Archive for June, 2009


Two More At HuffPo


Enjoy (or don’t) a pair of sociopolitcal screeds of mine at Huffington Post — if you can tear yourself away from HuffPo’s outpouring of Michael Jackson-related garment-rending :

President Obama’s Clear Abuse Of Power Cited By…Senator Obamawith related commentary

Racism And Other Paranoid Delusions


Shooting, Or The Shot?


One (far less visually appealing) way to climb on top of a tank

The line has been drawn.  Last night, Iran’s Ayatollah Khameni cracked his whip and demanded an end to the mass protests roiling across the country all week.  With hundreds of thousands of blue-jeaned, Chuck-Taylored protesters in the streets of Tehran, a showdown is fast approaching.

Unlike at Tienanmen, these anti-authoritarian protesters are much greater in number and spread far wider.   Also, they are urban, pro-Western,  many are reportedly pro-American, and they are likely to face the guns of their own military tomorrow.  The stakes in this nascent revolution are huge for young Iranians, already bloodied and likely to shed more tomorrow. In that, I wish them the best.

The stakes are also considerable for persons outside the country who have the greatest stake in fomenting a distorted image of a Muslim enemy.

Something about looking at the vast swathes of citizenry in the streets tells me that Iranian army commanders aren’t looking forward to this encounter, and I have an intuition – – call it a hope — that tomorrow will be bloodier for the regime than for the people.

In that case, imagine one iconic photograph, surfacing this weekend or soon after:  A young Persian woman, perhaps without a headscarf, big-eyed and beautiful in blue jeans.  She is perched upon a tank, smiling and waving.  Her Chinese-made Converse Chuck Taylors bring a touch of the Ramones to the sandy beige of the painted armor plated vehicle. She waves to her countrymen, perhaps granted this chance by an Iranian army commander who has refused orders to fire on the crowd.

If we are blessed to see that photo, not everyone will cheer.  For those whose livelihoods are dependent on what we used to insanely call “The War On Terror,” such a photo means they are going to have a bad year.  Years of PR groundwork will have been trashed in the click of a digital camera.  They’ll need to hurry back to the drawing board to gin up new demons to jiggle in the faces of those who are most susceptible to boogeyman politics.  What else can AM hate radio or the Republican party do when their treasured “Axis Of Evil” is finally represented by a cute girl in gymshoes?  How will Israel’s Likud party continue to leverage Iran into its own bloodthirst in Gaza or its settlement fever when Israel loses their photographic monopoly on hot Middle-East women posing with weapons?  What will the Pentagon and the neocon hawks do when, as happened with the Soviet Union, the opposing team packs up and goes home?

Each would find new enemies, of course. That’s what paranoids do. But it would take time, and meanwhile, perhaps one repressive theocracy will have been relegated to the dustbin of history.


Great Moments In Complete Bullshit: Potatogate

47534758 On June 26, Chicago Police who were on duty during the 1968 Democratic Convention riots will hold a convention of their own. “It’s just a get-together for guys who worked together 40 years ago,” says Mark Donahue, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, the convention’s organizer.  “Nothing more.”

All I want to know is if the convention will include breakout sessions with discussion topics focusing on specific aspects of the CPD’s handling of the protesters and of the media surrounding the riots.  Will one such session focus on total fabrication of details and demonization of the activists?  Is there anything to be learned from past mistakes in that regard, one such mistake shown in this picture (Chicago Tribune archive photo)?

Here, a CPD sergeant gingerly holds a potato which has been adorned with razor blades, an alleged weapon presented as proof of the lethal force demonstrators were willing to use against the cops.

Of course, as Sergeant Spud here clearly demonstrates, if a protester were actually to throw this potato, the act of gripping it might cause his severed fingers to fall to the ground around his sandals.  This “weapon” is about a fraudulent as the Gulf of Tonkin incident itself, which was used to begin the US-Vietnam war that put the protesters on the streets in the first place.

It’s an old fight, I know, but Great Moments In Complete Bullshit don’t fade with time.  That’s what makes them Great.


Bob Bogle Of The Ventures 1934-2009

Ventures_1965_Japan_PromoBob Bogle, Ventures co-founder, bassist, and guitarist, (pictured, far right) has passed away at 75. The heart / arm mechanics of a great, driving bass player are a thing to behold, and Bob had one of the best.  Forged in the heavy twang crucible that was the Ventures, founders Bob and Don Wilson found the vein of solid rock underneath the repertoire of the day (Walk Don’t Run) preferring a pushy, lyrical, powerful approach to guitar that would launch a billion bands in a million basements. Originally the lead guitarist, Bob stepped aside and into the bass player role when they found the awesome Nokie Edwards, giving their instrumental combo full throat and giving the world the prototype of the surf-rock sound. Bogle performed with rhythm guitarist Don Wilson as if they were brothers, inseperable in their energentic readings of world-renowned tunes that sold somehwre between 200 to 500 million records worldwide. He is already missed.  So long, Bob.  Tell Dee Dee we said hello.


Proxies and DDoS Attacks: Internet 2, Ayatollahs 0

Monitoring the Twitter tags #iranelection and #iranproxy shows some pretty historic interplay between the unrest on the ground in Iran and the modern social media fabric.  Iran can’t shut off the internet in the country, as too much of its economy is dependent upon it. So the clerics who rule Iran and to whom the President answers, have blocked sites such as Twitter in order to attempt to prevent messaging from getting out while the police and army attempt to brutally put down the insurrection.

The blocking is not working.

1) Proxies:  The blockages are implemented as a list of IP addresses that the government makes unreachable from inside Iran.  But techs around the world are offering up proxy servers as relays for Iranians to use, and new ones are showing up on Twitter at the rate of one every three to five minutes.  A proxy is a relay that the clerics don’t know about that Iranians can use to get to sites that have been blocked by the ayatollahs.  The clerics’ tech crew may run around blocking these relays by adding them to the country-wide ban, but they probably can’t keep up with this many addresses at this rate of introduction.  Twittering has therefore NOT been cancelled in Iran, despite what the clerics have attempted.

2) DDoS Attacks:

RT @brookenchain ATTACK LINK TO IRIB: open and keep it refreshing till looks unreachable pleasTHANX! #iranelection

Not only has outound contact been maintained, but the election “winner” Mahmoud Amahdinajad’s own websites have been blown off the web by twitterers.  Tweets such as the above are distributed denial-of-service attacks upon Irib, an official website of Amahdinajad.  The link leads to a auto-refresher that’s ponited at the targeted website, and refreshes itself once a second.  Send this link out to a zillion twitterers, and bye-bye target under a flood of bogus traffic.  There is no defense against this since the attack comes from all over the net.  And tweets against this and other official Amahdinajad sites have been coming many per minute.

At this time, unrest is reported (mainly on Twitter — no, don’t wake up from your nap, CNN) all across Iranian cities and the situation is touch and go.


Land The Tech Job You Love

Hey! I know that guy!

Hey! I know that guy!

Programmers! Project managers! Are you in the career doldrums?  Did you take your last job (or last three jobs) for the wrong reasons?  Have you not exactly taken advantage of the seller’s market in technology employment?  Do you have trouble discerning between brown-nosing and getting raises and promotions? Have you ever used an orange diskette?

If you need a better tech job, you may need to free your mind so your ass can follow. You don’t need recruiters.  You don’t need to move to San Jose. What you need is my pal Andy Lester’s new book Land The Tech Job You Love.*  Out today from Pragmatic Bookshelf.

The great thing is, in his illustrious twenty years writing software and being a leading light in the Perl language and open-source community, Andy’s made plenty of mistakes. Not software errors, but worse: career errors.  And just as with every error that crosses his path, he figured out exactly what went wrong, when and why.  Which means that when he writes a book about career management in technology,  he can probably save you some grief. Outside of leveling a crooked Christmas tree stand, what more could you ask of a book?

To hear Andy get all up into this, check out the Pragmatic podcast for the book.

* And balls. You’ll need balls.  Balls not included.


Invent Something Before Breakfast: Egovore

The arrangement view in Ableton Live 6.

For some reason, I woke up today thinking about digital audio workstations (DAWs) and how these exceptional programs nonetheless have basic similarities to any other software running on a system. A DAW, used well, simultaneously inscribes output and collaborates with the operator on the form of that output. Only the operator knows how much a musical piece or moment owes to inscription or to collaboration. This fact of life made me think about the submerged, “mundane” part of the DAW running a sequence. It chugs away under the hood, grabbing x disk resources, allocating y RAM, balancing z threads. These real-time values are resultant of the music in a real sense: could they not be themselves incorporated into the music, be presented as input for musical processing, which would change the underlying values slightly, which would alter the input, which would change the underlying values slightly, which would….ad infinitum.

