Across the Transom: June 2022

Immaterial Labor, Singing Lava, Precarity in Manufacturing

Gahlord Dewald :: 6/27/22 :: Mānoa, Hawai‘i


As for the Queen’s Mansion performances, University of Chicago sociologist William Sites said Sun Ra may have felt simpatico with the outre, unapologetic aesthetic of female impersonator shows. Sites tracked the Arkestra’s bookings in his recent book, “Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City.”

“Sun Ra’s own persona as a musical performer conveyed a different kind of identity than the, let’s say, reestablished hypermasculine, individualist identity we see from conventional 1950s jazz musicians,” Sites said. “I like to think that the clientele and sort of ambience of a club like the Queen’s Mansion probably influenced Sun Ra’s repertoire of the time, too, which was a lot of Broadway show tunes in elaborate — you might even say flamboyant — arrangements.”

Hannah Edgar in "Decades Before Boystown, South Side Jazz Clubs Were A Haven For Queer Chicagoans"


“I would just like to bring up the distinction between the words ‘expat,’ ‘immigrant,’ ‘migrant’ — even ‘alien,’” said League in an email. “Those are words that share an almost identical meaning but have dramatically different connotations... The bottom line is these are all people from one country who move to another country. But we use different words to create a kind of class system, a way of elevating and degrading people even though they are performing the same action.”

Michael League quoted in "The New Jazz Émigrés: Insights from noted artists living abroad" by Ashley Kahn


It is a copy of the night notebook of a Sumerian astronomer as he records the events in the sky before dawn on the 29 June 3123 BC (Julian calendar). Half the tablet records planet positions and cloud cover, the same as any other night, but the other half of the tablet records an object large enough for its shape to be noted even though it is still in space. The astronomers made an accurate note of its trajectory relative to the stars, which to an error better than one degree is consistent with an impact at Köfels.

"Cuneiform clay tablet translated for the first time"


I do not take comfort in the demographic reality that the US is trending towards diversity in race, gender, sexuality, and overall expressiveness. Rather I am concerned about the approximately 25% of the US, the authoritarian minded people who have disrupted the functionality of the legislative branches and courts—to the point of establishing a majority in the Supreme Court based on placements by Presidents who failed to win the popular vote.

I am concerned that this group of anti-democratic activists are well-aware of the demographic trends and are already enacting their plan to reduce the number of those of us who enjoy diversity of life and expression, by any means necessary. They will reduce us until we are the minority. Through political death—felonizing expressions of diversity and life—and through physical death through policies which cause irreparable harm to individuals and communities.


The Plantationocene identifies past and present practices of extraction and racialized violence as the logics underpinning the operation of colonial monocrop plantations. However, without critical interrogation, concepts like the Plantationocene risk flattening our understanding of the myriad ways in which extractive capitalism and its toxic legacies have shaped human and nonhuman life since the fifteenth century. At the same time, positing plantation worlds as the main mode of organizing time, space, and knowledge under extractive capitalism foregrounds the foundational and sustained role that racialized formations of land, labor, and capital have played in colonial and imperial projects.


Long before the emergence of the Plantationocene concept, scholars of Black and Indigenous studies including Sylvia Wynter, Edouard Glissant, Cedric Robinson, Aimé Césaire, Tiffany Lethabo King, Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang, and Glen Coulthard traced a liberatory genealogy emergent at the edges of and against plantation worlds. As an analytic, the Plantationocene concept is impoverished by its distinction from these radical intellectual traditions. This syllabus recenters such liberatory genealogies by bringing together scholarship in Black and Indigenous Studies, Agrarian Studies, and Caribbean and Postcolonial Studies. We thus expand critiques of the Plantationocene concept emerging from or implicit within Black and Indigenous Studies, which insist upon the insurgences always present within plantation worlds as analytics that are world-making in their own right.

Sophie Sapp Moore and Aida Arosoaie in "Plantation Worlds"


This did not start today, the power of the courts themselves to jeopardize liberty and obstruct justice. Many people in the United States have already been living outside the era of legally constituted “rights,” whether that’s due to the courts rolling back abortion rights or the right to vote. Far from breaking with precedent, the decision in Dobbs has only brought that condition nearer to more people’s lives.

