Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"A World Gone Madoff" - Paul Krugman lays down some knowledge

"The revelation that Bernard Madoff — brilliant investor (or so almost everyone thought), philanthropist, pillar of the community — was a phony has shocked the world, and understandably so. The scale of his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme is hard to comprehend.

Yet surely I’m not the only person to ask the obvious question: How different, really, is Mr. Madoff’s tale from the story of the investment industry as a whole?"


I truly hope that current and future generations learn the lessons being taught by the economic fiasco we are witnessing unfold. Check out this brilliantly written article by Paul Krugman, 2008 Nobel Prize winner in Economics and NYT op-ed contributor.

Friday, December 19, 2008



"After years of suing thousands of people for allegedly stealing music via the Internet, the recording industry is set to drop its legal assault as it searches for more effective ways to combat online music piracy."

It's about time! Let's get creative and find new ways for musicians to make money. Hoarding of easily distributable music is not one of them.

I personally think all music should be free for download. Then maybe you could specify in your music player how much you think each song is worth.

Here's one idea.
1. Specify how much you want to spend on music each month(say 10$).
2. Use a music player that tracks what you listen to.
3. Pay out fraction of total to each of the artist depending on how you listened that week.

There are lots of other possible new business and market models. We need to be creative and think about the real value of the musician-listener relationship. It's been driven by rather distorted priorities up till now. What new models are bands currently using? And what are some new things to try?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Derren Brown on psychics

This is an amazing interview with Derren Brown the British mentalist. ->

Derren Brown is a mentalist. He talks about the overlap of his work with the psychic industry. Super interesting to hear him talk about the fact that the available psychic market provides more money and less scrutiny than stage magic. People want to believe and want to spend their money so psychics can often believe they are doing good for others by providing a needed service. Instead, they are preying upon the poor, those in grief, or those looking to make a meaningful change in their life. It's an unfortunate loop that needs to be diverted. Things like this don't tend to be fixed by shattering the loop. They tend to be fixed by putting changing the constraints and motivations of the system, rather than trying to change the end result.

Its great to hear him talk about his work in such plain language. When you watch him in action it can be quite frightening.

Enjoy these videos of Derren in action.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Repeal Day @ All Asia | Upcoming Performance at Lilypad

Hey errrrybody!

Just a quick shout out of appreciation to all of you for being the finest, best, most wonderful fans in the whole wide world. With your overwhelming enthusiasm and zest (and the sponsorship of Dewar's), Friday December 5, incidentally the 75th Anniversary of Repeal Day, became a genuine festival of song and dance.

Extra special thanks go to Lee, Alex, April, Tambourine Al, Kham, Rosemary, Marie, Takiyah, Scott, Diana, Ed, Ahna, Roopa, Suelin, Jamie, Sean, Meg, BJ, Emily, and all the other hip folks who pumped up the jam with the nonstop dance party up front. Nice to see the Percolator and the Kid 'n Play alive and well.

We have another show this Sunday, December 14, at the mystical and mysterious Lilypad in Inman Square. Details below:

Sunday December 14th
The Lilypad
Inman Sq
1353 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA

Electric Laser People

Lilypad events are all ages and have a suggested donation of $10 unless otherwise noted.
Seating is limited, arrive early.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Let's End Drug Prohibition!!

Let's End Drug Prohibition - WSJ.com

Most Americans agreed that alcohol suppression was worse than alcohol consumption.
"Supporters of prohibition blamed the consumers, and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed prohibition itself.

When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish."

Have you used drugs before? Did it kill you? Wreck your life? How many people do you know who have died as a result of cocaine, heroin, or marijuana? How about alcohol or tobacco?
Can we change our mindset to treatment and prevention rather than punishment? What is the goal of drug prohibition? Are we trying to keep kids from using drugs? Because we're failing there. A recent study shows marijuana use is higher in the USA than it is in the Netherlands where Marijuana is legal. I remember as a teen that it was easier for us to get weed than beer.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

a super inspirational and moving speech.  
the forum is Carnegie Mellon's "Last Lecture," where speakers imagine it is the last lecture they'll give before death.  Randy Pausch, a CMU faculty member and pioneer in virtual reality, opens his lecture by saying that he's actually been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and goes on to talk about his childhood dreams and how he's accomplished them, his experiences at CMU, notably while setting his mind to helping others accomplish their dreams, and all-encompassing lessons he's learned.  his tone may be surprising; he's sharp, funny, and energetic.  it's about an hour and 15 minutes long, but I'd wager it will leave you feeling better than that movie you might watch instead.  really.  definitely did for me.

