2020-11-22

 

Privacy apocalypse or data science for the common good?

Longer, updated version of op-ed article published (in Portuguese): "Apocalípticos da privacidade vs. StayAway Covid e a ciência de dados para o bem comum." Observador. October 25, 2020. 
After almost a year of this pandemic, it is already clear that countries that best contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 suffer less in terms of both deaths and GDP contraction−two quantities that are ultimately correlated. Various democracies in Asia have been particularly effective at containing epidemic spread−with corresponding great results in both fatalities and GDP contraction−via some combination of three capabilities: (1) border control, including internal movement among regions; (2) speed and accuracy in testing and tracking; and (3) firm quarantine enforcement.

Integration of these capabilities is even more effective against the pandemic when public health authorities use data from individual citizen behavior, which raises privacy issues. Truthfully, there is no effective strategy against an airborne epidemic that does not restrict some fundamental, individual right. The lockdown of an entire country is, after all, one of the greatest restrictions on all freedoms that can be imposed upon the citizenry. Yet, life itself is the most fundamental right, and death its most brutal restriction. Hence, any public health solution requires critical thinking to optimize temporary restrictions on fundamental rights to minimize death (and economic recession).

Contact tracing apps based on the Google/Apple Exposure Notification System, carry almost no privacy risk compared to popular social media, weather, GPS/maps, messaging, or shopping apps − or even to visiting news websites given their collection of cookie data. The big problem with contact tracing apps is that, just like masks, they are only effective if a large percentage of the population uses them. Hence, the pressure from governments to encourage their use. Since it is difficult to guarantee their correct use by a sufficient proportion of the population, however, many generalize arguing that, given privacy concerns, it is not worth using any form of individual data to control the pandemic.

Note, then, that while Europeans and Americans are facing or already experiencing new lockdowns, Asian countries that use individual data to implement the above strategy have their societies essentially open. This is the case in Taiwan which not only used the power of its crowd-sourced digital democracy to be among the first countries to detect and respond to the initial outbreak, but also firmly enforces quarantine and monitors health status (of all arrivals at the border and positive cases) via mobile phone surveillance. It similarly makes great use of digitally assisted contact tracing using data from the major telecommunication companies, police, health records, and other sources, while furthermore making excellent efforts to ensure confidentiality.

Another country making extensive use of individual data is South Korea, where the government uses mobile phone and GPS data, bank card transactions, GPS, and even video surveillance networks with facial recognition, to quickly and effectively trace contacts of positive cases and thus contain outbreaks very successfully, all in a manner ethically proportionate to the crisis in terms of privacy.  South Korea had its first outbreak two weeks before Italy, with the two countries having very similar case numbers in early March. However, South Korea very quickly managed to contain the contagion, but Italy (followed by all Western countries) did not. Since then, new outbreaks continue to be rapidly controlled in South Korea, keeping the country essentially open, but in the West there is no such capability — only full or aggressive lockdowns can bring transmission and death numbers down.

The Asian response was markedly better early in the pandemic, but at the time, many in the West suggested that cultural factors such as wearing a mask were likely the cause of the difference. As we can see now, even with widespread use of masks and social distance, Europe and the USA are experiencing a much larger increase in cases. It becomes clearer now that Korean success, like other Asian democracies, comes from legislation democratically enacted following the 2015 MERS outbreak that allows for tighter surveillance in the event of an epidemic.

Still, when one talks about the success of Asian countries in this pandemic, it is common to hear: “but theirs is a different culture, we Westerners would never accept such an invasion of privacy.” Yet, this belief does not survive critical analysis, and may even suggest prejudice. First, the same notion was often heard in March regarding the use of masks, and now we all use them — necessity may know no law, but we can certainly make a virtue out of it. More importantly, Western democracies have already developed systems that go further in tracking citizen behavior. One could speak of surveillance systems implemented to counter terrorism, but even more fundamental is the entire tax collection system that allows governments to monitor bank transactions, income, and much more. We accept this interference in our most private data because it is a price we are willing to pay for the common good.

Similarly, the transaction made by the South Korean society, in which it accepts a temporary increase in surveillance so that the State can better respond to pandemics, is in all respects equivalent. Why shouldn't Western democracies want to use the same social contract to save lives and the economy? Why not pursue such deliberation democratically? One problem is that it is now in fashion to reify privacy as if it were an absolute right, the most fundamental right of individual freedom.

But even in a western liberal democracy, it makes no sense to render the right to life of risk groups less important than the right to not reveal that an anonymous infected person was less than two meters away in an anonymized place. It makes no sense to martyr the right to gather in bars, clubs, and other places of freedom, for privacy concerns over quarantine enforcement. It makes no sense to sacrifice whole economies to the altar of free movement by failing to (temporarily) control borders and travel between internal regions.

As Asian countries did after previous pandemics, we must defend our society better in this pandemic by preparing for others, likely more deadly, that are sure to emerge. Paraphrasing John Stuart Mill, freedom requires an appropriate adjustment between individual independence and the common good. In the context of a pandemic, this temporary adjustment certainly needs a non-absolutist conception of individual privacy and freedom, since it is individuals who spread the virus to each other.

There are no silver bullets in epidemiology, but there are better and worse results. While much more interdisciplinary science is needed to study the effectiveness of every factor, the difference in outcomes is striking. When privacy advocates frighten us about the imminent authoritarian apocalypse that using citizen data to combat the pandemic will bring (including by using exposure notification apps),  what they don't say is that in countries where entries, movements, and quarantines were controlled with such technology, deaths are orders of magnitude lower than ours (see figure), society and its spaces of freedom are largely open, and the economy has suffered a much milder recession. It is said that Westerners do not accept government intrusion into their data —naiveté and denial for anyone using iOS, Android, or paying taxes. I will gladly share my proximity and location data to get to the 1 or 10 deaths per million in Taiwan and S. Korea, respectively, rather than over 1200 deaths per million in Belgium, and even worse in several US states. Not because I want more surveillance, but because I want greater freedom. Indeed, those who enjoy greater freedom at this time are the citizens of Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, and others in the Pacific.

Deaths by cases of COVID-19 per million inhabitants o November 22, 2020. Vertical axis (deaths per million) on a logarithmic scale; Taiwan with 0.3 deaths per million inhabitants, South Korea with 10, Italy with 815, UK with 803, Belgium with 1337, and New Jersey with 1900 deaths per million inhabitants. Highlighted line markers: 20 (green), 200 (yellow), 400 (orange), and 1000 (red) deaths per million inhabitants on vertical axis, and 10000 (red) cases per million inhabitants on horizontal axis.  Some US states shown separately with blue dots. Take a moment to grasp a death toll 100 to 1000 times worse in the West in comparison to Asia-Pacific countries. Data from:  https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

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2020-11-14

 

With Somebody

This has been an almost ethereal year, largely locked at home. As we are about to enter new lockdowns, I miss the dancefloor. So here is a redo of DJ set I played "live" on youtube in September, dreaming of dancefloors where we can dance (house music all night long) with somebody who loves us. Somehow the aquatic neo-baroque photographic art of Christy Lee Rogers beautifully captures the mood of being safe at home, but longing for the connection of the dancefloor---we are one World under the roof, ain't that the truth! This set pretty much follows the typical crescendo of a first set at the Riot Bootique. Hopefully, at some point DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing whenever possible. Tracklist and podcast below. (House Music All Night Long) With Somebody is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).



PlaceboOracle and E-Trash · With Somebody





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Professional Changes

I have some news to share that you can see in the news post from SUNY Binghamton. In the Fall of 2021 I will become the George J. Klir Professor of Systems Science at Binghamton University (State University of New York). This was an offer I could not refuse and a tremendous honor to inaugurate a position named after my PhD advisor. Not only do I greatly admire his work, but, as most of you know, am absolutely committed to complex systems thinking and its interdisciplinary agenda. I am very excited to continue on that path at Binghamton, innovating with new flavors in this ever changing field. I always like to move to where I feel an exciting positive gradient for fruitful interdisciplinary possibilities, and Binghamton and the now Watson College of Engineering has that vibe at this moment in time. I decided to stay at Indiana University until the the summer of 2021 because of all the active projects that I started there and remain fully committed to---chiefly the Complex Networks and Systems NSF-funded training program, and the Center for Social and Biomedical Complexity with Johan Bollen. I look forward to continuing collaborating on those and other endeavors.

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2020-10-04

 

Changes!

Still missing DJing in clubs live, so when I have the time I started to DJ live online (unfortunately youtube blocks some parts of it). This was the first time I did a youtube set in a long time, there were a lot of errors. But I played a wide range of tracks from the 80s to now. The set was all about changes that are coming and which I am very excited about. So many changes in styles as well, basically covering some sets I played for family during the summer trying to please many age groups :) A bit of a warning, tracks contain adult language... Hopefully, at some point DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing whenever possible. Tracklist and podcast below. Changes! is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).



PlaceboOracle and E-Trash · E - Trash - Changes Master





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2020-06-04

 

#VegasBibleFascist

Though it makes total sense, I never thought that America's fascism would show its ugly head with a #VegasBibleFascist aesthetic. At least the Nazis had Leni Riefenstahl. "Fascism scholar @RuthBenGhiat joins @MehdiRHasan to discuss Trump’s authoritarian response to the protests sweeping the country.

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2020-05-17

 

Hello, Is This Thing On?

None of us can DJ live these days (I miss the Riot Bootique party in Bloomington!!) I was supposed to DJ next Friday at Roterdão Club in Lisbon, but it's no go, of course. So here is a DJ set from home inspired by a crowd-sourced pandemic playlist I enjoyed during the lockdown. “Hello, is this thing on?” is also inspired by life on Zoom and thought of as a soundtrack to us starting to go out there carefully. It is not at all a club set but more like a mixtape. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing whenever possible. Tracklist and podcast below. Hello, is This Thing On? is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).








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2020-03-31

 

É necessário mais investimento em ciência de complexidade e resiliência para lidar com pandemias

Versão maior de artigo que saiu no jornal Público no dia 31 de março de 2020.

Se há uma consequência positiva da Pandemia de COVID-19 que nos assola, é o novo apreço na sociedade em geral pela matemática e ciência. De repente toda a gente prefere ler sobre curvas exponencias em epidemiologia a ver programas na TV sobre astrologia−aliás, como mostrou ironicamente Ricardo Araújo Pereira, esta pandemia ridiculariza todas as “previsões” de horóscopos e tarots do início do ano e deveria envergonhar os canais de media que propagam essas verdadeiras “fake news”.

No entanto, apesar do novo respeito, os cientistas devem agora também frisar que os governos ocidentais, incluindo o Português, não deram atenção suficiente à ciência, previsão e gestão da sociedade moderna face a epidemias. O investimento na investigação científica em áreas interdisciplinares necessárias para lidar com epidemias−incluindo a necessária translação de conhecimento científico para as estruturas de governação e execução de saúde pública−tem sido muito aquém do necessário em Portugal, na Europa e nos EUA. Lembro-me de uma reunião há cerca de 15 anos com o então ministro da ciência (e físico) Mariano Gago por iniciativa do então Presidente da Fundação para a Ciencia e Tecnologia (o incansável) João Sentieiro. Tentei convencê-lo de que no século XXI seria necessário muito maior investimento e treino em modelação epidemiológica, uma vez que os patógenos (como o SARS-CoV-2) agora viajam rapidamente em redes biológicas, ecológicas, sociais, económicas e tecnológicas que interagem entre si de forma muito complexa. O ministro não gostou nada quando lhe disse que estar preparada para esta nova realidade era muito mais importante para a sociedade (saúde, economia e defesa) do que aceleradores de partículas no CERN à procura de bosões. Colegas cientistas na Europa e EUA têm histórias semelhantes sobre as suas conversas com dirigentes de política científica nos seus países.

