Friday, May 15, 2009

MOVITS: Swedish Rapswing

MOVITS! Fel del av gården from Axel Söderlund on Vimeo.

No idea what these guys are saying but i think there's a bit that goes something like "Jorgen Jorgensen's a kool kat.".. or something. Those Swedish guttural utterances sound great in rapswing!

Josh Ritter

..From My Yoof

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Needle in the Neck

As the radiologist plunged a needle back and forth into my neck to sample a thyroid cyst near my right carotid artery i thought i would try to relax by using some 'creative visualization' techniques that i vaguely and probably incorrectly recalled from med student level psychiatry lectures. I imagined myself in "The New Forest" in England- a forest like you see in those wall murals of forests.
Beautiful trees- bark like the crust of a good rye bread, dappled autumnal leaves of yellow, green, red. Wild horses roaming around. (Seriously this is true - it's magnificent). It's cool and still. I'm alone, happy, walking along a path covered in fallen leaves, and everything is quiet expect my footfall and a few small birds tweeting- when all of a sudden some guy is standing next to me in the forest wearing a dentist's white smock sticking a needle in my neck.

"The F$%k are you doing in my creative visualization?!"

"Sorry, swallow if you need to now then hold.... maybe try wiggling your feet?"

Cognitive therapy can be best summed up thus: "Every day in every way, my psychologist is getting richer and richer." We are not in control of our emotions- nor can we ever be. It is normal to be terrified of a needle in the neck.

I tried to distract myself the night before by going to see "Star Trek" and thisw as working until the 'comic' scene where the young Kirk is running around the Enterprise with angioedema of his hands whilst Bones chases after him with a syringe, repeatedly (you guessed it) plunging it into his neck. Why in movies do people always shoot drugs into the jugular vein? Quick movie review: it's like watching the Star Trek version of the British "7UP" TV series: Show me the young, impetuous Kirk at 21 and i'll show you the fat bloated bizarre face-lifted Kirk at 68. Of course no matter how shit it was going to be, i was going anyway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Terrible Things

Part (A):Mark Fidel Kools (aka Hasan Karim Akbar) - an aeronautical and mechanical engineer joined the United States Army and was posted to Kuwait. On March 23, 2003 he threw a couple of hand grenades into a tent where his fellow soldiers were sleeping, then shot his rifle at them (for good measure). In his diary from a month before he wrote:

I suppose they want to punk me or just humiliate me. Perhaps they feel that I will not do anything about that. They are right about that. I am not going to do anything about it as long as I stay here. But as soon as I am in Iraq, I am going to try and kill as many of them as possible.

After his arrest he said:
You guys are coming into our countries, and you're going to rape our women and kill our children.

Part (B): In Mahmudiya, near Baghdad in 2006, Private Steven Green raped a 14 year old girl after killing her father, her mother and her 6 year old sister. After he raped her, he covered her head with a pillow and shot her 3 times. He and 2 other soldiers then set fire to her body to conceal their crimes.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

No Redness in the Retina


I've been listening to a lecture series on cognitive science- regarding 'qualia': for example- the ineffable, inexplicable, instantaneous experience of "redness".
We (most of us) have 3 functioning color receptors in our retinas... one that responds maximally to violet-blue light at 420nm, one that responds best to green light at 534nm and one that responds most to yellow-green light at 564nm (ignore the colors of the lines above). It's interesting to note that none of these color receptors responds maximally to red light - presumably the brain interprets excitation of the 564nm receptor in the absence of any 534nm excitation as being "red". I find this fascinating. When you think about it- there really isn't a "blue" receptor either! Excitation of the 420nm receptor can't tell your brain if it's looking at violet, blue, purple or cyan! It's only when the output of all the receptors are integrated that the "true colors" (whatever they are) can begin to be perceived.

Two receptors are coded on the X-chromosome and can be defective- resulting in 'color-blindness'. What's more interesting is that up to 10% of women carry 2 copies of one of them- making them "tetra-chromatic". In other words, they can theoretically perceive colors that the rest of us cannot imagine.- this would then redefine 'normal' vision as a form of color blindness! (It's possible, however, that their brains cannot deal with the higher retinal bitrate) . The problem with tetra-chromatic mothers, however, is that their sons have a high chance of being color blind.

Jesus and the Dinosaurs: Drink This Wine- For It Is Merlot

Can you "dress up" like a transvestite?

Eddie Izzard is hysterically funny- but watching him do his standup - i can't keep from thinking about his transvestitism. Maybe it's because his mother died when he was very young?
It's interesting that he doesn't really 'use' this as part of the routine- it seems coincidental. After watching him for a bit- you almost forget he's wearing stilletos! According to the always reliable wikipedia, Eddie describes himself as a 'straight transvestite'. I can't help thinking that it's all an 'act' to improve publicity- but then i can see the irony and paradox in that. One can't really "dress up" as a transvestite- if you dress up like a transvestite, you're actually dressing up like a woman- and if you dress up like a woman then you REALLY ARE a transvestite. Maybe you can be a 'fake' transvestite if your heart's not really in it.
Since it's pretty much socially acceptable for women to wear whatever they want (Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for wearing pants)- it must be pretty hard for a woman to be a transvestite these days. I wonder if they feel 'liberated' or confined by this? Is part of the thrill (if there is one) in attracting attention?

Kutiman's "ThruYou" - YouTube music mashups

Great stuff- from Israeli musician Kutiman.. mashed up bits of amateur YouTube music.. this is what i love about the interweb! 2nd video is his explanation of the project:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Playing For Change

The idea behind Playing for Change: the world as your recording studio. Despite my cynicism - i thought this was really wonderful .... and that Israeli girl is cute! My favourite performer is "junior" Kissangwa Mbouta playing his drums on a tiny balcony in Kinshasa.