Truth and Action

Pontius Pilate answered a life-and-death question with a question: “What is truth?” We recognize his response as a indecisiveness masking avoidance behaviour, since truth is well-defined, requiring evidence. Generally, even the answer to the question “What is truth?” needs argument and evidence.

But truth without evidence is undefinable. It can be anything we want it to be. “What is truth?”, asked as if truth were some abstraction, is a discussion that leads nowhere. Like watching shadows in a cave, we can never be sure what the substance of the shadow is doing if we don’t see it, but we can look to the shadow for evidence. True, we may get the wrong idea, but there’s a pretty good chance of getting most of it right. Our brains are wired to put such things together. And though our perceptions may be wrong sometimes, ignoring those perceptions and assimilations is normally seen as foolish and naive.

We can never see everything there is to see in life, but nevertheless, life expects us to make sense of the world around us given our limited perceptions and world view. And the critical decisions we make affecting our lives are almost never based on perfect information. But we often base decision on the degenerate data available, further informed by past experience, and often are expected to render such judgements, whether it is in our line of work, or our daily lives. More often than not, not deciding is often more damaging to one’s future than deciding. With a decision, at least you have a way to base a future plan for coping with any consequences. In life, there is no fence-sitting. Deciding not to decide is still a decision. And it is a decision with consequences.

 

Back after being blocked out

I haven’t published anything at this blog since mid-2011, and I won’t for some time, as I have to now fix the site. First, I needed to get rid of fake subscribers (over 15 thousand of them)  placed here by spambots. Spambots have also inserted nearly 150 thousand fake messages should you like to hear about male enhancement or raft of stolen/fake Gucci clothing. The “subscribers” are easy to get rid of; the messages are not. I can get rid of them about 200 at a time, but the process is slow. Nursing this patient to health will take some time.

This site still needs its plugins re-installed, spam deleted, and other things updated. The whole loss of the blog was due to a mysterious (until now) bug that prevented me from logging in to do anything. I just got rid of a lot of cruft and installed a fresh copy of the latest WordPress source in place of the old code. Now things are comparatively normal.

Meanwhile, check out my more academic blog, the Pi Kappa Journal. The initials of Pi Kappa are my initials, I try not to make things too snooty around here, so there is no significance intended in the choice of Greek letters in themselves. There, I have documented many of my latest chills and spills  into scitech.

[Media Monday] – Getting Sound equipment on the uber-cheap

This photo shows my sound equipment used for generating voice recording on a laptop.

The most prominent devices on the photo are the pair of Optimus microphones which have no hint of XLR connectivity, and just have quarter inch jacks. I bought them 10 years ago, and they have hardly been used.

There is also a Nexxtech preamp which takes a 9-volt battery and uses only RCA connectors. The Source was able to sell me 1/4″ to RCA adaptor plugs. I already had the required RCA to 1/8″ stereo mike input at home. The Source was able to get Nexxtech to special-order the preamp for me for about 25 dollars.

So, a 9-volt battery, a preamp, and a 1/4″-to-RCA adaptor, with tax came to about $35.00.  I have no need for sound management software, since I use Audacity, which is free.

I thought it was time to pull the old mikes off the shelf and use them for once. But in my ongoing struggle to be cheaper than is socially acceptable, I scrounged around the music and sound shops for equipment that would utilize these mikes. I was constantly confronted by salesmen who, in the efforts to socialise me into the range of acceptability for spending  money, tried to sell me another pair of mikes that would work with the preamps and mixers they had.

Well, admittedly, $150 for a mixer and preamp is cheap compared to what used to be the case years ago. In fact, I have written before about a Behringer mixer that sells for under $50.00. And I’ve seen them and realise now that they don’t work with my relatively antiquated equipment. But because I am more of a cheapskate than is socially acceptable, I see that as their problem, not my problem. The XLR mikes in most of these places would set me back another $30 or so, not counting other needed equipment should I go that route.

The recording below is from my cheap setup, with audacity as the recording software. The sound is compromised as I am sitting right next to the air conditioner (the window is next to my desk), which is turned on. We are in the middle of a heat wave, and things are getting desparate, heat-wise.

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I’ll try not to talk in overly joyful terms of the beginning of the end of Rupert Murdoch

For one thing, it is too soon to know whether he will be merely decimated as a media tycoon or ruined altogether. But the fact that the political influence counter in Britain has seemingly been re-set to zero is quite telling.

I`ll try not to engage in schadenfreude.

Yippee!

(oops, sorry!)

