Music of March 2015

So as mentioned earlier, going to try and aggregate/curate/collate some of the music I listen to each month. I usually go back and forth with a friend of mine about this, and some co-workers as well. I even go so far as to write some small words about each piece; so it would seem most of the legwork is already done. Some of the songs I didn’t list because I lack confidence in them, don’t care too much, or I just didn’t listen to them very often.

The ways to find it collated together:



Here it goes, music on my March 2015 playlist, in no real order. Though most songs are added as I find them, so this would most closely relate the order in which I discovered them.

  1. Coming Back – Dean Ray  Ridiculous video aside, I enjoy the rhythm of it overall. All I can say is that it is catchy.
  2. All of the Pieces – Reigan I dig the harmony in the background, it builds a simple thing into something with a bit more weight. The synth helps with that too.
  3. Three Fingers – Rival Sons They were featured prominently in some earlier playlists last year. But an article I was reading about new prog rock/rock that’s making waves and they were mentioned so I gave ’em another spin. Also I mean “I’m on my feet and I’m running the plaza, the matador is holding the red, but I’ve got the horns, I’ve got the speed, This motherfucker’s going home dead” Gotta love that.
  4. City Lights – The Soft White Sixties It’s funky and has plenty of energy. This always gets my feet tapping. Also pointed to in the aforementioned blog.
  5. Under A Rock – Waxahatchee  Referred by a friend, but I will say it may not be for everyone. I find it hard to pin down, but I think what I like most about the sound is that it feels the right amount of dirty like it is more genuine than something else I would find normally.
  6. She Lit A Fire – Lord Huron Another referral. It’s a simple song, I like the tone overall, it’s unimposing and easy going. It’s not the most boastful love song I’ve ever heard, which I appreciate. The echo-ey feeling makes it easy to let it kinda slide past you.
  7. When My Time Comes – Dawes (Referral) Not only is the writing and content of the song awesomely zen, but god damn if the belting out the chorus isn’t fun as hell.
  8. Black Sun – Death Cab For Cutie  (Referral) This should pretty much go without any sort of explanation. It’s fucking Death Cab.
  9. No Room In Frame – Death Cab For Cutie (See #8 for more info)
  10. Messidona – Driver Friendly  (Referral) I really enjoy the energy, it’s something that reminds me of the alt numbers of my highschool years. A real manic feeling.
  11. Twin Sized Mattress – The Front Bottoms (Referral) It took me SEVERAL listens to come around to this, but it got it’s hooks in. Even past the shitty theme and whiney tone, I still like it. I could not really explain it.
  12. FourFiveSeconds – Rihanna and Kanye And Paul McCartney (Referral) What can I say, I love Rihanna’s voice. Paul McCartney rocks. Kanye is hard for me to stomach mostly. But the message and other bits seems to outweigh his presence enough. Though this is hardly without precedent. Jay Z and Rihanna carried me through Run This Town some years back. 
  13. Eraser – Young Statues Hits a similar cord to Messidona, and as such it makes the list.
  14. Hum – Tigers Jaw  Reminded me a bit of  early work of The Hush Sound if they pulled the piano bits out of The Hush Sound. Not amazing, but I’ve just been listening to it and it hasn’t gotten on my nerves.
  15. Real Love – Clean Bandit I love electro with nice clean female vocals. If I have a spot that is the equivalent of belly rubs for dogs. That exact spot is it. I realize I’m late to the party on this, Rather Be was on my lists last year, but somehow just caught this one. Unknown how I missed it.
  16. Nobody to Love – Sigma Good rhythm and I like the tempo of it, jumps frequently between the smooth vocal harmonic to the house type synth.
  17. Am I Wrong – Nico & Vinz  I like a lot about this song, the video, the vocals, the sound, the lyrics, all of it really. This song is great.
  18. Waves – Mr. Probz Late to the party again. This one lands in between a few different spaces for me. I think that is why I like it so much. It’s slow melody really just puts me in a very relaxed state. His voice is soft but has a bit of gravel on his upward inflections, it gives a hard edge to a lot of the lines. It’s a small thing but it makes the lines feel a bit more pleading.
  19. I’m So Sorry – Imagine Dragons Won’t even lie about this one, totally got it from the Battlefield Hardline launch trailer. It’s good power rock with driving chords. I’m down with it.
  20. Habits (Stay High) – Tove Lo (Referral of sorts) I am in agreement with a lot of people about Tove Lo, she can sing it. No question.
  21. Youth – Daughter I’ve listened to Daughter many times, this another great one. Nice minor key stuff, they have such a melancholy sort of rambling sound. I always think of their stuff as music to listen to in the rain, which works out here in the Seattle….
  22. Faded – ZHU  It’s good club music, nothing truly exceptional. But it is great for zoning out at the gym or at the office. For that alone it gets an add.
  23. Walk – Kwabs I was fairly obsessed with this song for the last half of March. Kwabs has an amazing voice, really good power and incredible intonation, I mean it is crystal clear at ALL times. Very good soulful tone and a nice driving beat behind it. It definitely get’s in that hip-hop vein.
  24. I See Fire – Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran? Check. Lord of the Rings? Check. Acoustic Guitar? Check. No further questions.
  25. Boll Weevil – Punch Brothers You won’t see much country on here. But I guess since this is technically blue grass it gets a pass. I love the size of it this song just feels ‘small’ and for some reason that resonates with me.
  26. Please Beware – Dirty Sweet Let it never be said I don’t enjoy solid rock music. Good crunchy chords and a nice reeling vocal style. I would, at the risk of being pedantic, describe this as ‘dirtily sweet’.
  27. Hunger And Thirst – Typhoon A new album from an old stand by. They are a pretty big (in size) alt indie group. Their sound reminds me a bit of Snow Patrol. They have a good range and sound (11 person ensemble gives some flexibility). I really enjoy the groups ability to shift entirely throughout the song, it feels like two experiences in one.
  28. 100 Years – Typhoon Another good track of the previously mentioned album.
  29. Slow Motion – Phox Found this one through AudioTree. I think this is a neat little group. Good upbeat sound, and the singer has an amazing voice. Very good timbre. I’d recommend just watching that whole Audio Tree.
  30. Seeya – deadmau5 WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT FEMALE VOCALISTS AND ELECTRONIC. (Also the whole song is about dreaming, that’s fucking rad).
  31. Humbling River – Puscifier  You cannot go wrong with Maynard James Keenan anything in my house. This has got some great moodiness to it, and the typical preaching style of MJK. Good writing and impeccable execution.
  32. Come Alive – Hanni El Khatib  Heard this one in a movie trailer as I recall. It’s got a nice kind of punchy sound to it, never fails as a pick me up.

