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Is Amazon's AWS Hiring 'Demolishing The Cult Of Youth'?

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Tech analyst James Governor argues that Amazon's cloud business is "demolishing the cult of youth." It just announced it is hiring James Gosling, one of the original inventors of Java... Meanwhile James Hamilton continues to completely kick ass in compute, network, and data center design for AWS... He's in his 50s. Tim Bray, one of the inventors of XML, joined Amazon in 2014. He's another Sun alumni. He's 61 now. He still codes. When you sit down with one of the AWS engineering teams you're sitting down with grownups... Adrian Cockcroft joined AWS in October 2016. He graduated in 1982, not 2002. He is VP Cloud Architecture Strategy at AWS, a perfect role for someone that helped drive Netflix's transition from on-prem Java hairball to serious cloud leadership. Great engineering is not maths -- it involves tradeoffs, wisdom and experience... The company puts such a premium on independent groups working fast and making their own decisions it requires a particular skillset, which generally involves a great deal of field experience. A related trend is hiring seasoned marketing talent from the likes of IBM. Some other older companies have older distinguished engineers because they grew up with the company. AWS is explicitly bringing that experience in. It's refreshing to the see a different perspective on value. In a later post the analyst acknowledges engineering managers are generally older than their reports, but adds that "If AWS sees value in hiring engineering leadership from folks that are frankly a bit older than the norm in the industry, isn't that worth shining a light on?" In response to the article, XML inventor Tim Bray suggested a new acronym: GaaS. "Geezers as a service," while Amazon CTO Werner Vogels tweeted "There is no compression algorithm for experience."

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nikolap
26 days ago
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Zagreb, Croatia
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Poly Styrene Is the Punk Icon Who Deserves Your Respect

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Once you hear Poly Styrene's high pitched, opera-trained warrior shout exclaiming "OH BONDAGE UP YOURS!" on the tail of a sweetly uttered "some people think little girls should be seen and not heard" you're immediately moved by the legendary X-Ray Spex frontwoman. Poly Styrene may have been a small, braces-wearing teenager, but nobody was gonna shut her up, even before she achieved punk icon status. No way in hell.

When I first heard X-Ray Spex, Poly's voice cut right through my disheveled pile of teen-angst and cheap thrift store clothes and shook me to the core. It was the 90's and I was just getting into punk and listening to a lot of cassette tape mixes generously bestowed upon me by my much cooler and more informed friends. I couldn't help but notice how much Poly Styrene's voice reminded me of other punk girls I was getting into at the time, like Kathleen Hanna and Corin Tucker, to name a few. It didn't dawn on me at the time that this voice had come 20 years before the others and why that was significant.

Now, more than two decades later (I'm old now, but who cares) and this obscenely sexist, racist, and idiotic era in our political history seems like the perfect time for a Poly Styrene revival. That's why the crowdfunding efforts for I AM A CLICHÉ, a documentary about Poly co-written and narrated by her daughter Celeste Bell, feel especially prescient. Germ Free Adolescents, the one and only X-Ray Spex album, turns 40 next year and the film is set to be released in time to celebrate.

If you're not familiar with the album or Poly Styrene herself, welcome. It is, as the saying goes, better late than never. While the Sex Pistols were being produced/manufactured by a fetish-wear shop owner/marketing genius (Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood's shop was literally called SEX and sold bondage gear among other items), a young Poly Styrene was obsessed with dayglo and plastics, the idea of rebelling against cheap consumerism, and not being (literally) tied down by the man. After seeing an early performance of the Sex Pistols on Hastings Pier on July 3, 1976 (her 19th birthday), Poly—whose real name was Marian Elliot-Said—thought that if those guys could make music, she could too. So she picked her new name from the yellow pages and placed ads in NME and Melody Maker with the header YOUNG PUNX WHO WANT TO STICK IT TOGETHER.

The young girl with a mouth full of braces who had run away from home at 15 to tour the English countryside christened herself Poly Styrene, a cheeky name chosen for being lightweight disposable plastic, and she was about to take the London punk scene by storm. Once she formed the band, the X-Ray Spex played their debut at London's Roxy after only six rehearsals. They quickly gained popularity with Poly's voice and completely unconventional look making a huge impression.

When I started getting into Poly's music in the pre-YouTube years, so I wasn't able to see all the incredible video footage of X-Ray Spex that's out there today. If I had, I probably would've mimicked Poly by rocking pastel, dayglo colors, and crazy headbands, instead of trying to be grunge, and I definitely would have been way less ashamed of my braces and curly hair. And seeing a young woman of color fronting one of the most famous bands in the early punk scene would have been beyond inspiring.

According to Celeste, much was made about Poly's mixed parentage in the tabloids after she became famous. Poly's mom Joanne was white and her dad was a dispossessed Somali aristocrat. Many assumed that the song "Identity" was about race when in fact it was inspired by Poly witnessing a girl attempting suicide in a club toilet. Similar to all the Brexit nonsense of today, England back in the 70's was full of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment. But Poly rose above the prejudice and defied stereotypes, having once said , "I've always been happy, and well, rather intrigued, by a family tree that includes Spanish Princes, Celts, Imams, Ancient Bretons, and Somaliland tribal chiefs that descend from Abraham and Sarah."

People also tried to make a big deal about where Poly grew up. They tried to paint a picture of Poly's supposedly rough childhood living a tenement in South London's ethnically diverse and low-income Brixton district, but Poly wasn't having it. "Mum was forced to leave Bromley because she felt it was too white and judgemental for me to grow up in and that we could never be accepted. That's why we moved to Brixton. But although life was a bit austere, we were always well fed, clean and respectable—mum was a legal secretary, and where we lived that was considered posh!"

Poly refused to be put into a box or labeled by people trying to sell her story. She was a totally different person when she wasn't on stage. As exemplified by this amazing Australian TV interview from 1977, Poly was rather soft spoken and not at all eager to put on a front for journalists.

Similarly, a piece following her around for BBC4 shows a mild-mannered, contemplative Poly gently navigating the London streets and getting ready for shows.

Poly really exploded out of her shell on stage. It's almost as if that voice had to come out somehow and Poly's body was just a vessel. And Poly was not about to dress up that vessel or package herself or play into anyone's notion of femininity. "I said that I wasn't a sex symbol and that if anybody tried to make me one I'd shave my head tomorrow," Poly declared in a particularly candid interview for NME in May of '78. Interestingly enough, she ended up shaving her head at Johnny Rotten's flat a few weeks later.

In this same interview, Poly talks about moving back to the country with her mom and sister after feeling utterly sucked dry. "You feel all the time that people are draining you, draining off your energy all the time until you think, 'Blimey, I haven't got anything left to give. Leave me alone.'" The Spex had just returned from NYC from a two week residence at CBGB where they played twice a night. All of Poly's playful visions of a plastic world had become too real. "For them it wasn't a joke, it was the way they lived for real. For me it was all a joke: play with it, indulge it, have fun with it because there's not really that much of it over here. But when you go there it's so bad that you think, 'God, if that's what it's going to be like I don't want it.'"

America's ultra plastic society as embodied by NYC in the late 70's and the energy vampires of London's Chelsea neighborhood were starting to bring Poly down. And this was before Germ Free Adolescents had even dropped. Poly's ability to put up a front and endure the challenges of fame was coming to an end.

When I ask Celeste about why the Spex only put out one album she replied: "My mother had a big mental breakdown when X-Ray Spex were at the height of their success. This was the main reason—it had all become a bit much for my mum and she wanted to do something more lowkey." Poly had also realized that she had bipolar disorder.

Celeste adds: "She always felt different from other people since she was a kid and had real problems concentrating at school and she had big anger management issues—she was always getting into fights and her moods fluctuated a lot. So she was aware something was not quite right from a young age. But it was not until she was 19/20 that it was apparent she was suffering from a full blown mental illness."

In a parallel to the explosion and quick death of the early punk scene in the UK, Poly was a bright burning flame that had no choice but to extinguish itself. But luckily Poly's spark remained intact. Before her 2011 death at the age of 53 to breast cancer, Poly put out two more albums—the moody, mellow, post-punk Translucence just after she left X-Ray Spex and the spunky, socially conscious Generation Indigo, which she released and promoted just prior to her death.

