Monday, March 18, 2013

Peter Singer strikes again!

Peter Singer is definitely among my top 5 living philosophers, though I have not actually read a whole book of his.  Many of his views on ethics are pretty similar to, and have shaped some of, my own.  In fact, an article of his that I read in one of my philosophy classes a few years ago planted the seed that (in combination with a few other things) led to me converting to a fully vegetarian diet a couple of months ago (after a couple of years of part-timing it).

Now he's going on about charitable donations, and I feel compelled to pledge 1% of my income toward a worthwhile cause (a few of which he kindly points us toward).  I could attempt to give an explanation of why I think this is a good idea, but it's probably better just to watch the man himself talk about it (be warned that this video is ONE HOUR long, though you could probably get the gist of it within the first 15 minutes or so):

Despite my current advocacy of this idea (and impending pledge to contribute myself), I wouldn't say that I don't have concerns about actually seeing this through.  I think that Singer makes a solid argument for why anti-poverty programs are far more cost-effective than some of the charitable work being done domestically (though this should not be interpreted as me dismissing domestic charities as unworthy).  Still, I question whether "saving lives" without a systematic societal change simply prolongs the conditions that enable perpetual poverty and strife in some of these places.  I'll end the discussion there to avoid stating this concern as harshly as I have sometimes in the past.  For now I'll just concede and settle for saving lives.

I've joined the ranks of the watchless...for now...

Until about a couple of weeks ago, I had regularly worn a wristwatch since I was a kid.  Some would argue that (since I am right-handed) I wore my watches on the wrong (i.e., right) wrist...but still...

I currently own 6 wristwatches, each of which I had been progressively wearing less and less.  A couple are sport watches, which I have no need for since I don't really go running or adventure traveling any more (or, actually, never really did).  A couple are of the stylish-but-marginally-functional variety that I mostly wore on weekends.  I got tired of replacing their batteries a year or two ago.  The remaining two were the stainless steel workhorses, one of which I typically had on my wrist 5 days a week.  Though the battery has been dead on one of them for a while, the other is still chugging along (except for when I try to use the backlight).

Lately, though, I was almost daily taking the watch off at least briefly at work when it started to make typing a bit uncomfortable.  This is not something new, and has been an on-and-off occurrence for several years.  However, it seemed to be happening more often lately.  On top of the fact that the battery on my only remaining functional non-sport watch was showing signs of fading (re: the backlight issue).  And the fact that (for various reasons I won't get into at the moment) I hate the experience of getting my watch batteries replaced.  And, perhaps most importantly, the fact that cell phones have rendered the main function of a watch obsolete.  So one day at work a couple of weeks ago I decided that I was done with watches.  I took the watch off, put it in my coat pocket, and that was that.

The one caveat to this story is that I have been eying the smartwatch industry for a while.  In fact, at one point last year I pledged the $100 (or whatever it was) that was required to receive a Pebble watch on Kickstarter.  But I later came to my senses and cancelled my pledge when they announced the first of a few delays.  I still think that smartwatches could be a neat idea, and (being a gadget guy) I'm likely to take a serious look at one once the industry matures a bit.  Chances are it won't be an iWatch, though.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Muse @ Chaifetz Arena (3/8/2013)


  • Dead Sara...not a fan.

  • The setlist ranged from the first song on their first album all the way through their catalog.  As expected, it was back-loaded with songs off their most recent album, which I don't think is particularly good (but I appreciate a bit more after finding out that it is named after the second law of thermodynamics).  They included all the hits (I think - I'm actually not that huge a fan of their music), and a couple of my favorites of theirs.

  • This may be the main reason that I saw this show - Muse is known for their elaborate stage setup.  After seeing part of their show at a festival, I felt I should probably see a real headlining show of theirs.
  • As expected, their stage setup was visually stunning - one of the best I've seen.  They had screens all over the place (surrounding the stage, on the stage, and in motion overhead), lots of lights, lasers, and a boom camera that Matthew Bellamy played with a bit (at one point he had an extended close-up with the camera while his sunglasses displayed the song lyrics - pretty cool).  They also showed off a piano that came up out of the stage, a rotating platform for the drummer, and guitars with lights and Kaoss pads built in.
  • The stage also had a very clean feel to it.  There was a catwalk around the back, and a few places for the two non-stationary members to post up.

  • In addition to having great visuals, they were quite technically skilled with their instruments - they played their songs very cleanly.
  • An extra traveling musician was used for a few of the songs, notably while Matt was on the piano.

  • Did I mention that the visuals were amazing?

Rating: 4.2/5