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Earth Date - 2012.355

Country music for T.V. is usually reserved for award shows, music videos, and commercials. With ABC's "Nashville," country music is now reserved for fictional artists who may actually become real one day (here's hoping!) The soundtrack to this show is truly the gem of the current fall T.V. season and I cannot recall no other soundtrack that I fell in love with constantly. Rayna James (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) and company (shout out to Scarlett O'Connor!) provide much needed vocals to a show that can front some current industry standard artists. Some of my favorites are 'Wrong Song,' 'If I didn't Know Better,' and 'Buried Under.' 'Fade Into You' didn't make the cut because of licensing issues, but not to worry; Executive Producer T-Bone Burnett has procured a $1 Amazon MP3 credit for those that bought the CD. I do hope Connie and Hayden actually cut an album under their own names. They have the talent to do it. Check more out below!

Singing Country via ABC.



Warp and warp drives have been the imaginative visions of science fiction for decades. The General Theory of Relativity states that might be the case for infinitum. But physicist Harold White stunned the world of aeronautics that not only is faster than light speed possible but it is being worked on at his lab. His experiment is based on the 'Alcubierre Drive,' a concept developed by Miguel Alcubierre and dubbed by Michio Kaku as the "passport of the universe." A basic example would be putting a football in a circular ring and expand the space behind it while contracting the space in front of it. A fictional example would be the above photo of a Vulcan spaceship while imagining the space in front of it and behind it "propel" the craft at speeds that appear to be faster than light. This may involve energy that is equivalent to 317 times the mass of the Earth but as White pointed out the last 18 months of researched proved that curving the warp drive itself into a donut shape would be near the mass of the Voyager One spacecraft. This loophole would trigger traveling to the nearest star in weeks instead of centuries. Check out the link below for more info. 

Building Warp One via NASA.

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When one is creating music, that particular person may not be aware or even care about being a pioneer in music. Dido Armstrong, a British songstress that made fame when she first started voicing herself on Eminem's single "Stan" via sampling. Since then, the "add fluid-like female voice to very edgy-like male rap voices" have become the norm for more than a decade now. Dido is now paired with Kendrick Lamar, who admittedly am not familiar with at all, and it works - to a degree. It does start soft and then after the two minute mark Kendrick raps for one verse, but it does highlight the song to a different level. I rather have this style be more popular than the reverse that has crippled the rap industry. It would also encourage more female artists to include up-and-coming rappers like Lamar who may not be getting the radio play he deserves. Take a listen below:

"Let Us Move On" to new music creations.

Creating a Mind.

When one is creating a mind, how does one go about it? In an interview with host Ira Flatow, Ray Kurzweil talks about how artificial intelligence, like IBM's Watson, can be re-created using the neo-cortex. Using the plasticity of the brain in low-level visualization of identifying objects. In his book, "How to Create a Mind," the near-end projection now of creating a mind would be combining the approach of IBM's Watson and using search algorithms as a mind unto itself. The far-end approach would be actually combining those search engines and using our own "modules" (or neurons) to upload information to and from our brains to the Cloud (or the internet.) There is enough information to know how the neo-cortex works, according to scientists and once these modules are able to connect to miniature computers, then by the 2040's; people may become machines. Listen to the link above.

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The last band I heard: Kells. 

The band Kells, hails from France, is not the Coneheads, nor am I able to find relevant English lyrics to their French songs. They are a nu symphonic metal band but they are like Avenge Sevenfold with a female singer (in my opinion.) They seemed to be on the fence between thrash metal and scream-core. I am not sure how I got this band but I assume it was my fascination with women and heavy metal music. I do not know much about this band besides their Wikipedia page and their official website, here. Their lead singer has bangs (they have superpowers!) and is called 'Virg.' I really do not know what their songs are about (so someone with French skills, help me translate! ^.^), but I do know that I will vaguely follow them until I find another hot chick from France that screams like 'Virg." Oh, wait. It's Eths. Next!


The last article I read: Hacking the Human Brain.

This article was briefly chilling until I realized that science fact is catching up to science fiction. Hacking the human brain has been long discussed in sci-fi circles but researchers have predicted that human-brain interfaces (HBI) will be the next wave of hackable devices. This "sixth domain" of conflict could not only affect civilian computer systems but military as well. DARPA, the investigative arm of the United States military are testing ways of combining neuroscience and military systems to enhance soldiers on the battlefield. those same ways can be used to also hack a soldiers mine to fire upon its own division, reveal secrets or become part of the enemy. This scenario closely mirrors that of Joss Whedon's series' "Dollhouse": Imaging a world where one could "hire" agents to do various activities, legal or not. Ultimately, there needs to be much discussion about safeguarding our brains to protect against viruses, similar to computers. Only then one can protect this "sixth domain" like they do cyberspace (but sometimes we don;t even do that well.)

Brain Warfare.

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A buzz in the electronic music genre is a little-known (at least to me, I know very little about her) Russian DJ name Nina Kraviz. Her single "Nina Kraviz" is like a lo-fo approach to electronica. Mostly minimalist in nature but add a remix to it and it fleshes out to a more dance-able beat. She normally does some breaks on the label ReKids and this particular mix of her song "Ghetto Kraviz" was mixed by Amine Edge.  It made NPR's top 2012 list for best electronic tracks for 2012 and I think she will explode out of the underground next year. The below cut was taken from Heidi's BBC Radio 1 Residency show. One could classify Nina in the same vain as Mary Jane Coles or Luciano. This Siberian import is surely a low-key as her voice is barely audible at times but then again, it is lo-fi. Here a cut of her below: 

A cut of Ghetto Kraviz.


A big buzz in the technology sector as well as other parts of media are talking about the recent addition of futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil. More than just a figurehead, Ray brings real ideas that can be used in conjunction to Google's products such as Android OS, Google Glasses (Project Glass) , and self-driving cars. However, the real benefit maybe the hiring of engineers as they are enough of them these days (Hire me Google!) Another one would be using Machine Learning and Ray's own Artificial Intelligence advancement in Google's Data Centers, networks and search engine algorithms; this also include natural language processing which can greatly enhance Google Voice as well as talking machines on Android-based products. Plus there is always the "sci-fi cred," whereby the fiction of Google is met by the science of Kurzweil. Only the future can tell. 

Google's cut of the Future.


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It seems 2012 was full of surprises in music. One of the biggest this year in my personal opinion was Traci Lords (yes, THE Traci Lords) releasing a new dance single called "He's My Bitch" (what a title!) She did have some earlier releases with the label she is on, Sea to Sun Recordings - "Last Drag" - last year and some recordings scattered throughout the last decade (and don't forget 1,000 fires [Control!] But with this new single, she is putting together a new album called 'M2F2 (read here M2F2; it's to explicit to get into right now.) It was inspired by being in gay clubs, dance floors, and her musical past. Most of her music is in the electronic genre and "He's My Bitch" is no exception. Like most of her recent music, it is fun, flirty, and a little dirty. Also, I wonder who she is mentioning in the lyrics of the song? 


"He's My Bitch."

'Lighting' The chip.

When computers are able to achieve faster speeds, then the "bottleneck" of the processor, software, and memory can be reduced to the point of making supercomputers that are used in 2012, be used as computers you will use in 2017. IBM researchers have managed to shrink optics to 90 nano-meters and using a process called "silicon nanophotonics." Even through performance of processors have increased exponentially over the years, they still are caught in a bottleneck when receiving instructions from memory or from hard-coded software. This integration will allow a possible one exaflop in a few years time. By switching from copper-based wiring to optic-based wiring, IBM can shrink  CPU's into an all-in-one die chip. Faster computers like these might be used in the realm of aerodynamics and neuroscience to advance these key disciplines that really heavily on access to information at high speeds. 

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The best Albums of 2012, 7 of 7: Dark Adrenaline

My "dark" obsession would have to be the band Lacuna Coil from Italy. Ever since I heard them around the turn of the 21st Century, they have been explosive in creating textured heavy metal that is as pop-ish as Evanescence and is hard-core as Arch Enemy. With their newest release, it has become clear that although, their sound has been polished of late, this album unleashes its true nature: A dark, deep web of emotion and energy that has been missed since Comalies (maybe earlier?) It is a powerhouse of an album; always showcasing dual vocalists and transposing melodies on top of various time signatures. My favorites and have been "Trip The Darkness," Kill The Light," and "Intoxicated." They do a fine job of covering R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" as well. Due note that if you are going to listen to them, the volume level should 70%. Any higher and you are already deaf from listening to too much heavy metal. *.^


The best Machine successes of 2012, 7 of 7: 

My most obsessive technology-related device this year has been the Raspberry Pi from the U.K. A computer that is not just an ordinary computer. It is the next generation of open-source computing. I first read about this project last year when browsing the Google Plus Linux communities were supporting this $35 USD computer. I was more intrigued that it ran on 5V using a micro-USB connection and had a SoC (System on a Chip.)  The foundation that has propelled this miniature computer (about the size of a credit card) hope to have children one day be able to build how an operating system should operate as well as program in several different programming languages. There are now new options to build casing, add peripheral components to the General Purpose Input / Output connectors and the camera / audio connectors. The reaction from the community of hobbyists has propelled one to say: Have a Raspberry Pi Day!

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The best Albums of 2012, 6 of 7: Synthetica

I Love Metric.

I remember listening to the Canadian group Metric in 2003 thinking this band would be become not only well-known but authentic in their sound. Well, with their newest album, 'Synthetica' the aptly-titled album is authentic in its synth and keyboard sound. Taking the approach off of 'Fantasies,' Metric infused their 'Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?' and turned into something I never thought metric would be: A hard-rocking synth group. If I were introducing Metric to new fans, I would not start here. Tracks two through eight are the strength of this album with "Youth Without Youth," "Breathing Underwater," and "Synthetica" as highlights. One would probably need to start at 'Fantasies' or even earlier such as 'Live it Out' to get a feel of just how indie this band really was. I would not call them mainstream but they as close to that line with 'Synthetica' than they have ever been. Polished, mixed-well, and high-energy, it is an album that is more than a new direction for the band; it is now their future. 

The best Machine successes of 2012, 6 of 7:

I remember in the month of November 2010 hearing about a "contest" via an Android news app (I'm not sure what app it was) about Google's new experimental laptop called a Chromebook (CR-48 at that time.) I was unsure about it but applied as a tester and lo and behold four weeks later I received a package that was the actual CR-48. Fast-forward two years later and this little internet device is still running strong. It has been 1.5 years since the initial commercial release and the price has since come down from the original asking price of $499 USD. You can now get one for $199 USD and it is not bad if you are truly a web-enabled individual like I am. The Chrome OS is based upon an open-source project and has a battery life ranging from 4 to 6.5 hours, 2-4 GB DDR3 memory, various storage and CPU options available. The main about this device is that it runs strictly Google (unless you hack it.) Which means that unlike the previous versions of any laptop; this one uses Google Docs, Play, Plus, Blogger, Apps, YouTube, etc...all through the Chrome Store. It is the future of disposable computing. It is: The Best of Google.

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The best Albums of 2012, 5 of 7: Ten$ion.

Before I begin writing this review, let me just say this group is NSFH (Not Safe For Humans.) That being said, this group is really the future of rap, rave, and the Internets. Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for "The Answer" - The answer to what? They don't even know.) I first heard them with "Enter the Ninja" back in 2009 and though they were one-offers, but a very creative group, nonetheless. I was wrong. Their new album Ten$ion, and it goes way beyond $o$ did, incorporating more beats and lyrics than I am able to comprehend. It has received mixed reviews and I am under no assumptions that a couple of tracks are weak. "Baby's on Fire," "I Fink You Freeky," and "Fatty Boom Boom" are some good choices but others like "Dj Hi-tek Rulez" miss the mark. The above video was taken at Austin City Limits music festival earlier this year and I was there (streaming it live, of course) and I'm still not sure what to think of them. I know this though: they have me hooked to it. Whatever "it" is. @.@

Video for Die Interwebz.
The best Machine successes of 2012, 5 of 7: Amazon Kindling a Fire.

When Amazon announced the Kindle for it's flagship e-reader, I was hesitant in getting one because I already read e-books via Amazon Cloud Reader and using Google Docs. However, after waiting six months to buy the Amazon Kindle Fire, the rekindle my view of what mobile computing could look like in the future. It was NOT a competitor to the iPad, but rather a door opening for other companies to exploit the iPad dominance using touch tablets. Sporting a 1-GHz Texas Instrument dual-core processor and using Amazon Cloud-based servers, it allowed the user to browse the web as well as Amazon's services and e-books. It was more of a consumption device, but even the guys at Ifixit could repair this device better than the Apple iPad. Based on Android Gingerbread (Version 2.3), it has a very simple outlay as the above photo from my personal Kindle Fire shows. It was never supposed to compete with the Apple iPad (Version One and Two) but its successor did, the Amazon Fire HD and HD 4G. Google entered the fray with its own, the Nexus. One thing is for certain though; the tablet market heated up with new addition of an advanced e-reader


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The best Albums of 2012, 4 of 7: 

Flyleaf on the "New Horizon"

There has been recent rock bands that have come through in recent memory but none of them have the passion like Flyleaf. I saw them live in 2008 at Zydeco in Birmingham, AL. There would be as close to nu metal as one could be without trying. Their first album, self-titled,  was really fully of emotional rock and their second album, Memento Mori, was more fully-realized - balancing personal lyrics with more of a world view - and little more polished. With their third album, New Horizons, one could not be right on the title. More polished than Memento, it has the emotion that their self-title debut has with one little feature - the lead singer released herself her duties and the lead singer of Vedera, Kristen May, stepped in. How she sings in Flyleaf and the passion she may bring may change the dynamics of the songs but "New Horizons", "Fire Fire", and "Stand" are stand outs. The picture below is with the new singer. Lacey, we will miss you. But New Horizons is on the way. Peace.


The best Machine successes of 2012, 4 of 7:

The Women of The Social Machines

So in 2012, women in tech came alive. Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg, are at least, one women should strive for; not only in technology, but in the world business period. One would not be remiss to know that these are very rare women and not the norm. Marissa Mayer was a Google executive before becoming CEO of Yahoo and Sheryl Sandberg just attained board status at Facebook, who is the Chief Operating Office of Facebook (also, a Google alum.) But if one does not have a Computer Science Core in grade school, high school, and beyond, then it is very hard to get women interested in technology unless they are promoted within the company. A small victory  for Marissa is something that is encouraging. Facebook went public with their Initial Public Offering (IPO) earlier this year. But looking around, it is defeating when other countries and other companies from around the world have many women flooding the country because support for computer science is already ingrained in their culture. Hopefully, with these two women, change is just around the corner in 2013. 

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The best Albums of 2012, 3 of 7: "Born ToDie"

Love her or hate her, Miss Lana Del Rey came out of the scene like a bolt of lightening or a flash of a florescent bulb popping. She either drew you to her music or drew you to her missteps. From her very skittish performance on her Saturday Night Live debut to her grandiose music videos, she has captivated me in knowing that this might her only release, professionally, of her career. According to an earlier Vogue interview here she has said that she wouldn't think about writing another record. Why? All that she has said is in songs like "National Anthem," "Video Games," and "Born To Die." I bought the album when it first dropped and I was not disappointed. For me, it is best listened between the months of November through April. I am listening to it now. If she is to be a one-hit wonder (which I doubt,) then let be said that she is the best one-hit wonder of the 21st Century so far.

The Del Rey

The best Machine successes of 2012, 3 of 7:

So this guy, Felix Baumgartner, wants to jump 39 KM in the atmosphere at speeds at or near Mach One (faster than the speed of sound,) and do it under the Red Bull banner? Sound crazy right? Not if you were one of the millions of people watching it live on YouTube. He is actually up for Times' Person of the Year award. The video below shows it more than I can explain it but it does get one thinking: Can private industry present new ideas to governmental challenges to space flight? Elon Musk of SpaceX fame, reviewed here, and MarsOne, all represent when private industry comes together and does something like what Felix does: survive the limits of stratosphere and maybe go beyond that one day. Seeing it live was nerve-wracking but what even more amazing was that one can now perceive the Star Trek jump (maybe) in this lifetime. I hope Felix "jumps" on that chance.


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The best Albums of 2012, 2 of 7: 

So when Sleigh Bells came, I was ready for them. No, I was not. It was loud, bright, and I lost my voice. But it sold out and I had already got both their "Treats" album released in 2010 and their newly released, "Reign of Terror." Either way, you knew what you were going to get by listening tho these albums: abrasive guitars, deep bass, hard drums, medium synths, and a perky-light female voice. It was hard to pick a favorite song at the Wordplay venue, where I saw them at in Birmingham, AL. Oh, the lead singer, Alexis Krauss, was a rare combo of talent and charisma. Meeting her was a dream. Oh, she has bangs and they have superpowers. Just watch their "Infinity Guitars" video. I can still here "Comeback Kid" in my head, so maybe that is my favorite. A possible 2013 release is in the works. 

Sleigh Bell Terror
The best Machine successes of 2012, 2 of 7: 

It was a banner year for the world of physics. The biggest discovery in the world of physics, perhaps in the world of science, was the Higgs Boson particle. In a short sum of what the particle is and where it fits in the world, here is a small graph on it. Physicists actually discovered a Higgs-like particle but that they are one in three million chances wrong, which amounts to a pretty good estimate that they are very close, if not right at the particle. Using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, scientists smash particles at very high speeds, 99.9999% the speed of light to be exact, and one of the particles to come out of the collision was unknown at the time and possibly opened doors to subatomic particles not yet discovered. While most people consider this the "God Particle," the more important calling of this find is the start of a new realm of physics. One were quantum physics will displace classical Laws of Nature and replace with the explanations of dark energy, wormholes, dark matter, quantum energy, and other findings that will one day break the law of gravity itself. 

Meet Mr/Ms. Higgs Boson.

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The best Albums of 2012, 1 of 7: 

"Visions" by Grimes. When I first heard about Grimes coming to The Bottletree in Birmingham, AL; I was unaware of how popular she was (she is actually 
Canadian Claire Boucher) and that it would sell-out. I first heard about her "Visions" album about a year ago when I listened to her 'Vanessa' single released three months prior. Sadly the single was not on the "Visions" album but what I did hear was amazing. Melodic, layered vocals over textured synths and cold beats. Hearing her live in a sold-out setting was phenomenal. I actually got to meet her (sweetness!) But alas, the venue was near-dark, a no-flash cell camera, and four rows back helped me capture a very bad photo of her. The sounds were intense but her voice was not. Her lyrics are very cutting but her textured sounds were not. It was a great venue to see her live in. She has said in recent interviews that her next album will be more industrial and reggae with pop structures (is that possible?) With Grimes, anything is. 


"Griming" it up.

The best Machine successes of 2012, 1 of 7: 

The landing of Curiosity on Mars. It was a semi-banner year for NASA before the Curiosity rover launched in November 2011. The Mars Science Laboratory was the carrier vehicle for the Curiosity rover, the most sophisticated rover ever built.  Some reasons to even rove on mars on a long term basis (Opportunity, not withstanding) were searching for life-based molecules in the soil, possible frozen water, and why Mars underwent dramatic, climatic changes that it did. Weighing in at a similar weight of an SUV and over 10 feet in length, it had something that most people missed: A radiation-hardened computer board. Only 10 watts of power is required to power this motherboard and can withstand a temperature between -55 Celcius to 70 Celcius. The rover is also nuclear-powered as well. When watching it land on Mars (through observing Jet Propulsion Lab techs via Ustream), it was a spectacular event of engineering and the tenacity of what NASA can still do in these hard economic times. 

Curiosity's Earth Home




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Music in 2013 has just gotten brighter (not sound-wise, but genre wise), in the U.K. Meet AlunaGeorge. Or Aluna Francis and George Reid. A U.K.-based electro-R and B group that has a uniqueness as well as some familiarity. Look for them to be in some music festivals in the U.S. and Europe next year. "Your drums, your love" is their latest single out now and Aluna's voice provides a Sade-esque front to the backdrop of the drum and base of George's electronic beats. To me, it's like they grew up with Timberland and Babyface and put electronic beats to Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, or any of those 90's R and B acts. (and that is not far-fetched as they are in their early 20's.) They are a group to watch out for. Take a listen at their link below.

AlunaGeorge







The last post of this Earth Week (#48), is the future language(s) of Artificial Intelligence and what might A.I. use while calculating and memorizing. FORTH is a language that addresses this issue as well as other languages that is either based on logic, Alan Turing's test, or memory functions. Even though SPAUN was able to produce neuron-like human behavior, the program that was involved in using this software was still in the realm of C and C++. FORTH, a computer language that has programmable states and different "stack-able" constructs, uses a non-operating system shell (or command prompt) that store files, compile code, and run executables in either hard storage or memory. Is is this idea that under machine code, FORTH can operate without a real computing device like a PC, Mac, or even a tablet. Unlike SPAUN, which uses gates to process information, FORTH could use logic programming and non-syntax code to "build" itself in real-time to ask itself what is "X" versus "Y." Maybe then, A.I. could be built bottom-up instead of top-down.

