Returning from a trip to Varkaus and Rantasalmi at my parents and their
summer cottage, Kukunana and I did some steampunk time travel. The
trip that normally takes about half an hour was quadrupled in duration,
but there wasn't a dull moment as everything was new to us in its
ancience. Not everybody liked the live accordion schlagers though ;)
As per my recent readings, I went through William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, which shows a certain progression from his hardcore cyberpunk roots. The novel was pretty much a mainstream suspense story with only faint background themes of SF, and as such it wasn't outstandingly exciting. I think I like his Bridge trilogy best, as it stands between this mainstream end and the fully chromed, textually tarred and gzipped cyberpunk. Nevertheless PR was an enjoyable read with a neat style and references to little known factual elements such as Curta and Systema.
Here's a somewhat unusual product review. I've just bought a pair of
small, powered computer speakers, the Creative SBS A30, and they're not
half bad for what they're meant to do. What's gotten into me?-)
The excuse is that these are for the JYT office machine, and these fit well within the 20-euro budget. Naturally a little testing is in order :) The nice thing about these little boxes is that they don't pretend to be anything bigger. No fancy settings like bass boost. Creative has been creative enough to realize that full bass is physically impossible when the dimensions are so far from the funky wavelengths, and advertises the frequency response as beginning from 100 Hz.
Another nice feature is a clickety power switch , which I presume turns the power really off, as there's no external mains adapter. Much nicer than wrestling with the wall wart every time to save some energy.
While doing these listening tests I'd like to mention a fun compilation I found at the library: Russendisko. The name says it all, and my current happy-happy-joy-joy favourite piece there is Rio Rita by Spitfire. Another curious piece is a Russian translation of Kraftwerk's Robots by RotFront.
Another mashup. This is not just a fun bastardization, it may even be musically interesting
and danceable. At least I've learned a little more about using Audacity
and the general techniques of bastard mixing, so this should be a little
smoother than my first mashup.
This week I've bastardized the hideous
summer bubblegum hit "Tytöt tykkää" with something that sprang to my
mind upon first listening: "Girls and Boys". I'd forgotten the idea for
a while, but then a brief discussion on remixes, and the noticing of another
potential pair of songs, led me into doing my first mashup. It may not be
proper bastard pop in the sense that I didn't separate the vocals from
the background. It didn't seem all that necessary in this case, and the
method I found using Audacity applies equally well to separated vocals,
which I'll probably do at some point.
Incidentally, the day I finished the mix, I found and watched the video Good Copy Bad Copy, which focused a lot on the remix culture, apparently since it's such an important gray area of copyright law. The video, along with a number of discussions I've followed on GYBO reveals a rather positive outlook on illegitimate remixes: the law doesn't care about trifles, while the big successes usually turn out attractive for the record companies themselves. Nevertheless, I'm wary of distributing my mixes directly at this point, and rely on Bittorrent and other file sharing networks instead.
I've also maintained my interest in recreational mathematics, although mostly by reading more of the Terra Cognita -published books. The two classics I recommend to everyone with some Sigma spirit are Hermann Weyl's Symmetry, and Petr Beckman's A History of Pi. The latter deserves special attention, as it's not so much about the number π as it's about the history of mathematical science, and its struggle against politics and religion. The book stands out from the usual neutrality of popular science, instead using pretty strong language against authorities, governments, religion, and other kinds of herd mentality.