Goodbye Tom Price

Tom Price was a terrible congressman for Georgia. I don’t mean he was ineffective, I mean he fought for terrible policies firmly in line with hard right ideology. It was a pleasure to see him go to Washington and fall on his face. After a hard fought race, the GOP retained his seat with a narrow win over Jon Ossoff, but Karen Handel will be that much less effective than Price was, and is lower on the seniority later. All in all, a net loss for the Republicans.

Good riddance to bad trash.

Trump: Picking the Worst

As Donald Trump prepares to become the most powerful person in the world, it is hard to know where to push back. There are so many aspects to the awfulness, you have to step back and prioritize the outrage. As bad as he is with women and other groups, the march on Washington is small potatoes. Who cares if he’s a sexist pig. Who cares if he builds a wall or not. Doesn’t matter if Jeff Sessions was a racists. In the larger picture, these don’t matter. So what does?

    Existential Threat to Human Existence: Nuclear Annihilation

After Reagan/Gorbachev/Bush, the world became significantly safer. Nuclear weaponry was gradually reduced and controlled. Successive administrations continued this trend. The threat of nuclear global war by superpowers has more or less gone away. The greater threat has been rouge actors. (In the 2004 election, Bush II and Kerry agreed the biggest threat to national security was nuclear proliferation via terrorist groups.) Follow The Doomsday Clock for a fascinating view of this threat.

Conversely, Trump has been consistent about expanding America’s nuclear capabilities, as well as our allies and the world in general. This is despite gross ignorance (not understanding Japans relationship with the military, the nuclear triad, or much of anything).

As I write this, Trump is again talking about disbanding NATO. Likely he holds this view primarily as a negotiating tactic. America has an enormous strength in nuclear weaponry, and we should leverage that threat to get what we want. In addition, unpredictability brings its own benefits. This is usually referred to as “The Madman Theory”, first played out by Trumps hero, Richard Nixon. The benefits of this strategy are real, but they pale against the possible consequence, the end of all human life. It’s amazing that sentence ever needed to be written. You don’t screw around with nuclear war. Policy that wagers human existence against geopolitical advantage is literally insane.

    Existential Threat to Human Existence: Global Warming

On all of Earth, there is only major political party that denies the existence of global warming and the role of humans in it. That is the Republican party of The United States of America. It’s incredible that this one political coalition could imperil life on earth, but there it is. Trump has taken on these beliefs as well. Per usual, it is difficult to understand if he has a clear stance
or has thought very hard about the issue. There may be “some connectivity”, but it’s all a Chinese Hoax. Or something.

Divining his stance is fascinating, but action is where the rubber hits the road. He has been consistently against efforts to control global warming: promising rollbacks of regulations, backing out of the Paris Treaty, nominating deniers to positions of power. Once again, it is hard to overstate how real a threat this is. The consequence of insufficient action is the elimination of our species.

    Threats to American Democracy

These are harder to categorize, but Trump and the current GOP represent a real threat to the American Experiment.

America under control by a foreign power: There is little doubt that Russia attempted to influence the election. There is little doubt that Trump and his inner circle have deep connections to the Kremlin and Russia, and will never reveal what they are. Whether you believe Trump is a willing participant or not, it is self-evident that he has allowed a foreign power to strike at the core of our democracy.

It is great to see elements of the GOP pushing back on this, though it’s a bit late. (Hey John McCain, you endorsed Trump, remember!?)

Corruption of the presidency: Trump is already monetizing the new presidency. The mixing of his commercial and political roles is self-evidently corrupt. His model is Russian kleptocracy. He has shown no remorse or any inclination to stop. Pushing through nominees before background checks and conflicts of interest are vetted.

Partisanship above country: The GOP in general keeps moving further down a bad road. Undermining of the democratic process, both in law and accepted norms: Gerrymandering, vote suppression. Casting unfounded doubts on the voting system, pre-emptively accusing opponents of cheating. Blanket refusal to consider Russia’s influence. Refusal to allow consideration of a Supreme Court nominee, and other judgeships. Refusal to fill executive positions. Playing blackmail and brinksmanship, notably the willingness to shut down the government or default on debt over narrow partisan issues. Escalation of filibuster and similar extraordinary procedures to everyday barriers. Refusal to compromise as an ideological position. Abandonment of positions if the other party supports them (health care, cap and trade for examples). One could go on.

