Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dumbo Octopus

Grimpoteuthis, the Dumbo Octopus. Isn't he cute?

They swim, like Dumbo, by flapping their ears. Or whatever those things are.

Or whatever it was Dumbo did. (I saw the movie when I was four. I realize it was seminal but I'm not that sure on the plot.)

Update 12/2013: A new picture of an even cuter Dumbo Octopus here.

Update 5/2014: A rather more frightening look at a Dumbo Octopus here.
Update 9/2014 a lovely video here.
A new sighting here.
Update Oct 12 2014: A new video here.

Superhype awry

It seems that JPJ and Jimmy Page aren't allowed to play together with a new singer – the fans (and Harvey Goldsmith) have spoken. Newspaper reports following an interview by John Paul Jones in Exeter seem universally focused on how crap it would be for Led Zeppelin to tour without Robert Plant. The odd thing is, no-one's said that there'll be any tours as Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant.

The Guardian: Led Zep reunion: promoter says no

Led Zeppelin's former promoter has warned the band against a reunion tour, questioning whether there is any "compelling reason" to get back together.
"I certainly don't think they should do a big tour because I can't see the point of it," Harvey Goldsmith told a crowd at the MusExpo conference in London this week. "I think some of the band really want to go out and do it and other parts of the band need to understand why they're doing it, and if there's no compelling reason to do it, then they shouldn't do it."

Rolling Stone: John Paul Jones Hints At Led Zeppelin Tour Without Robert Plant
(A million comments on the subject:)

Entertainment News
Plant-less Zeppelin gig draws criticism

Jones said the remaining members plan to record a new album and go on tour as Led Zeppelin.

Celebrity Watch, Times Online

Frankly amazing times for BBC Radio Devon, which broke a gigantic world exclusive on Tuesday. Cornering Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones at a “guitar show in Exeter”, a cub reporter got him to reveal that Led Zeppelin will be re-forming - and seeking to replace the legendary Robert Plant with new lead singer!

As you know from this blog, John Paul Jones used the words "Jimmy, Jason and I" at the Guitar Show, not "Led Zeppelin".

And at the Radio Devon interview, he did not say anything about "Led Zeppelin". I heard the Radio Devon announcer say it. That's not the same thing.

The Late Show BBC Radio Devon Tue 28th October. (From Steve Sauer)

Here's my transcript:

Radio Devon: You are working with Jimmy Page, you are working with Jason Bonham. What is happening? We've heard Robert Plant doesn't want to do it. We've heard Myles Kennedy has been mentioned. What is happening?
JPJ: Well, er, we're trying out with a couple of singers and basically when we know what we're gonna do, we'll let you know. (Laugh.) Let everybody else know.
Radio Devon: You obviously wanna do it though?
JPJ: We do wanna do it. We're sounding great, what we're doing. We're very happy and we wanna, er, get on and get out there. Time's getting on.
Radio Devon: Is there a feeling that if you don't do it shortly you wouldn't wanna do it?
JPJ: Not that we wouldn't want to, but it's got to be right, you know? Not just trying to re-create, find another Robert. I mean you could pick somebody out of a tribute band. What's the point of that, you know? We don't want to be our own tribute band.
Radio Devon: And just a final point, will there be a record coming out? Is it just touring you'll do?
JPJ: Yeah, there would be a record, a tour, and ya know. But, we've got to have everybody on board, everybody on and that's what we're working for, that's a proper job.
Radio Devon: We're looking forward to it. So there you have it. Zeppelin will tour without Robert Plant in the not too distant future.

Could the compelling reason be they want to play loud music again? Not cash in as "Led Zeppelin"? I'm worried we might not get a chance to find out after this reception.


Monday, October 27, 2008


On October 16th, the Army's 304 Military Intelligence Battalion Open Source Intelligence Team put out a document, impressively marked "For Official Use Only" detailing the various insidious ways Terrsts could use technology to sow Terr in America.

Information Week, in its article, Terrorists Could Use Twitter For Mayhem, Army Report Muses says,

"It [the report] touches briefly on "Pro Terrorist Propaganda Cell Phone Interfaces," using cell phone GPS data to assist terrorist operations, mobile phone surveillance, possible use of voice changing technology by terrorists, "Potential For Terrorist Use of Twitter," and other mobile phone technology and software that bears further consideration."

It's true, too. They could. They could also, say, write something on a notepad, put it into an envelope and mail it, so I think we should look very carefully at this "US Mail" thingy, as I'm sure it could come back to bite us on the ass one day.

