Monthly Archives: January 2011

Cool Geek

Clean your LPs with wood glue

Big ups to Lifehacker for helping publicize this idea, and to user  Mopic5 over at AudioKarma for the original post.  It”s fascinating to thin that someone along the line figured out that it was a good idea to put something so foreign and crazy on something you normally want to take very careful care of.  But the basic principle is that:

In short wood glue and the material LP albums are so chemically similar that the wood glue can’t bind to the record. It can however bind to everything else on the record which includes oil, dust, dirt, fungus, the crayon your nephew rubbed on it, and so on. You’re essentially giving your record a spa wax and ripping all the impurities off of it with the glue.

The original forum post is here, with more details.

Underreported News

Notorious BIG murder investigation has new leads

The Notorious B.I.G.

No, this is not a repeat from 1997.  This story, posted by CNN in January of 2011, notes that the LAPD somehow has new leads after many, many years of failure in catching anyone for Biggie’s murder.

The CNN story, while interesting, really offered nothing new on the crime and really no major detials of the big break.  The gist of the article is in the excerpt below:

Retired Los Angeles Police Detective Russell Poole, who worked on the Wallace case, told CNN that he believes Knight was behind the murder, even though the Death Row Records’ boss was serving time on a probation violation at the time.

“Suge Knight ordered the hit,” Poole said, adding that he believes it was arranged by Reggie Wright Jr., who headed security for Death Row Records.

Reggie Wright Jr. told CNN he had nothing to do with the murder, and Knight has repeatedly said he had nothing to do with the crime. Poole said he retired early from the LAPD, in part, because he was thwarted in following leads in the Wallace case involving police officers, some of whom worked off-duty for Death Row Records.

“I think I was getting too close to the truth,” Poole said. “I think they feared that the truth would be a scandal.”

One of the officers Poole said was involved is David Mack, who was sent to prison for robbing a bank in 1997, the same year Wallace was killed.

Poole said Mack owned the same type of car driven by the gunman who shot Wallace, and Poole said a friend of Mack’s resembles a police sketch of the shooter.

Basically conjecture and conspiracy theories at this point.  Still, at least something is starting to happen.  Now in another 20 years they may get around to looking into Tupac’s murder too.

Music

Hip hop revolutions that weren’t

The Onion AV Club is, for those who don’t know, surprisingly knowledgeable about hip hop and music in general.  For a site whose mainstay is satire and mockery, these people take their stuff very seriously!

This article in particular was a nice little trip through classic hip hop and an interesting look through several major groups and a look at why they may have never hit the big time.  Or why they lacked some staying power.

In particular, I loved that there were several groups on there that I’ve had little to no contact with.  Everyone knows and is upset about the fact that Digable Planets never stuck around, or that Arrested Development peaked early.  There’s argument to be made that some of the others have kept things up.

But groups like this are way beyond this:

5. P.M. Dawn
KRS-One famously bum-rushed a P.M. Dawn show after the duo’s frontman Prince Be asked of the rap legend in an interview with Details, “KRS-One wants to be a teacher, but a teacher of what?” KRS-One needn’t have worried about P.M. Dawn’s lasting influence on hip-hop, however. Like many of the acts here, P.M. Dawn was a meteorite, not a planet; it burned brightly, then died. The duo shook up hip-hop with a radically different aesthetic: Prince Be took De La Soul’s quickly discarded “D.A.I.S.Y. Age” vibe to new heights of hippified mellowness, dressing like he was perennially headed to Woodstock, performing a duet with Boy George on the group’s second album, and titling its fourth album Dearest Christian, I’m So Very Sorry For Bringing You Here. Love, Dad. In other words, he did everything in his power to push P.M. Dawn to the very fringes of the pop and hip-hop world and ensure that no one followed in the group’s nakedly sincere, psychedelic, overtly Christian path. In recent years, Prince Be has had a lot more to worry about than falling out of fashion with hip-hop fans: He’s has had two strokes, one of which led to the partial amputation of a gangrene-infected leg, though he still managed to release this year’s desperate-sounding Greatest Hits Live!

Number 10 is one that I actually kind of agree with.  Bubba Sparxx.  Yes, I know, I know.  A dirty little secret.  But I stand by the fact that Deliverance had a lot more to it than most people want to admit.

