Photo 29 Dec
Text 25 Oct Thursday Slow Jams I

Gerald Levert

A long while back, my office mate and I used to have ‘Slow Jam Friday’. It was a great end to the week. I want to bring the tradition back, but I’m working Sundays - Thursdays right now, so Thursdays it will be. I never hear slow jams anymore! Where are they?

1. Gerald Levert: I Was Made To Love You

2. Hall and Oates: One on One

3. Ginuwine: In Those Jeans

4. Atlantic Starr: Love Me Down

5. Tweet: Cigarettes

6. Rap remixes usually don’t do it for me on the sj tip but I can’t get enough of this remix of MC: We Belong Together feat. Jada and Styles P. It’s not really a slow jam at this new tempo. Whatever.

7. Trey Songz: Neighbors Know My Name

8. Frank Ocean feat. Andre 3K: Pink Matter

9. Jeremih: Late Nights

10. Ciara feat. Ludacris: Ride

The Luda verse is entirely unnecessary. Most verses on Ciara songs are completely unnecessary. 

Photo 19 Apr Samchillian Chip Chip Chip TeeeePee

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Samchillian Chip Chip Chip TeeeePee

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Photo 20 Nov 393 notes mpdrolet:

Winds during the Shackleton Expedition, Antarctica, c.1915
Frank Hurley


Winds during the Shackleton Expedition, Antarctica, c.1915

Frank Hurley

via MPD.
Link 20 Nov 1 note Jokes on jokes on jokes»
via The Real.
Text 20 Nov Why #Occupy Will Be Bigger than the Tea Party

I’ve been doing some reading on network theory lately and the #occupy movement provides an excellent opportunity for some analysis.

Looking at the network graphs, we see a stark contrast between the two “twitter universes”. The #Occupy movement consists of several hub clusters, with certain figures’ tweets being amplified throughout a small, dense network, then later repeated out to other hub clusters (a network variant of the “People’s microphone”?). But the most striking thing about it is how the inter-connectivity in the #Occupy graph acts as an amplifier. Blue lines represent re-tweets and mutual following, gray lines represent just following. So not only do we have a variety of hub and respective clusters, they seem to be listening to each other. Not everyone is being retweeted, but I’m willing to bet that a closer analysis would reveal that the sources of many of the popular retweets are not major news organizations or existing activists but new people brought up by the movement. 

We’re going to see some of those users’ following explode. There’s a theory called “preferential attachment”, which you can think of as a high school popularity contest. Once a network unit reaches a critical number of attachments, whatever they have to say becomes important by the virtue of the fact that everyone knows about it. Inevitably, some of the casual users will be drawn into these hub clusters by becoming impressed with these tweets and following, and unless the amount of available users has been ‘tapped out’ (which I doubt) some of these new followers will bring along hub clusters of their own.

A large criticism of the movement is that it is leaderless and cannot offer concrete demands. This is the strength of #occupy at this stage in the game. Mutual following and the retweeting of information is what draws people into the network. The Tea Party graph, on the other hand, shows what is popularly referred to as an echo chamber. We see a closed system in which mutual following and retweeting is low. In essence, the whole network is a single hub and community, with remarkably less outside links than the #Occupy graph. Since the largest nodes in the network retweet each other AND mutual following and retweeting is low, the likelihood of attracting new hubs is low. In essence, the three major groups are shouting at each other, but they’re not really listening.

What does this mean? There are some caveats to this graph. The sample size is low, and #Occupy is out in force in the real world, while the Tea Party is not organizing the way they used to. The value of a Twitter network as a proxy for real world organization is difficult to determine, particularly as Tea Party members tend to be older and not as tech-focused as the younger #Occupy members. On the other hand, since Twitter is a valuable tool for organizing and can’t really be matched for speed by other technologies (phone, email) #Occupy has the upper hand as far as attracting new members. In political terms, #Occupy has taken on network characteristics similar to an insurgency, where new hubs form and loosely attach themselves to existing ones.

In other words, Twitter matters. It’s not a perfect proxy for network connections, but I suspect that the real-life networks of the movements are similar.

The Tea Party certainly looked this way at first, and I think any sort of political organizing has an insurgent element at the beginning. But by coalescing into an echo chamber (I suspect by trying to gain “legitimacy” through the attachment of Republican Party members and existing fundraising networks) the Tea Party has in effect solidified into a faction, with limited ability to draw in new members.

If Occupy doesn’t let the Democratic Party co-opt it, if police keep macing non-violent protesters, if pictures and tweets and facebook posts continue to fly, this is going to turn into a force to be reckoned with.  Don’t centralize, don’t install permanent leaders, make as many decisions by consensus as popular, and continue to talk about it. This thing is going to grow, and grow, and grow, and grow.

