21 October 2020


Napster corporate logo.svg
By Source, Fair useLink

Napster was a file-sharing service founded by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker that operated between June 1999 and July 2001. 

It was an innovative project by Fanning to create an independent peer-to-peer file sharing service. When launched it allowed people to easily share their MP3 files (music) with other participants. It was followed by many other decentralized projects that used Napster's P2P file-sharing example, such as Gnutella, Freenet, BearShare, Soulseek, AudioGalaxy, LimeWire, Scour, Kazaa, and Grokster.

Napster and other services were shut down by court order for copyright infringement after strong legal actions against them from the record industry.

The Napster brand survived after the company's assets were liquidated and purchased by other companies through bankruptcy proceedings. Napster became a set of three music-focused online services and was acquired by Roxio. In its second incarnation, Napster became an online music store until it was acquired by Rhapsody from Best Buy in 2011.

But why was it called Napster? Shawn Fanning joined a hacker chat to share his ideas and used the handle Napster. That was a name given to him by a junior high school basketball rival because of his nappy hair. In that hacker group, he connected with Parker and they started on the file-sharing network which would be given the nickname.

14 October 2020


It is odd that "trivia" is information and data that are considered to be of "little value." It wasn't always that way.

In ancient Rome, the trivia (singular trivium) are grammar, logic, and rhetoric, which were considered to be the topics of basic education. They provided the foundation for the quadrivia of higher education.

So why was this information demoted? 

Romans used triviae to describe where one road split or forked into two roads (tri = three) + viae = roads) and became a term for a public place or a common place. (Trivia was also, in Roman mythology, the goddess who haunted crossroads, graveyards, and was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft.)

Trivia meaning "trite, commonplace, unimportant, slight" occurs from the late 16th century, and appears in the works of Shakespeare. It may be that the lower levels of the educational curriculum were seen as less important than those of higher education.

Trivia as a kind of game or amusement began to appear in books and newspapers in the early 20th century and the board game Trivial Pursuit was released in 1982 and became popular. Trivia nights also became a popular pub game and competition.

The questions asked in that game and those competitions are often not what I would consider "trivial" or of little value. To know who was President Eisenhower's Vice-President is not on the same level as knowing what the name of Eisenhower's pet dog at the White House. (Richard Nixon and Heidi in case it comes up in a trivia game).

Much of what is considered trivial these days seems to me to be of some value, but with the overload of information presented to us, more and more of it is demoted to a place of lesser value.

Trivial Pursuit game cards

11 October 2020

Some "B" Band Name Origins

Here are some quick takes on some band name origins that start with the letter "B."

Some band names are very simple to explain. Such is the case with the band BON JOVI which is simply named after the New Jersey bandleader, Jon Bon Jovi - with the caveat that his real name is John Bongiovi, Jr., but the band name went with a name less likely to be mispronounced or misspelled. 

BLACK UHURU - Uhuru is Swahili for freedom, therefore "Black Freedom".

BLIND MELON's name has two origin stories. The term was slang for an out-of-work hippie type and supposedly member Shannon H's dad called him/them that. But the name also recalls a genuine old blues singer, Blind Lemon Jefferson, if you note that "Melon" is also an anagram for "Lemon."

The band BLINK 182 supposedly has no origin story or meaning but the band seems to encourage various origin stories. One such story is that the band started out as just Blink but was threatened by a lawsuit from an Irish band with the same name. They added the 182 and chose the number because that how many times the f-word is said in one of the member's favorite movies.

THE BLOODHOUND GANG - was a segment on the PBS kid's show 3-2-1 Contact! in the 1980's. In the show, three kids are amateur detectives, solving mysteries and fighting crime.

If the band BLOTTO's website is to be believed, the band started as the Star Spangled Washboard Band. They were a bluegrass band that did some novelty songs in their show. They had some hits including "I Get a Charge Out of You" and the medley "The Battle of New Orleans / Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor" toured and appeared in TV talk shows. 

When they disbanded, four members kept at it, added a bass player, a drummer and a female vocalist, and renamed their band Blotto. They say the name comes from the dog in the 1930's novel Nightlife of the Gods but "blotto" is also popular slang for being totally drunk.

BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'S seems like a logical name for this
Booker T. is the keyboardist and bandleader. I originally though the M.G. cmae from the once-polar sports car but it actually stands for "Memphis Group" which tells you something about the bands's origin.

Their 1962 hit, "Green Onions," has appeared in many TV shows and movies and still gets classic radio airplay.

08 October 2020


I discovered "meliorism" via Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day podcast. It's a word that I think we need right now as we are in the second half of what may well be a full pandemic year.

Meliorism (MEE-lee-uh-riz-um) is the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment. 

It is not pessimism and not optimism but some place in between though closer to the optimistic side.

"An old truism holds that the pessimist sees the glass as half-empty 
while the optimist sees it as half-full. But active and engaged people 
don't bother to measure the contents of their cups. They savor what they've got, 
drink it down, then go looking for a refill. One name for this approach is meliorism. 
Meliorists want to make things better—to ameliorate them."
 — Andrew Fiala, The Fresno (California) Bee, 10 Nov. 2017 

Somehow I missed this word, though it's not new. British novelist George Eliot believed she had coined meliorist back in 1877 when she wrote, "I don't know that I ever heard anybody use the word 'meliorist' except myself." But the podcast sais that there is evidence that meliorist had been around decades before Ms. Eliot used it.

It probably comes from the Latin melior, meaning "better" with a nod the English melior descendant, meliorate, a synonym of ameliorate which means "to make better or more tolerable" which was introduced to English in the 1500s.

Meliorism is a word for 2021 when I would love to believe that the world will improve and that we can aid its betterment. 

09 September 2020

Jefferson Airplane

Jefferson Airplane photographed by Herb Greene at the Matrix club, San Francisco, in 1966. Top row from left: Jack Casady, Grace Slick, Marty Balin; bottom row from left: Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Kantner, Spencer Dryden. A cropped version of this photo was used for the front cover of Surrealistic Pillow.
Jefferson Airplane photographed by Herb Greene at the Matrix club, San Francisco, in 1966. 
Top row from left: Jack Casady, Grace Slick, Marty Balin; 
bottom row from left: Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Kantner, Spencer Dryden. 
A cropped version of this photo was used for the front cover of Surrealistic Pillow.  Link

Paul Kantner put together the original Jefferson Airplane and one member he recruited his college friend, blues guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. Kaukonen is given credit for the band's name because he has said that, "I had this friend [Steve Talbot] in Berkeley who came up with funny names for people. His name for me was Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane [for blues pioneer Blind Lemon Jefferson]. When the guys were looking for band names and nobody could come up with something, I remember saying, 'You want a silly band name? I got a silly band name for you!'"

So the name has no real meaning. But it survived the reincarnation of the band as Jefferson Starship, but not the final version that was simply Starship.

Something that used the band's name as a direct reference is the practice of making a quick roach clip for a marijuana joint by splitting a matchstick into a “V” formation allowing the user to smoke the very end of a joint without burning their fingers. That makeshift clip became known (at least on the West Coast) as a Jefferson Airplane.

Jefferson Airplane is the eighth and final studio album by the band. It was released on Epic Records in 1989. Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady all returned for the album and supporting tour, though Spencer Dryden did not participate. The album and accompanying tour would mark the last time Jefferson Airplane would perform together until their 1996 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Jefferson Airplane evolved into Jefferson Starship in January 1974. Between 1974 and 1984, they released eight gold or platinum-selling studio albums and had nine top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 1975's Red Octopus marked the official return of Marty Balin. The Balin penned single "Miracles” peaked at #3 on the chart, and along with the single “Play on Love” helped to propel the album to eventual multiple-platinum status and topping the Billboard 200 chart. It would be the biggest selling album of the band's career. 

Starship was initially a continuation of Jefferson Starship, but because of a different musical direction and loss of personnel, a lawsuit settlement led to a name change that required dropping the "Jefferson" in the name. Their 1985 pop album Knee Deep in the Hoopla had two number-one hits -"We Built This City" and "Sara."

MAIN ALBUMS of the Original Band Lineup

Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (1966)

Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

After Bathing at Baxter's (1967)

Crown of Creation (1968)

Volunteers (1969)

Bless Its Pointed Little Head (1969)