Saturday, 29 December 2007

In Passing

Sometimes stories just stop


While doing the annual Holiday Sort Through My Bookmarks routine, I revisited a site that I'd added back in April of 2005. Well not immediately. Thomas had moved a year later, but by then I'd gotten out of the habit of reading him, and my bookmark still pointed to the old address. But all that's been settled. Anyway...

I don't remember how I came to Thomas's blog originally, but while there I revisited the post that led to the bookmark:

For the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed a cat, probably no more than six or seven months old, moving slowly about in the garden outside my balcony.
...
Later I saw the cat up on the high wall, meowing loudly. I noticed it had no eyes. A woman was down at the end of the high wall, to the right of the ledge, where the people who live in the building around the corner park their cars. She was dangling her keys and calling out to the cat, which couldn’t find its way back to the tree it had climbed up to get to where it was.

I saw it again today, standing on the high wall, “looking” down.

How does a cat survive in a city like Athens with no eyes?...
(Do go read the whole post. Thomas is a fine writer.)

Thus reacquainted, I thought to look through the archives, to see if there was anything more about the cat. Fortunately, Thomas created a category. But it contains a scant four posts, the most recent dating from only two months after the first (over two years ago), a time when I was still reading him regularly. After that, nothing more. Silence.

"Probrecito," wrote commenter Moira.

Indeed. What was his fate? Did he die in traffic, or mauled by a dog, or quietly starve under a bush somewhere, unable to fend for himself?

Or did someone take pity on him and make him their own, so that today he is well-loved, and sleeps on the windowsill on sunny afternoons, and never ventures out?

Or did he always belong to some neighbor, who moved elsewhere, taking him with her?

Sometimes stories just stop.

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In Passing

Second verse, same as the first


Slashdot linked a Rolling Stone story decrying the excessive processing in today's (pop) music:

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," [record producer David] Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue....

... But volume isn't the only issue. Computer programs like Pro Tools, which let audio engineers manipulate sound the way a word processor edits text, make musicians sound unnaturally perfect. And today's listeners consume an increasing amount of music on MP3, which eliminates much of the data from the original CD file and can leave music sounding tinny or hollow. "With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse," says Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. "God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."
Really sad, innit. All this new technology, and recorded music sounds worse. But it's always been thus. While the Stone article is a good thing from a consumer-awareness point of view, its author (Robert Levine) hasn't discovered anything that engineers, producers, and audio buffs haven't been arguing over for the last 50 years.

Today record producers get slammed for tweaking their recordings so they'll sound good after being (lossily) compressed into MP3 format. In 1965, the argument was over tweaking recordings to correct for the deficiencies of AM radios or juke boxes.[1] Today’s “authenticity” argument revolves around the use of tools like Auto-tune and Beat Detective to mask musician deficiencies. In the 70s, the culprits were multi-tracking, retakes, and tape editing.[2] The only difference is that today’s all-digital technologies allow the producer to do more radical tweaking, and do it with less effort, than the earlier analog methods. They have also made it less expensive to fix problems in the editing suite (as opposed to the studio).  At the same time it’s much easier to shoot yourself in the foot. 

But what “sounds right” remains matter of ears (and integrity), as it always has been.  As long as the same recording winds up being played in wildly different environments,[3] the finished product will have to be a compromise.[4]  Which is what producers are paid to do:  Find a workable compromise for their particular recording.  For them to run around lamenting, “Stop me before I compress again!” is a bit disingenuous.  



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[1] A number of labels, Warner Brothers perhaps the most notorious, did special “singles mixes” of the particular tracks they were promoting for broadcast. These mixes would have extra level compression and special equalization. You'd hear one on the radio, go buy the album containing it, and, WTF?!?, it didn't sound the same! A cople of times around, and you learned to buy the 45 r.p.m. single, not the album, if you wanted that “radio sound.”
[2] Alex Ross:
...even Glenn Gould would have had trouble executing the mechanically accelerated keyboard solo in “In My Life.” The great rock debate about authenticity began. Were the Beatles pushing the art forward by reinventing it in the studio? - “The Record Effect” The New Yorker, June 6, 2005

[3] Witness the typical dive-for-the-volume-control scenario when trying to listen to a classical CD in the car.
[4] Anyone for a choice?  Say MP3 mix / radio mix / car stereo mix / audiophile mix?

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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

In Passing

Merry Christmas to all

...and to all a Good Night!

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Monday, 24 December 2007

In Passing

Great minds runing in the same... yadda yadda

Instapundit, December 23, 8:40 a.m.:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg: "Wonder why this [the Huckabee campaign finance questions] hasn't made more of a splash." A cynic might suggest that it's because the mainstream media folks want Huckabee to get the nomination, because he'll be easy for the Democrats to beat.
Instapundit, December 23, 10:51 p.m.:
NEWSBUSTERS WONDERS why the Huckabee stem cell story isn't getting more attention. Well, it's the slowest news weekend of the year and lots of media folks are on vacation. Oh, and also, they want Huckabee to get the nomination so the GOP will lose in the fall.
Old Grouch, commenting at Daily Pundit, December 16, 2007:
Huckabee is the MSM’s “narrative-satisfying Republican.” ... Huckabee as RINO, and the fact that the Clinton gang views him as easily defeatable, are bonus points.
Okay, I didn't say exactly the same thing, but I did argue from the same direction.

So do I qualify for a "Heh™" or not?

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In Passing

Hey, it's back


Blogger has restored the linkback feature for non-blogspot commenters, the one they removed in the redesign at the end of last month.

(You have to have scripting enabled, but it seems like anymore everybody wants that for one reason or another. Grumble!)

Otherwise, good on 'em.

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Friday, 21 December 2007

In Passing

According to "The Today Show"...

...35 million Americans haven't started Christmas shopping yet.

Via KJLo via IP.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

In Passing

...and speaking of customer service


Is it possible that one of the cellular companies is finally getting the message?

Dan Hesse, a telecom veteran tapped yesterday to be Sprint Nextel Corp.'s chief executive officer, says his first priority will be to to tackle the customer-service problems and customer defections that have contributed to Sprint's share-price decline...

An internal Sprint document... described the company’s “inferior results” in customer service, pointing out that Sprint resolved 53% or problems on the first call, compared with 71% for Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA, even though Sprint has nearly three-times as many care specialists. -- “Sprint Chief Eyes Customer Care,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2007 page A3


Elsewhere:
Hesse helped slow profit bleeding at Embarq by closing call centers and creating service packages. In Sprint's case, however, he needs to open more call centers. - Ben Popken (Consumerist)
...or give the folks at the existing ones the power to actually do something.

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In Passing

Triticale - obituary and service plans


From Deirdre Dee:

Here is a link to the Chicago Sun Times obit - this & the guest book will remain up for 1 year:

Sun Times obituary and guestbook at legacy.com

The memorial service will be held in Milwaukee where we live somewhere between April-June. If you would like more information I'd prefer that you call (414-342-1767) as my mailbox is a mess right now & I'm afraid of deleting mail.

Both my son & I were able to see Tom & say our goodbyes.

Wee Wifey [email: zosha -#at# - voyager.net]
Thanks, Deirdre, for letting us know.

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Monday, 17 December 2007

In Passing

Can we have an "A-men!" please?


DrewM. at Ace of Spades:

I am glad when [Cleveland] built the new stadium they didn't put a roof on it. I don't know if they didn't have enough money or they wanted to stick it to those wimps in Detroit and Minnesota but this is what football in December should look like.
more...

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Friday, 14 December 2007

In Passing

Thoughts and prayers go out to...


Tom Dee Arnold, a.k.a. “Triticale - the wheat / rye guy,” mu-nuvian, jouster in the lists of many comment threads, member of the community at at Daily Pundit, Tim Blair (and many other websites), in hospital with acute leukemia, and things look serious. Please take a moment for Tom and his wife Deirdre.


-----
How the web works: Via ‘kbarrett's’ comment at Tam's, which pointed to this entry at Real Debate Wisconsin, where scrolling got me this entry, which led here, here, and here.
(Tom's name corrected 071219 00:05.)

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