11.02.2011

From Conrad's "Lord Jim"

"'Yes! Very funny this terrible thing is. A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavour to do, he drowns- nicht wahr?... No! I tell you! The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up. So if you ask me- how to be?'

"His voice leaped up extraordinarily strong, as though away there in the dusk he had been inspired by some whisper of knowledge. 'I will tell you! For that, too, there is only one way.'

"With a hasty swish swish of his slippers he loomed up in the ring of faint light, and suddenly appeared in the bright circle of the lamp. His extended hand aimed at my breast like a pistol; his deep-set eyes seemed to pierce through me, but his twitching lips uttered no word, and the austere exaltation of a certitude seen in the dusk vanished from his face. The hand that had been pointing at my breast fell, and by-and-by, coming a step nearer, he laid it gently on my shoulder. There were things, he said mournfully, that perhaps could never be told, only he had lived so much alone that sometimes he forgot- he forgot. The light had destroyed the assurance which had inspired him in the distant shadows. He sat down and, with both elbows on the desk, rubbed his forehead. 'And yet it is true it is true. In the destructive element immerse.'... He spoke in a subdued tone, without looking at me, one hand on each side of his face. 'That was the way. To follow the dream, and again to follow the dream- and so- ewig- usque ad finem....' The whisper of his conviction seemed to open before me a vast and uncertain expanse, as of a crepuscular horizon on a plain at dawn- or was it, perchance, at the coming of the night? One had not the courage to decide; but it was a charming and deceptive light, throwing the impalpable poesy of its dimness over pitfalls- over graves. His life had begun in sacrifice, in enthusiasm for generous ideas; he had travelled very far, on various ways, on strange paths, and whatever he followed it had been without faltering, and therefore without shame and without regret. In so far he was right. That was the way, no doubt. Yet for all that the great plain on which men wander amongst graves and pitfalls remained very desolate under the impalpable poesy of its crepuscular light, overshadowed in the centre, circled with a bright edge as if surrounded by an abyss full of flames. When at last I broke the silence it was to express the opinion that no one could be more romantic than himself.

10.20.2011

Music Structure, Music Taste

I posit that there are deep structures that determine musical taste.  These structures are organized into three levels:

1) Sound spectrum.  Any given individual sound.
2) Phrase.  Within the song, there are phrases, or bars that are repeated, like a backbeat.
3) Song.  The most macro level of the song.

1) Sound spectrumSound spectrum can be represented by any given individual sound in the song.  Is the sound spectrum highly distorted or very "clean".  For example, this is the difference between a trumpet holding a clean crisp brassy tone and rock guitar holding a highly distorted, reverbed, fuzzy note.  This difference between distorted and clean sounds can be quantified by looking at the sound's spectrograph.

2) Phrase
Between the instantaneous sound spectrum and the song itself, the song has a series of subdivisions.  For instance, the break in this song repeats every two bars:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IoPeNC4k_0
Compare that to this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDDIrsVBfXI

The tune by J Dilla is no less funky than that by DJ Premier (one half of the group Gangstarr), but where Premier's beat is regularly repeating, Dilla's phrases are chopped up, repeating sometimes over as little as two beats.  Dilla's song is less regular, less easy to predict where it's going from measure to measure.  In the Premier beat, the repeated phrase has an "open" and "close" to it.  The Dilla beat, more unpredictable, seems continuously "open" and driving forward.

3) Song
This strata relates to the simplicity or complexity of the song structure.  For instance, listen to Elvis' "Hound Dog":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJsQSb9RFo0
Given the first couple of bars, you can almost sing the the entire song to yourself, even if you have only heard it once or twice.
Compare that with Charles Mingus' "Haitian Fight Song".  This song has a theme, but like all Mingus tunes, its arrangement is more complex, more intricate.  You might sing along, but it has not the predictability of the Elvis tune:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIf3a9FUJj4
"Blue Moon" would be another example of a "predictable" tune.  Anything from Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" era would be on the other end of the spectrum.

Genre
One can see the dichotomy I am drawing through each of these three strata: complexity vs. clarity; repetition of the same vs. repetition of the not-same; distortion vs. purity.  I argue that music genres are marked by certain traits generally conforming to the criteria outlined above.

As a shorthand, I will use "A" as the symbol for complexity/distortion, and "O" for simplicity/regularity.




Sound spectrum

Phrase

Song







Country

O

A

O
Indie Rock
A

A

O
Classic Rock
A

O

O
Metal

A

A

A
Reggae

A

O

O
Blues

A

O

A
Broadway
O

O

O

10.11.2011

My Prediction for the Economy

The recession that began in 2008 actually coincided with 7 fat years, relatively speaking.  Starting in 2014, real recession/depression with high market volatility and global surrealism will commence (7 lean years).  Investors who stay the course and go long with oil here will do well.

