Beautiful Noise. A simple title to a record label compilation, but a more accurate descriptor could not have been employed. Beautiful Noise from Sunday Records is just that, slices of mostly synthetic instrumental dream pop that are as ethereal and gorgeous as any your imagination could conjure. Almost every song is uniquely transportational, taking the listener to a different liminal space, but the pervading aesthetic fuses the parts together as a magnificent whole. By the time the drums pads hit on the second track, “Million Years” by Mariana In Our Heads, you will likely be someplace else entirely.
My mom got me this tea for Christmas. The tin advises to “cozy up during a cold winter evening and watch your favorite Hallmark Channel Movies…”. Guess I’ll be checking out the one where Mario Lopez plays Col. Sanders.
Just updated my Now page (the longest winter edition).
A few years ago, there were two dominant iOS Pinboard apps, Pushpin and Pinner and I - I chose the one that has not been updated in 3 years, and that has made all the difference.
🍿Soul: Pixar does a fantastic job coming up with something new almost every time. We watched this one on release day and really enjoyed it. My teenager said it was one of the best movies he’s ever seen.
Today I got this shirt from my loving wife as a Christmas present. The Local 506 is where, in 1993, I saw my first rock show. The headlining act was a local math rock band from the Merge Records stable, Polvo. Proceeds from the t-shirt go to help the club reopen when the pandemic is over.
My youngest son and I are having fun opening daily presents under the tree in the shop from the game Skate City. Note today’s Christmas sweater.
📚 The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas: Sure, I’ve seen the movie and I know how this story plays out. The rollercoaster travails of Edmond Dantes still have me enthralled, though. I guess the classics are considered classics for a reason.
Washed Out is performing a free live show on Pitchfork tomorrow, 12/18.
Previously, these characters couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with their blasters.
Charging forward and yelling “Blast ‘em” seemed to be the limit of their ability to employ fire and maneuver against their enemies. It’s as if their strategic development had begun with the assault wave tactics of 1914 or the Soviet human waves at Stalingrad and then just stayed there forever. If you don’t have to worry about recruitment and retention, body counts aren’t a metric that drive organizational change.
It still blows my mind that the realest Christmas message you’ll hear on TV this year will be delivered by a kid who sucks his thumb, from a crudely drawn cartoon, created almost 60 years ago.
Sometimes I worry that my son plays video games too much, but when I hear him complaining about how people won’t come to his emergency meetings in Among Us, I realize they are preparing him for corporate life.
Jonas Ellison writes about wanting to attend a vinyl church, and I’m here for it. What does he mean by a vinyl church? He is using vinyl as a reference for older traditions that are slower and more thought out. Vinyl churches don’t try so hard to be accessible to the younger generation.
🎮 Stella: To be charitable, this game owes a lot to Inside. That’s a good thing, though, because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Inside deserves the flattery of other games with a similar style of play.
Subsonic Eye is a Singapore-based band coming out with their third full length, Nature of Things, in January. If you hadn’t read that, though, their mid-fi production, perfectly angled guitars and complex time signatures might lead you to believe they came out of the nineties Chapel Hill indie rock scene.
Instagram made a change to their API in late October that broke the Hugo shortcode for embeds. There is discussion of removing all embed shortcodes from Hugo. I don’t see many people on M.b. using them, but just a heads up. CC: @help
Cal Newport writes about ASMR rooms and virtual reality. While I have yet to see virtual reality implementations that really spark my interest, and my wife is a much bigger fan of ASMR than I am, I do like the idea of ASMR rooms. Newport tells of a reader who has a specific way of using the ASMR rooms to stimulate creativity.
By the level, by the square and by the All-Seeing Eye: Christianna Silva writes for NPR about the decline in the ranks of the Freemasons. The order is making the case that more people should be joining groups like them, that eschew differences and promote fellowship, primarily for its own sake. While social media (particularly Facebook) may present itself in a similar manner, as bringing people together, quite often the actual result is division.
A colleague of mine recently moved to a new apartment after his roommate left and his lease was up. He travels lightly and made short work of the move. I wish I could say I would be able to do the same, but it would take me a while to move all of my stuff.1 I wondered aloud about the difficulty of moving my record collection. Another coworker said “one man’s treasure is another man’s trash,” inverting the old aphorism. I stared at my records filling the bottom four cubes of my IKEA Kallax shelves.
Grateful to be able to watch a YouTube video and replace a $3 fuse in my dead microwave rather than call out appliance repair.
Nighttime lacrosse (a collage).
I love this article, which details a Presbyterian church in Queens that is building an affordable housing complex with 174 units in their parking lot.
My teenage son spends his free time using a gerrymandering simulator to see how many blue districts he can get in Oklahoma and red districts he can get in Maryland without crossing the line into unconstitutionality.
In episode 270 of the Seeing and Believing podcast, hosts Wade Bearden and Kevin McLenithan discuss one of my top five favorite movies of all time, the cinematic adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King. The discussion was prompted by the recent death of Sean Connery, who starred in the film alongside Michael Caine. I first saw the movie when my 12th grade English teacher showed it to the class and loved it immediately.
M.G. Siegler has a post describing what I thought Twitter’s new Fleets feature would be and goes into why it really doesn’t fit with Twitter in its current state. I agree with the assessment that this functionality just doesn’t make sense on this platform the way it does on Instagram.
