Archive for the ‘video’ Category

What might ancient Babylonian songs have sounded like?

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

steff conner, babylonian song, lyre ensemble

What did ancient Babylonian songs sound like? Possibly something close to this. Composer and performer Stef Conner and the Lyre Ensemble have put out an album of songs they believe are close to ancient Babylonian songs, using the original poetry. (Album can be found at that link and will be on iTunes by the end of 2014.) Above, Stef Conner recording, wearing a reconstructed Babylonian gold and lapis lazuli choker necklace. Photo: Stef Conner

The oldest recorded song found in archaeology via a cuneiform tablet is this Hurrian song. It dates from a similar period.

Via here and friendly neighbour/famous jazz bass musician Torsten Mueller who has played with John Zorn and Arto Lindsay among many others and is always tipping us off to interesting items like this.

Ursula K. LeGuin: “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

National Book Award
Reprinted from Parker Higgins of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who transcribed Le Guin’s speech:

Ursula K. Le Guin was honored at the National Book Awards tonight and gave a fantastic speech about the dangers to literature and how they can be stopped. As far as I know it’s not available online yet (update: the video is now online), so I’ve transcribed it from the livestream below. The parts in parentheses were ad-libbed directly to the audience, and the Neil thanked is Neil Gaiman, who presented her with the award.

Thank you Neil, and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

Thank you.

Goodbye Mork

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Shazbot. Sad loss of Robin Williams today. Thanks for the many laughs.

Robin Williams Mork

And Robin before a Senate committee on preventing homelessness

Easybreath mask and snorkel innovation

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

masque-facial-snorkeling-easybreath-innovation by Tribordeasybreath-see-and-breathe-underwater-as-easily-as-you-would-on-land-1

After many years of few changes in the old mask and snorkel setup, this is an interesting innovation. It just won the 2014 Oxylane Innovation Award (I have no idea what that is, but I suspect it’s just the first of many awards for this contraption).

The French company Tribord has come up with a way to allow snorkelers to breathe by both mouth and nose and without fogging the mask, as well as allowing diving without water entering the snorkel at all. This means you can swim and breathe more normally, see better and dive up and down easily. And the snorkel bulb above water makes you visible to boats.

The strap is also far better in design. A regular mask’s single strap constantly slips especially if you like me you have long fine hair. This 3-strap fit looks way better. But these aren’t available in women’s /teens’ sizes yet, nor are they available in N. America yet. In the UK they’ll be carried by Stockport.

I’m not very acquisitive and I seldom appreciate new gimmicks but this goes beyond gimmickry and I would very much like to have one. It’s the first innovation in a while that has interested me.

Having been snorkeling lately while visiting friends in Ecuador I had a cheap snorkel with a faulty valve that let in more seawater than it let out every time I tried to clear it. An old fashioned non-valve snorkel would have actually been better, but those are primitive and hard to clear. Even with a good mask and snorkel it’s generally a constant struggle to maintain a clear mask and an empty snorkel.  This is the first time I’ve seen anything innovative along these lines.

(To read the English subtitles on the video you may have to disable the Italian titles – go under the CC closed captioning button):

Mick Jagger in Peru

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Cuzco - woven mantas in antique weaving shop

Cuzco Mick Jagger textile shop

I was talking to the very knowledgeable owner of a shop of antique weaving in Cuzco, Peru, and after a while he mentioned that Mick Jagger had been in the shop two years before. When I asked if Jagger was in Peru to do a gig, he said no, he had come to see Machu Picchu. I guess he he missed it the first time he was in Peru, when he came to shoot Fitzcarraldo with Werner Herzog in 1980. Sadly—or not depending on how you feel about Jagger’s acting—he didn’t make it into the final film. Jason Robards had originally been cast as Fitzcarraldo and Jagger was to play his sidekick, but when Robards developed amoebic dysentery and had to bow out, thus delaying shooting, Jagger could no longer continue because the Stones were cutting an album. In a way I’m glad because I think Robards was spectacularly wrong for the role. Watch the video if you want to see his hammy and lightweight performance. But Jagger seemed promising as the simpleton sidekick. Some disagree. In the end it was probably fortunate that the role went to Kinski, and I can’t imagine Jagger tolerating Kinski’s on-set tantrums and quasi-criminal manic episodes.

The textile collection in this shop should be in a museum. The Peruvian government should consider paying the market price for its entire collection and displaying it all. It’s a crime that these pieces are slowly leaving the country. They represent multiple eras from every region of the country, and every one contains a message. What appear to be geometric designs are often animals representing family and cosmological origins and relationships. There is so little hand weaving left in the world. Much as I would like to collect more of it myself, it seems wrong to see it scattered to the winds even if that means Mick Jagger’s place.

Fitcarraldo - Mich Jagger and Jason Robards inIquitos

Peru Cuzco textiles shop weaving

Fitcarraldo Mick Jagger and Jason Robards in Iquitos, Peru

Jagger playing the fool in Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo

Ed Snowden’s surprise from-remote appearance at TED 2014 in Vancouver today

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Edward Snowden at TED Vancouver

Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance at the TED 2014 main conference in Vancouver today. TED is calling it “Here’s how we take back the Internet.”

From a remote location in Russia he could remotely control a wheeled bot that allowed “him” to turn around and look at the audience.

Good remarks. And then Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, comes out of the audience to talk to Ed too. If you want to watch that part, start around 26:30. Quite amazing to watch.

Edward Snowden at TED Vancouver

Tim Berners-Lee with Edward Snowden, TED 2014 Vancouver