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28 Jul 17:51

The Tragedy of iTunes and Classical Music

by Robinson Meyer
Clement / Flickr

When the developer Erik Kemp designed the first metadata system for MP3s in 1996, he provided only three options for attaching text to the music. Every audio file could be labeled with only an artist, song name, and album title.

Kemp’s system has since been augmented and improved upon, but never replaced. Which makes sense: Like the web itself, his schema was shipped, good enough, and an improvement on the vacuum which preceded it. Those three big tags, as they’re called, work well with pop and rock written between 1960 and 1995. This didn’t prevent rampant mislabeling in the early days of the web, though, as anyone who remembers Napster can tell you. His system stumbles even more, though, when it needs to capture hip hop’s tradition of guest MCs or jazz’s vibrant culture of studio musicianship.

And they really, really fall apart when they need to classify classical music.

Digital music software has never been well adapted to classical music. iTunes only added a “Composer” tag in 2004. Two years later, the developer Stan Brown published a guide on his website to “taming” Apple’s software for classical music. Since then, other hacks and kludges have followed. But digital music was so endlessly efficient that classical fans, especially the younger ones, embraced it and adopted it.

Certainly that was the case for me, a music-school student in the late 2000s. In the waning hours of a camp or festival, you’d squat with the other kids on the carpet, set up Firewire cables between everyone’s laptops and hard drives, and move music files back and forth. (I still have a DRM-locked copy of Candide in my library that will forever require Will Carmichael’s iTunes password, which I do not know.)

But as streaming services have flooded out MP3s, the situation worsened. Apple, which long paid classical more mind than other big tech companies, debuted Apple Music with dismal classical options, as NPR’s Anastasia Tsiouclas and The New Yorker’s Alex Ross have documented.

And even beyond the streaming service, the new version of Apple’s signature music software seems especially broken. In the name of creating a “complete thought around music,” iTunes 12 has crammed a streaming service and a media library and a recommendation service and a file store and a device manager into one interface. The sum is that nothing “just works”—and MP3s especially don’t work well. I wondered: How were professional musicians handling the change? And how did they organize their music in the first place?

After all, their job requires them to have quick and fluent access to a library of working recordings.

I had another interest here. Earlier this month, Apple released the new and likely final versions of its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle. They shipped with interfaces that looked more than three years out of date. The blogger John Gruber said that this was because “what remains of the iPod software team” had been absorbed by the Apple Watch division. Apple has already discontinued its iPod Classic, the last media player that could conceivably let you tote around your entire music library in one device. The company is floating to a streaming model.

If classical listeners are ill-served by streaming services, though, they will stick with music files; and that means they represent, as a bloc, the set of listeners who will continue to maintain personal libraries of owned music even as the larger public rents their digital music instead. How are they adapting?

* * *

As it turns out: poorly.

First, the bugs. The new version of iTunes disappears music. It confuses live tracks and studio versions. And its search bar cannot even find songs which it contains in its library.

“To give you a really specific situation, there are two settings of the Te Deum text by Benjamin Britten. And it would seem to me that if you type in ‘Britten’ and ‘Te Deum,’ you would see some of them,” the composer Nico Muhly told me. “But it says, ‘no results found.’”

I want to submit to the record here that Muhly’s hard drive contains seven different files that could be reasonably called the Britten Te Deum. In fact, it contains more than 2,000 files, or 11.9 gigabytes, of music by Benjamin Britten. It also contains 97 different settings of the Te Deum text.

“What’s extraordinary about it is that I tagged everything really, really well. It’s in Artist, Album Artist, all these things are organized,” he said.

But when “Britten Te Deum” is searched—and he sent me a screenshot of this—nothing comes up. “It’s not like, let me show you too many results. It just does not compute.”

(Even when the search function does locate a file, he says, pressing ‘return’ to play it does not start playing the highlighted file, but the first file listed alphabetically in iTunes. “Which of course is only Aaliyah.”)

Timo Andres, a composer and pianist, reported fewer problems with the new version of iTunes, though he echoed that it had some odd behaviors. With his music files, he had moved the composer to the “Artist” field. The performer, conductor, and other information went to the file’s general comments field. “I started to do that because there is no performer field,” he said.

Andres has also started to use Apple Music, but has stumbled again with labeling. Apple Music only searches for songs in its library by Kemp’s original three tags—artist, album, and song title—which, combined with often flawed metadata, makes searching for a specific recording of a specific piece arduous, if not impossible.

So many of the problems seemed to come down to metadata. According to Jeremy Morris, a University of Wisconsin professor, Kemp’s tagging system took off when it was adopted by the Compact Disc Database (CDDB). The CDDB is the database which iTunes used to detect what was on a CD while ripping it.

Classical is not the only genre that works poorly with this tagging system, said Jonathan Sterne, author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format, a history and meditation on the technology. Audiobooks, lectures, and sound art don’t really adapt well either.

If anything, said Sterne, the long-playing record and the compact disc—the two great audio formats of the late 20th century—might have been special cases.

With both the CD and the LP, he said, “it just so happened that things that were of interest to the broader world of people who made recorded media, and people who were in the music industry, lined up with those of classical performers and audiences.”

Audio formats before the LP also failed to capture classical music, at least by our measures. Sterne recently bought a 1928 Victrola, he said, and it came with a 78 marked “classical music.” The record boasts five minutes of Debussy. That’s not, to be clear, a five-minute work by Debussy, nor in fact any labeled work at all: It’s just five minutes of some Debussy piece. For more than a century, classical music has been marketed as prestigious, even though what’s being sold may be distant from what the composer first wrote.

“There’s lots of issues” with MP3 tagging beyond classical, said Sterne. “Engineers, producers get left off records. Studio musicians are often left off in ways that were often much more detailed in liner notes.” A week ago, he was trying to find out the engineer who recorded Jay Z’s “Death of Autotune.” The MP3 ID tags didn’t say, nor could he find the answer in five minutes of googling. That’s exactly the kind of information, he said, that would have been printed in liner notes.

* * *

If classical’s messy software is ever fixed, it will require, first, better metadata.

“I get really obsessed with specific vectors of classical music performance—I’ll spend weeks listening to just one performer, or one work, or both,” said David Yee, a software developer who trained as a classical musician, in an email:

Being able to explore a particular movement of one of Mahler’s symphonies as performed by various orchestras in different halls would push all my buttons. The reason you can’t do that now has everything to do with titles—some recordings will refer to the movement by number, some by tempo marking; some put the catalog number in the track title, some in the album title.

New software that could provide more granular and specific access to songs in a huge classical library in some ways has to come after better metadata (both the fields to provide that metadata and community/label effort to provide that metadata). Once that’s in place, you can imagine putting together a day’s worth of listening that focuses on just one movement, or being able to add a complete symphony from a box set of Beethoven’s complete works with a single click.

I have two thoughts here. The CDDB, the industry’s leading database of MP3 metadata, is now privately owned and controlled, but it began as a crowd-sourced project with volunteer contributions. There is no reason this now-private database couldn’t be supplemented by a more robust, more complete database of audio file information maintained on a wiki-like basis.

“I want to take every other part of iTunes and propel it into the sun—everything from suggestions to equalizers,” said Yee. Andres and Muhly both expressed a similar desire for simplicity; some independent iOS and Mac developers have wondered this week why iTunes, the file management software, couldn’t be a separate application from Apple Music, the streaming service. To use iTunes now, it seems like, requires understanding not only Apple’s current music strategy but also its previous several.

But if Apple is committed to a cruft-ridden iTunes, other developers could step in the void. It’s not just classical music libraries: Many users with their own sizable libraries want software that lets them listen to MP3s and AACs. Plenty of minimalist text editors for Macs and PCs persist in the world. If iTunes is beyond repair, it might now be time for some minimalist media management software.

This article was originally published at

28 Jul 16:13

1940s Jacket / Arrowhead Blush Jacket / 40s by wildfellhallvintage

64.00 USD

Pretty dusky pink 40s jacket, originally from a suit set, great arrow detail and coppery buttons, crepe lining in very tidy condition! Fabric is a wool or wool blend gabardine. Please check the measurements for best fit and condition notes below.
Item ships first class worldwide.

c o n d i t i o n
Shows some yellowing at the top of shoulders and a faint linear discoloration down left front side, see close up of 2 small holes at back of right shoulder. Very nice color overall despite the slight variations. Tiny pull below right pocket, sold as is.

size: XS-small
length 23
shoulder 14.5"
sleeve 21"
bust 32-34" (max when buttoned, most comfortable at 32" when fully buttoned)
waist 27-28"

shop previews on instagram @wildfellhall

★check out our vintage lingerie shop right here!

Thank you for stopping by!

28 Jul 15:47

themanofwater: Patti Smith and  Robert Mapplethorpe


Patti Smith and  Robert Mapplethorpe

27 Jul 16:57

Google officially ends forced Google+ integration—First up: YouTube

by Ron Amadeo
Russian Sledges

too late, assholes

In a blog post published today titled "Everything in its right place," Google acknowledged that forcing its users into Google+ was a bad idea. The company said it will no longer require Google+ accounts to use any of its products, and it will continue to strip Google+ integration out of all of its products. "It doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use," the company said.

The next product to be de-plussified is YouTube. The YouTube blog announced that "in the coming weeks," comments will no longer require Google+; as of today, comments made on YouTube won't show up on Google+, and vice-versa. Google also says that in the future, YouTube users will be able to delete the Google+ accounts they were forced to make, without losing any data. (Don't do that right now because you will lose data.)

YouTube's Google+ integration was almost universally disliked by users. It led to an influx of spam, and many of the site's popular personalities came out against the new comment system. To this day, some popular channels still have comments disabled altogether. The cofounder of YouTube even came out against the system, asking, "Why the f*** do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?"

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

28 Jul 13:28

[toread] Metal Captcha -

by overbey
Russian Sledges

via overbey ("ATTN: MultitaskSuicide")

metal band logos as captcha
28 Jul 10:05

Robert Gates, America's Unlikely Gay-Rights Hero

by David A. Graham

Eagle Scout. Young Republican. CIA recruit. Air Force officer. CIA director. Secretary of defense.

It’s not the resume of a radical civil-rights campaigner, but Robert Gates has now integrated two of the great bastions of macho American traditional morality—first the U.S. armed forces, and now the Boy Scouts of America. In both cases, Gates pursued a careful, gradual strategy, one that wasn't fast enough for activists. In both cases, he was careful to take the temperature of constituents. And in both cases, once he was ready to act, he did so decisively. In the end what seemed to matter most was not Gates’s personal feelings but his determination to safeguard institutions he cared about and his deft skills as a bureaucratic operator.

Before the Obama administration began moving to eliminate the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy there was barely any indication of Gates’s views on LBGT issues—though not none. In 1991, while director of central intelligence, Gates ordered an inquiry into whether CIA personnel had ever been blackmailed into espionage because they were gay. When he found no cases, he ended the practice of asking employees about their sexual orientation as part of polygraph tests. From 2002 until he took over the Pentagon in 2006, Gates was president of Texas A&M University, a famously culturally conservative school. (In 1984, students sued, successfully, to force the school to recognize a gay-student organization; the ruling effectively removed all legal prohibitions on LGBT student groups nationwide.) At A&M, Gates worked to improve student diversity overall—including racial minorities and LGBT students—and appointed the school’s first administrator specifically in charge of diversity.

Related Story

The End of the Boy Scout Ban on Gay Adults?

Given the rapid advance of gay rights over the last decade, it’s tough to remember just how different the stage was in 2006, when Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” had had plenty of critics since it was enacted in 1994—President Bill Clinton himself would have preferred simply opening the military to gay servicemembers—but it was still firmly in place. The Bush administration was not interested in lifting the ban, and Gates took a cautious approach. He repeatedly told reporters that he was not reviewing or reconsidering the policy.

When, several months into his tenure, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, said that “homosexual acts between individuals are immoral,” Gates tried to avoid discussing the comments, and said of DADT, “As long as the law is what it is, that's what we'll do.” (Pace, who retired in September 2007, reiterated his personal opposition to homosexuality during an exit hearing with Congress, but also endorsed gay service in the military.) When, two months later, the military ejected 58 desperately needed Arabic linguists because they were gay, Gates still said the policy wasn’t under review.

Even after President Obama was elected and Gates accepted an offer to stay on as secretary, he remained cautious. Though the president pledged to repeal DADT during his first State of the Union, Gates expressed a preference in March 2009 to “push that one down the road a little bit,” infuriating gay activists. Yet in June, he was clearly expecting the policy to end and was exploring whether “there’s a more humane way to apply the law until it gets changed.” A similar pattern held in 2010, as Gates warned Congress not to repeal DADT before he had a policy in place for the aftermath and insisted courts not make the decision. He also issued a survey on gays to servicemembers, a step that LGBT activists, who saw it as putting civil rights to a vote, disagreed with. Yet there Gates was in the fall, saying DADT’s demise was “inevitable” and testifying to Congress in favor of repeal—before the courts did it. (And that survey? It turned out the troops were totally fine with LGBT comrades.)

Once DADT was repealed, Gates moved quickly to enforce discipline and get the change implemented in the military, and shot down any hopes that soldiers, sailors, and marines who disagreed with the policy could leave their commitments early.

Gates’s push for the end of DADT never relied on the soaring rhetoric of rights and justice that people like Obama used. Gates spoke with the dry, careful language of a bureaucrat, speaking in terms of unit cohesion, military readiness, and obstacle recognition. When he indulged emotion, it was to praise soldiers risking their lives—the same language a defense secretary would use for straight soldiers. The decision was more than anything a triumph of pragmatism. Gates carefully studied the effects repeal would have on the military and decided the downsides were minimal; and he looked at the way the country was changing and realized that the policy would have to end soon, and that he wanted it to end on the Pentagon’s terms to ensure the military’s stability and long-term health.

The DADT fight offers a template for the opening to gay scoutmasters. Gates had expressed tempered sympathy for gays in scouting as far back as 1993, when he told Wichita Rotarians, “Values central to Scouting are under challenge today as never before: challenges to our belief in God, challenges from Americans who are gay. Scouting must teach tolerance and respect for the dignity and worth of every individual person, certainly including gays.”

The Boy Scouts had already begun to dismantle some of their anti-gay policies when Gates was elected president in late 2013. A lopsided vote in May 2013 ended a ban on gay scouts but kept prohibitions on gay scout leaders and volunteers in place. Just as he had at Defense, Gates initially took a carefully diplomatic position. “I was prepared to go further than the decision that was made,” Gates said in May 2014. “I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country.” He said he wouldn’t reopen the decision during his term as president.

At some point in the last year, he had a change of heart.

The shift seems to reflect much the same calculus that guided Gates through the DADT decision. At the Pentagon, he had first avoided discussing repeal because it seemed too likely to create institutional instability; but once he decided that the writing was on the wall and that refusing to change was the greater risk to the organization, he moved swiftly and effectively to impose his new will. The point was to guarantee institutional survival.

In May 2015, one year after saying he wouldn’t reopen the issue of gay scoutmasters, Gates did just that. In short, he decided once again that if the institution he led didn’t change its policies now, a judge was likely to force it to do so later.

“I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”

“The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained,” he said. “Between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the BSA finds itself in an unsustainable position, a position that makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy.”

Gates warned that a court order would disarm the Boy Scouts’ ability to act of their own volition, and suggested that doing anything besides opening would be an existential threat.

“I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement,” he said.

Monday evening, Gates got his wish, as the BSA’s 80-member board voted to approve the change. (A smaller executive committee had already approved it.) The new policy may not satisfy everyone. Traditionalists are upset about the move, while progressives feel it doesn’t go far enough—troops that are chartered by churches and other religious organizations would still be permitted to set their own standards. Regardless, the policy marks a serious shift for BSA, and it cements Robert Gates’s place in history: as one of the least likely but most successful proponents for gay equality in institutional America.

27 Jul 15:06

Pupils at Carlisle Indian school, Pennsylvania, c.1900

by John VE
Russian Sledges

via bernot

27 Jul 17:11

UConn Huskies' new stadium name shortens to 'PAWS ARF'

by Peter Berkes
Russian Sledges

via firehose


UConn has sold naming rights for Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney, and the new full name of the stadium will be Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.

Acronym of UConn Huskies' new stadium name: Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field is PAWS ARF h/t Johnny Mac

— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 27, 2015

PAWS ARF. Or, P&WS ARF, which looks basically the same.

PAWS ARF. Because their mascot is the Huskies, which are dogs, which

  1. Have paws, and
  2. Bark, which is sometimes written out by people as "arf."
24 Jul 20:30

gifsboom: Video: Guy Goes Swimming with 12 Golden Retrievers

Russian Sledges

via Ibstopher ("On golden pond?")

28 Mar 14:43

Begin the Same

by dorothy


26 Jul 13:22

Forest Bells — Paul Matisse

by russiansledges
Russian Sledges

field trip?

To find “Forest Bells”, take Route 119 to Groton, then Old Ayer Road south toward Ayer from Route 119 at the triangle common before or after the Mobil Station. Then, turn left onto Indian Hill Road and go all the way to the end. Park cars, but not near the house at the end. Walk back to the end and bear left up a dirt road into the trees. Continue along this road, passing at one point under power lines and continuing down into forest. At the next obvious fork, with the main path going up to the right, turn sharp left on to the side road. About 50 yards later there are a group of fallen trees barring an old road leading uphill to the right. Walking over or around the fallen trees, follow that road up the hill. Continue until you find yourself in a grove of hemlocks, quite different from the pines and oaks all around. You are at the Forest Bells.
24 Jul 22:42

cinemove: In the Mood For Love (2000) dir. Wong Kar Wai

Russian Sledges

in the mood for love autoshare


In the Mood For Love (2000) dir. Wong Kar Wai

25 Jul 17:27

The Red Shoes (1948)“Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes...

The Red Shoes (1948)
“Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on.”
25 Jul 02:49

foreverxalonex: josephicus: fuck the police Yooo

by birdghost
Russian Sledges

via rosalind



fuck the police


23 Jul 18:15

Guillermo Sexo shares new song “Graffiti Sky” — listen

by Dusty Henry
Russian Sledges

went to the video premiere for this; it was pretty

Guillermo Sexo have been a mainstay of the Boston indie rock scene since they began playing in 2004. Over five records, they’ve fleshed out their lush sound, building eclectic anthems with layered guitar work and moody vocals. Now, they’re attempting to up the ante even more with their upcoming sixth album, Eclipse, out this fall via Midriff Records.

The first sample of their album comes in the exceptionally vibrant track “Graffiti Sky”. Vocalist Noell Dorsey floats serenely over the jangling guitar chords and shimmering riffs. As the album title implies, there’s a cosmic vibe running through the track created through smoothly applied reverb cascading over cymbals that explode like tiny stars. It’d be the perfect soundtrack for surfing through distant galaxies — or at least looking at hi-res photos of Pluto on a laptop.

Listen in below.

23 Jul 13:50

Chelsea Wolfe reveals unsettling new song “Grey Days” — listen

by Michelle Geslani
Russian Sledges

"inspired by the Hayao Miyazaki film, Princess Mononoke, where darkness is represented by an iron ball as a sort of demon that ruins you from the inside out"

Abyss is the new album from Chelsea Wolfe, due out on August 7th through Sargent House. Thus far, we’ve heard a handful of tracks from the Pain Is Beauty follow-up, including “After the Fall”“Carrion Flowers”, and “Iron Moon”. Today, the neo-folk songwriter has offered up another glimpse of the LP with “Grey Days”.

Not unlike its predecessors, this new number finds Wolfe’s haunting vocals enveloped by harsh and frightening noises, as though she’s being pulled into the depths of some forsaken underworld. Her sawtoothed guitars gnaw especially hard during around the track’s halfway point. Listen in below.

In an interview with Billboard, she offered context for the song:

“The title [‘Grey Days’] came from a conversation with someone I met on the road who had been in prison. He called that time his ‘grey days.’ It’s about something holding you back. In the song, [what’s holding you back is] represented very internally. [It was] inspired by the Hayao Miyazaki film, Princess Mononoke, where darkness is represented by an iron ball as a sort of demon that ruins you from the inside out.”

Abyss Tracklist:
01. Carrion Flowers
02. Iron Moon
03. Dragged Out
04. Maw
05. Grey Days
06. After the Fall
07. Crazy Love
08. Simple Death
09. Survive
10. Color of Blood
11. The Abyss

24 Jul 11:07

Boston artists share T.T. the Bear’s Place stories - Music - The Boston Globe

by russiansledges
What made T.T. the Bear’s Place so special? In their own words, here are testimonials from Boston-bred musicians who called the club home through the years.
15 Jul 21:58

Cynthia Rowley Shorts – Simplicity 1371

by Rochelle
Russian Sledges

these stockings are freaking me out

I probably picked the worst day to blog about a pair of shorts, since it’s been raining, it’s windy, and it’s freezing, but Hey! New shorts! A cold windy day makes for a good opportunity to wear my new super ridiculous…ly adorable cat stockings though, so I guess today was a good day to wear shorts after all!


The pattern is Simplicity 1371 designed by Cynthia Rowley and I’m super happy with the fit. Surprisingly, I made no major adjustments! I cut a straight size 4* and the only changes I made were to the waistband and the zipper (and those were style changes not fitting changes). I never get that lucky with sewing! I swear if I’m not making 8 muslins I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. #sewingproblems #thestruggleisreal

(edit* – I should mention my actual measurements are a size 8/10 but I cut a 4 based on the finished measurements and my preferred wearing ease.)


Though I did no fitting, I did have to do some creative cutting to get all my pieces to fit. I was attempting to work just from the leftovers after cutting out my VIFPMCW Hollyburn and the yardage evaporated quickly. There’s a seam running through the inside of my pockets (eh hem, because I cut them wrong and then tried to fix it) but it doesn’t make them any less functional. If anything it just makes me feel slightly smug, like “Hey good job, you. Way to mess up make do and mend!” – I like those little secrets in sewing projects.


The fabric I used is a lighter weight cotton twill by Robert Kaufman. I really love the way this fabric feels, it’s a great summer weight, but I am rather disappointed with how much the color ran in the wash. I know bright reds (Tomato red in this case) are tricky to make truly colorfast, but still, I prefer not to have to sort my laundry. It won’t stop me from buying this exact same fabric again (in fact I plan on it), but I’ll have to be less lazy with my laundry sorting habits when I do so I don’t ruin more socks.


I think the pattern calls for an invisible zipper but I went for a centered zip instead. On my next pair I’d like to try an exposed zipper since I keep seeing them pop up online and I like the look! Megan Nielsen has a great exposed zipper tutorial on her blog which I’ve bookmarked for future reference.

Alright you guys, the last time I shared a pair of shorts there were many readers who were disappointed with the lack of butt shots (of all things lol!). I can understand that though, honestly. Pattern envelopes can be deceiving and I too like to see all angles of a finished garment before I sew it myself. Soooooo… butt shots, I will deliver. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Children, shield your eyes!



Outfit Details:
Shirt – Grainline Archer
Shorts – Simplicity 1371
Sweater – Awesome21
Cat Stockings – AM Landen
Shoes – stolen from my mom
Headscarf – Thrift Store
Glasses – c/o Victory Optical
(20% off all frames with code LUCKY20)


I’ve been wearing my Archer shirts constantly since Me Made May, and the fact that I haven’t sewn one since last year is utter madness. I’m going to remedy that soon! I originally picked the Sewaholic Granville for one of the pieces in my VIFPMCW ensemble but I might have to swap it for Archer. I like Archer. It fits. It’s comfortable. It ain’t broke so why fix it, right?


