The Dream In Which I Invented A New Synthesis UI With The Aid Of Teri Garr and Robert Vaughn

By my standards, this was a pretty ordinary dream. The only thing that makes it stand out is the synthesis part. Well, and my co-inventers but they aren’t really real in the way that an idea can be real although it was dreamt.

Teri Garr is still alive so it’s possible she could have been in my dream through some kind of telepathic link but Robert Vaughn passed away in 2016. While I’ll maybe stretch to telepathy with living people, communicating with the spirit realm is a stretch for a good old fashioned dialectical materialist like me.

In the dream, Vaughn was Napoleon Solo-aged and Garr was pretty much as she appears in the Star Trek episode ‘Assignment Earth.’ But they weren’t their characters, they were just themselves, chatting as actors do about various acting gigs, the perils of local theatre and who was a Method bore.

I was entranced just to be in the same room with them. Thinking back, the room was very TOS-like; grey walls, weird polygonal desk for no reason, the mise-en-scene was very Trek. 

On the table in front of us is a tray. It’s about one metre by seventy-five cm. The edge is lipped to contain what appears to be thousands of gems. When I pick one up, it’s about the shape and size of a Pez but with straight sides at the ends, a point instead of a curve. One face is shiny, silver, metallic. The other is a translucent gemstone. There are various colours of gem and, I now notice, various colours on the tray. Between the zones, there are no hard lines, rather gradations and sometimes subtle stripings of colour.

Garr urges me to move some of the VCO gems around. Then I realise that one of the green piles of gems was the same colour as its base which is labelled ‘VCO 1’. Being a East Coast synthesis sort, I grab a handful of gems and plonk them in an area marked ‘LFO 1.’ Then I touch a the lip of the tray which, somehow, I know is the equivalent of pressing a key on a normal synth. 

Woah! Vibrato! But not much… hmmmm… I take some more VCO gems and plonk them in the LFO area. More depth! AHA! But how the hell do I change the frequency of the LFO or the waveform? I notice that both the LFO and VCO areas have waveforms inscribed in certain areas, sawtooth, square, squiggly. I move some of the LFO gems into the sawtooth area… ahhhh… the vibrato changes to a more squarey stridulation. I’m getting well into this – what else can I heap and where?

It’s at this point of the dream that I’m basically pushing gems all over the place, swirling them with my finger and delighting in what comes out. I’ve gone full West Coast now, NO RAGRETS.

And then… seriously… the synth makes the Emergency Phone noise from The Man From UNCLE. Yes, my brain did this to me.

So, I turn to Robert Vaughn and say, “Hey, it’s that sound from the Man From… oh my god… it’s you! You’re Napoleon Solo!” He looks a little embarrassed and Teri giggles. 

It’s then that my stupid brain makes me realise I am, in fact, naked in a thin dressing gown and my knackers are on full view of these two fantastic actors. Soooo, inevitably, I wake out of my beautiful synthesis dream. 

But what do you think of the interface, eh? It’s doable, isn’t it? We could do it now, virtually, in something like Microsoft’s Hololens. And I’m pretty sure we could do it in real life. If every gem contained an RFID and the table was continuously scanning for their position. I would even add in variables like height-from-table or heat? Anything to give more ways to control the variables. If you weighted them differently, you could sort them quite simply, too, just pour the tray into a sorter. 

Please, someone, make my synth dream come true!

More Racist Shenanigans

I was out in Mosh again last night, having a lovely emo time. I was with a couple of friends and another had gone to the bar.

He came back with Racist David in tow. Yes, Racist David who thinks this is the height of comedy -> 

I was dumbfounded. When I’d flagged his bullshit up, he never once tried to apologise or even backpedal on his hate-peddling. If he had even once said, ‘Oh, sorry, I totally shouldn’t have posted that’ or ‘it was a stupid mistake, I don’t really find it funny’ then I would have been fine. We ALL make mistakes, we ALL say stupid shit that we instantly regret but we OWN IT like adults. And we apologise and try not to be such a dick in the future.

But not Racist David. He was totally okay with what he’d liked. It was funny! Consequently, I was cast as the “touchy Asian” who should really learn how to take a joke.

Obviously, 90% of the white people I knew from Mosh, people who I thought were okay, sided with the racist. Because, that’s what white people do with racism: they support it. Hey, how else do you think it keeps going? White people with racism are like men with patriarchy – they enable it, they benefit from it and they defend it. Sure, they may say they’re anti-racist but they don’t actually mean that, they’ll never actually do anything when, say, they have to disconnect from a racist friend.

So, here I am, face to face with David the dickhead. I tell him to fuck off. He doesn’t. So I repeat it, it’s a noisy club, after all. The third time, he does, indeed, fuck off.

I stood my ground. I didn’t let a racist make me move. I will not be moved. When it comes down to it, if he hadn’t moved, I would have made him move.

If you’re non-white and reading this, you’re probably just shrugging wearily internally cos, hey, you know what it’s like. We have to struggle every day just to exist, to live without insult and attack, we have to struggle against those who would dehumanise us. It’s a never-ending drip of micro and the occasional macro aggression. 

If you’re white, I’d ask you: what are you doing to stop racism? Do you laugh along with the racist jokes you hear or do you call out the hater?

It’s a simple choice. 

Photography And Power

First, please watch this excellent video by Jamie Windsor: 

So, that video inspired this comment from me:

This is a beautiful, thoughtful commentary and raised a lot of issues for me ~ there is a whole school of photography which is basically neo-colonial and seems to delight in reducing people from non-European cultures into curiosities, into sub-human spectacles. There is no respect for them as people at all. That’s a definite tendency “art” photography still has to address. I’m sure you know the famous photos I’m referring to. 

I agree with your embedded perspective, being *from* the culture but maybe it’s more than that, maybe it’s a question of power relations? A cop taking a photo of me is not the same as me taking a photo of a cop. I know this from taking pics on demos. Similarly, a rich European taking a few days jaunt in an impoverished country, searching for grief porn to capture is definitely exploiting their relative power advantage. 

And THANK YOU for the words about people hiding behind the letter of the law to justify immoral acts. Slavery was legal, rape in marriage was legal, does that mean it was okay to be a slaveowner or a rapist? 

Lastly, I’m guessing you’ve read this but if not, I think you’d appreciate it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_(book)

Why Is Your Band Called White Town?

This happened to me when I was a kid. I was probably 7 or 8? The kids I invited wanted to come but their racist parents wouldn’t let them go.

A lot these people were the same people who lobbied the people we bought our house off not to sell to us.

In the whole neighbourhood, there was only one white family who be-friended us. And they were lovely, just the best people. I was too young to think of it at the time but now I wonder how much shit they got off their racist neighbours for being friends with us. 

I try to remember the kindness of that family rather than the hatred of the white majority but some days it’s hard.

Oh, and the party? My Mummy just partied with me and put away all the extra food she’d got. She was brilliant and I soon forgot how sad I’d been.  

Baby Rampling

I was out at Rock City this Saturday and a cool thing happened. 

There was a small group of girls out and one of them was taller and so stood out. She had a gorgeous face, flowing hair and looked a little like a young Charlotte Rampling. 

As she walked closer on her way to the bar, I realised that she was a he. And then, no, a she. And then, in truth, I realised that they were a they. It’s very rare I see actual, presenting as non-binary people out clubbing so I was surprised and pleased. 

Pleased because I go to clubs that would have been called “alternative” in the ‘80s. The nights I go to are mostly pop punk and rock with, very occasionally, a dance night thrown in if I don’t get overwhelmed by the stench of poppers on the way in.

You would think that alt nights have alt people at them. And you would e very, very slightly right; most of the people in the Basement at City would call themselves different based on their music taste or perhaps clothes / style. Y’know – grebs.

Sadly, I know from experience that just because you sing along to RATM or The King Blues, it doesn’t actually mean you’re a revolutionary. Indeed, bands like ADTR often have gangs of lads as fans who, in the US, would be called jocks. These lads are un-reconstructed racists, sexists and homophobes. They are also so pigshit thick that they don’t even realise they are any of these things. You know the kind of bloke I mean ~ Edgelords who think propagating racist memes is somehow challenging some status quo somewhere. 

So, it was with a little worry that I watched this very drunk NB kid weave their way across the dance floor, being quite touchy and flirty as they passed people. They were very def on a mission. The reaction they got was, sadly, pretty much what I expected: blokes would do a double take and then, masculinity threatened, have to take the piss and establish that THEY WERE NOT AT ALL GAY as much as possible to any women watching. The lasses weren’t quite as bad but there was still a fair amount of piss-taking. Thankfully, there was no actual physical confrontation. 

Well, after doing a couple more trawls round the dance floor in this manner, the baby Rampling did a face of disdain and headed off to another floor. Clearly, the people on this floor didn’t appreciate their brilliance enough. And, to be fair, they didn’t. It was pearls before swine.  

I really, really wish I’d got a picture of them so you could see I’m not exaggerating. Maybe next time!