I was too busy yesterday purchasing the long awaited new Trentemøller album so I did it today. Too busy might sound strange when I always buy music online for several reasons (CD’s with popular music is simply outdated). However, today the price had even gone up from DKK 160,- to DKK 184,-. One more testimonial to Trentemøllers fast rise to the skies.
I was little impressed the first time I heard Trentemøller back in 2002 or 03. Perhaps the setting was simply wrong as he played together with the (once very cool) Danish big Band The Orchestra as Beats and Big Band. They simply didn’t manage to play together. Four years elapsed and I got hands on His Singles Collection. Right away the unique touch of a talent was springing to my years. Then hype about a coming a totally different debut began. An album much more calm and contemplative than the club material who had brought him fame. I began waiting, just like everyone else.
Now that the hype is settling in with the actual material out (I have actually already enjoyed it for a while now due to reasons I cannot disclose , I can agree: The album is great. Not revolutionary, just a very nice companion when you’re on the move (physically or mentally) and generally extremely craftily done. Mostly of course the new stuff being new and exiting. I hear a lot of notes of minimal Nordic electronica and dub. A dose of more Amazonian wild Amon Tobin-ish stuff. A few Fat Boy Slim passages backed by introvert crescendoing a la Sigur Rós and fresh staccato like Jaga Jazzist. Numerous layers elegantly interweaved for a clear and focused expression – unmistakably Scandinavian. The combining effect of pace and calmness is amazing. Trentemøller is a genuine talent and ahead awaits a long career as both artist and producer (what’s the difference these days, I mean it’s not less artistic being a skilled producer). He’ll be gefundenes fressen for cool-aware but tightly controlled major artists by bridging mainstream and street cred. So go and buy it. It’s no shame sharing taste with many – not in these seldom occasions when they’re actually right.
It’s with great pride that I can announce that the fruits of Gert Balling and my struggles last year translating one of the most influential thinkers in modern history are now partly published in a new volume on Modern cultural history (Den Moderne Kulturs Historie, Gad 2006). Gert, a dear former colleague from the gay PhD days at the IT University of Copenhagen, and I agreed to translate and abbreviate the immensely influential Turing paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence. The one where Turing present his idea for an operational criterion for artificial intelligence known as the Turing test – among other things (such as anticipating complexity theory and the present biological paradigm within AI research, both of which later became oppositions to the functionalistic-cognitivist hegemony in AI created by this very text). Actually, even though I spend quite some energy opposing and trying to dissolve certain quite firmly rooted dogmas in IT design created by Turing in my dissertation, I have nothing but the deepest respect for this powerful and truly disruptive thinker. He deserves every curious intellectual as audience. So now the abbreviated version is out we’ll probably try to find a publisher for the full translation (which we’ve already done) with a thorough introduction (which we haven’t done) and a foreword by a relevant thinker or AI practitioner (whom we haven’t yet looked for).
Come to think of it, Scandinavia is probably too small a region for our historical revival of Turing, so perhaps translating back it into English again would be more appropriate in scope.
In what look like a clear echo of what I wrote here recently but is simply plain common sense (however sadly overshadowed by different cognitive, cultural and commercial factors it is), Bruce Schneier states in his latest newsletter:
The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act. And we’re doing exactly what the terrorists want….Our politicians help the terrorists every time they use fear as a campaign tactic. The press helps every time it writes scare stories about the plot and the threat. And if we’re terrified, and we share that fear, we help. All of these actions intensify and repeat the terrorists’ actions, and increase the effects of their terror….The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn’t make us any safer.
However, Schneier and I differ in our opinion on politicians and certain media’s role in this when he writes:
I am not saying that the politicians and press are terrorists, or that they share any of the blame for terrorist attacks. (Emphasis mine)
I actually do think that politicians and mainstream press are partly to blame for the present ‘glamour of terror’ (to allude to Salman Rushdie’s interview in Der Spiegel and my own similar point stated 13 days before the interview on this blog). I blame them for not being sufficiently aware of the harm they produce by paying so much attention to terrorism. In ethical terms it makes a difference whether they do so because of ignorance, power crazed demagogics or commercial greed, but they’re still to blame. On a more practical note, whatever the reason is this playing the terrorists game simply have to stop and become leveled with reason. Both to stop the waste of resources societal (yes, I do think surveillance is problematic in that sense) and to end the disproportionate fear it creates.
The irony is, however, that we cannot even organize an opposition the terror friendly powers, as this only puts even more spotlight on terrorism. I would love to hear suggestions form my intelligent readers on the most efficient ways of silencing terror out of fashion (besides a more reasonable foreign and world trade policies in western countries of course).
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