Sunday, March 17, 2013
The Gods of Rock are Dying - Part I, Alvin Lee
I read in Time Magazine this week that Alvin Lee died. (The Time with the new Pope on the cover. When did he get elected? How long did that take? Five minutes? I missed it. Oh well.)
They did a good write up on Alvin. He was the lead singer and lead guitarist of the band Ten Years After, so named because they came along ten years after Elvis. (Elvis was ’57, they were ’67, and the Beatles were in between in ’63.)
Time correctly points out that Ten Years After made a big hit at Woodstock, both live and in the movie. I think Alvin Lee ended up carrying a watermelon off-stage that someone gave him - such were the times. Ten Years After made three albums and then faded from the scene, apparently Alvin Lee was more interested in long solos then hit records. They had a certain in-your-face bad-boy image. One of their signature songs was School Girl. The original had a chorus something like this, “Wake up, little school girl, hey hey.” By the time Ten years After did it the chorus was, “I want to ball you. I want to ball you all night long.” Clearly, things had changed.
When I saw Ten Years After it was the year after Woodstock. They were playing in New York City in Central Park. Schaeffer Beer used to put on this summer music festival at The Wolman Skating Rink. I saw Led Zepplin there - first tour. It may have been their first stop because they weren’t very good, or very well known. Tickets were $2; $3 if you wanted to sit in the grand stand at the back.
Ten Years After came to play. I knew their songs because I had bought at least two of their albums. They had a song that had a several chord lead in to the vocals. The first vocal was a growly scream by Lee.
Think of House of the Rising Sun as done by the Animals. There are some minor chords that lead into the first words, think of that cadence, that pace and you’ve got the timing and the sense of this song’s lead in. Think of the opening words as if they were chords: There is ... A house ... in New .. Orleans .
Now imagine that at that point there’s a big growly yell - similar to what Eric Burton does but more primal - more Ted Nugent.
Alvin Lee starts the song. He begins to play the chords. He’s ten, maybe twelve feet from the microphone. The microphone is center stage on a stand all by itself. He’s smoking a cigarette. Not actually smoking as much as dangling from his lips. A long thin white stick sitting casually almost forgotten on the right side of his mouth. He’s looking down at the body of his guitar as he begins to play. His hair is parted in the middle and comes down in an extended pageboy to below his chin. Because his head is leaning forward his hair is coming down on either side of his face. The cigarette is almost holding back the hair.
I know the song. I know the lead in chords. I know he’s got only so many chords before he has to be at the mic to belt out the scream. The pace to the chords is key. Yet, he’s got the cigarette in his mouth. How is he going to put that down? He has no break in the lead in. He’s too far from the mic to even make it in time to hit the growl.
As if to answer all those questions that had barely formed in my mind; Lee took two big steps forward and on the third he spat out the cigarette and it shot across the stage just as he got to the mic stand, and let out the scream, just in time. It was a three part play in a few seconds: the steps, the cigarette ejection, the scream.
It galvanized the crowd. They went wild.
That was Alvin Lee.
That was Ten Years After.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Baffling Conservative Economics
I am baffled by the stupidity of those who call themselves by various names all in the cause of trying to get our economy on track by what they call conservative principles.
These usually call for cuts to government spending.
And then the mantra goes the economy will magically get better.
What I always find in these arguments is that element of magic.
An unconnected set of actions with a remarkable outcome unsupported by theory, history, fact, or anything else I can find except a magic phrase like: “The will of the people” or “unleashing American productivity.”
Typically, when confronted these folks say something like, “Well I can tell you my life hasn’t gotten better in this economy.” or something like that. So I ask how will cutting government spending help their economic life? What I get is some babble about putting our grandchildren in debt and we can’t go on this way and we have to cut back.
Then I ask, “Well, if we all cut back: you, me, the government, business, everyone - what will happen to our economy?”
I usually get no answer.
I think it is because they really don’t understand the concept of an economy much less what makes it work.
What is clear to me is that when these conservatives get into a position of power they do a bunch of things they never talked about in their campaigns (like attacking women’s rights) and then they lie about what they are doing and have done while in office. It’s the breadth of the lying that I find - unbelievable, and yet it seems to reinforce their base constituents, who never seem to compare facts with what is being said. In other words they never look at reality.
Gotta go, I think someone is here to buy that bridge I was selling on eBay.
Monday, February 04, 2013
So this is how fb is doing it:
I don't understand any of this yet but I had been wondering for several years how fb was managing all their data (and google and others).
We ran into this kind of problem at Cray with the Unix file system (same for Linux.)
In the unix file system there is a top down inverted tree structure, i.e. Everything starts from the "root" and descends.
As your file system gets larger more and more requests are made on the root (call it the root directory, the root inode, whatever.)
Also, the directories (folders) directly below that directory, get lots of request too. Mostly for reading but occasionally for writing.
Cray got around this problem by duplicating these oft used directories. But you had to make sure most were read requests. If you got a write request you had to freeze all the blocks while they all got written.
So Cray delayed the inevitable problem.
When I was at Sybase we had similar issues with our databases but the idea was to make sure the database stayed consistent and if that meant freezing out some requests so be it, or at least make them wait while you updated everything. Oracle had the same problem, not that their salesmen would know.
The problem with relational databases like Sybase, Oracle, and mysql was that they required a design to meet a specific need. Naturally, someone would figure out some query for which the database was not designed and then complain when it was slow. Siebel, which ran on top of Oracle, was a giant data structure and their thing was that they could jam any data you had into it and it would work - so they claimed. It ran slowly, very slowly, and it took up gobs and gobs of hardware. I lost my job at Fannie Mae because of this. (I kept asking for some kind of turn around times and upper management, which hired Siebel people to oversee the project, didn't want to hear it - so they got rid of me. It ran so slowly that they couldn't use it and ended up shelving it.)
