October 2012

When I became old, in one chart

Whatever happened to my rock and roll?

I turn 33⅓ today, and while I’m not spinning any LPs, it does seem like a good day to get into this little self-analysis.

I’m not just a quantitative researcher; I am dispositionally quantitative. I think in terms of numbers about just about anything for which that makes sense. I also love music. So naturally, my iTunes library is loaded with song ratings, which I’ve used to do a little investigation of my trends in finding new, much-loved records.

Concurrent to this, I’ve read somewhere or other that the music you love at 24 is what you stick with for the rest of your life. So let’s see what we’ve got here. I started really paying attention to music in 1991, the year I turned 12. The chart to the right shows the trends in overall rating of my favorite album from each of the last 21 years, as well as my #5, #10 and #15 (I haven’t got ratings for 10 from 1991 or 1992). What we see is that my teenage years generally have higher ceilings than my 20s, but that the mid-range stuff stays fairly steady until a sudden and horrible drop-off the year I turned 29. Now that I’m a third of the way through my 30s, things are just continuing to decline.

What got me thinking about this was a quote from a recent Neil Young interview: “Piracy is the new radio.” The ability to be exposed to exponentially more music than I was ever exposed to via commercial radio and MTV has expanded my taste and introduced me to superb bands I would’ve otherwise never known. It even works going back in time — Audiogalaxy’s recommendations led me to Burning Airlines, which led me to J. Robbins’ previous band, Jawbox (piracy also takes over some of the function of used record stores because of this).

At the same time, it’s a lot harder to focus on any of this new stuff. Unless it’s incredibly awesome, a new song or album has a tough time catching enough of my attention to get repeated plays and become a new favorite. This is true of new stuff from old artists, too, which makes me think a lot of it is that I’m old and set in my ways. But who knows? This new environment could privilege breadth of exposure at the expense of depth.

Filed: aka Syscrusher || 8:43, October 29 || 4 Comments »

Elvis was a hero to most

Skewerism is the latest fad to take hold in the Republican Party:

Do you think pollsters are intentionally skewing their polls this year to help Barack Obama, or not?

GOP Dem Ind All
Yes 71 14 45 42
No 13 65 40 40
Not sure 16 21 16 18

In the face of such an assault on reason and the very notion of shared reality, I’m tempted to fall back on The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Something about it doesn’t seem to fit, though; Hofstadter’s paranoid style requires more acknowledgement of reality than we’re seeing here. And now that Mitt Romney has “won” the first debate, expect to see even more of this when he doesn’t launch into a big lead in the polls (despite the fact that this is not how debates work).

Filed: We R in Control || 9:50, October 4 || No Comments »