Friday, 28 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Balcony – Jordan Klassen

Balcony – Jordan Klassen

Interesting lyrics and melodies, accompanied by unexpected instruments like a glockenspiel, omnichord and ukulele. I like what this young songwriter from Western Canada is doing.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Everybody’s Beautiful – Amir Alexander

Everybody’s Beautiful – Amir Alexander

Not that I would know anything about this sort of thing, but I think this song might be about being high on Ecstasy on the dance floor. 

The point at about the 3 minute mark, when that second drum line kicks in....mmmmhhhh.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Sunday, 23 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Flicking Pages – The Timewriter

Flicking Pages – The Timewriter

While Timewriter will always be associated with house music, I think this broadens out quite a bit.

Bibliophilia: The Manhattan Projects – Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra

The Manhattan Projects Vol. 1 – Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra
The Manhattan Projects Vol. 2 – Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra 

Here in this graphic novel adaptation of the story of the Manhattan Project, we meet some of the players involved in this pivotal chapter of history.

We meet Joseph Oppenheimer who is the evil twin brother of Robert, and who eats the brain of an alien he’s just killed to gain the knowledge of space travel. We meet Enrico Fermi, who is really an alien disguised as a human. We meet Harry Daghlian, who after dying from radiation poisoning, has become a floating, irradiated skeleton in a special suit. We meet Albrecht Einstein, an alcoholic German physicist and Albert Einstein’s evil doppelganger. We meet artificial reality President F.D. Roosevelt. We meet President Harry F. Truman who spends his time engaged in Freemason rituals. We meet a very bellicose US Army lieutenant general Leslie Groves. We meet Wernher von Braun, who betrayed the Nazis and has a robotic left arm. We meet Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut. We meet Laika, the Russian space dog can speak, and is smarter than anyone gives it credit for. 

What the hell is going on here?

This shit is completely gonzo. Weird but fun. If you like your alternate history really bent, this is for you.

Bibliophilia: Siegfried – Alex Alice

Siegfried Volume 2, The Valkyrie – Alex Alice

I have only a very passing knowledge of Wagner. I was drawn to these not because of any fondness for his bombastic opera, The Ring of the Nibelung, which this is based on, but because of the gorgeous art work. The appendix’ with artwork the artist found inspiring and the making of are also terrific.

Just a visually stunning work, with a solid story behind it.

The worst part is having to wait for the third and final installment.

The artist is also working on an animated version.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - After Rain Comes Sun – Solomun

After Rain Comes Sun – Solomun

Hopefully, more tracks by Solomun come after this song.

Bibliophilia: The Order Of Things – Barbara Ann Kipfer

The Order of Things: How Everything in the World is Organized into Hierarchies, Structures, and Pecking Orders – Barbara Ann Kipfer

The other day I mentioned that natural history books are ones I frequently gravitate towards. But something sits above that in my hierarchy of books I love — reference books. I have a full set of Encyclopedia Brittanicas and quite often pull a random one down, open it to any page and read. One day I’ll read about a Swedish admiral from the 1700s, a town in Indiana and a type of beetle. Another day it will be a region in Chile, a battle in the Spanish Civil War, and a Norman king in the 1100s. There’s a reason everyone tells me I should go on Jeopardy and why you shouldn’t play Trivial Pursuit against me for money.

So this little gem was right up my alley. Random stuff I can cram into my memory.

Kipfer, (who has written 50 books and holds a PhD and MPhil in Linguistics from the University of Exeter, a PhD in Archaeology from Greenwich University, an MA and a PhD in Buddhist Studies from Akamai University, and a BS in Physical Education from Valparaiso University – stop being such a slacker lady!) has compiled a very entertaining and educational book of neatly organized lists of everything and anything you can imagine in this world.

Want to know what languages are spoken by the most people, what the ranks are in the Italian army, or who the leader in Mexico was in 1838? Can’t remember how many successful moon missions there were, whether a Baron ranks higher than a Marquis in French nobility, or what the boxing weight divisions are? Need to know what the size grading scale is for olives, eggs and stones? Curious about the specifics of the Torino Scale of asteroid impact hazards, the Mercali Scale for measuring earthquakes, or the Mohs Scale for measuring mineral hardness?

And this is just a fraction of the information it contains.

A physically small book, 6" by 4" by 1½", it is nonetheless bursting with over 600 pages of information.

Friday, 21 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Drama Around The Corner – Andrés

Drama Around The Corner – Andrés

As one commenter put it very succinctly “Goddamn! Those drums!” Indeed! Plus the low key horn, the creamy bass line, subtle vocal parts, and just the beat itself. Sexy tune.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Monday, 17 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - What About Me – Nihilist Spasm Band

What About Me – Nihilist Spasm Band

Seeing as I just mentioned them here, I thought it only appropriate to include one of their more popular numbers, demonstrating the vocal stylings of the afore mentioned Bill Exley.

