How musician Dan Deacon collaborated with real rats for the Rat Film soundtrack

Today, Dan Deacon, composer of avant-EDM, freaky electro, and contemporary classical works, released his score for Theo Anthony’s new documentary Rat Film, about the history of Baltimore told through its rodent population. Deacon’s collaborators for the score? Actual rats. From NPR’s All Things Considered, Deacon’s explanation of how the rats worked with him on the track above, titled “Redlining”:

At the onset of the project, [director] Theo [Anthony] asked me if I could make music with rats. After some thought, my brain landed on the concept of an enclosure made out of theremins (one of the first electronic instruments ever invented and played by hand gestures). As the rats moved from one corner to another, the pitch and volume would change and create these odd harmonies. I was able to record not just the sound, but a digital conversion of the voltage, which proved the most useful. ‘Redlining,’ a piece for a Disklavier player piano (a self-playing piano that takes incoming MIDI data from a computer), is one of the products of that rat theremin performance/experiment. Using the rat movements as rhythmic data and a rough pitch contour, I began the process of editing together my favorite sections and conforming the note data to a scale. I wanted the tone to be emotionally ambivalent, in parallel with the narration. I wanted the viewer/listener to project their own feeling from their reactions to the content Theo was presenting. The music couldn’t be too steering or it would take away from the experience. This ideology was used throughout the film but I tried to most strongly apply it with this track.

How Dan Deacon Collaborated With Rats To Make His Latest Film Score(NPR)

Below, the making of the “Rat Film” soundtrack:


Melania doesn’t get Ivana’s “first lady” joke and refers to her as “attention-seeking”

When Donald Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, laughed in an interview today that she was “first lady,” referring to the fact that she was his “first wife,” Melania Trump seemed to miss the joke.

She immediately responded to CNN, via her communications director Stephanie Grisham, to make sure it was clear to everyone that she, and not Ivana, is the official first lady:

“Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for Barron and the President. She loves living in Washington, DC, and is honored by her role as first lady of the United States. She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books… There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise.”

Not only did she miss the silly humor, she responded in the way her husband would with criticism and sarcasm, referring to Ivana’s words as “attention-seeking” and “self-serving noise.”

Here’s Ivana’s interview, promoting her book Raising Trump, with Amy Robach on Good Morning America:

Image: Regine Mahaux


FEMA accidently tweets out phone sex hotline for hurricane victims

In an attempt to help Florida victims of Hurricane Irma fix damaged roofs, FEMA tweeted a sex hotline number that was only a couple of digits off from the roofing program’s actual phone number. The consumer affairs website, Consumerist, screen-grabbed the now-deleted tweet from the FEMA account.

The agency tweeted the sex line’s 1-800-ROOF-BLU number instead of 1-888-ROOF-BLU for Operation Blue Roof in what could have only led to a series of unusual yet stimulating phone calls.

FEMA’s Region 4 account has since added a new tweet with the correct number.

Image: pxhere


Police officer ignorantly and aggressively detained autistic boy who was just stimming

At a Buckeye, Arizona park, police officer David Grossman observed 14-year-old Connor Leibel moving his hands rigidly in front of his face, sniffing a piece of yarn, and making other unfamiliar movements. The officer thought the boy was intoxicated, held him on the ground, and handcuffed him. Leibel was simply self-stimulating, “stimming,” a very common behavior among autistic people. On the just-released body cam video, you can hear Leibel trying to calm himself by saying I’m O.K., I’m O.K.” even as he sustains cuts and bruises from being pinned to the ground. Over at the New York Times, BB pal Steve Silberman, author of the absolutely essential book Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, writes about why this kind of horrible thing happens, how it could have been much worse, and what can be done to prevent it:

This is basically a worst-case scenario for anyone who cares for someone with a developmental disability, as well as for disabled people themselves, who live every day in fear that their behavior will be misconstrued as suspicious, intoxicated or hostile by law enforcement. And the encounter could have ended up a lot more tragic. Imagine if instead of being fair-haired and rail-thin, Connor had been powerfully built and black or Hispanic. A tense police officer, approaching a young man he thought was a threat to himself or others, might have been tempted to reach for his Taser or service weapon instead of his handcuffs….

Connor Leibel’s mother filed a complaint about her son’s treatment that resulted in an internal investigation by the Buckeye Police Department. It not only cleared Officer Grossman but also came to the unsatisfying conclusion that because the autism label covers a large spectrum of symptoms and behaviors it would be very difficult to teach officers to recognize them all.

That’s certainly true: Another way to frame the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate that one in 68 American schoolchildren is on the spectrum is that autistic people make up a large and extremely diverse minority population. But police officers do not have to become experts in every aspect of autism to learn how to recognize people on the spectrum and treat them with respect.

The Police Need to Understand Autism (NYT)