Notable words, Q2 2016

  • oppo (n.). "Opposition research"; the private industry that runs smear campaigns against public figures. Tabloid journalism wholly unmediated by ordinary press objectivity (yuk yuk), the 'public interest' (ho ho), or the sense of fairness typical of actual activists (YUK YUK). Oppo has already begun to creep outward from politicians to academics and protestors with unpopular views. This greatly increases the cost of overt political action; since both political tribes are arming themselves with opposition research farms, this industry can only harm absolutely every part of the public sphere. In America, oppo people have charity status and can be totally anonymously funded. Be afraid.

  • to spitball (v.) To brainstorm; to suggest without decision or strong support.

  • doomstead (n.). A house in which to die? (Had to infer; it was coined here without explanation.)
    (Edit: Christian tells me it is in fact the bunker and farmland preppers each prepare for the end times.)

  • data exhaust (n.). Digital paper-trail: cookies, logs, IMSI broadcasts, ISP cache, EM pollution, cold RAM, maybe even packets in transit. Much bigger than big data and ten times as worthless.

  • king-punch (Oz n. & v.): to hit brutally without warning; a sucker-punch or cold-clock. Interesting because of what it implies about the historical strategies of monarchy.

  • ban (n.): A base-10 unit of information; about 3.3 bits. Coined by Turing, and bearing his very particular, continental style (see also the Bombe, Turingery, Banburismus, Scritchmus). As he saw it, one deciban is "about the smallest change in weight of evidence that is directly perceptible to human intuition". (A claim so in need of giant systematic empirical investigation - perhaps the most in need I have seen. To refine it, possibly, not to bury it!) Renamed to the hartley by some committee or other.

  • catom (n.): a "claytronic atom", i.e. a single molecule that organises itself with other catoms according to a modifiable program. The first concrete proposal for universal machines without moving parts. They sort-of exist, but are obviously fantastically expensive and limited and only manipulable in a 2D plane.

  • natty (Jamaican or bodybuilder adj.): As well as the usual use, for smart clothing: 1) a compliment, esp. for someone's dreadlocks; creole of 'knotty'; 2) a contraction of 'natural', implying a physique obtained without steroids, as in "you're a fake-natty liar".

  • rhoticity (n.): degree to which an accent pronounces its 'r's. Spaniards and the West Country have maximum rhoticity (Beijingese too); the Boston accent is the most famously non-rhotic. In English it is not quite a proxy of accent social class.

  • katal (n.): the unit of catalysis; one katal = one mole catalysed per second

  • gesceap (Proto-Euro n.) A thing's finished shape; a creature, or a creation. (The distinction was obscure to people when this word was in use.)

  • the Jacksonian mode of discourse (n.): Tyler Cowen traces the beginning of the polemical, irrational, personal style that rules democratic election campaigns across the globe to 1824, when Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams' respective mobs started an awful culture of attack pamphlets and mob disruption. Opposition research is just the institutionalised form of this mode.


Late review: Exo Crystallis (2015) by TNJX

What is this bright Egyptianistic Cheshtronica offering? Well since you asked, I'll tell you:
it is the fruit of the tree named James Lightfoot, who you could see as bedroom avatar of Sun Ra and/or
channeller of Nobuo Uematsu cum understudy to Darren Styles.

- one of my unfinished TNJX reviews

I once played someone my favourite TNJX songs as we careened along a dirt track, as the sun rose over the Ngorongoro crater, as we suffered being the seventeenth and eighteenth passengers of an 8-seater bus. Aha! What a setting! Time for a concentrated dose of brightness, engineered to unchain, point over the horizon to where no-one's elbow is in your armpit, no-one smells intolerably of long travel, where rivers run thick with glowsticks, the sky with formidable but honourable challengers.

She actually recoiled. Though she's an agreeable person in many ways, she indulges a perennial vice: thinking that music is for only one thing. (In her case, that thing is eliciting traditionally poignant emotions and a vague sense of social injustice, each of which TNJX lacks in large and glad measure.)

Now, as no-one needs to be told, music sometimes is for letting you emote vicariously (which actually doesn't deserve scorn, since it's just coming to know yourself through another person).

Other uses: Among middle-class people, music's stated function is expressing the linguistically inexpressible, while its most common function is consolation and nostalgia. Amongst young people it is a way of dividing into social groups and a pretext to touch each other. Sometimes it is used for a challenge, a Classical parallel-processing strain; or sometimes it is there to not challenge us, to distract the animal while the grown-ups get on with things; sometimes it is for compelling us (whether to put ya hands up or to stop thinking for a spell); or for by far the easiest way to get a large group of people to feel communal and get above themselves for once; or for just stopping up your ears cos you don't want to hear the noise of the Tube or your own thoughts; and mixtapes were (are?) the safest and coolest way to open a real emotional rapport with a new friend or lover; or (and this is TNJX's first function, for me) for banishing sadness without reference to love.

It's not that everyone has to use music all of these ways. (For instance, one of my friends makes really wonderful mixes, each with the self-same spirit of pensive, tense eroticism; mine never display any at all. And there's nothing wrong with that.) But we should admit that there are other valid purposes to the ones we use. I can't help but see the flinch described in the opening story as a mark of deep error, foolish overreaction to contact with an aesthetic you don't happen to be open to. It bespeaks contempt, a sad policing of what you can even consider, let alone like (let alone let people know you like).

Out of this monomania comes inability to comprehend the value of different manners; out of incomprehension comes disdain; from disdain comes the internet as we know it.

I don't know why people are so keen to recoil, to keep to their lone function with its lone associated sound. It probably has something to do with signalling, like most perverse things humans do.

ANYWAY this is his best album yet. I'm not socially or temperamentally given to dance, but TNJX is so light and so loved: power without overpowering, happiness without idiocy. It's as relentlessly positive as trance with none of its gurning. It is thematic (roughly, the epic earnest anime coloration of the Tales series) - but varied in pace and timbre. The opening track emphasises we're leaving behind tawdry reality; time goes skewiff; we smash through a glass door and find ourselves in track 2, a glowing cartoon call to arms. (Dhaos has risen! If there is evil in this world, it lurks in the hearts of men!)

It is not weighed down by internet esotericism, as sometimes before. It interpolates classic melodies (Waterloo Sunset vs Just Can't Get Enough!) so well that you don't notice they're borrowed; he thus revives things deadened by their own fame. I have listened to it easily 50 times in a year, in all weather, and for several of the purposes listed above.

Go and buy Exo Crystallis, whatever you are.

Best: Infinite King, Sky Pirate, Torn Apart by Crystals.