Philip Glass — Train/Spaceship Pts. 1 and 2

Wow, such propulsiveness/rhythm, without any drums–though I would pay to have Damon Che from Don Caballero to record a drum track to this just to see how it would sound. Love the sax and woodwinds? in this piece. I love early Philip Glass, like the Glassworks album. Very organic, it’d be neat to see more contemporary electronic musicians add sax and woodwinds to their arpeggiations…Some of it, including the singing, sounds like a few seconds of Magma looped and built upon ad nauseum…

That is an insane progression in pt. 2, it is cool and unexpected, very vertiginous and slightly barf-inducing, at least to my ears…

A Closer Look at the Basics of Functions and Derivatives

When looking at a function name, the input variable(s)/independent variable(s) are the letters in parentheses next to the function name such as the x in f(x). (Disclaimer: I’m no math pro, so take this all with a grain of salt). Basically, anything you put in the f(x) in place of the x you will substitute in for the x in the right hand side of an equation. You probably already know this of course. So, say you have f(x)=x^2. Then if you put in 5 as x, like f(5), that of course is 5^2. Another example is if you have f(x)=f(a) + (x-a). If you insert a+h into the function, like f(a+h), then you substitute a + h in the right hand side instead of x, so the right hand side becomes f(a) + (a + h -a)=f(a) + h.

See the post When to Use the Composite Function/Chain Rule for Derivatives for what to do when taking derivatives when the variable inside the parentheses is modified in any way, such as multiplied by some factor or raised to the power of or added to or subtracted some other terms; in that case the function is a function of another function, is a composite function, in which case you may have to use the composite function/chain rule to find the derivative.

Now, it’s important to figure out what variable you’re differentiating with respect to, and what exactly that means. Basically, “differentiating with respect to” a variable means that you’re figuring out how much the output of the function changes, how much the dependent variable changes, based on a change on the variable you’re differentiating with respect to. So if you have y=f(x), and you differentiate the function with respect to x, so it’s f'(x) or also written as dy/dx, that means you’re figuring out the ratio at each x of how much y changes based on how much x changes; it’s a rate. (See What dx Actually Means for more info on the dx notation, dy/dx is basically the limit of \Delta y / \Delta x as \Delta x \rightarrow 0, meaning the change in y based on change in x as the change in x gets very, very small, i.e. the “instantaneous rate of change,” instantaneous as in the x hardly changes at all; the change in the output y of the function is based not over a range of x but practically right at that x since the change is infinitely small.)

Now the interesting thing is that if your function doesn’t change based on the variable you’re differentiating with respect to, the derivative is zero. That’s pretty important, and makes sense. If your variable is y=f(x) and f(x) isn’t a function of z, i.e. it doesn’t changed based on changes in z, differentiating f(x) with respect to z will yield no change, i.e. the derivative will be zero.

This becomes important especially when dealing with constants and doing partial derivatives where you treat some variables as constants. The common sense thing to remember, is that you have a constant, if a variable is being treated as a constant, and if a function isn’t a function of some variable, differentiating the function with respect to that constant or variable being treated as a constant or variable not affecting that function will yield a derivative of zero, which makes sense; the function’s output won’t change at all based on that constant, or variable treated as a constant, or changes in a variable which doesn’t affect the function.

When we are given “constants” such as c, without specifically specifying the value of the constant such as if we were to specify that c=5, c really a variable that we just treat as a constant when we differentiate the function?. If we don’t specifically specify the value, that means c could equal 1, 5, -100, or anything else, like a variable…it’s only treated like a constant when we differentiate the function.

Some other interesting information about derivatives and constants:

As far as I know any constant can be written as a function of a variable. For example, if you have the constant 5, say y=5, you could write that as a function of x, c=y=f(x)=5 * x^0=5*1=5. 5 can be thus written as a function of x to the power of zero, which equals one. The derivative of c=y=f(x)=5 * x^0=5*1=5 with respect to x is zero, since any change in the x results in no change in the output variable y. No matter what change in x, the output y still equals 5. You can also prove this using the power rule: using the power rule on y=f(x)=5 * x^0 = 0 * 5 * x^-1 which equals 0.

This is all useful to know once you start doing partial derivatives. You could have a function of three variables, say z=f(s, x, y). However, if the s variable is raised by the power of zero, wherever the s variable appears in the function, its value is actually 1, as s^0=1. Therefore, f(s, x, y) is equivalent to f(1, x, y), since everywhere an s appears in the function equation you can substitute a 1. What this means effectively is that the function f really only depends on the x and the y; s acts as a constant since it’s raised to the power of zero, there can be no change in the output z based on any change in s; where s is raised to a zero, it’s derivative will be zero, by the power rule, y=f(x)=5 * x^0 = 0 * 5 * x^-1. For example if you had z=f(s, x, y)= 5s^0x^3y^2, that would be 5*1*x^3*y^2, which equals 5x^3y^2, so the output z of function f only depends on changes in the x and the y variables. If in the equation you are adding s^0 as a term in a polynomial, no matter what s changes to, the value of s^0 will always be equal to 1; you would always be adding a 1 to the rest of the terms in the polynomial, so once again, the value of the function would not depend on the s, the value would not change based on any changes in s. The appendix to chapter 14 of the book Mathematics for Economists discusses this topic.

An interesting way to think of the derivative of a function is that it is a graph of the slope of the tangent line at each x value of the original function.  That is, on the original function, at any x you can find a tangent line to the function at that x; the slope, the change in y over change in x at that point, the instantaneous rate, is the y value of the derivative at that x.  So when you graph the derivative of a function, you graph a collection of slope values of the tangent lines at each x of the original graph.

Also see:
Functions, Mappings, and Counting, Surjections, Injections, and Bijections

Sebastien Tellier – Une Heure

Nice…Sebastien Tellier – Une Heure. Some kind of new wave analog synth 70s/80s pop fusion song…the full, finished album version with vocals and lyrics is on the Sebastien Tellier – Sexuality album, produced by Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo of Daft Punk. Sounds sort of like a mix between Josef K and the Happy Family (Momus), and the Flying Lizards or something. Or the band Out on Blue Six (pre -Shreikback).

Listening to Sebastien Tellier’s albums Politics and Sexuality, it’s like he’s a great descendant of Francis Lai, mixed with bits ofthe Sparks, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Stereolab, Andrew Bird, and Daft Punk. I hear some Magma in there too, believe it or not (especially the vocals on “Lenny)! Sort of like some good Brian Eno in scope and experimentation within the pop format…

Oh, this makes sense re: the Magma connection (from

His growing popularity has won him some well-known fans. Once the smart, artsy kid from the 17th Arrondissement could count only one hip musical connection: his father played with nihilist French prog rockers, Magma.


LA Times: Bret Easton Ellis

LA Times: Bret Easton Ellis, two decades beyond ‘Zero’

“I think in the last five years or so there’s been a rather ominous silence,” said Jonathon Keats, a San Francisco critic and artist who admires Ellis’ work. “It seems like Ellis has never been given the benefit of a test of time. He’s gone from being poster boy for everything extreme to a name that’s quaintly nostalgic — a moment from the past.”

But talk to some of the more serious writers of his generation and a different picture emerges.

Many see him as an overlooked figure, one whose literary heft grows with time. It may be that like a lot of things that emerge from California, the style and vision of Ellis’ work creates problems for East Coast intellectuals, but will become as enduring as psychedelia, surfing, the hard-boiled novel or fast food.

A.O. Scott, the New York Times film critic who is working on a book about contemporary American fiction, considers 1991’s “American Psycho,” a skewering of ’80s greed sometimes seen as an endorsement of it, “one of the most misunderstood books in all of American literature.” For Scott, “Glamorama,” which got scathing reviews, is a book that “in 100 years might be understood as a masterpiece,” the work that presaged the combustion between the Internet and celebrity.

It’s totally true, Glamorama, a great book, totally predated and predicted the rise of the ga-ga crazy paparazzi internet TMZ Perez Hilton Lindsey Lohan Nicole Simpson celebrity TV/news/celeblog culture going on currently…AND it has crazy predictions of a 9-11 type thing going on with bad guys and airplanes, etc…another very, very misunderstood and underrated book.

Bret Easton Ellis’ writing is very misunderstood sometimes, he has a great amount of control and style–he has such fine control over style that you have to look for subtle shifts where you realize he is writing in certain ways, which may seem boring or pedantic or whatever, but is actually finely crafted and tailored to fit the scene and fits the character, the style is actually an active, changing part of the storyline, responding to characters and situations, rather than a constant throughout the book–though I think he kind of overplayed this in the first quarter or half of Lunar Park, where the style and plot are rather boring and mundane, and kind of overtly ridiculous, in an intentional way, to reflect the mundane life of the protagonist, and the style and plot pick up quick rather quite grandly later on. That went way over people’s heads…it took me a few attempts to get through it myself.

