Friday, July 5, 2019

The Mueller Report

It took several months but I finally finished reading the Mueller Report, also known as the Report on The Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. I don't recall where I downloaded the PDF from but you can get the PDFs from justice.gov: Part 1 and Part 2.

It was a tough document to read because it was so dry and boring. I'll admit to not reading the appendices in Part 2 and I only skimmed the last section of Part 2. I am not an attorney nor do I claim to have any special expertise on legal matters. But that won't prevent me from sharing my conclusions.

The Russians engaged in a massive and systematic program to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Candidate Trump. Why President Trump seems so eager to let Putin off the hook is beyond me. I've heard of "keeping your friends close and your enemies closer" but Trump's statements on the topic are ignorant at best, irresponsible at worst. The Russians and others will likely continue activities like this.

The Trump campaign did not collude, coordinate, or conspire with (interestingly, only "conspire" has a legal meaning within the context of criminal law - the former two words do not) agents of the Russian government or directly with the Russian government to influence the election. This did not surprise me. However, members of the Trump campaign, either through naivete or craven greed or inflated self importance, allowed the Russians to lead them around by the nose like a bunch of chumps.

Probably because they had been led around by the nose, several members of the Trump campaign and/or administration did commit crimes, evidence of which was uncovered by the investigation.

And the big one: there is a considerable body of evidence that indicates President Trump engaged in several acts consistent with obstruction of justice. And the caveats: because the Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion stating that criminal prosecution of a sitting president would be "bad" (my word), only an investigation was conducted without the potential for filing charges. (The section of Part 2 that I only skimmed was a refutation of the president's personal counsel's arguments that a sitting president could not be charged based on the obstruction of justice statute and Article II of the Constitution.) The significant paragraph from Part 2 is one we've all already heard:
"Fourth, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgement. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." 
This leaves me to wonder: When Mr. Trump is no longer president and the OLC's opinion is no longer applicable, will the evidence collected by the Commission be sufficient bring obstruction of justice charges at that future time?


Saturday, June 29, 2019

The enemy of art...

Music
Not music per se, but FirstSounds.org compiles and maintains the earliest known sound recordings going back to 1853.
Innerviews explores King Crimson.
Clyfford Still, PH-432, 1964. Found while exploring his museum's online archive of all his work.
Business Stuff

Reading from a screen is not the same as reading from a printed page. That's why there are these 11 tips for writing for an online audience (backed by studies performed by user experience experts.) #8 Use lists to make skimming easy.

A TEDx video on how to avoid death by PowerPoint. If you display a poorly designed slide and talk about it, 90% of what you said is forgotten within 30 seconds. True? Anyway here we go. #1 One message per slide. And there are 5 more. Another intriguing question based on human visual attention goes like this. We notice things that are moving, use signalling colors, have high contrast, and are big. Given that 4th one, why is a slide's title the largest font on the page when it's rarely (never?) the most important content on the page? (At the beginning of the video he says he searched for help on how to prepare and deliver good presentations but couldn't find any. I too have used such blatantly unfactual statements as a presentation device.)

101 questions to help you decide what to do after you sell your business. #31 What would I have done differently in my career?

If you polled the people who worked for you and asked them these 13 questions about your leadership, what would the results show? #8 My manager communicates clear goals for our team.

Channeling their inner Tolstoy ("Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves."), HBR recommends that to improve your team you must first improve yourself.

Mary Obering, Winter, 1992. This painting reminds me of another artist's work. Can you guess? Wait. Wait. Callum Innes.
Aviation Pr0n

A love letter in video format for the F-4.

Video inside the B-2.

Photos of an F-22 flying with the Blue Angels.

Aircraft will soon carry directed energy weapons to shoot down targets like missiles.

Flight ops on the USS Shangri-la, 1962.

Humor

Why summer is women's winter. A funny look at setting the a/c in the office.

Lit

Italo Calvino wrote one of the most intriguing books I've ever read: If on a winter's night a traveler. He also gave us 14 reasons to read classic literature. #6 A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Red and Burgundy over Blue), 1969. From an article on using AI to predict sale prices for Rothko's paintings.

Geek Stuff


The Incredible Machine is a video from 1968 about the Graphic 1 computer.

Could we render nuclear waste harmless with frickin' laser beams?

For some reason I had always operated under the impression that you shouldn't mix Advil and Tylenol. Now I see that combining them is more effective than an opioid, especially for dental pain.

So you've created the largest molecule ever. Now what? Maybe use it to deliver drugs.

And interactive timeline of earthquakes and volcanoes.

LIGO keeps on detecting gravitational waves.

I don't know why you'd want to generate a medieval fantasy city, but you can.

Vittles

Just Encased, a food truck specializing in craft sausages, deserves to be visited at least once just for the name alone.

Poop

In high school I thought about becoming an archaeologist. Maybe I should've. Fossilized poop shows that someone back in the day ate an entire rattlesnake.

Hippo poop helps move silicon throughout the ecosystem.

Let's all go to Poopoo Land in Seoul.

