Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Harper Government Hates You

Really. You're a whiner, a complainer, a taker not a maker. You want clean water, and you bitch about eating mercury contaminated food. There's that whole thing about thinking that the Canadian government is for all Canadians, that it's not the Harper Government For Corporate Rule. And that's just wrong.
What the hell's wrong with you anyway? You want your kids to have a planet to grow up on? Forget it--taking action on climate change would interfere with the right of the 1% to own everything (including you, your life, and your children). Sure carbon in the atmosphere is 395 ppm and rising, and the only known safe limit is 350 ppm. But that's the price you pay for progress.
You don't believe that the Harper government hates you? They're incompetent at managing money--they started life with a billion a year surplus and have transformed that into an ongoing deficit. Harper hates science--after all, it points out that he's a lying liar who lies. Take the ELA, the Experimental Lakes Area. Totally avoidable harm to your life from pollution was being monitored and programmes for fixing it being developed at the cheap cost of 2 million/year. It has to go. So do all the scientists--but first they have to be muzzled so they cannot talk about what they've been finding and figuring out.
Get used to it. Your children will be born with significant avoidable health problems, to a planet that is inhospitable to human life, and you will probably die before your time--probably starving or cancerous from eating contaminated food. And all because we've given up, don't want to face the future. And that's what Harper and his cronies are counting on.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Windfarm Sickness

via Wikimedia Commons pretty much a myth, according to new research. It's spread by word-of-mouth rather than windfarms. From the Guardian:
Sickness being attributed to wind turbines is more likely to have been caused by people getting alarmed at the health warnings circulated by activists, an Australian study has found. Complaints of illness were far more prevalent in communities targeted by anti-windfarm groups, said the report's author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University. His report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.

"If windfarms were intrinsically unhealthy or dangerous in some way, we would expect to see complaints applying to all of them, but in fact there is a large number where there have been no complaints at all," Chapman said.

The report, which is the first study of the history of complaints about windfarms in Australia, found that 63% had never been subject to noise or health complaints. In the state of Western Australia, where there are 13 windfarms, there have been no complaints.

The study shows that the majority of complaints (68%) have come from residents near five windfarms that have been heavily targeted by opponent groups. The report says more than 80% of complaints about health and noise began after 2009 when the groups "began to add health concerns to their wider opposition".

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kill Anything That Moves

Chris Hedges reviews the new book “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam” by  Nick Turse.This is what modern, technological war does to its soldiers--not just American soldiers, although they are in the most modern, technological war machine, but to all soldiers. War is, by its very nature, brutalizing.
Nick Turse’s “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam” is not only one of the most important books ever written about the Vietnam conflict but provides readers with an unflinching account of the nature of modern industrial warfare. It captures, as few books on war do, the utter depravity of industrial violence—what the sociologist James William Gibson calls “technowar.” It exposes the sickness of the hyper-masculine military culture, the intoxicating rush and addiction of violence, and the massive government spin machine that lies daily to a gullible public and uses tactics of intimidation, threats and smear campaigns to silence dissenters. Turse, finally, grasps that the trauma that plagues most combat veterans is a result not only of what they witnessed or endured, but what they did. This trauma, shame, guilt and self-revulsion push many combat veterans—whether from Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan—to escape into narcotic and alcoholic fogs or commit suicide. By the end of Turse’s book, you understand why. 
This is not the book Turse set out to write. He was, when his research began in June 2001, a graduate student looking at post-traumatic stress disorder among Vietnam veterans. An archivist at the U.S. National Archives asked Turse whether he thought witnessing war crimes could cause PTSD. He steered Turse to yellowing reports amassed by the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group. The group, set up in the wake of the My Lai massacre, was designed to investigate the hundreds of reports of torture, rape, kidnapping, forced displacement, beatings, arson, mutilation, executions and massacres carried out by U.S. troops. But the object of the group was not to discipline or to halt the abuses. It was, as Turse writes, “to ensure that the army would never again be caught off-guard by a major war crimes scandal.” War crimes, for army investigators, were “an image management” problem. Those charged with war crimes were rarely punished. The numerous reports of atrocities collected by the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group were kept secret, and the eyewitnesses who reported war crimes were usually ignored, discredited or cowed into silence. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Garth Lenz at TEDxVictoria

This talk is a bit difficult to watch as Garth Lenz comes close to breaking down a couple of different times during his talk. Keep in mind, as he talks, that atmospheric carbon is at 395ppm, the target to maintain civilization on the planet is 350ppm, and last spring saw recording stations report spikes of over 400ppm. If everything stopped right now, we're still on target for 21 metres of sea level rise, a dramatic explosion in extreme weather events, a huge expansion of deserts, wild changes in fresh water availability and an inability to grow many corops and certainly not consistently. And all that within the projected lifespan of our children.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3-D Printable Recordings

I stumbled onto this and was blown away. Over at Instructables, amandaghassaei is doing the most ridiculous things with audio--including converting audio information into files suitable for 3-D printing.

The video above has examples of familiar sounds converted to print files, printed, and played back on a standard phonograph.This is not a way to get a perfect reproduction--in fact, the results almost achieve the quality of the original Edison recordings. You can compare and contrast if you want.
The printed record is different from a traditional LP in a couple of ways; the grooves are so much larger (because the printers simply aren't up to the resolution) that you can't record as much information on a side. The grooves are also analog representations of analog sounds--the grooves are printed with triangles.
3-D printed record grooves
You can see the sharpness of the grooves, above, compared with the analog grooves, below.
Analog grooves cut in vinyl
The printer is not your neighbourhood RepRap printer, but a similar printer but working to finer tolerances. Even so, it can't yet match the fineness of an analog record--yet.
I love how she's used all this crazy technology to produce a recording on the level of a Edison cylinder.

She's also using an Arduino to explore granular audio--which gives me hope that she won't be doing too much clean-up on the 3-D printed recordings. Because I find a big part of what's interesting about the recordings is their imperfection, their decompositional aspects.Perfection of reproduction isn't the goal (or at least not the only goal).

The way the Arduino savages the sound is fascinating. In fact, all of her work is.

I'm quite fond of this new version of Over the Rainbow. It's no Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (a version that transformed the song for me), but the mutations that it runs through, I find sonically attractive. And Instructables is to be given an "attaboy" chip for finding her a place to stand.