Musical Foray

So I was thinking about doing something new, hopefully something I could stick with. In the past I’ve enjoyed throwing out the odd idea; unfortunately they were few and far between. So keeping a structure to stick with it was hard.

I do something in my everyday life that I already (kind of) curate and write up, so transitioning it to this space seems easy, reasonable, and maybe a not totally un-fun.

I’ve never really liked the Top 40 all that much and I don’t regularly (or at all) listen to the radio or sources of popular music. As such I’ve looked to different ways of finding new music for listening. I regularly exchange music recommendations with a few friends and co-workers. I’ve always much preferred the search process experienced when using the discovery-based music projects. Starting with Pandora back in 2006, when I started on that service, or the numerous alternatives that have waded into the space. In college I started using Google Music as a storage mechanism for my larger-than-normal mp3 library. Eventually they added the Google Play pass where you can pay to have access to their entire music catalog. I’ve been using that for a few years with no real direction. My lackadaisical listening habits were changed recently when I was turned onto a music curation method by a friend.

Essentially I just go through the normal means of music exploration and listening. Using Pandora, Google Radio, keeping an eye out for samples/uses in TV or Movies, and of course talking with friends. Each month I create a playlist for that month. So currently I have a March 2015 playlist in my Google Music. Any song that comes through my headphones that I really enjoy, I add it to the playlist. Eventually by the end of each month I have about 35-50 songs that are tied to that space and time. It’s an interesting system, and it’s led to some really good listening. It allows me to listen to songs I vibe with, over and over, but then quickly move on before burning them out. In the past I would fixate or attach to a song, play it repeatedly for months, and then lose all interest in hearing it ever again. This method strikes a nice balance, it also allows for more directed exploration. If I find a song I like, and add it; then I will put that through Pandora and Google Radio to see what musical counterparts get spit out.

As I the year goes on, I start a secondary, passive playlist. This is a ‘mega’ or ‘recap’ playlist that acts as a big bucket for the year. So at the end of each month I close out that month’s playlist, add it to the Mega playlist for the year, then move on to the next month, with no carry over. The songs of March will stay there, un-listened, and new songs will begin for April. Fresh new music always, with just enough repeat to fall in love with stuff. And at the end of the year I have an actual account of what I liked and can listen again if I want to. Music and sound have strong ties to memory and even though I’ve been doing this for just about a year now. I can draw connections to many memories with just the one mega playlist I have from 2014. It’s a bit more specific than Spotify’s year in review feature. I am satisfied with that completeness.

So guess this is a heads up of sorts. I intend to post the playlist for the month at the end of each month. With a short description (1-2 sentences) as to why the song was added, what I liked about it, or where it came from. I’m unsure the best way to share the actual music itself. I know that my playlist on Google can be listened to by anyone (who has a google music access pass). I’m not currently on Spotify which I know is the preferred platform for most. I could also do a few minutes of work and build a Youtube playlist with the songs, that is hardly ideal because of the rampant ads on Youtube. I’ll think on this. The first post (March), will probably come with a few of these options to see what the best is.

A million times: Yes.

I watched Adam Sessler as a kid on G4. I always liked his quirky ways and insight on games. His coverage on G4 was one of those things that got me more into gaming.

