Saturday, April 22, 2017

We are afraid to care too much...

Thinking that it's time to pull the trigger and get the album Lift a Feather to the Flood by Robert Rich & Markus Reuter.

Here's a text teaser about an upcoming ambient album from Eraldo Bernocchi and Netherworld called Himuro to be released 30 June.

Helen Frankenthaler, Grey Fireworks, 2000. From the ongoing exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fluid Expressions: The Prints of Helen Frankenthaler.
Hometown does good: Conde Nast Traveler included Fort Worth on its list of 6 U.S. Cities to Watch in 2017. "top-notch museums" "Head to Magnolia Ave."

Apollo 11 artifacts - including its command module - may be coming soon to a town near you (if you live near Houston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, or Seattle).

This "craft pr0n" video of a canoe being carved out of a log is mesmerizing in a sleepy kinda of way.
Consider this a public service announcement: how to avoid penis fractures. (Hint: no cowgirl.)

...for fear that the other person does not care at all. ~Eleanor Roosevelt.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss...

I've got a lot of music bookmarked so I can give a listen before making a buy decision. Now you can too.

Donald Sultan, Dead Plant November 1 1988. Currently on display at The Modern.
Of these 8 things every person should do before 8:00 a.m, I've done precisely 2 today. #5 Take a cold shower. Uh, no thank you.

A video of the rotating moon compiled from LRO images.

Yes finally got admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but you might be wondering which incarnation of Yes. Rolling Stone has made a little video explaining the band's evolving line-up. (Those of you hoping for a reunion should give it up.)

If you like music and can handle math here's something about musical fractals (aka harmonic polyrhythms). It just gave me a headache.

Largest company in each state.
Beer journalism:

Why does Jeff Bezos' think it's always Day 1? "Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen."

Disneyland's private Club 33 is coming to Walt Disney World (4 locations?). Initiation fee expected to be in excess of $50,000 with annual dues in excess of $15,000. (I've dined at Club 33 due to the kindness of friends.)

More Disney? How about this list of 60 foods you ought to try at Disney World? While I have no plans to eat a turkey leg, I would like to eventually try the famous Dole Whip.

OK, this is the last one. Disney World's rides ranked. "it's a small world" is only #22? C'mon man.

Fort Worth's Near Southside (the district in which I work) is getting good press for its development efforts.

And if you like to eat in Fort Worth, here's one man's best of Fort Worth list. For example, Canne Rosso for pizza. (And I'm not including this just because the article mentions me.) Here's a big magazine's best of list in case you prefer something more corporate.

One principle of success from Xerox Parc: "It's baseball, not golf. Batting 0.350 is very good."

Ikigai: A reason for being. How many of us achieve it?

Android users may soon be getting a video stabilization feature in Google Photos.

Don't forget about graphene. Now someone has shown how to use it to desalinate water.

Hey aviation geeks: here's a document I'd call historically significant. Kelly Johnson's 1958 white paper on Archangel 1 which became the A-12 which became the SR-71. More here.

I'm not certain, but reading this give me the impression that the LA Times is not a fan of our current president.

What's your Boob IQ? My score was 11/13. (With a little bit of extra effort they could've made it more fun by giving you a score like 32B or 38D. But that would probably offend some people by equating bigger with better. Never mind.)

How do you make a better bra? Start by realizing that 37% of all womens' breasts fall between cup sizes.

"Gimme an F!" College cheerleading squad was basically an escort service., great minds discuss ideas. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, April 14, 2017

11/22/63 by Stephen King

I don't mind admitting to my biases. At the library, browsing the shelves of audio books on CD, when I got to "K" I'd sidestep right by "King, Stephen." Why? Two reasons. In high school I saw The Shining in the theater and it scared the bujeebus out of me. A decade or so later I saw The Langoliers TV mini-series and bored the doodie out of me. Therefore, no more from Mr. King.

That is, no more until a friend (thanks, JP) told me he was in the middle of King's 11/22/63 and said it was quite good and his wife liked it too. Given those recommendations and the additional fact that I've read quite a bit non-fiction about the JFK assassination (most notably, Vincent Bugliosi's 1,000+ page tome Reclaiming History), 11/22/63 was my next checkout from the library.

