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Unwoman at Outpost 186, Cambridge MA, 9-29-2012

Music: 

Soft Cell - Insecure Me

I have been waiting for half a decade to see Unwoman and finally got the perfect opportunity in Cambridge. Unwoman is Steampunk / "Corsetronica" music, a tag which I really wish would have stuck, but which it appears she and I are the only ones to have ever used.

Over the years, her music has gone from more electronica towards a more natural cello sound coupled with her powerful voice. Using loops, she'll lay down several cello tracks for a rich sound with lots of depth. The technique is not unlike Zoe Keating, however their results are very different. I may be completely wrong, and her normal live set might include laptops and drum machines, but we got the perfect show for the venue, an intimate and engaging cello and piano based set.

The show was at Outpost 186, to a capacity crowd of about 30 or so. This is why I didn't want to conspicuously take any photos, however there is good-quality video here and here. I have no idea what happened to the full video shot by the house, but if I find it, I'll update here.

Hopefully it's not another several year wait for the next show. Now that she has a good Boston foothold, we hope to see her back.

Welcome to Boston.

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The Jesus and Mary Chain, Paradise, Boston MA 9-12-2012

Music: 

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Six Strings That Drew Blood

The Jesus and Mary Chain were a somewhat disappointing and listless live show. They really, for the most part, just seemed like they wished they were somewhere else. I don't know if that means "In front of a different crowd, on a better day", or "At home not having to slog it out on the road 20 years later in front of a middle-aged crowd of people who don't choke down pills anymore".

Overall it sounded all right, though there were many false starts that I would not have expected at this point in their tour and careers. I guess there are some times bands just don't gel with their audience, and this was one. Hopefully other cities had a better experience.

These guys really are a favorite band of mine and I hope they were more together for other crowds, don't like, not go see them, it's probably worth the gamble.

We really did both enjoy The Vandelles as an opener. They were pretty much super fun, wardrobe malfunctions not withstanding :-) Their name and style aside, they really were more of an early '90s band than Another Rockabilly Band, check them out.

I did get some photos, here they are:

I really do like a good zip tie job:

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More people I've confused

Music: 

New Order - Dream Attack

This past weekend I had a pretty awkward encounter with two candidates for the NH state house, Andy Hughes, and Henry Mullaney. This was largely my fault for being lazy and not having had my wake-up cigarette yet.

I also never expected them to be Democratic candidates. It was frankly refreshing to see and hear someone say he's my candidate for the state legislature, and that his interests include protecting a woman's right to choose, and improving education options, specifically the state technical college system.

I'm much more used to having one of:

  • Canvassers affiliated with a Republican candidate, basically just pamphlet-hander-outers
  • People trying to sell me stuff
  • People trying to sell me religions

These guys were pretty friendly, if a tiny bit bewildered by my out-awkwarding them. In my own defense though, come on folks, this is New Hampshire we're talking about here. I'm lucky to know the names of my neighbors, let alone have a chat with my state rep. hopefuls. I expect this kind of thing in the south, but in New England, I only expect to be sold knives and vacuum cleaners or Jesus, in that order. If a candidate (or candidates) for office shows up at your door, don't drop the ball, give 'em a chat. Don't bungle the encounter like my staggering, un-kempt, still-waking-up self did.

You'd have to spend time around me to fully appreciate what "xrayspx Unkempt" can look like and why it might be jarring to a man wearing a tie.

In exchange for their befuddlement, I promise I'll vote for these two, as if there is some case in which my (D) isn't enough of a foregone conclusion.

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The Gervais Problem

Music: 

If there is one thing I will always be able to hold against Ricky Gervais, it's that he made Martin Freeman just famous enough for him to be cast in this horrible Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy remake. Not to mention Mr. Definitely and the pixie dream girl.

I don't know if even delivering unto the world the gift of a round headed buffoon with a head like a fucking orange can make up for this crap I'm watching.

xrayspx's picture

OK Monster Cables

Music: 

Where do I sign up?