But he has truly come into his own after joining Rev3Games. He seems happier, more vocal, and seriously on point with his editorials and reviews. It has been a pleasure to watch.

So when I heard he and another jurno-guy I respect Jim Sterling had done a panel chat at SGC I wanted to watch. I found the stream and what I saw made me stand up and applaud while sitting at my own desk in my own home.

Adam Sessler with fiery indignation rips into the trash talking, exclusionary, rape-y/misogynistic culture of games and dismantles it in under a minute and a half. It is glorious. Please watch the whole stream, but if not. Take 1:30 (starting at 32:59) to listen to Sessler’s response.


Below is a quick transcription:

“I am assuming no one would attest to be one of those guys who are in this room right now. But there seem to be a lot of them. Maybe a lot of them are in junior high school. If you know some one who does this, could you stop playing with them? Could you call them a douche?

I mean it really does ruin the experience. I mean when I hear, ya know, clearly a young person using racial epithets and derogatory terms for homosexuals it just makes my stomach churn.

The idea that we are supposed to be a culture of people who at one point if not now, felt already on the margins of a greater society, then you just see this behavior that replicates the same thing with a different target. It really makes the whole affair seem deflated and defeated. It really does. And don’t even give me that ‘First Amendment’ nonsense; you have every right to say it, and I have every right to call you a fucking asshole and try to find your address to put it out there. [Sterling nods vigorously in agreement]  

And one more thing: Are any of you people part of this absolutely ridiculous ‘mens right’ reddit/subreddit thing? This-this word misandry which is thrown around with the frequency of Rip Taylor’s glitter its just got to be – you don’t get to flip the argument back to you, okay? You are the problem. Acknowledge it. Go home and think about how shitty you are. End of story. “

Thanks for saying what all of us sane people were thinking.

One hobby please. In a tall glass.

For the love of beer.

You see it on the Sam Adams commercials and I for one never got it. Love beer? I scoffed. Not likely, beer  tastes nasty, its taboo, and its unhealthy.

Or so said the younger version of myself.

I can honestly say, I am starting to get it. Over the past year I have started to experiment with beer. I drank beer before then, though I would hard qualify what I drank as beer. Yes, they had  the word beer printed on the front. Yet they were not really a beer.

But with my new found liberty when I turned 21 I started to try some beers. (Because lets face it, you can’t get good beer when you are underage). I found a few I liked. It started with the wheat beers, the sweet soft kind. But over time it developed as I found more that fit a flavor profile I enjoyed.

A hobby?

It became a hobby. That’s really the only way to describe it. People have asked me how or why it could become such a large part of me. I don’t recall a single moment where it happened, it was a gradual integration into my everyday life. I have asked myself why I enjoy beer so much and here is what I came up with.

Beer is old; very old. It was discovered in the early centuries BC. It has since played a large role throughout civilization, and as such it has a long history. I have always loved history. I find the history of beer very intruiging: the various uses, legendary recipes and styles, numerous bans, and its contributions to technology and civilization.

Beyond its history which is long, beer is varied. There are scores of different styles, hundreds of different ingredients, thousands of breweries, and millions of recipes. There are enough unique beers that you could drink a new one every day of your life and never have all of them. Anyone can find a beer they like, or so I believe. It is simply a matter of exploration.

The Unending Search

Exploration is a huge part of any hobby. Learning the ins-and-outs. Going deeper than most. Understanding the process, the entire thing. And as with all hobbies there is a thrill of discovering new experiences in that narrow portion of what we obsess over.

There is a thrill to finding a new favorite. Something that strikes you in all the right ways. A sense of reflection when after re-examination an old classic is found wanting.  There is a sense of surprise in finding that the over-designed/beautiful bottle is filled with crap; while the bottle adorned with a kinkos ready-to-print sticker tastes of pure delight. Beer provides all this and more.

Do It Yourself.

You can make beer, its actually quite easy. Its not to expensive. It only takes a little time and effort. Which is not true of all hobbies. A simple internet search of any beer style with the word ‘recipe’ appended to it will yield you plenty of fine options to start with. The ingredients can be purchased at a local beer store or shipped from online. A few plastic barrels for storage and big pot for boiling and you basically have yourself a DIY brewery. From there you can make and ferment your own brew.

When making your own beer you can experiment. Add spices, fruits, whatever you like, make it your own. You can contribute and expand that hobby that you love. Make it personal.

What’s mine is yours.

After brewing your own beer, all that’s left is to share it with the world. Have friends try it, give it away to strangers, whatever you like. You can share this labor with others, share the hobby with more people.

It is in this generous and kindred spirit people find joy. All for the love of beer.

Talk to me.

‘Let’s get a beer’, the ultimate socializer. Most people enjoy a beer. People will gather just to drink them. The great thing about a beer is that it is just quick enough to be brief, but long enough to be worthwhile. Then there’s always the second round if you want a bit more time.

It is undeniable, people socialize over drinks all the time. I do it all the time. Everyone can get to a bar, have a drink and just chat. You can often tell a lot about a person by the way they order a beer. Some people drink beer to get drunk, those people are probably not order the weak sweet wheat beers. They are grabbing the highest ABV or lightest body beer then can and slamming them. Some people like beers that remind them of other tastes they enjoy, the coffee porters, tea like saisons, the wine like barrel aged beers, the chocolate stouts.  Others just have what you’re having.

And why shouldn’t I?

Everyone has a drink they enjoy: Coffee, Juice, Soda, Wine, Tea, Smoothies. Why should beer be any different? I enjoy beer for the flavor, the aroma, the feel, and the warm fuzzy feeling is just a bonus.

We all love knowing things, obsessing over them and sharing that obsession with others. Its why you can’t stop gushing about your favorite musician, inviting everyone to your rec squash league, or why you can’t stop yourself from uploading pictures of your new pickup truck to Facebook . And that’s it, you love these hobbies and you want to share that with others.

The good thing about beer is, most of the time people don’t mind when you share.

Reduce, Refine, Perfect

After accepting an offer for a full time job, I have been thinking and talking with friends.

I have concluded that there is a need for me to simplify my life. 

I will be adding a lot to my plate in the next 6 months. More people, tasks, and responsibilities. I need to reduce the excess, focus on what I have, and make it great. What that means is eliminating some of the distraction of social networking. For me, some of the experience has become very antisocial and impersonal.

For that reason I have decided to reduce the number of my connections on Facebook. My Friends list will be reduced to about 1/10 of its current size. This is in an effort to minimize the number of connections I have on Facebook and remain connected only with those people to whom I speak most frequently.

Please do not be offended if you notice sometime next week that I am not on your list of friends. I am just making Facebook easier for me to use. Please, do get in touch with me through e-mail, Twitter, or if you are abandoning social media like I am, then text me.


Please feel free to contact me through other channels:

  1. email (,
  2. phone (email me and I can send it to you),
  3. twitter (@CaptKerberos).

I have elected these channels for 2 reasons:

  • they are more personal and direct
  • they are more manageable

To those of you that will take this personally. I am sorry. I do not mean to offend you. Just realize that I am trying to make my Facebook presence a much more private one.


Musical Growth

I am a huge fan of music, always have been. I grew up with music and have been developing my own musical tastes since before I can remember. I am thankful to my father for having good musical taste and imparting it on me. I listen to music nearly all the time. I would say about 75% of my waking hours have some level of music happening. (I’m listening to music as I write this)

Image by ShirtWoot

When I hear music from days past, the feeling of nostalgia strikes me like anyone else. I remember all of the good times and memories associated with the music. I can’t listen Matchbox Twenty’s Long Day without thinking about reading Dinotopia on Christmas listening to the Yourself or Someone Like You album on repeat with a Sony CD Walkman. Ah, the 90’s.

Musical nostalgia is double edged sword, though. It is good with equal parts narrow-mindedness. I often find that this pining for the music of old ends up hurting our musical appreciation in the long run. It is a subconscious struggle we may not even realize at first.

I am a huge fan of The Mars Volta and have been for many years (about a decade). They recently released a new album NoctourniquetSince I heard in late 2011 of its impending release, I marked the date and closely watched its approach. Finally it arrived and I quivered with joy as I loaded it into my music player. I was in a break between classes and had the 64 minutes required for a single playthrough, so I gave it a straight run-through. It is not often get the chance to immerse myself into an album in this way at the outset. If you have the chance to do so I would recommend it. Radio, Music Videos, and popularized music delivery (Web) often tramples on the idea of musical albums as stories to be experienced. Most albums lack innate progression, narrative, and any real impetus to listen to an album start to finish.

What I heard while listening to Nocturniquet for the first time was strangely foreign. It was distinctly Mars Volta, to be sure, their sound is unmistakable. However it had a strange energy to it. The music was more electronic and more frantic, which if you know TMV that is really saying something. It felt simply uncomfortable for me. This isn’t a feeling unknown to me; new music always takes time to break in. Still, something was off about Noctourniquet. I listened to the album a few times through over the next week and it didn’t break in, it didn’t grow on me, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Every time I tried to listen to it, I ended up turning it off and returning to the older TMV albums. I eventually let the album collect dust in my digital library.

I would only return to it a few months later, with a different perspective. I had happened across an interview by a musician who has been very influential in my life: Maynard James Keenan.  It is an older interview from Keenan, and I had seen it before. Maynard delivers an idea that has stuck with me for a very long time, but had receded to the rear of my mind. It really gets at the heart of musical performance, and art forms in general. There is a very apparent selfishness to a majority of music floating around these days, music that preaches the basest selfish emotions: greed, violence, abuse, misogyny, and hate.

However there is a different kind of selfishness, one that has an indirect but an altruistic result. Keenan’s desire to performing/recording is not to directly entertain fans: it is to learn, heal, and grow through his self-expression.

