Archive for September, 2012

“Cringe like you’re cursed”

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve spent most of the past week tied up in work obligations and social events. Good times, to be sure, but they didn’t permit much time for other concerns.

I’ve been kind of digging the new Amanda Palmer album lately. It took a little while to grow on me. Some elements of it are significantly different from her earlier work, but Palmer’s dark pop genius is definitely there to be found if you listen to it. I’m planning to do a review of the album, so I’ll elaborate then. For the time being, enjoy this beautifully done (and beautifully NSFW) stop-motion music video for “Want It Back”:

“She still remembers but won’t tell”

Little Boots, “Meddle”. It’s amazing what one talented musician can do these days. Tenorion + stylophone + piano + vocals + hand claps = dark and groovy pop magic.

It is a fact that nine-tenths of the HUMAN RACE never have and never will think for themselves, about anything. Whether it’s music or Reaganomics, say, almost everybody prefers to sit and wait till somebody who seems to have some kind of authority even if it’s seldom too clear just where they got it to come along and inform them one and all what their position on the matter should be. Then they all agree that this is gospel, and gang up to persecute whatever minority might happen to disagree. This is the history of the human race, certainly the history of music. – Lester Bangs

Daniel Hannan on Germany in a Unified Europe

Hear, hear!

Another from the brilliant Daniel Hannan on the legacy of pluralism in Europe and how the EU betrays exactly the decentralized competition that made Europe great in the first place.

Daniel Hannan is one of the greatest living rhetoricians and he’s in top form here. He’s also one of the most sensible and effective opponents for national independence in Europe.

Kids These Days, 1901 Edition

Scene: The author, William A. Dutt, is resting at the edge of a wheat field in rural Norfolk. He’s been speaking to the son of one of the farmhands, when the farmhand comes over to say hello. Emphasis and peculiar spellings in the original.

“He has been at work, he tells me, since half past five this morning; but was abroad an hour earlier, for his home is three miles away, and he has to walk to and from the meadow every day. Such a walk, however, is ‘nowt to speak on’: as a lad he worked on a farm five miles from his father’s cottage, and except when lucky enough to get a ‘lift’ in a waggon or tumbril had to make the daily journey backwards and forwards on foot. … Boys nowadays, he goes on, with an impressive glance at his own offspring, …, don’t know what work is; if they have to get up before daylight they think they are ‘hard put upon.’ They are taught at the schools all sorts of things that he never learnt, but not how to work as their fathers did when they where lads. All the ‘young ‘uns thowt on now’ was to get away from the land and into the towns. I suggest that a better remuneration for labour in the towns has something to do with this; but he only shakes his head and says that living costs a ‘sight’ more in towns than in the country. He is not, however, against ‘a chap’s goin’ to sea, for there his livin’ costs him nowt.” W. A. Dutt, Highways and Byways in East Anglia, 1901

“‘Cause it’s loud with the ShopVac® on…”

JoCo channeling Raymond Carver as seen through the eyes of David Foster Wallace? Yes, please!

“I lost my sight, but not the vision”

Lester Bangs would have a think or two to say, I’m sure.

I would buy the shit out of one of these

This is the Hiriko, a foldable, electric, solar-assisted car for urban environments, developed by a team at MIT in cooperation with a consortium of partners. Here’s a good article on the vehicle and here’s the site’s official page. This seems like it’s be just the think for getting around in dense cities. Limited range and speed, but certainly sufficient for zipping around urban cores.

“I sincerely miss those heavy metal bands”

Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche (aka Loose Fur) play Wilco’s Heavy Metal Drummer:

This is apparently taken from the Jeff Tweedy live album Sunken Treasure. I’m thinking it’s about time I grabbed a copy.

Things Are Better Than You Think: Matt Ridley on the False Apocalypse

Matt Ridley, writing in Wired, highlights something that I’ve often marveled at:

This is the question posed by the website 2012apocalypse.net. “super volcanos? pestilence and disease? asteroids? comets? antichrist? global warming? nuclear war?” the site’s authors are impressively open-minded about the cause of the catastrophe that is coming at 11:11 pm on december 21 this year. but they have no doubt it will happen. after all, not only does the Mayan Long Count calendar end that day, but “the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years.”

When the sun rises on December 22, as it surely will, do not expect apologies or even a rethink. No matter how often apocalyptic predictions fail to come true, another one soon arrives. And the prophets of apocalypse always draw a following—from the 100,000 Millerites who took to the hills in 1843, awaiting the end of the world, to the thousands who believed in Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster who forecast the final rapture in both 1994 and 2011.

No matter how often doomsday predictions (both religious and secular) fail to come true, the pessimists and fraudsters never apologize or reconsider their premises. They simply change the timeline, the form the of the destroyer, or both, and forge on ahead as before.

Even on a small scale, the pre-logical pessimism that many people in our society embrace seems almost impossible to shake. We are living a decade after Y2k, forty years after the explosion of the population bomb, seventy years into the age of nuclear weapons. And yet none of our survival, success, or downright prosperity can convince people that things are probably going to be okay.

Life is good and getting better, both domestically and globally. And yes there are social and international challenges to be had and crises to be handled, but that’s the nature of life. None of them are beyond our abilities to solve and mankind has proven to be pretty good and handling such crises in the past.

Admittedly we often solve in round about, ad hoc ways, but that’s because human societies, like human beings themselves, are messy things that will never plan ahead half as well as they improvise in a panic.

So buck up. The world’s not going to end any time soon. Life is getting better, our air and water in the Western world are cleaner than they were forty years ago. The world (despite recent events) is tending to get more peaceful thanks in large part to globalization, global poverty is falling and we’re leading longer, healthier lives.

No matter what the doomsayers might tell you today, tomorrow, or on December 22, 2012.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.