Não quero com isto dizer que não se deva estudar física das partículas; aliás, todo o investimento em Ciência é um multiplicador económico e de conhecimento. A questão é que o investimento científico não é ilimitado e o estudo das redes que ligam rapidamente o mais ínfimo vírus à mais potente economia não tem recebido a atenção necessária no Mundo ocidental (não tanta como campos que foram importantes no século XX por razões de domínio militar, mas não são tão relevantes hoje). Os governantes Europeus e Americanos ainda não perceberam a complexidade das redes que nos afetam. Que a sua resposta a esta crise foi desastrosa não é uma opinião, mas um fato mensurável em vidas humanas em comparação com a reposta de países asiáticos mais perto da origem do problema. Apesar do tempo de avanço sobre Wuhan, a resposta Europeia e Americana foi muito pior que a da Coreia do Sul, Japão, Singapura, Taiwan, Macau e Hong Kong−até da resposta Chinesa após os seus erros iniciais bem graves. Por exemplo, apesar de alguns países como a Itália terem bloqueado voos diretos com a China, as pessoas viajam em rede, e como tal, voos indiretos por outras capitais fizeram-se sem qualquer avaliação dos viajantes vindos de locais contaminados−demonstrando que os governos ainda não percebem, ou não querem perceber, a complexidade das suas redes de transporte.




Os cidadãos ocidentais merecem saber porquê que as suas nações não responderam da melhor maneira possível e devem exigir um sistema de resposta a pandemias bem mais eficiente e que dê maior resiliência à nossa sociedade. Está mais do que na hora de reorganizar as estruturas de financiamento científico, passando de objetivos militares e nacionalistas obsoletos para prioridades de saúde, económicas e ecológicas transnacionais de nos afetam muito mais diretamente. Hoje o nosso inimigo mais mortal não é uma fantasmagórica nação ou sistema político, mas um vírus que entrou nas nossas redes de defesa imunitária pelas redes alimentares, de produção e de transportes que partilhamos com o resto do planeta mas que não são geridas de forma científica.

É de notar uma perda de capacidade de liderança da parte dos EUA nesta matéria. O presidente Obama tomou a iniciativa de liderar a resposta global à epidemia de Ébola em 2014, enviando recursos americanos substanciais para a fonte da crise e criando estruturas governamentais na Casa Branca para responder a crises futuras que a administração Trump encerrou. Mas o que dizer dos governantes europeus que sabendo do recuo internacional de Trump−bem como da sua terrível incompetência−não tiveram a capacidade de liderar uma resposta apropriada dado o vácuo de liderança Americana? Os países Asiáticos, aprendendo com a experiência do H1N1 em 2009, não esperaram pelos EUA para se defenderem. Portugal, apesar de ter sido razoavelmente rápido com as medidas de distanciamento social, só começou a medir a temperatura de passageiros chegando ao aeroporto de Lisboa no dia 20 de Março, quase dois meses depois da OMS declarar uma urgência global de saúde pública−a medição de temperatura não é por si só muito eficiente, mas viajei pelo aeroporto de Lisboa sete vezes de final de janeiro até meados de Março e nunca ninguém me perguntou onde e com quem estive.

Um corolário desta pandemia é que o primeiro Mundo é agora nos países da Ásia que conseguiram defender os seus cidadãos melhor. O que esperamos é que esta pandemia não seja um colapso, mas antes um grito de alerta para o Mundo Ocidental−e a Europa em particular−acordar para a realidade de interligação planetária. Quando sairmos da crise mais imediata, é essencial criar um CERN, uma ESA ou NASA, para estudar e prever não só a parte biológica das pandemias, mas também medidas que aumentem a capacidade de resposta rápida e, em última análise, a resiliência da nossa sociedade complexa a impactos de natureza vária.

Como se vê muito bem com esta pandemia, a nossa vida social e saúde pública depende imenso das interações em rede que se propagam desde o mais ínfimo patógeno até às redes de transporte, saúde, economia, ecologia e governação. A pandemia demonstra também que a saúde publica depende, e muito, de investimento em Ciencia, da capacidade de sistemas de saúde, bem como da observação e regulação de movimentos em momentos chave−tudo fatores necessários que o Mundo ocidental não tem financiado suficientemente por causa de ideologias que otimizam os custos e lucros na estabilidade, mas nos deixam completamente impreparados para crises. Tudo está interligado e a nossa sobrevivência depende de sabermos responder a uma realidade complexa em que se passa da estabilidade ao caos em poucas semanas. Estou farto de ver políticos, advogados e economistas a debater esta pandemia nos media sem ter cientistas à mesa. A realidade mostra que não integrar o conhecimento científico mais diretamente na decisão política, gestão e regulação das redes bio-tecno-socias planetárias é um desastre que se paga muito caro em vidas humanas e desolação económica.

OK, em baixo uma playlist feita durante a quarentena para aliviar a frustação :)

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2020-03-26

 

Funky Seduction from a month ago

In these quarantine days, the last time I DJed live already feels like an eternity ago, but the last Riot Bootique party in Bloomington was only a month ago. We were supposed to host it again tomorrow night, but, alas, all clubs are closed and for good reason. Instead I am posting one of the two sets I played at the last party, errors and all. It was a great Funky seduction, with a full house of people from all over the World. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing whenever possilble. I (E-TRASH) am supposed to DJ at Roterdão Club in Lisbon with DJ Gabe on May 22nd, but let's see how the pandemic unfolds. Tracklist and podcast below. Funky Seduction is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).








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2020-03-22

 

COVID-19, The West, and Complexity: On terrible leaders and a Playlist

I remember a meeting in the 00s with Portuguese science minister (and physicist) Mariano Gago (made possible by the tireless João Sentieiro) in his office. I was pitching a doctoral program and collaboration center in computational biology with a focus on complex networks and systems. I told him that in the XXI century much more training & funding for epidemic modelling, and multi-level bio/social/technical network complexity was necessary. He was not happy at all when I said that funding for these problems would be much more more useful to society than funding particle accelerators at CERN. When we got some funding for the idea (from his funding agency and others but much less than CERN :), the first person I brought in was Alessandro Vespignani who was so nice to agree to help the program. He ended up collaborating with Gabriela Gomes and others during his visit to get funding for Epiwork and InfluenzaNet. I wish Gago and all science funding agencies had taken this area more seriously. We need a CERN and an NSF-STC for pandemics and complex multilevel networks and systems.

