Monday, December 31, 2007

All Your Hard Drives Are Belonging to Us

RIAA Now Filing Suits Against Consumers Who Rip CDs - Slashdot

Thank you RIAA for raising the bar on blatantly fucking stupid court cases. I raise a glass to you guys. I mean, really, I didn't think you could do it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

CB Handles

What's In A Name? - Steven Heller

Heller makes a compelling argument for the use of real names in blogging and blog-commenting. It's often the case that one who uses a pseudonym feels more free to make comments they would otherwise temper if their identity were known. The blogosphere has allowed the masses to express their opinions and interests in rather highly public forms and the comment sections of blog post allow the same freedom for a blog's readers. Yet, as Heller point out, how trustworthy is a blogger or commentator when they hide behind a handle versus their own name. For whistleblowers or those who might otherwise put them and their families at risk by exposing their name, a pseudonym is understandable. But the vast majority of bloggers and blog-readers do not run such a risk. The only risk they run is having less than politel comments associated with their names and reputations.
This issue of pseudonym versus real name has gone beyond the message boards where flame wars, trolls and other kinds of rabblerousing exists. Many bloggers desire the same reputability as other journalists and thus want to make their blogs as accurate and open to criticism as possible. Even so, criticism that comes without attribution is less valuable than criticism that someone is willing to put their name behind. For a lot of critics, particularly of the troll variety, the pseudonym is a way of saying things without consideration or thought, without care for the veracity of their comments and without concern for lively and productive debate. They often do not play the role of devil's advocate or add anything of real value to the conversation. And when called upon it, many bloggers and commentors launch the accusation of 'fascist' to those who dare question their versimilitude. The existence of "Godwin's Law" since the mid-1990s is proof of the continuing existence of trolls and other commentors who would rather derail a conversation and focus on themselves than engage in a real debate.
The idea of requiring commentors and bloggers to use their real names is not meant to stifle conversation but to keep it civil. Let the pundits on tv embarass themselves with stupid and inane commentary. We the masses deserve better and one way to receive better is to call for an end of pseudonym usage in the blogosphere.

Orb Reporting

Without Correspondents In Pakistan, TV Networks Rely on Producers and Part-Timers - NYT Blog

I've heard for several years now on the problem of U.S. global media coverage and the downsizing or outright closing of foreign offices. This was first noticed after 9/11 when correspondents were sent to all sorts of places almost at random since no media organization had a clear idea of where the next media event would happen. With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, it was only ABC and CNN who were among the U.S. media companies on location when the assassination happened. Every other news organization had to rely on freelance correspondents or simple wire reports. The BBC does maintain a large global operation but for Americans this doesn't really help the situation any. When I first heard of the assassination I immediately when to the Washington Post, the NY Times, the BBC and the Guardian Online (another British, leftist paper) and got a series of conflicting reports. Some of the basic information was the same while others differed significantly, particularly on the matter of whether it was a single sniper/suicide bomber or two men operating in tandem. This kind of confusion of reporting is unsurprising now since out of the four only the BBC had a correspondent on hand in Pakistan.
With the constant questioning of media bias, the issue of global coverage is essential when events in other nations can have a serious impact on our national and economic security. Yes, we can read local papers but often we have less of an idea of their biases than we do of our own media organizations. When and how information is presented plays an critical role in how the narrative of an event is crafted. For those who rely on only one or two sources of news, one can see how the lack of on-scene global coverage becomes a problem. Who is doing the writing, the editing and the presentation (anchor or correspondent) are questions left unanswered and are difficult to answer.
This age of globalized information requires a constant skepticism of whether the reporting is accurate or whether a spin has been placed on the event. The use of multiple news sources does mitigate this problem but only slightly so when those multiple sources rely on wire reports or a single nexus of information. So let this post be a reminder to always seek alternative sources of information, to check the biases of the reporting and to always question how the reporting is presented.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Gold Standard

Dollar's Fall is Felt Around the Globe - Anthony Faiola @ WaPo

The dramatic rise in precious metals in recent years is another element often overlooked with the weakening dollar. Three years ago gold was holding steady (as it had for the past decade) at around $400 per troy ounce with platinum following suit at $700 an ounce. But today's prices continue to astound me. Not since the early 80s has gold been priced so high ($800 a troy ounce and platinum at nearly $1,500). As a jeweler I can't ignore the doubling of material costs and have to pass that on to customers. In addition I've begun fielding lots of questions over how best to sell one's gold only to give a customer the unfortunate news that they will, at best, receive an under-wholesale value. It does work well for us when we have our filings and bench sweeps refined but one cannot run a business like that. When you depend on repairs like retipping prongs, sizing rings and custom work, higher material costs, while giving us a larger profit margin, cut into the amount of work done. What was once a $25 sizing job suddenly becomes a $45 job. Most of the effects of a weak dollar aren't so directly felt but in the world of jewelry a doubling of costs is quickly reflected. It's not heartening to say, but when the dollar starts to weaken people start to buy into fixed commodities like gold and that causes a lot of ripples.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Professor Murder Discovers the Flex-it Formula

I originally found this new track by Professor Murder from RCRD LBL so while I'm using Imeem to stream the song, you can download it yourself if you just follow the link. I like the slight changes and additions. It's a good progression from the first e.p. Professor Murder Rides the Subway. Unlike some groups who over do it on the electronic side, Professor Murder only uses it to add to the overall party feel of the song. I'm quite pleased with it and this song will make it onto my next mix.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Zen of the Morning

I love LOLcats. They make my morning a little brighter.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Disruptive Issue

Immigration Disruption - Ezra Klein

Ezra makes an interesting point here about the illegal immigration issue and its role in current policy debate over health care, tax reforms, Social Security reform and just about any other social program one can think of. Instead of being a singular issue for Republican candidates to run on, it becomes an entry point into dismissing liberal plans for social reforms since some illegals might receive some benefits from those reforms. Still, I think it's a poor way to hammer the Democrats since more than likely such tactics will only drive the Latino vote further away from the Republican party and toward the only other dominant party out there: the Democrats. While I do think illegal immigration is an important issue I think most of the problems people believed are caused by illegal immigration are state-level problems just as fixing the immigration system as a whole is a federal problem. The example of Oklahoma enforcing a law that requires all business owners to pay their employees by check versus straight cash has had a huge impact on the number of illegal immigrants in that state. So the enforcement of laws does aid in pushing the illegal immigrant out but does nothing about how to solve the issue of the continuing flow of immigrant into this country. Add that to our lovely ways of greeting foreigners at airports and you have a huge problem in the number of immigrant moving to this country. It becomes far more difficult to pillage the intellectuals of other countries when we are willing to deny them visas and treat them to harsh interrogations and long periods of waiting if there is a problem with their visa. This is a problem in need of some serious solutions but that won't happen with a Republican in the White House and a Republican bloc in both legislative houses doing everything they can to stymie the Democrats' agenda.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Confined Spaces and 2001: A Space Odyssey

New Business Model for the Music Industry - Chad @ fotophonic
David Byrne and Radiohead's Thom Yorke Talk Music Biz - Cory Doctorow @ BoingBoing
David Bryne's Guide to Being a Musician in the 21st Century - Cory Doctorow @ BoingBoing

