Skip to main content

Stuck in my head: Broken Social Scene

Back in The Day, which was around 1987 for me, one's music collection was a well-defined entity comprised of discrete, easily counted units. For example, one might have 20 cassettes from one's favorite artists. Everything was predictable and if you wanted new music you turned to the radio. But since it was radio, there were rarely musical surprises that came out of nowhere. Especially not at 1 AM while working on your computer, as was the case for me last night. But more on that just a bit later.

These days music collections are vast, sprawling things kept on compact hard drives and portable music players. My MP3 collection takes up 30 Gigs, and this is pretty small compared to most people's iTunes music directories. So last night I had my iTunes set to shuffle-all and up popped a wonderful surprise. I recognized the band as Broken Social Scene, one of my favorite Canadian rock bands (described on Wikipedia as an "indie rock supergroup"). But the song was completely new to me. The name of the track was 7/4 Shoreline but no album name was listed. So I looked it up on the various internets and found out that Broken Social Scene released a self-titled extended album back in 2005 that I somehow missed.

So I have no idea how this track ended up on my computer. Maybe one of you cross-pollinated my library while I was in Berkeley. Perhaps Owen downloaded it (his answers to my queries alternate between elusive and cryptic). Or maybe aliens are trying to communicate with me through my favorite music.

Whatever the explanation, I love this album! Here's a video for the song:


Not long ago I went to a venue called The Varsity Theater here in town to see a Canadian band called "Do Make Say Think." It turns out their performance that night was one of the best live shows I've ever seen. Also on the bill was another Candian group called, "Apostles of Hustle." That band is composed of member[s] of "Broken Social Scene." Where Do Make Say Think did, made, said (in a limited way - they are largely an instrumental group), and thought, Apostles of Hustle managed to bore, choke, dull, and (gasp!) lecture. Just so you know, Apostles of Hustle also make a point of singing in Spanish. I think they might have spent some time down in Cuba. Aside from the fact that I don't know enough Spanish to criticize what they were singing about, I will say that there are few things more obnoxious than a band of Canucks getting up there and droning on in another language. I don't trust them. It would have helped if their music didn't remind me of Sublime meets The Buena Vista Social Club. In a word: icky.

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …