Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

When I look back at my 2016 reading and remove the business and art books, several noteworthy fiction novels remain. In retrospect, it's clear that I got back into Tom Clancy big-time, both re-reading his older works and some of the new ones where his name is in the title. He created characters that still interest me.

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews was a really good spy thriller involving our Russian friends. The second novel in this series (Palace of Treason) is on my to-read list and the third (The Kremlin's Candidate) is already being teased. Highly recommend. Here's what I wrote about Red Sparrow shortly after finishing it.

I've said this before, but I probably don't read enough science fiction. Neal Stephenson's Seveneves proved that yet again. He presents a fresh but plausible apocalyptic scenario and plays it out in detail to the fullest (how else to explain a plot line that spans millennia). Satisfaction comes from "being in" the plot as I found myself agreeing with how things were progressing while also having my curiosity piqued by wondering if some of the future scenarios might play out like they did. Highly recommend. Here's his website.

What I didn't read is almost as interesting as what I did. City of Mirrors, the 3rd novel in Justin Cronin's Passage trilogy was published but still hasn't found its way onto my to-read list. Loved the first two novels in this post-apocalyptic series so I must finish it. Here's Cronin's website for the trilogy.

But before I start adding to my to-read list, I really need to finish the books I already have.


My Favorite Music of 2016

When I look back at 2016's new (to me) music, I see a lot of ambient soundscapes. I can't say whether that correlates to anything going on in real life (did I really need that much relaxation?). But I can say that a few of those albums resonated with me more than the others. Keeping in mind that this is not a "best of" list, my favorite music of 2016 in no particular order is:

The Beauty of Disaster by J. Peter Schwalm

The year started out on a musical high point for me with J. Peter Schwalm's The Beauty of Disaster.  At the time, I wrote about the music's balance of tension and hope. Musically subtle, emotionally rich, Disaster continues to reveal new depth with each listen. More of my thoughts on then album can be read here.


The Beauty of Disaster is available from Rare Noise Records. Schwalm can be found on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, and Facebook.

In Praise of Shadows by Eraldo Bernocchi and Shinkiro

Bernocchi wrote online "I have found so much beauty in the dark, as I have found a lot of horrors in the light." Rather than shining a musical light on a sense of place, Bernocchi and collaborator Shinkiro turn down the lights with In Praise of Shadows. The resulting dark ambiance is exquisitely beautiful. More of my thoughts on Shadows are here.


Bernocchi can be found online on Twitter, and at his website where the album can be ordered.

ZWAR (Live in Europe 2005) by TUNER

Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter record together under the name TUNER and their album ZWAR (Live in Europe 2005) is worth it just to hear their version of King Crimson's Industry. This duo packs progressive rock into performances that are part intricacy, part amazement, and part joy.

You can stream some ZWAR tracks and learn more about TUNER on Bandcamp.

Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of the Monkey Mind by King Crimson

When the latest incarnation of King Crimson started touring, I prayed a live album would result. 2015's Live at the Orpheum didn't fully answer my prayers. This year's 3-CD, protractedly-titled Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of the Monkey Mind hit the sweet spot. This is everything I want from a King Crimson live album: impeccable performances, rarely heard tunes, and broad coverage of studio albums.


You can order Radical Action from Burning Shed and read more about King Crimson at DGM Live.

Emergent by Burnt Belief

Burnt Belief is the duo of Colin Edwin (bass) and Jon Durant (guitar) and Emergent is their second album together. To my ear, everything here is just below the surface where Edwin's and Durant's performances percolate just below Latin-tinged progressive jazz melody.


You can learn more about Emergent at Alchemy Records. Edwin may be found at his blog and Twitter. Durant is online at his website.

Special Mention: Gaudi's EP

If the EP is a worthy barometer, Gaudi's forthcoming album, Magnetic, will be tremendous. He's plundering bits from Rare Noise's entire multi-genre catalog and blending them into something new.

The EP is and the album will be available from Rare Noise Records. Gaudi is on Twitter.


And on to 2017

I listened to a lot of ambient in 2016 and 2017 will start the same way. I've already pre-ordered and am awaiting delivery of Brian Eno's latest ambient work, Reflection.

"I don't know much about music, but I sure like the way it sounds."



If you asked me for my new year resolution...

Today's soundtrack begins with Space is the Place, a live recording by Markus Reuter and Tim Motzer.

The annual list of banished words from Lake Superior State University includes "on fleek" and I have no problem with that. Or how about the word warrior's list of words that should be brought back into popular use such as "rumpus."