Go FORTH

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The future of music is not necessarily a review of what's next, although that will be tomorrow's post; but rather what groups will go from local touring to cross-country touring. One of those bands would be, chVchEs, a synth-pop group that has roots in Scotland, is drawing their own countryman's' bagpipe drone sounds to Peter Gabriel and Men Without Hats. They are going to be in SXSW in 2013 and have started creating a buzz beyond the U.K. Songs to check out include "Lies" and "The Mother We Share." With their female vocalist, they are less mechanical and a more humanity to their music. One would compare their sound to contemporaries like IO Echo and HAIM. Check out the tmblr link below. 

Electric chVchEs.


The future of computer programming usually is debated between those in the CCOBOL  Basic, C#, C++ camp and the Java, Haskell, Python, Obj-C, and Lisp camps. Open/Semi-Open Source w/ closed and/or semi-closed source. But with JavaScript it might be that web languages are going to be dominating the future of the programming. Add on node.js, jQuery, and PHP, and one could have a powerful client-server language that goes beyond scripting. If HTML5 made programs like Adobe Dreamweaver (which is built on C++) acutely aware of web development, then JavaScript will make .Net, JVM, and any other OOP-derived language acutely aware that the future of programming is in a web browser. Next up: Developing OS'es via the web. Check out the link below. 

The future of programming: JavaScript.

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When one thinks of the future of music, one normally thinks of electronically-enhanced vocals or computer-driven but with the case of three sisters (and a guy. It is always important to include ALL band members. ^.^), HAIM (How does one pronounce that? Is it like the actor's last name [Corey Haim] or is it Hebrew?) has a sound reminiscent of the late 1980's to early 1990's and if the Beach Boys had penned a song for them. They are from California, so that would encouraged their use of an indie-pop feel. Born from a cover band 15 years ago, Este, Danielle, and Alana bring the veteran status (yes, they are veterans now) into the current music industry with a fresh sensibility. The link below leads to a video that has basketballs, motorcycles, and something about a parking lot. Their music is fun, fresh, and it is the future.

Future Music: "Don't Save Me"





When one thinks of the future of technology, one invariably comes back its past: the transistor. Transistors have been around for decades using silicon but when using the compound Indium-Gallium-Arsenide, researchers from Harvard and Purdue Universities now can increase their height that makes them look like a christmas tree at the nano-scale level. Using the III-V-type material (so called after the third and fifth rows of the periodic table), it is shaped in the vertical 3-D structure that can move electrons at a faster rate than normal silicon level and do it smaller; 14 nano-meter size compared to 22+ nano-meter sizes. This new approach to "stacked" transistors will allow scientists to use faster computing applications and possibly allow '4-D' transistors later. The ultra-thin wires in the transistors now will be able retain electrical charge since they "leak" charge with standard silicon. "It's a preview of things to come in the 
semiconductor industry," said Peide "Peter" Ye, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

Future Tech: 3-D Transistors

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When it comes to very good polished music, one automatically thinks of Ke$ha or Lady Gaga. But polished music doesn't always means using auto-tune or backing tracks in live venues. Take Delta Rae, a six-piece group that I had the privilege to see Tuesday night at the Workplay Theater in Birmingham, AL. Their sound and harmonies reminded me if Fleetwood Mac (which they beautifully covered "The Chain") and Mumford and Sons came together and created a folk-rock sound that can only be heard live. Four vocalists, sometimes sharing and sometimes blending, came together and shell-shocked me into thinking that they were once voice. "Is There Anyone Out There" and "Bottom of the River" were songs I could remember off the top of my head, but hell, the whole show was awesome in of itself. A highlight though, was their encore, which they played in the center of the audience with no strings attached. This is THE band of 2013. Stream their album below. The picture above was taken by Michael Crump. 

Stream Non-threatening 'Carry The Fire'

Threatening Technology


When it comes comes to threatening technology, a group of people come together and fund a project hat only can be scientifically possible but not probable in the century or so. That group, is The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk. Based at Britain's Cambridge University, philosophers and scientists, such as Cambridge professor Huw Prince and Skype co-founder Jann Tallinn, The group is exploring ways to protect to humanity from the impending view that artificial intelligence would somehow explore ways that threaten humans very existence or go beyond ways that would require us at all. Somehow this is a step that is equivalent to what HAL-9000 (pictured above right), from 2001 & 2010 fame, would theoretically do from his standpoint: protecting ones own sentient beings fates' determinable by other groups. The center is not planned for an opening until mid-2013, but one would think that money would be better spent if research was done in the direction for us and A.I. to actually get along with other. 

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I am not Ke$hamed! (Thanks Two Broke Girls!) I admit that my favorite guilty pleasure for the last year or so is Ke$ha (Sorry Katy Perry. Not!) She has just released her new album, "Warrior" and it basically does a 90 degree angle. It bends to something different, but come on, it's Ke$ha people! My favorites so far has been the title track, All That Matters (The Beautiful Life,) and Only Wanna Dance With You. There is also a cameo appearance by Iggy Pop on one of her songs and an ode to Trans Am's (who knew?) Some of the songs basically are extra tracks for her "Cannibal" days but the rest are new for her (that's saying something.) Also, if you really want to know how her voice sounds, check a nice little ditty below of "Die Young." It's like if Tori Amos and the 1980's agreed to play together for once.

The Pleasure of Deconstructing "Die Young."
Guilty pleasures don't always come in glossy packages. The world of 3D printing pleasure has just picked up a new fabrication technique dubbed "carbomorph" That is not not very glossy in its approach. The University of Warwick researchers in the U.K. have created inexpensive plastic that conducts electricity and can be used in printing electronic circuit boards. Allowing users to lay down electronic tracks and sensors, game controllers or a mug are used to print objects with embedded flex sensors or with touch-sensitive buttons. The next step would be to more complex boards that can not only conduct but to process simple computational instructions. One of the major advantages of using 3D printing is electronics can be printed out instead of connected using glues or paints. One can only imagine if a printed key-tar or a microphone were used in a Ke$ha concert. Interesting isn't it?

The Pleasure of 3D Printing

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A Halcyon of Idyllic Music

If you have heard of Ellie Goulding's "Lights," in recent months then you are late to the game my friend. She has basically left most of the pop-tronica / dance genre that made "Lights" a huge hit Stateside and abroad. Here, Ms. Goulding tackles a break-up album like Adele would tackle electronic music. Folky but set in a DJ booth. It is a different take on her musical path. A path she is unsure about so she just puts her voice on different areas of music and hope it will stick. I like the path she is going on. It makes here unpredictable and brings her voice out even more. One has to think while listening to this album (and dance to a song or two.) The link above streams her album for a limited time. Her past now should be peaceful after dropping "Halcyon." It makes my list of best albums of 2012.



If a piece of technology scans you while you sleep and produces a copy of yourself in the morning, are you still you? Ray Kurzweil, of the Singularity Institute, advises that it is not You. It is You 2. And You 2 retains all your memory patterns, functional motor skills, and even your physical form. All your peers and family recognize You 2 as You. But You are still You. Sound confusing? It might not be in a few decades as internal cognitive implants become smaller and smaller each day. Biologically, we replenish over 100 millions cells in our body each sentence we read. So are You after this biologically replacement of cells? How do you identify yourself as?  Kurzweil goes on to say that we already outsource some of our memories and awareness in the cloud and to our smartphones. Soon we will be "thinking" in the cloud and have only a small need for a our physical forms. Descartes once declared that, "I think; therefore I am." The new declaration should be "I am; therefore I know." 

An idyllic you after upgrading you?

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Stream P.Y.T. from pop jewel Nite Jewel.

Listening to music without regards to the past or to respective artists seems to have become a norm in pop music these days. But what if someone paid homage to an artist via sound but not the actual song itself? That song would be Nite Jewels' rendition of Michael Jacksons; "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing.)" If the King of Pop produced a dance-y if not disco-like number, well Nite Jewel can do the same except slow it down enough to where it could fit on an album of her but not on an album remotely produced by Michael Jackson. If one does not even know who Nite Jewel is or have her album, here is a review of her courtesy of Pitch Fork. You can stream (and also download it for free) at the above link via Stereo Gum.
















When a machine decides to make an ethical decision, maybe because the human cannot make a choice regarding a particular situation, who is at fault if there is an accident? Driver-less cars, developed by Google are already legal in California, Florida, and Nevada (I am not sure in other parts of the world.) As of right now, machines and artificial intelligence lack the ethical decisions needed to make when a split second choice could save lives or create destruction. Take drones, for example. They only do what humans tell them to do. But could they have ethical subroutines, telling them which targets are more 'ethical' to take down? Would we need to update Issac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics ? Even human ethics are a work in progress. We still do not know how the brain functions fully when an ethical decision is being made. Can robotic cars make the same decision and not harm humans but also themselves? We spend so little on Machine Ethics. The time to do this is now. Or Machines will do it for us.

Driving without Morality

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Stream the future of Pop; Icona Pop.

Today's post is all about the future. And pop's future should brighten with Icona Pop. A Swedish duo consisting of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, they should be on everyone's list for best new artist in 2013. Very poppy and dance-y, they collaborate with Charli XCX and "I Don't Care," their first single, is a blast of fun and a bright sunny day or a party at a club where the night is endless. Signing with a major label, Atlantic Records, doesn't hurt their prospects either and I suspect that a tour is in the works. "Good for You" is my favorite on this EP stream above left and reminds me if Bananarama decided to upgrade their sound for the 21st-Century. They have spawned an exhilarating sound of the future. Buy here.






The Future of the Artificial Brain.

If Icona Pop is spawning music for the future, what about S.P.A.U.N.; the future of the artificial brain?  The Synaptic Pointer Architecture Unified Network is a new software model of the human brain and it can do simple pattern games, process mental arithmetic, and lag in its response almost like a real human brain would. Most artificial intelligence software and machines usually do one task at hand like playing chess or crunching numbers or scenarios  but SPAUN can not only do that but do it while multitasking in doing memorization, identifying handwritten messages, and completing a pattern after seeing pieces beforehand. If one is considering running this software it would take 24 gigabytes of memory as well as a 2.4 GHz four-core processor, with one second of processing done in a three hour period. Chris 
Eliasmith, an engineer and neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada hopes to have a real-time model running in about six months. 