Stephen King's 11/22/63 is at the top of the list of novels I've enjoyed most in the past couple of years. Part sci-fi, part historical fiction, part love story, 11/22/63 succeeds with all three.

Suppose you had been given the ability to go back in time to save JFK from Oswald's bullet. Would you do it? Could you do it? And then what? Can you even foresee the obstacles you might face? The historical fiction part of 11/22/63 succeeded for me because as a Fort Worth residence I delighted in hearing native places and names brought back to life in the "present," first person. The sci-fi part of it succeeded for me because I was so engaged by the concept that I found myself extrapolating the plot with my own theories of what might happen when someone starts messing with past. (None of my theories turned out to be part of King's plot.) But what pulled me in and kept me circling the block so I could hear more of the audio book, was the seemingly tangential issue of who else you might meet in the past and how they might change you, in the present, in the future, and for all time.

Actor Craig Wasson provided the narration and greatly contributed to my appreciation of 11/22/63.

Highly recommend.

"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, April 8, 2017

Politics and Business: What's New. A Report from COFES 2017

The second keynote address (more of a moderated conversation, actually) at COFES 2017 (the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software) was given by Mark Anderson and Scott Foster on the topic of Business Implications of the New International Political Landscape. This was the first time I'd heard Foster speak and my second time for Anderson but it's fair to say that listening to them is like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. I decided to take some time to jot down a summary before it all leaked out of my less than sponge-like brain.

For the record, Anderson seems to be a well-informed, insightful person. Among many other accomplishments, Anderson's bio claims he's the only person to predict both the financial collapse of 2008 and the more recent drastic drop in the price of oil.

Any lack of clarity in what I write below should be blamed on my poor note taking and memory, not either of the keynote speakers.

Anderson began by taking 10 minutes to brief us on four notable topics.

  1. The rise of nationalism (aka alt-right, aka populism) was instigated by two factors: immigration and trade imbalance. What most people don't understand, is that the huge migration of people has very little to do with escaping war and conflict; mostly it involves people moving from a place that sucks to a place that's better for economic reasons. Here Anderson tossed out the nugget "[Immigration] is the only reason Brexit happened." The second factor, trade imbalance, directly hurts the middle class. Here Anderson dropped a second nugget, the opinion that China's trade policy is to impoverish their trade partners. And a third nugget: China's economy is crashing and has been for a couple of years with GDP actually dropping 2-4%.
  2. $50/gallon oil is the greatest thing in the world. By dropping what amounted to a global tax, we in the U.S. no longer need to mess around in the Middle East because soon we'll be the largest exporter of oil.
  3. With respect to the rise of technology and automation, Anderson called it inevitable and said it will be a great benefit to those who control the means of production because they will become more profitable. At the same time, robots will replace human jobs furthering the trend toward income inequality. "Bill Gates is going to be a pauper compared to Elon Musk," said Anderson. [Note that this says nothing about the societal cost of income inequality and how we as a society redirect the workforce. The good news is, this argument is similar to those I heard in the 1970s about robots taking peoples' factory jobs.]
  4. Finally, global warming is real. Anderson says just ask the military, serious people who are currently accounting for that in their planning.
Foster recently authored Stealth Japan, a look at the success of the Japanese economy, a success that the Western media is said to get completely wrong. In introducing Foster, Anderson called Japan the "pivot country" in Asia.

The election of Trump created panic and dismay throughout Eastern Asia. Specifically, the demise of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) - a deal that the U.S. pushed through mostly on its own beneficial terms - has killed American credibility in the region. Countries in the region - China included - are negotiating a new trade pact that leaves the U.S. out. Probably not a good thing for us.

On the political-military front, the Chinese are in the South China Sea with their man-made islands and such. It's a done deal. In addition to this expansion, Anderson tossed out that "Nothing happens in North Korea without help and approval from the Chinese." So complaints about their missile program fall on deaf ears, especially when the U.S. government would prefer China handle it. There's nothing China would love more than to further diminish U.S. influence in the region.

