Categories: art, audio, technology, video

digital media sucks

Maurizio has a great post about the dismal quality of mp3/ACC audio, and the parallels in crappy video. Actually the problem – for audio at least – is far worse than just the final format:

Dynamic range, warmth and depth have all but disappeared it seems in today’s music recordings. Music is compressed in recording, in mastering, in broadcast; often at all three stages. The loudness effect is ubiquitous. Broadcast audio is so pumped that it never seems to vary more than a few db. What results is music that is shallow, cold, harsh and without any kind of imaging or space.

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Categories: friendsprojects, media, web

globalvoices redesign

Boris (with help from Jer) has just launched the redesign of GlobalVoicesOnline, which:

…aggregates, curates, and amplifies the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore [more …]

The site is jam packed with info from blogs all over the world, and this new design is much cleaner & easier to get at than the previous incarnation. One can only assume that simplicity belies some mean-ass wordpress hacking in the background.

by the way, I would recommend they change their tagline:

aggregates, curates, and amplifies the global conversation online

that’s some pretty jargony words.

Categories: art, books, review, writing

52 Books – Q1 Progress Report

I’m trying to read 52 books in 2007, a book a week. I’ve still got a little cushion, but I’m slowing down. Been lucky, with lots of good books. Here’s a list, with a one-line review, link to more detailed review. Starred books are particularly good.

52 Books in 2007 – Q1 Results

  1. *A Clockwork Orange (f), by Anthony Burgess
    Wonderfully inventive, dark satire about a hyper-violent future.
  2. Kafka on the Shore (f), by Haruki Murakami (review)
    Disappointing outing, tho still worth a read for Murakami fans.
  3. The God Delusion (nf), by Richard Dawkins (review)
    Cheap, lazy book by a once-great author. Please: more science, less pop psych and bad philosophy.
  4. *Programming the Universe (nf), by Seth Lloyd (review)
    Is the universe a big computer? Fascinating book.
  5. *Lullabies for Little Criminals (f), by Heather O’Neill (review)
    Beautiful novel about kid growing up in the skanky streets of Montreal.
  6. A Beginner’s Guide to Anarchism (nf), by Ruth Kinna (review)
    Decent intro to anarchism, but missing key connections, especially to the hacker world.
  7. Now is the Hour (f), by Tom Spanbauer (review for Books in Canada)
    Coming-of-age-in-the-small-town-60s story of a teen figuring out he might be gay.
  8. The Human Stain (f), by Philip Roth (review)
    Slick and assured writing by a great American novelist, lacked something, not sure what.
  9. Prochaine Episode (f), by Hubert Aquin (review)
    Twisted tale of a Quebecois spy, or a writer, or a lunatic, or all three.
  10. King John of Canada (f), Scott Gardiner (review for Books in Canada)
    Canada gets a king. Satire ensues.
  11. *The Wealth of Networks (nf), by Yochai Benkler (review)
    The text to read for a comprehensive and detailed study of the open movement in all its guises.
  12. Slow Man (f), J.M. Coetzee (review)
    Man gets hit by car, loses leg. Metaphysical musing, good Coetzee; not great Coetzee.
  13. Crazy about Lili (f), William Weintraub (review)
    Fun fluff about a young McGill student in the 1940s, and his friendship with stripper Lili L’Amour (a fictionalized Lili St-Cyr).
  14. America at the Crossroads (nf), Francis Fukayama (review)
    Maybe the neocons were a bunch of idiots after all. So says a former neocon.
  15. *A Complicated Kindness (f), Miriam Toews (review)
    Mennonite girl smokes pot and screws. Funny, sad, and fantastic.

Categories: books, review

BookReview: Crazy about Lili

Crazy about Lili

Book by William Weintraub

A light fluffy fantasy about a young McGill student and would-be writer in late-1940s Montreal, who strikes up a friendship and potential romance with the infamous Lili L’Amour, the great Texas-born, Montreal striptease artiste.

L’Amour is based on Lili St. Cyr, the burlesque icon, and many other real-life characters and locales are weaved into the tale, by Weintraub, writer of the fine exploration of Montreal’s seamier history, City Unique.

Good fun, especially worthwhile for the historical details of the underside of Montreal’s night clubs and characters in the 1940s.

My rating: 2 stars

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Categories: books, politics, review

BookReview: America at the Crossroads

America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy

Book by Francis Fukayama

It’s a relief to read at least one (semi) mea culpa from a leading cheerleader for the policies that lead to War in Iraq, and the catastrophe that has been the Bush presidency.

Francis Fukayama is the famous writer of the famous article/book, End of History, in which liberal democracy and free markets triumph over evil, everyone gets rich and happy, and the days of war and disagreements fade into the distant memory of unenlightened times.

Fukayama is also a founding member of the Project for a New American Century and a signatory of their Statement of Principles, along with 24 other smart cookies, such as: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Donald Kagan, I. Scooter Libby, Jeb Bush, Norman Podhoretz, and Paul Wolfowitz. The Project argues for a “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity,” and was a gathering place for the intellectual leaders and policy implementers of our very own actual New American Century, the one that looks a little less shiny than the one predicted by its proponents (including Fukayama) a decade ago. So Fukayama had front row seats, as a champion theoretician, to the ideological experiment whose results we’ll have to live with for the next 50 years, at least. The movement has collapsed, but we’ve not heard a peep from the rest of Fukayama’s ideological buddies – except the occasional claim that the ideas were good, the implementation was at fault.

Fukayama’s reckoning, a little late mind you, is refreshing. He’s realized that ignoring 5,000 years of human history is perhaps a bad way to run the only empire left in the world. Unless, that is, you want to run it into the ground.

Still, the book smacks of disingenuousness: it really wasn’t his fault after all, his intentions were pure. And Fukayama’s prescription for “realistic Wilsonianism” (essentially: maybe we should work within international laws and frameworks after all) is a bit of a farce. Sort of like a back seat driver who keeps yelling at you that you are going too slowly; then gets behind the wheel, speeds insanely for a few miles, loses control, smashes into an oncoming truck; and then, while recovering in the hospital tells you: I’ve decided that robust cautiousness is the way you should drive from now on.

But at least it’s 77% honest. Errors and disasters are cataloged. Reasons are given. Mistakes (sort-of) owned up to. And it offers great insights into the movement and minds that lead us where we find ourselves today. In one big mess.

Thanks to Francis Fukayama and all his ex-buddies.

My rating: 3 stars

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Categories: montreal, technology

Mtl Tech Entrepeneur Breakfast #3

Tues, April 10 @ 9am, at Bistro Etc.:

Bistro Etc.
1291 Avenue Mont-Royal Est
Montreal, QC H2J 1Y4
(514) 525-1895

Details chez Ben.

And hey, let’s see some more women at the event. It’s casual and relaxed.