Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Weird Al on Stupid Chain Letters

Posted on June 27th, 2011 in Entertainment, Music | No Comments »

Weird Al Yankovic resonates pretty strongly with me in this song from his latest album, Alpocalypse:

If only he’d managed to include some instructions for everyone that posts complete junk on Facebook as their status updates…

Grand Rapids Lip Dub

Posted on June 12th, 2011 in Entertainment, Music | No Comments »

In January of this year, Newsweek proclaimed Grand Rapids, Michigan as a dying city. Apparently, the people of Grand Rapids weren’t particularly thrilled about this. Here’s their response:

Although they are billing this video as a lib dub, it’s really closer to a Rube Goldberg contraption built using lip syncing humans as the ‘steps’ designed to convey the message: “Grand Rapids isn’t dying.” I’m starting to become rather fascinated with the mixture of these complex, single-shot videos and musical timing. It’s clearly similar to OK Go’s video, which I wrote about before. I hope we see more of these. In case you’re interested in supporting their efforts, you can either visit their Facebook page or check out their swag on Cafe Press.

The Making of OK Go’s Latest Video

Posted on June 7th, 2010 in Education, Entertainment, Music, Technology | No Comments »

If you haven’t seen OK Go’s latest video, it’s an absolute must-see. I tweeted about this when it was somewhat newer, and it holds up as entertaining many viewings later.

I’m posting about the video now because I just stumbled upon an interview with some of the folks that designed the contraption. It turns out that three of them work for NASA JPL:

  • Mike Pauken, Ph.D., a senior thermal systems engineer
  • Chris Becker, a graduate student at the Art Center College of Design and a JPL intern
  • Heather Knight, a former JPL engineering associate (instrumentation and robotics) who is now preparing to start work on a doctorate at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Eldar Noe Dobrea, Ph.D., a planetary scientist working to study landing sites for the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory.

The interview is short and worth reading.

Another Missing Month

Posted on February 4th, 2010 in Books, Entertainment, Life, Music, Politics and Law | 2 Comments »

So, apparently my last update on the Great American Novel Challenge was a bit prophetic. Things have only become crazier over the last two months, and I have now missed my third month in a row. I am still planning on finishing the challenge, and I’m aiming to finish by July 4th, 2010. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to post a review today, and I likely won’t be able to post one until after my upcoming paper deadline. In lieu of a book review this month, I will leave you with this hilarious, truly American video.

Book: Ordinary Men

Posted on August 27th, 2008 in Books, Computer Security, Entertainment, Life, Music, Television | No Comments »

Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning is a book on Nazi Germany’s Reserve Police Battalion 101, which participated in the Holocaust. The primary discussion in the book is on how a group of ordinary, middle-aged Germans became mass murderers. He attempts to understand how this transformation took place, and he uses insights from the Milgram experiments and the Stanford Prison experiments. However, he is quick to point out in the forward of the book that “explaining is not excusing; understanding is not forgiving.”

The book was recommended to me by Lucas Layman after a discussion on the importance of the human element in computer security led to a discussion on the Milgram experiments and the Stanford Prison experiments. Certainly there are many elements of computer security and computer crime that can be better understood through studying human psychology. For example, the simple fact that as the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 were removed from direct participation (e.g. pulling the trigger themselves) to indirect participation (e.g. leading Jews to death trains) they were more easily able to cope with their actions psychologically. Similarly, computer crime is easily disassociated because of the impersonal nature of dealing with computers rather than humans. However, after reading the book my strongest reaction has been broader than just computer security.

When I was in high school I had to read quite a few books on the Holocaust. It seemed that every year we read a different book on the subject, and I tired quickly of the extremes that were pushed. Nazi Germany in general and Hitler in particular have become famous for being the most extreme extreme. This is perhaps best identified by Godwin’s Law.

Ordinary Men suffers from over-extremism to some extent as well. For example, Browning causally refers to the Holocaust as the “most extreme genocide in human history” without offering much in the way of proof or comparison. The number of Native Americans systematically killed by Europeans and the number of Russians killed by Stalin’s regime could each easily exceed the numbers of Jews killed by the Holocaust. The rate of killing in Rwanda could easily surpass the rate of killing in the Holocaust. The brutality of groups like the Khmer Rouge and leaders like Genghis Kahn could be argued to be greater than that found in the Holocaust. Is it even possible to classify something like the “most extreme genocide in history?”

My point is that our only reaction to events like these cannot be the emotional one; we must attempt to understand why and how these things happen so that we can learn from them. We aren’t good at rationalizing emotions, and we are rarely able to draw objective conclusions based on them. However, if we can take a look at some facts, then we may be able to learn important lessons. For example, before the brutality caused by Nazi Germany and in former Yugoslavia, we see extreme hyperinflation. Do we know anywhere else in the world where that is happening right now? I think so. This is something to be concerned about.

More generally security is a field that suffers from extremely emotional reactions. The air travel response to the September 11th attacks is a good example. How many of these responses have been the result of reason rather than emotion? How many of them have actually improved airport security? These are questions that we will probably continue to struggle with for years because of the highly charged emotional response most Americans have to the September 11th attacks.

On the whole though, Browning does a good job of ensuring that we don’t view the people of Reserve Police Battalion 101 as caricatures of themselves. As a result, there are many lessons to be learned from this book. The Holocaust should not be thought of as an abstract evil thing, but instead as a real consequence of human plans and actions. As Browning says, “Ultimately, the Holocaust took place because at the most basic level individual human beings killed other human beings in large numbers over an extended period of time.” The book offers an objective take on how ordinary people are capable of such a thing. I found it to be a very worthwhile read.

A Love Hate Masquerade

Posted on November 22nd, 2007 in Entertainment, Music | No Comments »

I really should have mentioned this months ago, but Kids in the Way have released another album this fall called A Love Hate Masquerade.

There’s something refreshingly honest about a Christian band that is willing to sing songs that are more than simple praise-alongs. Their previous work has bordered on punk, but this is a little bit lighter. Even if you don’t have a hard-core rocker in you, you will be able to enjoy this album.

Dave Pelsue’s voice shines brighter in this tempo. Basically, this is a personal preference though. Most reviews I’ve seen either love the screaming from their previous albums or find the change up this album represents to be refreshing. Count me in the latter group.

All in all, well worth the ten bucks.

Chris Klink in the Producers!

Posted on June 16th, 2005 in Music | No Comments »

One of my friends sent me a link last night that I had to share. It turns out that Chris Klink, whom I sang with in High School, is going to be in the Broadway show “The Producers.” I like to think that the year he spent trying to cover for how badly I sang has prepared him in some small way for this new opportunity.

Tim McGraw on iTunes..

Posted on June 12th, 2005 in Music | No Comments »

Well, I suppose this will out me as an official country music fan, but I’m going to post it anyhow. I recently found out that Tim McGraw’s albums are now on iTunes. I have been a closet Tim McGraw fan for a while. I used to violently deny this and any other connection that might suggest that I liked country music, even to close friends that could see how much it affected me. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s too late at night to be posting something personal, but I just wanted to say something publicly in the hopes that I’ll not be as belligerent in the future when it comes to being a fan of country music. I’m quite pleased to see that Tim’s on iTunes now, and I’m sure there are plenty of other fans out there who are as well.

long time, no blog..

Posted on May 14th, 2005 in Life, Music, Politics and Law, Sports | No Comments »

It’s getting longer and longer between the times that I have a chance to blog something. Hopefully, I’ll be able to correct this. I haven’t necessarily been all that busy, but I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping. I suppose I should have used some of that time lying awake to blog.

The Pacers won! They are now up 2-1 in the series with another home game tomorrow. They are 6-0 all time in seven game series where they were leading 2-1. Hopefully, they’ll continue the streak. I thought they played very well last night.

Realistically, if they manage to get past Detroit I think they match up pretty well against Miami. They probably matchup better against Miami than they do against Detriot. Richard Hamilton can run with Reggie Miller better than anyone else in the league and the Pacers don’t really have a player that can match up with Prince. Miami doesn’t have anyone that can really run with Reggie and the only matchup problem they would have is Shaq, who hasn’t really been much of a factor so far in the playoffs. I also think that our bench is better than Miami’s bench, but they are both pretty good. Anyhow, I should stop now before I jinx it by looking too far ahead.

I recently re-discovered the band Stroke 9. This is one of those things that makes me so glad I got an iPod. It’s so much easier to not lose track of bands simply because you only have space for 20 CDs in your CD case. The Vertical Horizon and Stroke 9 concert at Butler University is still one of the best shows I’ve ever been to live and I can’t believe that it’s been so long since I listened to some of their stuff.

A recent Newsweek cover story was talking about how China would become a world power in the next century. It makes a lot of really good points, but I think it doesn’t really emphasize the importance of international trade as much as it should. I really believe that free trade prevents war. There’s a lot to be said for having a healthy economy and a happy populace world wide. Happy people usually don’t start wars. I would much rather see a billion plus happy people in China making cool things for everyone to use than a billion plus hungry people in China desperate for some way to feed themselves. Anyhow, it’s a good article.

Now having said all that there are certainly things that I don’t like about China, particularly some of their stances on human rights. Then again, there’s a lot I don’t like about America too. I know a lot of people think about free trade and don’t want to reward people that do things they disagree with. These are things that I would rather work out with a happy society that’s willing to listen than a desperate society that simply couldn’t care less.

Obviously, things like free trade and war are, uh, somewhat complex, but my point in all of this is that having another economic superpower in the world can be really beneficial for everyone.

back to school..

Posted on April 12th, 2005 in Books, Music, Technology | No Comments »

I recently bought an iPod. I wasn’t all that sure that I would find it all that usefull at first, but it was an idea that kept growing on me after having bought a PowerBook for Christmas. I am a huge fan of well-engineered devices and having previously used a Compaq Presario 1700T, the PowerBook left a real impression. Anyhow, I found myself more and more drawn to the idea of getting an iPod.

After the first few weeks of owning my blue iPod mini, I have to say that I’m extremely pleased with the purchase. I was a huge music fan in high school and bought tons of CDs. I was still a huge music fan when I went to college and MP3s became huge. Even though I was still a huge fan of music when I got into some of the harder engineering classes, I ended up spending a lot of time working in study groups in libraries, the student union, and computer labs where I was unable to listen to music. If an iPod had been around back then, I would have absolutely loved it. Even now, it’s surprising how useful and fun to have access to virtually every song I’ve ever really loved virtually everywhere I go.

So I’m currently taking my first Red Hat Training class, and I’m undecided as to how useful it is. It’s a one week class. The class is RHD221: Linux Device Drivers. I have written and played with a few Linux device drivers in the past, but there’s certainly a number of things I’ve never really touched. Plus, the class covers 2.6 and all the stuff I’ve done has been on 2.4. The first day was pretty slow, but I’m hopeful that it will pick up tomorrow. The course outline seems pretty ambitious.

I did get to pick the instructor’s mind about a few book recommendations. I’ve always been a fan of O’Reilly books. In particular, I thought the two best references on the Linux Kernel were Linux Device Drivers, 2nd Edition and Understanding the Linux Kernel, 2nd Edition. This was when I was working on the 2.4 kernel. As a part of the course, we got a hardcopy of Linux Device Drivers, 3rd Edition, which covers the 2.6 kernel with no real information on the differences between 2.4 and 2.6. If you want 2.4 information, you should still use the 2nd Edition of the book. However, there’s no 3rd Edition of Understanding the Linux Kernel out yet. Thus, if you want a good reference for the 2.6 kernel internals, you might like Linux Kernel Development by Robert Love. Anyhow, I’ll keep you up to date on how the class goes.