Thursday tech musings, 22.12.16

December 22, 2016

So I am fully assimilated, or about as assimilated as I’m going to get, anyway..

How so? Well, all these years I’ve owned a Mac, but never an iPhone…until last Monday when my HTC One bit the dust. And I definitely don’t have anything  against the Android — I had a couple of them and they were great — but with the less-expensive iPhone SE in Apple’s lineup now, I thought, why not?

It’s pretty neat, honestly. With the way I feel about local storage I’ll admit I had always pooh-poohed iCloud, but the way the phone and the Mac use it to integrate with each other is really cool. I use iCloud on the Mac for the Find My Mac feature, but I had forgotten that I had it set to sync my Safari bookmarks…until I signed in on the iPhone and all my bookmarks came over from my Mac. And when I got home I enabled the iCloud Keychain on both the iPhone and the Mac, and all my saved Safari usernames & passwords came over to the iPhone from the Mac. It was quite convenient, as is being able to respond to my text messages on the Mac instead of the iPhone.

I could set the Mac up to make and receive phone calls, but that’s just a bridge too far…

As far as getting everything off the old phone? Well….remember how I told you that I had that phone backing up to the cloud? Yup. I was able to get all my contacts & pictures back, more than 2,000 pictures from the day I got the phone to the day it kicked the bucket. I was able to download all the pictures onto the Mac, where they will stay. I was able to download all my contacts into a vCard file and import them into the Contacts app on the Mac, where they were uploaded into iCloud and synced to the phone. And, as the saying goes, nothing of value was lost.

phone

And as you see in the photo above, I put a heavy-duty case on it — the Griffin Technology Survivor All-Terrain. Drop-tested, water-resistant, all that good stuff. Sabra had one on her iPod, and we had one on the iPad as well (though the one on the iPad didn’t hold up well at all…)

“But it’s so pretty! Why put it in such an ugly case?”

Well, it’s not so pretty with a cracked screen, and I don’t have the money to be shelling out to fix said cracked screen, or God forbid get a new phone if it gets dropped that hard.

(Apologies for the crappy picture…)

I do still like my Kindle, though. I suppose I could get an iPad mini if I were so inclined, but the kindle is just the right size for a tablet for me. Maybe if Apple made a smaller one (iPad nano, anyone?), I might think about it…

On respect.

November 22, 2016

You know, sometimes I’m a bit slow…

…but I like to think that if I was on a plane, and the captain said a “special military family” had to deplane before everyone else, I like to think that I’d have some idea of what that meant and show some goddamned respect, or at least exercise some damn discretion and keep my mouth shut. I mean, really. You hear all these people talk about “supporting the troops but not the mission”…well, if you ask me, not booing a fucking Gold Star family as they’re getting off the plane is pretty basic support of the troops themselves — the absolute bare minimum, if you will. I mean, really, how can people do that and live with themselves?

Random drive-by rant: San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo

November 11, 2016

This? This is the lineup for the 2017 lineup for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo? Sam Hunt? The Band Perry? Dan + Shay? Good grief. Last year the lineup included Alan Jackson, Gary Allan, and the Turnpike Troubadours.

At least they have Aaron Watson this year. And I suppose the final lineup might not be the dumpster fire it looks like right now, as several of those slots are still yet to be determined. But just…wow. Pretty much the only thing that’d fully make up for Sam Hunt would be a George Strait appearance — but I seriously doubt we’re gonna get that, as Strait has only played the San Antonio rodeo twice, in 1986 and 1990. Jason Boland? Randy & Wade? Another TT appearance? We’ll see, I guess…

Observations on last night.

November 9, 2016

A lot of people didn’t see this coming, and it’s not surprising when you think about it. I think there were a lot of people who kept their choices on the down low, and all things considered, I cannot blame them. How would you feel if someone you didn’t even know disparaged your character, called you racist, misogynist and any number of other epithets, solely because of your choices in the voting booth? More than that, how many of the things that were said about Donald Trump were said, albeit to a lesser extent, about every GOP candidate going back to at least Bob Dole? There are a lot of people — on the left, especially — who need to think about that last thing in particular, if they’re ever going to even begin to understand last night’s events.

And there were many issues in play last night, but I wonder how differently things would have turned out if Hillary had not only been so open about her agenda in relation to more gun control but also not brazenly lied to everyone about supporting the Second Amendment.

(Also, how crazy would it be if supporting the Fourth Amendment, or the Eighth Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, were such a controversial thing? If it were so, you’d have people rightly shouting from the rooftops about how were were living in a burgeoning dictatorship or something. Some freedoms are definitely more equal than others.)

Also, I’d like to think that we won’t see any more shenanigans like running guns to the Mexican drug cartels, but as Sabra so astutely pointed out to me, Trump was a Democrat not that long before he was a Republican, so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.

But since Trump is a Republican now, perhaps the media will do its job if this happens as opposed to turning into glorified PR hacks for the ATF.

An appropriate song for the day…

November 8, 2016

…right here.

First time I heard this song was back during the 2000 election season on Dallas country radio when I was living in North Texas. Still a great song, even if we’d have to bring Cash back from the dead.

“He would unite the whole nation, with his guitar and a song….”

And God knows that’s exactly what we need anymore.

Drive-by rant: Por que no los dos?

November 8, 2016

Seen on Facebook this morning, a meme with the following sentiment:

“Country music needs more of George Strait and Alan Jackson and less of the Dixie Chicks and Beyonce.”

Well hey, why not both? (Maybe not Beyonce, though I will say that if “Daddy Lessons” is played on country radio, I’d much rather it be with the Dixie Chicks.)

Here’s a proposition for you, Sparky:

If we still had the Dixie Chicks, we’d still have both Alan and George too. How’s that, you ask?

Well, let’s put it like this. I’ll readily acknowledge that the Dixie Chicks were at least a little controversial in their day even before The Incident, but I do not see how it can possibly be argued that they were not one of the most traditional acts the mainstream has seen in at least the last quarter-century. They managed to sell more than 6 million copies of an album that was not just traditional country, but almost pure bluegrass, in the era of Shania Twain and Faith Hill. With the musical leadership they provided, with the example they set on how to make actual country music and still have commercial success, they — along with George, Alan, Lee Ann Womack, and others I am probably forgetting right offhand — could have helped lay the groundwork for the next generation of traditional country in the mainstream. The level of quality control on Music Row would have been radically different, to the point that, as I have said before, the likes of Florida-Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, and Thomas Rhett would never have been given the time of day in Nashville, the latter two would have gone on to be the shitty pop music flashes in the pan that they should have been considered all along, and we’d still have quality music on the radio that at least bore some resemblance to country in addition to all the great independent stuff. Would that new mainstream music have been as good as Boland, the Turnpike Troubadours, et al? Probably not, but it would still be miles ahead of the swill radio’s peddling now.

And how would George & Alan still have been here? Well — and again, I’m probably just spitballing here — with the traditional music still getting played, there still might have been room for them on the radio.

But instead…we have what we have now. I don’t know what’s worse, that or the possibility that more than a few people still think it was worth the Chicks getting booted from country music because they didn’t agree with what the Chicks said. You know, I didn’t agree with ’em either, but some things are bigger than mere politics — or should be, anyway.

Thursday music musings, 3.11.16

November 3, 2016

So, about the CMAs last night…

Chris Stapleton winning Male Vocalist and Video and Luke Bryan getting completely shut out? Hey, I’ll take that. Like I have said before, I am not a Stapleton fan by any means, but as the old saying goes, any chair in a bar fight.

I also heard that both George Strait and Alan Jackson got full performance slots. Good for them. It sucks that they don’t get played on the radio anymore, but again, hey, little victories.

I gotta admit, I was quite surprised to see Garth Brooks take home Entertainer of the Year. A lot of people seemed to think it was Carrie Underwood’s time, and if I had to guess who would have taken it, I probably would have guessed she would be it. Not that I really give a damn one way or the other, really, but I thought it was pretty neat that Garth Brooks won just for another FU to Gary “if you’re not on country radio you don’t exist” Overton.

Finally, it was pretty cool that the Dixie Chicks got themselves a performance slot on the CMAs after a full 15-year absence from the show and more than a decade since their blackballing from country music — but then on the other hand I have to wonder if they’d have gotten that if they’d elected to sing one of their own hit songs (or a new song) as opposed to Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons,” with Beyonce, even. I listened to the original version of the song, and I gotta say, I don’t get how people think it’s actually country. It sounds to me a lot more like, say, Dixieland jazz. Not that it’s bad, mind you. And I know the Chicks have done non-country covers before. Still, though, right or wrong, it reminded me of all the awkward pop star appearances on CMA award shows past, from Meghan Trainor last year to N-Sync with Alabama back in 1999. I thought about how Sammy Kershaw talked of how country music is seemingly the only genre that is ashamed of itself and how it tries to be everything but country. I thought about Dierks Bentley talking about how they weren’t all sitting on hay bales passing out the awards or whatever. And all of it is just another reminder that that attitude still seems to be there, and I have to wonder if it’ll ever subside to the point that mainstream country will ever sound, well, country again. Baby steps, I guess…

In memory of Curly Putman…

October 31, 2016

…who died Sunday.

Most folks know “Green, Green Grass of Home” as being recorded by Porter Wagoner, but that song has actually been recorded by…well, damn near everybody who had a recording career worth talking about, it seems. And I haven’t heard them all…

…but I am not sure that there was a better version of it than Merle Haggard’s.

