I went to see Sole last Thursday. I don’t tend to go to too many hip-hop shows, but I like Sole enough to have found my way over to Cambridge to check out the show. The opening act, Grand Buffet, was – well – not that good. Sole was better, but I think (surprisingly) hip-hop just doesn’t do well in a live setting. MCs get too excited and rap too loudly, thus distorting anything they say. They don’t hold the mic correctly either. It might look cool, but it sounds like crap. Maybe sound engineers could do a better job EQing the mic, but at best their only partly to blame. Still a worthwhile show, coming to a town near you.
I picked up Sole’s second album, selling live water, and it sounds a million times better than the show. Highly recommended.
“The unwordable weirdness of coming across your own name in a search engine, like tow-stubbing your own tombstone at twenty-four in a backlit blur of message boards in the visceral black of abstract space.” – The Pedestrian

Shocking Phrases

I’ve been watching a fair amount of the news coverage of the war against Iraq on the major networks, and I’m constantly cringing at some of the terminology that the newscasters are using.
In addition to seeing the same video clips over and over, you hear the same phrases time and again. I really don’t understand why, when referring to protests, the reporters say “anti-war” for protests against the war and “supporting the troops” for protests in favor of the war (I think that’s what they’re trying to convey at least). I don’t see how these are mutually exclusive. I support our troops. I don’t want them to get injured or killed. I don’t want them to suffer, and I also oppose the war. I don’t think we, as a country, should be at war. So how would a reporter characterize me on the seemingly bi-polar scale?
Similarly, I hear reporters talk of “patriotism” as opposed to “dissent”. Again, I think I’m patriotic. I love the USA, but I also disagree with some of our policies. Doesn’t everyone? Don’t we have two major parties that are never fully satisfied? So if all people dissent, are there no patriots? That’s ridiculous.
A few nights ago, as the US bombed Baghdad, the use of the phrase “shock and awe” was out of control. I remember being similarly annoyed during the 1992 Olympics when gymnasts kept on “nailing the landing”. Reporters during the massive bomb campaign over Iraq must have said “shock and awe” hundreds of times. Sometimes they tried to mix it up with other nouns, but they almost always began with “shock” and ended with “awe”. Never once did I hear the adjective version: shocking and awful.

Bomb Your Laundry – Not Iraq

I just a read a footnote to a case that reads, “The combination of detergent and chlorine bleach is called ‘la bomba’ in Puerto Rico.” Clorox Co., Puerty Rico v. Procter & Gamble Commercial Co. 228 F.3d 24 (1st Cir. 2000). The thought of people thinking, “wow, that’s pretty dirty, I’m going to have to drop the bomb on these clothes to get them clean” is quite amusing to me.
Other pleasant bombs include la bomba the pastry and la bamba the song (to some).
For an interesting (less than scientific) cultural study, compare Google’s bomb images with bomba images.

Communication Structures

In The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell describes a way to find the “connectors” (key influencers) of a group. He lists the most popular surnames from the phone book and asks each group member to count how many people he or she knows with those names (page 39 if you own the book and want to go back and review). The results create a steep curve where some individuals know far more people than the average. “They are Connectors.”
A study of email communication at HP labs reveals a more accurate approach to finding these same people (context specific in this case). As the study notes, previous methods of determining an informal communication structure were very time and resource consuming. Computerized communication (such as email), by its nature, can be easily quantified and tracked. In addition to the email log analysis method presented in the study, there have been several online attempts to define informal relationships between individuals. My favorite is TouchGraph (only relevant here when comparing personal web pages). Also check out BlogStreet.
Of course, if one were to attempt to apply this knowledge to say, marketing, I think it might be useful, but determining influence with respect to consumption habits is much more complicated than determining general popularity.

War Product Placement

(a) Reality TV shows are increasing popular, and the networks are starting to embrace product placement as a viable alternative to traditional ads (that can be skipped using new technology such as TiVo).
(b) Coverage of the war in Iraq is essentially a reality TV show. (I find it especially disturbing that the networks each have their own version of a giant title and theme song every time a commercial break ends. It looks like “NFL on NBC” or something.)
a + b = war product placement.
So far, Hummer has been the only company to successfully place their (near) consumer products on the battlefield in full view of the cameras. This, of course, is because the Hummer was a military vehicle first, a civilian transport later. It might be impossible for even the biggest US brands to get pass the military’s regulations, but I would be surprised if Coca-Cola hasn’t already attempted to get every soldier drinking a cool refreshing Coke as the cameras snap their photographs. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone tries any Hummer-style reverse product placement (marketing a consumer product based on something already involved in the war). How long before Kraft MREs appear in little boy’s lunch boxes across the country? “As seen in Iraq War!”

KCSB Webcast Back Online!

My college radio station, to which I devoted considerable time and energy (I lead the push to get turntables and a DJ mixer in the studio for live DJ mix shows), has never (since I’ve known it) had a webcast that actually worked. I’m happy to report that I’m listening to the mp3 feed right now (the real audio feed still doesn’t work). The site could use a little work, and the webcast page looks like its from 1993, but all I want is to be able to listen… and now I can.
A couple other favorite non-commercial stations: kcrw (Santa Monica) and kexp (Seattle).

Thomas Korte Loves Google

Thomas Korte is excited that his new blog (one week old) has already appeared in Google. He claims to be impressed with Google’s speed in finding and indexing his site, not because he likes being in google. Come on Thomas, you know you want to be number one for a Thomas Korte search. This should help: Thomas Korte.
Speaking of fast indexing though. I’m comming up #2 right now for “Samoas Caramel DeLites“, which I wrote about for the first time three days ago.