Bloc Party: Silent Alarm

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It’s not new but I’ve recently gotten into this album. I heard of them for the first time at the Austin City Limits festival. They didn’t stick out at me then, but I don’t often appreciate shows when I’ve never heard the music before.

It’s mostly upbeat indie rock, sometimes tending towards poppy. But, the songs are put together and flow really well, which took a few listens to pick up.

The album got a good rating on Pitchfork

Also, there’s a remix album that I haven’t yet heard but also got really good reviews: Silent Alarm Remixed Review

I wish I could go back to ACL and see them again now that I know their music.

Announcing Market Filters

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I’ve recently been involved in a project exposing some stock market analysis tools on the web. This happens to be a great combination of my interests in computer science and the markets. The tools have been in development, and private use, for the last 3 years. Finally we’ve decided to put them out on the web for other people to use.

The tools began when we started collecting market data and running our own technical analysis on it. Soon they evolved into a more defined set of analysis techniques and styles of reports. Our unique ranking approach is the foundation of the tools and it’s very informative to watch the movement of a stocks rank over time when making a trading decision. We’ve found the analysis very effective and use it in our trading every day.

The purpose of the website is to make advanced technical analysis easier. Other sites require programming, downloading tools, finding market data feeds, etc. This is everything in one place with no programming required. Except when back-testing the reports are run on current market data and are used to narrow the field of thousands of stocks to a handful for consideration.

The website is currently in Beta and we would like feedback.

Market Filters – Stock market technical analysis and scoring reports

Clor: Clor

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This is the self-titled debut from the band Clor, from 2005. I picked this up based on a recommendation from Pandora.com a while back, but only really started listening to it recently.

I’m definitely impressed and have played it a lot. It’s a mix of indie and electro-rock, sounding at times like it should have been released in the 80′s. One of the songs (that I didn’t like that much) makes me think of Prince, which is strange because I never listened to his music.

I have never been into the electro-rock style but this album makes me wonder if I should give it a shot. There are some great songs here, especially Good Stuff and Dangerzone.

One step forward, two steps back – Is Canada conservative now?

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A good article debunking a lot of the message passed around in the US media that Canada has taken a massive tilt to the dark conservative side.

Conservative win not big Canadian lurch to right

Interesting points:

  • The conservative party only got 36% of the vote, hence 64% voted further to the left
  • Of the 36% who voted for the conservatives only 41% claimed to be in favour of their policies while 54% said instead “it was time for a change
  • Two parties made significant gains in the election: the conservatives and the NDP. The NDPs gain, proportional to their previous seat total, was larger.

These are all good proof points that the election was much more about the scandal than moving towards Conservative values. I’m not trying to guess what might happen by the next election, but let’s get our facts straight for the last one first.

Why we love the Daily Show

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This is why I love the Daily Show, it’s too funny to not put up. It’s funny on many levels, except the one with the injured guy.

From a larger list of jokes on the issue here: Cheney Accident Triggers Jokes on Late-Night TV


Jon Stewart: “I’m joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?

Rob Corddry: “Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.

“And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington’s face.”

Jon Stewart: “But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?”

Rob Corddry: “Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.”

Jon Stewart: “That’s horrible.”

Rob Corddry: “Look, the mere fact that we’re even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know ‘how’ we’re hunting them. I’m sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little ‘covey’ of theirs.

Jon Stewart: “I’m not sure birds can laugh, Rob.”

Rob Corddry: “Well, whatever it is they do coo .. they’re cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.

Jon Stewart: “Okay, well, on a purely human level, is the vice president at least sorry?”

Rob Corddry: “Jon, what difference does it make? The bullets are already in this man’s face. Let’s move forward across party lines as a people to get him some sort of mask.”

Waiting for the light

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Here’s a good piece written by Bernard-Henri Lvy reiterating the fact that the American “left” is waiting for something: A Letter to the American Left. It’s been waiting for probably close to a decade now. It still amazes me that with all the huge blunders of the conservative movement over the last 6 years, they’ve come out relatively unscathed. I mean, come on!, Clinton was impeached for lying about an affair. Bush could do that and it would be at the bottom of the list of about 100 other worse things he’s done.

I really think the “left” is waiting for a leader. It seems like people are almost embarassed to speak out or take action without this. Or, maybe it’s the fact there’s a war going on, that could be a large factor too. Progressive people need a leader, and fast. They need a Kennedy or a Martin Luther King, Jr. It certainly wasn’t any of the Democratic candidates that ran last time, although perhaps Dean would have been closest if the Media hadn’t purposefully destroyed him. Maybe it needs to be someone outside of politics. It’s too complicated to be in politics in the US and have a strong message since everyone is so scared about walking the middle line.

The “right” doesn’t have one of those leaders but they built a machine-like entity to simulate one. This was through their media blitz in the 90s: taking up large mailing campaigns, talk radio, and politicizing churches and religion.

The new face of Canadian politics

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In the last week we’ve seen a bit of the new “change” being brought to Ottawa by the Conservative party.

  • A Liberal MP from Vancouver crosses the floor. It’s just as bad as when Belinda Stronach did it. Of course the decision is never about politics, right? I wonder why a cabinet position is always involved. It goes without saying that most Conservatives now think this is a great idea, even though they claimed the skies would fall when it happened last year.
  • This guy seems to be taking a beating. He’s a Conservative MP who spoke out against said crossing-of-floor. Apparently Harper punishes people when they don’t agree with him.
  • The appointment of unelected people to the Senate. This is especially hypocritical considering Harpers previously strong view that the Senate should be elected, not appointed. May as well take your one last chance to get crazy wingnut Stockwell Day into a government position, eh? And you put him in charge of Public Safety?

Well, the Conservatives seem to be doing pretty well at screwing up so far, so that’s good. I just hope the Liberals make sure to wait long enough before trying to force an election. They need to get themselves on track not just wait for the Conservatives to get off track.

What is sacriligious?

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All this uproar about the cartoons of Mohammed brings up a lot of tough questions. One of the toughest is deciding if it’s OK to do something sacriligious towards a religion when you’re not of that religion.

Muslims have every right to be mad at the papers who published the cartoons. They can, and probably should, engage in a boycott of those papers. But, anything beyond that is where it starts getting questionable.

To start the thought process, here’s an article that brings up an interesting point, although I don’t agree with how far it goes: We are all Danes now.

The point I like is: “Hindus don’t protest against countries that eat beef.”

Further:
- Christians haven’t burned the Isreali embassy even though Jews claim Jesus was not a god.
- Buddhists don’t bat an eye when they see people living their lives off the eightfold path.
- None of the Abrahamic religions have put a call for the assassination of the creators of South Park even though they’ve shown some pretty nasty things about Jesus.

Perhaps the above examples aren’t considered as sacriligious as showing an image of Mohammed. An interesting case to think about: what if a movie came out depicting Jesus and Moses in a situation very similar to Brokeback Mountain? How would the western religions react? I guarentee a large number of Americans would be extremely mad. But, how far would it go if that movie was produced in Germany? I’m sure people would try to organize large-scale boycotts of that film production company. Would they try to organize a boycott of anything German? I doubt it (the all-French boycott example is different, but equally stupid – it was a government decision to not vote for the Iraq war.) I’m sure no one would burn down any German embassy.

In this situation, who’s wrong? Both. I don’t think the ideal of free speech should be curtailed. But, in societies that value free speech there has always been a line of acceptability. This crossed that line, but that still doesn’t make it “wrong.” Large-audience media always has to be respectful of the views of it’s readership or face the consequence of a smaller readership. The reason South Park gets away with it is because its relatively small audience wants exactly what it’s giving.

I’m sure the non-European Muslim population that’s protesting feels somewhat powerless here because I’m sure they weren’t buying those papers anyways. But why demonize the entire country? The citizens of those countries had nothing to do with those cartoons. Should the “west” demonize the entire Muslim culture just because a very small number choose to kidnap and murder journalists? Oh wait… that already happened…

Moron of the year competition is early this year

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Need to refresh your belief that the US legal system is dysfunctional? (Or, I guess more appropriately, idiots can take advantage of it) Check this out:

Apple sued over iPod hearing loss claims

Someone is suing Apple because their music players can be loud. They have the potential to cause damage to his hearing. But, it hasn’t done that yet. Just in case he’s starting his lawsuit in the hopes of it becoming a class action, for the good of the people.

I think we should have a special place for people like this where everything that’s normally common sense gets explained to them slowly as they perform any task. “Watch out, that coffee could be hot!” “Don’t turn that up too loud, it could damage your hearing!” “Don’t stick that fork in your eye, it might hurt!” They’ll be almost like mental institutions but it’s where someone gets sent if they bring a frivolous lawsuit and lose.

Bush on oil

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Similarly to my reaction to a speech by Bush about a year ago, The Bush Speech – Energy, I was happy to hear part of his state of the union speech focused on energy. I also liked what has become the tagline, that “America is addicted to oil.”

Focus on Oil Praised, but With Caveats

Now, trying to be fair, although I know I’m not as fair as Fox News, I would like to show some mild appreciation of this.

To anyone who may be suprised by this, I’ll answer the questions in advance:

  • Do I think Bush is really committed to the cause yet? No, although I do think he believes in it. I don’t think any politician has the guts since a major overhaul of energy policy would be risky politically.
  • Was it a wily political move intended to woo moderates and quiet the left-wingers? Probably.
  • Will this speech accomplish anything? Not by itself, although I guess some good news is slightly-increased funding for research areas.

What it comes down to is this: there is a lot of value in a Republican president (or any, for that matter) admitting the US has a problem with oil. Every single person already knows it, but this public acknowldgement will make future policy changes easier. I’d like to know if Clinton ever made similar statements.

I would honestly forget everything I currently think of Bush if he would be the president who decided to make energy reform his legacy. Bold steps are going to be taken some day, by someone, and the sooner the better. If Bush went headfirst into alternative energy and conservation the number of people he’s already killed would pale in comparison to the number that might be saved from dying in the wars for oil of the future if no one acts now.

But, alas, we still need to wait for that person. Who’s that Nader guy again?