Flashback Friday: Craig in 2008

We need a new post up in this space to usher in a new month… or it’s just a good enough excuse for a vain stroll down memory lane. Yeah, something like that. These photos were taken in 2008 by Fred Morledge of Photo FM in Las Vegas, NV. The man’s a pro!

Three are from The Tone Factory recording studios (two of those shots show my good friend Mike Marsh doing his producer thing) and one a live shot from The House of Blues. In true, classic me fashion I’m toting a different piece of gear in each photo. Figures. Enjoy!

me n mike 04-09-08 2 me n mike 04-09-08 7 Me 10-09-08 6 craig loves his ampeg


Toning it Down: Guitar Amps are not like Markets

September 14, 2015 10 comments

“Forget it, Donny, you’re out of your element!” –Walter Sobchak

I’m having difficulty with Jason Brennan’s attempt to make guitar amps analogous with markets. This is what happens when academics step outside of their expertise. They sound ignorant and alarmingly hypocritical:

We think markets are a bit like guitar amplifiers. Guitar amps have various knobs that can be put on different settings, and, as a result, make the amplifier sound good or bad. Similarly, markets might have a range of variables that can be put to different settings. Changing the settings might change the market from good or bad, or bad too good. Just as some guitar amps sound good only on very specific settings, some markets might be good only on very specific settings. Or, just as other guitar amps sound good no matter what the settings, so other markets might be good not matter what the settings.

What sort of classical liberal philosopher wants to give anybody the power to tinker with the alleged settings of a market? Brennan sounds exactly like the central planning technocratic he’s apt to critique. Or the “man of system” Adam Smith cautioned against in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Or the imaginings and machinations of economists F.A. Hayek warned about in The Fatal Conceit.

The quality of sonic output from an amplified instrument primarily comes from the player and the instrument itself. Not to mention one person typically uses one or more amps at a time, but not the other way around. As opposed to markets, which are organic makeups of millions of people scattered about and simultaneously acting on their own rational self interests based on the incomplete knowledge they possess at any given time in order to exchange goods and services.

In my experience as a musician, there’s never been an asymmetric situation involving an amplifier. It’s just a bullhorn for an instrument that can’t be played or heard well acoustically. Consider that there are only twelve notes on the sonic spectrum. So a D chord is a D chord, regardless of it’s timbre, who’s playing it, or which amplifier you happen to be using. All possible combinations of notes and chords are already known. There is no knowledge gap. An amplifier is not communicating information that would otherwise be unknown to certain people at certain times. The player controlling his/her instrument predetermines all of the inputs and outputs, which is far from being analogous to a market.

The advantage of a sensitive and true legendary tube amp like a Hiwatt is that it’s much more right hand responsive, meaning you can control the tone just by your attack. Start with bands like The Who, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones, and just look at how eclectic this list of artists gets (which doesn’t even account for artists who use Hiwatts on recordings but aren’t endorsed).

Take producer John Shanks, for example. He has fifteen Hiwatts in his studio. They’re all over hits he’s produced for artists like Van Halen, Sheryl Crow, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, and Goo Goo Dolls. That’s a pretty broad range of styles and sounds. Point being: “dialing in” an amp is an afterthought and largely a marketing ploy.

However, the ability to control or adjust tonality is for equalization purposes and typically more about which frequencies to roll off than on. Again, this does nothing to fundamentally alter what’s being played or heard. The inputs and outputs are both fixed and finite because the amp needs an external controller. Turning those knobs up to 11 won’t change the fact that a D chord is still a D chord. The notes are the notes. The chords are the chords. The analogy is false. So don’t touch that dial.

bassist meme

Matt Zwolinski on Poverty for LearnLiberty

University of San Diego philosopher, Bleeding Heart Libertarians founder, and friend of this space Matt Zwolinski has a series on poverty up at LearnLiberty that’s well worth checking out.

Classic Punk Rock for Classical Liberals: “Don’t Call Me White” by NoFX

Here’s a gem from NoFX’s classic 1994 studio album Punk In Drublic:

Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white

The connotations wearing my nerves thin
Could it be semantics generating the mess we’re in?
I understand that language breeds stereotype
But what’s the explanation for the malice, for the spite?

Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white

I wasn’t brought here, I was born
Circumsized, categorized, allegiance sworn,
Does this mean I have to take such shit
For being fairskinned? No!
I ain’t a part of no conspiracy,
I’m just you’re average Joe.

Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white

Represents everything I hate,
The soap shoved in your mouth to cleanse the mind
The vast majority of sheep
A buttoned collar, starched and bleached
Constricting veins, the blood flow to the brain slows
They’re so fuckin’ ordinary white

Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white

We’re better off this way
Say what you’re gonna say
So go ahead and label me
An asshole cause I can
Accept responsibility, for what I’ve done
But not for who I am

Don’t call me white, Don’t call me white

Prostitution: When Feminists Become Patriarchs with Lady Parts

lena dunham

Actress and “Feminist” Lena Dunham

“Across 110th Street a pimp’s trying to catch a woman that’s weak.” –Bobby Womack

Lena Dunham’s crusade against Amnesty International’s push to decriminalize sex work is the epitome of white privilege elitist feminist hypocrisy. What’s more perverse than a rich and famous actress claiming to be a feminist while simultaneously trying to convince the world of what women should or shouldn’t be able to do with their own bodies?

Even more absurd is Dunham’s reliance on sources with zero credibility on the issue, like Nick Kristoff of the New York Times, as opposed to journalists on the feminism beat like Elizabeth Nolan Brown and experts with blogs like Maggie McNeil – or the groundswell of sex workers on social media.

Opponents of sex work decriminalization must be unaware of what happens to the market for a good or service once driven into the criminal underworld. In short, there’s violence and uncertainty without market regulations and courtrooms to adjudicate disputes. Operating in black markets carry higher risk premiums, so who really suffers behind sex work prohibition? Sex workers. You know, women.

Street pimps and sex slave traffickers don’t want to see sex work legalized. It would hurt their wallets. Badly. That’s pretty telling. They’re probably Lena Dunham’s biggest fans right now.

At it’s core, Dunham & Co. represent a dangerous strand of feminism driven by their own self-righteous, arbitrary feelings and beliefs from issue to issue – sitting way up in their ivory towers – as opposed to the idea that all humans possess natural rights to their life, liberty, and property. These rights are subsequently suppressed, threatened, eroded, and robbed by coercive, patriarchal institutions, the nation state chief among them.

If the goal of feminism is to smash patriarchy, feminists must endeavor to smash the state. Only in a bizarro world would a feminist look to cure the horrors of the sex slave trade and daily dangers faced by sex workers (created by borders and prohibition) by championing the same coercive borders and prohibition laws that perpetually oppress and harm the very victims they seek to help. Legalization is the only solution that allows for sex workers to peacefully practice their profession and earn a living without the threat of violence or incarceration.

For more, my favorite commentary to surface thus far regarding Lena Dunham’s supposed feminism is by Kelly K. Vee over at C4SS: Will the Real Feminists Please Stand Up?

UPDATE: Due to some of the sillier reactions on social media, I just included a comment in the thread below in hopes of quenching some fires and letting cooler heads prevail. Most reactions have been positive or at least respectful. For that, and all the attention and traffic this post has already received, I’m quite grateful.

Cuban Anarchist on The Other Enemies of the Revolution

cuban revolutionThis is a great read by Cuban anarchist Jimmy Roque Martínez in the Havana Times:

Elio Delgado’s post, “The Enemies of the Revolution,” left me surprised at the ingenuousness and blindness of the content. I know that it’s not much different from other writing by that author, but this time it’s worth the trouble of offering some simple rejoinders.

I’m an anarchist and I don’t feel any desire to save the Cuban Revolution as I’ve known it. But I’m not a counterrevolutionary either.

The example that Elio offers of the May 1stparades is almost offensive to the Cuban workers who – as everyone knows – are not interested in marching to the Plaza. They do so because their workplaces require them to.

It’s absurd to believe that the workers don’t display signs demanding an increase in their salaries because they trust the Cuban government. The salaries in Cuba have been insufficient for more than 20 years and the government hasn’t solved the matter.

The island’s leadership has adopted measures such as raising the retirement age, raising the prices of all products, especially of food, and introducing a tax for workers to pay.

In addition, they’ve imposed a Labor Code that leaves a large segment of Cubans unprotected. The Code doesn’t include any right to strike, and in addition legalizes the government’s theft of a part of the low salaries that foreign firms pay Cuban workers on the island.

These are the measures that the revolutionary state has approved for the workers, who in addition are not allowed to carry signs that call for their rights- not in the May Day parade, or in any other.

They are kept from doing so by the State Security forces and by the fear that has been instilled in them.

Elio refers to anarchy as “the position that argues for the disappearance of the State and all other power and the free association of individuals.” Yes, that’s close to what anarchy is. The free association of individuals is equivalent to liberty and human rights. Who can be against these values?

The author states in astonishment: “Yes, anarchist positions in the 21st century itself.” Doesn’t he know that anarchist organizations have played a decisive role in the foundation of the world anti-capitalist movement; in the events of the 15M protests in Spain and the neighborhood assemblies that were formed afterwards; in the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US; and in the gigantic demonstrations in Brazil in 2013?

People should be free to express their ideas without facing consequences for their lives. That ideal isn’t possible in many parts of the world; it’s true, much less in Cuba.

Finally, Elio, a multi-party system isn’t necessarily more democratic, but the history of the 20th century has shown us that a one-party system is definitely much less so.

You have to converse with people, go out onto the street and observe. You have to love the people and desire their well-being. It pains me to watch the elderly going through the trash. That shouldn’t be happening in a country that allows itself to be called socialist and revolutionary.

Definitely, it’s neither socialist nor revolutionary and every day it moves farther away from being so.

Open letter to progressives… or whatever liberals aren’t ashamed of calling themselves today

liberalism-definition-then-and-nowDear Not Conservatives,

You motherfuckers. You really fucked this shit up, didn’t you?

You’ve forgotten what it means to be liberal.

The truth is, it’s not you’re fault. Its actual definition is so outdated that it’s referred to as classical liberalism. You know, like those cats from the Scottish Enlightenment whose work inspired the declaration of independence: John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, David Hume. I mean, conservatives had to invent a new word – libertarianism – just to make it ok for them to accept anything containing the word “liberal” without having to call a spade a spade.

But the good news is this: if you reclaim liberal, and I mean really own that shit for what it is, conservatives will have nothing left to offer the American electorate.

Conservatives run on the pretense of wanting to limit the power and scope of government. We all know that’s bullshit. Shit, some don’t even pretend anymore. They’re just big government conservatives. But the only issue they have left that gains any traction with the electorate, and there is a point to be made here if you’re growns up enough to deal with real life, is fiscal stuff. And this is not to say they’re anywhere near anything that resembles “good” on fiscal/economic/regulatory policy. They just run on it. And don’t even do that well. Politicians are a joke.

Now here’s the potential difficulty for modern day liberals: you just need to out-liberal the conservatives. I’m talking classically. Fortunately, you already should on almost everything but the fiscal stuff. And the healthcare stuff. And the entitlement stuff. And regulations. Taxes too. Wars. Some other stuff. Ok, this might seem crazy, but just hear me out.

Remember Bernie Sanders going all free market on CNBC talking head and faux free marketeer Larry Kudlow (who equates Alexander Hamilton with free markets, which is an automatic nonstarter since Hamilton was actually the original crony capitalist, but I digress) amidst the financial crisis back in 2007? You only need the first thirty seconds for the true impact.

Proof positive that this shit can work!

Conservatives pretend to be fiscal hawks when it suits them. No secret. But the truth is, and this has noting to do with liberal or conservative, everybody needs to be like 180 degrees more hawkish in reality, and not just on a cable news split screen shouting match, because none of us are immune to… what’s it called… math.

To liberalize financial and other regulations is to repeal them, and yes that’s a good thing. Deregulate is really just code for reregulate. Even “regulate” is just code for giving the most powerful factions the ability to pad their bottom lines at everybody else’s expense by paying for codified protections from competition, taxation, and prosecution. In simpler terms, to regulate is the power to dole out favors. To properly out-liberal them you must un-regulate from the public sector to allow market solutions to emerge and (actually) work. So be more liberal.

Take a recent real life example. Some people don’t want to purchase and eat food with GMOs. I’m also aware that some people like to argue over the science behind GMOs and whether or not they’re harmful, and that’s great. But good, bad, or ugly, here’s what’s relevant for now…

There’s been plenty of rabble rabble made in recent years about passing laws at all kinds of levels of all kinds of governments  to mandate food labeling for GMOs. Through all of the noise, certain organizations like The Non-GMO Project (which has actually been around for a decade now) emerged as the regulators of record. Their logo began popping up on stuff I was already buying, regardless of my GMO indifference, and I remembered thinking that desire is a powerful force. Grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and restaurants like Chipotle have responded by reducing, if not eliminating, GMOs from their businesses. Other grocery stores have both options. It seems that passing laws can’t hold a candle to consumer demand. Who knew?

Speaking of supply and demand stuff, when you tax something, you get less of that something. To liberalize tax policy is to lower taxes as well as closing loopholes. The tax code is just a game invented for those wealthy enough to game it. Start to take chunks out of that, game over. So be more liberal.

To liberalize education policy and actually turn things around, you need to limit the scope of government intrusion into the classroom and allow for competition and innovation to extract new solutions and practices to better advance learning, because clearly all of these standardized tests aren’t turning the trick. Just let teachers teach so we know which ones are good, bad, overpaid, underpaid, etc. All of which is a long way around saying, be more liberal.

To liberalize foreign policy means ending the wars and the Global Military Team America World Police Empire in favor of talk and trade. To liberalize immigration policy means to open borders. Liberal. More.

Healthcare. I’ve already said all I’m going to say on it. When a cartelized industry’s companies’ respective stock prices are rising in value as a result of legislation being passed, that’s probably not a good sign. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you need to be more liberal. You can read more later if you still have the stomach for it: Like your health plan? Go fuck yourself!

I’m sure by now you can see a pattern forming here, being more liberal: remove as much government as possible and power to the people. That’s what those aforementioned enlightened Scotts were all about. They were liberals in their time. You still have a chance to be. Shit, there’s even a list of distinguished minds from across the globe that recently threw down the gauntlet and reclaimed the word liberal cuz they’re not scared of it!

Conservatives will have nothing left. Nothing. Women’s reproductive rights? They lose. LGBT equality? They lose. Drug war? They lose. Conservatives lose.

If that’s what really motivates you, then just imagine liberals winning election after election against some teary eyed look alike of a hybrid Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum. You might also have a positive impact on liberty in the process, but you don’t have to pretend to like it.


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