Auditory Flashbacks: The Crüxshadows

Now as then,
still truth.

Followup: Charlottesville

Quick update to Tuesday’s sto­ry …

It was wide­ly observed by atten­dees and report­ed in the media that Neo-Nazis arrived armed and well-pre­pared at the ral­ly in Char­lottesville, then moved in lat­er to attack counter-pro­tes­tors with bats and oth­er weapons as police took a hands-off approach to a good por­tion of the vio­lence.

Giv­en that author­i­ties have his­tor­i­cal­ly been quick to respond with over­whelm­ing shows of force in the instances of the DAPL Water Pro­tec­tors protests and the Black Lives Mat­ter protests, it came across as noth­ing short of infu­ri­at­ing when a major show of force was not tak­en dur­ing the Char­lottesville riots in the midst of a far more dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion.

In an arti­cle that ProP­ub­li­ca released over the week­end, reporter and wit­ness A.C. Thomp­son not­ed, “State police and Nation­al Guards­men watched pas­sive­ly for hours as self-pro­claimed Nazis engaged in street bat­tles with counter-pro­test­ers.” He then went on to name the main orga­ni­za­tion­al and tac­ti­cal fail­ures at the event and describe them in nau­se­at­ing detail.

I’m glad oth­ers point­ed me to this arti­cle, as I’d missed it in the ini­tial media shuf­fle that took place when the riots began, so thank you for that.

Now, it’s only been a few days since the riots, and it can take time to con­duct a for­mal inquiry into the police response, but here’s a spoil­er: when author­i­ties appar­ent­ly had sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness “for a long time” and went on to make errors such as fail­ing to sep­a­rate camps of pro­tes­tors and going easy on Nazis who phys­i­cal­ly attacked offi­cers, the optics of the over­all sit­u­a­tion don’t look good. As Thomp­son fur­ther notes, “Sev­er­al times, a group of assault-rifle-tot­ing mili­tia mem­bers from New York […] played a more active role in break­ing up fights,” after riot police failed to ful­ly inter­vene.

I’m not sure how to respond to that, besides not­ing the same con­clu­sion oth­ers have acknowl­edged many times: white priv­i­lege, it’s a thing.

Addi­tion­al­ly, the fact police didn’t mount a stronger response to stop the fight­ing and the way they failed to arrest more of those involved in the fight­ing are things that work to the advan­tage of far-right insti­ga­tors, who love the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be cast as vic­tims of left­ist vio­lence.

In oth­er words, let­ting Nazis slug it out with Antifa for a few days isn’t just a shit­ty idea, it’s actu­al­ly a recruit­ment win for Nazis and their ilk.

I’m sure this isn’t what author­i­ties want­ed, but regard­less of whether it arose through acci­den­tal blun­der or planned non-inter­ven­tion, that’s now the real­i­ty they’re going to have to deal with, as will many oth­er cities who are cur­rent­ly fac­ing spin-off ral­lies in the wake of the mess in Char­lottesville.

It will be inter­est­ing to read the results of a for­mal inquiry, if one is ever con­duct­ed into these mat­ters.

On Hate: Charlottesville And Beyond

Dur­ing one more in a long line of racist clash­es in the Unit­ed States, one pro­test­er was mur­dered and at least nine­teen oth­ers injured after a Neo-Nazi from Ida­ho attend­ed the “Unite the Right” ral­ly at Char­lottesville, VA, and pro­ceed­ed to dri­ve his car into the crowd.

A run­ning theme with white nation­al­ists, Neo-Nazis, and oth­er hate groups is they’ve tried repeat­ed­ly to avoid the name they’ve earned for them­selves while still try­ing to per­pe­trate all of the moral and crim­i­nal wrongs his­tor­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with their move­ments. To vary­ing degrees, they will advo­cate fer­vent­ly in pub­lic spaces for the advance­ment of racism, social seg­re­ga­tion, racist pro­pa­gan­da, hate speech, acts of vio­lence, and even mur­der, but if recent news cov­er­age is any indi­ca­tion, many seem unable to stom­ach the idea of get­ting caught or called out for their dis­gust­ing behav­iour.