I was thinking of some more technological ways to teach Terrsts how to organize, but luckily Rick in comments has put a few together for us. "Rick" says,

"You forgot the following:Pens, pencils, paper, cardboard, paint, walkie-talkies, bullhornes, postage stamps, xerox machines, telegrams, telephones of all types, whiteboards and dry erase markers, sharpies, emails, web sites, billboards, shouting, speaking at normal volume, whispering, sign language, coded gestures, pig latin, Navy signal flag banners, silkscreened T-shirts, carvings on tree trunks with pocket knives, vanity license plates, sky-writing, signs on blimps, coded whistling, backwards recordings embedded in pop songs, bogus advertisements, hoaxes with secret underlying meanings, varying lengths of thin and wide necktie ends, messages in wadded up pieces of paper, graffiti in public places including restroom stalls, limericks, and utterly ridiculous Pentagon press releases."

All true. But, look, Rick - and Army's 304 Military Intelligence Battalion Open Source Intelligence Team - I can't believe you both spent several minutes on this horrible threat and neither of you came up with steganographically embedded code words in Britney Spears pictures on Flickr.

Any more of this slack thinking and the Terrsts will have won.

*Twitterpated defined for the confused.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

John Paul Jones confirms rehearsals taking place

Today, October 26th, 2008, John Paul Jones answered questions from musicians and fans at Mansons Guitar Show in Exeter.

He was asked about the current rumors regarding a Led Zeppelin "reunion" tour. He confirmed that he, John Paul Jones, was rehearsing with Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham. Robert Plant does not want to do this for the moment. Robert did not want to "make loud music any more" so they had been working with "the other odd singer". JPJ said that they don't know who will be chosen, but "as soon as we know we will tell you." He really hopes that "something will happen soon", he added.

He said the band sounded "fantastic".

Here is the segment on YouTube, as posted by Nick337.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Undersea Boris Johnson found

Possibly the cutest sea monster ever, the avocado-sized piglet squid.

Found at Zooillogix by the indefatiguable Oceangal. Picture courtesy of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was overjoyed to learn of the existence of his watery cousin:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pretty Jack White

I was checking my stats and someone came to the blog this morning on a search for 'pretty jack white' (no quotes). It seems like slim pickings out there for blogs using the words "pretty jack white" so I might as well get in at the head of the curve.

I bought the two Raconteurs CDs this week, Consolers of the Lonely and Broken Boy Soldiers, having been seduced a live boot provided by a friend. They got here yesterday and I will listen this evening.

I missed the White Stripes bandwagon, but that's all right. A bit of artistic maturity is a fine thing.

OK, pretty Jack White. I think we can all agree on this.

Hand to mouth shots always slay me.

Yeah, I know the cash shirt is photoshopped.

Edited to re-up photos, 06/03/15

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baroque and Berserk

Ol' Roy Harper - hats off to him - is on a bit of a publicity push at the moment. I've been listening to his stuff recently, and even - gasp! - buying some! Yes, in the 21st Century I've paid money for music! Via his web site so he actually gets some of it!

From one article, "Cult Fave Roy Harper Reintroduces Himself to the US", I learned that he is recovering from prostate cancer, but will consider touring again, plucky man.

And that there are reissues:

While Harper's musical style and lyrics may account for the lack of greater mainstream acceptance, his name and voice are probably familiar to rock fans. Led Zeppelin recorded the song 'Hats Off to (Roy) Harper' from 1970's 'Led Zeppelin III,' and Harper sang lead on 'Have a Cigar' from Pink Floyd's 1975album 'Wish You Were Here.' Now his distinct music is being reintroduced to Americans through the recent reissues of his earlier studio albums: 'Flat Baroque and Berserk' (1970), 'Stormcock' (1971) and 'What Ever Happened to Jugula?' (a collaborative album with Jimmy Page, 1985).

There's another, much longer, article at Popmatters, Hats Off: An Interview with Roy Harper

It says he's in his seventies and was born in 1941, so it must be being published in the future... or my math is crap. It's a full career retrospective and includes a little on my heroes, e.g.

Yet while Harper never achieved mega-rock star status, the people he hung out with did. Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, David Gilmour all were close long-time friends. In 1970, Led Zeppelin recorded the tribute “Hats Off to Roy Harper” and put it on the folk-leaning, III. Harper remembers how he heard about the song.

“I went up to see them in their office, and Jimmy handed me the record, and I was like ‘Oh, new record ...’ and twirled it around a bit and said, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ And I gave it back,” he says. “[Jimmy] he handed it back to me, and said, ‘Well, look at it then.’ And I sort of realized I should be looking at something else. And then, of course, I saw it, and I said, ‘Oh, dear ...’”

Harper says he’s still in touch with friends from the old days, and had just attended Robert Plant’s 60th birthday. Still the gap between their success and his was large. Was that ever difficult?

“Well, you can imagine, being a multimillionaire and all of that ... the level on which I operate is nowhere near that,” he admits. “Automatically, they have completely different lives from me. Although I must say that particularly Robert does his absolutely level best to keep his feet on the ground and stay in touch, constantly. Robert actually does his best all the time. Not that the others don’t. But after so many years, after so much life experience, people do become separated, you know?”

