Label Cloud

woensdag 30 juli 2008

Forbidden Ensemble: Porno soundtracks

Three known Flemish artists are the musicians behind the Forbidden Ensemble. They have composed a soundtrack to seventies porn movies in true retro style, with excellent titles like We Have to Take Some Measurements First, Sonny darling I'm having a shower and I want to have the master bedroom decorated first. And best of all, the entire album can be downloaded for free. Go to their website and have a listen. You will not be disappointed. In their own words: "This music sounds like a combination of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof and the Emanuelle sequels of adult movies. Feisty and furious with a sugarcoat of sensuality. This is the first volume of their ventures, played on real instruments and treated to have the authentic sleazy sound of the 70's."

Check out the promo video:

P*rno Soundtracks Volume 1 - Sonny Darling, I'm Having a Shower Now from on Vimeo.

maandag 28 juli 2008

On The Go: Repeat offender

Legendary graffiti tape from back in the day. 'Nuff said.

Digital reading with Kindle

I recently heard about the Amazon Kindle e-book reader. The article I read about boosted the ease of use and, most importantly, the ease of reading thanks to a paperlike quality of the screen. I was really excited about all this and wanted to have one. I'm an old school book lover. I just love having a paper copy, flipping the pages, rummaging through the bins in bookstores. However, I also read quite a lot of papers on the internet, mostly in pdf format which I don't intend to buy. Printing all of these would become expensive and would not be very friendly to the environment. So, an e-reader would come in handy. I wanted to write a post about how nice it would be to own a Kindle for that particular purpose. And then I did a quick check up on the internet. Instead of going the open source route, Amazon has opted for DRM proprietary software (read: Big Brother). The only non locked-in formats the device will support is html and txt, which can only be converted by mail at 10 cents a pop. Too bad, it seemed like a good idea. Yes, it's easy to buy books from their store, but if I want to buy a book I'll buy the paper version. My studies in records management have taught me one thing: digital media cannot be trusted, pc's crash, get corrupted by viruses, formats get outdated. My books are paper, my music is vinyl. MP3's and e-books are the things you find as torrent files to back up the other formats. Which reminds me, I really need to make hard copies of my pictures.

I hope Amazon will see the light in the future, or that some other company will. Apparently, the screen is really all that. So the product in itself seems amazing. But it's best to wait a little bit longer until the 2.0 release (and for the price to go down). In the meantime, here are some reviews: Paul Thurrott's in depth review, the Kindle Swindle, Gizmodo's Real Life Review, Wired's (Sony) Reader vs. Kindle, Technology Evangelist's video about the design features.

dinsdag 22 juli 2008

Gent Jazz 19 August 2008

I thought that I wouldn't be able to see any of the great live shows in Belgium this summer. Until further notice I'm working on my master thesis. And it still needs quite some work. But, Friday my dad asked me if I wanted to go to Gent Jazz. And since all work and no play makes me go crazy, I (reluctantly) agreed. And I'm glad I did. We missed the first band, Brazzaville, but that couldn't dampen the spirit.

When we arrived, Marcus Miller was in the middle of the song Jean-Pierre, which is one of my favorite Miles Davis tracks. Let's take a step back first. I saw Miller live the first (and up until now the only) time about ten years ago in Maastricht. He played before the incredible Buckshot LeFonque (legendary fusion project of Branford Marsalis and DJ Premier). I was there for the latter, but when Miller got on stage he just blew me away. Smooth and soft when he needs to be, but most of all what an energy and power! Immediately afterwards I bought the album Tales. So, I was very happy with the opportunity to see the man once more. He has worked with several great musicians, such as Earl Klugh, Grover Washington Jr. and Bob James. After them he teamed up with Miles Davis for several years and recorder a number of albums with him. I didn't know he wrote Tutu, which was the last song he played. As you might expect everything he played was with virtuosity. Kudos also to the 20 year old saxophone player he had with him. He also had a DJ Logic with him, although I fail to see the logic in bringing that DJ (get it? oh I crack myself up sometimes, ahum ...). You've got these very talented musicians doing incredible things ... and a sucka dj who did nothing more than some stabs, slow-ass chirps and fades. Besides that I really enjoyed the funky blend Miller is so good at.

I had heard of the Neville Brothers, I knew a couple of songs (not by name), but I didn't really know their music. Boy, was I in for a surprise! Funky as hell, mixing up everything in a way only people from New Orleans can. They played a rumba version of Ain't no sunshine, a funk version of It don't mean a thing, a soul version of The bayou to name but a few. A beautiful mix of original material and covers in all styles they could think of. On a side note, I was very surprised to see the physical appearance that accompanied the lead singer. The guy is massive, big muscular arms with tattoos on both of them, balhead with a tattoo of a bird on his face; and then this fragile, sensitive voice. Anyway, the Neville Brothers rock!