With respect to economic power, China is buying its way into the manufacturing of industrial robots. China has created in response to Industry 4.0 an effort called Made in China 2025. Unlike "made in America" which was called an empty slogan with nothing behind it, China will use everything within their economic and political power to achieve that goal. And a huge effort to develop the Eurasian Rail Network will create new economies simply due to the ease of shipping goods. 

With respect to countries in the region. Japan follows the rules. China is only for consenting adults. (Do business there, but take care.) South Korea is opening up (because their economy is so bad they have to). Singapore is the London of Asia. 

Bottom lines?
  • The drive toward automation is unstoppable.
  • There is fear that the U.S. will disengage from Asia.
  • We are over-estimating China and underestimating Japan.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

I have learned that to be with those I like...

There's a bird chirping away outside my office window. Inside, here are excerpts from Brian Eno's Reflection and The Ship.

Alma Thomas, Lake Reflection Advent of Spring, 1973. source
A King Crimson coloring book? (Check the date.)

A 3,400 year old tune may be the word's oldest song and is more sophisticated than some music historians would've believed.

On the other hand, giraffes are as dull as you probably expect as evidenced by this giraffe webcam.

This is not a joke. Art of Noise is re-releasing a remastered 2-CD deluxe edition of their 1986 album In Visible Silence. One of the packages available through Pledge Music includes a signed 12" print of the album's cover. I've already ordered mine.

A lost art? source enough. ~Walt Whitman

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Put more trust in nobility of character...

In: T-Rex, Rubber Ducky, Penguin. Out: Boot, Thimble, Wheelbarrow. What? Monopoly.

Would you like JPEGS that are one third smaller? Google has an app for that.

Carbon Trifecta is a U.S. tax-exempt organization with a goal to convert CO2 to graphene for use in 3D printing.

If you're spending $45,000 on a wristwatch, why not go all the way and include a drop of the world's oldest whisky, Old Vatted Glenlivet 1862.

The top 50 craft brewers of 2016 includes two in Texas: Gambinus and Real Ale Brewing.
Speaking of maps, the CIA's Flickr page is full of maps.

Woo hoo, we're #77! Colleyville made Bloomberg's list of America's 100 richest places. (Also from Texas, #14 Highland Park, #16 West University Place, #27 University Park, #42 Southlake, #47 Bellaire)

Scruddle is an app for self-curating your news feed. (I know one of the founders.)

A $5,900 desk lets you lie down on the job. But where do you put your coffee mug?
This list of 2017 trends is a bit thin on details but: biomimicry, AI, "learning circles," high-end conferences, and anti-retirement.

Just like the author of this article, I too really enjoy the Blanton Museum at U.T. Austin and it seems a visit is overdue sing they rehung their galleries. (Unfortunately, it appears the museum's website has been hacked.)

New Thelonius Monk album? A soundtrack he did in 1959 for a film will be released later this spring on LP and CD.

...than in an oath. ~Solon

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Good advice is something a man gives...

It has been a fertile spring for  new music. One of the new albums I recently bought was Strangers by Michael Benier and Ritchie DeCarlo. Here's Fulcrum from that album. Or you can give a listen to Night by Daniel Lanois and Venetian Snares.

My friends in the UK may be interested in Their Mortal Remains, an audio-visual retrospective of Pink Floyd's career hosted at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland, 1982. From an article on artists reaching for the sublime I've pulled Sugimoto's photograph which I find simultaneously tranquil and terrifying.
Take your Disney to the beach with Enchanted Bikinis, modeled after Disney princesses.

Hooray us! Fort Worth was ranked 4th in Money magazine's list of top U.S. travel destinations.

Operation Plumbbob, Shot Diablo, 1957. Screen capture from a video of this nuclear test recently posted as part of a playlist by Lawrence Livermore National Lab. These YouTube videos are part of their effort to salvage, restore, and archive thousands of test films.
Going on a trip? You can now check whether you're going to have a bumpy flight with Turbulence Forecast.

A 130 foot long timeline of modern art's evolution at the Tate has been digitized and made interactive.

