Archive - Jan 2006 - Blog entry


Feeling a bit overwhelmed.
There's so many things going on, projects and things I'm involved with. And now I'm sick, for no apparent reason other than the stress of all this stuff going on - I've been eating right, sleeping enough, etc. Hopefully I can kick it fast, I already feel better than yesterday, but who knows what'll happen. I need to take it a little easier, I guess.

recent things not mentioned on blog yet:

  • got new business cards for myself, they look pretty sweet, and they were super cheap;
  • working at a job filling in for a friend for a few weeks, i'll blog more about that later. it may be the main reason i'm so stressed lately;
  • reading Susan Sontag's "Notes on Camp" - i've always wanted to read this essay, and a copy of the book it's in "Against Interpretation" showed up at Dry River last week. It's pretty Art World, but is still interesting. a good source of Oscar Wilde quotes, at least. this coupled with my newfound lack of as much interest in Art, preferring the sociopolitical, reminds me of the Laurie Anderson piece where she turns Gorky's saying "Aesthetics is the ethics of the future" into "Aesthetics is the ethics of the few." Which reminds me I've decided I'm really interested in Ethics, and I'll write more about that soon when I do a book review of something I recently finished reading, about vegetarianism. stay tuned.
  • underwhelming 'tear down the wall' teach-in about the border was saturday. Lots of border activists talking the same-old, same-old talk. Ask your elected officials to stop being corrupt and racist jerksdo the right thing! woohoo!
  • Looking for an Audio CMS

    So I have this site, Phonophilia, which is all about field recordings and other sound. I want to keep adding to it and I want a better way to do that and manage what's there. So I've been looking for days for some kind of content-management system for audio. I basically want something that can look at a directory full of sound files and make a nice looking little index page, reading the ID3 tags of each mp3 file to get details... stuff like that.

    I don't want just a podcasting tool, if I wanted just that I would just use LoudBlog, which seems pretty cool for that limited need. Though something that generates RSS for each page would be nice. the thing with podcasts and blogs is it's all about the NOW, the latest, not about managing content that's both old and new.

    So, dear reader, do you know of anything like this? (I was spurred to asking you from reading José's blog where he just asked a couple real questions of his readers. And I had answers!)


    Video geek alert. Yesterday I installed Final Cut Pro 5 and one really cool new feature is "multiclips." Basically you can link together multiple clips shot with different cameras of the same thing and then really easily make an edit, clicking back and forth between the different angles like a TV producer doing live Superbowl coverage. (you know: "ready camera 2... camera 2. Camera 3, find me a close up of a ref... ready camera 3... camera 3... ready camera 1.... camera 1...")

    So I tested it out with some footage I already had captured of an Earth First demonstration. It was super cool. Something that would have taken a day to piece together took about about 30 minutes. The results are not perfect, and I purposely cut back and forth too often just to demonstrate how easy it is. But it works, and it's a fun little clip; about 5 minutes and 11 MB.


    The thing about living in the desert is I almost always get at least a little dehydrated while I'm sleeping. If I also have a little bit to drink the night before, I get even more dehydrated, and wake up feeling hung over, more so than in wetter climes. Last night was a preview screening of a new film called Presente by another member of the Pan Left video collective, Jason Aragon. The film is about the Migrant Trail Walk, a yearly symbolic 7-day hike from the border to Tucson organized by border activists here. After the screening was an afterparty that was pretty fun. There were border activists and video people and it was at this house that's actually a small, sort of weird college, just a couple blocks from my house.

    So after the party last night today I woke up feeling really worn, even though I think I only had like 3 beers. And tried to fix that by drinking coffee, more coffee than I should have, starting off a whole process for the day of too much coffee. After breakfast I started transcribing all the english in my Juarez film so that it can be translated into Spanish. I had to wrestle with software, looking for something that was just right, and I just couldn't find something to do what I really wanted the way I wanted. But Transana almost is sufficient. It's a cool program, but it's written by academics who want to analyze how people talk, I guess, rather than translate films. But really the only problem is it doesn't export to the kind of text file that DVD Studio Pro wants, STL, so i wrote a little filter in perl that converts. It's a actually the perfect sort of job for perl. I'm so glad I know perl.

    Then I had a headache so I went and had a coffee while meeting with Daniela, someone else from Pan Left, and a high school teacher she's working with on a video production class. I'm going to be helping them out with a day or 2 of editing instruction. That should be interesting, teaching 15-year-olds how to use Final Cut.

    Then I still had a headache so I had more coffee and worked on transcribing more. I guess I should have just taken a long bike ride or something relaxing to enjoy the beautiful day, but I really felt like getting more accomplished.

    Well, now I feel okay and I'm going to go downstairs and make dinner. yay.

    Prominent lawyer shot dead in Juárez

    Diana Washington Valdez of the El Paso Times reports that yesterday afternoon in downtown Juarez a well-known lawyer was shot and killed. He was lawyer for one of the bus drivers who was falsely arrested and tortured for some of the murders of women there. He mentioned recently that if he is killed he would blame a local police official who'd been harrassing him. Journalists from Spain are in town to report on the murders and were scheduled to interview him soon.

    Let Us Pull

    Of course everybody geeky enough and who cares enough about privacy concerns (related to both government and corporate breaches thereof) has been following the Google story of the feds asking for their logs. I've been in an extended discussion with a friend about that, about Google's ethics, and about what most people do or don't want from or know about or believe about Google and privacy and security.

    He just pointed me to a blog that pointed to a story in the Register that reports that 77% of Google users don't know that Google "records personal data."

    In this discourse i think a lot depends on the meaning of "personal data." To be fair, the quote above is from the headline, but the actual article, written by the every-snarky but tech-savvy Andrew Orlowski, uses the phrase "Google records and stores information that may identify them" (emphasis mine). Recording an ip address and a history of searches isn't neccesarily going to lead to a person, as in a name, and an address to send the stormtroopers to. you'd need the cooperation of someone's ISP to physically find them; and with dynamic IPs, which is how most people get online, i think, it might be hard for even an ISP to say which of their subscribers did what when.

    Bad news for homeland security, better news for google and the datamining industry, who can say 'we don't really have data that's THAT personal.'


    Good and Bad News over the last year in Juarez

    The El Paso paper reports on the current situation with the murders in Ciudad Juarez. Basically there's some improvement, especially on the Chihuahua state level, and no new reports of tortured arrestees, but the murders continue, there were more in 2005 than in 2004, and locally the police and judges are still negligent and/or incompetent.

    In June when I was there the count was over 427. It must be over 440 now. Yet I still see newspapers all over the world still using numbers like 300 or 350. Don't any of these writers ever think to themselves "hmm, ongoing problem, so maybe I should see if the number is higher."?

    How Money Thinks

    Since moving into the house where I live now, I've been reading the Wall Street Journal every morning, because my housemate, the MBA student, subscribes. A lot of people on the left have an irrational disrespect and scorn for the journal, but I've known the value of the WSJ ever since, 6 years ago, I started sharing an office with South to the Future, who made it their business to carefully study the style and format of the paper in order to write clever and very believable satires about current and possible developments in society.

    The key and the value of reading it is to know that the journal covers everything that is interesting or important to businesspeople. If one remembers that they have that angle then you can learn a lot - plus, they just have very intelligent and varied stories, and they are largely written in a way that doesn't assume stupidity on the part of the reader like most newspapers, sometimes to a fault - the daily news summary column on the center front page often refers to leaders and celebrities only by their last name, with no title or any other explanation. So if you don't know who 'Morales' or 'Mofaz' are, you're sort of out of luck, at least till you turn to the full article inside (if there is one).

    It's unfortunate, and telling, that there's no freebie web version of the WSJ. So I can't link to the very interesting article in Saturday's issue about "The Penelopiad," Margaret Atwood's new book that tells the story of Homer's Odyssey from the point of view of Ulysses' wife. (But I can link to other coverage of the same.)

    Nor can I link to the fascinating analysis of Europe's slow-growth economy in today's edition, which makes a comparison with the recovering U.S. economy and basically draws the conclusion (and pay attention here, this is important), that the EU economy is not growing as fast because Continental Europeans (unlike brits or yankees) do not like to go into debt, and in fact there are banking rules that make it harder to do so than in the U.S. So, in both places corporations are outsourcing to cheap labor in the 3rd world and hence not raising wages for workers, but in the U.S. workers got around that by simply borrowing more money, mainly via remortgaging their houses, so they could keep going to the mall and buying big-screen TVs and other shit. (Which begs the question, of course, how long can that last?)

    Of course the WSJ phrases it a little differently, but it's definitely a source of some interesting information, especially when you keep reminding yourself, "ah, so this is what capitalists want to know about. I wonder what they'll do with this?"

    American Business Adventures

    I've been going through archives of old video work, trying to clear some space on some hard drives, and thinking about what I should upload to the website, since I can. I came across a piece that's still one of my favorites, from 2002, that was conveniently already encoded as an mpeg-1. It's about 10 minutes long and it's called American Business Adventures.

    It's a collage piece that's all about the Afghan invasion and its relation to the United States' need for oil. I made it originally as a backdrop for live audio performance. Then later I took an audio recording of one of the live shows and layered that back onto the video, and did a bunch of other audio editing, to turn it into a finished work for linear video.

    This is the first time I've put the whole thing online, I think, so if you haven't seen my DVD, "Videographist," or otherwise seen it in realspace, this will be new to you.

    United We Stand - Europe Has A Mission

    A new film about a war between the U.S. and China, with the EU trying to stop it, promises to be an incredible piece of cinema - if only it were real.

    From an email I received today:

    'United We Stand' is the title of the much-hyped spy/action movie wholly produced by Europe, a large-scale propagandistic stunt that has in the past few months stirred much controversy. Too bad the movie doesn't actually exist, but it is instead the latest insane provocation of the artists' couple Eva and Franco Mattes, better known as 0100101110101101.ORG. After Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, New York and Bangalore, the gigantic performance has now landed in Austria and Bologna.

    see more info about the artprank at