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New Music is not always new if one is describing an artist on their third release but with Shiny Toy Guns, it can sure appear that way. On the appropriately  junior release by Shiny Toy Guns, titled III,  STG returns to what their actual roots were back on the first release 2006 and even before that (if some of the band members can go back that far.) It seems a new release returned its second (favorited by the fans) the return of Carah Faye and her voice shows on songs such as the lead-off single "Somewhere to Hide" and the wonderfully-hauntingly "Fading Listening." Lead singer Chad Petree does a wonderful job on "Carrie," a personal favorite of mine. It's alternative but you can add many sub-genres after that: Alt-rock, alt-pop, alt-synth, alt-punk, alt-whatever. To me, it is one of the strongest releases of 2012 and STG's best release, like ever. Go. Buy. It. Now. 

Stream III from S-T-G via P.V.







New Propulsion 
System via Egypt.

Speaking of new, NASA's cancelation of their Space Shuttle program has cause a flurry of new space propulsion technologies in the world today. 
One of those proposed space systems is based on quantum theory that uses no fuel. Developed by an 19-year old student Aisha Mustafa from Egypt’s Sohag University, it exploits the quirky laws of quantum physics inside Vacuum energy; energy that makes up 73% of the known Universe. Inside this vacuum energy are "virtual particles" that create and destroy each other in random fashion. Mustafa is betting on exploiting quantum effects involved in dynamic Casimir effect and the Casimiri-Polder force, which uses two silicon metallic plates in a vacuum. This set-up is very similar to what capacitors do but at a sub-atomic scale. The plates interact with the virtual particles in the quantum field and generate a force that attracts or repels depending on their arrangement. Mustafa intends to further study and develop the design so that it may be tested out.


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Tegan and Sara want you "Closer."

"I want you close, I want you
I won't treat you like you're typical." 

So says Tegan and Sara, the Canadian sisterly-duo who go all dance on us on their latest soon-to-be-released drop January 2013, 'Heartthrob.' Advising SPIN magazine in an article published yesterday, they realized it was time to shake things up. This is not the first time the sisters have done anything dance-y in the past, as they worked with DJ's Tiesto and Morgan Page for the house genre. But if this direction is any indication of where they want to move towards in the future, they seem to be going retro instead. The video for "Closer" below, uses spanx, grunge, karaoke, Dazed and Confused movie, and trampolines to produce a gender-neutral aesthetic of 'sheer' irrational sentimental fondness. So in honor of that, I decided to make this post slightly different and remember the blogs that had bad HTML code and colors everywhere. Cheers!

Return Notice: CPU's are non-replaceable. Non-returnable.

Speaking of going retro, it appears Intel is moving forward in making CPU's soldered to motherboards a thing of the future for desktops. This is not new as the the embedded processor was still around in desktops by the 1980's. Intel's next-generation Haswell CPU's are soon to launch and this would represent a change of focus for Intel. The follow-up for Haswell is Broadwell, a desktop CPU's that will be soldered directly to motherboards, and won't be easily upgrade-able for consumers. One reason that this change is happening is not because of consumer demand or even market supply. Intel's "tick-tock" processor line upgrades on a predictable annual schedule and Broadwell is to focus primarily on mobile computers like laptops and tablets. The thinking is that features will either be upgraded via software or "unlocked" using a special validation code. The death of the user-replaceable CPU might even merit cost-savings in terms of future replacements and environmental concerns. Link above.

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"Drive You Crazy"

Most things in life usually come in pairs but today's artists has decided to take in to threes'. Jenn Wasner is (was/still is?) the frontwoman of the indie-based group from Baltimore , Md., Wye Oak and a Flock of Dimes, and is part of a electronic-dance based project called Dungeonesse. When I saw her live earlier this year under a Flock of Dimes moniker, it was a little heavier than most of her Wye Oak material. Then the video "Drive You crazy" came out and it's a direction I never thought she would take. Collaborating with White Life’s John Ehrens, it's dance-y R+B, and pretty fun. Not sure what is going on in the video (but is that the point?) I mean, when you dance, do you know what's going on? The upper left picture is courtesy of Michael Crump in a low-light setting.
NIF'd Fusion

If the above post addressed that some things come in threes, then how about 192 times? The National Ignition Facility in Livermore, Calif., via NPR, brings the holy grail of energy to the forefront after years of development and billions of dollars spent. The process of nuclear fusion (opposite of Fission) is creating limitless energy, like what is found in the center of our Sun. So far, the research has had elusive results. After 3.5 years of laser testing, results have been inconclusive and people are wanting answers. NIF, as it is called, would create degrees of heat and pressure never before achieved in a lab. But NIF director Ed Moses advises that deadlines for discovering this type of energy are nearly irrelevant using CERN discovering the Higgs Boson as a highlighted point. Whatever the case maybe, achieving global security and understanding the universe seemed to top priority. And that is worth putting forth tax-payer funding on this project.


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I had an unexpected find when listening to the Echoes program #1238A. SHEL, four sisters born five years apart from Fort Collins, Colorado, bring new meaning to folk rock. It's not so much folk or rock but more like if Celtic, Bluegrass, dream-pop, and acoustic rock came together and decided to blend in and entirely create something new. Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza all bring different instruments and vocal patterns that is just not fair to hear when you consider their talented virtuoso of inspiration. There so many songs to choose to review from their catalog but if you want my top picks, they would be: "Paint my Life," "The Man Who Was a Circus," "When The Dragon Came Down," and a cover song of a famous heavy rock band that I will let you find out for yourself. Check out the stream below for more dreaminess. Peace!

SHEL streaming.





Unexpected collisions.


