Thursday, January 28, 2010

It Might Get Loud. Kashmir.

Here's Jimmy Page teaching Jack White and The Edge how to play Kashmir, one of the outtakes on the DVD of It Might Get Loud.

I'm interested in how he mentions the tuning "DADGAD" for the first time and a minute later, everyone is magically in DADGAD tuning. But apart from that, it's a fine piece.

Jimmy does his bit, and the others follow.

Jack White has intense concentration on his face and Edge is definitely paying attention. Jimmy, meanwhile, is rocking his hips as he plays, the characteristic Jimmy Page movement since 1968. He's not thrusting his hips to wow the chicks. That movement is how he plays guitar. These scenes are great. I love this movie.

Little Women, and their little brains.

"Many women are saying the name evokes awkward associations with feminine hygiene products." “A lot of women when they hear the word ‘pad’ are going to think about feminine hygiene.”

"Girls always have so many questions, you know, about the way the guys interact with each other. They want to learn so they can manipulate, so they can use it to their advantage. Well, we're not going to give away all of our secrets just 'cause we're stuck on a bus together. Sorry, that's guy code and road code – combined." – Jack White.

"You see, as a man and a husband myself, I believe there are certain secrets to which the Opposition – ie, women/wives – should never be privy." – An asshat.

Being a woman, I'm constantly being reminded as how I am a variant from a normal human, not part of the regular distribution of humanity. Men are people; women are some oddly similar species that cannot fit in a binomial distribution with real people.

Sometimes it's Jack White explaining why he can't talk to Alison Mosshart, because that would tell chicks (subhuman) how men – real people – relate to each other. Sometimes it's this asshat telling us that he's letting us in on a secret – men want to sleep with women – that he can't discuss without losing his membership of the Man Clique.

Today it's 'the interwebs' – in this case the New York Times telling us that Apple's iPad is badly named because women associate the name with menstruation.

Sure, menstruation dominates my being. I don't actually have any thoughts in my head that are not concerned with what men think of my body and what my body's doing. The concept of abstract thought not based on monthly cycles (and what the men are doing to my body at each stage of the cycle) is completely alien to me.

Wait, no, actually that's not the case. I've used notepads and Steno Pads for as long as I've used menstrual pads and somehow, by sheer force of intellect, I've managed to keep them separate in my mind. I do understand that men like to shag women (mostly). And I'm clear that women's desire to manipulate men is not qualitatively different from men's desires to manipulate other men.

Generally I associate the 'girls have cooties' faction with Americans, who are deeply stupid when it comes to gender politics and could do with some forcible consciousness-raising. I'm disappointed to see someone from the UK Times of London coming out with a 1967-rated piece on how we (people) have to keep our fantasies from the little women (not people) because they just wouldn't understand. But I guess there are throwbacks in every era.

And I really don't appreciate being told I can't understand the term iPad because teh girls' brains is too small.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Aquarium Drunkard

The second Aquarium Drunkard download didn't have as many gems as the first, IMHO.

Back to the Sea by the Sandwitches had a Beach Blanket Bingo meets early T. Rex vibe which I adored and will keep on permanent rotation. The Bicycles rocked on B-B-Bicycles, and Jail La La by the Dum Dum Girls hit all the right spots.

Nobody sucked, which is a triumph in itself.

Keep the free music coming, folks. When I was young, bountiful free music used to come out of small plastic boxes, about 2" by 3", that we kept on our bedside tables. They were called "trannies" or 'transistors" and were much prized by their owners. Based on what we heard, we'd go out and buy records. Not sure how we changed to the complicated modern music distribution model, but I'm more than happy that there's still some way new music can leak out of its stronghold and get heard. I'm happy to buy albums. I'm happy to buy singles. But I do like to hear it first, and Aquarium Drunkard is to be congratulated for getting it out there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

California Dreamin'

The other day I dreamed about Jack White. We weren't doing what I'd thought we'd be doing if I dreamed about Jack White. In the dream, we were at a beautiful modern house, but a huge one - a sort of Fallingwater-as-a-condo - with his cronies (whom I didn't recognize).

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Someone asked me something about becoming an American, and I said, "I've learned so much about California from songs."

Dream Jack White said, "Who gave you permission to learn history from music?"