if you like what he has to say, he's also written a book called "The Last Lecture" with more personal experiences.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

...and they're owned by monsanto.

we have a track called "disco 3000" on our first album. it's about the future where some things have changed and some have stayed the same. it begins with "scientists have cured hunger and disease so now they spend all there time making people look beautiful..." and the refrain goes->

disco 3000
everyone is beautiful
and they're owned by monsanto...

the lyric was meant as a jab at the the general trend of corporate ownership of everything. why do companies do so many negative things as they grow? people just tend to get out of touch as they rise in these organizations (bankers anyone?). here's a little expose on monsanto.

Some more here->

this is not to say i'm universally opposed to genetically modified foods. i'm an engineer and problem solver and i believe that we can sometimes improve on our environment. you can read about the success of Norman Borlaug to develop sustainable crops for 3rd world countries here->
most of first world genetically modified food ends up being used to create bigger corporate farms rather than creating a culture that supports small local farms. the difference between large corporations and small local farmers is equally or more important than the difference between GM and non-GM.

the biggest problem with monsanto is not the engineering but the ownership of something that shouldn't be owned by a corporation. at some point i'll take the time to build a big rant about the damage done by patents and copyrights but that is for another day.
want to read more about food? check out michael pollan.

UPDATE: another nice monsanto movie...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

20,214,016,272 Trees *

That's the number of trees per day that we should be able to plant, theoretically, if we follow the example set by the Republic of Macedonia (population: 2 million) on Wednesday.

Korab mountain, the highest mountain in the country (source: wikipedia)

Thousands of Macedonians took to the hills on November 19, 2008 to plant 6 million trees in a single day! Imagine the possibilities if we were to organize similar efforts in our own communities.

This story is inspiring on so many levels, but in particular, I think it demonstrates the tremendous potential of collective action around a positive cause.

For folks in the Boston area, I'd like to point you toward one of my favorite local tree promoting (and urban renewal) organizations, Eagle Eye Institute. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Eagle Eye works to transform the lives of underserverd urban youth in Boston and the New England area through innovative environmental education programs, particularly around trees.

Check them out. They are always looking for volunteers, and I can testify that they do great work.

* I've based my ~20 billion tree estimate on the current global population at the time of this writing. I have defined "we" as all of us.

Monday, November 17, 2008


ELP sends a million thanks to everybody who came to rock with us at the sweet new Thirsty Ear Pub last Friday night! There was a lot of love in that room.

In humble consideration of Thirsty house rules and in deference to our lovely planet Earth, the band went out on a limb and staged a very different version of the ELP concert experience. We set out to be soft and sustainable yet raucous and rocking. Given the enthusiastic crowd response, we think it was a good first effort at this new aesthetic.

All rockers arrived at the venue sans-cars, transporting their equipment with their very own electric laser legs. Cullen carried his drums (and his brushes) with him on the "T." Jess carried her keyboard and stand. Dan carried his bass. Conspicuously missing? Amplifiers. Big, bulky, heavy amplifiers. Everybody just plugged right into the house mixer which ran right into the house PA.

Everybody, that is, except Grant, who walked in with his trusty 1953 Magnatone Varsity amp in a backpack. Weighing in at a paltry 8 lbs, and consuming a mere 8 W of electricity during the performance, the Maggie was a more than suitable complement to broadcast the tones of the Gibson SG.

It was a far cry from the sonically bombastic ELP performances of yore, and those shows will continue, but we all feel that this new "low-impact" approach to musical merrymaking is fun, refreshing, and thoroughly rewarding. We hope you agree. Come see us at the Lilypad in Inman Sq (next to 1369 Coffee House) on December 14th, 2008 to hear us do the low-key thing one more time.

If it's the massive decibels you crave, then be sure to hear us at All Asia Café on December 5. We're bringin' the noise for that one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

war is not the answer, straight from the masters of war

2 articles worth reading if you like to think about war and the future of humanity.

General Gavin on why the future of regional stabilization and national security is not war or military might but it is the creation of a stable middle class in developing countries. It is sad to know he gave this advice decades ago and was totally ignored. It's worth considering the other forces involved and how to better craft messages so they actually result in policy change.

Of course, we must mention War is a racket by Smedley Butler. This is another great example of a writing that should of had a greater impact but somehow missed the general public and the powers at be were able to continue at speed after a lull. It is interesting to consider this article as well and its failure to actually deliver the message it contains so clearly to some of us.

How do you craft the next message? That we are looking forward to. Perhaps our man Barack or the next one will make it happen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

new york times special edition

i find this to be super inspiring work.
so many great articles. i'm looking forward to 2009!
i love the HSBC ad. a great touch.


for all you new yorkers, check the dr z ad!

the times perspective on the project with some stats->

"In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million
papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged
pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass
them out on the street.


forgot to mention this old classic->
Tribute to Reggie complete with a six million dollar friend of Reggie. And the entire story.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Na-na-na! Na-na-na!

Hey hey hey....


No matter your political affiliation, you will probably agree that this is one of the coolest applications of nano-tech to date. MIT alum and ELP friend, John Hart, and his team of nanofabbers made these little faces from carbon nanotubes, tiny hollow cylinders of carbon that are tens of thousands of times thinner than a human hair, yet several times stiffer and stronger than steel.

Besides being great little campaign giveaways for the nano-scale voting block, John says, "carbon nanotubes and other nanostructures are building blocks for many important technological advances, including high-performance solar cells and batteries, new methods of diagnosing and treating disease, next-generation computer processors and memory, and lightweight composite materials."

That's nanochange we can believe in.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Future's So Bright

^ ^ ^ ^ click above for link ^ ^ ^ ^

You can't drill a hole in it.
Because it's made of titanium.

A new supermaterial recently discovered at Ohio State University is made from a hybrid of plastics, molybdenum and titanium.

The researchers who invented the novel solar cell material think it may have the potential to achieve nearly 100% efficiency.

Go Buckeyes! You deserve a cheer for that!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Farmer-in-Chief: Food as a National Security Issue

Many of you may already be familiar with the food writer, Michael Pollan, who recently wrote the NYT bestseller In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.
On yesterday’s NPR Fresh Air, he talked about his proposal for a new U.S. food policy in an excellent interview with Terry Gross:


Enjoy real good food!

UPDATE (11/18/08): We have a new president-elect, and he's assembling his cabinet and team of advisors. Grist.org provides a detailed and insightful look at who might be chosen to be the all-important chief of the USDA. So far, the options on the table are not all roses.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ah, yeah... the rock, it WORKS

Heya! thanks to everybody who helped us make our latest show at All Asia a SOLD OUT one!

First time in a while (perhaps ever?) that we've sold out a show, and I have never seen All Asia sold out. The waning moon obviously exerted its gravitational pull on a disproportionate number of Miller High Life-craving fans.

Our friend Pardis and her rock crew, Thousand Days, set the stage on fire with the most blistering set I've seen them perform yet. The night also featured the compellingly eclectic acoustic stylings of Glenn Michael and the Janis-like swagger of The Wrong Noises. As always, All Asia's infallible proprietor, Marc Schulman, up'ed the ante- this time by installing a permanent giant screen video projection system that can remotely switch between 6 different views of the room and the band, all from the comfort of a bar stool. Take that, FOX News. You are no longer the focal point.

(mighty fine hi-res photos courtesy of Shay Tal)

setlist, for the die-hard groupies:
  1. move right move left
  2. other hip hop
  3. george washington
  4. tambourine man
  5. yer so confident
  6. mack truck
  7. it's really working
  8. don't cost nuthin'
  9. disco 3000
  10. bizarre love triangle (new order)
  11. makeout song

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Energy? Fair dinkum, mate!

(l-r: saul, dan, grant, joe, jeff / photo by cha-ling o'connell)

On Tuesday night, gathered in South Boston around the Absolut-ly-almost-ready-to-be-shipped-to-Linz Quartet, we reunited with our good old Aussie friend, Saul Griffith.

Saul is (ir?)responsible for introducing Dan and I back in school, when we all worked together on a class project to develop a low cost prescription device (aka autorefractor aka autophororetinoscope 4000) for Low Cost Eyeglasses, now known as Optiopia.

These days, Saul's still very involved in technology development, especially around clean energy solutions and educational projects.

His latest work on Energy Literacy is important to all of us, and he's got a really great way of sharing the story. Long story short, I recommend you WATCH THIS and then VISIT HERE.

It's probably as excellent a take on energy and climate change management as you'll find today...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Do everything for peace..."

