Archive for August, 2017

Networking Is Overrated

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Adam Grant:

Not long ago, I watched a colleague try to climb the ladder of success solely through networking. For a few years, he managed to meet increasingly influential people and introduce them to one another. Eventually, it fell apart when they realized he didn’t have a meaningful connection with any of them. Networking alone leads to empty transactions, not rich relationships.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned in my own career. I once emailed an entrepreneur I admired and got nothing in response. Some months later he contacted me out of the blue, with no memory that I had tried to get in touch before. He had attended a talk I gave and wanted to meet — now he had proof that I could add value.

My students often believe that if they simply meet more important people, their work will improve. But it’s remarkably hard to engage with those people unless you’ve already put something valuable out into the world. That’s what piques the curiosity of advisers and sponsors. Achievements show you have something to give, not just something to take.

Why don’t more bands operate more like Phish?

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

I’m well past my Phish days. I have an occasional bout of sentimentality, but only in the same kinda way I still watch an episode of Seinfeld or eat Spaghetti O’s on purpose.

But what Phish has always done with live shows is amazing. You never quite know what you are going to get. Never-repeated setlists, interesting covers, clever segues, and totally unique moments. These days, they even make the show available pretty much immediately to buy online. Back in the day, anybody was free to record the show and make copies for friends.

Seems like that would be a boon for any band. Steven Hyden:

I suspect my wish has less to do with technology than philosophy — I wish more bands made it worthwhile to stream every show, by playing creative concerts that don’t just repeat the same songs every night. Is that too much to ask? Live music is an art form that’s just as valid as making an album, even if it’s rarely discussed in those terms. But too many artists treat playing live merely as a promotional avenue for selling albums that relatively few people will buy, a point of view that seems increasingly out-of-sync with the times.

(via Milwaukee Record)

Erik Singer, Linguistics Guy

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

It’s 30 minutes long, but it goes by super fast because nearly every second is fascinating:

The top comment?

How the actual fuck is this stuff so entertaining?

Top reply:

because you’re learning

My take:

It’s fascinating to watch someone share what they are passionate about. Me in 2012:

I really love the show New Yankee Workshop with Norm Abram. It’s essentially him working in public. He’s an extraordinary craftsman. I don’t woodwork at all and I still enjoy it.


I watch a somewhat embarrassing amount of live StarCraft 2. For the uninitiated: StarCraft 2 is a “real time strategy” game where you control a large number of units essentially splitting your attention all over the place. Ultimately you build an army of units and battle with another player for victory.

The game software records every game you play, so you can rewatch them anytime. There is even a special interface for this, so you can learn from what’s going on and get at-a-glance statistics.


Bob Ross.

Intimately watching people do what they do best is… the best.

Two Signs

Monday, August 14th, 2017

There are two main popular yard signs in my neighborhood right now. One says:

We back the badge.

Another says:

Hate has no home here.

When I see them at houses right next to each other, I can’t help but think the subtext is:

We don’t really like them →


← We don’t really like them

But I’m sure it’s more complicated than that and I should stop being so judgy and reading the worst into things.

No Spoons

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Part of a video series with Butch Robbins about bluegrass history.

Which brings me to an interesting point that David Greer shared with me one time. How come it is that when a guitar player takes on another instrument. He’s sitting there playing guitar. Every respects him for his guitar playing. He puts on another instrument like a harmonica and all the sudden people look at him as if he’s even more of a musician than he was when he just had a guitar.

But if he takes that one extra step. Let him add percussion. As soon as he straps those cymbals to his knees and he becomes the laughing stock of the musical community. Now how come that is?

The bluegrass community (at least, years ago when I was more into it than I am now) is pretty closed minded about the weirdest things.

There was a tent at a festival I’d go to every year that had a big sign up that said “No spoons!” Any band with a drum was sneered at. Accordions are a laughing stock (despite the damned bestowed “father of bluegrass music” having an accordion in his first band, and his own mother having played it.) It’s just silly.

I hate to say it, but I get the feeling some people prefer to be closed minded. They are almost looking for things to be closed minded about, and they find it in the oddest places. On the other end of the spectrum, someone who’s happy to hear a flute player at a bluegrass festival is probably the kind of person who celebrates diversity and is looking for ways to expand their thinking.

Poor David’s Almanack

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

First listen is up on NPR Music.

If it’s half as good as Nashville Obsolete OR A Friend of a Friend it’ll be a classic.

The Rabbit Test

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

While taking classes at Well Rounded to prepare us for the birth of our first child, I learned a weird little historical fact about pregnancy tests.

The Rabbit Test:

The original test used mice and was based upon the observation that when urine from a woman in the early months of pregnancy is injected into immature female mice, the ovaries of the mice enlarge and show follicular maturation. The test was considered reliable, with an error rate of less than 2%. The rabbit test consisted of injecting the tested woman’s urine into a female rabbit, and a few days later examining the rabbit’s ovaries, which would change in response to a hormone secreted only by pregnant women.

That’s something.

For the record, that was just a tiny little aside that randomly came up in class, although we have been talking about the history of pregnancy and birthing, which is pretty fascinating in how much it has changed through time. It makes me think that in 20-30 years we’ll look back on now with a grimace as much as we look back at 20-30 years and grimace now.

Everything Except Country and Rap

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Years ago I drew a picture of a dude sitting at a bar with loads of gold chains on sitting at a bar next to another dude in a 10 gallon hat. Above them were speech bubbles. The chains guy said “I like everything but country.” That hat guy said “I like everything but rap.” I searched my house for the sketchbook it was in but couldn’t find it.

I think it was me rolling my eyes at that phrase a little bit, by doubling down on the cliche. Some form of that is absolutely the most common response to “what kind of music do you like?”. I always thought there was some deeper meaning there beyond just people repeating each other, but couldn’t put my finger on it.
Laura Pochodylo digs into it:

University of Michigan Women’s Studies and Music professor Nadine Hubbs wrote a book called Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music in 2014. I bought it on a whim, and it put words and reasons to my discomfort with so many of my peers writing off country music.

“Everything but country and rap” at its core is a class issue. I just needed someone else to say it, and it confirmed why it had been bugging me.

“Is the declaration ‘Anything but country’ really about the music?” Hubbs asked in her book. No, it is most certainly not. And anyone who knows me knows that using pop culture as a window to our bigger world and bigger issues is my favorite thing ever, so you know I was hooked after reading that.

Where there’s class issues, there are race issues. This is no surprise. But that’s where the story of “everything but country and rap” starts: a formal racial division.

Larua adds loads of her own experiences to the story. I love this bit:

The other day in a salon, my stylist asked where I worked. I told her, and she said, “well, I listen to everything but country.” Oh, okay. There’s a lot of good country music out there, though, I said. “Yeah, sure, I love Kacey Musgraves, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton,” she continued. She told me she had just seen a few of these artists at the Ryman, the Mother Church of Country Music. I have bad news for you, friend. You’re a country music fan.

Why is that so bad? Because it represents something that anyone looking to maintain or elevate their class status doesn’t want to associate themselves with. To admit you like country music is admitting you like something inherently and purely working class, which jeopardizes your status as middle class.

The People’s Flag of Milwaukee

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

The more I see it the more I like it. You can buy it now, and that has given it even more life. Just walking around my neighborhood I bet there is 10 flying.

I picked one up, even though I’m leaving Milwaukee soon. I’d also buy this in a heartbeat if I was in the market for a new bike and it was available:

We live right by the Hoen bridge, and the ochre and blue colors of it are perfectly echoed here. And the deep blue is so often the color of the lake.