I said, "Learning is enhanced when you utilize multiple modalities. A song is as legitimate as a text.'

Dream Jack White retorted, "It's totally illegitimate!" And walked out.

I'm still trying to work out why anyone might feel that way. I've forgotten what I had in mind in the dream - something obscure and pointless, I'm sure - but the Beach Boys, the Eagles and Frank Zappa were my foundation in understanding California and even after more than twenty years here, I still find myself going back to their frames of references to understand what I'm seeing.

A day later, Aquarium Drunkard offered a download of their Companion Mix 1 and I was delighted to learn the first part of it seemed to be from bands whose esthetic hailed from Manchester but whose aspirations were to enjoy the California surf. (I come from Leeds, not Manchester, but despite our 500 years or so at war with each other, as far as the rest of the world cares, we're indistinguishable, so I count this as a close enough match.) The similarity to my dream is quite uncanny.

I liked many of the tunes. A bunch struck me, old person that I am, as Joy Division taking on the surf scene. (e.g. Daydream by the Beach Fossils.) Or Annette Funicello singing with the Jesus and Mary Chain. I loved the sampler.. at least until the later stages when it seemed to veer into the mild, hopeless and shapeless folk music that American bands seem to hit upon as default, as though tuneless folk was the sticky-backed plastic drawer-lining in the brain of the average teen American.

Love Catholic Pagans' Surfer Blood, a Weezer-style work out that begins, "Never could/be still for long/and I could never hold a job/coupled with a weakness for cocaine/and liquor..."

How can you not love that?

Honorable mention to Fake Blues, by Real Estate, the answer to the question, "What would the Blues sound like to someone who only knows how to play Chopsticks on piano?" The answer is a chart hit.

More than honorable mention to the Condo Fucks, who take on one of my fave tracks, The Beach Boys' 'Shut Down'. Execution gets three out of ten (seems to be a real garage band in a real garage) but 10/10 in attitude and 13/10 in in-your-faceness.

There's a second sampler here, but I haven't listened to it yet.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Good Day, Sunstein!

President Obama's appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, current "Information Czar" and likely nominee for the Supreme Court Cass Sunstein, has just published a paper on conspiracy theories.

It's fascinating stuff. Sunstein believes that the Government Has To Do Something About Them, and his recommendations include infiltrating groups, both online and offline, to dispel their theories. The action the government should take includes "planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing cognitive diversity". (p.15)

In English, this would seem to mean "planting doubts about facts to confuse people".

Wait a minnit! If I'd come out last week and said the government was planning to plant doubts about facts to confuse people, you'd have called me a Conspiracy Theorist!

And apart from planting doubts about facts, Sunstein also discusses imposing a tax on "those who disseminate such theories", hiring "credible private parties to engage in counterspeech" and ultimately, "under imaginable conditions" the "government might ban conspiracy theorizing". (p. 14)

His cited conspiracy theories are a grab bag. He thinks the belief that aliens crash landed at Roswell has caused no harm, "with the exception of bad television shows". Hey, everyone's a critic! You try writing a TV show, Cass! Betcha can't! However, there is apparently a conspiracy theory that exposure to sunlight is good for you, which is "false and dangerous". No it isn't. Many perfectly sane and expert scientists think sunlight is good for you... but then again they are human beings. It's highly likely Cass Sunstein is Undead, which means he would explode if sunlight fell on him. Or he's one of those lizards from Zeta Reticuli - I understand the New World Order is run by them. And the Illuminati.

Regarding the Oklahoma City bombing, he says the "perpetrators shared a complex of conspiratorial beliefs about federal government", and "[m]any who shared their beliefs did not act on them, but a few actors did, with terrifying consequences", and because explosives are cheap and easily delivered, he seems to think that people should not be allowed to have... er...beliefs. This includes of course, the 'many' who are harmless.

I'm not sure what 'beliefs' he's planning to cognitively diversify, but if it's the belief that the government's a tyrant and has to go, then he's up against the fact that America is founded on overthrowing tyrants. That belief is the Origin Myth of the United States. Good luck arresting Thomas Jefferson.

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

More here on this conspiracy theory site...oops, have I outed them? Hope not.

I wonder how he thinks the goverment will stop people having 'dangerous' beliefs? Even if they dosed the water supply with a Rationality Drug, rational people disagree, sometimes violently. So, the only way to prevent violence would be to have everyone agreeing on everything. And that would mean banning dissent entirely. Which is what this is all about, of course. 'Cognitive diversity' has no possible positive meaning in the context of the paper.


Americanization of Mental Illness

Very interesting article on mental illness here in the NY Times.

Different times and different cultures have different mental illnesses. Having the vapours was confined to Victorian women, and the fear that the penis is retracting into the body is confined to south-east Asian men. But we - and by 'we' I mean westerners - are convinced that our scientific classification of mental illness into the things that get into the DSM is the 'real' classification of illness and anything that went before is just superstition. It's not - the DSM is as culture bound and time bound as anyone else's explanation - but we're exporting it. According to the article, the idea of 'anorexia' being a disorder of women with body dysmorphia was unknown to the Chinese, but took hold in Hong Kong in a matter of months after a notable death. I assume Googling 'anorexia' led to the new belief. Within a few years, the common understanding of anorexia in China matched the general understanding in the west.

As well as this fascinating angle, the article goes on to discuss how the perception of mental illness changes depending on the understanding of the cause. Decimating the article for reasons of space, one could write that an understood cause of demonic possession leads the community to sympathize with the sufferer, who should therefore be supported through the travail, while a diagnosis of chemical imbalance (the western model) leads to fear of the suffering individual, who is regarded as irrational and 'mad'. In the west, where individuality is prized, this also leads to the friends and relatives of the sufferer expressing negative opinions of the sufferer's ability to maintain their own individuality. Similar negative opinions are apparently exported with the western diagnoses.

I found it fascinating, and not just because of:

"The problem becomes especially worrisome in a time of globalization, when symptom repertoires can cross borders with ease. Having been trained in England and the United States, Lee knows better than most the locomotive force behind Western ideas about mental health and illness."



Sometimes you can't tell whether a journalist does this wordplay unconsciously or because they are clever wordsmiths. But it's a great pun either way.

And the article is much more serious than I am, and worth a read.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jack White fanfiction?

Maybe, like most people, I should move from blog to twitter. I just have a few er....updates.

I went to an all day seminar at work and I took just two notes in 8.5 hours:

1. He said, ""38 microliters", and I said, "That speaks volumes."
2. Why does no one use the word "automaton" any more?

Second, for the people searching "Jack White" and "fanfic" or "fanfiction" - there's none here. But there's lots at Live Journal. Just go there and use the search function. I'm not going to link to it here, because it seems like a betrayal of trust of the Live Journal community. Join LJ (not that LJ, the other LJ) and you'll find what you need. If trying to follow this cryptic post results in trichotillomania, leave a comment and I'll help.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti deserved it, because they didn't want to be enslaved

Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, Napoleon III or whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said we will serve you if you get us free from the French. True story. So the devil said okay it's a deal, so the Hatians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since then they have been cursed by one thing after another. Desperately poor, the island of Hispanola is one side, on the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts et cetera, Haiti is in desperate poverty. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, and out of this tragedy I'm optimistic something good may come, but right now we're helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.

Oh, do fuck off.

Pat Robertson says that Haiti's suffering is because they made a pact with the Devil.

How is this idiot still on the air?

It was Napoleon Bonaparte,not "Napoleon III or whatever". The guy with the army. If you don't even know, why start out on it? And does deciding not to be slaves really equal a pact with the devil? Because, if so, I'm gonna go with Satan here.

The idea that Haiti is in a pact with the devil has been around a while. Here's an account which describes Haitians coming together to perform a voodoo ceremony.
On the night of August 14, 1791, the slaves sealed that unity in a ceremony held in the woods at Bois Caiman, not too far from Cap-Haitien. A pig was slaughtered, and all of those present drank of the blood of that pig and together pledged 200 years of service to the spirits of the island in exchange for victory over the French. An iron statue of a pig sits in Port-au-Prince to commemorate that event.
But the website goes on to reveal their real transgression.
On the night of Aug. 22, they began a war by setting the entire Northern Plain on fire, and hunting down and taking vengeance on the plantation owners. Years of battles followed—against France, Spain, and even England—but in the end they got their victory, proclaiming independence on Jan. 1, 1804.
Battles against colonial powers? Horrors! And as for their religion, they are still at it, apparently, under the mistaken impression that different religions employ the same protections.

If you want to be more help than that asshat, my preferred charity is Oxfam.


Although my 3D-savvy friend liked it a lot, this is all the comment on Avatar you'll be getting from me. Unless I actually see it, that is.
Failblog's response here
Warning: Funny

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Weather Report: Iced up Britain

It's cold. This is where I used to live, Great Britain.

Picture from NASA, January 7th

Apparently the Gulf Stream shifted direction, which could be an apocalypse for Britain if it doesn't change back. I've never seen England so snow covered - though I suppose it was as cold in the mid-sixties, when I remember making snowmen in the yard in northern England. Generally speaking, Britain is warm. I know Brits complain about the weather, but that's because it rains, not because the entire country is covered in ice.


It's cold here in the US too. Iguanas are dropping out of the trees in Florida. Iguanas are an invasive species in Florida, so it's not surprising it occasionally gets too cold for them. They didn't evolve here. But that iguana - a fine and healthy-looking adult male in breeding condition - really is comatose, or the handler would be like, short three fingers.

Frost in Florida means bad things for the country's orange crop. Apparently the US has had a record Soy Bean and Corn year - the two crops no sane person would want to eat - but now it is orange season and it looks like Florida's crop is doomed from frost.

My own orange tree is full, which is not a lot of use as there is always a glut at this time. The wild orange trees in the town are also fully-laden. There are so many oranges around here (I live in Orange County, CA) that people don't pick up the windfalls. They aren't food, just nuisance-tree trash. My lemon tree's more use to me, even though I don't eat nearly as many lemons as oranges.

Friday, January 08, 2010

I believe in BP Fallon

I only heard of BP Fallon's single because I keep up with Jack White news (he plays guitar and produces the single), but when I actually heard it, I was hooked. He tells us what he believes in.

BP Fallon is a legend to me, mostly because he was the publicist for both T. Rex and Led Zeppelin, who are my two favoritest bands by about a jillion miles. Beep's cool, and I've always wondered what he thought, though I don't think I ever imagined I'd get to know what he thought backed up by Jack White on understated slide guitar.

It turns out he believes in a lot of things, from Muddy Waters to Charlie Chaplin, which I get, although being of the other culture on the arts/sciences two cultures debate I feel weird about because it's not difficult to believe in things that are real, though I think I know what he means.

He also believes in Dr. Winston.

First person to write in with a cogent explanation of who or what Dr. Winston is or was gets bragging rights in the comments section, and I might have something interesting to send along to you as well, from my bric a brac box.

I'll be getting a copy of this single as it's included on my The Vault goodies for this quarter. And now I'm actually looking forward to it. Really, I think this is the breakout Vault platinum offer even though the usual suspects are a bit miffed (because they've already bought all of 2009's Third Man Records singles and a compilation is a disappointment to them).

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Imminent Death of Reading Predicted

Oh, wait, no it isn't.

From IEEE Spectrum:
What the GIIC researchers found (or better estimated), was that in 2008 the average American consumed 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes of information for 11.8 hours on an average day. In 1980, Americans averaged 7.4 hours consuming information.
It's a bit more complicated than that, but evidently reading is not quite as dead as people seem to worry.

Here is Clive Thomson writing in Wired:
The first thing she [Andrea Lunsford, professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford]found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That's because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.

It's almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.
And no, they aren't writing text-speak in their academic papers.

Although I haven't managed to read a whole book in a couple of years - my attention span has completely disintegrated when it comes to non-hyperlinked text - I read probably five hours a day now, for fun, and most of my time at work is spend reading and writing. This will probably continue until someone finds a way to tag and search video. The fact that so much of the internet is locked up in gobbets of unsearchable flvs and mp4s rather depresses me.

Even when I can get to the exact video I need, and the right part in it without viewing the rest, I couldn't switch over to it completely. Right now, if a writer says something like, "Watch this YouTube video to see what Sarah Palin/Stephen Colbert/Kanye West said!" I'll scroll right past it. Just tell me what they said, furrfu. I'm not spending five minutes watching something that would take thirty seconds to read.

Unless it's music, comedy or musicians who are comedians. For example, a transcript wouldn't do this Dead Weather interview justice, would it? Though it would be nice to press a button and separate out the music and the interview so I could watch them separately.


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