Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Chum Stew: Interesting Links and News You Can Uze … and a bit more

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jul 13, 2017 @ 3:17 pm PDT

Observation StewI’m home today with a cold, and I have loads of interesting news chum links that have no coherent theme, so let’s just get them out there (h/t to Andrew Ducker for a few of these). Oh, and with each, you’ll get a little bit more.:

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Covering Up

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Sep 04, 2016 @ 10:14 pm PDT

userpic=ipodI spent today recording LPs to my iPod (over 39,000 songs now!). A question came to mind: What do artists like Elvis Presley, Roger Whittaker, Theo Bikel, Chet Atkins, Al Hirt, Herb Alpert, Barbra Streisand, and Frank Sinatra all have in common. They are cover artists, not singer-songwriters performing material that they have written themselves. At one time, the cover artist was the main artist: others did the writing, they did the performing. That changed in the 1960s, thanks to duos like Lennon-McCartney.

So, here’s the question: Other than Broadway vocalists (who have always been cover artists), who are the modern-day cover artists — artists who primarily perform music written by someone else? Further, who of today’s singer-songwriters — not artists from before 2000 or Broadway — are the most covered artists?

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Passings…

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 13, 2016 @ 6:04 pm PDT

userpic=tombstonesSome passings (or soon to be passings) from the last week that are worthy of note:

  • Pete Fountain. I’ve come to an appreciation of New Orleans Jazz late in life. My dad always loved it, and in a number of ways our tastes have aligned as I’ve gotten older (except for Jolson — I’m not as big of a Jolson fan as he was).  I’ve grown to love Firehouse Five + Two, the Dukes of Dixieland, numerous small Dixieland groups (anyone know a good podcast for these), and cover artists like Al Hirt. And, of course, Pete Fountain. Fountain was a legend, and worked with a number of the folks I just mentioned: Fountain started playing professionally on Bourbon Street in his teens. He once called the street of strip clubs, music joints and bars his “conservatory.” In his early years he toured nationally with the Dukes of Dixieland and the late trumpeter Al Hirt.
  • Glenn Yarbrough. Another love of mine is folk music, going to my first love, Peter, Paul, and Mary. That love lead to many groups, including the Kingston Trio, Tom Paxton, and of course, the Limeliters (which never disbanded, despite what the NYT says). The first, and probably most famous, tenor in the group was Yarbrough (although Red Grammer was a close second), and he helped create that famous Limeliter sound and repartee. Yet another loss to dementia and mental deterioration, similar to what is happening to another famous Glenn, Glen Campbell.
  • Kenny Baker. I’ll ignore the jokes about short subjects, and say this is the man that made R2D2 who it was (was R2D2 a he?). But he was more than just a droid, he was a noted vaudevillian, and a major character in Time Bandits.
  • Gladstones 4 Fish.  At one time, Robert J. Morris owned a bunch of wonderful restaurants: RJ’s for Ribs in Beverly Hills, Gladstones 4 Fish in Pacific Palisades, and his brother owned Adam’s Ribs in Encino (at least, so it appears). Morris sold them a long time ago, the the only remaining one, Gladstones (now owned by former LA Mayor Richard Riorden), has gone downhill (Morris still owns the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe). Reports have come out that the county would like to see Gladstones out (reported closing is October 2017). The County Supes would like to see the lease on the property extended to a full 40 years (currently it’s only allowed to run for 20 years), which they believe would lure in a new restaurant that would build from scratch on the site. The long-term lease would hopefully make such a build more stable and viable for whichever company steps up to the challenge.
  • Social Media Infrastructure. Times have changed. Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen social media — such as blogs and journals — moved from an open infrastructure with loads of supports (everyone and their brother having a blog on their own website), and loads of journaling sites (such as Livejournal and its clones) to a closed infrastructure of Tumblr, Facebook, and other short-attention-span media. Let us bow our heads in remembrance.

 

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The Future of Music

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri May 13, 2016 @ 7:25 am PDT

userpic=white-ipodEven though I’m on vacation this week, I’ve still been reading news and collecting articles. One subject that has been popular this week has been Apple, iTunes, Apple Music, and the future. Here are some of the discussions that caught my eye:

  • All About the Benjamins. A number of articles have been circulating about the skyrocketing value for older iPods, such as this article, which notes that the U2 edition of the iPod is now supposedly fetching $90K, but of course only if it was factory-sealed in its box. To us old timers, this sounds like the Cabbage Patch Doll craze of many years ago, or the Beanie Baby craze. iPods are meant to be used: to hold music, to play music, to be the center of your musical life. They are not meant to remained boxed. I have two iPod Classics, each modified to have a 512GB SSD memory instead of the 160GB Hard Disk, and I use them everyday (in fact, I’m using one of them as I write this up: currently playing, “Fireflies” by Vana Mazi from the album Izam Anav).
  • W3C, DRM, EME, and other Acronyms from Hell. Yesterday, on Boing Boing, was an open letter from the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) to W3C (the Web Advisory Council) about their stance on new DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology for the web. They are creating a video DRM standard designed to prevent people from implementing it unless they have permission from the big movie and TV companies, by invoking the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its international equivalents. Earlier in the week there had been a similar article about how earlier attempts at DRM could have killed iTunes and the iPod. That article noted that “iTunes was able to become a powerhouse in music by allowing Apple customers to legally format-shift their digital music. The fact that the RIAA hated this, said it was (or should be) illegal, and tried to stop them didn’t mean that Apple couldn’t go on.” I’ve been format-shifted music I own for years, and there’s nothing that can stop it (especially if you’re willing to go the old analog route, and actually do analog re-recordings of music). I do analog recording from LPs, CDs, and cassettes; digital ripping of CDs, and purchase music digitally. Back when I was much younger, I even recorded off of AM or FM radio (that’s how we used to “stream” music 🙂 ).  I’m of the belief that people should actually own copies of the music they listen to; if they do, they should have the ability to format-shift their purchase so they can use it.
  • iTunes and Destroying the Will to Collect Music. However, these days, collecting music has gotten much harder. Our interfaces to manage the music doesn’t help — witness how many people complain about iTunes (which is likely still the largest music manager for MP3 players and their brethren).  Here’s one man’s story about how iTunes destroyed his desire to collect music. What with fears about iTunes replacing carefully curated tracks with similar versions on the cloud, to the tendancy of iTunes to lose tracks or delete music, the ability to manage a collection — especially large collections — gets difficult. I can understand the concern. If you’ve visited our house, you know I have a large collection of LPs and CDs (and once upon a time had a very large collection of cassettes recorded from those LPs and CDs). I have just under 38,000 tracks in iTunes, and plan to add more. I recognize how I’ve grown tied to iTunes and its play counts and ratings, as well as how easy it is for iTunes to screw up and lose music.
  • iTunes vs. Apple Music. But the music industry may be trying to screw listeners once again. There are conflicting stories out there about how Apple is going to kill the iTunes store within 2 years; but then again, it may not. The conflict (and the reason for the conflicting reports) is the movement to streaming music (which I view as an insidious plot). Supposedly… Apple wants to get out of the profitable business of “selling” people music through the iTunes store, and replace it with the streaming of music through Apple Music, where you can stream tracks you are leasing (but I put “selling” in quotes, because in someways it was leasing as well, because Apple could delete the trick, or might have DRMed the track). I tend to side with the folks that say Apple isn’t doing this now, simply because it is a profit center. I think the risk of it going away is there, especially if more people move to storage in the cloud and a streaming model. Luckily, I think the artists still want to have the ability to get music in the hands of their fans — be it  through download, CDs, or other means. I have yet to hear rumors that Amazon is getting out of the digital music field — and I always get my music through Amazon if I can as they do not DRM protect their tracks; I subsequently import them into iTunes (which moves them out of Amazon Music’s reach).

So what is the upshot of these articles. I think it is simple. People have always wanted to own the music of the artists they like: be it sheet music in the early days, LP recordings through much of the 20th century, cassette records, and later CDs and digital tracks. With recording technology, they like — and need — the ability to format shift their music to formats of their choosing. They also need the ability to pass their music collections to their children (something that may be difficult to do). We should not be forced to buy new copies of recordings we own every few years, despite what the music companies claim.

