavily on some journalism Carson wrote about visiting Russell, Kansas, and interviewing Dole's hometown folk.)

Nonetheless, there are significant differences between Dole and his Republican heirs. (Both Kansas Senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, came out of Dole's "big first" congressional district, now represented by Tea Party fanatic Tim Huelskamp, so you can chalk them up as literal heirs, but also consider today's hyperpartisan Republican congressional leadership, which have only become more dysfunctional since Dole and Newt Gingrich tried to shut down the government.) For one thing, Dole was old enough that even during his 1996 presidential campaign he quipped about the Democrats being the "war party" -- a commonplace among Republican isolationists (blaming Wilson and Roosevelt for US entry into the two world wars, and sometimes associating Truman and Johnson with Korea and Vietnam) -- a stake no modern Republican would concede. For another, when Dole wanted to establish his legacy stamp on American politics, he did so by pushing the Disabilities act, an expansion (and in fact a rather expensive one) of individual rights in the tradition of the New Deal and Great Society -- a horrifying thought for any Republican these days (although Bush's corrupt drug insurance expansion was another nod in that direction). In these two respects, Dole implicitly recognized two key principles deeply set in American history: the need to avoid foreign entanglements and wars, and the fact that the general welfare is marked by the progressive expansion of personal rights.

Of course, most likely Dole was being cynical on both counts. He never saw a foreign war he couldn't support, and he did everything he could to make this country more corrupt and inequal. And cynicism was often at the root of his famed sense of humor. (Although I'll always treasure one quip: seeing a picture of presidents Carter, Ford, and Nixon together, he said: "see-no-evil, hear-no evil, and evil.") Still, the world would have been a better place had Bill Roy driven Dole from politics in 1974. And we would be much better off if this was a state and nation where outstanding human beings like Bill Roy could be elected to high office.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Music Week

Music: Current count 23334 [23306] rated (+28), 555 [558] unrated (-3).

This covers two weeks, eight days of which were spent in New York City or flying there and back. I didn't shlep the computer, packed no music (even on my iPod Nano, which was hosted on a currently dead computer, and may very well have met the same fate), bought no music, and for that matter saw no music, so for present purposes those days were a wipeout. (Otherwise I had a fine time.) As for the other six days, they're about par for the course -- although I'm late posting today, and have only one new record to show for the day, because I spent quite a few hours on a woodworking project (which has a few more days to run).

Under "old music" I'm jumping around a bit on the Penguin Guide 4-stars, with occasional side-trips -- the old Konitz/Marsh record was only 3.5 stars, but designated "core collection," something I had wanted to check out. Could have spent much more time on Konitz 3.5 stars, but limited myself to the 12 Gershwin set since it was in my unrated queue. Under "new music" I pushed up the unreleased Steve Lehman after I saw an enthusiastic tweet from Chris Monsen, and wound up playing the record about eight times. A couple new records below were rated on the basis of partial plays (Roots, Max Johnson Trio), as online sources caught my attention then turned out to have gaps. Arguably I shouldn't bother with incomplete albums, but I wound up hedging them down a bit. I keep notes on that, and may revisit them when I get the chance.

Rhapsody Streamnotes will come out before the end of May. I have quite enough material already, but may sneak a couple more records in depending on how the timing works out. The super-brief summaries below previously appeared on my twitter feed -- good idea to follow me there as you'll get these notices in real time as well as other timely comments and links.


Recommended music links:

For what it's worth, grades on Tatum's records (first his, then mine):

  • Lily Allen: Sheezus (Warner Bros.) [A:A]
  • Cloud Nothings: Here and Nowhere Else (Carpark) [A-:A-]
  • Company Freak: Le Social Disco (Opus) [A-:A-]
  • Deena: Rock River (Life Force) [A-:A-]
  • EMA: The Future's Void (Matador) [A-:***]
  • Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Piñata (Madlib Invazion) [A-:***]
  • Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960-1978 (Strut) [A-:A-]
  • Old 97's: Most Messed Up (ATO) [A:A-]
  • Shakira: Shakira (RCA) [A-:A-]
  • Wussy: Attica! (Shake It) [A:A-]
  • Let's Wrestle: Let's Wrestle (Fortuna Pop!) [**:?]
  • Baseball Project: 3rd (Yep Roc) [**:***]
  • Tune-Yards: Nikki Nack (4AD) [*:**]
  • Peter Stampfel and the Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Banjo Squadron: Better Than Expected (Don Giovanni) [*:**]
  • Neneh Cherry: Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound) [B:***]
  • Skrillex: Recess (Owsla/Big Beat/Atlantic) [B:B-]
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: Days of Abandon (Yebo) [B-:?]
  • Afghan Whigs: Do the Beast (Sub Pop) [B-:?]
  • Isaiah Rashad: Cilvia Demo (Top Dawg Entertainment) [B-:***]
  • Todd Terje: It's Album Time (Redeye) [C+:A-]

Remarkably close, I'd say, the major exception being Todd Terje.


New records rated last two weeks:

  • Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans: Live in Lisbon (2013 [2014], NoBusiness): avant sax trio + trumpet, all improv give-and-take, vinyl only [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans: The Freedom Principle (2013 [2014], NoBusiness): two days later in studio, same with the sax a bit more dominant [cd]: B+(**)
  • Mike Baggetta Quartet: Thieves and Secrets (2013 [2014], Fresh Sound New Talent): Guitarist, with Jason Rigby on sax, works up a nice round of mild-mannered postbop [cd]: B+(*)
  • Mark Egan: About Now (2014, Wavetone): Fusion bass guitarist leads trio with Mitchell Forman and Danny Gottlieb, basic groove, no more [cd]: B-
  • Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band: Mother's Touch (2011 [2014], Posi-Tone): loud and brash, the pleasure spot that keeps artists returning to big bands [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Johnson: The Prisoner (2012 [2014], NoBusiness): bassist-led avant chamber group, sax and viola muted, but still this sneaks up on you [cd]: B+(***)
  • Max Johnson Trio: The Invisible Trio (2013 [2014], Fresh Sound New Talent): bassist-led avant cornet trio; most invisible is 6 (of 8) tracks left off bandcamp (boo!) [bc]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz: Standards Live: At the Village Vanguard (2009 [2014], Enja): less sax appeal than the new London date, but Florian Weber picks up the slack [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz/Dan Tepfer/Michael Janisch/Jeff Williams: First Meeting: Live in London Volume 1 (2010 [2014], Whirlwind): one master, the others learning the ropes [cd]: B+(***)
  • Steve Lehman Octet: Mise en Abîme (2014, Pi): the horns are a bit scrawny but make up with teamwork, and a rhythm section zinging everywhere [cd]: A
  • Jeremy Manasia: Pixel Queen (2013 [2014], Blujazz): piano trio, bright and percussive, its initial appeal deepening over seven longish cuts [cd]: B+(***)
  • Natural Child: 1971 (2011, Infinity Cat): Nashville band imagines Stooges in 1971, adds a whiff of Big Star, then doesn't quite follow through [r]: B+(***)
  • Natural Child: Dancin' With Wolves (2014, Burger): jump forward to fourth album, with voices-tempos-ideas all easing into Nashville norms [r]: B+(**)
  • Marc Ribot Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard (2012 [2014], Pi): returns to Ayler-Coltrane (cf. Spiritual Unity), with Henry Grimes proof [cd]: B+(***)
  • The Roots: . . . And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (2014, Def Jam): at 33:22, more a short story than an EP; band ordinary, but the raps win out [r]: B+(**)
  • JC Sanford Orchestra: Views From the Inside (2013 [2014], Whirlwind): Trombonist-led big band debut, many names I recognize in the credits, few on disc [cd]: B
  • Brenda Earle Stokes: Right About Now (2014, self-released): Pianist-jazz singer-songwriter, smart to hire Cardenas & Frahm, still didn't make me care [cdr]: B
  • Nelda Swiggett Stringtet: Blue-Eyed Painted Lady (2013 [2014], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Manuel Valera: Self Portrait (2013 [2014], Mavo): From Cuba, based in New York, solo -- seems like a rite of passage for every jazz pianist [cd]: B+(**)
  • Nate Wooley/Hugo Antunes/Chris Corsano: Malus (2012 [2014], NoBusiness): avant trumpet trio joint improv, more chops than ideas, vinyl only [cdr]: B+(**)

Old records rated last two weeks:

  • Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh: Lee Konitz With Warne Marsh (1955 [2006], Atlantic/Rhino): With Saul Mosca and Billy Bauer, Tristanoites in the flower of youth, hipper/screwier than bebop [r]: A-
  • Lee Konitz: Satori (1974 [1997], Milestone/OJC): big name quartet (Solal, Holland, DeJohnette) out on a precarious limb, searching for one even iffier [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz/Harold Danko: Wild as Springtime (1984 [1997], Candid): Duets, the pianist both prods the sax on and cleans up all the rough edges [r]: A-
  • Lee Konitz/Franco D'Andrea: 12 Gershwin in 12 Keys (1988 [1997], Philology): piano-alto sax duets, classic songs still inimitable in odd keys [cd]: B+(***)
  • Ron Miles Quartet: Laughing Barrel (2002 [2003], Sterling Circle): Trumpet-guitar (Brandon Ross) quartet, straightforward and rather sensitive postbop [r]: B+(**)
  • Junior Mance Trio: Junior's Blues (1962 [1998], Riverside/OJC): Think Chicago blues like prime Otis Spann then fold in a little Fats Waller stride [r]: A
  • Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock: Bezique (2002, Spartacus): duets, live takes of standards, outstanding tenor sax, exquisite piano accompaniment [r]: A-
  • Aki Takase/Rudi Mahall: The Dessert (2002 [2003], Leo): piano-clarinet improv duets (bass, contrabass), engaging if abstract pluck and scratch [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last two weeks:

  • Jaki Byard: The Late Show: An Evening With Jaki Byard (1979, High Note)
  • François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Alexey Lapin: The Russian Concerts (FMR)
  • Tom Chang: Tongue & Groove (Raw Toast): June 3
  • Danny Freyer: Must Be Love (Blue Bend)
  • Hat: Twins (Hot Blues)
  • Joe LoCascio and Woody Witt: Absinthe (Blue Bamboo Music)
  • Barbara Morrison: I Love You, Yes I Do (Savant)
  • Saxophone Summit [Dave Liebman/Ravi Coltrane/Joe Lovano]: Visitation (ArtistShare)
  • Sonny Simmons: 80th Anniversary Box Set (2006-14, Improvising Beings, 8CD)
  • Storyboard [David Boswell/Alex Locasio/Rod MacDowell]: Hello (My Quiet Moon)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Weekend Roundup

Once again, my links are more scattered than usual, most picked up at the last minute scrounging through the usual suspects.


  • Barry Eisler: 'Journalist' Argues in NY Times That Publishing Decisions Should Ultimately Be Made by Government: "Journalist" in question is liberal opinion "buckraker" Michael Kinsley, who occasionally has an interesting insight (cf. his characterization of the American people as "big babies") but is often the first to throw in the towel, believing that liberalism is better protected by surrendering to "common wisdom" than by employing principles. The occasion is Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State, with Kinsley defending the NSA: after all, what could go bad "in a democracy (which, pace Greenwald, we still are)"? Eisler places "journalist" in quotes, citing George Orwell: "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."

    Also see: Glenn Greenwald: A Response to Michael Kinsley.

  • Thomas Frank: Congratulations, class of 2014: You're totally screwed:

    Welcome to the wide world, Class of 2014. You have by now noticed the tremendous consignment of debt that the authorities at your college have spent the last four years loading on your shoulders. It may interest you to know that the average student-loan borrower among you is now $33,000 in debt, the largest of any graduating class ever. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, carrying that kind of debt will have certain predictable effects. It will impede your ability to accumulate wealth, for example. You will also borrow more for other things than people without debt, and naturally you will find your debt level growing, not shrinking, as the years pass.

    As you probably know, neither your parents nor your grandparents were required to take on this kind of burden in order to go to college. Neither are the people of your own generation in France and Germany and Argentina and Mexico.

    Of course, all that school debt is only the starter. Not even Frank can describe in one sitting all the way you're screwed.

  • Martin Longman: Some Dude Wrote a Manifesto: Among the week's news, some "dude" named Elliot Rodger exercised his "second amendment rights" and killed a bunch of people in Santa Barbara [CA] this week. He seems to have given his rampage a lot of premeditation, going so far as to write a "137-page manifesto" -- Longman quotes a bit of it here, e.g.: "Humanity has never accepted me among them, and now I know why. I am more than human. I am superior to them all." And: "It is my purpose to punish them all. I will purify the world of everything that is wrong with it." In the aftermath, most are quick to declare Rodger mentally ill, although some also point out Rodger's rampant misogyny (e.g., Katie McDonough: How toxic male entitlement devalues women's and men's lives, Jessica Valenti: Further proof that misogyny kills). Still, what most struck me from the newsreel footage was the spiffy, very expensive BMW the "dude" was driving. Clearly, he comes from and has access to a lot of money, and presumes himself entitled to the perks of his class. Even more characteristically, when he's denied satisfaction, he has the inbred self-esteem to reaffirm his superiority.

  • Nick Turse: The US Military's New Normal in Africa: The real meaning of Benghazi is that even a relatively well managed military intervention is liable to produce all sorts of surprising and often malign consequences. As Tom Engelhardt points out in his introduction:

    In response to Boko Haram's kidnapping of 276 young women, the Obama administration has already sent in a small military team (with FBI, State Department, and Justice Department representatives included) and launched drone and "manned surveillance flights," which may prove to be just the first steps in what one day could become a larger operation. Under the circumstances, it's worth remembering that the U.S. has already played a curious role in Nigeria's destabilization, thanks to its 2011 intervention in Libya. In the chaos surrounding the fall of Libyan autocrat Muammar Qaddafi, his immense arsenals of weapons were looted and soon enough AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades, and other light weaponry, as well as the requisite pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns or anti-aircraft guns made their way across an increasingly destabilized region, including into the hands of Boko Haram. Its militants are far better armed and trained today thanks to post-Libyan developments.

    But while "Benghazi" should be read as a cautionary tale against the hubris of military intervention, the lesson the military has taken is that it needs to be able to act faster with less oversight -- the drift of the Republican hawks who've been most vociferous in their congenital desire to depict Obama as a weak leader. (Indeed, he does wobble at the knees way too much, but mostly when the hawks seek to trap him in future wars -- the insertion of US troops into Chad, ostensibly to solve a problem in Nigeria, is a case in point.)

    For a broader survey of what's followed the intervention in Libya, see: Seumas Milne: Coups and terror are the fruit of Nato's war in Libya:

    But it's not just Libya that's living with the fallout from Nato's intervention. Blowback from the Libyan war has spread across Africa, destabilising the Sahel region and beyond. After Gaddafi's fall, Tuareg people who had fought for him went home to Mali, bringing Libyan arms caches with them. Within months, that had tipped northern Mali into full-scale armed rebellion and takeover by Islamist fighters. [ . . . ]

    But, as elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East, each outside intervention only spreads the cycle of the terror war. So the call for action over the outrage of the Boko Haram kidnapping has brought US, British and French forces to oil-wealthy Nigeria, just as the Mali crisis last year led to the establishment of a US military drone base in neighbouring Niger.

    US armed forces are now involved in 49 out of 54 African states, along with the former colonial powers of France and Britain, in what's becoming a new carve-up of the continent: a scramble for resources and influence in the face of China's growing economic role, underpinned with an escalating military presence that spreads terror as it grows. That will bring its own backlash, as did the war in Libya.


Also, a few links for further study:

  • The Cooperative Economy: A Conversation With Gar Alperovitz: Author of several notable books, most recently What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution.

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Case for Reparations: I spent a good deal of time this past week with a dear friend who eloquently and persuasively argued that the middle class has been decimated in New York -- in no small part due to landlords like her employer -- then seemed to believe that non-whites were making out like bandits on welfare. I know a lot of people believe that, but I've never found any evidence of it: either that welfare is disproportionately routed to non-whites or that anyone can live off it at anything more than subsistence levels. Moreover, it's clear to me that the chronically poor (of all races) have many structural disadvantages that keep them poor. Also, I'm old enough I recall when racist discrimination was both the law and custom of the land, and while I've seen much progress in civil rights during my lifetime, I know good and well that the past lingers on. So I've never been bothered by even superficial attempts to balance the scales through "affirmative action" -- even though the ideal of eliminating race correlation at every income level strikes me as a hollow victory compared to reducing inequality for all. But reparations rubs me wrong, not least because it depends so much on inheritance as a means of rectifying past wrongs.

  • Kevin Drum: Retired Army General Explains Why We Lost in Afghanistan and Iraq: Quote from and comment on Daniel P. Bolger's Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars (release date November). Interesting mostly as a signpost on how Afghanistan/Iraq will be viewed by military elites: as an inevitable defeat due not so much to bad policies as to the deep structure of the military. Bolger doesn't go so far as to criticize why Bush started those wars, and seems to think that a quick incursion and speedy exit would have been just peachy, but this does not bode well for the Petraeus types who hope to restructure the military around counterinsurgency struggles that stretch out forever. One needs to push this analysis further, but the first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem.

  • Don Leffer: Chanute aims to provide speedy Internet service to all homes, businesses in town: Chanute is a small town in southeastern Kansas (pop. 9119 in 2010). Unable to get any company to provide high-speed internet, they decided to do it themselves as a public utility, and to their (but not my) surprise they found they can do it much cheaper: for $13.5 million they could hook up every house and business in town, but won't be going quite that far, instead offering a wired gigabit service for $40/month, a bit more for businesses. (Also see City-run Internet system helps Chanute businesses grow.) The response of the companies that spurned Chanute? They tried to get a bill passed to prohibit cities from offering broadband access. (See: Proposed bill to outlaw community broadband service in Kansas met with opposition.)

  • Daniel Schulman: Koch vs. Koch: The Brutal Battle That Tore Apart America's Most Powerful Family: An excerpt or so from Schulman's new book, Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. Mostly background, focusing on the family feuds that moved brothers Fred and Bill out of the spotlight, leaving control of the family business to the ideologically compatible Charles and David.


I should also note that Richard Kieffer Feeley died this past week, way too young at age 34. He was the son of friends from my years in Boston, so I first met him when he was in his teens, looking forward to a life of much promise and interest. I never knew him well, but I do know that chronic illness dimmed those prospects. Such things happen, more frequently than most people realize. Indeed, it is only a deranged mind that thinks each person fully responsible for his or her fate, or indeed that ascribes fate at all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Daily Log

Flew back to Wichita today, departing New York LaGuardia 1:40 PM, bouncing in Dallas-Fort Worth around 5 (Central), and ending up in Wichita about 6:45. The flights were miserable, mostly because the airline (American) had packed the seats so tight I had no elbow or knee room -- the DFW-ICT leg was so tight I couldn't open a book between me and the chair ahead, nor could I fold out the tray. Both flights I had middle seats. Couldn't see out the window, and couldn't get out into the aisle. Had a little bag with me I placed under the seat ahead, then couldn't bend over to reach it while in flight. A little more than three hours for the first leg, a little more than one for the second. Laura was nearly as annoyed by it all -- until I pointed out (we were approaching Dallas at the time) that had we drove we "could have made it to Harrisburg by now." I would have been happier at that moment, but not happier than I am home now.

First thing when we got home I turned on the air conditioning. Temperature had been in the 90s for several days (93F when we landed), but Ram hadn't turned it on. Then I turned the computers on, and they came up healthy. Downloaded 449 mail messages. I had been looking at mail but only reading items of obvious interest (or removing items of no possible interest). Looks like the majority of what's left came from Facebook's Expert Witness group. Not sure why I'm even getting that, and many make no sense to me, but some are interesting -- some I even copy down in the notebook. E.g., Eric Best posted an item he called "Christ speaks about Satan" that quoted me:

"Christgau gave me a lecture on the 'great Satan' (Amazon), but I can hardly wait to get back to it. There is a connection, obviously, between discounting on the Internet and the loss of local businesses, but it's also true that those local businesses have terribly tiny inventories."

That led to many other comments, including this by me:

Late to the party because I've been in NYC, for the first time in 10 years. Lots of things have changed -- a lot more than changed between 1981 (when I moved out) and 2001 (last time I spent much time there), but the one that hit me hardest was the almost complete wipeout of non-used bookstores (Strand is still standing). (Record stores were also hit, with J&R falling most recently, but I spent less time chasing them down.) Blame Amazon if you like, but given that most of them have been replaced by banks, I'm inclined to blame NYC's 0.1% landlords.


Going back through the mail:

Greg Morton:

Something interesting happened to the new Old 97's album today. It got better. I had it pegged as a solid to low A- based on a good rocking band producing a consistent sound (too consistent maybe) with good not great songs. What changed was the recognition that the verses of two of the "let's kill some brain cells" songs ("Wasted" and "Let's Get Drunk & Get It On") are every bit as sophisticated (Rhett-clever, I'd call them) as anything in his catalog. The choruses are still frustratingly banal, and surprisingly so given the smartness of the verses, so I'm not sure A status is looming. But it might be. Other questions yet to be resolved: 1) Is "This is the Ballad" as existentially wise as I think it is today? 2) How do I feel about the treatment of the woman in "Guadalajara" (can't make out the lyrics in total yet)? 3) Is "The Disconnect" a good enough ennui synonym to make up for the un-poetic word choice? And 4) Does "Intervention" work in the context of the "let's kill some brain cells" songs or is it too much cognitive dissonance? Three or four positive answers and it's probably an A.

Brad Luen:

Odds & Ends 039: starpower is a renewable resource

Lee Hyori: Monochrome (2013)
from plagiarism to pastiche through well-rehearsed bad attitude -- what a veteran ("Bad Girls," "Bounced Checks of Love") ***

Lydia Loveless: The Only Man (2010)
she was best blowing off crowds at open mics ("The Only Man," "Paid") ***

Balani Show Super Hits: Electronic Street Parties from Mali
takes a lot of watts to shut the block down with beats this dinky (DJ Bamanan: "Gnoukobala," "Goni Bala") **

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble: Live Snakes
extrapolates what it means to miss New Orleans through missing his wife ("Rock of Ages," "Cassandra 4") **

Adnan Joubran: Borders Behind
Palestinian oud maestro gets more out of his tabla guy than his flamenco guy ("La Danse De La Veuve," "Never Been There") **

Zion.T: Red Light (2013)
Korean D'Angelo falls in love with weird synths, colourful underwear, doop ("Neon," "Babay") *

Ben Flocks: Battle Mountain
(re-)claiming Dylan for folk, folk for jazz, and all of the above for the genteel ("Shenandoah," "Don't Think Twice It's Alright") *

Shakira: Shakira
feral when domestic bliss permits, but tiki-taka is too predictable these days ("Empire," "Can't Remember to Forget You") *

More Brad Luen:

Full A contender of the month, #1 of 2 (the Hull-approved one):

2014-to-date's best-written and best-performed country album is by a jazz violinist -- it's been that kind of year. Perhaps it takes an outsider to fuse the genre standards the prison song and the pregnancy song, but it shouldn't take a jazzbo to recall that not every tune has to build to a truck driving through a ring of fire -- that a chorus can also colour or clarify. Then again, it shouldn't take an Americana turn for a jazzbo to sing well -- you'd better trust in the languid lines to resolve if you wrote them. Bill Frisell and Brian Blade offer well-weighed support, but Scheinman gets the instrumental showcases, as she deserves.

Full A contender of the month, #2 of 2 (the Matos-approved one):

Sax, cello, electronics, a song called "Pliny the Elder" that I'm 60% sure is about the beer: it's what they used to call downtempo except not terrible (says the guy who still owns a Groove Armada t-shirt). Lapsed dubstepper Grenier and no-band-is-an-island Archie Pelago hint at precursors both high (Reich on "Octavia") and sub-basement (Deep Forest on "Hyperion"), but it's all liquefied into a bicoastal blend with just enough acidity. More claret? Give me the whole damn jug.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Music Week

Music: Current count 23306 [23279] rated (+37), 558 [549] unrated (+9).

Big, busy week, with a lot of exceptionally good records. Three of this week's records were picked by Dan Weiss as the best releases of January-April, although they actually only came out in May. One is the best record so far this year (Lily Allen), one edged onto my A-list (Wussy), and the other (Tune-Yards) I gave five plays to before filing it in the middling B+ third -- about where the two previous Tune-Yards albums landed. Those older albums only got two Rhapsody plays each -- well, Whokill got a third play when it was climbing up year-end lists, and that resulted in a downgrading. Those records struck me as alternately imaginative, invigorating, and annoying, and so I wondered if there was some misunderstanding that further listening might resolve. But more plays of Nikki Nack just produced the same chagrin. (Weiss, by the way, wrote a long review here.)

Two more A- records came off Chris Monsen's still short 2014 list. The piano trio strikes me as much more marginal, but that's partly because there's nothing in American jazz that remotely resembles EST's knack for combining pop with complex, whereas in Europe that's practically a genre. The blues ia also a niche item, but hits much harder from the git go.

The Sonny Rollins album is no surprise -- just what he does. The other two A- records were surprises. Ought I have some doubts about -- reminds me a bit of the first Jane's Addiction record, when its derivativeness was practically a badge of honor. Groups like that rarely hold up over the long run. On the other hand the main caveat on Young Mothers is the inconsistency between the CDR I got in the main and what's on the Bandcamp site.

As I noted last week, the one-liners below were first posted on my twitter feed -- sign up to get them more or less on the fly. Some, however, are, well, missing. I ran into trouble yesterday, falling behind while I fixed a rather elaborate dinner -- salmon teriyaki, pad thai, and about six small side dishes, with a pineapple upside down cake for dessert -- and fell behind. Normally, I'd make the effort to catch up, but today I'm packing for my trip to New York tomorrow, and I'll be mostly "off the grid" for the next week (aside for a "smart phone" that hasn't impressed me much yet). So maybe it's best right now to just let the empty slots stand, and start afresh when I get back.

Don't have time to post Rhapsody Streamnotes before I leave, so it, too, will have to wait.


