Tuesday, February 07, 2017

2017 Q2 : Composing to Focus on Music?

Context : 2017 Questions

I've actually managed to do quite a lot of music-related stuff in 2016. From organizing MusicHacking events in Brasilia, to more music for dance, to technoshamanic remixes to podcasts and more.

This year I want to explore more raw, self-built, "ataripunk" style electronics.

And more free software. How do I produce more, "finished" music using things like Faust and Sonic Pi and Ardour and qtractor etc.

And electronics?

I want to get more of it out there and people listening to it.

Speaking of which, if anyone ever felt the need to own any (or all six) of the official gbloink!tunes albums while making a small contribution to my future works they are now all up on BandCamp :

One thing that I'm pondering is how to represent my music.

For a while I've depended on SoundCloud as my main music showcase. But actually I want to write more about making music. Particularly with Sonic Pi and Faust and other free-software. Where should I do that?

Well, how about a blog called "Composing"? Even if it has been mainly for political venting in recent years.

So ... here's the question ... should Composing return to being my main music / music-software etc. blog?

One reason my activity declined here a bit (apart from Google doing an appalling job of keeping Blogger a cool and relevant platform while things like Medium and WordPress rolled over it in terms of ease of use and functionality) is that I don't like to be so dependent on Google or give them primary control of my content.
If I do choose to focus on music here in the next year ... I'll need to have a back-up / mirroring strategy. Maybe RSS-grabber but ideally something that creates content I own first, and mirrors it here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Q1: What is the politics of the social media age?

Context: 2017 Questions.

Pretty much everything I've believed in and championed over the last 15 years in terms of blogging, social media, freedom for anyone to speak out without gatekeepers etc. has come true.
And the result is what we've seen in 2016 ... President Trump, Brexit, the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff etc. All driven by massive disinformation campaigns across social media. We are in a "post-truth" society or as I actually predicted many years ago "the end of consensus". Conspiracy theories are the epistemic mode of netocracy.

So what now?

"What now", in the sense of how can we reinvent a politics which "works"? And "what now" as in what are the responsibilities and strategies for people like me who work in software and have championed the spread of technologies of open communication? What can and should we try to build next to "fix" the problems we've caused? Finally "what now" as in what actual policies can be advocated for netocracy where many traditional gatekeeping epistemic strategies are no longer available.

In one sense we are seeing a burst of authoritarianism which is covering the profound weakness of governments to control what's going on. Everyone in power wants to control borders to prevent the movement of people. When their real "problems" are flow of information and capital which remain harder to control than ever. Scapegoating the poor is the standard tactic of an elite in trouble, of course. I now think we're moving to "scapegoating bodies" for the frustrations and failures to constrain information (including finance which is now revealed as a subset of information).

So ... 2017

2016 was a hell of a year. Though, so far, I'm not too personally affected. (For which I am truly grateful.)

I'm not into reviews of last year (most people probably think "thank God that's over ... OMFG what's coming next?") or too many resolutions / promises that I may or may not keep.

But the turn of the year is a good time for some reflection / questioning which may set my agendas for the next 12 months. (Or not, as the case may be)

Some of it is the usual, self-indulgent angst about what I'm meant to be doing, why aren't I more productive and "successful" (for some value of success) etc. I'll spare you all that.

But I'll post a couple of the, perhaps more substantial, even though quite personal, questions over the next few posts.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Policies not Deals

David Weinberger has a good blog-post on why Dealmaker Trump is a bad idea.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference

Nonsense paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference

Some comments I just made in an email about this :

Ouch! "Unreasonable" recurrent neural networks will be doing all our jobs soon. (https://karpathy.github.io/2015/05/21/rnn-effectiveness/)

What happens when we have automatic tools to summarize news items, journal articles, and perhaps provide early filters (routing-queries) in "what's interesting" from the journals. Perhaps lazy reviewers will just run the filter over a paper to see if its worth reading.

And then if we use the same models to generate papers ???

Just like automatic high-speed trading algorithms go off and autonomously create bubbles and crashes in the market, could we see runaway feedback between automated science paper generators and automated science paper accepters create entirely new subfields of science / pseudoscience?

I suppose, given that this is a physics conference, it's a great response to the Sokol Affair.

OTOH, sadly, it seems like this is a junk conference put together by "open access" publishers. The terrible thing here is that the term "open access" which should be a term of approval, is now getting discredited as vanity publishing.

I don't quite suspect a conspiracy by academic publishers ... but ... it is awfully convenient.  :-/

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Servers down

It seems all my servers are down ... giving DNS errors. Some problem with the name provider I think ...
Will keep you all posted.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Theresa May will lead us into a bleak future

Martin Kettle has an insightful comment on current division within Tory government's approach to Brexit. Not for or against, but which gets priority, controlling immigration (No 10) or free market (treasury).

Since No 10 will ultimately win that battle, the question is how the Treasury will react. In its determination to maintain the City of London’s global position outside the single market, the Treasury will find itself inexorably drawn down the road towards remaking the UK as an offshore, low-tax financial haven. Just at the very moment when the EU locks horns with Apple over sweetheart tax deals, so Britain may roll out the welcome mat to international corporations such as Apple, offering Britain as the new Ireland, or as a European Singapore.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Politics doesn’t need a brick through the window, or civility. It needs basic fairness

Abi Wilkinson :

This week I was asked on Twitter if I thought it was OK for someone to
call me a “fucking useless journalist”. My honest answer is yes. I might
not like receiving such a comment, and it’s unlikely to lead to any
sort of constructive dialogue, but I think it counts as a morally
acceptable form of self-expression. Not all anger can be considered
equally justified, but if we insist on civility as a requirement for
having a voice then we inevitably exclude those who are at the end of
their tether – and they’re the ones that should be listened to most

Thursday, July 07, 2016

David Blanchflower :
GDP per head is up just over 1% since 2008 and real wages are still 7% below their level at the start of the Great Recession in 2008. The problem is that many who voted leave thought this was all about immigration and EU rules, whereas in reality it was mostly about austerity. The Poles, the Czechs and the Hungarians came to the UK to work; they have higher employment rates than those born in the UK and pay far more into the system than they take out. It is clear that the rising number of immigrants has put pressure on public services but this was mostly because Osborne under-invested in services in order to shrink the state. They paid their taxes, but Slasher didn’t invest that money in new schools, houses and hospitals.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016


Momus is seriously pissed off with Brexit.

And enlisting a world-class vituperator to help him express his rage. :-)

Meanwhile there's a 30 year retrospective album of Momus songs coming out, selected by the man himself.

Thoughts on the tracklist.

I see why Lucky like St. Sebastian has to be there, though I'd like to see Little Lord Obedience or The Rape of Lucretia rather than Paper Wraps Rock.

From Poison Boyfriend I don't particularly dig Murderers, the Hope of Women.  Would rather see Eleven Executioners, Violets or the haunting Islington John. The other two are obviously the right choices. (I'm a big fan of Sex for the Disabled, but understand its historic moment is over.)

Great selection from Tender Pervert and Don't Stop the Night.

Morality is Vanity is an excellent song.

Hipopotamomus? Meh! Bluestocking is throwaway. Marquis of Sadness is much wittier and has all the "perv" credential Momus might want here. Personally I used to like Ventriloquists and Dolls but began enjoying The Painter and his Model more.  Hipopotamomus itself and Monkey for Sally are far more musically striking and disturbing. Song in Contravention is more beautifully lush. This is a weak selection from one of Momus's best albums.

Too much Voyager. Voyager and Summer Holiday 1999 are classics. Cibachrome Blue if you want to capture the overall feel. But Spacewalk is excess to requirements. (And I think Afterglow is better if you insist on 4 tracks from this album.)

Platinum fine. Enlightenment is a good song ruined by a couple of horribly clunky lines that spoil what would otherwise be emotionally powerful. Rhetoric, nah! I'd have Breathless instead. And I love Christmas on Earth. Shame not to find a way to fit it in.

Not enough Ultraconformist. Last of the Window Cleaners obviously has to be there. But there are underrated classics like Ultraconformist itself and The Mother-in-Law. The Cheque's in the Post is a bit of a crowdpleaser that doesn't charm me much.

Philosophy of Momus is one of his weaker albums. As close to "filler" as Momus gets. He's right about Sadness of Things and Cabinet. I'm not sure Microworlds adds much. 20 Vodka Jellies, OTOH, is another "bit random" collection, packed with pleasurable upbeat tunes. London 1888 and End of History are obviously big songs. I'd have been inclined to try to find space for a couple more. There are plenty of greats to choose from on this album. 

Ping Pong was wildly hyped. But I think he's right to just stick with the much covered I Want You, But I Don't Need You and The Age of Information (an incredibly prescient piece of internet philosophy)

Born to be Adored is great. I don't like Old Friend, New Flame. But I see why it's pretty definitive of Momus and the Analog Baroque moment.

Stars Forever is so varied musically and tied up to its concept (song-portraits of patrons) that it would be hard to get a "representative sample". About 70% of the Stars Forever songs are great and the two he's chosen are from that 70%. But they aren't particular stand-outs. The most interesting thing about Tinnitus is that it's really looking forward to the Folktronic style he goes on to explore in the next album.  And mysteriously NOTHING from the Folktronic album makes it into this compilation. Is he just going for a twofer? Trying have one song represent both Stars Forever and Folktronic? Looks like it. He's already on disk 3 and only half-way through his spectacular discography.

Plus there ARE two songs from Folktronic : Pygmalism and Going for a Walk with a Line. And these obviously HAVE to be in the collection as they're two of his best songs from this period (if not two of his best songs. full stop.) But they're from the "extras" part of the disk, not Folktronic proper (at least that's how I read them). Perhaps it was hard to find one. Finnegan the Folk Hero of HTML is a bit twee. Psychopathis Sexualis maybe?

Oskar Tennis Champion is one of Momus's greatest albums. Certainly the extremely  inventive beginning of his "modern" (2000s+ ) style. It deserves to be well represented. No arguments about Beowulf and The Laird of Inversnecky, though I'm surprised by Scottish Lips. I'd have thought Is It Because I'm A Pirate? would be the obvious third here.

He's right to skip quickly over Otto Spooky. In my opinion, Momus's least pleasurable album. Even though it has Bantom Boys and Cockle Pickers which are ambitious experiments.  Life of the Fields is arguably a kind of last hurrah of of the Folktronic style and maybe appears for that reason. It's so so though.

Ocky Milk, in contrast, is like Vodka Jellies, another compendium of big, enjoyable tunes (that also manages to competently incorporate quite a lot of his weird experimentation). It's under-represented here. Though perhaps hard to do justice to it.

Of course, now he's having to rush. We're half-way through disk 3 and we're only starting on the really new stuff. Home produced albums which tend to have more songs on them than those made with expensive studio time in the 80s. The lush Joemus collaboration Widow Twankie deserves its slot here. Hypnoprism is woefully under-represented. As is Thunderclown. In comparison, two songs from Bibliotek seems generous. Though Erase, Momus's experiment  with another folktronicesque genre - Hauntology - is worthwhile. Two each from Bambi, Terpsicore and Glyptothek are fair. Though I'd prefer Catholic App, Unreconstructed or Spore to The Hiker. (System of Usher is fantastic.) 
And I wish he'd found room for Old Nick at the end. While Momus's last-of-the-album mawkfests (Ex-erotomane, Gibbous Moon) are often legendary, and  The Vaudevillian is the uber-tearjerker of an ending, Old Nick's sly twist on the convention is equally fulfilling, and somehow sums up the Momus project better.

Anyway looks a great compilation for those who don't know or have Momus's  ouvre. (I pretty much do have all these tracks, most of them legally.)