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Monday, January 30, 2006

Rocketboom: The Brave New Vlog that is Reshaping the Future of Media

Congdon ScreenshotThe age of video blogging and “citizen journalism” is being led by Rocketboom. What is Rocketboom you ask? Rocketboom is a New York City-based vlog (video blog) that serves up Internet culture and other quirky topics in about the time it takes to boil an egg (about 3 to 5 minutes). This brainchild of former musician Andrew Baron was launched in October 2004, as an outgrowth of text-based Internet blogging. Episodes are anchored and co-written by comely, sharp-witted, aspiring actress, Amanda Congdon and are delivered Monday through Friday by 9am EST.
Rocketboom fundamental business model was to build a substantial audience without worrying about generating revenue. This seems to have paid off. Rocketboom is now one of the premiere vlogs on the Internet with upwards of 130,000 daily viewers. Recent distribution via TiVo and Akimbo, which enables Web videos to be watched on TV, has further increased its reach. The content and composition of Rocketboom segments typically consists of any number of elements: stream-of-consciousness news vignettes, strange Internet media finds, tours of interesting businesses, haggling (but not purchasing) with street vendors over the price of pirated DVDs, or wandering the streets and asking a question like “Why is George Bush so awesome?.” Rocketboom strength is that it is raw, creative journalism that is not afraid to have an opinion, unlike stale mainstream news media. Congdon shoulders about half of the scriptwriting duties. She also finds the many of stories and takes on the tedious task of sifting through and researching audience submitted stories. To complete the Rocketboom formula, add Congdon’s aesthetic appeal, instant likeability, and quirky persona and you have a winner. Rocketboom is addicting. When asked about the future plans of Rocketboom, Congdon responded in an email:

“We're going to expand our correspondent list to include someone in almost every major city. We're also in the process of developing new shows and creating what we hope becomes a network of vlogs. All of the shows will have the Rocketboom "feel" but won't all be news anchor style.

For, which will always remain free of charge, we're working on a different kind of advertising model, one where the ads are at the end of the video and are worthwhile and interesting in their own right. That way people anticipate the ads, instead of dread them. We've been working on this prototype.

Here's an example: Rocketboom New Ad Prototype

The content is thus related to the ad, making the ad more powerful and the viewers happy. We find the viewers often comment more on the ad than the actual episode! So, yeah, we'll be making our own ads for companies. We'll also be auctioning off ad space (video only) on eBay. Only catch: We can do whatever we like with the brand of the company, who wins (porn companies will not be allowed to bid).”

The amazing thing about Rocketboom is that only costs about $25 to Andrew Baron Photocreate and produce an episode according to Baron’s blog, Dembot. Baron writes:
“…if you can find or loan a camera, a computer and an Internet connection, you can very easily create work that will support itself at any size. The news story behind Rocketboom right now and the story for any other dreamers out there is the daunting magnitude in which our humongous monetary value has outpaced our tiny costs.”

What does Rocketboom mean? Congdon says that there is no funny story behind the name and that producer/director, Baron chose it back in 2004 because he just thought it had a nice ring to it, and liked the space theme. Rocketboom is much more than wildly popular vlog. It embodies the reality that current technology gives “citizen journalists” the means to launch their commentary across the media at nominal cost with the potential to achieve extraordinary results. Rocketboom is reshaping the future of media.

FYI…For all of you Rocketboom/Amanda Congdon fans, keep your eyes peeled for Congdon in CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on February 2, 2006. She will be appearing as herself in an episode, in which the killer watches Rocketboom only to discover she knows the truth about his case.

Check them out online:

Matt "A Face Made for Podcasts" Largo

Friday, January 27, 2006

Moving Toward the Google Collective Unconscious

Google LogoThe latest rumor to hit the press is that search engine juggernaut Google is engineering a strategic move into the lucrative MP3 music downloading arena. Analysts at Bear Stearns are wagering that Google may be in the process of developing a service to rival Apple iTunes. An analyst wrote the following in a recent client note:

"We believe that Google is in the midst of creating its own iTunes competitor, which we've dubbed 'Google Tunes'. We think this is a logical step, now that the nascent Google Video product has been introduced."

Bear Stearns Analyst Robert Peck thinks that it makes perfect sense for Google to introduce a beta service in the next 3 to 6 months to claim some of the MP3 music downloading market that Apple currently dominates. Their speculation, which has not been confirmed yet, is based on the Mosaic Theory. Simply put, this means that he has taken non-material information from a variety of sources (he probably could tell us, but then he would have to kill us) and created some meaningful observations and projections concerning Google’s next logical move. The accuracy of his prediction greatly depends on the sources used and thorough knowledge of Google’s business model…a crystal ball wouldn’t hurt either. According to Nielsen [Net Ratings], iTunes has cultivated a distinct target audience with recognized brand preferences for consumer goods such as autos, alcoholic beverages, magazines, and television shows. If Google does decide to roll out music and video downloading services, besides Apple, they’ll be rubbing shoulders with Yahoo!, Microsoft, RealNetworks, and Napster.

