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Archive for March, 2020

Golem Vs. DuendeIn a few weeks, I will release my 23rd album, Golem Vs. Duende. It comprises 10 movements of microtonal experiments and musique concrète.

For this new album, I took iPhone samples of my home environment and the New York City subway; it employs the percussive use of scissors, pots and pans, fences, doors, escalators and all other sorts of found objects that allow me to play the wannabe microtones my piano and guitar would not. I just recently discovered Maestro Harry Partch and his ingenious system of tones. However, I have not developed my own musical notation system nor have I built my own instruments with 43 pitches per octave. So I had to make due with playing the non-instruments around me. Then I mixed back into it my more traditional melodies on piano and synthesizer.

If I were to continue on this course, I would likely move it back around to pop music or work the approach into some type of roots music. I don’t have the musical training, but I have strategies. If this is your first time listening to my music, I should remind you that I’m all over the map, and that most of these experiments feed my alternative rock albums.

In this time of despair, I still see endless possibility. Though my family feels a little cooped up during the quarantine, we are creative and have plenty of things to do at home. So that’s what I’m going to depend on in these crazy times: My imagination.

The album was composed and performed by me at my home studio (and on location) in early 2020. I also did the cover art.

Listen to a sample of the album here:

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You Cut A Cloud

The rain cleans your wound
A stab made into the body of luck
An impossible good shank
And all it did was bleed nothing
You lost a thousand words
From your living steak

And the wind lifted the girl’s hair
Mellow, nothing in her brain
But the surprise of knowing
Your put a bunch of your dreams in her

You freed and oppressed her with
Your violence
You cut a cloud
And she lived in your rain

And you hope in your wordless despair
Hope she’ll miss you and the pain

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I feel like my posts from the last couple of days have been incomplete, and suggested that people were exaggerating the impact of the coronavirus. I do think it’s wrong to panic, but that doesn’t mean I think you should ignore advice to stay inside. Your risk of dying might be small, but by congregating, you are increasing the risk to more vulnerable populations. I am going on for items like groceries usually during periods where there aren’t a lot of people around.

Don’t panic. Be safe. Keep social distance. And then feel free to enjoy my advice about not panicking during the markets.

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Molecule–*This story on gut microbes will have you talking about all the wrong things when it comes to the coronavirus.

–*These people who would have drunk bleach for the coronavirus luckily had already died because of some other stupid thing they did.

–*Bad advice about the coronavirus has now become airborne.

–*These six women couldn’t agree on their book club title. So the book club broke up, and they all survived the coronavirus.

–*This guy ate shellfish and his face swelled up. It has nothing to do with the coronavirus, but it is a pretty cool picture.

–*Self-quarantining is undoubtedly the best way to protect not only yourself but also vulnerable communities. And what better way to show your love of humanity than by being a reclusive, selfish bastard?

–*If you have a dry cough and flu-like symptoms, Emily Post’s new etiquette book suggests that you stay far away from Emily Post.

–*Jean-Paul Sartre said hell is other people. Yes.

–*Remember that panic is also contagious, so check in with a health care specialist to find out more about whether or not you are really panicking.

–*Home schooling is a great way to discover how much you are underpaying teachers.

–*Here’s a list of celebrities who aren’t dead.

–*Coronavirus has upended the way we understand health care, our economy, statistics, arcade games, Hot Wheels cars, kelp, mayonnaise, Christmas trees, the Wu Tang Clan, the Oedipus Complex, butter …

–*But some things about America are resilient, even amid a pandemic: Our political attitudes magically don’t change.

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One of my many maxims: 100% of financial advice is bad if the person giving it doesn’t know your personal financial situation. That goes for most of the money TV shows and columns, too. It often goes for real estate agents. It goes trebly for Jim Cramer. And it goes for ALL trading tips.

Now that the coronavirus has given the market its cold, let us consider the parallels. Both the virus and the markets likely have us so anxious that we distort the risk and actually do much riskier things (or at least unhelpful ones) rather than just relaxing and washing our hands (*and staying indoors). I’ve known CEOs who wanted to sell at the market bottom in 2008. It was not wise. But that’s what happens when the adrenal gland takes over a CEO’s body.

There are certain things to keep in mind about this market. If you have investments that lost value and are now thinking of selling them, you are going to lock in your losses. If your attitude is, “I was going to need that money soon,” you shouldn’t have been invested in stocks in the first place. Money earmarked for use within five years should be kept in a money market fund. Stocks (mainly those pursued through mutual funds) are there to grow over the long term. You take short term risks of failure for that almost certain growth. And a pandemic is one of those risks. If you are thinking of shifting money around hoping for some short-term rebound on a few hot stocks, keep in mind that the things best set to go up in value are the things that just lost you a lot of money. And what’s more, by trying to pounce on some hot stock tip, you have forsaken the responsible act of investing for the hell that is trading. Trading (let’s just call it gambling) is a world where 80-90% of people fail and those who succeed don’t realize the tax obligation they are generating in return for that big risk they took.

I’m not a doctor, but I hear a lot of risk distortion about the coronavirus as well. I still hear mortality rates being from 1% to 3%, which means I think a lot of people are giving in to the same anxiety that that CEO was. But when you move into certain cohorts and people with compromised immune systems, the mortality rate is much higher. My advice is to save your concern for the elderly. I was admonished by an older lady two months ago for covering my mouth the wrong way when I coughed. I thought it was funny, but I have to consider that that is a life and death problem to her. We also have to consider that our older relatives might need physical isolation, but emotional isolation also takes a toll on an elderly person’s health. So staying away is likely helpful–but so is calling them.

My wife has a master’s degree in epidemiology, but I’m not a doctor. If you are, feel free to correct anything wrong I’ve put in my post about medicine. But I’ve been writing about money for 22 years and get nervous seeing people make the same mistakes over and over on weeks like this one. If you are one of my friends who made a bunch of money on Apple since 1999 or have some “foolproof” personal strategy, feel free to keep that on your own page and off mine. Your information is incomplete and fosters the trading mentality. It might have worked for you, but again, it’s deadly irresponsible information for someone with a different risk profile who doesn’t know the pitfalls. It’s like you coughed around the wrong person the wrong way.

*I did not originally post that we should stay indoors and practice social distancing. I was catching up myself on the responsible behaviors pursued during a pandemic and it is now responsible of me to add these things I’ve come to understand about public safety amid health crises.

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