This, in and of itself, speaks vol­umes.

Remem­ber — if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then racist apol­o­gists be damned, it’s a fuckin’ duck.

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You Keep Using That Phrase …

… but have you ever won­dered where the expres­sion “Drink­ing the Kool-Aid” comes from?

 

BC Election: Green Has the Balance

As of tonight the recounts are fin­ished, the final results are in, and BC offi­cial­ly holds a Lib­er­al minor­i­ty gov­ern­ment along with an enor­mous tech­ni­cal win for the Green Par­ty.

The chance of an elec­tion turn­ing out exact­ly as this one has is infin­i­tes­i­mal­ly small, and yet it’s hap­pened. We’ve made his­to­ry.

The Comox-Courte­nay rid­ing, which denied a major­i­ty for the Lib­er­als, went to the NDP by an ini­tial mar­gin of 9 votes, lat­er con­firmed as 13 votes dur­ing final recount, and final­ized as a 189-vote NDP lead once the absen­tee bal­lots were tal­lied.

With the Lib­er­als hold­ing 43 seats in the Leg­is­la­ture, the NDP hold­ing 41, and the Green Par­ty hold­ing the remain­ing 3, this puts the Greens in the unprece­dent­ed posi­tion of being the ful­crum on which any gov­ern­ing mat­ters will stand.

The priv­i­lege of being in such a posi­tion essen­tial­ly lends the Greens a huge mega­phone. Being the decid­ing vote on leg­isla­tive work brings a stronger bar­gain­ing posi­tion when it comes to doing good for this province, our res­i­dents, and our shared envi­ron­men­tal lega­cy. It also brings enhanced oppor­tu­ni­ties to build a stronger polit­i­cal track record and can­di­date port­fo­lio, shape the par­ty into more of a house­hold name, and hope­ful­ly secure addi­tion­al seats in future elec­tions if all goes well.

It’s not easy being green, but it’s an amaz­ing time to be Green … so con­grat­u­la­tions, fel­low Green vot­ers and par­ty mem­bers, wear it well!

This post also wouldn’t be com­plete with­out heart­felt thanks to every sin­gle per­son who went out and vot­ed, regard­less of affil­i­a­tion. Being part of the polit­i­cal process is absolute­ly vital to the health of our democ­ra­cy and the progress of our future, and if ever there was a time to be remind­ed of the pow­er of the indi­vid­ual, 2017 has tru­ly show­cased this in the most amaz­ing of ways.

The Ongoing US Trump/Russia Media Flap

Here’s a fair­ly lev­el-head­ed expla­na­tion of the Trump/Russia cov­er­age that’s par­a­lyzed the news cycle for the past few months, cour­tesy of Michael Tracey from TYT:

It’s impor­tant to note that whether or not the Trump/Russia sto­ry has legs, we’ve long since passed the point where irra­tional nar­ra­tives became ends and pur­suits in them­selves, and peo­ple have large­ly cho­sen to see what they want to see come out of this sit­u­a­tion.

If there’s one thing 2016 taught us, it’s that the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal sys­tem and elec­torate are, large­ly, no longer ratio­nal actors. They’re in a bad place and they want to burn some­thing down because they’re under­stand­ably pissed off at the sta­tus quo. The oth­er side of the coin is most aren’t ter­ri­bly con­cerned with how they go about doing it, or what cor­ners they cut when giv­ing it thought.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

BC Provincial Election, Tuesday May 09

Get ready, get set, go vote! Your local polling sta­tions will be open today from 08:00–20:00.

It’s impor­tant to make your­self heard in an elec­tion, not only because cur­rent media stud­ies sug­gest a close­ly con­test­ed elec­toral race, but also because each par­ty diverges from the oth­ers in its own view of ‘com­mon ground’ as well as unique pol­i­cy deci­sions.

Please take some time today to read fur­ther, get to know the par­ty plat­forms, and make a choice on who you’d like to sup­port.

Full plat­forms of the major par­ties can be found here:
Green Par­ty
New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty
Lib­er­al Par­ty

Share this mes­sage with your friends!

Donald Trump’s First 100 Days

Until now, I haven’t been report­ing on the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the Unit­ed States because news on the sub­ject has been ubiq­ui­tous, and many tal­ent­ed indi­vid­u­als and media out­lets have been call­ing the sit­u­a­tion for what it is.

Today, this changes. I don’t feel it’s appro­pri­ate for a per­son to stand on the side­lines and wait for oth­ers to do one’s duty in the midst of a mat­ter this impor­tant. I’ve writ­ten on Cana­di­an pol­i­tics on this site in the past, and arguably US pol­i­tics can have just as sig­nif­i­cant an impact on any­one liv­ing north of the bor­der due to wide­spread export of Amer­i­can cul­ture, val­ues, and geopo­lit­i­cal influ­ence.

At the same time, lin­ger­ing con­cerns remain on the polit­i­cal and finan­cial affil­i­a­tions of some media out­lets, the impact of com­pro­mised jour­nal­ism in an infor­ma­tion dri­ven soci­ety, and the pit­falls of the rat­ings-dri­ven sys­tem hold­ing sway on most TV-based media deliv­ery plat­forms which tends to cap­i­tal­ize on dra­ma and suf­fer­ing while often fail­ing to deliv­er con­text and his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive.

While there are many media groups who are doing high qual­i­ty work and pro­vid­ing in-depth jour­nal­ism, the mixed nature of tech­nol­o­gy and its use (or mis­use at times) means it’s wise to ensure infor­ma­tion is reg­u­lar­ly fact-checked and fur­ther research is con­duct­ed to under­stand con­text and estab­lish a broad­er per­spec­tive of cur­rent events.

The unfor­tu­nate thing about pol­i­tics is that despite hav­ing great impor­tance in dai­ly life, it fre­quent­ly tends to be treat­ed as a spec­ta­tor sport. Media com­pa­nies run round-the-clock news cycles and make mon­ey from it, peo­ple talk to fam­i­ly and friends about what’s going on in the world, some offices run pools on what they think the next big change might be, but how many of us are actu­al­ly will­ing to roll up our sleeves and get involved?

When was the last time you talked with a Con­gressper­son, Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, or MLA? Have you ever read leg­isla­tive doc­u­men­ta­tion to learn the issues? When was the last time you fact checked a polit­i­cal state­ment? Ever been part of a pub­lic com­men­tary hear­ing? Heck, when was the last time you vot­ed?

Here’s why polit­i­cal engage­ment mat­ters:

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Auditory Flashbacks: Informatik, Assemblage 23, De/Vision

I’m about to head off for the evening, but before I do, here’s a music post … because, rea­sons.

 

 

The Sea-Change at YouTube

It’s time we had a con­ver­sa­tion about cen­sor­ship.

Recent­ly a mass exo­dus of major adver­tis­ers occurred at YouTube, which has since caused the ecosys­tem of that plat­form to fall into dis­ar­ray. As not­ed by both YouTu­bers and main­stream media out­lets alike, the pre­cip­i­tat­ing event seems to have been a small num­ber of gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate ads appear­ing along­side racist hate videos on a very small num­ber of chan­nels. The issue was brought to the atten­tion of gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions in a high pro­file man­ner, and from there, indus­try brass decid­ed to pull all adver­tis­ing off the YouTube plat­form, cit­ing the desire to not be asso­ci­at­ed with harm­ful con­tent.

As var­i­ous media out­lets have report­ed, it’s an odd nar­ra­tive to fol­low giv­en the fact this prob­lem has exist­ed for many, many years. Until the mid­dle of 2016, it’s been an issue that’s rarely made the news. Fur­ther­more, despite the his­tor­i­cal efforts made by media com­pa­nies (espe­cial­ly Google) to stamp out racist and oth­er extrem­ist con­tent, the issue remains dif­fi­cult to address owing to the sheer vol­ume of data being uploaded at any giv­en time.

