Monday, March 28, 2011

new stAllio! video: pull up to my buffer

i present to you the second video from a huge smash, titled "pull up to my buffer".

the song is a meditation on digital audio artifacts caused by buffering, low bandwidth, and the like, so it was only natural use datamoshing techniques to create a video with accompanying visual glitches. thanks are due to datamosher and danieljalex for their tutorials on the subject.

Friday, March 25, 2011

carlos lam goes on the lam

probably the biggest story out of indiana yesterday is that of carlos lam, former deputy prosecutor in johnson county. lam got in trouble for an email he wrote to wisconsin governor scott walker suggesting he take inspiration from bob roberts in his battle with the state's unions:

I've been involved in GOP politics here in Indiana for 18 years, and I think that the situation in WI presents a good opportunity for what's called a "false flag" operation. If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the public unions. Currently, the media is painting the union protest as a democratic uprising and failing to mention the role of the DNC and umbrella union organizations in the protest. Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions.

when lam's email became public, his first impulse was to lie and say his account had been hacked:

Lam, who had asked that his name not be used, said he was particularly concerned since "the person who wrote this seems to know a lot about me" and his account "had been hacked in the past." On the advice of Cooper, he took down his Facebook page, changed his cell phone number, email passwords, "library, medical, bank, student loan, and a whole host of records," and was afraid for his and his family's safety.

to his credit, later that day he confessed and resigned from the prosecutor's office. but the part about taking down his facebook page and phone numbers may be true after all. i can't find him on facebook, the phone number he signed at the bottom of his letter to walker has been disconnected, and now his blogs have disappeared.

when i heard about this story, my first reaction was that i recognized his name, because i'd come across him before on the local blogs. so i checked his blogger profile, where he had two blogs: PERFblog and Catholics Allied for the Faith. as of this morning, both blogs have been deleted... but both are at this moment still in the google cache.

PERFblog was a deeply wonky blog about indiana retirement benefits, so it's a difficult read, but even if the jargon looks like alpha-bits to your eyes, it's easy to understand sentiments like this:

Given this reality, state government will eventually (a) tell public employees to get screwed because the money's just not there, (b) cut the budget to fund retirees' pensions, or (c) change the system so that the liabilities don't grow as quickly. I really hope that (c) is the choice, but we public employees have to do our part: we cannot let union/collectivist leaders scare our fellow public servants into believing that a defined benefit plan is the best retirement option for public employees!

i've taken the liberty of fishing PERFblog out of the google cache and reposting it here on my site. as for his catholic blog, though it's as firmly right-wing as PERFblog, full of references to snowflake babies and latin mass, i'm not archiving it because it's not germane to this discussion. for the time being, it's still viewable in the google cache, though it will disappear within a few days.

but though he can delete his blogs, he can't delete the comments he left on other blogs. lam was an occasional commenter at conservative blogs such as advance indiana and ogden on politics—the short-lived PERFblog was even on ogden's blogroll. neither blog has mentioned lam's resignation, nor the reason for it. he was also a frequent commenter on the investing site, leaving some 1,300 comments there over the past couple years.

i must say that, after skimming through his comments on those sites (well, i got bored after about 8 pages of seeking alpha comments [out of 88]), i haven't found any bombshells. don't get me wrong: his right-wing politics shine through. but in the context of right-wing blog comments, his comments are run-of-the-mill. certainly nothing that rises to the standard of encouraging an elected official to engage in psy-ops against his own constituents. maybe he just kept those sorts of ideas confined to private correspondence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


yesterday, i composed 2/3 of a post explaining my decision to cease writing about politics on this blog. then today, i succumbed to temptation and wrote my longest political post of the past six months. obviously, yesterday's announcement would've been premature, as i'm apparently unready to go cold turkey.

it mostly boils down to my suspicion that this blog is not the right forum for that type of content. the blog format has never really made sense. it's a personal blog; it's about music and art, with some media criticism thrown in; and then there's a bunch of stuff about indiana politics. the people who come here to read about databending or post-mashup music couldn't care less about indiana politics. readers who enjoy my political commentary by-and-large aren't into glitch art or experimental music.