Text 20 Oct Two Essential Books for Understanding the American 20th Century

"The Clansman" by Thomas Dixon

"Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell

Some racist, racist shit. Worth reading, important, influential, disgusting. And don’t give me that “important moment for cinema” nonsense for “Gone with the Wind”. Important for racist cinema.

Finished “Gone With the Wind”, the novel. It’s great. Read it. Wow. Yes, it’s racist as hell. And so was America in the 1860s, and the 1930s, and now. You’ll get a whole new perspective.

Text 7 Oct Occupying

Just got back to DC, everyone is talking about these new “Occupy” movements sprouting across the country. First of all, what a terrible name. “Occupying Powers” hearkens back to the wrong parts of the 20th century

Can we not call these ‘bread riots’ anymore? Is that phrase too patrician, too imperial, too old-fashioned? I understand that they’re for the most part non-violent, but what we’re looking at here is a bunch of unemployed and underemployed and sympathetic people trying desperately to shake a piggy bank that’s been raided weekly for years now. This is why camping out is such an effective strategy. “Screw you guys, this is my home.” 

Video 8 Apr

I bought these kids books at an Arabic book fair in front of Tel Aviv University. When I told the seller (a student) I was learning Arabic here started laughing and said “You know you can go places where they actually speak Arabic right? Like Jordan?” Which is a fair point, but in my defense, I’m not learning how to speak Arabic but rather read it (and understand news broadcasts and formal speeches) because the formal written version (called fusha) is different from the dialects everyone speaks. Which would still probably be easier in Jordan.

Anyway, it’s taken me a while but here’s what’s going on in Aladdin:

(I couldn’t find the first book so we start in the middle of the story)

The caravan, heavily laden, traveled east, forging through the Sinai desert. The teams assembled after making some headway and a vigorous, middle-aged man led Aladdin away from the group, his beard and sideburns lined with gray, his features forceful and manly, and he said to Aladdin:

"My name is Kemal Addin of Akko (Also Acre, a port city north of Haifa on the coast of Israel), and I have already spent much of my life among the caravans; I bundle together the goods and I tie them up, and I have traveled through the exotic countries in the land of Egypt, and I know and am certain that whosoever dies in a an exotic land dies a martyr; your father has charged me to hurry to you, and he said to me, "When you find yourself in the company of Aladdin and he plays his wondrous oud (an Arabic lute), if you return it safely and victoriously to me you will receive the bonus and honor you deserve."

I don’t know what happens next but the picture looks like something wild is about to go down:

Link 20 Mar The Most Important Article You Can Read About "Fundamentalist Islam"»

“It is an awkward position to be in,” he wrote of his situation. “How can one simultaneously fight against a powerful government, a pervasive and sensationalist-prone media and a group of overzealous, rash youth who are already predisposed to reject your message, because they view you as being a part of the establishment (while, ironically, the ‘establishment’ never ceases to view you as part of the radicals)?”

-Yasir Qadhi, Yale Professor, Islamic Scholar, Salafi

Dogmatic orthodoxy in any cultural diaspora should be understood as a way to maintain identity in an unfamiliar context. Anyone who’s lived abroad recognizes the tiny rituals they maintain from their culture of origin, the obstinate insistence on cooking things a certain way, the nagging need to address others in keeping with one’s internal schema rather than prevailing cultural norms. I

t’s a complicated matter even when one’s schema does not claim universality. My American interpersonal hierarchy recognizes the existence of “Mr.” “Ms. “Miss” “Mrs.” “Sir” “Ma’am” “Professor”.  In my studies here in Israel, my instructors are no less “Professor-like”; they lecture from the front of the classroom, often standing while we, the instructed, are seated, selecting students to respond to questions they pose, directing our inquiries, etc. In all of this they are like the majority of American academic instructors - thus it is mentally jarring to address them by their first name, as the power dynamic is identical to a situation in which I would address them by an honorific.

For a system claiming universality, the problem is compounded. In a universal system, principles are expected to apply no matter what the context of the believer. The more similarities that exist, the less difference one discerns from their “home” or “root” schema, the more alarming it is to find deviations, the more tempting it is to resort to confrontation to reconcile these deviations, the more stark the contrast between the “right way” identified with home practices, and the “evils” of the new culture one has been thrust into.

I am unsure if this tension can consistently be resolved in a non-violent fashion. Enforced assimilation presents its own problems which may lead to violent outcomes as well. The most prudent path for the dominant culture is one of conditional acceptance, an approach grounded in recognition and acceptance of difference, but providing strong norms of behavior to which all groups are expected to adhere. The downfall of this approach, of course, is that it requires both state-level and societal engagement on both a group and individual basis, a requirement that approaches the impossible in most countries.

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