My Comment to Google

So I think there were avoidable missteps with Google+.

1. You can't post on someone's wall.
2. In the name of privacy, Google went too far and now sharing with circles, etc. is too complicated.  Google+ would be helpful if I had 4+ groups of people I share stuff with.  I don't, and neither do many others.  They just have 1 group, maybe 2.  So every time I post, I just put in a couple of people's names.  What is funny is that Facebook thinks it can one-up this by adding similar functionality without the complexity.  We'll see.

I think Google should have taken the same approach with Google+ that it did with Gmail.  Strip it down to its simplest, give it a web 2.0 interface, and generally leave it alone.  If you can't build the simplest social media site, you don't really understand what it does.

Google made its name by focusing on the nerdery: Search.  Start there; reduce the equation to start with the fewest possible steps to social electronic sharing.  Start over; reboot if you have to.

Modern Idyll

9.27.2011

On the Making of Shook Ones Pt. II

“I made that beat inside my mother’s house in Queensbridge. That house gave me a lot of inspiration because something could happen outside and I could go upstairs and make a beat. Like, I would have this feeling like, ‘Let me go upstairs and make a beat of how I'm feeling right now.’" -- Havoc

From: http://www.complex.com/music/2011/04/the-making-of-mobb-deep-the-infamous/shook-ones-ii#

9.26.2011

Wikiquote quote of the day:

Once one is caught up into the material world not one person in ten
thousand finds the time to form literary taste, to examine the validity
of philosophic concepts for himself, or to form what, for lack of a
better phrase, I might call the wise and tragic sense of life.
 --F. Scott Fitzgerald
<http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/F._Scott_Fitzgerald>

9.23.2011

I feel like maybe we're coming into a fertile period for fashion.  I haven't felt interested in anything in fashion since perhaps 2007.  Before, that, the last period of interest was around 2002.


9.22.2011

Futurism

The U.S. faces high unemployment and I feel as if Bernanke's "Twist" is in fact a negative inflection point in the fortunes of the U.S. economy and the global economy as a whole (cf. here).  Ideally, investment money would flow to growing industrial sectors, exports would increase, and employment would pick up, but with the U.S. economy largely service-oriented now, this proposition is pretty lame.  Much industry has already been exported overseas.

Questions:

To what degree will the rich retract and protect the base, effectively walling or gating themselves off from underclass America a la South Africa?

What can be done about unemployment and underemployment?  Do communities of self-sufficiency make sense as a homegrown solution?  Is Mondragon an example or should the communities not focus on factory-like production and economies of scale to succeed (and thereby buck the "rules" of surviving in the global marketplace (e.g. favoring techne (the craftman, mechanic) over episteme (the capitalist rules of the game))?

9.06.2011

How to Rein in Medicaid Costs

 "Fascinating concept, it’s not necessarily a pejorative term ! So, we have implemented a Panopticon without walls."

8.08.2011

Records are Melting

"I’m throwing the records and it’s like, alright, cool we’re going through it. But it’s so hot the heat is actually warping the records. The records is melting! So the records are warping right before me and it’s just like woooommp. And Big looking at me. We had this thing like, every time you make a mistake on stage during the show, you get fined $100. So during the show, Big heard the first womp, and he was like “A hundred dollars!” The record is crumbling up right before my eyes. Then it’s getting bad and Cease is like, “Two hundred dollars!” And then Big, he just stopped everything and was like, “Yo! What the fuck is going on?!” I’m looking and my records look like a piece of bacon back there. Big is tight! He had a water bottle, he threw the water bottle at me, and just walks off the stage." -- DJ Big Kap

7.28.2011

10) Wu-Tang Clan – “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta F’ Wit” (Loud, 1993)
Producer: RZA

Sample Source: Allen Toussaint Orchestra – “Theme From Underdog” (M.C.R. Productions, 1989)

Prince Paul: RZA using this is just crazy! I was around actually when they made 36 Chambers and as a result I know that there’s a little sound effect RZA triggers to cover up parts of the actual sample. He tried hiding a scratch on the record with little shakers or claps! [laughs] And you know what? It’s actually my record! RZA used it and never gave it back [laughs]. He was at the crib making ODB’s record and I came by and saw it and said ‘Yo this is mine!’ He just looked at me and smiled [laughs]. I grabbed it right back and left! [laughs]

6. Group Home – “Supa Star” (Payday, 1994) / “Supa Dupa Star (June 1994 Demo Version)” (Payday, 1995)
PRODUCER: DJ Premier

SAMPLE SOURCE: Cameo – “Hangin’ Downtown” (Atlanta Artists, 1984)

DJ Spinna: Premier is the undisputed champ of flips. He’ll take a record that nobody cares about, would never buy, and kill it. Not to say the Cameo album with this song is garbage because it’s got classic cuts on there. But his use of “Hangin’ Downtown” – the intro to that song – is not something that I think anyone would have thought to use, especially in the manner that he used it. It’s just genius, man. Premier has that inner era that’s just unstoppable and untouchable. Nobody can mess with him when it comes to chops and flips. He killed that. And with the alternate mix “Supa Dupa Star” – even more so. Very creative to think that he could revisit the sample and figure out another way to use it.

