"I did it, why can't you?" dissected.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/30 17:00
There's this attitude, one I'm seeing a lot more of these days (or maybe I'm just more attuned to it than I used to be), that if someone can do something, what's to stop anyone else from doing it? It's a pernicious attitude, in big part because the truth in the statement is ruined by the way it's framed.
Looking back, looking forward.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/28 10:00
Like many of the rest of you, the last few days for me have been one long whirlwind of holidaze [sic]. Now that the wave has crested and broken, a few bits and pieces of what's behind and in front of me.
On the act of feeding your head.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/23 10:00
Most of you Constant Readers know by now my whole spiel about how would-be creators need to not merely expose themselves to other examples of the kind of work they want to produce. This crosses disciplines and fandoms, meaning an aspiring comic artist is likely to gain perspective from getting out of his reading bubble in the same way an aspiring novelist will be enriched by a trip to a museum they normally would never go to.
If there is an award for The Saddest Music In The World, I present it now and forever to William Basinski's Disintegration Loops.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/21 10:00
If there is an award for The Saddest Music In The World, I present it now and forever to William Basinski's Disintegration Loops. This isn't music that makes you weep; this is music-as-weeping, the sound of the lament of the universe itself, sorrow on the order of Miles Davis's "He Loved Him Madly". Some of the impact stems from the concept, both in its scope and execution, but at the end of the day (or the end of days, ha ha), it's the sound itself here that causes the tears to be shed. Anything more lachrymose than this wouldn't leave an audience behind to appreciate it.
It's 1977 all over again, sort of.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/20 10:00
Saw The Force Awakens last night -- no spoilers in this discussion, so no worries. On the whole, it was good-to-very-good, if not quite the sheer jolt of electricity that we got back in 1977 (but really, nothing is ever going to be -- not in the same way, certainly).
A couple of things come to mind:
Those purveyors of sinister whimsy went headfirst into the abyss with this undulating black mirror of a record.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/19 11:00
Among my favorite records are the happy accidents. Out of some mistake, some fluke in the studio or some miscalculation, emerges an unduplicatable miracle. It happened with William Basinski's The Disintegration Loops (that's worth a discussion all its own), and it happened with Nurse With Wound's Soliloquy for Lilith, an album far, far out of gamut even for those purveyors of the cheekily strange. Steve Stapleton and his revolving crew of merry pranksters had long been making bunny ears and funny faces behind the heads of noise, experimental music and prog-rock. Now they ventured into a dreamtime with no sky above, no floor below, just an abyss unrolling without end in all directions.
Me and my, uh, belief system, whatever you wanna call it.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/09 10:00
“Buddhist” in Berkeley means the same thing as “Christian” in Foley. Most Foley Christians may be ignorant of basic Christian doctrines, and rarely if ever go to church, but that’s not the point. Most Berkeley Buddhists may be ignorant of basic Buddhist doctrines, and rarely if ever go to a meditation group, but that’s not the point. That’s not what Buddhism is for. It’s a way of saying what sort of person you are. At least, that’s one thing it is for! What is “I am a Buddhist” supposed to say about you? The rest of this page suggests that it is a statement of allegiance to the monist-leftist side of the American culture-war tribal split; it is a sign of moral piety; it is a claim for high status within the middle class; and it signifies particular personality traits such as openness and agreeableness. This used to work well, because it was a “costly signal.” However, the strategy’s effectiveness has declined over time. Saying “I am a Buddhist” may now be heard as “I’m cowardly, disorganized, boring, and dumb.”
I don't know if I agree with the idea that "Buddhist" sends that kind of message (maybe I just hang with a crowd that isn't , but I do agree that it sends a message, and that the message isn't always a positive one. The more tuned-in Buddhist folks who have a soapbox to orate from (and an audience of more than a few dozen to hear it) are fond of saying things to the effect that being a Buddhist does not mean being a doormat. (Who was it that said, "Pacifism doesn't mean 'passive'-ism"?)
Why 'Trek' continues to matter, or not matter.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/08 10:00
... in 1960's America, a story about a spaceship that ferries an ethnically diverse yet socially functional group of humans from one planet to another so that they might learn and discover not just more about aliens, but more about themselves, and who would only use force as a means of self-defense, never as a means of conquering or pillaging–this was sf, even if it was on television, and even if had to be supplemented heavily with baser content to appeal to the masses.
I find it incredibly infuriating when Star Trek's achievements are referred to as "naive." ... A science fiction television show once challenged a deeply racist culture to believe that people of varying skin color and ethnic background could travel the stars together and leave not just their planet but their galaxy a little better than they found it.
Buscemi has some de-lovely points to make about the latter-day Treks that hint at why I might have fallen out of favor with the franchise. The later shows traded up their pulpy but visionary explorations for "gritty" realpolitik that you could get in a dozen other places . But the point cited here is the core of it. It's not "naïve" to suggest that we can do better, look further, try harder, inhabit the universe more charitably. Our survival might well depend on it. It doesn't mean that anything that comes our way with that message is immune from criticism, but naïve isn't a valid criticism for it.
The latest details about my recent adventures in overwork. Oh, and I get angry.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015/12/07 18:00
This is Rumor Control; here are the facts.
Side note: It strikes me as nothing less than TSK (Total Security Kabuki) to see encryption being outed as the new terrorism-enabling bugaboo.
Nothing I could say on this subject would be eloquent, so maybe I should not be eloquent. It's a stupid idea; it will not make anyone safer; encryption protects us from bad guys far more than it empowers them; and it is impossible to create encryption that "only good guys can use". A bucket with a hole in it isn't a bucket anymore; it's a sieve; and encryption with key escrow isn't encryption; it's an exploit waiting to happen. Weakening encryption empowers criminals.
(... breathe, Serdar)
I am sick and tired of living in a society where people seem all the more eager to throw away the very things that distinguish us from the people we claim to be arrayed against. The terrorist who wants us to live in fear and the despot who longs to live off of our fear are indistinguishable in the end; they are both parasites of the spirit. Freedom from fear is about more than being protected from things; it is also about being able to freely choose all the risks inherent in a life actually worth living in the first place.
OK, I'll take a drink and relax now. I promise.
Science fiction, rebooted.
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