November 25, 2010


Reading list:

On NPR yesterday, I heard flyers' comments on the scanners and the far majority could be represented by the flyer who said "I'm OK with it if it keeps me safe." Ignoring the question of a set-upon media possibly cherry picking comments, I'll repeat what Schneier and many others wiser than me have said: re-inforced pilot doors and flyer awareness are the only things that have made us safer. Reporters have oddly ignored that "if" clause at the end of the statement above choosing to believe the tacit assertion of increased safety.

Beyond the complete lack of proof, and significant evidence to the contrary, that this makes us safer is the question of whether we have a right to complain about it. There's been the standard backlash backlash of people criticizing people who criticize the use of scanners (e.g. "if you don't like it, don't fly"). I'll invoke the slipper slope fallacy and ask: how invasive can security be before it's unacceptable to you? If being viewed naked and/or being groped is acceptable now, and people are generally happy with this, how much further can they go? People have a right to criticize what they believe is improper. That criticism holds greater validity when it is backed by facts and logical conclusions. What does the "if you don't like it, don't fly" argument contribute to the discussion?

I've also heard people express anger over those who would slow down the airport line to make a point by opting out of the scanners. (This is also part of the backlash backlash.) One comment on Reddit pointed out the, humble, parallels with the Greensboro sit-ins. The black students would not be served but still took up space in the restaurant and hindered the ability of the restaurant to serve others. If they didn't like that store's policies, just don't go there.

From the Ask the Pilot article above:

Look again at that list above [of seven deadly terrorist attacks on airlines in the mid-80s]. All of those tragedies, in a four-year span, with some of the attacks actually overlapping. Try to imagine a similar spell today. Could we handle even a fraction of such disaster?

In the 1980s we did not overreact. We did not stage ill-fated invasions of distant countries. People did not cease traveling and the airline industry did not fall into chaos. We were lazy in enacting better security, perhaps, but as a country our psychological reaction, much to our credit, was calm, measured and not yet self-defeating.

posted by sstrader at 11:08 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

Science and imagination

Listening to a Material World podcast on the UK government's budget for science research over the next four years. Threatening to be one of the more boring of their podcasts, it had a couple of interesting parenthetical facts. In support of the belief that imaginative freedom pushes science forward, one guest pointed out that properties of graphene were discovered during such moments of scientific goofing off. This was pointed out because two Manchester scientists received the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for these experiments. Another, equally fascinating, discovery was during directed research but in an area that could be dismissed as frivilous. I can find any sources on this, but according to the podcast a linguist was given 7,500 pounds to study an endangered language in the Solomon Islands. During their research, they discovered a new language structure believed to not be possible. This new information is now being looked at by linguists and neurologists in order to determine what the innate structures of language are and how they are mapped in the brain.

posted by sstrader at 10:52 AM in Language & Literature | permalink

November 22, 2010

Girl Talk

I'd been hearing about Girl Talk for the last few years but avoided it because it's what all the cool kids were listening to. I'm well aware of my reverse snob impulses. Still, when All Day came out last week and the cool internet kids were again buzzing, I decided to give a listen. After months with my PS2, I still haven't gotten locked into any game with any sort of desirous frenzy however I have gotten quite addicted to two games on my Android (Replica Island and Robot Defender, for those keeping score). With those games, there is no off switch and I could play back-to-back sessions forever. Listening to the Girl Talk albums provides a similar, limitless enjoyment.

And it's that similarity to being a waste-of-time that made me a little wary of Girl Talk. 2008: Girl Talk from Neojaponisme treads heavily and at length over these questions of art via Adorno and musique concrete (more fun to think about than listen to lol). Also a good read: We Are More Excited about Girl Talk on Everything than the Beatles on iTunes from The Awl. Expressing everything I've been feeling about that ridiculous ad campaign of Apple's. Bonus points for the reams of hatred towards Girl Talk in the comments.

Finally, the links:

  • My location of choice has been Grooveshark.
  • New album plus all four previous (published in two-year cycles) are available at Illegal Art.
  • All Day Samples streams the album and displays the names of the songs being sampled as they appear.
posted by sstrader at 1:41 PM in Music | tagged theodor adorno | permalink

November 21, 2010

Where was I?

DJ Shadow at The Loft on the 9th. Great show, with Pigeon John opening: an hilariously entertaining rapper working with two female rappers/DJs. Finished the night grabbing a $16 print of the Endroducing cover:

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Zip line tour last Saturday outside Lula, GA with Lisa, Bob, and Sarah. Weather was cold and clear and the treetops are--let me tell you-- quite high up there. Recommended (even though they don't allow you to wear Vibrams and I had to do an emergency $15 shoe purchase at a nearby Wal-Mart)!

On Friday, went to see Venice Baroque Orchestra and Robert McDuffie at Emory perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos and Philip Glass's 2nd Violin Concerto. I'd never seen the Vivaldi live and they put on such a completely natural performance. The musicians--this was the last stop on their tour--were joking and chatting with each other during the performance. McDuffie, the lutist, and the first cello had an especially close relationship as each was highlighted at various points. Second on the program was the Glass piece. We'd seen McDuffie perform an arrangement of Glass's 1st Violin Concerto years ago at Clayton State College IIRC. Second movement of Friday's piece, andante, was absolutely beautiful. The musicians ended the piece with a fierce accelerando. Recording purchased in the lobby.


Saturday was Matt's b-day at Imperial Fez. My first time there and we'll definitely have to go back. The belly dancers were friendly and aren't too intrusive if you just want to sit and eat. Music can be a little loud though. Spoke with the chef and Lisa scored us some of the hot hot sauce. Great food and, later in the evening, groovy chill Middle Eastern music. I learned: Moroccans speak Arabic, shoes are removed before entering the dining area, and coffee-infused tequila is an after-dinner drink.

posted by sstrader at 5:45 PM in Concerts , Where was I? | tagged DJ Shadow, Philip Glass | permalink

November 15, 2010

Mutants and dwarfs

[ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]


Back in September we went to see the fourth Resdient Evil movie (Afterlife!). In 3D (!!). The same 3D technology used for Avatar (!!!). Needless to say, you need to like this sort of thing to like this sort of thing and even then you may not like *this* sort of thing. The 3D was very attractive and the monsters were garish enough. Major marks against it for characters less endearing than in previous entries, and plot holes--in a genre that refuses to acknowledge the existence of plot holes--that were inexplicable. Still, it was everything you need in a cinema/drafthouse/3D experience.


Also at the Buckhead Fork & Screen. The Met simulcasts their operas, and with the Ring Cycle being performed this season we decided to try it out. The cushy seats and wine and light food at F&S is perfect for a 3+ hour opera, but the close quarters make reading the subtitles nearly impossible. Get there early and choose a table at the front of a tier. The backstage preview they broadcast before the performance was a nice addition. Hearing the Rheinmaidens casually riff their parts as they get comfortable with an uncomfortable set was fantastic.

Walkuere is May, but before that is Nixon in China in the middle of February!

posted by sstrader at 10:07 PM in Cinema , Concerts | tagged metropolitan opera, opera, resident evil, ring cycle | permalink

November 11, 2010

My second Android app

Just released a pay version of the GPS bookmarking app I first published three weeks ago. The new version, ArgotPlus, adds several nice organizational features (a tagging system, viewing neighboring bookmarks, cardinal directions, and a link to maps) and will be the version I actively develop.

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Interesting report from yesterday, all handheld OSes except Android have lost market share in the last year:

posted by sstrader at 8:58 AM in Programming | tagged android, argot, mobile development | permalink