Listened Afterworld, by All India Radio from All India Radio

Afterworld was written and recorded during Australia’s coronavirus lockdown. It was a chance to do something different and take some risks. I wanted to create something with a bit more depth than my previous album, Eternal, which, in the spirit of fun, was thrown together quick and dirty. With Afterworld, I wanted to slow things down, breathe in the air, let the guest artists do their thing without interference and hopefully create some music that moves people. I hope I’ve succeeded.

I remember being mesmerised by 002, especially the track Permanent Revolutions. I saw them perform with La Bradford at the Corner Hotel in 2002. However, my tastes seem to drift elsewhere. Of late, I have listened to a few ambient pieces as they have come into my New Releases never completely drawn in. However, Afterworld seems like something more. Maybe it is the additional of vocals, I’m not sure, but I have found it a great album to lose yourself to. I particularly love the cover of Pink Floyd’s Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.

Place between Shabason, Krgovich & Harris’ Florence and Brian and Roger Eno’s Mixing Colours

Bookmarked Stepping into the portal – Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

You step into the portal and sometimes discover what you didn’t know want to know.

That is the gamble. The roll of the dice.

A book is the safest portal, and a diary is the second-safest portal. They are both private. When it comes to public portals, a blog, I think, is one of the safest, most forgiving portals.

I stepped into the portal a few hours ago and I discovered some things and made some connections that I hadn’t before.

Now I’m going to hit “publish” and step out.

Austin Kleon steps into the digital portal that is his blog as a means of reflecting about the spaces we have to imagine a different world. These include games, books and writing. Sometimes I wonder if we avoid some portals for fear we may not come back?
Listened studio album by Julia Stone from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
I initially saw this album show up in my ‘released’ feed, but overlooked it based on preconceptions about what a ‘Julia Stone’ album meant. However, I was intrigued after listening to Stone on the Take 5 Podcast. Maybe it was the involvement of Thomas Bartlett and Annie Clark, or the pop hooks, whatever it is, I have not stopped listening.

Place between Sarah Blasko and Mark Ronson’s sad bangers.

Bookmarked Rebecca Solnit: How Donald Trump Wanted the End of History (Literary Hub)

A Hundred Days Into the New Era, Looking Back on the Old

Rebecca Solnit looks back on Donald Trump’s legacy and reflects on his effort to ‘end history’. I remember trying to make sense of Trump’s election win, thinking that it might be bad, but I never considered it would be this absurd. What I like about Solnit’s piece is that she is not naive enough to think that she can explain what happened simply. In some attempt to make sense of it all, Solnit instead turns to poetics:

The years felt like a constant barrage of insults to fact, truth, science, of attacks on laws, on rights, on targeted populations

Whether or not you were buying what he was selling, he was winning by making noise and getting away with it.

It was like living in the aftermath of an earthquake, when the aftershocks can come at any time, or in a place where explosions happen unpredictably, or with an unstable abuser, and in fact it was living with an unstable abuser, who was on one hand not in the house with us and on the other hand was our president and the most powerful person on earth.

In the first months of the Trump presidency, I saw a journalist joking on Twitter, “I went out to lunch. WHAT HAPPENED?” because the sheer unpredictability meant you might miss something dramatic if you took your eyes off the drama for even the length of a lunchtime.

[W]e were Sisyphus, forever pushing boulders of coherence up a slippery hill, and the supply of boulders seemed inexhaustible, and they had a tendency to roll down again.

We were forever discovering and forgetting and rediscovering this story, as though a kind of amnesia had seized us, and that was another way that time itself seemed disordered. It was as though we were living in a version of Groundhog Day in which, unlike the plot of that movie, we would never get the story right enough for it to escape the cycle.

It felt as if the United States was a woman who had filed for divorce from her abuser, and here he came in all his furious confusion, convinced he could terrorize her into patching things up.

Listened What should become of the office? from ABC Radio National

Will the experience of working-from-home make employees reluctant to resume the daily struggle with traffic or public transportation, or to put up with irritating co-workers and unproductive work environments? Or will we discover that we’ve missed something precious in being deprived of interactions with others?

Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens speak with Gideon Haigh about his book The Momentous, Uneventful Day: A Requiem for the Office. With so many forced to work offsite during the pandemic, the three consider the current purpose of the office and its futute moving forward.

Although many have raised fears associated with absenteeism, there is also a danger of presenteeism, where because you are present you are productive. One of the things to come out of the pandemic is the danger of the cult of reproducibility. Technology is not a direct substitution for face-to-face interactions. That is, not everything done in the office can be done at home, and vice versa. Both spaces are unique, with their own features and affordances, forever changing over time. For example, working from home can be more conducive for the deeper appreciation of ideas, whereas being in the presence of others often forces you to into answers. In addition to the space, the conditions of work changes things. For example, when people are mandated to work from home, this takes away from the opportunities to break up the day.

