Connection? Dis-?

As a long-time Talking Heads fan, I was pleased to see in Boing Boing that David Byrne isn’t worried about people downloading his recordings without paying: “I don’t see much money from record sales anway, so I don’t really care how people are getting it.” Later, he acknowledges that he himself P2Ps for music (“ I’ve also — I guess you could say — illegally downloaded some songs”).

So far, so good. He’s making me feel better, after I was disillusioned by his public enthusiasm for PowerPoint.

But in the same interview, he observes that he’s starting his own online radio station, since he wants to build an audience for music that lies outside the ambit of hits and favorites. He observes that back when one bought an album, one got both the music one anticipated and sought, and also other selections that one might not have chosen; Radio David Byrne will try to enrich its audience’s listening habits with both popular and more obscure selections. That’s good, too.

But does anyone else note the disconnection between the two sets of observations? If people weren’t obliged to pay for online recordings, wouldn’t they listen much more adventurously? I think we can prove this case, friends; certainly Alan Wexelblat over at Copyfight is on top of the reality-based analysis of downloading and sales (thatnks for that link, too, Boing Boing). On a purely anecdotal level, I hardly ever haunt the P2P filesharing world any more, but just informal filesharing with friends and mp3 blogs called to my attention my favorite recent recordings — and pretty much all the music I’ve bought in the past few months has come to my attention through some form of filesharing. I don’t buy music unheard any more.

So David, by all means run an internet radio station, but go further to connect the dots. If you want to build audience for unexpected music, distribute it for free, online, with a and see what happens to sales.

Pippa’s Buddy — And Joey’s

Pippa’s Buddy

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

When Margaret called my attention to Accordion Guy’s Easter Day blog entry, I realized that I had to post the sketch Pippa drew for me the other day. Compare the two side by side; look carefully at the photo of the figurine; then ask yourself, “Does that Buddy really look so friendly after all, or isn’t there something a little ominous about the winking eye, the protruding cheekbones, the pointing finger?”


Risen Indeed!

After a short night (I got to sleep at about 11:30 after the Vigil service at St. Luke’s), it’s time for me to wake up for the Easter Vigil here at Seabury — after which I’ll stagger back to St. Luke’s for the regular Easter Day mass. Then I’ll come home and collapse in a heap, thankful that a body isn’t asked to take part in more than three three-hour services in an eighteen-hour period.

To all my guests here: the very best of all possible wishes, to you and to all whom you love. Bless you!

And — redundantly — to my Christian sisters and brothers: Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Recommendation and Puzzle

When Simon recommends something, I follow up on it — so I downloaded Freemind promptly after he mentioned it, especially since I figured it would be helpful for the series of presentations I’ll be giving in the next three weeks. But it’s woefully underdocumented, I think, and I’m having a hard time figuring out how to benefit from it.

I’m making a pile of 4 x 6 notecards instead, for now.


The Good Friday service has come and gone, and I’ll post the sermon — as usual — in the extended section below. It was a privilege to serve at this occasion with Carolyn Keck and especially with Tony Lewis, with whom I share a certain vocational ancestry as we both studied at Yale (he in the doctoral program, I in the Masters), and served on the staff of Christ Church. It would have been a great treat to have overlapped with him in those days, but I came along after he had moved on.
Continue reading “Done”

Consuming – Musing

This is the kind of question people love to debate, so let me tap the collective strong opinions of the web. If — and I emphasize the word “if,” because tax refunds and financial aid decisions and medical bills and so on will make a big difference — if I were to look into buying a camera so that I could hand down to Pippa the camera I’ve been using for two or three years, now, what recommendations would my visitors make?

Myself, I don’t make vast enlargements, so I don’t need to impress anyone with the size of my megapixels; on the other hand, there’s no point to skimping, either, so I’d guess that 4 megapixels would be a fair compromise. I don’t typically take the pictures that require extreme wide-angle capacity, but I do like being able to zoom tighter on a composition (though I don’t envision needing the extreme high end of a zoom range; back in my 35mm days, when I was continually proving that great equipment can be used to produce mediocre photographs, I relied on a 135mm lens, mostly, occasionally reaching for a 200mm lens, which I loved but didn’t use that much).

