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