Category Archives: Justin Bieber

Hotwire Air

Human, All Too Human

The gummint and its utilization of computers has been in the news of late.

Marketplace Website

Dig: the Obamacare websites went live three weeks ago and, apparently, there’s been nothing but trouble surrounding them. Yet not too long before that, leakers revealed that the National Security Agency is compiling meta-databases of all our phone calls. All of us being ±314 million Murricans in addition to the countless furriners whose phone chats we find it necessary to eavesdrop on. According to the more suspicious of our sisteren and brethren, the NSA computers are humming along quite nicely, processing the tens of billions of phone calls made each day.

Each computer set-up is handling more information than could have been found in all the books the human species has ever produced. And if that’s an exaggeration, well, it’s not terribly far off the mark.

Phone Tap

Having worked with computer geeks and hackers time and again, I know that designing a system to handle even the most banal of processes (say, a blog or a simple website with a shopping cart) entails the input of countless chefs and the implementation of ten times that many compromise fixes as well as add-ons just to humor the people paying for the project. And when the blog or site rolls out, its virtual structure resembles nothing so much as a house of cards built on a wobbly table outdoors on a blustery day.

Conventional wisdom holds that the more people involved in a software roll-out the more unwieldy it becomes. So let’s be frank: if it’s a gummint database or service website, it has had more hands on it than Justin Beiber tossed into the middle of an arena full of tweeners. Book it: both the Obamacare network and the NSA databases have the paw prints of multitudes of office supervisors, project managers, HR specialists, lawyers, priests, shamans, witch doctors, administrative assistants, and Tarot card readers all over them.


“That’s 1,423 In Favor Of Barbie Pink, 1416 for Deep Cerise.”

That the Obamacare websites are cracking under the strain seems only natural. But somehow, according to those who see federal spooks under too many beds, the NSA operation is fine-tuned and efficient enough to know precisely how many pizzas I’ve ordered in since The Loved One went out of town Friday (Shhh! What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.)

I’m guessing this is an either/or issue. Either the feds and their staff geeks are savvy enough to keep excruciatingly exact tabulations of the number of booty calls all the assistant managers of all the Best Buy stores in this holy land made in the year 2012, or they can’t even set up an insurance exchange that can satisfactorily serve the residents of New Hampshire.

Naturally, the conspiracy theorists will have us believe that the “glitches” of the federal insurance marketplace website are mere covers to make us think Master Espionage Agent Barack Obama is incapable of listening to each and every one of us snoring at night. Oh, but he can, they’ll insist.

(You know, I had a girlfriend once whose snoring Barack Obama could have heard in Chicago or Hawai’i or Kenya or wherever he was at the time, even without the aid of fancy double-naught spy apparatus.)

Anyway, I buy the government-is-run-by-schlubs theory as opposed to the arch-villains that the conspiracy theorists see in their fever dreams. Take this quote from Matt Taibbi to the bank:

“[People in key positions of governmental power] are imagined to be a monolithic, united class of dastardly, swashbuckling risk-takers with permanent hard-ons for Bourne Supremacy-style ‘false flag’ and ‘black bag’ operations, instead of the mundanely greedy, risk-averse, backstabbing, lawn-tending, half-clever suburban golfers they are in real life.”


Spy Agency Division Heads Golf Outing

So, I’m glad the feds are tripping all over themselves trying to fix or explain away the ramshackle Obamacare online system. It only proves that no one has the technical or organizational capability to use their computers to eavesdrop on each and every one of us.


Believe me: If they could, they probably would.

The Pencil Today:


“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.” — George R.R. Martin


The football teams from both Bloomington High School North and South are beginning summer workouts this week.

Normally, this development would bum me out as a sign that summer is coming to a rapid conclusion.

For the first time in my life, though, I’m actually looking forward to the end of summer. I’ve had my fill of South Central Indiana being transformed into the Gobi Desert from May through September.

Traffic Tie-Up Caused By The Bypass Construction


If you happen to be awake just before dawn these days, you’ll be treated to a spectacular planetary show.

Brilliant Venus shines in the eastern sky with Jupiter just above it. The two planets hang aloft like glittering jewels as the sky turns from royal blue to cyan.

BTW: Right now, four of the five visible planets can be seen either at dawn or dusk. Mars and Saturn appear in the west after sunset.


When I occasionally drop in to the Subway at 6th and Walnut, I have to endure the auto-tuned thump of hot hit music on the radio as I devour my foot-long veggie deluxe on 9-grain honey oat bread

Invariably I conclude that today’s pop music is mind-numbingly awful. Just as invariably, I flagellate myself for being a grumpy old bastard.

Bitter fossils have been complaining about “kids'” music ever since radio began airing records. I know one extremely old bird who still thinks the Beatles are untalented and a passing fad.

In my case, at least, there may be something valid in my distaste for the likes of Katy Perry and the execrable Justin Bieber.

A group of Spanish researchers has released a study of nearly one half million pop songs spanning the years 1955-2010 and concluded that today’s hits are more bland, dumb, and loud than those of earlier years.

Bland, dumb, and loud — sounds like a dictionary definition of Carly Rae Jepsen.

Serrà, Corral et al: Schematic Summary With Pitch Data

The researchers measured the music using three criteria: harmonic complexity, timbral diversity, and loudness.

In strictly technical, scientific terms, the researchers have confirmed my conclusion: today’s pop music blows.


Are Americans more bored than ever?

It seems that way, considering the things we do to amuse ourselves.

For instance, there’s acroyoga.


Apparently, acroyoga combines yoga, gymnastics, too much free time, and access to glorious, sunny beaches. In other words, it’s the perfect pastime for privileged white people.

In keeping with the American fetish to competitize (I just made the word up, thank you) everything, it seems acroyoga pose-offs may be coming to a television near you soon. Yoga maniacs have been pestering the International Olympic Committee to include the house-wifely alternative to infidelity to include it in future Games. The IOC, thankfully, has ruled yoga is not a sport but a quasi-religious practice.

Now, acroyoga might trump that argument.

More Acroyoga

One web site tells of acroyoga’s goals to “cultivate trust, empowerment and joy.”

Yuck. Sounds like a line from the marketing pamphlet of some corporate team-building consultants.

And we know how pestilent those people are.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Present and Correct: Imi Knoebel

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Monroe County FairgroundsDay 4, 2012 Monroe County Fair, Joe Edwards & Jan Masters Show; 3:3opm & 6pm — Blind Rebel; 7:30pm; Noon to 11pm

◗ Madison Street between sixth and Seventh streets — Tuesday Farmers Market; 4-7pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsRandy White of Cardinal Stage Company presents “The Art of the Theater”; 6-8pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Robbie Bowden; 6-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoJazz Jam; 7:30pm

City Hall, City Council Chambers — Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington quarterly meeting, open to the public; 7:30-9pm

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Team trivia; 8-10pm

The Player’s PubBlues Jam hosted by Bottom Road Blues Band; 8pm

The BishopWhippoorwill, Throwing Stars, National Public Rifle Association; 9pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits: Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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