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For the love of music

You are here: / Reviews / Macrocosmica – Art of the Black Earth
August 25, 2003 by agaerig

Macrocosmica Art of the Black Earth

As a critic, I’m not supposed to compare bands to other bands. There are virtually a million reasons not to do so. For one, it’s sort of unfair to anyone involved. It’s also trite, lazy, indulgent, and boring. I’m not supposed to say, for instance, that Explosions in the Sky sounds like Mogwai, even though, well, they frickin’ do. So, rather than lazily toss off a bunch of references and sound-alikes, I’m supposed to come up with some sort of original, descriptive text that approximates the “experience” of a listening to a disc. I throw out adjectives like candy. My prose will flow like a million Mississippis, flowing into the delta that is your head. It will melt into your brain until you know almost exactly what a band sounds like before you even tear the cellophane off (well, that, or just click “download”). There are three problems with this sort of experience. One, I’m a mediocre, hack writer almost completely incapable of producing the above experience. Two, the vast majority of critics are mediocre, hack writers almost completely incapable of producing the above experience. Third, bands like Macrocosmica just simply do not inspire golden prose. It’s true. No matter how hard we critics try, the fact remains that a majority of bands sound like other bands. And so instead we are left approximating bands, using bargain bin terms like “electro” and “shoegazer,” and filling in the blanks with specific band names. It’s just no use, and bands like Macrocosmica simply bring out the worst in critics. Here’s a quick rundown. The first track screams “brainy hardcore” from the top of its lungs. It starts with an interesting, groovy bass figure and an intriguing vocal melody, but when the singer turns from talking to long, assailing wails, hope fades quickly. “Bunuel” is the point where we are introduced to the female member’s Kim Gordon obsession. By track four, “Lunarian,” the Tool influence becomes apparent. The entire album is chock full of low-tuned bass grooves, and though there isn’t a hardcore band on the planet capable of approximating Tool’s rhythmic complexity, it doesn’t take much to mimic their groove-heavy semi-tunefulness. The “Fuck YOUs” that litter the tracks are probably the band’s strongest link to any sort of hardcore scene. The almost tribal chants of “Terra Ungunka” are a nice break in the action, though I can’t listen to them without thinking “Soulfly.” Since the lyrics are mostly indecipherable, the band conveys its humor and laid-back attitude with songs titles like “Michael Jackson, Child Toucher” and some goofily photoshopped band mugs. The grating white noise and churning feedback the band musters on the MJ track are actually passable, and they serve as some of the more interesting moments on the album. Additionally, the band’s tinkerings with song structure hint at potential growth. There’s nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve. Hell, Interpol rode that horse to international indie stardom. There is something wrong, however, with sounding like a collage of hastily glued parts, strung together in annoying succession. In the end, the real problem with Macrocosmica isn’t that they’re hard to review without mentioning other bands. It’s that they’re hard to listen to without pining for the greener pastures of their influences.

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Surprising Patterns in the Square Numbers (1, 4, 9, 16…)

A quick puzzle for you — look at the first few square numbers:

And now find the difference between consecutive squares:

Huh? The odd numbers are sandwiched between the squares?

Strange, but true. Take some time to figure out why — even better, find a reason that would work on a nine-year-old. Go on, I’ll be here.

We can explain this pattern in a few ways. But the goal is to find a convincing explanation, where we slap our forehands with “ah, that’s why!”. Let’s jump into three explanations, starting with the most intuitive, and see how they help explain the others.


It’s easy to forget that square numbers are, well… square! Try drawing them with pebbles

Notice anything? How do we get from one square number to the next? Well, we pull out each side (right and bottom) and fill in the corner:

While at 4 (2×2), we can jump to 9 (3×3) with an extension: we add 2 (right) + 2 (bottom) + 1 (corner) = 5. And yep, 2×2 + 5 = 3×3. And when we’re at 3, we get to the next square by pulling out the sides and filling in the corner: Indeed, 3×3 + 3 + 3 + 1 = 16.

Each time, the change is 2 more than before, since we have another side in each direction (right and bottom).

Another neat property: the jump to the next square is always odd since we change by “2n + 1″ (2n must be even, so 2n + 1 is odd). Because the change is odd, it means the squares must cycle even, odd, even, odd…

And wait! That makes sense because the integers themselves cycle even, odd, even odd… after all, a square keeps the Maison Martin Margiela FOOTWEAR Hightops amp; sneakers su YOOXCOM Cheap Visit Free Shipping 2018 New 02YKz
(even * even = even, odd * odd = odd).

Funny how much insight is hiding inside a simple pattern. (I call this technique “geometry” but that’s probably not correct — it’s just visualizing numbers).

Drawing squares with pebbles? What is this, ancient Greece? No, the modern student might argue this:

For example, if n=2, then n 2 =4. And the difference to the next square is thus (2n + 1) = 5.

Indeed, we found the same geometric formula. But is an algebraic manipulation satisfying? To me, it’s a bit sterile and doesn’t have that same “aha!” forehead slap. But, it’s another tool, and when we combine it with the geometry the insight gets deeper.

Calculus students may think: “Dear fellows, we’re examining the curious sequence of the squares, f(x) = x^2. The derivative shall reveal the difference between successive elements”.

And deriving f(x) = x^2 we get:

Close, but not quite! Where is the missing +1?

The Vox Conversation

Interviewed by Ezra Klein

On June 22, I sat with Hillary Clinton on a hot day in Raleigh, North Carolina. She had just finished giving a major speech on her economic vision — she wanted "a full employment and full potential economy," she said — and I wanted to know more about what that meant and how she would achieve it.

We spoke for about 40 minutes (you can read my longer thoughts on our conversation, and what I learned about Hillary Clinton,).My hope in this conversation was to draw out the deeper theories animating Clinton’s agenda. But I think it’s worth reading the transcript (lightly edited, below) or watching the full video of our discussion yourself.It will give you a sense of how Clinton thinks, how she reasons, how she works through policy questions. We so often experience Clinton chopped down to a sound bite on the nightly news, or confined to a 30-second answer in a debate, that it’s a surprisingly different experience— or at least it was for me— to Hogan logo stitched sneakers Grey Low Price Sale Online New Online Buy Cheap Wide Range Of nUgW5
when she has more space.

But if you want to skip around, here’s what we covered. Click the link below to head to that point in the conversation or scroll down to read the whole interview:

Let’s start with poverty. Scholars have estimated that the number of American families living in extreme poverty , under $2 in cash income, has skyrocketed in the last 20 years.

You have about 1.5 million families and 3 million children in this kind of poverty. Given how many children are now in that condition, should we be following the model of countries — like Sweden, Germany, and now Canada under Trudeau — that have a universal child allowance to cut or eliminate child poverty?

This is a policy a lot of countries — including Germany, Sweden, and Ireland — have that pays parents a set amount per month, per kid, no strings attached . Other countries, like the UK and Canada, have a version that phases out for more affluent families. Simulations suggest a US version could Vans Classic Slipon Checkerboard Sneakers Marketable Online yq2GeGg

Well, this is a very personal and important issue to me — because, as you know, I started out my work as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund. And I have been focused on child poverty and what we can do to alleviate it for a very long time.

I would just slightly amend your question, because we were making progress in the ’90s. We had more people lifted out of poverty. We had a 33 percent increase in African-American family income. We were on the right track. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have been looking at more ways to lift more kids out of poverty. But we were on the right trajectory — and, unfortunately, we changed direction.

We had policies that I think contributed greatly to the increase in childhood poverty starting in 2001, the Great Recession being the worst of those. But there were also policy decisions, regulatory changes — providing more leeway to the states, so that they did not have either the requirement or the incentive to continue lifting people, particularly kids, out of poverty.

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