Melissa Gira Grant in "The Fight for Abortion Rights Must Break the Law to Win"


The flying African, despite a genealogy rooted in St. Simons, has no single point of origin. A shifting present continues to rewrite the past. These differences across versions only underscore the strength of the myth’s central core.

Thomas Hallock in "How a mass suicide by [the enslaved] caused the legend of the flying African to take off"


Black people have always needed to be vigilant of political and institutional time, with an intimate understanding of how it moves. Whether it comes to the legislative process, voting times, and the many other ways in which time does violence or is not aligned with lived times and realities, the ways in which the Western linear timeline is openly hostile to Black bodies, and openly denies us access to our own futures.

Rasheedah Phillips in "Waiting Time/Wading Time/Weighting Time (pdf zine) (Black Quantum Futurism blog)"


Finally, I wanted the text to have the visual cadences of my native English, in which words of variable but digestible length are punctuated by shorter ones. Type, after all, should be something that you want to read.

Jonathan Hoefler's "How to Proof a Typeface"

Always be looking at the larger context: judge letters by looking at words, words by looking at paragraphs, and paragraphs by looking at manuscripts.

Jonathan Hoefler's "Getting Started with Typeface Design"

On one level, focus on the oath might seem strange. Why spend this time discussing the matter of the oath sworn by government officials, when every minute spent on that topic is a minute not spent talking about the lawbreaking committed by insurrectionists or the culpability of President Trump and those around him in the violence? But the references made to the oath throughout the June hearings speak directly to how the committee seems to understand the nature of its work and its responsibility to the public. In broadcasting the truth of what happened on Jan. 6, the select committee is underlining the extent to which Trump breached his own presidential oath by encouraging the attack on Congress—and what this breach represented as a betrayal of the country’s democratic traditions. And the committee, made up of members of Congress who also swore an oath, is taking the opportunity to play a unique role in reflecting on the nature of the promise that government officials make to the American people.

Quinta Jurecic, Tyler McBrien, Natalie K. Orpett in "The Jan. 6th Committee on Why Oaths Matter"


Planning for my Fall tour where I'll be leaning heavily on the Rossum-Electro Assimil8or sampler and wanted to make note of these useful tutorials and example videos:


I met Semenov in Slavutych four days after he returned from Chernobyl. His whole life since early childhood, he said, had prepared him for his role under the occupation. Though he was exhausted, his story poured out of him. He’d snatched a pen and paper to draw diagrams of the site: “The administration building was here, you see, my building – no I cannot tell you the name of my building. It is secret! – was here.” Sometimes he’d pace the room, gesticulating to explain technical points, measuring distances with his hands.

Wendell Steavenson with Marta Rodionova in "The inside story of Chernobyl during the Russian occupation"


Ten years ago, homeless veterans, one of the categories that the federal government tracks, waited 720 days and had to navigate 76 bureaucratic steps to get from the street into permanent housing with support from social service counselors. Today, a streamlined process means the wait for housing is 32 days.

"How Houston Moved 25,000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own"


Notice that marketplace is slipped in that concluding phrase, close by but distinct from content. When Gates says content is king, he is not talking from the point of view of a content provider – the laborer tied to the ADAT for whom the short-term, remember, will be filled with “a lot of disappointment.” He is speaking from the castle where the winners live – “those who use the medium to deliver information and entertainment.” Deliver, not create. Gates was talking about becoming a king by owning the marketplace, not the content itself.

Re: Bill Gates' "Content is king" by Damon Krukowski in "Silver Jubilee: Twenty-five Years of Immaterial Labor"


The model revealed the temperature of the magma was linked strongly to the duration of the seismic signals, they report today in Science Advances. The signals also gave clues to the quantity and composition of the bubbles embedded in the magma—information that’s typically only available after an eruption takes place.

"‘Singing’ lava lakes could help predict when volcanoes will blow"


A lunch table
Scene from a lunch beneath a mango tree


i2c cables are a simple 3-wire (or 6-wire) connector cable used to communicate between modules. There is no standard “i2c cable” per se, but you can make your own or get some from community members (see links below). Since there’s no standard marking for these cables, you will want to be consistent in how you decide to make connections (see below). For example - If you have colored cables, try to always use the same color (or certain colors) for ground (GND).

If you are using a TRS stereo minijack cable with a 16n faderbank or TXb module, the pin arrangement for the TRS cable with those devices is as follows:

  • sleeve - GND black
  • ring - SCL gray
  • tip - SDA whit
From @ okyeron's "A user’s guide to i2c"


Workers were throwing in the towel at rates that seemed, to business minds, to belie their own best interests, even if they signaled evident truths about low wages, unsafe conditions, precarity, and an immanent sense of bullshit.

Amber Husain in "Consciously Uncontracting: In Defense of Burning Bridges"


A revenue stream that can both serve consumers with easy to access music but also provide to large tech firms as a way to avoid constant litigation over the usage of copyrighted materials is a much, much stronger economic force than digital downloads.

David Turner in "Music’s Future is Here: It’s Called Streaming (Part 1)"


I found a pair of stereo speakers on the street, heavy and woody looking. A quick internet search confirmed their date of manufacture, 1974-77; a short history of the company that made them, EPI; and many opinions of their designer on topics both worldly and spiritual.

“From my understanding of the science of loudspeaker design, I understand that there are more than (Einstein’s) four dimensions. By revelation, I understand that there are twenty-seven such dimensions.”


It’s a treat to see pianist Al MacSween and percussionist Elizabeth Nott interacting with the composer [Maya Youssef] in this filmed version - but the experience is strictly limited in its number of dimensions. Perhaps it’s YouTube compressing the twenty-seven down to… two? The screen is flat. The sound is narrow. There is a soundstage - we can see it with our eyes. But my ears don’t hear nearly as much as on the record playing in my own room.

Damon Krukowski on differences in experiencing music, speakers, and time in "Finding Home."


Spent the important parts of today thinking/learning about i2c and the ii system for future work with monome crow modular stuff. Lots of "Maps with Trent" and digging around in GitHub.


One important conclusion from this is that any opposition to the cis state would need to be on the grounds that such state power is and has always been illegitimate, no matter who it targets or why. Isolating the latest trans iteration is not the strongest (or even most accurate) grounds on which to understand this exercise of state power.


Labeling populations uncivil allows the state to defund them, which is often easier than killing them. Trans life is fast becoming privatized to the extreme. Coupled with criminalization, austerity means not only that you must pay for your own private little gender identity, but that you will be both barred from working in the formal labor economy to do so and the means of gender self-determination might themselves be illegal.


The law is not designed for effective censorship as much as to destroy public education. Its mechanism of enforcement is parental lawsuit against school districts, with the latter footing the bill. Even if queer or trans allies wanted to challenge the classroom discussion of heterosexuality or non-trans and binary gender, they would only be satisfying the spirit of the law, which wants public schools to crumble under the weight of endless litigation.


Until state power loses its effective monopoly on the violence of administering gender and sexuality writ large, it will carry on targeting politically unpopular minorities, no matter the absurdity. The state has no shame and it cannot be shamed. It is fundamentally impersonal.

Jules Gill-Peterson in "The Cis State II"

He’s intent on re-centering himself after having been showered with the amenities of the prestige-making machine and embraced by virtue signalers who love and claim his music but might reject him if he divulged the uncouth attitudes that inspire it.


He’s been colonized by acclaim. It seems like he blames women most, the ones who inspire his murderous disdain at the top of the album, the ones who foment the lust and infidelity he confesses throughout, the ones who enable him with unconditional understanding, like his partner, Whitney, whose voice accompanies him throughout the album, and the white women he revenge-fucks like a reincarnation of Eldridge Cleaver’s dream with a softer edge in that there’s consent here. He’s burdened by all the consent, he can have whatever he wants, and this impunity is obscuring his true needs, inscribing synthetic ones on his heart, and making his music less his own.


