Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Investing in your passions

Who needs or deserves your money more - Purnomo the meatball vendor in Indonesia or Sexy Marvin, the indy rock band from Mexico ?

I'm not a great economist, money manager, investor, cash flow maximizer or accountant, so digest this post with a generous sprinkling of salt.

I've recently heard of two financial products that allow you to invest your money in some new ways. These new financial products touch on two interesting facets of everyday life, but are on opposite ends of the responsibility spectrum. Charity and music.

My cousin, and like-minded music fan, pointed me to a financial "product" a few weeks ago called
Bandstocks. The idea is that you make small (or large) investments in an unsigned musical talent. It could be considered an easy way to truly put your money where your mouth is with respect to "good" music. If you really think band XYZ is going to be the next big thing, then invest your money. It doesn't have to be much, but it can pay dividends, long term returns and provide non-financial benefits as well.

My wife told me about an interesting concept tonight about investing in individual businesses in developing countries. The investment is made easy by and was mentioned in Bill Clinton's book Giving.

I simply like the idea that you're not just donating your money to a charity or a hard up musician. Instead, your making a conscious decision to say, I believe in something strongly enough and something that I'm passionate about, and I believe it will be a success. But rather investing in Apple or pork bellies that you may not really care too much about, you can perhaps say to yourself...great, if my bet works out, everyone's a winner, but if not, I've made a pseudo donation
(I'm not certain if these investments are also tax deductible) and given someone else in the world a chance to make it. Or you could simply cozy up to the karma gods and embrace a no-strings-attached, pay it forward doctrine (but that's a whole other topic).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Almost Genius

I've been experimenting a little with iTunes' 8 new feature Genius. Specifically the Genius playlist feature that creates a playlist in your music collection based on one seed track. I don't think the smarts have been revealed yet, but the gist is that it's matching based on the complete iTunes library, mixed with ratings and playlists from other listeners and then comparing with your tracks and preferences. I did one with Viva la Vida and got quite a predictable but refreshing auto playlist of more unusual tracks from bands like Spoon and Radiohead. The one I'm listening to now was based on a Life Stories from Just Jack and it's picked up tracks from Babyshambles & Cat Power - interesting, but also mixed in Jamie Lidell (odd).

The one thing that made me a little uncomfortable was that you to share your library with Apple when you switch on Genius. As I said in
Mark Evans' blog:

I’m just beginning to play with Genius, but I definitely have some reservations about sharing my library, especially since many of my downloads are from gray area sources and they “kindly” embed an MP3 tag showing the source that I’m now sharing. In the big picture, I’m pretty comfortable with the big boys keeping my info private, but the dark side possibilities are there !

What I actually did was clear the references to legalsounds and allofmp3 from the comment meta data tags before switching on Genius.

So, Genius isn't really a genius, but it does make some interesting choices and, if nothing else, provides a new way to automatically create pseudo random, but focused playlists. And I'm amazed how fast it works. I like it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Favourite Rain Lyrics

Have I posted twice in one day before?

Well, with the rain storm that we are expecting in Southwestern Ontario tonight, I thought it was worth a second post so I am sharing my favourite rain lyrics:

Why does it always rain on me?
Even when the sun is shining
I can't avoid the lightning
Why does it Always Rain on Me? by Travis

Many's the time I ran with you down
The rainy roads of our old town
Bedshaped by Keane

Sunday afternoon
Running down the avenue
Young and free, stealing town
Then the rain came pouring down
Rain, how we’ll always have the rain
We'll Always Have the Rain by Roz Bell

All pleasure's the same: it just keeps me from trouble.
It's more than just words: it's just tears and rain.

Tears and Rain by James Blunt

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
(the whole song is so much better than just the small bit we hear on the commercial)

A little bit of rain I think is fair
But when it starts to thunder they all stare
Goodnight Goodnight by Hot Hot Heat

Under this national rain cloud
I'm getting soaked to the skin
Trying to find my umbrella
But I don't know where to begin
And it's simply irrational weather
I can't even hear myself think
Constantly bailing out water
But still feel like I'm gonna sink
Under The Weather KT Tunstall

I can't believe how many songs have rain lyrics in them. I left a lot of them out there (with these being my favourite lyrics or my favourite artists). Did I omit (or forget) one of your favourites?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Don't Look Back in Anger

Perhaps appropriate words to summarize Sunday night's Oasis concert at the Virgin Festival.

The Manchester lads lived up to the hype - perhaps the best modern rock anthem band of all time. I don't recall a concert (yes, even Coldplay) where everyone was singing along with the multitude of big hits. I wasn't at the front, but close enough to be jammed in and swaying and high clapping along with thousands of other fans. I admit I was much older than the average and at times I felt it, but the songs seemed to unite the whole crowd and we were all in it together.

I did get close to enjoy the big Brits Stereophonics and Paul Weller and along with some independents they definitely added to the great festival atmosphere, but I was there to see Oasis. The only small disappointment was not getting to see Moby's DJ set in the lineup tent. Although I wouldn't call myself a huge Oasis fan, but I do love some of their hard rocking tracks and ballads, plus I'd heard they were great live.

As I've already mentioned here in the fine print and on Facebook, the night wasn't without some drama. A guy managed to get on stage and push Noel down which of course caused all kinds of panic and confusion. You could sense that half of the audience immediately had the feeling of being cheated, expecting the moody lads to chuck it in. But the relative good mood witnessed earlier in the set won out and the lads returned to the stage 5 mins later to finish off, albeit an abbreviated set. My feelings could have been a lot different if they hadn't returned. They won a lot of points in my book.

So the real highlights were Liam's famous stage stances, the compliment of Noel's ballads, psychedelic video backdrops, Cigarettes and Alcohol being dedicated to all of us from England and everyone singing along to almost all the songs. The loudest singalong was probably my highlight, although Liam was offstage as his brother sung Don't Look Back in Anger.

The night was clear, but mud was underfoot, the sweet smell of marijuana was in the air, the bodies were moving and the sound quality was spot on.

A very memorable rock show.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Live blog - Oasis concert

Monday morning update-I did try to live blog the set list from the Oasis show last night (see below), but I was off the mark a little. But I'll leave below just for the fun of it.

Rock 'N' Roll Star'
'The Shock Of The Lightning'
'Cigarettes And Alcohol'
'The Meaning Of Soul'
'To Be Where There's Life'
'The Masterplan'
'Slide Away'
'Morning Glory' (This is the song during which Noel got pushed, so it ended early)
R and r star
New 1
Cig and alc
Acquisess/master plan (noel)
She not anyone ?
Slide away
Liam just got tackled...

Live blog - Oasis concert part 2

Monday morning update-I did try to live blog the set list from the Oasis show last night (see below), but I was off the mark a little. But I'll leave below just for the fun of it.

'The Importance of Being Idle'
'Don't Look Back In Anger'
'Falling Down'
'I Am The Walrus'

A few minutes later...
Noel track 2 - I don't mind, give me a minute
Don't look back in anger (noel and everyone)
All I ever know ? /falling over (noel)
I am the walrus

We're done.