Monthly Archives: January 2006

An Open Letter to Blue Note, Sony, and EMI

Diehard jazz aficionado Volkher Hofmann is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it to the register anymore.

Read it. All of it. It’s a thing of beauty. Years from now, when the scavengers are picking over the bones of the major labels, we’ll look back and say, “This was it. This was the moment when they passed the point of no return, the beginning of the end. When people who spent thousands of dollars on, and arranged the rest of their lives around, recorded music decided that they’d finally had enough, and were no longer going to be apologists for a bunch of indifferent, cash-grubbing corporate tools.”


A few weeks ago, NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday ran an interview with Frank Warren, creator/proprietor of the PostSecret project.

It’s essentially an anonymous postcard confessional, with the most compelling submissions displayed on the site every week. Some are funny; some are haunting. One of the latter is one I haven’t seen yet, which Warren selected to read on the air:

“I’d give anything for the opportunity to show even the smallest kindness to my ex-wife.”

I’d like to see that one. I suspect that I’ll have to buy the book to do so. I can think of worse things.

But it and the one reproduced below seem like flip sides of the same coin. It’s strange how kindness can sometimes cut deeper than cruelty.

I'm trying to forget every kind thing you ever said to me

Evening the Odds

My friend Greg is in the process of being shafted by Verizon, who have at this point basically admitted to bald-facedly lying to him when they quoted him his original DSL installation dates, as well as conceding that they may lying now when they quote him new ones. This, therefore, seems like a good time time to mention two key resources that can help level the playing field when dealing with a faceless corporation’s customer-“service” system: Rob Levandowski’s excellent guide to The Art of Turboing, and Paul English’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) cheat sheet.

(As an aside, Greg’s experience seems sadly typical of DSL-provider stories I’ve heard lately. This contrasts poorly with cable-broadband companies, who make it much easier and quicker to get on-line with them. I’m a DSL user myself, and like the service, but I don’t see how the telcos are going to keep the cable companies from eating their lunch if they don’t get their act together fast.)

Update 2006-03-08: Apparently Paul English’s IVR Cheat Sheet has sparked enough of a response to instigate what  could wind up being a full-blown movement. If this turns out to be an actual consumer rebellion, historians may wind up saying that HQ was located at

Queen of Wands

A little while back, Chris noted his discovery of the excellent Questionable Content, one of my long-time favorites, on his LiveJournal. This led to a discussion of webcomics in general, and Chris wound up pointing me at Queen of Wands, of which I was sadly unaware. It’s a solid story, well-told, and if it occasionally threatens to stray into soap-opera territory, it displays flashes of outright genius often enough that I find myself not minding too much.

I have two all-time favorites. The first takes an idle thought I periodically have during allergy season — “Plant sperm! We’re being inundated in plant sperm!” — and runs with it. The second introduces a variation on a song from The Lion King that you’ll be hard-pressed to get out of your head for the rest of the day.