Medium recently changed their mobile reading experience. It’s still in beta, and you have to toggle a preference in settings to turn it on, so you won’t see it by default. They have been signaling its coming for a few months, though. The
tag line they’ve been using is that it makes Medium “more relational.”
I want to pose something to others who are writing on the internet. You don’t have to write think pieces to refute bald-faced lies. If someone tells you the sky is green and you can easily determine that it is blue, you do not bear the burden of proving the sky is blue. Particularly if the person saying it is green is known for nothing so much as the outrageous and provably false lies they constantly tell.
When Mando tells the X-Wing pilots, “May the Force be with you,” one of them replies, “And also with you.” Is that officially a thing now? I knew we (Star Wars fans) often say, “And also with you,” because it feels right for those of us with a liturgical church background. But I don’t actually remember it being an official Star Wars-y thing. Someone tweet me what you think. A quick Google search makes me think this hasn’t actually been canon until now.
When the phrase “and also with you” was used to respond to “may the force be with you” it sounded to these liturgical ears like something so right and familiar. Yet, I too found myself wondering whether that had ever been used in Star Wars before. I’m pretty sure Poppe is right, this is something new to the Mandalorian.
Well, it turns out I couldn’t avoid politics this weekend. I’m so glad that ended up being the case, though. Grateful for this election outcome.
Trying hard to keep politics from being my companion this weekend. I can still use Micro.blog.
This Friday night, those of us in the US are probably election fatigued. Let’s spend some time with a duo from the other side of the world. Egoism hail from Sydney, Australia and stand firmly in a global line of brilliant dream pop. They just dropped the On Our Minds EP today, which they affectionately refer to as their shoegaze release. Most of the tracks have more of an indie pop sound, though, with subtle hints of gauzy textures. However, my favorite track, ‘Never Leave,’ has a little of Depreciation Guild in the last minute, sounding a bit like shoegaze flirting with chiptune.
I am an unaffiliated voter. I used to vote based on policies and candidates. In the last few years, the Grand Old Party has made decision making at voting time a lot easier. They helpfully put an R next to the people you shouldn’t vote for on the ballot.
The kinds of people this party tends to attract view politics as a game to be won, rather than a way to improve the country.
One of the casualties of the COVID-19 crisis this year was a Tennis show in May that was to be held at the Haw River Ballroom. Tennis, like many other bands, had to cancel their tour across the US. I’m assured by the ticket vendor that the show will still happen, in 2021, albeit at the spartan Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, instead of the lush ballroom in Saxapahaw. We will have to see if that comes to fruition.
My son seems to be able to play any videogame with little to no instructions.
I just downloaded a game on Apple Arcade called the Survivalists. I literally would have had no idea how to play this game (even with the little tutorial tips) without my 8-yr-old. He immediately picked up on the system and how to collect different elements and make things from them. He just started telling me how to play it, having never touched the game in his life. No doubt, playing games with similar mechanisms like Minecraft and Terraria prepared him, but it still amazed me. Within a short time of actually playing the game, he had an empire of monkeys doing his work for him as I tired myself hacking down trees with what looked like a piece of flint.
When Jesus healed sick people, he always said, “Your faith has made you whole.” He never said, “Your correct doctrine, your orthodoxy, your dogmatism have healed you.”
~ Richard Rohr, What the Mystics Know
Currently reading: The Pilgrim’s Compass by Paul H. Lang 📚. I just started, but I’m really identifying with the comparisons between early Christians and current Christians. Dr. Lang just started as the pastor of our church, and that makes me especially eager read the book.
Autumn in empire.
It’s that time of year again. The spooks are out.
📚 What the Mystics Know - Richard Rohr: This one is a bit more scattered than Rohr’s other books. It takes chunks of wisdom and divides them up throughout miniature chapters. They all have purpose, but you have to dig to find the ones that speak to you.
I thought Libby was a wonderful books app with a terrible selection. After looking at the NYC library, I realized that it is our county library that has the poor selection.
Thanks be to God that the president seems to be okay after contracting COVID, but I had sincerely hoped his brush with it would change his outlook, like Ebeneezer Scrooge after the visits from the spirits of Christmas.
It has been too long since I’ve listened to Hammock and their playlist of songs for sleep is a good way to get reacquainted.
🎵 Softer Still - Turtle Bay: This song and video aren’t new. I first heard the track while on a beach trip in 2018, when it showed up on my Apple New Music playlist. Maybe it was the sand between my toes, but it seemed just the right time to be listening to a song about escaping to an island paradise. However, the vinyl record was just released for the accompanying album, Nuances, so this seemed like a perfect video with which to close out this summer.
Not to sound like the teaser to a typical Medium article, but one of my favorite vinyl instagrammers sustained a serious brain injury in a bike accident a few months ago and has found herself happier than ever.
The identity politics that more and more defines the left has a built-in political flaw. It divides into groups rather than uniting across groups; it offers a cogent attack on the injustices and lies of the past and present, rather than an inspiring vision of an America that will be.
~ George Packer, Make America Again, The Atlantic
🎵Bat for Lashes - Daniel: With the current popularity of the Cobra Kai series, it seems like an appropriate time to revisit Natasha Khan’s 2009 emotional tribute to the Karate Kid himself, Daniel LaRusso. I’m posting the live version from The Late Show here because I find the official video to be kind of creepy. Also, although Khan has reworked the arrangements for this song a few times, most of the live versions, including this one, feature the Seventeen Seconds guitar sounds much more prominently in the mix.
One of my biggest questions about iPadOS 14 is why it made a picture of a gummy pizza I took a few years ago a widget.
Copying handwritten notes as text was the feature in iPadOS 14 to which I was most looking forward. I was pretty convinced it was going to be unreliable, though. I’m happy to say that, so far, I’ve been proven wrong. Seems pretty solid.
Back in May, which now somehow seems like years ago, a bunch of folks with guns protesting COVID19-related restrictions paraded around the streets of neighboring downtown Raleigh, intimidating pedestrians and ordering submarine sandwiches. The ridiculousness of people with weapons such as inert rocket launchers ordering from the sandwich artists at a Subway franchise prompted the creation of many an internet meme.
On the Friday night that started a holiday weekend, I found myself helping to troubleshoot an application outage that had come up about unexpectedly. It was an interesting start to the weekend and I am thankful for the technical acumen of my coworkers (near and far) for helping us to get through the crisis. Afterward, it was slightly past my normal bedtime, but having been keyed up by the night’s events, I felt there were miles to go before sleep.
For a long time now, I’ve had a hard time fitting in politically. I’m adrift in the sea of American politics and even religion I know I’m not alone. I consider myself neither conservative nor progressive. When you study the Bible and Christianity, it’s hard to fit the beliefs you derive into the neat little packages that are offered by our political parties and cultural warriors.
I’m old enough to remember versions of Street Fighter where you didn’t have to download updates, accept multiple license agreements, pick a name, view 20+ screens of tutorials and info, plus watch an ad before you could play a match.
The Republicans of today would make Richard Nixon blush.
After a virtual worship service, I put on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (AKA the most popular jazz album of all time). My youngest son asked if it was Charlie Brown music. My oldest son asked if I was listening to NPR. It’s all in your reference points, I guess.
From a purely meteorological standpoint, I want to argue that thunder doesn’t only happen when it’s raining, but when the statement comes out of Stevie Nicks’ mouth, it sounds irrefutable.
After Amazon stopped shipping vinyl records, in the spring, to prioritize orders of more critical goods, I wondered about how the record industry would fare. Several months later, I have my answer. Amidst a pandemic, sales of records are still climbing.
To accept our worthiness as a complete gift that was locked in place before we drew our first breath.
Then we can go back to posting photos, music videos, and jokes on the internet like we used to do.
I understand where he is coming from. I hope that there is a future where there is less to protest about, and less division, so we can go back to the way we used to live our online lives.
Within a minute of us bringing home this basket for the little guy’s school supplies, it had already been claimed.
We’re getting a brief respite from the heat, here in NC. Still deadheading marigolds that look like melted ice cream cones, though.
📚 William James - The Varieties of Religious Experience: Having majored in psychology and having studied religion, I’m surprised I never heard of this book. Of particular interest is the examination of the mind-cure movement and its relation to traditional religious beliefs.
🎵 Soccer Mommy - Who’s Going to Drive You Home?: Until now, I’ve been largely immune to the hype surrounding Soccer Mommy. Then I heard this cover of the Cars off of the new Soccer Mommy and Friends singles series.
Is the government afraid to ask Americans to make material changes to support the country? When we were at war, the U.S. used to call for citizens to sacrifice for the war effort. Rationing of materials like gas was one of the ways people could make sure that they supported the military. Buying war bonds was another. Propaganda posters unabashedly correlated personal patriotism with what you were doing to help America win a conflict.
If I’m reading popular sentiment right, I’m supposed to be okay with Apple’s investments helping to prop up a regime that has sent a million people to concentration camps and upset if Epic Games can’t squeeze every last dime out of the massively profitable Fortnite.
Oh wow, after a few years, reigning clipboard app champ Copied just got updated.
One song that I’m pretty sure won’t be playing at campaign rallies: “Kamala’s Too Nice” by Screeching Weasel.
📺 The Story of God (w/ Morgan Freeman) : Each episode features a look across how faiths deal with a specific topic, such as the afterlife or sin. Morgan is a storyteller par excellence and his open-mindedness and enthusiasm makes the show work.
When Wilco’s incredibly critically acclaimed album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, I remember reading a review of it on Amazon. To paraphrase the review, it said this is an amazing album, but you have to get it on compact disc. It assured the aspiring listener that on the CD, you could hear things that you wouldn’t hear on the MP3’s. Not long after that, I went to my friend’s record store, CD Alley, in Chapel Hill.
This is something for Christians to think about, as we get closer to Election Day. Christians will be persecuted. It still happens today, but not as much since the church became respectable under Constantine. There is a good example of a leader who led the church in the wrong direction and changed the focus. We have never recovered. Some are still looking for another Constantine instead of the return of Jesus.
The days are piling up on one another. Their beginning, middle and end feel strikingly familiar. One bleeds into the next. I’ve heard others describe it as Groundhog Day. At some point during this endless string of days, it became clear to me that I had to do something to get my boys out of the house. We limit even their ability to go with us to stores to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID.