Degradation of facts and free-speech: The modern GOP is anti-fact. (My last real post spoke to this.)
Building their own media echo chamber, banning research in forbidden topics (gun control, marijuana) ideological denial of global-warming, etc. Trump represents a new low. He doesn’t even pretend to deal with facts. I dare any reader to discover Trump engaging with any policy issue in a meaningful, in depth, fact-driven, way. I’ll be waiting. Even on his signature issues of Trade and Immigration he seems to not know what he is talking about or be able to speak past the catchphrase. And he doesn’t care. He lies consistently, continuously, on any topic for any reason. Politifact and similar organizations have been neutered. In any normal election, these graphs would matter.

In addition, Trump is actively pushing back on free speech. He consistently demonizes journalists and journalism. He will not give a press conference. He is open about using his wealth and power to punish journalists, and pre-emptively keep them from reporting on him. He wants to loosen libel laws so he can go after journalists.
Taken together, these add up to genuine threats to American Democracy. Taken together, these add up to genuine threats to American Democracy.

Threats to America, threats to humanity. These outweigh everything else.

The Barry Gibb Talk Show

One of my favorite skits ever is The Barry Gibb Talk Show. From a comedic perspective, I love schticks like this that are several concepts piled on top of each other. The crazy voice, the great song, the anger issues, the juxtoposing of serious political though, the vapidity of Robin, that they are clearly the 1970s version of The Bee Gees, the ad hoc harmonies, so much to love.

Today I realized I had one part wrong. I always assumed that Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon had written the song, much as Timberlake and Samberg did for Dick in a Box. I am now aware there is a fairly famous song by The Bee Gees, Nights on Broadway.

I don’t know if this makes the skits funnier or not for me.

My Latest Favorite Song: #14

Have you ever had a song that you didn’t really like, and then one day you just “got it”? This week, I suddenly “got” Babylon Sisters by Steely Dan.

I like music that takes a while to get. It is what I don’t like about most pop music. There are a fair number of pop songs with some substance to them. But for the vast majority, once you’ve heard it twice there is nothing left to hear. There is no subtlety you missed, no bass line that you plays with the harmonies in a way you didn’t notice before, a out-of-key chord that you can hear the tension — it’s all done. That’s one of the reasons children don’t like jazz or classical music — it takes years to develop the ear that can hear what is going on in those genres.

The Internet Delivers: Glasses

I stepped on my glasses this morning, a lens popped out. A little googling, a little youtubing and the below video showed me how to fix it easily.

It is amazing how I take this for granted. Ten years ago I would drive to a glasses store, and hope they would do it for free. Odds are I would pay $20 and spend an hour doing this. Instead, it took me five minutes. We just assume this level of knowledge is out there for everyone to share in. Amazing.

God, I Hate Poker so Much

I did some bar poker this week.

Night one: In three hours, I had pocket 7s once, A-2 another time. That was the best I ever saw. Two bluffs did not work out. Blinded to death.
Night two: A-K suited on the third hand. Raise 6x, two callers. Flop is A-9-8. Check to me, I go all in (about 3x the pot). One caller, he has pocket 8s.


Plotholes: The Dark Knight Rises

Since I am constantly complaining at the absurdities that litter movies, this will start a new running feature. We just re-watched The Dark Knight Rises. Like most movies by the Nolan brothers, it is a great movie that should have been chopped down by 10-20%. Anyhow…

Bruce Wayne must escape from the very same prison that Bane grew up in. There is only one way out, to climb up. Many have tried and many have failed. Even Bruce Wayne fails twice. And then somehow heroically doesn’t. But why did he even need any help? He’s attached to a rope. For the rope to function, it must be attached to the top at some point. Just climb the stupid rope!

(Well, dang it — I’m not the first person to beef about this. This makes the same points better.)
And if you desperately need to make a jump long enough to live, maybe you shouldn’t pack up your belongings and bring them along.

It also seems there must be many easier ways to escape. How does food and water and clothing and medicines go back and forth? And prisoners? Where are the actual guards? All of these are opportunities to make other kinds of escape plans. How about a tunnel?

My Latest Favorite Song: #13

This isn’t my latest by a long shot. When Mrs. Muttrox and I were vacationing in France five years ago, this song was on the radio and kept us going. When we got back to the States, it took a long time to track it down because (1) we couldn’t remember the lyrics, and (2) we thought the singer was a girl. Oops.

Links o’ Interest

How to appear smart during meetings

This is great street art in Portland – many days I feel like this. And watching my kids go through the educational system reinforces it.

This Grantland article is a wonderful history and overview of waterparks. The web design is very engaging as well.

This schoolchilds Haiku is spot on.

Here’s a fun way to fix a bad tattoo.

Drummer with no arms. Take that Def Leppard!

Very meta comedy sketch, about a comedy sketch even as it’s going.

A twin interview with the mighty Austin and Lev Grossman. Probably the only joint interview of successful twin novelists ever.

Famous quotes, by other people. It adds a whole new layer of context.

Are you wasting your time right now?

Send off your interns properly

You should be grateful for the amazing kitchen you have, that you take for granted. Look at it with fresh eyes.

All the money in the world, in one image

This is a very interesting cover of Baba O’Riley. A pair of harpists, surprising rocking.

A fantastic meta science fair project. Very trueish.

This geneticist used to accidentally start his parents divorce. A fascinating story of the downside of knowledge.

Harry Potter titles, from the perspective of Hermione

Free football!

Democrats, Republicans, and Lying*

Paul Krugman had the same reaction to this article as I did. The conclusion is obvious, even if the editorial writer didn’t want to say it. The Democrats and Republicans approach truth differently. One side cares about facts, the other doesn’t.

Politifact grades the candidates

Another interpretation is possible. The lying also clusters around the folks who haven’t actually held political office. The longer they’ve served in important positions, the more accurate they are. This doesn’t get the GOP off the hook. When your leading candidates have no experience, and don’t know or care about the facts — that still reflects on the party, it’s voters, it’s priorities, it’s willingness to engage with reality.

* I titled this post lying, but it could be either lying or ignorance. Either is deplorable, and we both know which one it really is.

Muttroxia on Rand Paul on Obama on Trump

So the White House said Trump disqualified himself with this deplorable statements on Muslims. Rand Paul took this as an opportunity to give ten reasons why Obama should be disqualified. I like Rand Paul because he is guided by policy, not politics. And I agree with many of his policies. Sadly, the remaining ones are terrible. Anyhow, I thought I’d give my take on his ten. Most of them are partially true.

1. Tried to take over 1/6 of economy in Obamacare, wrecked the system and hurt patients and taxpayers

I rather doubt healthcare is truly 1/6 of the economy. The math behind claims like that is always shaky. He certainly has tried to influence that share of the economy. He hasn’t hurt patients (who have more access than ever) or taxpayers (the program came in cheaper than expected).

2. Thinks an executive order is legislation and how you make law

There is some truth to this. After six-odd years trying to get bi-partisan legislation, he gave up. The last two years have seen Obama extending the Executive branch powers to get things done. I would agree more were it not for the scorched-earth-never-cooperate strategy from the GOP. He doesn’t think it’s how you make law, but the way you should make law isn’t functioning.

3. Fought an undeclared, unconstitutional war in Libya, turned it into Jihadist wonderland

He has consistently asked Congress to vote on this, Congress has refused to. It’s undeclared because of Congress.

4. Fighting an undeclared, unconstitutional war in Syria, trying to put ISIS in Damascus.

Same as above.

5. Signed into law the indefinite detention of American citizens

Yep. Reprehensible.

6. His copy of the bill of rights obviously goes from 1 to 3, skipping the 2nd amendment.

Terribly false. The idea that any kind of gun control means revoking the Second Amendment is absurd, but sadly common.

7. Court ruled his NSA spying on every American was illegal.

Yep. Of course that program wasn’t born with him, but he continued it and it is still an awful thing. My biggest complaint about the NSA program has been that it is beyond the law. Outside of whether it is a good program or not, nothing should be beyond the law.

8. He has added more debt than anyone in history.

Probably true, thought I haven’t checked the numbers. It also happens that adding debt is the correct response to the recession, per standard economic theory. I believe the first round of stimulus was passed under Bush, not Obama. This chart is a good overview. To add some more context, the GOP has been dogmatic about never raising taxes. Think that might have something to do with it?