Keep in mind, a short while ago Google announced their plan to purchase dMarc Broadcasting, Inc., a Newport Beach, California-based digital solutions provider for the radio broadcast industry. By purchasing dMarc Broadcasting, Google plans to integrate dMarc technology into the Google AdWords platform, creating a new radio ad distribution channel for Google advertisers. By doing this Google has essentially jumped the gap from cyberspace to terrestrial radio. What’s dark fibernext…Google Radio Network? It all seems to fit together in some strange way, doesn’t it? But wait! Don’t answer yet! There is another piece to the "Google Collective Unconscious". Google apparently has a voracious appetite for ‘dark fiber’. Sounds like the premise to a sci-fi horror flick, but it’s not as scary as it sounds, for now anyway. ‘Dark fiber’ is telecommunications speak for fiber-optic cable that has already been laid, but is not yet in use or “lit up” with the required optical communications hardware. Thousands of miles of dark fiber are available in the United States because of the telecom industry crash a few years ago, but there have been few takers because of the high costs of making it operational. Google is planning on being a major taker. The following information was gathered from a job posting on Google’s website, which read:

"Google is looking for Strategic Negotiator candidates with experience in...(i)dentification, selection, and negotiation of dark fiber contracts both in metropolitan areas and over long distances as part of development of a global backbone network.."

Google representatives declined to a request to explain the job posting and what it means for the future of Google. Having worked in Competitive Intelligence in the Telecommunications sector for a few years, I believe that this can mean a few things:

1. Google is merely planning for bandwidth needs over the coming years and is investing in ‘dark fiber’ now to save money in the future by owning their own network.

2. Google is planning a foray into the telecommunications business, maybe GoogleVOIP or even better VOIPoogle.

3. Google is planning to build a data/voice network as the foundation for a pervasive Wi-Fi network that will be an ad-supported, free broadband communication network that is viable alternative to the Internet. The GoogleNet?

Although the third possibility seems a bit more far-fetched than the first two, I think that it is quite plausible, given Google’s financial strength and track record of innovation. If a GoogleNet materializes, I imagine that handheld PDA-like Google appliances that store and play MP3s and video, function as phones, and enable users to Google other users and tagged objects via GPS in 3-space in won’t be far behind. Maybe even further down the road, we may see Google implants or better yet, Google neural implants. This sounds crazy, but scientists at the Max Planck Institute have developed "neuron transistors" that can detect the firing of a nearby neuron, or alternatively, can cause a nearby neuron to fire, or suppress it from firing. This basically amounts to a two-way communication channel between neurons and the electronic-based neuron transistors. They demonstrated the “neuron transistor” by controlling the movement of a living leech from a computer. I wonder if Google knows about “neuron transistors”?

The Google Collective Unconscious is upon us.

Matt "Nostradamus" Largo

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wi-FiTV: A Smorgasbord of Worldwide Video Content

WiFiTV logoThe technology to effectively provide streaming video content over the Internet has come a long way since late 1990’s. That is when the barriers of having enough horsepower and bandwidth in home PCs to support acceptable streaming video were broken. Providing worthwhile and compelling content that consumers will routinely incorporate into their media diet is the next hurdle for streaming video. Wi-FiTV is a streaming video portal that has taken the challenge by offering over 200 channels (I counted 209) of TV and some Web-only content from over 50 different countries. It also streams 50 audio-only channels of news and various musical genres from around the world. The moniker, “Wi-FiTV” was chosen a few years ago in anticipation of streaming video content over widely available Wi-Fi Internet connections.

Wi-FiTV currently has a free 30-day trial that does not require a credit card. After your trial is over, prepaid yearly subscriptions are available for only 99 cents per month for a limited time. The first thing I noticed about the website was that the layout and the interface still seemed like it was in a quasi-fledgling stage of development. To view streaming video through the embedded player, you must have both Windows Media Player and Real Player installed, because all of the channels are not using one or the other. This may pose a slight inconvenience for some, but most Web-savvy viewers have both installed anyway. Next, I decided to do what came naturally. I started surfing WiFiTV screenshotthrough the channels to see what Wi-FiTV was all about. There were channels from Albania, Pakistan, Serbia, Vietnam, the U.S., and the United Kingdom to name a few. Wi-FiTV serves up a variety of programming ranging including webcams aimed at barroom patrons, live talk shows, and assorted music video channels. The quality of the content was inconsistent, which is to be expected to a certain degree, since Wi-FiTV is acting as a conduit to deliver content from wide range of sources from amateur, public access video to rebroadcast content from existing television stations. Some of the channels had all the clarity of a circa-1975 video of Super 8mm Bigfoot footage, while others were pretty clear. After sampling a couple dozen channels over the course of few weeks, I was able to find some gems in the bunch like:

Channel 25 - eaTV - (USA)- New music including a live broadcast.

Channel 95 Astro TV - Astrology (German) - Attractive Blond dealing Tarot cards for phone in callers. I don’t speak German, but I liked to watch her shuffle the cards.

Channel 134 - Cybertika (France)- Music Channel - Watched "LA WEB TV Musicale".

Channel 176 - Kulaks Woodshed (USA)- Live Acoustic Music Performance (Web TV only). – Performances included: John McEuen 2001 performance, Maia Sharp 2003 "A Home", Laurence Juber 2002 "In Your Arms", Annie Rapid "Tails of Spain".

Channel 177 - Mania TV (USA) - Pop culture, short films and Talk shows

Channel 183 UWTV (USA) - Education TV from the Univ. of Washington – I watched a lecture about the Surgical Treatment for Ankle Arthritis including PowerPoint slides of x-rays and photos. I felt like I was in Med school without all of the pressure.

Channel 215 - Music Plus TV (USA) - A Los Angeles-based live Internet TV station that promotes independent, undiscovered and unsigned artists.

The viewer interface gives you the option to go to full-screen, but in most cases this turns it into an “impressionist” video. Wi-FiTV also offers free PC to Phone calls (US Only), free PC to PC calls worldwide, and a videoconferencing application called “Wi-Fi TV Virtual Living Room”, which is free now while it’s in beta. Once you have all of your favorites, you will naturally want to schedule recordings and record programs for personal use. Wi-FiTV recommends a couple of third-party applications from Applian Technologies, the WM Recorder from Applian Technologies that will set you back $30 separately or $50 for the “Replay Video Suite”.

Overall, Wi-FiTV seems to be onto something very cool. It remains to be seen how many people will find the content sticky enough to subscribe and make it part of their media diet. Wi-FiTV is in a unique media space, in which it is not in direct competition with Cable or Satellite TV. It seems to have a symbiotic relationship with Cable and Satellite TV, while offering somewhat of a social network built around a video content portal. In my opinion, the strength of the Wi-FiTV’s social network will be the key to its success. Building Wi-FiTV as a MySpace, Orkut, or Friendster type of social network revolving around worldwide video content and “citizen TV” is the way to go.

Check it out at:

Bottom Line: Wi-FiTV is worth a try.

Matt "Video Globehopper" Largo

Monday, January 23, 2006

Where Have All the E3 Babes Gone ?

E3 LogoFor those of you into Gaming or in the Gaming Industry and have attended E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) in the past, this bit of news may come as bit of a downer for afficianados of the E3 babes at the booths. E3 draws tens of thousands of professionals to experience the future of interactive entertainment and apparently scantily clad women are not going to a part of the E3 future. A new rule has been added to the E3 exhibitor handbook and includes the following, which indicates that booth models wearing risqué outfits will soon be a thing of E3 history.

"Material, including live models, conduct that is sexually explicit and/or sexually provocative, including but not limited to nudity, partial nudity and bathing suit bottoms, are prohibited on the Show floor, all common areas, and at any access points to the Show. ESA, in its sole discretion, will determine whether material is acceptable," reads the new rule.

E3 Babe

If the E3 tribunal decides that these rules have been broken then they will slap a $5,000 fine on the offender(s), payable immediately. Any rule breakers will be required to comply with the dress code before being allowed to return to the show floor. For the purpose of illustration, the E3 babe pictured (Lisa Gleave) would most likely generate a $5,000 fine. In my opinion, E3 is not for kids, period. I see no reason to child-proof the event. This is just another example of people over-thinking morality in an attempt to child-proof the World.

FYI: E3 2006 will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 10 – 12. Conferences are held May 9 – 11 and the show floor is open May 10 – 12.
For more info visit:

Matt “Finishing Move” Largo


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Technology and Porn Go Together Like Peanut Butter and KY Jelly

Earlier this month the adult industry's 23rd Annual AVN Awards Show, the adult equivalent of Greg Fitzsimmonsthe Oscars was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The emcee and host of the event, Greg Fitzsimmons focused on the symbiotic relationship between the Internet and pornography. "The Internet was completely funded by porn," he said from the stage of the 23rd annual AVN Awards Show. And if it wasn't for the Internet, he added, "you guys would be completely out of business". The entire audience, consisting of porn actors and adult entertainment magnates, like Jenna Jameson and Larry Flynt, roared with laughter. Fitzsimmons' joke isn't fiction. According to the Washington Post, online pornography, a $2.5 billion business and growing rapidly, pioneered such now-commonplace practices as streaming video, trading files and making online purchases. By comparison, sales of music downloads totaled $1.1 billion last year.

A common joke in IT is that every new technology is driven by porn. Think about the consumer technological advances that have porn applications: Digital cameras, the rapid spread of the VCR and later DVD players and recorders, which gives people the option to watch porn at home instead of going to the local Cine-porn movie house with all of the other real deviants. Although a lot of mainstream companies like Real Networks and Google earn some revenue from online porn, it's hard to verify. Jenna JamesonMainstream companies almost never specify how much money they earn from the skin trade because they don't like to talk about it. It's obviously a huge, huge market, but mum's the word. The Porn industry has acted as kind a technology incubator for much of the technology that we're using now for less risque purposes. For instance, online "streaming video" is one major example of a technology that was driven by porn in its early days. While Hollywood is still struggling with how best to put its movies online, entire porn empires have been built by production companies selling streaming-video programs on the Internet.

The next hot technology that is being adopted by the Porn industry is mobile video. As soon as Adult Entertainment companies heard that iPod went video, the gears and pinions in their filthy, tech-saavy minds started to turn. We will most likely have the Porn industry to thank for working all of the kinks (no pun intended) out of mobile video technology.

FYI -- if any of you were wondering, The award for Best Screenplay- Video went to Camp Cuddly Pines Powertool Massacre starring Stormy Daniels, Jonathan Morgan & August Warwick produced and distributed by Wicked Pictures.

Jenna Jameson won Crossover Star of the Year.

Matt "Beef Swellington" Largo


Wal-Mart "Screws the Pooch" Again with Racist Website URLs

Evil SmileyAmid all of the recent controversy of Wal-Mart’s unfair treatment of its employees and it’s penchant for driving Mom & Pop businesses to the poor house, they make yet another fuck up. Check it…Can anyone explain how listing biographies of Martin Luther King, Jack Johnson and Dorothy Dandridge under the "similar products" category with Planet of the Apes looks anything but racist?...