I can't claim any real knowledge on the topic of how the music industry will change in the coming century so take all of this with as large a grain of salt as you'd like. Even so, I think both authors are missing a larger point about music distribution and how the last fifty or so years of the album has been a huge aberration in the traditional way music has been played and distributed. The album did not exist in our commonly understood form until the end of the 1950s. Even then it was typical to release a single or series of singles prior to or concurrently with the album to entice the consumer to buy the full album. While the advent of the album has allowed for the creation of some great masterpieces of modern music, the consumer-level experience has remained the single. On the radio, tv, in a move, on the internet, or just about anywhere these days, someone will hear a tune and ask what band is playing. The fixation is on the singular tune, not the album that track came from. And typically it's been rare for an album to come out that plays well from start to end. We each find the songs we like on an album and eventually start skipping the songs we don't like. Mixed tapes are built on singles, the singular track stripped away from its albumatic context.
All of this is to say that the album is a dying concept for the 21st century. EPs will continue, I think, but the album itself as a self-contained collection of songs recorded for a specific release I believe will falter and slowly disappear in the age of the mp3. Before albums became popular it was common for the release of collections of songs by particular artists (notably jazz and big band acts) but it was rare for the entire collection to contain songs written solely by the band. Instead, most music was taken from broadsheet style releases, the old standards idea where a band would play popular music of the time regardless of whether they wrote it or not (how many versions of "Mack the Knife" or "Beyond the Sea" do you think exist?). The royalties on these broadsheet versions were cheap since many acts would buy up the music to play. And touring was an essential part of that since rarely would you hear an extended collection of one act's music unless you saw them live.
These days constant touring does pay off for the bands but at the cost of a regular life in most cases. Unless you are defiantly, idealistically young or have reached beyond the realm of an average band, constant touring is a hard life to live. Hence the need for record companies to come to grips with the new distribution model of online digital music and adjust their royalty compensation accordingly. When it becomes almost just as easy for a band to self-release a record or even just a few songs to the public through their web site or other sites like, RCRD LBL, Hype Machine,, or Imeem just to name a few, record companies will only watch their sale fall further unless they make some drastic changes. Sure, we can continue the pattern of forcing bands to constantly tour just to make ends meet by undercutting their royalties or we can make a clear statement to organizations like the RIAA that their model is outdated and becoming more cumbersome by the day.
It's not as if I want bands to stop touring, but a fifty-date tour schedule means a lot of time on the road, stuck in shitty circumstances for most small acts and little time to actually record new music. There are better ways for bands to make money and before we simply tell them to tour more we should allow them to find new ways to make an income from their music that doesn't involve constant touring. There are many small bands that I love but before we shove them in a van for three thousand miles and three months that often bring on all the annoyances of being stuck in a confined space for a long period of time and the eventual break ups, I'd like to see both the bands and the music listeners who gain so much pleasure from what the artist do figure out a way to get the money flowing to the right places.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vowelless Record Label

What a wonderful new find for the evening. Part blog/music aggregator, part nexus for bands and labels to meet, the vowel-boden RCRD LBL seems a bit of a mess, and it is, but with huge potential. Along with some of the particular artists they've lined up to release mp3s of, they have gathered a number of nascent labels that are steadily growing in size and influence. What this site will do and what influence it will have I cannot tell. But that a site like this exists is a testimony to the power of the rising user-generated web. I've already downloaded a new Professor Murder song (quite a good step forward for them too, just wish they would make their way to Dallas) and a Presets remix. Again, the site is a little clunky, so don't expect the smoothness of something like Pitchfork or But I heartily welcome this site to the intertubes.

Centro-Matic at their Best

Centro-Matic @ MySpace

I miss Will Johnson when he was crazy and banging out things in his bedroom.

Fucking Brilliant

OMG, It's an Heirloom: Dutch Delight dildo - Frank @ OMG Blog

That is, with a bullet, the coolest thing I've seen all day.

A Three-Eyed Smile

UK Police Seize Amateur Photographer's Film - Mark Frauenfelder @ BoingBoing

Okay, Frauenfelder's suggestion of a wifi sd to upload photos as soon as they are taken gets me all shivery thinking of Transmetropolitan. If you don't know what that is then google it. I'm not making it that easy for you.

Why I love Top Gear

Hmm, bored, nothing to watch, what should I do? Oh wait! Lookie here. A car drag racing a jet fighter. How nice. Via Gizmodo

Falsehoods and Capitalism in America

Are We Americans Optimists? Or Suckers? - Brian Tamanaha @ Balkinization

Something similar to what Holland details in his report quoted by Tamanaha occurred during the end of the 19th century. By the 1890s it became clear to many of the middle class in countries like France, Germany or wherever there was an entrenched aristocracy, that education and talent mattered less than genetics. The successful ones came from good stock, it was believed, and one can quickly make the jump from thoughts like that to racial eugenics. That was the conclusion of one Georges Sorel, but he focused himself on matters other than pseudo-science. No, instead he went on to a far more noble task of turning Marxism from a theory of economic revolution into one of violent moral revolution. Both Lenin and Mussolini were inspired by this man's chaotic writings on the need to create a moral severance with the bloated and indulgent bourgeoisie and the upstanding laborer.
All of this occurred during the end of the century as the cultural clime of Western Europe began to fill with the idea that people's station in life was not dictated by merit but by a false nobility who lacked the physical and moral strength of the working class. I'm seeing hints of such a belief in today's media and conversations. It's more than a little scary as the last time people got all in a tiff over economic equality while confusing it with moral standing we ended up with fascistic movements of varying success (i.e. Romania's failed fascist takeover versus Germany's quite successful transition to Nazism). I do think the issue of economic inequality needs discussion but that discussion must remain distinctly separate from issues of morality and religion. I just fear that with today's GOP ideology this won't happen.
I hope people will start realizing that pure capitalism exists and functions as well as pure communism. That and the only moral rule of capitalism is you can make as much money as you want so long as you don't prevent anyone else from doing the same.

Zombie vs Zombie

Will Smith's Bummer - Andrew Sullivan

I liked the way the zombies were portrayed in 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later since it makes them a little more terrifying that they can move so quickly. But then again, I loved how Max Brooks portrayed the typical zombie in World War Z and how even then they were terrifying creatures. Toying with the characteristics of the zombie I think is almost necessary now that the slow, shuffling zombie has become an icon of horror. It's a matter of keeping the suspense up and the slow zombie versus the fast zombie is losing out in the modern age

Mobility isn't so easy

US Spends more on mobiles than land lines - L'Inq

I don't find this report surprising since I have never had a land line attached to me personally. It's been mobile all the way for me. But I do wonder what consequences this will have for corporations who rely on telemarketing and bill collections. When you separate the phone from the physical location doesn't that start to present a problem for those looking to collect on a late credit card payment?

The Transformation of the Punk

Tank Girl then and now - Nadya Lev @ Coilhouse

I never read the original Tank Girl. My interests in comics during that period were primarily in the X-Men realm. But she did catch my eye every once in a while and for a long time that was what a real punk was supposed to look like for me. Now, in the age of the cyberpunk, the visual expression is less important than the subverting presence of a punk mindset. Plus, I adore Ashley Wood's art, when I can figure out what the hell he's doing. Just a weird mix of nostalgia and the modern for the morning.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Just Paper - Andrew Sullivan

Mother is the necessity of invention as artist Jen Stark shows here. The medium is simple construction paper used in a unique new way as a base for sculpture.

Muhammad was a Punk Rocker

Muhammad Rocked the Casbah - Lydia Crafts @ Texas Monthly via Andrew Sullivan - Muslim Punk Rock
Photo Credit - Kim Badawi

This is probably the coolest thing I've heard about in politics and music in a long time. Texas is the reason though. For cities like San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston, the mixed cultural identities slammed up against bastions of certain cultural identities tend to produce the desire for resistance. And, to stereotype Texas a little, there's an independent streak in all Texans. We go our own way because that's the way we decided to go. So the fact that a kid in San Antonio took Islam punk isn't surprising. But it is very cool, both for the Texas music scene and for the ideological struggles between the West and Islam and within Islam itself over modernity.
Money Quote: "On tour, the taqwacore bands allowed each other to embrace their contradictions as young Muslim Americans confused about their religion, identity, and place in the world. They prayed together, philosophized about Allah, visited mosques in Harlem and Ohio, shouted their grievances about President Bush, and generally thought for themselves."
I raise a glass for the rise of Islamic punks. These kids are the ones who will change perceptions about Islam, all while producing punk rock music. I think we win all the way around on this.

The Meme of the Link

The Web's Link-Driven Attention Economy - Scott Karp @ Publishing 2.0

The small controversy over Lane Hartwell's removal of all her photography from Flickr is based on the issue of attention and citation. It's easy enough for college and graduate students to understand; whenever you use the work of another author you always cite it. In fact, one of the mantras I remember from graduate school was, "when in doubt, cite it." With the rise of the blog and the online video and picture services the need for a meme that reinforces this idea of citation through link or comment is critical. Yet, I don't think there's much to worry about. Tag-clouds and the tagging culture growing within the Web 2.0 culture contains this meme in a way. A tag is used to help others search for particular items and the usage of tagging and tagging services should help mitigate the effects of those less informed who fail to add a link or credit. Eventually a link should pop up and lead someone to the proper site. Messy it is, but we can't force every person online to link or credit appropriately. All we can do is call them on it and attempt to reinforce the meme that a link or credit is always necessary when you use someone else's work.

A Diamond is Worth as Much as You Pay for It

100% - Matt Yglesias
What Desperation Looks Like - Andrew Sullivan

"If Clinton's going to run on her alleged greater experience, surely it's fair to point to the content of that experience and ask whether or not it's all good experience. " Matt Yglesias

Matt makes a salient point about experience and how the Clinton campaign's harping on it has the potential of blowing up in their faces. The amount of experience someone has is only a good as how that experience has allowed that person to make wise decisions. It's the wisdom gained from experience that makes experience something worth looking at. But when it's obvious that while someone has a great amount of experience but continues to make poor choices then you can tell such a person hasn't gained anything through experience. And that actually makes such 'experience' more worthless, and dangerous, than no experience since you already know the track record is pretty poor.
It's also worth it to point out that Matt's comments on experience came from a recent Charlie Rose interview with former President Clinton, something that Sullivan believed spoke for itself through the YouTube video.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Worry Men

Quote of the Day - Andrew Sullivan

You know, the more Sen. Clinton trots out her husband to trash Sen. Obama the more I worry about his influence in the White House. What happens when President Clinton decides not to listen to her husband?

Heinrich Kley and the Modern Fantasy

Heinrich Kley: Industry and Ecstasy, Fantasy and Fact - Meredith Yayanos @ Coilhouse

With the rise of interest in the spiritual at the end of the 19th century along with the progressively everyday sights of modernity it's no wonder many artists of the time incorporated elements of both into their work. This is especially true for those in countries like France and Germany, both before and after the Great War, whose writers, philosophers, and artists attempted to express the shift in their souls brought about by modernity. Many good and bad things came from these efforts (fascism for one) but we can still learn from these expressions of wonder, awe and fear at a rapidly modernizing world. It's only just now that we are returning to the questions these creators had asked a century ago.

The Calm Generation

The World-Spirit Through History - Matt Yglesias

Of course, David Freddoso is right in a way, a wacky way though. After the English Civil Wars the whole country tacked towards an anti-polemical attitude that was reflected in the debated and the creation of the public sphere in the English coffeehouses of the period. It was also after the fall of fanatical religion that some of the greatest works on liberty and democracy were written such as Hobbes Leviathan and Locke's Two Treates On Government along with the addition of an informed and politically active public that did not take to extremes. Of course, someone like Freddoso will overlook all of these facts just to make his argument, which both undermines his argument and his critical thinking abilities if he believes that citing one point in history is sufficient evidence. Besides, it was when nationalism became a religion of sorts that fascism took off. And it was when capitalism was at its worst that Marx wrote, only to have his work overturned by moral revolutionary Georges Sorel at the end of the 19th century. But that's neither here nor there, now isn't it?

Song of the Storm Night

My Robot Friend @ MySpace
My Robot Friend Home Page
My Robot Friend @ Virb

Something fun for the night. Nothing amazing, just good electro.

The Obama Ascension

Decency and a Generation - Andrew Sullivan
'My Commentators Is Smarter Than I': Go for the Jugular Edition - Ezra Klein
Depends On What You Mean By Surprise, I Guess... - Alex Masse
Known Quantity - Matt Yglesias

I have a couple more links to add when those site are back up again. I wanted to gather some of the latest posts about the whole issue of Sen. Obama's past drug use and the Clinton campaign's efforts to use that as a smear on Sen. Obama's character. A lot of the issue concerns the differences between Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton, both in leadership style and campaign style. I have no qualms about Sen. Obama's past drug use, both due to my own past usage and the completely forward nature in which Sen. Obama has conducted himself with the matter.
A lot of digital ink has been spilled about the growing fight between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp, with most of the more critical posts pointing to the faults of the Clinton campaign. In particular, the last couple of weeks have shown a Hilary Clinton people remember from the smears she suffered from during her time as the First Lady. She has gone on a serious offensive against Sen. Obama in attacking his experience, his 'known quantities', his drug usage and even some underhanded smear emails sent out by her own campaign staff (of which two have already resigned over, and another over the cocaine issue). Her husband has joined the chorus as well, arguing that much like his wife, he was for the war before he was against it, which considered how laughable it was when Sen. Kerry made that claim I don't know why President Clinton would attempt to do the same now.
Suffice to say, one would have expected Sen. Obama's polling numbers to have dropped in the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Yet the opposite has happened as Sen. Obama has overtaken Sen. Clinton in Iowa and has closed in to a statistical tie with her in New Hampshire. The negativity with which Sen. Clinton has assaulted Sen. Obama has reflected in the polls as Obama has remained cool and collected, i.e. he has remained on message as a candidate of hope and change.
What several people have noticed is that Sen. Obama is seemingly not afraid of the Republican party while Sen. Clinton still is. Her campaign style reflects an attitude of negativity and offense that is better suited for use against Republican candidates. In other words, Clinton doesn't know how to campaign against her own and that has led to the perception that Clinton is too cut-throat for the tastes of many liberals. Meanwhile, Obama continues to push his message forward with strength and conviction, and with seeming disregard for whether his position appeases everyone.
Another element, of which I can't link to at the moment, of Obama's current success comes from his ability to talk to conservatives on their own terms, acknowledging their positions and then rebutting them in such a way that most conservative listeners come to agree with. He growing stronger in his speeches and in the debates themselves while Hilary has begun to look more like the Mitt Romney of the liberal side.
All of this is to say that Sen. Obama has has some great fortune in the last couple of weeks, both due to his own abilities (see, The Moment) and Sen. Clinton's mistakes. As the primary dates come closer (Iowa is on January 3rd) Sen. Obama has a good chance of upsetting the presumptive frontrunner and turn that momentum into an even greater upset in New Hampshire.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Searchable Notes

Internet Archive to store researchers' notes, "raw" data - John Timmer @ Ars Technica

Oh good Lord, what an amazing idea. I'm surprised no one has done this already. A project like this could revolutionize the study of past scholars and the turns they took through their research. Imagine having all of Nietzsches' notes on hand and searchable, or Darwins' or even someone like Neil Gaiman. All the bad ideas run to the ground, the ideas passed by, the leaps in thinking, everything that a writer or scholar worked on but never published, right there for you to read. You could go back and take a look at the math of a respected physicist and see if he might have made a mistake, or find a solution to a problem not yet solved. More than just putting books up for online searching, you have the raw material that was pulled together for those books. This is the kind of thing that web 2.0 was made for.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Surreal Imagery Made Happy

Chromasia via Photoblogs

What a strange but obvious way to promote one's photography. It's all very Zen-like so that makes it perfect for me.

In the Basement

Warehouse 23 Basement via Coilhouse

This is the kind of randomness I love. What an opportunity to come up with truly weird ideas and have them mean something, even if only for a moment, to someone else.

Dumbest Damn Thing

Senator Kit Bond: Waterboarding is "like swimming" - Mark Frauenfelder @ BoingBoing


I repeat.


Set Brain to 0

Does Facebook Make You Stupid? - evolution @ Trumor

At first I thought this was bogus but after reading the post I think there is some true to this. Information requires a degree of processing before our brains make all the connections. When we cram all of the blog posts, music, pictures and videos into our heads like we do then we end up with this unsorted mass that lacks the connections we need to make sense of it all. Some days I just have to stay away from my blogs because I need a day to process. The same thing happens when I download too much music. Before I buy a cd I need to know if I really do like it or if I'm basing things off first impressions and not digging any deeper.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Real World

Less blogging tonight. I'm having a drink with an old friend and we have some catching up to do. Reality...might be interesting.

Monday, December 10, 2007

In the Erotic Stacks

Naughty Library in Paris - Hell at the Library - TrendHunter

Now why can't they make this a traveling show. I'm sure it would draw a lot of people to their respective libraries when they never would have gone in the first place. This is the perfect form of advertising for librarians.

Preview: The Dodos

The Dodos @
The Dodos @ MySpace

Can't remember where I specifically found this band but I believe it was somewhere on during one of my audio dives. Just bought Beware of the Maniacs from their website. They have this strange acoustic folk sound that runs closer to Battles or Parts & Labor than say Iron & Wine or Bonnie Prince William. I think a better comparison is the first Beirut album sparsely done with DIY beats, full-bodied guitars and some incidental keys in the background for added flavor. The lead singer, Meric Long, does well within his vocal range, neither pushing it nor attempting to understate it. He tells a story as much through his voice as he does the music. It's well worth your time to take a listen and visit their site. They have a full-length lined up for release in March of next years but you can pick up one of their eps for a cheap tenner from their site.

Containing Unrepentant Anger

"Not Us. We're Not Going" - Noah Shachtman, Danger Room

It's not surprising that a platoon of soldiers would refuse to go out on patrol due to some sort of fear. But in this case the scary part is that these soldiers are so tightly wound that any sort of movement one could loosely consider a potential threat would lead to an overkill situation. I applaud these soldiers for knowing their psychological limits and taking that into account before being put in the middle of dozens of civilians. When people talk about the 'breaking' of the American military, I want you to remember these soldiers and their commitment to do right.

Branding a Campaign

O-Mentum - Ezra Klein

This, I think, is what a lot of critics of Oprah's support for Obama don't get--she draws the most positive kind of attention to a wide swath of the American public. When a talk show host can send Tolstoy to the top of the best-seller list through her recommendation alone then you cannot discount the kind of influence she holds. Bringing new names and faces into the primary process will probably become the most cited reason for Obama's upset win in Iowa. Oprah is not a king-maker but she does have immense influence on the American public's perception of things.

Calvinball in Iraq

Muddling Along - Ezra Klein

Finally! I've been saying this for years now that the way our policy on Iraq has run was more like Calvinball than anything that had a coherent plan and direction. So now that Klein has finally said it we can start pushing the meme that nothing in at least the past two years has had any coherency and have merely been efforts to stave off the shame that comes with admitting a serious fuck-up. Yes, brave men and women of our military forces have died for nothing, because as soon as the rules change then their efforts are nullified. We've kept changing tactics when what we have needed so dearly is a serious change in strategy. Are we occupiers? Do we have a coherent plan to wind down our commitments? Have we tried every political and diplomatic solution available and are we using those solutions while the military keeps a lid on a simmer civil war? The violence has fallen so now is the time to kick the politics into high gear. But to do that we need at least some idea of what results we want to see. And more importantly, President Bush needs to tell it to the American public. But whatever is done, this ridiculously murderous version of Calvinball needs to end.

Kate Nash, A Preview

Kate Nash @ MySpace

Comparisons to Lily Allen aside, this Brit singer is pulling more on 80s and 90s indie than anything else. Fun stuff.

Bring Me the Head of Jack Skinner

Lack of sleep and six hours of music wears on the body, you know?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

International Law and its Enemies

Krauthammer on Fox - Andrew Sullivan

One of the elements that divided nations during the Interwar years between WWI and WWII was the idea that there was a common law shared between nations. States like Germany and Italy began to act against this idea, instead believing that only the preservation of their nation was necessary and any act that promoted their nation was ergo necessary as well. After WWII it was quickly realized by most of the fighting powers that international affairs needed a unified governing body of some sort, hence the creation of the UN. No nation should act completely on its own in relation to other nations but needed to act in some form of cooperation. International law is essential in the modern world as what one nation does can have serious repercussions on other nations. Diplomacy and compromise are essential tools, as are international agreements. One nation cannot simply withdraw from a commitment without suffering the consequences. That's what the point of the UN was. And you can't break one agreement and then expect other agreements to remain in place. Once you start going it alone then you have to expect to stay alone and bitching and moaning about it is just plain childish.

Mind Murmurs

We Feel Fine - Tasty Blog Snack

I was just having a conversation about Twitter and how it can turn a super-contextual thought into a context-free thought and then back again. Using Twitter like that is a giving of ourselves to the subconscious of the internet, bringing us closer together even though we may be thousands of miles apart. This idea of viewing the murmurings of the internet is fascinating as it acts something like the background thoughts we individually have. Love it.

Label in Review: DFA Records

DFA Records Home Page
DFA Records @ MySpace
DFA Records @ Wikipedia
DFA Records @ Discogs
Interview w/ James Murphy @ In the Mix

When James Murphy joined with Tim Goldsworthy to form a label in early September 2001 Murphy wanted to name the label Death From Above. But the New York based label quickly nixed that idea in the middle of that September and the two settled on the acronym of DFA. Since 2001 DFA has become a force within the independent indie-dance and electro-rock scene, releasing the Rapture's first album, Hot Chip's The Warning in the U.S. and creating a literal heap of remixes for acts ranging from Justin Timberlake to Nine Inch Nails to Gorillaz. Home to acts like the Rapture, the Black Dice, Juan McLean, Shit Robot, Prinzhorn Dance School, the Shocking Pinks and James Murphy's own band, LCD SoundSystem, DFA is typically on the cutting edge of electro-anything and pushing beyond New York and into the electro-scene of European discotheques. Their remixes are highly sought after both by listeners and artists.
What makes DFA so distinctive is the mix between Murphy's 70s funk and Goldsworthy 80s new wave sensibilities. In particular their remix of Hot Chips "Just Like We (Breakdown)" transforms an otherwise excellent track into a nine minute sonic experience. Their emphasis on a mix of live instruments and electronic sounds allows DFA to stretch the boundaries of dance music without pegging themselves as simply another 'experimental' label.
Murphy's own LCD SoundSystem is a perfect example of what DFA seeks to achieve as Murphy and drummer Pat Mahoney blend live beats with synths, looped vocals and out-and-out rock music. Recently LCD SoundSystem released a single for Nike's runners ad campaign that was 45 minutes long. It is through these sorts of efforts that DFA has grown its presence in the minds of indie and even a few average music consumers.
On a side note, as the Wikipedia mentions, a copyright issue arose between DFA and the band Death From Above 1979 when DFA 1979 was going by the name Death From Above. While Murphy is made to look like the good businessman in all of this, DFA 1979 did not take the forced name change well. Murphy claimed it was simply and issue between Capitol Records and their label but DFA 1979 took it personally. Yet the label still stands and continues to produce and release new records by both their in house acts and new acts they can find.
So far, DFA has built a reputation as a respected independent label while eschewing the typical 'sell-outs' stigma for many (although there are a few who argue otherwise). Much like Matador Records in the 90s, DFA has become a trusted label for quality acts and music. Keep your eyes peeled for anything with the DFA logo as it represents good music to dance to.

Fascism as Faith

Seriously? - Megan McArdle

Historians of the 30s and 40s had such a terrible time trying to explain fascism because they were trying to put fascism in line with other traditional forms of ideology and government. But fascism defied those categories because it wasn't a traditional political ideology but politics experienced as faith. More than any other ideology of the last century, fascism relied on the mass experience to drive its ideology, to turn culture in political culture where everything you do is done for the state. Theocracies have similar characteristics but the difference is those under a fascist rule worship the state and its leader, not a god and a religion. Fascism is nationalism turned into a faith.
This is why the term 'totalitarianism' is such a misleading one; it encompasses to much while blurring the clear distinctions between authoritarian government like Communism, theocracy and fascism. It's not a helpful term in that way because you have a hard time figuring out why a counter to a communist ideology doesn't work for a fascist ideology. The idea of totalitarianism does help somewhat when describing the differences between it and democracy but beyond that the term becomes less useful in understanding the totalitarian system. They all commit terrible crimes but the why of those crimes is still important and categorizing any authoritarian rule as totalitarian makes it difficult to understand and undermine that rule.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My New French Rockstar Girlfriend

Soko @ MySpace

Clever Found A Name

Diving Deep, Unearthing a Surprise - Peter Baker & Dafna Linzer, WaPo (via The Danger Room)

That's actually pretty clever of Iran to do. They don't need to build an atomic bomb, but merely show their capability of doing so and thus avoid the claim that they are a building an arsenal of nuclear weapons. It's a great solution to the problem while providing Iran with a bargaining chip in any negotiations between the West and the rest of the Arab League.

Everything Is, And Then It Isn't

Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Order - by David Weinberger
Ludwig Wittgenstein @ Wikipedia

I've been reading Everything is Miscellaneous lately and have come to the conclusion that the author, David Weinberger, wants a digital search system that acts much like the way Wittgenstein described language. The way Weinberger argues that information inherently seeks disorder is similar to Wittgenstein's claim that language exists only in public and plays only by the rules of the particular game at a particular time. In other words, both argue that information and language are contextual. If a searcher is seeking a particular topic then the search engine needs to tailor itself in such a way as to retrieve the appropriate information. The search is thus a Wittgensteinian language-game where the meaning is attach by how the game is being played. For example, someone searching for an intellectual history of fascism would not need to read a biography of Hitler or Mussolini but rather rightist authors of the late 19th century. The search would have to alter itself around that kind of information. Thus information, much like language, gains meaning to the searcher by the rules the searcher is playing by.
The organic nature of the system both authors propose is one that changes constantly according to the users. Besides both being about how meaning is attached to information/language, each author argues that only through public usage rather than a single definitive listing will the systems work. Wittgenstein argued against both a private language and a static one, comparing language to a city that has developed over the centuries where the inner streets are a complicated mess while the later built outer streets have a more organized look to them. The point is, information and language both grow exponentially while leaving no concrete blueprint for people to follow. Instead they have to muddy through the language and information games required by the nature of each respective system.
The book itself is quite fascinating, especially when thrown against some of Warren Ellis's ideas he wrote in Planetary. It just may be the case that information is a fundamental element of the universe, or rather, the aether 19th century scientists believed held up the universe. Nothing is without information of one kind or another. And the only way to express that information is through language. I believe that information and language are intrinsic to each other, where neither is useful without the other.

Torture as Policy

What the Tapes Would have Shown - Matt Yglesias

I think what a lot of people misunderstand about intelligence gathering is that a lot of the process is winnowing out the signal from the noise. Millions of phone call, emails, letters and other forms of communication occur every day, not to mention the constantly increasing usage of satellite and UAV surveillance, and nearly all of it is noise. Out of six billion people on the planet our intelligence services are looking for maybe a few thousand who themselves are looking for ways to stay covert. So the majority of intelligence gathering requires analysis that give policy makers and operational leaders an idea of what is really going on. If you want to know what the real situation is like in a particular part of the world you need ears in the right places. And then you need people back in the States who can put this all together into a coherent picture.
See, that's the bigger misunderstanding, facts alone do not speak for themselves. The fact that A happens holds no meaning until it is interpreted. If A were to mean "You had a cup of coffee this morning" then it would mean nothing to someone looking for information of the possibility of a terrorist plot. But if A meant "Osama Bin Laden had a cup of coffee this morning" then that's of critical importance because you can start asking questions like "where did this coffee-drinking take place and with whom and what was said, from where did Osama arrive and where did he go afterwards" and on and on. But again, six billion people, millions who have coffee in the morning and we expect our intelligence services to find one person from all of that. Even if all the facts our intelligence services received were verifiable that still would not help construct a coherent picture of what various terrorist organizations were doing. This shit is hard and adding misleading or false information into the mix only makes the jobs of our intelligence analysts more difficult. Hence the logical argument against torture as a policy since verifying that information is far more difficult than the information received from a reliable source. It's all a matter of what is the most efficient and effective way to get the information needed to the right people at the right time. And most importantly, to allow our operatives to analyze that information without worrying whether or not it's even remotely true. That's why torture is a bad policy for information gathering.

Black Devil Disco Club, pt. 2

I figured, "I feel weird this morning so why not make everyone else feel the same way?" So here's a load of Black Devil Disco Club to make your morning coffee all the more surreal.

Can I Touch It?

Green Living: Solar City Teams Up With Tesla for Solar-Powered Sports Car Driving - Gizmodo

I think I saw one of these amazing cars on the highway coming home from work this week. It had the looks of a European supercar but didn't look like any that I knew. I had this gut feeling that this was a Tesla roadster. I want this for Christmas please.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Radioactive Codes of the Future

Roadside Picnic via Zoetica @ Coilhouse

I'm a bit of a noise art fan. The radio broadcasts Jeff Tweedy talked about when Wilco was making Yankee Hotel Foxtrot were the same ones I listened to in my sophomore year of college. Those strange voice rattling off numbers in a measured monotone pitch; secret messages from little girls to spies buried deep somewhere in the shadow worlds. And then I listened to the Aurora Borealis. Noise art isn't just some kitsch thing people do with their time. Noise art is pulling sound elements of the world and asking us to listen as if it were music rather than hear simply noise. It's an amazing aural feeling when you catch the pattern, because nature is not without its plans.

Really? Evidence Destroyed? Rights Violated?

Start Snitchin' - Matt Yglesias

While Mr. Yglesias ponders whether the Democratic chairs of the Intelligence Committee are up to the task, I'm thinking that it's about time for a few newspapers and civil liberty organizations to raise holy hell over committee chairs who can't do their jobs. Not that I'm surprised though, it seems whenever there's a chance for the Democrats to stick it to the Bush administration (particularly the ones in the House) they make it a point to somehow fuck the whole thing up.

Retro-Future, Or How to Time Your Smoke Breaks

Retro Tech: Wristwatch Lighter (Because It's Always Time for a Smoke Break) - Mark Wilson, Gizmodo

Wow, combining two things I love into one: watches and smoking. Now if I could only get it to pour me a scotch I'd never have to move.

Stupid Stupid Media

Can Books Have Ads? YES - Publishing 2.0

I'm not even going to read this article. My answer is a definitive NO and I'll brand that on the forehead of any publisher who tries this shit.

Previously Done Stunt makes David Blaine Really Lame

David Blaine Attempts to Stay Awake - Trumors

Hmm...where have I heard about this before? Oh yeah, that radio broadcaster in the 40s who stayed awake for nearly 240 hours and saw spiders coming out of his shoes. Amateurs.

Agree to Disagree or Death, But Mostly Death

Unsurprisingly... - Megan McArdle

College Dropout? What the hell is wrong with this woman? Late Registration is clearly the better Kanye album. Just a shame that intelligent people can't seem to understand good music when it hits them over the head and tapes their dog to the wall.

Going Faster than Coke at a Babyshambles Show

Bad Government: New Bill Would Make WiFi Hotspots, Email Providers, ISPs Responsible for Obscene Content - Gizmodo

Oh I give this bill about a month before a circuit court puts up an injunction. Congress just keeps trying and trying to push bills like this through and they always fail.

How the Sausage is Made

Intel Insider: Iran Report Ain't Political - Noah Shachtman, The Danger Room

This report on how the National Intelligence Estimate is constructed is a little disturbing but the more pressing matter of the current NIE is that it seems its writers are attempting to hedge their bets. A new report that goes against the Bush administration's claims in this day and age is a startling thing. But to have one that has the potential to pull us back from the brink of a war with Iran is promising, even if the report might have its flaws. I've come to take an NIE with a grain of salt. If the evidence points to a clear conclusion then fine, but if it is a constant stream of 'possibles' then I'm less sure that we should base our foreign policy around such a document. I can understand the intelligence agencies wanting to cover all their bases. Extracting meaning from masses of information is difficult to do and when you're under deadlines and bureaucratic pressures it only increases those difficulties. So, this NIE and previous ones I will now count on only to give a general idea of things rather than a clear idea of how the U.S. and it's allies should proceed. Iran may still have a nuclear weapon program waiting in the wings but if international pressure can continue to keep it there then that is the best way to go. But escalating the rhetoric against the Iran is not the solution at this point. Some needs to pull President Bush aside and explain that to him. Of course, this won't happen, but one can hope.

A Terabyte of txt Files

Western Digital network drives crippled--no serving any multimedia files - Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

I respect Western Digital's tech department. I've long used WD drives and only once strayed for a cheaper Hitachi drive. So to hear that WD is looking at a hardware-based DRM solution is upsetting. The question is though, how long will it take someone to hack the hardware? The iPhone was hacked in less than a week and some hackers will go to any lengths just to prove that they can do it. So here's to hoping that a solution to a stupid problem will arrive quickly.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Obama the Economic Equalizer

Why He's Winning - Andrew Sullivan

It's no shock to me that Obama is slowly winning over black communities. I think the best speeches he's made have come in front of primarily black audiences. The tenor of his voice and the rhythm that comes with it are filled with righteousness and the fire of social justice. If Obama is a liberal it is because he seeks to even out some of the unfairness of our current political and economic structure. I believe that Obama might become the Martin Luther King, Jr we saw in the few years before his death. This is a man who sees economic fairness as economic equality and that is key to his style of liberalism.

Fish, Barrel, High-powered Machine Guns

LOLsheviks - Mikipedia

Now this I like. Making fun of Bolsheviks is always a good idea. If only we had a way to redo the dialog for Battleship Potemkin then we could have some real fun.

The 'Shockhorror' Moment of the Day

Results - Matt Yglesias

Well, I think my parents could have told you that. There are now schools in Texas where the teens are actually pushing school boards to stop the 'abstinence-only' sex education because, shockhorror, it doesn't work. Teens will have sex and I'd rather they have the info they need to prevent pregnancies and STDs than remain ignorant of what the consequences are. It's just common sense.

He Said, Sorta, Kinda, Maybe?

White House Changes Iran Intel Story - Noah Shachtman, The Danger Room

Wow, the spinning around the White House seems to be creating a vortex for bullshit. Not that that's any different, but amusing nonetheless.

Music Contests, News Style

Your Best Musical Moments of 2007? - Guardian UK

Now this is pretty cool. The Guardian is asking for reader responses to the question of what was their best musical moment of the past year. As a prize the reader receives what the Guardian considers the best ten albums of the year. It's this kind of interactivity that makes digital media (of both varieties) so compelling. A regular print paper couldn't do this sort of thing, or at least not very well. I give the Guardian high points for taking such an approach.

What Made Me Weird, Continued

Devo: Through Being Cool - Mer, Coilhouse

My dad listened to Devo back in the day when he had an MG, snitched a Lotus Europa from an exotic car dealership with a friend and then proceeded to take sharp curves at 70mph. I think he still has some Devo records on vinyl somewhere and at least a cd or two. When did my dad get so old?
Devo was my first real experience with music, that and opera night on WRR. One could cite a litany of bands and entire genres influenced by Devo but I think I like to best remember them as the band that told me that serious weirdness in music was possible. I guess you could say that Devo was one of those things that made me weird.

The Wrist Watch of the Gods - Updated

Horological Machine No. 2: Pure Watchporn - Cory Doctorow

Oh my god, I think my brain just reset itself, with an automatic winder and gravity-nullifying movement.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Diving Watch Measures Pressure Mechanically, Makes Me Want to Have a Spare $22k - Jesus Diaz, Gizmodo

Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of those watch manufactures who still produce mechanical movements and play at the level of IWC, Brugeut and Patek Phillipe. These are the watches that make my mouth water. A watch that costs more than the average car is hot and the ones that sell a auction for more than my house is worth are even sexier.