Several years ago I heard facebook was using some sort of variant on mysql. I couldn't understand how they could solve the massive data problem that they had to be facing. A relational db (rdbms) would have the problems of any relational database and a filesystem would have the problem that we ran into at Cray.
Standard solutions are: more and faster hardware, duplicate and disperse, put critical stuff in memory (ie and in-core solution) for fast access and off load as much i/o as possible to other cpus.
It seems that fb has gone with an in-core solution and somehow distributed it. They could distribute it by local interest. I would guess most people are interested in people who live near them (like kids going to college, they tend to go to places close to home.)
Hadoop seems to be the solution. What it is I don't know. What I find interesting is that all the big data companies are using it.
So, even though these companies compete perhaps against one another their problems are so similar that the brains behind what they are doing are common as is their code.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Congress Here I Come!
I have decided to throw my hat into the ring and run for Congress.
Why? You might ask.
Well, it’s simple really.
Where else can you get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and be given all sorts of insider tips, and freebies, and good health care and a pension and be expected to do nothing?
In fact, if you try to do something you’ll be castigated for “not being a team player.”
Gotta go. Need to work on my campaign slogan.
“Bryce Holliwell someone you know and can trust to do nothing.”
It’s kind of catchy.
As always, I remain,
The B man
Thursday, December 20, 2012
1:45 left til - The End of The World
December 20, 2012
1:45 left til ...
We have a lot of important issues to discuss. But it being the ned of the world tomorrow we don’t have much time. Some say the Mayans may have gotten it wrong. I say nonsense. Others may have gotten it wrong, but not the Mayans. See, the Mayans never said the world was going to end. They said their calendars were going to be in alignment tomorrow and by that they meant their 240 day calendar and their 360 day calendar. (Actually, it’s a 360 + 4 day calendar but those four days like the leap day in February are kind of ignored.)
So who started all this end of the world stuff. You don’t think it could have been some quack trying to make a buck off of prognostications do you? (Well, if you did you’d be right.)
But for me, I’m hoping we survive til Christmas speaking of which it hasn’t seemed too jolly this year what with shootings and climate change and those idiotic political arguments. But the real problem with Christmas is we’ve lost the Ho. That’s right. Somehow, somewhere the Ho in Christmas got lost. Now I’m not pointing any fingers. Or suggesting it’s anyone’s fault, but I think we can all agree that we’ve lost the Ho in Christmas. At this point I’d settle for even a little Ho. Wouldn’t you?
Now in the classic Christmas story there are three Ho’s. Remember? Ho Ho Ho.
I don’t know how you’d keep them straight. And if you wanted to speak to the second Ho how would you do it?
I mean if you said, “Get over here Ho.” You’d have a one in three chance of the right Ho coming over. At least with Little Ho you could say, “Get over here you little ho.” And you’d have a chance.
Well, it’s a lot to consider.
I guess the Doomsday Prepers are putting their final touches on their bunkers. Hope they don’t attack the pizza boy when he knocks on their door to deliver the double cheese pizza teenage Sis ordered on her iPhone because she was bored, not to mention hungry, Who wants to eat the beans Dad has had stored down there for the last eight years anyway?
Gotta go. I think the person knocking on the door may have the combination snuggie and Olde Brooklyn Lantern. Warning: Don’t drink and watch late night TV alone.
Monday, December 17, 2012
I am Tired
I am tired.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed with guns.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed in our high schools with guns.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed in our grade schools with guns.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed in our colleges with guns.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed in our shopping malls with guns.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed in their work sites with guns.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed in our gas stations with guns.
I am tired of hearing about people getting killed on our highways with guns.
I am tired of t people telling me guns don’t kill people people kill people.
Tell that to our troops in Afghanistan, our police, our drug enforcement officials.
I am tired of people who claim to be able to read a sentence in English not able to read a sentence made of four independent clauses and not being able to understand that one clause modifies another.
I am tired of people being scared and feeling they have to arm themselves to go out of their house.
I am tired of people hiding behind the second amendment so they can have their childish fantasies fulfilled.
I am tired of the rabid screaming of people calling themselves patriots claiming they are defending themselves and their families.
I am tired of people who don’t know their history claiming things that aren’t true.
I am tired of people making convoluted arguments as to why they need a gun.
I am tired of hearing about my fellow citizens being threatened and killed by people with guns.
I am tired of the 2nd amendment arguments, the “well armed citizenry” arguments.
I am tired of people saying they have to carry a concealed weapon in their cars, on our trains, in our national parks, to work, to play, to shop, to walk around.
I am tired of seeing the statistics that show every other nation on this planet has figured out a way to curb deaths from guns but us.
I am tired of the stupidity, the cowardice, the head-in-the-sand attitude.
I am tired.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
End of the World
I must deal with the end of the world and tomorrow.
Tomorrow is 12/12/12 in both the American and the European date systems!
The end of the world is scheduled for 12/21/12.
Do you see that the only thing different are the two numbers in the middle of this?
The 2 and the 1 have switched places!
How could this be?
You know who makes things turn out backwards (cue Dana Carvey as Churchlady) “SATAN” (zoom in catch the slight facial twitch - thank-you.)
How do I know this is true?
Well that’s easy: take each set of digits and add them together.
so 12/12/12 becomes 3/3/3
and 12/21/12 also is 3/3/3
Coincidence? I think not.
Now add the two sets of numbers together 3/3/3 + 3/3/3 is 6/6/6.
And there you have it SATAN is behind this.
Gotta go The Reverse Mortgage Man is at the door.