Friday Morning: This Thing Called Life

It’s Friday, when we usually cover a different jazz genre. But we’re playing these sorry cards we’ve been dealt this week and observing the passing of a great artist.

We’ll probably all be sick of seeing this same video, but it is one of the very few of Prince available for embedding with appropriate intellectual property rights preserved. It’s a result of Prince’s tenacious control over his artistic product that we won’t have ready access to his past performances, but this same tenacity taught many artists how to protect their interests.

It’s worth the hour and a quarter to watch the documentary Prince in the 1980s; the enormity of his talent can’t be understood without reactions by professionals to his abilities.

The way his voice slides easily into high registers at 05:44, his guitar playing beginning at 06:53, offer us just the smallest glimpses of his spectacular gifts.

Good night, sweet Prince, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Great Google-y moogley

  • European Community’s Antitrust Commission issued a Statement of Objections regarding perceived breaches of antitrust laws by Google’s Android operating system (European Commission press release) — The EU has a problem with Android’s ~90% market share in some member states. They may have a tough time with their case as the EU did very little to preserve the Nokia Symbian OS when Microsoft bought Nokia phone business. Their point about lack of application interoperability and portability between mobile devices is also weak as they did not make that case with Windows-based applications on personal computers. Further, Google has been aggressive to the point of annoyance in its efforts to segregate Android and Google apps — I can attest to this, having a handful of Android devices which have required irritating application upgrades to facilitate this shift over the last year and a half. This will be an interesting case to watch.
  • The second annual Android Security Report was released on Google’s blog this week (Google Blog) — Some interesting numbers in this report, including Google’s revelation that it scans 400 million devices a day. Gee, a figure intelligence agencies must envy.
  • Roughly 29% of Android devices can’t be accessed to issue monthly security patches (Naked Security) — Sophos has a bit of an attitude about the back-of-the-envelope number it scratched out, calculating a little more than 400 million Android devices may not be running modern Android versions Google can patch, or may not be accessible to scanning for patching. You’d think a cybersecurity vendor would revel in this opportunity to sell product. Or that an otherwise intelligent and successful security firm would recognize the numbers reflect Android’s continued dominance in the marketplace with more than 1.4 billion active devices. The risk is big, but how much of that risk is due to the success of the devices themselves — still highly usable if aging, with insufficient memory for upgrades? Sounds so familiar (*cough* Windows XP)…
  • Google passed a benchmark with mobile version of Chrome browser on more than 1 billion devices (Business Insider) — Here’s another opportunity to screw up interpretation of data: mobile Chrome works on BOTH Android and iOS devices. I know for a fact the latest mobile Chrome will NOT work on some older Android devices.

Under Not-Google: Opera browser now has free built-in VPN
A lesser-known browser with only 2% of current market share, Opera is a nice alternative to Chrome and Firefox. Its new built-in free VPN could help boost its market share by offering additional privacy protection. It’s not clear this new feature will protect users against censorship tools, though — and this could be extremely important since this Norwegian software company may yet be acquired by a Chinese company which placed a bid on the firm a couple of months ago.

Definitely Not-Google: Apple cracker cost FBI more than $1 million
Can’t swing an iPad without hitting a report on FBI director James Comey’s admission at the Aspen Security Forum this week in Londn that cracking the San Bernardino shooter’s work iPhone cost “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is 7 years and 4 months,” or more than $1 million dollars. Speaking of exorbitant expenses, why was Comey at this forum in London? Oh, Comey was the headliner for the event? Isn’t that interesting…wonder if that speaking gig came with speaker’s fee?

That’s it for this week’s morning roundups. Hope you have a nice weekend planned ahead of you!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
15 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    A contra voice on Prince.
    .
    I grew up musically before he hit, and my life since then has provided few periods for extended music listening other than the car radio; so, I haven’t listened much to his music. Hearing now the bits and pieces they are playing on the radio, as well as your clip, it strikes me most strongly that I haven’t heard any decent melodies at all, and nothing special in lyrics. Also, he really is no better than an average singer; tons of them can hit high notes easily and have gorgeous, flexible voices. Excellent electric guitar playing, yes, but that’s something I can only follow for a bit before it gets tiresome (can you handle a five minute solo?). I find words and melodies much more interesting in the long run. He seems to go with lots of percussion and rhythm, creating long, slow instrumentals; perhaps something to immerse yourself in for an hour or two as an ‘experience’? And the fact that he had a different/special ‘persona’ doesn’t make his (or anyone’s) music special to me. What am I not getting here?

  2. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 (10:21) — Watch the first 30 min of that documentary I linked. It was not just Prince’s “persona” which was exceptional. It was his genius at any and all instruments, at production, and his singular approach to art as intellectual property.

    When someone like Eric Clapton says Prince is the best guitar player alive (at the time, of course), we know we are talking about an incredibly rare master.

    And maybe you are just too entrenched in your own tastes for Prince. That you don’t recognize his song writing skills — both lyrics and melody — says something about your exposure to the body of his multiple decades of work, or the impact he had on the rest of the industry.

    WRT your specific question about five-minute solos: Yes, I can handle them, but then my family is big into string instrumentals. I played violin, my son plays double bass and guitar, my daughter plays viola. Bloody hard to escape lengthy solos around here when they are required as part of mastering an instrument.

    • martin says:

      bloopie.. you’re not alone.

      “When someone like Eric Clapton says Prince is the best guitar player alive (at the time, of course), we know we are talking about an incredibly rare master.”

      You gotta be kidding. When someone like Eric Clapton says Prince is the best guitar player alive, I have to LOL. Eric Clapton? That’s rich. The King of Pentatonic blues scales names the Prince of Pentatonic blues scales ala screaming purple guitars as the Best Guitar player alive? Double face palm here. Rare master. Right. He shoulda invited Bereli Lagreen’e to his Paisley studios. I’m sure they would have made history. That is if Lagreene could stop rolling on the floor in gut splitting laughter long enough to play.

      I’m sorry, but Prince, no matter how talented, did not impress everyone on the planet to the point of god like stature. Perhaps it’s just me, but after spending a good 40 yrs as a player who was fortunate enough to play at some of the largest venues of the 60’s/70’s West coast, I grew tired of talentless self inflated rock star ego meglomaniacs who thought the world revolved around them., to the point I now detest the whole pathetic world of contemporary corporate music “stars”. Moreover, just as the country music genre has become a bloated parade of assembly line manufactured “stars”, the whole music “industry” stinks as far as I’m concerned. Notwithstanding the embarrassing CMA type award shows, last few Grammy’s simply made me vomit.

      And yes, I’m just an old curmudgeon now, but that doesn’t mean I’m senile. Just opinionated by virtue of being a long term working musician. Rest in peace Prince. You had your drop in the bucket universal time frame moment to self indulge yourself in a narcissistic, removed from reality life of a rock star. However… I’m sure you will be rewarded for your contributions to the human condition. Insert double rolling eyes smiley here.

    • bloopie2 says:

      Thanks for your reply. I’ll say this. To me, being a “genius at any and all instruments” is not a value in and of itself; it only helps when you play good music. And to me, being a genius at production makes him a showman, not a musician. And his singular approach to art as intellectual property is fine also, but again does not seem to relate to music per se.
      .
      But you’re right, I haven’t been exposed to his music enough. So tell me this: Can I gain what I need, by listening only to Prince now? Or do I need to have listened to new music of all kinds constantly for the last few decades, to appreciate him now? (Aside: How many hours a day does one need to listen, to keep up with music?) Because my life schedule simply has not allowed time for that, since college. And when I do have time, there’s tons of older rock music, and tons more of classical music (now There’s some good instrumentals and melodies) that I already like. I also happen to spend several hours a day reading about new and different things; that’s how I grow mentally. Hard to find time for both that and hours of music.

  3. Rayne says:

    martin (12:28) — This: “largest venues of the 60’s/70’s West coast” makes me LOL hard. Yes, you are an old curmudgeon, a veritable dinorsaur. Thanks for the admission, basing your opinion on old school business model decisions about what was good then.

    You don’t appear to know much about Prince’s “contributions to the human condition,” either. On that you may spare the snark.

  4. person1597 says:

    Not to jump in… OK, too late… I wan’t a big Prince fan, having been put-off by the “I AM THE ARTIST’ shtick. It came off as hubris at a time when immodesty wasn’t all the rage.

    That said, his music is delicious to those with the palate for funky pop. Definitely not a one-hit-wonder, but not the cosmic phenomenon of a Jimi Hendrix or Alvin Lee. The rock world loses indispensable artists on a regular basis.

    Nevertheless, I think Prince offered a soul-full assessment of the human psyche, especially love and desire. These emotions are visceral and Prince evoked them with style and finesse. Long live his music.

    BTW, thanks for the introduction to Biréli Lagrène. This is what makes emptywheel a great blog — in addition to the devotion to intellectual excellence… every frickin’ day!!

  5. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 (12:38) — For your purposes, I’d stick to the Purple Rain album. Its cultural impact on late Gen X and early Millennials has been enormous. Think Xeni at BoingBoing shared it best.

    The single, ‘Darling Nikki’ on Purple Rain album was the primary target of Tipper Gore’s censorship efforts. This conflict is one of the cultural touchstones for creative artists who came of age in late 1970s-1990s.

    As for staying abreast of music today: I browse SoundCloud.com, spend 15-60 minutes a week just randomly poking around and adding performers to my favorites. I just stream my favorites list when I want background; new content from fave performers gets added whenever they update. This venue is best for stuff I listen to while I do chores.

    I also follow a few sites that publish digital “mix tapes” I can sample and discover new music and performers. Like Bitch Media’s Bitch Tapes — don’t wrinkle your nose until you’ve browsed. Try the Spring Time Walks list for starters, very mellow indie-folk. Can’t download, but this is a good format for listening while reading material in another tab.