Bibliophilia: David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

I fully admit to being a fan of Mr. Gladwells’s oeuvre. I waited with eager anticipation for this latest book of his, and enjoyed it. As always, it’s an engaging read that makes you consider things in a different light and makes you want to learn more.

The book explores the perceived notion that some have advantages and some have disadvantages is looked at in a different light. Could it be that people who are born without a silver spoon end up better off in some ways. Life may not be easy for them, but having the odds stacked against them, makes them adapt. Those adaptations sometimes give them skills and abilities that those born “normal” might envy.

I do have to say that while I liked the book, I wasn’t entirely convinced by his arguments. Correlation is not causation. A few anecdotes isn’t necessarily proof that privation early in life will necessarily make the person so resilient that they can surmount any obstacle. They’re interesting examples, but are any of them ironclad evidence that someone else with dyslexia can become a brilliant trial lawyer?

(On a slightly tangential note: about a year ago, I was surprised to see a photo in the Toronto Star of Malcolm Gladwell standing beside a man I had known for a long time: Bill Exley. 

I knew him as the lead singer of London, Ontario’s finest experimental noise band, The Nihilist Spasm Band. Having grown up with the kids of Greg Curnoe, I had known him for decades. A likeable oddball, who never stopped looking like a button down English teacher - which is exactly what he was - even when performing a classic like Destroy the Nations. Slacks, collared shirt, tie, sweater vest, proper haircut. And his deep stentorian voice - whether belting out What About Me? - or controlling a class full of teenagers - was a formidable thing. 

It turns that Mr. Exley was the high school english teacher of Malcolm Gladwell. And he credits him with being a looming inspiration.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bibliophilia: The Fish in the Forest: Salmon and the Web of Life – Dale Stokes

The Fish in the Forest: Salmon and the Web of Life – Dale Stokes

If I was forced to choose just one section of the Dewey Decimal System that I could take with me to a deserted island, I think the natural history section might well be it. Some of my most cherished books are my modest collection of nature guides, and books about various aspects of nature. 

Having just finished Wolves in the Land of Salmon, seeing this at the library was perfect timing. Both deal with a keystone species in the north western part of North America. There is a little bit of overlap between the two books, and it’s really great to read both perspectives on the impact they have on eco-systems.

Salmon are fascinating.

And I get to read great obscure words like kype (the pronounced hook on the jaw of spawning stage male salmons), parr (the stage of a salmons life between fry and smolt), redd (a spawning nest dug by the female salmons tail), anadromy (migration from salt water to fresh water), semalparity (a single reproductive episode before death).

I just love books that allow me to learn a little more about how entire systems work - not just info about a given species. When effort is made to present what is known and how it all plays a part in a bigger picture scenario – I really appreciate that.

Nicely designed with lots of photos.

S.o.t.D. - Jade – Hokusai

Jade – Hokusai

Another guise of the always fantastic Source Direct.

Bibliophilia: Plastiki – David de Rothschild

Plastiki: Across the Pacific on Plastic - An Adventure to Save Our Oceans – David de Rothschild

I’ve mentioned taking part in cleanups in the Cootes watershed area. A lot of what we have to deal with is plastic detritus. Just in this relatively small area there is a lot of it. And it will eventually flow out into the ocean.

What I and many other conservation minded volunteers do though, while valuable, isn’t as imagination inspiring as this event was. While admittedly no plastic was removed from the Pacific, as a way to generate awareness of the issue, and a practical exploration of what can be done with recycled plastic, it had a value.

For me the most interesting part of the book wasn’t so much the activism or the voyage itself, but what went into making the boat. This wasn’t a half hearted effort, and a lot of time and money went into it. (A personal net worth $10 Billion {yes, he’s one of those Rothschilds} helps pay for the extensive R&D involved.) Nut-Gu, a polymer made from cashew nut oil and molasses sludge, and Seretex, a plastic from recycled plastic, were two of the items created to help build the boat.

Filled with lots of photos, sidebars, and infographics, it’s a surprisingly fun book about an unbelievably depressing subject. And hopefully one that inspires people to consume less plastic or come out in their area to clean this shit up.
  • Every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
  • One estimate states that in the Eastern Garbage Patch, a gyre in the NorthPacific that’s approximately twice the size of Texas, every pound of plankton is outmatched by 6 pounds of plastic litter.
  • Almost 75 % of the world’s fish stocks are already fished up to or beyond their sustainable limit.
  • For every 1 ton of plastic that is recycled, we save almost 2,000 pounds of oil.
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used to make the 29 billion plastic bottles Americans consume each year.
  • More than 28 million plastic bottles are used every minute.
  • Five out of every six plastic bottles are not recycled.
  • A plastic bottle can take 450 years to degrade.
If I have a gripe, and it’s a minor one, there is a total lack of photos showing the inside of the cabin. Sure there are a very few shots taken inside, but they’re closeups and show nothing of the living arrangements, layout, etc.

Some infographics from the time of the voyage describing the boat.
(Clicking on the images should bring up much larger versions – right clicking and opening in a new tab will bring up an image that ins some cases can be clicked on for a much larger version.) Take note in the first picture, inside the circle on the centre right - that is the cabin, which was cut and scored from one very large and very rare sheet of Seretex. It had to be perfect the first time they did it. Talk about pressure.

And some infographics about the issue.

Good for anyone interested in sailing / boat design /environmental causes.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Bonny – Prefab Sprout

Bonny – Prefab Sprout

No good reason why, but this is a band that has largely flown under my radar. This is a sublime piece of music.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Ken Tavr – Ishome

Ken Tavr – Ishome

Ishome is the very impressive act of Mirabella Karianova, originally from Krasnodar, Russia (outside of Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan.) Like yesterdays track, one of whom hails from the Faroe Islands, I’m always a bit amazed by the obscure and isolated places amazing artists can emerge from. And I also find it fascinating to see how growing up in those places seems to affect their music.

Evocative stuff.

Monday, 3 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Burnt – Kiasmos

Burnt – Kiasmos

Kiasmos is made up of Icelandic minimalist electronica composer Ólafur Arnalds, and electro-pop outfit Bloodgroup’s Janus Rasmussen from the Faroe Islands. Both are unknown to me, but this piece of music is incredible.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

S.o.t.D. - Hard Work – Smoove and Turrell

Hard Work – Smoove and Turrell

Superb, super funky track. Would love to see this as a live band. That bass drum would be incredible.

View on an evening walk.

A spot where I sometimes stop for a little break on evening walks through the cemetery. Looking out over Princess Point, Cootes Paradise, Niagara Escarpment beyond that, with Spencer’s Gorge just to the left of centre.

Woo-Jin Tension Hooks rather than ITW G-Hooks

I’ve been contemplating replacing the side release buckles I use to attach and detach pouches to packs. If I want to attach the pouch somewhere else, I need corresponding female buckles on the receiving rig/pack/pouch. I really want to avoid that extra weight expense. One option that I have considered are ITW G-Hooks.
The only problem with them is that they are expensive (buy them in small quantities and they run $2.50 per) and their scarcity. Mil-Spec Monkey is one of the few places that has them (and sell them in lots of 100 - where the price is a more reasonable $1.20), but they have them very sporadically. Another problem with G-Hooks is that webbing tends to slip in them. There is a straight version in which it is worse and also a waved version which tries to remedy that slippage. Even with that, keeping tension on is a problem. Kifaru uses them but added a ladder-loc to it to counter slippage, and called it the K-Connector.
Now it appears Woo-Jin has something that might give it a run for its money.

Called a Tension Hook, it comes in a few different sizes (15 mm {½"}, 20 mm {¾"}, 25 mm {1") and 38 mm {1½"}). Made from Acetal, which isn’t as strong as metal, but plenty strong enough for my needs. Likely most anyone else too. And, they have a better webbing slider molded right in. Oh and it comes in a right and left version. Admittedly not as convenient as the G-Hooks ability to mount on either side, but an acceptable trade off.

The Slurp’mups attached to the YakBakDekPak.

(There is also a Single Tension Hook, but it only comes in the 15 mm {½"} size. Not sure why only that size, but I do hope they decide to make it in more sizes.)

The question that arises that I have found them intriguing and want to get a bunch more....where do I then order several dozen? All of them, Woo-Jin, National Molding, ITW-Nexus - why it is so damn hard to buy two dozen of this, and 8 of that, and a dozen of this, and 50 of that, and two of this and one of that? Some of them sell some of their things to guys like me, but then the other three quarters of their selection seems to exist solely for the purposes of dangling in front of my nose and taunting me with. “Not for you little man.” I get that they want to sell skids worth of stuff, truck loads at a time, to big manufacturers. But there must be some sort of market in selling to small makers, designers, tinkerers, fixers? Finding anything by National Molding is particularly tough. 
I really wish there was a place that sold all of their offerings in one place, in smallish quantities. Why can’t there be a place that offers all the groovy hardware to the average modder/maker? How the heck does the cottage industry/hobbyist maker get anything beyond a cord lock/side release buckle/tri glide/ladder lock in reasonably small quantities?