Recommended music links:


New records rated this week:

  • Lily Allen: Sheezus (2014, Warner Brothers/Regal): too big for last album's slice-of-life, but too brilliant to let stardom or motherhood get in her way [cd]: A
  • Atmosphere: Southsiders (2014, Rhymesayers Entertainment): Slug still doesn't understand women, or how to end an album when he's ahead, but he knows hell [r]: B+(***)
  • BadBadNotGood: III (2014, Innovative Leisure): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack: . . . Awaits Silent Tristero's Empire (2013 [2014], Singlespeed): soft reeds and hard brass play a suite for Thomas Pynchon [cd]: B+(**)
  • Chromeo: Fancy Footwork (2007, Vice): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chromeo: White Women (2014, Big Beat): [r]: B+(***)
  • Brigitte DeMeyer: Savannah Road (2014, BDM Music): alt-country singer-songwriter with a lot to say comes up with another batch of story-songs [r]: B+(**)
  • Fennesz: Bécs (2013 [2014], Editions Mego): Austrian guitarist uses effects to turn his sounds inside out, leaving nothing but a shroud around the melody [r]: B+(*)
  • Fujiya & Miyagi: Artificial Sweeteners (2014, Yep Roc): Brit electropop group under fake Japanese name [r]: B+(*)
  • Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Piñata (2011-13 [2014], Madlib Invazion): The raps blow hard for a while, then curl up inside Madlib's synth envelope, carried by the beats [r]: B+(***)
  • Luther Gray/Jim Hobbs/Kaethe Hostetter/Winston Braman: Lawnmower II (2012 [2014], Clean Feed): the alto sax backs off, coloring behind the violin's lead [cd]: B+(***)
  • Grieves: Winter & the Wolves (2014, Rhymesayers Entertainment): Seattle underground rapper grows and adapts, finding his groove and metier [r]: A-
  • Lykke Li: I Never Learn (2014, Atlantic): Swedish, writes dirges which pass for pop because they're mostly synths, the Nordic chill barely softened [r]: B+(**)
  • Moodymann: Moodymann (2014, Mahogani): slapdash Detroit techno, the vocals scattered and ragged, beats too [r]: B+(*)
  • Moskus: Mestertyven (2014, Hubro): Norwegian piano trio with an interesting mix of rumbling rhythm and free, often putting the bass/drums out front [r]: A-
  • Ought: More Than Any Other Day (2014, Constellation): post-newwave group, sustains rhythmic tension like the Feelies, then kicks it harder than Talking Heads: [r]: A-
  • Sonny Rollins: Road Shows: Volume 3 (2001-12 [2014], Okeh): Six cuts, five shows, not his finest hour but couldn't be anyone else's; much applause [cd]: A-
  • Felipe Salles: Ugandan Suite (2013 [2014], Tapestry): Saxophonist from Brazil, with Liebman on wooden flute, piano, bass, drums, lots of exotic percussion [cd]: B+(***)
  • Tigran: Shadow Theater (2012 [2014], Sunnyside): Armenian-American keyboard whiz aims for art-song, with hammy melodrama and torrential vocals [cdr]: C+
  • Tune-Yards: Nikki Nack (2014, 4AD): the sampled percussion loops sound like fun, but all that tension takes a toll and I still don't get it [cd]: B+(**)
  • Leo Welch: Sabougla Voices (2014, Big Legal Mess): 82-year-old Mississippi bluesman's debut; where Fred McDowell hated rock & roll, Welch is postpunk [r]: A-
  • Western Jazz Quartet: Free Fall (2014, Blujazz): Andrew Rathbun (sax) and Jeremy Siskind (piano) play exemplary postbop, not that I much care [cd]: B+(*)
  • Mars Williams/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Tim Daisy: Moments Form (Idyllic Noise): avant-sax trio improvs from a festival in Austria [bc]: B+(*)
  • Wussy: Attica! (2014, Shake It): too ordinary for a cult band, but the two voices and viewpoints contrast even when the music is loud and samey [bc]: A-
  • Basak Yavuz: Things (2012 [2014], Z Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • The Young Mothers: A Mothers Work Is Never Done (2013 [2014], Tektite): Texas' answer to The Thing, scaled up cuz they're from Texas, plus a rapper [cdr/bc]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Tektite Records Presents: The Young Mothers Sampler 1 (2012-14, Tektite, EP): 7-cuts, 31:10, avant-rock and avant-jazz butt heads, the Thing prevails [cdr] B+(**)

Old records rated this week:

  • Al Haig Trio: Al Haig Trio [Period Recordings] (1954 [2000], Fresh Sound): classic bebop piano trio does standards, leftovers from the PG-crowned Esoteric session [r]: B+(***)
  • Al Haig Trio: Invitation (1974, Spotlite): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Tubby Hayes Quintet: Down in the Village (1962 [1963], Fontana): [r]: B+(**)


Grade changes:

  • John Coltrane: Ascension (1965 [2000], Impulse): Quartet + 6 horns; never cared for the riot, but it is bursting with energy & ideas [cd]: was B+, now A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Mike Baggetta Quartet: Thieves and Secrets (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  • Gerald Beckett: The Messenger (Summit)
  • Itamar Borochov Quartet: Outset (Realbird): June 10
  • Dave Douglas & Uri Caine: Present Joys (Greenleaf Music): July 22
  • Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Shiki (Libra)
  • Gato Libre: DuDu (Libra)
  • Kevin Hildebrandt: Tolerance (Summit)
  • Steve Lehman Octet: Mise en Abîme (Pi): June 24
  • Peter Lerner: Continuation (OA2)
  • Alon Nechushtan: Venture Bound (Enja): June 10
  • Felix Peikli: Royal Flush (self-released): advance, May 13
  • Andrew Rathbun Quartet: Numbers & Letters (SteepleChase): advance: June 10
  • Bobby Selvaggio: Short Stories (Origin)
  • François Tusques: La Jungle du Douanier Rousseau (Improvising Beings)
  • Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington: Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Four (OA2)
  • Manuel Valera: Self Portrait (Mavo): June 10
  • Brahja Waldman Quintet: Sir Real Live at Resonance (self-released): cdr [vinyl only]

Purchases:

  • Lily Allen: Sheezus [Deluxe Edition] (Warner Brothers/Regal, 2CD)
  • Tune-Yards: Nikki Nack (4AD)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekend Roundup

Some scattered links this week, somewhat shortened because I've been distracted with other things today:


  • Kathleen Geier: What the "Mad Men" Economy Can Teach Us About Ours: I have a slightly different theory about what Peggy's big raise on Mad Men meant, one based mostly on personal experience. I got a job with a start-up in 1986, and got a salary bump from $45k to $53k, which with a couple other factors was enough to move me out of the red. The company was hard-strapped for a couple years, then hit a point when they could afford to hand out a round of raises. Mine was 10k, a little less than Peggy's bump percentwise, but close. I was floored, but had moved from individual engineer to working engineer + manager in the meantime, and the raise was management's way of saying "you're one of us now." Same with Peggy, plus the added political angle that Lou is trying to use her for leverage against Don. Pretty straightforward, and given the management-motivation overtones something that can still happen today: indeed, given that the gulf between management and workers has grown so wide, and that management has become so much more self-serving (the word I first thought of was "evil"), this may be even more prevalent. Money, after all, is the one thing that managers can count on their own ranks as responding to -- not least because the right-wing work so hard to prevent government from doing anything that would lessen the desperate fear that drives managers to seek ever more money.

    The rest of Geier's piece illustrates why large raises are so unfamiliar to most people. In particular, see this chart on how wages have been unhooked from productivity gains ever since the right-wing revival in the late 1970s. (The growing difference goes to the owners, and that's where most of the gains of the 1% come from -- what you might call the solid gains, as opposed to a lot of financialization, corporate predation, and asset inflation a/k/a bubbles. In between are tax breaks and other efforts to reduce democratic government's tendency to redistribute income downward.)

  • Ann Jones: How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way): On funding cuts for the Fulbright scholar exchange programs, $30 million at a time USAID spends $46.2 billion on things like their twitter spoof for Cuba and their neverending Afghanistan boondoggles. Jones quotes Senator J. William Fulbright on why he created the program that bears his name: "Aw, hell, I just wanted to educate these goddam ignorant Americans." If that's the reason, the program should be more in demand than ever, but increasingly ignorance is seen as a desirable political goal, not something that happens naturally in the absence of remedying policy. But in this case the problem seems to be that the State Department wants programs that they can manage for their assumed security ends, rather than for the public good (either our public or anyone else's):

    Now the landscape has shifted, and the globe has tilted to match the slant of America's exceptional (and mostly classified) interests, as well as a version of "national security" dependent upon secrecy, not exchange, and war, not peace. You can see how the land lies today by tracing the dispersal of U.S. troops around that badly bashed and lopsided globe or tracking the itinerary of President Obama, just back from an Asian trip that included a new agreement extending the reach of soldiers, not scholars.

    You can search hard and find little trace of those quaint old notions of international understanding and peace on the American agenda. Consider it a sign of the times that a president who, from his Nobel acceptance speech putting in a good word for war to his surges in Afghanistan to the "kill list" he regularly mulls over in the White House, has hardly been a Nobel Prize-quality executive, yet must still repeatedly defend himself against charges that he is too slow and far too wussy to go to war, perhaps as a result of his own "un-American" international childhood.

