Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Answering the Question

by Ken Houghton

In about 3.5 hours, Stevie Wonder will officially open the Montreal Jazz Festival with a free concert less than a klometer from where I am now sitting. Which brings us back to the question from High Fidelity: "top five musical crimes perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the '80s and '90s":

If I had to pick, using YouTube presence as a guide:

5. "Happy Birthday" as performed at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. (Starts around 4:22 in.)

Does almost everything wrong. The original is a tribute to Martin Luther King—who then isn't mentioned at all. Just one more reminder of how the Atlanta Olympic Committee lied to the shops on Martin Luther King about all of the business they would be seeing from the Olympic visitors—who were then discouraged from going anywhere near those shops, which spent several hundred thousand dollars on improvements in anticipation that they were not being lied to by the Organizing Committee.

4. Part Time Lover

Almost musically interesting. And detectably a Stevie Wonder song, unlike what follows.

3. I Just Called to Say I Love You

The proximate cause of the question from the movie, and truly a depressing song.

2. That's What Friends are For

Friends don't let friends make songs that don't highlight your skills at all. Even "We Own the World" was careful about that. This effort isn't.

1. Used to Be (with Charlene)

Unlike the later "Gone Too Soon" with Babyface, there's virtually nothing to recommend here; rhyming is strained ("Have another Chivas Regal/Twelve years old and sex is legal") and the history is worthy of Billy Joel ("someone shot the Beatles's lead guitar").

Which abominations am I missing?

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Random Notes, Night at the Museum II edition

by Ken Houghton

Yes, Youngest Daughter got to pick the movie for Father's Day/her birthday. Her review: "It was boring." Even worse: that was as compared to her sixth or seventh viewing of Hotel for Dogs.

So some random notes about it, and around the web:

(1) Lance Mannion did not warn me that the three cherubs are played by The Three Antichrists. Consider yourself so cautioned.*

(2) Ezra schools McMegan. Not that it will do any good.

(3) Did anyone else think Amy Adams at the end looks like a hennaed Erin O'Brien?

(4) The Hunting of the Snark did a two part post weeks ago on McMegan, bankruptcy, and health care that I'm still trying to digest. Which I mean in a good way. If rdan is reading this, yes, I think you should recruit Susan of Texas for Angry Bear; her latest post is a perfect summary of What's Wrong with Contemporary Conservative Thought. Though, as the Good Roger Ailes notes, she's developing a strong following for good reason.

(5) I assume it was the location of the theatre that got a laugh from the audience at the end of the film when Amelia Earhart leaves 77th Street and starts flying to "Canada." YMMV, but the film sorely needed laughs.

*However, since my version of H*ll would feature the "JoBros" performing "More than a Woman" and "This Song Must Drone On," their first appearance does qualify as an Adult Moment in a movie that has more of those than kid jokes.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tinfoil Hat Time!

by Tom Bozzo

After reading this, and weeping a bit, some Deep Thoughts:

1. If the nice people at Fort Meade already have a bunch of quantum computers in the basement, then presumably public key cryptography isn't an obstacle to U.S. government access to the content of private communications. [*]

2. If the nice people at Fort Meade already are directly tapped into (e.g.) the Googleborg and not just communication switches, then we already live in a surveillance state more intrusive in many ways than (e.g.) the UK's CCTV panopticon. [**]

If neither 1 nor 2 is true, at least yet, then the general — versus privacy geek — appeal of encrypting one's personal communications has increased a lot.

Update: How could I have forgotten about first-class mail?! The venerable postal product is sealed against inspection and impervious to electronic surveillance.

[*] Which is not to say that it's lawful for them to be scooping up even ciphertext of U.S. domestic communications in contravention of FISA.

[**] Clearly some of Google's "free" services come at the price of letting its computers process one's communications and other online activities for the purpose of directing advertising, which is not without privacy considerations. Of course if Google decided to enter businesses such as blackmail, there would be legal remedies. Indeed, after posting this originally, Google served up a bunch of ads pertaining to commercial surveillance products and/or services.

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