Walmart Racist URL 1

Continuing their fine tradition of bringing products together to make your shopping experience easier, Wal-Mart's "Planet of the Apes" The Complete TV series, has a few recommendations that they feel are very similar to what you should associate Planet of the Apes with. How about Martin Luther King or Tina Turner? I wonder if the folks at Stormfront (the White Supremacists) are secretly the webmasters of this site.

Walmart Similar Product Screenshot

Wouldn't similar items like "V" the Original Miniseries, or Battlestar Gallactica be more appropriate choices? Enjoy your shopping experience at Walmart where the prices are always low and I.Q.’s and ethics are even lower.

Update...Wal-Mart Stores Inc. temporarily shut down the system that creates movie recommendations on its shopping Web site after they found that the mistake about the link from a "Planet of the Apes" DVD to films about famous black Americans, including Martin Luther King Jr. They cited technical difficulties for the mishap.

Matt "WTF" Largo


Friday, January 20, 2006

Green Eggs and Transgenic Ham

Glowing PigsScientists in Taiwan say they have bred three male pigs that glow in the dark. They claim that while other researchers have successfully bred partially fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are completely green inside and out. Even their heart and internal organs are green. The transgenic pigs were engineered by introducing genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo. The researchers hope the pigs will boost the island's stem cell research, as well as helping with the study of human disease.

To create them, DNA from jellyfish was added to about 265 pig embryos which were implanted in eight different sows Glow in the Dark Pigs(they basically injected fluorescent jellyfish green protein into embryonic pigs). Four of the female pigs became pregnant and three male piglets were born three months ago. In daylight, the pigs' eyes, teeth skin have a greenish hue. Research using the transgenic pigs will be much easier because the pig's genetic material is green and is very easy to spot. For instance, if some stem cells from a glow-in-the-dark pig are injected into some other animal, scientists can track how they develop without performing a biopsy or conducting other invasive tests. Creating these transgenic pigs was not simple, since many of the altered embryos failed to develop. Researchers hope the new, green pigs will mate with ordinary female pigs to create a new generation of transgenic pigs for use in human disease research.

The transgenic, green, glow-in-the-dark pigs immediately reminded me of the book Brave New World, in which Aldous Huxley taps into, and then feeds, our revulsion at Pavlovian-style behavioral conditioning and "eugenics" through genetic manipulation. On a lighter note, it also brought to mind Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" because it means that we are half way to having the actual "Green Eggs and Ham" entrée come to fruition. How hard can it be for scientists to crank out a transgenic, glow-in-the-dark chicken that lays green, luminous eggs. I can see the diner menus already…Brave New Breakfast Skillet only $25.25. (I couldn't resist the Zager & Evans reference!)


Matt "Centrifugal Bumble-puppy" Largo

Thursday, January 19, 2006

From Remote Controlled Leeches to Spock's Brain

Remember the episode of the original Star Trek series... Remote Control SpockI believe it was stardate 5131.4, the USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, encounters a curious ship of unusual design. Upon contact, the ship emits a transport beam and a mysterious woman appears to the Enterprise bridge. She stuns the entire crew using a bracelet-like device, then examines each of them, taking particular interest in Mr. Spock, so much so, she somehow removes his brain, then disappears. McCoy then fashions a device to remotely operate Spock's brainless body.

That episode (along with most of the others) seemed like pure fantasy, but get a load of this...Scientists at the Max Planck Institute have developed "neuron transistors" that can detect the firing of a nearby neuron, or alternatively, can cause a nearby neuron to fire, or suppress it from firing. This amounts to two-way communication between neurons Mind Mapand the electronic-based neuron transistors. The Institute scientists demonstrated their invention by controlling the movement of a living leech from their computer. First leeches, then mice, then dogs and cats, then people!

What if someone was able to slip you a "neuron transistor" without you knowing it? They would be able to control you via remote control. Pretty scary stuff, huh?

Matt “Geppetto” Largo

Sunday, January 15, 2006

See Emily Stern Naked!...Who cares.

Emily Stern in Pointy BraThere has been some considerable on and offline buzz recently about Emily Stern’s hasty departure from her role as Madonna in the Off-Broadway show Kabbalah, in which she appears partially nude for the last ten minutes of the satire. She has been playing the part of Madonna (yes…based on the actual Pop star, Madonna), who is one of the most visible celebs involved in this mystic Jewish form of study. Uhh…why does anyone care? Emily Stern is the 22-year-old daughter of Sirius Satellite Radio’s hot property, shock jock (some would say “savior”), Howard Stern. Emily was worried that enemies of her father would distribute pictures of her on the Internet. She said, 'My father basically told me that if I take the role, that his enemies would buy blocks of tickets, throw garbage at my vagina, take nude pictures of me and put them all over the Internet.' Howard Stern has spent most of his professional career objectifying women. Now it that there is a chance that his daughter could face the very treatment that is his trademark, he has a problem. Irony meets hipocrisy.

The fact is that she has been starring in Kabbalah since November 2005, staged by the Jewish Theater of New York at the Triad Theater. Emily Newspaper ScanWhat was she thinking when she signed up? If she really didn’t want to generate any publicity concerning her connection to Howard Stern, she could have used a stage name. She could have come up with some clever anagram of her name like “Tyler Misen” that would have taken everyone, but word jumble nerds, a long time to decipher. The problem with using a stage name that doesn’t connect her with Howard Stern is that she cannot take advantage of his celebrity. No connection. No attention. You can’t have it both ways. Kabbalah was described in the New York Times as "dreadful," "mind-numbing" and "in bad taste." My guess is that Emily probably realized after several weeks of starring in Kabbalah and underwhelming people 136 seats at a time, that it wasn’t worth her time and energy and decided spin her departure into a publicity machine. The whole Madonna Kabbalah thing is only worth about a handful of one-liners at best, but an entire play?

After viewing short video clips of Emily Stern in Kabbalah that have been floating around on the Internet, I think that she should be worrying about her career. I think the best thing going for this play was the 10 minutes of nudity, the pointy bra, and the fact that people would attend because they knew she WAS Howard Stern's daughter. I bet that the Triad Theater could’ve made a killing selling kosher garbage at the concession stand during showings of Kabbalah.

Bottom Line: Who cares?

Has it been 15 minutes yet?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Single Review: The Flaming Lips - "The W.A.N.D."

The W.A.N.DThe Flaming Lips are a perfect example of a band that has undergone a continuous metamorphosis from loud, Post-Punk, Indie Rockers to masters of lush, multi-layered, Psychedelia. Over the last twenty plus years, The Lips have succeeded in their musical and creative evolution without estranging their true fans. “The W.A.N.D.” is a teaser, digital release from their highly-anticipated, upcoming full-length album, At War with the Mystics, which will be released on April 4, 2006, on Warner Bros.

For my first listen to “The W.A.N.D”, I decided to listen to it with my ear buds at reasonably loud volume to simulate the sonic environment of a live Lips show…if that’s possible. My ears were greeted by a mutated, analog delayed, sound fragment, accompanied shortly thereafter by a metronome, a clap track, then an ultra-distorted buzz saw of a guitar (knowing how The Flaming Lips roll, I suspected that this guitar and amplifier were specially modified to exist only on this track). During the opening seconds of the song, I had faith...the faith that The Flaming Lips would sonically stretch my mind without losing me. “The W.A.N.D.” was the characteristically enjoyable, auditory feast consistently delivered by The Lips. Adding a dose of socio-political commentary to the mix, lead Lip, Wayne Coyne sings, “Time after time those fanatical minds try to rule all the World. Telling us all it's THEM...who's in charge of it all…”. The Lips

I have had the pleasure of being in attendance at numerous Lips shows over the past 20 years and “The W.A.N.D.” easily evoked memories of standing in a music venue filled with smoke, decibels, and people… watching the Lips and feeling like I got “it”. One noticeable deficiency I noticed while listening to “The W.A.N.D.” is that the rest of the album was not available to complete the concept. This single is hopefully a part of a greater sublime musical masterpiece called At War with the Mystics from these fearless freaks.

The Flaming Lips 2002 Photo by J. Michelle Martin

For current info about the Flaming Lips visit:


-Matt "Clouds Taste Metallic" Largo

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Smells Like Toxic Spirits – PDBEs to be Exact

The odoriferousness of your new car could make you sick, according to a new study published by the Ecology Center.

The report states that dangerous amounts of PDBEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ether chemicals often found in flame retardants) were detected in dust and windshield film samples taken from cars from model years 2000 to 2005. The Sun can raise the temperature of car interiors to up to 190 degrees, which accelerates the chemical breakdown and the release of toxins.

The Ecology Center found the highest amount of PDBEs in Mercedes and Chrysler vehicles, while Volvo and Hyundai had the lowest levels. Regulatory agencies around the globe are cracking down on the use of PDBEs. The Oregon Senate recently passed a bill preventing the sale of new products (such as furniture) that include certain PBDEs.

According to the Oregon
Department of Human Service

In animal studies, PBDE exposure before and after birth caused problems with brain development. These studies observed problems with learning, memory and behavior. They also show that exposure to PBDE's during development can decrease thyroid hormone levels, affect reproduction, and reduce immune system performance.

And the good news continues: The highest levels of PBDE's among the general population are found in the U.S. and Canada-10 to 100 times higher than levels reported for people in Europe and Japan.

So if you commute more than a 100 miles per day in the Southwest, you're f$#!d.

CD Review: Jon Yeager - "Truth & Volume"

CD Review: Jon Yeager - Truth & Volume

Truth & Volume marks the debut of Jon Yeager, former member of the now defunct Daybirds. I have to admit that I’m a pretty tough customer when it comes to buying into new music. I have dozens of promo CDs from fledgling bands that have been reincarnated as coasters. I decided to listen to Truth & Volume a few times then put it away to see if it claimed any mental real estate. Within a day I found myself humming songs from the EP and replaying it repeatedly to find the deeper meaning of each song.

