Best music week ever
I’ve been waiting for the soundtrack to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton to drop before it even hit Broadway. It’s a hip-hop take on the founding of the United States, centered around the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. It’s gotten crazy good reviews, and in the time since I first heard about it in February all I’ve had to live on are brief video clips and the creator’s performance of the opening number at a White House event in 2009 which I might have just maybe converted to MP3 to listen to in my car. I’ve followed the recording progress on Twitter and the album was scheduled to be released this Thursday, September 25th. So imagine my joyous surprise on Monday when NPR started streaming the entire album for free. Eeep!
Then imagine how I felt when I learned that NPR had also started streaming the new CHVRCHES album, which was my second most anticipated album of the year.
Then imagine how I felt knowing that Ryan Adam’s cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989 was also released on Monday, which was my third most anticipated album of the year.
Why did every one decide to release their awesome music projects on the same day? It’s like being presented with a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, a fresh-baked pumpkin pie covered in whipped cream, and a batch of double-chocolate cupcakes all at the same time, knowing you cannot possibly eat all these desserts in one serving. Really, couldn’t y’all have staggered your album releases a bit?
At this point Hamilton has defeated the other competitors. I will probably get to the CHVRCHES album by the end of the week, and Ryan Adams is going to have to wait until next week. I can only consume so many musical calories at a time.
If you’re curious about Hamilton, I recommend listening to “Wait for It” and the paired songs “Helpless” and “Satisfied” to start, but the whole thing is ridiculously good, particularly for a creator who is less than a year older than me. Also, the next time I pass through Lafayette, Indiana, I know I’m going to be singing “LAFAYETTE!” in my head like they do in “Guns and Ships.”
Reluctant appreciation for diabolic cleverness
Also this week the EPA released a statement revealing that Volkswagen had created software for its diesel cars that allows them to run in a cleaner mode during emissions testing, but switches back to a less environmentally friendly mode the rest of the time to get better vehicle performance. A lot of people had bought these cars because they’d been marketed as good for the environment, which really deepens the betrayal of the deception.
While this was definitely unethical and sleazy, there is a part of me that appreciates the diabolical cleverness of the defeat software. As a programmer, at times you have to find workarounds or hacks to get a job done that might not be the cleanest method or meet the standards of best practices. Sometimes you just have to get the job done. However, such hacks shouldn’t cross into brazenly immoral and unethical territory like they do in this case.
Many years ago I worked as a web designer at a newspaper, and we had pageview goals for every month. Sometimes at the end of the month when we clearly weren’t going to meet the goal, my coworkers and I would joke that one of us would have to go on a serial murder spree to drive traffic to the site. Another time, a huge fire broke out in an apartment complex under development downtown which allowed us to hit our target traffic level, so we joked that someone in the department must have been the arsonist. However, that’s all it was: joking. None of us actually went on a murder spree or burned down a construction site (as far as I know).
So, I can imagine the software developers at Volkswagen sitting around and joking about how they could create code that would allow them to circumvent the emissions testing without actually going to the trouble of making a cleaner car. However, it’s hard to imagine why they decided to go through with it. Was it something a few people at lower levels slipped in so they could meet the product goals and avoid being fired? Did people at the top know? It will be interesting to see if any more information comes out about how this happened and if it was a rogue operation by one department or a conspiracy endorsed by people at all levels of the company.
Total disdain for diabolic cleverness
This week we also met Martin Shkreli, “the most hated man in America.” He earned this title by purchasing the rights to a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis which is frequently required by AIDS patients, and then jacking the price up 5000%. I would love to know if Mr. Shkreli has ever taken a sociopath test, because I would bet 5000% of a dollar that he’s a sociopath in the medical sense of the word, meaning he’s unable to feel empathy. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why someone would try to price gouge sick people this way. If he’s not a sociopath, then day-am, how did he become so heartless and cruel? They say that the love of money is the root of all evil, and I’d have to agree that when you love money more than you love your fellow human beings you’re definitely evil.
Since being eviscerated in the media, he’s announced that his company will drop the price of the drug. However, I think the best way to punish this guy would be for all the service providers in his life to jack up their prices 5000% just for him. Want a latte at Starbucks? That will be $150 dollars, please. By the way, your cell phone bill this month is $5000, and you weren’t even charged roaming fees. Hope your check doesn’t bounce on your six-figure mortgage payment!