Saturday, August 13, 2016

We are happy when...

The 50 best action movies of the 21st century. 17 of 50 isn't too bad.

CRISPR today is to genetic engineering what the original IBM PC was to computing. So imagine what gene editing will be like in a few decades.

Thanks to National Geographic for making freely available printable topographic maps of the entire country.

I like my 4-color pen. But how about a 16 million color pen? Introducing the Cronzy.

Sam Francis, Happy Death Stone, 1960. source. An exhibition of Francis' prints is currently on display at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Dizrhythmia, the Jakko Jakszyk and Gavin Harrison project, has their second album coming out next month. Check out this video teaser.

Is Yes' Close to the Edge the best example of prog rock? Regardless of your answer, read what Steve Howe has to say.

Science has no explanation for Niku, a 200 km diameter object beyond Neptune that has a quite contrarian orbit.

Do you sanitize your sponges weekly? You might want to check out Good Housekeeping's guide to what to clean and when to clean it.

Which bathroom stall should you choose? Not the middle.

Roomba + doggie doo = Pooptastrophe.

...we are growing. ~William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Make Me by Lee Child

When it comes to books, there are few experiences I enjoy more than listening to Dick Hill read Lee Child's Jack Reacher.

Reacher is the protagonist of Childs' series of novels about the former Army Major from the MPs who now, for reasons unknown (to me), travels the country with only what he can carry in his pockets. Along the way he becomes enmeshed in situations that he helps sets right using his unique skills. Other than his imposing physique (which makes Tom Cruise's casting as Reacher in the movies rather odd), Reacher's skills including mental powers and instincts honed over years of investigating crimes across the globe.

In Make Me, Reacher steps off a train in the middle of wheat farming country to satisfy his curiosity about why the town is called Mother's Rest. There he encounters the mysterious disappearance of a former FBI agent who was in town for unknown reasons. There's no rest for Reacher and the missing agent's partner as they crisscross the country to unearth a deeply buried, hideous secret.

I've never actually read a book starring Reacher. Instead, all my experience has been through the audiobook versions with Dick Hill providing the narration. I can't imagine anyone else reading those stories. Hill's precise, staccato, hyper-annunciated, expressive style wraps perfectly around Child's words and Reacher's thoughts.

I highly recommend Jack Reacher to anyone who's a fan of investigative thrillers. You can find out more about Lee Child at and Dick Hill at

The trailer for the second Jack Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise is here. The first movie was good, even accounting for my opinion about casting Cruise as Reacher. When you watch this trailer, imagine in Cruise's place someone who is 6 foot 5 inches tall, weighs 240 pounds, and says even fewer words.

"Nothing can be said about writing except when it's bad. When it is good, one can only read and be grateful."

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The greatest intelligence is...

New (or new to me) music is everywhere.
  • Later this year the duo Burnt Belief (Colin Edwin and Jon Durant) will release their 3rd album, Emergent. Here's a preview.
  • Touch Guitars Compilation 2016 is available for free download.
  • And a compilation of Markus Reuter's music, Fool of Music, is also available for free download.
  • TUNER's ZWAR (Live in Europe 2005) is available for only 3 bucks. (At least stream their version of King Crimson's Industry.)
  • Adrian Belew's score for the Pixar short film Piper is available on Amazon.
  • The next album from Stick Men, Prog Noir, is available for pre-order. (Although I can't figure out why the packages include a 120 euro price point (CD, bonus CD, 2 LPs, a t-shirt and a poster) and a 15 euro price (CD). Why not offer the CD and bonus CD for 30 euros?)
Got black and white photos you want to colorize? Do it online with Algorithmia.

Physics, physics, physics. What do you get when you bind light with an electron? I have no idea but it would have the best properties of both: non-linear travel like an electron, material free-travel like a photon. Now accepting candidate names. Hannibal Lectron, Photron, Phecton, Elephotron.

Say what you will about Jerry Jones but at least he and his family spend money on art for his facilities. Case in point, Volume Frisco, an LED light installation at the new Cowboys HQ in Frisco.
More science in infographic form: temperatures from absolute zero to absolute hot. (Brakes on a Formula 1 car get hotter than the surface of planet Mercury which is hotter than the boiling point of mercury which is confusing.)

The periodic table of protein, from barley to veal and beyond.
The Computer History Museum in Mountain View is very cool and well worth a visit. But the Living Computer Museum in Seattle actually has machines that work.

Ladies, is going topless legal in your state? Yee haw, Texas.

It's fun to put food and poop together, or so says the owner of Canada's first poop-themed restaurant.

...the one that suffers most from its own limitations. ~Andre Gide

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happiness is not a matter of intensity...

Adrian Belew (of King Crimson fame) scored the soundtrack for the Disney Pixar short animated film Piper and it's now available for purchase. (Piper plays in front of Finding Dory.)

Burnt Belief, the duo of Colin Edwin (bass) and Jon Durant (guitar), announced the October release of their 3rd album, Emergent.

Learn web design in 4 minutes. OK, not really. But the way this site progressively builds to demonstrate web design basics is cool.

For your inner voyeur, here are 10 recommended webcams, from the world's oldest ham to Elvis' front door. My favorite are the cameras for the restoration of the USS Monitor.

Philip Guston, Group II, 1964. From an article about an exhibit of a decade's worth of his abstract work that recently closed in NYC.
I've shared recently images of some of the works of female abstract expressionist painters in response to the show of the same at the Denver Museum of Art. There's a nice write-up of this exhibit from the Dallas Morning News who called it "utterly compelling."

The DMN article cited above also touches upon the exhibit of Norman Lewis' work at Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum. I can't praise this exhibition highly enough. Lewis' work is luminous.

Norman Lewis, Masquerade, 1967
Ah, lists. The 50 best scifi films of the 21st century (so far). I did better than I thought at 12 of 50. And I'm happy that Edge of Tomorrow got on the list.  I did much worse on the list of the best animated films, having seen only 8 of the 50.

One Square Inch is an effort to preserve true quiet spaces, and the quietest of those is in Olympic National Park.

Highly recommend this understated yet funny fictional perspective of humanity's place in the universe. How would we be seen by others? Danger: Humans.

Wiggly, ain't it? source
Visualize the most frequently used words with Wordcount. Visualize is #23,987.

Shock waves in outer space? Listen as the Juno spacecraft crosses through the bow shock formed by the interaction of the solar wind with Jupiter's magnetic field.

Whomever the hell Value Penguin is, they say Colleyville is the safest city in Texas.

A map of your zip code's primary energy source. Looks like north Texas is natural gas.
Here's an interactive visualization timeline of two centuries of immigration to the U.S.

And yet another map, this one showing where the 1% live.

More? Global shipping routes.

About 2,000 years ago you wiped your butt with a stick around which you had wrapped strips of cloth. Interesting unto itself, but the really interesting bit is that archaeologists were able to use these nasty things to trace the transmission of diseases.

Roborectum sounds like a member of the Justice League but if it'll help defeat colon cancer then it deserves to be.
Speaking of nasty, peeing in the shower would save water relative to flushing a toilet. (Which might be another argument for why homes should have urinals for dudes.) Also, this story quotes a factoid reported here a while back, that regardless of size it takes a mammal 21 seconds to empty its bladder.

...but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony. ~Thomas Merton

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Inspiration comes of...

If you're uncertain, try Is My Computer On? If you're clueless, try Is My Computer On Fire?

I recall writing in my review of King Crimson's album Live at the Orpheum from their 2014 tour something like "gimme more." My wish has been granted. The just announced Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of the Monkey Mind is said to include one example of every song the band performed on their 2015 tour - 3 CDs worth. In Fripp's words, "What I like about this band is, that what it is actually doing is not what it appears to be doing." Available now for pre-order with an 02 September release.

