Across the Transom: November 2022

Punk, Frank O'Hara, Strategic Empathy

Gahlord Dewald :: 11/28/22 :: Bogliasco, Italy


Tape machine reliability


Spent the day documenting the math and thinking in a Hz to CV conversion method for Lua.


In 2006, Bruno joined the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and developed a critique of modernity — the set of ideas and practices, arising from the Enlightenment, that the world is open to change by human intervention. If, as ANT argues, the make-up of the world depends on the interconnection of heterogeneous elements, this has consequences for some cherished dualisms: between mind and matter, the material and immaterial, human and non-human, nature and society. In particular, it challenges the assumption that the appropriate focus of social science is the activity of humans, as distinct from inert non-human matter.

Steve Woolgar in "Bruno Latour (1947–2022): Philosopher and anthropologist who revolutionized ideas about science in practice.," Nature


Explained further, perspective-taking is an act of empathy, one of the most potent problem-solving tools we have. “It’s hard for people to hear each other and see each other’s perspectives,” Lanzilotti says. “But contemporary art can help bring communities together. It can be a way to understand each other.”

Eric Stinton in "Written in Stone," Halekulani Living


Reamping through mic pres

Someone on a forum was experimenting with microphone preamps preamps and enjoying them for microphone duty but wanting to explore more creative uses of 500 series preamps in the mix stage for adding color/saturation/harmonics/distortion.

When re-amping with a preamp, the effects do tend to be very subtle. If you want to get more heavy handed with it you can drive the preamp harder by sending it a louder signal. In other words, turn off that pad and send it full line strength. This will be loud and distorted and probably a mess. Dial back the preamp input signal (by turning down in the DAW on send) until you like the sound. The goal here is to send the preamp a very hot signal and hear how it breaks up.

There's lots more on this topic of course, but the above is a good start for exploration.


It’s one thing to get ready, to prepare, to leave for a public space to present your work (and yourself). It’s another to clear the detritus of your life away from the background of that video image, to maintain a faux professionalism, when just behind the camera are the knickknacks of your life. It’s another to present to video, for online posterity, for strangers to consume your work from their own private spaces.

Han Earl-Park / Cisco Bradley in "New Work: Han-earl Park," Improvised and Experimental Music


I can point it out eventually: “You know what? It’s not ‘inherent bias,’ it’s just racism.”

Larissa FastHorse, interviewed by Bruce Norris in "Larissa FastHorse’s ‘The Thanksgiving Play’: It’s Okay to Laugh," American Theatre


No-shows are people who buy tickets to an event, but don’t go. You might think this only happens rarely, and pre-COVID you would be right – the normal rate of no-shows to music events was less than 5%. But recently, the statistics have been shocking: up to 50% no-shows in 2021, according to testimony from a representative of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to Congress. And this hasn’t gone away in 2022 – no-shows have now become a serious issue for venues of every size, in a way they never had been before. “Even for largely sold-out tours like Pavement, the no-show rate has spiked,” reported Billboard last week.

Damon Krukowski in "Strangers on a Train," Dada Drummer Almanach


I think it might be useful to show what the path to tenured full-professorship is like at a “progressive,” though still resolutely neoliberal, institution — for all those junior folks and grad students wondering how it works and whether they want to pursue a similar path.

Shannon Mattern in "The Long Goodbye," Words in Space


Vidal’s “R&D fiction” coinage encapsulates a common critique of postmodernism’s supposedly ouroboros-like nature, written not to move readers’ hearts but to generate a self-perpetuating loop of eggheaded academic analysis. In most other respects, his takedown reads as a cantankerous settling of scores—Vidal goes out of his way to emphasize he knows more about eighteenth-century novels than Barth—but it does distil one critical point about literary postmodernism in America that often goes unremarked upon: its deep entanglement with the postwar institutionalization of creative writing.

Rob Madole in "Life in the Fap Lane," The Baffler


It is boundary-violating, to have a website in the corner of your bedroom. Websites are meant to be in the cloud. Eternal, somehow, transcendent, like the voice of code floating down from the sky. But no, there it is. It is real! I can kick it!

