Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford

What if the U.S. developed the atomic bomb a year earlier, in 1944?

This is the teaser for Gregory Benford's The Berlin Project, a thriller that ticked three of my boxes: nuclear weapons, espionage/military thriller, and alternate history.

Rather than a flight of fancy, Benford crafted this tale around his father-in-law's actual experiences back in the 1930s and 1940s working with and around Leslie Groves, Albert Einstein, Oppenhiemer, Bohr, and the entire cast of real-life Manhattan Project characters.

But back to the premise. Assume that science (and the politics of science) had turned out a bit differently back in the day such that the bomb was ready in '44 instead of '45. How might the Allies have put it to use, if at all? The difference in the science may seem small (and entirely plausible), but the results in wartime - maybe not so much.

The characters (perhaps because they are real) are so vivid and Benford's story is so believable (due to his research and work pulling it all together) that the resulting book is totally enjoyable. And while I could put it down, I couldn't wait to pick it up and finish it.

I highly recommend Gregory Benford's The Berlin Project.

You can read more about Benford at his publisher's website.

"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 compenstation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

In ethics, there is a humility...

Read this. Pause. Read again. Think. Chinese scientists have teleported a photon from earth to an orbiting satellite.

Fans of ambient music, rejoice! It's 12k's 40% off summer sale.

Or download (free) this great ambient mix of Glacial Movements' catalog.

Or how about the 2017 remastering of the Blade Runner soundtrack?

More? vMashup does a side-by-side synch of two videos. Be mesmerized by JumpReich: kids jumping rope vs. Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Carribean Sea, Jamaica, 1980. He claimed Rothko's late, dark paintings were more realistic than his photographs.
Mark Rothko, Untitled (Black on Gray), 1969.
Film from 1935 of daily life in Hiroshima.

Live webcam from the St. Louis Arch.

Relief! A hospital has set up an intensive care unit exclusively for the treatment of male patients suffering from coughs, colds, or even both.

Craft pr0n: making a wooden wheel.

Water permeable concrete. What kind of magic is this?
Considered one of the greatest animations of all time, here's a video about the making of What's Opera, Doc?

You really need to check out the videos from Oats Studios, a Neal Blomkamp project.

This is what happens when you send Rothko's Black on Gray (above) to Simplify.ThatSh.it
Here's what you get when you send a Clyfford Still to Simplify.ThatSh.it. The results are interesting yet uncompelling.
Gizmodrome is the new band featuring Adrien Belew, Stewart Copeland, Mark King and Vittorio Cosma. This 4 minute teaser video gives me a Zappa vibe.

Equation numbering in Word.

How well can you draw all 50 states? Not very.

This might be a good question for sparking conversations at work (or during an interview as proposed in the article): What's something that happens here but wouldn't happen anywhere else?

You've probably already seen this but - a photo suggests Amelia Earhart might have survived her plane crash.

The Seabin seems like a good idea for removing trash from waterways and harbors but the animated graphic at the top of their website makes it real hard to want to read more.

...moralists are usually righteous. ~John Berger

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Blue oblivion, largely lit,

It's July. Do you know where the first half of 2017 went?

David Kollar's new album Notes from the Underground has been released. I listened to it a lot this past week and am really enjoying it. Several tracks can be streamed from the Bandcamp I linked to.

Know any nerds who'd like a LEGO Saturn V?

Applying science (neuroscience to be specific) to art (exhibition design to be specific).

On Ellsworth Kelly's greatness: “All of a sudden you begin to understand that if you dissociate narrative ideas, how strong the visual impulse is in every human being.”

Ellsworth Kelly, Blue on White, 1969. source
Our friends at TSA (Taking Scissors Away) will rummage through your luggage, play with it, and post selfies with it. But yet somehow their job remains important.

I post a lot of rude and naughty stuff here. But it's BS like this that should offend us all: anti-science in Florida.

...smiled and smiled at me. ~William Rose Benet

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Science is organized knowledge.

It's time to clean out the bookmarks. So here we go.

Gaudi's latest CD, Magnetic, arrived in the mail this week and I've been thoroughly enjoying it. Another album of his, Dub Qawwali, has been recommended to me so I'm streaming it now.

The first CD from the duo of Eraldo Bernocchi and Netherworld, Himuro, also arrived this week. You can stream it online before purchasing, which I recommend you do if you're a fan of ambient music.

And I'm still waiting for the arrival of David Kollar's latest, Notes from the Underground. A second track has been released for you to preview, Thirst of Life.

Finally, here's a teaser video for Marco Minneman's new album, Borrego.

For Steve Hackett and Genesis fans who can get to Australia, the former will be performing a special show on 06 August in Melbourne featuring songs from the classic Genesis album Wind and Wuthering. (Having written that, I may have to put that CD into the player tomorrow.)

Juno. source (including hi-res image)
A solar eclipse is coming on 21 August. Are you ready?

The Greatest Sales Deck I've Ever Seen (who still calls a presentation a "slide deck?") is actually not bad. It's a good framework for your story.

Five ways to educate your customers through content. #4 Teach them a practical skill.
The periodic table of SEO success factors.
Vonlane is a high-end bus transportation company ("private jet on wheels") servicing DFW, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. From DFW to Austin will run you $100. Plus you'll avoid the TSA freedom massage.

A brief article about Mark Bradford at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. And if you're in Denver before 16 July, I highly recommend a visit to the Denver Art Museum to see Shade: Clyfford Still/Mark Bradford.

Where the Russians will nuke us? This map and article are a bit simplistic IMO. And they ignore the really fund part - fallout.
A nearly 100 million year old baby bird was found in amber in Burma. (I've got an "amberized" bug in my collection.)

Lot's of data on marketing here with the concluding statement "The future of marketing is having more science in our art and more art in our science.”

You can book a flight with ZERO-G to experience weightlessness (as in NASA's "Vomit Comet").

A video about how to speak so people want to listen. (Yes, it's a TED Talk but don't pre-judge.)

The Walt Disney Family Museum is currently exhibiting Awakening Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle
I don't know what the hell is wrong with politicians. "Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions." No, this is not The Onion.

A Fifth Element remix.

Neill Blomkamp is posting videos from his Oats Studios of works in progress including a film called Rakka.

And a "making of" video about Blade Runner 2049.

Flags of Valor is a veteran-owned and operated company that makes nice looking U.S. flags crafted from wood.

Sleep with someone who snores? Maybe you should consider Nora, a device that listens for snoring and when detected it gently moves the snorer's pillow so they stop.

Remember when putt-putt golf was competitive and televised? Vimeo does and they've got the videos to prove it.
Craft breweries by state. source
Practice is the art of finding a process for repetition without boredom.

More science in art - or in this case, cellular automata in architecture.

A bit of architectural commentary on the Clyfford Still Museum and others.

Two black holes collided and merged, spinning off two solar masses of gravitational waves. Ouchy.

The easiest way to bust enhancement is this 3D illusion t-shirt.

More proof that stupidity will be the end of us all. Over 16 million U.S. adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

This article involves a "tainted buffet" at a "strip club." Not for the squeamish, not for the genteel, not for work. Not for anyone really. Do not click the link. You've been warned.

Dead. Butt. Syndrome.

Wisdom is organized life. ~Immanuel Kant

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Seriousness in True Joy

During my business trip to Denver earlier this month, I toured - for the second time - the Clyfford Still Museum. And, and is my compulsion, I bought a book. But not just any book: a vintage copy of the catalog that accompanied Still's donation of 28 of his paintings to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1976.

Toward the end of the book, a 1963 quote of Still's is included that I'll quote directly here:
"I'm not interested in illustrating my time. A man's 'time' limits him, it does not truly liberate him. Our age - it is of science - of mechanism - of power and death. I see no virtue in adding to its mammoth arrogance the compliment of graphic homage."
Flipping a few pages back in the book brought me to PH-261 (see below), a painting completed about the same time as Still made that statement. Certainly, this painting exudes timelessness and is without mechanism. It is essentially human.

Clyfford Still, PH-261, 1962. source
Still also is quoted in the book as saying "I am a serious man about those things I consider important. Perhaps there is a seriousness in true joy." There is no better word than joy to describe my reaction to Clyfford Still's work.

Reference: Clyfford Still at the SFMOMA.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The time at our disposal each day is elastic...

New music to be previewed and ordered:

  • David Kollar, Notes from the Underground, to be released 30 June.
  • Brand X, But Wait... There's More (double, live CD), to begin shipping 14 July (Note: the link is to their store at Burning Shed for UK and other orders. It appears US customers have to order through Facebook which is a new one for me.)
  • Stick Men ft. Mel Collins, Roppongi - Live in Tokyo, Show 1 and Show 2 (to be released 21 July)

In this interview with musician and composer J. Peter Schwalm we read about how the artist's intent doesn't necessarily have to be deduced by the listener. "I really want listeners to feel something when they are listening to my music; In an ideal situation, they would feel the same as me."

Mark Bradford, Realness, 2016. Soon.
This calls for some research. Cousin's BBQ has switched to all-natural, Creekstone Farms briskets which taste better than their previous briskets. On a related note, the top 50 BBQ joints in Texas.

Five of the top 10 U.S. cities in population growth are in Texas with Fort Worth coming in at #7. On a related note, Forbes ranked Fort Worth as the 6th fastest growing city.

The Modern posted a video playlist called Modern Collections in which a staff member takes 3-4 minutes to talk about one specific work. Of the five videos currently available, my favorite is about Clyfford Still's 1956-J No. 1 Untitled.

Not just no, HELL NO. TSA planning to make the traveling public "declutter" their baggage. How about we declutter airports by kicking TSA to the curb?

The strapless, adhesive Bliss Bra (gives you +2 cup sizes) is currently on sale for 50% off.

How does Facebook police nudity? It's harder than you think.

Clyfford Still, PH-929, 1974. Very soon.
The Texas state legislature (which seems to be more interested in chasing high profile but relatively useless legislation - i.e. bathroom bill) is on the verge of requiring "breweries making more than 225,000 barrels annually to repurchase their own product from wholesalers in order to continue selling beer for on-premise consumption at their taprooms."

I had no idea that JFK gave the commencement address at my alma mater, Syracuse University, back in 1957.

Confused about what is a sandwich and what isn't? Thank you, lawyers.

NASA loses track of a bag of moon dust from Apollo 11, woman buys it from USG for $1,000, NASA takes it back, woman sues and wins back a priceless piece of history and science.

...the passions we feel dilate it, those that inspire us shrink it, and habit fills it. ~Marcel Proust

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Either write something worth reading...

Why are there 3 big animation auctions in June?
Music du jour:
Agne Gintalaite, Beauty Remains. source. The article makes a comparison to Rothko but when I see an array like this the immediate comparison is Gerhard Richter.
Very soon I will see Shade, the Mark Bradford & Clyfford Still exhibit.

Those interested in Soviet-era history will no doubt enjoy the Manhoff Archive, a trove of color photos and videos from 1950s Soviet Union.

Going a bit further back in time, the Paleobiology Database is an interactive map of fossil finds.

Make your own Sankey diagrams with SankeyMATIC.

25 things about Cleveland. MR HERO IS THE BOMB.

Quarterbacks ranked by career record. Yes, Brady is #1. But who's #2?

Flip Myers-Briggs on its head by defining hell for each personality type. Mine: "An incredibly impractical person is put in charge of all of your major life decisions. You have to do whatever they say and are powerless to argue or reason with them." (Maybe Satre's definition was simpler: Hell is other people.)

...or do something worth writing. ~Benjamin Franklin