Make It So, Mr. Data

[New Toys In The BunkerCOUNSELOR TROI]: Captain, I sense . . . danger.

[PICARD (Patrick Stewart, amazed his career is playing a British Frenchman on a Flying Hyatt Hotel)]: Number One?

[RIKER (with extra beard)]: Sensors say the Bunker has entered a null zone, Sir. Time has stopped.

[PICARD]: Stopped?

[DATA]: Yes, Sir, it appears that a temporal anaphalasic shift occurred during an unforeseen modulation of the warp coil interface with a paradynamic phased output wave. As once theorized by the Old Earth sonic immortals Motley Crue, that if sufficient American teenagers gathered with a certain subpar IQ . . .

[GEORDI]: Riiiiiight, Data, I get it. Except I think you’re referring to Styx, everyone at Starfleet knows they define North American . . .

[RIKER]: OK, let’s not get into the ‘Domo Arigatoo Mr. Roboto’ thing again?

[Picard]: Enough. Data, can you undo this? Can you return the Bunker to its right time? To September 28, 2009?

[DATA]: If the writers can extend this expensive cinemagraphic camera ‘one shot’ take with a few more lines of technobabble, I believe we can return.

[PICARD]: Make it so !


We got a new toy in the Bunker, as you can see. It’s caused Data’s temporal rift. A mid-level acoustic but it offers a broader sonic template for various audio and other multimedia stuff. Some may find their way here one day.

What we’ve wanted to add since yesterday are some thoughts on Bubba’s comparison of the Movement – 1993 and 2009. You’ve already likely come across discussions on it. A multifaceted and fun topic — perfect for our merry band. Our goal? To put down the toys and add some thoughts shortly.

In the meantime, here’s an inspiration for the Time-thinga-ma-bob delay. We remember catching this back in the day (1979) in a theater and later LP. ‘Unplugged’ hadn’t been invented yet. We did enjoy experiencing an acoustic guitar stomp all over Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bread, James Taylor et al. Even from today’s vantage point it still astounds. Performance at the original ‘Secret Policeman’s Ball’ hosted by John Cleese. See everyone after the next commercial break.

P.S. Yes, that’s the Bunker’s Aibo vamping for the camera and guitar. Howard Stringer, may your sushi taste like Spam for eternity !!


  1. A Random Quote says

    “For years I have struggled to accept the fact that the way I look in a tank top comes off more “sexual” than a flat-chested woman.”
    ~Megan McCain
    The Daily Beast

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    An excellent summary of the guitar industry and the MIA (Made in America) vs MIM (Made In Mexico) Strat controversy. If you’re not into guitars per se but curious about globalization and the futility of ‘good paying American jobs’ without a rigorously designed and enforced MITI mechanism, it’s an excellent read.

    We’re on our second MIA Strat this month (after trying many more in store(s)). Had it laid out for open heart surgery on the tech bench by Fender tech, re-configured, re-strung off factory settings (the Fender tech agreed with the poster above, btw, having gone back and forth from CA to the state-of-the-art factory in Mexico many times). Still, we have MIAs because we’re as guilty as the next for being label whores. There are resale value differences. And we do discern a difference in feel. But we know we lie to ourselves that a ‘glommed together in Amerikuh’ is worth a 60% premium.

  3. Hunter says

    Well, congrats on the successful navigation of the beast. We’re hoping to finish up with our tomorrow, day three(!) of trying to get this sorted. Ugg uk indeed. Went and spent for S&M’s futures ourselves to salve the pain. Nice new headphones. Feeling better (slowly).

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    @Hunter [REVISED]
    Yes, Hunter we read that Wired piece. And largely agree with it by necessity. For many uses, especially over the web, crappy audio is fine. (We constantly lower the bit rate sampling and go mono ourselves and it goes unnoticed. But then imagine that millions of people hear their MP3s and the Internet on vendor supplied $9.95 speakers and it all makes sense).

    We tried to wink in the harangue by noting the oenophilic nature of the analog/digital debate – as Alex rightly noted. All MP3s for example are not created equal and one sampled at a higher rate all things being equal will sound better than the default settings used by junior high kids when Napster was king.

    It’s just for guitars we prefer analog as the source – if filters are to be applied at least start with that. To us there is a clear, noticeable difference in ‘presence’.

    We type this of course as a pop band is coming out of the *monitor* speakers on our Apple Display. So hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    P.S. If you want to make your MP3s suck more en masse this new ‘utility’ will lower the bit rate on all of your MP3s at the same time! (There’s no point in increasing because there’s no there to add). So now all our songs can fit on one $2.99 USB flash stick. Genius! From PC World:,80534/description.html?tk=rss_downloads_weekly_null

  5. Hunter says

    Yeah, down here in the Libertarian-Socialist Paradisical Republic of Texas, we’ve been running around all day like an acephalic chicken trying to deal with the same bureaucrazy. Will be glad when it’s over. Good luck and God speed. If it’s half as bad up there, you’ll need it.

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      Human Rights Watch brokered release from the DMV today. Liberal fascist Obama run DMV State authoritarians were deceptively quite efficient, friendly and helpful. Masking their ulterior un-American motives, obviously.

      The Stiftung drives a German make. Years ago we ran afoul of a fiendish anti-tank trap in Northern Virginia cleverly disguised as a speed bump.

      The anti-tank design was perfect. No matter what speed one approached this bump, the vehicle was predestined to bottom out. Or front end. Or somehow get damaged. The deep gouges, grooves and memories of valiant fallen comrades past littered the scenery. A Ferdinand/Elephant would have gone down.

      Our vehicle is alas overly complicated. A microchip for everything. We suspect the ceiling fabric has a digital interface somewhere, too. Long story short, while bottoming out at this anti-tank trap, the on board computer went into HAL mode. Since then, starting the car flashes Tokyo at night across the dashboard with warning of imminent catastrophe, ammo box fire, including engine/environmental output issues.

      In 2007/6 we spent Big Bucks at the dealer shakedown. THEY couldn’t talk HAL into opening the Pod Bay doors, not even to sing ‘Daisy, Daisy’. So the Bush-era DMV freedom lovers gave the Stiftung a wavier when they saw the fruitless repair bill. (They also giggled we think but can’t prove without the video).

      We were delusional to think that this waiver meant the vehicle was permanently waived. Alas, no. The entire exercise must be repeated, despite being clear that a vehicle was not going to repair itself somehow in the intervening 3 years. Liberal fascism under Obama controlled State DMV aside, they did waive all fines, clear the registration (the Stiftung was an environmental fugitive from justice until today) and gave me assurances of their true preference for the single waiver option.

      It may all just be a PR opportunity. We’re throwing the Bunker deadbolt tonight in case at 2:00 AM a smiling PIRG rep comes knocking. Asking us to sign their Love Planet Earth petition. Once done, they’d burst in for their real savage agenda : sacrificing the Stiftung to a Wiccan Neighborhood Watch for our carbon crimes. Because we all know that’s how your hard core community organizers work.

      We’ll see.

  6. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Will be offline for most of today as the liberal fascist oppression of Obama’s State DMV commissars requires my panzer have its emissions checked. We here all know this is a Communist ruse to plant Acorn surveillance gear inside. If only people would read Eric Cantor’s five point plan to liberate us from DMV tyranny. The first point? To open DMVs to competitive bidding by Prince’s Xe checkpoint specialists. A no-brainer. More upon escape.

  7. Hunter says

    Please tell me you’ve read the Wired Good Enough Revolution article!The section on mp3s and our changing aural values was interesting (but then, so was the rest).

    And while Cher’s pathetic excuse for a song was execrable, Autotune has been put to good use by, e.g., Daft Punk. And Autotune the News. Of course. On the other hand, I once heard Time (Pink Floyd’s) on a pair of Wilson Audio Watt / Puppy 5.1s, and it was a religious experience. So there’s that.

  8. says

    Bah, I think you’re feeling your age. (Audiophilia is perfect for the Movement – ever increasing expense and obsession, and results that don’t move the needle out of the 99.7% confidence band, therefore entirely subjective/mythic/aesthetic.)

    Now, if you were nostalgic about Roland TB303s…I’M NOT MY FATHER!

  9. Blackburn says

    Interesting, one of your longer comments on any topic. But many, many thanks for the clip, which I’d sadly never heard before. Extraordinary.

  10. Dr Leo Strauss says

    We are patriots this week. Over consuming Asian made electronics and walking empty retailer floors. It’s really for Sasha and Malia. If we all don’t overspend today, who will create the future economy with the next Bedazzler? Imagine a future world of Polar Bears, ice caps and NO future Bedazzler. Sasha and Malia? Now grown with that haunted thousand yard stare. You see the point.

    To support our president’s family, one toy we picked up was a new guitar mini amp we ‘needed’ (cough) for a multimedia set-up. We prefer to capture a guitar sound via amp directly rather than process it through a Mac and digital software.

    Readers may have noticed our references before, but we’ve been around sound engineering (mike placement, etc.) and producing/recording since the days of the original bell bottom jeans (but we wore Frye boots so it was not totally lame). It’s something we like doing and use professionally from time to time.

    Last Spring as a side venture we were asked to design, build and rollout a multimedia Internet/radio/trad media campaign for a nationally known Vast Right Wing Conspiracy radio personality. A true friend deep in the Movement made the referal. The goal was to ‘makeover’ this personality with some Ultra Hip Digital Cool. His people thought that Obama won in large part because he had cooler graphics and understood the Internet better. Seriously.

    My friend knows this site well. But he didn’t realize the depth of our subversive conversion. Who could blame him? Everyone in Washington poses. They just can’t walk a runway with shoulders straight. And are mostly ugly. So after initial conversations we ultimately declined to help (this around the time Fox Nation was getting up and the initial plans for tea parties were being talked about). The idea was too repulsive. And the Stiftung would have harmed a friend by designing such an irony drenched product, although my friend aside, these people were so dim the irony might not have hit them for some time.


    We write about our recent expedition for a guitar mini amp for multimedia because of one simple rule: 60% of what you and I see is what we hear. Sound and sound design are the butt of Academy Award jokes. Done right it’s really important but we might not notice. Done ineptly and the movie/tv show/concert/radio show will stink – and we also might not notice why. We have fun in our non-day job thinking up subversive ‘Kilroy Was Here’ pranks. Playing with Talk Radio music riffs to invert them with mockery is one small amusement. Talkers rely on specific music and genres alot to generate audience energy. Rush gets it (he is the most talented of them as a broadcaster and loves using a Pretenders song bass line riff knowing how liberal Chrissie Hynde is). She later sued and now he has to donate his royalties to PETA. But all the talkers rely on sound design. Have you noticed Ed Schultz’s awful sound design for the 6:00 PM MSNBC thing? As bad as Savage in many ways.

    Amplifiers have always been about tubes and the later transistor-microchip insurgency. The Stiftung believed in analog superiority. Nature is herself analog. We see light waves and hear in analog. Although we are guilty (more in a later post) of peddling digital kool aid ala Gilder, inside like Ceasar’s wives we’ve always insisted we internally spoke the truth to each other about analog superiority. (This is about aural issues, not the benefits of digital computing per se, although Twitter is causing us to re-think even that).

    The combination of initially artificially cheap prices (yes ‘dumping’), Asian marketing, American laziness and today we are literally in a digital sonic world. Everywhere. We gave up in the home/home theater area and use Denon (instead of say our beloved McIntosh tube set up). That’s not to promote any particular brand, it just happens to be. And we regret it. If one is going digital (like 99.999% of the options available from Best Buy to a local boutique) Denon makes good digital hardware. But it over-engineers in a way even Sony must shake their heads and say ‘Boy, that just ain’t right.’

    A further reason to avoid Denon (and we have a number of their AV receivers and other products)? They can’t translate an owners manual into English to save their lives. And for Denon you really need them. Even the dealers don’t know how to work them. Trust me.


    So where were we? Right.

