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Streaming WFNX on Android


Front 242 - Welcome to Paradise

UPDATED: I have verified that the process below is absolutely the right thing to do. We drove around for an hour to test and the phone only dropped in the largest of the known cellular dead zones, so buffering is a lot better. The phone also ran a /lot/ cooler than when I was using the flash player. Plus, this will work with our Nexus tablets, since they don't have Flash and Adobe stopped supporting Android

Earlier in the week, WFNX posted a quick and dirty mobile page with options for how to listen on various devices. There is an Android page there, but what happens is it loads a flash player in your Android web browser and streams that way.

This sucks on many levels. 1) It's flash and takes a ton of CPU, B) It doesn't buffer very much if at all, so it tends to drop and re-establish, and third) It's in a browser, and is limited by browsery-behavior stuff like "when the phone locks, it stops playing music", so you can't ever let your phone auto-lock. I get that FNX needs to be generic here, and can't get complicated enough to tell people to go get new software, and they probably don't want to be seen as endorsing a product, so that all makes sense. That said...

The right way to do this is to skip the Android page, and go to the iPhone/iPad page. There they have direct links to an MP3 stream. The MP3 stream is 65kb/sec, so they're not the highest quality things ever, but they'll sound better than whatever Clear Channel does to the air around 101.7.

What you need is a music player capable of playing .pls streams. Head over to the Play Store and get A Online Radio.

Choose the Live button, and scroll down and select Add Channel:

You can either type in all of http://provisioning.streamtheworld.com/pls/WFNXFM.pls, or, if you're on your phone now, click and hold here and choose copy URL. Then paste it into the Add Channel dialog:

Once you do that, it should create a new entry in the Favorites tab, right at the top, click that, let it buffer, and listen:

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United Way


I just saw the LaDainian Tomlinso. united way commercial.

I really wish people would stop falling for the greedy hucksters at the historically corrupt United Way. Nearly as bad as the god bothering homophobes of the Boy Scouts of America.

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Cancer Treatment Centers of America Curiosity


The sweet and frightening silence of my hastening deafness

I'm moving this topic from Facebook because of their ridiculous privacy settings, which will permit "friends of friends" to see a thread, but not permit them to comment in that thread, and I'm interested in a wider discussion.

I originally posted a short message about my curiosity with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and how after seeing their commercial hundreds of times, I was finally motivated to go look into what they actually do. The commercials are extremely non-specific, but seem very "spiritual" in nature, and it turns out I wasn't wrong. CTC seems to be of the "throw everything including the kitchen sink at this disease" type of business, which I like, when that plumbing is cutting edge research based scientifically valid basins and knobs. However, CTC seems to pitch a "Whole Person" approach which intermingles actual medicine with whatever bronze age hokum people wish to partake in, from "Energy Therapy (Reiki)", to acupuncture, and even homeopathy. These treatments seem to be given the same footing as science, and I think that's wrong. It's deceitful and takes advantage of customers when they are at their absolute weakest and most vulnerable.

It should be said that I'm not opposed, even though I am an atheist, to people praying to whoever for help and a cure, and doing whatever they feel makes them more psychologically fit to go through radiation and chemo. If their god gives them strength to keep fighting, more power to them. I'm not ever going to try to convert someone during their fight with a hopefully-not-terminal disease.

My problems come when water and needles are given as treatments and therapies, by people who are allegedly doctors, to customers as treatments. No responsible medical or scientific institution would ever give credence to homeopathic charlatans and give their patients hope that drinking a gallon of water will cure anything. To those who say that does no harm, I disagree vehemently. The harm it does is in the act of a nominal-'physician' giving someone utterly false hope that a proven non-cure will fix their illness. Someone who is presumed by the patient to be authoritative in their field, callously dishing out nonsense to those most in need.