    Or try NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, which can be enjoyed as video online or downloaded as MP3s. A few of my favorites, older ones first: Esperanza Spaulding, Yo-Yo Ma with Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Stuart Duncan, Fantastic Negrito, and The Suffers.

  6. bloopie2 says:

    That’s great news, I would love to have an opera browser. As it is now, without that, operas are neat, but they’re so long and you hear all these screechy women yelling and boomy men bellowing all the time in some foreign language you can’t understand. A good browser would allow me to focus in on the high points only, and dub the singing into English (or at least provide subtitles) on the fly. That would make the genre infinitely more accessible. Hello, love theme from Tristan und Isolde! Where can I get this again?

  7. Francine Fein says:

    Thanks all for the music and video links — especially enjoying the Super Guitar Trio. Rayne a belated thanks for your morning blogs.

  8. David says:

    I’m more interested in the great googly moogly reference wherein we get to think about Frank Zappa who really could play a guitar. And lucky for the youngins, Dweezil is carrying that whole thing on to this very day and so real rock n roll lives on live out there somewhere.

  9. bloopie2 says:

    The problem is that it’s hard to define “best guitar player”. Is it someone who, if I give him a written-out score, note by note, can play it technically well? Or technically well and with “feeling” (which makes it interesting)? There are lots of those people, and I have to believe there are many who can technically play guitar better than the men who have become “stars” for other reasons (showmanship, popular causes, etc.). Note this NYT article that discusses how piano “virtuosos [are] becoming a dime a dozen”
    .
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/arts/music/yuja-wang-and-kirill-gerstein-lead-a-new-piano-generation.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0&mtrref=undefined&gwh=E7761B36ACE8E8215793D0EB56C9C8DB&gwt=pay
    .
    Is it someone who can take an “idea” and, on the fly, can create and perform a guitar solo based on that idea? That’s different, of course—creativity really comes to the forefront. I’d suggest that in the saxophone field, John Coltrane and Gato Barbieri were excellent. Improvisational players some to the fore here.
    .
    Is it someone who actually creates the underlying idea and embodies it in music (typically for whatever musical instrument he happens to play, be it guitar or piano or violin or whatever)? That’s a wirter/performer, not a “player”.
    .
    My point is that there are many ways to look at the “best guitar player” concept. Some who were deeply into Prince are mourning him for his (uncontested) ability on the guitar. Let’s just be careful about how we express that concept. After all, this is the Internet, and whatever you say will be critiqued to Kingdom Come! You must be totally precise AND accurate, else you will be skewered online by your loyal “followers”.

  10. Evangelista says:

    Y’all so spaced-out on yo’ ear-buds you all missed the techies’ takes on the Burr-Feinstein Computer Fire-Code Bill (“In case of maybe something hot on it needing to be hauled out, every computer OS has got to have a back-door [for authorized personnel use only, of course]”). Comments like “They want to legislate to make us to do magic” (this is a paraphrase).
    Demanding magic is a step “up” for from demanding only the impossible, as they did of the diesel industry.
    .
    [P.S. Rayne, I checked with the DPV (Department of Poesy and Versification) in regard to Coleridge. They say he had a valid license and so could introduce dessicate imagery on a ship at sea for analogy, if he wanted to, without anomaly.]

  11. Rayne says:

    person1597 — The “schtick” you didn’t like wasn’t about ego. It was about a fight between an artist and Warner Brothers, and licensing of the artist’s name, personal brand, and his creative materials. Think about the long-term repercussions of using a name based on a single icon not represented on any commercial keyboard: can you Google that name? Can any corporation claim to own that icon?

    Genius. Cryptographic art retaining an artist’s control in the face of The Man. Fucking brilliant.

    Francine Fein (5:17) — Thank you very much. Nice to see you in thread, pop in again soon, okay?

    David (5:49) — I have diverse tastes in music and it leaks out in writing from time to time. Zappa was too eclectic for me, though I did listen to his work once in a while. Dweezil’s on his own doing his creative because artists don’t inherit a family business, only genetics.

    bloopie2 (6:09) — At this point I’ll let the accolades of other highly-recognized artists accumulated over this past several days speak to “best”, while acknowledging there will always be some segment of audience who won’t appreciate Prince.

    Evangelista (6:55) — WRT Burr-Feinstein: would have been restating the obvious since techies have been adamantly against mandatory backdoors since the Clipper Chip.

    WRT Coleridge: If a poet says boards shrink in the presence of water, it serves his needs, not science.

    _____________
    And for anybody else wanting to pile on me about Prince:

    What.

    Ever.

    Dudebros.

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on

  12. Evangelista says:

    Rayne,

    Yep, that’s what a poetic license licenses, or, Coleridge being an English poet, what his poetic licence licensed. It has someting to do with meatphysics not being bound by physics…

    I won’t “pile on” about Prince. I don’t know him. My taste in guitaring goes toward Andre Segovia and Django Rhinehardt, and veers from there to bottle-neck and three-finger picking banjo. For rock-n-roll I used to like Kieth Moon, who used to sit in a pile of stringless banjos and beat the hell out of them, while the Who did What Where and How around him…

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