Until next time

You can make Mark Zuckerberg smile.

...is the absence of limitations. ~Orson Welles

(FORM IS LIBERATING!)

P.S. I'm thinking of moving this blog from Blogger to Wordpress. Good idea or not?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

From music people accept pure emotion...

Tom Peters, he of many words on Excellence and other topics, has written a concise 1-pager with all his top topics: The Everything Paper.

OK, Tolkien freaks. New York's Morgan Library Museum hosts Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth through 10 May.

Careful: you can get lost in these graphics of how U.S. households spend their money. For example, households in the top quintile spend about as much for food at home as eating out ($6,500) versus $2,500 and $1,500 for households in the lowest quintile.

Speaking of demographics, what large U.S. cities have the highest share of families with children? Fort Worth is #2 with 36.3%

Agnes Martin, Untitled 2. source. Be certain to watch the video.
As the yellow first down line is to football, the ghost plane is to the Red Bull Air Race. Find out how it's done.

A second-hand tale of working on the XB-70, the Cold War, Mach 3 bomber that fascinates me.

Did you know there were different kinds of superconductivity? Neither did scientists until last year. Ytterbium-Bismuth-Platinum superconducts with electrons at a higher spin.

Congrats to Town Talk Foods for making Fort Worth Magazine's Best of Fort Worth 2019 list for grocery shopping.

Robert Fripp is revered as a god in a music genre he can't stand. Read more about the King Crimson leader in this Rolling Stone article.

If I had pursued archaeology instead of engineering back in high school when my career aspirations were still forming I might've been one of these researchers who are digging up pee (using urine salts to measure population density).

Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape I, 1963. Here's an example of an artist moving between representation and abstraction. Is this representation with abstract elements moving in?
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park 43, 1971. A beautiful example of Diebenkorn's most famous abstract motif, is there representation in here? 
So as not to leave you with something too classy, here's a compilation of toilet flushing sounds.

...but from art they demand explanation. ~Agnes Martin

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Like love, music's a mystery...

And we begin with the tunes.

Everything Disney Owns
From the Long Now Foundation comes this article on slow music, Transmissions from the Ambient Frontier. Slow art is a thing (do people really only spend on average 27 seconds looking at a work of art?) and slow music is too, although I find ambient or drone challenges some people immensely. This is a long article but worth a slow read. 


If you're going to be in the neighborhood of the Berkeley Art Museum before July 21st, go see the exhibition Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction
Does anyone really care that Mickey Mouse is 90 years old? Cartoon Research shares how he used to be a much bigger deal.

Are you a "small giant," a company that has chosen to be great instead of big.

The Wadsworth Museum is hosting Sean Scully: Landline through 19 May.
Here's a serious and almost academic study of swearing on TV.

The one guy who flew both the F-22 (Lockheed Martin) and YF-23 (Northrop Grumman) says that L-M won because they did a better job of marketing. Regardless, the YF-23 is a beautifully cool aircraft.

Javier Riera, light projection onto trees. source
Pixar's Inside Out only featured five emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust) but despite not being able to find a connection I suspect they're based on Robert Plutchik's eight primary emotions (adding Trust, Surprise, and Anticipation) illustrated graphically as a wheel below. Like my fascination with the periodic table, there's something pleasing about this graphical depiction of a "soft" subject.
Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions. source. See more above.
The first web browser was called - no, not Mosaic - WorldWideWeb. Now to celebrate it's 30th anniversary, an in-browser implementation of WorldWideWeb has been developed. Go surf the web like it's 1989.

Somewhere under a rainbow. source. It's been a while since I did some aviation pr0n.
This article says that in future versions of Microsoft Office, you'll be able to convert a photo of a data table into an Excel spreadsheet.

Ellsworth Kelly is coming to a postage stamp near you soon.
The average American - or so this article says - uses 3 rolls of toilet paper per week. This seems high to me.

...when solved, it evaporates. ~Ned Rorem

Saturday, April 6, 2019

It isn't positions which lend distinction,

Tunes for you:


I wish I had learned 88 truths about life. If I had, I might share them like this guy did. #26 Credit card debt devours souls. A bit histrionic, but true otherwise.

Included in these seven tips on writing from William Faulkner is "events in a story should flow naturally according to the character's inner necessity." This jives with something similar another author (whom I've forgotten) said: each character should want something.

Piet Mondrian, The Gray Tree, 1912. There are a few paintings that I've fallen in love with on first sight. One is Monet's Impression Sunrise. Another is this.
On this list of hot leadership topics for 2019 (I'm only two months behind), we find how culture can drive high-performance and innovation.

This article introduces the term SaaB (software as a barrier) in the context of listing 10 things the best software companies do. An interesting statistic about Google is cited: 70% of development time is spent on "building out" their core products, 20% on innovation, and the remaining 10% on what might be coming in 10 years.

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Red and Burgundy Over Blue), 1969. This can be yours at an upcoming Sotheby's auction.
Watch this animated, time-lapse bar chart of the world's most populous cities starting in the year 1500 when the big dog was Beijing.