...when he's too old to set a bad example. ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, March 11, 2017

There lives more faith in honest doubt...

By the numbers...

  1. Soundtrack: Harmonielehre by John Adams.
  2. I swear I have one of these Beanie Babies in a box in the attic. Can I retire now?
  3. An animated short film about Crime and Punishment.
  4. 10 breakthrough technologies of 2017 includes "paying with your face" (leaving me destitute).
  5. I can't keep count of the number of forms of matter and here comes a new one: time crystal
  6. Prepare for Alien Covenant: Meet Walter.
  7. Political correctness originated in the 1970s as "an original ironic invocation of Stalinism. By now we've lost the irony and kept the Stalinism."
  8. In the future, cancer may be detected by a blood test.
  9. It was only a matter of time: a "fitbit" for your penis.
  10. Award winning science images of 2017.
  11. Medical marijuana - you've been doing it wrong. You should be shoving it up your ass.
A picture's worth...
Placenta Rainbow. See science images link above.

The Japanese sure know how to make a great raw meat cake.
...than in half the creeds. ~Alfred Lord Tennyson 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The soul is dyed with...

Music for your listening pleasure and purchasing consideration:
An interesting study of the psychology of music indicates that happy, easy listening music may actually make you more likely to do bad things.
Film instead of music you ask? How about this compilation of every Oscar-winning animated feature film since 2001?
Cartoon Brew opines that Academy voters really don't care about animated films (which may be why Disney has been on such a winning streak). After reading the article, if I reviewed technical papers like the Academy reviewers review animated films I'd be kicked out of my professional society.
Probably not an Oscar candidate, Disney's 1946 film The Story of Menstruation is worth a watch. I learned a lot.

A periodic table of beer.
I'm still a fan of Tom Clancy's fictional universe so it's notable that two new authors will be taking over writing duties for future novels: Marc Cameron for the Jack Ryan Sr. novels and Mike Maden for the Jack Ryan Jr. novels.

I love it. The X-37B remains in orbit for over a year with no plans to land any time soon. Doing what, we can only wonder.

Have you heard about the 8th continent, Zealandia? It's mostly submerged, so...

MapFight lets you compare the relative size of two countries (or U.S. States). Here's Texas versus Japan.
Here's a live webcam showing construction of the Los Angeles Rams' new stadium.

From the Usefulness of Useless Knowledge, "A poem, a symphony, a painting, a mathematical truth, a new scientific fact, all bear in themselves all the justification that universities, colleges, and institutes of research need or require." I may need to add this to my bookshelf next to C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures.

Maps intended to identify this country's "cultural divide" look at things like where TV's Big Bang Theory is most popular. What I immediately see as missing is any indication of population density.

So science does this: venture into a cave 800 meters below ground level where temperatures reach 140 deg. F, discover previously unknown microorganisms living inside huge crystals, and they try to grow them and get them to reproduce. I've seen this horror movie on TV - don't do it.

And up in Canadia, scientists have found perhaps the oldest fossilized microorganisms, 3.77 billion years old. These things ate iron.

Do you really want to know how many gallons of urine are in a swimming pool? Think about that before clicking through.

...the color of its leisure thoughts. ~Dean Inge

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact;

Today's soundtrack is Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel.

My friends in the UK may want to attend Art of Noise's "live reboot" of their album In Visible Silence.

Mixed signals are being heard about Alien 5, the Neill Blomkampf Aliens follow-up. The odds of completion were recently said to be "slim" due to the requirement to wait for Ridley Scott to finish and release Prometheus 2. Being a fan of Blomkampf's District 9, I have been looking forward to his take on Alien.

This is truly amazing. A 4-planet system that's 129 light years away from earth has been directly imaged from ground-based observatories and those images compiled into an animation revealing their orbits. See HR 8799.
Sales of e-books fell 16% from 2015 to 2016. A contributing factor may be that users of dedicated e-book readers buy more e-books than readers who use phones and tablets. And young buyers fall into that latter category.

Triumph attended Trump's inauguration and the results, as expected, are hilarious.