Sunday music musings, 30.10.16

October 31, 2016

Oh, look, more Authorized Journalism, from the same person who presented Sam Hunt to us as “country’s most forward-thinking stylist”:

The year’s best country album comes from Maren Morris, and if the trophy gods deliver justice at the 50th annual CMA Awards on Wednesday, she’ll win a prize for it. The 26-year-old is a straight-talking, forward-thinking fountain of dash, and she’s funneling it into some great country music.

Uh, NOPE. I’ve heard bits of the Maren Morris album — as in, 30-second samples of all the songs on Amazon — and it sounds a whole lot to me like some unholy hybrid of Pink and Kelsea Ballerini. Not country in the slightest, in other words. My take wasn’t quite as virulent as Trigger’s, but then that was probably because I didn’t really have high expectations in the first place. To be honest, I really didn’t think “My Church” was all that, either. I’d been hearing people singing its praises, and I heard it and was rather baffled. Sure, it was more substantive than Kelsea Ballerini, but beyond that I thought it was kinda meh. It was all the more confusing that I heard the song on 95.9 the Ranch. I can only guess that they were playing the song because Morris is an Arlington native, but then if they were going to play artists just on that criterion we’d have been hearing this monstrosity.

Can I think of albums that better deserve that Album of the Year nominee slot? Why yes, yes I can — pretty much any of the albums mentioned here that were released during the CMA eligibility period, for one, and we can now add to that list Courtney Patton’s So This Is Life.

Yeah, I know. I catch a lot of crap in some corners for my bitching about mainstream country music. I hear people say things to the effect of, “why don’t you just ignore it and concentrate on the good stuff?” And I try to do that. After all, of course, country music is a lot more than the mainstream crap that’s played on the radio. And of course, Chris Richards is just one person, and he’s far from the only one whose observations about country music are way off base.

But here’s the deal — this is about more than just crappy mislabeled music that is at best the musical equivalent of mystery meat casserole. It’s about giving idiots space to write things like this

Musically, (‘Daddy Lessons’) draws on country, folk, soul, and other genres made popular by Black American musicians in the 19th and 20th centuries. One could argue that, in doing so, Beyoncé was attempting to reclaim these styles from the Elvis Presleys, Iggy Azaleas, and countless other white entertainers who decontextualized them in the decades that followed, even if her efforts fell on deaf ears throughout many corners of Nashville. (One particularly not good article over at CMT asked, ‘What’s So Country About Beyoncé?’) Perhaps not unrelated, the 2016 CMA Award nominees are almost entirely all white.

…which forces people to admit that Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” might be more country than, say, anything Sam Hunt or Thomas Rhett ever put out. But the problem with that is that it obscures the larger, more important point — which is that Sam Hunt as a country singer, or Thomas Rhett as a country singer, never should have been a thing in the first place. It brings to mind the old Thomas Pynchon quote: — “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

(Also, anyone who points to Alison Bonaguro as any kind of authority is a flaming idiot.)

Because you know what is definitely more country than anything Sam Hunt ever put out? George Strait, that’s who. There is no good reason whatsoever that he and Alan Jackson — or, for that matter, Sturgill Simpson, Aaron Watson, Jason Boland, or the Turnpike Troubadours — shouldn’t still be played other than the recent demographic shift that’s killing the genre anyway. These people talk about evolution of the genre and all that, completely ignoring the fact that they’re setting the stage for the genre of country music to be burned down with no hope of ever rebuilding it to anything approaching its former beauty.

Which reminds me of this:

There’s not any cool rock bands any more.

Oh, Jason Aldean. Surely that couldn’t have anything to do with rock music’s boundaries being destroyed as people started categorizing rock music as “anything white people listen to” and calling pretty much anything rock, could it? Nah, that couldn’t be it.

Well, then.

October 21, 2016

You don’t need a gun! Just call 911!

The 911 operator charged with hanging up on emergency callers because she didn’t want to talk apparently disconnected hundreds of calls, a prosecutor said Monday….

Prosecutor Claire Morneau, with the Harris County District’s Attorney’s Office public integrity unit, said investigators have identified about 825 calls in which Williams hung up and the person called back within five minutes.

Also, in that story, it says the 911 operator could face up to a year in jail for each misdemeanor charge. Would that they gave her one charge for every person she hung up on. Then and only then would it truly be justice, or anything approaching such.

At any rate, this will be a handy thing to bring up when anti-gunners tell you to call 911 instead of 1911.

“Yeah, well, that was an isolated incident.”

Uh-huh. I bet it wasn’t an isolated incident to the hundreds of people that bitch hung up on.