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Month January 2005

Mining Music Industrials from the 50′s & 60′s

A humorous way to start the week: John Kalish on industrials, those broadway tunes that promoted shop grease, tractors and other industrial products:

From the 1950s through the 1970s, large companies regularly commissioned original musicals for their annual conventions and sales meetings. Some employed reknowned Broadway composers for these shows.

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Wisconsin DPI Candidate Madison Forum Video/Audio

2009 Primary Candidate notes and links can be found here.


Three of the four candidates for Wisconsin DPI Superintendent participated in a Madison Forum Saturday morning. The League of Women Voters Melanie Ramey kindly moderated. Watch the forum here (video and audio clips). You can also read individual questions and watch/listen to the candidate responses.

Incumbent Libby Burmaster was unable to attend, though the three candidates mentioned that she has not participated in any primary events to date. I find this disappointing. These challenging education times require more debate, a more engaged citizenry and leadership.

I was impressed with the three participating candidates. They addressed the issues and were willing to put their names on a position.

In days long gone, it was likely sufficient to rely on special interests and avoid direct public interaction. Our current President certainly avoids any sort of critical engagements. Russ Feingold, to my knowledge, has always mingled easily with the public. [Melanie mentioned that incumbent non-participation in the primaries is a growing problem around the state.]

The internet era is dramatically changing the way in which we all communicate, are informed and express our points of view. Any candidate seeking office would do well to participate in the conversation.

I also want to thank the local media for their extensive coverage:

  • 3, 15 and 27. Their coverage enabled these three candidates to have a few broadcast words with Madison voters.
  • Isthmus posted the event in their weekly calendar.
  • Sheryl Gasser emailed and mentioned that Wisconsin Public Radio will be interviewing the four DPI candidates individually starting this Monday morning from 7 to 8a.m. through Thursday morning. I’ll post audio links to these conversations.

Take a look at the forum page and email the candidates with questions. The primary is Tuesday, February 15, 2005. Vote!

Tool for Thought

Steven Berlin Johnson discusses the software he uses to organize his research, Devonthink.

This week’s edition of the Times Book Review features an essay that I wrote about the research system I’ve used for the past few years: a tool for exploring the couple thousand notes and quotations that I’ve assembled over the past decade — along with the text of finished essays and books. I suspect there will be a number of you curious about the technical details, so I’ve put together a little overview here, along with some specific observations. For starters, though, go read the essay and then come back once you’ve got an overview.

EFF: Endangered Gizmos

The Electronic Freedom Foundation is making a list of technologically advanced, otherwise desirable gizmos threatened by folks who don’t understand that intellectual property protections are supposed to spur innovation, not suppress it. Support the EFF. Via Virginia Postrel.

Why Wilco is the Future of Music

Lessig summarizes Wilco’s unique role in the online music wars:

The band Wilco and its quiet, haunted leader, Jeff Tweedy, is something different. After its Warner label, Reprise, decided that the group’s fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was no good, Wilco dumped them and released the tracks on the Internet. The label was wrong. The album was extraordinary, and a sold-out 30-city tour followed. This success convinced Nonesuch Records, another Warner label, to buy the rights back – reportedly at three times the original price. The Net thus helped make Wilco the success it has become. But once back in Warner’s favor, many wondered: Would Wilco forget the Net?

This is what democracy looks like

Lessig visits brazil and encounters old fashioned democracy…..

But more striking still was just the dynamic of this democracy. Barlow captured the picture at the top, which in a sense captures it all. Here’s a Minister of the government, face to face with supporters, and opponents. He speaks, people protest, and he engages their protest. Passionately and directly, he stands at their level. There is no distance. There is no “free speech zone.” Or rather, Brazil is the free speech zone. Gil practices zone rules.
Even after the speech was over, the argument continues. At no point is there “protection”; at every point, there is just connection. This is the rockstar who became a politician, who became a politician as a rockstar.

Winter Geneva, Switzerland Photos



Beautiful, icy, winter photographs of Lake Geneva.

Safeway Shopper Card Leads to Arson Arrest

Richard Smith summarizes the story of a Tukwila, Washington firefighter – Philip Scott Lyons. Lyons, a Safeway loyalty cardholder was arrested last August and charged with attempted arson:

According to the KOMO-TV and the Seattle Times, a major piece of evidence used against Lyons in his arrest was the record of his supermarket purchases that he made with his Safeway Club Card. Police investigators had discovered that his Club Card was used to buy fire starters of the same type used in the arson attempt.

For Lyons, the story did have a happy ending. All charges were dropped against him in January 2005 because another person stepped forward saying he set the fire and not Lyons. Lyons is now back at work after more than 5 months of being on administrative leave from his firefighter job.

The moral of this story is that even the most innocent database can be used against a person in a criminal investigation turning their lives completelyupside down.

Kevin Kelly: True Films


Kevin Kelly just released a $3.00 PDF version of his book, True Films. This interesting and useful e-book contains the best 100 documenatries he reviewed as True Films in December, 2004.

Toyota: The Car Company in Front


The Economist on Toyota’s automotive juggernaut:

THERE is the world car industry, and then there is Toyota. Since 2000 the output of the global industry has risen by about 3m vehicles to some 60m: of that increase, half came from Toyota alone. While most attention over the past four years has focused on a spectacular turnaround at Nissan, Toyota has undergone a dramatic growth spurt all round the world. Japan’s industry leader will soon be making more cars abroad than at home. It has overtaken Ford in global production terms and is set to pass Chrysler in sales to become one of America’s Big Three. In an industry strewn with basket cases, where hardly any volume producer makes a real return on its capital, Toyota is exceptional in that it consistently makes good returns (see chart 1).