Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sophomore Album Title

The second Ghost and the Grace album is titled Rat King. It sound's more like "Los Angeles" than it does "Behold! A Pale Horse," but really it doesn't sound like either one. It will be out this year. You can listen to previews of it here and here.

Tetris World Record Breakthrough!

As most of you know, I am going to be going down to LA in August to be a part of the Classic Tetris World Championship in August. This came about for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I am currently the world record holder for the 9th highest Tetris score ever recorded. Well, at least I used to be...

I have been training pretty hard for the competition because, although I am obviously very good at Tetris, as far as the World Championships I am definitely the underdog. There are some absolutely incredible players expected to attend. During this practice time however, I have also been attempting to break my previous world record and last night I did just that.

Barring some horrible mistake by the US Postal service (and even then, I have a backup tape), 668,515 points is soon to be the 5th highest Tetris score of all time, as played by Daniel Anderson.

Hopefully this is a wave that I can ride all the way to the tournament, which you can find out more about right here. I know that I have a lot of fans and friends in Los Angeles already, so I expect to see you all there showing your support! I want to see signs people!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Luddites Beware

I just finished The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil. It is an absolutely fantastic dissection of that rapid growth of technology, specifically the greatly overlooked fact that information technologies are advancing not at a linear rate, but an exponential one. Kurzweil is a fantastic writer, and he approaches the material with the brain of a scientist, giving pages and pages of evidence and explanation (about 300 or so), before diving headfirst into the detailed ramifications. In the interest of grabbing your attention, and because I usually write like a novelist as opposed to a scientist, I am going to start with the ramifications and work backwards.

What is the future going to look like? Well, it depends on how far ahead you want to go, obviously, but what most people don't often understand is how much if going to change in an incredibly short span of time. As the book explains in great detail, we often look at the growth of technology as a linear curve when predicting the future. In other words, when approached with the task of imagining what the world will be like a hundred years from now, one will often think of the world one hundred years before and hypothesis, based on this, what is next. In reality, however, we are at the base of a curve in exponential growth in technology, so when projecting our expectations for the next hundred years, we might be better served to imagine billions of years of progress. Based on his calculations, Ray Kurzweil believes that we will have cured death by this time, and that technology will have progressed so far that we will essentially have filled the universe with sentient matter and energy in the form of nanobots representing our collectively reverse engineered brains, in what he describes as The Singularity. But then, that's jumping ahead a little to far isn't it?

You are probably already reassuring yourself that this somewhat terrifying concept is the lazily concocted ravings of a mad scientist. Who is this guy anyway?

Ray Kurzweil is a scientist, inventor, author and futurist, among other things. Kurzweil one of five members on the United States Army Science Advisory Board, he has received 19 honorary doctorates in various fields and won more scientific recognitions than I could even list here. He invented many of the technologies that we use every day, including scanners, speech recognition software and the first synthesizers of classical instruments. Forbes magazine ranked him as the #8 entrepreneur in the United States and described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” Bill Gates describes him as "the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence." Suffice to say, the guy knows what he's talking about.

Because the book is 652 pages of, what some might consider, fairly dense material, attempting to summarize the concept of The Singularity in my little blog here is not going to be all that insightful compared to the actual book, which I highly recommend, but here goes.

The best way to start talking about The Singularity is to explain Moore's Law. Essentially, this is a way of describing the very apparent, long-term observation that the amount of computer hardware transistors we are capable of placing on a circuit is doubling approximately every year. This is a form of exponential growth which, by it's nature, will start slow, gradually curve, and then take off into the sky at an almost infinitely straight line. Note that the graph below is not actually linear, but displayed in approximate powers of 10.

But transistors are not the only thing growing at this rate, essential all computational technology is, while simultaneously retaining efficent costs. At the rate we have been going, the calculations of a computer worth 1000$ will surpass the intelligence of all the humans on earth by around 2040.

Or I could just let Ray explain it:

There are plenty of arguments to take into account. As my younger brother put it to me about a month ago, "People get really stoked about exponential growth because they remember learning about it in math class. They see that line going off into nowhere, but what they don't realize is that exponential growth almost never continues like that in real life." This is absolutely true. A metaphor that people often use for this is the story of a group of rabbits that find a new habitat in the form of a canyon, a small population enters and begins breeding exponentially (10 rabbits, then 20, 40, 80, 160, 320, 640, 1280, 2560, and so on). Eventually, this explosion will have to slow because there is not longer enough food to support the rabbits in this habitat, and the pattern of growth will level off into what is called an S curve.

The Singularity does has an S curve, based on the energy and resources that we have available to us, and most of the book is spent calculating what that is. Amazingly however, through the development of new technology such as quantum computing, or reversible computing, Kurzweil estimates the top of that S curve to be a "virtually unlimited limit". Specifically, he estimates the "capacity of matter and energy in our solar system to support computation to be at 10 to the 70 power calculations per second."

There are many other criqutes of Kurzweil's predictions, and he fortunately includes a "Response To Critics" section at the end to go over most of these. Additionally, they are already explained pretty well in the primary text.

If this book is to be believed, the future that we are about to experience is going to me an amazing and beautiful place. It's a text that's definitely worth checking out, or you could just wait for one of the many documentaries coming out this year.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Male Heterosexuality: A Celebration

Over the past weekend the beautiful city of Bellingham was treated to an event known as Ladyfest, a art festival celebrated across the globe in honor of all that is female, and then some. Started in Olympia, Washington in 2000, the festival has showcased a lot of amazing musicians and grown into something of a phenomenon, and while the actual specifics of the festivals ethical identity change slightly from place to place, there is a really positive message for the most part.

As far as the Bellingham version of Ladyfest goes, I have some issues with a few of the specifics regarding their message, and with their approach to spreading it. I have found myself involved in discussions about the subject due to the fact that a huge amount of my friends are involved in some way or another. It's also probably due to the fact that I really like to discuss and debate issues, especially ones of policy or morality.

Anyway, one of these discussions was carried out on a facebook thread of mine, that eventually sprawled into a 38 post masterpiece. One of my long winded responses was then taken somewhat out of context and used as an intro for a film that was made for Ladyfest. This film is brilliantly titled, Male Heterosexuality: A Celebration.

I should probably point out right away that, in the format my quote is presented, it is made to sound like I believe that straight males should be celebrated at Ladyfest, which is literally the opposite of what I am actually saying. In fact the next sentence that was conveniently omitted is literally: "Now, I don’t particularly think that straight males have been getting the short end of the stick and need to have their own special day." I also went on further to say that my main issue with the ethics behind Ladyfest is that they DON'T claim to be exclusive when they should be proud of it. We are all different, and sometimes when you are trying to celebrate a certain group of people I think it's okay to wear that on your sleeve. Another thing that is slightly confusing is that a large chunk of this quote is actually me quoting them, which is only an issue because I find the word "q*eer" a little distasteful and don't actually use that in my own personal speech.

So if I was taken out of context, then why am I posting? Well, for a lot of reasons.

First of all, I don't really mind having my words put in funny places every once in a while, I am a pretty laid back person and really it's not all that bad. I know quite a few of the people that made this and their intentions obviously aren't malicious, further evidenced by the fact that they kept it anonymous (although I obviously don't mind because I am revealing myself here.) I also think there is a lot of humor in the coincidence that the particular thread this was lifted from was originally about a friend of mine being taken out of context. Second, it's just good writing on their part. The paragraph I posted is a perfect setup for the punch line and if I was the one making this I can't say I would've it any differently. In addition to that, it's just really, really well made. The dialog is super clever and it's very funny, although pretty creepy towards the end, and well crafted. Third, it's got something to do with me, so why not post it in my blog?

Finally, and not at the least of all important point, is that ultimately the message of this video, however heavy handed, is a very, very important one. You can interpret the statistics presented here in a manner of ways (the breakneck speed at which they are delivered is actually my only technical qualm with the video. I would like to be able to read them better), but the overwhelming truth is that there are some very serious issues that need to be addressed concerning women's rights and relaxed attitudes towards things like sexual assault.

Be warned, it goes from black humor to downright disturbing pretty quickly, but if you can stomach that kind of thing it's worth the watch. Click on the image below to check it out!

All of this Ladyfest talk, not the least of which includes this kick ass video, has been kind of inspiring. I've decided that for the next week (June 21nd to June 28th), 100% of the money that I get from sales of the new Ghost and the Grace single is going to be donated to the Global Fund For Women, which is an awesome charity you can read about here. That means ALL of the money, not just a portion.

Click below to download the new single "Los Angeles" (which is, ironically, comparing LA to a female kidney theif. I am sorry that I didn't have a more appropriate single for this but it's the best I could do!):

If you want more information on Ladyfest to see if it fits your own partiular set of ethics, you can check out the wiki here

Red Moon Teaser!

I have recently done some work with a group called Sirocco Research Labs, of which I am a member. Everyone involved has there own projects as well as there own particular skill set, but the members often come together to make fantastic art. I'd like to think of us as the new Wu-Tang clan, and I would also like to think of myself as our RZA. However, In reality I am the U-God of the group.

The latest film project from Sirocco is a film titeld "Red Moon", which I did the score for with my friend Dimiter Yordanov. The teaser just went online, so check it out!

RED MOON teaser from Sirocco Research Labs on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Delorean: Good Car, Great Band

Originally, this blog was going to serve as nothing more than an MP3 blog, where I was going to share the various songs that I was into at any given time and post about bands. Things have obviously evolved and by now I post whatever I want, but recently a group has come along that is fantastic enough to warrant a good ol' check-these-guys-out post.

Delorean is a Spanish band that has been around for quite a while, although I had never heard of them until the release of their latest record, Subiza, in March of this year. I can't speak for the rest of their albums because I haven't heard them, but after having this one for only about a month now, I can already tell that it's close to a dance masterpiece.

Sonically, it's the opitimy of what I like to call 90s dance. Sliced up, unintelligible vocals repeating over classic House beats, rhythmic triplets in the bass line, and a great sense of unabashed poppyness are all highlights of the bands sound. It reminds me of when I first discovered the song Halycon and On and On by Orbital. I was just eight years old, and I would listen to that track over and over again thinking, "why doesn't some just make an album where ever song is like this?". Well, someone finally did.

If you like what you hear you can download Delorean's records here!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Single “Los Angeles” NOW AVAILABLE!

For just 1$ you can download for very own copy of "Los Angeles", the brand new one-off single from my band, The Ghost And The Grace! This is being made exclusively available at bandcamp.com, so head on over and check it out!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Finally! Digital Downloads!

Were you one of those people who didn't want to wait for your brand new CD to get shipped all the way across the globe? Did you even buy physical copies of your records anymore? Were you wondering when The Ghost And The Grace was going to get themselves togeather and make the record available online? Well, wait no longer. Go HERE to buy your digital copy of Behold! A Pale Horse, the debut album from The Ghost And The Grace!