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has produced some surprising findings when a clash of protons clashed with each other, creating an entirely new set of particles that was theorized two years ago by Raju Venugopalan, a senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) team, lead by MIT physics professor Gunther Roland, whose group analyzed the collision data along with Wei Li, a former MIT postdoc, found that some particles formed a "quantum entanglement" resulting in particles going in the same direction, accounting for the correlation in their flight paths. The MIT heavy-ion group saw this pattern with heavy metals colliding with each other two years ago and now the same group sees it with proton-proton collisions, producing a quark-gluon plasma-like liquid, the hot soup of particles that existed for the first few millionths of a second after the Big Bang. The CMS team will continue its run in January 2013, to see if the effects seen in proton-proton and heavy-metal collisions are related.

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Flight Facilities take off with "Clair de Lune"

If flight is your fancy for today, then the posts on this date shall be interesting. First off it's a blast with an Australian-based electronic duo that combines 1970's disco with Daft Punk and Quincy Jones. They have a habit of using revolving female vocalists like Melbourne songwriter Giselle Rosselli and Christine Hoberg who sings the most current single "Clair De Lune" streamed in the above link. It is fitting, however, that any disco or dance that is produced in these musical pieces are equalized out by using melancholy-esque vocals and synth textures. So if you like to dance to slow-burn music, listen to the female-vocalist-of-the-day, and like supporting indie artists then Flight Facilities is your spoonful of Vegemite. (See, I can creatively melancholy too!)

If we are to take off from the music review into a machine review then one could take off into the next progression of human evolution. In today's machine post, Paul Davies, a British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative at Arizona State University, advises that any space-exploration would have to be AI-enhanced machines. SETI (Search for advanced Extraterrestrial Intelligence) would even go further and explore non-habitable locations such as neutrino stars and black holes. Roger Launius of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, however, advises it would be best to alter our own physiology rather than create one or have an A.I create one on its own. The article continues to stipulate that possibly the process of human evolution is a small, brief step to a more machine-like morphing into a new species. One can only speculate at this inflection point in time.

Human Species at an Evolutionary point in time.

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Top ten or 20 lists should be popping soon if not now, and on my list of top releases this year is School of Seven Bells' "Ghoststory." Filled with electro-dream pop and shoe-gazer moments, SVIIB (as they are known in stylized form), use several different synths and vocal textures to take you to a place far off. Which is not surprising as the band is named after a mythical school dedicated to pick-pocketing in the 1980's. The link below features the song 'Secret Days' via Stereo Gum and is enough to pick-pocket your mind for atmospheric goodness and delight. The picture above was taken by me at a concert I witnessed back in April 2012. The stage lighting tells the story at The Bottletree in Birmingham, AL.

Secret Days Stream via Stereo Gum


Did you ever get the feeling that in the past few years science fiction movies have portrayed robots and artificial intelligence as malevolent and malicious? That may not be far from the truth, according to Bryan Appleyard, a freelance writer in U.K. A chance encounter with Jaan Tallinn, the co-founder of Skype, took the previous thought to the next level and contemplated human extinction via A.I. and machines created by machines and not humans. Along with Ray Kurzweil of the Singularity Institute (SI), The Cambridge Group came about as well as Tallinn's point of view in regarding A.I. To put it succinctly, Appleyard uses the euphemism of writer Douglas Adams' "super-intelligent shade of the color blue," that A.I. machines would see us humans as aliens. Truer words have never been spoken.

God = Robot; Human = Threat

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"...And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you [want] to know..." Adjusted lyrics to the song "Somebody I used To Know" by Gotye was a lyrical section sung by none other than Kimbra. A New Zealand born singer who has taken the world by storm; she has crossed jazz with Bjork-styled theatrics. Below is a video of her performing at the Austin City Limits festival last month, performing "Posse." She has eccentric tastes in fashion (but who doesn't) and she should be on some top lists at the end of this year. Her new album is out now, "Vows," and this link is at a Grooveshark page that streams more songs off her debut. Just know she be a crazy chic, yo.


Deep-learning is not usually applied to music overall but if one is searching for millions of songs in a few seconds, then it becomes a necessity. The link below describes how researchers from various educational departments have verified new and exciting ways and discovers in artificial intelligence that can seek out marketing strategies or reverse-language conversion. These artificial neural networks, as they are called, are comprised of many components and deliver more-than accurate results than any human today. For example, student team led by computer scientist Geoffrey E. Hinton used deep-learning technology to design software to locate molecules that might lead to new drugs. The team did this without prior knowledge of the contest and very little time to prepare. Welcome to the future.

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Some would say that in order to achieve weirdness in the pop music world, all one needs to do is dress like Ke$ha (who I consider my guilty pleasure. Crazy true!). But what if one is not into the pop-culture world but is still full of some weird goodness? Then one would have Bat For Lashes. They (or 'she,' as it is the brainchild of Natasha Khan,) released a new album last month that is a very hauntingly piece of collections of music that is hard to define. This review does it more thoroughly. The sampler below speaks for  itself. It should make top lists this year for best album of the year. This is THE call to buy it, man.

Streaming Sampler for 'The Haunted Man.'

Recently announced, but like the preceding article in this blog post, it has also been available for some time. Flexible, plastic-based, smartphones. They have been in the works for years as this article and the article below discuss and speculate. Samsung is the company and will not comment on the specific technology used or the exact date they are being released. Sony and LG have been working on this type of technology for years and are still in the prototype stage due to production costs. Will Samsung suffer the same fate? one will know during the first or second quarter of 2013.

Samsung Goes Flexible