Tag Archives | cool people

The Trautonium: A Forgotten Instrument

It’s safe to say that nearly anyone cognizant of the existence of the Trautonium can easily fit under the umbrella category of “eccentric.” Yet, this electronic instrument, invented in 1929 Berlin, is a medium for sublime human expression. Before synthesizers and computers usurped what can more aptly be called today’s “music assembling,” musical instruments that used electricity but still required dynamic human input and live performance had a brief but profound era in the 20th century.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zHaQPyG7u4

Formal compositions and even orchestral concertos have been written for this instrument, among which is Paul Hindemith‘sLangsames Stück und Rondo für Trautonium.” Youtube user Ghost Money also has several interesting improvisations using the organic but other-worldly sounds of the Trautonium.

Perhaps the only person that can be said to have mastered the Trautonium was Oskar Sala (1910-2002) who pioneered the instrument’s capabilities and applications.  Among Sala’s credits are Hitchcock’s The Birds, where he created the sounds of the birds among a variety of other short films. … Read the rest

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First Great in Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton

ferdmortonFerdinand Joseph LaMothe, better known as Jelly Roll Morton is one of the greats of the roots of jazz, and is too often overlooked.  His virtuosic playing is larger than life, innovative, highly characteristic and a delight for the ears. With his salty beginnings playing in whorehouses as a teenager, he was known throughout the South and West Coast before finding success in the thriving Chicago scene. He will have been born 125 years ago this fall.

RedHotJazz.com has compiled a great many of his finest works to listen to and download for free!  Now, how ’bout dat!

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World’s Most Persecuted Religion

Muslims need to listen a little more closely to the words of their prophet [*cough cough*Christians*cough cough*]. Persecution of non-Muslims by Islamic fundamentalists has reached a shrill note in much of Europe, Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Asian South Pacific, but it seems like that is NOT what Mohammad would want! In a previous article I listed some very surprising quotes of Mohammed from the Hadith that many Muslims (or non-Muslims) would do well to follow carefully today, please feel free to check them out.

In this video, Raymond Ibrahim, a native of Egypt, discusses how Christianity has been virtually exterminated in many Muslim majority countries during the last 50 years, and speculates on the political motivation for why the Western media refuses to report on it.

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Computer Hallucinations: Large Scale Deep Neural Net

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Recently, Disinfo ran an article about how Google set up feedback loops to its image recognition software and created some very interesting “dream”-like effects. Yeah, Google. “Dream.” You can view a gallery of their images here.

Some other software engineers, among whom is Jonas Degrave, a Belgian PhD student, who are not nearly as concerned with euphemism, have created an “LSD neural net,” which is similar in concept to Google’s feedback loops. Except they actually made a channel on Twitch that shows the algorithmic permutations in real time video, constantly zooming in like a fractal. Remarkably, the viewers in the video chat can type in two objects, for example “tent + gondola,” and the algorithm randomly choose one entry and morph using images of these objects. It is really quite interesting.

If you’re some kind of freak that actually knows how this stuff works, feel free to check out the write up giving background on how the engineers technically created this piece on Jonas Degrave’s site.… Read the rest

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Environmentalists Have an Irrational Hatred of Nuclear Power

The first American nuclear reactor of the 21st century, Watts-Barr will soon begin operating west of Knoxville in Tennessee.  This reactor will almost continuously generate 1,150 megawatts of electricity for the next 60 years at $0.06/kWhr, with near-zero carbon emissions (over the same period a coal plant would release 500 million tons of CO2, for reference the US releases 6,526 million metric tons CO2 annually).  With this happy marriage of steadily satisfying consumer demand yet generating very little CO2, one would imagine that greenies everywhere like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund and thousands of other environmental groups would be out in the streets rejoicing and calling for more nuclear plants!  However, it seems that environmental groups roundly and universally decry the vast potential of nuclear technology.  But why?
We in the pro-nuclear community have yet to collate and diagnose the almost-dogmatic hatred of nuclear power in the environmental movement, but it seems to stem from several uninformed but understandable complaints:

1) People seem to widely conflate ‘nuclear power’ with ‘nuclear weapons,’  however the danger of a nuclear explosion occurring at a power plant is the same danger as a 1988 Ford Pinto going 250 mph, that is, not any danger at all.… Read the rest

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Memories Transplanted With Organs

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I recently came across an interesting and novel phenomenon via a remarkable fact I read on Kickassfacts.com. It seems organ recipients sometimes have living memories or peculiar affinities which somehow carried over along from their donor. Can the ‘Ship of Theseus’ that arrives with new oars, planks, and sail be considered the same ship that left port?

Ethically, very few religions around the world actually have a problem with organ harvesting and transplantation. With reference to harvesting from the brain-dead, Pius XII said that knowledge of when death occurs is the domain of medical science. However some Judaic authorities take issue with harvesting the organs of a brain-dead individual because anything that will stop the heart beating causes death. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses have changed their stance since the 1980s, excluding the acceptance of an organ from their definition of cannibalism (which includes accepting blood transfusions).

However, no religions to my knowledge presently acknowledge the idea that a person may somehow be incarnate after their death when another person has accepted that person’s organ.… Read the rest

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Terrestrial Energy Co.: Vanquish the Arrested Future of Nuclear Energy

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In a Sept 2014 talk at the Economic Club of Canada, Hugh MacDiarmid coolly lays out the groundwork of a new energy future, without the pie-in-the-sky wishes of fusion, the intermittent inadequacy of solar and wind, or the non-renewable carbon emissions of coal, oil, and gas.

Canadian company Terrestrial Energy is on track to make the first commercially viable molten salt nuclear reactor by early next decade, at first supplementing coal but ultimately supplanting it for electricity production. The molten salt reactor (MSR) is a type of Generation 4 reactor with roots in the 1950s at Oak Ridge National Lab and has manifold advantages over existing reactors. The MSR uses a liquid salt loop to contain its fissile material such as uranium, thorium, or plutonium oxides. Since the reaction occurs in liquid fuel, it is literally impossible to melt down, and since it reacts at atmospheric pressure there is no need for a massive reinforced containment vessel.… Read the rest

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Satan’s Hollow – The Portal from Ohio to Hell

This video by a YouTube channel called “‘Believe’ A Paranormal Experience” follows two young men on a pilgrimage/road-trip across country to visit paranormal places. Their last stop requires venturing into a storm drain known as “Satan’s Hollow” which allegedly hosts/hosted devil worshipers and demonic rituals. The radio device they use to communicate with the netherworld at the end is a nice touch.

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Fukushima’s Real Threat: Undue Fear

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Reactor 1 to 4 from right to left.

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Reactor 1 to 4 from right to left.

Our reaction to the crisis in Fukushima Daiichi has been and continues to be generally irrational.  Contrary to the assertions of some recent sensationalistic articles, there is no evident increase in thyroid health problems in Japanese children living in and around the Prefectures of Fukushima, and it is unlikely that there ever will be (UN Report; Nuclear News; J. of Am. Phys. and Surg.; CBCnews; Hiroshima Syndrome; National GeographicAsahi Shimbun).   This is because the only cause of thyroid risk during a nuclear disaster, iodine-131 which has a half-life of 8 days, was allowed to decay during evacuation and with restrictions on food and milk from the area.  After 80–90 days had passed, released radioactive iodine-131 decays to less than 0.1% of its initial quantity, and therefore the danger is essentially over. … Read the rest

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