In addition to the space itself, there is the transition between different performances that occurs. Office life is a performance, but maybe just a different performance. Working from home offers certain lifestyle possibilities. With the lose of the commute, the transition between life and work becomes blurred. Associated with this, the technology we have come to depend upon has created something of a templated self, where we are conditioned to work in a particular way. This has all created the conditions for a perpetual work environment which has colonised the home. Work is subsequently no longer a vocation and deep ownership.

For me, this adds to Jennifer Moss’ discussion of burnout, Cal Newport’s exploration of productivity hacks, and Sean Blanda’s fear about the way in which remote work often becomes about tasks, rather than people.

Bookmarked The Healing Power of JavaScript by Craig Mod (WIRED)

For some of us—isolates, happy in the dark—code is therapy, an escape and a path to hope in a troubled world.

Craig Mod talks about the meditative nature of coding and its abolity to provide some control in moments when the world seems to be spiraling. “An escape with forward momentum.”

Break the problem into pieces. Put them into a to-do app (I use and love Things). This is how a creative universe is made. Each day, I’d brush aside the general collapse of society that seemed to be happening outside of the frame of my life, and dive into search work, picking off a to-do. Covid was large; my to-do list was reasonable.

Therein lies part of the attraction: moving through that jumble — with all of its perverted poetics of grep and vi and git and apache and .ini — and doing so with a fingers-floating-across-the-keyboard balletic grace, is exhilarating. You feel like an alchemist. And you are. You type esoteric words — near gibberish — into a line-by-line text interface, and with a rush not unlike pulling Excalibur from the stone, you’ve just scaffolded a simple application that can instantly be accessed by a vast number of humans worldwide.

Although coding maybe therapy, I think the other challenge is finding an itch worth scratching.

The challenge to me is to go beyond the question of instruction and understanding of different languages. Beyond debates about fitting it within an already crowded curriculum. Instead the focus should be on creating the conditions in which students are able to take action and create new possibilities. Maybe this involves Minecraft, Ozobot or Spheros, maybe it doesn’t. Most importantly it involves going beyond worrying about training or competency, as Ian Chunn would have it, and instead embracing the world of making by leading the learning.

Mod also provides some background to the process behind writing the piece.

Liked Getting out from under the influence – Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

In a Talk at Google, Saunders explained that if a writer is lucky, they get to a point where they realize that the voice that they’re imitating simply can’t cover their own worldview. A new voice is needed. “That is a holy moment for a young writer,” Saunders says, “when you start getting full body impatient with your mentor.”

Liked The song machines – Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

A really great book about how much things have changed in the past 50 years is John Seabrook’s The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory. If you’ve ever wondered why contemporary pop music sounds the way it does, The Song Machine gives a pretty good contextual explanation for why that is: a crumbling music industry, artists who are stuck touring year-round and have little time to write or record their own music, and song “factories” in which producers start with beats and tracks, add on hooks with the help of “top liners,” then hand them over to singers, many of whom can’t really sing, but no matter, splash on some auto-tune and VOILA!

Listened 2021 studio album by Taylor Swift from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is the first re-recorded album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on April 9, 2021, through Republic Records. It is a re-recording of Swift’s second studio album, Fearless (2008), and the first of six re-recorded albums Swift plans to release, following the dispute regarding ownership of the masters to her first six studio albums.

Fearless is the first installment of Taylor Swift’s re-recording of her first six albums. With bonus tracks and previously unrecorded material, it is a lengthy album, perfectly designed to maximise streaming services.

In some respects the new tracks, produced by Antonoff and Dessner, feel like a continuation of the work done on Folklore and Evermore.

Dessner and Antonoff’s production believably reframes these Fearless outtakes as folklore deep cuts. It’s proof of how thin the line between a twilit country radio ballad and shimmery indie-tinged folk-rock can be.

Ben Thompson compares the exercise with what Dave Chappelle did when he asked them to not wqtch his show. Thompson wonders if she will or even needs to remake any more of her albums.

It’s easy to see how this plays out going forward: Swift probably doesn’t even have to remake another album; she has demonstrated the willingness and capability to remake her old records, and her fans will do the rest. It will behoove Shamrock Capital, the current owner of Swift’s masters, to buy-out Braun’s share of future upside and make a deal with Swift, because Swift, granted the power to go direct to fans and make her case, can in fact “change history, facts, and re-frame any story [she] want[s] to fit with any narrative [she] wish[es].”

Liked Addiction almost killed AFL star Rod Owen, but he was hiding the agony of abuse by Russell Jackson (ABC News)

Rod Owen was a St Kilda star at 16, but within a year he was an alcoholic and drug addict. Many blamed his spiral on injuries and partying, but his addictions masked childhood traumas he’ll never forget.

Addiction almost killed AFL star Rod Owen, but he was hiding the agony of abuse
Listened Godspeed You! Black Emperor : G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! | 8.1 by Grayson Haver Currin from Pitchfork

The four suites of music here sound incredible, capturing the grandeur, aggression, and power of their symphonic punk with perfect clarity. And it feels incredible, too, as it endures passages of oppressive darkness to step at least toward a new dawn.

G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
Liked Inside the Dirty Business of Hit Songwriting by Jem Aswad (Variety)

Some songwriters feel that even less-traditional methods of collaboration deserve credit: Autumn Rowe, who has worked with Lipa, Jesse McCartney, Lindsey Stirling and many young singers, says she usually is happy to share with artists who were in the room at the time of the song’s creation. “The type of writing I do is quite personal to an artist, and often their stories inspire me,” she says. “I’ve written with a lot of teenagers and it’s their first session, so they’re not confident writers yet. They give me their vulnerability, and there’s no way I would have written those songs without them. If it’s a 16-year-old telling me about being bullied and I put that into the song, I would feel weird if that type of openness didn’t get something in return.”

At the same time, she’s very upfront about the steep financial challenges songwriters face. “The industry just doesn’t understand how hard it is to be just a writer,” Rowe says, noting that there’s usually no salary and many expenses aren’t covered. “You often have to pay for your own travel, and a lot of the time you end up working for free,” she adds; multiple writers cited weeks-long writing sessions that only produced a couple of songs that ended up being recorded — or none.

Liked Mac and cheese? Puh-lease! Adam Liaw on why we need to make Australian food great again (Good Food)

Cultural cringe has been a defining aspect of the Australian psyche for more than 100 years. Henry Lawson wrote about it back in the 19th century, and the term itself was coined by Melbourne critic AA Phillips in 1950, who bemoaned that Australian arts only saw their value if recognised in England or America, rather than being appreciated in Australia.

That same cultural cringe is a weight around the neck of modern Australian food culture.

Food doesn’t need to be complicated or sophisticated to be good, and if we look down on our own cuisine we run the risk of losing it to antiquity.

Bookmarked Black Death, COVID, and Why We Keep Telling the Myth of a Renaissance Golden Age and Bad Middle Ages – Ex Urbe (exurbe.com)

This post is for you if you’ve been wondering whether Black Death => Renaissance means COVID => Golden Age, and you want a more robust answer than, “No no no no no!”

This post is for you if you’re tired of screaming The Middle Ages weren’t dark and bad! and want somewhere to link people to, to show them how the myth began.

This post is for you if you want to understand how an age whose relics make it look golden in retrospect can also be a terrible age to live in.

And this post is for you if want to ask what history can tell us about 2020 and come away with hope. Because comparing 2020 to the Renaissance does give me hope, but it’s not the hope of sitting back expecting the gears of history to grind on toward prosperity, and it’s not the hope for something like the Renaissance—it’s hope for something much, much better, but a thing we have to work for, all of us, and hard.

In this long essay, Ada Palmer argues that those who assume that, as with the Black Death and the Renaissance, the current crisis will herald a new golden as misconstrued. He explains that life in the Renaissance was actually worse than life in the Middle Ages, and that we often perpetuate this myth because of the Victorian era’s celebration of individualism.

by claiming that the Renaissance—and all its glittering art and innovation—was caused by individualism, Burkhardt was really advancing a claim about the nature of modernity.  Individualism was an X-Factor which had appeared and made a slumbering world begin to move, sparking the step-by-step advance that led humanity from stagnant Medieval mud huts to towers of glass and iron—and by implication it would also define our path forward to an even more glorious future.  In other words, the X-Factor that sparked the Renaissance was the defining spirit of modernity.  If individualism was responsible, not only for the Renaissance, but for the wonders of modernity, then logically those regimes of Burkhardt’s day which most facilitated the expression of individualism could claim to be the heart of human progress and to hold the keys to the future; those nations which did not advance individualism (where socialism prospered, for example, or “collectivism” which was how 19th century Europe characterized most non-Western societies) were still the slumbering Middle Ages, in need of being awakened to their true potential by those nations which did possess the X-Factor of human progress.

Instead of Renaissance Italy, Palmer believes that we may have more to gain from looking at the Vikings:

If you really want to know what COVID will do, I think the place to look is not Renaissance Italy, but the Viking settlements in Greenland, which vanished around 1410.  Did they all die of the plague?  No.  We’re pretty sure they never got the plague, they were too isolated.  But the Greenland settlements’ economy had long depended on the walrus trade: they hunted walruses and sold the ivory and skins, and ships would come from Norway or Iceland to trade for walrus, bringing goods one couldn’t make in Greenland, like iron, or fine fabric, or wheat.  But after 1348 the bottom dropped out of the walrus market, and the trading ships stopped coming.  By 1400 no ships had visited Greenland for years except the few that were blown off-course by storm.  And meanwhile there were labor shortages and vacant farms on the once-crowded mainland.  So we think the Greenland Vikings emigrated, asked those stray ships to take them with them back to Europe, as many as could fit, abandoning one life to start another.  That’s what we’ll see with COVID: collapse and growth, busts for one industry, booms for another, sudden wealth collecting in some hands, while elsewhere whole communities collapse, like Flint Michigan, and Viking Greenland, and the many disasters in human history which made survivors abandon homes and villages, and move elsewhere.  A lot of families and communities will lose their livelihoods, their homes, their everythings, and face the devastating need to start again.  And as that happens, we’ll see different places enact different laws and policies to deal with it, just like after the Black Death.  Some places/regimes/policies will increase wealth and freedom, while others will reduce it, and the complicated world will go on being complicated.
That’s why I say we should aim to do better than the Renaissance.

Bookmarked How Audio Pros ‘Upmix’ Vintage Tracks and Give Them New Life by Jesse Jarnow (WIRED)

Experts are using AI to pick apart classic recordings from the 50s and 60s, isolate the instruments, and stitch them back together in crisp, bold ways.

Jesse Jarnow dives into the world of upmixing. He explains how what was once painstaking exercise using spectral editing tools has now becoming more automated through the use of machine learning libraries, such as Deezer’s Spleeter. This sort of technology serves many purposes, including the ability to resurrect lost masters and recordings, as well as create new possibilities.

This is something that I have wondered about in the past, where the listening process is as much about engagement as it is about consumption:

I wonder if there will come a time when we can quickly and easily remix music, leaving our own mark. To me, this would need some sort of audio track recognition. I wonder though whether at the same time that such technology becomes available, whether copyright will simply hold us back. This is something Steven Johnson reflects on in his presentation at Google, it is well worth a watch.

“Clive Thompson @pomeranian99
in (1) Clive Thompson on Twitter: “The story of the music-minded techies who developed algorithms for isolating individual tracks out of a song — i.e. input an MP3, it’ll extract, say, just the acoustic guitar: https://t.co/Thn74Fvc6S Fascinating tale by @bourgwick. I’m gonna try out this software tonight” / Twitter ()

Liked There’s an urgent need to teach empathy but not everyone will connect or care (EduResearch Matters)

Teaching for empathy in gender transformative ways is discomforting because it is focused on unsettling taken-for-granted and deeply embedded views, emotions and actions (Zembylas, 2014). It involves inviting boys and men to critically reflect on their gender privilege and their complicity in reproducing gender inequality. It involves difficult and confronting conversations.

Liked Data Breaches, Class Actions and Ambulance Chasing by Troy HuntTroy Hunt (Troy Hunt)

I’m in no way against penalties being issued to firms that suffer data breaches and outcomes such as the FTC achieved against Equifax seem quite reasonable. This was a case where Equifax didn’t just fall well short of their obligations to secure customer data in the first place, but they did a woeful job of handling the incident after the fact. The “up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach” settlement seems fair in this case and it was achieved by an independent government agency, not by lawyers looking to cash in.

There will, of course, be many cases that are simply settled out of court and we may never know the result. I dare say this is often the desired outcome of these class actions; strike a deal that’s appealing enough to avoid extensive court time, give those in the breach who joined the action a pro-rata’d slice of the settlement and the law firm keeps a big chunk of coin themselves without ever seeing a courtroom. Each one of those lawyer advertisements earlier on is there for one reason and one reason only: to make money for the firms involved. They’re not charities, this isn’t for good will, it’s simply business.

Liked In Defense of Thinking – Study Hacks – Cal Newport (calnewport.com)

There’s a great satisfaction and steadiness in the general application of Hemingway’s advice. We cannot make sense of ourselves or the world around us without putting in the mental cycles necessary to wrestle this frenetic information into useful forms. Thinking — true, hard, energizing thinking — is not yet another healthy activity to add to a long list of such commitments. It’s better understood as a way of life; one that’s become even more radical in an increasingly shallow world.