Crappy Album Covers #147 — Blunders by Major Acts

Album_Cover_Crap_263_gigwise_com People old enough to remember Abbey Road when it came out engaged in speculation as to why Paul crossed the road barefoot for the album cover.So, I would like to continue the pointless speculation, and begin the discussion as to why Hillel Slovak (1962-1988) refuses to wear a hat.

However, it’s nice to know that the two guys in the middle like to share their socks among all four members and go barefoot for the good of the band.

Album_Cover_Crap_257_deskgratis_blogspot_com I think they mean “Scandanavian”. Either that or they were playing in “Sockholm”.A CD was released in 1988, but the subtitle can i buy viagra in ontario without a prescription “Live In Stockholm” was not added until a 2005 re-release, upon finding the master tapes.In fact, I would speculate that this cover was from 2005, since there is clear evidence of Photoshop at work. The light is coming from the wrong side, and is black and white (seepia, actually), while the light above the mike seems to have arisen from a lens flare effect in Photoshop. Photoshop wasn’t around in 1988.

The originating concert was broadcast in 1970 for Swedish National Radio.

Crappy Album Covers #146 — MS Paint Massacre

Album_Cover_Crap_253_blogspot_com Well, no, this wasn’t MS Paint. You can tell that a toddler was set loose on a piece of blank ruled paper with markers.Wikipedia makes no mention of whose toddler it was that did this, but does say that this 2004 album was critically well-received, and debuted at #7 in the US.

The Cure’s 12th album has been inflicted on over 2 million fans worldwide.

Album_Cover_Crap_251_blogspot_com Frank Black’s “The Cult of Ray”, was recorded in 1996, three years after The Pixies broke up. But this record is not mentioned on the Frank Black website. It is mentioned on the Black Francis website. Why there are two websites referring to the same person, I’ll never know.

Frank Black, who also goes by a third monacre, “Black Francis Black” — frig it, let’s keep it simple and call him Charles Thompson. Chuck, you see, released this third album to negative reviews, and had gone on releasing many more albums garnering only but a shadow of his former glory under The Pixies.

In fact, that was the state of affairs by the time this album came out. They were punishing him for overuse of the cut-and-paste tool on MS-Paint.

Allmusic.com has it that The Pixies have reunited as of 2003 and have started touring again. I don’t know of any new albums by them except for “best of” compilations released by 4AD. Chuck’s “Frank Black” website, however, has a list of tour dates.

Crappy Album Covers #145 — Cartoony Covers

Album_Cover_Crap_259_badalbumart_blogspot_com Milton Babbitt looks like he is trying to out-do Stephen Hawking for the tackiest cover. At least Hawking might have an excuse; but Babbitt here is trying to make this poster look avant-garde.

So here he is, like your most imposing physics teacher, making music about ends being a new beginning, and manifolds. As if there were not enough ended beginnings, he also plays “Swan Song #1” (as if there will be a #2…?).

Allmusic says that he is a leading avant-garde classical performer who taught both music and mathematics at Princeton, and taught music at Julliard. He was a leading music theorist, but you look at this and think that this 2001 CD just contains self-indulgent tomfoolery.

The 50-minute CD appears to be selling for $48 on Amazon.

Album_Cover_Crap_235_-_bizarrerecords_com Uhh, … Hi, yourself….This 1979 album appears to have been Barraclough’s last LP, and she had disappeared amid rumors of connections to Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan. Some fans revere her as quite a talent, but you wouldn’t know it with that cartoony “Hi” on this album cover.This link to You Tube shows her potential talent.

Crappy Album Covers #142 — Diving for Crabs

Album_Cover_Crap_246_sebadohBy the time this record came out, Nirvana already took the idea of totally immersing the kid in water, so I guess they had to settle for this. Neverhteless, I hear that the Children’s Aid Society is looking for the guy who took this photo and allowed the infant depicted in this photo to play with the toilet water.

I have it on some authority that Sebadoh’s album doesn’t suck as much as the cover suggests. In fact, this 1996 album is considered their finest, and it put them at the forefront of the indie rock scene back then, helping to pioneer the so-called “lo-fi” buy cheap tramadol music genre.

Album_Cover_Crap_204_amright_comWat Tyler’s (circa) 1999 recording “The Fat of The Band” is actually a parody of Prodigy’s “The Fat of the Land”.

Tyler has a few humorous songs on this LP, but they have not garnered good reviews. A New Music Express reviewer said of this recording “If this is punk rock, my name is Rick Wakeman”. I could only guess that his name already wasn’t Rick Wakeman, since the article is uncredited.

And just to show you the difference, here is Prodigy’s 1997 million-seller (2 million, actually)  “Fat of the Land”, released on Warner and peaking at #1 on Billboard for 1 week.:

Album_Cover_Crap_273_amright_com

Crappy Album Covers #141 — Food On Vinyl VIII

Album_Cover_Crap_264_gigwise_comOK… I said that Jabberwocky was going to be the last Herb Alpert parody, didn’t I? Well, it seems as though poor Alpert must have a red-and-white target painted on his back, since even the Washington Symphonic Brass is now into it for this 2007 rendition of Carmina Burana.

Many famous musicians such as  Bizet, Puccini, Berlioz and Karl Orff have composed pieces for this collection of medieval Bavarian poems, written in Latin. It is thought by some to be the most famous operatic work after Handel’s Messiah.

This monk seems to have the easy job of drinking beer and dipping his pastry where can i buy viagra online with a online doctor consultation into himself before he eats it. That’s probably why he’s smiling.

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Album_Cover_Crap_243_-_bizarrerecords_comI keep saying that I am a newbie with respect to all things classical. So, thus, the use of pan-fried bacon and eggs as the choice of a cover photograph for the “Best of Brahms” is a mystery to me.

Was there ever a “Brahm’s Breakfast Concerto”? Or a “Brahm’s Bacon Bolero”? Or, “Eggs over Easy in E-Flat?”

Whatever it is, I found out through my trusty reasearch that Johannes Brahms has been hawking breakfast cereal. I’ve seen it on You Tube, so therefore it must be true! Just look:

Crappy Album Covers #140 — Bad Hair III

Album_Cover_Crap_207_bad_hair_-_wikipedia_org Enough with bad hair on women, Guys are equally capable of falling out of the wrong side of the bed and combing their hair with a mixmaster.

Many may like the music inside this 1998 double CD by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but clearly, their hair is wearing them, not the other way around.

The album was recorded over two separate years, all but 5 tracks were done in 1967 and the rest in 1969.

Album_Cover_Crap_230_-_chris_lee-cool-rock_pitchfork_com Chris Lee clearly has a case of bed-head. Photo was likely cut off at the top to hide the “cow-lick”.

This 2003 album “Cool Rock” has been mildly recieved by reviewers, and has not charted, that I am aware of.

Crappy Album Covers #136 — Food on Vinyl V

Album_Cover_Crap_224_-_amright_com While I can’t say whether the alternative group Soul Asylum qualifies as Aplert “wannabees” exactly, having bassist Karl Mueller sit half-naked in a mountain of clam dip and other unintelligible seafood was actually something that made Alpert very un-amused. And since he is the owner of A&M Records, who in turn own Twin Tone (where Soul Asylum was signed under), this 1989 album was something that almost marked the beginning of the end of the group.

This album is still in print (according to Wikipedia) under Rykodisk.

Album_Cover_Crap_226_-_amright_com Is it a parody of Alpert’s record? *Is* it?

Take a good look at the woman’s “dress”: yes, kiddies, it is made of bubblegum. This is “Right to Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited”. Features groups with quasi-familiar names (at least to me) like “The Mitch Easter Sound!”, “Jim Laspesia With Michael Quercio”, “The Rubinoos”. This website has verified that this 2002 album does not suck. It’s currently selling on many websites for around $15.

Crappy Album Covers #135 — Food on Vinyl IV

Album_Cover_Crap_221_-_ebay_com Yes, Herb Alpert was at it again, back in 2006, when this CD got released. Re-Whipped appears to have some of the same standards on there, with some new stuff thrown in.

In this age of “Hoochie Mamas” and Paris Hilton getting laid in front of the whole Internet, the whipped cream idea doesn’t have the same impact it used to have.

Having discovered many of these covers, I now have a plethora of Herb Alpert wannabees which have now engendered an extension to my “Food On Vinyl” tramadol legal to buy online subseries over the next few days.

Album_Cover_Crap_223_-_amright_com At least Peter Nero isn’t flogging food but he certainly is a Herb Alpert wannabe, having stolen his typeface design for his own album. This was released in 1967, about the same year as Alpert’s “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”.

Having won two Grammies, and having many honorary degrees, you would think that he wouldn’t need to play a “salute” to anyone.

Nero has been playing Jazz and Pop music since 1958. He still conducts and plays piano for the Philly Pops.

Crappy Album Covers #100 — Monsters!

album-cover-crap-55_thriftstoreart_com Barry Louis Polisar is another one of many CAC makers that appear to have one solution or another to deal with rebellious children. And you know, it is something that no parent I know has ever thought about: Threaten to eat them!

Eating children has been advocated throughout history as the remedy to one social ill or another. If you recall, Jonathan Swift, when he was still a newspaper editor in Ireland sometime in the late 1600s, wrote A Modest Proposal, which advocated the consumption of children for food. But only the poverty-stricken children, so that it would put an end to the problem of poverty-stricken children in Ireland. It was a clever idea, but sadly however, the urgings of newspaper editorials rarely make it into the cornerstone of Irish public policy (or policy elsewhere, so I hear).

It is nice to know that Polisar is willing to take Swift seriously and put himself on the line for the greater good. Of course, the difference is, Swift was only joking to make a point about poverty.

album_cover_crap_163_showandtelmusic_com Let Ron “The Terminator” Curtis show you the Sounds Of Love, as soon as you tell him where you’ve hidden Sarah Connor.

Does Ron look like he’s in a loving mood? Would you trust him to show you what love sounds like? Is that an Uzi he has in his pocket or is he happy to see you? You can’t tell with these cyborgs. Just stay clear, is all I can say.

Crappy Album Covers #99 — Creepy Sexuality

album-cover-crap-60_playmates This is the 1958 record which started their short career in singing, being the first of four albums for the American novelty act The Playmates. The single “Beep Beep” lasted 12 weeks on Billboard, peaking at #4. The lyrics mention a Cadillac and AMC’s Nash Rambler, which caused sales of the Rambler to skyrocket.

When the single crossed the Atlantic, the Brits had laws against product placement in the lyrics, so the British single had no mention of specific brand names in the single.

The playmates broke up in 1964.

album-cover-crap-78_lpcoverlover_com I am not sure who recorded this or what label it was on, but, hey, does it matter? The title tells us right away that this is not a singing record.

To make picking up girls easy, life experience tells me you need to have a lot of money, job security, and looks come second. Actually, this has been proven to be true cross-culturally, and is believed to be a survival tactic of our species that choices of mates take place in this manner.

But this album came out before we knew any of that, more than likely. And someone likely made a mint off of people’s ignorance.

Crappy Album Covers #98 — Still More Belly Dancing

album_cover_crap_119_-_belly_4 One idea I haven’t yet explored is a blog of belly dancer favourites; a kind of “belly dancer top 40”. I don’t know if it will catch on, though.

When you buy a record, its about the music. But if a guy says that he likes belly dancing, it probably is not about the music.

However, this record could be about what the belly dancers where can you buy generic viagra now like. They may like music that has little to do with belly dancing. This could get interesting …

album_cover_crap_118_-_belly_3 Artie Barsamian currently leads the Boston Big Band and Swingtet. Barsamian is an afficionado of the Big Band sound in the tradition of Benny Goodman, and has been following that tradition for over 50 years.

Very little info appears on the album “The Seventh Veil”.

Rube-Goldberg Machines V

Another one. A couple of years ago, this was a Honda Accord commercial, and it caused quite a sensation when it got released. It took over 606 takes and cost over 6 million dollars to make. Any minor misfirings resulted in having to set everything up from scratch, all over again. It was a 2-minute ad spot which was released in the UK in 2006.

Binary adding machine using marbles

My marble adding machine in action. More at http://woodgears.ca/marbleadd

What impressed me is not just the fact that it looks like it could be used as 1) a great woodworking project, and 2) a great computer science tool in grade 10.

There is another video that explains the mechanics behind this adding machine a little better:

Crappy Album Covers #76 — Keyholes and topless women

keyhole_woodywoodbury_wfmu1

This is Woody Woodbury’s big comedy album from the 1950s, “Woody Woodbury Looks at Love and Life”, put out by the Stereoddities label. This was one of the first comedy records ever made (probably the first), and are considered innovative. Woody put out comedy records before Bill Cosby, or Bob Newhart, or any of the other ’50s and ’60s comedians.

Woodbury was a big name, and he almost had the job of hosting The Tonight Show, except that the plum job was instead taken up by some wisecracker named Johnny Carson. Woodbury was a guest host of that talk show in the past, and thought he had the job.


album-cover-crap-100_lpcoverlover_comProving that the suckiness of album covers are never limited to English-speaking countries, we present Jacinto O Donzelo, looking into a keyhole of his own. When this name came up in most searches, it appeared without the comma.

From what I can make out, Jacinto has made what appear to be comedy records, well into the 1980s. He has sold apparently well in Spain, Portugal, and Brazil. MP3s of his comedy are ripped and traded on several websites.

I shall declare that this cover is so bad, that merely gazing upon it will make you feel as though you stepped on something warm and brown. I’ve called the cops, Jacinto. They’re on their way down.

The photo of Jacinto and the keyhole was photoshopped at lpcoverlover.com, who uses the photo as an overlay to indicate that the album cover “underneath” is X-rated. It is not so much serving as a warning, and more like an urging to “click here you idiot if you want to see some nudes”. Great system they have. Anyone who is highly moral has to put up with having to stare at Jacinto eternally pointing at the keyhole, which by itself simply forces visitors to click on the photo if they want to make Jacinto go away. Once they do, they see the album cover depicting nudes underneath. Prudishness is inherently maladaptive in the blogosphere.

My blog isn’t nearly that high-tech. I put “Adult Content” in my title as a warning, telling patrons that they should visit my site as an invitation to see a really cool posting. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Every time I view a movie on TV that has an announcer saying “This movie may involve mature subject matter and scenes of sex/violence/coarse language” what the television folks are really saying is “whoa, this show is really cool, folks — watch this one!!” Just imagine that if they didn’t use that disclaimer and you didn’t know the movie, would you really watch it? I almost never do. And I think that the TV folks know me, since I think they make that disclaimer in almost evey movie. I think I even saw it once on Bambi. That’s for the part that when Bambi’s mother dies, I think I heard Bambi say something like “Oh, shit”. Of course you have to keep kids away from that kind of nonsense.

Crappy Album Covers #75 — Big Heads I

album-cover-crap-95_lpcoverlover_com

1960 crappy album cover (CAC) maker and, oh yeah, comedian to boot, Bill Carty has a variety of albums which all fit the high standards of crappiness that gives this blog such longevity. Here, we see a standard technique for CAC making that has been imitated by many CAC makers in many countries worldwide: thoughtless photo retouching.Workers at a construction site on the other side of Pompano Beach were probably scratching their heads after it appeared that ten of their blasting caps went missing.If Bill Carty is really “Blasting Off”, it’s only his head that is blasted off. Spectators below stare aghast at this horrid spectacle. This would mean that the late 60s the audience in The Space Sattelite Motel in Pompano Beach, Florida were witness to the world’s first suicide bomber. In those days, they didn’t have Homeland Security, either.

The Space Sattelite Motel, which was located in a city located north of Miami and closer to Fort Lauderdale was the epitome of 50s kitch. Carty would have been placed on a stage in the middle of an audience and a bar which surrounded the stage. The motel does not show up anywhere I have where do i buy viagra looked in the Pompano Beach area, and it may no longer exist.

lpcoverlover.com says this is from “Stere Oddities”, but I think that on seeing another record from the same label, I think it should be “StereOddities”.

ninonanni_bighead This is the other record I saw. See? The words are closer together. StereOddities just seem to love big heads on their records. And there are more. Many more. CAC collectors even have a special section for albums depicting disproportionately big heads (or disembodied big heads) of the artist on their covers. This is true for lpcoverlover, and it is also true of another account of a curio record store in the states that I have heard about.Nino Nanni (b. ?- d. circa1991) was another comedian on the same label. Both Nanni and Carty are mentioned in WFMU’s Beware of the Blog as “Nobodies”. Nanni did in fact have a great braritone voice, and perfect enunciation, apart from his talent with the piano. The main attraction from Stereoddities will be presented later in this series.

Both of these albums are rare, and are discussed at length, halfway through this WFMU podcast, starting at about 30 minutes:

(Adult Content) Crappy Album Covers #74 — Why sex is like chocolate in record cover design I

You have heard that some women think that chocolate is like sex. Well when designing crappy album covers, the reverse is true: sex is like chocolate.

For one thing sex sells record albums.

For another, when a food goes rancid one can cover up the rancidity by covering the food in chocolate. Similarly, nudity can be used to hide the fact that an album cover is otherwise artless.

album-cover-crap-92_lpcoverlover_com This is a rare cover for Kool and The Gang’s 1971 album, their second before there was any hint of a commercial breakthrough. The one that shows up on Wikipedia is a more “normal” album cover, with some artfulness within the realm of a “typical” disco album.I’m not sure their cover of   “Wichitaw Lineman” works as a disco tune.

But they needed more than sex to sell, since this album was a commercial flop.

album-cover-crap-101_lpcoverlover_com You know, if you are not really The Beatles and you are making a tribute album, the only way you can make people buy this record is to put “The Beatles” in large lettering, the word “Tributing” in small lettering, and get a young lady to pose topless for the album cover and hope that no-one notices that this is not a Beatles album.What better analogy to chocolate can there be? You know this album is going to sound a bit “off” and will most likely have third-tier Beatles imitators at best, but having a semi-nude on the cover makes it palatable.