Words can only say that much, here's some music:

Marcus Miller

The Neville Brothers

vrijdag 18 juli 2008

Te of Piglet

The Te of Piglet (or Virtue of the Small) is the companion book to the Tao of Pooh. Once again A. A. Milne's characters are being used to illustrate principles from the Taoist philosophy. The elements he described in his previous book are explained in more detail: Owl is the epitome of knowledge without wisdom, Rabbit is the clever person who worries about appearances, Tigger represents impulsiveness without taking the time to do things right, and Eeyores are people who always complain instead of seeing the silver lining. Piglet is used as an example of the Virtue of the Small. He's A Very Tiny Animal who might not do great deeds, but he does come through in a pinch. He's portrayed as the only one of the 100 Acre Woods friends who evolves as a person. Instead of lamenting about his smallness, he does what needs to be done when necessary.

Benjamin Hoff's portrayal of Pooh and his friends starts of well enough. However, a few pages into every chapter he starts complaining about how the Western world (although he seems to equate the US with the West as a whole) is doing things wrong. Because of this, parts of the book feel as a petulant rant. At times he even comes off as bitter. This is in contrast with the ending, where he claims belief in the coming of an esoteric better world (very much like The Last Battle of Narnia and The Silmarillion) based on a back-to-nature philosophy in which all of nature lives in perfect harmony.

All in all I would suggest to read the Tao of Pooh (which is absolutely brilliant) and leave this one be. If you really want to read both, do so in one go. Don't leave too much time between them. This way, IMHO, it's easier to appreciate the good parts of the Te of Piglet while skipping the once that aren't really up to par.

donderdag 10 juli 2008

Dawkin's militant atheism

Richard Dawkins is the man who introduced us to the concept of the meme ( a self replicating unit of culture) in his renowned book the Selfish Gene. Since then he has written a score of books on evolutionary biology in an understandable language. He is also a staunch critic of creationism (including its current American version intelligent design). During his TED speech he urges all atheists to stand up against the mixture of politics and religion, since the only place in the world were Church/Mosque/Temple/Whatever and State are still strictly kept separate is Western Europe (and Turkey). This kind of subject has the danger of either becoming tedious or ridiculous. Dawkins is neither of these. He talks eloquently and, above all, he's very funny (as well as being right).

(Original page here.)

dinsdag 8 juli 2008

Karen Armstrong's TED Prize Wish

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is as an annual conference which brings together a host of internationally renowned thinkers on a large range of topics. The idea is to spread ideas because the organizers "believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other." The best talks are distributed freely online.

The yearly TED Prize grants several prize winners' "One Wish to Change the World, by leveraging the help of their community. They receive monetary and organizational support for their work to be undertaken. Underneath you can find Karen Armstrong's wish.

Karen Armstrong has written 20 books about comparative religion. The main tenet of her argument is that all religions basically say the same thing by placing great importance on compassion. I've only read The Great Transformation up until now, but that book has got me hooked on her writing. In it she describes the historical roots, together with their history of ideas, of the main current religions. It's nothing short of an amazing piece of scholarship. The next two works on my list are The Bible: a biography and The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

(If the video loads too slow, here's the original page.)

woensdag 2 juli 2008

Simple explanation of Web 3.0

We have hardly digested the Web 2.0 social revolution an people are already talking about Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web is made up of a number of different technologies with enough abreviations to scare most people away from the concept. Freek Bijl, a Dutch internet strategy advisor has given a simple presentation explaining Web 3.0 for dummies.

Part I: the basics

Part II: techniques

agglom has aggregated these two presentations with other slideshows and videos, and links, under the header "Web 3.0 - meaningless or future - what do you think about?"

dinsdag 1 juli 2008

Bloody Good Samaritan

The other day I was waiting for the tram, when a lady holding a baby asks me in Dutch if the next one is going to the Brussels Midi train station. She, the baby, and her daughter were going to Antwerp. From where we were it's faster to go either to the North of Central station. Since I was going to Central I told them to follow me. So, the next tram arrived and we got on it. After which they more or less ignored me. Fine, you don't have to make small talk if you don't want to but in general people say at least a few words if someone's helping them. Anyway, to get to the centre you first take the tram till Montgomery and there you change for the metro. We arrived at Montgomery. I told them to get off and to follow me once more, which they reluctantly did. I lead them to the right metro stop. Then, I explained that next they will have to take the next metro, get off at Central Station, mount the stairs, go through the long hallway and go to track n° 5. This seemed to me quite precise. I sensed they didn't want to talk anymore so I backed off. The next metro came, I told to get on and I got on myself. They didn't move. From inside the metro I motioned to them to move before it was too late. The daughter waved at me with this strange look on her face which seemed to say "ok strange man go away now". After the doors closed and the metro was moving again I just stood there perplexed. I mean, I could not have been any clearer. They probably just stayed put for the next hour or so, waiting for the train to Antwerp. If they were lucky they found someone else who spoke Dutch to explain to them the same thing I already said. They totally ruined my good deed of the day. Fucking tourists.