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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in armchairrambo's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006
9:48 am
the case for Marshall Crenshaw
1st album: good songwriting, good playing, non-production. The guy used to be John Lennon in Beatlemania, OK. Good stuff, if not something to get too worked up about.

'Field Day', 2nd album produced by Steve Lilywhite. I expected a pile of crap and avoided this album for a LONG time. Who wants to hear Marshall Crenshaw jamming with U2 at the Grand Canyon?

Well, I do apparently. More like XTC and Marshall Crenshaw and it sounded fantastic. Not a bad song on it, this is the great lost pop record of the 80's. It took me a year to get past the first two songs. They are that good.

It doesn't sound better than it did when it came out, it sounds EXACTLY THE SAME -- it's like Lilywhite encased Crenshaw in amber, in 1980, as Crenshaw's writing quality peaked. The echo effects that sound sort of cliched on XTC and U2 records is actually the glue that holds MCs little trio together and and their engine -- the group drives and steers, but Lilywhite provides the pistons.

I bet it would have sounded really good coming out of AM car radio, if it hadn't flopped. Crenshaw went back to making competent, anonymous-sounding music and that was that.

Current Mood: tired
Sunday, June 25th, 2006
8:23 am
skip the link below, here's the list (with commentary)
The Ten Commandments for C Programmers (Annotated Edition)
November 25, 1992

1 Thou shalt run lint frequently and study its pronouncements with care, for verily its perception and judgement oft exceed thine.

This is still wise counsel, although many modern compilers search out many of the same sins, and there are often problems with lint being aged and infirm, or una- vailable in strange lands. There are other tools, such as Saber C, useful to similar ends.

``Frequently'' means thou shouldst draw thy daily guidance from it, rather than hoping thy code will achieve lint's blessing by a sudden act of repentance at the last minute. De-linting a program which has never been linted before is often a cleaning of the stables such as thou wouldst not wish on thy worst enemies. Some observe, also, that careful heed to the words of lint can be quite helpful in debugging.

``Study'' doth not mean mindless zeal to eradicate every byte of lint output-if for no other reason, because thou just canst not shut it up about some things-but that thou should know the cause of its unhap- piness and understand what worri- some sign it tries to speak of.

2 Thou shalt not follow the NULL pointer, for chaos and madness await thee at its end.

Clearly the holy scriptures were mis-transcribed here, as the words should have been ``null pointer'', to minimize confusion between the concept of null pointers and the macro NULL (of which more anon). Otherwise, the meaning is plain. A null pointer points to regions filled with dragons, demons, core dumps, and numberless other foul creatures, all of which delight in frolicing in thy program if thou disturb their sleep. A null pointer doth not point to a 0 of any type, despite some blasphemous old code which impiously assumes this.

3 Thou shalt cast all function arguments to the expected type if they are not of that type already, even when thou art convinced that this is unnecessary, lest they take cruel vengeance upon thee when thou least expect it.

A programmer should understand the type structure of his language, lest great misfortune befall him. Contrary to the heresies espoused by some of the dwellers on the Western Shore, `int' and `long' are not the same type. The moment of their equivalence in size and representation is short, and the agony that awaits believers in their interchangeability shall last forever and ever once 64-bit machines become common.

Also, contrary to the beliefs com- mon among the more backward inhabi- tants of the Polluted Eastern Marshes, `NULL' does not have a pointer type, and must be cast to the correct type whenever it is used as a function argument.

(The words of the prophet Ansi, which permit NULL to be defined as having the type `void *', are oft taken out of context and misunder- stood. The prophet was granting a special dispensation for use in cases of great hardship in wild lands. Verily, a righteous program must make its own way through the Thicket Of Types without lazily relying on this rarely-available dispensation to solve all its prob- lems. In any event, the great deity Dmr who created C hath wisely endowed it with many types of pointers, not just one, and thus it would still be necessary to convert the prophet's NULL to the desired type.)

