Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin/Galway, Ireland. 27, history graduate & human rights student
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Sep 01
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wolfpartyjoe:

Used bin finds today. Shout out hardcorefornerds and andrewtsks

Mid/early-90s CDs: the new vinyl?

wolfpartyjoe:

Used bin finds today. Shout out hardcorefornerds and andrewtsks

Mid/early-90s CDs: the new vinyl?

90s post-hardcore hoover kerosene 454
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Aug 30
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"United Pressing is the largest vinyl pressing plant in the US, with a close relationship to Jack White’s production emporium Third Man Records nearby, as well as Nashville’s booming analogue music recording scene.

Next year the firm will add 16 presses that should boost daily output to 60,000 records. Millar, director of marketing, won’t say where they found the presses – manufacturing of vinyl records ceased in the early 1980s and competition for presses comes from surprising quarters. The last few machines capable of cutting a metal mother – the stamp that imprints the plastic vinyl – were purchased at auction by the Church of Scientology, whose followers believed that the best way to preserve speeches of the master, L Ron Hubbard, for posterity was a 33⅓ album.

[…]

But there’s residual anxiety that the analogue revival is temporary. “Everything comes back once before it goes away for ever,” says VH1’s Bill Flanagan. “If it’s just a nostalgic or hipster-elitest thing, where does that leave us in 10 years? It might be the last gasp of an expiring culture before we all get sucked into the [digital] cloud.”

Nostalgia pays in Nashville as rocketing record sales make it the capital of vinyl

vinyl
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erikkwakkel:

Broidery on a medieval page

Holes in the pages of medieval books are common. They were easily made (by the parchment maker’s knife), as in this wonderful case. Fixing it by stitching the hole together with strings of parchment is also common: parchment makers did it all the time, leaving behind “scars” on the page. What is totally unusual, however, is the repairs seen in this 14th-century book in Uppsala, Sweden. The damage is repaired, or at least masked, by good old broidery. It was done by the nuns who purchased the book in 1417. It is delightful to think that they took the effort to make a medieval hole disappear by replacing it with patterns like this, made up from pieces of silk in the most vivid of colors.

Pics: website of University Library Uppsala. More information about the preservation of this manuscript here. Note 2 August, 2014: the website has been removed but can still be seen via the Web Archive (here).

Wow, hard to believe this is real, since the colours are so bright (though I suppose being closed up in a book protected them from light, so there’d be less reason for them to fade - the website describes how some of the threads have disintegrated, however). Obviously ‘twee’ was originally a medieval Swedish word… (see also)

(via knitphilia)

books
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Books to read. I just realised there is a connection between the two, in that they were both the last works of dying men (although Torei only thought he was going to die, prompting the unusual step of recording his own teachings; while Foucault died without completing his written work on further volumes of The History of Sexuality, this was his last lecture series)

Books to read. I just realised there is a connection between the two, in that they were both the last works of dying men (although Torei only thought he was going to die, prompting the unusual step of recording his own teachings; while Foucault died without completing his written work on further volumes of The History of Sexuality, this was his last lecture series)

foucualt zen philosophy
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If you create something that improves human life, people will reward you for it, but this is not a universal law of physics. This is something that applies at the start of the 21st century. But artificial intelligence is not going to care about the human market. At the moment, the human is in the loop. That can change.

The scientific A-Team saving the world from killer viruses, rogue AI and the paperclip apocalypse

Fascinating/terrifying article about the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk in Cambridge University, England. The concept of posthuman economics sounds like a good thing to study - or, as their economist member calls it, “inequality across time”, and sustainable development incorporating “natural capital”. What if humans become not the only ‘rational actors’ in our economic framework?

I don’t get the ‘paperclip apocalypse’ headline - how does this work: “the for-instance of a paper clip making software that turns the whole of America, including the people, into paper clips”? But the idea of an artificial intelligence taking over the ‘internet of things’ for its own ends is pretty scary, and should be a prompt to ask ourselves do we really need everything to be a ‘smart’? Although as is explained, there is a certain economic-type logic pushing us towards that convergence.

economics futurology
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knitphilia:

archiemcphee:

Forget Google Glass, Android Wear, Smartwatches or contact lenses that give you night vision. Instead let’s talk about the awesomeness that is this 17th century Chinese abacus ring. It’s wearable tech from the Qing Dynasty, perhaps the world’s oldest smart ring.
Measuring a mere 1.2 centimeter-long by 0.7 centimeter-wide, the miniature abacus is a fully functional counting tool, but it’s so tiny that using it requires an equally dainty tool, such as a pin, to manipulate the beads, which are each less than one millimeter long.

"However, this is no problem for this abacus’s primary user—the ancient Chinese lady, for she only needs to pick one from her many hairpins."