In the meantime, we have to witness the late and sad response of EU and USA leaders to this pandemic. No government in the West comes out looking good from this pandemic. With all the lead time they had since the outbreak, they cannot match the type of response we have seen from China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Leaders in the west still do not understand network, multilevel complexity where viruses travel in technological networks to impact our health, society and economy. The idea that they were not able to track and test travel flows out of Wuhan on transportation networks, rather than direct flights, demonstrates governments still do not understand network complexity---or don't care to.

There has certainly been loss in leadership from Obama to Trump; Obama, after all, lead the effort to contain the Ebola outbreak. For sure this does not look good for the USA. But what to say of European leaders? They cannot muster leadership if the US Emperor is a #TerriblePresident? It is even more pathetic that European leaders, who are not as terrible as Trump and know he is useless, cannot take a leadership role in this instance. I hope this is the ultimate wake-up call for the West, rather than our end--- previous civilizations have fallen from the impact of disease.

Oh, well. In the meantime, let's follow our social containment before we can regroup. Towards that, here is a #StayHome playlist for a hopeful quarantine. I am still hopeful that the younger generations will learn from this and do better than current western leaders have.

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Decandence

The sycophant GOP response to Trump is certainly pathetic and dangerous. But so-called moderates in the Democratic party and media also ultimately continue to enable our current late-Soviet-empire politburo of old, out of step, incompetent leadership. The sheep-like subservience of the entire Democratic establishment to nominating Biden, who is an obviously flawed candidate and mediocre leader, is not any less sycophantic and something history will also look back at as utterly decadent---just cross-check what people like Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang and others said during campaign and after pressed to endorse Biden. Meanwhile, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a threat at least as great in scale as WWII, where are Biden and Pelosi? It is so obvious that Sanders is absolutely right about what ails America, especially in this public health crisis. It is also Sanders who is more quickly responding to pandemic in all the ways a leader should respond.

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2020-01-13

 

Hey City Zen of 2019

Did I travel in 2019! Still another great year for music! I am sure I missed really great stuff, but here is the best City Zen of the year that made my radar. Top 30 Albums, Top 100 Tracks, Top 26 Remixes/Edits (from E-Trash's DJ sets), and Live albums. The top tracks and remixes areassembled in a Spotify List as well.

Top 30 Albums of 2019

There are definitely 5 albums that stood above for, consistency, innovation or surprise, and which I listened the most to (alphabetically):

The Chemical Brothers - No Geography
Crazy P - Age of the Ego
Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Thom Yorke -Anima

The other 25 alphabetically:

!!! - Wallop
Lena d'Água - Desalmadamente
ÁTOA - Sem Medos
James BlakeAssume Form
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
Channel TresBlack Moses#
Charli XCX - Charli
Chico da Tina- Minho Trapstar
Leonard Cohen - Thanks for the dance
DigitalismJPEG
Folamour - Ordinary Drugs
Hot Chip - A Bath Full of Ecstasy
Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka
Kraak & Smaak - Pleasure Center
Madonna - Madame X
Metronomy - Metronomy Forever
Missy ElliotIconology#
PongoBaia
Rhye- Spirit
Mark Ronson- Late Night Feelings
RY X - Unfurl
Sault - 5
Ed Sheeran - No6 Collaborations
Sleater-KinneyThe Center won't Hold
Underworld Drift Series*

#EP, but with more great tracks than most albums.
*A large series of tracks released in time, more like a box set, really.

Best Reissue of 2019

Prince - Originals

Not so much a reissue, but Prince's originals of famous tracks he wrote form other people. Amazing talent.

Best Live Albums of 2019

The best live show of the year was definitely Christine and the Queenfor me (at Super Bock Super Rock).



But in terms of records, two stood out:

David Byrne - American Utopia on Broadway
Ney Matogrosso - Bloco na Rua


Top 100 Tracks of 2018

The best way to display this is via a Spotify list which also includes the remixes below (in no particular order):



Top 26 Remixes and Edits of 2019


So many great remixes and edits this year. There were definitely 6 above the rest, which took the original into another place of excellence. All remixes, edits and mashups below elevate the originals either into a whole different place, a distilled essence, or simply make it work so well on the dance floor.  It is great when a track has two great lives, which is a remix at its best:

Jorge Ben & Caetano Veloso- Salve Simpatia (Ive Brussel Jkriv Rework)
Dino d'Santiago- Nova Lisboa(Moullinex Remix)
Letrux - Flerte Revival (SJ Zé Pedro & Marco AS Remix)
ABBA - The Visitors (Mighty Mouse’s Edit For Jim)
Fred Pallem & Le Sacre du Tympan - L'Odyssée (Yuksek Remix)
Mark Ronson featuring Yeabba - Don't you leave me lonely(Purple Disco Machine Remix)

The remaining awesome remixes alphabetically:

Change - Make Me (Go Crazy) (OPOLOPO Remix)
The Chemical Brothers - Got to keep On (Riton Remix)
Noel Gallagher - Black Star Dancing (The Reflex Revision)
Childish Gambino - This Is America (Todd Terry, Louie Vega & Kenny Dope Remix)
Hercules & Love Affair featuring ANOHNI - Raise me up (Hercules 2019 Remix)
Jax Jones with years & Years - Play (Purple Disco Machine Remix)
Jkriv featuring Adeline - Vertigo (Joey Negro Spirit of 78 Mix)
Jungle - Heavy, California (Gerd Janson MPC Translation)
Kraak & Smaak - Sweet time (Yuksek Remix)
Anna Lunoe - 303 (Flava D Remix)
Shawn Mendes featuring Camila Cabello - Senorita (Barry Harris extended  "Chillin' in Ibiza'' Club remix)
Ben Pearce featuring Tayla - Fireproof (Ten Ven Remix)
Pongo - Kuzola (20Syl Remix)
The Prodigy - We Live Forever (Teddy Killerz Remix)
Robyn - Beach2k20 (Yaeji Remix)
Robyn - Between the lines (The Black Madonna Remix)
RY X - Body Sun (Claptone Remix)
Sister Sledge- We are Family (Dr Packer's Multi Track Mix)
Sting & Shaggy - Just one Lifetime (Dave Audé Remix)
The Vision featuring Andreya Triana Heaven (Mousse T.'s Disco Shizzle Remix)


