Link Roundup: June 2024

Orientalism: Desert Level Music vs Actual Middle-Eastern Music | Fayra Faraji (video, 1:36 hours) – This video explains how orientalist music has virtually nothing to do with actual music from the Middle East.  The music uses a hodgepodge of different instruments and musical styles that come from vastly different contexts.  They nearly exclusively use the double-harmonic and phrygian mode, not because those are particularly common in Middle-Eastern music, but rather because it’s uncommon in other western music and yet fits within the 12TET system.

As a fan of xenharmonic/microtonal music, I know that many non-western music traditions use different tuning systems–the Maqam traditions are particularly notable.  I appreciate such music as it comes into my awareness, and definitely wish it were more widely distributed.  That said, I’m very aware that I come from a western musical tradition, and the very first thing I hear in microtonal music is a sense of uniqueness relative to my musical context and training.  When I think about non-Western musical traditions, I imagine a whole history and culture where these musical characteristics are just normal, just a medium used to express something else entirely.  That just isn’t my perspective, I cannot hear it that way.

An Exercise in Frustration | AI Weirdness (via) – I’ve never used any of the AI image generators, but have looked over the shoulder of someone else (a non-expert) using them.  This article captures the experience.  It’s really difficult to get an AI image generator to follow any instructions with specificity.  If there’s anything slightly wrong with the image, you can ask it to adjust, but it usually makes it worse, or else it draws a completely different image with something else slightly wrong.  People who use AI image generators have to either a) exert control through sheer skill and persistence, or b) accept that they do not have control.  Many people will take away from this that AI art is bad, but it also shows that AI image generators are much more challenging to use effectively than people suppose.

I’ve been thinking, why are we using image generators to make art, and not like, graphs?  I’m sure there’s a lot more money in selling software that would make graph generation easy, and it would be way less controversial to boot.  Obviously the reason they don’t do it is because the models aren’t powerful enough to do it, they’re not even close.

Uh Oh, Another Billionaire is Heading to the Titanic Wreck | Rebecca Watson (Video & transcript, 14 min) – I really appreciate Watson’s willingness to go against leftist memes, and talk about why some things are good actually (also see: checkout charity).  Yes, when OceanGate sent down a submersible and it imploded, it was terrible on multiple levels; you can go find articles about how they ignored all the safety warnings.  But when we’re talking about a different submersible made by a different company, you have to check again whether those facts are true in this new situation.  Underwater exploration is not an inherently ridiculous concept.

Sausagelikes | Icely Puzzles (Video, 15 min) – One of the topic ideas I have on my list, is to explain what exactly is a “sausagelike” game.  It’s a subgenre of challenging puzzle games inspired by Stephen’s Sausage Roll.  They’re a major part of the current golden age of difficult puzzle games.  The problem with blogging about this is I’d have to go back and play the stuff and take lots of screenshots, and I’m not paid to do that.  So now I can point to this video instead.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    I tried to leave the message below at SkepChick, but the software decided I looked like a spammer and blocked it, and I couldn’t find a way to contact Rebecca W otherwise as the blocking message suggested:

    A friend who worked at a McDonald’s which collected charitable donations in a jar next to the cash register told me that 100% of the money collected went to that charity – and the restaurant claimed the whole amount as _its_ donation and lowered its taxes accordingly.

    (That is to say, if that Mickey D’s netted $1000 on a given day, and collected $100 in that jar, they would have ended up paying their standard tax rate on “income” of $900 – not a $100 reduction, but probably much more than the float on $100.)

  2. says

    @Pierce R. Butler,
    I’d suggest commenting on Youtube, though I bet Watson doesn’t look at those.

    If it’s just cash in a jar, there’s no accountability for that. Safeway’s charity system is formalized, and a much greater legal liability if they don’t do the taxes correctly. But I only know what Rebecca tells me here.

    Checkout charity is definitely not for me. Donating to charity gives me anxiety, so I really prefer to do it all at once, once per tax year. I’m also in a high tax bracket, so it’s important to keep track for tax deduction purposes. But I’m sure checkout charity would make more sense for other people.

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