Friday, May 15, 2009

Why bother to learn to read when you can smell meat a mile away?


Michail Bulgakov. The heart of a dog

Why Obama Is in Denial
Just as Bush outsourced his own sadism to Guantanamo, most of us outsourced our sadism to him by passively accepting what he did. It’s a truth we all want to avoid having to recognize—what drove his orders was a sense of pleasure derived from inflicting pain on others, And, like it or not, this tendency to derive pleasure from cruelty is a trait that, at some level, we all share...

after twenty incredible mixes of blues, rockabilly, doo-wop &c. it looks like the Joan Selects series, one of the glories of the internet, has reached a close...

We tortured to justify war
...even when the interrogators of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the Libyan al-Qaida operative, reported that he had become “compliant” -- in other words, cooperative after sufficient abuse -- the vice-president’s office ordered further torture of the Libyan by his hosts at an Egyptian prison because he had not yet implicated Saddam with al-Qaida. So his interrogators put al-Libi into a tiny coffin until he said what Cheney wanted to hear. Nobody in the U.S. intelligence community actually believed this nonsense. But now, al-Libi has reportedly and very conveniently "committed suicide" in a prison cell in Libya, where he was dispatched to the tender mercies of the Bush administration's newfound friends in the Qaddafi regime several years ago. So the deceased man won't be able to discuss what actually happened to him and why...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

wisdom for us all in this Dogme 09 (for djs)

1. no selection which has been used by another dj *that you know of* in live or studio mixing.

2. no selection which you *think* the majority of the audience knows well in live or studio mixing.

3. no dj tools except as transition between non-tool tracks, (hallo techno djs).

4. avoid arbitrary fucking with the EQ, track volumes, cross fader, etc., for pure effect if it doesn't enhance the material. (same goes for chaos pads, etc.)

5. use repetition and monotony as means toward ends, and not out of default laziness.

6. when possible, make best use of the innate human tendency to recognize/imagine patterns, instead of beating people's heads with a giant kick drum ALL of the time.

7. if Electro-Rock Stadium-Techno Big-Room-Nu-Rave Anthems are an integral part of your project, fine, but do not play it all night. in fact,

8. do not play ANY ONE THING all night. selection should not be restricted to genre definitions, but guided by what feels right, and what works the best together to build the feeling you want to create in the over-all composition.

9. all mashups must sound BETTER than, or at least become more meaningful than the original songs.

10. no unnecessary flashy edits when making remixes if the original material does not require or is enhanced by it.

11. no excessive use of arpeggios as lazy way to create excitement-by-numbers.

12. there must be a chunk of at least 9 seconds of silence somewhere in the middle of a live experience.

13. in production, tracks must sound good at fairly low levels of sound engineering, and all subsequent microedits and polish must only improve on what is already there...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Fifth International

There's a phrase from the afterword to the second edition of Capital that appeared in paper after paper about not writing recipes for "the cook-shops of the future." By this Marx meant that the purpose of social theory is not to sketch blueprints for what shape a possible revolution would or should take, but to elucidate the present situation and analyze the contradictions that inhibit or promote change.

The point is well taken, but on the other hand it is difficult to imagine selling anyone on political practices without a vividly rendered advertisement of the world that the practices might bring into existence. Otherwise the intellectual is either useless or some sort of vanguard, tracing out revolutionary possibilities without a thought for the constituencies that could make these possibilities real. To dream of a political transformation that takes place without the prior endorsement of the people whose lives will be transformed, a revolution made in books that almost no one except the academic elite will or even could read, is to fall into a trap that should be utterly avoidable, the one thing we know from the start that we do not want to repeat...

SpongeBob's Golden Dream
Bikini Bottom is also an effortlessly postmodern place, a baby-blue void in which all manner of cultural bric-a-brac drifts and combines. Neptune might pop by, or the Flying Dutchman, or even David Hasselhoff: the climactic scene in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie features SpongeBob and Patrick clinging, amid live-action waves, to the Baywatch star’s hairy legs. It even has its own pair of Watchmen-style deconstructed superheroes: Mermaid Man, shuffling in peevish slippers toward senility, and his long-suffering sidekick, Barnacle Boy. In Atlantis SquarePantis, SpongeBob and the gang are magically transported to the lost undersea city of Atlantis, whose Lord Royal Highness, red-lipped and stack-heeled like a Blue Meanie, has the same initials as L. Ron Hubbard (“My friends call me LRH!”). Various masterpieces hang in the great Atlantean halls, and Squidward is thrilled to discover that he can enter them bodily; he climbs into Van Gogh’s crooked bed, and drapes his proboscis alongside the fondant clocks in DalĂ­’s Persistence of Memory. “Ask your Mama or your Dada,” he sings, perched inside Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal, “to tell you about the schism between Minimalism and Cubism...”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Terry Eagleton: The liberal supremacists
If the test of liberalism is how it confronts its illiberal adversaries, some of the liberal intelligentsia seem to have fallen at the first hurdle. Writers such as Martin Amis and Hitchens do not just want to lock terrorists away. They also tout a brand of western cultural supremacism. Dawkins strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq, but preaches a self-satisfied, old-fashioned Whiggish rationalism that can be wielded against a benighted Islam. The philosopher AC Grayling has an equally starry-eyed view of the stately march of Western Progress. The novelist Ian McEwan is a freshly recruited champion of this militant rationalism. Both Hitchens and Salman Rushdie have defended Amis's slurs on Muslims. Whether they like it or not, Dawkins and his ilk have become weapons in the war on terror. Western supremacism has gravitated from the Bible to atheism...

drowning in Stupid Conspiracy Theories
While Da Vinci starred Opus Dei, a Catholic organization whose secret, unstated mission is to suppress the knowledge that Jesus had kids with Mary Magdalene, Angels and Demons takes on the Illuminati, a secular secret society that supposedly exists to impose Enlightenment on the world against its will. As far as Brown and his readers are concerned, it doesn't matter what purpose any given secret society serves — religion or atheism, the church or its opposite — just so long as there's a conspiracy. The hunger that Brown's books feed is not a hatred of one group or another but the fantasy that someone, whoever it may be, is running the show from behind the scenes. The rumor circulating about his next book, putatively titled The Solomon Key, is that it's about the Freemasons. Maybe Mel Gibson will get lucky and Brown will then move on to the Jews.

Brown's most bankable decision — and one mimicked by a string of best-selling imitators like Raymond Khoury and Steve Berry — was to avoid the mistake of overcomplication, making paranoid delusions of hidden power, which are usually esoteric and elaborate, simple enough that anyone with a grade-six education could understand them. The old adage that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people needs a caveat: Wide audiences can desire more difficulty, more confusion, more stripping away of the expected and apparent, but only for a while. The appeal of a show like
Lost, at least at the beginning, was the feeling that nothing is ever what it seems. What is this island? Who are "the Others"? Why is Michael shooting Ana Lucia and Libby and then himself in the arm? The sensation of assumptions collapsing drove the show. Now Lost has collapsed under its own endless collapsing, its record-low ratings a symptom of intellectual exhaustion...

don't forget to vote, BCers!

A Stalled Counterrevolution
Today, however, orthodoxy has come to mean doing whatever it takes to revive the Wall Street casino. The plan recently announced by Treasury Secretary Geithner and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is intended not to drive the money changers from the temple but to lend them public funds so that they can double down on their bets. The Fed’s own balance sheet will quadruple. The one common thread that links the failed central bankers of Ahamed’s tale with the folly of Geithner and Bernanke is that all were working hand in glove with private financial elites.

The economic ideology of laissez-faire has been shattered, but the political power of Wall Street is oddly intact...

Black and White and Dead All Over
Meanwhile, David Simon’s peewings are hurt. He told the Senate committee: “I am offended to think that anyone, anywhere believes that American institutions as insulated, self-preserving, and self-justifying as police departments, school systems, legislatures, and chief executives can be held to [account] by amateurs, pursuing the task without compensation, training, or for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care to whom it is they are lying or from whom they are withholding information."

Offended, he is. Offended! And I am laughing out loud that defenders of “American institutions as insulated, self-preserving, and self-justifying” as daily newspapers think they’re anything special or at all different from the institutions that Simon describes. As a beat reporter who has covered hundreds of those city council and school board meetings, legislative sessions, court cases, etcetera, I’ve read just as many stories in the next day’s daily by those with such overrated “compensation, training (and)… sufficient standing to make public officials even care,” and have wondered, again and again, what meeting or hearing (or planet!) those “professionals” had attended because their write-ups didn’t at all reflect the realities that I witnessed and heard at each event.

Simon’s focus on government institutions betrays the real problem with his mindset in an age when the private sector has superceded the powers of the State in so many areas of daily life: Newspapers are corporations and naturally allied with all other profit-motive ventures. They may sometimes report a good story about malfeasance in the private sector, but they will never touch, not even with the petal of a rose, the systemic causes of matters like the current economic crisis because they’re invested in the same mechanisms: stock marketeering, mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, outsourcing, union-busting and unregulated market rules that encourage playing fast-and-loose with the truth...

Monday, May 11, 2009

fans of surf arcana will wonder how they ever learned to live without Rautalanka
...a Finnish style of instrumental music played by a quartet (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drum kit). Rautalanka music can also include other instruments and vocals. The word rautalanka literally means "iron wire" and refers to the strings of the electric guitar. The heyday of rautalanka was in the early 1960s, but it has enthusiasts even today. Typical features of rautalanka are sharp and clear melodies, fast tempos and extensive use of tape echo, but little or no overdrive or fuzz. What distinguishes rautalanka most clearly from other twangy guitar genres is that the melodies tend to be in minor keys and melancholic, based on slavic folk tunes and schlager songs...

Local trees & c.

new & old translations of Lucretius
So, when our mortal frame shall be disjoin’d,
The lifeless lump uncoupled from the mind,
From sense of grief and pain we shall be free;
We shall not feel, because we shall not be.
The rest of John Dryden's translation in here
Lucretius and Epicureanism

Are we drinking enough vintage port?
“Declaring a vintage port is a difficult decision,” he said. “Only about three times a decade do we decide to stake our reputation on a single year.” Perhaps, as Symington himself suggested, it seemed a bit discordant to be introducing a traditional luxury product like vintage port at the Four Seasons on a springtime Monday afternoon, in the midst of a global economic collapse? “Well,” he said, “we’ve made the wine already. To hell with the crisis!