Need an excuse to join your Mullum comrades at the top pub?

Why not start an all male acapella group singing classic Russian folk songs, thought Glenn Wright?

Master choir master Andrew Swain agreed. He had a great admiration for traditional songs of struggle sung by the proletariat, and enjoyed knocking back a Vodka. And there were plenty of wild and hairy men in ‘Mullumgrad’ with cloth caps, looking to spend some quality time away from being good new-aged family men.

Soon they were joined by 26 others. Dustyesky went from strength to strength, singing at music festivals across the country. Their popularity is enhanced by the frequency with which audiences are encouraged to toast the choir with vodka. “Now we look forward to meeting your womens and livestocks”, says Michael, in his perfectly fake Russian accent.

The choir came to the attention of the Russian ambassador, and then the Russian Ministry of Culture, and then the Russian media. Now they are sensations in the homeland they have never been to.

Unfortunately, an invitation to sing in Red Square for the Immortal Regiment at the Grand Victory Day Parade on May 9 was cancelled due to Covid. Maybe next year.

In the meantime, you can see more at Australian Story.

Dustyesky understands the long history of Russia, the Soviet Union and the Red Army.

We know Russia’s triumphs and atrocities just as we know those of our own country.

Our mission is to sing songs of suffering and despair to fill your hearts with love and joy.

The Hammer and Sickle is not an endorsement of horror, just as we are not Russian.

Any offence or distress caused to anyone is greatly regretted by all of us in Dustyesky.

Dustyesky hope that our music, our warmth and humour only bring people together. Always.

Spasibo bolshoi.

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Right now, every one is telling us that they are here for us during these uncertain times.

The agency Third Street thought that if brands are going to use the words, they ought to have a matching font.

‘Times Uncertain’ is a lot like ‘Times New Roman’, but a bit shaker, a tad more random, and the only punctuation available is ? or !

You can download ‘Times Uncertain’ for free from from Third Street

What I Learnt On 26th May in other years

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May 25 2020

Yak Shaving


Turns out I’ve spent a great deal of time shaving yaks, without knowing what it was called.

Yak Shaving – how you find yourself doing something you shouldn’t be doing because you need to do that step before you can do another thing that will enable you to do the task that makes it possible to do the thing you should be doing.

Seth Godin explains it in this extract from this episode of his wonderful akimbo podcast.

The term is used in software development, where one spends a lot of time down rabbit holes, and was coined by Carlin J. Vieri at MIT.

I had to shave a few yaks for this post. To extract the audio, I had to record the system sound from my Mac. Turns out my old tool to do that, SoundFlower,is out of date. The demo mode of Audio Hijack did the trick. But to edit the extract, I needed an audio editor. I used Quicktime, but that created a mov file and I needed an mp3. So MediaHuman Audio Convertor worked for that conversion – I had found it last time I shaved a yak. Then I could complete the edit using Easy Audio Mixer.

I love shaving yaks. Beats mowing the lawn.

What I Learnt On 25th May in other years

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May 21 2020


50 songs in three minutes

Happy Birthday Moo

What I Learnt On 21st May in other years

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World bee dayMay 20th is International World Bee Day.

We could not survive without bees. 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend on them for pollination, as does more than 75% of the world’s food crops.

Bees provide a number of archetypal examples of important models.

The bee and the flower have a mutualistic relationship. The bees get to eat, and the flowering plants get to reproduce.

Richard Dawkins says the hive shows the ‘Selfish Gene‘ at work. All the bees in a hive are brothers and sisters. Their behaviour is determined by the genes they carry. When a bee stings and sacrifices itself, they are protecting their own genes as carried by their siblings. It is endurance of the gene that drives behaviour – the bees are the servants of their genes (as are we)

A recent article on the Illusion of Certainity by Rory Sutherland refers to the Waggle Dance as an example of the need for risk and innovation if we are to progress. When a bee finds a good source of nectar, it returns to the hive and waggles its bum to give directions to the other bees. (Really! See David Attenborough below). Luckily, not all bees follow the instructions.

Rory Sutherland writes :

– Bees seem to have spotted this trade-off between narrow and broad-scale efficiency 20 million years ago. Although most of them follow the waggle-dance (exploiting what is already known), a significant minority do not. These R&D bees explore at random, seeking nectar and pollen from sources as yet unknown. Most of these journeys are individually wasteful — but every now and then they pay off hugely in the form of a new find. Indeed there would be no bees without this ‘inefficiency’; hives would end up starving to death.

– Bees are still around because they are part deterministic and part probabilistic in their behaviour. They use their ‘evidence-based’ waggle-dance data-model up to a point, but correct for the fact that it is incomplete, temporary and weighted to the past. Institutionalised humans obtain a false sense of certainty by assuming that life is one big waggle-dance: that what is optimal in a one-off transaction in a certain present is also optimal at scale, in an uncertain, long-term future. Even insects have figured out this is dumb. Like Socrates, bees know how much they don’t know.

What I Learnt On 20th May in other years

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