I had a birthday a few days ago and the family was real good to me. A genuinely funny e-card from my mother-in-law (pretty good), an obscure DVD from the kid (quite good), and from my Mom, Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Coming, highly literate doomsaying but, dig this, it came from Amazon. My Mom uses Amazon, is that cool or what? Then Lauren gave me a beautiful bird picture and—best of all—a pair of Shure 3C’s, the ultramodern way-in-your-ear headphones. This motivated me to go rip a couple of CDs with the new Apple lossless encoding; first to hand were Steve Earle’s Train a Comin’ and the k.d.lang/Tony Bennett Wonderful World collaboration. I’m writing this at 33,000 feet on the Airbus from Vancouver to San Fran, and I hear no airplane, just Steve and the band; raspy heartfelt harmony and sweet swinging strings, so tight they’re loose. (To everyone: Lossy compression of music is vandalism, i.e. MP3 is so over.) And I think to myself... what a wonderful world.