Where Love Lives: Frankie Knuckles And The Dance Floor : The Record

I’m not going to drone on here about Frankie Knuckles, I’ve done enough of that on Facebook. This NPR review of Frankies’ impact and his music though contains two of the best ever in a music review

To listen to his “The Bomb Mix” of Chanté Moore’s 1995 R&B song “This Time” is to be suspended in air for 10 minutes.

and

Moore sings Knuckles’ rendition more tenderly (she recut the vocal in his studio, following his directions to sing it at a club-friendly tempo), more like she’s having a secret talk with God, as if she’s praying that this time, heaven allowed, things are going to work out. She’s singing as if she’s asking to be blessed.

As much as people are calling Frankie the “”God Father of House music”, what Frankie really did was kept soul alive.

Where Love Lives: Frankie Knuckles And The Dance Floor : The Record : NPR.

If you want more of Frankie Knuckles, his personal soundcloud page has dozens of mixes and tracks from over the years. Dimitri from Paris, and many others are producing tribute mixes, also on soundcloud.

Frankie at Kingdom, Austin

(c) Learning secrets

Finally thanks to Christian Barbuto and the folks at Resident Advisor, Learning Secrets, and Kingdom nightclub in Austin for bringing Frankie to town last year. Great to see Christian last night at the impromptu Thursday night Frankie celebration.

Why buying a car is so awful?

Photo Licensed CC by mercedes818 on flickr.com

The whole State of Texas vs Tesla game/blackmail, campaign is in full swing. Tesla can’t sell direct in Texas, Texas is trying to work an exchange a deal on allowing Tesla to sell cars direct, in exchange for bringing a battery plant to Texas.

For the most part people have always only known the dealership model in the USA, and especially in Texas where the same dealership company owns multiple car franchises, and can afford to buy cheap land and build what look like separate businesses to give the illusion of competition.

What has become obvious is that most don’t understand the rules of the game. Not the rules of the game of buying a car, for that’s no game, its rigged more than the Vegas Casino tables, I mean the rules of the game of car franchises. Why they exist, where they come from, how comes, for the most part, they are so hopeless, so inefficient and, yes, so expensive.

This Planet Money podcast is well worth listening too. It gives a complete overview of where we are today and how we got there. It asks the question, what other business would you have to visit multiple stores to compare and buy different brands? For everything else, white goods, TV, clothes, you can for the most part visit multiple stores to compare the same brands.

Back last year I wrote how the dealership/franchises work against you, yes YOU in every way, now we have a professional explanation why.

One last thing, often a confusing wrench thrown into the debate about car dealerships is the one of service. Without the dealership, they say there would be no quality, brand approved, servicing facility. This is baloney. In fact, linking the two is one of the most egregious  dealership “lies”. If there were no dealerships to lock manufactures into the service plans, there would indeed be multiple options as the manufactures themselves would be able to, and in some respects, have to set-up, license, and certify repair shops. Whether this would be good for consumers isn’t clear, but it is a lie to say there wouldn’t be any.

My first Amazon drone delivery

| Update 3/27: As confirmed by Mag(see comments) Amazon have contracted out to USPS for Sunday delivery. This article has the details and a discussion.

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So, I ordered a $9 case for my Rasberry PI Computer. It’s been turning in a useful performance as a backup player for my music streaming system at home. I ordered from Amazon and was surprised when I got the order confirmation, it was going to be delivered on Sunday 3-16. See the graphic.

So, I wondered who’d be delivering it, FedEx, UPS, or was it to arrive by drone? It Surely wouldn’t be USPS, since they are even stopping Saturday delivery, aren’t they?

I was out Sunday, so I checked only before leaving to drive home, and yes, much to my surprise, the package had been delivered, by, err, USPS. Totally radical Amazon had partnered with, and was paying for USPS Sunday delivery. Awesome.
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Only when I got home there was not sight of the package. It wasn’t in the mail box, it wasn’t on the doormat, it wasn’t even hidden in the hedge.

I got Amazon customer service on chat tonight, they deny all knowledge of a Sunday delivery, and blame USPS for declaring it delivered when it was still out of the truck. Well when I got home tonight, it wasn’t here. So this blog entry is for tomorrows Amazon customer rep. who try to blame USPS, Amazon started it by scheduling 2-day delivery for a Sunday, now can I have my case?
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| Update, as of 1:53am today(3/18) Amazon had issued a full refund, so can’t complain about customer service. They didn’t deal with the issue of their predicting it would arrive on Sunday, which if contractual with USPS, might well have encouraged it to get lost in delivery and the fabrication of the delivered status. After all, usually with USPS confirmed delivery, USPS actually delivers first and then updates the status, I’ve never seen it the other way around.

NTD or National Taliban Day?

I enjoy a pint of Guinness as much as the next “man”, but I continue to find St Patricks day  troubling. I wonder if in 100 years time the youth of tomorrow will be celebrating national Taliban day?

Really, for the most part of the last 100 years St Patricks day has been a major fund raiser for the Irish Republican Army and the Provisional IRA. Until as recently as 5-years ago they used the money to support people who indiscriminately bomb, killed, maimed both innocent civilians, and the families of people who supported the British Government. They also planted and carried out attacks on Soldiers of the British Government, who for the most part didn’t want to be in Northern Island, didn’t care who owned/governed Northern Island, provided people were not being killed daily the were just following orders. Me too.

One of my friends was injured in a train station bombing, for most of my adult life there were no trash cans in London, precisely because they were a great place to leave bombs and were regularly used as such.

Yep, the British Government played it’s part, it was far from perfect, yep, completely agree. Bloody Sunday was a massacre carried out by soldiers. Remember, the potato famine in Ireland was right around the time the Ameican forefathers were introducing Smallpox and other killer diseases to the native tribes in America. If you think Britain should give Northern Island back to the Irish, then I assume you also think America should be returned to the native Americans?

I’m happy that St Patricks day has turned into an excuse for a drinking binge, but context is everything. If you went forward 50-years and found the youth of the future celebrating Taliban day, how would you feel? It’s not that different…

Flash Mob Austin: Operation Happy

Mission date: March 15th, 2013

Mission time: 9:45-10:45a.m.

Meeting Place: St Davids Episcopal Church, E 7th, San Jacinto.

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Mission description: Dance as a group, inspired by Pharrell Williams Happy and the 24hoursofhappy website. After a mission briefing between 9:45 and 10:00 a.m., agents will disperse and assemble at assigned positions along East 6th Street.

At 10:15 a.m. an agent will come along 6th St playing happy, the other agents will come out from the sides and dance along behind the Happy Agent. We will dance from San Jacinto to Red River, turn and come back. Agents are requested not to congregate together, not to draw attention to themselves why waiting to join in, and to disappear quietly after they’ve finished. Agents will be given pins/buttons to give out.

East 6th won’t be too busy, but it will be closed to traffic at 10 a.m. and there will be enough people around to make it worth the effort. We will meet back at the church for a debrief.

What to wear: Anything bright, happy!

How to dance: Anyway you want, see the video and website above, most importantly, clap along!

How will I hear the music: I have a large amp that will play on repeat.

Anything else? Yes, there are lots of road restrictions, parking will be expensive close-in. The lot on the east corner of E7th and San Jacinto opposite the church will be open and accessible from 10am.

If you have friends who want to participate thats great. Also we need people to take pictures. I’ve been promised a professional videographer, but since we/I am not paying, I’m not betting. See the following map.

See you Saturday. CLAP ALONG!

Privacy as an abnormal condition in America

I’ll get the gloating out of the way first, last week both Edward Snowden and Julian Assange appeared live by video at SXSW here in Austin. Given SXSW is one massive geekfest there was bound to be social media coverage, and some news coverage depending on what either of them said, or which way the wind was blowing in the mainstream media.

Assange on the 55-inch TVHowever, due to the successful Texas Tribune kickstarter campaign, tens of thousands of us were able to watch it simultaneously live via livestream.

I contributed just $250 to that kickstarter, I more than got my moneys worth from just those two livestreams, forget the tour of the Trib offices with Chief Innovation Officer Rodney Gibbs, a private review of the livestream equipment, and iof course all the Governors race coverage that signed up for in the first place.

Typical of the coverage was this Tweet: https://twitter.com/jeremywaite/status/443071488615141378

Snowdown on the laptopApparently, the count was up around 50,000 for Snowdon. I could go on for hours about what both Snowdon and Assange said, or didn’t say, but that wasn’t the point of this blog. Both discussions focused around the individual right to privacy, both explicit and implicit privacy.

Explicit privacy are those things that you have a right to expect will be kept private. These include those personal details, which if revealed, can cause you harm; Your social security number, your bank account details and balances, your medical records and a number of other items. Implicit privacy are those things which, no one really has a right to know, even if they feel they can use that information. This week I’ve realized finally, not only is there no boundary between the two here in America, but for the most part no one has any expectation of real privacy.

This is primarily because here in America corporations have relentlessly abused our privacy, sharing data to the point where, societally, people have no real expectation or understanding of privacy.

I’m sure its my background, maybe my English upbringing and/or family. However, I find it intolerable to get letter after letter from what are borderline scams to re-finance, using variously Presidential decrees, acts and so on. Each and everyone of these has the precise amount of the loan I have. Except I don’t have a loan, so each and everyone of those letters not only has the amount of my Home Equity line of credit, they also have the name of the lender. How did they get this? Disgusted I called my FCU, why had they given this out or sold it? They hadn’t, it was public record at the credit agency they use.

At least from my upbringing, one didn’t boast about the amount of money one did, or didn’t have. When it came up in discussion, you mostly let it go without answering, it was none of their business.

Another example of a violation of implicit privacy is my leased car. I received a call from yet another company using a dressed up, pseudo scam approach to extended the warranty on my 2010 VW CC. Except again, I don’t have a 2010 VW CC, I sold it 13-months ago. That doesn’t make it ok though. The tele-sales person that called me had enough information to make a pass at convincing me this was an official call. Just a few (social engineering) questions about the mileage(the last record the have was…), why I had purchased the car rather than taken a new lease…

The caller actually had very little real information, again no more than could be gained from the credit agency(lease) and some additional information from the VW Leasing or Dealership. However, what they were trying to do was to convince me they were the official leasing, extended maintenance dept. and they were using social engineering. While that may not be illegal, it’s certainly deceptive and immoral.

And there is the problem. When it comes to privacy in the US, for the most part people do not complain because they’ve been subjected to years of relentless commercial exploitation which has both worn them down, and taken away their will to fight back. At the same time, companies have automated their systems to the point where you just can’t talk to a human about privacy, and the relentless push for outsourcing, contractors, sub-contractors has made it incredibly difficult to even find out who knows what, much less stop it.

Assange and Snowdon in their ways have bought these massive government data breaches to our attention. They’ve highlighted how this data collection is going on at a massive scale. Eventually the information will leak to these scam-like commercial companies, you won’t hear about that, because they will just use the information to increasingly financially, socially, and morally to attack you.

A friend posted on facebook recently something to the effect of “which is worse the government or a private company when it comes to collecting data? – The government because they can take away your liberty.” – I would say, private companies are far worse, you have no privacy, liberty, no freedom and increasingly, no choice.

Dead wrong

I must admit, I’ve struggled to decide how to tackle one of perhaps the most fundamental differences between my UK upbringing and what continues to be one of the most egregious demonstrations of rugged, religious and notionally righteous Texas, it’s use of the death penalty. Although I’m now a confirmed atheist, I was bought up in a Church of England, Christian family. So while I don’t believe in God, morally I believe in “Christian values”.

With Texas executing some 40% of the total executed in America; with America being the country which legally executes more people than any other; it is almost inevitable that Texas leads the world in wrongful executions, the most recent of which, the Cameron Todd Willingham case is morally, socially, politically, and legally troubling. The LA Times has a good review of the issues.

Current Texas governor Rick Perry, has presided over more death penalty executions than any governor in U.S. History. Just this month, the State executed Suzanne Basso, Basso was the fifth woman to be executed in Texas since 1982 and the 14th nationwide, she was the second person in executed in Texas in 2014.

and then today, a friend shared this on facebook, it is an open letter from Dan Jensen to Washington state Governor Inslee. Thank you Dan for expressing what so many of us think and feel. Next stop Texas!

Kudos to Governor Inslee for putting a moratorium on enforcement of the death penalty in our state. While I grant that there are indeed crimes that are heinous enough to deserve it, I don’t think the cost to society is worth it.

First and foremost, there is the risk of executing someone who was wrongly convicted. The death penalty once imposed can’t be taken back. The risk of wrongly executing one person is not worth the justified execution of dozens of the guilty.

Next is the cost of prosecuting the cases. Is society’s need for closure (revenge?) worth it?

In practice the death penalty is more likely to be imposed on minorities and/or the poor who can’t afford the best defense attorneys and are forced to rely upon overburdened public defenders.

Those who claim to be pro life should oppose the death penalty and also support universal access to healthcare. It seems incongruous to me that many ‘pro life’ conservatives support the death penalty.

I believe life without the possibility of parole is an appropriate punishment for those who commit terrible crimes. Is it always the most satisfying option for a society that seeks closure/revenge for horrible crimes? I concede it is not, and I admit that I am lucky to not have been put in the position of being affected by such a crime. I hope and pray that I would be able to accept something less than the death penalty as punishment for someone who killed a person I love. As a Christian, I believe that is what I would be called to do. It would be a heavy cross, but one that I know God would help me carry.

Therefore, we need to move beyond the need for ‘eye for an eye’ revenge and seek closure in other ways that are probably healthier for victims and for society as well. I hope that the moratorium on executions in Washington is permanent, and will be confirmed by legislation eliminating it soon.

Water rights, wrongs and stupidity in Texas

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The February 2014 issue of Texas Monthly magazine has a good article by Nate Blakeslee on the stupidity of water rights here in Texas.  His summary though is spot on. You can read it above.

The summary paragraph is a killer  ending with ” If Texans are to have the kind of rational water policy we deserve. All we need is a captain unafraid to take us there.”

Which surely can’t be Abbott given his private well to water his lawn, I assume?