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scott pilutik
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Felice Brothers at Mercury Lounge May 8, 2014
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I looked out my window and a Godfather parade happened
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Wish List: Widget / Lockscreen access

On many of my audio apps--e.g., Spotify, Beyondpod, Songza--I'm able to access them above the lockscreen while they're playing.  I believe but do not know for certain that this is functionality made possible via their respective widgets, since it is the widget that appears above the lockscreen in each case.

I do not know whether the functionality is related, but I notice that of each of the aforementioned apps permiting access above the lockscreen, each also allows you to pause and control volume via the earbud cord, if you have one of those headset/earbud cords. So that would be sweet as well. 
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Bug

I notice that if I (1) pause an archived show (I imagine this would occur with a live stream as well, but I don't know) and then (2) the phone rings, then (3) after I hang up or finish voicemail, the WFMU app immediately unpauses and plays without my having done anything. 
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THE MASTER & SCIENTOLOGY 

[Pretty much all Spoilers, so only read unless you’re determined to not see it]

It's difficult to write about Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master because the more you consider it the less sure you are of what Anderson was trying to say. To start with the obvious, it's a big, glorious, ambitious film, sure of its own importance and beauty in a way most films can only pretend to be nowadays. In thematic terms, it’s about the clash between disillusionment and the bold spiritual opportunism that sought to fill that void in post-WWII America. 

More particularly though, it's about Joaquin Phoenix's aimless and war-traumatized Freddie Quell, and his relationship with Philip Seymour Hoffman's L Ron Hubbard, err, Lancaster Dodd, a gregarious, deeply-charismatic, cult leader. Quell arrives on Dodd’s boat (actually a wealthy benefactor's boat, it later turns out) a violent, stumbling alcoholic stowaway, animalistic qualities that render him unfit for society; but Dodd sees in Quell a “guinea pig,” someone to demonstrate the validity of Dodd’s “processes,” which bear a striking resemblance to Scientology’s “training routines.” 

Anderson admits to using the early days Scientology as a backdrop for his story but Scientology is too integral to the story to cheapen its presence as merely a “backdrop.” Anderson not only lifted whole biographical chunks, details and all, but his “Cause” is similar to Scientology both in form and effect. Dodd grills Quell about his past with questions lifted nearly verbatim to Scientology’s OCA ‘Personality Test’: 
 
- Do past failures still worry you?
- Do you make thoughtless remarks?
- Have you ever had sexual relations with a member of your own family? 

Quell stammers out answers as tears run down his face--he’s not permitted to blink during the interrogation. Afterward when Dodd asks how he feels Quell is visibly exhilarated at having finally verbalized his horrors (including having killed in war and having had an incestuous relationship with his aunt). Many ex-Scientologists have testified to a similar therapeutic gain from this unburdening of conscience. Then Dodd hints at Scientology’s future beyond the timeframe of his film when he asks Quell if he is “a member of the Ninth Battle Battalion or any other invader force...”, and the question unsurprisingly sails over Quell’s head. The film makes a few other allusions to Hubbard’s forays into space opera but this mostly occurred outside of Anderson’s time frame. 

The damaged Quell makes personal progress though the methods clearly frustrate him. In one exercise which extends through multiple scenes he’s instructed to touch the wall, describe it, then walk to the opposite side of the room to touch the window, and describe that, and repeat ad nauseum. This is Anderson’s slightly modified take on Scientology’s “Training Routine 6” in which the initiate is commanded as follows:

“LOOK AT THAT WALL.” “THANK YOU.”
“WALK OVER TO THAT WALL.” “THANK YOU.”
“TOUCH THAT WALL.” “THANK YOU.”
“TURN AROUND.” “THANK YOU.”

Quell struggles with the exercise, mostly failing to make sense of what’s being asked of him but nevertheless executing it dutifully. Only when he’s about to collapse does Dodd step in to “End Process,” and hug the exhausted Quell. As with Scientology’s “training routines” (most often referred to as the TRs), Dodd’s repetitive “processes” are like mental boot camp, where what’s known to be real is stripped away and replaced with self-referential jargon and concepts, rendering that person more functional within the group but more isolated to the outside world. 

As Quell begins to exhibit moderate improvement, it’s worth wondering whether Anderson is implicitly endorsing the idea that Scientology “works.” Change is certainly effected within Quell, though it’s difficult to pin down Anderson on anything substantial or definite. The story, told through sometimes dreamy vignettes which often refuse to dovetail, ultimately finds Quell outside the group, though the impetus for Quell’s moving on (or being moved out) is left unclear. One of the final scenes finds Quell in bed with a woman, asking her to keep repeating her full name, as Dodd had once asked of Quell. 