I’m a wobbly sort of person, so the camera itself should produce images as sharp as possible. I end up taking a fair proportion of photos in low-ish light, so flash and image-stabilization require consideration — but I really hate most built-in flash units (it’s the one most irksome feature of the Nikon 2200 that I now use); it would be spectacular if a digital unit permitted some sort of bouncing. I like using the rechargeable Li-ion battery in my present camera more than the multiple-rechargeable NiMH AA-battery option in its predecessor, but I’m open to persuasion. I have an irrational attachment to Compact Flash memory cards, because those are what I’ve used all along, and I like being able to use the cards that worked in the camera I used years ago (even if it would only hold four images from a new multi-megapixel camera). OK, I’d have to let go of that, but I needed to confess my groundless predilection. And while I’m admitting to irrationality, I have to admit that I have been a long-term Nikon loyalist, so if my advisors strongly suggest a different manufacturer, they’ll have to soothe me with sweet blandishments.

And then there’s price.

The A K M Adam, tailor-made ideal camera would thus be something like a 4 megapixel camera with a zoom roughly equivalent to 35-200mm, possibly with stabilization (though at 200mm, would it be necessary?), a humane flash (not placed too close to the lens, bounceable?), very sharp lens to make up for my instability, Li Ion rechargeable battery, Compact Flash memory. . . and a firm recommendation from my friends about reliability and quality, for between $200 and $300. I know I’ll need to compromise on some of that — what compromise would you recommend?

Well Begun

This morning as I was bicycling along the three-mile stretch of imagined highway that constitutes my morning exercycle routine, I realized that the “it is finished” sermon I was trying to force out for tomorrow wasn’t going to fly, but I had what I hope turns out to be a better idea. It involves the extent to which our formalizing Good Friday enmeshes us in an antinomy of penitence, to which grace is the only answer.

We’ll see how it turns out, but I desperately want to avoid both tedious, disingenuous self-flagellation and minatory scolding, the kind of “ you bettermake yourselves appropriately miserable ’cos this is Good Friday” shtick that gets so tiresome and amounts to liturgical-emotional blackmail. Having said that, I’m sure to stumble into both pitfalls.

Plagues, Houses

I’m getting mightily sick of both the intolerance of ambiguity and the celebration of ambiguity. Ambiguity pertains to our human condition. Repudiate it, and it will show you a presumptuous braggart; revel in it, and it will demonstrate your fatuousness.

Our job is to discern how to make affirmations in a world of ambiguity, how to deal with uncertainty in an uncertain world. That involves reliance on God, not because God resolves our ambiguities into clear-cut iron-clad certainties that circumvent our travails, but because in turning to God we enter a Way that promises forgiveness for the missteps we make in earnestly endeavoring to draw nearer to God. We follow in that Way, — we don’t determine it ourselves. We offer forgiveness as a condition of our presuming to ask forgiveness. We commit ourselves to pursuing a truth we don’t control, a truth that may lead us to conclusions we don’t like, may oblige us to change our minds. We enter a network of communion with one another, with ourselves, with our forebears and children, and above all with God, in which winning falls out of the vocabulary of our relationships. If anyone “wins” we all lose. God handles the “winning” department; if we share in it at all, we share in it by participating in a humble, partial way in the utter loss on Good Friday, by being baptized into the death of Christ, and it comes not to those who are right, or to those who are the most loving, but to those who receive it as a gift.

Among the simplest, least ambiguous things Jesus said was, “if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” I don’t read the part where he says, “Except if they really provoke you,” or “except if they’re too conservative (or ‘liberal’).” If we made some headway on that one, maybe we’d be in a position to advance our understanding of more complicated issues.