Chi-Signs Festival 2015

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Early rumours are unnerving. Baritone Chichester legend and Chi-Signs Festival opener Mike Fry is apparently lost on some lonely Sussex highway, destined not to perform or compere as scheduled due to unforeseen technical difficulties – his car suffered an internal haemorrhage on its way. The omens are bad and the crowd are restive, until the anticipatory throng witness the charming and eccentric Emily Cotton bounce onto stage.

With her proud golden red locks and assured picking, Cotton breezes through her half hour set with dainty confidence. English baroque folk treasures such as her own ‘Lost’ and ‘Blame’ sit easily alongside half-rapped, half-sung contemporary pop standards, until with a coy wink she’s off, having seduced and intrigued in equal measure.
Ominously named The Crashing Bores are indeed sedate and reflective, but never tedious, as you suspect they well know. Les Black’s plaintively sung tales of loss and beautiful dejection are sensitively accompanied on acoustic guitar by enigmatic sidekick Steve Roche, subtly highlighting the sepia tones of Black’s stateliness. The Chi-Signs II compilation standout ‘Birds’ is achingly tender in the mid afternoon sun.

An abrupt change of pace as Southampton’s Pondlife bring their coruscating, surf twang buzz punk to The Chichester Inn. Adrian Edmondson lookalike frontman Jules Faux is a stage-right rock as his merry bunch politic and bounce through a loose but edgy six string Chi-Signs Festival 2015noise, clattering through joyous versions of ‘Knife In Your Back’, with its euphoric backing vocals, and the fantastically sweary ‘Stupid Song’, and it’s all over before it seems it’s even started.

An hour’s filmic space now as the line up re-orientates itself for the evening session, and the hypnotic washes of Ettuspadix (Beautilator) soothe the audience into a surreal trance. Found sounds here, a glacial synth stab there, all brought together in the understanding that Ettus never plays anything twice, and he’s controlling the whole sound from under an umbrella in the sun-baked garden while smoking a pipe.

Young Chi bounds in, as surprise guest and multi-instrumentalist Chris Cox rattles through a brief clutch of impassioned, perfectly executed covers of the likes of Ben Folds Five and Stevie Wonder, before getting behind the drums for the electrifying Open Plan Panic Room. The thinking indie fan’s favourite of the day, frontman ‘Sexy’ Paul Dickson charms the cameras and the ears via gems like ‘Something To Keep’ with the band’s Foos meets QOTSA discipline – and the female contingent of the crowd duly swoon.

Discipline is cheerfully tossed off for demented chaos as The Wrong Uns bring their ramshackle, energetic racket to possibly the biggest cheers of the day. Irrepressible and possibly sectionable frontman Johnny Wrongun certainly lives for the moment, as Clash and Jam covers compete with a dysfunctional iPad for attention. The Wrong Uns are many things, but boring is not one of them, and at least Johnny left his famed blow up doll at home (this time).
New Tropics are worthy heirs to local Fatcat-signed heroes TRAAMS, and within their insular unit and rigidly focussed, be-afroed frontman Tom Herrington, they rip a twenty-minute new one in the Chiinn. At The Drive-In meet Lightning Bolt in a Milton Keynes shopping centre via their blisteringly intense, blink and you’ll miss it set.

Dusk falls over the South Downs, and a besuited gentleman twirls an imaginary moustache, strikes a 50s muscle man pose and gives the audience a suave wink. Mikey Georgeson (otherwise known as The Vessel from David Devant and his Spirit Wife) is Lit rock personified, artfully balancing on a high wire taut between postmodern glam and chamber pop. Echoes of Ed Harcourt, James Cook and Rufus Wainwright are all heard in his Wildean chicanery, whether by guitar, electric piano or mandolin. A post ironic man about town, his wonderful ‘Industry’ charmed the festival…with only his bona fide classic ‘My Heroine’ tantalisingly left out of an intrigue-filled set.

Ex-cohort of Chrissie Hynde, the New York Dolls, Sid Vicious and charismatic bearers of brilliantly colourful tales, the Steve Dior Band bring the sleaze rock to town. Americana, swamp blues and classic punk fuse together through Dior’s formidable band, the Ladbroke Grove via CBGB’s legend himself resplendent in open red military jacket, lean buff tan and crazed blue-steel stare hypnotizing an enthralled crowd. Recent single ‘Song For The Wicked’ is followed by perfectly executed riff after ecstatic harmony, until the SDR drift into the high summer night, bottle of Turkish red under arm, swaggering towards who knows where.

After this roots epiphany, another kind of rootsiness approaches as local brass funk heroes Beatroot, with what looks like about fifty members onstage. Their perfectly oiled machine effortlessly bumps and grooves the night to its conclusion, rushing the nearly spent craniums of the audience with late night sax, trombone, sunglasses and hats. A warm and wonderful finale to a day-long festival of wildly oscillating colour. See you next year…

By Sean BW Parker

When political parties reverse their policy stance, their supporters immediately switch their opinions too

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At least a significant portion of their supporters, according to U of Aarhus researchers.

When two competing political parties in Denmark reversed their policy stance on an issue — suddenly they both supported reducing unemployment benefits — their voters immediately moved their opinions by around 15% into line with their party.

The same thing happened when one of these parties shifted from opposing to supporting ending Denmark’s early retirement.