10. Bubba Sparxxx
Timbaland and protégé Bubba Sparxxx had an audacious, unique vision for Deliverance, Sparxxx’s follow-up to his major-label debut Dark Days, Bright Nights: fusing bluegrass and socially conscious hip-hop to create a whole new subgenre with deep roots in the red clay of the Dirty South. To that end, the album combined freaky Timbaland drum patterns with the playing of the Yonder Mountain String Band and Area Code 615 in a way that made bluegrass and hip-hop fans sit up and say, “Huh?” followed by “Wha?” and ultimately “Meh.” Sparxxx left Timbaland’s Beat Club label and released another winner in 2006, The Charm. But fiddles and steel guitar were conspicuously absent on the disc, and its hit single, “Ms. New Booty,” could never be accused of trying anything revolutionary, or even particularly different.

Last, a little Canadian influence for all y’all out there.

15. Buck 65
Considering how little Buck 65’s name gets bandied about today, in hip-hop circles and elsewhere, it can be easy to forget what an explosive impact the This Right Here Is Buck 65 compilation made in early 2005. The Canadian rapper-singer-songwriter was hailed as hip-hop’s next bold evolutionary step forward for his genre-mashing collision of hip-hop, talking blues, gothic country, surrealistic imagery, and art-school pretension. Buck 65 was supposed to be the David Lynch of hip-hop, a singular weirdo following a crazed muse wherever it led. But all the press and critical hosannas didn’t lead to much commercial success. Buck 65’s career didn’t blow up so much as slowly fade away.

Check out the whole list here.  It’s worth the read.

Headline Politics

Pro-Gun Arguments Are Unconvincing

The recent tragedy in Arizona has reignited the debate about the role of guns in American society. Frankly, I don’t understand the pro-gun argument; it seems wrong on several levels. Here are my thoughts on the usual pro-gun talking points, and why I think society would be better off without firearms. If you’re more familiar with this issue than I (and I bet most people are), please let me know where I’m going wrong.

Argument 1: Bad people have guns, therefore we need guns to protect ourselves

This argument is flawed for two reasons, one logical and the other practical. The first flaw is obvious: it’s called begging the question. The argument is saying, essentially, that guns are present in society, and for that reason we need guns to be present in society. Of course, this doesn’t mean the argument is wrong, it just means it’s poorly constructed.

The second flaw, then, is where the argument really falls apart. Whenever a mass shooting occurs, pro-gun people decry the fact that there weren’t more guns present. They wonder aloud about how the incident would’ve played out if only more bystanders had been packing heat. According to this fantasy, the gunman would’ve been shot almost immediately by well-armed civilians, preventing further casualties.

Reality, though, is typically far messier than fantasy. Take the Arizona shootings, which happened outside a busy supermarket with dozens, if not hundreds, of people in the immediate area. Even if only a small percentage of these bystanders had been armed, that’s still tens of people shooting at each other. How would they tell the original shooter from the others? What if an undercover or off-duty police officer was present? Wouldn’t the ensuing chaos provide perfect cover for the original shooter to escape? Friendly fire casualties still occur in modern war zones, even though soldiers wear uniforms and use sophisticated communications equipment; just think of the innocent life that might be lost from dozens of untrained, panicked and isolated civilians shooting at each other. It seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

Argument 2: The right to bear arms is in the Constitution, therefore it’s okay

Another logical flaw: slavery was in the Constitution, too, but that didn’t make it okay (I’m assuming, of course, that you’re just pro-gun and not also a racist). But besides that, my problem with this argument is that it’s inconsistent with other right wing positions (I’m conflating pro-gun people with right wing people – if you consider yourself one of the former but not of the latter, I apologize). Take for example the controversy over so-called ‘anchor babies.’ Some conservatives are pushing for a constitutional amendment to rescind the clause guaranteeing citizenship for anyone born on American soil. Why is the 14th Amendment less sacred than the Second?

Argument 3: We need guns to keep government in check

This is probably the oldest pro-gun argument, and it actually stems from debates that occurred during the writing of the Constitution (the Wikipedia article on the drafting of the Second Amendment is quite good, and well worth a read). While the right to bear arms has been entrenched in common law since the English Bill of Rights of 1689, it was included in the American Constitution for several reasons, most of which are no longer relevant in the 21st century. Nevertheless, some gun supporters argue that the Second Amendment is necessary because a well-armed citizenry is the only way to ensure the continued freedom of the people. To me, this comes across as laughably naive. I’m not saying government tyranny is a good thing, but I am saying that should the government decide to go down that road, civilians wielding guns aren’t going to stop it.

The pro-gun argument just has too many flaws. Until I read something that addresses at least one of these problems, I’m staying firmly in the anti-gun (or, more accurately, pro-gun control) camp.

Image by: esc.ape(d)