October 09, 2008

Filibuster–Proof Majority

In order to hold a Filibuster-Proof majority the Democrats need to take 60 seats in the US senate. They currently hold 49, and two independents who caucus with them on domestic issues, and 1 on foreign policy. There are 35 races for Senate this year, with 23 currently held by Republicans and 12 by democrats. Currently the democratic incumbents seeking reelection appear to all be safe. Consequently the democrats will need to take 9 of the 23 republican seats.

There are a surprising number of seats that the democrats can confidently look forward to taking. Mark Udall in Colorado and Tom Udall in New Mexico are both ahead of their opponents in the polls. Jeanne Shaheen is leading John Sununu by 8%, a comfortable margin, and Mark Warner is holding a near 30% over Jim Gilmore in Virginia.

Elizabeth Dole decided to run for re-election this year, and only faces opposition from a state Senator, in a republican leaning state. The polls had her leading Kay Hagen earlier in the year, but as of late September Hagen has managed to overtake. Rasmussen has her 4% ahead. In Oregan Republican incumbant Senator Gordon Smith is being opposed by jeff Merkley. This is another one to watch, with Smith’s early lead dissipating – Merkley has taken a statistically insignificant lead as of July, despite Smith having a higher approval than disapproval rating.

Al Franken is surprisingly polling neck and neck with Norm Coleman in Minnesota, and looks considerably less long-shot now. Ted “The Internet is a series of tubes” Stevens is also neck and neck with his democratic opponent, Mark Begrich. Whilst it may surprise people to hear the Stevens, indicted and clearly incompetent is still competitive, he took 78% of the vote in his last campaign, to the democrats’ 11% – so this is quite a big thing.

In short one can be highly confident of the democrats holding 53 seats, it seems likely that they will take 55, and its easily possible for them to get 57. When one includes the two independents they would be one away from a Filibuster-Proof majority. Given another month is possible that some of the weaker repbulican candidates who are still leading will have fallen behind, so despite the low likelihood of holding a Filibuster-Proof majority its still vaguely possible.

edit: fixed veto proof typo


September 26, 2008

Sleeping Patterns and My Sanity

I have recently spent far too much time sleeping. Consequently Vic and I have decided that we will be undertaking a polyphasic sleeping pattern. Starting tomorrow we will be attempting to arise at 6am – exactly at the time the alarm clock rings. This period of preparation will continue until 8th October. Starting the 9th of October we will be undertaking Buckminster-Fuller’s Dymaxion Sleep pattern. Buckminster Fuller tried this for 2 years, and remained sane during the period of time.

The schedule involves taking 30 minutes of sleep every 6 hours – one is consequently able to stay away for 22 hours of the day. This may sound insane – but it is backed up by SCIENCE! Essentially at the beginning one enters a period of sleep deprivation, with the consequence that the Brain forces the body into REM sleep when one immediately starts sleeping. The result is that sleep time for unnecessary activities (stuff not involving the brain) isn’t wasted and one can stay away for much longer.

Consequently if you meet me at any time soon after 9th October, I am likely to be acclimatising and in a state of sleep deprivation (since my brain won’t have shut down non-essential sleeping functions). I may be making less sense than usual.


September 22, 2008

Hello Hilarity

Andrew Neill’s interview of representatives from Compass and Progress on the BBC Daily Politics gets cut off at the point where Andrew Neill asks, “is anyone listening”.


September 14, 2008

Stop getting history wrong!

Earlier in the week I attended a dinner at Warwick Castle. Whilst there we were entertained by people dressed up in historical costume. This is fine, though I felt a certain sense of deja vu . For completeness sake, have a photo:

The only issue with this is that they served potatoes with the meal, which wasn’t imported until Sir Francis Drake brought the potato in from Peru in 1586. It is commonly cited as being Sir Walter Raleigh, but apparently thats incorrect. They also asked people to stop smoking ‘the vile weed tobacco’, which has a similar historical issue. Also many of the songs played on the lute weren’t composed until many years later.

This didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the evening, but one is inclined to question the accuracy of historical material provided by institutions such as castles that are offering entertainment simultaneously.


September 06, 2008

Straw Men burn easily

Tony Morris posted an article to his blog giving an example program. The blog title predicates a comparison between languages on one example. This is sensible if one does it infinitely often, and aggregates the results, unfortunately in order to effectively compare languages one must be fair with the examples from each language. I dislike the style in which the haskell/scala/functionaljava examples were written – trying to be far too clever. Anyone who uses “uncurry (flip (,))” is thinking backwards about a problem: Pun intended!

I asked in the wuglug IRC channel if anyone had any more interesting solutions to the problem. I haven’t seen any other algorithm that isn’t either based on the stack, or repeatedly deleting matching pairs of brackets. Faux came up with:

private static boolean parse(String test)
{
    int prev;
    do
    {
        prev = test.length();
        test = test.replaceAll("\\(\\)", "").replaceAll("\\[\\]", "");
    } while (test.length() != prev);

    return test.length() == 0;
}

Its incredibly easy to see intent in this code, and it can be easily generalised according to Mr. Morris’ comparison by abstracting ”\\(\\)” etc. into an array and wrapping a for loop around it:

private static String[] pairs = {"\\(\\)", "\\[\\]"};
private static boolean parse(String test)
{
    int prev;
    do
    {
        prev = test.length();
        for(String pair:pairs)
            test = test.replaceAll(pair, "");
    } while (test.length() != prev);

    return test.length() == 0;
}

Lamby provided the awesome regex: /(? (\((?>(?&r))\))|([(?>(?&r))\]))*/ . This is completely unreadable, however, it is very neat, and could be reasonably commented. In my opinion it is no harder to read than Mr. Morris’ Haskell.

As someone who does rather like the Haskell programming language, I felt it would be interesting to come up with an example in that. The stack based algorithm is more efficient being O(n), rather than O(n^2) – so I decided to play around with that. Its very prology, and might be better written in that language.

parse x = stack x []
stack [] [] = True
stack ('(':x) y = stack x ('(':y)
stack ('[':x) y = stack x ('[':y)
stack (')':x) ('(':y) = stack x y 
stack (']':x) ('[':y) = stack x y 
stack _ _ = False

In comparison with the original Haskell example, this imports nothing outside of prelude, is
(in my opinion) easier to understand, is probably faster – since it uses very simple recursion – and is 8 characters shorter. If anyone has a better solution that doesn’t use a parser generator, and preferably makes minimal use of libraries.


September 04, 2008

Apparently Clarke is right about something

Charles Clarke’s prediction of disaster at the next election is based on very firm ground. The latest polls by Populus and Yougov have Labour behind by 16% and 19% respectively. Historical precedent for this kind of margin between the leading two parties is hard to come by. Thatcher’s famed 1983 win was taken by a popular vote margin over Labour of 14.8% and granted her 397 of the possible 633 seats (63%). For reference, New Labour’s 1997 victory had a 12.5% popular vote margin, achieveing 418 of the 639 seats (65%). In order to find an election where the popular vote margin between the two primary parties is over 16% one has to go back to 1931, where Stanley Baldwin’s conservatives took a 24.2% lead over Labour, resulting in 473 of the 556 of parliamentary seats (85%). The background to that election was in fighting within the Labour that resulted in their leader, Ramsey Macdonald being expelled from the party.

Clarke’s suggested solution, changing party leader, might not be a particularly strong idea. None of the viable alternatives (Harmen, Milliband, Straw) are particular popular or well known, though this didn’t seem to hamper Michael Howard in 2005. The public dislike party leadership changes without electoral mandate (still ranks as one of the highest criticisms of Brown) and party infighting. If they were hold a general election immediately after the leadership change, they would also get slammed on the party unity vote, as happened to the Conservatives in 1997. Another important consideration is that while the public dislike Gordon Brown, and would be inclined to protest vote him, they appear to have similar feelings to the whole New Labour Brand.

Finally the question comes up as to what substantive changes would one actually make to Labour? Judging from public statements party members seem to think the problem is primarily presentation – Milliband argues for rallying round, Clarke for replacing Brown etc. This seems to ignore the public who have genuine economic grievances and a strong belief that the country is on the wrong track. Something I’ve definitely noted amongst successful politicians is that you have to genuinely stand either against an idea, or for an idea.

The constant list of policy tweaks that Brown has announced whilst in office don’t say much to the public. Since they seem to be on the same track with the new economic policies being announced at the moment – its hard to see them coming back from this. Frankly Labour leadership could do a lot worse than this simple exercise: in one sentence why would we vote for you over the Conservatives? The answer to this shouldn’t be a rehash of existing policy or ideas, but a simple, bold, new concept.


August 29, 2008

Program Design

There are certain general precepts of program design that are quite general in nature, for example attempting to separate different components of a program away from each other so that if one needs to make changes to one component it only affects that component and not the whole program. A similar property that can be generally considered good design of a library is to reduce bugs in the usage of the library. The specific manner in which one implements these issues is quite specific to languages.

MissingPy is a library that aims to provide libraries missing from the Haskell standard libraries, by implementing a low level python binding and also some specific bindings on top of it. It seems to be relatively incomplete, and also implements things that are now part of Haskell – but the concept of giving an easy binding to python libraries offers general utility.

I was playing around with said bindings the other week, which caused me some frustration due to what I perceive as poor library design. The libraries themselves have a function called py_initialize, that it is necessary to call before any calls into the interpreter bindings are made. The unfortunate behaviour of this library is to segfault programs that call other methods before calling py_initialize.

Were one to implement this in an object oriented language a possible idea would be to have an interpreter class – and force initialization in the constructor. That way any execution of python code by your bound interpreter instance would have to occur after the interpreter had been initialized.

Unfortunately the translation of these concepts into Haskell was highly procedural in nature. ie one had to call the py_initialize – or be damned if they were foolish. This may be an appropriate choice in something like C – but not in a high level, strongly and statically typed language such as haskell. There are several viable solutions that I can think of – I strongly encourage readers to offer their own.

The simplest solution would be to have py_initialize return a value, that must be passed as an argument to other functions. One could export the type of this value from the module but not its constructor. This would ensure that any user of the module didn’t screw themselves (as I did 4 times in 35 minutes) by only allowing them to call the other function with this as an argument. Unfortunately – passing around immutable tokens in order to enforce security is a little bit ugly, it increases the length of the argument from every function, and is incredibly imperative. It also fails to hide the internal security of the module from the user.

An alternative, that I believe would be better, would be to introduce a new monad, that we shall call PY. Any function that involves a call to the interpreter would need to be in the PY monad. One would replace the py_initialize function with a runPY function that promotes oneself from the IO monad to the PY monad, and initialization could be performed here, thus statically ensuring that this module didn’t combine with my stupidity to cause my test code to segfault.

My point here is that idioms from different paradigms to the same basic problem can frequently be translated into alternative programming languages, but are unnatural in such a setting – resulting in errors that one wouldn’t otherwise expect. Yesterday Faux asked me if I felt programming for another 10 years would genuinely make me a better programmer. I cannot help but answer yes, there are plenty of things that I didn’t know 10 years ago, when I started programming, and plenty of things that I still haven’t figured out yet (list to be supplied on demand). The fact there will inevitably be new languages, new language features, new approaches and new idioms during that period means that I will need to understand solutions to existing problems, that I don’t yet know of. Norvig suggests I might have already reached competency – I hope that is right, but if you stop at competency you have already lost the game (as everyone reading this sentence has).