[via Fashionably Geek and Gizmodo]

Historical math jewelry!!!!

knitphilia:

archiemcphee:

Forget Google Glass, Android Wear, Smartwatches or contact lenses that give you night vision. Instead let’s talk about the awesomeness that is this 17th century Chinese abacus ring. It’s wearable tech from the Qing Dynasty, perhaps the world’s oldest smart ring.

Measuring a mere 1.2 centimeter-long by 0.7 centimeter-wide, the miniature abacus is a fully functional counting tool, but it’s so tiny that using it requires an equally dainty tool, such as a pin, to manipulate the beads, which are each less than one millimeter long.

"However, this is no problem for this abacus’s primary user—the ancient Chinese lady, for she only needs to pick one from her many hairpins."

[via Fashionably Geek and Gizmodo]

Historical math jewelry!!!!

Comments (View) | 22,202 notes
Aug 28
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interstate808:

Nevin Institute research finds poorer people pay more tax

Some figures to remember when the government starts talking about cuts to direct taxation, while continually increasing indirect taxation.

I have a fairly big problem with these numbers: the proportion of indirect taxation to disposable income (middle graph above) is virtually identical in its distribution by decile to that of the proportion of household expenditure to gross income, as found in Table 2 of the report - that is, prior to tax entering the equation (I’ve put the extra figures here). Of course, on the face of it that’s the reason indirect taxation is so regressive - because the lower your income, the more of it you’re likely to spend and so attract consumption taxes. That’s not the whole of it - there’s a smaller regressive effect based on percentage of expenditure, by decile, to do with the composition of what’s being bought - but the sharp decline has nearly everything to do with expenditure, as measured before tax*. Particularly in the leftmost column, the bottom decile, which is strikingly high and drew my attention initially.

Basically, according to the Central Statistics Office Household Budget Survey that this report is based on, the two lowest deciles have similar levels of average expenditure, about €20,000 annually, but the lowest decile only earns half that annually. In fact, all four lowest deciles have an average expenditure greater than their incomes, although the disparity is by far the greatest for the bottom decile (187% of gross income, compared to 127% for the next decile). I was struck by this fact when the survey was originally reported on, but apparently it’s no big deal (p. 28):

"There are many reasons why expenditure may exceed income in lower income decile households and this is a common experience internationally in income and expenditure surveys. Households with recently unemployed household members may draw on savings to maintain their expenditures. Self-employed consumers may experience business losses that result in low incomes, but are able to maintain expenditure by borrowing or relying on savings.

Third level students may get by on loans or savings from summer employment, retirees may rely on savings and investments. In addition, across all deciles there may be an under-reporting of certain categories of income (e.g. shadow economy employment income). 

In fact, according to the preceding chart (p. 27), prior to 2004 expenditure exceeded income, on average, for all Irish households. If one accepts that this reflects a degree of normalcy and statistical blindness, then the question is whether income, and specifically these income deciles, still remains a useful comparator for how ‘well-off’ households are and how much a burden taxation places on them - particularly if it relates to levels of expenditure indirectly linked to income. On the other hand, if you don’t buy the explanations, then 10% of households effectively becoming indebted by nearly their entire yearly income, each year, has got to be a more pressing issue than regressive taxation. Social Justice Ireland have examined the statistics to produce a profile of the ‘bottom 30 per cent’, or three lowest deciles - finding the bottom decile to be mostly comprised of large families with children under 16, and working age adults, not retirees, although 16% are students.

I couldn’t find any other comparisons of household expenditure to incomes, but the difference between indirect taxation as percentage of income and of expenditure is replicated in these UK statistics. The lowest household quintile paid 30.5% of their disposable income in indirect taxes, similar to the Irish level, while the top quintile paid only 14.4%. However, when expressed as a percentage of expenditure, the figures only ranged from 19.8% to 17.1%. Buried in the appendix of the Nevin Institute report are the comparable figures (Table A14b), which range from 14.66% of expenditure for the bottom decile to 10.95% for the top decile, admittedly a larger spread even accounting for the smaller divisions (interestingly, there is a slight uptick in the 3rd decile and 2nd quintile for each).

To be fair, the Nevin Institute report does address other literature and debates over the regressivity of indirect taxation, including the claim “that VAT appears regressive but it is not necessarily the case as wealthier people save more than poorer people so it appears that they avoid the tax but they will incur it when they spend their savings.” They appear to side with the argument that this is “changing the rules for calculating what is a progressive and regressive tax”; certainly the idea that “because people can move between income deciles, over the course of a lifetime, indirect taxes are less regressive than is commonly assumed” implies a certain optimistic belief in upward mobility. However, ignoring what happens to saved income (income after expenditure, in the upper deciles) one is still left with the (perhaps linked) issue of borrowed, or drawn-down, expenditure above income in the lower deciles.

If a household spends €20,000, paying approximately €3,000 in indirect taxes in the process, does it actually make sense to relate that latter fact to their apparent income of €10-15,000? Maybe, if it represents the fact that they are forced to live beyond their means by economic and social circumstances. However, it could also be said to be an artefact of the statistical measurement. If indirect taxes are regressive in relation to income it is mainly because expenditure is itself ‘regressive’ to income. The ‘U’-shaped curve is really more of a dog-leg when it comes to that bottom decile, and while I agree with the impetus behind showing the limitations of ‘progressive’ taxation, I wonder if this isn’t over-egging the pudding? 

* comparing it to expenditure as a percentage of disposable income (i.e., income after direct taxation) produces a slightly lower correlation, presumably as an effect of progressive income taxation ‘bending the curve’ between the lower and higher deciles.

irish economics statistics
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Aug 27
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EMA - ‘Neuromancer’ on David Letterman

Very 80s-chic (featuring a keytar!). Beginning to regret not travelling to England to catch her tour this year.

Hopefully future generations will use the audio sample of Letterman saying “the future’s void, ladies and gentleman”.

EMA tfv
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rubot:

Truth

I finally read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic piece on reparations last night, and it clarified something in my mind about ‘white supremacy’ as a concept that I see used frequently on Tumblr, but invariably from the US context where it has particular historical roots and contemporary presence. That’s not to say that Europe is in any way free from racism, and we have to bear our share of responsibility for the colonialism and imperialism leading to the distribution of the world today (the participation of Irish people in that process is debatable; less so our current benefit from it). Still, slavery is basically an American thing, and with it its legacy which represents the term white supremacy. It’s not a new idea, of course - I probably first came across it when I did a school project on the Black Panthers and read about their influence from Frantz Fanon and the black/white binary (in a postcolonial French-African context). This seems like a pretty good summation of it:

"The milestone of America’s black president hasn’t tempered Coates’s concerns. Coates has accused Barack Obama of avoiding race issues, most notably in a widely cited article headlined “Fear of a Black President.” Asked whether he believes that a “post-racial society” — a phrase often invoked after Obama’s election — was desirable, Coates — ever the tinkerer — offered an alternative wording.
“We should have a post-racist society,” he says. “But people are scared of what that might mean.”
So, then, what would it mean? Coates leans heavily back in his chair, thinks for a moment, then starts working through the logic out loud: “A post-racist society is a society where you really don’t have any white people. That’s the scary thing. . . . The idea of whiteness is tied to power. And the destruction of that power means the end of whiteness itself.”
Coates appears to echo — and add his unique take to — a strain of thinking about whiteness as a concept more closely knit to power and social status than actual skin color. It does not advocate actually doing away with white people but eliminating a construct that its adherents say was created by white Europeans to deny power to nonwhites. The controversial idea has been debated in intellectual circles and been the subject of academic inquiry.

I am a white European, and close enough to being an Anglo-Saxon Protestant to boot, but at the same time I think there is at least a slight mental adjustment required between ‘whiteness’ as a specifically American construct, and as an Irish one - even if, and this is an important qualification, I could theoretically transfer between one milieu to the other with great ease. Our racism has more to do with xenophobia, anti-immigrant prejudice and a cultural notion of homogeneity; although at the same time our close economic, social and cultural ties with the US are bound to have an influence as well.
The other thing I like about Coates’ piece on reparations is the way it brings in the economic substructure of racism - and tackles head-on the dreaded argument of class politics against identity. Watching events in Ferguson, and the way white residents attempted to point to poverty rather than race as the issue, did make me wonder rather cynically if US liberals get outraged about race because it’s so demonstrably unfair and bigoted in a way that it’s harder to articulate with class politics, despite all the evidence of inequality - because although (in theory) racial equality is simple to envision, social and economic equality is both seen as utopian and/or subject to fierce debate over how work is to be rewarded, property allocated and protected, etc. Of course, globally we are confronted by a confluence of the two, the result again of colonialism and imperialism - but what Coates shows is how even just within the US the practice of undoing racial inequality becomes inextricably economic. Or in other words, how identity is formed relies on the social setting. White supremacy is economic, because whiteness is based on economic supremacy.

rubot:

Truth

I finally read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic piece on reparations last night, and it clarified something in my mind about ‘white supremacy’ as a concept that I see used frequently on Tumblr, but invariably from the US context where it has particular historical roots and contemporary presence. That’s not to say that Europe is in any way free from racism, and we have to bear our share of responsibility for the colonialism and imperialism leading to the distribution of the world today (the participation of Irish people in that process is debatable; less so our current benefit from it). Still, slavery is basically an American thing, and with it its legacy which represents the term white supremacy. It’s not a new idea, of course - I probably first came across it when I did a school project on the Black Panthers and read about their influence from Frantz Fanon and the black/white binary (in a postcolonial French-African context). This seems like a pretty good summation of it:

"The milestone of America’s black president hasn’t tempered Coates’s concerns. Coates has accused Barack Obama of avoiding race issues, most notably in a widely cited article headlined “Fear of a Black President.” Asked whether he believes that a “post-racial society” — a phrase often invoked after Obama’s election — was desirable, Coates — ever the tinkerer — offered an alternative wording.

“We should have a post-racist society,” he says. “But people are scared of what that might mean.”

So, then, what would it mean? Coates leans heavily back in his chair, thinks for a moment, then starts working through the logic out loud: “A post-racist society is a society where you really don’t have any white people. That’s the scary thing. . . . The idea of whiteness is tied to power. And the destruction of that power means the end of whiteness itself.”

Coates appears to echo — and add his unique take to — a strain of thinking about whiteness as a concept more closely knit to power and social status than actual skin color. It does not advocate actually doing away with white people but eliminating a construct that its adherents say was created by white Europeans to deny power to nonwhites. The controversial idea has been debated in intellectual circles and been the subject of academic inquiry.

I am a white European, and close enough to being an Anglo-Saxon Protestant to boot, but at the same time I think there is at least a slight mental adjustment required between ‘whiteness’ as a specifically American construct, and as an Irish one - even if, and this is an important qualification, I could theoretically transfer between one milieu to the other with great ease. Our racism has more to do with xenophobia, anti-immigrant prejudice and a cultural notion of homogeneity; although at the same time our close economic, social and cultural ties with the US are bound to have an influence as well.

The other thing I like about Coates’ piece on reparations is the way it brings in the economic substructure of racism - and tackles head-on the dreaded argument of class politics against identity. Watching events in Ferguson, and the way white residents attempted to point to poverty rather than race as the issue, did make me wonder rather cynically if US liberals get outraged about race because it’s so demonstrably unfair and bigoted in a way that it’s harder to articulate with class politics, despite all the evidence of inequality - because although (in theory) racial equality is simple to envision, social and economic equality is both seen as utopian and/or subject to fierce debate over how work is to be rewarded, property allocated and protected, etc. Of course, globally we are confronted by a confluence of the two, the result again of colonialism and imperialism - but what Coates shows is how even just within the US the practice of undoing racial inequality becomes inextricably economic. Or in other words, how identity is formed relies on the social setting. White supremacy is economic, because whiteness is based on economic supremacy.

american exceptionalism
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Mindfulness experts say such extreme adverse reactions are rare and are most likely to follow prolonged periods of meditation, such as weeks on a silent retreat. But the studies represent a new strain of critical thinking about mindfulness meditation amid an avalanche of hype.

Mindfulness therapy comes at a high price for some, say experts (h/t hautepop)

Somewhat conflicted about this - on the one hand I agree with the critical perspective, but on the other I think it should also be applied to considering how ‘adverse’ reactions are defined and what the intended psycho-social outcome of therapy is (not to trivialise the former, but the example given is “rare cases of “depersonalisation”, where people feel like they are watching themselves in a film” which could either be a step towards psychosis or a spiritual awakening into the nature of selfhood). Plus there is an important overlay of tension between the commercial mindfulness industry, as a deracinated, de-contextualised form of Buddhist meditation, and the study and practice of Buddhism as a philosophical, spiritual and historical tradition - within which surely lies the essential questions of ethics and aims that underpin any broader assessment. I would consider myself a rationalist, but alongside the scepticism of mindfulness as a tool of neoliberal spiritualism there’s also the Western tradition of anti-psychiatry to question the scientific objectivity of ‘experts’ in the psychological realm.

More practically, Brad Warner, I think, has written an important caveat to the meditation/mindfulness experience: rather than simply being about ‘emptying your mind’, in the popular imagination, it can expose oneself (through relaxing conscious control) to suppressed emotions and thoughts, with uncomfortable or unpleasant results. And the experience of depression or anxiety is in large part about suppressing certain ideas or feelings through an unhealthy focus on others, as a kind of psychological defence mechanism. So mindfulness can help cut through the latter but dealing with the former requires more positive action; it’s why using mindfulness to tackle social malaise is doomed to be inadequate unless it’s coupled with an honest discourse and an ethics of care. Is there a risk to providing tools towards mental equilibrium? Maybe, but it’s less worse than denying the link between psychic pain and social situations.

psychology buddhism
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