The first track, “Summer Under A Strange Sky” opens with a stark, driving, rhythm section and grows into an artful layers and tastefully, lilting guitar arpeggios throughout. The second track, “Thief in the Night” seamlessly wraps up tempo rhythm and guitar glister around a subtly downcast lyrical theme. Yeager’s vocals complete recipe offering cool, melodic resolve to the mix. Yeager sings, “This is the point where I let things go…My life it doesn’t matter. That’s what it said there on his note…the man hanging from the rafter. I guess he found ever after.” This is easily one of the strongest tracks on the Truth & Volume. The Beatle-esque, “Great Movies”, effectively showcases Pop-smart arrangements and pristine vocals. The guitar and vocal intro hooked me and the remainder of the song delivered the goods. “Great Movies” is a perfect example of the importance and power of melody. Yeager shows consistent, skillful tunesmithing and vocal styling on the remaining tracks. Upon first listen, the retro, mid-tempo “Black Boy” seemed like a sticky, sweet, ballad, in the genre of songs by 50s and 60s acts like The Skyliners or The Fleetwoods. After listening more closely to the lyrics, came the reveal. “Black Boy” is actually a venerating ode to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. referencing his march on Washington D.C. Yeager manages to neatly pack this socio-cultural commentary into a solid, stylish song without sounding preachy or maudlin. “Without You” is an atmospheric acoustic piece that initially evokes feeling of a perfect lazy Sunday and gradually builds into a driving, cavalcade of layered vocals and haunting guitar riffs. Even though this track breaches what I call “Pop Song Critical Mass” at 7 minutes 12 seconds (1 second longer than The Beatle’s “Hey Jude”), it does so with passion.

Overall, Yeager effortlessly manages to channel Pop luminaries such as Big Star, Beatles, and U2 while ably sharing the Alt-Pop genre with contemporaries like Elliott Smith, Pete Yorn, Earlimart, and Iron & Wine. All of the performances are solid and show keen musicianship. While most 20-something singer/songwriters and rock bands in this musical space are whining about self-loathing and singing about crawling through their girlfriends’ bedroom windows after a bender, Yeager produces meaningful songs that should stand the test of time above the rest of the clutter.

Truth & Volume is a well-crafted, sonic kickshaw of Alt-Pop, Alt-Folk, and Acoustic Rock that proves that there is still great music to be created.


For more info visit: or check him out on the ever popular social networking community, MySpace

Matt "Hot Licks" Largo


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Alexander: A Potpourri of Fighting, Sex, and Inaccurate Accents

I don’t know if this shite bothers any of you as much as it bothers me, but here goes… What is the deal with movies set in ancient Greece or Rome -- or Macedonia, Epirus, and Thessalia for that matter?

It never fails, I start watching a film set in ancient Greece and the first character that opens his/her mouth to let some dialogue… has a BRITISH accent! If that isn’t anachronistic, I don’t know what is. I can’t tell you how many plays I’ve seen, which are set in Ancient Greece or Rome with this basic flaw. Just an FYI… Julius Caesar didn’t make his first expedition into Great Britain until 55 B.C.E. A whopping 268 years after Alexander the Great died (275 years after Alexander got to third base with Hephaistion, his main man at the time).

Getting back to the point…I’m not a thespian, so I don’t know the inside story about this British accent that is so pervasive in Greek and Roman plays, but my guess is that it must be taught in thousands upon thousands of flawed acting schools around the globe. Another reason that the British accent is used may be that affecting a Greek accent might be a little tougher to master. It seems to be the technique used for plays set in ancient times. This is the reason we did not hear a throng of British accents in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Conversely, I never heard one “opah!” in Alexander , even when they were throwing their big shindigs. If there were British accents in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and “opah” showed up in Alexander, they would have cinematically cancelled each other out by the Cinematic Reciprocal Flaw Rule (I just made that up).

At the time of Alexander’s life (356 B.C.E. to 323 B.C.E) I don’t believe that the British accent sported by so many of the actors in the movie existed. I’m no linguist. It’s just an educated guess. Two major facts lead me to believe this:

1. Great Britain did not formally come into existence until January 1, 1801.

2. The distance between modern day London, England and Athens, Greece is 2392.68 km (1486.74 mi).

3. The distance between modern day London, England and Rome, Italy is 1448.49 km (900.05 mi.).

I never said that I could count.

I’m fully aware that it was possible to travel these distances back in 356 B.C.E., but I don’t think that it happened very often. Often enough to have an appreciable amount of genetic drift to transplant a British (British-like) accent in ancient Greece or Rome. I also realize that just because England and/or Great Britain didn’t formally exist, it doesn’t mean that a variant (or variants) of the ever popular British accent couldn’t have existed. All of the accents in the neighboring regions (Scotland and Wales) probably have exerted slight influences on each other in some way or another. Meter, inflection, borrowed words, back formations of words from one language to another, etc.

If a Greek or Roman person was able to make the trek to Great Britain and stayed for a few months, it is high likely that he (or she) may have picked up a British accent. Call me crazy, but I’ve known people, to which this has happened. A person goes to Britain for a short while on a corporate job gig or with a legion of foot soldiers on a campaign to take over scattered Welsh, Scottish, and English tribes and…poof! They come home sounding like a limey.

Back to the movie, Alexander, I don’t want to even get started on Colin Farrell’s (Alexander) Irish accent or Angelina Jolie’s (Olympias) Russian accent – a lot of badly rolled R’s. Overall, I think most people watched this movie for the same reason they watched the HBO series Oz … All of the fighting and the (implied) sex.

An after thought: Along the same lines, this past July (2005) I was in New York and happened to get tickets to see Julius Caesar on Broadway starring Denzel Washington.

