Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kanye West's band of vampiric models

A not-quite-finished version of Kanye West's video for his song Monster (off his Grammy-nominated album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) has leaked and has been posted on youtube. (H/t to Ezra who tweeted it.) Warning that it contains images of hanging women, beheaded women, and otherwise creepy, gruesome portrayals of women.

I see it as a commentary about golddiggers and the vampire-like fans who have no limits on the amount of fanservice they require. This video stands in stark contrast to the ballerina video, in which women are portrayed beautifully, their hard-earned skills on display and honored. (In the ballerina video, I was really impressed with the very very long shots of the ballerinas, without cuts to Kanye.) But I expect that all discussion about the Monster video (and there will be lots) will fail to recognize this context and fail to recognize that Kanye has drawn a distinction between women making their own way and women trying to live off someone else.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Decline Effect

This fascinating article in The New Yorker describes the phenomena of the unrepeatability of scientific studies. The scientific method depends upon the proposition that an experiment, properly designed and executed, yields results that can be replicated if the experiment were followed again at a later time. We regard results from a properly conducted experiment to be scientific truth, so the extent that such a thing can be ascertained.

We're accustomed to seeing results of experiments challenged due to faults in experimental protocol. The author of this article, however, describes something more unnerving - the apparently common problem of being unable to replicate results of an experiment without faults in its protocol, thereby raising doubts about the ability of the scientific method to reveal any truth.