Print Story We are the superior beings
By TheophileEscargot (Thu Mar 23, 2017 at 12:54:38 AM EST) (all tags)
Reading: "All the Birds of the Sky", "The Manual". Watching. Links.

What I'm Reading
All the Birds of the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Appealing, whimsical novel by the editor of IO9 which seems to have effortlessly achieved cult geek status. Two bullied teens form an alliance in high school: would-be witch Patricia and gadget nerd Laurence. The high school scenes are depicted with excruciating horror.

Later in a world plaguedby environmental collapse, the two meet up again while working for opposed organisations.

I really enjoyed reading this while it lasted: it's great fun. However it seems a bit forgettable after it's over: pandering only works so far. Well worth a read if you liked either Lev Grossman's "The Magicians" or "Ready Player One".

What I'm Reading
Read The Manual by The KLF. after the good Dr linked to it in the last diary. Hastily written after their number one "Doctorin' the Tardis" it explains in detail how to make a hit record in 1988. It's still fascinating reading: the dated bits are nostalgic and some bits still seem to apply: a groove and a catchy chorus are the most important elements. Some quotes.

If you have all that done and it’s not yet one o’clock, start listening to the “Hits” and “Now” compilation LPs from end to end. Of course, your conditioned brain will tell you it’s all a pile of shite and pale into insignificance compared to the Golden Era in Pop, when you were on the cusp of your adolescent years. Dig deeper into your heart and you will know that you are just lying to yourself. All eras in pop music are golden ages, or will be looked upon as such by the only generation that matters at any given time. Not only are all ages in chart pop equal, chart pop never changes, it only appears to change on its surface level.
Singers – good or bad – are invariably a problem. They not only make incredibly bad time keepers which can lead to disasterous consequences when you are facing a jam-packed schedule during the period when your record has entered the Top 30 but not yet made Number One, they also tend to confuse their role as singer of songs with that of would-be world leaders.
There’s at least a half a dozen LPs and two films to make, an art exhibition and a ship we want to buy – all by the end of the year and here we are wasting our time writing a book that will be completely redundant within twelve months. An obsolete artefact. It’s only use being a bit of a social history that records the aspirations of a certain strata in British society in the late eighties. Nothing that any Sunday supplement advertisement could not already tell them. It’s obvious that in a very short space of time the Japanese will have delivered the technology and then brought the price of it down so that you can do the whole thing at home. Then you will be able to sod off all that crap about going into studios.
What I'm Watching
Saw Captain Fantastic on disk. Viggo Mortensen stars as the hippie father of six who leads an idyllic life in the Pacific Northwest, giving his kids and implausbily thorough grasp of philosophy, science and politics as well as a vast practical experience in survival and off the grid living. After the death of the mother the family travel on a bus to New Mexico to attend the funeral.

Has some very good moments, some beautiful scenes, and good comedy as the family encounter America. The ending though dissolves into sentimentalityand the problems just melt away as it turns out he just has to try a bit harder to look after the kids. Overall though a decent movie.

Book Review: Seeing Like A State. Study: people see black men as larger and more threatening than similarly sized white men. The productivity paradox:

People ask: if robots are stealing all the jobs then why is employment at record highs? But imagine what would happen if someone unveiled a robot tomorrow which could do the work of 30% of the workforce. Employment wouldn’t fall 30%, because while some of the displaced workers might give up on work and drop out of the labour force, most couldn’t: they need the money. They would seek out other work, glutting HR offices and employment centres and placing downward pressure on the wage companies need to offer to fill a job: until wages fall to such a low level that people do give up on work entirely, drop out of the labour force, and live on whatever family resources they have available, or until it becomes economical to hire people to do very low productivity work--serving as the fifth landscape worker on the household staff of a very rich tech magnate, for example.

Given the structure of our social safety net, automation tends to increase poverty and inequality rather than unemployment.

Politics. London Britain First demo defeated. A sensible Brexit deal is more probable than you think (Alt Google link). Thomas Piketty: What would a democratic Euro Zone Assembly look like? Draft treaty on the democratization of the governance of the euro area. Netherlands election. White supremacism is not nationalism :

American rightists have always seemed to me like part of an international, borderless white supremacist movement - a sort of global white-ist Ummah. They always seem to have much more allegiance to their co-racialists in other countries than they do to their own non-white countrymen.
Random. Mysterious Tales of Murderous Trees Twitter thread: @vqnerdballs explains Christianity to @EWErickson. Map: what if every European independence movement won?

Articles. Old movie websites. The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse. Doomguy knows how you feel. The Boxing Day football match that got women kicked off the pitch.

Sci/Tech. Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware, via. Vibrator maker ordered to pay out C$4m for tracking users' sexual activity. ExistentialSort.

Pics. Snipers train, prepare. Representative of American Red Cross Home Communication Service distributing cigarettes in hospital. Teletubbies are big.

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We are the superior beings | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)
The presumption about the Japanese by dark nowhere (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Mar 23, 2017 at 02:08:42 AM EST
at the time of writing, that comment was certainly an idiom, at least as much as it was meant to be taken literally. But it's exactly true, sort of. Japanese companies did furnish us with the equipment.

They were already doing it, in fact, if you were hip hop. Today, every bedroom producer is hip hop, in the way someone might be punk, or metal. It's my favourite part of the music culture and produces most of my favourite music. My playlists usually feature some tracks with slow-roll rap spit through heavy application of performance sampler effects (performance is the new production, tapes are the new media.) Eg. or or a good chunk of the rap on SoundCloud.

There's an array of production styles that are so specific it's barely plausible, but it makes sense from the perspective that these people are talented nerds with creative talent and taste and they can tell what each other is doing because they're familiar with the gear (and they talk too.) The environment can be shown to be conducive to the result, much like it was with sampling back when: if you wanted to sample bars instead of notes you needed to speed up the input material (to fit it in the time limit), then play it back at a low octave to restore the original length and pitch. This affected the character of the sound, gave it a grit, crunch, and crispness. Clipped off the high end but preserved the low.

The difference is this corner isn't spitting out Number Ones. There's a whole space of music out there, the notion of a greatest position among it starts getting silly. So it's decided in the way it always has been: through the machinations of the (organized) music industry.  You're not going to hear alien raps over lo-fi boom bap on the radio until Kanye decides it's the thing or Timbaland plagiarizes it.

On another note, I haven't read that book in ages, but its attitude and vibe have stayed with me. I'd recommend it to anyone.

See you, space cowboy.

does not compute by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Mar 23, 2017 at 09:41:35 AM EST
 “Trump does best among evangelicals with one key trait: They don’t really go to church.”

I don't even ...

That's what the data says. by dark nowhere (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Mar 23, 2017 at 11:15:42 AM EST
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Religion can help unify a culture. With separation of church and state it has a certain degree of balance to it. But if it becomes disorganized, someone can step in and selectively amplify the ideas that support their position, without the disadvantage of a religious figure reminding people of the person's faults with respect to the doctrine.

I don't really buy the title thesis. Sure, Trump sucks, but the cultural change is necessary in order for the kind of free thinking that will be required to improve conditions for certain minorities, and stuff like the teaching of evolution. People need to feel accepted, so religious culture can be quite confining. Any culture can be, but organized religious culture is more centralized which creates an artificial pressure that can stifle good and otherwise viable kinds of change.

See you, space cowboy.

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We are the superior beings | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)