Strange Powers

The Strange Boys @ The Granada , Nov. 30, 2007 - Miss Information, fotophonic

Damn, I really wanted to go to that show. Thankfully our dear Miss Info was there to snap a few pics for the kids at home like me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Rocketo the Mapmaker

Parts & Labor - Home Site
Parts & Labor @ MySpace
Parts & Labor @ Wikipedia

I've been listening to Parts & Labor's new album Mapmakers off and on since I bought it. While technically compelling, there's just something off about the band that holds me back from completely loving them. Their sound, DuPont Circle post-punk emo by way of Dublin, is one of the closest things to a pure rock album I've heard in a long time. They do verge on being noise but their sense of melody and song structure and pacing keep them from being labeled so easily. However, their greatest asset I fear is also the greatest liability. Drummer Christopher Weingarten (who, incidentally is leaving the band) is brilliant and nearly as spastic as Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier. Yet his sound is the one that stands out the most. When identifying this band as it comes up in my player I always know it by drums alone. While the rest of the guitar work is of good quality it has tinges of too much pop for a band based around the idea of breaking down some of the traditional song structures. Vocalist Dan Friel has a distinctive voice that gives the band its Irish touches just as the semi-punk stylings remind me of the hardcore emo bands of the late 80s and early 90s.
On the whole the album is a solid piece but shows the limits of the band (unless, of course, they go the route the Liars took and completely reinvent their sound a couple of times over). It was worth the purchase but I fear that this album's use will come more from the individual songs making their way onto my mix tapes rather than any particular urge to put the album on for simple listening. Still, despite all it's flaws, it is a good and remarkable album.

Day of the Ninja

Celebrate Day of the Ninja With Ninja Gadgets - Jason Chen, Gizmodo

Well damnit, I missed a whole day where I could have gone around throwing sharp objects at people. Stupid Internet, not giving me information when I needed it.

Sticks, Stones and the Presidency

Hillary Clinton's Campaign Admits to Smear - Trumors

One would think that such an email smear would have come from the Republican field and yet we have a supposed 'liberal' campaign trying to attach racial and religious slams against another liberal. It's amazing what a presidential election reveals about the character of some organizations.

Captain Obvious to the Rescue

Sex and Chocolate 'Boost Brain Power' - Trumors

Hmm....well personally I think this requires further examination.

A Liberal and a Hard Place

Clinton and the NIE - Andrew Sullivan

Hence the problem with trying to triangulate yourself between the leftist of the left who remain ardently against the war, and the moderate right whose general worry about national security has long propelled Republican wins. What will eventually drag Hilary down, much like Romney, is her inability to stake out a position and then open herself up to honest debate on it. While someone like President Bush can remain steadfast in his principles and still get it completely wrong, someone like Obama or Edwards don't view compromise as a sin. For Hilary or Guliani or Romney, compromise becomes the center of their being leading to the wild contortions they make in order to stay just above 51% of the electorate.
The platform that Hilary has slowly built isn't substantially different than that of George Bush when it comes to foreign policy. Diplomacy isn't an adequate tool nor are sanctions. Only military force is considered as real power. And Hilary has put herself in a position where any movement away from that stance immediately leaves herself open to a 'soft-on-terror' attack from the Republican side. It's strange, isn't it, that when a liberal isn't afraid to actually take a non-conservative stance on foreign policy their opponents have a hard time tackling the argument. This is why Obama has such appeal.

Your NIE and You

Caution (Foreign Policy) - Matt Yglesias

There's not much more that I can add to Matt's assessment of those who are unhappy with the NIE conclusions that Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program since 2003. There is just one little things however--the same argument was made about earlier NIEs and Iraq's weapons program five years ago. Now had the invasion of Iraq led to the uncovering of a covert nuclear program then the war supporters could convincingly argue that the new NIE is wrong and we should take a more aggressive approach with Iran. But reality has that funny way of not always agreeing with your truth. The argument (re: mushroom clouds) was made in 2002 and proven disastrously false in the following year. We were told not to believe the intelligence assessments and international organizations who said that Iraq had abandoned its program long ago. We were told that the danger was imminent. And we were told that the removal of a psychotic dictator would led to a more peaceful and progressive region. If the Bush administration wishes to make the same argument again concerning Iran then they have that right to do so. But I honestly don't think that the American public is that gullible after four years of being a foreign occupier. So for those who disagree with the new NIE, go right ahead, but you better bring your evidence and your balls to the table if you want to win the argument this time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Polar Confusion

How Polarizing Are They? - Ezra Klein

I think Klein misses the distinction between polarization and simple mudslinging in modern politics. Two your right I've included these photos of Adolf Hitler and Stephen Spielberg as examples of the difference between someone who's very nature is polarizing and someone who, while praised by many, has not avoided controversy or had his share of mud thrown at him. Let me make this clear though, these are examples of polarization and living a high profile public life. No comparison to any particular candidate is intended by these images. They are simply useful illustrations.
Now, with that out of the way, one can see clearly why a Hitler is polarizing in a way that a Spielberg is not. The very mention of Hitler immediately causes a visceral reaction. The famous message board usage of Godwin's Law is meant to avoid causing a polarization of the conversation. On the other hand, Spielberg has had his own time in the limelight as well as his moments of criticism, both valid and vapid. The same man who made one of the most honorable war films of modern times in Saving Private Ryan was castigated when he made Munich. So Spielberg is a fine example of someone who the majority of people known and recognize but hold no firm, visceral opinion of and is vulnerable to a mudslinging campaign.
Klein attempts to deflect the idea of Hilary Clinton as a polarizing figure by pointing to John Kerry's favorability factor during the 2004 campaign. But Kerry was not polarizing in the way that Clinton is and has been for quite some time. And to say that the same results will happen when the public becomes more aware of candidates like Barak Obama and John Edwards is confusing the idea of polarization with the typical criticisms of an election. Obama and Edwards are not polarizing figures in the way that Clinton is and probably will never achieve such a level of polarization. But Clinton has been in the public eye for nearly two decades now and from the very start was a person who others quickly formed clear and firm opinions of.
The mistake Klein makes is equating electoral criticism and rhetoric with polarization. Six months from now no one is going to look at Obama and say immediately that, not only do they dislike him, but hate him. Clinton, on the other hand, will always carry that weight. Certainly Obama will suffer from smears and underhanded attacks but nothing about his character causes the gut reaction Clinton does. And while those smears and attacks may hurt his chances for election, they will not lead directly to his garnering a status as a polarizing figure. It's just simple politicking to attack Obama in an attempt to turn people away from him. For Clinton though, those smears and attacks will rely on previous knowledge of her and serve only to reinforce her polarizing stance. It's a subtle difference but it is a difference that a blogger like Klein knows well enough.

Abandon All Hope

Dinosaur "Mummy" Discovered - David Pescovitz, BoingBoing

I wonder what a Curse of the Mummy Dinosaur movie would look like?

Neo-Bavarian Style

Coilhouse Style Vanguard: Princest - Coilhouse

Oh now that's just cool.

The Check's in the Mail...

Watchdog Group: White House Lost Over 10 Million Emails - Trumors

Oh, they aren't lost, just probably on a stolen laptop somewhere, or in the server room at the White House where Dick Cheney hangs with his electronic kinfolk.

A Little Late for the Party

Matt's Rhetorical Question - Andrew Sullivan

It's nice to know that the same administration that dismissed the claims of international observers over Iraq's weapons program is now claiming that the same kind of pressure is working in Iran. It's amazing what a bungled war does to the decision-making process, isn't it?

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Presets

The Presets



More Please


Bright Like Neon Love

Cut Copy @ Myspace
Cut Copy Blog/Website
Cut Copy @ Wikipedia

Now Cut Copy has been around since the beginning of the decade but it's only been recently that I have discovered their brilliance. Despite my lateness, I'm compelled to promote them somewhat as the aesthetic of their sound is right in line with the electro-rock movement without seeming derivative. One can easily make comparisons to LA electro-rockers Shiny Toy Guns but unlike the girl-fronted synth-pop band, Cut Copy is more than mere ear candy. One doesn't get bored too easily with this band as they blend analog and digital in an organic way. Their first album, Bright Like Neon Love, was released back in 2004 and after a slew of singles and 7"s they are preparing to release In Ghost Colours sometime in early 2008. This is the band I'm in love with for the moment so enjoy the sampling I've prepared for you.

The Return of Solid States

Conventional Vs. Solid State Hard Drive Race, Sony TZ91 -

After using a SanDisk 32GB SSD for the last couple of months in a new laptop I do have to say that the advantages of SSD over HDD is significant. Not only is boot up and shut down far faster but after leaving the system in stand-by mode the machine almost immediately is ready to use. Other advantages include the silence of the drive along with the added security that and bang or hits will have little effect on the drive. If you have the money then I recommend either a Samsung or SanDisk SSD. Considering that Supertalent has already released a 128GB drive and the constant push towards more laptops and less desktops, I think the prices will start to fall soon.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Audio Diver 12/2/07

My eyes burn a little, my knee still hurts, my brain is a little overloaded, but here, for your pleasure, is my audio dive for the day. Enjoy.

Badger Beta Test Three

Firefox 3 beta

Well, most of my extensions don't work (at least adblock does) but on the whole the next version of Firebadger looks good, feels good and kisses even better. Pages are loading faster on the whole and generally the GUI looks better than the old one without you needing to relearn everything. Nothing out of the ordinary thus far but then again I haven't really pushed it yet. If you're not afraid of some occasional glitches and can live without some of your extensions for a while then I suggest downloading the beta.

The Yes Men

At only a passing listen you'd might think of Yeasayer as TV on the Radio gone shoegazer or an electronic version of Beirut. The Pitchfork review of All Hour Cymbals likens the band's sound to that of late 70s Eno and Byrne. For my part I hear some of the same musical origins that Pitchfork cite for TVOR, Celebration and Animal Collective but my instinct is to credit the prog rock of Gentle Giant, King Crimson or (god help me for saying this) Genesis more than the Talking Heads in Yeasayers heritage. There is one element that stands out as clearly contemporary is Yeasayer's production quality is almost identical to that of the last two Liars albums. The sound echoes as if the band were recording in the same Berlin warehouse Angus Andrews fled into to create the masterpiece Drum's Not Dead. Everything reverberates, including the vocals, which gives the music a mystical quality. It's a conflict of auras, I suppose, as the urge to use the drums in a full-on Africanized beat is quelled by the use of silken strings and soft synthesizers.
The music itself floats along in a dreamlike wave as lead singer Chris Keating lets his voice hang in the air from lyric to lyric. The whole affair has a definite psychedelic quality to it as the band wraps itself in global instrumentation while Keating sings about the present and future of the human condition. 2080 in particular puts Keating's fears of the future front and center. Yet the band's wanderlust attitude comes on as an attempt to reassure us of something but without saying what. This is not a band you rock out to but instead lie back and let the music shake out your mind like some old maid cleaning away the dust from a carpet. It's an overstatement to say that the album is greatness on a platter but Yeasayer has put together an emotionally satisfying record without diving into sappiness. This band is driven and the music meanders willfully.
On a side note I'd like to mention the dual meaning contained in the album's title. When I first typed it out I replaced Cymbals with Symbols but another glance at the label saved me from a potential faux pas. Even so, I noticed one can read the title in two different ways: one being All Hour Cymbals as originally written or as All Our Symbols. Whether this dual meaning was intention or not I do not know. Still, cleverness like that, however unintentional, is worth mentioning. Pick this album up if you like the sounds of Animal Collective or early 80s Brian Eno production.

Yeasayer @ MySpace

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Color-Change Coffee Mug

Coffee Mug Knows When You're Going To Burn Yourself - Gizmodo

You know, I never thought I needed a mug to tell me if the coffee was too hot, but now that I've seen this, I want one. That's super tech sexy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Band Red

Band Red by KaitO

T gave this to me a long time ago. I thought the band would take off but apparently the hipsters couldn't handle post-britpop riot grrls. Ah well...

Grand Halls of Gilded Memories's a fun bit of surrealism to look back at the music you once adored, even if briefly, but rarely pull out now for mix tapes or even a quick listen.

Walter Mitty It For Me Please

Who are the Melissas? - Nitelife

Aw, my fake, party-hosting girlfriend is famous.

Drifting on the Void looking in...

Astronomers Find Stellar Cradle Where Planets Form - Science Daily

One night I will dream of floating in stellar and planetary nurseries. I will see the gases and colors and I will watch and plasma and rocks meld together into new forms. I will watch this all and wake up with the colors still in my eyes. This is the dream I want.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Typewriter Robot

Recycled Typewriter As Art - Robot Made from Old Parts - Trendhunter

Damn, they stole my work again! Those bastard DARPA guys always sneaking into my room at night, plugging into my brain and sucking out all of my ideas. Oh, I'll get them, them and their little dog too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Urban Policing

How Tech Almost Lost the War - And How We Still Might Win - Noah Shachtman, The Danger Room

It's interesting to note the recent spat of articles on the correlation between the number of officers in a city and the decline of crime during the 90s. What was found was an increase of officers typically did not correspond to a decrease in crime. What was found was that the integration of officers into communities had a highly positive effect where neighbors became comfortable being seen with and talking to the police. Once a rapport was established, the people began to help the police find the criminal hot spots and clear them out. The same has happened in areas of Iraq and typically it hasn't taken a new sort of weapon or some high-tech gear but a simple beat-cop approach to things. COIN operations call for this kind of action but it takes time and doesn't always promise results. The primary issue in this approach is that of trust--if the people you live around don't trust you then they won't provide the information needed to root out the criminal elements. Ham-handed and humiliating tactics are the exact opposite of what is required. The successes seen in the past few month are a testament to that. To reach anything approaching a stable environment for political action to take place such tactics need continue. The goal here is to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible and have no need to return five, ten or twenty years later. Hopefully this low-tech approach will allow this to happen.

Looking Over Shoulders

No More Clintons - publius, Obsidian Wings

Now I agree with publius and Andrew Sullivan on the idea that Hilary and Obama represent two sides of the liberal establishment; one that grew up constantly on the defensive against some intellectually strong arguments from conservatives, and another that has come of age after this and are no long afraid of conservative arguments since they no longer make any sense. Publius hits on another point that I had never considered before: that had Bill Clinton not screwed up with his sex life then we might not have had a George W. Bush presidency. And for B. Clinton to inject himself into the debate over who was against the Iraq War first is even more disturbing when you consider what he might do if his wife does win the presidency. Where is the line cut between First Husband and former president asserting his authority as such? I think a Hilary win will not give the left any significant advantage since Hilary will only push the most watered-down, moderate and popular ideas without having the balls to stand up to the Limbaugh-era conservatives. When put next to someone like Obama and the rest of the Republican field, you realize that Obama has the chance to not only take on the mantle of JFK but of Reagan as well. That kind of hopeful crossover vote is what this country needs right now, not a fight between those bitterly opposed to Hilary and whoever the right picks who will need bitter opposition as well. After eight years of polarization in the body politic it would be nice to have a campaign where hope is the leading idea of a Democratic contender while the status quo is all a Republican could run on. So here's to hoping.