Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Sound Geek's Look at The World Cup

This is what a sound geek's mind drifts to during uninspiring stretches of World Cup matches: To my ears, the Vuvuzela drone centers slightly sharp of a B-flat. Within the manufacturing tolerences, there is a tonal drift up to about a B. For the $1 it costs to make them, I'm guessing they don't do quality assurance and hand-tuning on each one. This is probably a good thing: I shudder to think what would result of a stadium full of these blasting a precise frequency of say 390 Hz. The sympathetic resonance would probably flatten nearby structures of that resonant frequency.

This it also he reason it is so annoying. Slight detuning can be a very useful in music - the natural variations in intonation from the players in an Orchestra gives the sound a richness, and the tuning drift of analog synths is a large part of their charm and warmth.

However, with this degree of detuning relative to one another, a stadium of vuvuzelas yields this smear of frequencies that together give you a cacophony more like a car horn or a busy signal - think two adjacent tones on an out-of-tune piano.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Texas Board of Education Should Be Added To Some Required Lists

Just when you thought the intellectual rigor of our country couldn't sink any lower, we have Bible-thumping dentists and real-estate brokers are determining the science and history standards for millions of kids nationwide. The Texas Board of Education has locked in the de facto education standards for our country with their textbook guidelines for the coming decade.

Because Texas buys the most books, the 3 major textbook manufacturers will these standards nationwide so the rest of the country gets dragged along in this idiocy. Thomas Jefferson has been expunged from a list of the country's great thinkers, and writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. have been removed from recommended reading lists. The roles of minorities and women in the struggles for civil rights and suffrage are downplayed (it was surely just the benevolence of the ruling white males that brought these about, no?).

I hereby propose the following: School boards from all other states should immediately add the 9 majority-voting members of the Texas School board to the list of this country's greatest morons. Maybe at least *their* names can be remembered for generations to come.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who needs health care anyway?

Looks like healthcare reform is on track to be watered down to the following: 1) A lucky dozen uninsured people will be allowed to pay full price to become insured and 2) Insurers will be required to provide everyone either a free desk calendar or a mousepad.

Thank you, dysfunctional political process!