Back to Mine: Faithless

Realse Date
October 16, 2000

I stumbled in this album in a used CD shop in Islington while living in London in late 2001 —the same shop I found Dusty in Memphis in. I was already a fan of Faithless [] and I’ve covered Sunday 8PM is on this list, so initially I thought that this Back to Mine album was a new release or some Europe only release that I had missed.

Turns out yes, but no. Let me explain; Back to Mine [] was (is?) a series of albums published by a small label in England. Each release was compiled by a different DJ or producer —and in this case both a DJ, Sister Bliss, and a producer, Rollo— and each release was a collection of songs, sometimes mixed, sometimes not, that inspired the artist or the things they would play in their own house after a night out.

I loved Faithless’ Back to Mine album so much I dove off the deep end and bought up as many as of the releases as I could find. I got a few more in England, then a bunch off off of EBay when I was back in the US —I don’t think they were offically released in the US. I even got a few in Singapore. According to Wikipedia there are 33 volumes, I think I have up to volume 25, maybe it’s time to go back and get there rest.

I have to say a that it’s a mixed bag. Some volumes I love, others are not to my taste. Music is funny that way, what an artist you like, likes or is inspired by, maybe completely not to your taste. How many Beatles or Led Zeppelin fans likes Blues?

Anyway, let us talk about Faithless’ entry into the series, number 5, released in October 2000, is still my favorite. It’s mixed most of the way through.

The sheer epic mess of the track selection on this album is mind blowing. I could write about how amazing each and every track is on it’s own and how it works as part of the the whole on this album. But’ I’m not going to do that, I’m going to restrict myself to a few highlights:

  • The album starts with a brief into, just under a minute of a new (at the time) Faithless track which sets the mode, chill, ambient, downtempo… take your pick.
  • After setting the stage the albums slides into “My Life” by Dido (Faithless producer Rollo’s sister), which is the final track off her 1999 album No Angel, which is a phenomenal album. “My Life” isn’t something you would think of on a downtempo electronica compilation but it works brilliantly here
  • Immediately after “My Life” is “Childhood” by Dusted, this song is just pure awesomeness and is the beginning of a few tracks of perfect turn-of-the-century downtempo in a row
  • In the middle of this downtempo selection masterclass is “Mushrooms” by Marshall Jefferson vs. Noosa Heads — this is one of my favorite tracks on the album, where every track is a favorite; the vocal samples are perfect, the dude talking about the first time he took mushrooms, because his girlfriend was freaky, but he didn’t know she was that freaky, is awesome, the type of silly story sort of chill you want on a late night after the club album. Reminds me of “Fluffy Little Clouds” buy the Orb
  • We have to talk about “Another Night In” by the Tindersticks. This is the saddest song ever. It’s this depressed slow, dark rock song with mumbled lyrics about loneliness and lost love, it’s dark and depressing but it works here

I could write about every song. Seriously. But I’m gonna stop. But lets talk about the last two songs on the album:

  • The penultimate song is “Fade Into Me” by Mazzy Star, yep, that one, you know it, you love it; It brings the mixed part of the album to a melancholy close, perfect wind down
  • The final track begins with a sample “please daddy can I have one more? No son, you gotta go to bed right now. Oh please please please. OK then just one more…” leads into a reggae version of “Billy Jean” by Shinehead. Holy shit is it awesome, “a beauty queen with an M16…” Listen to it.

This album is in the running for my favorite album of all time. I can’t listen to it enough. Tragically, this album is not available on Apple Music, I checked in the US and the UK store. It’s also not on Spotify. I suspect it has to do with rights, it was probably never cleared for digital back in the day. The newer albums starting with Volume 29, released in 2019 are there. I tried to create a playlist but “Childhood” by Dusted is not available Apple, some specific remixes are not available or only available as mixed versions, etc., but here it is:

Luckily, someone did the leg work of building a playlist on Spotify too, but again there are missing tracks and it’s not the same unmixed, but you can appreciate the individual songs here:


Sungei Simpang Kiri Jellyfish

I’ve posted before about the wildlife around my house in Singapore, Wild Singapore. During the lockdowns of COVID there was a noticeable increase in the wildlife, but these days, with life back to normal, there is less. I haven’t seen the otters since I posted the video about them. There are still fish and birds on a daily basis, and a monitor lizard every once it a while.

The other day I saw a new one: jellyfish. First just one, then as I focused on the water I saw another, then another. There were quite a few floating around.

Jellyfish swimming in Sungai Simpang Kiri

I guess it’s not too odd. the bridge were I cross the canal is only two and a half kilometers from the ocean and is tidal. But, this is the first time I’ve seen jellyfish.

quotes ranting

The birth of a kind of fascism?

What is most striking to me, and most discouraging, is that they are so apathetic while being neither blind nor unconscious. […] They witness the rise, more ominous every day, of racism and reactionary attitudes—the birth of a kind of fascism.

Simone de Beauvoir, in America Day by Day

Simone de Beauvoir wrote that in 1947. She was visiting Oberlin collage in Ohio. She wrote it in her diary during a trip across the US and later, in 1948, the diary was published as America Day by Day. I have not read much of Beauvior writing, only a few passages during philosophy classes long ago. But, after seeing this quote in a recent Wisecrack video on Nihilism [], I checked out America, from the Internet Archive’s Open Library [], and read some of it. I wanted to get some context before I posted it. Here is the full paragraph from the book, page 94 of the 1999 edition:

What is most striking to me, and most discouraging, is that [the students] are so apathetic while being neither blind nor unconscious. They know and deplore the oppression of thirteen million blacks, the terrible poverty of the South, the almost equally desperate poverty that pollutes the big cities. They witness the rise, more ominous every day, of racism and reactionary attitudes—the birth of a kind of fascism. They know that their country is responsible for the world’s future. But they themselves don’t feel responsible for anything, because they don’t think they can do anything in this world. At the age of twenty, they are convinced that their thought is futile, their good intentions ineffective: “America is too vast and heavy a body for one individual to move it.” And this evening I formulate what I’ve been thinking for days. In America, the individual is nothing. He is made into an abstract object of worship; by persuading him of his individual value, one stifles the awakening of a collective spirit in him. But reduced to himself in this way, he is robbed of any concrete power. Without collective hope or personal audacity, what can the individual do? Submit or, if by some rare chance this submission is too odious, leave the country.

Simone de Beauvoir, in America Day by Day

The reason I wanted to post the quote, is that when watching the Wisecrack video, it struck me that Beauvoir wrote that in 1947. The second half of it could have been written yesterday. It could be a comment on the current state of America, at least if you are left leaning. Admittedly the first half is not reflective of America today —there have been a lot of protest in the past few years— but the second half’s relevance jumped out at me. Not for the first time, I was reminded that the soul of America is, in many way, unchanging.

In the pages around this passage Beauvoir talks about how American capitalism crushes the individual; how big companies and their political allies fight to suppress the common people, by suppressing unions; how Americans think America is the greatest, without any real evidence or experience. She writes that American students feel a sense of greatness, and their responsibility that comes with that, but also a sense of fatalism that as an individual American there is nothing that anyone can do to stop the machine.

The problems don’t seem to change, we still see the conflict between capital and labor, the tendency of our patriotism towards something more fascist… But, on a more positive note, maybe some things do change; Beauvoir said but they themselves don’t feel responsible for anything, because they don’t think they can do anything in this world. But within a generation the colleges of America would be the wellspring of the protests against the Vietnam war. So, the fatalism of students or the character of American society as a whole, did change; people did stand up and say “my voice can make a difference”. Maybe it was the hangover of them war and depression where these students grew up, and not living inside the devastation of the war like the Europeans did that shaped this particular moment that Beauvoir encountered this fatalism in the students of Oberlin.

Today in America, as in Europe and many other places in the world, university students are a primary source of popular drive for change. Trying to change the world when you are in college is a right of passage for many students. When I was in college I attended anti-war rallies in the US and England, I volunteered for Amnesty International, campaigned for the International Campaign for Tibet, and, of course, I became a vegetarian. Even if your view of the problems and solution does not change with age its hard to devote too much of your life to protesting when you have kids. Also, I live in Singapore, protesting is… frowned upon. Many of these issues are less of an issue in Singapore, even if they are present. What can you do?

Personally, I try to make sure my kids are aware of these issues, and other issues of importance, like climate change. I donate to organizations that fight for the causes I believe are worth. I’m sure I could do more, give more, devote more time. But, c’est la vie. I’m glad there are people out there who don’t outgrow the age of protest. We need them, even if their are too many that rate too far to the left and right to offer solutions I can believe in or even back. Discourse and (peaceful) protest are important parts of American democracy. And as the ability to have civil discourse has seemingly evaporated at all levels of government the protests are more important. When democratic governance can’t or won’t address the issues the popular democratic methods need to take their place. Maybe that’s why we saw such big protests for Black Lives Matter and such a big focus on the voices raised by the #MeToo movement.

Seeing the small protests that took place when Trump was charged and arraigned this week give some hope that maybe America’s fascist tendencies are on the retreat again. Or maybe they will just rally around a different candidate now; fascist like a winner. We’ll see. The US election is about to being again, the greatest show on Earth.


The sea turtle’s death

We went to Desaru during the school holidays. Just a couple of days to relax before the next term begins for the girls. We stayed at a resort on the beach, but the waves were to violent to do any swimming in the sea.

I walked along the beach just before sunset one day and a few hundred meters down the shore from the resort I saw a monitor lizard walking up the beach towards the jungle. He was a bit far off but I took my phone out to video him as I walked closer. As I was watching him, still a hundred meters away I notice a large shape on the beach.

It wasn’t a rock; there are lots of jagged black rocks out in the surf alone Desaru beach but this was too round. In the shadows it took me a few moments to figure out what it was. It was a sea turtle. A big one. A few seconds later I figured out the only reason a monitor lizard would be there was it must be dead. The tide was combing in and I guess the lizard didn’t want to eat in the surf.

