Gender Prison: Sometimes life gets too hard

 photo Kyler2_zpsmfrjkhf8.jpgLast Friday was the memorial service for Kyler Prescott. Kyler's mother spoke to the press before the service.

I feel so broken inside. I feel like my soul has been ripped from my body.

--Katherine Prescott

Kyler is described as an accomplished pianist, artist and activist for marriage equality and animal rights. Kyler was 14 when he committed suicide on May 18...the third San Diego area transgender teen to do so since March.

Kyler came out to his family as trans a few years ago and by all accounts his parents were quite supportive.

His parents respected his wishes and referred to him using male pronouns, even asking the young man if he wanted the family to remove childhood photos of him wearing more feminine clothes.

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ACLU challenges Anti-trans Michigan Identification Policy

 photo Emani Love_zpssjhnb0qf.jpgThe ACLU is representing six transgender Michigan residents who are suing the Michigan Secretary of State in federal court (Eastern District of Michigan) seeking to change a policy which almost precludes ("makes it impossible or unduly burdensome") changing gender on their driver's licenses.

The plaintiffs, represented by lawyers of the American Civil Liberties Union, claim the policy violates constitutional rights to privacy, speech, equal protection, interstate travel and "the right to independence in making important medical decisions."

Michigan requires that information listed on a driver's license or identification card issued by the state must match the information on a person's birth certificate. That requires transgender people to have their birth certificates amended before they can have their other identification changed.

The policy was first instituted by Secretary Ruth Johnson when she took office in 2011.

But two of the plaintiffs were born in Ohio and a third was born in Idaho...where amending birth certificates cannot be legally accomplished. Another plaintiff would be required to travel to South Carolina and obtain a court order. The two born in Michigan would have to complete gender confirmation surgery...even if hey have no current need for it or cannot afford it.

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Sunday Train: In Worrying News, Non-Petroleum in Transport Hits 60-year High

The US Energy Information Administration released a story last week which sounded like good news: Nonpetroleum Share of Transportation Energy at Highest Level Since 1954. "Since 1954" means, since before I was born or, as hard as it is to wrap my brain around, a period spanning six decades.

So, surely this is good news? Well, if you have glanced at their accompanying chart, no, not so much. A more descriptive headline would be, "US transport continues to be addicted to petroleum as its primary energy source". And digging into the US EIA numbers reveals that the situation is even more grave than the chart to the right would make you think.

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The Breakfast Club (Love Minus Zero)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover  we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.

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The Breakfast Club (Instrumental Innovations)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgPeople
who are not really familiar with Art Music (and even some who are) have
a tendency to think that modern orchestral instrumentation sprang fully
formed from the head of Zeus like Athena.  The truth is that composers
often look for novel sounds and instruments and players instruments that
are easier to play. 

Consider the valved Brass instruments I'm most familiar with.  Until the late 18th, early
19th century there was no such thing.  Instead you were limited to major
harmonics controlled by your embouchure (basically the tightness of your lips and facial muscles).  Sure you
could flatten or sharp it a little, but if you wanted to play in a
different key, you had to use a different instrument.

Even an unvalved French Horn (the oldest of the modern brass instruments) was invented as recently as 1725.

During the Baroque and Classical periods instrumentation changed quite a bit, so much so that there is now an Early Music movement dedicated to Renaissance and Medieval instruments and performance styles.
 Concert strings switched from fretted to unfretted (which makes
certain obvious and non-obvious changes to the harmonics that are too
difficult to get into here).  Flat backs were replaced by shaped ones
that sound louder.  Lutes are replaced by guitars.

The Woodwind instruments (flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon) owe their modern shape to Theobald Boehm who in 1847 introduced a simplified (Hah!  Too many for me.) fingering
system that used a complicated set of levers and pads to control the
airflow, and thus the harmonics.

You may be somewhat aware of the development of the Pianoforte (means Soft/Loud) from the earlier Harpsichord by replacing a plucked
string system with a percussive hammer action.  Well, that happened in
1700, 400 years ago but not, you know, in the dim dark mists of some
pre-historic time.  New York City had over 7,000 inhabitants and was to
publish it's very first newspaper in a mere 25 years (same time as the
French Horn).

The Saxophone, the newest of what is generally considered a "classic" orchestra instrument was patented in 1840 by Adolphe Sax.  The Tuba in 1835.

So what occasions this discussion of the history of musical instruments?  The 81st birthday of Robert Moog.

There is an unfortunate prejudice against electronic instruments
in Art Music.  Because they are programmable (with the right kind of
controls) they are derided as mere recordings and, because they can
replace many imperfect musicians with one that always does what you tell
it to (which may not be what you want), are rightly viewed as an
employment threat.

In their earliest forms though a considerable amount of skill and
practice was required, just as with any instrument.  One of the first
electronic instruments was the Theremin.  It was patented by Léon Theremin in 1928.  You don't physically touch the instrument, it senses the
capacitance between your hands and the sensors to control pitch and
volume.  While it did gain some novelty attraction in Art Music world it
is best known for lending its 87 year old "futuristic" sound to movie
sound tracks and TV theme songs.

 

 

Recognize that?  It's the Dr. Who theme commonly credited to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop that was really composed by Ron Grainer and performed by Delia Derbyshire.

Robert Moog built one himself and later put together a fairly popular (among electronics geeks) kit.

A really popular electronic instrument is the Hammond electric organ from 1935.  It was intended as a low cost, lighter, semi-portable
alternative to a traditional pipe organ and quickly saturated the
ecclesiastical market.  The sound is produced "by creating an electric
current from rotating a metal tonewheel near an electromagnetic pickup."
 While it has many buttons and sliders that can produce different
sounds none of them actually sound like an organ and the greatest
similarity is the stop switches and keyboard controls.

What Moog did that was different with his synthesizer is that he
didn't try to duplicate anything.  I had an opportunity to work with an
early model and it was basically a wave form generator patched through
an amplifier.

There are 3 basic types, Sine, Square, and Sawtooth, so named
because that's what they look like on an oscilloscope which is your main
output device (other than your speakers).  You can control amplitude
and frequency and (in the case of Sawtooth) rate of attack and decline.
 Using these fundamental tools it is theoretically possible to reproduce
any sound at all.

Theoretically.  Most of my efforts sounded like that annoying hum
you get when you haven't plugged your components together properly, but
I am decidedly unmusical and only had a couple of hours to play with
it.

Modern practice is to sample the sound you want to duplicate,
analyze it to its components, and tweak the output until it sounds the
way you like.  Computer generated sound is capable of things human
musicians can not duplicate any more than John Henry, on the other hand
you still have to imagine it and tell them what to do.  60 Hz AC is
perfectly acceptable noise, but it's hardly a symphony.

 

 

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

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And the Weak Suffer What They Must ~ Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis, the fiery new Greek Finance Minister, is a Greek Economist and prominent critic of modern Global Bankster Capitalism. His new book, And The Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future, is now available for pre-order at Powell's (and also at Amazon).

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