Welcome! I am Jason Nguyen, a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, and this blog is where I make observations about music, culture, and academic life.

Kanye and Jay-Z slice some “H.A.M.”

Kanye West / Jay-Z "Ham" single coverSince the entire world apparently has an opinion on the new collaborative effort by Kanye and Jay-Z, “H.A.M”, which previews their album Watch the Throne due out in a few months, I thought I’d share mine as well.

Kanye’s trying to get bigger and bigger, but I think it’s about time he tried going smaller–the (melo)dramatic overtones are starting to become a bit much, and I don’t think his thematic material can keep up with his big head (which I was already worried about when his album came out last year).  Jigga actually sounds pretty darn hard here, and I’m down with that: a grown-ass man gets to strut a bit from time to time.

Lex Luger’s production is okay.  The ‘Ye influence makes it a little too schizophonic with the digital stuff alongside, but not really meshing with, the booming strings and voices.  I would have preferred a little more griminess instead to match the verses.

All-in-all, I don’t think this is going to sway anybody or give any insight into what Watch the Throne will be like overall.

Schedule Gmail delivery with Boomerang (feat. my MCAT students)

Boomerang Gmail LogoSo I’m trying to be more proactive with some of my MCAT students, getting them to make realistic, tangible goals that will drive them to succeed on the test and into their medical careers.  (Folks who recognize my abilities of procrastination will find the fact that I am giving this advice greatly ironic and you are welcome to laugh at me.)

Anyway, I want them to (1) email me one tangible goal at the beginning of the week, and (2) reflect on that goal at the end of the week.  However, if you know college students, that’s actually FOUR emails from me.  The first one to tell them to send me the goal, the second to remind them about it, the third to tell them to send the reflection, and the fourth to remind them to send the reflection.  I’m envisioning this as a weekly thing, so I don’t want to take out 4 times a week to remember to do that.  But I can do it all at once by scheduling emails for the future!

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Clipperz and Other Password Management Options

Clipperz LogoIf you’ve kept up with web news, then you might have heard about the hack of the Gawker website, which exposed a ton of user’s password information to unsavory elements.  Such an isolated incident wouldn’t be a big deal–except people tend to use the same password everywhere.  We’ve all done it.  You might be using the same password for your sensitive email as your Facebook.  It’s convenient, and with so many web services and applications to work with, it is impractical to have a unique one for each site.  On top of that, those folks working on corporate or otherwise sensitive sites might be used to changing your password every month or so.  How to be secure while not creating a hassle?

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Ultra-Thin laptop comparisons

Asus UL30A

Asus UL30A

Update 2010-12-27: Added optical drive comparison.  Also listed a few other laptops that might be worth looking at, the Toshiba Portege line and the HP DM3T (neither added to the table though).

I’ve been thinking about buying a new ultra-thin laptop to replace my netbook (if I see a good deal I might do it soon, but I’m not in a rush).  I love my Asus 1201HA netbook — for $400, I got a solid, lightweight machine that runs for 8 hours at a time — but ultimately, it’s still a netbook.  Netbooks run on energy-efficient but slower processors (like the Intel Atom) and sometimes can’t handle the multi-tasking workload of the modern scholar (or the modern anything).

New netbooks (like Asus’ dual-Atom 1215 netbook) are doing way better, and straddle the line between netbooks and notebooks even more, but they are starting to converge with “ultrathin” laptops, so I’ve been looking in that direction instead.  Why not go for a full Intel Dual Core or equivalent for a similar price?

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LOLculture

I haz a new site for my silly things: http://www.lolculture.com

Everyone who has a little lolcat in them should contribute!  Just comment below or email me at lolculture@jrnguyen.com to get added to that blog.

Context: One of them is a kitty.  The other is Claude Levi-Strauss, for whom the idea of The Raw and the Cooked (also the title of one of his volumes) illustrated certain structuralist principles.

The Media and Race

For those unaware, there was a recent robbery on the IU campus that, because the two groups were of different races, has been framed by the media as a racially motivated attack.  In one blatant example, headlined with “Blacks Attack Asian Students on IU Campus”1, we see an important journalistic concern: how to tell the truth while also contextualizing it.

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  1. Associated Press. “Police: Blacks Attack Asian Students on IU Campus.” http://www.wibc.com/news/Story.aspx?id=1303847

A Twitter experiment

My usual Twitter account is linked to the right on this site, but I’ve been playing with another account @twobars, where I randomly create two random bars of rhyming verse in 140 characters or less!  It’s a throwback to when I was seriously into freestyling…  Check it out!

Some samples:

one-forty is the count, weigh my letters by the ounce / bounce ideas off the head to see the weak get trounced

pre-position your subject, re-verb with the groove / the object is the synonym for what you need to do

Advanced Googling AKA “How I found UNESCO ICH meeting notes”

For the past two weeks, I’ve been digging deeply into Vietnam’s various forays into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage policies, particularly from the perspective of (1) Vietnamese media reports and (2) documents produced by UNESCO.  I used two different techniques for keeping up with both of these fields…

Continue reading Advanced Googling AKA “How I found UNESCO ICH meeting notes”

Inherited burdens: A brief reflection on reflexivity

I was re-reading some notes I had taken on Geertz’s Works and Lives tonight while working on a paper for my fieldwork class.  I appended the following bit to my reflection/summary of the work:

[…]We share a genealogy with those scholars who had transitioned into that post-modern moment, but the traits have been remixed into an altogether new creature.  Even if we are, like those who came before, somewhat hypochondriacal in our sensibilities, those sensibilities began as nascent in the minds of our teachers, passed on to us more-or-less fully formed, and to which we must then react as second-hand participants to someone else’s formative moment.  Our reflexivities are not entirely our own–I suppose they never really are, but we are so self-conscious about our self-consciousness that we are necessarily making different choices than our forebears.

What are those choices?  I’m still working on that.  Need to flesh that out.

And that’s where I’m at–the bold bit is indeed in my notes and is the main reason for this post.  There’s no doubt that a generation of anthropologists raised on the scholarship of a previous reflexive generation will come to different conclusions and ideas…but at this juncture, what specific differences have you noticed?  Can we even really know now, or do we have to wait until we’re old and another generation tells us what we were obsessed with back in 2009?

Windows File Associations in Wine UPDATE

So, my previous post showed how to manually update the registry to get Wine applications that launch other files to open them in Linux (so you don’t have to install Foxit for Windows to open a PDF that Evernote launches, for example).  Well, that was really clunky, so I made the following package that is less clunky:

tipsy.rar (right-click –> Save As)

Open up the bash script (tipsy.sh) for instructions, but basically, all you do is this:

  • copy the files to (root)/scripts/
  • open regedit (wine regedit in terminal) and import tipsy.reg (you can then delete it)
  • set the default value of every key in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT based on a relevant extension (e.g. [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT]/[.pdf]) to “tipsyfile” (no quotes)
  • close regedit and edit tipsy.sh to launch the relevant programs