24 August 2010

Michael Been of The Call dead at 60

Many of my peers who came of age with the music of the '80s have never heard of The Call, although they'd likely recognize a song or two.  But those of us into the Simple Minds, The Alarm, U2, and Big Country know the every note of the Reconciled, Into the Woods, and Let the Day Begin albums.  And now we mourn the passing of singer/bassist Michael Been, who died of an apparent heart attack while working with his son's band at a music festival in Belgium.  He was 60, which seems old for a rocker from my youth, but young given my age of 40.

One of my first concerts was The Call opening for The Simple Minds at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, around 1987.  The band's hits were "Everywhere I Go" and "I Still Believe."  I wore out my Reconciled tape, and didn't yet own a CD player, so I listened to bootlegs and tapes recorded off the radio.

The San Jose Mercury News opens its obituary thusly:
"He played John the Baptist in a Martin Scorsese film. He once beat John Belushi in a comedy competition. He counted as friends Bono and Peter Gabriel. Al Gore borrowed one of his songs as the theme for his 2000 presidential campaign."
So dust off your box of tapes, listen to music from your youth, appreciate the synthesizers, and thank gosh your friends didn't have camera phones in high school.

Watch videos after the break...

15 August 2010

In this fascinating TED talk, British author Matt Ridley argues that, through history, the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, "ideas having sex with each other."  A few quotes to whet your appetite:
"Trade is ten times older than farming."
"What's relevant to a society is how well people are communicating their ideas and how well they're cooperating, now how clever the individuals are." 

02 August 2010

How hot is it?

Here's the thermometer. Granted, the paved parking lot is warmer than the air temperature, but 108F is still hot. Africa hot.

 Yeah, I gotta dust my dashboard.

01 August 2010

Just how long are Red Sox games?

ESPN columnist and Boston sports fan Bill Simmons recently wrote about the boring nature of the 2010 Boston Red Sox. The factors he listed were:
  • Injuries - 10%
  • Front-Office Paralysis - 5%
  • The Hangover - 15% (I believe this should be 25%)
  • Bandwagon Effect - 5% (I'd drop this to 0%)
  • Steroid Era Hangover - 5%
  • Decline of Baseball in General - 5% (I'd increase this to 10%)
  • Time of the Games - 55% (I'd drop to 45%)
For the last point regarding the length of games Simmons provided data on game times through eight significant seasons, starting in 1975 and running through 2010.  Generally data mean more to me when presented visually, so I plotted them on a bar graph (less the incomplete 2010 season).  Note the ever-expanding purple bands, which denote games that lasted between three and four hours.  Not shown is that through 101 games in 2010, the Red Sox have played one (1) game in less than 2:30 hours.  Maybe I was spoiled by watching a number of Greg Maddux's two-hour masterpieces in Atlanta, but this is absurd.  Bud Selig would do well to adopt a few of Simmons' suggestions.