Mr. Morale is the muse who tries to be inadequate on purpose so you’ll get over him. It backfires, now we’re trauma-bonded to a rebel poet we can’t quite pin down, a star with no pattern but light.

The incomparable Harmony Holiday reviewing Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, by Kendrick Lamar
  • Hold your hand at arm’s length and close one eye.
  • Make a fist, with the back of your hand facing you. The width of your fist will approximately be 10 degrees. This means that any two objects that are on the opposite ends of your fist will be 10 degrees apart. The North Star (Polaris) and Dubhe, one of the northern pointers of the Big Dipper are 3 fists apart. This means that angular distance or angular separation between the two stars is 30°.
  • Open up your fist, stretch your little finger and thumb as far as you can and curl down the rest of your fingers. The tip of your little finger and your thumb will span about 25°. The Big Dipper spans around 25°.
  • The tip-to-tip span between your index finger and your little finger is 15°.
  • Your three middle fingers will span about 5°.
  • Your little finger at an arms length is about 1° wide.
Aparna Kher in "A Handy Guide to Measuring the Sky"


Lovely day including an amazing brunch beneath a mango tree with old and new friends, performing on the ᖶΓⱯSHCꓤⱯƧH livestream show, listening to Holst's The Planets beneath the stars at the Waikīkī Shell, performed by the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra.


“Data is the new oil,” she said.

Makalika Naholowa‘a quoted in "Lakota elders helped a white man preserve their language. Then he tried to sell it back to them." By Graham Lee Brewer

The Russians have been able to make the type of gains on the ground here that they failed to achieve around Kyiv, albeit at a slower pace than preferred, because of the sheer amount of resources they’ve dedicated to the battle and the lack of sufficient firepower on the Ukrainians’ side, according to Ukrainian officials, commanders in the field and Western analysts.

Christopher Miller in "Ukrainian troops are getting pounded as they await heavy weapons from the West"

The glitch has to do with Voyager 1's attitude articulation and control system, or AACS, which keeps the spacecraft and its antenna in the proper orientation. And the AACS seems to be working just fine, since the spacecraft is receiving commands, acting on them and sending science data back to Earth with the same signal strength as usual. Nevertheless, the AACS is sending the spacecraft's handlers junk telemetry data.

Meghan Bartels in "Voyager 1 glitch? Strange signals from venerable probe has NASA baffled"


In a Google Meet video call in mid-May after the talk was canceled, Soundararajan said Edwards acknowledged that Google had subjected her to a level of vetting no previous speaker had to endure. Google declined to make Edwards available to comment.

Nitasha Tiku in "Google’s plan to talk about caste bias led to ‘division and rancor’"

This is not a problem we can punish our way out of.

Jillian Peterson interviewed in "Two Professors Found What Creates a Mass Shooter. Will Politicians Pay Attention?"

Raven Chacon's Voiceless Mass, an immensely haunting piece for organ and ensemble, has won this year's Pulitzer Prize for music.

Alex Ross in "A Pulitzer for Raven Chacon"

When a PCB is sufficiently busted in more than one way, it enters the scrap yard (a particular cardboard box in our basement) where it can have further parts pulled from it. This was previously not economically worthwhile: the success rate of part swapping isn’t 100%. ... So previously the parts would just go to e-waste since new components were widely available and irrationally cheap.

We are no longer in that era. So I’d like to instill this message, as strongly as possible: your machines are not easily repairable. They may be incredibly difficult (interpret: expensive) or impossible to repair. Please let this inform your treatment and expectations of the machines in your life.

Brian Crabtree, in "Scarcity and Precarity in Small Manufacturing"


The work of the alt-genetics fringe science community requires a different intervention: an aggressive effort to extirpate any force which legitimizes the rot of racist pseudoscience. This would include actively holding the actors who author, platform, or propagate this misinformation accountable. In my view, helping to promote racist pseudoscience is akin to scientific malfeasance. Consequently, mass retraction, public shaming, termination, and defrocking should be on the table as reactions, just as with other large and consequential violations of the scientific process.

Assistant Professor C. Brandon Ogbunu (Yale) in "Quashing Racist Pseudoscience Is Science’s Responsibility"