Great Album: Hadestown

October 31, 2010

Anais Mitchell has outdone herself on her Folk-Opera-Album, Hadestown. Its a sort of fairy-tale meets Greek myth. I was originally drawn to this album because Justin Vernon (bon iver) is on most of the tracks. There is also a singer who has a hella-epic baritone that is quite excellent too.

It’s kind of hard to find it for free online. Here’s a link for the torrent


Interview with Zizek (Short and absolutely Amazing)

October 29, 2010

Slavoj Zizek, 59, was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, international director of the Birkbeck Institute for Humanities in London and a senior researcher at the University of Ljubljana’s institute of sociology. He has written more than 30 books on subjects as diverse as Hitchcock, Lenin and 9/11, and also presented the TV series The Pervert’s Guide To Cinema.

When were you happiest?

A few times when I looked forward to a happy moment or remembered it – never when it was happening.

What is your greatest fear?

To awaken after death – that’s why I want to be burned immediately.

What is your earliest memory?

My mother naked. Disgusting.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the twice-deposed president of Haiti. He is a model of what can be done for the people even in a desperate situation.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Indifference to the plights of others.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Their sleazy readiness to offer me help when I don’t need or want it.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Standing naked in front of a woman before making love.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

The new German edition of the collected works of Hegel.

What is your most treasured possession?

See the previous answer.

What makes you depressed?

Seeing stupid people happy.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

That it makes me appear the way I really am.

What is your most unappealing habit?

The ridiculously excessive tics of my hands while I talk.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

A mask of myself on my face, so people would think I am not myself but someone pretending to be me.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Watching embarrassingly pathetic movies such as The Sound Of Music.

What do you owe your parents?

Nothing, I hope. I didn’t spend a minute bemoaning their death.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

To my sons, for not being a good enough father.

What does love feel like?

Like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.

What or who is the love of your life?

Philosophy. I secretly think reality exists so we can speculate about it.

What is your favourite smell?

Nature in decay, like rotten trees.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?

All the time. When I really love someone, I can only show it by making aggressive and bad-taste remarks.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?

Medical doctors who assist torturers.

What is the worst job you’ve done?

Teaching. I hate students, they are (as all people) mostly stupid and boring.

What has been your biggest disappointment?

What Alain Badiou calls the ‘obscure disaster’ of the 20th century: the catastrophic failure of communism.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

My birth. I agree with Sophocles: the greatest luck is not to have been born – but, as the joke goes on, very few people succeed in it.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

To Germany in the early 19th century, to follow a university course by Hegel.

How do you relax?

Listening again and again to Wagner.

How often do you have sex?

It depends what one means by sex. If it’s the usual masturbation with a living partner, I try not to have it at all.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

When I had a mild heart attack. I started to hate my body: it refused to do its duty to serve me blindly.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

To avoid senility.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The chapters where I develop what I think is a good interpretation of Hegel.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

That life is a stupid, meaningless thing that has nothing to teach you.

Tell us a secret.

Communism will win.

Interesting Chart on Books and Intelligence

October 20, 2010

Hey yall.. I don’t know if everyone has unsubscribed, or still read this, or anything, but I think it might be nice to start posting again. Anyways, I think this is really interesting. It’s a graph that looks at people’s favorite books in high school when compared to their SAT scores.

A few interesting things
1) I think its interesting/sad that the African American lit scores so low.
2) I like the Lolita FTW-ness
3) There are very few non-fiction books (freakonomics is “misc”)
4) The philosophy books are weak

Interesting platform… Green Party

August 10, 2010

Here are the ten policies you endorse by joining the Green New Deal Coalition:

• Cut military spending at least 70%;

• Create millions of green union jobs through massive public investment in renewable energy, mass transit and conservation;

• Set ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax to meet them;

• Establish single-payer “Medicare for all” health care

• Provide tuition-free public higher education;

• Change trade agreements to improve labor, environmental, consumer, health and safety standards;

• End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana;

• Enact tough limits on credit interest and lending rates, progressive tax reform and strict financial regulation;

• Amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish corporate personhood; and

• Pass sweeping electoral, campaign finance and anti-corruption reform

What do you think about these proposals?

Wonderful (True) Short Story

July 22, 2010

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning.
He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.
When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.
No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Cognitive Surplus, Lolcats, and Derrida (not really…)

June 19, 2010

In Jonah Lehrer’s most recent post on Cognitive Surplus, he discusses Lolcats, Derrida, and Nietzsche. He examines the tradeoff that we make when we read one media (the internet, blogs, articles) versus another (novel, comic book, whatever else). He argues that there are certain benefits that only come from reading difficult texts that contain ambiguity.

Reading difficult texts is not a passive enterprise. Rather, it is an act of creativity. Lehrer explains, “One doesn’t need to invoke Derrida to know that reading a text is often a creative act, that we must constantly impose meaning onto the ambiguity of words.”

When texts are difficult, we must place the writing into our own terms. This act of internal translation is a creative process that only occurs when the text contains ambiguity.

“The larger point, I guess, is that before we can produce anything meaningful, we need to consume and absorb, and think about what we’ve consumed and absorbed. That’s why Nietzsche, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, said we must become a camel (drinking up everything) before we can become a lion, and properly rebel against the strictures of society. Of course, after we turn into a lion, Nietzsche said we must return to the “innocence and forgetting” of childhood, which is the last and wisest stage of being. That is presumably when we make all those lolcats.”

Interesting Brian Thing

June 15, 2010

I saw this under Brian’s starred items. It interested me.

“When I talk to economists who earned their econ Ph.D. in the 70s and 80s, they paint a grim picture: 70 hour workweeks, followed by truly comprehensive exams where everything’s fair game and lots of students fail.

When I talk to economists who earned their econ Ph.D. in the 00s, they paint a different but equally grim picture. Near-impossible admission hurdles, followed by grueling labor (though probably more in the 60 hour range).

My experience was totally different. In 1993, Princeton accepted me from Berkeley with a 3.8 GPA, GREs in the high 90s, and a few strong letters of recommendation from semi-famous economists. No publications, no research experience, no extra-curriculars. During my time at Princeton, I never worked more than 40 hours per week, and I finished in four years.

All of which leaves me wondering: How lucky was I? Could it really be the case that I wandered into grad school during a brief golden age of easy admissions and light workloads? Or are my seniors and juniors simply exaggerating to raise their status?”

I always feel like college is very un-demanding. Classes only take up 20ish hours a week, and homework another 10-20 depending on the season. Most of my work is extra/supra-curricular.

What about you guys?