Year: 2005

NASA’s mixtape for aliens

Mathematical definitions

I am kind of a science geek, but really this is about being a sociology geek.

In 1977, NASA launched two “intrepid” Voyager spacecrafts. Their primary purpose was to photograph distant planets from ranges never before achieved. It succeeded beautifully, but of more interest to me is the secondary purpose of this mission.

After passing Pluto (or Neptune?), what’s left to do with the most distant object we’ve sent into space? Obviously, propel it to a speed of one million miles per day and hope it reaches some alien society. But what do you send to an alien society?

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I’d been meaning to teach myself enough css, php, and sql to finally use WordPress, a powerful, flexible blogging utility, certainly moreso than Blogger. The process was faster than I had expected, and I’m really pleased with the results and looking forward to WordPress’ potential. Compare to my hindsightedly hideous Blogger site. Yuck.

The migration was easy enough, but the customization couldn’t have been possible without these sites:

…and of course all the WordPress documentation and codex.

Like I said, there’s still much XHTML invalidity, due entirely to Blogger, but I’ll be fixing this slowly (standards, standards, standards). Some formatting quirks I’ll be ironing out as well, so there may be varying degrees of garbling in the near future. I could say more, but I won’t, but I will say, “If you’ve thought about switching to WordPress, do it, if for no other reason than that you’ll learn so much about css and php in the process.”

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A Flat Hierarchy for Subjective mp3 Tags

I’ve always been anal about the way my mp3s are tagged. Before the iPod, Audioscrobbler, and foobar2000, it was an irrational obsession, since I keep my music well-sorted on my hard drive. But there’s something so “official” about mp3 tags that I find appealing.

A few years ago this fixation extended to a program called MoodLogic, which applies a user-maintained database of really specific information about songs to construct playlists to match particular moods. In the end it proved more work than it was worth for me, so I abandoned it, but I’ve always wished for a similarly intuitive method of music browsing and playlist creation (come on, alphabetically?).

The genre tag has always been the most elusive. The subjective if not totally baseless distinctions between “Pop/Rock,” “Rock,” and “Pop” are enough to aggravate even the mildest case of OCD. I never bothered with this kind of categorization until recently when I realized that foobar2000 can handle multiple values for one tag field. Interesting…

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6 records

Five factory sealed and one from Mars. Thanks to Used Kids Records, Magnolia Thunderpussy, and Johnny Go’s House O’ Music, all on High Street in Columbus, OH. Demoted CDs soon to appear on eBay. The bike is not resting on Aeroplane.

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The Unicorns Diffuse

The Ghost of Creaky CraterUPDATE, APRIL 12: Added mp3

Late, late, late last night I learned that Alden Ginger recently released his own 7″ under the moniker Alden Penner. The A-side is brand new, recorded on some leg of The Unicorns’ epic 2004 tour, and the B-side is old favorite “We are fighting the demons of Côte St-Paul” (mp3, 3.34MB), originally released by Alden via New Music Canada, presented here as “L’Espair.” Read this hilarious review on, then order the single from the link at the bottom of the page; it’s $15 US (including shipping), comes with a box of crayons, and is limited to 100 pressings.

If for some reason you care what Nick and J’aime are up to, read this article. mp3s of “Th’ Corn Gangg”-curated shows become more readily available on SoulSeek every minute.

Be sure to visit The Secret Unic-c-corns Forum while you’re at it, the not-so-underground replacement for the official site, which has met the fate ordained for all things Unicorn: a sudden and mysterious death.

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In reading about iTunes and why it’s a disease, I was reminded that mp3 compression is an abomination of sound quality. Inspired, and looking for a place to get tickets for The Grog Shop‘s Minus Story show, I bought Destroyer’s This Night on CD at Music Saves, a tiny and tidy little record store next to The Beachland Ballroom (15801 Waterloo Rd., (216) 481-1875). Small as it is, their vinyl selection includes The Unicorns and Panda Bear, which is enough to suggest how perfectly suited they are for me. How it took me so long to hear about this place is a mystery.

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Hunting Unicorns

All Makes Parts & CollisionDid you think the Unicorns saga could possibly continue? Neither did I. But thanks to the always-amazing Internet Archive, I discovered that Alden Ginger’s New Music Canada site (which is also defunct) was once the All Makes Parts & Collision site. I know, I thought they were on ZeBOX too. Anyway, in addition to conclusively settling the ampersand as the proper conjunction, the site reveals some brand new song titles, including “id didnt know” and “Let’s Get Strong.” Chances are I already have these, but I’m anxious to apply the titles to two of the five still untitled AMP&C songs I have. But when the songs have been pulled from NMC and there are no track durations listed, what do you do? You’re forced to email the given address. This isn’t The Unicorns’ address, so it’s either sitting idly, going unchecked, or it will actually allow me to reach Alden Ginger.

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