I can imagine that. I've lost touch with a lot of friends from the seventies, and I don't even have the being-a-multi-millionaire excuse.

The long article is well worth a read.

If you feel an inkling to buy Roy Harper albums, do visit his own website, . You can buy the them there and have the satisfaction of knowing he'll see the sales and not just a royalty check 18 months down the road.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Four Chords

All the following songs use the same chord progression. It is the famous C Am F G, or various keys and minor variants of same.

Happy listening.

D'yer Mak'er – Led Zeppelin

Apparently people have problems with that title – it's pronounced Jamaica and is the penultimate line of the old joke,
"I took my girlfriend to the West Indies last week."
"Oh? Jamaica?"
"No, but it was fun trying."

You might not get it. I doubt anyone this century has taken a girl to the West Indies and not made her, but I said it was an old joke.

Edit: Having since heard an interview with Robert Plant where he gives the punchline, he actually meant the clean version.

"My wife went to the West Indies last week."
"No, she went of her own accord."

Not as funny, but apparently definitive. :)

Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis

For some reason they don't want this embedded – fine, don't sell records then. Usually I embed them myself but can't be bothered with this one. Nice record, though, in its way. And she was tied to a pole in the dark with Jimmy Page at the Olympics, so she's all right by me.

Grown ups are just silly children - Roy Harper

Can't find an embeddable one of this either, but Roy's all right by me, and he has quite likely been tied to a pole with Jimmy Page at least once, so I'll forgive him.

Stand by Me - Ben E King

Every Breath You Take - The Police

Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love – Dion and the Belmonts

Who Put The Bomp – Barry Mann

Hungry Heart – Bruce Springsteen

(A little different)

Last Christmas - Wham

There are thousands more – apparently over 100 hot hits with the same chords. It's not what you've got, it's what you do with it that counts.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Keep a'Coolin', Baby

There's a persistent belief that scientists used to believe that an ice-age was imminent, and now they believe that the Earth is warming. The subtext is that scientists can't make their minds up and clearly can be ignored as hysterical lunatics. I've mentioned before that this is not true; there was no general belief amongst scientists in the seventies that the Earth was cooling. In that piece I mentioned a round up of texts from the time published on the web as "Was an imminent Ice Age predicted in the '70's? No."

There's now a newer review of the literature out. What's their conclusion?

The team’s survey of major journal papers published between 1965 and 1979 found that only seven articles predicted that global average temperature would continue to cool. During the same period, 44 journal papers indicated that the average temperature would rise and 20 were neutral or made no climate predictions. The findings were “a surprise to us,” Peterson says. For decades the “skeptics had repeated their argument so often and so strongly that we misremembered the tenor of the times.”

Their report is published in in the September Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, and there is a write-up of the paper in Science News: Cooling climate ‘consensus’ of 1970s never was.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Today's Gleanings

A couple of interesting things from the interwebs today. Making Light points up John Walcott's speech accepting the I. F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence on October 7th. It's refreshing to hear a journalist (actually, a bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers) with his feet on the ground and a healthy understanding that some things are true, and some things are not true, and "balance" does not mean a mix of the two.

Does the truth lie halfway between say, slavery and abolition, or between segregation and civil rights, or between communism and democracy? If you quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Winston Churchill, in other words, must you then give equal time and credence to Hitler and Joseph Goebbels? If you write an article that's critical of John McCain, are you then obligated to devote an identical number of words to criticism of Barack Obama, and vice versa?

The idea that truth is merely a social construct, that it's subjective, in other words, first appeared in academia as a corruption of post-modernism, but it’s taken root in our culture without our really realizing it or understanding its implications.

It began with liberal academics arguing, for example, that some Southwestern Indians' belief that humans are descended from a subterranean world of supernatural spirits is, as one archaeologist put it, "just as valid as archaeology." As NYU philosophy professor Paul Boghossian puts it in a wonderful little book, "Fear of Knowledge": " ... the idea that there are many equally valid ways of knowing the world, with science being just one of them, has taken very deep root."

Although this kind of thinking, relativism and constructivism, started on the left, many conservatives now feel empowered by it, too, and some of them have embraced it with a vengeance on issues ranging from global warming and evolution to the war in Iraq.

"Journalists live in the reality-based world," a White House official told Ron Suskind, writing for The New York Times Magazine back in the headier days of 2004. "The world doesn't really work that way any more. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

I respectfully disagree.

The rest is worth reading, too.

And on a completely different tack - but producing the same joy - a Baltimore Sun blogger finds a Page/Plant video of Since I've Been Loving You from Glastonbury in 1995 that packs a visceral punch. Always one of my favorite tracks, here it is in a very late incarnation, sounding, quite improbably, just as good as the first time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Take On Me: Literal Video Version

Found via Matt Ruff's blog: This is Aha!'s gigantic hit Take On Me retrofitted to match its famously groundbreaking video. Now the words describe the action in the video.