Up to the end, Poly stayed optimistic about the world and life itself like a true warrior. She told a reporter from the Guardian on her deathbed: "I try not to be negative or cynical. Even though we're in a crazy situation, economically, and with wars, when things go far right, they will have to swing left. We have to become more caring and sharing. Generation Indigo are the people who will protest peacefully, and it's happening already."

She's also quoted as saying ""You remember that old song 'Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see'? I've always felt that. It's been a roller coaster ride, but I wouldn't change a thing."

Lucky for us, Poly's roller coaster ride is getting the cinematic treatment it so deserves. "I think in the documentary you will see that my mother was, apart from being an amazing performer and singer/songwriter she was also a true artist and visionary years ahead of her time," notes Celeste. I can't wait to see the film.

Check out the Indiegogo page for Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché here.

Rachel Fernandes is a writer, film producer, and programmer living in Southern California. Follow her on Instagram.



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nikolap
56 days ago
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Zagreb, Croatia
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Here's How to Recreate the Smart-as-Hell Sampling from Kendrick's "LOYALTY."

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"Ugh, rappers just steal other people's songs! Why don't they learn to play some instruments?" So says your terrible rockist friend (and at this point, why are you still friends with them?). Never mind that most beats nowadays are original compositions by musicians with strong ears for melody, harmony, and rhythm, but the older art of sampling itself is loaded with hidden meaning and careful craft. Case in point: Kendrick Lamar's summer jam contender "LOYALTY."

The track's notable for many other reasons—among them being Rihanna's guest turn as a rapper, not a hook singer—but maybe most intriguing is the funhouse mirror flip of Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" by producers DJ Dahi, Sounwave, and Terrace Martin. The loop is so warped and diced that it's nigh-unrecognizable on first listen, but as this unofficial but educational video from a YouTube producer shows, it's not all that complicated, just very clever. Reversing the intro, then pitching it up a few semitones is a cinch, but it's the microhouse-styled chops that really impress. Unfortunately, if you're like me, you'll only be able to notice these tricks and not enjoy the flawless rapping happening on top. Such is the price of knowledge. Watch the video breakdown of Kendrick's "LOYALTY." below.

Phil is a Mac scrub so he's never used FL. He's on Twitter.



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nikolap
64 days ago
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Zagreb, Croatia
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German Black Metallers Farsot Go Dark on 'FAIL-LURE'

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German black metal crew Farsot have lain fairly dormant since the release of 2011's Insects (save for a 2016 four-way split), and their heavily melodic, even more heavily atmospheric take on the genre has been sorely missed. When I say that they're "atmospheric," I'm not implying that they've ingested one too many shoegaze records or grew up outside Portland; rather, the atmosphere Farsot conjures coats each note with an overwhelming sense of darkness, eldritch unease, and quiet malevolence (and then recorded it all in a earthen cave dug deep underground a primeval forest). It's very much a throwback to the Second Wave acts that undoubtedly continue to inspire them, in that they have no problem reconciling the melodic and epic with the raw and downright spooky,

FAIL·LURE is only the long-running Thuringian quintet's third full-length since their inception in 1999, and also marks their Prophecy Productions debut. The band's proggy impulses are on full display, but this is most certainly still a black metal record—it just happens to be one that keeps you guessing a bit without succumbing to full-bore wackiness.

The band sent Noisey a statement, which read: "More towards the origins [of] Farsot. Create our very own mood between rough and rugged black metal temper of the early Nineties connected with an exploration of the infinite width of music itself. The approach is more spontaneous and intuitive, consciously refraining from "heady" leanings and patterns. This makes the songs appear even more compact and dynamic than ever before. Lyric-wise, FAIL·LURE addresses the inevitable dilemma between fascination and mania, desire and disgust, power and weakness – the seeming rift between the sexes. It is an allegory of life as a not endless game that cannot be won. This multi-layered concept is reflected musically on the album. The ambiance extends from the deepest depths to the highest heights without losing the relation to its uniformity. Get carried away..."

Listen to FAIL·LURE in its moody, spiraling entirety below, and keep your eyes peeled for an April 21 release via Prophecy Productions. 

Kim Kelly is going dark on Twitter.