It seems as if the founders intentions were based in his own pain, and the feeling of his loved one being treated as a "subject" rather than as a "person". That is a definite complaint I've heard from people about their oncologists, radiotherapists and surgeons, and I would definitely agree that it will make patients feel isolated and detached from the process of their own healing. In the case of /my/ loved one, that was absolutely not the case, the doctors were as warm as they could reasonably be expected to be, and kept us well informed about everything that was happening and would happen. However, in the case of my family member, the cancer was deemed "very treatable, although also rather advanced", and in the end, was never positively identified (it's a case-study at conferences, no shit…). In the end it was decided that rather than keep taking biopsies to identify this thing, let's just go fix it, and they did.

The reason doctors must maintain a professional detachment is that if they became involved on a personal level with their patients, it would surely drive them mad with grief and out of the profession at a cheetah's pace. If you're working in a field where your subject is something so much more sinister than a broken bone or stuffy nose, and you know for a fact you're going to lose 20 to 40% of your patients regardless of your effort, it can't be healthy to be everyone's buddy. This is where the patients other support network comes in with friends and family and counselors and support groups. My mom's long, long, long term hairstylist even took her wig shopping and styled it perfectly. Those are the things that matter. I personally don't care if my doctor thinks of me as subject #627829, as long as he does his job and I do mine in fighting the disease.

Going in with that mindset, it's easy to see why CTC's founder meant to bring in all faiths and styles of healing. However, putting homeopaths into a hospital-like setting and setting them next to actual physicians is to give homeopaths a seat a table they have no business laying the place settings on, let alone sitting down at.

I chalk this up to "nice idea, horribly executed, and which now fills people with false hope, and makes what I can only imagine is a goddamn fortune doing so", based on their rabid lobbying efforts.

"Naturopathic Medicine" reads like the longest con ever, melding "ancient Chinese remedies" and "homeopathy" and "hydrotherapy" into a great big ball of falsehoods and platitudes meant to raise hopes without actually curing disease. It's crass and ridiculous.

I know people have gotten great comfort from CTC, and hear that their staff are a world apart from the doctors on the cutting edge of medical science. People are treated as humans with feelings and customers are made to feel comfortable about asking questions, taking as long as you'd like, and that you have everything explained plainly and earnestly by caring people.

Those are all laudable goals, but when the subject being explained is a ludicrous non-cure, dressed up in a lab coat, that is when it becomes wrong. It would be terrific if surgeons and oncologists had better rapport with their patients and were able to take the time out of their day to chat with them, beyond even the scope of their treatment, to become "friendly" if not "friends". We had the luck of having just such a surgeon, who even though he was probably a borderline personality himself and had a very full plate between different hospitals and teaching, took the time to stop in the hallway at a chance encounter, months after his part of the game was over, to check in and see how treatment was going and explain anything he could explain.

That is how to be an effective cancer institution, by adding the human touch to medicine, not by making false claims about complete non-medicine and getting people's hopes up in the name of making them feel better and be more comfortable.

CTCA patients also get insurance coverage for these services. Let it sink in. Your insurance company and mine, is using our premiums to pay for people's very, very expensive water from CTCA.

This is a terrible shame for CTCA's Advanced Treatment physicians, who for all I know are absolutely top of their field and riding the bleeding edge of cancer treatment technology. As a consumer I would be driven by Occam to derive a diminished opinion of these doctors, when they are listed side by side with the Supportive Therapies on their Cancer Treatments page. The thinking goes: "Any doctor who would associate themselves with acupuncture and homeopathy must therefore be as much a quack as the homeopath they associate themselves with". That too does a huge disservice to potential customers. If I had cancer, I would miss out on potentially genius oncology and radio therapy because those doctors choose to work under the same roof as homeopaths, chiropractors and acupuncturists.

My sources for treatments at CTC were taken from their site, read real doctors responses to such claims here at ScienceBasedMedicine.org.

The original FB thread and direct message which prompted me to fill this out to blog-post-size are captured below:

And the positive review from someone who had the least fortunate outcome, but appreciated CTCA's work:

I certainly don't want to give individual people the impression that I'm against them spending their money the way they want on whatever faith-based treatment they choose. I will not "go after" regular person-on-the-street folks. I do attack ideas and institutions. CTCA bills itself as medicine, and takes insurance dollars, when much of what they offer is, in the politest possible description, not medicine, but hope. Hope, and water.

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Chris Isaak @ The Indian Ranch, 6-30-2012


Garbage - Not Your Kind Of People

This Saturday we saw Chris Isaak in the scorching heat in Webster, MA. I don't think I've been to a hotter show, 95 degrees in direct sunlight all afternoon. Also, I'm pretty sure Natalie's little sister is just slightly in love with a musician twice her age. I'm sorry parents, couldn't be helped.

This show was absolutely the perfect summer day thing to do, and the Indian Ranch was the perfect place to be. The Indian Ranch is like a campground with a music venue of maybe 2500-3000 seats (ish?). So we were able to get campground food for lunch of hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, and you could dip your toes in the lake to cool off. The place was a real throw back and was really well organized. We'll keep an eye on their concert schedule, but so far this year it looks like we've seen the one show we would go see. (I would love to see Charlie Daniels, but I really fucking hate it when musicians hard-sell me politics and/or religion. Especially if those politics are completely off the fucking deep end and the artist rants endlessly about it as I believe Daniels does. Say your piece, then play your damn music, folks. Exceptions are to be made for bands whose whole /point/ is their politics, and if it matches mine, I don't notice. In other news, I'm a massive fucking hypocrite. This is not to say that preachy liberals aren't super annoying, or that I don't want to push them off the stage into a mosh pit of knives. Here's looking at you Mr. No-Meat-Anywhere-In-The-Venue-Or-I-Walk Morrissey).

The opener was local country singer/songwriter Kiley Evans. She did about a 30 minute set and said she's getting some airplay on Boston country stations, which is good. The best story she had, though, was the story of about the cutest thing I've ever seen at a concert. At the last two Chris Isaak shows we saw, there was a little kid dressed in a matching suit to the one Chris was wearing, once a powder blue suit with darker blue flames, and once Chris's signature mirror suit.

Of course he would be dragged up on stage and dance, and he was great, he looked just like a mini-Isaak. Turns out that was Kiley Evans' little cousin, now 10, and unfortunately absent from Saturday's show.

The Chris Isaak set was great. We don't go to many daytime shows, so it was a whole different experience for the artist to actually be able to see and interact (NICE HAT) with the crowd. A lot of the later music was from the newest Sun Studios themed record, with Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis classics from their Sun sessions. If anyone can carry that music forward accurately it's Chris Isaak. He pays good tribute to his heroes and ours without being Lounge Coverband Guy.

As much as I love seeing local bands for cheap money playing music they just wrote about things that are so important to them that they have to tell you about it right fucking now, it's also hard to do much better than a band that has had 25 years to grow as a unit and just gets tighter and tighter, and who still seem to love every second of what they do. I do wish more rockabilly type folks would turn out for Chris Isaak, and I know Boston's got the crowd for it, after seeing the people show up for Imelda May twice in 3 months, Rev. Horton Heat and even our local bar bands.

My photos look like J.J. Abrams directed me. More lens flare than Star Trek what with the sun right in my face, but I got what I got. I also discarded any focusing mainly on Herschel Yatovitz. I don't know if it's schtickey banter or what, but apparently dude doesn't want his picture taken, so who am I to be a prick about it. It's a shame though, some of them were good!

