“I’ll Fight ‘Em As An Engineer”

Folk musician Pete Seeger died yesterday:

Pete Seeger, the man considered to be one of the pioneers of contemporary folk music who inspired legions of activist singer-songwriters, died Monday.

He was 94.

Seeger’s best known songs include “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” and “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song).”

But his influence extended far beyond individual hits.

Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger dies at 94

He inspired an article last July Fourth, which featured a video where he and some other musicians sang Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land Is Our Land“, including the more subversive verses that most people don’t get to hear. Thus, it’s perhaps not surprising that his passing inspired another one. Of the videos people have passed along to remember him by, this is the one I like best:

Can you guess why? Well, that, and many of the most important people in my life are women. They deserve the same breaks I got, if not more. Plus, anyone who has read what I’ve written about the economy in the last few years ought to know I appreciate the sad irony of the song’s author being hired because she would do the job for less than a man would. I think that one of the reasons, as that CNN article says, Seeger’s influence went far beyond his hit songs is that his humanity made him feel that way, too.

So long, Pete, we’ll miss ya.

Afterword/UPDATE: Maybe the most “influential” thing Pete Seeger ever did was to refuse to testify about his relationship (if any) to the Communist Party during the bad old days of the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC):

MR. SEEGER: I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them.

When Pete Seeger Faced Down the House Un-American Activities Committee

Those words took real courage to speak, the kind where he had to decide who he was and defend what he believed in, despite the very real risk of prison, or worse. He was sentenced to as much as ten years for refusing to answer questions that shouldn’t have been asked of him in the first place (see the article link for details of the sentence). The only good thing he knew would result from his testifying is that he had a better chance of looking himself in the mirror. Contrast that with faux progressives who whine about how tough it all is or billionaires who express fear that protesting their wealth will lead to fascism, and you realize that our public discourse, bad as it could be back then, has devolved even further since.

Serendipitous Twitter Messages Of The Day

On my Twitter feed, these two messages appeared right next to each other:

graphic of Twitter messages

Twitter messages by @SuzanneTwoTon and @RichardDawkins, Aug. 8, 2013

Irony doesn’t get much heavier in this corner of the universe. What I conclude from this is that if aliens contact us, the NSA will know about it, but won’t want to reveal that knowledge, because it will endanger lives in our worldwide war on Al Qaeda. No doubt someone will eventually leak that information, but everyone will ignore the news and focus on what bad manners it was to release it without authorization.

Afterword: Links to the original messages here and here.

UPDATE (and After-Afterword): About that “bad manners” link – John Lewis is one of the few congresspeople these days for whom I have undying respect. The man risked a lot more for freedom back in the day than most of us ever will. Still, it is more than a little ironic that a man who values civil liberties so much would poor-mouth the efforts of someone else who is trying to preserve them.

Yet More Proof That I’m Behind The Times

As if I needed more examples of how out of touch I am with technology, here’s something that was surprising for a couple of reasons:

The Ubuntu Edge is an exclusive production run, available only through Indiegogo. All of the funding we receive goes directly towards producing the device for expected delivery in May 2014. The only pockets getting filled by this campaign will be yours when the handset arrives.

ubuntu Edge top view

Ubuntu Edge promotional photo. Image credit: Ubuntu Edge/Indiegogo

Ubuntu Edge

Here’s what I find interesting or surprising, in no particular order:
Read more of this post

And Furthermore …

As a postscript of sorts to the explanation I wrote last week about why this is the new home of Slobber And Spittle, I thought I’d note that Google finally provided a place for me to tell them that yes, that really was me trying to break into my Blogger account.

The only problem, apart from that it’s more than a week late, is that it was on Google Maps.

Yes, I’ve been logged into Blogger off and on since then. No indication there, nor has there been any further e-mail. But yesterday I saw this little red banner on Google maps, while I was searching in vain for used DVD stores in my area. It certainly appears that they don’t get the idea of associating notices about services with those services, but instead just randomly pick some other service offering to inform me of a problem.

This is the sort of thing I’ve learned to expect from Blogger/Google.

For those Internet services that are trying to compete with Google’s offerings, I’d say that this is one part of their service philosophy you’d be wise not to emulate.

No Longer .bak

While its title hasn’t changed yet, this is the new home of Slobber And Spittle. The old blog, which is at Blogspot, also known as Google, will continue to be there as an archive. Maybe at some point in the future I’ll return there, but for now, this is the new place.

Why the change? It all started last weekend, when I was on a short vacation in another part of the country. I tried logging into the Blogger account at Blogspot/Google, I was presented with this message:

The message you get from Google when you're not where you're supposed to be.

The message you get from Google when you’re not where you’re supposed to be.

Here I am, faced with the choice of giving them my phone number when they don’t need it, or changing a password and still being unable to log in, I opted for neither. I didn’t have anything I particularly needed to blog about at that moment. Knowing how my mind works, or doesn’t, I wasn’t willing to risk changing the password, only to be unable to remember it later, another problem that Google only seems to be able to clear up if you give them a phone number these days. I was mostly logging in to check on comments and to see what else might be wrong. As it happened, the only thing wrong was nothing I could do anything about.

Of course, there is absolutely no reason they needed my phone number. Google could have confirmed via the e-mail it sent me warning me that I was trying to break into my own account that it was actually I, not some imposter. They could use some special security or passphrase. They chose to leave no option there, either. The help center has no category that strikes me as likely to include help for “I’ve been locked out of my account since I’m out of town and don’t own a cell phone”, so there was no help there, either.

Typical Blogspot in the era of Google, in other words.

What they were telling me, whether they realize it or not, is that they want a cell phone number from me more than they want my continued use of their service. So I’ve stopped.

There are lots of things to recommend Blogspot, of course. And let’s face it, it’s free, so I can’t complain too much. But, in the absence of any real help or possibility of feedback that humans will pay attention to, not using the service anymore seems like the logical choice.

At least for now, this is home. We’ll see how long that lasts…