so political blogging here will remain intermittent for the time being, until i can find a better forum for such content. one idea is to just split this blog in two, but i suspect i wouldn't post enough to keep a solo political blog fresh. perhaps a better solution would be a nice group blog or diary-based site where the responsibility for posting new content wouldn't be mine alone to bear. something like the old blue indiana (which has been down for retooling for months), for instance.

on closing the "gun show loophole"

mayoral candidate melina kennedy recently unveiled her plan to combat illegal guns, perhaps the most-talked-about aspect of which is her support for closing the gun show loophole.

though kennedy emphasizes that she's only talking about illegal guns, not legal gun owners, her plan still elicited complaints from the usual suspects. probably the most unconvincing was paul ogden's assertion that "although I've never bought a gun at a gun show, I'm told the "loophole" doesn't exist."

sorry paul, but whoever told you this was either lying or being disingenuous. everyone knows that the loophole exists—they either claim it's not a "loophole" but the law working as planned (that's not a bug; it's a feature!) or they argue that it's not a "gun show" loophole because it's not gun show–specific. abdul goes with the latter:

Melina also wanted to target what she says is a "loophole" in the law that in some instances a criminal can go to an existing gun show and buy a gun with no questions asked and no background check. That's not the entire story. Anyone can buy a gun at a gun show without a background check if they are buying the gun from another person and not a dealer. They can also do it at 86th and Meridian, 62nd and College, 115 W. Washington, 148 E. Market Street or 912 N. Delaware. The gun show is not the issue, in fact according to FBI statistics, less than 1% of guns used in crimes are purchased at gun shows.

Ask any experienced law enforcement officer and he or she will tell you that the gun used in a crime was likely stolen or traded for drugs. No criminal in his right mind is going to walk into a place, full of undercover law enforcement by the way, and buy a gun that can be traced back to him. The real world doesn't operate that way. And if you look at latest shootings in Indianapolis, I don't think the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show was responsible for weapons ending up in the hands of criminals.

where to start? let's go in order.

first, yes, the gun show loophole might more accurately be called the "occasional seller loophole"—the law states that, as opposed to licensed firearm dealers, "occasional sellers" (a term which isn't defined) may sell firearms without a background check. this loophole defeats the purpose of requiring background checks at all, but is technically not limited to gun shows. (of course, you need to know how to find someone with guns to sell, which is why they often congregate at... gun shows.)

whether this distinction means anything depends on the wording of the proposed legislation. to be sure, a bill that applied only to gun shows wouldn't completely close the loophole, only constrict it. but a bill that required all purchases to go through a background check regardless of venue (like current laws in california and elsewhere—PDF link, see pps 10–11), would. the proposed federal gun show loophole closing act, supported by kennedy and mayors against illegal guns, only applies to gun shows, but that's hardly melina kennedy's fault. it would still make a dent in illegal gun trafficking.

second, abdul doesn't cite a source for his "FBI statistics" but i eventually tracked them down to this report (PDF) by the DOJ's bureau of justice statistics. this was a study of prisoners about where they acquired their guns. .7% said they bought their guns from gun shows. gun supporters claim this to be proof that gun shows aren't a problem, but this fails to take into account whether the person who sold them the gun got it at a gun show (or the person who sold it to that person, etc). as the ATF explains (PDF link, p17):

Gun shows are also places where buyers can choose to buy from the primary (firearms sold by FFLs) or secondary (firearms resold by unlicensed sellers) firearms markets. Secondhand firearms are far more difficult than new guns for law enforcement officials to trace to the most recent seller. This is because secondhand firearms likely have left the hands of FFLs, who are required to keep records, into the hands of unlicensed persons who are not required to keep records. Even if the secondhand guns are resold to an FFL, they are untraceable, because the trace will effectively end at the last sale in the unbroken chain of licensed sellers. The access to anonymous sales and large numbers of secondhand firearms makes gun shows attractive to criminals.


A prior review of ATF gun show investigations shows that prohibited persons, such as convicted felons and juveniles, do personally buy firearms at gun shows and gun shows are sources of firearms that are trafficked to such prohibited persons. The gun show review found that firearms were diverted at and through gun shows by straw purchasers, unregulated private sellers, and licensed dealers. Felons were associated with selling or purchasing firearms in 46 percent of the gun show investigations. Firearms that were illegally diverted at or through gun shows were recovered in subsequent crimes, including homicide and robbery, in more than a third of the gun show investigations.

furthermore, going back to that BJS study, about 40% said they got their guns from friends or family, and about 5% said they got guns at pawn shops or flea markets. a california-style background check law would apply to all of these. as for the 40% who got their guns from "street/illegal sources", again it's impossible to know how many of those guns might have been bought at gun shows at some point earlier in the supply chain. according to the ATF, around 30% of guns involved in trafficking come from gun shows (see pps 12–13 of that ATF PDF).

third, as for abdul's claim that "no criminal in his right mind" would buy a gun at a gun show "that could be traced to him", i think i've already shown this to be nonsense. the whole point is that guns purchased from unlicensed sellers are untraceable!

to be sure, weapons trafficking takes place at gun shows, and weapons sold at gun shows end up being used to commit crimes. the loophole that allows this to take place is real. melina kennedy and others support a federal law that would partially close this loophole and thus reduce illegal gun trafficking. would she support a stricter bill that requires background checks for all purchases, regardless of venue? that's a question only she can answer... but it's also a moot point if no such bill is in the works.

Friday, March 11, 2011

break you off an MSPAINT remix

the buzz surrounding sonification has died down a bit—it's hard out there for a meme. but in order to stay in front of this thing, i decided to remix that ms paint audio.

after all, making songs out of sonified data has been one of my signature styles for more than a decade, so i might as well show people how it's done. it's rare for me to make an entire song out of one data file (i may have done this for "supercharge breakfast", but otherwise never have), since i usually prefer to collect a large palette of samples. but i think this turned out pretty well:

Windows 7 x64 MS Paint EXE (stAllio! remix) by stallio

yes, it's on my new soundcloud account. in case you missed the update, you can now stream my true data 12" on soundcloud as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

sonification goes viral?

yesterday, youtube user r2blend posted a video titled MS Paint Interpereted as audio data = Awesome music! it was also posted on soundcloud. already, the soundcloud post has 160k plays, and is now circulating the blogs. (here it is on boingboing.)

r2blend had just discovered the wonder of sonification. of course, sonification is nothing new. i've been experimenting with it for 15 years now! in fact, back in 2009, i wrote part 2 of my databending primer specifically about this topic. (ironically, at the time i submitted the link to boingboing and they never posted about it, but rather than excoriate them for being late to the party, let's just be glad they finally arrived.) if you're at all interested in this topic, i highly recommend you check it out; it's full of detailed information.

if you want to hear some glitch music created using this technique, check out my dissonance is bliss EP from 1999 (available for free download) or my true data 12" (currently only available on vinyl, but i may put it online somewhere now that sonification is hot... in fact maybe i need to start a soundcloud account available for streaming on soundcloud).

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

just no facts, ma'am

here's a heartwarming AP story (in its entirety) about a local company that is more loyal to its community and to its employees than to its bottom line:

GOSHEN, Ind. -- The owners of a Goshen-based food distributor say they plan to sell the company to its 280 employees rather than risk selling it to a company that might move it.

The Goshen News reports that Becky and Paris Ball-Miller will sell the company to its employees over the next 10 years. The Ball-Millers plan to continue to manage the company during that time.

The Ball-Millers said that to prepare for the change they have hired experts to guide them through the process and to make sure Internal Revenue Service requirements are followed.

The Ball-Millers have owned the company for 15 years. The company also has facilities in Evansville, Grandview and Bloomington

if only more businesses acted like this... why, i think i'd like to support this company! what did you say they were called?

oh, the story doesn't bother to mention the company's name? i guess they didn't figure that detail was very important.

i suppose if you really must know, you could check the goshen news, which identifies the company as troyer foods. you know, if you care about such trifling matters as identifying the subject of your news story.