If you’re happy and you know it…

well-beingThe Chicago Tribune posted an article on their website about the ’10 happiest states’ based on a Gallup poll.

The Tribune article lacks any nuance, and reflects the lazy journalist’s unquestioning faith in surveys and statistics. Maybe it should be excused because it’s in the travel section, but still…

After reading the original Gallup article I noticed one glaring problem with this whole idea. The ‘Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index’ — note that it’s ‘Well-Being’ not happiness — is a zero to 100 score.

Zero isn’t actually defined, though presumably it means “everyone is dead or dying in a blasted, toxic landscape” and 100 means “ideal well-being.” The whole-country index is 66.2, and has oscillated around an average of about 66.5 for the past 5 years.

The highest-scoring state scored 70.4 and the lowest 61.4, meaning to me that the best and worst are actually very close together. Where ‘close’ means the two numbers are close numerically, in a system where the meaning of distance is entirely undefined.

What does this actually mean? You tell me! Would I notice the difference of 2/10th of a something-or-other if I went from Iowa (68.2) to Massachusetts (68.0)? Probably not.

North Dakota’s winning score comes substantially from the increase in jobs and wages due to the boom in the petroleum industry. Just the other day I was reading about the problems arising from the influx of out-of-state workers, rising housing costs, increases in pollution that are happening there. So are they really… err… being weller, or are they just momentarily glad more people have jobs, and in a bit they’ll realize their rural paradise is going to be ruined by high-impact resource extraction?

Bottom line, the happiest people involved in this whole business are Gallup and Healthways, both of whom have something to sell. And, of course, the Tribune, who suckered people into giving page views to a story with exactly zero relevant information.

In which SoundCloud sends me a hilarious takedown notice

Anand and SchatarSo today I got this interesting message from Soundcloud:

Hi chaircrusher,

Our automatic content protection system has detected that your sound “Rubber Duckie (Wub Machine Remix)” may contain the following copyright content: “Get Some Fruit (Wubstep Dubstep Remix)” by Anand Bhatt, owned by Favorecido Productions. As a result, its publication on your profile has been blocked.

You can dispute this report, if you believe the copyright content has been mistakenly identified or if you have obtained all the necessary rights, licenses and/or permissions to upload and share this material on SoundCloud.

Please do so by filling out our dispute webform at the following link:https://soundcloud.com/settings/disputes/6512879

If you would like to learn more about copyright, please visit our copyright information page.


The SoundCloud Copyright Team

FYI I didn’t even remember uploading it to Soundcloud — it was just a joke that took about 5 minutes to put together. I kind of love how it turned out, since Sesame Street is embedded in my DNA. If you need to hear it:

[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/RubberDucky-WubMachine.mp3|titles=Rubber Ducky Wub Machine Remix|artists=chaircrusher] http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/RubberDucky-WubMachine.mp3

There are several things that are awesome about this:

  • Soundcloud’s automated copyright infringement detector did NOT detect my actual ‘infringement,’ which was against Jeff Moss and Jim Henson, who wrote and performed the original Rubber Duckie.   I claim this is fair use, but I’m not going to the wall on that; this was a JOKE track, it isn’t worth it.
  • Soundcloud’s audio fingerprint software did detect that there was some common source material in the Rubber Duckie Wubstep remix and that track by Anand Bhatt. That common material is there because Bhatt and I did the same thing: Took an audio file and fed it to the Wub Machine, which is a neat hack that ‘converts’ any audio file into bad dubstep.  Feed the Wub Machine random songs, traffic noises, outgoing voicemail messages yadda yadda, and hey presto! Bad dubstep! it’s hours (well, minutes) of fun.
  • The most hilarious part of this debacle?  This guy Anand Bhatt has released a digital EP which you can buy here on Amazon.  Bhatt took what sounds like random crappy songs, ran them through the Wub Machine and released them as his own original ‘remixes’!

What conclusions can I draw from this?

  • Soundcloud’s audio fingerprint software is able to detect common elements in two songs.  That’s great, but it can’t distinguish between one song sampling another, and two songs containing common source material.  So it’s going to generate thousands of false positives.  I guarantee that the worst-paid people at Soundcloud are the poor shmoes who have to wade through all the people contesting false positives for copyright infringement.
  • Anand Bhatt is a complete tosser.  Don’t believe me?  Visit his mega-awesome website, or his Amazon Store.  All those pictures at the Grammies are curiously absent of any other people, as though he snuck in after hours to get his picture taken in front of the Grammy background.  This man has been spending his time inventing an imaginary international rockstar career.

Here’s the transcendent, timeless, original “Rubber Duckie”

Album Covers From The Crowded Closets

Can I just say this record cover raises more questions than it answers.
Jesus & matching Polyester Suits. And don’t make this mistake — they’re the Proclamations, not the Proclaimers!
The Shorbs! They sound gospel, they look like child molesters!

Double Plus Butter, Double Plus Un-Butter

A new product at my Supermarket is called “Move Over Butter.” I thought this was so hilarious I bought some. OK on toast but not as good a butter replacement for cooking as Smart Balance.

In researching a post about this topic, I found that there’s actually a definitive post on SeriousEats about stuff people buy when they think they shouldn’t buy butter.

And apparently “Move Over Butter” is a resurrected brand name, because there’s early 90s commercials for it that are just awesome:

And here is the classic riff on “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”

Chuck Grassley Gets His Guns From God

Elena Kagan’s expression in reaction to Chuck Grassley’s Crazy Old Man act is priceless. For the record I first saw Chuck Grassley speak in public 40 years ago and my instinctive reaction is “that man is brain damaged.” Nothing he’s done in the intervening years has changed my mind. Lately though, he’s gone from conservative dullard to doddering mullah of the far right. He’s making Steve King look good.

This, btw is I think the first post to this blog I’ve added to both the ‘silly shit’ and ‘Politics’ category.

The Ad Every Model Wants In Their Portfolio

When I get e-mail from legitimate sources, GMail doesn’t display any images by default. You can choose to always display images from that sender, or see images just in the current e-mail. For some reason, e-mail from spammers shows the images unconditionally. Nice trick, that! Anyhow, this guy is the bomb!

thumbs up, i'm a douchebag!
thumbs up because i'm hard as motherf*cking granite!

Je suis l’ennemi de l’État

This is a Moveon.org prank video thing, where they stick your name and photo (from facebook) in a fake news story about Glen Beck. It’s been done before — but when my utterly ridiculous Facebook profile photo showed up in the video it cracked me up.

My profile photo, note the phantom lights and Newcastle Brown Ale…

Which was taken by the inimitable Dina:

The Ballad of Winter Delacroix James

If you are wondering why my chat nickname is “dr. hitlerballs” google it

(tom/t-woww): why do people name their children summer and autumn but not also
winter and spring
(tom/t-woww): i ask
(luna/orgasmic): valid question
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): calling a girl winter would be kinda cool
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): if she was a 6 ft tall model with lethal cheekbones and
a permanent pout
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): Especially if she had a last name the sounded like a
first name
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): like Winter George
or Winter James
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): or Winter James
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): and a middle name that’s some fucked up family maiden
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): like Winter Delacroix James
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): if i could find that girl I could manage her
multimillion dollar modeling career and gracefully transition her to
feature film roles
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): and cry at her wedding to a billionaire financier from
(rich/.): where she would fail miserably and take pr0n roles in desperation
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): nah with a name like winter delacroix james, she’d be
up for golden globes
(kent/dr.hitlerballs): tho winter james does sound like a porn name as well

“One Day Like Rain” — Worst SF Movie Ever?

I was trolling through the ‘watch instantly’ selections on Netflix the other night, and started watching “One Day Like Rain” (official site), and made it past half way before giving up.  This isn’t Plan 9 From Outer Space bad, it’s in its own category of bad.  It has characters, sort of.  Well it has actors repeating lines anyway, but at no point does anything about this movie make any sense. Where Ed Wood was aiming at a popular entertainment, and missed horribly and hilariously, “One Day Like Rain” isn’t even in the same building with any sort of coherent goal, or message, or plot.