6. Gang Starr “Above the Clouds” (Noo Trybe, 1998)

Producer: DJ Premier

Sample Source: John Dankworth – “Two Piece Flower” (Fontana, 1967)

JAKE ONE: Premier probably inspired me with chopping more than anybody. I coulda listed so many of his. I remember when that beat came out I listened to the song over and over and over. And then when I found the record he sampled, I was just like, man, this record is so dumb – how did he even just listen to this and find this part and put it with these drums. I don’t know. He’s just the best ever at that – taking just some miniscule shit that’s not really great on its own and making it great.

from: http://www.egotripland.com/prince-pauls-10-favorite-sample-flips/

via LDG

6.30.2011

B C

Intellectuals, Rhyming Professionals

John Protevi
Michael Hardt
Frederic Jameson
Janell Watson
Ken Surin
Gregg Flaxman
Larry Grossberg
Alenka Zupancic
Hassan Melehy
Arkady Plotnitsky

6.21.2011

“Then came human beings, they wanted to cling but there was nothing to cling to.”

- Albert Camus

via revolvver

6.10.2011

Photo book concept: The Dogwoods of Watts-Hillandale

5.22.2011

Broken Toys

"You're perfect, and I don't mean that as a compliment. The only good machines are those that can be broken."

5.12.2011

"You're not a clinician, you're not an academic, and you're not a director of operations. You're an investment banker."

5.06.2011

the next level

but what will mark the essence of time? (nothing?)

what is impromptu professionalism?

when is beauty formalism?

is everything irrelevant but the will to power (nietzsche)?

5.05.2011

Is Comic Sans only a slightly worse font than Cooper?

Energy Inflation / Economic Chain Reaction

http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2011/04/jim_grant_talks.html
(Start at minute 15:00. via ACP)

gas went up 15% last 6 months.

energy is 10% of cpi.

cpi goes up 1.5%

this brings the inflation rate from 2.50% to ~4.00%.

the last time we saw 4% inflation was around 2006, when the Fed had raised rates to cool the housing market, but instead triggered a recession.

instead, this time, the inflation may come prior to the interest rate adjustment. nevertheless, the interest rate movement (to 4-6%) could trigger all the horrible things jim grant talked about above in the link.

see:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/31/Federal_Funds_Rate_1954_thru_2009_effective.svg

http://www.inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_rate/currentinflation.asp

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t01.htm

4.21.2011

Does the phrase "on point" derive from the person on the basketball team who takes the position point guard, directing the play, the little general (e.g. Sherman Douglas), etc.? As in, "I'm on point?"

4.19.2011

Sharing

so at one point i tried to build a site kind of like voyurl. i called it sendreader. looking at voyurl now (and not using it), i see how difficult it is for people to share stuff. we read the blogs we read because in most cases, they are highly specialized to our tastes. we follow the people we do on facebook because we appreciate their interests and perspectives. this is not a universal.

4.08.2011

3.28.2011

New Statistic

Persons Most Likely For Internet Search to End in a Rickroll.

(This assumes that the internet is actually a series of vortexes or black holes drawing people inevitably towards a rickroll. Whether the internet universe is actually expanding or contracting at any given point is actually dependent on our behavior vis-a-vis these rickroll sites.)

3.22.2011

Overcommitted --> Disorganized --> Scattered --> Stressed

3.16.2011

Churchill

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

3.10.2011

"in the earliest moments of dawn, i saw the learned men rise to become dancing, twirling, soft-spoken, curling propositions of _____ whipping around a guidepost of laughter, the hearty earth wrung out of them."

3.08.2011

that facebook login on external sites is starting to look like a brilliant move. one of the greatest obstacles to signing up new users for a site is initial authentication (i.e. create a user name, password). with facebook as the turnkey to all these new sites, users feel reasonably safe when backed up by the their fb user name and password. for instance, i was checking out this site, and then realized just to check it out, i wouldn't have to do any signup. that definitely makes a difference. same thing for yahoo, and other similar sites.

2.25.2011

Calling It

when countries build up trade surpluses, this often leads to (asset) inflation. financial institutions sell loans on the basis of inflated asset values, lowering their capital reserve ratios, stretching themselves more thinly, leaving them more vulnerable to interest rate increases.

so in china, here is the situation. they are building up massive reserves. though china is a huge land mass with a huge population, this situation will eventually lead to asset inflation. the banks are becoming more deregulated as we speak.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_property_bubble

The idea would be to keep an eye on this bubble. at the point that the government indicates that it feels inflation is happening and raises interest rates, this would set off the chain of events that would prick the bubble, and leave the chinese gov't unable to buy US debt at the same rate. at which point the US would have to tighten its belt for lack of any other option.

2.11.2011

T.M.

White Bean, Tomato, and Acorn Squash Soup
via yoyo

2.04.2011

Not Hating

Is it just me, or is Morrissey the British equivalent of R Kelly telling banal stories with background accompaniment and no intention of rhyming? Something about both of them reminds me of country or folk roots.

e.g. "I was looking for a job, and then I found a job."

How Corporations Conform Employees to Their Will

The "Small Things"

As annoying as it was to work at _____, it taught me a lot about human psychology. at ____, during a given day, you have about 40 unique banal tasks that need to be accomplished, whether it be straightening rows of books or stickering DVDs. no human would be able to repetitively execute all these tasks without oversight day in day out. oversight came in the form of repetitive instructions -- in a neutral, non-judgemental way, i would be told repeatedly where the sticker goes on the letterbox, which books should be "faced out" on the shelf. pedantic though it may have been, this kind of repetition builds conformity to the mean..........whether this kind of doctrinaire organizational behavior is a good thing is another question, but there is no doubt that it was effective.

1.27.2011

The gothic fly belongs to no single era. It hovers above the razor’s edge of aetiological and the eschatological; of death and resurrection; of the something and the nothing. Always already within the orbit of the symbolic, yet never within its snare, the common housefly—like the historiographical catachresis that is ‘the gothic’ itself—sets into motion and makes a mockery of epochal thought and artistic figuration." -- Shayne Legassie

1.26.2011

The Logic of Sensi

"Nonsense has ceased to give sense to the surface; it absorbs and engulfs all sense...Artaud says that Being, which is nonsense, has teeth." - Deleuze, LOS

1.25.2011

The Noble Lie of the Schizo

Deleuze writes extensively on schizophrenics. His schizophrenic is related to, but different from a clinical schizophrenic. "Schizos", as he calls them, engage in a scrambling of the codes of language, of meaning, of sense. Schizos, best exemplified perhaps by the later writings of Antonin Artaud, cannot be pinned down by any law, by any process of deduction. They are constantly slipping into another dimension by means of evasion, dissimulation, nonsense, violence. Why do they do this? What are they protecting? My best guess is the noble lie. There is a construct that justifies their erratic, harmful, nonsensical behavior to themselves. It is not thought of as a lie, but it is a lie, just as every social law is a social construction born of circumstance then solidified through reification.

One other interesting thing is that social organizations, such as a jail, a school, or a company can demonstrate schizophrenic behavior and hide noble lies just as well as an individual can. Schizo organizations can evade, dissimulate, provoke violence, and produce nonsense explanations.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_fantastic_four_no_more#
(best with sound muted)


The Reinvention of Cinematic Time in Abstract Film: Hans Richter’s *Rhythmus 21*
Inga Pollmann, The University of Chicago
UL Library: Room 205
4pm, Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This talk focuses on the role of early abstract film in mediating between cinema, on the one hand, and vitalist concepts of life, on the other, and proposes that Hans Richter’s scroll paintings and abstract films from the 1920s constituted a vitalist “reinvention” of the cinema. Informed by Henri Bergson’s concept of intuition and by vitalist theories of rhythm, Richter’s Rhythmus 21 aimed to engender a “living mechanics” that would merge the temporality of the spectator with the temporality of the medium of film (and in this way challenge Wilhelm Worringer’s earlier distinction between “abstraction” and “empathy”). Linking Rhythmus 21 with vitalist thought expands our understanding of the ways in which early film and early film theory understood the relationship between cinematic indexicality and the “vitality” of moving pictures, and emphasizes the commonalities between Richter’s conceptualization of the cinema and contemporary phenomenological film theory.

I love this sport

1.24.2011

I think it's interesting that both Black Swan and Tron (2010) emphasize the quest for technical perfection and how perfection is only achieved by "letting one's self go". This theme comes up in many films, but something struck me about its repetition this holiday movie season. It was counterbalanced for me by True Grit, which has ostensibly nothing to do with perfection, yet the Coens seemed to let themselves go with some uncharacteristic emotion as Jeff Bridges rides a horse with snake-bitten Mattie through the night (e.g. long dissolves, CGI stars, exhausted horse dying, heavy soundtrack).

1.18.2011

chey: a little part of me dies with every email i end now with an exclamation mark.

yoyo: hahaha! welcome to the working world!