Author: Matthew Barlow

Meat Beat Manifesto: Impossible Star

Meat Beat Manifesto Impossible Star Flexidisc/Virtual Meat Beat Manifesto are legendary. They’ve been around in some way, shape, or form since 1982, formed in Swindon, Wiltshere, they’re now based in San Francisco.  MBM is really one guy, Jack Dangers, though it hasn’t always been that way. I first came across them listening to CITR, the radio station from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver; it must have been 1989 or 1990.  It was their début album, Storm the Studio.  That album came with a story, as the original recordings for it were allegedly destroyed in a fire.  Their record...

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The Problems with Football and Hockey

I watched both the AFC and NFC Championship games last weekend.  I haven’t watched as much football or even NHL hockey this year and I’ve been trying to figure out why.  In terms of hockey, my team sucks, but, I’ve remained a fan of hockey in general when the Habs have sucked in the past.  When it comes to the NFL, to be a Chicago Bears fan is to know misery.  They’ve sucked almost continually for the past 35 years.  So I’ve watched a lot of football, despite my team being in last place. But this year, something has...

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Shopping: The Official Body

Shopping The Official Body FatCat Records [Editor’s note: We took some time off from reviews because not much happens in terms of new music from late November to early January. We are back now.] The problem with music can often be it all sounds the same.  The UK is going through an explosion of angry, male, post-punk bands these days, and, whilst I dig on many of these bands (most notably Idles), there is so much derivative shit out there, it depresses me.  This always happens with any form of music, we get the trailblazers and then we get the derivative copycats.  So, another UK post-punk band didn’t excite me at first when Shopping’s new album, The Official Body, came across my speakers.  I sighed and pressed play. Turns out it was a good move.  Shopping is classified as post-punk, but they’re all over the map, their influences are easy to find, from Talking Heads to EDM, to Public Image Ltd., and so on.  But they don’t sound like anyone.  Frontwoman Rachel Aggs (as an aside, my MacBook recognizes the word frontman, but frontwoman is in error) is the main reason for this, from her monotonal, distant voice (reminiscent of early PiL and John Lydon) to her idiosyncratic guitar work.  Her guitars are jagged and edgy (hence the post-punk categorization), but there is so much more going on, both in...

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The Problems With Polling

I was reading a scholarly article on polling and the issues it creates in terms of the democratic process last week.  In the article, the authors note many of the problems with polling, and there are many.  I worked for a major national polling firm in Canada for a couple of years whilst in undergrad.  There, I learned just how dodgy supposedly ‘scientific’ polling can be. My issues have less to do with methodology, where random computer-generated phone numbers are called.  Rather, they have to do with both the wording of questions and the manner in which they are asked.  I should also note that the rise of cell phones complicates the ability to do random sampling.  Something like 48% of American adults only have cell phones (I have not had a landline since 2002, a decade before I emigrated to the US).  It is illegal to use random computer-generated calling to cell phones in the US. The authors of the study I read commented on the manner in which questions were worded, and the ways in which this could impact results.  For example, last year during the great debate about the repeal of Obamacare, it became very obvious that a not insignificant proportion of Americans did not realize that the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, was the legislative act that created what we call Obamacare.  So you have...

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Rough and Rowdy in Rural Appalachia

Rough and Rowdy is a form of amateur boxing native to West Virginia.  It appears to me to be the grandson of the 18th-19th century Southern backwoods fighting style known as Rough and Tumble, or Gouging.  It was so-called because the ultimate goal was to gouge out your opponent’s eye.  There were very few rules involved in Rough and Tumble and, while it wasn’t exactly prize fighting, winning was a source of pride in the local community. The men who fought in Gouging were backwoods farmers, it was common in swamps and mountain communities.  In other words, the men who fought were what the élite of Southern society called (and still call) ‘white trash.’  As an aside, if you would like to know more about the plight of poor white people historically in the US, I cannot recommend Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: The 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America enough.  Nevermind the fact that the story is not untold, historians have studied and published on poor people for a long time, but that’s what publishers do to your book, they create silly subtitles to sell more copies. I digress.  The West Virginia Rough and Rowdy is a continuation.  The Guardian produced a quick 7 minute documentary of a championship tournament in West Virginia, you can watch it here. I have some serious problems after watching this.  The first is...

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