As for Streaming Music: Streaming music is demon spawn. It is a reinvention of the radio, but under your control. However, with streaming, you not only pay for the music, you pay for the bandwidth used to deliver it. Further, the streamers can lose the ability to send you the music at any time. Further, it is only good if you have a signal to stream the music. Fight streaming. Purchase your music, record it to a format you can use, and just play from your collection — non-streaming or local (i.e., your house) streaming. Oh, and that iPod Classic you’ve got in your closet — don’t sell it as a Cabbage Patch MP3 Player, and don’t throw it away. Replace the hard disk with SSD, load it up, and use it. You can have your entire music collection with you, and listen to the songs you want.

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Link Chum Stew: What’s In The Pot This Week, Johnny?

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Apr 17, 2016 @ 3:05 pm PDT

Observation StewThis afternoon, I’ve been spending some time cleaning up. What’s this? A list of links? Let’s write about them before they go stale and rotten (like the plums on the dining room table):

  • Dancing Around Politics. If you’ve been around LA at all of late, you’ve probably been handed a flyer for the Shen Yun dance troupe, who have been performing at halls across the city. You’ve probably never heard of them. The LA Times had an interesting article on who they really are and who is backing them: they are a touring dance troupe founded in New York by practitioners of Falun Gong, the spiritual practice banned by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999. The party calls it a cult; Falun Gong says the Chinese government is trying to eradicate thousands of years of culture and tradition and that its repression of Shen Yun shows an intolerance of freedom of expression and religion. Indisputably, the dance company — marking its 10th anniversary — has become a cultural phenomenon. That fits with what my wife called the show: religious indoctrination.  As the article noted: “Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that the bright costumes and spinning dancers are meant to convey a message. “The Falun Gong has a very well organized, managed and elaborate program of public relations, and Shen Yun is part of that,” said James Tong, a UCLA professor, expert in Chinese politics and author of a book about the Communist Party and Falun Gong. When audiences see Shen Yun, “people want to know more about the Falun Gong.””
  • Digital Last Wills. Here’s a good reminder article from LastPass about Digital Wills. As they note in the article: “When preparing a will, many of us focus on our monetary and physical assets. But what about social media accounts? Or email addresses? Or the myriad of online accounts we use to manage our lives, every day? Making a “digital will” that includes passwords and other important digital details will go a long way in helping those who need to settle your affairs, or in helping you if you need to settle the affairs of others.” It is an important concern: I know I do my banking via Quicken… would my wife be able to easy pick that up. To inform all those whom I’m friends with online of what is happening with me? To pass off my highway pages somewhere? To handle other online financial accounts?
  • Upgrading Your Smartphone the Smart Way. Here’s an interesting article on how cell phone companies get you yet again: the upgrade fees if you buy a phone through them. With some, it is cheaper to buy your phone elsewhere, and then just bring it in and have it activated. Useful information to know.
  • Fighting Blisters. One of the scourges of walking as exercise are blisters. They are the reason I’ve switched to Injinji Toe Socks and Vibram Five Fingers. Too bad I didn’t know about this: there is evidently an easy way to combat blisters: use of surgical paper tape. I’ll have to give it a try one day, especially when the plantars fasciitis is acting up and I need shoes with padding and arch support.
  • Women in Cybersecurity. As you know, I’m part of ACSA, the sponsoring group behind SWSIS — the schoarship for women studying information security. Here’s a profile about one of our first recipients. I met Jill when she came out to ACSAC; I wish I had known this about her.
  • High Fidelity. Yesterday was Record Store day, and alas I missed it. But then again, I have enough records for this month. The iPod is at just under 38,000 songs. But here’s a good guide, for Record Store Day, about getting the right equipment to play your records. As for me, I have two turntables (Technics and Sansui), a good JVC amplifier with a phono curve, which feeds into my soundcard and the Roxio tools for recording to MP3 or WAV.
  • Free, as in Free Gigs. How would you like 2GB of free days for a month or two? Evidently, Verizon has a promotion where if you use Android Pay at three retailers, they’ll give you and extra 2GB for two months. The giveaway is part of a promotion that encourages people to start using Android Pay, which is essentially the Android version of mobile payments. Any Verizon customer with a postpaid plan who has an Android Pay-compatible phone will get 1GB of free data the next time they use Google’s mobile payment platform. Use it another two times, for a total of three separate purchases, and Verizon will throw in another gigabyte of free data.Once you’ve got the data freebie, Verizon says you’ll be able to use it across two billing cycles. The offer ends on June 14.
  • Mulholland Drive. Lastly, here’s a fascinating history article on Mulholland Drive: its origins and first plans. If you happen to be inspired to drive all of Mulholland — including the dirt portion across the top of the Santa Monicas, keep your eye out for a watch. I lost it there sometime in high school :-).

 

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It’s Hard to Find a Banjo Player Up in Heaven 🎻 “String/Awakening”

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Feb 22, 2016 @ 6:53 pm PDT

String/Awakening (Muse/Ique)userpic=folk-guitarThose of you who know the Austin Lounge Lizards know the lyric in the title:

So gather round and raise your pleasant voices
And play that gospel bluegrass, while you live
It’s hard to find a banjo player up in heaven
There’s some things that even Jesus won’t forgive

Perhaps I should explain why I’m sharing the Lizards (as if one needs an excuse): Last night, we went to another event from the wonderful counter-cultural orchestra, Muse/ique (FB). The event, called String/Awakening, was billed as follows:

String instruments are magic machines born of an ancient mystical technology.  When guided by master hands, these basic devices made of simple parts have the awesome power to change everything.

A few inches of string becomes a thread that connects humanity’s every story from Eleanor Rigby to Bach’s Air on a G String.  The handheld box is like a treasure chest that holds our common experiences and emotions – reminding us that we are all alike.  And the bow is like a magic wand, conjuring in the listener a willingness to imagine the world differently.  

With childlike passion for discovery, Rachael Worby and the musicians of MUSE/IQUE will turn from the tuxedo clad safety of the concert hall to unleash the full and delightful fury of the violin, cello , viola, harp, bass and more.

In other words, the evening was a celebration of all things string. We had all sorts of orchestra strings on the stage: cellos, violas, violins, harps, basses. We had a cajon (stringed percussion box). We had chimes… hanging on strings. We had a guitar used for percussion. We had drums with the head held on by twine.

But that wasn’t all. We had tables with cats cradles, yo-yos, and string cheese. We had people spinning and knitting. We had a dancer who hung by a string. We even had a five minute speaker from Cal-Tech on String Theory.

We had wonderful music that emphasized the strings:

  • Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik
  • Bach: Brandenberg Concerto
  • Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat major,
  • Vivaldi: Winter
  • Piazolla: Spring in Buenos Aires
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow

All of this being held in the parking garage of a florist; said garage being the former service bay of a 1920’s Cadillac Dealership.

It was a lovely evening. Only one thing was missing… or should I say one thing was there: string snobbery.

They didn’t highlight the fact that the violin is also the lowly fiddle. They didn’t play guitars, ukukleles, or heaven-forfend, banjos. Certainly some Segovia would have fit in. They could have morphed from Segovia into Chet Atkins or Tommy Emmanuel. Certainly they could have done bluegrass.

But this was heaven, or at least heaven as it exists in Pasadena. And well all know what isn’t in heaven.

Actually, I’m being a little tongue in cheek here. Actually, String/Awakening was a delightful evening with a fascinating lecture on string theory bookended by some wonderful music. Alas, I can’t name the musicians, because they didn’t hand out a program. But it was quite fun.

[ETA: A subsequent email provided some credits: “Artistic Director Rachael Worby (FB) led and conducted a group of amazing friends and artists including violinist Roger Wilkie, harpist Alison Bjorkedal and the strings of MUSE/IQUE! We would also like to thank our extraordinary supporting cast: percussionist Mona Tavakoli (FB),  String Theorist John Schwarz, choreographer Shauna Barger (FB) and the dancers of Artists Plus, and weavers led by Ruth Souza.” They also posted additional pictures of the event.]

