Sunday, March 27, 2005

LIFE, DEATH AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

(by Oliver)


short but funky


1) A change is gonna come (to Pop Life). Oh, yes it is.

2) Not like the world needs another opinion about the Terri Schiavo case but as it now seems to be winding down, I find myself breathing a long sigh of relief. There are so many things that can be said about the case and the various legal and ethical issues it raises. I just have two points.

First, I'm hoping the fact that every judge in this case has ruled against the Schindlers will finally encourage them to shut their gaping, sanctamonious mouths. As a new parent, I can appreciate the feeling of desperation they have in wanting to save their daughter but as a citizen, I'm offended by their relentless, selfish demands on a government that needs to be spending its time addressing the needs of equally (if not more so) desparate people out there. Believe me - they couldn't have done this without the cooperation of all the bandwagon-jumping opportunists in both Florida and U.S. Congress - the latter of whom committed a gross violation of the concept of checks and balances by even getting involved in this circus to begin with. But I could have thrown a shoe at the TV when I heard Papa Schindler claiming that his daughter was a victim of "judicial homicide" and then pleading for either Gov. or Pres. Bush to intervene.

Mind you - I think there are extraordinary times when executive power can and should be wielded for the greater good of an individual but usually, those cases involve someone who's been the victim of a failure of due process elsewhere (i.e. an innocent man on death row). Terri Schiavo doesn't remotely fall into this category - in fact, she's probably been the benefit of more due process than any other individual in recent American history. This leads to my second point:

The one positive development that I've seen from this is that, by and large, it confirms that America really does run by rule of law and that, despite all too frequent missteps and corruption, in this case, everything worked as it should. Every branch of government - state AND federal - weighed in on this and ultimately, despite the interference of Congress and the President, this case was still ultimately decided on the local/state level and by the judiciary, who I trust far more than the other two branches. I'm sure the Schindlers don't feel this way, but the system (seemingly) worked and every extra step added (i.e. the billion appeals filed) only confirmed that due process was in play. For once.

Of course, I'm not legal expert - perhaps Junichi can weigh in just to confirm my observations. Regardless though, the only thing that the Schindlers have said that I heartfully agree with is that all the protestors gathered around Terri's hospice should go home and hug their kids. I'm doing that right now, in fact.

3) Hua passed along this interview with New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane which has to be one of the funniest pieces on the art of writing I've read in a long time.

Of the various tidbits of wisdom that Lane imparts, these are amongst the finest:
    "The truth is, that if you're working on a piece at three in the morning, you're not Keats; you're just late."

    "I'm not a creative writer. I don't write poetry or novels or drama but criticism, which is the eunuch of the family. I watch other people doing it and talk about what they're doing in a squeaky, high voice."

    "I never meet my subject matter. It's one of the advantages of living in Britain, a curious arrangement that has worked very well. Sometimes I go over to The New Yorker to get my fix, and wander in and people say, 'Thank God you're here', and ask me to fix the water-cooler."

    "When I went to Hollywood for an Oscars soirée I was the only hack, so I presumed it was going to be like The Wicker Man, that I'd be taken out into the garden and set on fire. Of course, the actors were all exquisitely polite. And most of them came up to my navel, so you end up putting your drink on their heads. I felt like Gulliver. They're very charming, the implication being, 'Please don't presume that what you said matters to us'."
4) I ran into writer/scholar Josh Clover at one of Jeff Chang's gazillion book readings and he broke down his philosophy of the iPod Shuffle at the time. A few week later and I see that Josh had expounded on the issue in an essay for the Village Voice. Josh makes many provocative insights, but the one that stuck with me was this:
    "It doesn't tell you what song is playing or what's next or much else. That's the thing. As a result, each song fades out with a frisson - what'll be next?... You're hostage to what's coming, and the risk that it might suck... But the next song doesn't suck. Over and over it turns out to be a song I really like. This makes sense because I chose all the songs now being shuffled and, for the most part, I like the songs that I like. Each time one comes on, each time I dodge the bullet of Creed or Sage Francis - which of course could never actually strike me because they don't exist in my library - I think something like, "My taste rules."
Having recently "borrowed" S's Shuffle (as one of the benefits for actually working for Apple, S gets these goodies gratis and thus, I benefit too), I suddenly understood what Josh was saying here.

If you're truly going for the "shuffle experience" you could just let the Stick pick through your entire music library and slice out a GB's worth. But like many, I created a custom Shuffle playlist of all my most listened-to songs and new arrivals that I haven't gotten sick of yet. And whilst listening to the Stick, indeed, I have often been pleasantly surprised by the sequencing.

Sample: Junior Mance: Tin Tin Deo
Alicia Keys: You Don't Know My Name
Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Paul Wall: Still Tippin'
Jeru: Come Clean
Rufus Wainwright: Greek Song
Eddie Kendricks: Date With the Rain (Extended 12" Remix)
Jesse Anderson: Let Me Back In
Isaac Hayes: Walk On By
Aretha Franklin: Day Dreaming
The Pixies: Here Comes Your Man


While I may not know what song is going to come on next, I'm almost always pleased by it since, as Josh noted, I tend to like the songs I like and having filled the Stick with those kind of songs, I can reconfirm that, yes indeed, I have some great f***ing taste in music.

Or to put it another way, the Shuffle is one way to spend $100 to blow smoke up your own ass.

The only beef I have with the Shuffle is that once you load songs onto it, you must keep a mirror of that playlist on your computer. If you delete those songs from your hard drive, the next time you synch with the Stick, it will assume you also want to delete the same songs from the Shuffle. I find this remarkably annoying since it means I have an extra GB's worth of memory being taken up redundantly on my computer.

I presume Apple put this feature in as some kind of anti-piracy device though, for the life of me, I can't understand why they didn't program the Stick like they do the normal iPod (where you can copy soundfiles to - but not from - the iPod). I made the mistake of complaining about this to the snippy folks who frequent the Apple.com support discussion board and they snarkily suggested I go buy a different MP3 player. They're altogether another set of sanctimonious *****s who need to STFU too.