It may be thought that the radical new blessing of ``prototypes'' might eliminate the need for cau- tion about argument types. Not so, brethren. Firstly, when confronted with the twisted strangeness of variable numbers of arguments, the problem returns... and he who has not kept his faith strong by repeated practice shall surely fall to this subtle trap. Secondly, the wise men have observed that reli- ance on prototypes doth open many doors to strange errors, and some indeed had hoped that prototypes would be decreed for purposes of error checking but would not cause implicit conversions. Lastly, reliance on prototypes causeth great difficulty in the Real World today, when many cling to the old ways and the old compilers out of desire or necessity, and no man knoweth what machine his code may be asked to run on tomorrow.

4 If thy header files fail to declare the return types of thy library functions, thou shalt declare them thyself with the most meticulous care, lest grievous harm befall thy program.

The prophet Ansi, in her wisdom, hath added that thou shouldst also scourge thy Suppliers, and demand on pain of excommunication that they produce header files that declare their library functions. For truly, only they know the pre- cise form of the incantation appropriate to invoking their magic in the optimal way.

The prophet hath also commented that it is unwise, and leads one into the pits of damnation and sub- tle bugs, to attempt to declare such functions thyself when thy header files do the job right.

5 Thou shalt check the array bounds of all strings (indeed, all arrays), for surely where thou typest ``foo'' someone someday shall type ``supercalifragilis- ticexpialidocious''.

As demonstrated by the deeds of the Great Worm, a consequence of this commandment is that robust produc- tion software should never make use of gets(), for it is truly a tool of the Devil. Thy interfaces should always inform thy servants of the bounds of thy arrays, and servants who spurn such advice or quietly fail to follow it should be dispatched forthwith to the Land Of Rm, where they can do no further harm to thee.

6 If a function be advertised to return an error code in the event of difficulties, thou shalt check for that code, yea, even though the checks triple the size of thy code and produce aches in thy typing fingers, for if thou thinkest ``it cannot happen to me'', the gods shall surely punish thee for thy arrogance.

All true believers doth wish for a better error-handling mechanism, for explicit checks of return codes are tiresome in the extreme and the temptation to omit them is great. But until the far-off day of deliverance cometh, one must walk the long and winding road with patience and care, for thy Vendor, thy Machine, and thy Software delight in surprises and think nothing of producing subtly mean- ingless results on the day before thy Thesis Oral or thy Big Pitch To The Client.

Occasionally, as with the ferror() feature of stdio, it is possible to defer error checking until the end when a cumulative result can be tested, and this often produceth code which is shorter and clearer. Also, even the most zealous beli- ever should exercise some judgement when dealing with functions whose failure is totally uninteresting... but beware, for the cast to void is a two-edged sword that sheddeth thine own blood without remorse.

7 Thou shalt study thy libraries and strive not to re- invent them without cause, that thy code may be short and readable and thy days pleasant and productive.

Numberless are the unwashed heathen who scorn their libraries on vari- ous silly and spurious grounds, such as blind worship of the Little Tin God (also known as ``Effi- ciency''). While it is true that some features of the C libraries were ill-advised, by and large it is better and cheaper to use the works of others than to persist in re-inventing the square wheel. But thou should take the greatest of care to understand what thy libraries promise, and what they do not, lest thou rely on facilities that may vanish from under thy feet in future.

8 Thou shalt make thy program's purpose and structure clear to thy fellow man by using the One True Brace Style, even if thou likest it not, for thy creativity is better used in solving problems than in creating beautiful new impediments to understanding.

These words, alas, have caused some uncertainty among the novices and the converts, who knoweth not the ancient wisdoms. The One True Brace Style referred to is that demonstrated in the writings of the First Prophets, Kernighan and Ritchie. Often and again it is criticized by the ignorant as hard to use, when in truth it is merely somewhat difficult to learn, and thereafter is wonderfully clear and obvious, if perhaps a bit sensitive to mistakes.

While thou might think that thine own ideas of brace style lead to clearer programs, thy successors will not thank thee for it, but rather shall revile thy works and curse thy name, and word of this might get to thy next employer. Many customs in this life persist because they ease friction and pro- mote productivity as a result of universal agreement, and whether they are precisely the optimal choices is much less important. So it is with brace style.

As a lamentable side issue, there has been some unrest from the fanatics of the Pronoun Gestapo over the use of the word ``man'' in this Commandment, for they believe that great efforts and loud shout- ing devoted to the ritual purification of the language will somehow redound to the benefit of the downtrodden (whose real and grievous woes tendeth to get lost amidst all that thunder and fury). When preaching the gospel to the narrow of mind and short of temper, the word ``creature'' may be sub- stituted as a suitable pseudoBibli- cal term free of the taint of Pol- itical Incorrectness.

9 Thy external identifiers shall be unique in the first six characters, though this harsh discipline be irksome and the years of its necessity stretch before thee seemingly without end, lest thou tear thy hair out and go mad on that fateful day when thou desirest to make thy program run on an old system.

Though some hasty zealots cry ``not so; the Millenium is come, and this saying is obsolete and no longer need be supported'', verily there be many, many ancient systems in the world, and it is the decree of the dreaded god Murphy that thy next employment just might be on one. While thou sleepest, he plot- teth against thee. Awake and take care.

It is, note carefully, not neces- sary that thy identifiers be lim- ited to a length of six characters. The only requirement that the holy words place upon thee is uniqueness within the first six. This often is not so hard as the belittlers claimeth.

10 Thou shalt foreswear, renounce, and abjure the vile heresy which claimeth that ``All the world's a VAX'', and have no commerce with the benighted heathens who cling to this barbarous belief, that the days of thy program may be long even though the days of thy current machine be short.

This particular heresy bids fair to be replaced by ``All the world's a Sun'' or ``All the world's a 386'' (this latter being a particularly revolting invention of Satan), but the words apply to all such without limitation. Beware, in particular, of the subtle and terrible ``All the world's a 32-bit machine'', which is almost true today but shall cease to be so before thy resume grows too much longer.

7:47 am
half alive journal
Gotta check in every few weeks to keep the account alive.

Figured out why the new Flaming Lips record was such a disappointment. Wayne repackaged himself for the two prior albums and had a real unusual attitude for a pop (pretending to be rock) singer: genuine humility and wonder. That was a pretty ambitious thing to try to put that across to an audience in a (allegedly) rock context, and he did it. Stephen and Fridmann took care of the music and it worked.

New album tosses that outlook for a presumption to inform/lecture the listener, and that rubs me the wrong way with these guy.

"If you could (insert something here)
Would you do it?"

Anyone who needs to be prompted to ask themselves that needs to start looking somewhere else for guidance, immediately. It's like Wayne just discovered ethics and morality and he wants to tell us about it. That's just a little too much wonder for me.

It's all relevant, but this is not the place to figure out right and wrong. It's only good for asking the questions, which Wayne did very successfully on the previous two discs (and to be fair does in places on AWWTM).

As for the left-wing anti-war stance they've decided to take, it's embarrassing. How brave at this point. I'm sorry they feel so guilty, but I'm even more sorry they've decided to sacrifice thier music to it. Stephen did his part on this record, there's some real good music here. But the whole project lacks focus, and that's his fault too.

Sleater-Kinney were wrong about almost every political conclusion post-9/11, but they asked some of the right quesions, the music was great, and they had the sense to avoid too much condescending preachery. They may be wrong, but they are honestly wrong and helped provide a political counterbalance.

(BTW, would someone on the left please submit an agenda that doesn't involve leaving Iraq dangling in the wind, like we did with the Kurds? Thanks, us right-wingers need you guys to keep flapping on the other side!)

They are coming to St Paul for the State Fair. (This band should play more all-ages shows.)
It should be a really cool show, so ENJOY!
Wednesday, March 15th, 2006
5:54 am
hmmm null pointer
Hmmm, this account is still here. Suppose that's good.

Listening to the new Flaming Lip album for the first time. Middle of the second song I'm thinking this thing just sucks. But into song 3 & 4, the music is pretty great. Parts remind me of 'In the Court of the Crimson King', in a really good way (not lyrics, haha).