August 21, 2008

Olympics

I’m not interested in the Olympics at all – never gotten into it. I do like tables of numbers however! It struck me that everyone was going on about Britain doing well – which I neither deny, or want to detract from. What I was vaguely interested was in, was who was doing well in comparison to their population.

The following table scores countries performance by 3 points for Gold, 2 points for Silver and 1 for Bronze – which is entirely arbitrary, but I felt a better approach than the listings for official tables (Ordered by number of Gold Medals). if there is a scoring system somewhere, I’d love to know about it. These numbers are probably already out of date, since they use the figures from mid afternoon today, before I fell asleep. The population figures are taken from Wikipedia, and are all the most recent normative figures/estimates – rather than relying on aged, albeit positive, figures (eg a census).

i haven’t bothered formatting it particularly well, since as I say its already out of date. But I thought it might be interesting to someone else anyway. I’ll most likely try to write a complete version, once the olympics are actually finished, with more sanitized presentation. Ideally I’d like to be able to get better population figures, but that sounds like actual effort. A comparison with past events would also make excellent future work.

Score/Pop Country Gold Silver Brz Total Population Score
1.04166666666667E-05 Malaysia 0 1 0 1 192000 2
6.63227708179808E-06 Jamaica 4 3 0 7 2714000 18
4.43568260226713E-06 Slovenia 1 2 2 5 2029000 9
3.94649603771798E-06 Bahrain 1 0 0 1 760168 3
3.74286516328249E-06 New Zealand 3 1 5 9 4274800 16
3.72967328062062E-06 Estonia 1 1 0 2 1340600 5
3.2718981482412E-06 Australia 11 12 13 36 21394309 70
2.0639834881321E-06 Belarus 2 3 8 13 9690000 20
2.03617995610366E-06 Slovakia 3 1 0 4 5402273 11
2.003999983968E-06 Denmark 2 1 3 6 5489022 11
1.90186382655002E-06 Mongolia 1 1 0 2 2629000 5
1.88343622475672E-06 Norway 1 2 2 5 4778500 9
1.86368477103301E-06 Cuba 1 6 6 13 11268000 21
1.82025028441411E-06 Georgia 2 0 2 4 4395000 8
1.6655562958028E-06 Armenia 0 0 5 5 3002000 5
1.58102766798419E-06 Netherlands 4 5 4 13 16445000 26
1.50037509377344E-06 Trinidad & Tob 0 1 0 1 1333000 2
1.30390362336661E-06 Great Britain 16 10 11 37 60587300 79
1.19008657879861E-06 Lithuania 0 1 2 3 3361100 4
1.17842693098346E-06 Switzerland 2 0 3 5 7637300 9
1.15349832973442E-06 Czech Republic 2 3 0 5 10403136 12
1.12822142473682E-06 Finland 1 1 1 3 5318105 6
1.06295027754813E-06 Azerbaijan 1 2 2 5 8467000 9
1.04708780014445E-06 Bulgaria 1 1 3 5 7640238 8
1.03682813536828E-06 South Korea 8 10 6 24 48224000 50
8.97397547113371E-07 Panama 1 0 0 1 3343000 3
8.96146569750075E-07 Hungary 0 4 1 5 10043000 9
8.42951627545065E-07 Kazakhstan 1 3 4 8 15422000 13
7.9298442018845E-07 Romania 4 1 3 8 21438000 17
7.75516750076078E-07 France 4 12 14 30 64473140 50
7.16467590718801E-07 Ukraine 5 5 8 18 46059306 33
7.05673370563687E-07 Germany 11 8 9 28 82191000 58
6.89636561532073E-07 Canada 2 6 5 13 33350900 23
6.74207805828152E-07 Zimbabwe 1 3 0 4 13349000 9
6.58616904500549E-07 Croatia 0 1 1 2 4555000 3
6.54150695186072E-07 Italy 6 7 7 20 59619290 39
6.5111083306267E-07 Sweden 0 3 0 3 9215021 6
5.99060250660904E-07 Russia 13 14 18 45 141888900 85
5.64227948091029E-07 Kyrgyzstan 0 1 1 2 5317000 3
5.24746727712203E-07 USA 26 27 28 81 304909000 160
4.79563175494705E-07 Austria 0 1 2 3 8340924 4
4.7224303662557E-07 Poland 3 4 1 8 38115967 18
4.62379150903741E-07 DPR Korea 2 1 3 6 23790000 11
4.55897357966264E-07 Spain 3 5 2 10 46063000 21
4.40917107583774E-07 Latvia 0 0 1 1 2268000 1
4.35862790393584E-07 Singapore 0 1 0 1 4588600 2
4.26234748787895E-07 Kenya 2 4 2 8 37538000 16
3.58840943751682E-07 Greece 0 1 2 3 11147000 4
3.52416007518208E-07 Japan 8 6 9 23 127690000 45
3.04321363359708E-07 Serbia 0 1 1 2 9858000 3
2.9050062941803E-07 Tunisia 1 0 0 1 10327000 3
2.55735788396902E-07 Uzbekistan 0 2 3 5 27372000 7
2.04918032786885E-07 Dominican Rep 0 1 0 1 9760000 2
1.88270733314506E-07 Portugal 0 1 0 1 10623000 2
1.61733786187935E-07 Cameroon 1 0 0 1 18549000 3
1.51860288534548E-07 Togo 0 0 1 1 6585000 1
1.4991379956525E-07 Ecuador 0 1 0 1 13341000 2
1.48456057007126E-07 Tajikistan 0 0 1 1 6736000 1
1.38048715354864E-07 China 45 14 20 79 1325619000 183
1.36930028755306E-07 Israel 0 0 1 1 7303000 1
1.30434782608696E-07 Chinese Taipei 0 0 3 3 23000000 3
1.21617512921861E-07 Netherlands Antilles 0 1 0 1 16445000 2
1.19307040845362E-07 Chile 0 1 0 1 16763470 2
1.1333651128911E-07 Turkey 1 2 1 4 70586256 8
1.00983325128438E-07 Ethiopia 2 1 0 3 79221000 8
9.92508373110794E-08 Argentina 1 0 1 2 40301927 4
8.86053517632465E-08 Algeria 0 1 1 2 33858000 3
7.93169264367393E-08 Thailand 1 1 0 2 63038247 5
6.73959053393058E-08 Colombia 0 1 1 2 44513090 3
4.266621156041E-08 Brazil 1 0 5 6 187502000 8
4.17966717310301E-08 South Africa 0 1 0 1 47850700 2
3.74944344198908E-08 Mexico 1 0 1 2 106682500 4
3.68391969055075E-08 Afghanistan 0 0 1 1 27145000 1
3.5773438372257E-08 Venezuela 0 0 1 1 27953701 1
3.45382878507255E-08 Indonesia 1 1 3 5 231627000 8
3.20266461696131E-08 Morocco 0 0 1 1 31224000 1
2.28898426323319E-08 Vietnam 0 1 0 1 87375000 2
1.41852458633624E-08 Iran 0 0 1 1 70495782 1
1.3295043607743E-08 Egypt 0 0 1 1 75216000 1
3.5182811648466E-09 India 1 0 1 2 1136918800 4


July 30, 2008

Womad

Writing about web page http://womad.org/festivals/charlton-park/

Background Information

This is my 6th year going to WOMAD which happened over the weekend just gone. It originally started off just my Uncle, then I started going with him, and for the last 3 years, inclusively, Dad has come along as well. I’ve always meant to write notes on the festival, both because every year people ask me what its like and I go “oh quite good – I enjoyed whatshisface’s set”, well no longer! This year I actually wrote some notes whilst I was there and on the way home in the car, so I thought I’d publish them on my blog.

General Comments

The lineup this year wasn’t as good as the past festivals I’ve been to – I appreciate that last year was a 25th anniversary, so had a very strong lineup, but this didn’t even really compete with previous years before that. I still enjoyed it, and will probably go again, but it give me pause for thought.

The weather was very hot – despite the Met Office predicting a small amount of rain. Last year the weather had a really negative impact on the festival – there was huge amounts of mud all over the place, and since the soil in the local area is clay it began so stick to boots like glue. Just walking between tents had become a difficulty. This year – the heat was quite draining, energy wise, but much preferred to the rain.

WOMAD has a vaguely interesting history, since essentially it began as a way of Peter Gabriel marketing so called ‘world music’ to a UK audience. Fortunately that audience managed to attract a boatload of hippies who succeeded in bringing a rather nice atmosphere to the festival. This leaves it in an interesting position of both being one of the most commercial festivals around (everyone who plays has some relationship with Real World Studios) and simultaneously one of the most leftwing.

There follows a listing of most of the sets I heard during the festival (though some I left early to ensure good positioning for preferred sets). The rating is a rough guide (out of 100) as to how much I enjoyed the event. Please note its hard not to enjoy a gig so < 60 is basically epic failure. The description is my notes from the day and may be incredibly inaccurate/complete rubbish.

Friday

Tashi Lhumpo Monks
30
Tedious + Repetitive religious ceremony, establishes some atmosphere, but fails to provide any real drive or interest.

Rumberos de Cuba
50
Traditionalist rumba outfit parading african influence bequeathed to Cuba. Basic evidence of griot techniques include narrative driven lyrics and expositional dancing.

Kenge Kenge Orutu Systems
60
Upbeat Kenyan group mix traditional instrucments with a more modern structure. Probably more interesting for dancier folks. Excellent audience involvement.

Billy Cobham + Asere
70
Veteran percussionist Cobham teams with a cuban outfit to produce a jazz and Son Cubana influenced fusion. Cobham provides surprising subtlety to his performance (at past gigs I’ve noted a tendance to dominate the proceedings). Strong soloing added a touch of class to the performance.

Toumani Diabate
85
Great set.
Diabate started this performance with two quite intimate Kora solos, showcasing his ability to communicate emotion through his instrument. The remainder of the set he was backed by his talented band, including his Kora playing son. Strong solos all round.

Bedouin Jerry Can Band
65
Several instruments consist of reused equipment from the 6 day war. Song structure involves more traditional arabic folky work. Simple rhythms, fat men dancing, plenty of facial. Good fun, but not the most sophisticated outfit.

Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee
0
Combined flutist/beatbox is as shit as it sounds, but the kind of collab that womad organisers seem to have a hankering for. I am perenially unimpressed by beatboxers. It seems like an incredibly easy to learn skill, something I really need to sit down for a week and learn purely to point out how shit they are. My main problem is their replication of very simple dance tunes and distortion. When someone has a beatboxer who can perform Mahler’s 5th symphony please come and talk to me.

Flute playing had merit but showmanship overode musical talent – The guy spent as much time shouting ‘give it up for x’ where x is an accompanying musician as he did playing his instrument.

Rachid Taha
70
Excellent mandolute + sax soloing raised this set from mediocrity to quite an enjoyable event. strong ambience to music and good showmanship from Mr. Taha carried through. Basic rhythms and simplistic song structure.

Speed Caravan
65
Electric Oud playing offered something a little different. DJ backing gave atmosphere (think Leafcutter John in Polar Bear) whilst shredding on an oud sounded really good. Strong rock sensibilities to composition gave a different setting to the oud and darabouka (which was also accompanying) which I haven’t heard through a more traditional setting.

Even band has an achilles heal – here it is their friendship with MC Spex, ex asian dub foundation, who came in one song and basically destroyed my enjoyment of this set. In my opinion promoting your latest outfit’s absence of talent by invading someone else’s gig is incredibly rude, no matter whether they asked you to perform or not. If it hadn’t been for this, I would have given an enjoyment rating of 8.