Matt Webb in "I wish my web server were in the corner of my room," Interconnected


Mastodon lists, at least on the instance:


He overlooks the historical conditions that preexisted the Internet’s generalization, conditions that made—and that continue to make—people need or desire these proprietary services on a large scale. These include, but are not limited to, the necessitation of labor-saving devices in the home by ever-shrinking leisure time; the abatement of relentless economic stressors with canned cultural junk like short-clip videos, games, and pornography; the compensation of arduous, unfulfilling work regimes with more immediate access to the boundless pleasures of consumerism; the erosion of public information provisions such as libraries, schools, and post offices, in addition to broadcasting, publishing, and print news; the alienation from community solidarities once fostered by churches, families, neighborhoods, and trade unions—of the Internet’s deeply embedded relationship to Cold War and post-9/11 politics, to the machinery of Capitol Hill, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and Silicon Valley.

Michael Eby in "The Sophist Network: Justin E.H. Smith’s recent book is a prime example of how a certain realm of philosophical thinking misunderstands the material impact of the Internet," The Nation


Being U-shaped requires bravery, because it’s so unusual. U-shaped people tend to be subjected to greater skepticism, because no one else really understands what they alone can see. Yet these intersections can lead to the greatest breakthroughs.

Stephan Ango in "Don't specialize, hybridize"


By agreeing to consider a monument and assign it a meaning, people cohered to form what was known as a public. “A public” thus unites under a shared article. It has shared interests, sometimes even a will. But the multitudes who are sucked in, swirled up and spit out from the Vessel do not constitute a public.

Amir Farjoun in "Dead Ascending a Staircase," The Baffler


The quote below is from an essay on imagined geographies & granularity of place, as viewed through books reviewed in the New Yorker.

In other words, New Yorker fiction isn’t insular in the strict sense of focusing solely on American places. Yet, the magazine’s fiction does tend toward a nefarious form of insularity that perpetuates monolithic views of many of the countries it evokes. In other words, even when a country other than the United States is mentioned, only a handful of different place names are used in reference to the country. Figure 2, a magnified version of the bottom half of Figure 1, shows that the New Yorker’s fiction does not look much beyond the United States—and, when it does, it effaces significant intranational difference or variety.

Nora Shaalan in "The View from the 'New Yorker,'" Public Books

The above essay includes a value statement of fiction—“to see and empathize with the unfamiliar”— which reminded me of "Operationalizing Strategic Empathy: Best Practices from Inside the First Island Chain," a report by J.B. Vowell and Craig L. Evans on their own efforts in Japan, in The Strategy Bridge.


The rest is only a matter of time dependent on the quantity of his provisions. Émile believes he must spend three days building his bike – in reality it will take twelve …

"Man Survived The Desert By Building A Motorcycle From His Broken Car," Motor Rider Universe


According to Rey, researchers currently fall largely into two camps: one that believes that human language is built on unique capacities such as the ability to understand recursion and another that believes it emerged from much simpler processes such as associative learning.

Diana Kwon in "Crows Perform Yet Another Skill Once Thought Distinctively Human," Scientific American


I am the very model of a modern comp commissioner.

First out to brunch, a sushi lunch—why, yes! We’ll put some fish in her.

And when you have established trust it’s time to proposition her:

To be direct—with great affect—to tell your greatest wish to her!

I’m very well acquainted too with Google Sheets and Excel Spreads,

With balancing the budgets so they’re in the greens and not the reds,

About official grant reports I’m teaming with a lot of news

With many cheerful facts about the tax-deductions you can use!

I’m very good at planning, and of course, the social media,

I know recording industry—just read my Wikipedia!

In short, in matters budgetary, musical, and visionar—

I am the very model of a modern comp commissioner.

"The very model of a modern composition commissioner," a collaborative reworking, by Leilehua Lanzilotti and myself, of a famous tune. Written on the road during our Fall/Winter 2022 tour.


Here are some Monome scripts I found via an interaction on Mastodon.