At around 1:50 Maynard responds to a question about fans bemoan Maynard’s departure from his older, much angrier, music. He explains:

“Well for those that miss that type of music, that’s why I recorded the old stuff, if you want to listen to that, go back and listen to the first albums. If I can’t heal and grow from my art, then how can you? I suppose I could repeat myself over and over and over again but what’s the point of that?”

While Maynard’s reasoning for performing may be at first self-centered, his work benefits his fans by joining them into the healing process. Through this exercise both the artist and audience can grow together.

I never thought about musical performance in that light before. People often respond negatively to new recordings by their favored bands, and I began to realize it may not be the artist’s fault but instead the listener’s musical obstinacy. Artists continue to grow, experiment, and hone their craft. Yet we refused to grow along with them, and we are left behind with only our nostalgia and dusty albums to comfort us.

Hearing this simple observation I decided to replay through Noctourniquet. What I found was that with a different mindset, one not bound by the expectation of old Mars Volta vibes, I enjoyed the album more with each listen. I can honestly say that it is a great album; it just took me some thinking to realize it. Some people may not want to ‘think’ about their music to enjoy it, that’s their choice. However I will approach my music as I always have, in a way which Maynard explains in another great interview:

“There are several ways you can go into music. You can just kind of click out and just kind of use it as a backdrop and not really think about what’s going on in your everyday life. Or you can use music as a catalyst to do some searching, to do some soul searching, to do some growing. And that’s the kind of band that we are. […] that is the kind of music that we perpetuate […] something that is going make you get involved.”

So the next time one of your bands drops an album that doesn’t exactly click with you: try to appreciate the musical growth that the artist has undergone.

Don’t forget though, there are artists who just lose touch and make shitty albums.

Marriage: 1) Something everyone thinks they are entitled to have and define.

So there has been a lot of talk regarding marriage equality lately. Within the past week the Vice President Joe Biden openly supported same-sex marriage, President Obama got grilled for not openly supporting it, North Carolina outlawed it with a constitutional amendment, and then Obama announced that he supported it. That’s a bit of a hullabaloo.

(Quick side note about the North Carolina business: The new amendment also outlawed Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships, but left the North Carolina law that allows cousins to be married untouched. Thank God!)

Well, as far as I understand marriage, this conflagration seems to be an utter waste of time. I often feel alone with this stance because everyone seems so fervent. I am surrounded on all sides, stuck in no-man’s-land of a vicious and bloody stand-off.

So let’s describe this no-man’s-land in case you happen to share this small spit of idealism with me.

Marriage is defined by as:

1) a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies.

1) b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

I find it mildly amusing that there are two primary definitions, just so everyone is equally miffed.

But to extract the non-sexualized essence, marriage is to “establish their decision to live as [spouses] by legal commitments, religious ceremonies” . That seems pretty straight forward, but its not. You see there is a contradiction in the definition. The phrase ‘by legal commitments’ and ‘religious ceremonies’ are juxtaposed to define or establish the same system. Anyone with a 4th grade education knows that a system being backed by force of law is diametrically opposed to the concept of religious ceremony (That is if your 4th grade teacher covered the Separation of Church and State).

The Separation of Church and State in the USA was established long ago by the founders of the nation, I will cite 3 specific and definable examples.

  1. It was first established in the Constitution of 1787 Article VI wherein it explicitly denies religious affiliation as a requirement for governmental office: “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”. Illustrating that religion had no connection in government.
  2. It was again reaffirmed in the Bills of Rights, as the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Once again making it clear the legislatures inability to regulate or enforce religion, a concept which is very important and we will return to it later. (It is also understood that since the President can only enforce the law of the legislature, he too is barred from religious entanglements. If you believe that to be false and you subscribe to the theory of executive (royal) prerogative, you have entirely different problems that we can’t address right now.)
  3. Actual authors of the Constitution and political forces such as  James Madison, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson were all devout Christians. These men also made their thoughts clear about the fact the our state is one that cannot be ruled or legislated by Religion. Jefferson wrote about the ‘wall’ built between the two systems ( Jefferson’s Letter Regarding Secularism ). I wouldn’t call these men those who mince words or misrepresent their ideas.

With a firm understanding of the separated Church and State, we move on to the next step in the problem.

Marriage is a religious institution. Marital situations may have existed before religions, but the current understanding of marriage is a construct of the different religious traditions. Nearly all religions of the world have their own customs, methods, standards, and qualifications for marriage. Yet somehow we, or a large portion of the US population, believe that there is some overarching consensus  regarding what ‘marriage’ is or at least enough of one to legislate on the institution. Are you fucking kidding me? You’re going to tell me that Muslims and Christians, who in so many trivial cases oppose each other, agree about something as sacred as marriage? I’m not entirely convinced.

Even if such a  consensus doesn’t exist, there is something that does: Licensed Marriage. That is to say, there exist licenses, laws, legal precedent and rulings that regulate the institution (on a Federal, State, and Local level). Aythere’s the rub! Why is the government in the business of marriage? Why does any US government have the power to regulate a religious institution and thereby breach the Constitution and the First Amendment? It is not allowed, we know it is not, yet we allow it to happen.

