Posts Tagged ‘computers’

Glenn Beck’s site advocates denial of service attack on White House

August 11, 2009

I’ll make this a quick one – I have to get going in a minute, and don’t really want to give this sort of thing more attention than it deserves.  See the following post on the 9-12 Project page: Is Stalin’s Ghost in the White House?

(Um, by the way, dumb question. Of course, that’s exactly where Stalin’s ghost likes to hang out. He loves how Barack Obama so cleverly masks his totalitarian fascist policies as genuinely revolutionary communism.)

Great idea! Let’s all email the white house nonsensical jokes at the same time. Brilliant.

By the way, just to be clear, all this nonsense (just browse around the 9-12 Project website for 30 seconds or so) is not part of a political movement or anything (I mean, how could you even think that?). No; rather, Glenn Beck tells us that:

The 9-12 Project is designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created.

That same feeling – that commitment to country is what we are hoping to foster with this idea. We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12th, 2001 again.

So, let’s send fish jokes to the White House. I mean, it probably won’t bring down their servers or anything. But at least it will annoy them. Maybe they will be reminded of that unity we all felt on September 12, 2001.**

Just remember – this isn’t political at all.

It’s about coming together as Americans.

** Funny though, I remember widespread instances of violent hate crime against Muslims and Arabs. Many people were targeted and brutally beaten – and even killed – because of their appearance, their ethnicity or religion. For Glenn Beck, there’s probably nothing political about that, either.

obscure beauty from the black sun

August 9, 2009

That title probably made this post sound more interesting than it will actually be.

I’m listening to a song off an E.P. I’ve long wanted to listen to but never had until last week: Black Sun Empire‘s Smoke E.P. on DSCI4.

The track that inspired this blog post was the title track, Smoke. Those who aren’t drum & bass heads might listen and wonder what the big deal was about, whereas drum & bass heads might contemptuously respond simply by asserting that the track is “old” (yeah…so?).

This track is a classic example of the style of tech-step pioneered by DSCI4. It doesn’t necessarily transgress the sort of general boundaries of that style, but I think it does exemplify the style almost perfectly. I love how Black Sun Empire can sit their drums perfectly in the mix; they don’t rely on ultra-compressed, distorted kick and huge snare to carry the entire dynamics of the track, but rather the breaks feel restrained. Instead of feeling cliche, as in many drum and bass tracks, the breaks occupy just enough space to provide structure and flow to what’s happening – and what is happening always involves some melodic intelligence and transition.

After thinking about it, though, I think what most impresses me about Black Sun Empire – and this track in general – is the way they integrate all the elements together in the mixdown. That careful precision of the mixing – to me – is as much an element of style as the aesthetic defined by their choice of samples, especially that definitive sounding stab…and it is this sense of controlled precision (at odds with the sort of menacing ambience so often evoked by the synths / samples they select) that more than anything else at that time evokes techno. (The sharpness of their drum samples and the uber-compressed cymbals that punctuate them have become a much more familiar trope by now, but I think this is something that Black Sun Empire really innovated in many ways).

And plus, this track does something else I love. Listen for the change in the second break right before the bassline comes back in…

This probably sounds overly technical, nerdy, and slightly irrelevant – all of which it is. But the feeling I had that prompted me to write this blog isn’t.

While I have been guilty of it as well (and so I’ll avoid polemicizing overly much), I think there is a widespread conceit (no doubt a proper direction for deconstructive critique) in our culture as I understand it, at least, that holds art – and especially music – to be something that offers an almost mystically transcendent experience…and this is especially evident to me in the way musicians are idealized, as though gifted with some prophetic or visionary insight somehow inexplicably lacking in the rest of us (from John Lennon to Bob Marley to Jim Morrison to 2Pac – not to mention Michael Jackson, there seems to be a cult of personality associated with music almost unparalled by anything else I can think of).

But great music isn’t achieved only through some intangible wellspring of creativity (and I would dispute those who idealize either this supposed “quality” or the process by which it is thought to produce the tangible product we ultimately enjoy so greatly). There is also the (much-reviled) technical knowledge – and experimentation, and innovation and yes, discipline that plays a role. When electronic music is stigmatized or marginalized, I wonder about the extent to which an aesthetic is at play that fetishizes the inexplicability of human processes of expression – and ultimately, I would argue, the human “creator” as well – as privileged agent of creativity. When what is heard is not solely or primarily the result of vibrations produced in a tactile, physical manner by human hands, feet, or breath, but mediated instead by systems of circuitry, software (and furthermore is often comprised of auditory objects already recorded), and sequencing – it would seem that for some, the media produced can no longer unreservedly be regarded as “music.”

And yet, to denigrate electronic music (usually out of ignorance – and perhaps also out of fear?) is to kill the messenger.

Now how the hell did I get on this tangent?

There’s something about the mechanization of rhythm in this Black Sun Empire track on an obscure EP released by DSCI4 in 2002 that is just lovely – and, I think, a precursor of things to come. Now, if you haven’t already, go click the link and listen to it at least once through.

DSCI4

New Machine

June 3, 2009

So, I haven’t written anything here in awhile – in fact, I’ve scarcely written anything on this blog at all. The reason for that is my first extended entry, a lengthy overview and commentary of all the Lynch and Fellini films I’ve seen, which took at least an hour to produce – completely disappeared from WordPress.com. Totally gone. Oh, that whole “revisions” feature, where you get to revert to previous drafts? No help at all. So I already feel somewhat disenchanted with this website. That, and it’s alienating: the whole “Dashboard” feature actually evokes a real dashboard – such as, perhaps, that of a highly complex aircraft, one which I am not qualified to handle. Yet all that, and I can’t change the background image without taking a crash course in Cascading Style Sheets. I mean, you gotta me kidding me – I don’t even communicate in HTML. Why can’t I just upload a JPG file? (Maybe I’m just not competent enough to handle the Dashboard.)

All of which, in one long breath, explains why I might migrate over to WordPress.com’s chief competitor blogspot.com if I’m serious about continuing to blog. Complaining aside, though, I’m fairly pleased right now because for the first time ever, I bought a new computer. Not only that, but this is the first Mac I’ve owned since before it was fairly routine for personal computers to be hooked up to the Internet.

My last machine was a generous gift from my family, one of those solidly built Dell desktops (the Dimension series) that is very rectangular and black. (If you have any association with Naropa University, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about because it’s pretty much what the school’s able to afford). Anyway, I’m typing this on my brand new 24-inch iMac desktop. I’ve never used the word sexy to describe a machine before, yet suddenly that’s the word I feel compelled to use.

Actually, my intention for this entry wasn’t to bubble over with loving praise and adoration for machines – even one as admittedly awesome as my new iMac. I must be getting carried away, because what I was trying to say was actually more along the lines of “Yes, this is a wonderful machine, and technology is clearly awesome, BUT–

Along with my wonderful iMac, which makes me want to use the word awesome for yet a third time, I also bought an iPod Touch, which because I am a student, will be in essence a completely free purchase. That’s right – Apple is going to send me a check for $229 or whatever for the iPod Touch because I bought it at the same time as the iMac (which was $100 cheaper for me – after all, I’m a starving student). I know, I should shut up and stop complaining now, right?

Well, I’m not complaining. Just observing that technology is a funny thing. It’s kind of like Pringles or cocaine – never enough to keep you happy. I would have been pretty happy with just the iMac, but now I’m kind of attached to my new iPod as well. I can read news during my lunch break at work, or respond to an email. I even have the entire Qu’ran on it, in both Arabic and English translation, and I can even listen to the recitation of any surah I want if I’m willing to wait a few minutes until it downloads…

So, my point is? I almost forgot it, I’m having so much fun just typing and gazing at my brand new iMac. But you know, I’ve been reading Judith Butler’s book Gender Trouble (which is in my reading list – go take a look and offer me suggestions) and since I bought this machine, I’ve scarcely read two paragraphs of it. I just can’t tear myself away from the machine…

…which doesn’t really bother me too much. I have plenty of time to read, and I plan to do lots of reading this summer. I know I’m still kind of in the honeymoon phase here (my old machine was really on its last legs, the poor thing can finally retire) but I guess I’m just a bit disconcerted, because there’s a tiny voice inside of me that insists that technology, as amazing and wonderful as it is, is like capitalism only thousands of times more potent… the final development of human civilization that incontrovertibly spells doom for us all.

It doesn’t help that there’s something voyeuristic about this huge screen I’m sitting in front of. I mean, you know what the iMac looks like, right? The whole freaking thing is a screen. It’s not like there’s the monitor, and it’s connected to the actual box, the “brain-case” so to speak, that houses the processor and all that. No. The screen is the brain. And the more I stare at it and interact with it via the keyboard and mouse (admittedly quite a pleasurable experience), the more I wonder whether it is staring back at me… oh, I also engaged in video-chat today for the first time ever, with my friend Roo. That’s weird too. You can see yourself, and the other person. But then you realize that the other person can see you even if you’re not looking at them, like if you’re checking your e-mail or browsing through the music in your library. That’s not like real life, really. Instead, you are completely subsumed within the intensity of your own gaze. You forget, or somehow repress, the idea that you might very well be the object of the gaze of someone else… perhaps of the machine itself. There’s something Lacanian about all this. Too bad I don’t speak, or comprehend, Lacanian well enough to articulate it.

Know what I think? Barack Obama may well be the last human U.S. President ever. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Skynet…