One size fits all. The shape or coloration of the god or high heaven matters less than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite the widow brings tot eh temple, A child alone with horrid verities cries out for there to be a limit, a warm wall whose stones give back an answer, however faint. Strange, the extravagance of it ”who needs those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste, those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books Moroni etched in tedious detail? We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail. – John Updike Updike was both a prolific writer and consummate art-literature critic. Of his six rules for reviewing a book, rule number six hits home with me. Normally, I want to review a book because (1) I love it, or (2) I passionately disagree and want to present a balancing viewpoint. I’ve never been good at remaining the dispassionate reviewer when reviewing a topic of deep personal bias. Updike’s Rules are a reminder of criticism done right, and apply broadly to life in general. To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in any ideological battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never… try to put the author “in his place,” making of him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys of reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that  


I’m particularly happy about a new product just announced at the 2010 San Francisco AES Conference (Audio Engineering Society). We call it the AD-596. It’s an 8-channel analog to digital converter of exceptionally high sonic performance. I’ve been using the AD-596 for critical listening tests in my lab and can confirm that it outperforms other well-known ADC designs at 2 or even 3 times its price point. Besides setting a dramatic new sonic value point in professional audio conversion, the AD-596 is also the world’s smallest 8-channel ADC, requiring just a single ‘500’ rack space (5.25″ x 1.75″). Up to 80 channels of this ultra-transparent converter can now fit in a single 3U 19″ rack. It was also confirmed by API that our AD596 is the first known digital-audio product for the 500-style rack. Some of the internal features include over-engineered AES transformers designed and built exclusively by Millennia, exceptional clocking circuitry of vanishingly low jitter performance in both internal and external modes, 90% efficient isolated switching power supply, ultra-quiet radiated and conducted performance for use with adjacent high-gain analog 500-rack preamplifiers, and premium components used throughout. Video report here:  

Tribal Leadership

David Logan, former Associate Dean of Executive Education @ USC, spoke recently at a TED extension event at USC (TEDxUSC). He shared his findings on the nature of “Tribal Leadership” common in all cultures. He creates a hierarchy of five tribal levels: Tribal Level One:  gangs and prison populations Tribal Level Two:  functional organizations (groups of people at the DMV, etc.) Tribal Level Three:  personal advancement among peers and competitors Tribal Level Four: Tribal Level Five: I’ve left these last two blank. While I understand what David is saying, I’m not convinced that stark categorical definitions can even begin to describe the nature of ethically advanced communities.  I’m sure his book (free download) is far more nuanced and expanded. David assigns his definitions of “higher community” and then notes that only 2% of human population exists in Tribe Five. I’ve seen this before, and in every place I see it there’s always a strong sense of elitist in-grouping:  gurus, clears, masters, clergy, etc..  I don’t buy it. These kinds of simplifications (five tribal levels, eight spiral colors, etc..) take profoundly complex dynamics and force them into something resembling hierarchical religion. I’ll read his book and report back. I actually did enjoy his talk at USC and encourage you to watch it. Some valuable insights here from a very charismatic