Also, it helps to know all the chords

They say that Guitar George of the Sultans of Swing can’t afford a new instrument, so he buys vintage. For the best vintage, this is way beyond George’s budget, but vendors of cheap guitars tend to post those prices due to non-musical considerations:

The complete disregard with which these guitars are treated by eBay sellers, pawnshops, MusicGoRounds, and Guitar Centers helps me understand why so many of the “Burst” Les Pauls from 1958-1959 are still missing despite the fact that any of them would be worth $150,000 in any condition if they could be found today. There’s nothing quite as worthless as an old guitar in the eyes of a lot of people. The fact that none of the Electras I bought lately set me back more than $299 drives that point home.

I bet you that there are still hundreds of extremely valuable Les Pauls sitting in barns and basements, crushed and broken, forgotten and abandoned. They’re out there to be found, but the people who find them won’t like the condition their conditions are in, to quote the old song. Luckily for me, I’m not in that market. I’m just buying guitars from 1981 and 1982, buying them cheap and stacking them deep, building a fortress of rock maple around an idealized version of my childhood, you get the idea.

Yeah, yeah, oh yeah.

I wonder how true this is of pianos. (Then again, who pawns a piano?)

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Ahead of the game

Which is where you want to be at all times, right? A helpful hint from Tam:

You might note that the first three letters of “preparedness” are “PRE”. You know, Latin for “before”, “in front of”, “ahead of”. This is not a coincidence. The whole notion of preparedness is that when unexpected stuff happens, you have already taken steps to deal with it. It’s the opposite of running to the store for bread and milk because the weatherman said it was going to snow; you don’t need to do that, because you already have bread and milk. (Or if you’re really a hardcore prepper, sacks of grain and a cow, I suppose.)

Still, some people gotta have their French toast.

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See Spotify run

Pretty much all of this Bob Lefsetz rumbling about, or orthogonal to, Spotify, is wrong, but some parts of it are wronger than others. For instance:

LPs … 1964, the advent of the Beatles, to 1982, the advent of the CD.

The CD … 1982 to 2000, when usurped by the MP3.

MP3s? By 2018 they’re HISTORY!

Like each of those points represents a major discontinuity. CD players in 1982 were a thousand bucks apiece, and actual CDs, when you could find them, were close to $20; it would be years before they made a serious dent in vinyl.

The LP, incidentally, dates to that year of years, 1948, and while it’s strictly a niche market today, it’s still here, 66 years later. A lot of eighteens have gone by.

The only problem we have today is everyone’s got a voice, and those who don’t win complain, whereas we didn’t used to hear from them. Ignore them. Focus on the winners. Spread the word about them. And know that if your identity is based on liking something no one else does, chances are you’re going to live a very lonely life.

Yeah, it’s a tragedy I’m not lapping up those [name of overblown pop star] tracks. Sucks to be me.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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Early checkout

This is possibly the most disturbing tweet I’ve ever seen, and as a result it’s going below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Droning on

Remember when stupidity had its consequences? I miss those days. And apparently so does the Z Man:

Cheap flying gizmos with cameras means every dickhead in the neighborhood will have one. In the not too distant future some jerk-off will have a drone spying on the woman next door and her husband will throttle the guy. The reason the general IQ has fallen is modern technology has allowed the stupid to escape the natural consequences of their genetics. At the tail end of the technological revolution, assholes get to easily reach out and share their asshole-ishness with the rest of the world.

See also “trolls,” seemingly motivated almost identically.

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Whatever it is, it’s here

News Item: As expected, Microsoft launched a new version of Windows on Tuesday two years after the troubled release of its last operating system, Windows 8. But instead of introducing the expected name, “Windows 9,” Microsoft announced it will jump to “Windows 10.”

Top Ten designations considered by Microsoft before settling on “10”:

  1. 8.2
  2. 9000
  3. Post-Millennium
  4. Seven Classic
  5. XPdited
  6. 666
  7. 640K
  8. 20-20
  9. 9X
  10. OS XI

This seems to be the actual explanation for “10.” (As always, thanks to @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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The flamingos seem less pink lately

Apparently there is a formal index, derived from Washington’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, with an informal but nonetheless precise name:

The Tchotchke Index, it turns out, is an excellent gauge of the economic wellbeing of American households. Spending on tchotchkes — a.k.a. trinkets, junk, yard sale detritus, and the raison d’être of the self-storage industry — rises when Americans are feeling flush and falls when they are feeling pinched. Spending on tchotchkes tracks the economy’s ups and downs with the precision of other, better-known measures such as the the Consumer Confidence Index, the unemployment rate, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

According to this index, the economy continues to spiral down the bowl:

Sadly, the Tchotchke Index has plummeted to the lowest level on record. In 2013, the average household spent just $103 on decorative items for the home — less than half of the $240 it spent on this category in 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The 2013 Index is even lower than the $108 spent in 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. An ominous sign, for sure.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I spent anything in this category last year.

(Via Roger Green.)

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A factor of two hundred

I read lots of articles on How To Blog — and, sensibly, How Not To Blog — mostly to see how I’ve survived without following anyone’s advice. The lovely and talented XO Sarah posted a list of 10 Things that shouldn’t be on your blog, and before reading, I guesstimated I’d have six of them.

Only three, as it turns out, but the sheer enormity of this violation deserves mention:

45 TAGS / LABELS / CATEGORIES

Readers aren’t going to wade through that many items and search engines don’t like it either. Pick your top five to 10 and feature those.

Forty-five? Forty-five?

I protested, mildly:

I swear, I could almost see her eyes rolling in disbelief.

(@ThoShesFierce is someone I met on Sunday-night #Blogchat.)

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Click here to agree to the divorce papers

PayPal and eBay, joined forever in 2002, are falling apart:

eBay and PayPal are going their separate ways, with the payments company moving out from under the eBay umbrella to form its own, publicly-traded company. The move follows a strategic review conducted by eBay, Inc. and its Board of Directors, and is intended to help both businesses grow faster in their respective markets.

The spin-out of PayPal is expected to be complete by the second half of 2015, provided all regulators sign-off on the agreement. As TechCrunch reported, both companies will get new CEOs as part of the deal, with eBay Marketplaces President Devin Wenig taking over at eBay, and PayPal President Dan Schulman presiding at PayPal.

While I’ve had no particular problems with either eBay or PayPal since the merger, I’ve often wondered if eBay sellers were chafing under the “suggestion” that they accept payments only through PayPal. And PayPal has been looking for partners far removed from the auction biz; about twice a month they send me email to tell me about a new one — as distinguished from the twenty times a month I get phishing email from parties pretending to be PayPal.

Note that word “spin-out,” in place of the more-usual “spin-off.” Is there a difference? Maybe it lies in the fact that PayPal is on its way to being a bigger business than eBay.

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Forth and back

Bark M. completes his first month on WordPress, and observes:

Let’s be honest — I’m a 36-year-old, middle-class, white male college dropout. I have a family with two kids, a picket fence, and a Mustang. In other words, I’m boring. I have literally no idea why anybody cares about anything that I have to say. Nevertheless, about 250 comments have been posted to this blog in the month or so that it’s been in existence (or less than the number of comments on one of my TTAC articles this month). Most of them have been pretty nice and respectful.

I’m about the same flavor of dull, considering I’m 60 and don’t drive a Mustang at all, let alone one of the latter day Boss models in Laboratory Sample Yellow. And I average about 370 comments a month, but then I’ve been here a lot longer than a month. And most of those comments are studiously polite.

Some haven’t been. That’s fine. I respect diversity of opinion and I think that the only way you often know if you’ve said something worthwhile is if somebody takes the time to create a login and type out a hundred or two words telling you what an idiot you are. After all, the antithesis of love isn’t hate — it’s apathy. If you take the time to respond, I get the impression that you care, which I deeply appreciate.

Geez, this guy is starting to sound like me. Maybe I ought to consider buying a Mustang. (It is, after all, the oldest surviving, um, pony car.)

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Such passé

If it appears that doge has let itself out and not come back, well, this is what happens to the meme of the moment: eventually the moment passes. But give Kyle Chayka credit for exploring the tail end, so to speak:

Curious about the lasting effects of Doge, I asked the National Shiba Club of America if the meme had spurred any sudden interest in the dogs. “Some Shiba people really seem to enjoy it, but we have not heard of an increase in popularity of the breed in general,” wrote back Lori Pendergast, the NSCA’s corresponding secretary.

But then:

Fittingly enough, Pendergast’s email was written in Comic Sans.

Wow. Much appropriate.

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Your 2014 State Questions

Only three this time around, and two of them are kissing cousins. (Okay, they’re not about cousins, or kissing either, but they did sort of grow up together.) As always, I have my own take on all the measures under consideration, and also the ones that aren’t.

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Obviously five believers

If I’m known for anything in blogdom — and who says I am? — it’s got to be my post-titling prowess, which is either a major accomplishment or a major embarrassment, depending on who’s doing the critique. I find it delightful that even real scientists doing serious research aren’t above this same sort of shenanigans:

Five Swedish scientists have confessed that they have been quoting Bob Dylan lyrics in research articles and are running a wager on who can squeeze the most in before retirement.

The game started seventeen years ago when two Professors from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, John Jundberg and Eddie Weitzberg, wrote a piece about gas passing through intestines, with the title “Nitric Oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind”.

I don’t think I could have resisted that one myself.

Another competitor:

Kenneth Chien, Professor of Cardiovascular Research has also been quoting his idol for years and his fellow scientists recently got wind of his articles which include: “Tangled up in blue: Molecular cardiology in the postmolecular era”.

I have no idea how old these guys are, but surely there’s enough Dylan material to last them until that hard rain starts to fall.

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I’ll consider myself peered

I don’t know if this was translated from Urdu into Dutch, or what, but it showed up in the spam bucket last night:

I am really impressrd wit your writing tzlents as wekl as
witth thee strudture onn your weblog. Is this a paid subject orr did you mdify
it yiur self? Either way stay up the nice quality writing, itt
is uncommon to peer a niice bog like this one
today..

A niice bog indeed.

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A voice from days gone by

Timi Yuro died in the spring of 2004 — the cancer that took away her voice eventually took the rest of her — and I gave her a sendoff in these pages. I wasn’t doing pictures back then, or at least not many, and I didn’t give the matter much more thought until a new-release announcement came down the wire from one of those reissue labels: a two-CD set containing her first four albums plus bonus tracks. And they’d used a manually-colored version of this old Hollywood publicity photo:

Timi Yuro glamour shot

If you’re interested, here’s an Amazon link. “Hurt” was her biggest hit, but the one that’s stayed with me is “What’s A Matter Baby,” which I described this way:

Sung and recorded at the very edge of distortion, then remixed by Phil Spector, this may be Yuro’s best: the voice is just as big, and the finger she’s pointing is even bigger.

Especially since Spector apparently did this without the approval of either Clyde Otis, who produced the track and co-wrote the song, or Al Bennett, who was running Liberty Records, Timi’s label.

But the operative word is “big,” and, well, she wasn’t all that big in real life:

Timi Yuro seated

Five foot one, maybe. On the radio, you never noticed this sort of thing, and you wouldn’t have cared if you did.

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Beyond here lies nothing

A fairly neutral definition from Wikipedia:

A site map (or sitemap) is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users. It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for Web design, or a Web page that lists the pages on a Web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion.

Sometimes they’re complicated. (I’d hate to sit down and draw one for this place.) The consumer-information site MainStreet.com, however, seems to have boiled it down to the basics:

Sitemap for Mainstreet.com

“That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know,” said John Keats, while not looking at this.

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