Malam Mamane Barka
80
Only living Biram master brought an african blues sound to the evening. Harplike sound of his unique instrument offers the soul of a nomadic existence to the audience. This is the cure to that tit Spex.

Terakraft
60
Admittedly I was tired by this stage of the evening, but this was an incredibly boring set. The whole Etran Finatawa & Tinariwen sound seems really staid to me at the moment. No real cockups, but really repetitive.

Saturday

La Cor de La Plana
55
Occitan singing + drumming, quite simple – but really rhythmic performance.

Monobloco
40
Lively + Upbeat samba collective failed to impress me. Uninteresting instrumentals and several Covers. Filler

Wasis Diop
55
Last minute booking, for a slot TBC’d on the programme. Uninventive trio, but solid set. Main focus of the songs seemed to be lyrics, which might have been more appreciated by someone with a better understanding of the French language.

Dengue Fever
65
Interesting 6 piece, strong sax + guitar soloing, clearly charasmatic cambodian lead singer. Awesome beard on lead guitarist.

Eddy Grant & the frontline Orchestra
75
I really enjoyed this, when on paper it should be something I’d hate. Pop twist on classic calypso and saco song structure. Not the kind of thing I’d normally listen to. Superb showmanship and crowd interaction.

Sufi Evening (Sheik Taha/Monajat Yulchieva)
60
Asif Ali Khan (highlight of this mini-lineup) was cancelled. Focus on Qawwali, a kind of sufi religious song driven music. Bit disappointed that with all the ouds and daraboukas around there was little in the way of instrumental interest.

Sunday

Little Feat
70
Eclectic country outfit offer interesting fusion with strong jazz and funk influences. Interesting solos, cool set. Its a shame their original band leader has been dead 30 years.

Ernest Ranglin
65
Siam tent was packed, so didn’t really see him properly. This sounded like a really good set, but the heat reduced my enjoyment and sapped my energy. A lot of instrumentals and soloing livened up the reggae.

Bassekou Kouyote + Ngoni Ba
75
Good set, griot storytelling, but subtler and more focus on the ngoni rather than the raucus riot of dance driven effort that seems to be used by many other groups.

Orchestra Baobob
70
Good set, very old school senegalese music group. Nice horns section.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
80
I really enjoyed this set – certainly a lot more than I had originally expected. Having heard recordings of his father’s gigs with this group, I was interested in hearing Seun Kuti’s work. Certainly a good performer, though a lot of compositions seem to be from his father’s day – so its hard to give credit for them. Even though the band lead has passed from generation to generation, the commentary on african politics seems as relevant as ever. I recall Femi-Kuti’s enjoyable gig from a couple of years ago and this has a very similar, afrobeat sound.

Quotes/Puns

A food stand calling itself ‘Pie Minister’
Little Feat, when trying to encourage audience participation stated, “Just try to sing like Bob Dylan. Hold your nose and talk.”
The moto of the Workers Beer Co, “Thirst Amoung Equals”


July 18, 2008

Ode to Depression

Hearing consistently bad economic news at the moment, I thought I’d share some of Noel Coward’s words.

They’re out of sorts in Sunderland
And terribly cross in Kent,
They’re dull in Hull
And the Isle of Mull
Is seething with discontent,
They’re nervous in Northumberland
And Devon is down the drain,
They’re filled with wrath
On the firth of Forth
And sullen on Salisbury Plain,
In Dublin they’re depressed, lads,
Maybe because they’re Celts
For Drake is going West, lads,
And so is everyone else.
Hurray-hurray-hurray!
Misery’s here to stay.

There are bad times just around the corner,
There are dark clouds hurtling through the sky
And it’s no good whining
About a silver lining
For we know from experience that they won’t roll by,
With a scowl and a frown
We’ll keep our peckers down
And prepare for depression and doom and dread,
We’re going to unpack our troubles from our old kit bag
And wait until we drop down dead.


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