Sadly, the Red Bull Air Race won't be returning to Fort Worth again this year. Its two U.S. stops are Indianapolis and San Diego. Maybe 2018. If you live in either of those two areas I highly recommend attending.

Did Pollock create fractals 25 years before their mathematical discovery? If he did, so what?

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Rust, Blacks on Plum), 1962. From a review of the recent showing of Rothko's paintings at Pace in New York.
You can browse online every MoMA exhibition since 1929 with their new exhibition spelunker. (Is that really the best name they could come up with?)

An interactive map of NYC's skyscrapers.

Award season is coming, including those for animated films.

  • Oscar nominations for best animated feature include favorites Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings. And what might seem like common sense: voters should actually have to view the films before voting. But, we've seen recent examples where voting seems to lack common sense.
  • The Annie Awards have been made and Zootopia took best animated film and Piper took best animated short (sound track by Adrian Belew).
  • More coverage of the Annies.
  • Kubo took top honors at the VES awards.

You may recall a while back I reported here that you can now rent Disney's Magic Kingdom for your wedding with fees starting at $150,000. Well for a mere tenth of that you and 11 of you best friends can enjoy a new dining experience at 21 Royal including dinner with all the trimmings and private viewing of some of the nighttime events.

Or you could just visit Disney's Animation Research Library, which is on my bucket list.

You have no more excuses. This is how you do it. Do not hurry. source
The DFW metroplex was ranked 15th best metro area to live in the U.S.

More science: 3-D graphene is 10x stronger than steel and much lighter.

The torch is being passed for TV coverage of the Olympics from one Syracuse alum to another: Bob Costas to Mike Tirico.

While we're on the topic of The Orange, Syracuse University has a new typeface called Sherman.

A periodic table with the cells sized by the element's relative abundance.
Just in case you ever needed some, this website generates progress bars from Unicode symbols.

I only know one person who might be interested in having their ashes pressed into a vinyl record.

How about 10 hours of ambient sounds from an Arctic icebreaker? Wind, snow, and crunching ice.

I couldn't use this on my work blog because it's NSFW but photographer Dani Olivier's Dressed in Light series might as well be called dressed in meshes.
Tears in the Rain, an unofficial Blade Runner short film.

Here's an online painting app that comes close to looking like the real thing.

Composing your own whale song with WhaleSynth seems like a cool idea but I can't get it to make a single sound.

Or you could just play around with this interactive Julia set fractal.

...Everything we see is a perspective, not a truth. ~Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Most people would sooner die than think...

As I type this, the new album The Stone House by Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis, a totally improvised album, is playing.

And then a track, Too Numb, from next month's new album from O.R.k.

And if you have a lot of time, how about the 476 tracks that define the history of electronic music (1937-2001).

Learn to be an artist from Paul Klee. Lesson #4 Weigh the colors.

Stanley Whitney, SunRa, 2016. Looking forward to seeing this exhibition at The Modern.
A compilation of the most beautiful Disney movie scenes.

A time-animated map illustrating the worldwide spread of the five major regions.

Any of my Massachusetts friends should consider taking a trip to the Normal Rockwell museum in Stockbridge before May 29th to see the exhibition Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning.

Imagine if world leaders from history Tweeted like the donald. Fidel Castro: "Ha ha nice try with the exploding cigars. #LOSERS"

Everyone complains that cows pollute. So why not capture their farts and turn that gas into energy? Secondary issue: how big would the bag have to be for the collected gas to make the cow float away?
Come visit Funkytown, aka Fort Worth's Near Southside, and the funky Magnolia Avenue.

This infographic shows relative sizes of bombers, from the B-36 to the B-58.

A great story of the RC-135.

Alas, I didn't see the Diebenkorn-Matisse exhibit in Baltimore but I think it's going to San Francisco next.
Just watch: 10 Bullets.

A recently unearthed and previously untouched 3,500 year old grave of a Mycenaean soldier has changed our ideas about early civilizations.

The online game SWERVE is deceptively hard. And it might make you also want to take the Reaction Time Test. And then you can fly the Red Bull Air Race game. fact, they do so. ~Bertrand Russel