Finally .. only one month late … the Top Songs of 2016

2016 was truly a shit show. It took me until almost two weeks into 2017 to finish listening to the stuff I wanted to check out before finalizing my list.

Then another week just to start getting some stuff posted. I’ll move faster this year, since I’m already three weeks behind.

So … here we go.

In a year where we almost elected a woman president, and then somehow elected … whatever the hell we elected … it’s only appropriate that the majority of my list is ass-kicking women or bands fronted by ass-kicking women. Between the top ten tracks and five honorable mentions, nine are women-led.

Small victories?

This is also a year where a lot of the hip hop didn’t work for me as standalone tracks. It worked better as albums, or in chunks, but individual tracks didn’t really stand out.

Honorable Mentions

WeezerSummer Elaine and Drunk Dori

Weezer made a new album, and it was mostly good poppy fun. Some tracks felt like a bit of a reach to imitate the stranger rhythms of Pinkerton, but mostly, it was just good fun. And Weezer will almost always make my list, because Rivers Cuomo can craft a slightly uncomfortable pop song. This is one of those, and it’s an easy one to imagine singing along to the way you sing along when Say It Ain’t So or El Scorcho comes on.

SolangeCranes in the Sky

In a year that was dominated by the Knowles sisters, Cranes in the Sky is not a big banger, but a sly little song, sparsely instrumented and backed by a simple beat. Solange’s voice and intonation betray the song’s sense of loss and despair.

Letters to Cleo4 Leaf Clover

It’s Letters to Cleo. They’re back. This sounds like their best power-poppy songs. Even better, you could 100% imagine this being a track on the Josie & The Pussycats soundtrack, one of the supremely underrated albums of the early 2000s.

Tokyo Police ClubNot My Girl

Tokyo Police Club put out two nifty EPs this year, with a wonderfully punny name (Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness), and full of great pop music. This is my favorite, a song with a fantastic, sing along chorus, and one of those beats that makes you bob your head or bounce in your seat without even realizing it. A great song to drive around to with the windows down.

Car Seat HeadrestFill in the Blank

On an album full of a bunch of songs that are not always the most accessible, this is the most catchy and accessible. And what an opening line … “I’m so sick of (fill in the blank)”.

Better Late Than Never

It’s been a challenging end to 2016 (both on the geopolitical front and on the home front), but here we are, 5 days from 2017. Plenty of time to get my year end list of my favorite music out.

I’ve still got some work to do over the next day or so to finish up (a couple of albums I need to listen to), but I think I’ve got the skeleton of the list figured out.

As always, there’s some rules:
* Album/single came out in 2016
* One song per artist

I make some exceptions. An artist who was on in 2015 for a single gets on in 2016 (probably … ) for a track off the full length album that single eventually ended up on.

With so much new music, I didn’t have time to revisit a lot of things this year. So if an album didn’t catch me the first time through (for example, Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!”), it probably won’t be here, even if it ends up being a favorite of mine in a couple of weeks or months. I’ve been running about a year behind on a lot of my hip hop (though there’s a couple of albums I intend to listen to in the next 24 hours). This year’s list has been the hardest for me, but it’s coming into focus.

In the meantime, as always, links to the previous lists:








Man, what a shit year, right?

I’m way behind on my end of year music list, but I have some time off next week and hope to work my way through it. There’s so much music I haven’t listened to (my “to listen” list is 40 items long), that I’m hoping to get through at least some big stuff (Beyonce, Car Seat Headrest) in the next few days. I probably also need to give a relisten to the new Childish Gambino album (liked it, but it just didn’t resonate with me) and this year’s Angel Olsen album, which I think I liked, but honestly, don’t remember.

I do have a bunch of stuff that I’m pretty sure will end up on the list (really liked Haley Bonar, Lucius, Nada Surf, Frightened Rabbit), but I need to spend some time just listening.

In the meantime, a couple of recommendations for podcasts:

The Bugle came back this year, minus John Oliver (what, is he busy?) but with a bunch of guest hosts (Nish Kumar has been the best so far, but they’ve all been pretty great).

The West Wing Weekly is a weekly rewatch of The West Wing, but it’s so much more than that. It’s funny, is a great lens on current events, and is generally just a happy hour each week. I rewatched The West Wing a couple of years ago, and it is still so relevant and fresh.

Science vs. is one of Gimlet’s many podcasts, and I think it’s easily the best. It’s clever, funny, and is not afraid to tackle tough issues. I’m guessing that, like most things, folks who disagree with the outcome of the discussion will chalk it up to bias (the gun episodes, in particular), but for a 30 minute listen, it really does strive to cover the facts. Also, Australian accents.

Anyway, year end music list coming soon.

On the Right Side of History

In 2008, I cast my vote to elect the first African-American President. Four years later, I repeated that act.

In 2016, I cast my vote to elect the first female President.

Hillary Clinton isn’t a perfect candidate. There is certainly enough baggage that comes along with the Clintons. Hillary Clinton doesn’t come across as the most sincere candidate when on the stump, or giving a speech. President Obama is a hard act to follow in that regard, but even in comparison to an average candidate, Clinton is mediocre. Hillary Clinton has a tendency to be a politician at a time when people are ready for honesty and transparency, and are sick of “the same old Washington.”

You know what Hillary Clinton also isn’t?

  • A racist
  • A misogynist
  • A bully
  • Against the LBGTQ community
  • A person with zero respect for the intelligence of the American people
  • A person with zero respect for the Electoral process
  • Anti-semitic
  • Completely unqualified to be President

Even if I didn’t respect Hillary Clinton, I would still vote for her over Donald Trump, who is all of those awful things, and more [1].

But I do respect Hillary Clinton. She’s a policy wonk. She seems to really want to make the world a better place, even if I don’t always agree with her views or tactics. She’s well respected in the global community, and across the aisle when her opponents aren’t demagoging.

She’s clearly smart. She’s handled a number of investigations—some warranted, many not—with composure and a desire to keep helping the United States.

No candidate is perfect. But Hillary Clinton is more than good enough to get my vote. She’s deserving of being our first female President.

I’m with her.

  1. This isn’t debatable. It’s well documented. He’s an asshole.  ↩

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice (Free) Things

There was a little internet kerfuffle last week when Matt Mullenweg from WordPress correctly pointed out that Wix was violating the GPL. Now, he did it in maybe not the nicest way (“If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license”), but at it’s core, his argument was true.

A core part of Wix’s mobile editor is forked from WordPress’ GPL licensed editor library.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it. In the end, if you use something that is GPL’d in your application, you walk a fine line of needing to open source and offer your source code under the GPL as well. The GPL is a viral license (GPLv3 particularly so), and including code licensed under it is, at best, something you should do with a close reading of the license. At worst, you simply just shouldn’t include any GPL code.

Wix’s CEO posted a response and completely missed the point. As did one of their engineers. They both seem to think that intent matters. While it does matter in that it helps us understand that there was probably not any malicious intent, the GPL is the GPL and it’s pretty clear.

As Daniel Jalkut says:

if you want to link your software with GPL code, you must also make your software’s source code available … You have to give your code away. That’s the price of GPL.

Many developers understand, and view the price of GPL as perfectly justified, while others (myself included) find it unacceptable. So what am I supposed to do? Not use any GPL source code at all in any of my proprietary products? Exactly. Because the price of GPL is too much for me, and I don’t steal source code.

In my office, we’ve basically made the same rule. Even though we don’t ship code, we still stay away from GPL’d code as much as possible, simply to avoid any chance of impropriety.

I look at the GPL like Dave Matthews Band. It sucks, there’s lots of other licenses just like it that are much, much better, and it’s fans are so annoying as to make it that much worse.

Trump’s Economic Advisor

At some point in the next day or so, I’ll write up my quick thoughts on this election (i.e. please vote Hillary, don’t vote Trump).

If you need more reason to not trust Trump and the people who are guiding his campaign, this New Yorker article by Adam Davidson should be more than enough:

This is an appealing fantasy for some. But Navarro’s view is not just simplistic, it is wrong and dangerous. There’s no reason to think China would acquiesce to Trump’s threats; doing so would all but guarantee that China would face an unending series of similar threats from America and others. Instead, it would most likely respond with tariffs of its own, shutting down American imports. China already trades more with the European Union than it does with the U.S., and would shift its trading strategy even more decisively away from us. It is hard to find a major American exporter who doesn’t see China as its most promising area of growth. A trade war would shatter General Motors, all of Hollywood, the music industry, Boeing, and the entire state of Washington, which exports more goods to China than any other.

There’s more:

These are just the easily predicted first-order effects of a massive tariff increase on all Chinese imports. There are many terrifying second-order impacts. Trump and Navarro focus on America’s manufacturing-trade deficit. But the global economy has also brought the U.S. a tremendous investment surplus. Foreign governments, companies, and citizens spend much of their savings on U.S. government bonds and the stock of American companies. While this investment has not always led to benign outcomes (the financial crisis of the previous decade was, in part, caused by all that cash from all over the world seeking returns in the U.S.), shutting down global trade would, necessarily, also shut down this investment. Interest rates would skyrocket, and the U.S. would enter a painful recession, possibly a depression.

This is the reason almost all economists are against a Trump presidency. This isn’t elites from their ivory towers; these are the people who understand how global economies work. And very few of them support Trump. What he’s selling, at best, isn’t possible; at worst, it’ll cause massive economic problems in the US.