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2019-10-17

 

1979

After dropping the 1982 playlist, my cousin Gabriel, with whom I DJ occasionally, argued that the "best" year for music is always the one we came alive musically. Since he is a few years older, 1979 is his year. I think there is some truth to that, though I could think of ways to test if all years are equal---number of cover songs in latter years, sales of albums from each year in subsequent decades, genesis of new genres, etc... Be it as it may, 1979 was a fantastic year. I was little, but remember its hits at the time from my older brother Jorge and Gabriel himself, and many others I learned later via my wife who loves 70s music and gave me the best book about it (Love comes to Buildings on Fire)---"we are family" came out in 1979, after all. So Gabriel (DJ Gabe) and I (E-Trash) had a great time curating this new playlist for your enjoyment, even if very hard to select only 100 tracks! Enjoy the 1979 good times!


* Yes, a couple of the tracks are from albums that came out in 1978, but were really hits in 1982.

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2019-08-10

 

1982

I love music from everywhere in the space-time-genre continuum. I think 2019 has produced amazing music, as did 1966. Still, of all the years I have experienced music, I believe 1982 was the best year ever. So many eternal albums came out that year, from Laurie Anderson's Big Science to ABC's The Lexicon of Love (yes, Michael Jackson dropped Thriller and Prince dropped 1999 that year as well, and even Roxy Music came back from Avalon). Maybe it was a year I especially came alive to music, or maybe it was the wind that blew from the UK, or that Blade Runner came out that year as well, I don't know. But 1982 was vintage, as shown by how many of its songs keep getting covered. Anyway, here is a playlist with 6090 tracks from 1982*. There could easily be another 60 90 or 600 even 1982 (if I had the time to curate). But here are my 60 90. Enjoy and party like it's 1999 in 1982.


* Yes, a couple of the tracks are from albums that came out in 1981, but all at the very end of 1981, and so were really hits in 1982.

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2019-05-28

 

Soy Yo! Love Will Find a Way

During the last Riot Bootique parties in Bloomington I have been playing with new gear and mixing 4 tracks at the same time (including ripping off Purple Disco Machine a little). Here are parts of sets from April and May with some of those experiments, errors and all. Overall a feel good set emphasizing the diversity of self that makes us all up. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next Fall, DJ Angst will keep the flame alive during the summer in Bloomington, while E-Trash will be grooving in Lisbon. Tracklist and podcast below. Soy Yo! Love Will Find a Way is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).








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2019-03-21

 

Natural Art Individuals

I first got a hold of Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae in Binghamton (Camille Paglia went there as undergraduate and I went there for my PhD much later). That book influenced my thinking a lot, I even used it as inspiration for the ability of users to select different "personae" in the recommender systems I developed in the 90s and 00s. Years later I realized how much in sync I was with her naturalized approach to identity and the importance of art in expressing and playing physically with identity. Or maybe was just her disco-punk attitude and interest in Bowie and Patti Smith and Madonna alike that resonated with me. The recent article by Mark Bauerlein is one of the best I have read recently explaining her relevance today---when issues of identity can quickly become more like religion and nothing like true academic scholarship. A True Force of Nature to be taken seriously:

'The truth Paglia identified long ago is that in all human beings there is an “emotional turmoil that is going on above and below politics, outside the scheme of social life.” Great art touches it, and so does religion. Individuals who respond to art and religion understand that when politics and social life presume to replace them as right expressions of that turmoil, they falsify it instead…'



Something Crazy Religious:



Something with "titanic power from [the] deep wells of emotion [...], grounded in the body. [Bowie] never stupidly based gender in language alone—like all those nerdy post-structuralist nudniks who infest academe. Who the hell needed Foucault for gender studies when we already had a genius like Bowie?"

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2019-02-17

 

Summer of Love: #30YearChallenge

At the last Riot Bootique in Bloomington I decided to do a 30 Year Challenge, playing one set (the second of the night) with new stuff, and another set (a late night set) with tracks from 1989 in honor of the Summer of Love. My time in the UK around that time was very formative in my taste for dance music and many other things. 30 years later I am still at it and loving it! As Janelle Monáe says in the opening track, "A little crazy, little sexy, little cool, Little rough around the edges, but I keep it smooth, I'm always left of center and that's right where I belong, I'm the random minor note you hear in major songs. And I like that. I don't really give a fuck if I was just the only one (I am not). I never like to follow, follow all around, the chase is on." 30 years later I still Like that. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next month. Tracklist and podcast below. Summer of Love: #30YearChallenge is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).








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2019-01-31

 

Love Not Walls

The last Riot Bootique in Bloomington was great fun even with the first winter storm of the year in the middle of the government shutdown. Here is my first set which set the tone of Jamming to Love and open doors:Love Not Walls. I was playing live for the first time with my new equipment... DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next month. Tracklist below. Podcast for Love Not Walls is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).








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2019-01-17

 

Straight Lines Não é novidade

Very nice article, if from a very Indian perspectivem of the malign incompetence of the British ruling class. Indeed, the Anglo-American approach to these things is quite visible at a macro level in World maps. Look at the straight lines of the maps of North America, Australia and Africa (where the country lines were imposed by British and Northern European decree). A comparison with the map of South America reveals, against conventional wisdom, where disregard for and abuse of the native peoples was most enforced. The straight lines demonstrate the damage of a self-regarded anglo-supremacist elite. Thank God for the humor and music though :)









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2018-12-21

 

Hey City Zen of 2018

Was I busy in 2018! Still another great year for music! I am sure I missed really great stuff, but here is the best City Zen of the year. I thought of this list without seeing anybody else's best-of lists, so I am sure some great stuff is missing, but this is what made my radar. I may update it if something great gets released before the end of the year. Top 25 Albums, Top 99 Tracks, Top 31 Remixes/Edits (from E-Trash's DJ sets), Box Sets, and Live albums. The top tracks and remixes are assembled in a Spotify List as well. Update (January 15, 2019): I did not add Teymori's EP earlier because it is not a full album, but it has more great tracks than most albums these days. So I added a special best EP mention. Update (February 9, 2019): Added Tom Misch's Geography to best albums. Not sure how I missed this gem in 2018...

Top 27 Albums + 1 EP of 2018

There are definitely 5 albums that stood above for innovation, heart of just fun and which I listened the most to (alphabetically):

David Byrne - American Utopia
Chromeo - Head over Heels
Corine - Un air de fête
Rhye - Blood
Tracey Thorn - Record

The other 20 alphabetically:

Pedro Abrunhosa - Espiritual
Lily Allen - No Shame
ClaptoneFantast
Gal Costa - A Pele do Futuro
Carl CraigVersus
Dead Combo - Odeon Hotel
Baxter Dury, Etienne de Crecy, Delilah Holiday - B.E.D.
Florence and the Machine - High As Hope
David Fonseca - Radio Gemini
Amerigo Gazaway - Nina Simone & Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Eunice Waymon
Chilly Gonzalez - Other People's Pieces
Gorgon City - Escape
Gorillaz - The Now Now
Jungle - For Ever
Kronos Quartet and Laurie AndersonLandfall
MarizaMariza
Tom Misch - Geography
Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer
Meshell NdegeocelloVentroloquism
Jimi Tenor - Order of Nothingness
Paul Weller - True Meanings
Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar

Special Mention for best EP: Teymori - Teymori


Top 99 Tracks of 2018

The best way to display this is via a Spotify list which also includes the remixes below (in no particular order):



Top 31 Remixes and Edits of 2018


So many great remixes and edits this year. There were definitely 4 remixes above the rest, which took the original into another place of excellence. All remixes, edits and mashups below elevate the originals either into a whole different place or their distilled essence.  It is great when a track has two great lives, which is a remix at its best:

David Fonseca Get Up (Moullinex Remix)
Sophie Lloyd feat. Dames Brown - Calling Out (Danny Krivit Edit)
Paul Simon - Graceland (MK & KC Lights Remix)
Sylvester - I Need Somebody To Love Tonight (Psychemagik Remix)

The remaining awesome remixes alphabetically:

Dave Aju & thatmanmonkz - They Sleep we Love (Sec's Bay Area Remix)
Bobby D’Ambrosio feat. Michelle WeeksThe Day (Alaia &Gallo Remix)
Cardi B - I Like It (Dillon Francis Remix)
Christine And The Queens feat. DÃm-Funk - Damn, Dis-Moi (Gerd Janson's Balearic Remix Edit Version)
Christine And The Queens feat. DÃm-Funk - Damn, Dis-Moi (Palms Trax Remix)
Claptone feat. Ben Duffy & Pirupa - Stronger (Pirupa Remix)
Leonard Cohen - You Want it Darker (Solomun Remix)
Carl Craig with  Francesco Tristano, Les Siecles, and Francois-Xavier Roth -The Melody (Henrik Schwarz Remix)
The Chuck Davis Orchestra - Spirit of Sunshine (Holy Ghost! Remix)
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Ring-A-Ring O'Roses (Sebastian "On the Beat" Remix)
Calvin Harris feat. Dua Lipa - One Kiss (Oliver Helden's Extended Remix)
Jungle - Beat 54 (Krystal Klear 12" Mix)
Janelle Monae - Make Me Feel (Moullinex Edit)
Morcheeba - It's Summertime (Lindstrom & Prins Thomas Remix)
Kelly Lee Owens - Bird (Prins Thomas Diskomiks DJ Edit)
Polo & Pan - Mexicali (Simple Symmetry Remix)
Powerdance - A Safe and Happy Place (JKriv Remix)
Purple Disco Machine - Encore (Mousse T. Remix)
Red Rack'Em - Wonky Baseline Disco Banger (Greg Wilson Edit)
Paul Simon - The Boy In the Bubble (Richy Ahmed Remix)
Nina Simone & Lauryn Hill - Care For What (Amerigo Gazaway Mashup)
Shit Robot - Rotation (Vin Sol Remix)
Tracey Thorn - Dancefloor (Pearson and Lindblad Italo Remix)
Tinush (feat. Aretha Franklin) - Struggle (Franky Rizardo Acid Mix)
Weiss - Feel my Needs (Gorgon City Extended Mix)
Xinobi - See Me (Ali Kuru Remix)
Xinobi - Skateboarding (Kraak & Smaak Remix)

Best Box Sets of 2018

David Bowie - Loving the Alien (1983-1988)
Soft Cell - Keychains & Showstorms

Best Live Albums of 2018

The best live show of the year was definitely David Byrne's America Utopia tour---probably one of the best live shows ever. The recent live recording of some of its stops does not capture the visual brilliancy of the show, but is still a great live record on its own:

David Byrne - "...The Best Live Show Of All Time” —NME

The other two live recordings that stood out in 2018 are:

David Bowie - Glastonbury 2000
Prince - Piano & a Microphone 1983


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2018-12-20

 

Optimism is Majority Rule

Thinking about Bret Stephen's comparison of Trump and Warren, it is obvious that there are so many differences between Trump's and Warren's views of a rigged system based on fact---and no, the left was never unified against truth, from Popper to Paglia. Despite Stephen's rhetorical sleight of hand about Warren's own success in a rigged system, fact-based statistics show the US lags far behind Europe in class mobility, mortality rates for the poor, access to higher-education, imprisonment of minorities and the poor, etc, etc. But the most important aspect in all of this is that Warren's view is coherent with the views of a majority of Americans (see the polls), whereas the views of Trump and the GOP are only supported by a minority. Nothing screams more loudly about how rigged the US political system is than the fact that every branch of power in past couple of years (until January) has been controlled by a party that represents a minority of Americans. In France this would lead to revolution, but here conservatives like Mr. Stephens want to obfuscate this fundamental undemocratic truth with calls of more "optimism." We will be optimist when majority rule is again the state of the nation. Until then, we must do all we can to unrig the system.