Because of this unfortunate reality, opposing forces attempt to exert control over this ‘legalized marriage’. Christians who believe marriage cannot be homosexual want it to be legally defined as such. Others who don’t want the heterosexual constraints fight against such measures. While people like myself are left on the sidelines, baffled.

Maybe to resolve the issue we should return marriage to its original state: a religious institution that individual churches and faiths have complete autonomy over.  Remove all text and reference to marriage from our laws. Instead create a new system (actually just elevate an existing system) and make civil unions the only legally recognized marital/spousal arrangement. All parties win, those of faith who do not acknowledge same sex couples are free to perpetuate such barriers. Same sex couples can still have the same legal rights and financial privileges that marriages currently enjoy. (And even get married in Churches who will embrace them to boot!)

Why are people so adamant about preserving the text of marriage in our laws? Many claim it is to ensure that the integrity of marriage is maintained. As many people have pointed out: exponentially increasing rates of divorce and adultery in heterosexual marriage is doing the lion’s share of that task. Something as despicable as adultery was even explicitly outlawed in the Ten Commandments. Maybe my reading comprehension isn’t great but I failed to even catch a whiff of a reference to homosexuality in that particular sacred contract.

All I know is that something as important, sacred, and downright religious as marriage shouldn’t be under the purview of any law beyond that of the church that oversees it. As Jefferson said, “religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship”

Maybe I’m crazy, but if I had a religion: I would never sacrifice a ceremony so important to the likes of the Federal Government, and I wouldn’t be in the business of stomping on other peoples personal liberties.

Fun Theory

According to the New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2011, many modern museums face the following problem with advancing technology: 

Greater understanding is needed of the relationships, differences, and synergies between technology intended to be used within the museum and public-facing technology such as websites, social media, and mobile apps. Too few in museum administration see the opportunities that virtual museum visitors might be bringing for fundraising, philanthropy, and specialized marketing. The dichotomy between the physical and virtual museum visitor is blurring rapidly, and both audiences have high expectations with regard to online access to services and information. Still, the notion that museums must provide comprehensive information and services online is a genuine challenge, especially for smaller museums. For larger institutions, however, providing such services has risen to an expectation from the visiting public.

When looking at how address the different connections and perspectives of museum pieces, I think of how I reflect on what museum pieces enthrall me most. Usually when examining an exhibit I find myself mentally evaluating it against other pieces I have encountered, either in the same museum or in past experiences.  I also usually get feedback or recommendations from people about museums or exhibits that they believe would interest me. Often times I get great recommendations, and other times I find it difficult to follow up on a recommendation either because I have forgotten or had trouble finding the suggested exhibit.

All of these seemingly connected components of my museum experience could be enhanced by a technological ability to expound my museum findings (and look at others’). This led me to imagine a technology platform that could provide the public museum visitor with a very interactive and customized experience. I began to imagine a system that integrated across multiple media platforms, specifically: websites, mobile applications, and social media.

This system would be similar to a Yelp! or Google Maps system; where users could provide feedback on their experience with a particular exhibit (or piece in an exhibit), the feedback would be available to the public, and it could be used to make connections to other exhibits/pieces (or even other museums!). Each user could at any point during an exhibit find a placard associated with the item in question, on it would be a digitally readable identifier (possibly a QR Code) which would access a digital indexing of that item on their mobile device. There others will have posted opinions or related recommendations. The user could add their own feedback on the spot, or they could use the mobile application to find other exhibits in that very museum that are similar or in some way related to what they are examining. The application would give concise directions to the other exhibit so the user could find it. Each step of the way the visitor would be able to leave their own advice and promote advice others had given that helped them. The system can also interface with social media by affording users the ability to ‘share’, ‘tweet’, or ‘check-in’ at an exhibit or piece. This would be visible to their social media connections and could possibly draw outside attention through free social marketing.

For the ‘virtual’ visitor they would see the result of ‘physical’ visitor’s actions. They would be able to look at a specific museum on a webpage and read up on different pieces before visiting the museum. They could plan out a travel path through the museum to make sure they see only the pieces they are interested in. They could plan ahead and purchase tickets in advance (ease of purchase means more visits for museums). Users would also be able to sift through other visitor’s opinions, and follow connections made by visitors to find other pieces of interest. The possibility exists that they may end up visiting a different museum than originally intended based on the recommended connections of a past visitor. And in the typical social media fashion, users could promote other peoples recommendations they found helpful or insightful; further reinforcing high-quality feedback.

There are obvious concerns, as always, with internet interactions and marketing. It needs to be moderated to ensure that users are putting up appropriate and germane information. This is an obvious obstacle that the respective museums would have to evaluate before opting to use this interactive museum system.

This system is an interactive way to voice your opinion of museum content, but also to help others find what they are seeking in a museum. The hope is that you help yourself in the long run by bringing more visitors/friends to museums who can provides solid recommendations that improve your experience. By posting our great experiences on social media we bring attention to a part of society that is being left behind by advancing technology and we refocus a waning interest. This will bring more donations, revenue, visitors, discussion, and (hopefully) progress to the entire museum/gallery community.

What SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA are really about.

Disclaimer & Citation- A lot of the ideas and arguments that I will be discussing in this post are positions and arguments that I have heard from a number of sources, but the one that deserves most of the credit is Jim Sterling.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jim Sterling, he is a semi-notable video games journalist. He does extensive Reviews for (one of the best places for balanced and thorough game reviews). He also does a lot of Op-Ed pieces around the web for sites like and The Escapist Magazine. He has some truly interesting view points, a stinging wit, and tremendous persuasive ability.

In one of the recent most Destructoid Podcasts he discusses the true motivation behind the recent rash of Intellectual Property (IP) related legislation, and it provided a view point that I hadn’t previously considered.

Most proponents of the current IP legislation whether it be SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), or ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement); will claim that their goal is to stop the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. That they wish to stop the illegal distribution of said material in order to protect the property rights of those that created it, and to ensure the successful/profitable sale of that property without illegal competition.

Now that seems just fucking peachy, but unfortunately, the measures through which that property is to be protected could aptly be described as draconian. I will assume at this point that most people understand that full power that legislation like SOPA and PIPA could have wielded. That the government and corporations could effectively remove certain sites from the web through server takedowns, DNS blocking (making your webpage unreachable), or restricting cash flow. If you are still unclear I would point you to this brief video which is one of the best and simplest breakdowns of the bills (

So while many may understand what the bill is capable of doing, many of us don’t understand fully why it is being lobbied so fervently.

The publicized position for most publishers, producers, and corporations is well known. But Mr. Sterling accentuated a very real ulterior motivation for supporting such legislation:

These publishers want the ability to stifle potential IP owners who they don’t directly control or who are not connected to them. Most publishers will claim be protecting the rights and property of the creative artist, but in fact they are protecting themselves because more often than not: they own the rights or licensing to IP created by others. These publishers, recording companies, movie studios, and printers are scared shitless of Artists who can effectively cut them out the equation.

The internet has made it possible for a single person with no backing or large distribution company to reach an audience of millions, making these very powerful companies obsolete. These distributors fear that obsolescence and are fighting tooth and nail to stop artists from circumventing them. This is a prime example of middle men trying to hopelessly to remain relevant, with destructive results.

Indie video game developers (like Team Meat and Mojang), musicians (like Trent Reznor), and comedians (like Louis C.K.), have made thousands and millions of dollars on media that was not controlled or managed, simply delivered to the audience and payment was asked for up front.

That type of business model involves a direct dialogue and interaction between the artist and the consumer is the exact reason why major publishers and distributors support legislation like SOPA and PIPA. It destroys the feedback loop that they use to entrap most creative artists.

You can talk to nearly any person well versed in copyright and they will tell you the same thing: while copyrights and patents were invented to protect an individual’s ideas and intellectual property; that is no longer the case. IP laws have created an environment where copyrights are used by corporations to leverage each other in business dealing.  Publishers and Recording agencies convince unwitting artists to surrender the rights to their ideas for the ability to spread those ideas. Most artists are trapped by these distributors, paying off ever accumulating debt and service charges, while retaining no rights to their IP should they choose to walk away.

Now that the internet challenges the current paradigm, everyone with a stake in exploiting the work of artists (or selling someone else’s intellectual property) is scrambling for the nearest telephone to whisper sweet nothings in the ear of our Legislature. To convince elected officials that this open environment of communication must be regulated in order to prevent ‘theft’ and to uphold the rule of law.

The bottom line for most of these pieces of legislation is that entertainment groups and organizations like the MPAA, RIAA, and ESA are seeking to extend their control over the IP licenses that have accumulated and to ensure that other people can’t freely share the IP that these companies don’t yet own.

For those of you who think this is over, you would do well to pay attention. We haven’t finished this argument yet.

Edited Podcast

**I have cut the original podcast for those who just want to listen to the discuss on IP. I do not own the rights to said podcast, I am just simply trying to give credit where credit is due, and to spread ideas that are valuable.**

Original Podcast

(IP discussion starts around 53 minute mark)

9% is not enough.

This is a speech I recently gave a school. The purpose of which was to persuade my audience to take an immediate and personal action. If some of the phrasing seems awkward or out of place, that may be due to the fact that it was delivered to classroom of 20 people.

What if I told you only 1 person in this room was satisfied with the way that this class was being taught? That only 9% of this class was happy with their choice. What if I told you that if you were unhappy with how class was being run, you have the power to change that? What if I told you that it wasn’t just us here in the classroom who were dissatisfied, but that there were another 260 million angry Americans out there as well?

At the end of 2011, 9% of Americans approved of the job being done by the United States Congress. I currently study political science and I have firsthand experience in local government. That passion and experience  has led me to actively follow and participate in congressional politics. By the time I finish here; hopefully you will follow more closely the activity of Congress and you will exercise your influence over it.