Speaking of the VIFPMCW Challenge, these shorts are my first completed piece! My matching Hollyburn skirt is 80% done but I made the mistake of stopping and moving things before I got the waistband on, and now I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Anywhere! I think I may have accidentally thrown it away with the scraps… Oh no, I guess I’ll have to buy more fabric then. Geeze, what a terrible, terrible thing (said no seamstress ever).


One more butt shot and then your eyes can recover 😉

Seriously though, CAT STOCKINGS. They make my life better. Things have been pretty gloomy in the life department lately (I’m not talking about just the weather), and when things get gloomy I like to dye my hair fun colors and wear ridiculous things like cat stockings (and run. I’ve started running). It’s a surefire way to feel better and keep the darkness at bay.

Sewing really bright red things definitely helps too. It’s a great power color. Tiger Woods knows what’s up.


23 Jul 17:45

The Lingerie Football Trap

by Aaron Schatz

What do you do if you are a woman and you want to play competitive football? You get stuck wearing a bikini in a league that doesn't pay you or provide health insurance -- because it's the best competitive football you can play. This is a great bit of long-form journalism over at Grantland by Jordan Ritter Conn. I ended up watching a bit of a "Legends" Football League game when flipping channels a couple weeks ago and the quality of play was no different from your usual Arena Football game.

read more

23 Jul 23:01

justice4mikebrown: July 22“Signal lane change or sheriff may...

Russian Sledges

via baron


July 22

“Signal lane change or sheriff may kill you”

22 Jul 18:47

Vintage Vinyl: 1963

by Dave
Russian Sledges

via multitask suicide

"Boston, 1963. Records for sale in hi-fi store." Where the fi goes at least as high as Blaupunkt Multiplex Stereo. 35mm negative, photog unknown. View full size.
23 Jul 13:18 | Determine the gender of a first name

by russiansledges
Russian Sledges

on the one hand: gender binary, likely inaccuracy, etc

on the other: this is going to make identifying women filmmakers in the HFA database less of a slog determines the gender of a first name. Use the API for analytics, ad targeting, user segmenting etc. It utilizes big datasets of information, from user profiles across major social networks and exposes this data through its API. The response includes a certainty factor as well.
23 Jul 20:30

Artist Buys Billboard Advertising Time to Display Art Instead of Ads on Massachusetts Highways

by Kate Sierzputowski
Russian Sledges

saw one of these last weekend, kind of freaked out


All images @Brian Kane, photography by Nate Wieselquist and Simone Schiess






Created as a set of billboards along two Massachusetts highways, “Healing Tool” is a temporary public art installation by artist Brian Kane produced to temporarily relieve stress and promote introspection during one’s monotonous daily commute.

Kane’s digital billboards circulate between pictures of surrounding natural environments, creating “unvertisements” that promote nothing instead of shoving products, restaurants, and services in consumers’ faces from above. The piece builds upon a body of work Kane has been producing that places digital experiences into real world situations. “Healing Tool” is named after the Photoshop tool used to patch over errors in photographs, just as his project is patching over unnatural blips of landscape (billboards) seen from the highway.

The pieces change depending on the time of day. Daylight hours feature natural images of areas surrounding the billboards, while evening hours display high-resolution images of the moon and Milky Way that allow viewers a clear glimpse of the cosmos despite urban light pollution.

Kane explains, “By removing the marketing message from the advertising space, we create an unexpected moment of introspection. People are allowed to interpret an image based on their own experience, and not necessarily with the singular focus of the advertiser’s intent.” (via The Creator’s Project and Junkculture)

23 Jul 14:32

Stunning Arabic Light Calligraphy by Julien Breton

by Christopher Jobson
Russian Sledges

via baron

light-1La beauté- The beauty. Arabic calligraphy. Tetouan, Morocco, 2015. Calligraphy by Julien Breton aka Kaalam. Photography by Cisco Light-painting.

Artist Julien Breton aka ‘Kaalam‘ is a master of photographic light painting, turning full-body gestures reminiscent of dance movements into the invisible pen strokes of Arabic calligraphy. Breton works silently in secluded urban environments and against dimmed architectural backdrops to execute perfectly rehearsed motions that translate on film to both abstract and literal Arabic handwriting. With its sweeping tails, loops, and punctuated diacritic dots, it’s difficult to imagine any other language more suited to the transcription of human body movement into written language.

Collected here are a number of works over the last few years, but you can see much more on Behance and on his website. If you liked this, also check out the work of Stephen Orlando.

4953231e6531d8fcdca349189213013bPensée – think. Arabic calligraphy. Saint-Laurent sur sèvres, France, 2014. Calligraphy by Julien Breton aka Kaalam. Photography by David Gallard.

Dead’s place. Abstract calligraphy. New York, USA, 2012. Calligraphy by Julien Breton aka Kaalam. Photography by David Gallard.

Fraternité. Arabic calligraphy. Alexandrie, Egypte, 2015.

La lumière – The light. Arabic calligraphy. Jodpur, India, 2012. Calligraphy by Julien Breton aka Kaalam. Photography by David Gallard.

Compassion. Arabic calligraphy. Issé, France, 2014. Calligraphy by Julien Breton aka Kaalam.
Photography by David Gallard.

Under the city. Abstract calligraphy. Nantes, France, 2012. Calligraphy by Julien Breton aka Kaalam. Photography by David Gallard.

Credit: Billy and the Kid / Morocco

Credit: Billy and the Kid / Morocco


23 Jul 02:05

fashion-runways: PAOLO SEBASTIAN Couture Spring/Summer 2016

Russian Sledges

via GN ("#birbdressbeat")

possibly mildly nsfw


PAOLO SEBASTIAN Couture Spring/Summer 2016

26 May 11:30

Hunting Spear of Nicolas De LorraineDated: circa 1570Maker:...

Russian Sledges

via Bunker.jordan ("Jesus Christ. A gun-spear.")

Hunting Spear of Nicolas De Lorraine

  • Dated: circa 1570
  • Maker: unknown
  • Medium: iron, wood, ivory, bone and velvet
  • Place of creation: Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany
  • Measurements: height: 2.23 m; width: 0.16 m; weight: 4.6 kg

The spear belonged to Nicolas de Lorraine (1524-1577), Count of Vaudemont Duke of Mercoeur and stepfather of King Henri III of France. Its appeal is reinforced by its technical complexity as three small spinning wheel guns are concealed in the hollow of its iron edges. The spear was the weapon most commonly used for hunting.

The weapons system, which combines a knife and a gun, were very popular in the late 16th century. This spear has received a decorative treatment; its iron sage leaf is fully decorated with a tracery carved decor, while the wooden shaft is inlaid with bone and ivory plaques. The three spinning wheels have in their center an eagle with outstretched wings of the German Empire.

Source: Copyright © 2015 Musée de l'Armée

23 Jul 14:46

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Addresses Vatican Conference

by Phillip Martin

Day two of the Symposium convened by Pope Francis to call attention to climate change and ecocomic disparities began with a slide presentation by noted economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University. It showed Boston and dozens of other cities swathed in ominous shades of red to signify when they will end up underwater in the 21st century if global warming is allowed to accelerate.

20 Jul 08:50

to st. valentine!

Russian Sledges

picnic at hanging rock autoshare

to st. valentine!
20 Jul 14:15

avenging-hobbits: All Time Favorite Movies:The Night of the...

Russian Sledges

night of the hunter autoshare


All Time Favorite Movies:

The Night of the Hunter // 1955 // Charles Laughton

It’s a hard world for little things.

23 Jul 09:20

A worked example of fixing problem MARC data: Part 5 – OpenRefine and MarcEdit redux

by ostephens
Russian Sledges

fyi, sometimes this is my life

This is the fifth and last post in a series of 5.

In Part 4 I described how I used OpenRefine to fix issues with MARC records. In this fifth and final blog post in this series I’m going to cover exporting the mnemonic MARC records from OpenRefine and back to MarcEdit to produce a file of valid MARC records.

The mnemonic MARC format consists of one line per MARC field. Each line starts with an ‘=’ sign, followed immediately by the three digit/letter tag, which in turn is followed by two spaces. For fixed length fields the spaces are followed by the contents of the field. For other MARC fields the spaces are followed by the two indicators for the field, and then the content of the field (subfields marked with a ‘$’ signs):

=LDR 00759nam _22002414_245__
=001 000000001
=245 10$aExtension staff handbook;$nVolume II.

Where you have multiple records they are separated by a single blank line.

When I imported the file into OpenRefine I had put the information into three columns – one containing the MARC field tag, one containing indicators (blank for fixed fields) and one containing the field contents. However, I’d kept the blank lines that were in the original file and not done any sorting that would lose the order of the original file contents (I had removed some lines completely, but none of the blank lines). This is important because preserving the ordering and the blank lines from the original file is the only way the ‘records’ are preserved. I could have done some work in OpenRefine to link each field to a record ID, and then not worried about the blank lines and ordering, but to be honest that was extra work that wasn’t necessary in this case.

There are a number of export options in OpenRefine, all accessed from an ‘Export’ menu in the top right of the screen:

OpenRefine Export Options

It is worth remembering that when exporting data from OpenRefine the default is to only export data that is in the current OpenRefine display – observing any filters etc you have applied to the data. So if you want to export the whole data set, make sure you remove any facets/filters before doing so.

As well as a number of standard formats, the “Custom tabular exporter” and “Templating” options allow you to build exports to your own specification. In this case I needed to use the “Templating” option which is the most flexible way of configuring exports.

The Templating option allows you to fully configure how each field in your OpenRefine project is exported. It also allows you to specify how records are separated and any header (prefix) or footer (suffix) you want in the complete export.

OpenRefine Export Template

The default layout is a format called ‘JSON’ (Javascript Object Notation, but it doesn’t really matter). However we can completely re-write this into whatever format we want. The ‘Prefix’ and ‘Suffix’ areas on this form as simple text – you can just type whatever you want in here. Since in the case of mnemonic MARC file there are no headers or footers, I can remove all the text from the ‘Prefix’ and ‘Suffix’ areas in this form.

The ‘Row Template’ is the key part of the template – this defines how each row in the OpenRefine project is processed and output for the export. Inside the Row Template the text inside double curly brackets {{ }} is processed as a GREL expression – so you can manipulate the data as you output it if you need to – this makes the template extremely flexible. Because the export doesn’t relate to any single column you have to use the ‘cells[“Column name”].value’ syntax to bring in the values from the cells.

The default is to use a ‘jsonize’ function – which essentially makes sure that the data from a cell is valid for a JSON output file. However, in this case we don’t want to mess with the data on output – we just want the values, with the additional text required for the mnemonic MARC format.

So the row template I need to use is:

={{cells["Tag"].value}}  {{cells["Indicators"].value}}{{cells["Content"].value}}

Because some lines will have values in the Indicators column and some won’t (the fixed fields), we have to sure that the indicators are populated (even if uncoded) for all non-fixed fields, and contain an empty string for fixed fields. As long as this is the case, the output will be formatted correctly for both types of field.

One thing to look out for is that there are a few different ways in which a field can appear ‘blank’ – it can be an empty string (“”) or ‘null’ or an error. In the export template any cells containing a ‘null’ rather than an empty string will appear as ‘null’ – as can be seen in the last row in this screenshot:

Null field in export template

To avoid these ‘null’ values appearing you can either do a cell transformation on the appropriate columns to replace ‘null’ with “”, or you can write tests for ‘null’ values and replace them with blanks within the template using GREL expressions.

The other issue I’ve got here is that the ’empty’ line at the end of the record still starts with an ‘=’ sign – because I’ve set this to output on every row – and it doesn’t care that the row is blank. I could decide to not worry about this and edit out these lines after the export (e.g. in a text editor using find/replace on lines only consisting of an equals sign and two spaces). Alternatively I can write GREL in my template that checks to see if there is a value in the Tag column before outputting the equals sign and spaces. If I put this together with a check for ‘null’ values I get a more complex expression:

{{if(isBlank(cells["Tag"].value),"","="+cells["Tag"].value+"  ")}}{{if(isBlank(cells["Indicators"].value),"",cells["Indicators"].value)}}{{if(isBlank(cells["Content"].value),"",cells["Content"].value)}}

This tests if the Tag cell in the row is blank and only outputs the ‘=’ at the start of the row and the two spaces following the tag if it finds a tag to use.

The final option on this screen is the ‘Row Separator’. In the default this is a comma followed by a newline/enter (which is of course difficult to see in the editor). I don’t need the comma at the end of each line but I do need a newline (otherwise all the rows would merge together). So I end up with:

Finalised mnemonic MARC export template

Unfortunately there is no way of saving the Template within OpenRefine (although it will persist between sessions, but if you are using different templates at different times, this won’t help). If I’ve got a complex export I usually create a text file with each part of the export template (prefix, suffix, row template, row separator) documented. This would be important if you were doing a complex export like this OpenRefine MODS export template.

I can now export the the file in mnemonic MARC format by clicking Export. It will download as a text file with a ‘txt’ extension. I will want to rename the file with an ‘mrk’ extension so that MarcEdit recognises it as a mnemonic MARC file.

My final step is to use MarcEdit to do a final validation of this file (happily this found only one outstanding error which I was able to correct directly in the MarcEdit Editor), and finally I can use one of several routes in MarcEdit to covert the mnemonic MARC file to a proper MARC file (you can do this using the ‘MARC Maker’ function, using ‘Save as’ or ‘Compile File to MARC’  options in the Marc Editor).

And that’s it – a worked example of fixing MARC records using a combination of three tools – the Notepad++ text editorMarcEdit and OpenRefine. I’d like to re-iterate my thanks to the Polytechnic of Namibia Library for giving me permission to share this example.

Finally – if there are things that I’m missing here, steps that could be improved/more efficient, questions to ask or clarifications to make please leave comments here or contact me on Twitter – I’m @ostephens.