If Anderson is sending mixed signals about his feelings on Scientology through the Quell and Dodd relationship, which dominates the film, it’s perhaps more helpful to examine Amy Adams’ “Peggy Dodd,” who is clearly meant to represent Mary Sue Hubbard (Hubbard’s third and final wife), and her relationship to both Dodd and Quell. Adams plays Peggy as the outwardly demure but otherwise ruthless power behind Dodd’s creative throne (and like Hoffman and Phoenix, Adams almost certainly earned herself an Oscar nomination). 

Friction reveals itself early on when Peggy tells Quell that Dodd is fascinated with him, as if she can’t quite see it herself. Later she suggests to Dodd that Quell may simply be beyond help, but Dodd’s ego and ambition requires persistence. Peggy finally gets her way in the end when Quell visits Dodd in England, where The Cause had since relocated (just as Hubbard relocated Scientology to the St. Hill Manor in Mid Sussex England in 1959), and tells Quell in no uncertain terms that he’s unwelcome, which Dodd reluctantly understands. 

The interactions between Peggy, Dodd, and Quell suggest a view of Scientology by which Dodd represents a hopeful, almost altruistic yearning to actually accomplish what Scientology purportedly sets out to accomplish--rid the planet of “insanity” (as defined by Scientology) one person at a time. Quell is the insanity that Scientology wants to expunge. And Peggy is the pragmatist--the power-consolidating force (it’s Peggy and not Dodd who utters the Anderson equivalent of the famous Hubbard line, “always attack, never defend”) and it’s Peggy who eventually won and shaped what became of Scientology. Anderson’s film is too amorphous for this simplistic analysis to hold, but to the extent you can read Anderson’s version of Hubbard, through a phenomenal performance by Hoffman, as the idealistic good guy to Mary Sue’s bad cop, such a rendering is too flattering by a truckload, which Anderson would probably realize if he continues where he left off in Russell Miller’s Bare Faced Messiah, the out-of-print book which obviously served as his biographical source material. 

I’ll acknowledge that much of my commentary is inherently unfair, as Anderson didn’t set out to make a true-to-life biography of L Ron Hubbard, which, even if Anderson hadn’t gone to great lengths to distance his movie from Scientology, is made clear by the amount of fictional inclusions (e.g., the lead character, Freddie Quell, has no historical analogue). But perhaps it was naive of Anderson, then, to provide so much of Scientology to chew on if it’s something he’d rather not discuss. I mean, if you make a movie about the Indy 500, the topic of cars is going to naturally arise, even if the point of your film was to convey larger truths about ovals. But this is a minor quibble, and in no way inhibited my enjoyment of The Master.
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if scientology is coming to town .... maybe we can send them to the back of fort lewis for some paint ball practice or maybe the dog catcher?
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It's undeniable that The Master is about Scientology, specifically Hubbard's early years, but it's perfectly understandable why Paul Thomas Anderson doesn't want to talk about it.

I think if you look at There Will Be Blood you get a sense that PTA is a director who takes himself very seriously, and you can view TWBB as a sort of historical fiction where its power derives less from the source material than PTA's impressionistic take on the story. I think he'd feel that he would be undermining what he sees as the essence of the film if he were to admit what it is "about." It wouldn't only cheapen the film to call it a biopic, but if you label it as such you also shorten your license to fictionalize, because then you're forced into a discussion over what was fact and fiction, questions he's smart enough not to want to answer.

Hubbard's early 1950s, and the company he kept, is really interesting, untapped source material for filmmakers. But it's also contentious, at least between Scientology's pure fantasy version and Russell Miller's far more plausible version told in "Bare Faced Messiah" (which based on what I've seen and heard so far, was likely PTA's key source). In other words, PTA is not only smart enough to know that any discussion of Scientology will detract from his film, but also because that discussion places him in the center of a never-ending argument.

I suspect he'll be more willing to talk about Scientology and Hubbard a few years from now. But in the promotional phase of a movie, which I imagine is the least fun thing a director ever has to do, he wants to do whatever he can to keep the focus on the movie, and talking about Scientology achieves the opposite.
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Thanks Judy, I missed this. I'm writing a review that gets into some of the points you raise. Hope to finish today.
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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.
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Beat the Streets Wrestling Event, Times Square, May 8, 2014
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Thanks Jeff. Those were all taken from my seat, which was, tops, 25 ft away from her. Nikon 18-200mm lens, mostly aperture priority wide open (5.6 when at 200), 2800 ISO, shutter speed pretty variable. Some were shutter priority 1/25 -- the lens's VR stabilization allows you to cheat that much.. 

I called ahead and asked about City Winery's camera policy is (1) no flash; and (2) any further restrictions are up to the artist. She didn't say anything so I kept shooting. 
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The main problem I had with the old app was the ability to consistently download archived shows for underground, signal-less listening, so I'm curious whether this addresses that. What would happen is that you would completely download an archived show, and as soon as got to a place where you wanted to listen to it, you would access it via Saved Shows and it was as if you never downloaded it. Or rather, the show was there, but indicated as not downloaded. But by then you were on the subway and not downloading anything, so... Yeah, I'm hoping this was addressed. 
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So far so good on this front Jeff. I like that I was able to pause it, use other apps, and return to it at the same place. 
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The Legal Case Against Clergy Involvement in Political Conventions

[adapted from my comment on a FB post]

Benedictions don't occur in vacuums. A convention is a politically charged event. And a benediction is explicitly understood to be a religious event. I understand why many religious people like the idea that their government endorses their belief system but the fact remains that the Constitution forbids such endorsements. And a benediction closing out a political convention is one such endorsement.

The counterargument is that the particular benedictions given at conventions, like city council and congressional invocations, are non-sectarian in nature, meaning that no explicit endorsement is being provided to any one group.

My response to that counterargument is that (a) any mention of God is necessarily sectarian because it naturally excludes non-believers and believers of non-monotheistic faiths; and (b) any such attempts at non-sectarian religious gestures in a political setting necessarily degrades "religion" by in fact adopting a watered-down, state-sponsored religious artifact (sometimes referred to as "civic religion").

The counterargument to my point (a) above is that America has a monotheistic religious heritage that deserves acknowledgement. Which would be fine if it weren't so easily shown that the true purpose behind the plethora of laws relying on this argument (ascertainable if you dig around the facts of litigated cases, as I've spent no small amount of time doing) is actually to advance particular sectarian agendas (think Ten Commandments plaques in courthouses). And, of course, it remains somewhat discriminatory--if you're not a member of the monotheistic club moments such as these serve as awkward reminders of your exclusion. But no one really cares because these outsiders comprise a meaningless constituency, demographically speaking.

The establishment clause was made possible because of an existing detente between the various competing religions in the mid to late 1700s. What we're now seeing is a melting of that detente, where the various religious groups have found common ground, i.e., civic religion, perhaps best thought of as the overlapping center of a Venn diagram containing all monotheistic religions. But civic religion is also memberless; a creation of compromise which cheapens actual belief by bending opportunistic religious leaders toward it.
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i was not sure if they tested his blood . i have worked with so many dr.s that recieved their diploma from a cracker jack s box . i try to always make sure.
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Response to Irrational Obama Hatred on Facebook

[/the below comment is from a Facebook thread in response to a conservative friend of mine but I think it reads well removed from that context so am publishing here/]

Okay, so you have a problem because Obama chooses business winners? And he's ignored so many laws? You've just described every president in the history of this country. Oh, he bailed out the auto industry? I'll admit I had misgivings and still do about that but it's not as if the US hasn't bailed out an industry or a company before (e.g., savings and loan under G H Bush, whose son Neil had a stake and was largely let off the hook). Plus, the auto bailout worked (which is why it's not a campaign issue).

Solyndra? You mean the company that was funded by the DOE renewable energy program started by the W Bush administration? Every president expresses support for newer, cleaner, renewable energy and the program by which Solyndra was guaranteed a loan was a part of that. And Solyndra was also one of only two companies (out of 33) that failed by that program, meaning that the overall program was largely successful. And it wasn't even that the program was transparently doomed from the outset--as the bankruptcy report concluded, it was unanticipated market forces that did Solyndra in (China flooding the market with cheaper flat panels). The outrage over Solyndra, only some which is justified, doesn't match up well to the facts; but is unsurprising when considered against what companies like Solyndra represent to the industry they threaten--money out of the far more leveraged oil/gas companies' pockets. If you're getting outraged over Solyndra, you're largely being manipulated by the oil & gas industry and Rupert Murdoch.

The evidence you cite for economic disparity can't really be pinned on Obama or government handouts to the poor because the problems that led to this started long before he showed up, as the economy was made into a smoking crater only months before he landed in DC. Granted, he's not done enough to correct the problem but not for reasons we'll likely agree on. The stimulus package should've been much larger and the states held accountable for utilizing the money on infrastructure projects instead of balancing their own deficits. And the Wall Street firms that caused the collapse shouldn't have gotten a hundred cents on the dollar because they've no disincentive to repeat history and just find another bubble to inflate with new and exciting financial mechanisms that maybe three people on earth understand.

I believe change is needed too. But the problems are larger than Obama, as all he's done is maintain the status quo. Oh, and expand Bush-era 4th-amendment-eroding programs like warrantless wiretapping and torture. The irony for all the ignorant talk of how Obama's a secret Marxist Muslim, whatever that is, is that the country would probably not look significantly different under any Republican president for the last four years, with the notable and real exception being judicial nominees.
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GOD !!!!! You could screw up a wet dream from my pretty ponny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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following me will cause you to be subjected to my yammering on hockey, cults (mostly Scientology), media and IP law, photography, technology/social media, the constitution, movies, et al.
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