Alma Thomas, Untitled, 1960. "C├ęzanne’s unfinished painting of a landscape at the Phillips Collection gave me the idea of using color to structure a painting. Painting all over the canvas rather than just drawing, he gave an architectural structure to color." source
Colin Edwin posted Alistair Peck's video for the Metallic Taste of Blood song Pashupati. I hear that MToB's third album is in the works.

Jazz. How to grow its audience? "It can't be done."

Best cities in Texas for families? Colleyville is #3.

Time lapse animation of the states and territories of 'Murica.
Similar to above but in a bit more detail and in video format.

I'm not a huge fan of infographics, but who can find fault with Sausage Around the World?

I can't tell what year this was made, but this is a great vintage documentary of the making of a Walter Lantz cartoon.

Maybe you prefer your animation more contemporary, more yellow, and more LOL funny. Hence, Bananas.

Try to look away. I dare you. source
Do bats fart?

...working every day. ~Charles Baudelaire

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Endurance is the crowning quality...

Unsurprisingly, Fort Worth is ranked as one of the friendliest cities while our eastern neighbor is ranked as one of the rudest.

110 Nobel Laureates sign a petition urging everyone to stop hating on GMOs. "There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity." (Note: I'm not necessarily a fan of the euphemism "precision agriculture.") The entire GMO debate is one that exemplifies the fact that your opinion, while interesting, is irrelevant.

Jon Anderson (Yes) and Roine Stolt (Flower Kings) have joined forces for the album Invention of Knowledge, due out on 24 June. Hear a teaser on YouTube, read more at Inside Out Music.

And Daniel Lanois' new album Goodbye to Language is out later this year, but the teaser track Heavy Sun is available now.

Unheard Bird is a double album of 58 recently discovered and previously unreleased tracks by Charlie Parker.

Perle Fine, Early Morning Garden, 1957. source
I've made no secret of the fact that I consider Donald Trump to be a repugnant, oafish buffoon. But smarter people than me have made a more rational case about why he's uniquely unsuited for the presidency: "we believe that his entire way of behaving represents a rejection of the essential character traits (the “qualities”) that our democracy requires of its leaders."

Cool video of eye-tracking of an F-1 race driver.

Shocking news: Americans and Europeans are different. Another example of the difference is air conditioning, our love of which was called an epidemic. On the other hand, it's not clear to me that Europeans know that air can actually move and circulate.

Everyone knows about six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Here's Six Degrees of Musical Separation where any two musicians can be related in no more than six steps. (Note: someone doing a cover of someone else's work counts as a step.) For example, I gave it Anthony Phillips (a very very early member of Genesis) and Pink. Seemed like a challenge but they were connected in two steps.

The 99 best business books. 7 out of 99 isn't bad, right?

The NFL 2016 rule book is online as a PDF. Maybe it clarifies what a catch is.

Peter Diamandis asks an interesting question: what won't change in the next 10-20 years? I read where someone replied that restaurant tables will still wobble and you'll still need to jam a folded up napkin beneath one of the legs. But what else? It's a harder question to answer than it appears.

The planned 5th installment of the Alien movie franchise (to be directed by Neill Blomkamp) is going to be set after Aliens (i.e. Alien 2) as though Alien 3 and Alien 4 never happened.

Does anyone care how happy Twitter is? Check out the Hedonometer.

Because you stink.

...and patience all the passion of great hearts. ~James Russell Lowell

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Tact is the ability to describe others...

Lorenzo Feliciati's new album, Frequent Flyer Live, is now available from Rare Noise Records. Sample a few tracks and then get yourself the full album for only around $5.

After 23 years of restoration, a WWII-era B-25 takes flight. Be certain to watch the video.

Jay DeFeo, Untitled (Everest), 1955. From an article about the Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art.
They said the earth was running out of helium (which is bad because it's difficult/impossible to make more). But in Tanzania they just discovered one trillion liters of helium, which seems like a lot but is only a seven year supply at current rates of use.

Speaking of found things, check out this 100 million year old bird wing that was discovered trapped in amber. they see themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln