31 August 2020

Departmental Link Sausage Platter

But not quite departmentalist.

  • From the Department of Misleading Headlines, let's ponder Google fixes major Gmail bug seven hours after exploit details go public (and the internally linked article detailing the "exploit"). But Gmail isn't the problem — the problem is using a browser interface, and HTML-based e-mail. This is a classic instance of "using the wrong tool creates Problems," because the right tool is a dedicated e-mail program that can be set to display full headers in plain-text mode, and also fully display all link code. Like several free alternatives…

    …that also, by their nature, minimize (cannot eliminate) advertising and the ability of third parties to snoop. Which is the exact opposite of a "security issue" as claimed by Google whenever one tries to use a dedicated e-mail program over a VPN.

  • From the Department of Unintended Irony, the Drumpf Campaign has needlessly pissed off the estate of Leonard Cohen for music that is unintentionally revealing. Let me list a few of the ways:

    • Cohen was a Canadian. So, implicitly, there wasn't any red-blooded American music good enough for this Amerika Uber Alles campaign to misappropriate.
    • It's a song about a self-appointed hero planning on extramarital sex.
    • Then there's the discord of being refused permission and doing it anyway. That is, to these jerks "permission" is just a formality. Sort of like "consent."
    • It's yet another misuse of quasi-biblical justification for immoral conduct and attitudes by adapting both quasi-biblical personalities and quasi-biblical language. Cohen was at least trying to be ironic, or perhaps undermine the narrative by depicting the, umm, feet of clay; this campaign? Not so much; it's all about the gold and has nothing to do with iron.
    • Then there's the darker question of where have I seen this song used before in a political context — and what might be in the planning stages?
  • From the Department of Pretending to Unearned Sophistication, I suppose it could be worse: It could be Wagner. H'wood soundtracks grievously misuse the panoply of instruments and contexts. With very rare exceptions, the nineteenth-century-model upper/upper-middle-class orchestra is a poor fit for anything except, well, nineteenth-century upper/upper-middle-class subjects. Sense and Sensibility, fine; Jane Eyre, fine; Vanity Fair, maybe; Spartacus, no; Mulan, are you kidding me? Even the magnificent soundtrack to Aleksandr Nevsky is a bit of a mismatch in execution, although it at least imports Russian folk music for some of its leitmotif–like subthemes.

    The rare exceptions when instrumentation and meme are better fits for subject matter not comfortable in tenth-grade Language Arts (for all its flaws, Bladerunner) are notable as exceptions. Although sometimes there's an unintended callback in the music, like the Wagnerian overtones (and unacknowledged quotations) in the overblown score to a certain overblown "space fantasy" series now up in double figures… which is just about right with the seldom-acknowledged fascistic/rightful-birth subtext of the subject-matter. And all too consistent with much of that composer's ouevre in any event. If a composer/soundtrack-assembler isn't actually as talented as Prokofiev (as opposed to just thinking he/she/they is/are) without fully understanding the subject matter, there's a real risk of unintended side messages, or even undermining the main material (as in "just what is that orchestra doing accompanying a pre-orchestral lower-class sailor isolated on a tropical island?").

    Producers so seldom really know music outside the European orchestral and/or pop-music traditions that they don't look anywhere else. I suppose one could argue that they're just meeting audience expectations… which is just a little bit of a self-fulfilling-prophecy problem, isn't it?