Yesterday I installed Ubuntu to dual boot with Windows on my HTPC. The idea is that it should boot into Linux by default, and I'll have a "reboot into Windows" button which will do a one-time Windows boot if I really want to run one of my 3 Windows games.

Mainly the machine is used for XBMC and MAME. XBMC works great in Ubuntu now, and with KDE I can tweak the sizes of every font everywhere in the UI, which was one of my big issues with Windows.

My main problem was with MAME and my joystick being all jumpy. For instance, in Ms. Pacman, it would stick "up", so that if you want to go in a different direction, you had to hold the stick the entire time. Games were pretty un-playable.

This only seemed to affect the left stick on my Logitech Dual Action gamepad, and it was driving me nuts. If I used the right hand stick, it seemed to work just fine.

I spent a few hours tweaking dead zones and such, which did work as advertised, but which did not solve the sticking issue. I booted into Windows, since I hadn't really noticed the problem there and wanted to check all my settings against my Windows MAME settings. What I found was that the problem was there, but it was more subtle so I didn't notice it.

So I unplugged my controller from the USB extension cable I was using (did I not mention that, did I not mention that I'm using J. Random USB Extension cable? Oh yeah, slipped my mind...), and plugged straight into the machine.

Rock.

Fucking.

Solid.

I found a shorter extension cable, which doesn't really work for me overall, but which does not have the problem.

Now I think the real solution is to have a powered USB hub screwed to the bottom of my coffee table, and plug joysticks into that (and phones, and tablets, and...and...and...) and then run that back to the PC. Seems like the best way.

What a massive pain in the balls for some 30 year old video games.

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Jane's Addiction, Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, MA 8-11-2012

Music: 

D.R.I. - Beneath The Wheel

Jane's Addiction at Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, 8-11-2012

This was our second time seeing Jane's Addiction in the last couple of years, and neither time did we manage to get anywhere near the stage. I think they sounded much better at the NIN/JA show than here, both just in sound mixery, and the playing. It was a good show, but unfortunately not the best thing ever.

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LGBTQ Bigotry - Finally Speaking Up

Music: 

Leonard Cohen - Anthem

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."" -- Jerry Falwell, with Pat Robertson, discussing why God sent religious zealots to attack American cities on 9/11/2001.

----
This post is not an attempt at suppression of anyone's speech or opinions. It is an expression on my part of how those words make me feel. People's feelings, bigoted and horrifying though they may be to me, are their own. Americans have the right, and duty, to non-violently advocate their position as strenuously as possible. History and the sands of time will be the judges of which opinion was right or wrong. If you disagree with me and want to comment, feel free to speak your mind. I will certainly speak mine right back. This is ethical advocacy and will not prevent me from having a beer and a dog, and then another beer, with anyone, ever. And we shall breezily talk of other things. Weather. Inferior corn-height (I am a born Hoosier, remember that. I instinctively know what corn is supposed to look like, and when). Baseball. Kittens.
----

I've made it clear through the history of my posts that I'm a vocal advocate for equal protection under the law for all Americans. Many of my inlaws do not share this belief, and out of an abundance of respect for my wife, and the fact that their opinions are their own, I've not said anything about the bigotry I see on a pretty regular basis. I have simply kept my mouth shut and turned the other cheek when I have seen attacks against gays, women and those who they perceive to worship religions different to their own.

However, the last week of batty Chick-Fil-A nonsense has brought things to a head. A string of updates, beginning with "It's unconstitutional for people to protest Chick-Fil-A" and culminating today in "[National Same Sex Kiss Day] is the start of Christian Persecution".

"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" -- Dan Cathy, President and COO, Chick-Fil-A

There is no requirement for people to support a company which actively works to discriminate against those very same people. Just black people and Jews "boycott" Resistance Records, so shall Gay people (and the people who love them) boycott Chick-Fil-A. Resistance Records' first amendment rights are not being infringed upon simply because the object of their hatred doesn't give them money, and neither are the rights of Chick-Fil-A being infringed upon.

