Laughing at The Horror of Being Alive

A Weblog by Heidi and Stu
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Thursday, June 19

I read the first (i.e. free) part of this Salon article about iTunes, and I'm not at all sure I'm down with this guy's argument. He says that as musicians move away from the album format, they will be less likely to produce more innovative material. I have three problems with this:
1) My experience with buying albums has been mixed at best; I believe if you buy an album based on hearing one or two popular songs, you're at least as likely to find the balance full of spoken-word, pseudo-intellectual tripe as true diamonds in the rough. If you're the kind of person who considers The Doors' 10-minute indulgence The End a worthwhile innovation, then you probably think this is a good thing. I'm not that kind of person.

2) I'm no music historian, but is it not safe to say that during the formative periods of rock and R&B history, most songs were initially distributed as singles, rather than as albums? Not exactly a format conducive to experimentation, and yet it's no stretch to say those early recordings helped revolutionize American culture.

3) Finally, the ability of an artist to distribute a digital recording via the internet versus a physical CD means his cost of producing even the first track should be significantly reduced. Unless there's some sort of kickback scheme involved in getting your music carried on iTunes.
Now, I'm no fan of either Apple or the music industry, but I think electronic publishing will have the same positive effects on musical innovation as it is clearly already having on journalistic innovation. That is to say, when entry barriers are lowered, talent and skill, rather than connections and influence, will determine popularity in the long run.

Monday, June 16

Sorry for leaving everyone hanging over the weekend, but my prime number generator worked. The 65,535th prime number is 821,603. I checked my results against the Prime Number Theorem by plotting every third point against the pi-function, and they look good enough to me. It turns out that my revelation about only having to check for divisibility by "other primes less than its square root" is accurate, but is relegated to a small endnote to chapter 3 (of 20-some) of Prime Obsession. So it's not the most elementary of observations, but I've got a long way to go.

Incidentally, while my program ran out of space on the Excel spreadsheet, it did record the next prime number as 821,641. So there's a little bonus for you.

Stu's Stuff
What I'm reading now:
'Post Captain', by Patrick O'Brian
What I read last:
'The First Man In Rome', by Colleen McCullough
If the above seems out of date, I've almost certainly reverted to either Patrick O'Brian or P.G. Wodehouse
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Orisinal (online Flash games)
Coudal Partners
Presstube (daily doodle)
Exploding Dog (cartoons from submitted titles)
Others' Writings
Kevin Whited's Reason Forum (Houston-related) "chronicling the high cost of our legal system"
Pathetic Earthlings "Science, Politics & Single Malt Whiskey"
Century Research Foundation "Testing the Limits of Good Taste"
Favorite Columnist:
John Derbyshire (@ NRO)
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