What's wonderful is the sheer perfection of the redone track. The voice is beautiful, the words are funny (and get much funnier towards the end), nobody screws up and everything works out right. I don't know how people do this - there are many people with actual recording contracts who plainly can't sing at all, or even worse use Auto-Tune. It's strange to live in a world where some guys and presumably their pet Pro Tools can put together a wonderful version of a very famous song.

I get the impression that for every three people who actually produce a thing there are a dozen more riffing off it, fanficcing it, slashing it, parodying it, derivately working it or otherwise performing other post modern occupations of the same general sort. Is it just the way I live my life, or is it true?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Changing My Name to Fannie Mae

Arlo Guthrie updates "I'm Changing My Name to Chrysler" (Tom Paxton) for the Bailout Days.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Archer Fish

An Archer Fish. No particular reason; just part of the general sea monster theme here. The fish can shoot an insect several inches away, making allowances for the fact its eyes are underwater and its target above water (which changes the apparent position of the prey by refraction) and adjusts for the effects of gravity. The narrator calls it computation, which isn't strictly true. A kid who knows no math can shoot hoops, which is much the same thing, minus the refraction. But the really cool feature of the video is the "bullet time" photography (array of still cameras trigged by a very fast event) which freezes the "arrow" in the middle of the action and allows you to see what a great shot this fish is.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Favorite Things

Combining my three favorite things, Japan, Sea Monsters, spooky green glows and the Nobel Prize...wait, that's four things...

Osamu Shimomura shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into the green glowing protein in jellyfish, GFP. The protein can be made on a structure of interest and then "lit up" so that the other protein or structure can be easily located under a microscope. It has led to several breakthroughs in Biology and Medical Research.

To do the initial research, Shimomura had to catch 100,000 jellyfish.

Daily Yomiuri reports:

In the state of Washington, where Shimomura was based at the time, there were so many Aequorea victoria jellyfish living in the sea nearby that local residents said they could walk on the water as a result. As his research would require up to 3,000 jellyfish a day, Shimomura, his family members and his assistants would repeatedly scoop up jellyfish using long-shafted nets, depositing them in one of about 30 buckets placed at intervals of five meters along a pier.

It goes on:

Due to a rapid decline in the number of jellyfish over the past 10 years or so, it has become impossible to capture large quantities of them.

Perhaps we also need a Nobel Prize in population dynamics.


John McCain calls his audience "my fellow prisoners".

(YouTube video)

I'm beginning to wonder if my friend isn't right - the one who sends me webpages to read about who our masters are, what the Federal Reserve really is, and what the real people in power are up to.

As Anti-War Blog says, savvy politicians usually wait until after they're elected to tell you they're nullifying all your rights.

Of course, as being paranoid is a way of life for me, I can't tell if he's deliberately throwing the election by appearing elderly, ill and mad or whether he's genuinely elderly, ill and mad.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Back in the Garage

I watched a documentary on The Clash today, called The Clash's London Calling. It's a potted history of the boys with a lot of live footage and several talking heads saying how great they were. And they were, weren't they?

What's My Name and Garageland, Live at the Elizabethan, Manchester, 1977

Janie Jones, Live at the Elizabethan, Manchester, 1977

White Riot 06-07-1978 Dunfermline Kinema,Scotland

I did see them live once, and all I remember is they had a lot of very large male fans wearing leather jackets. I suppose it would be better to say "I attended one of their performances", because I didn't actually see any of them.

Thank goodness for YouTube.

In 1977, I'd given up my Led Zeppelin habit. Now I look at what I was missing, and, y'know, stylistically there are certain similarities.

Jimmy Page Poppy Suit 1977

Jimmy Page Poppy Suit 1977 as well

Thursday, October 02, 2008

And yet more "Bailout"

Upset that the government hasn't given the thugs on Wall Street their $700 Billion yet? So was Wall Street. The Dow plunged on Monday when they learned they wouldn't get their graft money.

But did you notice this? The Federal Reserve printed took $630 Billion from the vaults and sent that into the system on Monday. I'm not making that up. Wall Street didn't get its $700 Billion, but the financial system as a whole got $630 Billion. And it vanished, again.

There's no point in giving them any more. And adding $150 Billion of pork for individual Senators for such things as removing the excise tax on wooden arrows for children (still not making this up) does not make the bailout "sweeter". It makes it bigger and more...porky.

Fed Pumps Further $630 Billion Into Financial System

The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed's expansion of liquidity, the biggest since credit markets seized up last year, came hours before the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry.

Don't give them any more money. They lost the last lot and they'll lose this lot too.


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