A collection of vintage press kits from Apollo.

The first periodic table. It's 150 years old.
See the infinite CVS receipt.

Watch Idle, Torrent. Just do it.

The flying butt.
C'mon, play the pink trombone. (No, you perv, not that.)

You've probably seen the clip from The Office where they're watching the DVD logo bounce around the screen. Now you can watch Too Many DVDs.

...but men who enhance positions. ~Agesilaus

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Reality always wins.

NEWS FLASH: Quantum mechanics experiment proves objective reality does not exist.

What time is it? Ask the Human Clock.

David Torn keeps appearing in my music listening ouevre, most recently in the form of Sun of Goldfinger, a trio with Tim Berne and Ches Smith. Here's the album teaser. You can buy the album on Bandcamp.

I've already pre-ordered The Bill Laswell Mix Translations of tracks from Sonar's Vortex album.

How about the teaser for Chat Noir's Hyperuranion.

And here's a live solo performance on piano by Jamie Saft.

One last one is Mark Wingfield's Tales from the Dreaming City.

You too can make your own logo in Led Zeppelin style.
Let's go on a video tour of each element on the periodic table.

And while I'm revisiting favorite themes, here's an animated map of U.S. population density over time.

Another map? How about this one of political prejudice by U.S. county. Unfortunately, the DFW metroplex seems to be pretty damned prejudiced.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1960. You can buy this painting at auction for an estimated $35-50 million so that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art can use the proceeds to freshen up their collection.
Speaking of Rothko, Houston's Rothko Chapel will be closed for renovations until mid-December. I look forward to seeing the chapel's paintings in a new light, literally and figuratively.

Poignant is the word I'd use to describe hearing Mark Rothko's son read his father's letter to Lee Krasner on the death of Jackson Pollock.

Advice from painter Willem de Kooning includes "seek out glimpses of inspiration in the world around you."

I don't know what to make of the fact that the 76104 zip code (home of my favorite company) has the lowest life expectancy in the state of Texas.

As proof of Thelonious Monk's statement that all musicians are subconsciously mathematicians, here is John Coltrane's circle of fifths
Science says that 400 miles underground the earth is hoarding enough water to fill the oceans three times.

I'm glad that Bill Gates chose to include on his list of 10 breakthrough technologies for 2019 "new-wave nuclear power."

The tiny archeologist in me (I wanted to be one in high school) loves discoveries like this untouched Mayan cave.

This article from The Aviationist, one of my favorite blogs, was the first I heard that the USAF is thinking about a fighter to replace the F-22 called NGAD, Next Generation Air Dominance. I just hope they build more than 187 of them.

From the Aviation Pr0n category, here we see the first photo of the USAF's XQ-58A combat drone. 
If you want to live longer, check out what works and what doesn't.

In case you didn't hear, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (aka Star Wars Land) at Disney World and Disneyland in August and May, respectively.

The warty comb jelly (great name for a band) creates an anus each time it has to poop and makes it go away after wiping (i.e. transient anus - an even better band name).

I always say I should read more science fiction so the 2018 Locus Recommended Reading List will come in handy. Now if only my library's cloud app had any of these titles.

Your only job is to get in touch with it. ~Wilfred Bion

Saturday, March 2, 2019

We are kept from our goal not by obstacles...

If you're a fan (or even familiar with) business author Tom Peters, you might want to check out his latest slide deck based on his book The Excellence Dividend. Here's Putting People (REALLY) First that makes the case for making any organization of any size a great place to work.

Here's the trailer for the movie APOLLO 11. This might actually get me into a theater.

Take 2 hours and 40 minutes to watch the Titanic sink in real time.

If you're not following Neill Blomkamp's work at Oats Studios you're missing some fantastic stuff. And watch all of it, not just the Anthem trailer.

As a boss at work, when you give guidance do you deliver ruinous empathy, manipulative insincerity, obnoxious aggression, or radical candor (video, book)?

Jack Whitten, Dispersal 'A' #2, 1971. Dry pigment on paper. source
Wow. Who could've seen this coming? Google fined 50 million euros by France for GDPR violations. (I say that not because I think Google is in violation but because somebody was bound to fine the big guys shortly after the law went into effect.)

When animator Clair Weeks left Disney in 1952 his "goodbye book" was filled with drawings, autographs, and notes from everyone. Check it out.

I've extolled Stephan Thelen's Fractal Guitar album but why not hear about it from All About Jazz.

Did you see it during the lunar eclipse? The meteorite impact
The Red Bull Air Race is only scheduled to come to the U.S. once in 2019: Indianapolis in October.

Trends affecting business in 2019:
Do you know the difference between a shitshow and a clusterfuck?

Been a while since I posted one of these but here is a the periodic table by country of discovery.
And I could read this visual history of the periodic table all day.

Science proves that not all poop is equal.

And prepare to waste hours and hours with Idle Breakout.


And I leave you with the ability to turn any image into a mosaic of emojis.

...but by a clear path to a lesser goal. ~Bhagavad Gita