Friday, February 25, 2005

UFOs: Fact or Friction

Yes, I saw the ABC UFO show. Yes, most of it is old material but not all of it.

There are more military types coming out and testifying and more admissions that the radar tracks do exist. More recently retired airline pilots are finally testifying now their careers aren't threatened.

1. There are too many eye witnesses with high credibility and film footage to say it is just kooks and cranks. There are reports that predate 1947. 1947 is when people started paying attention. The Twining report is legitimate and so was the testimony of the officer who used to run Blue Book. J. Allen Hynek was a seriously credentialed scientist.

So smarter people than thee or me take this stuff seriously.

2. The question one asks is: if UFOs are real, extraterrestrial or not, why is the government covering up? Either

a) what they know is bad or
b) what they know they don't know is bad or
c) it is government work or
d) they don't know.

3. Eyewitness accounts are not science. True. But they are evidence. Of what, I don't know. But evidently, neither do the scientists.

4. Is it crazy to believe in unproven things? Lots of people believe in God. So far, proof is minimal but there is more film footage of UFOs than God.

Do I believe? I keep an open mind and watch the skies, because as the old song says,

"There's things going on that you don't know."

Concerts and Stuff

We lived between the war and before Reagan. For a few years, we partied and we partied well. I'm not sure I want my kids to do what I did but I don't want them to grow up afraid to go out and live. It goes by so fast and as far as there is proof to tell, it goes by only once. What's the point of having all this stuff if getting it makes us spectators when we should be players. Old though I am, when I was young, I was a player. As my son says, "Dad isn't evil; he's just twisted." Fair enough. It was fun.

We were a half generation out of phase between the Beatles and KISS. Whatever else we didn't have or do, we had the best music since the Jazz Era. I went to the Georgia Jam in '74 to see the Allman Bros, Lynard Skynard, Marshall Tucker Band, etc. It was all 'shrooms, smoke, 'cid and wine at that concert and it rained in the middle of the day. The crowd got under their blankets and sat on the ground holding them up so it was solid ceiling a few feet above the floor and blue smoke pealing out from between. Eventually it all turned to mud so the kids in the middle went to the buff and began to toss each other up on the blanket until they dropped one naked chick and she broke something. Marshall Tucker stayed on stage in the rain and played to us so we'd stay calm. To heck with calm; we were just trying to stay conscious long enough to see the Bros.

Hours later, the Bros hit the stage way late. Betts furious with Greg who was so drunk he fell off his piano stool. I walked behind the mixing board platform, threw up the shrooms, then pushed my way to the stage to boogie to the Statesboro Blues with the best southern rock band that ever picked up a Coricidin bottle to make a slide. It was fabulous.

I caught Clapton twice; once in Birmingham at the old stadium. He was junked out and shot the crowd a bird for squealing for Layla after every song. My bass player and I had hitched to the concert, then found some musician friends who had a motel room. After the show, we went there to do the Seventies party things, then caught a ride back to the 'ville in the back of a pickup. There were about eight or nine of us in the back riding high on I-65. There was a redhead eager to do the nasty, and did while everyone pretended to be asleep. It was without shame, without fear, and long before AIDS. I do feel badly for the mammals now who need a health card to have a fling. Spontaneity is a rare pleasure.

I saw Clapton again later at the VBCC while they were filming Ravagers in town. I was dating a State Representative at the time and she and I walked in with Richard Harris (yeah, Dumbledore and King Arthur). and his wife (Turkel). I was surprised how short Harris was. I wouldn't let Martha Jo approach them though. They were there to see Clapton and enjoy the night and I don't approach public people in public. It's a drag for them. Clapton was cleaned up and did a great show that night.

The best concert I ever went to was the Grateful Dead in Tuscaloosa. This was just after they released the Europa album and they were at the height of their jams. They start loose but play for hours and by the time they get into the second hour, it's delirium. There is no music as good as the Live Dead. I miss Jerry. I hope those guys still kick main butt.

I caught Ronstadt at her peak. Very good. The West Coast had taken the best of Nashville and Bakersfield and turned it into the smoothest pop of the decade. I was playing at the Huntsville Hilton lounge with the band, Bitter Creek, in 1975 which was across the street from the civic center, and everyone stayed there. I partied with most of the bands when this was a venue on the A list. Great memories. Musicians can be monster jerks to civilians but among themselves, they are tribal. I was 21 and the superstars treated me like a little brother. I loved it. The Eagles, Average White Band, even Chet Atkins. All fabulous guys. Big brothers with good advice for the long haired skinny kid with the nylon string doing solos while the crowd came back from the concert.

We made love in the park watching the police cars come and go from the main station. We stayed up all night watching TBS. We hiked to the empty water tower on Green Mountain and chanted inside as the echos swelled inside us like hormones. We climbed to the top and tied out sleeping bags to the post, laid there and watched the sun come up across the peaks in the distance lighting the clouds in the valley that crawled toward us like a bright white fluffy blanket.

We had the sounds, the soul and the urge. Freedom. It breathes and it sings and it plays loud guitar. And it satisfies.