P.S. to Ms. Worby, if you read this: Next time you invite a speaker from Cal-Tech, please remember the appropriate way to enforce the time limit. Much better than playing with your watch 🙂

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I subscribe at three theatres:  The Colony Theatre (FB), Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), and I just added the  Hollywood Pantages (FB). In 2015, my intimate theatre subscription was at REP East (FB), although they are reorganizing and (per the birdies) will not start 2016 shows until August. Additionally, the Colony just announced that the remainder of their season has been cancelled, so the status of that subscription is up in the air. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: February closes with more music: The Band of the Royal Marines and the Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB). March starts with “Man Covets Bird” at the 24th Street Theatre (FB) on March 6 (the day after the MRJ Man of the Year dinner). The second weekend of March recently opened up, due to the cancellation of “Another Roll of the Dice” at The Colony Theatre (FB). We’ve replaced “Dice” with another musical: “All Shook Up” at the Morgan-Wixson (FB) in Santa Monica.  [This also permits me to get more music for my iPod Classic (now at 512GB) by visiting Record Surplus)] The third weekend of March takes us back to the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on March 19 to see Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, followed by Bach at Leipzig at The Group Rep (FB) on March 20.  The last weekend of March is being held for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) (pending Hottix).  April will start with Lea Salonga at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) on April 1 and an Elaine Boosler concert at Temple Ahavat Shalom on April 2 (this concert is open to the community; get your tickets here). April will also bring the Turtle Quintet at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB), “Children of Eden” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) , and our annual visit to the Renaissance Faire (Southern). April may also bring A Shred of Evidence at Theatre 40 (FB). As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.

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Media NewsChum: 6 Passings, 3 Arrivals

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jan 10, 2016 @ 7:43 am PDT

userpic=masters-voiceHere is the second bunch of themed news chum for the weekend — consider this your mixed salad before the stew. Articles in this group cover multiple media types: stage, TV, and radio.

  • Passings No. 1: Elizabeth Swados. Broadway composer Elizabeth Swados has passed away. The headlines all cite her show Runaways (which I’ve heard but never seen), but I recall her for her show Doonsebury. The show has a number of great songs, including “Just a House”, “It’s the Right Time to be Rich”, and “Another Memorable Meal”. I doubt it will ever be revived, as kids today don’t remember the early days of the strip.
  • Passings No. 2: Wayne Rodgers. Just before the end of the year, original M*A*S*H TV star Wayne Rodgers passed away. Here’s a remembrance from his co-star, Alan Alda.
  • Passings No. 3: Sheldon Epps. No, Sheldon hasn’t died. However, he is stepping down as Artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse. For a long time, we were subscribers at the Playhouse. Were there there in the Susan Dietz era; we were there when Sheldon came in; and we left during the bankruptcy. I didn’t always like Sheldon’s programming — especially his habit of TBA shows in a season. But he had more hits than misses, and he did a great job of raising the visibility of the playhouse during his tenure. Even more importantly, he did try and bring diversity to the traditionally mono-cultured Pasadena.
  • Passings No. 4: KFWB 980. “Give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world.” Hasn’t been that way for a while, since KFWB gave up the news baton to KNX and went talk… and then sports talk. KFWB has been sold, and will be becoming an ethnic station.  While this is bad news for the Clippers, it is also a significant passing in the LA Radio community.
  • Passings No. 5: Allegiance. Sad to say, the new George Takei musical Allegiance has posted its closing notice. This is after 113 performances, which is definitely not hit territory, or even recap-costs territory. However, the musical did make a significant political statement (which is good), and is going on tour (even better).
  • Passings No. 6/Arrival No. 1: Beatles Music. This is, in a sense, a coming and going. The going relates to a very interesting article about the convoluted path of how the Beatles lost control of their music catalog to Michael Jackson. As usual, some wrong decisions early on in their career from which they could never recover. It shows the importance for artists to pay attention to what you sign. On the other side, the Beatles have just arrived on streaming music services. For me, that’s a big “Whoops” (as in “Don’t Care”). I’ve got *all* their music on my iPod, of which 95% was recorded from the original vinyl.
  • Arrival No. 2: Hamilton. It has been announced that the hit musical Hamilton will be going on tour. There will be longer tour engagements in Chi-town, LA, and SF. The big question in LA is where? Given the Ahmanson’s schedule and size, I don’t see a long sit-down show going there (although it is the best venue). The likely place is the Pantages, but I’m not sure they would want a *long* sit down (but they’ve done it for Wicked).  It would be great if it could go into the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion — the hall was partially built for the LACLO, but theatre hasn’t been there in ages. Another possibility is a theatre on Broadway — I recall hearing that they want to get back into the show-biz.
  • Arrival No. 3: Galavant. The mini-TV musical Galavant has returned. If you watched the first two episodes last week, you’ve discovered they’ve gone very meta. They probably won’t survive, but they sure are fun to have around.

 

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A New Years Stew: Buildings, Books, and Booms; Music, Medicine, and Mattel

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 02, 2016 @ 1:00 pm PDT

Observation StewIt’s the first weekend of the new year, and as is traditional, it’s time to clear out the accumulated news chum from the week — the chum that couldn’t be used to create a coherent themed chum post of 3 or more articles. So let’s see what is in this week’s stew:

  • Saved! The first news chum item was to be about where I live now, but that became its own article. So let’s talk about where I used to live: North Hills.  At the corner of Devonshire and Sepulveda is a shopping center we used to frequent (especially when Hughes was still there). Today, the Hughes Ralphs has closed, and so has Mission Hills Bowl, and rumors are circulating about redevelopment of the center. This week, some good news came out of this: the bulk of the center appears to be saved, and the Mission Hills Bowl building will remain.  The Googie designed Bowling Alley by LA architect Martin Stern Jr. will be saved as part of a new commercial development that will include a mix of retail, restaurants, medical office, gym, warehouse, and bank uses spread over one and two story buildings.
  • Booking It. When Borders and Barnes and Noble took off, the prediction was that they would kill the small bookstore. They almost did, but the bookstores hung on. Now Borders is gone, and B&N is on the ropes, being killed by Amazon. What is still surviving? The small independent used bookstore. In fact, used bookstores are making a comeback. The reason isn’t surprising, when you think about it. It costs more to ship used books than to just sell them locally. Here’s the quote that BoingBoing used from the original article: “Used bookstores, with their quintessential quirkiness, eclectic inventory and cheap prices, find themselves in the catbird seat as the pendulum eases back toward print. In many cities, that’s a de facto position: They’re the only book outlets left… And it’s a business with good economics. Used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones — so good that many indies are adding used sections.”
  • Travelling? Good News and Bad News. Traveling in the new year? You need to watch out if you live in Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, Minnesota or American Samoa. Your state is bumping into (or has gone past) the RealID deadline, and your state IDs may not be acceptable to TSA or the DOD. About the only good news here is that California got granted an exemption. I have no idea what this means: in particular, it could mean that everyone in the state needs to be issued a new ID. Ouch!
  • New Album from Paul Stookey. As you have likely figured out, I love folk music… and my first love was Peter, Paul, and Mary. Thank’s to Noel Paul’s Facebook account, I just learned that Noel Paul Stookey issued a new album in September 2015. I’ve already grabbed my copy, it is it like one of his recent concerts (i.e., very good).
  • Going Boom. Here’s a fun article: The history of the Toy Chemistry Set. What started out as a kit for the academic world became something to encourage men to become scientists (why would women care about chemistry), and then got neutered as society became worried about safety and homemade bombs.
  • More Problems from Inflammation. The inflamatory response is turning out to be the culprit is more and more problems. We’ve seen articles in the past linking it to arthritis and migraines. Here’s an article showing the link between depression and inflammation. Quite an interesting read, and it shows why we might not need to monkey with brain chemicals to address depression.
  • Deaths of Note. We’ve had a number of notable deaths at the end of the year, such as Wayne Rodgers and Natalie Cole. Here’s one you may have missed: Ruby Cavanaugh, namesake of Ruby’s Diners.
  • Sign of the Times? Mattel, owners of the American Girl line of dolls, has introduced a diabetic kit for their dolls, allowing girls with diabetes to have a doll that is just like them. While I applaud the production of the kit, what does it say about the prevalence of diabetes in our society that this needs to be a thing?

 

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