Here are some photos from the Flickr set:

Kiley Evans:

Sat, 06/30/2012 - 2:18pm - Kiley Evans opening for Chris Isaak at the Indian Ranch. csFlickr

Sat, 06/30/2012 - 2:18pm - Kiley Evans opening for Chris Isaak at the Indian Ranch. csFlickr

Sat, 06/30/2012 - 3:26pm - Chris Isaak at the Indian Ranch in Webster, MA. 6-30-2012 csFlickr

Crooning to his crowd. L.L. Chris Isaak.
Sat, 06/30/2012 - 3:34pm - Chris Isaak at the Indian Ranch in Webster, MA. 6-30-2012 csFlickr

Great Balls Of Fire. Scott Plunkett:
Sat, 06/30/2012 - 4:38pm - Chris Isaak at the Indian Ranch in Webster, MA. 6-30-2012 csFlickr

We're all in this photo somewhere. Zoom and Enhance, C.S.I. style:
Sat, 06/30/2012 - 4:44pm - Chris Isaak at the Indian Ranch in Webster, MA. 6-30-2012 csFlickr

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Long Tall OCD


Wanda Jackson - Long Tall Sally

I have four artists' versions of Long Tall Sally, and am listening to them all in order.

Does anyone else do this when you have three or four versions of a song? I'm driven to, especially when they're really different, like covers of or by Tom Jones, or Shirley Bassey.

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It's a bad day for ears


Big Black - Heart Beat

The other day, I noticed the cover for my headphones was coming off. Don't know how to fix that, but Natalie said she has an idea or two.

Today as I was listening, I started noticing the right speaker wasn't working. I found this insignificant looking notch taken out of that wire, something either fell or sat on it (how, I don't know, given where it is), and so I'm going to have to cut, strip, solder, tape.

Thu, 06/28/2012 - 12:20am -                                csFlickr

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Updated Music Collection Browser


Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - The Weeping Song

I've made some much needed updates to my Music Collection Browser, and thought I'd mention it. It now does a case-insensitive sort of artist names, while ignoring leading special characters ( "'",":","(", etc), as well as throwing away leading "The"s for sorting. This was a big deal to me since it annoyed me every time I had to scroll through 50 The Whoevers to get the band I want.

I also fixed the compilations piece, so linked that back in. I just settled for big ugly links for soundtracks/compilations and individual artists at the top of whichever page is loaded. It sucks but there's really not much of a better way to go.

Now I just have to re-tag a few albums and artists to make things consistent, since some artists have both a "The" and "non-The" variant in the list, but at least now they're right next to each other.

Also, I want to vent about Gracenote. Fucking Gracenote. That is all. ... For many artists who have lots of featured guests, it appends all the "feat. whoever"s to the Artist tag. That is wrong. It should be appended, preferably in parentheses, to the song title itself. It's the only way to maintain a reasonable collection.

Of course, iTunes is stupid enough to create different artist folders based on this idiocy, so now I have 15 Bootsy Collins directories on the FS.

The goal list for this project, after 24 hours, now stands at:

  • iTunes XML files
  • Case Insensitivity for sorting
  • Throw away non-alpha/num leading characters to build the list ('Til Tuesday, :wumpscut:, (Cevin) Key, though it would break !!! if we owned any, or else it would just show up first, where 'Til Tuesday is now, which is fine)
  • Throw away leading "The"s for sorting, but only one, so as not to break The The, or Thes One
  • Better handling of compilations
  • Searching
  • Port to PHP?
  • Here's where I justify not crossing the rest of the items off my list:

    (1) I've barely bothered to look at iTunes XML files because every time I open one and try to make sense of it, I end up weeping to myself. I think what it's going to end up being is me taking my iTunes DB and munging into either sqlite3 (probably) or MySQL (unlikely), in a stripped down version of the same form that Amarok built its sqlite3 databases. I can't help but think that all the searches I run against the DB would be slow as hell if I was searching an unindexed XML file every time I do anything. So now I just need to write a perl script to parse the iTunes XML database file and puke out SQLite3 in a schema my site already handles.

    (2) I don't personally care much about searching. The point of this tool is so that when I'm in a record store or otherwise away from my computers I have quick access to an accurate copy of my CD collection, so I don't purchase dupe CDs or whatever. Or if someone asks me if I've heard of some band I can pull it up. Also, helpful links to YouTube, Wikipedia and Amazon searches for each artist. That's pretty useful really. Searching is irrelevant. The only place it would really be handy is if I send the page to someone else and they want to quickly find an artist or song, to which I say "Suck it up and scroll".

    (3) I was thinking of porting it to PHP just because I've written like, 6 lines of PHP and figured I should know it. This thing could stay Perl until Unix time rolls over and I wouldn't care at all.

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    Catholics, This Is How It's Done

    This protestant congregation is reacting in the way I always expected Catholics should have reacted when confronted with a 50 year global child sex abuse conspiracy. Or a 50 year nationwide conspiracy to steal and sell thousands of Spanish newborns. This congregation sounded on the verge of lynching their church leadership after they covered up a minister's arrest for solicitation of prostitution, and further plea deal in which he pled guilty to a lesser charge.

    I imagine this is due to them not being cowed into subservience by 1800 years of patriarchal dogma. I applaud this congregation for standing up against their church leaders and their coverup, but I still have lots of questions for members of larger churches.

    Why didn't you rise up as one and boo Cardinals and Bishops into hiding?

    According to the stats I've seen, between 4% (Church numbers) and 10% (external estimates) of priests were directly involved in the abuse of children. Add to that the hierarchy that hid this from the world and enabled these priests by moving them to other parishes, and you've got quite the conspiracy on your hands. This adds up to quite a large proportion of the church either abusing kids, or having direct knowledge of child abuse and choosing to cover it up rather than go directly to the police.

    If you have been, over the course of your lifetime, in the company of 50 priests, at least two of those priests was statistically a child molester, and several more were conspirators.

    People have said that such abuse is "in line with society at large". As unlikely as I find that argument, it ignores two huge points:

    -- If 4% of priests and 4% of society are child molesters, the difference is that no one. NO. ONE. is willing to conspire with the societal molesters rather than turn them in.

    -- I don't know anyone who lives their lives according to the teachings of "Creepy guy who touches himself at the park"

    Anyway, I'd love to hear opinions on this. I would directly ask people I know if we could candidly discuss their beliefs and how that affects their feelings about all this, but I'm pretty sure it would cost me friends and family.

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    Parental musical advice


    I'm pretty much unqualified to give anyone advice on any topic, but this is the best parental advice I can give:

    Don't let people insult your kids and drive you insane with crappy childrens music.

    A friend posted that she felt bad because she may have waited too long to buy tickets to The Wiggles. As a non-child-owner, I of course had to interject with my option:

    It's OK, you can get these instead, with the benefit of it being Real Music: http://www.danzanes.com/tour

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    Vintage Drink Recipes


    Lou Reed - Dirty Boulevard

    Natalie and I have been booked for a tropical vacation for a few months. A while back I decided she should raise her tolerance for girly fruity island drinks ahead of the trip.

    Luckily we found the perfect book in an antique store to help us out. Here's How, a wood bound book with awesome illustrations from 1941. It's got like 70 pages of recipes, and I wanted to take a few photos since it might be the most fun book we own. Excuse the thumbs here, but the way the binding is hinged (like with hinges) doesn't really allow it to lay flat for photos :-)

    Fri, 04/27/2012 - 2:55pm - We found this wood-bound drink recipe book from 1941 in an antique store, and have been making lots of them.  Somehow, we still have full kidney function. csFlickr

    Fri, 04/27/2012 - 2:56pm - We found this wood-bound drink recipe book from 1941 in an antique store, and have been making lots of them.  Somehow, we still have full kidney function. csFlickr

    Fri, 04/27/2012 - 2:55pm - We found this wood-bound drink recipe book from 1941 in an antique store, and have been making lots of them.  Somehow, we still have full kidney function. csFlickr

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