Dad, Movie Projectionist, Minnesotan. Ruby (&c. &c.) developer/lead at the U of MN. Rust co-maintainer for Exercism.io.
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Stranger Fruit

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Stranger Fruit was created in response to the senseless murders of black men across the nation by police violence.
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iwhitney
59 days ago
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Minneapolis, MN
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MSP Restaurant Update: What's Now and What's Next?

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Local restaurant owners know it's not just how far we've come in four weeks, it's how far are we willing to go.

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iwhitney
118 days ago
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Minneapolis, MN
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Online Shop These Independent MN Bookstores

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Amazon doesn't need your dollars right now, but these independent bookstores (offering staff picks) do.

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iwhitney
129 days ago
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Minneapolis, MN
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Two decades of weird beats from Blockhead, plus more lofi hiphop

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In the vein of the very popular lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to, UK's Channel 4 offers lofi hip hop radio - beats to self isolate to over a loop of Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd. Want to spend this self-isolation time getting to know one specific hip hop artist and his music? Check out Blockhead, Tony Simon from NYC, who's been making beats since '94, and started collabing with Aesop Rock circa 1998 (YouTube interviews x2). Signed to Ninja Tune (who have an [unrelated] ambient livestream) for four of his first five albums (Discogs), since then he's released his music on a couple different labels, plus via Bandcamp, spanning the eras of crate digging to digital discoveries (interview with This Savage Beauty). A selected discography follows ...

One of the earliest Blockhead beat for Aesop Rock: Plastic Soldier, off of Aesop's 1997 Music For Earthworms. And about four years later: Aesop Rock's "Daylight" from Labor Days (Discogs). He also provided beats for Murs (Happy Pillz ft. Aesop Rock), Illogic (Killing Time ft. Aesop Rock), and Party Fun Action Committee (Back N Da Daiz).

Blockhead's first solo release was Blockhead's Broke Beats (Bandcamp), a collection of short beats made specifically for DJ and Mc's, originally on Mush Records in 2001 (Discogs).

Three years later, he released Music by Cavelight (Youtube official audio playlist) on Ninja Tune (Discogs), with videos for Insomniac Olympics and Sunday Séance. John Bush's AMG review likened the sound to Boards of Canada and early instrumental trip-hop. He quickly followed the album with Downtown Science (YT, official audio playlist) the following year (Discogs). Jason Crock's Pitchfork review likens it to DJ Shadow and Daedelus, two other notable instrumental beatmakers.

Uncle Tony's Coloring Book (Bandcamp) was self-released in 2007, distributed by Ninja Tune (if I recall correctly), and is an uplifting detour from his prior two albums (Noel Dix, Exclaim.ca review). But that detour was short-lived.

Two years later, back on Ninja Tune, The Music Scene (YT playlist) "isn't something you put on to unwind, this is something you put on to blow minds and strike fear into people's hearts. The Music Scene sounds like the hip-hop soundtrack to the apocalypse." (Ted Maider, Consequence of Sound) The title track has a trippy video that is still Blockhead's most viewed video/ track, thanks to Anthony F. Schepperd's hand-drawn animation. The public access television-inspired Interludes After Midnight (YT playlist) is more of his instrumental hip hop with a melancholy vibe (Patrick Taylor, Rap Reviews), sampling psych, jazz, and rap tracks to make something new and wonderful. That album was the end of his Ninja Tunes.

In 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017, he released albums with rappers: Dour Candy (Bandcamp) with Billy Woods, Capture the Sun (Bandcamp) with Illogic, Justplaywitit (Discogs; "SumOfItsParts" on Soundcloud and its music video on YT) and Keep Playin' (Bandcamp) with Marq Spekt, then back with Billy Woods on Known Unknows (vocal and instrumental on Bandcamp).

Blockhead also self-released a second album, his 8th album over-all, in 2014. Bells And Whistles (Bandcamp) is another fine slab of funky, jazzy, eclectic boom-bap (Ali Van Houten, The Untz). In 2017, he let loose Funeral Balloons, "eclectic instrumentation, chunky vintage drums, funky percussion, and moody synth passages. At times a somber, emotional exploration, but somehow retains a light heartedness through out." (David Peck, Bringing Down the Band).

In 2018, Blockhead was let loose on the London-based De Wolfe Music library music archive and produced The Art of the Sample (Bandcamp). In his own words "These are not typical Blockhead songs. They're more stripped down and focused for the purpose of being used in TV and film."

Not one to stay still for long, Blockhead collaborated with a range of rappers on Free Sweatpants (Bandcamp), "laid back, chilled out beats and soundscapes he serves up to his wordy companions" (Christopher Michael Ovens Sneddon, The Headscratcher). (If it's too wordy for you, Tony also has the instrumental album on Bandcamp.) The album was a few years in the making, and something he had wanted to do since before he released his first instrumental solo album (Passion of the Weiss interview. He released his 9th solo album at the end of 2019, Bubble Bath (Bandcamp). In the era of "chilled beats" playlists on YouTube, Blockhead continues to stand out (Eric Mellor, Spectrum Culture).

Bonus YouTube playlist, from Blockhead himself: 35 remixes. Bonus remix: Hangar 18: Baking Soda (Remix)

And because everyone's doing work from home, Tony has uploaded about an hour every other day for the past week, under the title Blockhead's Quarantine beats: Brute Camp Clique, 7th Heaven, Doug Flutie, and latest from earlier tonight: Moustache ride -- a beat made live on Instagram, copied then to YouTube.
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iwhitney
130 days ago
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Minneapolis, MN
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Marshall Islands Navigation Charts

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Marshall Islands Navigation Chart

Marshall Islands Navigation Chart

Marshall Islands Navigation Chart

Marshall Islands Navigation Chart

The arrangement of the sticks in these Marshall Islands navigational charts represents ocean swells & currents and how they interact with the land, useful information for navigating between islands via canoe. From a Smithsonian Magazine article about these charts:

The chart is less a literal representation of the sea, says museum curator and anthropologist Adrienne Kaeppler, and more an abstract illustration of the ways that ocean swells interact with land. Curved sticks, she explains, show where swells are deflected by an island; short, straight strips often indicate currents near islands; longer strips “may indicate the direction in which certain islands are to be found;” and small cowry shells represent the islands themselves.

The stick charts were preparatory & teaching tools — mariners would memorize the charts before heading out to sea rather than take them along on the boat.

The photos above are from the Smithsonian Institution, courtesy of Flickr.

See also Secrets of the Wave Pilots and other physical data visualizations. (via curationist)

Tags: infoviz   maps   Marshall Islands
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iwhitney
159 days ago
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Minneapolis, MN
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Kickstarting Tech Unionization

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In March of last year, employees at the tech crowdfunding Kickstarter, tired of the poor working conditions there, announced that they were seeking to form a union under the umbrella of the Office and Professional Employees International Union. In response, management engaged in anti-union tactics, including firing two employees engaged in organizing. In the end, however, with a vote of 46-37, Kickstarter's employees are now officially unionized.

Kickstarter United will operate as a local of the OPEIU, which has begun the preliminary process of setting up a collective bargaining agreement with the company.
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iwhitney
169 days ago
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Go OPEIU, my old union.
Minneapolis, MN
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