Few paintings have impacted me as much as Mondrian's Composition in Black and Gray 1919 and the description of it that I read in the WSJ on Christmas morning which is no coincidence considering that the artist himself said it has a Christmas mood "if one understands the Christmas idea in a really abstract way... the predominance of the spiritual." This painting exemplifies how something that on its surface is geometrically abstract can can convey the sublime. source (login required). If you just want to see another image of this painting, go here to the Philly Museum of Art.
What makes an abstract expressionist painting good? You do, to a large degree.

Actually, it's not all of you: just your brain. We can easily decide whether a painting was skillfully executed and beautiful. But abstraction requires us to think really hard about the third prerequisite: is it interesting? A Nobel-winning expert on human memory explains why abstract art gives us a good kind of brain ache.

Mark Rothko is not an action painter.

Geometric Watercolors by Jacob Van Loon.
NASA technology spun off a high-precision coffee brewer.

When the aural becomes visual: a musical score as geometric abstraction.

Maybe there are only 4 personality types: Envious (gotta be better than everyone else), Optimists (you and a partner will always make the best choice), Pessimists (make choices as the lesser of two evils), and the Trusting (will always cooperate regardless of win or lose).

Diffusion Choir is a kinetic sculpture that simulates bird flocking behavior. video
Vintage photos of B-17s in flight.

Science solves a mystery: the weird sound deep in the Mariana's Trench is a new type of baleen whale.

Light Masonry by Jason Bruges
Science proved that "empty space really isn't empty" and polarizes light traveling through a vacuum, something called vacuum birefringence (i.e. light is interacting with a vacuum).

And now science has measured how antimatter absorbs light.

Blade Runner 2049 teaser vid.

A live ghost shark was filmed for the first time. article and video 
Keep up with which animated film wins which award using Cartoon Brew's award tracker. Kubo and the Two Strings and Zootopia appear to be doing well.

I'm lovin' Aviation Week's annual photo contest winners.

If nature is more your thing, here are National Geographics' photo contest winners. I personally like most the 1st place winner for landscape.

Why Chattanooga converted first floors into basements by raising street level.

Naughty duck. Too bad Xmas has already passed. source
Know yer droppings.

A flight from NY to Paris had to make a pit stop in Ireland cuz passengers had to go. Bad.

And now, in beautiful 4K and 2 hours in duration, enjoy The Fireplace by PES.
...it would be to find out who I am. ~Cyril Cusack

Saturday, December 17, 2016

To show resentment at a reproach...

Steve Hackett's next album, The Night Siren, is due for release in March 2017.

If Gaudi's EP (available from Rare Noise Records) of next year's Magnetic is an accurate preview, it's gonna be a tremendous album.

I am only beginning to learn about Richard Pousette-Dart but this painting (Untitled, 1950) caught my eye because it strongly reminded me of Mary Blair's artwork for Disney.
Science giveth and science taketh away. The observation of gravity waves from the collision of two black holes may also show where relativity doesn't apply.

Pantone's color of the year for 2017 is greenery, "a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew."

Take an hour and listen to Edward Tufte's thoughts on data, analysis, and truth. From a talk at Microsoft earlier in 2016.

Not just any periodic table: a 3D periodic table.
The U.S. Air Force is restoring the famous B-17, Memphis Belle.

There are 27 entries for the best animated feature Oscar with Zootopia the favorite.

A museum of hammers.

Social media and content marketing predictions for 2017: live video, mobile, the fall of Twitter (?), augmented reality, and more. Or you can look back at lessons learned in social media usage from 2016: customer experience has passed brand health as the top goal.

This brief video illustrating the history of Disney animation shows me there's a visual richness to hand drawn and hand painted animation that you can't quite get yet with computer animation.

My name in gum. Now go get your name in gum.
...is to acknowledge that one may have deserved it. ~Tacitus

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Anticipate the difficult...

Sadly, it was only upon her passing that I learned of Pauline Oliveros and her music. Give a deep listen to Deep Listening.

Brand X has reunited and is touring. You should try to see them when they come to your town. Here's a taste of what you'll see and hear: Nuclear Burn.

David Burdeny's photographs evoke comparisons to abstract painting but that shouldn't be surprising (see some of the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn).
Edward Tufte is looking for and examining "sentences off the grid."

