In only approximate order of favoriteness -- and for the fifteenth year in a row -- here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2017, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2017.
This year I acquired roughly 88 new releases: about half were from 2017, a quarter were from 2015 or 2016, and the rest older. That's about the same number of releases as last year, but far less new stuff; and it's about half of the 2012 numbers. Also I notice that almost half of these are by bands I have been familiar with for years, which reflects quite a slump in discovery. Though I've been able to compile the mixtapes at about the same rate. I also feel like I saw a lot fewer live shows this year, though I haven't run the numbers on that.
Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 8.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 6.
Both of those numbers are quite terrible.
As is becoming an unfortunate habit, I would feel better about myself if I had written a glowing paragraph about each of these excellent albums... but I haven't. Sorry.
I like these things. You should like them too. Here is your shopping list:
And finally, here's mixtape 191, which includes one track by each of the above artists.
Tags: firstperson, mixtape, mpegs, music, reviews
Current Music: as noted
Which Is Right for Me?
It's a common enough scenario. You're in your twenties or thirties, holding down a steady job. You're getting by, if not getting rich. You've put a little money away, but you wonder, Will it be enough? Simultaneously, you keep hearing whispers that the all-powerful Amulet of Nargoth, Necromancer King, was not destroyed in the Molten Swamp, as previously believed, but rather endures, infused with the power to satisfy every desire of the one who carries it . . . should he survive the battery of tests set by Nargoth.
What does retirement look like to you? The quality of life you expect for your golden years will dictate the work needed to achieve it. Do you imagine frequent travel? A second home? Ruling from a throne carved of pure amethyst, flanked by diamantine mountains that obscure the sun, and never again filling out a 401(k)-contribution form? Knowing your expectations will help you avoid disappointment later on.
Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.
Stross: Dude, you broke the future!
History gives us the perspective to see what went wrong in the past, and to look for patterns, and check whether those patterns apply to the present and near future. And looking in particular at the history of the past 200-400 years -- the age of increasingly rapid change -- one glaringly obvious deviation from the norm of the preceding three thousand centuries -- is the development of Artificial Intelligence, which happened no earlier than 1553 and no later than 1844. [...]
Elon Musk has an obsessive fear of one particular hazard of artificial intelligence -- namely, the paperclip maximizer. [...] Unfortunately, Musk isn't paying enough attention. Consider his own companies. Tesla is a battery maximizer -- an electric car is a battery with wheels and seats. SpaceX is an orbital payload maximizer, driving down the cost of space launches in order to encourage more sales for the service it provides. Solar City is a photovoltaic panel maximizer. And so on. All three of Musk's very own slow AIs are based on an architecture that is designed to maximize return on shareholder investment, even if by doing so they cook the planet the shareholders have to live on. (But if you're Elon Musk, that's okay: you plan to retire on Mars.)
The problem with corporations is that despite their overt goals -- whether they make electric vehicles or beer or sell life insurance policies -- they are all subject to instrumental convergence insofar as they all have a common implicit paperclip-maximizer goal: to generate revenue. If they don't make money, they are eaten by a bigger predator or they go bust. Making money is an instrumental goal -- it's as vital to them as breathing is for us mammals, and without pursuing it they will fail to achieve their final goal, whatever it may be. Corporations generally pursue their instrumental goals -- notably maximizing revenue -- as a side-effect of the pursuit of their overt goal. But sometimes they try instead to manipulate the regulatory environment they operate in, to ensure that money flows towards them regardless. [...]
It seems to me that our current political upheavals are best understood as arising from the capture of post-1917 democratic institutions by large-scale AIs. Everywhere I look I see voters protesting angrily against an entrenched establishment that seems determined to ignore the wants and needs of their human voters in favour of the machines. The Brexit upset was largely the result of a protest vote against the British political establishment; the election of Donald Trump likewise, with a side-order of racism on top. Our major political parties are led by people who are compatible with the system as it exists -- a system that has been shaped over decades by corporations distorting our government and regulatory environments. We humans are living in a world shaped by the desires and needs of AIs, forced to live on their terms, and we are taught that we are valuable only insofar as we contribute to the rule of the machines.
Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.