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2018-12-12

 

Orwell, Nationalism and Film

I have always been (deeply and seriously) patriotic for several places and ways of living---Portugal, USA, Portuguese-speaking World, English-speaking World, even patriotic for Disco and Punk---but I have never been a nationalist for anything. Indeed, I have always been fiercely anti-nationalist in the ways so eloquently expressed by George Orwell (whom I only consider marginally second to Graham Greene and Fernando Pessoa):

"By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."


The recent excellent (doubleplusgood) article by Kanishk Tharoor is a fantastic piece on nationalism in film from a similar viewpoint, but emphasizing the historical errors that the nationalist lens imposes when we look back at pre-nationalist human experience:

"It is a pity that so many historical films feel so obliged to place the imagined nation at their emotional core. That not only distorts understandings of the past, but it suggests that the past can only be relevant and interesting if it supports conventions of the present."


Ultimately, Orwell's 1984 was about the end of history, when historical facts are easily re-written to adapt to the present circumstances. Fake news are not a modern invention. Doubleplusungood. Which allows me to plug in also one of my favorite songs (and albums) from the Eurythmics' 1984 soundtrack.






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2018-11-06

 

Appropriation R Us

What some now call cultural appropriation used to be called cosmopolitanism. Thank you Stephen Fry for pointing out the menace of the parochialism of "illiberal liberals." I hope you are wrong about the end of classical liberalism. Everything I do is appropriation. Complex Systems is the science of scientific cultural appropriation: finding commonalities, importing, updating and exporting methods across disciplines. Djing is the art of cultural appropriation and reinvention. So is Hip Hop. "On a quest to make love De La Soul, no pretense," life itself is appropriation: genes that jump, genes that crossover. Sex is appropriation. We are biological appropriation, and all culture is cannibalism, as Dali so well observed. When appropriation becomes a thoughtcrime, culture and life itself becomes a crime. Stop the reductive, illiberal parochialism of political correctness. "Let the whole world become a paper tape we can write on", said Von Neumann, grasping the similarity between Turing machines and living cells. Save us gods and goddesses of appropriation: Laurie Anderson, De La Soul, Beastie Boys, Prince, Bowie, Miles. "Só a Antropofagia nos une. Socialmente. Economicamente. Filosoficamente. Única lei do mundo. Expressão mascarada de todos os individualismos, de todos os coletivismos" ("Only Cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically. The unique law of the world. The masked expression of all individualism and collective movement",) said Oswald de Andrade. Here is Lesson #3, Masters Double Dee and Steinski shows us how. And let's write all over the Berlin Walls of the newspeak police.


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2018-10-15

 

Free Love

The latest Riot Bootique in Bloomington was a great party of pure love. Here is my first set which set the tone of freedom, love and feeling good for the night, even though it starts a bit dark:Free Love. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next month. Tracklist and podcast below. Free Love is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).








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2018-09-03

 

Summer Unity

For the latest Riot Bootique in Bloomington I decided to do a homage to Aretha Franklin, the absolute Queen of Soul. The idea was to make it super open, spanning many genres and all about Unity---which we need more than ever. Here are the two sets I played assembled together:Summer Unity---the first set of the night plus my second set, after DJ Angst's own set (not included). Its long, and it covers all the Riot Bootique bases and more! From Soul Music to Drum & Bass, and including Disco, House, Techno and Funk. As always, the Riot Bootique is a chance to celebrate all people, this time in celebration of Aretha. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing later this month. Tracklist below, podcast for Summer Unity is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).








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2018-07-19

 

On racial categories and jokes about the French team



After watching the above video from Trevor Noah, I had to disagree with him and actually be sad about the perpetuation of outdated racial categories. Trevor did take the players' Frenchness away by claiming that Africa (alone) won the World Cup. On a larger point, he really seems to be stuck on viewing everything from the prism of race---which makes sense for someone who grew up in the Apartheid regime. But race, in both Africa and Europe, is much more complex than what he paints. The idea that there is an "African race", as in "African-American" is ultimately a racist category that 19th century Europeans (indeed, including the French) pushed on the African continent and the slaves they brought to the Americas. Genetically, there is more racial diversity in Africa than in all the rest of the World combined. Same for language. It is truly reductive, and in my view racist, to lump all of Africa's diversity into a single race---that is precisely what European racists do. A rejection of that way of thinking is actually closer to the ambassador's point, than Noah's who seems to want to perpetuate the 19th century race dichotomy. BTW, I was born in Africa from people who were born in Africa, and though I am seemingly white, my genes are undoubtedly a combination of many races---a reason for that is partially explained in this BBC video (also shown below). I remember going to Apartheid Johannesburg as a kid and hating how at the airport people from my plane were directed to different lines depending on their external appearance. Trevor Noah's joke about the French World Cup team is, in effect, putting people from the same country in different lines. A better rejection of Apartheid would be to erase those categories altogether.



P.S. I do understand that in some contexts, like the US, the outdated racial categories of the 19th century still play a nefarious role. People who look African are demonstrably still treated worse than European-looking people. Because of that, in the US context, I agree that is still important to debate civil rights with the category of "African-American". But the goal should be to make that category (and other racial ones) less and less relevant towards a citizenship defined on individual freedom and collective commonwealth, as the French at least attempt to do.