So why not do it for a living? As a party, there is none better; but as a lifestyle, it stinks. The soft sweet music I loved was killed by disco and cocaine infesting the good people, and that was a step too far for me. I partied but I knew poison on sight so when all the cooool people started that trek, I got off the bus. The party days before the suits grabbed the controls once and for all were good, but after that, it was just a job and who gives up their heart to that. Music IS my heart and that I keep for me. "Songs to aging children come; I am one." - Joni Mitchell

Now the programmers have come to free the musicians from the suits. That's a very good thing. It's past my time but I feel good for the kids. They can explore art in ways we couldn't even dream of. They can podCast, make movies, animate worlds, put their music in them, and do it for the whole world with the whole world without ever leaving their backporch. Sure, they should get out and do gigs; that is the best part, but they should also find the guy or girl in Egypt or Turkey or downtown Buffalo that digs their grooves and send them to them.

For Free. For Fun. For Fate. For Love. For Good Times. For the Blue Flame.

I envy you that, and at the same time, I don't. I've had fun and every season that comes as this world spins in a cold night has its own unique concerts and gigs and stuff. Be a player.

Gitcha some.

I have all the toys I want; so now I record what I like, when I like, and only play if there is an audience that really wants it. There is no pressure and I won't be found dead old and alone in a motel room, the death even the superstars fear. I can be in a local theatre production and act again, which is what I trained for. Music was how I paid for college, but then it became the real act. I've had fun. I recommend it to anyone.

At the end of the day, you only have to achieve three things to have an excellent life:

1) status among your peers that matches your level of ambition,

2) a family that loves you,

3) enough stuff.

Most people screw their lives up trying for more status than they really want so they can get more stuff for a family that would rather they be home more. I have enough stuff. It's all extra after that.

You probably do too. Remember that next time you see your kids because it's their time now and the best thing you can tell them is you are proud of them, you love them, and that when they get enough stuff, relax and have fun.

It's not who dies with the most toys; it's who has the most fun with their toys while they are alive. Party on, Babies.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Witch's Hat

Several writers are blogging about the so-called long tail of distributions of various resources such as readership, sales, contributions, work performed and other values based on connectionist technologies. That's a good approximation and what the graph looks like in a single case, but take all of those cases and plot instances of the populations in the z-dimension. That plot looks like a cliff if side by side, but the more economical rendering puts the XYZ orgin in the middle of the global space and plots around it. Then it looks like the familar witch's hat.

That's a resonant image. Most of us don't live in the tail of the curve, we live on the brim of the hat. We don't wear hats for the point, fashionable though it might be at the time; we wear them for the brim because it is the brim that protects our eyes from the sun and our ears from the rain. It is the brim we can curve up or down or flatten as the seasons and the styles change. It is the brim we hold in our hand when we say hello or wave goodbye. The brim is the reason for the hat. It is the service, the valuable surface that with the sides covers our bald spot, holds down our hair, and supports the top. As the hat grows old and the pointy top begins to curve and the sides begin to wrinkle coming at last to resemble the sorting hat from Harry Potter, the brim still serves us.

There is no great moral here, except to note that being average doesn't mean something is necessarily of lesser value. After all, it is the point of having the hat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Baron Speaks

Yes, children, the sexual and social Neanderthals of the Great State of Alabummer have once again proven that a very small minority of superstitious, repressed, and terrified conservatives can rob you of your freedom of expression and the right to party hearty. The good legislators that tried to outlaw the diminished 5th in music, thus killing all forms of jazz, blues and rock have outlawed the sale of marital aids, yes, SEX TOYS!

Why? Because they can't read the instructions.

The voices of the tightly clinched sphincter called into the local college radio station to tell the spin master that if a woman ran for the office of president of these United States that they would vote for her if she is qualified and her name isn't Hillary. Once again, they show they have yet to master simple arithmetic because as the current president proves, they will vote for one boob and we all know that two are twice as good as one.

But that's alright! You see, social movements swing like a dog's tail from right to left, and just as Bawdy Newton said, every action has an opposite and equal reaction. As I look around this Great State of equal opportunity to a last class education, I know that somewhere in the future a reallllly big street party will be happening. As luck would have it, I'll be toooo old but our kids, yes the children of the dammed, will be there swinging from the trees in celebration of their bonobo heritage. Party on, Babies.

This is Radio Free Alabama, the voice of the resistance broadcasting from the heart of the red states, and I AM the Baron Mondo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Evolution In Flatland

The bloggers are cranked about the Google version of smart tags, and they should be. Content is altered by linking but linking is what the web is about. Yet so seldom is it discussed as a purposeful act and that is really what the debate comes down to. The web is not about progress; it is about purpose and this has all the implications of every network-as-ecology article ever written.

On the other hand, some are glossing right past the ChoicePoint fiasco in which a dataMegaMart is conned out of product and opened up potentially half-a-million people to identity theft. The deeper bad news is that ChoicePoint has just purchased I2, one of the more powerful link analysis engines used for crime analysis. Had the hustlers also purchased the link profiles, they would have had not just the identities, but potentially first rate extortion opportunities and some other great behavioral data. Combine this sort of thing with surreptitious RFID scanning and you get a first rate criminal enterprise.

You see, people fear government when they should fear administrations. People think there are smart people out there in the technical community protecting them when actually the geeks are making a buck. Meanwhile, the web like life isn't evolving hierarchically into better forms but extending itself into every niche it can and aggregating these into ever larger entities. One confuses progress with proliferation. Life only propagates. So it is with the web.

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