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Lindsey Kuper

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Say "experts" instead of "smart people" [Apr. 30th, 2015|11:55 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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Hi! I'm a friendly, albeit janky, Ruby script, and this is one of several automated messages that I'm capable of producing to let you know that there's a new post on composition.al.

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A few notes from PaPoC 2015 [Apr. 29th, 2015|11:50 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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Hi! I'm a friendly, albeit janky, Ruby script, and this is one of several automated messages that I'm capable of producing to let you know that there's a new post on composition.al.

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What isn't a key-value store? [Mar. 31st, 2015|07:45 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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Hi! I'm a friendly, albeit janky, Ruby script, and this is one of several automated messages that I'm capable of producing to let you know that there's a new post on composition.al.

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Call for proposals: !!Con 2015 [Mar. 30th, 2015|11:49 am]
Lindsey Kuper
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There's a new post on composition.al!

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Policy of truth [Mar. 22nd, 2015|12:24 am]
Lindsey Kuper

Alex left a CD of the 1990 Depeche Mode album Violator in our car a couple days ago, and I played it out of idle curiosity.1 Holy crap.

I'm embarrassed to say that I don't think I've ever really made a point of listening to this band -- but I'm trying to be more honest about this kind of thing, so there it is. I'd heard the live version of the song "Stripped" on the Say Anything soundtrack, which I have somewhere on cassette; I know I listened to that song two or three times, probably because it came right after "In Your Eyes" on the tape. I distinctly remember, as a teenager, appreciating what the liner notes by Joey Carnuba had to say about Depeche Mode: "These guys get applause for interesting chords." And I had heard some of their other, better-known songs here and there, never exactly realizing who the artist was. But I had never listened to and appreciated an album from start to finish.

Anyway, I listened to the album a few times through and then went looking for more versions of the songs. Here is a circa 1993 live performance of "Policy of Truth" that I've probably watched and listened to thirty times today. I like the way the live arrangement emphasizes how the unforgettable main riff is just six notes -- six notes that have been burned into my brain since I was about nine years old, mind you; it's just that I didn't know until a few days ago that they were from this song -- and that the pitch-bendy bit that follows that is actually coming from a different instrument. Not that it's at all obvious what instrument, or even what "instrument" means in this context. If I had to guess, I'd say the six-note riff is being played live on the keyboard (in the video, you can see Martin Gore, the songwriter, playing it a couple of times -- he's the fellow with the sparkly silver outfit and blond mop of hair at the keyboard in the center back); the pitch bend might be a keyboard pitch wheel or it might be a guitar sample being triggered from another keyboard, but who's to say?

I'd love to be able to understand what is happening musically at 0:44, just after the first instance of the main riff followed by singer Dave Gahan's gleeful almost-involuntary "Hey!" yelp. Right after that, more drums come in, but as that is happening, there are a couple of chaotic cymbal crashes that sound like a spontaneous response to Gahan before the new, louder beat locks in. How does that even work?! Nobody up there is playing drums, as such! It's all keyboard-triggered samples -- isn't it? How did they get it to sound spontaneous? That's the first point in the song where I feel like something great is happening here.

The whole rest of the song sounds amazing (bzzt! bzzt! bzz-bzz-ba-bzz-bzzt!; the vocal octave doubling!), but the really off-the-hook atmospheric shit starts happening at about 4:25. There's a bit at the very end where Gahan turns his back to the audience and towards Gore and holds his arms out, dancing. This could be construed as Gahan showing off his ass for the audience, and yeah, honestly, it's probably a little of that. But I like to read it more as an act of ha-ha-only-serious Martin Gore worship. Anyway, I recommend this video if you enjoy electronic music from the early 90s, or boys in collars, or if you want to maybe wake up an old part of your brain.


  1. I think this story might explain something about why it is that, in 2015, I still really appreciate albums as physical artifacts. It's easier to stumble over them (literally stumble, sometimes!) that way, and stumbling can be serendipitous.
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Browser extensions are kernel modules for browsers [Feb. 27th, 2015|04:55 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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Hi! I'm a friendly, albeit janky, Ruby script, and this is one of several automated messages that I'm capable of producing to let you know that there's a new post on composition.al.

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To OpenCL from JavaScript via js-ctypes, or, how we rewrote the River Trail Firefox extension [Feb. 24th, 2015|05:06 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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O frabjous day! There's a new post on composition.al.

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Flowers at twenty-four weeks [Feb. 16th, 2015|04:05 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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First, the good news. Back in November, I described my window-box begonias as having "failed to take off". I would now describe them as slowly and steadily winning the race. Here are four pictures, taken right after planting and at eight weeks, sixteen weeks, and, as of a couple days ago, twenty-four weeks:

Begonias at planting, August 30 Begonias at eight weeks, October 26

Begonias at sixteen weeks, December 22 Begonias at twenty-four weeks, February 14

I see these flowers every day, and the growth happens too slowly for me to notice day to day or even week to week -- but, looking at these photos, it's clear that there's been a lot of growth since August. So I'm glad I've been taking photos! Also, my phone-tography appears to have improved since August.1

The bad news...Collapse )
  1. Admittedly, most of that improvement was the result of getting a new phone in January.
  2. Did you know that there are people on the interwebs who know a lot, and care a lot, about begonias? Of course you did.
  3. Although the rain was impressive, it was no match for years of drought. In fact, my vague understanding is that rain on the coast is pretty unhelpful for alleviating drought, because most of it just runs off into the ocean, whereas what we really need is snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east. Most of the Bay Area's water comes from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which is in Yosemite, 150 miles east of here, and fed by snowmelt from the mountains. So it was actually kind of bad for the drought that we had a lot of coastal rain, because then people could be all, "Well, I guess we don't have to conserve water anymore!", while the reservoir that our water actually comes from was as low as ever.
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Call for papers: Onward! 2015 [Jan. 30th, 2015|03:35 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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O frabjous day! There's a new post on composition.al.

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Reflections on two years of research blogging [Jan. 27th, 2015|11:00 am]
Lindsey Kuper
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Hi! I'm a friendly, albeit janky, Ruby script, and this is one of several automated messages that I'm capable of producing to let you know that there's a new post on composition.al.

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