Speaking of lyrics, reading about the new record on the Flips website http://www.flaminglips.com
Steven says, "I'm serious when I say we were all ANGRY and DISAPPOINTED when the Bushies got the second term."

Well Steven, I'm serious and disappointed, but not angry (or shouting). A lot of the new album sounds corny. This guy has a ton of talent, and Wayne's 'meaning of life' lyrics and vocal affectations mixed really well into it. But the questioning lyrics sometimes sound like whining now. They claim to be moving in a more ROCK direction, I suppose in a way they are. I'm afraid they're moving in a more boring direction too.

If it's worth saying, it's worthing saying in C:
Talent != Political insight

At it's worst, this album is competent and full of good production tricks. "Mr. Ambulance Driver" doesn't sound much better here than on the VOID DVD, where it was probably the weakest track. Another complaint: where's the Spongebob theme?

Every C programmer must read:


Current Mood: indifferent
Wednesday, December 14th, 2005
8:28 am
sick sick sick
I have viral pneumonia. This is the third week of work missed. Sucks. Nothing to be done but wait for it to run its course.

Natalie & Hannah, send me your email address. I had to reinstall Outlook when I got this computer and lost my phone book. As soon as I can I'm going to get Connie on the wifi network here. I'll set her up with email and let you guys know what it is.

In good news, I am single-handedly keeping the local Blockbuster in business. Saw 'The Life Aquatic', absolutely loved it. Saw SAW and loved it -- an original horror/suspense/drama, a rarity.

Listening to:

King Crimson 'USA'
Ray Charles 'New Sounds in Country & Western'
Lucinda Williams 'Live at the Fillmore'
David Bowie 'Man Who Sold the World'
Lexo and the Leapers 'Ask Them'
Superchunk 'Foolish'
Sonic Youth 'A Thousand Leaves'
Taj Mahal 'Taj's Blues'
Bob Dylan 'The Genuine Basement Tapes'

There, now can I keep my account for another month?

Current Mood: sick
Saturday, October 22nd, 2005
9:59 pm
NP gig cancelled, too bad
WeIrdest night in some time, full moon. New Pornographers canceled gig tonight. Went to Worst Avenue at 7:30p, doors opened at 6. Bass player just had an appendectomy, apparently.

The only time I can think of trying to go to a show and arriving to find it canceled is Dave Edmunds in must be 1981 or so. I think that one was canceled because Edmunds saw how tiny the bar was and blew it off.

I'm trying to think of any other band I HAVE to see if they come to town. The only one I come up with is BB King. Must see him at least once.
Monday, October 10th, 2005
6:14 pm
RAnDoM thoughts for the beginning of Oct
Currently investigating Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire

AC Newman "The Slow Wonder" has RULED me for two weeks. It's better than the new Pornographers CD, which is real good. Must look into Zumpano again...

The Dictators
I was never very interested in The Dictators, even though I was into Mott the Hoople, Slade, Velvet Underground, Blue Oyster Cult, etc...but I think a band I used to play in sounded like them.

Flaming Lips Yoshimi DVD
Wow. What a fun ride. Three unreleased songs, three vids from the album, several other video things and (a second) copy of the CD version. But the best thing is the 6-channel mix of the record.

Current Mood: relaxed
Sunday, September 25th, 2005
7:41 am
The case for Mott the Hoople
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is weird. It's strange to see a museum about the subject, seems to be some kind of contradiction.

Why is it so hard to navigate their website? I just want a list of who's been inducted.

I don't think Mott the Hoople is in there. U2 is getting a lifetime achievement award.

This is not right.

Please straighten me out if I'm mistaken about this, but this apparent injustice cannot stand.
7:34 am
Race and hurricanes
This is a link to a good story about the politics of Katrina.

People better figure out what's happening with the issue of race in this country or we are going to have another civil war.

Think it can't happen here? So did Sarajevo.
Tuesday, September 20th, 2005
8:15 pm
bird flew
Watching show on bird flu. Very scary, another good reason to abandon the cities. We should evacuate the cities BEFORE the next disaster.