You guessed it…Ancient Rome, Oscar-winning Black actor from New York, British accent. I got to meet Mr. Washington afterwards and I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from asking him about the British accent. He would have probably gotten pissed and made it so I would never work in movies again. In New York, Hollywood, or anywhere for that matter.

Oh, BTW, my camera was not working for this photo op, so the woman behind me agreed that she would take my picture with her camera and send me the picture via email. Of course I gave her my email address, name, and contact info. It's been 5 months and the beeotch hasn't sent me my picture of me hugging (in a manly way) Denzel Washington. Deep inside I knew this would happen. Altruism is dead.

Matt "Maximus" Largo

Google, The New Collective Conscious

News Flash…

I was going to call this post "Google Bought the Radio Star" as a special gift for those of you that were around for the birth of MTV, but I went academic on everyone. Anyway... Whatever happened to The Buggles.

Everything is going “Video” now! Friday, December 29th at CES ( the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada, Google unveiled plans to offer the ability to buy videos from content partners in an upgrade to its video-search service. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google plans to announce alliances with CBS Corp. and the NBA related to the new service.
Rumors are that, Google also plans to introduce a software package with offerings from Google and other companies that users can download and put on their computers. The Wall Street Journal said the bundle is to be called Google Pack.
This is just another piece of the Google World Domination puzzle. I also heard that Google has been buying up dark fiber like crazy. For those of you out of the “telecom know”, dark fiber is basically optical communication lines that have been installed beneath the streets that is all hooked up and ready to be turned on. That is why it was given the moniker “dark”, because the optical communications equipment has never been activated. It sounds kind of like dark fiber can also have some evil component too. That’s another story. I heard it through the grapevine that Google may be planning to offer pervasive, free Wi-Fi service as an alternative to the Internet. I’m guessing that it would be Google Adsense supported. Just thought I’d give all of you a heads-up.
I can’t wait for Google Air, Google Retinal Implants, and most of all Google Neural Implants to help you do a Google search of your own thoughts and memories and those of others called – you guessed it – The Google Collective Conscious. Carl Jung would be proud or soil himself. It’s kind of a hard call. I predict that the Google Collective Conscious should be coming down the pike in about 2525. The last reference to the year 2525 is for all of our more mature readers who were cognizant of Pop music in 1969 – BTW "In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)" by Richard Zager and Denny Evans reached #1 on the Billboard Charts on July 12, 1969.
Who’d a thunk that two hippies from the 60’s would have seen Google coming? To make a long post even longer, here are the lyrics. Read it. Know it. Live by it. Enjoy.

In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) by Richard Zager and Denny Evans

In the year 2525 If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find........

In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do, or say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs got nothing to do
Some machine, doing that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube

In the year 7510
If God's a comin' he ought to make it by then
Maybe he'll look around himself and say ``Guess it's time for the Judgement day''

In the year 8510
God's gonna shake his mighty head
He'll either say ``I'm pleased where man has been''
Or tear it down and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wondering if man's gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing...

Now it's been 10,000 years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through But through the eternal night
The twinkling of starlight So very far away
Maybe it's only yesterday...

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find.......

Nanotechnology - Say 'Hello' to My Little Friend

I couldn’t resist quoting that line from “Scarface”. On with the show…

In the field of Nanotechnology, smaller is better. Nanotechnology is the science of building small machines – really small machines on the molecular level that will ideally be able to build macro-scale products (regular-sized stuff) from individual molecules. Although the term “Nanotechnology”, may be seem to be the new buzz word in the scientific community, the idea was first introduced in 1959. Yes, the idea of tiny nano-machines was first introduced in a talk by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom". Feynman proposed using a set of conventional-sized robot arms to construct a replica of themselves, but one-tenth the original size, then using that new set of arms to manufacture an even smaller set, and so on, until the molecular scale is reached. Then by controlling millions of these tiny machines via computer, we could program them to work together to create macro-scale products built from individual molecules – a “bottom-up manufacturing” process, instead of cutting away at material until you have the final component or product – “top-down manufacturing.” The advent of nano-scale machines has produced a variety of interesting nanotech pieces parts, such as the nanotube and the bucky ball.

"Conceptually, single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) can be considered to be formed by the rolling of a single layer of graphite (called a graphene layer) into a seamless cylinder. A multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) can similarly be considered to be a coaxial assembly of cylinders of SWCNTs, like a Russian doll, one within another; the separation between tubes is about equal to that between the layers in natural graphite. Hence, nanotubes are one-dimensional objects with a well-defined direction along the nanotube axis that is analogous to the in-plane directions of graphite."(1)

"It is the roundest and most symmetrical large molecule known to man. Buckministerfullerine continues to astonish with one amazing property after another. Named after American architect R. Buckminister Fuller who designed a geodesic dome with the same fundamental symmetry, C60 is the third major form of pure carbon; graphite and diamond are the other two."(2)

Buckyballs, being the roundest of round molecules, are very resistant to high speed collisions. It has been found that the buckyball can withstand a crash into a stainless steel plate at 15,000 mph, a bounce back, unharmed. Another interesting property of the buckyball is that when is compressed to 70 percent of its original size, it becomes twice as hard as a diamond.

These tiny structures will have a multitude of applications in medicine, manufacturing, geology, environmental sciences, physics, etc.

For every awesomely potentially good thing there is a dark side. A potentially bleak nanotechnology scenario is explored in the 2002 fiction thriller Prey by Michael Crichton. The story goes something like:

1. Scientists work for a military contractor (Xymos Technology)

2. They develop a shitload of nanomachines for a military surveillance project

3. They implement computer modeled swarm behavior (only a genius would do this..right?)

4. The billions of swarming nanomachines escape from the confines of the lab (we all saw this coming)

5. They become a malevolent swarm of tiny micro monsters after breaking away from the commands of the computer model, killing everything in their path.

You get the picture. It’s pretty good, suspenseful, a pretty fast read. It seems like it was written to be converted into a movie. My casting choice would be Kyle MacLachlan as Jack Forman and Famke Janssen as Julia Forman.
You can guess who's Kyle and who's Famke. Anyway...

There are real dangers of nanotechnology aside from the works of fiction. For example, nanoparticles are made from known elements, such as graphite. The behavior of graphite in our bodies and ecosystem is pretty well known. On the other hand, the nanoparticle version of known elements exhibit undocumented and different behavior than their regular-sized counterparts. While the body has built-in defenses for natural particles it encounters, the danger of nanotechnology is that it is introducing entirely new type of particles. Particles some experts say the body is likely to find toxic.

“Complicating the dangers of nanotechnology, size and shape of nanoparticles affect the level of toxicity, preempting the ease of uniform categories even when considering a single element. In general, experts report smaller particles are more bioactive and toxic. Their ability to interact with other living systems increases because they can easily cross the skin, lung, and in some cases the blood/brain barriers. Once inside the body, there may be further biochemical reactions like the creation of free radicals that damage cells.”(3)

Does the potential good from Nanotechnology outweigh the potential evil? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Transforming Mozart into a Media Whore in 2006?

I don’t know if any of you knew it, but Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 250th birthday is coming up on January 27th. There is going to be a big hootenanny in Salzburg, Austria all year long. Yep. You heard it correctly…ALL YEAR LONG! I don’t know if the demographic of “The Matt Largo Show” includes purveyors of baroque music, but I thought that this was an interesting little tidbit that deserved some attention. Out of the 4 Million people that travel to Salzburg every year to find remnants of Mozart, I’m certain that we must have one or two closet Baroque fans.

The organizers of the 2006 “Mozart Year” are trying to convince the world that it won’t be Mozart overload. Some of the items that will be for sale in honor of Salzburg’s prodigal son are: Mozart Milkshakes, “Mozartwurst” (it contains beef, pork, and pistachios), Mozart cake, Mozart beer and wine, Mozart knickers, Mozart golf balls, Mozart bras that play “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” when unfastened.

There are even package Salzburger Festspiele deals consisting of special Mozart Year subscriptions. If you have 60 days to burn during July and August and want to hang out in Salzburg, you can catch 22 of Mozart’s operatic works for a mere €4,995 per person (about $5940 US at the time this post). If Mozart were alive today, he would probably have to think twice about buying a ticket to see the 2006 “Mozart Year” showing of “The Marriage of Figaro”, which will set you back a cool €600 (about $715 US) per person. By today’s standards Mozart would be earning about €38,000 ($45,000 US).

Another interesting tidbit that I found was that there is speculation that Mozart suffered from Tourette’s syndrome. Letters he wrote to his cousin Maria Anna Thekla ("Bäsle") between 1777 and 1781 contain scatological language and he wrote canons titled Leck mich im Arsch ("Lick my ass") or variations thereof (including the pseudo-Latin Difficile lectu mihi mars). Getting back to the man and his music and the festival…

I think that even though the 2006 “Mozart Year” year has all the trappings of an event like the Gilroy Garlic Festival, it fundamentally serves to expose people to music and art. People, who happen to go just to eat a Mozart burger and do Mozart beer bongs, will inevitably leave the festival knowing a few new tunes. “The Matt Largo Show” is tentatively planning to attend the 2006 Salzburger Festspiele in May. If so, I will blog it complete with photos and soundbites.

Check out all of festivities by clicking here: 2006 Salzburger Festspiele

Matt “Magic Flute” Largo

Mental Models on the Catwalk of Reality

I think that this post falls under the category “Science of the Mind”.

How many of you have ever moved into an apartment and hear a cacophony next door? It’s past 11:00 pm and you have an important exam tomorrow or an important meeting at work. What miscreants live next door? How can they be so inconsiderate? Your blood starts to boil at the thought of your ignorant, 24-hour party people, drinking, drugging neighbors. You decide to give it another hour or so to die down. An hour later the music is still pumping. You decide to go next door and give them a piece of your mind and let them know you are minutes from calling the cops.

Your heart rate increases as you knock on the door. In your mind you are rehearsing exactly how you are going to tell these people off. As you firmly knock on the door, it swings open. You hear the music, the lights are on, but there are no people in sight. You walk into the next room and see a boom box, a ladder, and some painting supplies. In reality, there is no party or evil low-brow neighbors it was just a forgetful painter that left his boom box playing. You shut the boom box off. You return to your apartment.

Oddly enough, your heart rate is still higher than normal and you still feel a twinge of anger at your non-existent neighbor. This situation illustrates the power of Mental Modeling. Your Mental Model was a construct of what you expected to find upon going over to your next door neighbors apartment. As your mind fleshed out the details, it basically became your reality. Mental Models are so strong that they can change your physiology.

This shows the power of Mental Modeling. What we see in our minds becomes our reality. By changing our Mental Models we can remove limits in our lives and create new opportunities.

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