Ton Van Bergeyk was a guitar hero of mine in the 1970s, an agile fingerpicker with a fine ragtimey repertoire. I'm delighted to discover via Keep Swinging that he's still playing. Here's one video:
and it turns out there are a dozen more too!
Laço Tayfa is a favorite of mine anyway, but the virtuosity of the first couple of minutes opens new frontiers:
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, via Crooked Timber
From 1:20 he demonstrates the elements of kora playing, and at 4:45 it's jaw-droppingly gobsmacking:
good old Least Wanted
A question from son John about banjo-like instruments led me on a YouTube chase that was very fruitful and ear-stretching. Here's one of the real gems that surfaced:
Fernandinho do Cavaco, 11 anos:
And while you're in the mood:
The fox hat is Kate's, and she got a Cthulhu fish for me and one for herself too!
This fragment from 1956 conveys the sheer energy of Lionel Hampton's performance:
(via Keep Swinging)
I've been following Mattias Adolfsson for quite a while. Here's his latest runthrough:
Sooliman Rogie was just wonderful, and this page from True Panther Sounds links to five songs that will instantly become your favorites.
Matt Harding and his accompanying Google map
I have a long-running fascination with spatial distribution of, well, pretty much anything and everything. One of the slipperiest things to map is ethnic identity, but that hasn't deterred legions of cartographers (though in fact the cartographers are mostly hired help, assisting anthropologists, demographers, census-takers, colonial masters, the military...). One of my favorite examples of the pitfalls of ethnic mapping is George Peter Murdock's effort to define the territories of peoples in Africa:
[adapted from Africa: Its Peoples and Their Culture History (1959)]
Pretty much everything is wrong with this map, starting with the very notion of a clear boundary (a line) to define where a "tribe" (ooooh, hateful word...) starts and stops (ethnic plurality and complex interdigitation is much more common than ethnic homogeneity, for all sorts of very good and highly location-specific reasons). At best, one might say that ethnicities have foci (perhaps hearths would be a better characterization) and force-fields that (seem to) emanate from a sort-of cultural identity centroid... but then there's the problem of defining an ethnicity (does a person get only ONE?) and comprehending what its earmarks and contents might be (just what is "culture" anyway? --a problem that vexes anthropologists permanently). Sort of a long runup to a pointer to Ghost of Alexander's "Fun with Ethnic Maps", which showcases 7 versions of the ethnic territories of Afghanistan. The message here isn't that one shouldn't attempt to map slippery concepts, but rather that any map is a starting point for discussion and elaboration, and not an authority, and especially not a permanent authority. Pretty much any phenomenon worth mapping is likely to squirm around over time, and we're just beginning to have the wherewithal to construct and distribute dynamic maps. Fascinating times, these.
I'm not in the habit of paying a lot of mind to piano or vibraphone, but this one sure got my attention:
Dennis Havlena, via Make Magazine:
This prize is from Echidne of the Snakes:
I've discovered a thing or two about my long-run interests by looking through this Wordle display of del.icio.us tags, though it would be nice to see an animated version, growing chronologically... This array of the tags gives direct access to the whole set.
The text of Bruce Schneier's Afterword to Doctorow's Little Brother is well worth reading. Try this bit:
So when you're wandering through your day, take a moment to look at the security systems around you. Look at the cameras in the stores you shop at. (Do they prevent crime, or just move it next door?) See how a restaurant operates. (If you pay after you eat, why don't more people just leave without paying?) Pay attention at airport security. (How could you get a weapon onto an airplane?) Watch what the teller does at a bank. (Bank security is designed to prevent tellers from stealing just as much as it is to prevent you from stealing.) Stare at an anthill. (Insects are all about security.) Read the Constitution, and notice all the ways it provides people with security against government. Look at traffic lights and door locks and all the security systems on television and in the movies. Figure out how they work, what threats they protect against and what threats they don't, how they fail, and how they can be exploited.And Andrew "bunnie" Huang's Afterwordcontribution is, if anything, even more remarkable. Like this:
Spend enough time doing this, and you'll find yourself thinking differently about the world. You'll start noticing that many of the security systems out there donít actually do what they claim to, and that much of our national security is a waste of money. You'll understand privacy as essential to security, not in opposition. You'll stop worrying about things other people worry about, and start worrying about things other people don't even think about.