📺 Pickathon - Khruangbin: This show (recorded last year) was scorching. The band played their back catalog as well as a a medley of covers that included Warren G/Nate Dogg, Dre, Spandau Ballet and Chris Isaak plus a later tribute to Dick Dale. Mind blowing.
Filmed in Osaka and Kyoto, this short film by Brett Novak follows Japanese skateboarder Isamu Yamamoto as he freestyles his way around ancient structures. Isamu is obviously deeply influenced by Rodney Mullen, and brings back a style of skateboarding that hasn't been seen much since Mullen and Per Welinder ruled the streets in the 80's. Mullen was a spectator, when, at the age of 14, Yamamoto took first place at the World Freestyle Round-Up Skateboarding Championships in BC, Canada.
I find myself in the most unusual position of agreeing with Attorney General William Barr. Barr believes that major tech companies are making serious compromises in order to get access to the Chinese labor and consumer market.
"The Chinese Communist Party thinks in terms of decades and centuries, while we tend to focus on the next quarterly earnings report,” Barr said. “America’s big tech companies have also allowed themselves to become pawns of Chinese influence.”
In the article, one of the tech companies named, Apple, declined to comment. How could they offer any explanation? They are at the mercy of China for the products that are made almost entirely in that country.
The Micro.blog platform has been growing lately, and part of the growth has been through plugins and new apps. Plugins are a welcome additions to the base M.b. hosted blogging experience. They do simple but helpful things, like adding open graph and Twitter cards for rich previews of content on various platforms, site search and footnote popups. Plugins feel like a big step in the maturity of the platform and allow those with the technical savvy to extend the features of the service.
The little guy was asking to get Minecraft Dungeons yesterday. I told him we would hold off and read some reviews. About 1/2 hour later, Uncle Tommy showed up unexpectedly with Christmas in July presents, one of which was a DL code for Minecraft Dungeons.
🎵 The passing of Richard Swift was a tragedy and the musical legacy he left behind, not just through his own compositions, but through the production of the music of others, is an important one. I once wrote that Damian Jurado’s bright and beautiful “A.M. AM” (you might recognize the song if you watched Wild Wild Country on Netflix) had more of Swift in it than it did Jurado.
One band that recorded with Swift was Pure Bathing Culture. As a remembrance of his work, they have just released a new EP, Carrido, that was created in Swift’s studio, National Freedom. In addition to recording the EP there, they also covered my favorite Swift song, “Would You?” from his Ground Trouble Jaw EP. It’s an exquisite version, with all of the shimmering softness we’ve come to expect from Pure Bathing Culture. Take a listen below.
The ancients are updating. A collage.
Friday Night Videos: Bad Habit
This is a short one, and I’d rather some new full-length music from the Ice Choir, but the lo-fi beats and animated video make this enjoyable.
Only the best accommodations.
Politico has a piece on why the Facebook boycott by major companies likely neither cost the companies much nor impact Facebook very much. The timing is particularly important. The three reasons:
This is during a historically slow sales month.
It is happening happening during a recession.
It coincides with the low-spending period of semi-quarantine.
They make the point with an apt analogy.
Asking a corporation to boycott Facebook in July 2020 is a little like asking a casual drinker to observe Lent by giving up alcohol in a dry county.
I share the skepticism that this movement will gain much but another round of false contrition from Facebook, but I would love to be proven wrong.
🎵 Brothertiger - Fundamentals, Vol. 1: This EP is a departure from the normal sound of Brothertiger and not just because it eschews vocals in favor of completely instrumental tracks. The band is typically very good at crafting some of the catchier glo-fi songs you are likely to hear but Fundamentals takes the direction of organic sounding electronic soundscapes. The EP is described as “a collection of instrumentals improvised through livestreaming.” Think along the lines of Tycho. I’ve had this as heavy rotation working music and will probably keep it there until it starts getting played incessantly between segments on NPR.
I am profoundly grateful for many blessings, but you will have to forgive me if I don’t feel like celebrating the U.S. today.
Michael Flarup believes the new UI in MacOS Big Sur is going to bring back a lot more creativity in visual design. In a post on the subject, Flarup writes about the possibilities that are being opened up by the new interface and its guidelines.
With this approach Apple is legalising a visual design expressiveness that we haven’t seen from them in almost a decade. It’s like a ban has been lifted on fun. This will severely loosen the grip of minimalistic visual design and raise the bar for pixel pushers everywhere. Your glyph on a colored background is about to get some serious visual competition.
I’m very excited to see MacOS get a fresh coat of paint, but it does feel a bit like everything old is new again.
Image by Charles Deluvio from Unsplash Andrew Carter writes for the News and Observer on how wearing a mask became a political issue. In the piece, he describes how a group called ReopenNC recently organized a protest against current restrictions put in place by the governor. When a reporter asked a man at the protest to discuss his thoughts on wearing face coverings, he responded with a sarcastic dismissal.
This comes as no surprise. When I was a kid, I remember hearing this song in an anti-drug film we watched in health class. I was stunned by this guy who sounded like a demon screaming “master” over and over again. Drug addiction was presented as a devastating and uncompromising form of slavery. No track could have made the prospect of cocaine addiction sound more terrifying. “Master of Puppets” is a song that was much needed in the powder-powered 80’s when it came out. From the jolting start, which could legitimately give you whiplash, to the darkly ponderous bridge, to the sounds of cruel laughter at the end, “Master of Puppets” packs a lot of impact in its 8+ minutes.
📚 The Book of Common Prayer (a biography) - Alan Jacobs: Hardly a book you would think of as a summertime poolside page turner, but this book has me engrossed. The intersections of the different branches of the Christian tree never cease to fascinate.
I’ll cut my wife’s bangs during this pandemic, but I demand complete creative control over the process.
Thanks, but no thanks, to that bridge to nowhere. A collage.
I was very close to leaving Instagram after I started seeing political ads a few weeks ago. I have never been on Facebook and deeply dislike some of the choices the company has made. However, I could always rationalize being on Instagram because politics has such a low profile on the service. Politics was rarely discussed (at least in my feed) and there were no political ads. I referenced this in a post I wrote about rejoining the service a few years ago. It’s really what kept me hanging on to Instagram after Facebook decided to allow dishonesty in political ads on their platform.
Once the ads started to appear, I stopped opening the Instagram app. I had not yet deleted my account, waiting and hoping that things would change. It appears that they will soon do just that, according to this Facebook post.
Political ads play an important role in every election – and this year will be no exception. People have told us they want the option to see fewer political ads on Facebook and Instagram. After announcing this feature earlier this year we are now making it available as part of our preparations for the 2020 US elections.
I’m happy to hear this because I enjoy Instagram. I’m just disappointed that the OwnYourGram service that syndicates Instagram posts to your blog no longer seems to work.
“Mandatum” by Lawrence OP via Flickr Matt Taibbi has a thought-provoking edition of his newsletter where he ponders whether journalism is destroying itself with its changing mission of asking hard questions to one of trying not to offend. He makes some good points, although some of his examples of cancel culture might not be entirely accurate. What struck me, though, was a particular paragraph listing situations where people were trying hard to show their respect for the African American community.
One of my favorite albums this year has been TOPS I Feel Alive. I know I’ve been down on music algorithms in the past, but this was one recommended by Apple Music in my New Music Playlist and I was instantly smitten. I think I played the title track around 100x the first couple of days after I heard it and a delivery of Coke bottle clear vinyl was not long behind that.
📚 Catalyst - James Luceno: Although Rogue One was one of my favorite Star Wars films, I didn’t have high hopes for its prequel. I’ve been kind of skeptical of SW books. However, I loved this one. As a commenter said, it’s like House of Cards set in the Star Wars universe.
Adult coloring some goths.
Has anyone ever listened to “Regress No Way” by 7 Seconds while sipping chamomile tea?
Bad Brains at the 9:30 Club in 1983. Image by Malco23 courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. I’m not normally a huge fan of recorded live music. Very few of my most treasured albums were recorded in a live context. The majority of the time, I find live recordings to be inferior versions of their studio-recorded counterparts. Right now, though, I’m mostly home bound, unable to attend gatherings where music would be played.
I do not want this moment to pass with the changing of the news cycle. I want these fires to remain lit until there is reason to put them out. I don’t mean the literal fires and I don’t mean the looting that is destroying communities and livelihoods that were already in danger from the pandemic. I mean the protests that catch people’s attention and make them take a pause and start thinking about what right looks like and how we get there.
McKay Coppins writes for the Atlantic about the Christians who loved the president posing with a Bible in front of a church. I’ve read a lot of pieces about the current president and his faith (or lack thereof). I don’t think two sentences better capture the dynamic than the following.
To Trump, the Bible and the church are not symbols of faith; they are weapons of culture war. And to many of his Christian supporters watching at home, the pandering wasn’t an act of inauthenticity; it was a sign of allegiance—and shared dominance.
On a related note, I’ve read so many pieces from the Atlantic lately that I should probably start supporting them monetarily.
These kinds of artwork critters are found in various places during our neighborhood walks.
I have never been so grateful for my self-imposed screen time limit on social media than I have these last few days.
Downtown Raleigh, like some other major metro downtowns, was ablaze last night. A couple of hours of peaceful demonstrations gave way to riotous violence and frustration boiled over into destruction. “Nearly every shop along Fayetteville Street had shattered windows.”
Before the violence started, the police presence made Raleigh look like it had been taken over by a military junta. From WRAL.com, police in riot gear in Raleigh Clearly, the city was preparing for the kind of chaos that was to come.
Protesters photo by Lorie Shaull via Flickr “Our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
While citizens riot in Minneapolis and people begin to say “enough,” the president of this country can only think that the proper response to a disproportionate use of force is another disproportionate use of force. For using the words of other racist leaders of the past, to call for potentially lethal violence upon US citizens, he has been censured by Twitter.
In this week’s Moore To The Point newsletter, Russell Moore dives into conspiracy theories, with an emphasis on their context in Christian circles. The reason that crazy conspiracy theories get a hearing in Christian circles is not because most Christians believe them. In talking with a pastor with flat-earth, moon-landing denialists in his church, I asked, “How many of your people are convinced by that stuff?” He said, “No one but the one family, but the people who think the earth is not flat don’t wake up in the morning caring about that; these people do.
My 2018 iPad Pro with Magic Trackpad 2 I bought an iPad Pro back in 2018, when I was studying for one of the AWS exams. It was both a reward to myself and a tool for taking notes on the exam topics. I have been using it heavily ever since. When the COVID crisis forced many of us knowledge workers home, I had to rework my home office configuration.
Marius Masalar has some thoughts about blogging and link posts. Masalar sees a lot of value in them and the role they play in the makeup of the IndieWeb. At their best, link posts are a way for independent bloggers to engage with and continue a conversation started by one of their fellows.
We use them to boost each other up, offer constructive criticism, point out other views, or amplify a message we believe in.
Lofi beatmaker extraordinare and all around great guy Takahiro Fuchigami put together a compilation (also on Spotify) of his work to commemorate a decade of making music. Here is his recommendation for listening. Please enjoy when you study, cook, clean your place, and as your store BGM. It’s enjoyable at any situation. Please put the music beside of you and make your time peace and calm. This collection would make an excellent soundtrack to playing the game Skate City or to just watching a street scene.
I’ve been trying Wordpress out for a long time. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many innocent AWS EC2 instances died horrible deaths so I could experiment with self-hosted Wordpress installations. It’s almost sadistic. Yet I keep checking out the platform, hoping to find that perfect theme, and that ideal blogging workflow that allows me to write in a good text editor, post through a robust API and like the way it comes out when a reader sees it.
People who want church to be more traditional make a good point. But they don’t typically aim far enough back in time. They want to go back fifty years. We should go crack 1900 years, before Constantine, before priests, before church buildings, before the Lord’s supper became a sacrifice, before women we locked out of ministry. That’s our tradition.
Randall McRoberts Amen.
🎮 While everyone else is playing Animal Crossing, my lady friend is working her way through Stardude Valley. She goes against the grain.
Radiance. A collage.
This time of year can be busy with Motörhead Day (the 8th of May) following so closely in the heels of Star Wars Day. Many people report feeling exhausted during the holiday season. Pace yourselves.
Disney wisely chose to observe what has become an annual tradition of celebrating the Star Wars universe to release the last of the Skywalker series, The Rise of Skywalker on their Disney+ streaming video service. The movie debuted to mixed reactions from fans and critics. There were plenty of think pieces arguing over the faults in the narrative and the ending of the iconic series, and one would expect no less for something that has become as polarizing as the Star Wars series.
Hoops new EP, English Breakfast, takes what is probably Coldplay’s best song and adds a bit of trip-hop to it. The vocals are smothered and the beat rules the song.
For the b-side, they cover “Reflections After Jane” by the Clientele.
English Breakfast by Hoops Happy Bandcamp Day, everyone. For a few more hours, Bandcamp is waiving all of their fees to help artists in the time of COVID-19, when touring is impossible.
Jeremy D. Larsen, writing for Pitchfork, uses the riotous 1913 Paris debut performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to illustrate the difficulty our brains have in enjoying new music. The performance, to perhaps understate the effect, took its audience outside of their sonic comfort zones. Many members of the audience could not fathom this new music; their brains—figuratively, but to a certain extent, literally—broke. A brawl ensued, vegetables were thrown, and 40 people were ejected from the theater.
After putting out a successful album in 2018, an illness left Gia Margaret without the ability to sing for about a year. To cope, she made an ambient album.
The first video from the album is for a song called ‘Body.’ Something about the juxtaposition of the gentleness of the track and the samples from Alan Watts with the roaring excitement of a monster truck rally strikes a chord.
In his latest newsletter, Chris Bowler spends a bit of time on the Roam note taking service that is currently in beta. His reference for Roam was Drew Coffman. I love Drew, and he attaches to new ideas with the zeal of an ancient Athenian. Roam bares more resemblance to a wiki than anything else, but its proponents insist it’s a completely new way of thinking about note taking. The service is thick with enthusiastic documentation on how to use it for different purposes, adapting it to GTD, increasing your speed and productivity with a plethora of keyboard shortcuts, etc.
When Austin Kleon started making zines out of a single piece of paper, and then kept on making them, I knew at some point, I would have to try my hand at it. Despite what those who mean well keep suggesting, not everyone has a lot more time on their hands because of the COVID-19 restrictions. I have gained a bit of time in dropping my commute to and from the office, though. This has opened up some space for creativity and craft.
In love with the cut and paste zine culture of the early nineties, I made my first zine with a typewriter and some photo copiers in 1993 or 1994. With ideas borrowed from some other zines and some amateurish writing, I put together a few issues and dropped them in the found materials spaces at local record stores. Hoping to connect with a kindred spirit or two, I included my mailing address on the back of each copy.
The hand-crafted zines of the era felt right at home with the musical scenes that were emerging at the time. The DIY aesthetic was blooming and cut and paste collages encapsulated that aesthetic perfectly. Some of the pillars of the indie rock scene adorned their album covers with surrealist mixed media collages.
After his months-in-the-planning shoot for a new song got cancelled, due to COVID-19, Ernest Greene from Washed Out fan-sourced the video. He compiled clips sent in from over 1200 fans to comprise the video for “Too Late.” Both the song and the video come across as authentic Washed Out. This is Greene in default glo-fi mode and, after a lot of experimentation on the last record, it’s probably a welcome return to form.