CBS and the New York Times found in a 2011 survey that more than 84% of Americans believe that the Congress isn’t doing their job. 9% think they are doing their job. Another 7% don’t even have an opinion.

Do you know who in the federal government can declare war? Or who can institute a draft for said war? How about who sets the tax rate that you pay on your income? Do you know who writes criminal laws you are subject to?

Congress: Your Senators and Congressman are the members of the most powerful branch in the Federal government. Yet somehow the group given such an enormous power over our lives seems to fall short of expectation. How many of you, know the names of your 2 Senators and your Congressman?  If you do, do you know what their party is? Their voting record?

Much of the discontent with congress comes from the apparent disconnect between your representatives and you. Why is there such a disconnect? According to the same CBS poll, Americans at-large gave their local congressmen an approval rating that more than triples the national average. So what Americans are saying is “Congress is broken, but my Congressman is doing fine.” This logic illustrates a problem with voter perception of the Congress. We are electing officials that we may not fully understand or support.

Each and every one of us, excluding convicted felons, has the ability and the right to change this. The Constitution guarantees the right to vote of every citizen. Many younger citizens approach voting as a nuisance and waste of time, believing in their mind that their vote does not impact the overall race. Students from the ages of 18-24, according to the Census Bureau, have the smallest voter turnout rate of any age group by about 5-10% (depending on the year).

If you feel that your vote doesn’t count. Think about this for a moment: Congressional races have only a few thousand voters, just the people who live in your district. As opposed to the 120+ million voters that vote in the presidential election. The concentrated voting pool empowers each vote; you have an amplified impact in Congressional races. Senatorial races are similar; most states base senate races on a county by county basis. So your vote can help determine which candidate your county will go to.

While all you have this influence of Congress, not everyone exercises it. According to George Mason University analysis, voter turn-out during non-presidential elections, called midterm elections, is almost half of turnout during presidential elections. Many of you may have an issue with Congress, yet no one is voting to express their concern.

In order for you to be represented properly, it is your responsibility to understand the people who represent you. You must form an independent opinion of the candidates and evaluate whether that candidate accurately represents your interests, or if they think they are qualified to make decisions that impact the entire nation. How can you evaluate these candidates? There are a score of resources available to all citizens that provide clear information regarding politicians. A quick Google search of my Congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen brought me to his website. There I found a page that listed his stance on issues, legislation he has promoted, and contact information. Using that information, I personally called my congressman’s office during the House consideration of SOPA to express my disapproval of the bill. You can do the same.

If a candidate already holds office, you can examine their voting record. Nearly all votes in Congress (and State Legislatures!) are available online (, you can see exactly what your Representatives are supporting or opposing. Most Congressional races and all Senatorial races involve a debate between candidates. Watching these debates can be useful to see where each candidate stands, but also seeing how skilled they are at debate. Debating skills are essential to your representative choice. Congress is a deliberative body and your representative’s job is to make a persuasive case for your needs, and to convince others to support those ideals.

2012 is a General election year, 435 Representatives, 33 Senators, and 1 President will be elected.

How many times someone asked you ‘who you are voting for?’ Do you have an answer? If you tell them, do they ask you, “why?” Maybe you have not paid close attention to the elections, and you don’t have an answer. Now imagine that before election week you checked out each of the candidates in the race, again someone asks you for who you are voting. You can not only tell them which candidate you support for president; but Senate too; and even the House of Representatives. Not only that but you could tell them why you support those candidates. And you might even be able to convince them to support those candidates too, so now your vote (which you may have thought useless) has now doubled in its impact. With a Congress that is supported by more than 9% of the people, we can expect more success in Congress. Perhaps a different type of representative will arrive in Washington if you pay closer attention to these Congressional/Senatorial races: A representative who is truly connected to you. With a return to a more independent and self representative people there will be a stronger confidence in government and more satisfaction with its actions.

Becoming more involved with Congressional and Senatorial races is simple, there are many things you can do to participate:

  • You can register to vote if you have not already. You can register by mail, or at your local town hall or court house.  (
  • You can become more educated about candidates by researching them using web and public records.
  • Contact your Representatives! If you don’t like the way your representative is voting you can call them and their office will take down your opinion. Senators and Congressmen honestly listen to feedback from voters. If there is an overwhelming opposition or support of a bill, they may change their vote.
  • You can donate to or volunteer for a Congressional or Senatorial campaign. These campaigns are always looking for enthusiastic people to help spread their message.
  • Vote. You have a voice and a say in the way that your government is run, if you won’t stand up for your rights and beliefs, why should anyone else do that for you?

James Wilson, the unsung writer of the Constitution, mused about popular representation saying that:

“Oft I have marked, with silent pleasure and admiration, the force and prevalence, throughout the United States, of the principle that the supreme power resides in the people, and that they never part with it… There is a remedy, therefore, for every distemper in government, if the people are not wanting to themselves; if they are wanting to themselves, there is no remedy.”