Have the terrorists already won? Have we given in to fear, such that artists, hobbyists, hackers, iconoclasts, or perhaps an unassuming group of kids playing Harajuku Fun Madness, could be so trivially implicated as terrorists?Read 'em both here. They're short and to the point.
There is a term for this dysfunction--it is called an autoimmune disease, where an organism's defense system goes into overdrive so much that it fails to recognize itself and attacks its own cells. Ultimately, the organism self-destructs. Right now, America is on the verge of going into anaphylactic shock over its own freedoms, and we need to inoculate ourselves against this. Technology is no cure for this paranoia; in fact, it may enhance the paranoia: it turns us into prisoners of our own device. Coercing millions of people to strip off their outer garments and walk barefoot through metal detectors every day is no solution either. It only serves to remind the population every day that they have a reason to be afraid, while in practice providing only a flimsy barrier to a determined adversary.
I've been reading Cory Doctorow's Little Brother with great pleasure and not a few heretical thoughts in the realm of DISRUPTION (continuing thoughts included in Making room for disruptive and emergent technologies, an article I wrote more than FIVE years ago for NITLE News, and still stand by [bits of linkrot here and there, alas]). The book provides a quick bootstrap in re: an array of present-day technologies (RFIDs, encryption, quite a few others) that some of us may be a bit hazy about details and implications of, and offers a clearer explanation of the paradox of false positives than you're likely to find outside of a statistics text. Here's a 3-minute snippet from an interview on Viking Youth Power Hour in mid-May 2008 --the whole 53 minutes is pretty interesting.
I think I just read one of the most important books that I've ever read. It was good, too, but that is far outweighed by what I suspect will be the importance of the book to history. Uh, yeah, that sounds a bit dramatic, but bear with me for a little while... (Worlds & Time)This shares context-of-the-moment with the flurriment and scufflement of edupunk. If the term means nothing to you, explore the Wikipedia entry on the term [expect it to change rapidly], comments at Assorted Stuff and by Janet Clarey, and D'Arcy Norman's fine summary which includes this aux armes:
I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year, and I'd want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it'll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won't be the same after they've read it. Maybe they'll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it'll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they'll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they'll want to open their computer and see what's in there. I don't know. It made me want to be 13 again right now and reading it for the first time, and then go out and make the world better or stranger or odder. It's a wonderful, important book, in a way that renders its flaws pretty much meaningless. (Neil Gaiman)
Doctorow shows students what we all know. Educational institutions present themselves as distributors of knowledge and information when it would be more accurate to understand them as guardians of knowledge and information. There's a perpetual arms race between those who attempt to lock down networks in institutions and those who devise means to unlock them. Schools forbid cell phones, teachers keep computers turned off, professors tell students NOT to bring laptops to class: they don't do these things b/c they hope students will be able to access and communicate knowledge. (Alex Reid)
About halfway into it, I wanted to stop reading it ó not because I didnít like it, but because I wanted to jam it into the hands of the next 14-year-old I saw and say, ďyou need to read this more than I do.Ē (John Scalzi)
...and Chris Pirillo (lockergnome) has a YouTube video commentary, including (from 5:00) a reading of Chapter 1.
Itís about individuals being able to craft their own tools, to plan their own agendas, and to determine their own destinies. Itís about individuals being able to participate, to collaborate, to contribute, without boundaries or barriers. And it's not new.
And while you're at it, factor in Cory's recent BoingBoing post on demonization of photography in public spaces.
Lucas Gonze plays a ragtimey version of Blind Willie McTell's "Your Southern Can Belongs to Me":
I stumbled upon the Catalan/Valencian band L'Ham de Foc yesterday:
Most of their YouTube material is, like, good-sound indifferent-video: Husseyni Azeri (with Ross Daly), interviewed on OC-TV and Reportatge Rodasons 1 and Reportatge Rodasons 2 (with some good performance clips). Turns out that Amazon has all 3 albums in mp3-download format: U (their first), Cançó De Dona I Home, and Cor de Porc. I succumbed.
Nick sent me a link to the marvelous but not perhaps universally likely-to-be-appreciated Colorectal Surgeon song by Bowser and Blue, whom I should of course have been already familiar with. I wasn't, so I did a bunch of watching of 'related' videos. Some belong in my ethnocalumny category, some are funnier if you happen to be Canadian, but I like 'em all... Here's a paean to poutine: