Dedicated with joy, awe, envy and pity to laborers of love everywhere. Especially those about to.
4 March 2008
I watched Matt's second world tour again today and sobbed like a girl. I thought: holy crap I'm deep, and not gay. If Carl Sagan had seen it thirty years prior, he would have used it.
So here's the thought that made the nasolacrimal snot flow. Billions of years from now, after we've had to leave, some kid will ask his mom what Earth was like. She'll smile. She'll show him Matt. And the kid will get it. Really get it. Except he'll think we all did this, all the time. He'd never dream, nor could you convince him in a short time, that most of us went through our entire lifespan and never did anything remotely like that. Mom might know better but if she does I hope she shuts up. Nope, not sad that I haven't. Just happy I still can.
Ashleigh Brilliant - Aphorisms galore, witty and singular. Get a collection of his postcards and use them for years. They're a real treat for people to find among their junk mail. Check out his daily pot-shot. Daily. (Sorry I have no criticisms. He's gotta be inhumanly wonderful.)
Despair.com - Besides funny, there's a wisdom to this guy. By being so virulently anti-schmaltz he ends up being schmaltzy, in a way. (The only thing about poster humor is that it's funny the first three times you see it but not so much the next three hundred. So it either has to go on public display, or -- he needs a more ephemeral media, post cards for example that you can send to buddies -- and he does have that.)
CallingCards.com - 2.2 cents a minute, no connect charge. Use them up in 90 days or they expire though. How can this deal be so much better than anything else I see advertised and no one knows about it. Now I talk long hours to great friends and don't get punished. My wife talks to her family and we don't have to fight about how long. Now rechargeable, which is great, because I have the PIN memorized and it just flies off my fingers. No really, I don't make a CENT off telling you this. (Ha, I lied! They've been sending me checks after all. The first few checks I thought were returned payments. I think I ripped and voided them.) One card, think it was USA 1.9, advertises no connect fee but it does have one. They're no good for outbound fax calls, for some reason. I used to use a Wal-mart phone card with no connect fee for sending faxes. Now I use...
MaxEmail.com - I used to tell everyone about efax.com. Who can deny having your own free inbound fax number is a great deal? Two catches with efax.com: the first time you exceed 20 pages in a month (not faxes, pages) you either have to start paying $13 a month or your "free" number is cancelled and given out to fax-spammers. The MaxEmail folks are the ones who invented the efax.com technology anyway. They offer a much saner deal: $15 a year and you get outbound fax (a few cents a minute surcharge, naturally). These fax numbers are all 815 area code, Chicago, but who cares. Most of my faxers are going to be long distance anyway. 30-day trial. (Something about the ergonomics of their site is cumbersome but I can't put my finger on it.)
osCommerce - Open Source shopping cart and e-commerce engine. I may grouse at the connected services (credit card gateway) or the contribution documentation, but whoo boy is this a good thing. And everyone I've met who's installed it loves it. (Yes you have to know PHP to install and maintain this thing, but that's not the critique. The code would read a lot easier if it nested better. Specifically, it should treat "?>" as a begin and "<?php" as an end in many circumstances.)
Weather Underground - How cool is a weather station that lets amateurs contribute? See weather webcams and a broad array of weather stations contributed by ordinary people with their own automated weather station. Oh and the maps and forecasts and data are extraordinarily complete and useful. (The rain-cloud icon I keep thinking is a sweating cloud -- it makes me feel like a hot humid day is coming. They may have changed this.)
Browsercam.com - Technology for an extremely useful purpose. See your web site (or any web site) in all kinds of Unless you have a dozen computers you can dedicate to all kinds of combinations of browser version and operating system, you have got to use these guys. (The monthly charges really should stop when you stop using it, and start up again when you start again. Automatically, transparently. If they did I'd be subtly more likely to revive usage when the inspiration strikes.)
Google - Uh wow.
Andy Goldsworthy - and here and here. The guy blows me away. I finally get why art is such a cool idea.
Runners up: netflix, wikipedia, imdb, dictionary.com, ebay / paypal / auctionsniper, usps, babelfish.altavista.com / freetranslation.com, youtube, songmeanings.
"Music should never be harmless"
(To hear RealAudio samples, click on the album, scroll down, and click on the song name.)
I can never thank my friend Jo enough for telling me about Habib Koite. To call him the best of Afropop music is to give too much credit to Afropop. This music transcends genre not just with its variety and versatility but with its intense spirit.
Here's an MP3 sample of Ma Ya, the title track. There are many other songs here well worth the album price.
Gratuitously skilled guitar, fluid melodies, silvery vocals. Still, I never thought a song could push me over the emotional brink without great lyrics. These are not English but somehow they do it for me. The earth moves and the sky splits open every single time I play this stuff.
Forget Africa, this is among the best stuff humanity has to offer.
Thomas Crowne Affair Soundtrack album
Everything (...Is Never Quite Enough)
The movie is not transforming; this song is. Plays at approximately 1:07:50 - 1:08:55 on the video tape. Happens to be a pretty steamy love scene. But the song... The sample at Amazon.com is thoroughly inadequate. The female vocal featured has much better segments, but worse: there's barely a second of the most stunning male vocal I've heard since Ladysmith Black Mambazo (featured in Paul Simon's Graceland). I cannot overemphasize: you have to hear this. Rent the movie or get the soundtrack, but hear it.