9. Appointed an attorney general who thinks speech against Muslims is a bigger threat than terrorism.

Well, that’s just false. And stupid.

10. EPA rules by executive FIAT trying to kill an entire American industry and way of life (coal).

Oh please. Whenever anyone talks about a ‘way of life’, you know they don’t have a real case. It’ll be a great way of life for all of us when all the coal is burned and we’re swimming. Honestly. Remember when the GOP was the environmental party? Honestly, it used to care. Remember when cap and trade was an idea from the right, and made more sense than the Democrats regulatory approach? And remember how when Obama agreed with the GOP, they suddenly decided that cap and trade is evil? If you don’t, I guess you can go stand with Rand Paul.

I Saved a Life Today

Last week, I was checking in on Clash of Clans. In my clans chat, there was a note from a girl who said “Is anyone there?”, “I need advice”. I asked her what she needed. I assumed it was the usual, should I upgrade a tesla or an archer tower, etc. But no, she said she had eaten some strange food. She was having trouble breathing, and there were red areas appearing on her skin, what should she do? I wrote back for her to call 911 or poison control. She started typing something else, I told her to stop typing and call now.

Four hours later, she came back on. She had tried shellfish for the first time and had a severe allergic reaction. Epipens and ambulances and everything. Wow.

Which leads to the more pressing question. Even for a 17-year old girl, even in this age of social media — why on earth would she be asking for help on a Clash of Clans chat window? Ask your best friend, call your parents, a teacher or doctor, don’t turn for help to a bunch of strangers online! Holy cow, there were only four responsible adults in our clan, it was lucky for her that I happened to log in.

Still… saving a life… that’s one for my side on Judgment Day I suppose.

How to Write a Deceptive Op-Ed, featuring William D. Cohan

The August 29th New York Times had an op-ed by William D. Cohan entitled, “Show Some Spine, Federal Reserve”. It is a wonderful case study in how to write from a biased point of view. Let’s go through it in a bet of depth, shall we? Our tour starts at the title itself. The basic thesis is that the Fed (which seemingly is one entity, not a collection of people with individual points of view) is making it’s decisions out of fear, not reason.

THE financial markets and the Federal Reserve Board have been playing out a tragicomedy in three acts. Here’s how it works: Initially, a flurry of news stories appear about how, a few months hence, the Fed intends to raise short-term interest rates for the first time in years. Second, the predictable market swoon, as Wall Street traders ponder the fact that the morphine drip of free money that they have been enjoying since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis might be pulled out of their arms. Finally, the Fed backs away from its much-overdue policy change, causing traders to rejoice and the artificially stimulated bull market in both stocks and bonds to continue. The curtain comes down, and the audience roars its approval.

Note the inequality between the stated aims and actions. “News stories appear,” second-hand interpretations of what the Fed intends. Then the Fed itself does something different. This is not interpreted to mean that any news stories could be incorrect, the obvious answer. No, the Fed “backs away”. And what are they backing away from? “much-overdue policy change.” Mr. Cohan infers that the Fed is acting cowardly when it acts differently than a particular position. Perhaps they just disagree with the policy Mr. Cohan prefers? No, they are being spineless!

…Some background: At end of the 2008, the Fed dropped its benchmark short-term interest rate to around zero. It also began a program with the Orwellian name of quantitative easing — buying huge sums of bonds to suppress long-term interest rates and stimulate lending and spending. Thanks to Q.E., the cost of borrowing money was pushed to next to nothing. This was a bonanza for those who make money from money — hedge-fund managers, private-equity moguls, banks — and a disaster for savers, retirees and anyone on a fixed income. (Have you checked the interest your bank pays you on your savings account? Mine: .06 percent per year.)

Obviously “Orwellian” is a loaded term, but the sin here is the myopic focus on one impact of the policy. Inflation.

Inflation is a word that doesn’t appear anywhere in this editorial, but is really at the core of it. You see, QE is logically connected to inflation, the more QE there is. The more inflation there should be. Do you know who hates inflation? People with money in the bank. Creditors. Rich people. Wall Street. When money you lend/save/invest can be paid back with cheaper dollars, you have lost. Do you know who loves inflation? Debtors. People who borrow. By the same logic, they can pay back with cheaper dollars. Inflation is great for borrowers.

With all this as background, re-read this paragraph. Here is the translation: “QE was a bonanza for those who borrow (hedge-fund managers, private equity and poor people) and a disaster for creditors (rich people on Wall Street).”

…The case for raising rates is straightforward: Like any commodity, the price of borrowing money — interest rates — should be determined by supply and demand, not by manipulation by a market behemoth. Essentially, the clever Q.E. program caused a widespread mispricing of risk, deluding investors into underestimating the risk of various financial assets they were buying.

So many problems in this one short paragraph!

1. QE distorts the market for sure. That is the whole point. It is the point of the whole Federal Reserve Board and Federal Banking system. If there was no desire to distort the price of borrowing money, these institutions would not exist.

2. QE is a very well known distortion of the market, the numbers are widely and precisely known. That means their impact is known. The QE system does not misprice risk. Uncertainity about the future is what misprices risk. Here is one of the few things Mr. Cohan gets correct even though he doesn’t say it. The more the Fed acts differently than it says it will, the more risk is mispriced. Good thing the Fed barely ever says what it will do and constantly hedges its statements.

3. So what? So risk is mispriced some. (Not by much, since QE is a small part of the market.) Big deal. What exactly is the harm from this? And how is the harm different from the mispricing of risk from not knowing how Apple will do, or another 9/11, or China’s market crash, or any of the other many unknowns that go into risk. The future is uncertain, that’s how the world works. If the future was known, there would be no Wall Street.

4. A complete blindness to the idea that QE serves any other goals. The program wasn’t started to somehow mess with Wall Street. The program had goals that are never mentioned here. They have nothing to do with traders, they have to do with a little thing called the 2008 recession, insufficient demand, and the economy as a whole.

The only way to return the assessment of risk to something resembling normalcy is to stop the manipulation. That requires nothing less than serious intestinal fortitude from the Fed and a willingness to raise interest rates in the face of determined opposition from Wall Street.

Again, the market is always being manipulated by the Fed. He just doesn’t like this particular manipulation. Again, the implication that the Fed takes these (in-)actions because they are spineless, not because they disagree. Mr. Cohan seems to believe that if Wall Street wants something, you would have to a superhero to do something different. And by the way, the Fed are wimps for not agreeing with Wall Street.

In a few paragraphs, he quotes Larry Summers and another Wall Street titan as agreeing with the Fed. Maybe there isn’t “determined opposition from Wall Street” in the first place.

By now, you may have noticed another theme. The myopia about Wall Street. Except for one rhetorical flourish to avoid saying the word “inflation”, there is no mention of the recession, the economy, of anybody but the 1% and Wall Street. He seems to feel they have the only opinions that matter.

…Thursday was also the first day of the annual central-banker retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The gathering’s theme is the boring-sounding “Inflation Dynamics and Monetary Policy,” but it’s the perfect setting for these supposedly brilliant economists to figure a way out of this perennial Catch-22 once and for all. The right answer is self-evident: End the easy-money addiction, raise rates in September and begin the healing.

What Catch-22? There is no Catch-22. There is disagreement about what to do. The “right answer” is not “self-evident”. Vast portions of the administration, the public, the economics profession, and Wall Street itself disagree with Mr. Cohan. And of course, the members of the Fed itself. Unless you believe they would rather destroy the economy than stand up to the supervillian of Wall Street that Mr. Cohan believes it is.

Is Mr. Cohan wrong? I think he is. Maybe he’s not. Reasonable people can, and do disagree. You would never get that from this editorial, which presents every aspect of the case in the most biased way possible. This is an opinion piece, but opinions should be supported by reason, and presented in a fair way. This is not.

Wisdom from the 4-year old

Long ago, we read Dr. Seuss’ classic tale “The Lorax” to our four year old. It is still a great book. The message still holds up. When we had finished, we discussed the book.

Mom looked him in the eye and said, “Do you see what happened? The Onceler was very greedy. He wanted more and more money and was never satisfied. He destroyed the environment, so all the animals and plants died. He was very bad.”

He thought about this for a good five seconds. He looked up and replied, “But Mom. He did make a lot of money first!”

The Who turns 50: Atlanta Review

Here we are in Atlanta, Georgia on April 23, 2015 to see The Who hits 50. I last saw them in 2012. I paid for the VIP tickets and watched from the third row. This time I was in the company suite, way up in the rafters. A very different experience! I don’t have good video or pictures this time, I was too far away. One of the other guests in the suite turned out to be good friends with Keith Moon’s cousin. He sadly admitted that it got him exactly nothing in any kind of access or good stories.

I felt bittersweet, this is one of the last shows I’ll ever see. This will be the last tour they do. I am planning to go to California to visit my brother and catch one of the shows, and then it’s over. No more live Who. I think I’ve seen them about 20 times (including various solo versions). I believe this puts me in the “devout but not psychopathic” category.

Alright, let’s get to the review! Pete Townshend is my god and I make no apologies for the Pete-centric focus.

The background visuals and electronics were excellent. They were always interesting to watch, but never intrusive. Some genuinely clever CGI was added on top of nostalgic images and videos. Before the show they scrolled a neat history of The Who and Atlanta. You would never know the Who existed after 1980, but that’s okay. The audience… there’s something sad about all the suburban parents dressed up nice to go the rock show. I say this as a suburban parent myself, but it’s depressing how un-rock and roll a crowd can be.

Overall, the show had three parts. The warm-ups and ‘get these out of the way’, then they start trying, then they blow the doors off the joint.

• I Can’t Explain
• The Seeker (the opening sounds exactly like The Relay)
• Who Are You

Pete had on a truly ridiculous hat, it looked like a mutant bee had died on his head. Rogers voice was generally quite strong. It faded here and there by the end, but he is far from done.

• The Kids are Alright. I love their treatments of it nowadays. Time has treated this song well.
• I Can See for Miles

They sound sharp tonight. Roger Daltrey is ridiculously good looking for his age. I think I’m glad my wife couldn’t come.

They are still funny. And they are having fun. Pete will be 70 in two weeks. Wow. He quoted from Dylan Thomas, stating he was still raging against the dying of the light and whacked his head against his guitar to prove it. This was after he pretend to mistake Duluth, Georgia for Duluth, Minnesota, where Bob Dylan grew up. This led to a bizarre tangent about Atlanta growing bigger and bigger to take over more space… much like Elton John. Pete asks Roger, “Do you get a Christmas card from Sir Elton John? Because I do.” “No, but I get one from George Bush!” Back to the show.

• Pictures of Lily
• My Generation
• Magic Bus. During which he sang that he would give the money to anyone who could correctly explain what the fucking song is actually about. They kept a lot of Country Line Special in as well.
• Behind Blue Eyes. Simon on acoustic, Pete on lead.
• Bargain: Pete asks everyone, what key are we in for the next one? B flat? What? What key? I need a different guitar then. Where’s the… allright, let’s do Young Man Blues (much cheering). More banter. OK, seriously, what f’in key are we in!? He gets a new guitar, and they launch into Bargain.

He did one warm up chord on the new guitar, and I instantly called out it was Bargain. Several Who songs (Behind Blue Eyes, Pinball Wizard) have distinctive opening chords, and Pete often likes to strum the first chord before starting for real. I was very impressed with myself by calling out the song from a single warm up chord out of context. I’m not entirely sure my suitemates appreciated my display of brilliance.
• Join Together. This started up with several people playing the mouthharp parts. I don’t know where these musicians were. I’m sure they were on stage the whole time and doing useful musical things, but they could not have been more background until this point. It was like they materialized out of thin air. This is a fun singalong tune. You couldn’t hear the lead vocals very well, the harmony parts were overwhelming.

Overall, I found Pete’s guitar tone frustrating, as I have since 1990 or so. It’s too much to ask him to go back to a Les Paul, but I don’t like his modern tone live. It is trebly and tingy. The abrasive tones that everyone hated in Quadrophenia seem to be his normal playing tones now. I firmly believe this to be a consequence of the tinnitus. I don’t think he can hear the lack of muscle and depth in his tone anymore, so we get loudness in the ranges he can hear.

• You Better You Bet: The vocal mixes keep going in and out. One song you can’t hear the harmonies, the next song the harmonies overwhelm Roger. I don’t know whose fault this is, but the sound mix is really not up to par.
• I’m One: Finally, Pete puts down the electric guitar. I was fairy disappointed that he didn’t play a wider variety of sounds. Only one song on acoustic. No wah-wahs or echos or compressors or anything like that. Straight ahead rock and roll sound on every song. Reminded me of current Queen — I love Brian May, but their setlist leaves out the variety and eclectism from Freddie Mercury that made them so great. Same for The Who. The guitar sound was pretty consistent for most of the night, making songs sound more alike than they should have. Feels more like dinosaur rock. Would love to hear acoustic Drowned, or Imagine a Man, or something with horn parts. On the other hand, it’s really hard to complain about the setlist. Every song is amazing. And it is somewhat of a greatest hits tour.
• Part Two begins, now they start trying. Despite complaining about the lack of variety in tone above, I do love that almost every song has something a big different in it. They’ve never been overly concerned about playing to the record, they have always felt free to introduce new ideas, and it’s wonderful. And many of the songs that I am used to their non-record standard live versions (Kids are Alright, Magic Bus, My Generation) are new to most people
• Love Reign O’er Me started with a beautiful piano intro. I wish it could have gone longer. It’s not the same without Rabbit, but this was marvelous. The song was great as always. Roger hit the notes, which is no small feat. He ended with an interesting transition down to bass notes. I think the background visuals might have been the exact same as 2012.
• Where’s the bass? Where is the bloody bass? This song should have bass guitar that makes your balls quiver.
• There are few better moments in rock and roll than the end of Pete’s solo coming back to the final chorus. How he can play two or three simple notes and have it sound like God is speaking to you through his music… it’s a true gift.
• Eminence Front! Yeah! This was the absolute highlight of the Atlanta show in 2009. I play the live track from Vancouver 2006 constantly. And Pete has woken up, he’s trying now. But… this was just a good take, nothing special.
• Pete had trouble all night with the ‘twiddly-diddly’ riffs and fills he likes so much. Very often he missed some of the notes or they were inaudible for some other reasons. Around now he started doing less of that and more of his old style – less notes played with more power and tone.

And now begins Part Three. It probably should have been two parts, starting with Love Reign O’er Me, but the lack of bass and poor mix was all the difference. Part Three was the show you came for. It was the part where you couldn’t stop moving and singing along. It was forty five minutes of rock and roll heaven.

• A Quick One While He’s Away: Ah, there’s the bass! Someone on the sound board turned up the bass! About time! Now they suddenly sound amazing. Rich deep sounds, and Pete is playing on top of and against something. Oh, this is great now! We got us a legitimate Who concert! There would be no more banter after this, no more talking, nothing but one amazing performance after another until the night ended.
• Amazing Journey / Sparks (with some of It’s a Boy thrown in). The best cut of the night. Nailed every bloody note. Every bit of energy, all the dynamics, awesome. It might as well be 1970 again. Pete is playing with his volume and tone distortion. He’s stomping around and flailing at the strings. He seems completely lost in the music, taken to another place (I am also). For three minutes, he is playing like his old self. I mean his young self. You know what I mean.

In one of their documentaries, Pete and Roger explain how The Who attacked the beats unlike other bands, it is part of what gives them their unique sound. That is absolutely correct. When they lay down a riff on a time signature each part is in exactly in unison and aggressively on the beat.
They are great at covering up mistakes for each others. There were a few obvious bits (Pete forgetting the lyrics in the break section of Pinball Wizard), but there were also plenty of others were someone messed up and other band members adjusted to make it seem like it was on purpose. Pete and Roger cover for each other. It’s nice to see how well they do that.

• See Me Feel Me / Listening to You: Boy, these guys are great. Pete is unconscious now. Zak and Simon and Pino and… this is what it’s all about.
• Pinball Wizard
• Baba O’ Riley: Fuck, yeah.
• Won’t Get Fooled Again: This was the final song. It bores me. I suspect it bores the band most nights. Tonight it did not. Pete was still revved up and throwing everything he had at it. Zaks drum fills were right on. A strong ending.

Says Roger, “Be good, be lucky! Good night!”

Here is the review from the local paper.