…half a band this time, and the song ain’t theirs, but hey, they always deliver.

Blind Guardian (Hansi and Marcus, to be specific) found themselves doing a yet another game soundtrack, and this time it’s something way more original than the second instalment of Sacred – The Dwarves is a game based on a German fantasy novel.

My “to be played” pile is a bit too long ATM, so I haven’t yet been able to justify buying the game at release (even though it’s been wishlisted since being in dev). But if you are looking for something colourful and story-driven, then by all means get it. Here’s the GOG link again.

And here’s the music =)

It has an orchestra, a choir and no Charlie Bauerfeind in sight. We’ve been blessed.

Don’t know if you can get it on iTunes outside Russia yet (not here as of right now), but supposing you do get the game, the soundtrack is here for a few extra $$.

…and feel like exporting hi-res bitmaps out of it, here is what you need to do – basically connect the SBSAR outputs to the outputs of a non-locked, editable substance.

You do need to have Substance Designer, I think. Never tried anything to do with the Player.

…but cultural bias is something I can well relate to, since it’s the only thing that really matters – it’s in the mind, which is the only meaningful part of a sentient creature.

I don’t care whether the rap /hip hop /r’n’b / whatever (that sort of global mainstream pop music with extremely limited melodic content and virtually no virtuosity on display, promoting remarkably shallow, sexist and aggressive values in their lyrics and overall performer/fan attitude) – I don’t care whether this phenomenon is endorsed by black, white or whatever colour people. It may be black in origin, but it’s so horrible that I don’t understand why black people do not make a point of denouncing it, since it definitely paints them in a very unfavourable light. 

Same goes for (neo)glam / sleaze / melodic rock / whatever (that sort of formerly global mainstream pop music with superficially emphasised melodic content, extremely limited in terms of harmony and rhythm, with the performance heavily focused on perceived virtuosity, promoting remarkably shallow, sexist and aggressive values in their lyrics and overall performer/fan attitude) – that very white thing that would definitely paint whites in an extremely unfavourable light, were it still mainstream.Thankfully, non-white performers and fans of this are beyond rare.

// both these abysses, though, most certainly have spawned a number of authentic artists, but these are far and few (and often are tragic heroes) //

There exist “progressively minded” people – those various activists. I only know the web-based part of them, since my offline life isn’t exactly conducive to forming social contacts outside work.

One of the most important things, to me, is to help support certain European music traditions, from songs of the troubadours to “female fronted metal”. These are all extremely non-mainstream things; they are very much threatened. 

But these traditions are white in origin. So it’s sort of customary among “progressively minded” folks to disregard them. And if you are dedicated to these cases, you may well get labeled ‘racist’. As if niche white cultures cannot die out, as if “white” is a magic preservative. But someone working in a mainstream genre, or in a popular medium (like comics even!), but “not white”, is considered “more worthy”.

It’s not like I am asking others to help me on my quest. It’s just that I’m being dissuaded, since my (limited) time and money could be “better used” for the benefit of stuff I don’t care for, but which better allies with the activists’ political agenda.

And at the same time, no activist apparently objects to that completely atrociously anti-scientific designation of “brown people” that often refers to people from India, who are as white as it gets!

While I think that disregarding hard scientific facts is exactly the reason why people(s) of the planet Earth keep on fighting.

To agree, we need something non-subjective, some sort of an external framework. The only thing that can provide an approximation of this “universal truth” is science.

Of course, science can be abused and impersonated. But still. It’s at least worth trying.

All in all, I’m extremely disillusioned.

…to try and figure out what he’s like as a person, and while this would work (especially if you take the “published demos” into consideration, too), sometimes an interview is easier.

This one was taken last November, about a week after that terrorist thing in Paris. So obviously, it’s the topic they plunge into right away. And it’s not exactly what the Bards get asked about often.

But it paints the whole picture of who Hans Jürgen Kürsch is. In broad yet powerful strokes.

If only any politicians were like that.

And the rest of the world, too.

There is never a “lesser evil”. Mrs Clinton would have definitely continued the current (very dubious, to put it mildly) US foreign policy, but at least this was a given. Kinda the devil you know. Whatever Mr Trump is going to do in that regard… well, let’s just hope he knows it himself.

It’s funny how a number of analysts here (yes, there do exist Russian analysts specializing in US politics) suggest that those who voted for Trump voted for “a new America” because he apparently represents “something different” – while in reality his crowd seems to be quite reactionary.

The scariest thing about this election result isn’t the result per se. It’s the fact that so many people voted for a political black box – which means they based their vote on his personality. And apparently being disrespectful towards women, non-white Americans and non-Americans is okay in the minds of those people. That this reactionary crowd turned out to be that huge.

I wonder how many people did the “write your own candidate” thing.  


Starting school before 8AM?!

When I was at secondary school, our classes started at 8:15, and it was considered at least 15 mins early as compared with other schools in the neighborhood. The university I’m most familiar with starts classes at 8:30, and it’s also earlier than in many others. 

I wonder how much time it takes on average for US students to actually commute to their schools snd colleges. I lived ten mins on foot from the school and less than an hour combined underground and walking from the uni – but I’ve always been in the minority in that regard, especially when it comes to university students who may well need 2+ hours to get there. 

This latest Testament album has been out for a few days already, but first I waited for iTunes Russia to fix the corrupt files supplied immediately on release (duh, I had it on pre-order), and then I was busy listening and thinking how to describe this brilliance.

You see, I can’t exactly put my finger on why BotS kinda pwns DRoE, the previous one, or even TFoD, the 2008 studio recording (the album that came before DRoE, yup). It’s still Testament. And they are even sort of quoting themselves…

But it’s their young selves they’re quoting, those who recorded the LPs of the late 80s/early 90s, filled with I daresay headbangingly fast tracks – which have been largely supplanted by a more mature and generally slower approach by now.

Not that it’s bad. Testament have always known how to pen a thrash ballad; and when they started experimenting with doom, death and atmospheric rock, it was all very interesting.

But to be honest, if you do go on doing the same experiment for too long, it stops being an experiment, right?

And this time, a “back to the roots” execution also comes with something new: a very subtle change in the way the guys deal with certain harmonic/melodic passages. Testament has always been a very melodic band, but they never really sounded “European”. And on this album, there are times when you wonder if they have been listening to too much Blind Guardian, y’know =)

Some of these moments are found in the second track, The Pale King, which blew me away the first time I heard it, with all those changes, discoveries and perpetual motion. And now they’ve released a video that fits the music perfectly!

this one’s good!

Posted: November 3, 2016 in life+the universe+everything

Models are opinions embedded in mathematics

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/extreme-meritocracy/505358/

And I testify that students’ test scores have virtually nothing to do with their teacher’s skills. From both sides of the desk.

Not that I support the idea of “job security” (it’s just the other side of the coin, just as limiting as the rat race of the “meritocracy”), but grading is bad enough and damn useless (and stressful for both sides, again) when we’re talking education – that would be way better off only using “pass/fail” (says someone who never failed a course and rarely accepted even a “B” grade) – and anywhere else it’s just toxic.


Just how much of a typical white American Jon Bon Jovi really is?

Because if he and his dismissive attitude towards world culture (embodied here in the form of the one and only Soviet Russia, of course, since Russia is my only reality, so I’m an expert) is anyhow representative, it’s plain unnerving.

To think I wanted to marry the dude when I was twelve. 

The bottled water was very salty

It was mineral water, Jon dear. Something from the heart of the Caucasus mountains most likely, Georgian Borjomi or Russia’s own Narzan or Yessentuki. A drink with a gazillion health benefits. In the USSR, nobody in their sane mind would ever sell plain water – because nobody would buy it; it was good enough coming from the tap. Still is, in many places. The pipes are getting older, though, so plain bottled water is catching on, but not to the extent of the West yet.

And they didn’t have brooms. They’re trying to sweep out the stadium on the first night, and it was a bunch of sticks tied together

No brooms? Whaddayamean it’s not a broom?! And yes, this link leads to a webstore where you can buy these brooms. They are efficient and inexpensive. Every dvornik uses them.

This is the interview I found the quotes in – I was interested in the Richie thing, obviously (even when I wanted to marry Jon, I realised Richie blew him out of the water in each and every aspect, but hey, “love is evil” as we say in Russia). But these nuggets are too facepalm-worthy not to share.

…and stereotyped.

It’s not a good thing, right? People would frown upon ye if you wrote something implying that, say, people of African descent are usually involved in various scams.

But it’s apparently perfectly okay to write something like this: 

When a suspicious email comes in, you’ll be able to open the headers, look at the IP address of the sender, and see if it matches up with previous emails from the same person. You can even do a reverse lookup on the sender’s IP to see where it is—which may or may not be informative, but if you get an email from your friend across town that originated in Russia (and they’re not traveling), you know something’s up.

Source: http://lifehacker.com/how-spammers-spoof-your-email-address-and-how-to-prote-1579478914

Or does the whole “no stereotyping” thing only protect Americans but not citizens of “lesser countries”? Is it okay to insult a whole nation like that?

Is it true that this BS about the USA being “exceptional”, “a country that must lead others” and Russia being some sort of an otherworldly evil existential threat (see Ms Clinton’s speech) is what the Americans really feel??

I mean … I know politicians lie. East or West. But this sort of rhetoric sounds quite delusional from the outside.

It’s basically Anakin/Vader’s Mustafar speech before Obi-Wan. 

Does anyone actually buy into it??

Emperor… I mean, President Putin does like himself some pompous talk. Same as many Russian leaders before him. But I haven’t heard a single speech that would proclaim any sort of Russian superiority over any other nation. Certainly every Russian leader says that Russia is “unique” and “special”; it has its own way of dealing with things. But isn’t it true for every nation? 

Okay, the US may be the world’s biggest economy at the moment (although I heard that China is at least catching up). And Russia has the biggest surface area. China definitely has the largest population. These are just facts. They don’t entitle anyone to anything.

If you’re saying your country is destined to lead others, it’s the same as saying your skin colour is that of a superior race. At least, according to impartial logic.

PS I hope nobody’s buying into the BS that Trump is spewing, either. He’s anything but “pro-Russian”. It’s all just a pose to annoy the other side. I hate it that these two are using the name of my country as a playing card in their dirty power struggle.