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2018-05-05

 

Clubismo na Ciência e as paredes disciplinares

Seria interessante um update da parte de quem escreveu o "Livro Negro da Avaliação Científica em Portugal" em 2015, debruçando-se agora com o que está a acontecer na FCT e na ciência em geral em Portugal. Nunca o sistema de avaliação da FCT foi tão anacrónico, nomeadamente por não permitir de todo o desenvolvimento de projetos interdisciplinares. A FCT ainda faz calls for proposals "em todos os domínios científicos", seguidos de painéis sub-sub-sub disciplinares. Isto é, um reducionismo disciplinar absurdo e incompatível com a Ciência atual. Qualquer pessoa que tente submeter algo minimamente interdisciplinar, está destinado ao fracasso logo à partida. A FCT é gerida e pensada como se ainda estivéssemos em 1991. Haja ideias novas por favor. Mas acima de tudo, quem foi tão crítico de gestões científicas anteriores, bem deveria vir agora para a praça publica falar também dos problemas da gestão atual. Se não, voltamos sempre à mesma dinâmica partidária que torna tudo medíocre pelo seu clubismo. A Ciência não pode ser clubista. Tem que ser avaliada ela própria pelo método científico. Gostava de ter acesso aos dados de projetos patrocinados e também das carreiras universitárias. A minha hipótese é que qualquer medição de interdisciplinaridade e consanguinidade académica em Portugal demonstrará uma situação péssima em comparação com as melhores práticas. Temos que fazer as paredes disciplinares (e do privilegio subjacente ao inbreeding académico) cair também em Portugal!


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2018-04-12

 

Disco-Punk in Music, Computing and Academia: personal intro for Ian Rogers

We are thrilled to Present Ian Rogers whose approach and career highlight a Punk attitude we share. Of course, there is the superficial connection of our being professors and DJs, who love and often play the Beastie Boys. But we want to focus on a deeper philosophical stance we think we share and which is very needed in academia---potentially exemplified by SICE. We think of it as a Punk-Disco attitude. Punk and Disco became wrongly seen as opposing forces due to the racist and homophobic "disco sucks" movement. But, in truth, the two informed one another from the beginning, as both originated at the same time in NYC, as a revulsion against the erudite affectations of the white men ivory tower that Rock, Jazz, and Classical music had become. While Punk brought a DIY attitude to breaking walls, Disco broke them via a melting pot pleasure principle: it melded the Latin sounds of Puerto Rico with Philly R&B to produce hymns of sexual liberation for everybody---be it Donna Summer's hymn to female orgasm (in I feel love) to openly gay, bisexual and transgendered acts like Sylvester, Grace Jones, The Village People, etc.  As Johnny Rotten/Lydon (lead singer of the Sex Pistols and P.i.L.) famously said: "I like disco, it is functional music that makes people dance". In fact, most punk acts of the time liked and indeed produced disco: from David Byrne (who played guitar in cult disco hits) to Blondie (a white female Punk Rocker with the first disco-rap #1 hit in America) to the Thin White Duke himself.

The point here is that effective rebellion is made by empowering people to do it themselves, include everybody's point of view, and be fun, sexy and stylish at it! To bring this discussion back to us here in academia and SICE, let us acknowledge that ours is the ultimate ivory tower dominated by white people. Punk-Disco is not naturally rewarded in siloed departments and hierarchies of elite schools and scholars. Nothing could be less Punk-Disco than a Nobel prize, the pinnacle of academia. Indeed, it is no accident that both Johan and I started our careers at the Los Alamos National Lab, home of some of the most Punk-Disco scientists of all time like John and Klara Von Neumann and Richard Feynman. But SICE attracted us because of its original breaking walls vision, which was at heart Punk-Disco---I only came here because I was recruited by the most Punk-Disco philosopher of our days: Andy Clark. We work every day to break the ivory tower, with DIY ethos but also functionally and in style---be it with our new NSF-NRT interdisciplinary training grant that attempts to find a common beat between computing and the social and physical sciences, be it with our attitudes to fight the accepted wisdom of academia, which even when well-intentioned tends to approach everything with a white-elitist bias.

All this to highlight how important it is for us at SICE to remain connected to Punk-Disco movers and shakers like Ian Rogers. His phenomenal trajectory from CS here in Bloomington to forging digital music revolution (winamp, TopSin, Beats Music, Apple), to his role now in shaping more personalized fashion and luxury at LVMH, we can think of no one more Punk-Disco than him. Academia needs to learn from his lessons, "because our crystal ball ain't so crystal clear" we need his "Super Disco Breakin, Money making". "I'm tellin' y'all it's sabotage."

Luis Rocha and Johan Bollen (A.K.A. E-Trash and DJ Angst)
Indiana University, April 12, 2018


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2018-03-26

 

Funky Dance Floor on Fire and No Wall Spirits

We have been doing the Riot Bootique in Bloomington again since the Summer, including a transcontinental edition. They have been wonderful parties full of love with great people---the best antidote to the current political realities. The two sets from last Friday are here in the Funky Dancefloor on Fire---well, the first set plus a lot of the second set. I wanted it funky (given Bootsy Collins' recent visit to Bloomington), and it is. But it covers all the Riot Bootique bases: from Disco to House and Techno via Funk. Since I have been busy to post these through the winter, here is also an assembly of various sets during Fall 2017 and Winter 2018: No Walls Spirits, to celebrate The Riot and its people; all kinds, all colors, all types of love. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next month. Tracklists and podcasts below. Funky Dancefloor on Fire and No Walls Spirits are also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).












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2018-03-25

 
O Rui Veloso escreveu umas musicas excelentes, mas sempre me pareceu um reacionário com gostos retro e algo rabugento. Desde o seu primeiro álbum que explora sons de décadas anteriores, nunca explorou sons contemporâneos. Agora porquê que um gajo de Portugal pode explorar o som americano negro dos blues mas um grego não deve expressar a sua criatividade com o som americano negro do hip hop, é uma questão bem explicada aqui pelos Karetus. Bitch don't kill my vibe. Entretanto, vou colocar o seu greatest hits bem juntinho ao greatest hits do festival da canção na minha coleção de CDs.

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