If you’re a poet you have probably attempted some manner of O’Hara poem. He famously called them his “I-do-this-I-do-that” poems. And it seems fairly easy to go about doing this and that—as everyone does in New York. There’s always something to do. There’s too much to do. One can be, as I have been, easily overwhelmed by the thisness and thatness of the city. But you don’t need to go to New York to have that happen. One can be, as I have been, overwhelmed sitting on a park bench absolutely anywhere on the planet. One finds a wealth of details everywhere—being in the world is nothing if not being in constant detail.

Terrance Hayes in "Lunch Boxes with Frank O'Hara," Court Green


"Much like employees around the world, Twitter employees in Southeast Asia have limited insight into the layoffs, even days after the fact. “To my knowledge, not even Tweeps a nickname used between Twitter colleagues in the director’s level in the region knew who got to stay and who weren’t,” said one laid-off employee."

Andrew Deck, Nilesh Christopher, Daniela Dib, Antonia Timmerman, Olatunji Olaigbe, and Alex González Ormerod in Rest of the World


Twitter encourages a very extractive attitude from everyone it touches. The people re-publishing my Mastodon posts on Twitter didn't think to ask whether I was ok with them doing that. The librarians wondering loudly about how this "new" social media environment could be systematically archived didn't ask anyone whether they want their fediverse posts to be captured and stored by government institutions. The academics excitedly considering how to replicate their Twitter research projects on a new corpus of "Mastodon" posts didn't seem to wonder whether we wanted to be studied by them. The people creating, publishing, and requesting public lists of Mastodon usernames for certain categories of person (journalists, academics in a particular field, climate activists...) didn't appear to have checked whether any of those people felt safe to be on a public list. They didn't appear to have considered that there are names for the sort of person who makes lists of people so others can monitor their communications. They're not nice names.

Hugh Rundle in "Home invasion: Mastodon's Eternal September Begins," Information Flaneur


Squinting through my camera’s telephoto lens, I noticed something in the shadow of Mount Pumori. At first I thought it was a rock, but it was exactly what I was looking for.

Kittaya Powlowski in "Ghost of the Himalayas"

[Addendum, 11/26/2022: The Fake Snow Leopard. Worth noting that of the three concerns raised the 2nd is ad hominem and the 3rd is appeal to authority. The photos are clearly not "real" based on the background collages, but perhaps the sighting and leopard are real and the whole thing is an embellishment. Who knows.]


But after I signed my first new hire on the first team I managed, I noticed something — people started laughing at all my jokes.

Emily Nakashima in "Power Bends Light," Honkathon


So the only ratio that has this important property is the square root of 2, famously – and ironically in this case – not a ratio.

Ben Sparks in "Why A4? – The Mathematical Beauty of Paper Size," Spektrum


The Twitter experience has been on the decline for many years now. With the latest raft of bs I thought it would be useful to document some of the things that I've done which have helped. Mostly, decreasing use of it helps. But here are some of the things I do:

Some things to make Tw better.

Here are the things that have worked for me to make my Twitter experience better:

Advanced: I use custom CSS in my browser. I use this custom CSS to do the following:

  1. Remove the Tw sidebar trending, this is always manipulated for advertisers and shows some of the most enraging or useless topics by design. Removing it makes the experience better:
    div.slide div.sidebar-nav ul.nav li#sidebar-trending{display:none !important;}
  2. Remove Tw blue checks, there are a great many fascist know-nothings who have those blue checks. Ultimately it's up to me to know whether an account is trustworthy or not, it's too important to trust to an ad-driven platform anyway.
    .svg[aria-label="Verified account"] {display:none !important;}


Sometimes I think of punk in the 1980s. The majors at that point had made themselves inevitable, just like the digital platforms today. Yet you had this bunch of musicians & punk music enthusiasts who collectively decided they didn’t need the majors. They could build their own network of labels, distributors, record stores, zines, venues, etc. This made for a working ecosystem. Not perfect, not always fair, but certainly better than the alternative. I feel like we’re currently on the cusp of having to do this all over again, but with digital music. Stop waiting for Spotify to pay a decent wage. Just ditch it. Learn PHP. Make your own streaming server. Do this with a few like-minded labels if you need to, but stop relying on the big platforms. Create new communities. Start a zine. That, to me, is what independence should mean in music today.

David Turgeon interviewed in Foxy Digitalis' "No Type, No Problem: An Interview With David Turgeon"