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Obstructionist Husband

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A David Bowie tribute album by Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff: Strung Out In Heaven [Feb. 6th, 2016|11:30 am]
Obstructionist Husband
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John Scalzi had this on his blog recently. It's mostly classical string doing six covers of Bowie. Amanda Palmer, if I recall correctly, is Neil Gaiman's main squeeze. If you're familiar with the Hampton String Quartet and their album What If Mozart Wrote 'Born To Be Wild', Strung Out is very reminiscent.

The album is available on Bandcamp, and if you buy it before March 5, 54% of proceeds go in Bowie's name to the cancer research wing of Tufts Medical Center.

Listen to it. I think you might like it.

http://amandapalmer.bandcamp.com/album/strung-out-in-heaven-a-bowie-string-quartet-tribute
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I am SUCH a geek! [Jan. 30th, 2016|07:36 am]
Obstructionist Husband
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In October we replaced my 2005 Toyota Matrix AWD (a Corolla Hatchback in some non-US markets) with a 2015 Subaru Crosstrek. I absolutely love this car! A couple of weeks ago I dropped $1,000 for a full set of snow tires, of course it hasn't snowed since then. Anyway, I bought it in Tucson, AZ which meant that the title initially had to be done in AZ and I had to contact the lender, which is in Texas, to get Arizona to send the title to New Mexico, which for some reason took over a month and a half. Yesterday I FINALLY got the call from MVD that they had received the title from Arizona MVD, it was about 3:15 and they close at 4:00, so I waited until today to go in. I had all the papers that I needed. We do the VIN check, the woman is banging away on the computer, pulls open a drawer and produces a license plate:

NRD 512

I all but swooned! Nerd and a power of 2! (2 to the 9th) Absolutely awesome license plate! I can't imagine a better, random, license plate!

Then her computer froze. Every computer in the office froze: the network was completely down, same thing happened yesterday. She said I'd have to come back, but since the VIN inspection was done, it wouldn't take too long when I got back. I asked her if I'd get the same license plate.

She said no.

*sigh*

So I go to lunch (Carl's Jr. has fish tacos again!) Go back to the MVD office, they call my number and I go to the designated window and the woman, after I explain everything, says I have to wait until the woman with whom I'd worked previously was done with her customer.

Eventually she's free, we resume the paperwork, and she pulls out my new license plate.

NRD 512!

Simple things please simple minds. I'm very happy, and I'm mounting it on my car today.
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It's been a rough January for celebs! RIP: Jefferson Airplane founding member Paul Kantner [Jan. 29th, 2016|02:42 pm]
Obstructionist Husband
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Paul died of septic shock and multiple organ failure following a heart attack last year, does not sound like a pleasant way to go.

So Upstairs adds an excellent guitarist, vocalist, and song writer. I got to see Starship perform at, believe it or not, the Arizona State Fair. They did a great guitar solo that segued in to White Rabbit. Excellent show.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/jefferson-airplane-guitarist-paul-kantner-dead-at-74-20160128?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=daily&utm_campaign=012916_16&utm_medium=email

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/paul-kantner-jefferson-airplane-dead_us_56aaf6fce4b00b033aae9d77
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RIP: Abe Vigoda and Marvin Minsky [Jan. 27th, 2016|08:58 pm]
Obstructionist Husband
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I read about Abe last night, he made it to 94. He is best known for two roles: he appeared in The Godfather, but in my opinion, more importantly as Detective Fish on Barney Miller. There was a running joke: in 1982, People Magazine accidentally published that he had died, so he started appearing on talk shows to show that he was still alive. Later, someone bought the web domain AbeVigoda.com, that basically had a photo of Abe and said 'he's not dead yet'.

Sadly, now he is. He was always fun to watch on talk shows.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/26/464459276/character-actor-abe-vigoda-dies-at-94


Marvin Minsky was a VERY important person in the field of computer science, he was a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence research. If I have the story right, he was working with a group of students and assigned them to develop a program that could identify objects in a photograph, thinking it would be easy. They gave up after six months or so.

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/26/464469794/marvin-minsky-who-pioneered-artificial-intelligence-research-dies-at-88


In other news, but in the field of artificial intelligence, a Google program beat a master at the game of Go! They've challenged the current world champion, we'll find out soon if he accepts.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/01/googles-ai-beats-go-champion-will-now-take-on-best-player-in-the-world/
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Man, you should never ask me to write ad copy! [Jan. 23rd, 2016|07:42 am]
Obstructionist Husband
I have this brain short-circuit where I read things wrong, I wouldn't call it lysdexia, though I have sometimes suspected that I had a little dain bramage.

I glanced up at a browser tab and my brain immediately said Pandora Cistern. It's a tab for the filk/ren fest group Pandora Celtica, they're up in Colorado. They're pretty good, they have a great Christmas song called Santa Claus Got Eaten By The Kraken.

http://pandoraceltica.com/

I would think that most people who read my blog would realize that I am, at times, easily amused.
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A new security-centric browser [Jan. 21st, 2016|07:20 am]
Obstructionist Husband
From Slashdot:

Former Mozilla CEO Launches Security-Centric Browser Brave
Posted by timothy on Thursday January 21, 2016 @06:54AM from the demand-meet-supply dept.
rudy_wayne writes:
Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has launched a new Chromium-based browser called Brave. "Brave blocks everything: initial signaling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising 'dirty pipe', impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals," Eich wrote on the Brave site. Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal said in a blog post that "the web is broken," with current browser vendors unwilling to tackle the dilemma of blocking ads, while looking at alternative mechanisms for funding content. Gal said it was ironic Brave was a for-profit operation that can make money from reducing advertising.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/brave-new-browser-eich-returns-with-chromium-browser-that-replaces-ads/

http://andreasgal.com/2016/01/20/brendan-is-back-to-save-the-web/

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/16/01/21/1319249/former-mozilla-ceo-launches-security-centric-browser-brave
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Don Henley is safe for now [Jan. 19th, 2016|06:32 am]
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Mojo Nixon had a song "Don Henley must die!" which contained the line "Don't ever let him get back together with Glenn Frey!" Well, Don is safe: Glenn died yesterday at age 67.

The cause was reported as pneumonia along with rheumatoid arthritis and acute ulcerative colitis, sounds like he might have had an autoimmune disorder. Sounds like a very unpleasant collection of symptoms.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/18/463510638/glenn-frey-guitarist-for-the-eagles-dead-at-67


Elsewhere in the good news/bad news department, Rolling Stone spoke with David Bowie's long-time producer, Tony Visconti. Tony reports that Bowie wrote and demo'd five tracks for a new album to follow Blackstar! So there's a chance that we'll see an EP at some point if Bowie's estate decides to complete the tracks.

There was one paragraph that was particularly touching to me:

Bowie had already finished Blackstar by November. But even before then, Visconti noticed the tone of some of the lyrics and told him, "You canny bastard. You're writing a farewell album." Bowie simply laughed in response. "He was so brave and courageous," says Visconti. "And his energy was still incredible for a man who had cancer. He never showed any fear. He was just all business about making the album."

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/david-bowie-planned-post-blackstar-album-thought-he-had-few-more-months-20160113


Last night my wife and I watched Galaxy Quest, what a wonderful Rickman movie. We also have Love Actually, which we watched last month, and all of the Potters. While the role of Snape was a great and memorable performance, I really don't want to watch them as a memorial to Rickman. My wife mentioned, while reading IMDB, that he also did Quigly Down Under. Not a great movie, but it had its moments. I'd like to get ahold of his movie January Man, starring Kevin Kline, where Rickman played a gay architect and did a really great job.
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RIP: Alan Rickman [Jan. 14th, 2016|07:58 am]
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Man, what a shocker losing two greats in one week, and both from cancer, and both age 69.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-35313604

The first movie that I saw him in was Die Hard, he was such a great villain. But I really loved him in January Man with Kevin Kilne. And, of course, he was the definitive Snape in the Potter films.

Personally I think he would have made an excellent Lord Ventinari for Discworld movies, but now that will never happen.
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David Bowie's final album, Blackstar [Jan. 12th, 2016|06:30 am]
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David Bowie's final album was released last week Friday. I was in a book store in Las Cruces on Thursday and saw the notice on the wall behind the register and was looking forward to it, obviously I wasn't prepared for it to be his final album. But he clearly knew it was likely to be his last work, and he put a lot in to it.

I picked it up yesterday at lunch and listened to it twice, and I quite like it.

The title track, which is also the first track, is very different and it's long, clocking in at over 9 minutes. It's almost two songs. The rest of the album is a little more conventional (compares well with his previous work) and very good. There's a lot of familiarity to it, some tracks are reminiscent of Black Tie White Noise, others evoke images of earlier work.

All in all, an excellent album and a great capstone to his career and life.

I'd like to talk more specifically about individual tracks, but I leant the disc to my boss and my iMac is in the shop, which holds my music collection and is also what I sync my iPhone to, so I can't load it on my phone right now which makes me very unhappy (CURSE YOU, APPLE, FOR NOT LETTING US SYNC OUR iDEVICES ON MULTIPLE COMPUTERS!)


Anyway, it is an excellent album and I highly recommend it.


Also, I recommend Wil Wheaton's remembrance of working on a film in the early '80s with Susan Sarandon and her turning him on to Bowie's Space Oddity via a cassette in a Sony Waklkman. It's a very good story.
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RIP: David Bowie! [Jan. 11th, 2016|05:12 am]
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Wow. He battled cancer for 18 months and was 69 years old. I hadn't heard he was ill.

His final album was released Friday, I'm going to pick it up today. Well, his final except for all of the 'lost tapes' albums that we'll be getting for the next 20 years.

http://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2016/01/david-bowie-legendary-artist-dies-at-69/
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