Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stay Tuned

My guitar tuners keep breaking.

Over the last year I have become a total slave to tuners – battery powered gadgets that fit on the headstock of a guitar. You pluck a string, turn the tuning pegs, and a little display tells you when the string is just right.

But the goddam things keep breaking.

I’ve gone through two of them in the last twelve months or so. Before that I’d always used a standard tuning fork that, when whacked against a hard object, vibrates at 440Hz, producing the commonly accepted pitch for the note A. (There is an argument for using 432Hz instead. The subject is surprisingly controversial; some people conflate it into a kind of Illuminati conspiracy. I won’t touch that with a ten foot pole. Still others who favor 432Hz say that it’s mellower, or more natural – something like that.)

In any case: I should just stick to the tuning fork, and thereby improve my ear. I get that.

Like I said, though, I have become a slave to these damned tuners. They do a really good job, but they keep breaking. They only cost about twenty bucks, so it’s not a catastrophe when one breaks. What’s annoying is that it’s usually the cheapest components, something on the plastic clip, that break. The tuning software and display itself are fine.

The first tuner I got was a Snark, much like the one in the top photo. It had a ball and socket pivot, allowing you to move the display around for optimal viewing. After about a month, a piece of the socket snapped off. I tried gluing it back together, then tried putty to attach the damned thing. No go.

As a replacement I bought a different type. Basically the same as the Snark, but with a hinged thing instead of the ball and socket. It seemed better. And indeed it lasted a lot longer, eight or nine months. But it too broke. This time, a teeny plastic nub that holds the clip attachment in place snapped off.

So I ordered yet another replacement, and currently await its arrival. This one is a Korg, like in the above photo. It isn’t made to attach to the guitar. I hope that will make a difference.

The video below describes more than you ever wanted to know about guitar tuners. (The one I’m awaiting delivery on is the third one shown.)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Big Lie

The most terrifying thing about Trump is his increasingly blatant inclination toward autocracy. Inclination may be too nice a word for it.

A huge part of this is Trump’s shameless, undisguised lying. “Donald is a believer in the big-lie theory,” one of his lawyers told Vanity Fair nearly thirty years ago. “If you say something again and again, people will believe you.”

The Big Lie is pure Hitler, and Trump is – or was then – a reader of the F├╝hrer’s speeches. I don’t know the exact origins of the Big Lie, but Hitler coined the phrase in Mein Kampf. He wrote that people simply cannot believe anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

Like Trump and his “fake news” lie.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, said “the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

Trump and his minions have been doing just that. Now they are raising the stakes with new, unbridled bullshit about a “secret society” within the Justice Department, one intent on bringing Trump down. [Update: now they are backing off that claim.]

Where is the powerful senator putting country above party – speaking plain truth about all that is wrong with this picture?

One senator said: “It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques – techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.”

Strong words – but they were spoken nearly seventy years ago by Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican Senator from Maine. Taken from her famous “Declaration of Conscience,” they were in opposition to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during his reign of terror.

“I speak as a Republican,” she said. “I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States Senator. I speak as an American.” And all Americans, she said, have “the right to criticize; the right to hold unpopular beliefs; the right to protest, the right of independent thought.”

The country survived McCarthy, but I’m not so sure it will survive Trump. He is a wannabe autocrat leading us headlong into a totalitarian state.

I keep thinking about this Frank Zappa song:


Monday, January 22, 2018

Women's March, Denver

On January 20, the 2018 Women’s March drew more than fifty thousand people to downtown Denver. Thats about half the number that attended last year, but more than enough to send a very clear message to the White House.

The demonstrators included me – although in all honesty, what most drew me were the photo ops.

I attended last year’s Denver march, too. I heard a joke around that time, possibly from Stephen Colbert: Trump set a new record for being rejected by more women in a single day than any other man in history.

During last year’s rally the local transit system was totally unprepared for the number of riders, and was quickly overwhelmed. I ended up hitching a ride, thanks to the kindness of strangers. Recalling that, I went up to the bus stop at 5am this time, and wound up at Union Station downtown way, way too early. But I knew that might happen, and brought enough reading material to easily kill a few hours in a bagel place.

The march was set to begin at 10am, with a rally starting at nine. That horde of fifty thousand represented a good cross-section of America, with women and men of all ages and colors. It impressed me to see so many people simultaneously cheerful, upbeat, and pissed off.

“This is not just a white women’s movement,” one woman was quoted in the local press. “We have to stand in solidarity with the many people that are not just rich white men, who have not been given equal rights, opportunities, housing and jobs. It’s about how important it is that everyone has a story and these stories can inspire us to fight for change.”

The rally began with a prayer, said in Navajo. I couldn’t understand a word. Just before delivering it, the speaker said in English that its themes were peace, love, and unity. I support these ideals but suspect they are alien to Trump.