In Youtube’s case, at least 300 hours of video is uploaded each minute (though some put that num­ber as high as 400 hrs/min). If we go with the low­est esti­mate, that’s still 18,000 hours of video in an hour, 432,000 hours of video in a day, or 12.96 mil­lion hours in a 30-day month. These num­bers are def­i­nite­ly not in Google’s favour, and despite valiant efforts to screen user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent, Inter­net media com­pa­nies as a rule tend to be faced with a nev­er-end­ing, uphill bat­tle when it comes to man­ag­ing these enor­mous vol­umes of user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent.

Sim­i­lar to the ongo­ing sit­u­a­tion at Face­book (and its impli­ca­tions for that network’s 1.2 bil­lion dai­ly users), the logis­tics are impos­si­ble when it comes to set­ting up a pure­ly human inter­ven­tion as a solu­tion to harm­ful con­tent. There’s no prac­ti­cal way for Google, or any ultra high vol­ume media com­pa­ny for that mat­ter, to retain suf­fi­cient human staffing in order to indi­vid­u­al­ly review each piece of user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent that comes in the door. As a result, indus­try stan­dard prac­tices include the use of soft­ware algo­rithms as gate­keep­ers and the automa­tion of most issues relat­ed to pol­i­cy enforce­ment and con­tent man­age­ment.

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Auditory Flashbacks: Icon of Coil, VNV Nation

I’ve been busy as of late, albeit occu­pied with a lot of things IRL and not online as much. I real­ize it’s been a while since my last arti­cle here, so in the spir­it of keep­ing the beat going, here’s a music post.

Tonight we have select songs from Icon of Coil and VNV Nation. Crank that vol­ume knob way up high, and enjoy …

Regret // lyrics here.

Every­thing // lyrics here.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Auditory Flashbacks: Sea Songs and More

When I began going through my posts as part of back-end main­te­nance the oth­er day, I real­ized I haven’t done an arti­cle on sea songs yet. Con­sid­er­ing how deeply that genre runs in my heart and my con­nec­tions with the sea, I feel a bit sil­ly at not doing it soon­er.

So here’s a smat­ter­ing of old favourites. I’ve searched a while for spe­cial ver­sions of some of these songs, which you’ll notice below:

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Auditory Flashbacks: Die Laughing

Tonight’s post isn’t a review so much as a hand­ful of snip­pets from the tal­ent­ed UK goth group Die Laugh­ing. Hav­ing been active from 1986 to 1999, they dis­solved the sum­mer before Y2K and even­tu­al­ly re-formed in 2012 with a new sin­gle, “Tan­gled,” and news that they’re work­ing on mate­r­i­al for a new album.

See­ing as their inter­na­tion­al fol­low­ing nev­er real­ly stopped (due in equal parts to the Inter­net and the peri­od­ic releas­es of their work on oth­er com­pi­la­tion albums) it’s refresh­ing to hear they’re intent on adding more works to their reper­toire.

Enjoy …

Auditory Flashbacks: Blutengel

Tonight’s post isn’t a music review (for now, any­way). I just want­ed to share this very beau­ti­ful song off of Blutengel’s 2011 album Trä­nen­herz:

Tea Time: Meßmer’s Rosehip and Hibiscus

I’m WAY over­due on post­ing this review, con­sid­er­ing I’ve been drink­ing this stuff for a long time.

Meet Meßmer’s Rose­hip and Hibis­cus:

Meßmer Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea Meßmer's Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea

It comes pre-pack­aged in indi­vid­ual paper wrapped tea bags (I’m not aware of there being any loose leaf vari­ants). The ingre­di­ents list notes only three items are used to make it: rose­hips, hibis­cus, and sweet black­ber­ry leaves. There is no caf­feine con­tent.

This tea is best served hot or cold. While it’s a great way to warm up on a winter’s night, it also makes some of the best iced tea, if you pre­fer it that way. The flavour is strong yet sub­tle, full-bod­ied with slight­ly earthy tones, and slight but notice­able sour and tangy notes.

The infu­sion is a char­ac­ter­is­tic blood-red hue, which makes for fun con­ver­sa­tion and inter­est­ing spec­u­la­tion about what one is drink­ing.

While this prod­uct tastes great on its own, there have been plen­ty of times I’ve paired it with a sweet­en­er in mak­ing iced tea to share with fam­i­ly and friends. For this, I’ve found hon­ey gives the best results as its flavour spec­trum runs com­ple­men­tary to the tangy and sour notes of the tea, and high­lights the earthy tones per­fect­ly with­out being over­pow­er­ing. The result is an iced tea that tastes excep­tion­al­ly smooth, which both adults and chil­dren love.

Much like good music, this tea is an export of Ger­many and comes to British Colum­bia as some­what of a niche prod­uct. Not many peo­ple know it exists, and few­er still have had a chance to try it. This has unfor­tu­nate­ly been borne out in the way retail­ers treat it, too: since 2005, I’ve seen both Wal­mart and Cana­di­an Super­store briefly car­ry and then dis­con­tin­ue the Meßmer prod­uct line.

More recent­ly, my girl­friend total­ly lucked out and found some at a down­town Lon­don Drugs here in Vic­to­ria (and on manager’s spe­cial, no less!) so need­less to say, I’m stoked at hav­ing it again. Hope­ful­ly they’ll keep stock­ing it!

Last but not least, I cre­at­ed a Food and Drink sec­tion to cat­e­go­rize this post, and it got me think­ing: this is not the usu­al con­tent I share here, but con­sid­er­ing how much kitchen­ware I own and how much cre­ative stuff we do each year in the kitchen, I think I’ve been hold­ing back. Per­haps in the future, I’ll post an occa­sion­al fam­i­ly recipe or rec­om­men­da­tion … there are just too many good things out there, and not shar­ing them would be wrong.

:)

Tools for Audio Geeks: Spek, a Free Spectrum Analyzer

Tonight, I’d like to give a major shout-out to the cre­ators of Spek, a free spec­trum ana­lyz­er I dis­cov­ered recent­ly, which has been extreme­ly use­ful in the course of pro­cess­ing my music col­lec­tion.

Why use a spec­trum ana­lyz­er at all? Glad you asked.

The main ben­e­fit is you can phys­i­cal­ly see how the encode turned out — peaks, fre­quen­cy cut­offs, bit rates, and oth­er details can be checked with this tool. It can be some­what neb­u­lous on the details if you used VBR, but I gen­er­al­ly find that’s not much of an issue con­sid­er­ing being able to see a track’s audio spec­trum pro­vides a bet­ter look at the file any­way.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Slam Poetry: “Hi, I’m a Slut”

Back in my uni­ver­si­ty days, I jumped at the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be a vol­un­teer for our show­ing of The Vagi­na Mono­logues. I loved the for­mat of that per­for­mance and the way it engaged the audi­ence, and I’ve been on the hunt ever since for sim­i­lar­ly off-beat, hard-hit­ting con­tent that gets dia­logue start­ed about impor­tant issues.

So, when I found this video by Savan­nah Brown in a friend’s FB feed today, I couldn’t resist post­ing it here. Her unpre­ten­tious, cut-to-the-bone style makes lin­ger­ing points and delves deeply into our col­lec­tive mem­o­ry on the patho­log­i­cal sex­u­al­iza­tion, ram­pant objec­ti­fi­ca­tion, and vic­tim-blam­ing that goes on all too often as a fea­ture of the social fab­ric in North Amer­i­ca.

I’m also throw­ing in an old­er video she made called, “What Guys Look For In Girls.” The mes­sage, again, is too impor­tant to leave out:

First Photo Trip of 2016

I’m not sure how the rest of my read­ers have been far­ing, but here in my city we’re ful­ly into spring, and there are lots of beau­ti­ful places to vis­it as the lands (and their inhab­i­tants) wake from sea­son­al slum­ber.

This Tues­day I went for an after­noon bike ride around the city, even­tu­al­ly mak­ing my way through Ross Bay Ceme­tery and Bea­con Hill Park. I fig­ured I’d post a few of the high­lights here. Please excuse the crap­tas­tic mobile phone image qual­i­ty, I’ll have to make it a point some­time this year to get a prop­er cam­era and do these right.  ;)

More to come as the weath­er warms up!

Spring blossoms! Also, the back end of a bee. Spring blossoms. Of endless seas, and boundless skies ... Shoreline view taken from the Beacon Hill waterfront trail. A long abandoned, undisturbed gave in Ross Bay Cemetery.

Also, I updat­ed the lay­out con­fig­u­ra­tion files for this site ear­li­er in the week. I don’t think there will be any glitch­es as a result of this, but in the off chance my read­ers see any­thing weird hap­pen, I’d wel­come a bug report via the con­tact page.

Build­ing a web­site is a learn­ing expe­ri­ence, and an ever-expand­ing con­struc­tion project, and I’m plan­ning to become much more involved with it this year.

Auditory Flashbacks: Helalyn Flowers, Asperger Synthdrome

While brows­ing the BC goth feeds on Face­book this morn­ing, I found a link to “Hybrid Moments” by Hela­lyn Flow­ers. This love­ly Ital­ian band is a bit of an unknown for me, so I took a moment to lis­ten, then, very con­tent with the melodies of their colour­ful sound­scapes, I prompt­ly went look­ing for more.

It turns out they have a nice body of work in cir­cu­la­tion, sit­ting in the shad­ows wait­ing for lis­ten­ers like us to dig a bit more deeply. So let’s break out the shov­els, nein?

Next up is a video I’ve been want­i­ng to post for ages, some­how it got lost in the shuf­fle a while back. That’s espe­cial­ly unfor­tu­nate since I’m a fan of Ado­ra Bat­Brat, and I LOVE hear­ing her sing.

Actu­al­ly, it’s Ado­ra and her sis­ter that both head up their band, Asperg­er Syn­th­drome. At a grace­ful 44 (sur­prised?) Adora’s vein of tal­ent and abil­i­ty to con­stant­ly shake things up and rein­vent her­self makes me see par­al­lels with Madon­na. I mean this as a com­pli­ment — it takes a lot of ener­gy (and an exact­ing eye) to bal­ance ongo­ing fash­ion design, aggres­sive self-pro­mo­tion, and the kind of mar­ket­ing genius that Adora’s put into her work.

Hope today’s post brings a smile to your face! Sure is nice, being able to share this with my read­ers.

Star­ry tides and fair winds,
~ crim­son

Reading 2.0 and the Ultimate E-Book Toolkit (Calibre)

As a child of the orig­i­nal ‘Inter­net gen­er­a­tion,’ I’ve long felt blessed and grate­ful for the trans­for­ma­tions that have come about in the wake of the per­son­al com­put­ing rev­o­lu­tion. It’s changed the way we com­mu­ni­cate, the way we share infor­ma­tion, the way we store our things, and the way we think.

There’s always been some­thing very beau­ti­ful about the inti­mate enmesh­ment of phys­i­cal essence and tech­nol­o­gy. The tighter that bond becomes, the more we become able to tran­scend our own nat­ur­al lim­its. If not also in name and appear­ance by this time, I’d argue we are at least the first cyborgs in spir­it, aug­ment­ing our liv­ing bod­ies with tire­less elec­tron­ics and high-pow­ered micro­proces­sors, hold­ing a uni­verse-with­in-a-uni­verse between our quiv­er­ing fin­ger­tips.

Back in the day, a lot of peo­ple used to talk about device con­ver­gence, a point at which all (or most) user needs could be met by the capa­bil­i­ties of a sin­gle mul­ti-pur­pose plat­form. There were numer­ous exper­i­ments tried and failed over the years to find that ide­al­ized, com­fort­able sense of mass appeal, rang­ing from the launch of WebTV to installing hard disks into game con­soles, but despite all of this, the true killer app came only when the com­put­ing indus­try final­ly set its sights on the ordi­nary mobile cel­lu­lar phone and said, “Let’s make this bet­ter.”

Ka-boom.

And so the sec­ond rev­o­lu­tion of our gen­er­a­tion began.

Nowa­days, it’s almost abnor­mal to meet any­one on the streets who isn’t cart­ing around a three-by-sev­en-inch smart­phone (or tablet) with pow­er and endurance rival­ing that of many net­books and low­er-end lap­tops. With boosts in porta­bil­i­ty and bat­tery life, more stor­age, mul­ti-core pro­cess­ing, wide­spread open-source devel­op­ment, and easy cloud inte­gra­tion, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. Much like the change in our own des­tiny, aug­men­ta­tion of our phones has hit a point where it’s trans­formed them into some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent, and made them part of a greater force in the realm of cul­tur­al design and social func­tion.

And while we use these devices for a mul­ti­tude of every­day tasks, one of the more sub­tle ones that’s tak­en hold is read­ing for busi­ness and plea­sure. It’s long been obvi­ous, ever since cyber­space gained mass appeal, that one of the more hot­ly debat­ed issues would remain the divide between read­ing from phys­i­cal media ver­sus read­ing from dig­i­tal. The e-book trend is in an upward swing, a lot of read­ers have trad­ed in their cum­ber­some dead-tree-for­mat for some­thing that slips more eas­i­ly into a data card, and these changes have many more ques­tion­ing the direc­tion in which these changes might take us.

First off, I don’t care much for the pol­i­tics, and I’m not here to preach. The views on elec­tron­ic read­ing are as var­ied and numer­ous as there are peo­ple who read. Some like to keep their dis­tance and feel that e-read­ers are infe­ri­or and a betray­al of a whole­some pas­time. Oth­ers strike vary­ing shades of bal­ance between the use of dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal for­mats. Still oth­ers are at a point where they’ve either swung firm­ly toward car­ry­ing out an even­tu­al migra­tion to dig­i­tal or have already arrived there.

Per­son­al­ly, I’m flex­i­ble when it comes to my books. I have a lot of paper, in spite of every­thing else in my life being almost entire­ly dig­i­tal. I also have a lot of books in dig­i­tal for­mat. So, when­ev­er I want to indulge in a sto­ry, I go with what’s con­ve­nient and feels good that day.

The take-home les­son here is, “you do you.” Work with what makes you hap­py. Work with what you feel works best for the cir­cum­stances. The ONLY thing you need to care about at the end of the day is that what you’re doing keeps you read­ing and keeps you feel­ing joy from your pas­time.

Books are a price­less tool to hone the intel­lect and give wings to our imag­i­na­tions. There’s a lot we could do that’s far worse than con­sum­ing them reg­u­lar­ly (and eager­ly) in dig­i­tal form.

On that note, I’m going to share one more tool that might be of inter­est to any­one who’s dip­ping their toes into the e-read­ing pool. Cal­i­bre is an e-book sys­tem that’s total­ly free, has no ads or spy­ware, and pret­ty much does every­thing you could ever ask for in an e-book soft­ware pack­age. I’ve been using mine to con­vert between EPUB and PDF for­mats; as long as a user under­stands basic typog­ra­phy, this pro­gram is a dream to work with. Cal­i­bre makes it ridicu­lous­ly easy to cre­ate out­put files that are re-flowed and set for the screen size of one’s read­er.

Also, huge kudos go to Mor­ri for gift­ing me with the old Black­ber­ry Play­book that became my mobile library. I love so much of what we share, inter­est-wise and oth­er­wise … and this BB made for such an awe­some DIY hack, and even more fun after the fact. I can slip this thing into a purse or coat pock­et and just run out the door, and not have to wor­ry about cart­ing around 50 pounds of books. (I know I’ve already thanked you pro­fuse­ly IRL, but cred­it is due in cyber­space too!)

So long sto­ry short … if you’re an avid read­er, check out Cal­i­bre, it’s one of the few appli­ca­tions I’ve encoun­tered that’s prob­a­bly worth your time.

Now … pick up a book and read, dammit!  :)

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