Director Brad Bird shares some of his insight on animated films. First, animation isn't a genre. Second, animation is about how things feel not how things are. (Sound familiar? Think abstract art; how does it make you feel, not what is it.)

Yes, this is a thing - the online encyclopedia of integer sequences. For example, cubes whose largest decimal digit is 3.

Lots of maps today. Purely coincidence. Starting with this map of migrations.

Every country's tourism slogan. Canada's "keep exploring" might be sending the message it thinks it is.
Promising research on Type 1 diabetes results in pancreatic islet cells that can be transplanted into the patient's liver (or other organ) resulting in no further need for insulin injections.

The case for nuclear power.

Vintage American images.

This past week was the anniversary of painter Clyfford Still's birth in 1904. One of his ten quotes published by his namesake museum in celebration of the anniversary is "space and figure in my canvases had been resolved into a total psychic entity."

This animated map of population density shows the history of migration and settlement in the U.S. 
The CIA recently declassified a large number of historic maps.

It's a map and it's science. Take 8 minutes for this video presentation of the Map of Physics.

How to spot the International Space Station.

If you only listen to one mashup all year, make it this one: DJ Earworm's United State of Pop 2016.

You should buy this if only for the name, but cheese is a bonus: the Fondoodler, a hot glue gun filled with cheese.

...by managing the easy. ~Lao Tzu

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Try not to become a person of success...

Post-truth. It's the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year. Which is really all you need to know.

I don't even recall how I found it, but I'm now streaming Crone's ambient album Endless Midnight to decide whether to order the CD.

Markus Reuter is sharing his Live in Pomona 2016 album with us all for free.

Maybe my favorite music discovery this week was Arvo Part's Fur Alina.

And certainly you've heard that Brian Eno's next ambient album, Reflection, is due out on 01 January.

Google Maps Streetview Player does pretty much what it sounds like it'll do - given two addresses it will use street view images to show you what you'd see as you travelled the route between the two places.

More Google fun you ask? Play Quick, Draw! to see if Google can guess what you're sketching.

Srsly. Google PhotoScan. Use your smart phone to "scan" old photos in a high quality way so they can be archived and backed up. And enjoyed online. I just installed the app and scanned my first photo and it really really works.

A huge concrete shield is now being moved into place over the remnants of the reactor at Chernobyl.

You can paint with a brush or a knife or by dripping, pouring, or splashing. So why can't a robot paint with an artist? source
The Aberdeen Bestiary, now online in colorful glory.

Public art - what are you getting for your tax dollars? Sometimes alot, sometimes a little.

Do you need a new snowboard? I know a guy. Check out Totem Snowboards.

Fort Worth friends, take a moment to mourn the passing of Charley Bell of Charley's Hamburgers on Old Granbury Road, my favorite burger in DFW.

The 10 "semi-finalists" for the Oscar for animated short subject include two that are notable. Pixar's Piper has a soundtrack by guitarist Adrian Belew. And you know how much I love a good black and white line drawn animation so here's Once Upon a Line. I see a bit of The Dot and The Line in there.

Time's 100 most influential photos of all time includes many you'll agree with, some you'll question, and a little bit of fluid science: this milk drop coronet photo of 1957.
Now keep in mind this is from Good Housekeeping. There are five types of butts in the world. Can you name them? The first two are Square and V-Shape.

Remember the hilarious video advertising the Squatty Potty? They're back with a new product, a spray to take care of odors. Equally hilarious: Unicorn Gold.

I'm not the only one interested in poop. Here's the (legitimate) Space Poop Challenge - a design competition for a space suit component that will collect poops for up to 144 hours and dispose of them without people having to use their hands. You'll literally have to engineer the shit out of this.

Cow farts account for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions so when a farmer reduced his herd's output to nearly zero by changing what they eat, that's a big deal.

Generate your own Metallica logo here.
Marconi Union's song Weightless has been called "the most relaxing music ever" so here's a 10-hour loop of it. Unfortunately, it's not one of the tracks on the Marconi Union album I have.

Want something even more minimal? How about 10 hours of black screen in 4k?

...but rather try to become a person of value. ~Albert Einstein

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Music is the arithmetic of sounds...

Time to release a dangerous backlog of links. (That no one will read.) Don't worry; I'm not posting them all. Some I'm just reading and archiving. Others are getting the "why did I bookmark this?" treatment. This is pretty much presented in the order I encountered them in my bookmark list.

Have you heard of MasterClass? You can take online classes from masters for what seems to be a decent price. For example, James Patterson teaches writing in 22 video lessons and Dustin Hoffman teaches acting in 5 hours of video. Each is $90.

The story of Victor Belenko's defection to the West with a MiG-25 in 1976.

Stanford's 100 year study on artificial intelligence. Sounded interesting, but apparently not interesting enough for me to read.

MusicBrainz is an "open music encyclopedia that collects music metadata and makes it available to the public."

King Crimon's latest live album, Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of the Monkey Mind, is everything I want from a live KC album - breadth of material, superb performances, and quality recording. This excellent review from All About Jazz goes into a wee bit more detail and is definitely worth reading.

I'm a fan of Red Bull Air Races so I loved this video showing pilot Kirby Chambliss up against Indy driver Alex Rossi at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think Kirby's just showing off by flying inverted.
Dragonfly 44 is the same mass as the Milky Way but may be 99% dark matter, something never seen before. Considering that I recently read that some scientists think that dark matter may not actually exist...

The Air Force has begun a competition, Ground Based Strategic Deterrence (GBSD), to replace the Minuteman III missiles by 2029 at an estimate total cost of $62 billion (yes, billion) through 2044.

Published before the election, Aviation Week's list of the next president's tech agenda includes some very cool stuff. #7 directed energy weapons.

You too can get your own facehugger GIF (pronounced jiff) to celebrate ALIENS' 30th anniversary at www.aliensfacehugger.com.
The (untrue) story of how Pollock's (gorgeous) Mural was painted for Peggy Guggenheim under commission.

Syracuse is ranked #60 in U.S. News and World Report's 2017 best college rankings. Where's your alma mater?

Just a tad late on the fall foliage map - everywhere's past peak.

Smelly poo - is there any other kind? - forced a British Airways flight to Dubai to return to Heathrow after only 30 minutes in the air.

One of those crossovers I enjoy: musician extraordinaire Tony Levin visited CERN and photoblogged his tour of the facility.

Neil Blomkamp's Alien 5 is still underway according to Sigourney Weaver. If I remember correctly, it's going to be inserted into the franchise after Aliens.

In another crossover (kind of) the Presentation Zen blog shares tips from legendary film director Akira Kurosawa that while overtly about film, can be applied to any creative endeavor (delivering a presentation, writing software). Most importantly, "have the forbearance to face the dull task of writing one word at a time."

I absolutely adore the ambient album Winter Garden but I'm not certain what to think about this version played 800% slower.

America's next bomber - the B-21 Raider from Northrop Grumman. 
MoMA has put their exhibition catalogs from 1929 to the present online. I couldn't help but be drawn to Jackson Pollock from 1956. See image below. Be careful - you can spend hours exploring this archive.

Jackson Pollock, Shimmering Substance, 1946
Map of the most lewd sounding town names in the U.S. I think Ohio wins with Pee Pee Township.
I encourage my friends in the UK to go see Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy. Not all reviews, however, have been as positive as this one from The Telegraph. But I liked what I saw when I skimmed the exhibit catalog when it arrived earlier this week.

The Modern in Fort Worth has a large number of Sean Scully's paintings in their permanent collection and I had the chance to hear him speak at the museum recently. I love his work, the iconic motif of his stripe paintings, and his painting Light in August that's a direct reference to Faulkner's novel. In fact, there's a quote (I think in that novel) that says "the supreme rectangle of the open door," and he admits that doors and windows are part of his motif. In this recent interview with Studio International he talks about a lot and says this: "Abstraction is free. It is always concerned with thinking, and it is concerned with acting free of context. Also, it is always reaching outwards.

Are you interested in the future of sex? Honestly, I'm more interested in sex in the present. Yet this article and accompanying infographic blazes forward. For example, by the year 2045, 10% of young adults will have had sex with a humanoid robot. (Ewww. Hopefully not the same one.)

Rare Noise is one of my favorite record labels and consistently releases music that I very much enjoy. Learn more about them in this interview.

North Korea has a tiny internet. Tee hee.

What do I like? Black and white animation. See Halved feat chip king (the body). Feel free to mute the video.

For $42.5 million I'd probably change my name too. Buffalo's Albright-Knox art museum (a must-see if you're in the area) will now be called the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Museum.

I have a hard time taking a men's underwear brand called Saxx seriously.

Just silly - Rammstein's Du Hast done in a bossa nova style. Very well done live performance with the music overdubbed.

Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? Cuz that's where the money was. Why does Uncle Sam tax the shit out of corporations? Cuz that's where...

Rolling Stone says Mystery Science Theater is the 93rd greatest TV show of all time. Where's your favorite ranked?

Disney geeks, decorate your electronic device with these Disney wallpapers, especially those celebrating the 45th anniversary of Walt Disney World. I put "it's a small world" on my Chromebook.

Speaking of Disney, Ethan Allen introduced a line of Disney furniture.

Who better to advocate for a STEAM education than David Byrne and Neil deGrasse Tyson?

A transcript of conversations between jailed German nuclear physicists in 1945-1946.

Video of Lorenzo Feliciati and his Koi band getting their studio groove on.

Touring Walt Disney's office: part 1 and part 2.

Explore the tree of life, an interactive exploration of evolutionary relationships between living things on this planet.

The periodic table of CNC machining.
Not to be a downer but the longest you can expect to live is 122 years.

Artisinal toilet paper. I applaud Northern for having a (good) sense of humor about their own product.

source
Doughnut kitten.

For travelers, wireless passwords from airports.

An animation showing the normal growth of human teeth.

NASA pr0n.

Cool interactive timeline world map of earthquakes and eruptions.

Does your logo look like genitalia?

Interviews with Eno and Budd about The Pearl, a fantastic ambient album.

Have your wedding at Disney's Magic Kingdom with prices starting at $120,000.

The mystery only makes me love the X-37B all that much more. What exactly has it been doing up there in outer space for over 500 days?

I'm listening to Burnt Belief's new album Emergent right now so here's a link to a music video from that album, Ghosts Aquatic.

Harold Budd's website.

Project 4K77 is converting the original Star Wars movie to 4K. Be sure to watch the teaser.

I'm not paying $400 for Richard Diebenkorn's catalog raissone so I'll have to content myself with this excerpt in which we read that he explored "planarity (flatness) versus illusionistic space; chromatic dissonance versus harmony (always subtly played out); bold, wall-commanding size versus more intimate scale."

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled #15, 1970. See link above.
Also currently listening to Live 1 and Live 2 from The Security Project as they perform the music of Peter Gabriel.
Matisse/Diebenkorn at the Baltimore Museum of Art. You have until 29 January to see this. Don't delay.
Lockheed Martin is proposing the TR-X as a replacement for the U-2.
A rare recording of Harold Budd's Children on the Hill.

Jelly is back.

Craft pr0n: Japanese Hakone Marquetry.

There's a 1-handed keyboard hidden in iOS.

In movie news, JJ Abrams supposedly is working on a 3rd movie in his Cloverfield series called God Particle. However, given what 10 Cloverfield Lane looked like, calling this a series is a stretch.

Rocky and Bullwinkle fans rejoice: a new book, The Art of Jay Ward Productions, is now available.

Patient's fart during surgery causes fire.

The Clyfford Still Museum has published The Works on Paper; it's online and free.

Putin's got himself a new ICBM, the RS-28, that can carry warheads sufficent to wipeout a landmass the size of Texas.

If I said a video of paints being mixed was sensual, you'd say...

Scientists say they've found a way to break the second law of thermodynamics (i.e. entropy decreases with time). Trump won so I guess anything's possible. Read more: H-Theorem in Quantum Physics.

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Rust, Blacks on Plum), 1962. From Dark Palette at the Pace Gallery.
The KC-Z next generation tanker. 
A diver may have found a lost Mark IV nuke from 1950 when a B-36 crashed. (My nuclear expert says not so fast.)

Feces may be the fuel of the future, or so says science. (Bullshit powers Washington so why the hell not?)

Get your annual dose of F-18 pr0n in the 2016 Rhino Ball video.

If this isn't a hoax, this video of a vegetarian eating meat for the first time in 22 years is the best thing I've seen in a long time. Not that I have anything against vegetarians but her reactions to meat are making me ravenous.

Video for Stick Men's new album Prog Noir.

Get facts about your name at NameDat. There are 5 of me in the U.S, most of whom live in New York. The average lifespan of John Chawners is 77.3 years. (Shit, where do I get my 122?)

Just another periodic table of the elements with pictures.

Aviation pr0n: B-17s.

...as optics is the geometry of light. ~Claude Debussy

Saturday, September 10, 2016

We call first truths those...

ART: I think this would be classified as architecture pr0n: Tadao Ando's Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The Modern also happens to be the oldest art museum in Texas.

MUSIC: 40 years after Leftoverture, Kansas is back with a new album: The Prelude Implicit.

MUSIC: Marco Minnimann released a video trailer for his new album, Schattenspiel.

MUSIC: You may or may not agree that Steely Dan's Aja is 8 minutes of greatness. I do.

MUSIC: The Aristocrats' Bryan Beller gave a lengthy interview with Anil Prasad for Innerviews. "None of us wants to be this generation’s Yngwie Malmsteen."

The Periodic Table of  Motion. And it really moves
FUNNY: You may have been wielding a knife hand without even knowing it.

ANIMATION: Disney animator Milt Kahl made wire sculptures that look like line drawing in 3D. Be sure to watch the video; the sculptures are quite remarkable.

ART: There are no original ideas, or so says David Lynch when speaking on creativity.

If you hate misplacing things, you'll be happy to know that Philae has finally been found on Comet 67P where it landed in a jumble of rocks.
UNKNOWN: Are those symbols on your dashboard indecipherable? Not any more.

FUNNY: A snarky video mash-up of cult and sorority recruitment videos.

SCIENCE: There's a book about the cognitive science of swearing.

I don't watch the show, but you might be interested in this generator in the style of the TV show Stranger Things.
AVIATION: A bit of aviation pr0n for you: a C-17 doing a low level pass.

COLD WAR: Was Mahmoud Abbas a KGB spy?

FOOD: In Viet Nam they put butter and a sprinkle of sugar on their french fries, as seen in this world tour of fry toppings.

Brisket has health benefits. DUH.
FUNNY: David Attenborough turned 90 so the BBC celebrated the nature journalist's work with three funny videos featuring Aardman Animations. See also this video about 3D printing in stop-motion animation.

SCIENCE: A bunch of wood ants fall into a nuclear weapons bunker. Not the start of a joke, but a real study of unique colony behavior.

The fossil equivalent of turducken: bug in lizard in snake.
AVIATION: This video hits the professional nostalgia button for me. The Air Force System Command 1984 Staff Report covers many of the sights and sounds that made up the beginning of my career.

NAUGHTY: Xmas is coming: Nice Balls.

SOUNDS: I don't really know what a Ramsophone is, but I bet you'll spend hours fiddling with it. Like I did.

...we discover after all the others. ~Albert Camus

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A wise man speaks because he has something to say...

Today's soundtrack is a recording from earlier this month of a live performance by Harold Budd and Bradford Ellis with poetry read by Veda Hille.

Live 2 from The Security Project (celebrating the work of Peter Gabriel) is now available for pre-order. Live 1 was pretty darn good so I recommend Live 2.

This year's winner of the Bulwer-Lytton [bad] Fiction Contest (i.e. "It was a dark and stormy night") goes like this: "Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her."

On a related note, I wish they'd bring back the Faux Faulkner contest.

An illustration of Jupiter by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot done in the late 1800s. See more here.
Of Popular Mechanics' 50 best tools to own, I come in at exactly 50%. Not bad. If only I knew how to use them properly.

If you were under the false impression that metal organic frameworks could only be created in the lab, think again. These unique minerals that can absorb and retain gases (think CO2) were found in a mine in Siberia.

From the category I Didn't Think This Was Possible, here's Super Mario Bros. implemented in Excel.

Screen capture from a very cool FLIR video of an F-35.
Want more aviation pr0n? Here's a video of the Blue Angels' flyover of Super Bowl 50.

Just in time for the Xmas shopping season, a catalogue raisonne of Richard Diebenkorn's work will be published this coming autumn.

Jouska is a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head. It's included on a list of names for emotions you feel but can't explain.

If you're having Olympics withdrawal, check out this unique photo essay of the games.

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #54, 1972
The basic laws of human stupidity, written in the 1970s, still ring true today. #1 Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

Kubrick's alternate titles for Dr. Strangelove. Dr. Doomsday and His Nuclear Wisemen?

How do you make the perfect hard boiled eggs? First, you don't boil them - you steam them.

When I visit the beach - which isn't often - I like to hunt for sea glass. But that's not what this is. It's edible sea glass candy.
Science to the rescue: you spill because you're holding your coffee wrong.

An unexamined life is not worth living, or so said Socrates. Therefore, it makes sense to integrate a scale into a toilet seat to find out how much weight you lose while making a #2.

Blank Windows that go on forever. Apologies if you're obsessive-compulsive.

...a fool because he has to say something. ~Plato

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 leechild.com and Dick Hill at dickhill.com.

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