As I got closer I could see how bloated the creature was. I was surprised it didn’t smell. I was up wind but even up close, where I could see it was missing its eyes and the softer skin of it’s face was mostly gone, eaten or rotted off, I didn’t smell it. I got a few whiffs of it when I moved down wind, but it wasn’t that smelly.

I wonder what killed it. There was no obvious thing. I’m not an expert but there was no holes —other than where the eyes and one fin had been eaten. I wonder if we killed it? Did it eat one too many plastic bags? Maybe it died of old age, it was very large, but, maybe I’m too pessimistic I suspect humans until proven otherwise. The beach was littered with bottles and other bits of plastic, covered in small clam like creatures. This is on a beach at a resort that is raked every morning. There was a shoe, and further down the beach an insole. I wonder if they go together? Humans suck. And all of this trash has been in the past century. We are disgusting creatures who can’t control ourselves.

It is changing, slowly. Slower than a glacier moves, and much slower than all the glaciers are melting because of us. Singapore, which should be able to be way out front on such things can’t even get there. Almost all take away containers are plastic, delivery makes it worse, everything is wrapped in plastic and then bagged in plastic and comes with plastic utensils and straws and little plastic packets of condiments you won’t use. Even when you chose the “don’t need cutlery” they sometimes include it. Even if they do leave it out they will throw in more ketchup and chili than you could use. If you get take out from many food stalls you get styrofoam. Something McDonalds stopped using when I was a kid is still the standard for many takeout places in Singapore.

The Singapore government could outlaw this, but I guess it would inconvenience people, maybe they would vote against the government, and for sure there are a number of local companies that make all this plastic —I see their trucks on the road sometimes, with pictures of all the plastics and saying things like “manufacturer of all kinds of plastic food containers!”. Yea, the government should help them move on to other work and cancel the plastic. I remember more than a decade ago being in Taiwan and seeing that all the takeout was in cardboard boxed that were waxed to resist the liquids at least long enough to get home and eat. How come Taiwan can do it and Singapore cannot? Singapore can do better, and should. Many stores have started to charge for plastic bags but few people are carrying their own bags regularly or reusable food containers. For a place were tiffins were once ubiquitous it’s sad, everything is double and triple packed in single use plastic today.

quotes ranting

Cultured Meat is Vegan

If [vegans] want to see an end to animal exploitation, it is our moral duty to call lab-grown meat vegan, even if it unnerves us.

Jude Whiley [], from Yes, Lab-Grown Meat Is Vegan [] on Wired

It’s a good article, go and read it. I agree. The author writes better than me and his almost all the points I can thing of in a relativly short article. Seriously, go read it. I’ll wait.

I’m not a vegan, I tried that briefly —too hard to be practical for me— but I am a vegetarian, have been for close to 25 years now. More than half my life. I came to vegetarianism and the concept of animal liberation through utilitarian ethics. Reading Animal Liberation [] was one part of my journey, though I think Practical Ethics [] was more important in my journey. Maybe that speaks to why I couldn’t commit to to being vegan.

Vegan vs. vegetarian discussions aside, I’m in complete alignment with the key points to the article:

First, vegans, and vegetarians, should be 100% behind lab grown, or cultured, meat. The idea that lab grown meat is bad because cells had to be harvested from an animal is kinda self defeating, if you want to save animals from slaughter. If the goal is to eliminate the slaughter, or even the wider exploitation of animals then a few cows having a biopsy should be an acceptable evil to prevent millions of cows from being born into exploitation and slaughter. To hope that humans will have an epiphany and realize the equality of animals is farfetched. Too many vegans are ‘religious’ about things and think that it has to be black and white. Even if a vegan chooses not to eat lab grown meat they should support others eating it to limit the cruelty and explotation.

Second, lab grown meat should be a thing unto itself, sold as lab grown not used as some sort of cheaper filler combined with uncultured meat, to make it cheaper or increase the profitability of meat. Today lab grown meat is much more expensive than farmed meat, but that will change and, if allowed, companies will ‘cut’ farmed meat with lab grown meat like drug dealers cut cocaine or heroin. And they will try to hide that fact with marketing speak and labeling shenanigans so people not looking for lab grown meat will buy it.

We should normalize lab grown meat as meat, all the tasty tasty without the murder.

At this point I should note that despite living in Singapore, which was the first country to legalize cultured meat, I have not actually tried it. It’s currently only available at a single restaurant that requires reservations and blah blah blah… I can’t be bothered. Hopefully it will be available more places and in the grocery store soon.

The author does miss two important points. First, how will people who are vegan or vegetarian for actual religious reasons see lab grown meat? It’s much more interesting than how the vegan society and its’ members will see it. Second, he notes:

[A]nimal abolitionists, who sit at the radical end of veganism, argue against lab-grown meat on the basis that it is speciesist. Speciesism states that humans place themselves above other animals as more important, and that this bias leads to all forms of animal exploitation, from burger consumption to greyhound racing. Vegans who worry about speciesism contest that the eating of meat grown from animal cells—even if no animals are slaughtered—still upholds a belief that animals are “something to eat” in a way that humans are not.

But I beg to differ, lab grown meat can eliminate specimen. We can eat humans. There are already companies selling this idea. The Soylent Vats are Coming []…