An appreciation: Dave Alvin remembers Johnny Otis

An appreciation: Dave Alvin remembers Johnny Otis:

He was a huge force in R&B on the West Coast and in the Southwest, from Central Avenue in L.A. to Houston and Memphis. In his way, Johnny was as important as [Sun Records founder] Sam Phillips or [Chess Records co-founder] Leonard Chess in discovering new talent, both as a bandleader but also as a record producer — everyone from Little Esther to Johnny Ace to Little Richard to Big Mama Thornton and so many more.

Not only was his music a gigantic influence on me, his political and sociological views always forced me to think outside the box. While I didn’t agree with everything he said, I agreed with a lot of it.

Johnny Otis made me think while I was rocking. Not many artists can do that.

Damn. This is really sad.

[Incredible career. I believe he played drums on the original recording of Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog. If you want to learn how to absolutely send it, check her out with Buddy Guy.]

How Doctors Die

How Doctors Die:

It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

[snip -Ed.]

Then the nightmare begins. Sometimes, a family really means “do everything,” but often they just mean “do everything that’s reasonable.” The problem is that they may not know what’s reasonable, nor, in their confusion and sorrow, will they ask about it or hear what a physician may be telling them. For their part, doctors told to do “everything” will do it, whether it is reasonable or not.

[It is unsurprising. And sad.]

The next SOPA

The next SOPA:

The MPAA studios hate us. They hate us with region locks and unskippable screens and encryption and criminalization of fair use. They see us as stupid eyeballs with wallets, and they are entitled to a constant stream of our money. They despise us, and they certainly don’t respect us.

Yet when we watch their movies, we support them.

Even if we don’t watch their movies in a theater or buy their plastic discs of hostility, we’re still supporting them. If we watch their movies on Netflix or other flat-rate streaming or rental services, the service effectively pays them on our behalf next time they negotiate the rights or buy another disc. And if we pirate their movies, we’re contributing to the statistics that help them convince Congress that these destructive laws are necessary.

They use our support to buy these laws.

So maybe, instead of waiting for the MPAA’s next law and changing our Twitter avatars for a few days in protest, it would be more productive to significantly reduce or eliminate our support of the MPAA member companies starting today, and start supporting campaign finance reform.

[The one thing that is clear is that if this has died now, it won’t be dead for long. SOPA/PIPA were not the first attempt at this. It has been going on for 20 years. Marco’s suggestion is good for for more reasons than this… but this is enough of a reason.]

What Happened to all the Snow?

What Happened to all the Snow? – NASA Science:

First of all,” he explains, “we are experiencing a La Niña pattern of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. This pushes the jet stream and the cold arctic air northward.”
“On top of that, this year’s Arctic Oscillation has been stronger.”

The Arctic Oscillation is a see-sawing pressure difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes.  When the pressure difference is high, a whirlpool of air forms around the North Pole. Last year, the whirlpool motion was weaker, allowing cold air to escape from the polar regions and head southward to the US.

“This year the whirlpool has been more forceful, corralling the cold air and keeping it nearer the pole. That has reinforced the La Niña impact.”

[“It ain’t over till the Siberian Huskies sing.”]

Source: Lennard Zinn

Switching to NoSQL

OmniTI ~ Seeds ~ Winter ~ 2012:

It’s not that switching to NoSQL is a bad idea necessarily; there are some things that RDBMS software can’t do as well as a more dedicated solution. But, if you think that switching to NoSQL will just let you hand-wave away all of the challenges of running a database, you are terribly misguided. If you’re a DBA and you are worried about a future with NoSQL, take heart; study your product less and focus on these key architectural design points more. Those skills are critical now, and they will remain so in the future, NoSQL or not.

[Lots of good points.]

Amazon DynamoDB: First Look

Amazon DynamoDB: First Look:

NoSQL has, as a category, crossed the chasm from interesting science project to alternative data persistence mechanism. But while NoSQL tools like Cassandra and Riak are available in managed form via providers like Joyent and Heroku, DynamoDB is, in Popescu’s words: “the first managed NoSQL databases that auto-shards.”

It is also possible that SSD pricing contributed directly to the launch timing, with pricing for the drive type down to levels where the economics of a low cost shared service finally make sense.


One underdiscussed aspect to the Dynamo launch is the underlying physical infrastructure, which consists solely of SSDs. This is likely one of the major contributing factors to the performance of the system, and in some cases will be another incentive to use Amazon’s platform as many traditional datacenters will not have equivalent SSD hardware available to them.

[A good analysis.]

“Not So Deep As a Well: Collected Poems” by Dorothy Parker

“Not So Deep As a Well: Collected Poems” by Dorothy Parker:

The Leal

 The friends I made have slipped and strayed,
   And who’s the one that cares?
A trifling lot and best forgot —
   And that’s my tale, and theirs.

Then if my friendships break and bend,
   There’s little need to cry
The while I know that every foe
   Is faithful till I die.

[Wonderful. Mournfully funny.]


d: Where do books fit?

The Unprecedented Audacity of the iBooks Author EULA:

In other words: Apple is trying to establish a rule that whatever I create with this application, if I sell it, I have to give them a cut. And iBooks Author is free, so this arrangement sounds pretty reasonable.

[This is being bandied back and forth. Where else but through iBooks would an iBooks file be used so who cares, or maybe it was an overzealous lawyer at Apple, or as the above. What is the place of books in the future of education.

I was rarely interested in sitting and reading a textbook. Even history, with its arc and story was often reduced to a memorization of a bunch of facts about which I no longer had the slightest interest. But science lab, or a field trip to a historical place, or anything where you did something, worked with something, *touched* something worked for me.

So where do textbooks fit? Where does it make sense to have a primary learning experience consist of this? Most of us can look up facts whenever we need them. We can find well written accounts of virtually any topic, and it’ll include almost up to the minute news and recent changes in all but the most esoteric fields.

What I’d like to see for my kid is some sort of 1:1 iPad to student program. That should easily cover the 5 Rs. Art class, music class, etc. can all be bought this way as well, although I wouldn’t try and remove the chance for kids to play real instruments, apply paint to canvas, water color, go to museums, and mix stuff together in a science lab. Quite the opposite, I would encourage that more time and money be spent on those things. The social experience of going to school, the chance to bring Noah first hand (literally) experience with things that I cannot are why I want from his school. I admit, to my sorrow, that part of this is also “day care”. Both my wife and I work, so we need to make sure some one we trust is caring for Noah, but I want that time filled with great stuff now, while his mind is like a sponge. For the moment, Noah’s working on the basics (reading , writing, etc.) Soon those things will be just gateway skills to the real stuff. And I want him to have a modern education, not one that was designed 100 years ago.]

Source: venomous porridge