    Digital sound in our view is inherently ‘unnatural’. But what destroyed society’s aural experience isn’t just the stale analog/digital oenophilic argument. Digital technology makes it fast and cheap to (i) create and manipulate sound; and (ii) to crunch, compress and otherwise edit that sound into small files to be distributed. Whether via iTunes or the 3,500 MP3s your friend ‘found’ on the Internet. Simply put, if you buy a song from iTunes or your friend gives you the MP3s, no matter how advanced your home sound system is, the song will suck.

    Compression is the worst enemy. It’s like Photoshopping a Rubens or Rembrandt down to 25 colors to make the ‘picture’ load faster. And of course, digital technology allows people who can’t sing at all to be manufactured into singers. Cher’s ‘Believe’ single from the 1990s is one of the most notorious (but hardly the worst) offenders.

    It can be an eye opener to compare a MP3 of a song with an uncompressed or properly remastered version. The new Beatles stuff, while overpriced, reveal some of the richness lost in the past.

    The Stiftung nonetheless tossed in the towel. Most of our albums are gone. Our CDs (some poorly mastered) are on our central server Mac. And we stream them to our overpriced Denon rig with good speakers and OK subwoofer (essential to capture the Rockford Files in all their sonic glory). And they are on our iPod with the crappy white Apple ear buds (they do suck technically, btw). So who are we to complain. Meanwhile our old Pioneer direct drive turntable sits mocking us. Kids are getting into vinyl again as a retro kitsch thing but also because its’ transgressive to the digitally dominated world. Fight the Man!

    But on the guitar side we have stuck with tubes. And now like the consumer world there are numerous lines of cheap microprocessor controlled amps. With a trillion buttons promising to digitally recreate ‘famous’ amp sounds of the past. Retailers love ’em. They’re easy to sell because someone unaware comes in, plugs in a junk guitar, twiddles some nobs and they are making alot of unique and to them creative sounds. Another guitar and amp sold! Decent margins. Low time invested in a customer. Who cares if it’s all shit?

    A good tube amp set up by Hi Watt, Marshall, Fender or Vox or others would cost easily enough to buy the votes of an Afghan tribe (with Viagra for the chief). Interestingly, Fender is now offering a genuine Tube pre-amp with the electronic after effects available after the signal if wanted. Normally, one associates a Fender amp with naturally Strats or Teles. the classic ‘Fender’ sound. Fender (and other companies) now give customers the option of creating a natural analog sound wave or digitally mutilating it. Near the low price point of the microprocessor amp stuff. This is a good thing.

    On our mission to save Sasha and Malia’s future we ran into a Gibson tech representative. We had with us our Gibson (not Epiphone) SG for another reason. He owned one as well. We were like two Movement types reminiscing about ‘I paid for this microphone!’. In the guitar geek pecking order, I (appropriately) adopted the 5 year old padawan youngling to the Jedi Master. I was flattering him, but it was also an honest and true correlation anyway.

    Turns out he plays Hi Watt stacks. A 100 watt Hi Watt stack is as brutally loud as it’s expensive. 2 100 watt stacks and the Captain and Tennile would cry, run away play Bobby Sherman songs for a week.

    It turned out the Gibson rep is also a huge fan of the new Fender tubed combos. Surprising to us for a Gibson rep to extol Fender tech. Sort of like Macy’s referring customers to Gimbels — when America actually had distinctly owned department stores with unique goods and personalities. Now they’re just subsidiaries of the same company peddling the same Bangladeshi clothes, blah, blah, Amerikuh.

    With the Fender we were able to get full, rich, warm tones as well as the typical ‘cleaner’ sound (the six position pickup switch on that particular SG gives it Buddy Holly Stratocaster clean all the way to the typical heavy Gibson raunchy crunch). We tried half a dozen amps. Proclaiming ‘Yes, we can!’ we took the Fender home as our A/V setup mini amp. In our opinion, Garageband (iLife09) does a much better job at digital mockery and modeling than the in store digital only amps – even if they promise 30 or 50 or 100 watts. (Btw, an analog watt and digital watt are not producing the same dbs but that’s another story).

    We had forgotten how inferior all this digital schlock was. As in worthy of Microsoft circa ME or VISTA.

    So that’s the story behind the mini-amp toy for Obama (and our Chinese landlords). The synth/MIDI controller replacement expedition is another tale

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