Thought the New Pornographers were playing tomorrow, it's a month away. Phew! I must see this band live. Twin Cinema still in heavy rotation, it's 3/5 of a great album. Runs out of steam after about that long. Too bad cause it has great steam for the first half.

I love that record.

Current Mood: determined
Tuesday, September 13th, 2005
10:16 pm
How does one put a picture in one of these messages? Is that a paid-only feature?
10:10 pm
mpls is nauseating
Minneapolis has re-elected Rybak! I didn't vote. Gave up on this city some time ago. Kelly might make a good governor when Pawlenty runs for Senate.
10:03 pm
Vang trial
Anyone likely to run into a bear MUST have a rifle. And enough rifle.

Most important factor *after* Chai Vang decided to go nuts? Only one guy was armed.

Vang shot him first.

Current Mood: blah
9:55 pm
dedicated to my fans
Mariah Carey just won an award. Some fat old guy is singing a song with Stevie Wonder. Wait, Stevie is the old guy and Kid Rock is fat now.

What a weeeeird show.

Current Mood: tired
Friday, September 9th, 2005
9:26 am
twin cinema update
'Use It' and 'The Bleeding Heart Show' are (in tandem) the song of the year.

I have thus declared it is so.

Current Mood: huh?
Wednesday, September 7th, 2005
10:21 pm
Good day
I am on vacation, la la la la la...

I am actually getting things done, such as rebuilding a bench from China that had all the holes drilled in the wrong place. That was a challenge. I assumed for quite a while that I was doing something wrong. The instructions were in...Engrish. Sucks. But it got put together and looks cool.

Should local and state officials in New Orleans be tried as criminals? How did they become so inept?

Does W have a weather machine he uses to steer hurricanes to where black folk are?

Tomorrow is basement work. Sleep calls...maybe shoot some ammo tomorrow? Yeah.

Current Mood: duh
10:08 am
Twin Cinema
New Pornographers 3rd album is the same, only different.

The NPs like to play with words. I have even less of a clue what they are singing about on their new album, but anyone who reads this should go buy it. I finally figured out who their sound reminds me of. The get compared to a lot of prog-rock pop bands, but what they sound like to me is Wire. Listen to 'Three of Four' and maybe you'll hear what I write of. They play the song together.

The tunes are another matter. Raspberries meets early Wire. Strange fruit.

Current Mood: contemplative
Tuesday, September 6th, 2005
3:08 pm
Concert review: Of Montreal last Saturday night
Won tickets to this concert at the Triple Rock Social Club in Mpls. Thank you Current 89.3FM!

1: The Mgmt -- they were perfect. Two college dudes and their colletion of lo-tech effects, e.g. fog machine, sunglasses, arena rock gestures, and tunes. Pretty good tunes.

2: DJ Jester -- funny and inventive.

3: Grand Buffet -- two roadie/rappers, funny as hell and utterly mad. I am making plans for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

4: Of Montreal -- I would go see them again. I only know a few of their songs, but I did listen to their new album 'Sunlandic Twins' the next day and recognized a bunch of songs. And they sounded good. They are funny live, and they look like they're having a blast.

4 out of 4 winners. Can't remember the last time I could say that. What little clubs are for.

Current Mood: chipper
2:55 pm
vacation nation
OK, I think I get it.

I'm interested in blogging because it, together with the web and talk radio, has rendered TV News and newspapers obsolete. About time.  It's a freakin populist force and I'm fer it.

I think I'll post some record reviews, blather pointlessly about current events, and generally piss people off.

 Let's get started. How about all those folks in New Orleans that ignored the warnings to leave, then waited around for someone to rescue them. And now complain about the slow/no response, concluding it happened because of...racism! And how about the utter failure of the local emergency response? I have no idea who's in charge down there, but they should be fired. If they are still alive.

This disaster was not without precedent or warning.

Current Mood: tired
Wednesday, August 31st, 2005
7:00 pm
how the heck does this all work?
Now that I have staked out this patch of the Internet, what do I do with it?
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