greyhound shakedown update

In an earlier post, Greyhound Shakedown, Texas Style: I mentioned writing a "concerned rider" letter to Greyhound about a police raid on the bus I was on in Neanderthal County, TX. No reply ever came; it probably went immediately into the wastebin. According to this HuffPo story, Greyhound rolls over for border patrol raids; likely the company wouldn't be any less opposed to small town sheriffs raising revenue by asking its customers to empty their luggage.
The ACLU has been after them about their lack of fight on the border patrol issue, at least.

a cold, clammy bombing

Dedicated to faux-progressives who think baiting a nuclear-armed power is a keen idea if there's a chance it could dispose of Trump (along with the rest of us). Suddenly we are back in the bad old days of the Cold War and songs like this have become relevant again:

Chrome, "March Of The Chrome Police" (1979)

I don’t care much about your situation
You’ve got too a strange of a fascination
You’ve got an overactive imagination
A cold clammy* bombing
A cold clammy bombing
Will ruin your town
I hear all the paranoid discussions
Trying to distract me from my functions
But I don’t care what they say
I’m not afraid of the Russians
A cold clammy bombing
Will ruin your town
Some say they saw you lighting up the fuse
Well at last this fucking box will get some use
Modern equipment can’t take the abuse
A cold clammy bombing
Will shit on your town

*spelled "clamey" on the lyric sheet

the earth is flat (this is not Thomas Friedman saying this)

The following press release came via email, for an exhibition at carriage trade gallery, "the earth is flat":

Suspicion, vengeance, and irrationality have become the new norm. As in previous times of radical social change, zealotry and demagoguery surge as faith in the established order recedes. The collective pursuit of democratic ideals, built on Enlightenment principles never quite fulfilled, suffers waves of backlash, resentment built up from centuries of promise and disappointment. Democracy, gamed by the twin forces of privatization and media spectacle, is forced to watch its failures writ large, its susceptibility to rule by personality at last delivering the role of leader as farce.

Retreating further and further from a collective sphere into the digital bantustans of social media, the entity once known as the public concedes to the machinations and experiments of technocrats in the service of youthful billionaires whose unassuming presence distract us from otherwise obvious comparisons to robber barons of the 19th century. Mining not coal or iron but the depths of billions of individual psyches, the growth model of unfettered capitalism turns in on itself, atomizing individuals into dark recesses of a new medieval realm which thrives on irrational fervor, antagonism, and polarization.

Pit against one another and therefore the whole, society gropes backward to a darker, unenlightened past that technology promised to deliver us from. As YouTube's "recommend" algorithms, fueled by contempt and suspicion for empirical inquiry, send us down the rabbit hole of sensation and conspiracy, we're offered proof, once again, that the earth is flat.

The words "the earth is flat" in the last sentence link to a YouTube video of a BBC documentary about people who believe the Earth is literally flat and have meet-and-greet conventions in hotels where they discuss this concept. We're supposed to be horrified that "social media" makes such intellectual devolution possible. Yet the link is another time-waster, inviting us to gawk at weirdos about a subject that doesn't matter. On the other hand, perhaps the weirdos have a point, that believing in the old-style flat earth and getting together to hobknob about it is as worthwhile an activity as watching BBC and clicking YouTube links. Their concept certainly trumps New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's paradoxical, not very well thought out view that the Earth is being made "flat" by globalization (globes are round, aren't they?).

carriage trade and its director Peter Scott have a fine tradition of presenting socially critical art but it's debatable how well served we are by the style of apocalyptic writing above. Let's break it down a bit:

As in previous times of radical social change, zealotry and demagoguery surge as faith in the established order recedes.

Yet how much radical social change are we actually seeing? The established order, as in the old military industrial complex, thrives. Its current project is to get the US into a war with Iran or Russia (both suicidal). Newspapers have receded in influence but propaganda coming from the top still presents a far greater danger than flat-earthers meeting at the Marriott.

Democracy, gamed by the twin forces of privatization and media spectacle, is forced to watch its failures writ large, its susceptibility to rule by personality at last delivering the role of leader as farce.

Yet the confused electorate was not wrong in its desire to "throw the bums out of office," rejecting two horrible candidates the media had decided were inevitable (a Clinton and a Bush). The platform of the supposedly "democratic" party was so compromised and unappealing that a demagogue got in. This has nothing to do with self-reinforcing popular narratives controlled by Silicon Valley.

The second paragraph of the press release is eloquent but shifts the focus to the new robber barons without considering their role in providing cover for, and distraction from, the activities of the old ones (energy, transportation, armaments, finance), and also, doesn't consider what can be done about it -- i.e., not using social media or succumbing to its flighty narratives.

Tales from the other side

You could choose not to use Facebook and smartphones (1) because you are "tech-phobic" or simply "clueless" or "out of it," or (2) as a volitional, political act.
If it's (1) you might get sympathy from users who try to "bring you up to speed." If it's (2) be prepared for ridicule and peer pressure to conform.

Here are a few tales from the "other side" -- the land of Alternative (2):

1. You are in a bar in the East Village and you pull out your flip phone. The woman waiting tables sees it and says "cool -- I wish I could do that." A few months later, you pull out the same phone to check the time and a family member scoffs and says "Scotty, beam me up."

2. You are talking with a fellow blogger who says "I've moved most of my writing over to Facebook -- I have to be on there for professional reasons."

3. Another blogger, the always-excellent Moon of Alabama, considers whether to get a smartphone and says "Nah," opting for a $26 regular cell with numeric keypad (curious what kind of "plan" he has, though).

4. You are traveling to Houston. To get from one place to another in the city, everyone you talk to says "take an Uber." You've heard enough bad things about that exploitative and unsuccessful company that you want no part of it. You find a taxi service on Yelp (on your laptop) that requires no app, just a phone call. The driver says their business model (in Houston and Atlanta) consists of appealing to passengers who don't want to use Uber.

5. A Linuxmusicians user considers a supposedly Snowden-endorsed app that turns a "second phone" into a motion-sensing burglar alarm to protect your "first phone" or laptop from "unexpected guests and unwanted intruders." Say what? Followers of Yasha Levine's "surveillance valley" research know to be wary of apps that "secure" phones when it's the phone itself that's the issue. User asbak makes the case: "Apps and magic fixes cannot solve such problems. Only human behaviour and choices can." But what is the "problem" here? Apparently that a "hostile" can approach you while you are texting away and not paying attention and you need a virtual watchdog to start barking and warn you to stop typing. Having a "second phone" would seem to be doubling the surveillance opportunies but whatever.

6. You've avoided Windows 10 and its monitoring and surveillance regime and moved most of your PC activities to Linux. You still have Skype on W7 for phone calls. Microsoft announces a "no dirty talk on Skype" policy. You can't keep up with the evil.

7. You try to conform to the herd by changing your blog to a "responsive" (mobile-friendly) format. Belatedly you realize that the developer of your theme is such a suckup to the Man he has you loading fonts directly from Google every time someone accesses your blog. And you fell for it. You add "getting a better theme" to your to-do list.

good news from ardour re: midi looping

Have noted several times the errors in Ardour's midi looping. Apparently it's finally going to be fixed:

Tue, 2018-03-27 10:24, paul: MIDI looping will be an area of intense focus for the 6.0 release. It is known to work incorrectly in all existing releases, at least in cases where note boundaries coincide with the loop boundaries (it does work in other situations).

But some people are never happy:

Thu, 2018-03-29 11:44, ccaudle: All these kids and their new fangled loopty loops. In my day we had to play a song all the way from beginning to end, and we liked it that way. :)