Archive for January, 2006

Lawyers, Libel, and Music Criticism

January 30, 2006

Check out this fun article about lawyers fact-checking the claims of a music critic.
In my job, a paralegal and I have to clear press releases (usually just for proper trademark usage, but also for factual claims that could count as representations). The lawyers in this article seem a bit cautious to me.
Here’s a taste, but be sure to read the whole thing (the lawyers’ critiques are in italics):

The author alleges the band KISS badly mimed “Beth” and “Detroit Rock City” on “The Paul Lynde Variety Special.” Evidence?
I realize the words “KISS” and “Paul Lynde” don’t normally appear together in the same sentence. But such a TV-variety special did air in 1977, on which KISS was the musical guest. As for my predicate “badly mimed,” consider that during the performance of “Beth,” the drummer miraculously played the piano by positioning his fingers 6 inches above the keyboard. You do the math.

Really. What 1970s musical variety show wasn’t badly mimed?
(Hat tip: Lynn S. at A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance)


20th Century Kitsch

January 30, 2006

If you like James Lileks, you’ll enjoy this site.
Love those satin gloves and pearls!
(Found via BoingBoing).

New Music Carnival Host

January 30, 2006

Please go and congratulate John Salmon at Magritte’s Apple for stepping up to host the Carnival of Music from now on.
I will keep the old archive page up indefinitely, and for the near future, the online drop box will remain active.
Thanks for your previous support. Let’s help John make this successful.

Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit…

January 25, 2006

I discovered a new and very fun-to-read music blog: Terminal Degree.
The author is a music teacher. I discovered her thanks to this fantastic comment she left at The Phantom Professor’s recently:

The unhealthy trend I see in my students is over-programming — they try to “do it all.” (I teach music privately and at a university, so my students are from age 8 to adult.) Parents will call to ask about lessons and then tell me their kids are taking soccer, ballet, karate, French lessons, and in Girl Scouts, and they now want to add music lessons to the mix. (I don’t take those kids as students — it’s not fair to them to expect them to be Superkids.)
By the time they reach university, they’re either burned out, OR they’re so overprogrammed that they try to take 18 credits, work a part-time job, do an internship, and join three clubs, all in the same semester. Some get by on four hours of sleep.
By their junior year, they start to go a little nuts as a result.
But the irony is that by this point they are used to juggling so many things that it’s hard to concentrate on just one or two priorities–because their attention spans haven’t been developing all along.
I’m not really critical of my students, who don’t know any better. It’s their parents, who let them do so many activities when they’re younger, who get my criticism. And the irony is that the parents are doing this (usually) because they want the BEST for their kids.
Luckily, some of my students’ parents are resisting this trend. In one family, for example, each kid can pick one art activity (such as music) and one sport. No more. I think it’s a very healthy way to live, and those kids seem to be a lot happier — and a lot more like KIDS.

I felt that was addressed directly to my overachieving Plano, Texas strive-more crowd. In fact, the last paragraph is something my family has already done: we have severely curtailed all three kids’ activities this year. No more sports this school year, and nothing extra beyond Scouting and music lessons. I know it runs counter to the “enrichment” mentality so endemic around here, but our kids seem much happier having the freedom to just paint at the kitchen table, play in the driveway, ride bikes, or read. Heck, even to watch some TV or play some video games with me. Not everything needs to be regimented and supervised.
Anyway, what does any of this have to do with the title of this blog post? To find out, go read this entertaining story of a day in the life of a music teacher. I swear that could be my second son.

Serenity Legos

January 25, 2006

Two of my favorite things: Legos and the Firefly ‘verse.
Check out this picture of the Serenity’s drive lit from within.

Worse Than A Wuss

January 24, 2006

(Hat tip: Jeff Goldstein).

Cold Comfort

January 24, 2006

The Phantom Professor used to be an adjunct at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, located in Highland Park/University Park. The Park Cities (as they are known locally) are the lily-white old-money part of Dallas.
She frequently posts an (appropriately anonymized) story about her former students – many of them born and raised in the Park Cities bubble themselves. Painting with a broad brush, she tends to hit her mark (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?)
Check out this story, related to her by one of her students. Here’s a non-spoiling excerpt to whet your appetite:

Background needed. Many of the sorority girls who deign to take part-time jobs opt to become nannies to the wealthy families in the exclusive neighborhoods around the campus. We’re talking estate-like mega-mansions, not the shoddy McMansions of the ugly suburbs. Even a teardown in this area can go for half a mil, with a $5 million, three-story behemoth taking the place of a 1950s one-story brick cottage.
So who lives in these places? Movers, shakers, big deal makers. They are still young, very ambitious and have children who still need minding. To help look after their offspring, lawyer-mommy and mogul-daddy hire a Tri-Delt or a Kappa to pick them up at school, haul them to soccer practice or gymnastics, and maybe get them fed and medicated (they’re always medicated) before the parents get home late from their offices.
Tessa worked for such a family. She said the mom was a control freak extraordinaire. Left Post-It notes everywhere about everything. “Put Justine in the pink and black leotards for ballet. NOT the purple ones.” Or “Phillip has a birthday party at the DeWildes’ on Tuesday. Be sure to ask about peanuts. NO PEANUTS ALLOWED!” Another note said simply: “No TV–Enrichment activities only!”
Trying to raise her children via notes to the hired nanny, the mom rarely interacted with them herself. Tessa said she never saw either parent hug or kiss their kids. Or, for that matter, each other. They were an emotionally chilly family and the kids sometimes acted robotically emotion-free.

By the time you get to the end, you realize that material wealth alone provides – at best – cold comfort.

Another Neat Optical Illusion

January 18, 2006

Check out this optical illusion.
I’m always amazed at these tricks, which take advantage of some aspect of the brain’s hard-wiring.
(Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg).

Great Jefferson Quote

January 17, 2006

Can you imagine any modern President drafting a statement with the eloquence, economy, and profundity of the following?

[O]ur rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

From the E-text Center, UVA Library.
…It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. There in but nine words is the purest distillation of a libertarian’s opposition to criminalizing “victimless” conduct.
(Hat tip: Timothy Sandefur, whose thoughts on Blackstone and the common law you should go read. Now.)
Update: Be sure to read Timothy’s co-blogger’s thoughts on Blackstone, too. Very, very good stuff.

Mein Echtes Hauptfach

January 16, 2006
You scored as Linguistics. You should be a Linguistics major!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

This quiz is astoundingly accurate. If there were a living to be made in linguistics, that’s where I would still be. I actually went to UT planning to double-major in computer science and linguistics, with the goal of developing a real AI that could understand and use human language. I was possibly smart enough (who knows?), but definitely not disciplined or committed enough to achieve that goal.
(Hat tip: Mixolydian Mode).