This "persecution" angle has finally prompted me to respond.

In the lifetime of our nation, we've seen:

  • Southern Christians abandoned the Republican party for 100 years after Lincoln took away their biblically mandated right to own other human beings. It wasn't until the 1960s until the Nixon/Goldwater Southern Strategy got them back on the team. (This makes me especially upset, because I often see people say both "Republicans, the party of Lincoln" and "Democrats, who opposed equal rights for blacks in the '50s/'60s", because it's not about the party when the demographic shifts 180 degrees, twice. Southern Evangelicals fled the Republican party because of Lincoln, and only returned to the party when racial intolerance became a plank of the Republican platform)
  • Christians protesting the right for women to vote.
  • Christians protesting the right for black people to vote.
  • Christians protesting the right for black people to eat in the same restaurants, drink from the same fountains, and attending the same schools as whites
  • Christians protesting and making laws against interracial marriage.
  • Christians abandoned the Republican party for 100 years after the Republican Lincoln took away their biblically mandated right to own other human beings. Until the Nixon/Goldwater Southern Strategy got them back on the team. (This makes me especially upset, when people say both "Republicans, the party of Lincoln" and "Democrats, who opposed equal rights for blacks in the '50s/'60s", because it's not about the party. Southern Evangelicals fled the Republican party because of Lincoln, and only returned? to the party when racial intolerance became a plank of their platform)



Since it's been said that boycotts are first amendment violations of the rights of Chick-Fil-A's free speech, and that we are seeing the start of Christian oppression in this country. Below is what "Christian Oppression" would actually look like when presented as mirror images of acts of oppression which have actually happened to other groups :

  • The 85% Atheist majority passes laws requiring science be taught to children in Sunday School
  • The 85% Atheist majority taxes churches to the point that it's not financially feasible for them to hold services (Taxes churches out of existence)
  • An Atheist-values-based chicken company gives millions of dollars to hate groups advocating the extermination, expulsion and imprisonment of Christians (Genocide! Ethnic Cleansing!)
  • A pair of lesbians in Wyoming viciously beats a straight Christian man and leaves him to die tied to a fence post for the crime of speaking to them in a bar
  • A lesbian Atheist group rises to national prominence by protesting that same Christian man's funeral carrying disgusting placards stating "God Hates Christians"
  • That same extremist group grows over the next twenty years, protesting the funerals of American soldiers because those soldiers fight for a country which permits Christians to practice their faith
  • A Christian is legally fired from their job simply because of the fact that they believe in Christ. The federal government does not recognize Christians as a protected group, safe from firing based on their religious beliefs.
  • The federal government refuses to recognize Christian marriage, and denies federal tax and death benefits to Christians who were lucky enough to marry in the tiny minority of states which have chosen to permit them to.
  • Athiest hate groups picketing and intimidating Christian Scientists and Jehovas Witnesses and shooting those who legally refuse to take their family to hospitals for medical care and blood transfusions
  • The 85% Atheist majority looting and burning entire countries to find Christian believers and forcibly convert them away from Christ. If the Christians don't renounce religion, they are murdered after watching their entire family die
  • A written test is required for segments of Americans to be allowed to vote. That test includes questions specifically pertaining to things of which Christians as a group have no knowledge. Additionally, a fee is imposed at the voting booth, which is then selectively enforced, but which Christians all must pay in order to cast their vote. If they pass the test, and pay the fee, the Christian vote then only counts as 3/5 the vote of an Atheist

Honestly, to equate yourselves to actual oppressed people is childish, disgusting, and shows a lack of knowledge of history and the struggles of oppressed peoples. The equal rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans is just the latest in a very, very long list of basic human rights and equality measures which have been violently opposed by Christians in the name of their bible over the last 400 years in the New World. For Christians to self-identify as some second-class put-upon minority class is frankly sickening.

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Streaming WFNX on Android

Music: 

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:

xrayspx's picture

United Way

Music: 

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

Music: 

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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by Dr. Radut