The researchers were studying how public opinion is formed. Their recent paper sheds light on how much influence political parties have over their supporters, according to the researchers, who surveyed their panel of subjects in five successive waves between 2010 and 2011. They studied the same group of party supporters before, during and after a policy reversal.

“We can see that [the] welfare programs were actually quite popular … and many of the voters of the center-right party were in favor of these welfare programs,” commented one of the researchers, Rune Slothuus. “Nevertheless, we can see that they reversed their opinion from supporting these welfare programs to opposing these welfare programs.”

“I was surprised to see the parties appeared this powerful in shaping opinions,” Slothuus said. “Our findings suggest that partisan leaders can indeed lead citizens’ opinions in the real world, even in situations where the stakes are real and the economic consequences tangible.”

The researchers pondered Western democracy in light of their findings: “If citizens just blindly follow their party without thinking much about it, that should lead to some concern about the mechanisms in our democracy. Because how can partisan elites represent citizens’ views if the views of citizens are shaped by the very same elites who are supposed to represent them?”

Source: How Political Parties Shape Public Opinion in the Real World. Rune Slothuus and Martin Bisgaard. First published: 04 November 2020

The brain listens for things it is trying to predict

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The brain interprets sounds as they contrast with its expectations; it recognizes patterns of sounds faster when they’re in line with what it is predicting it will hear, but it only encodes sounds when they contrast with expectations, according to Technische U researchers.

The researchers showed this by monitoring the two principal nuclei of the subcortical pathway responsible for auditory processing: the inferior colliculus and the medial geniculate body, as their subjects listened to patterns of sounds which the researches modified so that sometimes they would hear an expected sound pattern, and other times something unexpected.

Source: Alejandro Tabas, Glad Mihai, Stefan Kiebel, Robert Trampel, Katharina von Kriegstein. Abstract rules drive adaptation in the subcortical sensory pathway. eLife, 2020; 9 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.64501

We have a particular way of understanding a room

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When several research subjects were instructed to explore an empty room, and when they were instead seated in a chair and watched someone else explore the room, their brain waves followed a certain pattern, as recorded by a backpack hooked up to record their brain waves, eye movements, and paths. It didn’t matter if they were walking or watching someone else, according to UC researchers led by Dr Matthias Stangl.

The researchers also tested what happened when subjects searched for a hidden spot, or watched someone else do so, and found that brain waves flowed more strongly when they had a goal and hunted for something.

Source: Matthias Stangl, Uros Topalovic, Cory S. Inman, Sonja Hiller, Diane Villaroman, Zahra M. Aghajan, Leonardo Christov-Moore, Nicholas R. Hasulak, Vikram R. Rao, Casey H. Halpern, Dawn Eliashiv, Itzhak Fried, Nanthia Suthana. Boundary-anchored neural mechanisms of location-encoding for self and others. Nature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-03073-y

Extroverts and introverts use different vocabularies

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Extroverts use ‘positive emotion’ and ‘social process’ words more often than introverts, according to new research conducted at Nanyang Technological U.

‘Love,’ ‘happy,’ and ‘blessed’ indicate pleasant emotions, and ‘beautiful’ and ‘nice’ indicate positivity or optimism, and are among the words found to be used more often by extroverts. So too are ‘meet,’ ‘share,’ and ‘talk,’ which are about socializing. Extroverts use personal pronouns — except ‘I’ — more too, another indication of sociability.

The correlation, however, was small, and the researchers think that stronger linguistic indicators need to be found to achieve their general goal, which is improving machine learning approaches to targeting consumer marketing.

Source: Jiayu Chen, Lin Qiu, Moon-Ho Ringo Ho. A meta-analysis of linguistic markers of extraversion: Positive emotion and social process words. Journal of Research in Personality, 2020; 89: 104035 DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2020.104035

WhatsApp is changing today - Users must give the app permission to send their private data to Facebook or lose account

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WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014, but has thrived while promoting itself as a privacy-respecting messaging app that now has 1.5b monthly active users. This week, though, WhatApp sent out an update to users’ phones that they must ‘consent’ to a new policy or lose access.

Whatsapp will now share more of your data, including your IP address (your location) and phone number, your account registration information, your transaction data, and service-related data, interactions on WhatsApp, and other data collected based on your consent, with Facebook’s other companies. Facebook has been working towards more closely integrating Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

Users who do not agree to ‘consent’ to the new policy will see their WhatsApp account become inaccessible until they do ‘consent.’ These accounts will remain dormant for 120 days after which they will be ‘deleted.’

The biggest change to the user policy, which many people ignored and clicked ‘agree’ to, thinking it was just another unimportant app update message, now reads,

‘We collect information about your activity on our Services, like service-related, diagnostic, and performance information. This includes information about your activity (including how you use our Services, your Services settings, how you interact with others using our Services (including when you interact with a business), and the time, frequency, and duration of your activities and interactions), log files, and diagnostic, crash, website, and performance logs and reports. This also includes information about when you registered to use our Services; the features you use like our messaging, calling, Status, groups (including group name, group picture, group description), payments or business features; profile photo, “about” information; whether you are online, when you last used our Services (your “last seen”); and when you last updated your “about” information.’

Notably, Elon Musk tweeted on the news, saying that WhatsApp users should switch to Signal, one of several popular privacy-focused messaging apps similar to WhatsApp.

The data sharing policy change doesn’t affect people in Europe due to GDPR data protection regulations.