Is Mastodon the solution?

By Ande Jacobson

I’ve written about social media before, most recently as the Twitter turmoil was ramping up. I originally joined Twitter back in 2011 mostly to help bolster my fledgling A Good Reed Review website. Originally, that’s all I used it for. Every time I’d publish a piece on the site, I’d have it appear on the site’s Facebook page and on what I considered its Twitter account. Then I got involved in politics in a more substantial way in 2020 volunteering for the Biden text team during the general election. At that point, I started using my Twitter account for more than just the music and theater related content on my website, and I started to recognize much of the good that Twitter could do. News agencies had long used it to get important information out quickly, particularly in times of crisis. The same was true for various public figures. Continue reading

What happened to Edgar Roy?

By Ande Jacobson

David Baldacci’s fifth book in the King & Maxwell series came out in 2011. The story in The Sixth Man picks up where First Family left off. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have again taken on more than they expected when they venture up to Maine to help out King’s old mentor on a case. A brilliant but troubled genius has been accused of mass murder. The man is Edgar Roy who theoretically worked for the IRS. In reality though, his job was far more complex than that. He was recruited to help the intelligence community in ways that are completely unimaginable. He was the only person in the country, and probably the world, who could do the job for which he was hired. He was part of something known as the E-Program, and he was the only E-Six ever discovered after a few E-Fives went down in flames. Continue reading

Sometimes you just have to do a little Pink Panthering

By Ande Jacobson

On a gray November day when the country’s future is in the balance, it can be a little stressful. Instead of obsessively watching all the midterm returns which can’t be finalized tonight, I decided instead to put this out there in case folks wanted a break.

During the first year of the pandemic, I played with an app that many of my musician friends recommended. As a result, I created a number of collaborations with myself and added them to my Appearances page. In May of 2020, I really just needed to do a little Pink Panthering, and these were the result. Both are based on a slight modification of an arrangement from my old Sax Quartet, Peninsula Saxophonica. I like the second one best with two clarinets and a tenor sax, but three clarinets have a certain appeal, and today just seemed like a day that needed a little Pink Panthering.


If you’re curious what our quartet sounded like, have a listen:

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Social media again

By Ande Jacobson

With all the hype about Elon Musk buying Twitter and taking it private to avoid oversight as a private company, it seems like a good time to revisit the world of social media. I wrote a piece about a year ago talking about the good side of Facebook (yes, it can be used for good). All of the social media platforms have one thing in common, how one uses them determines one’s user experience. Every platform can be used for good or ill, but a user can avoid most of the effects of the algorithms and advertising by using them deliberately. In this case, deliberate means not “doom scrolling” and leaving what they see to the manipulative algorithms but instead consciously choosing what content to view.

On most social media platforms, a user makes connections or follows various people and pages. To use social media platforms deliberately, one can search for or bookmark their favorite pages and go directly to those. Alternatively, one can start with their own profile and pick from there. Hiding ads also reduces the number of ads one sees pretty effectively. Continue reading

‘Lawyers Never Lie’ is a gripping legal comedy

By Ande Jacobson

Teri Kanefield is well-known in various circles as a writer, an appellate defense attorney, and an educator. Of late she’s been part of the building legal community on Twitter, patiently explaining various high profile legal matters rippling through public discourse. Before the heightened activity of legal Twitter, she was an award winning author writing across genres including nonfiction and fiction for both young readers and adults. Her nonfiction is carefully researched and expertly presented to inform and enthrall. Her fiction is gripping, often originating from a circumstance or event she knows well adhering to the old adage of writing what you know. Kanefield’s fiction also exemplifies something she holds close to heart – that fiction or literature in an ideal world is a creative way to get to the truth. This is the case in her engaging novel, Lawyers Never Lie. The story is largely autobiographical although the names have been changed, the ages have been shuffled, and the personalities have been modified to protect the innocent. The back cover starts with:

“A boy on the roof. A house in shambles. A new baby. A lawsuit.”

And ends with:

“A story of raising children, legal ethics, and fixing what is broken.”

Continue reading

Timothy Snyder’s ‘On Tyranny’ is a must read

By Ande Jacobson

In 2017, after one of the most contentious presidential elections our nation had experienced up to that point, Timothy Snyder wrote a little book capturing both history and the warning it provided to the current time. On Tyranny’s full title is: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. In it, Snyder starts with a Prologue offering historical context framing what follows. The book starts with a wake-up call at the top of the Prologue:

“History does not repeat, but it does instruct.”

Continue reading

We need more people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Ande Jacobson

In 2016, Teri Kanefield wrote a captivating biography of one of the giants of the U.S. justice system – Free to Be Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Story of Women and Law. In it, she starts with Ginsburg’s humble beginnings as the younger daughter of two Jewish Eastern European immigrants. She then follows her through her education, personal experiences, and her impressive judicial career first as an attorney and law school professor, then as a judge, and finally as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. In every capacity she held, she broke new ground and furthered the quest for equality and fairness in the country’s jurisprudence. Kanefield doesn’t just list facts and figures, she shows the reader a portrait of an incredible person of integrity and perseverance striving for fairness and equality across the board. Continue reading

The book every woodwind player and technician should have

By Ande Jacobson

Woodwind Instruments: a practical guide for technicians and repairers by Daniel Bangham is a new release that will be a useful reference for woodwind technicians and players alike. Expected in late October 2022 through The Crowood Press, Bangham’s book provides instructions for setting up a complete workshop to repair and maintain clarinets, flutes, saxophones, oboes, and bassoons. The detailed repair instructions for technicians include most routine and complex repairs they might encounter. For players, the book can serve as a guide on caring for their instruments along with what to look for when they are encountering problems going so far as instructing them on some stop gap measures until they can get their instruments to a repair shop. The book is aimed at technicians, particularly given the specialized equipment needed to affect repairs, but understanding more about how their instruments work helps players get the most out of them even if they don’t want to try to make the repairs themselves. Continue reading

‘Working’ is working at SCP

By Ande Jacobson

Sunnyvale Community Players (SCP) is bringing a diverse and timely show to their stage on 10 September 2022 with its production of Working a Musical. The show runs for four weeks through 2 October 2022. Working has been rejiggered for our current times. It celebrates the lives of the essential workers we all rely on every day and has added some new songs mixed in with the old in this broad collaboration. The show was adapted from Studs Terkel’s book by Nina Faso, Stephen Schwartz, and Gordon Greenberg with songs by Craig Carnelia, James Taylor, Mary Rodgers, Micki Grant, Stephen Schwartz, Susan Birkenhead, and Lin-Manual Miranda expanding it from the original show. Terkel’s book grew out of interviews of real people talking about their jobs and the struggles they faced while so often being forgotten by the world around them. Continue reading

Cultural shifts and quirks

By Ande Jacobson

In a recent live session, Heather Cox Richardson talked about the evolution of the “Dark Brandon” meme that’s been taking over various social media sites in the last few weeks. It’s got a curious history that will very likely be dropped by future historians because it is tied to a potentially transitory cultural moment that originated through a vulgar verbal attack, shifted to a positive superhero context by co-opting the original intent, and may shift again before it disappears into the ether forever. The details of this meme/cultural reference while curious aren’t unique. She illustrated the point further by recalling various sayings or items such as the meaning of red telephone on a desk that anybody over about age 55 or 60 would know immediately, but somebody under 40 probably wouldn’t. What was once known as “common knowledge” has become increasingly less widespread as our diversity increases, but thinking about the whole concept of common knowledge as it applies to cultural familiarity, I am reminded of an entertaining incident and subsequent informal study I conducted many years ago. Continue reading