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Why I love country music

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Thanks to reddit, I became aware of a debate within country music over whether today’s country hits are worthy of the country music label. This debate highlighted the derivative nature of these hits and the slightly misogynistic themes, and that has made me reconsider what I like about country music.

These hits that derive from the so-called “bro country” sub-genre still use the timeless country music tropes of small farm towns, trucks, and whiskey, but they do so in service of very different themes. Whereas classic country used these tropes to describe the realities of life in these places, bro country uses these tropes to celebrate the fratty and brotastic themes of partying and sex. The melodies used in bro country, however, are not morose, but could be better described as poppy with a bit of twang to tap into that party spirit.

I’m not going to hate on bro country, even with its repetitive wording. The pop-influenced sound is enjoyable, catchy, and upbeat and the lyrics are sometimes clever and funny, so the sub-genre generates a lot of fun summer anthems that are worth listening to. “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line has truly terrible lyrics, but the tune is really catchy and the song just feels fun and upbeat. Luke Bryan’s “Rain is a Good Thing” is my favorite bro country song with its clever lyrics and fun feeling.

But the country songs I like best are songs that tell stories that anyone can understand, whether they come from a small town or a big city.

Sometimes these lyrics tell stories that are really sad. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss is a song about a man catching his wife cheating on him. Both end up as alcoholics and eventually commit suicide.

Sometimes the stories are sad, but describe the protagonist triumphing over adversity. Carrie Underwood’s angry woman songs best fit this description. In these songs, the feeling of victory carries through the strength of her voice. These songs use the classic country themes of infidelity and alcoholism to create a progressive image of a woman overcoming these obstacles to create her own destiny. (I want to point out that these songs are very different from Taylor Swift’s passive-aggressive, frankly childish, hate songs to her ex-boyfriends.)

But country shouldn’t be a genre that limits itself to the sad stories. I enjoy a lot of country songs that express love, usually by the male singer of a woman, using incredibly saccharine lyrics. Imagine cringe-worthy teenage love poetry sung with vocal harmonies and set to bluegrassy melodies. The best example of this is the chorus in “Honey Bee” by Blake Shelton.

Many of these artists are also the bro country artists derided by the critics. For example, in Brad Paisley’s “She’s Everything,” we get a hint of the bro (the object of his affection is wearing jeans).

The difference between these songs and the bro country songs is that these songs tell a story that is a little deeper than just partying and getting laid. For example, “Farmer’s Daughter” by Rodney Atkins cleverly changes the chorus as the farmhand progresses from seeing the farmer’s daughter to falling in love with her to marrying her.

Luke Bryan’s “Play it Again” and “Don’t Want This Night To End,” though they don’t tell complex stories and still seem very bro (trucks and tailgates), are about more than getting laid. Both songs describe vignettes of a time spent with the object of affection. It’s romantic and saccharine and adorable. These songs are more aspirational in nature, bringing the listener back to moments where he felt the same emotions and making the listener pine for those times.

Another one of my favorite country songs: “Anywhere With You” by Jake Owen. This isn’t a song I would consider a favorite, but Jake Owen’s “Alone With You” speaks to me very much right now.

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Written by notatypewriter

2013 December 25 at 10:33 pm

An algorithm for doing closure in LR(1)

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At least, it’s one that is simple enough for me to remember. The ones typically presented in lectures and books were confusing to me.

Mine seems to work on examples from lecture, in books, and on Wikipedia.

Define closure( item=[A→β•Bδ,a] ), where:

  • A is a non-terminal
  • β is a sentence of terminals and non-terminals
  • • is the position in the string being parsed
  • B is a non-terminal
  • δ is a sentence of terminals and non-terminals
  • , is the lookahead position
  • a is the lookahead terminal

If the item does not match this pattern, then closure returns empty.

Else, for each production B→γ and each terminal b in FIRST(δ), do closure( [B→•γ, b] ).

From Wikipedia:

FIRST(A) is the set of terminals which can appear as the first element of any chain of rules matching non-terminal A.

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Written by notatypewriter

2012 September 22 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Nerding out

Tagged with ,

Installing Sun Java, Eclipse, and Android SDK on Ubuntu 10.04

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Ever since Ubuntu (and Debian) removed Sun Java from their repos, the official instructions have been out of date. (Additionally, Debian’s and Ubuntu’s wikis about installing Sun Java have become out of date.) Google knows about this since I’ve seen the issue brought up on their mailing lists, but they’ve never updated the documentation. It is yet another reason why I feel Google does not care so much about third party developers, but c’est la vie.

Additionally, the Google release cycle moves much faster than Debian’s. Ubuntu also has trouble keeping large packages like Eclipse up to date, so it’s not always certain that the version of Eclipse available in your package manager will be the version by the ADT Plugin. For example, the version of Eclipse in Natty (11.04) was 3.5, which was originally released in 2009. Google still advises developers to use Ubuntu Lucid 10.04 even with all these outdated packages. (Anyways, Linux package management doesn’t fit with today’s model of desktop computing.)

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Written by notatypewriter

2012 April 15 at 11:49 am

Posted in Nerding out

Tagged with , , , ,

An idea for tracking buses to provide real time schedule information

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1. Put QR codes on the outside of buses.
2. Use red light cameras and traffic cameras to capture QR codes as the buses drive by.
3. Update a database that powers an app to deliver real time arrival estimates and bus locations to mobile and desktop clients.

Possible problems:

Somebody holding up a fake QR code. Since there’s no two way communication, we can’t exchange nonces so every QR code is subject to a replay attack. However, QR codes aren’t the only solution. Mobile technologies have spurred all kinds of investment and research into personal area network technologies like NFC and Bluetooth.

I’ve heard that bus driver unions don’t want their people tracked. They have to realize that with the economy the way it is and with the electorate in such a foul mood, public subsidies of transit systems will be reduced. Thus the only way to increase ridership and revenues is to make the service more attractive. One frequent complaint is the unpredictability of bus systems. Tracking buses in real time can go a long way towards solving that problem. I’m sure traffic engineers can also come up with some way to use the data.

Written by notatypewriter

2012 February 4 at 9:38 am

Windows 7 ISO download links

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Written by notatypewriter

2012 January 29 at 8:17 pm

Posted in Nerding out

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Getting Ultimate Boot CD (FreeDOS) to boot on an Asus E35M1-I

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Written by notatypewriter

2012 January 28 at 5:48 pm

30 Thoughts

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I went to the Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks game tonight with my good friend Nick. He got us totally awesome fourth row seats in the corner where the Canucks shot twice. Sadly, the Sharks lost in overtime 3-2.

1. Those guys are huge. Like I knew mentally how tall they were, but Jesus, in the flesh they’re massive.

2. Wow this game is fast. It feels much slower on TV because the camera is so far away. I’m able to tell where the action is when watching on TV. Down near the glass it’s a whole different story. I felt pretty lost most of the time (especially when the action is at the other end of the ice) and I’m pretty sure I missed seeing all the goals develop. It’s not just a matter of knowing where the puck is, but knowing where its going to go so you can anticipate the action.

3. There’s so much going on. I’m pretty sure I missed all the penalties. Thank God for replay I suppose.

4. The hits and the shots are hard. I could feel it when pucks hit the glass or the boards. The sound of people getting crunched along the boards reverberated through the floor.

5. The ice is tiny. It seems really huge on TV but it feels pretty small from end to end.

6. It is loud. Ears ringing for some time.

7. The time goes by super quickly. When there was a stoppage in play at about the two minutes remaining mark in the third period, I was like, “already?!”

8. I saw a friend from elementary school working there. People are growing up.

9. Having 30 thoughts is hard. I can see why they pay this guy to do it.

10. Traffic sucks. Good thing I live close enough to be able to avoid using freeways.

11. I felt the Sharks played most of the night in the Canucks zone but the Canucks shots were of much higher quality.

12. Where did this jersey come from?

Written by notatypewriter

2011 December 29 at 2:26 am

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