It’s surprising to see that the “iLamp” version of the iMac, which hasn’t been sold for 15 years, continues to appear in new places. This version of the iMac stands out in the line of products as being the most unusual. It is the only iMac to feature most of the guts in the stand, instead of behind the display.
Outer Peace, by Toro Y Moi (2019) I was in my second round of college when these models were starting to be phased out.
Most of the time, dream pop isn’t known for being particularly challenging. Still, Noble Oak’s new single, “Just A Game” and the accompanying in-studio performance video is probably some of the most accessible dream pop to come out in recent memory. If terrestrial radio was just a little bit less terrible, I could imagine this sounding perfect coming over the air waves on a warm summer day. With just the right amount of hazy tenderness, the track wraps the listener in a comforting sense of wistful melancholy.
[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=1694396191 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=e99708 tracklist=false artwork=small track=868700961]
This week in worship, in place of a traditional sermon, our worship leaders engaged in the practice of havruta (learning in pairs). The text that was discussed was Ezekiel 37:1-14. The LORD’s power overcame me, and while I was in the LORD’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones.
Philip Christman implores us, in Volume 99 of The Tourist, when we are tempted to write another “What is art in the face of ___________,” piece, to remember that C.S. Lewis already did it. Though a Christman uses slightly stronger language than I am willing to employ here, he makes his point. During the Second World War, Lewis wrote “Learning in War-time” as a sermon that he preached in 1939.
I am happy that my church decided to hold virtual worship service this morning, complete with singing, responsive liturgy, sermon and passing of peace. I wasn’t thrilled that it was done through Facebook, a platform with which I have many reservations (to be charitable). Our church isn’t used to this kind of thing, though, so choosing a platform for broadcasting is just one more hurdle to be surmounted as quickly as possible.
Andy Nicolaides from The Dent has a post about continuing to care about things that may seem inconsequential during these times of isolation and illness. He emphasizes that it’s okay to look forward.
If any of you reading this have been thinking there’s no point in starting that new podcast you’ve had on your mind for a while, or writing a blog post about how much you like that one episode of Star Trek, or whatever, I ask you to reconsider.
The vinyl industry didn’t need another piece of bad news, after the delay of Record Store Day, and the fire at one of the two lacquer manufacturing plants. The latest blow is that Amazon will stop stocking records in order to retain shelf space for more critical products during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” Amazon said in a statement to third-party sellers this week (via Variety ).
Photo by Portuguese Gravity on Unsplash Inspired by Austin Kleon, Omar created a one page zine, about living through quarantine in China during the Coronavirus outbreak. He has also been blogging regular updates about what the isolation has been like. The quarantine not only excludes contact with others, but for families, it tests your internal dynamics.
To answer the question of what people would do if stuck inside all day, Arsh Raziuddin from the Atlantic posits this:
🎮 The Final Fantasy 7 remake is really well done. Gorgeous, cinematic, and fantastic at managing the learning curve. Too bad Barret has a commanding lead in the race for most annoying video game character ever.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a song firmly in the classic shoegaze genre start out with such a lofi stripped down demo feel. One might even suggest the beginning of the song feels sort of haunting. The intro serves as a stark contrast to the blast of fuzz and reverb that adorn the wandering guitars when the song kicks in, though. Laveda has a full-length record coming out in the early part of this year and “Ghost” is a strong enticement to wait for its release.
A few months ago, Consequence of Sound reported on Disney passing on the chance to buy Twitter because, in the words of Disney chief Bob Iger, “the nastiness is extraordinary.” Gladiatrix fight photo by Hans Splinter from flickr. Once upon a time, way back in 2017, there was a little website called Twitter that caught the eyes of the monolith Disney. The idea at the time was for Disney to acquire Twitter to help modernize its distribution, The New York Times reports.
Once upon a time, way back in 2017, there was a little website called Twitter that caught the eyes of the monolith Disney. The idea at the time was for Disney to acquire Twitter to help modernize its distribution, The New York Times reports. When Iger saw the downsides of Twitter firsthand, though, he realized the deal couldn’t possibly be worth it. He began feeling intense dread and knew he had to reject the deal.
Whether the overall nastiness started with Gamergate or the Trump presidential campaign, by 2017, it had hit critical mass. Around the same time as the revelation about the Disney purchase, Tim Challies wrote about “becoming a Kwitter.”
At the top of the list is the simple reality that I may have the wrong disposition for Twitter. The man just doesn’t fit the medium. Over the past few years I’ve awakened to the reality that in many ways I am a weak person. I am weak physically, constitutionally, and in some ways emotionally. Especially, I’ve learned that I am easily fatigued, drained, or discouraged when involved in unnecessary conflict or even when witnessing it. If my unsanctified disposition is toward cowardice and running away, I believe my sanctified disposition is toward peace and peacemaking. Yet Twitter is a medium that seems to generate conflict and to thrive upon it. I find it a discouraging and intimidating place to be. I derive negligible pleasure from it. It adds nothing necessary to my life and very little that’s truly beneficial.
I can relate to the admission of being weak in some ways and though I’m not usually conflict averse IRL, I see online conflict as mostly unproductive. Rarely do hostile exchanges result in changed minds or reconciliation. On a platform like Twitter, it can also feel like conflict can be unexpected and especially intrusive.
I was caught off guard by this aspect of the platform one Sunday a couple of years ago when I quoted something that I had read in a popular newsletter and liked and with which I identified. I tweeted the quote with attribution. I did find the quote on a Twitter but I couldn’t use the retweet or quote features because the original tweet had some additional comments that didn’t really add context. So I used the good old copy and paste and throw some quotes around the copied text method. I then added “(x Twitter handle) has said:.” Pretty simple, right?
🍿 The Big Sick: I had been wanting to see this movie for some time but it seemed especially appropriate while going through health challenges. Really funny and touching. Such a fascinating and lovely true story.
Good times, great oldies.
That thing where you listen to a competently conducted interview that nevertheless doesn’t address the questions you have in your own head.
Patrick Rhone writes about why he used Amazon for affiliate links and why he no longer does so. He now favors a site called Indiebound, which serves to federate a group of independent bookstores and positions itself as the conscientious consumer alternative to Amazon.
In the post, Rhone quotes Dan J on the danger of using the ubiquitous e-commerce site for book recommendations.
The problem with linking to Amazon as a “safe default” is the same as the problem with just publishing your book on Amazon and calling it a day: it entrenches Amazon as The One True Place Where Books Are, and, while convenient, that’s not good… it’s not good for society to have one big private corporation responsible for distributing such a huge proportion of the collective written work of the human race.
The Mandolorian Unofficial Wallpaper From Deviantart, a beautifully subtle Mandalorian wallpaper in an assortment of colors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.
Baby Yoda forever!
It may have been Valentine’s Day, but that didn’t prevent my lady friend and I from engaging in our Friday night tradition of doing Apple New Music playlist bingo.
“Does anyone have the new track by Camel Power Club?”
This winner of the Best Bocumentary (Short Subject) Oscar this year went to the film Learning To Skate In A War Zone (If You're A Girl), about the courageous girl skateboarders in Afghanistan. [vimeo.com/369606564](https://vimeo.com/369606564) I fear for the individuals involved in this just as I revel in their enthusiasm. Having been a skateboarder myself, I recognize what an important outlet it can be and I believe that goes doubly for these girls from Afghanistan.
John Pavlovitz found himself buying bananas the day after his father died. He was going through such a normal part of life, but inside he felt anything but normal. Everyone around you; the people you share the grocery store line with, pass in traffic, sit next to at work, encounter on social media, and see across the kitchen table—they’re all experiencing the collateral damage of living. They are all grieving someone, missing someone, worried about someone.
Every week, Medium sends an email about an article urging people not to “fall in love with a smart, introverted man.” For some reason, they seem to feel this is a particularly clear and present danger for me.
The DMV forces you to pay extra to submit vehicle property taxes via a chatbot. Someone please explain to me how having a faux conversation about my address beats using a form.
Dinosaur Jr. - Green Mind Us old dudes are suckers for reissues of our favorite records. I’ve owned Green Mind by Dinosaur Jr. on cassette, compact disc and vinyl. Still, when I saw another colored vinyl version newly available for sale, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to make a purchase. It’s especially hard to resist that kind of acquisition when you believe that, after the apocalypse, the only currency worth anything will be vinyl records.
Image via Bruce Timothy Mans Music is easier than ever to discover. Surely this is a triumph and yet, it makes me kind of sad when I think about how one doesn't have to search out and find music in traditional ways anymore. Pitchfork and Rolling Stone may still be relevant, but you don't need the encyclopedic knowledge of a music critic to tell you what you might like these days.
Knowing E.B., this tweet will probably be purged soon, but I’m linking to it because it was inspirational to me this morning.
It has been raining for days. It feels like we will all be living underwater soon. We’ll try to make casual conversation, but only air bubbles will escape our mouths.
It’s in the 70’s in January here in NC. The windows are open and the sirens outside sound so close and so desperate.
Thinking about switching from Ghost hosted on Digital Ocean back to Micro.blog hosting. Ghost is great, but M.b. is fast, easy, fun and has a great community built-in. Considering doing some more theme customizations, but I may need some help.
This year, around the holiday season, I’ve had a shift in my thinking about Christmas and the period of waiting that comes before. In the past, I’ve thought of the season of Advent as a joyous preparatory time for the a celebration that is Christmas. The onslaught of cheerful Christmas songs, that starts just as the tryptophan induced coma from Thanksgiving wears off, contributes to that way of framing things. Bing lets you know when it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and he doesn’t seem at all concerned that the holiday is almost a month away.
According to a new Pew Research poll, the number of Republicans who say presidents could operate more effectively if they did not have to worry so much about Congress and the courts has increased 16 percentage points since last year, from 27% to 43%. Among only those classified as conservative Republicans, the number of those in favor of more presidential power has doubled in the past year. The fears that this president has promoted the idea of a totalitarian state to his followers seems to have been well founded.
I saw my first show at a club in 1993, at the venerable Local 506, on Franklin St. in Chapel Hill. The venue is still there, nestled snugly between two Indian restaurants. Now I typically go to see a band there every couple of years or so. At that initial show, I saw Polvo, with the classic lineup of Ash Bowie, Dave Brylawski, Steve Popson and Eddie Watkins. My first rock show was supposed to be seeing Mudhoney the previous year, at the 9:30 Club in DC, where my cousin worked.