  • Robert B Reich: How to Shrink Inequality: I don't mean to be harsh on the little guy. His insight that the gated communities and exclusive clubs of the rich were effectively a way of "seceding from America" -- distancing themselves from the rest of us, and thereby freeing themselves from any sense of moral responsibility for the welfare of the country -- was major, almost making up for his idiot notion that the future of the working class was to become high-paid "symbol manipulators." His heart is usually in the right place, he recognizes the major problems of our times, and his ideas about what to do about them aren't the worst, but often they're not the best either. He clearly recognizes that increasing inequality is a major problem these days, but consider his list of solutions:

    1. Make work pay. [raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, peg it to inflation, abolish the tipped minimum wage, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit]
    2. Unionize low-wage workers. [I prefer regulatory measures which improve workplace rights and standards, and various mechanisms to give workers more equity and management responsibility in companies. Unions compete for resources and that causes strife and inefficiency. Other arrangements seek to align worker and investor interests around greater productivity that is more equitably shared.]
    3. Invest in education. ["Education should not be thought of as a private investment; it is a public good that helps both individuals and the economy."]
    4. Invest in infrastructure. [Reich is vague here. One thing to look for is opportunities to eliminate toll booths, especially where the marginal cost of reproduction is near zero -- free software, internet access, entertainment are examples, as are literal toll booths on turnpikes and bridges.]
    5. Pay for these investments with higher taxes on the wealthy. [You can also increase the overall tax level with consumption taxes like a VAT, but income and estate taxes should be more progressive to better balance out inequality.]
    6. Make the payroll tax progressive. [Better to make the income tax more progressive. The payroll tax wouldn't even be necessary if the income tax was extended to cover Social Security, etc.]
    7. Raise the estate tax and eliminate the "stepped-up basis" for determining capital gains at death.
    8. Constrain Wall Street.
    9. Give all Americans a share in future economic gains.
    10. Get big money out of politics.

    One important thing that Reich doesn't mention is patents: they're a major source of corporate rents, and if anything they hamper innovation. Another is aggressive antitrust enforcement, which again limits inequality by supporting more competitive markets. Basically, anything which helps to reduce the return on capital helps to reduce inequality. One might, for instance, make it easier to form cooperatives and nonprofits to compete with corporations. The other major approach is to attempt to decouple inequality from regressive social policy. The more things are treated as a public right, the less practical advantage the rich enjoy, hence the less inequality matters. To a large extent how, the problem isn't that X makes more or has more than you do; the problem is that X's advantage converts into a priority and privilege over you in so many important aspects of everyday life. Redistribution is one way to redress that problem, but there are others, and probably the best approach is some combination of both.


Also, a few links for further study:

Daily Log

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Daily Log

Ben Sandilands picked up my blog post on Boeing vs. its engineers and ran with it (see Is an ideological agenda destroying the future of Boeing?.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Cutting Corners at Boeing

Last week I wrote a letter to the Wichita Eagle, in response to Dominic Gates: Boeing plans layoffs, transfer of research jobs. The Eagle ran that letter (with minor edits) today:

Boeing closing an opportunity path

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over Boeing's plans to move 1,300 engineering jobs from Washington state and California to low-wage, crony-capitalist states such as Alabama and South Carolina (April 30 Business Today), but that's because I'm not directly affected. I don't work for Boeing, own stock in it or plan on flying much in the future.

Boeing may be able to replace experienced factory workers with underpaid novices. But engineers are different, and without good engineers Boeing will soon have nothing to sell.

What saddens me about Boeing's shortsighted move is how it undermines one of few opportunity paths my generation had. My father worked in Boeing's Wichita factory, and he managed to buy a home, send his kids to college and retire early. I became an engineer and did even better.

But Boeing's devaluation of engineering work threatens to close that opportunity path. And when young people see there's no future in engineering, who will keep the technology we depend on working?

The Eagle limits reader letters to 200 words, and there are a lot of points to try to squeeze in here. Someone could (and should, just not me) write a whole book about how Boeing's management operates, in what ways it's typical of large American companies and in what ways it's far out on the cutting edge of figuring out ways to screw its workers, its customers, the governments it corrupts, the public, and ultimately itself. For example, one point neither the article nor my letter bothers with is that Boeing's west coast engineers -- as well as Boeing's former engineers in Wichita, an operation they've already shut down -- are unionized. That, of course, has a lot to do with Boeing's desire to move jobs to anti-union states like South Carolina (as does the eagerness of state legislatures to pay Boeing millions of dollars to exploit their workers), but you really should stop and think about this state a bit. It really is very hard to unionize engineers, so try to imagine how badly Boeing must have treated its engineers for how long before they sought the protection of a union. (In Wichita, "right to work" Kansas, even the front office workers wound up joining the union, leading Boeing to shut down the whole plant.) The article does mention how demoralized Boeing's Seattle engineers are, but it's not just this latest move that's got them down. The whole 787 program, for instance, has been plagued by Boeing's decisions -- driven by cost-crunching and rent-seeking -- to sell off ever larger chunks of the design and manufacturing process.

I wrote some more about this piece for Weekend Roundup, but might as well post what I wrote here now:

Boeing thinks they can save $100 million/year by moving 1200 engineering jobs from Washington and California to third world states like Alabama and South Carolina -- they figure $60,000 per engineer -- and they're willing to spend $150 million to make that happen. Few companies have obsessed so much over penny-pinching as Boeing, and they always explain their motivation by pointing to their competition, even though their only competitor in the commercial airframe business is Airbus, based in Europe and fully unionized. (Although it's worth noting that when Boeing shut down their Wichita plant Airbus opened an engineering office here to pick off the cream of Boeing's engineering talent. With this news, good chance they're looking at Seattle locations too.) What makes this doubly perverse is how critical engineering talent is to a company like Boeing. Without world class engineers Boeing will soon find themselves without competitive products. Moreover, there's a huge margin between how much value different engineers produce, so this kind of squeeze will especially drive the best engineers away. (Factory workers may be easily replaced, although Boeing's had trouble there too. But dredging the bottom of the barrel for engineers is looking for trouble.)

Perhaps even more disturbing is what this move says about the ongoing impoverishment of the American working class. Even though labor is a small factor in manufacturing costs, US companies (not least Boeing) have all but destroyed any chance that factory work will move one into the middle class (as arguably happened with my father and many others in his generation). Engineers, on the other hand, have traditionally been considered middle class, which made engineering a prime career opportunity for working class children. However, Boeing's goal here is not just to push engineering wages into the dirt but to turn engineering into an unattractive career path. If other companies follow suit, we're liable to wind up with a severe shortage of the skills we need to maintain the technology we depend on as a civilization.

Lots more can be said about this. But rather than slide down any number of rat holes, I'd like to point your attention to today's Wichita Eagle article on Boeing: Alwyn Scott: Boeing still working to increase production rates:

Boeing's pace of commercial airplane deliveries slowed to 56 in April, or 10 fewer than the month before, keeping it under the target needed to meet its annual delivery forecast.

The company remained the world's biggest plane maker, however, besting the 52 jets that rival Airbus produced in the month.

Investors watch jet deliveries because Boeing and Airbus receive the bulk of the cash for jet sales when customers fly them home. Boeing investors are particularly keen to see deliveries rise to supply cash for share buybacks and dividends and to work off $25 billion in deferred costs associated with the 787 Dreamliner.

My emphasis: with all of Boeing's chronic problems, it says much that their prime management focus is propping up the share price. Those chronic problems are hinted at in following paragraphs:

Production issues at the 787 assembly plant in South Carolina prompted Boeing earlier this year to hire hundreds of contractors and send unfinished work to the factory in Everett, Wash., for completion.

Boeing said it is "progressing well" in reducing production problems in South Carolina, but declined to give details. Workers there are due to receive a bonus this month if they meet productivity targets.

If Boeing sustains the pace seen in the first four months of 2014, it would deliver about 651 jets this year, well below its full-year forecast of 715 to 725 jets in 2014. Boeing delivered 648 jetliners last year.

So the only way Boeing can make up for the cheaper workers they hire in South Carolina is to hire more expensive contractors to do their work, or return that work to the higher wage workers back in Washington that they've been trying to get away from. Like I said above, as bad as these problems are already for assembly workers, they'll get orders of magnitude worse with engineers. One of the principles drilled into every engineer is the importance of getting it right the first time. That's evidently not a trait that Boeing expects in its management.


A couple spare paragraphs that didn't go anywhere:

It's funny (or maybe I mean sad, maybe even infuriating) to think about it now, but back when Clinton was first elected president, his jobs czar, Robert Reich, had this theory that it didn't matter if the US lost manufacturing jobs to free trade with depressed labor zones -- this was part of the rationale behind NAFTA -- because all those displaced American workers could get a little extra training and become high-paid "symbolic manipulators" -- his quaint term for engineers, planners, architects, financiers, salesfolk, managers, and so forth. The job destruction part happened, and even jobs that weren't obliterated were shaken by the threat. But the golden future of all that symbolic manipulation never happened, and not just because Reich never got the training money. The fact is there never was a chance to replace all those jobs, due to a basic law of productivity: the cliché "it's easier said than done" captures the problem nicely.

The other side of the engineering equation is the cost of education, which is going up even faster than wages are coming down. Thus far we haven't seen many people (other than Kanye West) decide that a college education isn't worth the cost.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Music Week

Music: Current count 23279 [23243] rated (+36), 549 [554] unrated (-5).

Safe to predict that these elevated rated counts will start to go down. I did some cramming for Recycled Goods last week, but this week's projects involve working around the house, and next week I'll travel: flying to New York on the 13th; returning the 21st. I don't have any plans other than a dozen or so people I definitely want to see, and working around Laura's plans -- she's more into museums and such, but having seen all of them at one time or another I'm more into pedestrian pleasures. If you'll be in town and want to propose something, let me know. By the time I leave, I should at least compile a list of possible music, but that won't be a major focus.

You'll note that the brief generic tags I've previously used for newly rated records have given way to something wordier. Since I set up my Twitter account, I've been announcing new grades on the fly, and to make those tweets more review-like I've started to take advantage of the 140 character limit. And having gone to that trouble, it made sense to copy them into the scratch file for use here. They're a bit longer here: I omit labels from the tweets -- it occurs to me I probably should drop 2014 for new records, too -- and sometimes have to squeeze something that would make more sense expanded a bit. Current stats: 63 tweets, 26 followers. My own "following" is still pretty limited, but has already proved helpful in constructing things like yesterday's Weekend Roundup and in adding to the music links below.

Lots of good records below: had a couple days where I was shaking my head after running through three A- records in a roll. Playing another one at the moment, but save that for next week (or twitter).


Recommended music links:


New records rated this week:

  • Rodrigo Amado: Wire Quartet (2011 [2014], Clean Feed): Portuguese saxophonist's prickly joust with Manuel Mota's guitar and RED Quartet bass/drums [cd]: A-
  • Andy Biskin Ibid: Act Necessary (2012 [2014], Strudelmedia): three horns (clarinet-cornet-trombone) and a drummer turn chamber jazz on its head so it can fly [cd]: A-
  • Brian Charette: Square One (2014, Posi-Tone): new twists on organ-guitar-drums trio, a groove feint here, free there, weak guitar breaks [r]: B+(**)
  • Ty Citerman: Bop Kaballah (2013 [2014], Tzadik): guitarist, fronted by trumpet-bass clarinet duo, draws on klezmer, improvises it away [cdr]: B+(***)
  • The Nels Cline Singers: Macroscope (2013 [2014], Mack Avenue): guitar-bass-drums trio (no vocals), into effects as much as instruments, shine and shimmer [cd]: B+(***)
  • Rodney Crowell: Tarpaper Sky (2014, New West): country singer-songwriter returns to roots, best batch of songs in years [r]: A-
  • Decaler Balani (2011, Masalacism, EP): a few more tracks of Malian DJ music, recycled by remixers, pretty much the original idea [bc]: B+(***)
  • Deena: Rock River (2014, Verbena Music): Cucumbers girl Shoshkes hangs in there with a dozen songs graced by her giant smile of a voice [cd] A-
  • Matthieu Donarier & Albert van Veenendaal's Planetarium: The Visible Ones (2010-12 [2014], Clean Feed): sax-piano duets, a bit ponderous but the prepared piano can surprise [cd]: B+(**)
  • Thom Douvan: Brother Brother (2013 [2014], self-released): easy groove music plus a bit of Funk Brothers nostalgia [cd]: B
  • Fear of Men: Loom (2014, Kanine): Jessica Weiss' sullen little English atmospheric pop group, enjoy the hooks, don't sweat the lyrics [r]: B+(***)
  • Rich Halley 4: The Wisdom of Rocks (2013 [2014], Pine Eagle): sax-trombone quartet, Vlatkovich makes major strides, Halley super avant-sax, asa always [cd]: A-
  • Homeboy Sandman: White Sands (2014, Stones Throw, EP): another short one, like he doesn't want to push his basic beats and erudite lyrics too far [r]: B+(***)
  • Franklin Kiermyer: Further (2014, Mobility Music): drags Coltrane's Quartet into the 21st century, with Azar Lawrence searching for higher planes [r]: B+(**)
  • Lost in the Trees: Past Life (2013 [2014], Anti): Artsy little pop group, singer Ari Picker's voice runs high, nice steady pace, still I like it [r]: B+(***)
  • The Menzingers: Rented World (2014, Epitaph): punkish band of some repute if little distinction [r]: B
  • Sei Miguel: Salvation Modes (2005-12 [2014], Clean Feed): Portuguese trumpeter dusts off old pieces/groups, all with similar hushed underground murkiness [cd]: B+(*)
  • Dom Minasi & Hans Tammen: Alluvium (2013 [2014], Straw2gold): avant guitar duets with a singular sound, choppy, sticky, not much resonance [r]: B+(*)
  • Mozes & the Firstborn: Mozes & the Firstborn (2014, Burger): Dutch garage rockers, singer-songwriter with some authority, limited bandwidth [r]: B+(**)
  • The Ocular Concern: Sister Cities (2013 [2014], PJCE): Portland group (guitar, keyb, clarinet, vibes, drums), eclectic quasi-classical chamber jazz [cd]: B+(*)
  • Old 97's: Most Messed Up (2014, ATO): guitar band with pop hooks, overrated I usually think, but here they're so messy they overachieve [r]: A-
  • Mehmet Ali Sanlikol: Whatsnext (2014, Dunya): Turkish cosmopolitan circles around to big band jazz with Third Stream airs and occasional ney [r]: B+(*)
  • Shit Robot: We Got a Love (2014, DFA): Irish DJ Marcus Lambkin, big dance beat electronica, ends especially strong ("Tempest") [r]: B+(***)
  • Bruce Springsteen: American Beauty (2014, Columbia, EP): 4 outtakes for Record Store Day, 2 minor ballads, 2 weirdly distorted anthems [r]: C+
  • The Strypes: Snapshot (2013 [2014], Island/Photo Finish): Irish band's Rockpile-Yardbirds revival is so fresh it reminds me what "Having a Rave Up" [r]: A
  • Supreme Cuts: Divine Ecstasy (2014, Dovecote): Chicago laptop producers' dance beats survive everything, aiming for shameless ecstasy [r]: A-
  • Yosvany Terry: New Throned King (2013 [2014], 5Pasion): Afro-Cuban saxophonist dives deep into Arará culture, channelling African chant and beat [cd]: B+(***)
  • Tweens: Tweens (2014, Frenchkiss): Bridget Battle's band aims for riot grrrl and pop-punk and finds they cancel each other out, so plays louder [r]: B
  • Colin Vallon: Le Vent (2013 [2014], ECM): Swiss pianist, leads trio with the sort of precise logic and muted tones ECM all but demands [dl]: B+(**)
  • Jerry Vivino: Back East (2013 [2014], Blujazz): tenor saxophonist, goes for sweet soul jazz with organ (Brian Charette) and guitar (Bob DeVos), sings one [cd]: B+(**)
  • Norma Winstone: Dance Without Answer (2012 [2014], ECM): Long on Brit avant periphery, singer ages gracefully with spare piano and reeds, Madonna too [dl]: B+(**)
  • Brigitte Zarie: L'amour (2013 [2014], NJ Music): Jazz singer-songwriter, has big brass and a bit of Billie Holiday phrasing, covers Cash and Jobim [cd]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Balani Show Super Hits: Electronic Street Parties From Mali ([2014], Sahelsounds): various DJs fill in riffs but the drums dominate, sometimes running amok [bc]: A-
  • Joe Beck: Get Me (2006 [2014], Whaling City Sound): live trio date from late guitarist, mostly slow ballads and clever patter, nice bit of memorabilia [cd]: B+(***)
  • Moreno and L'Orch First Moja-One: Vol. 2: More Pili (1981-83 [2014], Sterns Africa): East African soukous crate dig, more of that guitar paradise thing [r]: A-

Old records rated this week:

  • none


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Jason Ajemian/Tony Malaby/Rob Mazurek/Chad Taylor: A Way a Land of Life (NoBusiness): cdr, available lp only
  • Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans: The Freedom Principle (NoBusiness)
  • Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans: Live in Lisbon (NoBusiness): cdr, available lp only
  • Darren Barrett: Live and Direct (dB Studios): advance, June 17
  • Darren Barrett: Energy in Motion: The Music of the Bee Gees (dB Studios): advance, June 17
  • Holly Hofmann: Low Life: The Alto Flute Project (Capri)
  • Max Johnson: The Prisoner (NoBusiness)
  • Marc Ribot Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard (Pi): May 13
  • Sonny Rollins: Road Shows: Volume 3 (2001-12, Okeh): May 6
  • JC Sanford Orchestra: Views From the Inside (Whirlwind)
  • Nate Wooley/Hugo Antunes/Chris Corsano: Malus (NoBusiness): cdr, available lp only

Daily Log

Diane Wahto took a valiant stab at editing the letter I wrote last week in response to Dominic Gates: Boeing plans layoffs, transfer of research jobs.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over Boeing's plans to move 1200 engineering jobs from Washington and California to low-wage, crony-capitalist states like Alabama and South Carolina, but that's because I'm not directly impacted: I don't work for Boeing, own stock in it, or plan on flying much in the future. Boeing may be able to replace experienced factory workers with underpaid novices, but engineers are different, and without good engineers Boeing will soon have nothing to sell.

But what saddens me about Boeing's short-sighted move is how it undermines one of few opportunity paths my generation had. My father worked in Boeing's Wichita factory, and he managed to buy a home, send his kids to college, and retired early. I became an engineer and did even better, but Boeing's devaluation of engineering work threatens to close that opportunity path. And when young people see there's no future in engineering, who will keep the technology we so depend on working?

I submitted this letter late tonight.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Weekend Roundup

Some scattered links this week. First, Crowson today, on Governor Sam Brownback, following the news that his Arthur Laffer-approved tax cuts have resulted in a massive shortfall in state tax revenues, while the state economy has lagged behind virtually every other state:

Phillip Brownlee comments in WE Blog:

Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP lawmakers blamed President Obama for why Kansas tax collections in April were $93 million less than projected. "There are . . . natural consequences for being in an ocean, in a sea, that belongs to Obama," said Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane. Though it is silly to blame the revenue drop on Obama, it certainly is true that the Kansas economy is linked to the national and global economies. That being the case, was it unrealistic to think that Kansas' income-tax cuts, which were relatively small compared with the larger economy, would act like "a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy," as Brownback promised? So far, Kansas' economy is lagging the nation and neighboring states while personal income-tax collections are $508 million less than at this point last fiscal year.


Other notable links this week, more than usual from my hometown paper:

  • Kathleen Geier: The Apple-Samsung Patent Wars and Our Broken IP System: Regarding Apple v. Samsung, "threatening to become the longest, as well as most pointless, legal dispute since Jarndyce v. Jarndyce."

    In fact, an intellectual property regime that grants excessively strong protection to rights-holders has the potential to stifle innovation, incentivize unproductive economic activity, rip off consumers and taxpayers, and generally increase economic inequality. That, unfortunately, is the IP regime that has developed in the U.S. today. For instance, the current system makes it difficult to combine patented features by different companies in one product. Want to build a smartphone with Android-style widgets and a Siri-type search function? Unfortunately, you're out of luck. Firms can also harass the competition by threatening lawsuits, especially against newer, smaller firms unable to afford access to our pricey legal system.

  • Ed Kilgore: Perry "Next in Line?": I don't normally care much for these presidential horse race pieces, especially when you're talking about beings with as little human appeal as Republican presidential aspirants, but I thought Kilgore's last line has broader applicability than just to Rick Perry (the man who couldn't decide whether Oklahoma's botched execution was inhumane):

    [Dick] Morris deems Perry Next-In-Line simply by dismissing the other 2012 losers as, well, losers, and then suggesting that Perry can do better this time if he does this and that and doesn't do this and that. If he had some ham, he could make a ham sandwich, if he had some bread.

    As Kilgore explains, "'Next In Line' is one of those theories that sounds compelling thanks to the very limited sample size of recent presidential nominating contexts." The evident series goes back to Ronald Reagan in 1980 (he was runner-up to Ford in 1976), and didn't apply in 2000 (GW Bush didn't run in 1996; the runner up to Bob Dole was who? Pat Buchanan? Steve Forbes? no one else won a single primary). So we're really just talking Reagan (1980), Bush (1988), Dole (1996), McCain (2008), and Romney (2012). Like Bush (2000), those were all candidates who quickly gained a consensus backing by the powers in the party (whoever they may be). Rick Santorum may be next in line, but I doubt if he can make that grade (although far be it from me to claim to be able to read the minds of Republicans; on the other hand, Dick Morris wrote a whole book about his dream match-up between Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, so his track record may well be worse than mine).

  • Tim Potter: In Wichita, gun storage around kids no longer set by law: Last week in Wichita a four-year old child found a loaded gun in a drawer and shot and killed his one-year-old brother (see story here). We haven't yet degenerated to the point where we're trying four-year-olds as adults, but some people wondered about the father leaving a loaded gun where his kids could find it. Turns out that's legal too.

    There was a time in Wichita when an ordinance required adults to properly secure guns around children. [ . . . ] For 12 years, Wichita had an ordinance regulating gun storage around children. The Wichita law required that guns be properly secured if someone under 18 could have access and required that adults keep guns unloaded, locked away or secured with trigger locks. [ . . . ] In 2005, the Wichita gun storage ordinance was repealed because a state law nullified it.

    After the ordinance was repealed, from 2007 through 2013, Wichita police recorded on average eight accidental shootings at homes each year, according to numbers Lt. Dan East provided Friday. In 2013, 10 shootings were reported. [ . . . ]

    Last month, the governor [Brownback] signed into law a bill that will prohibit local governments from enforcing local gun ordinances and will make gun laws uniform across the state. [ . . . ]

    The death is devastating, but having a law dictating safe gun storage is not the solution, said Phil Journey, a longtime gun rights advocate, former legislator and current Sedgwick County District Court judge.

    Safe-storage laws "don't prevent the tragedy. They punish people afterward," Journey said.

    As a legislator in 2005, Journey pushed for passage of a state law that eliminated the Wichita ordinance on gun storage. He argued that the law impinged on the right to self defense.

    Of course, that's true of most criminal law, but you don't find many people (even Republican legislators) arguing that we shouldn't have a law against murder because it won't prevent the tragedy. If anything, they argue the opposite: that a law against doing something bad deters people from doing it, as well as punishing them after the fact. Moreover, it's not unusual to have laws that are only enforceable when their breach turns tragic. For instance, it is illegal to drive without wearing seat belts, but it is rare that anyone is charged except after the violation was revealed by an accident. (I'm not saying that these are all good laws, just that there is precedent for them.) But many people seem to get stupid when it comes to guns.

    Journey's statement is rather revealing. What he's saying is that the personal need for self-protection is so urgent that it trumps any concerns about safety. And he's also saying that having a gun is an effective means for self-protection. Neither assertion seems all that valid to me.


Also, a few links for further study:

  • Stan Finger: Arid opening to 2014 echoes Dust Bowl spring of 1936: Wichita has had less than two inches of rain so far this year, the lowest total since 1936 (or before, back to the advent of record-keeping). Nowadays in Kansas 1936 is mostly known for its record-setting heat wave -- many of which were finally broken in 2011, when we had 53 100° days -- but at the time it was the peak year for dust storms, including one that blew all the way to Washington DC. Wichita has had above-average rainfall the last two years, so the reservoirs are relatively full, but this year's crops are hurting. Global warming climate models generally predict increasing drought in Kansas, so every year that doesn't happen I figure we got lucky. Still, this year looks to be the reckoning. Last couple summers were also much milder than the persistent heat waves of 2009-11, and this year has been relatively cool . . . until, well, yesterday. But as Finger notes, the first of those 100° days in 2011 was May 9, the earliest that temperature had ever been hit in Wichita. Well, not any more: as I write this, on May 4, the official temperature outside is 102°.

  • Dave Helling/Brad Cooper: Brownback's ties to lobbyists under scrutiny: As well they should be, as the Kansas governor's aides move on to lucrative careers in lobbying, selling their access to their old connections. The counterargument, of course, is that that's the way the system works, but once you buy into that argument it's tempting to play fast and loose with rules, thinking they're not really meant to be taken all that seriously in the first place. Add to that the streak of self-righteousness that Brownback wears like a cloak and you have the makings for some serious mischief. The article doesn't wrap it all up, but does help you get a sense of how the system works. For example:

    [Riley] Scott, the son-in-law of Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, later picked up Pittsburg State University as a $36,000 client even though the school had not hired a lobbyist for at least four years.

    "Riley fit the bill," said school spokesman Chris Kelly. "He seemed to fit where we wanted to go."

    Wichita Area Technical College, which runs the National Center for Aviation Training, hired Scott after lawmakers cut funding for the center by $2 million last year.

    It paid Parallel Strategies $30,000 for six months after employing a different lobbyist for several years.

    "I've been in this business a long time, and it's about relationships," said the school's president, Tony Kinkel. But, he said, "no one ever told us who to hire."

    The Kansas Dental Association hired Parallel Strategies this year to oppose legislation creating midlevel dental providers who could perform some of the duties now handled by dentists.

    "We needed to have someone with close ties to the tea party conservative Republicans," said Kevin Robertson, the association's executive director.

    People associated with the governor also have landed lobbying jobs with the three private companies running the state's Medicaid program, now known as KanCare.

    Scott works for United Health Services. Amerigroup Kansas hired former social services official Gary Haulmark. Matt Hickam, a former partner of Kensinger's, now lobbies for Centene and its subsidiary, Sunflower State Health Plan.

  • Phillip Longman/Lina Khan: Terminal Sickness: "How a thirty-year-old policy of deregulation is slowly killing America's airline system -- and taking down Cincinnati, Memphis, and St. Louis with it." Interesting to no small extent because airline deregulation is often regarded as one of the few successes (trucking is the other one) of the Carter-Reagan era of deregulation mania.

    And, of course, deregulated airlines have nothing to stop themselves from acknowledging increasing inequality and providing (relatively) lavish treatment to "woo the one percent": see David Owen: Game of Thrones.

  • Kelsey Ryan: Mandated, costly disease-coding system on hold, for now: In the past, every health insurance company had its own coding system, requiring doctors offices and hospitals to recode their claims to fit the insurance company requirements, and in the process creating lots of opportunities for insurance companies to reject claims, as well as a market for software companies to sell packages to manage all of that complexity. Any way you look at it, these coding systems have been a major source of anti-productivity and bloated cost in health care. It's not clear from this article whether ICD-10 is meant to solve this problem by standardization or whether it just piles on, but the reported complaints of doctors offices shelling out "between $200,000 and $250,000" for software and training is a red flag. This is clearly a case where a small investment in free software (on top of a standardized coding system) would make a huge difference, reducing hassle and ultimately saving costs without in any way hampering care. In fact, standardized electronic medical records have been shown to improve care as well as reduce costs.

  • Derek Thompson: Why America's Essentials Are Getting More Expensive While Its Toys Are Getting Cheap: The graphic:

    Thompson quotes Jordan Weissmann (link below): "Prices are rising on the very things that are essential for climbing out of poverty." The line on education is the most striking, especially compared to health care, which has been the standard for corporate rapaciousness for decades now. This strikes me as a compounding effect of inequality: the rich aren't satisfied with getting richer, they feel even better watching everyone else fall behind, and especially the high achievers who would compete with them.

    This also suggests that there is something to the notion that cheaper prices on manufactured goods reduce the perceived impact of relative impoverishment. As Thompson points out, those falling prices are achieved through no cost to profits, but rather by moving manufacturing to cheaper labor markets. Some modern-day Marx might conclude, "television is the opium of the masses."

    Also see Annie Lowrey: Changed Life of the Poor: Better Off, but Far Behind, and Jordan Weissmann: Why Poverty Is Still Miserable, Even If Everybody Can Own an Awesome Television.

  • Some other brief notes on various aspects of the national rot:

Cut this short to wallow in my poverty and watch some TV. There's just way too much wretchedness to follow, especially when the answers are so straightforward.

Daily Log

From Liam Smith (from Ireland) on Facebook, after George Allan asked about my Strypes review:

It was one of my favourite albums of last year, I'm glad Tom likes it. Really well played r&b, their own songs don't suffer by comparison with some choice covers. Worth keeping an eye out for.

Best new Irish band since Fight Like Apes, and.best Irish album since Jinx Lennon's Know Your Station.

I think Keith Gorman mentioned them here a few weeks ago. They're from Cavan, as are most of my relatives.

As I may have said before, it's a hopeful sign when bands this oung (very young, all under 20 and maybe under 18) use the phrase "blue collar": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZb8nEemK2k

Now I just have to convert everyone to Jinx!

Liam Smith also commented on my Facebook post:

Liam wrote: "Can there be much higher praise? "this makes me feel exactly like Having a Rave-Up did fifty years ago." Fab, if not in fact gear. Go Strypes!"

Michael Tatum commented on Facebook:

My initial conversation with Tom Hull (does he remember?) was regarding the Neil Young piece in GUAW. Damned if he's not right about "Time Fades Away" and "On the Beach" being in the top echelon of Neil.

Cam Patterson on Manfred Mann:

When I think of that Mannfred Mann album, I think "I'm DOWN on my knees/And I ain't got a DIME", and it's like listening to Little Richard for the first time, it's that great. Plus (plus let's bring Bradley in here) it's totally prog as shit. So yeah, I could go to that album all day. The other 70's Mannfred Mann album that Xgau liked (Get Your Rocks Off) has the better cover (in it's Brit version) so that's hanging on my wall, but MMEB is the real thing.

Tatum again:

The only way to listen to "Sweetheart of the Rodeo." The Deluxe version. Program McGuinn's versions of "Christian Life," "You Don't Miss Your Water," and "One Hundred Years from Now" out. Put Parsons' versions back in. Wham bam: de-fucking-finitive. The record that changed my life (circa 1991).

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Rhapsody Streamnotes (May 2014)

Pick up text here.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Daily Log

Dan Weiss' January-April record list (my grades in brackets):

  1. tUnE-yArDs - Nikki-Nack
  2. Lily Allen - Sheezus
  3. Wussy - Attica!
  4. Shakira - Shakira [A-]
  5. The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams [A-]
  6. Sisyphus - Sisyphus [**]
  7. Withered Hand - New Gods [**]
  8. Young Thug & Bloody Jay - Black Portland [B]
  9. Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield [***]
  10. Toni Braxton & Babyface - Love, Marriage and Divorce [***]
  11. Tacocat - NVM [***]
  12. Homeboy Sandman - White Sands [EP]
  13. Old 97's - Most Messed Up
  14. Pixies - EP-2 [EP]
  15. Drive-By Truckers - English Oceans [**]
  16. Tweens - Tweens
  17. Neneh Cherry - Naked Project [***]
  18. Miranda Lambert - Platinum
  19. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [**]
  20. Skrillex - Recess [B-]

The ones on Rhapsody I haven't heard yet: Old '97s (just out this week), Homeboy Sandman, and Tweens. Tune-Yards and Lily Allen won't be released until next week (May 6). Wussy's release date is a week later (May 13). Miranda Lambert doesn't come out until June 3. Also not on Rhapsody is the Pixies EP, out since January.

Then, I replied:

Eight (of twenty) albums currently unheard by me, but four have future (May-June) release dates, and more only came out just this week, and two are EPs. Only two (of twelve) I have at A-, but at least they are on top. Other non-jazz I like more than the rest:

  • Jenny Scheinman: The Littlest Prisoner
  • Pharrell Williams: Girl
  • Rodney Crowell: Tarpaper Sky
  • Laura Cantrell: No Way There From Here
  • Big Ups: Eighteen Hours of Static
  • Todd Terje: It's Album Time
  • Jon Langford: Here Be Monsters
  • Company Freak: Le Disco Social
  • The New Mendicants: Into the Lime
  • Cloud Nothings: Here and Nowhere Else

Just saying.

Weiss replied:

of the ones i've heard:

  • todd terje: **
  • cloud nothings: ***
  • new mendicants: ***
  • pharrell: C+


From the Twitter feed, Pope Francis: "Inequality is the root of social evil."

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Daily Log

Possible Wichita Eagle letter, following this piece: Dominic Gates: Boeing plans layoffs, transfer of research jobs

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over Boeing's plans to move 1200 engineering jobs from Washington and California to third world states like Alabama and South Carolina with their low wages and crony capitalist legislatures [see Boeing plans layoffs, transfer of research jobs], but that's because I'm not directly impacted: I don't work for Boeing, own stock in it, or plan on flying much in the future. If I did I'd be alarmed, because there are vast differences in the value produced by engineers, and the good ones aren't likely to follow Boeing to the backwaters of civilization. Boeing may be able to replace experienced factory workers with underpaid newbies, but not engineers, and without good engineers Boeing will soon have nothing to sell.

But what saddens me about Boeing management's incessant plundering of their own company is how little future it leaves for young people. My father worked in Boeing's Wichita factory almost forty years, and he made enough money to buy a home, send his kids to college, and be able to retire early, before his health failed -- almost what you'd call middle class, something well beyond the hand-to-mouth Boeing's new factory workers in South Carolina can expect. And I became an engineer and did better still because I had skills that remained valuable even after blue collar wages stagnated. When I was young we were told that education was the path to better careers, and engineering was a field with a future -- one that I followed with enough success that I, too, could afford to retire early. However, with companies like Boeing driving engineering wages into the dirt -- and the college loans I never had to pay eating them alive -- it's hard to see how anyone not born rich can expect a middle class career. And when young people realize there's no future in engineering, who will keep the technology that we're so dependent on working?

Tweeted this tonight:

Boeing thinks they'll pocket $100M/year by moving engineering to the third world: http://goo.gl/pdNGv8 -- think any of this will fly?

Also tweeted this, based on Police: 4-year-old pulled trigger of gun, killing little brother:

In Wichita today, 4-year-old finds gun in playroom, shoots and kills 1-year-old little brother: http://goo.gl/h0MnXK


Apr 2014 Jun 2014