Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Stephen Hawking on Death

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking recently explained his belief that there is no God and that humans should therefore seek to live the most valuable lives they can while on Earth.

Guardian writer Ian Sample asked Hawking if he feared death in a story published yesterday. This was his response:

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

Hawking's 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" sold 9 million copies, and in it Hawking referenced God metaphorically as the force that could fully explain the creation of the universe.

But in 2010, Hawking told Diane Sawyer that "science will win" in a battle with religion "because it works."

"What could define God [is a conception of divinity] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God," Hawking told Sawyer. "They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible."

Hawking's latest book, "The Grand Design," challenged Isaac Newton's theory that the solar system could not have been created without God. "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going," he writes.

Hawking was diagnosed with the degenerative Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 21. He lost his power of speech and for decades has talked through an electronic speech synthesizer. The device has allowed him to continue his research and attain a top Cambridge research post, which was previously held by Newton. His most famous theory explains how black holes emit radiation, according to The Guardian.

So if everyone is destined to power-down like computers at the end of their lives, what should humans do to lend meaning to their experience?

"We should seek the greatest value of our action," Hawking told the paper.

Monday, 23 May 2011

King Midas Sound raw/roar

An audience vid from Territorios/Sevilla capturing hints of the next chapter of King Midas Sound. Raw, blurred and noisey = cool.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Appropriate Demdike Stare video = Very cool

Demdike Stare - Violetta from The Wire Magazine on Vimeo.

Soul Jazz/Bug bashy dubs comp collab soon come

Soul Jazz Records presents Invasion of the Killer Mysteron Sounds in 3-D (Dancehall Digital Dub)

Compiled by Kevin Martin (The Bug) and Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz Records)

Available on 2 part 2LP & 2xCD, to pre-order please contact us at info@conch.co.nz

Kevin Martin (aka The Bug/ King Midas Sound) and Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz Records) have put together a unique new project bringing together new, exclusive and in-demand digital music by electronic futurists Harmonic 313, Diplo, Roots Manuva, South Rakkas Crew,The Bug and more alongside a killer selection of Jamaican digital and electronic scientific dub and dancehall.

Exclusive new tracks and mixes by Harmonic 313, Stereotyp, Federation, in-demand tracks from the likes of Roots Manuva, Diplo and South Rakkas Crew, the toughest digital and twisted rhythms from legendary producers King Jammy, Steely and Clevie, Sly Dunbar, Prince Jazzbo, King Tubby, Firehouse Crew and more all feature on this unique release.

The double album comes in limited edition heavyweight deluxe hardcover 2-CD card-casing complete with a limited-edition graphic novel by Italian comic book designer Paolo Parisi (whose books include subjects as diverse as John Coltrane and Chernobyl). This specially commissioned graphic novel is a science-fiction vision of the future of digital music, featuring King Tubby, Steely and Clevie, Jammy, Jazzbo, complete with Alien Sound Lord Abductors, Aural Freedom Fighters and Digi-Dub Voyagers!

There are also two super-heavy, super-loud, deluxe gatefold double-vinyl editions (with the first copies also including a limited edition graphic-novel).


CD ONE / Double LP volume one

1. Steely & Clevie ‘Streetsweeper’
2. Lenky & Sly ‘Now Thing’
3. Ricky Ranking fT. Roots Manuva ‘Doogoo Dub’
4. Dave Kelly ‘The Return’
5. Annex Crew ‘Summerbounce’
6. Federation Sound ‘Flatlands (Brooklyn Dub Mix)’
7. Lenky ‘Diwali Riddim’
8. Team Shadatek ‘Yoga Riddim’
9. Stereotyp ft. Alley Cat ‘Modern Times’
10. The Grynch ft. Tippa Irie ‘Electro Agony in Dub’
11. Fira ‘Hummer Version’
12. Diplo ‘Diplo Rhythm’
13. Harmonic 313 ‘Bazooka Riddim’
14. Ward 21 Productions ‘Pit Bull’
15. Redlight ‘M.D.M.A’.
16. The Bug ‘Aktion Dub’

CD?TWO / Double LP volume two

1. Fat Eyes ‘Clothes Pin Rhythm’
2. Steven Ventura 4 Kings of Kings ‘Throw Your Hands Up version’
3. Sly Dunbar and Christopher Birch ‘Corners Boy’
4. David Jahson ‘King of Kings Dub’
5. Fat Eyes ‘Steel Plate’
6. South Rakkas Crew ‘Red Alert’
7. Parara and McCoy ‘Them Can’t Hold Yuh Gal version’
8. King Tubby ‘Fat Thing version’
9. World Beat ‘Gold Mine’
10. Andre ‘Suku’ Gray (Jammys) ‘Sign Rhythm’
11. Henfield and Shadowman ‘Babatunde’
12. Firehouse Crew ‘No False Hair’
13. Computer Paul ‘World Talk’
14. Fat Eyes ‘Overdose’
15. Prince Jazzbo ‘Great Stone version’
16. Kickin’ Productions ‘What You Gonna Do’
17. Pliers (Bonner Productions)’ I’m Your Man Dub’
18. Wiz Kidz ‘Team In My Heart version’
19. Jammys ‘Jam 2’ James (Jammys) ‘Peenie Peenie’

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A non-hysterical reaction to the death of Bin Laden

Barry Lando

Barry Lando

Osama Bin Laden -- Everyone's Missing the Point

Posted: 05/ 2/11 10:06 AM ET

The jubilation of Americans and Western leaders at the death of Osama bin Laden, though understandable, misses the point. In many ways, the figure gunned down in Pakistan was already irrelevant -- more a symbol of past dangers than a real threat for the future.

Indeed, from the point of view of America and many of its allies, the most menacing symbol in the Arab World today is not Osama bin Laden but another Arab who recently met a violent death -- Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor who chose to set himself on fire after being harassed by corrupt local police.

His act, of course, ignited the storm that has spread across the Arab World and proven a much more serious threat to America's allies in the region than al Qaeda ever was. Ironically, his sacrifice probably also dealt a far more devastating blow to al Qaeda's fortunes than the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

The Arab world today bears no relationship to the situation a decade ago after 9/11. Obsessed with bin Laden and al Qaeda, the U.S. has been sucked into a vast quagmire -- a disaster for the Americans, their economy, and their standing in the Arab World.

What particularly provoked Osama bin Laden -- a Saudi -- was the decision of Saudi rulers to accept the presence of more than a hundred thousand "infidel" U.S. troops and their allies in Saudi Arabia following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. In general, he and his followers were outraged by U.S. support for corrupt, repressive regimes from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Yemen, as well, of course, for America's backing of Israel.

As Osama himself told CNN in 1997, "the U.S. wants to occupy our countries, steal our resources, impose agents on us to rule us and then wants us to agree to all this. If we refuse to do so, it says we are terrorists... Wherever we look, we find the U.S. as the leader of terrorism and crime in the world."

Bin Laden's message resonated throughout the Muslim world. But U.S. officials remained deaf to its meaning, and continued obsessed with al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. The upshot -- U.S. policy was the best recruiter Osama could have asked for. Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, CIA killer teams, mercenaries, predators, and "diplomats" swarmed across the region from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia, supported by sprawling new bases and pharaonic embassies.

The bill for all this -- for an America crippled by cutbacks in health, infrastructure. and education -- will be in the trillions of dollars. But despite this massive effort, none of those targeted Arab countries could by any stretch of the imagination be considered a success story. Hostility to the U.S. is high throughout the region. In polls, the majority of those Arabs queried consider the United States a greater threat than al Qaeda.

In Pakistan, despite the U.S. lavishing tens of billions of dollars on that country's military, it turns out that Osama bin Laden, rather than groveling as an outlaw in the isolated tribal regions, has been living in a fortified villa near the country's major military academy and a large army base, just a few miles away from the capital city.

America had also launched an ambitious civilian aid program: $7.5 billion over five years, designed to win Pakistani hearts and minds and bolster the civilian government. But, corruption is so rife throughout the Pakistani government, and its officials so incompetent, that the U.S. has been unable to disburse most of the aid. As the New York Times reports:

Instead of polishing the tarnished image of America with a suspicious, even hostile, Pakistani public and government, the plan has resulted in bitterness and a sense of broken promises...

The economy is failing. Education, health care and other services are almost nonexistent, while civilian leaders from the landed and industrialist classes pay hardly any taxes.

Pakistanis see the aid as a crude attempt to buy friendship and an effort to alleviate antipathy toward United States drone attacks against militants in the tribal areas.

The same reports come from Afghanistan. A decade after the U.S. invaded, tens of thousands of American troops are still fighting what seems to be, at best, a see-saw battle against the Taliban. There also, according to another report in the New York Times , the U.S. is backing incompetent, corrupt, unpopular leaders. Millions of dollars of U.S. funds actually get diverted as payoffs to the Taliban and their allies -- bribing them not to attack U.S. projects, such as $65 million highway that may never be completed in Eastern Afghanistan.

The vast expenses and unsavory alliances surrounding the highway have become a parable of the corruption and mismanagement that turns so many well-intended development efforts in Afghanistan into sinkholes for the money of American taxpayers, even nine years into the war.

Now back to Mohamed Bouazizi the Tunisian fruit vendor whose death unleashed the Arab Spring that is still roiling the region.

Though Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have yet to be credited with overthrowing an Arab regime, the spark provided by Bouazizi has already led to the downfall of American-backed tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt, and continues to threaten other despots in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

Ironically, most of the leaders overthrown or desperately trying to hang on to power had declared themselves implacable enemies of al Qaeda. Yet, again, it was not bin Laden, but Bouazizi, who turned out to be a far greater menace.

Precisely for that reason, it is Bouazizi's Arab Spring, not sophisticated U.S. killer teams, that most threaten al Qaeda and its allies. By demonstrating that secular uprisings can succeed in toppling the aged, crusty tyrannies, young Arabs across the region have -- so far -- undercut the appeal of the Islamic radicals.

So far, because despite the early successes in Tunisia and Egypt, the future of the Arab Spring is far from clear. The current process will take decades to play out. The political and economic establishments have been decapitated in Egypt and Tunisia, but not decimated. In the rest of the region, though seriously shaken, the old order still reigns supreme.

The same corrupt Saudi regime that fueled bin Laden's outrage is still in power, still backed by the United States. Indeed, they have been doing their utmost to tamp the spreading revolt, spending millions to bribe Yemen's tribal leaders, dispatching their troops to Bahrain to help crush the uprising of the Shiite majority in that country.

Indeed, that brutal repression may radicalize thousands of young Shiites, generating hosts of new recruits for al Qaeda or other extremists Islamic groups -- even as the corpse of Osama bin Laden lies somewhere at the bottom of the sea.

First published in Truthdig.com.