My review of the Santomojo festival is up at Houston Calling, David Cobb's local music blog. Check it out.

Photo via Flickr, courtesy of The Portal & Friends.



I've never been a big one for Michael Moore. His films have the hallmarks of the same propaganda style I decry when it represents views I don't agree with; and so, I find it hard to get behind him, even though I usually find my views (at least basically) aligned with his.

But in the past couple weeks, he's written two pieces that really deserve to be read, even if just to spark conversations.

First, a few days after the election, he wrote this piece: A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives.

It's a set of promises that we (as progressive democrats) should make to our conservative brethren. While many of the "promises" are really just unhelpful (and boorish) attacks on legitimately held conservative views, there are at least a few of them that I'd be proud to say I support, and I'd wish to see everyone of political integrity get behind.
"We will never, ever, call you 'unpatriotic' simply because you disagree with us."

"We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world."

"We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST."

That's great stuff. As for the balance, let me just emphasize my caveat above: I think many of these "promises" are just "nyah nyah" style flamebait, particularly the bits about handguns, stem cells, and counting age from birth. I may agree with him on many of them (don't worry, my Texas neighbors: not the handguns part) ... but I think that's a particularly unhelpful way to change the minds of conservatives, which is ostensibly his goal here. A dialog may change minds; a diatribe won't.

In any event, I think the list is worth reading.

Second, just today he published this letter advising America to "Cut & Run" in Iraq.

As most people have, I've been of the opinion that an immediate troop withdrawal would plunge things into chaos. But he makes a few stark points about how the operations there have, ultimately, already failed - the war of ideas has been decisively lost, even if the war of bullets is still suffering a slow burn. Many of these things I agree with strongly - most importantly, that for a people to be "liberated", they have to make it happen themselves. After impugned motives on the way in (oil? revenge? popularity ratings?) and seriously compromised execution (rising violence? massive civilian deaths? rapes?? Gitmo???), there is now no way that anyone in Iraq can view the Americans' actions with the same gratitude that we were viewed with at the end of WWII. They (collectively) look at us and want us either out or dead.

What I like about this piece isn't the bullying tone, but more the perspective he ends with:
"A majority of us were upset and angry after 9/11 and we lost our minds. We didn't think straight and we never looked at a map. [...] We didn't know what a Sunni or a Shiite was, never even heard the words. Eighty percent of our young adults (according to National Geographic) were not able to find Iraq on the map. [...]

But at our core we are a good people. We may be slow learners, but that "Mission Accomplished" banner struck us as odd, and soon we began to ask some questions. [...] The majority now feel a deep sadness and guilt and a hope that somehow we can make make it all right again."

Well said, sir.

I'm glad there's a Michael Moore to take these ideas and galvanize them. I'm also glad he's not running things at the top, because I don't think he leads from a place of quiet wisdom like truly admirable leaders do. But for heavens' sake, these pieces should be read and digested, and argued about - and, perhaps, answered by conservatives with equally compelling arguments (and a minimum of FUD slinging).

Any takers?


Bloglines Freedbacking

(If you don't use the feed reader Bloglines, this post will be a snoozer. Consider yourself warned.)

I've got a little freedbacking for Bloglines. OK, well, actually, a lot ... this is software I use every day, so any of these little improvements would go a long way with me. In order of importance:

1) Show the sub name. When I click "j" to go to the next item, and I'm viewing a folder where I have several feeds, it's often difficult or impossible to tell what feed I'm looking at (which makes all the difference in the world, in terms of my rapid understanding of the content). I find myself clicking the mouse on the whitespace of the page and pressing the "up" arrow a few times to see it, which is extremely inefficient. I'd like it either to a) stop where you can see the folder title when you press "j", or b) float a little div with the sub name somewhere on the right side of the screen where it won't interrupt me.

2) Filters. Build Feedrinse-style filters in so I can reduce the number of posts I get. Feedrinse works great for that, but a) after a certain number of feeds, they make you pay, and b) it seems like logical functionality to have right in Bloglines. Plus, I'd love to still be able to see the real number of subscribers on my feed, even though I'm reading a filtered version.

3) Improve email subscriptions. I use email subscriptions a lot (I have over 200 of them), but I'd really love some more management tools for them. Searching, sorting, dead feed warnings (i.e. "You've never gotten anything for this email feed"). And I know it's unlikely, but I'd really especially appreciate it if you guys gave open RSS feeds to me for the email subscriptions (even if that requires me to pay, which would make sense). My lock-in to Bloglines should be because you guys have the best service, not because you host all of my email subscriptions. (Now, of course, the best way to do it is use mail forwarding at your mail host to redirect to bloglines, instead of giving out bloglines addresses to the lists you subscribe to directly ... but I didn't figure that out until I already had over a hundred of them. Whoops.)

4) View all items from last view. Sometimes I accidentally click a feed / folder link while I'm in the middle of reading a long list of items. I want a way to go back and see exactly what I was looking at before; the droplist option that lets you show all items from this session doesn't cut it, because it might show many more (if I've had the session open all day). I just want to see the exact items I was viewing before.

5) Pause. I want the ability to "pause" a subscription without removing it - it would stop showing up in my active feeds, but would show up instead in some kind of parking lot page. I could set myself a "reminder date", at which point Bloglines would ask if I want to a) dump it, b) reactivate it, or c) keep it paused.

6) Feed search. I'd love the ability to search the Names & descriptions of all my feeds. I have over 400 feeds, in several folders, and when I can't find the one I'm looking for by name, it takes forever. This search could be an advanced option, not shown in the regular view so as not to clutter things.

7) Stats. I'd like a page that shows statistics about your feed (number of items over time, etc.) - especially for the email feeds, some of those get hard to handle. Statistics showing how many you read over time, broken out by folder and / or feed, etc, would also be nice.

8) I'd really like to have nested folders.

9) Tab integration. I'd love to have better integration with Firefox tabs. Maybe a default that lets you open new folders / feeds in a separate tab rather than the reading pane of the same tab.

10) Non-BL popularity. It'd be super cool if bloglines had a way to show the general popularity (based on a 3rd party system) of a feed, not just the number of subs on bloglines. (Like: "351 Bloglines Subscribers (4,500 total)").

Oh, is that all?


Airport Tour: Stop #2

Originally uploaded by Ian Varley.
So, I've now played in two airports in Texas. The first was last month with Drop Trio, at the Dallas / Ft. Worth Airport, for a private party.

The second was yesterday, with my bud Ed Jurdi. Ed's a phenominal singer / songwriter, and we played two sets of his tunes. I was a bit under the weather (worse today) but managed OK, for not knowing the songs at all. :)

Next up: the Houston airport? Or maybe Lubbock?


Goodbye, old friend

This is terrible, terrible news: Eatzi's is closing in Houston. Guess it's good that I moved to Austin, because if I were still working out of my Houston office (which was a block from Eatzi's), this news would probably have led me to jump off a bridge.


The Monster Mash

Have you heard of mashups? If you haven't, you will. The term originated with musical examples (like the Grey Album), but now the term is being applied to technological examples, like this cool little calendar widget from 30 Boxes:

This shows a) my blog posts, b) my flickr shots, and c) Drop Trio's show calendar all in one single live calendar (you can scroll forward and back, too).

This kind of cool stuff is possible because of an age-old programming concept that's only now coming into its adolescence: the separation of content and presentation. Keep your data logically separated from how that data looks or where it goes, and you've got all kinds of magic powers. Programmers have been talking about it for the longest time, but only now, I think, is it starting to sink in to our shared consciousness.

By the way, there were a couple others mentioned by TechCrunch today, including a Google Maps one that looks pretty cool.


We have a winner

So, the 40,000th email in my saved mail folder was this email:
Subject: Beyond the keytar?


The funniest part was, two other people have since forwarded that to me. Is this everyone's way of telling me I play a lot of air guitar?

Or is it a call to arms that I need to get one of those and use it in my stage show?

I'll assume the latter.



So, my count of saved email stands at 39,953 as I type this. Who's gonna put # 40,000 through the goal posts?

I'll do something really cool for whoever it is. Like, send them an email or something. Ready? Set? Go!


Shifting Sands

Wow, the house of reps congress and Rumsfeld in one day? The times they are a changin'. Now we can get down to the business of destroying the country with this handy 25 point plan.

But seriously. At least we got to go to a rad bake sale while we voted. I think some people would have had a better day if they'd gone to a bake sale, too, like the guy who self-immolated in protest of the Iraq war. Doh.


Happy Birthday, Emmet

Hey, it's Emmet's birthday! He's one year old today. To celebrate, he mangled a sock.

Sock Attack

Good boy.

To celebrate for him, I upgraded to a flickr pro account, so now I can upload hella photos all the time. Cuz I gotta do something to more effectively procrastinate on my novel.

Besides, you know ... my marriage, job, 6 bands, 3 composition projects, music mixer series, and pilates class.

Yeah, that's right, I said pilates class.



Hey, anybody else out there doing National Novel Writing Month? It's where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in the space of one month.

I'm doing it, and I've already got my first 5 pages (1600 words) written.

Because I so totally have time to write a novel this month. I just ... well, I have more energy than time, put it that way. Wo0t!