So I sketched out a design and gave it a name. Egovore is an AU audio software plug-in design.  It runs as a AU plugin under a host DAW (Ableton Live, Reaper, Audiomulch) or under another plugin.

While executing a sequence, Egovore reads the host DAW’s own process space variables, including, optionally its own, and incorporates that data as input.  Egovore’s job is to process that data in realtime, musically, and output it as a musical element.

In this manner, a dynamic, self-referential, self-reflexive source of data concerning the music itself, as represented in the host machine’s process tables is incorporated into the audible portion of the music.

Example:  the running process’s statistical samples (ram usage, ticks, disk usage, process ID, address space ranges, number of threads, userid, load averages, swap, sharedlibs)

Example data flow:

main sequence---------------------------------------------------->output
       |                                ^    ^
       |                                |    |
       egovore(main())                  |    |
       |                                |    |
       |                                |    |
       pid                              |    |
       ram                              |    |
       threads                          |    |
       ...                              |    |
       |                                |    |
       |                                |    |
       -----------> midi ---> synth --->|    |
       |                                     |
       |                                     |

In the above, Egovore loops n times, calling top(), reads the line corresponding to the host application as well as the data summary.  The columnar data are read into an input buffer.  Egovore operates on that data, looping through changes as time proceeds, and produces source data for input to processes such as a MIDI synth, or the system’s Speech Synth.  User-controllable parameters such as “Sensitivity” “Random Seed” “Random Amplification” “Scale” serve to tie the output to the musical milieu of the calling sequence as well as goose a range of results out of the processing.

Egovore’s output is both MIDI and audio.  The operator/programmer of the host DAW obviously controls Egovore’s mix position and routing posture.

Of course, the name Egovore comes from the fact that the design uses the “self” of the music as represented by the operating system as input.  In a conceptual sense, the music is consuming itself, hence Egovore.  Plus, it’s a near-Googlewhackblatt right now, showing only 200-odd results.

Surely there’s a DSP programming student out there looking for a cool plugin idea to bang on.  If that’s you, have at it.

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Terrible Writing Habits, Napping, And Michael Moore’s Bush Family Patron

Cover of "Roger & Me [Region 2]"

While spelunking last night in the forums at (tremendous open-source screenwriting software) I stumbled across a link to the golden podcast cache of Creative Screenwriting Magazine’s Editor Jeff Goldsmith.  In this trove, Jeff’s microphone is summarily shoved under the noses of writers and directors of some quality work, including Joel and Ethan Cohen, David Chase, creator of the Sopranos,  Michael Moore and dozens of others I haven’t cracked open yet.

From David Chase, we learn of the role less-than-Calvinist work habits have played in his output.  From Joel and Ethan Cohen, we are illuminated as to the reliance upon naps in their working arrangement.

Michael Moore’s stories are particularly hilarious and eye-opening.  Especially his revelation in 1989 that the principal benefactor for Moore’s first film Roger And Me was documentary filmmaker Kevin Rafferty (Atomic Cafe).  Moore and Rafferty met when Rafferty came through Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan shooting a documentary about the rise of neo-nazi groups in the wake of economic devastsation.  Moore, recently fired as editor of the San Francisco “church of the left” organ Mother Jones (for the dire offense of placing a grubby United Auto Worker on its cover) learned all his first filmmaking chops from Rafferty, who generously supported Moore with film reels, supplies, editing support and tutoring.

As Moore tells it, while finishing editing of the film in Washington DC, January ’89,  he decided to attend the inauguration of George H.W. Bush, only to find seated on the stage, behind the President-elect, one Kevin Rafferty.  Afterward, Moore contacted the documentarian for the story explaining his onstage seat and found out that that Kevin was none other than the nephew by marriage of the President.  Michael Moore had gotten his start thanks to the generosity of a filmmaking Bush scion.

Which says that philanthropy and artistic patronage, in a country as rich as ours, ensures that there will always be true stories of the largesse of the few finding its way into the hands of those who are most vocal in decrying the uneven distribution of that largesse.  That Rafferty had already made Atomic Cafe means the institutions and aristocracy of any country as inundated with wealth as ours must  inevitably fuel some of its own indictments.  And that Rafferty was generous with Moore reminds us that those institutions will even spark careers of its high-profile populists.  Let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen.  And let’s also not pretend that it shouldn’t.

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rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

@warmowski on twitter

Rob’s Bands

Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende

Rob at Huffington Post

June 2009