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nikolap
70 days ago
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Zagreb, Croatia
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Here's How You Can Protect Your Hearing at Shows and Not Be a Dumbass

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Most of us don't wear earplugs to concerts, and we probably won't end up being plagued by hearing problems. But based on the statistics behind noise-induced hearing loss and the sheer loudness of a typical concert, it's clear how much a risk you're taking when you go to a show unprotected. After all, the most common cause of hearing loss is loud noise. For some people, the reality of that risk has serious consequences. Joey Belanger, a 25-year-old living in Vancouver, is one such example. Since he was 18 or 19, he's had a constant ringing in his ears and has trouble hearing people when they aren't facing him. He blames it on being exposed to lots of loud music during concerts and while playing in bands as a teenager. Now, doing either of those is out of the question.

"I can't go to concerts anymore," says Belanger, "and if I go to the movie theatre my ears ring louder after so I usually try to avoid there and just watch movies at home."

You don't have to look hard to find forums filled with people lamenting their hearing loss or tinnitus after years of going to concerts without wearing earplugs. It's an understandable oversight; you're excited about the show and you're not really thinking about it, or you had brought some, but either lost or forgot them at home. And sure, it's loud, but it's not usually painfully loud, is it?

"Wouldn't it be great if when you damaged your hearing, blood gushed out of your ears?" asks Dr. Marshall Chasin, a Toronto audiologist and author of Hear the Music: Hearing Loss Prevention for Musicians. "It would be so obvious," he says. "But because hearing loss from loud music is so gradual and invisible, it's hard to educate people."

Concerts typically reach between 100 and 120 decibels. At 110 decibels, hearing damage can happen after only two minutes of exposure. One study found that only 8 percent of people who wore earplugs during exposure to that decibel level experienced hearing loss, compared with nearly half of those percent of those in the unprotected group. Dr. Chasin explains that while hearing loss may not be noticeable until you reach your 40s or 50s, tinnitus can start very early and get worse. (Here's just one example of what tinnitus sounds like, if you're curious.)



Bradley Waitman, a 19-year-old from Wasilla, Alaska, has tinnitus; he rarely went to concerts because of where he lives; in his case, he blames loud music through earphones several hours a day. Experts say millennials are at an increased risk for hearing loss and tinnitus already because of an increased exposure to "recreational noise" like concerts and nightclubs, and because of how much time we spend listening to music using earbuds.

"When I first noticed it, I became extremely angry at myself for being irresponsible and irreversibly hurting myself and became very reclusive. I couldn't come to terms with the reality that I will probably never experience silence or listen to music without worrying again," says Waitman. "I listen to music far, far less. I refuse to use headphones or go to shows because I'm too paranoid my condition will worsen and become disruptive again. Music is much less enjoyable now. It's never relaxing because of the underlying paranoia that I'll damage my ears again, and it reminds me that my ears will never be the same again."

More and more venues are now offering free or cheap earplugs, which ought to make hearing protection a more visible and convenient part of the concert experience and act as a helpful reminder to people who showed up without them. The kind of earplugs venues offer are generally the foam kind, which sound similar to sticking your fingers in your ears—that is, they block out mostly treble and make the music sound all muddled—but they're much safer than nothing. If you're a frequent concertgoer, or just care about hearing a live performance the way it's meant to be heard, there are lots of affordable options for earplugs that are designed to preserve sound fidelity while lowering loudness. Here are a few options: ER-20XS, DUBS, Earasers, V-MODA Faders VIP, and LiveMus!c HearSafe.

If you're really dedicated and have the money, you can also consider visiting an audiologist to get custom-made earplugs designed specifically for your ears.

"This is certainly something to be concerned about but I wouldn't go overboard; we don't have a generation or two of deafened music listeners out there, just a slightly greater-than-normal number," says Dr. Chasin. "I think that it's just habit. If people get in the habit of taking a few minutes to grab some earplugs — any earplugs — before going to the concert and throwing them in your pocket or purse, then things will be better."

Adam Feibel is a writer based in . Follow him on Twitter.



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nikolap
70 days ago
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Ulver - The Assassination Of Julius Caesar

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nikolap
71 days ago
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