This song is utterly transforming sound. TNAR of the first magnitude. It even makes the otherwise flat characters of the movie alive and three-dimensional. Languid competent guitar begins. A bass male voice enters that takes your breath away, singing in some language other than English. (Wolof?) A faint high sweet female voice weaves into these a perfect wordless harmony, like a gleaming gold wire through a thick nautical rope. So well balanced, neither beauty surpasses the other.
Whoever this Wasis Diop is, I'm eager to hear his album No Sant, about to release in the US. Oh yes, the movie is rather entertaining. But the song...
I've purchased No Sant and wore it out, no sign of getting tired of it, very, very good stuff.
Nina Simone has more soul in the tip of her little finger than the entire state of New Jersey. Actually I think everyone does but Ms. Simone has made sound from the depths of hers and it is published. The climax of the movie is lifted to the sublime by her rousing, haunting song. The climax really is great storytelling to start with. But this song, for just a moment, pierces open a conduit for a bright beam of vicarious glory.
Guitar like no other.
Book of Secrets
Working on Wings to Fly album
Working on Wings to Fly
Allman Brothers Band Legendary Hits album
SAMPLE OF Little Martha
Buckingham Nicks album
Come Down In Time
Pickin the Blues
Doc & Merle Watson
SAMPLE OF Windy & Warm
Saturate Before Using
Song for Adam, on an album full of masterpieces
SAMPLE OF Late Winter Early Spring
"Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his own blood."
Memoirs of The Second World War
No written history compares to that in the first person.
Among The Elephants
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Oria Douglas-Hamilton
Studying the Elephants around Lake Manyara, Kenya.
With an audio excerpt online
The Moral Animal : Why We Are the Way We Are : The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology
Incomparably lucid, frank, insightful, illuminating, provoking. I never thought anyone could top The Selfish Gene. Wright is more unbiased about the very nature of bias than I thought humanly possible. If you're not human, you may not find it interesting.
Lazy Man's Guide To Enlightenment
Design Of Everyday Things
Invaluable to anyone striving to make useful things.
Edward R. Tufte
Invaluable to anyone trying to visualize and render apparent what was obscure.
~ ~ ~
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Human speech is like crude rhythms tapped on cracked kettles for
bears to dance to, while all the while we long to make music that
will move the stars to pity.
A certain combination of incompetence and indifference can cause
almost as much suffering as the most acute malevolence.
Bruce Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox, 1953
(speaking of Andersonville prison)
Each morning I open my eyes and say to myself: "I, not events, have the power
to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday
is gone, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day today and I'm
going to be happy in it." That system has worked for me for a long time; try it.
PhD in Leadership, Short Course: Make a careful list of all things
done to you that you abhorred. Don't do them to others, ever. Make
another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for
Dee Hock, 1997, Fast Company Magazine
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we
are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most
frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,
and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your
playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about
shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to
make manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of
us, it's in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own
fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
by Mary Ann Williamson, (read by Nelson Mandella in acceptance speech)
Hasty conclusion like ancient egg. Only good from outside.
It's extraordinary how extraordinary the ordinary person is.
George F. Will
Deep within man dwell these slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him,
that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life
if aroused and put into action.
Orison Swett Marden (1848-1924)
No person who is enthusiastic about his work has anything to fear from
life. All the opportunities in the world are waiting to be grasped by people
who are in love with what they're doing.
Samuel Goldwyn (the "G" in MGM)
When you come right down to it, the secret of having it all is *loving* it all.
Dr. Joyce Brothers
Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for
survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to
transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.
When any young student asks me, "Do you think I should be a dancer?" I always
say, "If you have to ask, then the answer is no."
To be the first that is the idea. To do something, say something, see
something, before *anybody* else these are the things that confer a
pleasure compared with which other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other
ecstasies cheap and trivial.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use
of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing
broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses
powers of various sorts, which he habitually fails to use.
When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all
your thoughts break their bounds: Your mind transcends limitations, your
consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new,
great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become
alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever
dreamed yourself to be.
Patanjali (2nd century BC)
The genius...springs from every class and from every part of the land. You
cannot tell where you will not find a wonder.
We want a lot of engineers in the world but we do not want a world of
I am going to give a long speech today. I haven't had time to prepare a short
Ad for Prodigy
Larry Bird behind a counter, little guy walks up, drones "Where's the plywood." Bird, laconically, "Aisle twenty." Bird's outstretched pointing arm a foot or more over the customer's head. Customer trudges away. A sudden gleam in Bird's eye. He crumples a piece of paper, looks around, shoots. Swishes into the wastebasket thirty feet away. A smile of pure boyish joy washes over his face. Fade to copy: "Have you realized your potential?" The Clio Awards should have a new category.
This page was inspired by friends who actually think I have pretty good taste:
Bob Stein, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazon used to pay a few pennies if you ordered through the links above.
CDNOW has an excellent selection of music and a very competent search engine. It will search on song titles.
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