Only bands with three-word names need apply

Catching up, only to go on a short hiatus again…

Thursday night I went with one of the Aussies to the tiny Barfly to see The Willard Grant Conspiracy. They were better than I’d hoped, we really enjoyed them. It was…hmm, like Wilco + Neil Young + Nick Cave, sorta. Country-blues, with this deep moody singing, but extended guitar jams. Very heartful, rootsy, little polish or glam to it: it came across well in the tiny room. I really enjoy the collective, flexible ethic of the whole enterprise, too.

Opener William Elliot Whitmore was very cool, too.


No single recent event has elicited a sudden sense of my own mortality as today, when I was screaming down Highway 10 after work listening to PF’s DSOTM at volume 9/10 when I realized that the vehicle ahead of me was coffin-laden and driving about 30 km/h slower than I. Slowing to match its speed, the great chiming intro of “Time” started on the CD player (yes, old fashioned discs, TimmyD) and I spent the next 7 minutes tailing someone’s earthly remains listening to PF into the start of GGITS as they pulled into the cemetary on the far side of town.

Hugged my daughter dearest immediately upon arrival.

I imagine the next such opportunity for reflection will be when Baby Blogler v2 arrives on or before April 13.

Peace out. Enjoy life.

You too

After yesterday’s U2 ticket-buying fiasco, I’ve been reading lists and blogs everywhere with thousands of similar tales of woe. Of course, there were some smug people who waited (either by choice or not) and found themselves getting sweet tickets after the Ticketbastard servers and fanclub access were reset. Those of us who jumped to get any tickets – no matter how expensive or how far back – yesterday are only left with, “Oh, well, I least I got something…”

Coursera: Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

This week I started my second Coursera course: Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.

It actually started a couple of weeks ago so I need to catch up. I’ve only done the first week but am already finding it both mentally stimulating and sort of funny.

Here’s what I’ll learn:

  1. Infinity (Zeno’s Paradox, Galileo’s Paradox, very basic set theory, infinite sets)
  2. Truth (Tarski’s theory of truth, recursive definitions, complete induction over sentences, Liar Paradox)
  3. Rational Belief (propositions as sets of possible worlds, rational all-or-nothing belief, rational degrees of belief, bets, Lottery Paradox)
  4. If-then (indicative vs subjunctive conditionals, conditionals in mathematics, conditional rational degrees of belief, beliefs in conditionals vs conditional beliefs)
  5. Confirmation (the underdetermination thesis, the Monty Hall Problem, Bayesian confirmation theory)
  6. Decision (decision making under risk, maximizing expected utility, von Neumann Morgenstern axioms and representation theorem, Allais Paradox, Ellsberg Paradox)
  7. Voting (Condorcet Paradox, Arrows Theorem, Condorcet Jury Theorem, Judgment Aggregation)
  8. Quantum Logic (orthocomplemented lattices, projections, Gleason’s Theorem, probability and logic)


First Aid Kit cover Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”

I’ve blogged before about Swedish sister country-folk duo First Aid Kit, because they’re amazingly fantastical. In addition to their own great music they’ve done some great cover tunes, like this autoharp-filled version of “It Hurts Me Too”.

We’ve now got a full version of a cover First Aid Kit did for French radio some time ago, of Patti Smith’s eerie, iconic “Dancing Barefoot”. Listen to the harmonies.

Great Big Sea at The Basement

Great Big Sea are a pretty popular party-time band from Newfoundland, Canada. For 20 years they’ve blended East Coast folk music (strongly Irish-influenced) with pop-rock melodies and sensibilities. I saw them a couple of times when I lived in Canada, and once in London in 2007 (read the comments thread on that blog post; I attracted a nutter). They’re high energy. Their music is neither elaborate nor delicately crafted, but it’s delivered with punk-rock dedication.

Great Big Sea are on their first Australian mini-tour (a night in Melbourne and a night in Sydney, before heading up the coast to the Byron Bay Bluesfest this weekend). Like any good Canadian – and the Basement was packed with them last night – I went to see them play. I managed to drag along some friends, most of whom didn’t know GBS, but who had a pretty good time.

I was pleased to find out that the opening act was Katoomba one-man DIY blues band Claude Hay, whom I caught a couple of times earlier this year. It was a short set, but Claude won over the room with his smiling demeanour, soulful voice, and fiery fingerpicking.

Great Big Sea did what they’ve always done: ripped through Celtic-rock singalongs of just about all the hits I remember, including “Donkey Riding”, “Mari-Mac”, “Lukey”, “The Night Pat Murphy Died”, “Up”, “Run Runaway”, “Excursion Around the Bay” and so on and so on. The Canuck crowd knew when to sing, when to clap, and when to belt out a “Hey!”

The boys oozed enthusiasm and Newfie charm as they went. This was the first time for some of them in Australia, and there were oft-repeated jibes of Sean McCann falling for warnings about drop-bears. Sean also found it bewildering that this used to be a penal colony: if people were sent here for punishment, he wondered aloud, how bad must his ancestors – banished to Newfoundland – have been?

It was a feel-good kitchen party in a little basement club on the other side of the world, but I don’t think it felt much different from Corner Brook for Great Big Sea.