Case in point. The protagonist is this high school age girl, who apparently dislikes the sterility of suburban life.   So she gets involved in this project to… do something?  Who knows! How does she go about it? She goes to a hobby shop and buys 4 chemistry sets.  On the way home she starts ranting about how stupid and cheap the chemistry sets are, takes one out of her bag, and stomps it on the sidewalk.  When she gets home she pulls out a few chemical vials and throws the boxes away, still complaining about the chemistry sets!

Then, as the movie progresses, she does … things? … in the garage that have something to do with a blood sample from the hobby shop clerk, but it soon has nothing to do with the blood, or the guy, and evolves into her fiddling with crystals and crumpled lengths of copper wire.

Along the way several things happen:

  • Her brother(?) is road racing with some other guy. He misses a turn, and knocks over a fire hydrant.
  • some guy, not sure who, visits a campsite where random people sit around, in some sort of gobsmacked trance, and he plays the guitar for them.
  • the protagonist’s friend, takes some sort of drug the protagonist has brewed up, and the posters on her walls become animated.
  • Every so often someone in the movie looks really stoned and droning faux-East Indian music plays for a few minutes.

But … there’s no payoff! Nothing is ever made clear! The characters never converse or interact, they say obscure non-sequitirs past one another.  The most prominent actor in this movie Jesse Eisenberg (lead in Adventureland) enters every scene with a quizzical expression on his face like he’s wandered onto the wrong movie set, to deliver lines from some other movie.

This movie has all the markings of being made by someone afflicted with the twin towers of bad art: a complete lack of talent, and perfect imperviousness to outside criticism.  This is a surprisingly common template — in the past couple of years I’ve been sent review copies of two novels with  the same atmosphere of pure WTF-ness and lack of comprehensible meaning.  My mom worked for a guy who was writing ‘musicals’ with awful lyrics set to awful music, in service of a plot that made no sense populated by characters with no trace of normal human motivation. That guy’s arrogance was titanic, and so was the craptastic-ness of his ideas.

It’s a commonplace that a genius knows what to do, and knows not to pay attention to anyone who says otherwise.  Unfortunately there’s a certain kind of anti-genius, who thinks they can prove their genius doing the same thing. Only they have no talent except for ignoring useful criticism.  “One Day Like Rain” looks to be the product of just such a misguided auteur.

Fan Death recapitulates the history of the Music Video

The song itself I’m not quite sure about, though it is a stylish mash up of its 80s influences. But the video really does it for me, taking me back to when music videos were fun, by assembling a genre-bending cast of impersonators to dance with the Dorothy Gale of Kansas heroine.

Prince and Bill Corgan were a slam dunk, but Roxy Music era Eno, early 70s Peter Gabriel, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, all at once? Brilliant.

Ueberschall “Art Of Sounds” — Ad Copy Crap Artist Deluxe

I don’t know if this sound set, called “Art Of Sounds” is any good — I have too many ways to make sounds to feel like I need to buy someone else’s loops. But the copy that went with this sample set release is amazing in the way it manages to mean absolutely nothing:

‘All „Art of Sounds“ material was produced exclusively for Ueberschall using his [Yvat] unique, inventive means to create a new world of soundscape sculptures. Bionically infused rhythms coupled with soft and harmonic ambiences deliver a homogenous sound setting of seemingly simple yet impressive environments. Only the semantic and syntax of each of the 679 sounds are used to propel elemental formations into evolved structures.’

Now I’ll make allowances for this being a translation of something originally written in German. OTOH, I suspect it’s every bit as ridiculous auf Deutsch.

Burial Burying Lady Gaga

I did this accidentally, you can try it on purpose

First, start this track (the new Burial, called “Foster Care”)
Burial – Fostercare by pashoncoop
Then start this video and turn the sound off:

It’s not Dark Side Of The Moon VS The Wizard Of Oz, but it’s cool, at least until she sits down at the piano.