..."Piss for peace, or smile for peace, or go to school for peace, or don't go to school for peace. Whatever you do, just do it for peace."

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace.

Peace y'all. Peace!

Eat Gooder

Our good friend Kenji Alt (incidentally a former bandmate in a past life) is launching a Boston and New York-based blog about sustainable eating today.

www.goodeater.org will be updated daily with:
- short features on sustainable eating projects throughout the New York and New England area
- open discussions of subjects related to sustainable eating and the moralities involved in choosing food today
- seasonal and local recipes, and whole foods related food projects
- links to related articles, workshops, and products
- a calendar of local sustainable food-related events
- interviews with important chefs
and much more.

Recent posts have included "Ducking Out Early," about the troubles and pleasures of killing to eat, and "Buying South African Wines," about the state of South African vineyards, and the families that own and work them.

Chefs, writers and eaters alike are invited to share in the feast of delicious content.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Straight Talk on Raising Kids, Download the whole album.

If you head on over to our homepage, http://electriclaserpeople.com/, then you can download our first album for free in it's entirety. 55mb of goodness. If you want higher quality mp3s or a physical cd, you can still buy those through various outlets. That is all. Despite all the gloom and doom, we wish you a pleasant day. Rock!

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Rappin's a way of sayin', 'Knock Knock!'"

"Who's there?"

"It's me, open the door and listen to what I got to say!" - Mr. T

beat the stock market

The wisdom of the past is not the wisdom of today. Time has come to create the wisdom for the future that brings real sustainability forever. If we only teach our children what we know they will only do as badly as we do. We need to create that space with a degree of freedom to imagine new pathways towards sustainability. System design is one of the new pathways.

IUCN Red List reveals world’s mammals in crisis

Climate change, extreme consumption habits, fishing side-effects, and a host of other human activities have put roughly 1/4 of the world's mammals at great risk of extinction according to the latest publication of the IUCN's Red List.

It's high time to re-evaluate everything we are doing. As my friend Peter Dean (Marion Institute, ZERI, RISD faculty) reminds me, "sustainability requires a shift in mindset to begin reunderstanding our natural relationships with the ecosystem. Otherwise, by simply adhering to regulations, it's at best a guarded stand-off."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Where's the Law?

Watch the whole thing if you can, but at least from 1:11:00 into the film. Watch the list read past. Stand up, learn, educate, ask what's going on.

This movie was deeper than I ever expected it to be.


Hey! Are you registered to vote? You can check here, and register if yer not.

Make Green, Not War

Grist.org posted a great article this morning. The piece shares the opinions of several prominent folks on connections between the financial crisis, the bailout and green investment.

This quote really drives it home for me.

"Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on present and future wars that have nothing to do with our national security is simply obscene. And yet Congress has been corrupted by the military-industrial complex into believing that by voting for more defense spending, they are supplying 'jobs' for the economy. In fact, they are only diverting scarce resources from the desperately needed rebuilding of the American infrastructure and other crucial spending necessities into utterly wasteful munitions. If we cannot cut back our long-standing, ever-increasing military spending in a major way, then the bankruptcy of the United States is inevitable. As the current Wall Street meltdown has demonstrated, that is no longer an abstract possibility but a growing likelihood. We do not have much time left."
- Chalmers Johnson

So true. Let's MAKE THINGS GROW.

Monday, September 29, 2008

3 billion or so years ago, far off in space there was a Big Bang which produced the first three Awesomements - Bacon (Bn), Ninja (N) and Batman (Bt) - from which sprang all awesome as we know it today. Remarkable.

Starlings on Otmoor

Maybe you've seen some impressive particle simulations in computer graphics or the movies? Yeah, me too. But this is pretty amazing. Starlings on Otmoor - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH-groCeKbE

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Root of all evil?

Root of all Evil? is a two part BBC documentary hosted by Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. This documentary is not likely to change the mind of a true believer but it should convince an agnostic that the acceptance of religion is not without very real negative effects.

Green Jobs Now! We're ready.

Remixed debates

Last friday I went to see friend SoSo Limited (http://sosolimited.com/) perform their live remix of the first presidential debate. It was at the Boston ICA to a packed liberal house. It was as much fun as a television centered talking head debate could be. The crew from SoSo messes around with the closed caption feed to show statistics about word use in real time. Awesome stuff. They will be in NYC at the Art Directors Club for the 2nd debate and in Washington DC for the final debate. Check it out if you're in either area. More info here-> http://www.reconstitution2008.com/