By the way, any fan of Bret Easton Ellis has to read Don Delillo, his books such as White Noise and Cosmopolis are amazing and much of the writing and dialogue is witty, well observed, in a postmodern vein which may appeal to fans of Bret Easton Ellis’ best passages. Very trenchant and observant.

Contested Streets: Cars, Community, and Urban Planning

A thought-provoking documentary on cars and community, traffic congestion and productivity, using New York City as an example, and contrasting it with public transportation and pedestrian-oriented city planning in some European cities such as Copenhagen: Contested Streets. Would be interesting to look at Los Angeles of course, (also see Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was all about a real-life alleged automobile industry conspiracy to shut down public transportation in favor of automobiles in Los Angeles and perhaps even nationwide in the mid-20th century, see the General Motors streetcar conspiracy).

CONTESTED STREETS explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to the present. This examination allows for an understanding of how the city – though the most well served by mass transit in the United States – has slowly relinquished what was a rich, multi-dimensional conception of the street as public space to a mindset that prioritizes the rapid movement of cars and trucks over all other functions.
Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction.

Also see:

Kind of ironic right after a post about learning to drive stick, of course.

How to drive a stick shift/manual

This is too cool, there are a bunch of videos on YouTube demonstrating how to drive a stick shift/manual car, something I’ve been putting off for a long time…

Don Caballero — Awesome New Album, Tour

Ah, nothing sweeter than a return to form…Don Caballero has a new album coming out August 19th, Punkgasm (not a big fan of the name, but hey). From what I’ve heard it sounds a bit like the amazing What Burns Never Returns. Their last effort World Class Listening Problem is pretty good sounding too. Yeah yeah yeah, the don’t have Ian Williams anymore–but post-Ian Williams Don Caballero is so much more appealing to me than the music of Battles, which I find just so…eh, uninspiring. Don Caballero is still on their Captain Beefheart meets Mahavishnu Orchestra trip, which is a Good Thing in the world of music.

Boy, did Steve Albini fuck up the recording on American Don compared to the amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing recordings by Al Sutton of What Burns Never Returns and Don Caballero 2 and World Class Listening Problem. Listen to the drum recording on What Burns Never Returns, then listen to the drum recording on American Don and weep…same with everything else on that album, Steve Albini made it sound like crap. I could listen to the harmonics coming off of Damon Che’s snares on What Burns Never Returns for days, even when the rest of the band isn’t playing. Look at Nirvana’s in Utero too…I think Steve Albini secertly just says “f*ck it” when recording certain bands, and puts in like zero effort to get a good sound, or secretly sabotages recordings by bands that have a certain amount of unique sound and flair for some reason. Thanks a lot pal. C’mon, can anyone say that the American Don album comes anywhere near putting the music in as good of a light as Al Sutton’s recordings did? I doubt it. Tragedy. Listen to the recording on their last album, World Class Listening Problem. Oh it sounds pretty f*cking great doesn’t it? Oh, it’s because it’s produced by Al Sutton, they didn’t let Steve Albini get his hands on it after the American Don production debacle.

Don Caballero Myspace page!!!

Aug 19 2008 8:00P
IOTA Club & Café Arlington, Virginia
Aug 20 2008 8:00P
Sonar Baltimore, Maryland
Aug 21 2008 8:00P
Steppin Out Virginia Beach, Virginia
Aug 22 2008 8:00P
Johnny Brendas Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Aug 23 2008 8:00P
Knitting Factory New York, New York
Aug 24 2008 8:00P
Harper’s Ferry Boston, Massachusetts
Aug 25 2008 8:00P
Club Lambi Montreal, Quebec
Aug 26 2008 8:00P
Lee’s Palace Toronto, Ontario
Aug 27 2008 8:00P
Casbah Hamilton, Ontario
Aug 28 2008 8:00P
Call the Office London, Ontario
Aug 29 2008 8:00P
Pike Room Pontiac, Michigan
Aug 30 2008 8:00P
Subterranean Chicago
Aug 31 2008 8:00P
Turf Club St. Paul, Minnesota
Sep 2 2008 8:00P
The House Cafe Dekalb, Illinois
Sep 3 2008 8:00P
Bluebird St. Louis, Missouri
Sep 4 2008 8:00P
Northside Tavern Cincinnati, Ohio
Sep 5 2008 8:00P
Cafe Bourbon St Columbus, Ohio
Sep 6 2008 8:00P
Mr. Smalls Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania