Monday, January 27, 2014

I gots lots of readin' to do.

I'm starting off 2014 with quite a backlog of books. And this doesn't even count the audiobooks I'll get from the library. Better get started.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mark Rothko at the Arkansas Art Center

The exhibition Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940-1950 made its closest approach to DFW by landing at the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock. So a friend and I hopped in a car and drove 5-hours up and 5-hours back in order to see paintings from the decade during which Rothko's style transitioned from surrealist figuration to the rectangle-based abstraction by which he is most widely known.

The highpoint of the exhibition for both me and my friend was Untitled, 1949 representing the transition's completion and rightfully placed in the exhibit's final gallery.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1949. On loan to the exhibition from the National Gallery of Art.
From across the room, its brilliant, luminous colors draw you in. But when you stand within 18 inches of it - as Rothko wanted you to do - every brush stroke of the large central area sparkles deep blue and the entire dark region warmly embraces you. At the same time your eyes play vertically over the spectrum of colors from white to yellow, orange, red, blue, black, and green. The soft edge work between the colored regions lightens the overall effect. It's a giddy sensation that made me smile.

I commented on the exhibition catalog this past June. While in Little Rock I was able to purchase a copy of the catalog signed by Rothko's son, Christopher Rothko, who wrote one of its essays.

[Update 26 Jan 2014] In the exhibit catalog, No. 3, 1947 is shown in a horizontal orientation (pg 115). But in David Anfam's  Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas the same painting is shown in a vertical orientation (pg 266).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious,...

Settle back for a full hour of the Allan Holdsworth Trio recorded live at Leverkusen in 2010. (Thanks Walker.)

In honor of Brian Eno's Grammy nomination for Lux, here's the website for his Day of Light archive. This was a live streaming of the album coupled with listener submitted photos themed around "play of light."

Naked Truth, one of my current music infatuations, has a new website (and hopefully an new album in 2014). The site offers videos and streaming music so check it out.

Call it a youthful indulgence, but here's a 1975 live recording of Do You Feel Like We Do.

You can listen to Frame by Frame from the upcoming Live in Tokyo album from The Crimson Projekct.

Creepy. An artist makes 3D prints of a person's face based on DNA she collects from discarded objects like chewing gum and cigarette butts.
Galaxy cluster Abell 2744 (center) is 3.5 billion light years from earth. This image from Hubble, with assist from Spitzer and Chandra, shows galaxies that are 12 billion light years away in the background. Take a moment to think about this.

Or maybe you'll like this little paradox: galaxy NGC 1277 is only 230 million light years away but all its stars were formed at the same time - about 10-12 billion years ago.

Legislation is moving forward to rename NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center as the Armstrong Flight Research Center after astronaut and first man on the moon Neil A. Armstrong.  While Armstrong's legacy is worthy of honor you have to consider the implications of relegating Dryden's name from the FRC to the Western Aeronautical Test Range (soon to be the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range). There's precedent for this when NASA renamed Lewis Research Center for senator and astronaut John Glenn.

What's displayed on computer screens in films is often laughable. There's always some overly graphical percent complete countdown with huge fonts and swirling animation and flashing red text at the end. But often the computer programming that appears onscreen is real. For examples, see source code in TV and films.

Fort Worth people: did you know you can wear your Tex-Mex pride with a t-shirt from Benito's?

LEGO ALBUMS might have interested me more if I recognized more than a handful of the covers. Plus there is at least one iPhone app and one web app that do something similar.
Things not to say when giving a speech or presentation. #5 Can you read this? Or my favorite variation, "This is probably too small or illegible for you to read but..." Instead of what not to do, presents a complete game plan of things to do for public speaking.

More marketing wisdom: booth babes don't work. #1 They are intimidating. Sorry engineer guys but you have trouble talking to me let alone a smokin' babe who's proactively dressed. (I'm certain booth babes are very nice people.)

If you've ever wondered how generous your employer's 401(k) plan is you can get some details here. For example, the average employer annual contribution is slightly over $4,000. The average employee's account balance is slightly under $100,000. There's also a link where you can look-up any company's 401(k) plan.

Colorizing historical photographs does absolutely nothing for me except for the tiny part that thinks it's wrong.

If you are sufficiently in-tune with your emotions and your body you already know this is how you feel after reading this blog. If you aren't in-tune then you should probably look at the body atlas to see where emotions affect the body.
The Academy Award nominations for animated feature and short are in and I've seen precisely zero. From what I've read online, The Wind Rises and Get a Horse! are favorites.

Here's a perfectly sad example of heavy handed service from our friends at the federal government. In this episode, the Customs service "mistakes" a virtuoso's hand-made flutes for agricultural bamboo and has them destroyed. I bet these same idiots would mistake a Stradivarius for a ukelele.

And while we're on the topic, a judge has ruled strongly in favor of the plaintiff in the case of a person who was mistakenly added to the no-fly list

Visa Mapper shows you which countries require a visa before you visit.
Just a little WWII story about a P-51 ace who flew under the Eiffel Tower in pursuit of the enemy. And just a little video of an F-14 flyby at dusk with full afterburner.

Good news. The Spirit of Washington, the B-2 that crashed a couple years ago on Guam has been repaired and returned to service.

One more: video from 1964 of a B-52 flying without a vertical tail (not on purpose).

OK, just one more. A trip down memory lane when the idea of supersonic transport aircraft was all the rage.

"Several mammalian species spontaneously align their body axis with respect to the Earth’s magnetic field (MF) lines in diverse behavioral contexts." Allow Mr. Science to translate that for you: dogs align themselves with the earth's north-south axis while pooping.

This list of manners all kids should learn by age 9 might just as accurately be titled Things Most Adults Still Don't Understand. #12 A hand written thank you note can have a powerful effect.

Bask in the loveliness that is Aviation Week's annual photo contest.
Beer has always been an integral part of college life so this makes sense. You can now earn an Associate in Applied Science of Brewing at Blue Ridge Community College.

Or teach yourself a little Computer Vision with these online notes from a course at Cornell.

I'm sorry, but The Brothers Karamazov does not belong on a list of must-read philosophy books.

Ever wonder who would play you in your life's movie? Sigh. Ben Affleck.

Learn the lingo of winter. So far this year I've learned cobblestone ice and now frostquake.

Average auto miles driven
I feel good about not yet having bought a Blu-ray player now that they're predicted to be dead in 5 years. One other thing on this list of doomed tech products surprised me.

Can a personality quiz guess your politics? It says I'm 78% conservative, 22% liberal. You judge whether that's accurate or not.

One more: how long will your survive after the apocalypse? For me, 5 years.

For Russians visiting the U.S.A: "Women play a greater role in business. Often they insist to be treated exactly as an equal and not as a lady." They insist! Egad!

Apparently, Meryl Streep thinks a Disney ate her baby. If you heard or heard of Ms. Streep's anti-Disney rant at a recent awards ceremony you should know that she has virtually no clue what she's talking about.

Fart captured on FLIR imaging. photo flir-fart_zpsbbeee36f.gif
I just want to know why this fart captured with FLIR imaging this has the Travel Channel's branding.

...than to be able to decide. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Leave your sons well instructed rather than rich...

The wheels on the bus go round and round.

Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist, 1950. A friend is visiting DC today. I hope she gets to see this at the NGA.

...for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant. ~Epictetus

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The two most engaging powers of an author are...

Happy New Year. Take 2 minutes for this nice video of downtown Fort Worth at the stroke of midnight.

Beautiful photographs of frozen bubbles.
8 ways to keep your employees happy dives into the morass of generational branding. "Millennials, in particular, want to feel like their work is making a difference..." Well, aren't we special. I suppose that most everyone else is happy sitting in the dark banging two rocks together.

Years of hard work go into earning a graduate degree. Yet your thesis or dissertation can be reduced to a single sentence: LOL My Thesis.

“Our modern age is characterized by a sadness which calls for a new kind of prophet. Not the prophets of old who reminded people that they were going to die, but someone who will remind them that they are not dead yet.” If this strikes the slightest chord with you, read more from Do It: 20 Years of Famous Artists' Irreverent Instructions for Art Anyone Can Make.

Science reveals the many reasons why it's extremely difficult to castrate a hippo.

Science is giving you plenty of time to plan ahead for the total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017. It even has its own website.

Science helps us keep track of earthquakes. 82 already today.

Oxymoron? Top medieval news of 2013.

Doesn't look like much, does it? But these are 100 year old frozen photographic negatives found in Antarctica. See the developed images at the link.
Face palm. One third of U.S. adults don't accept evolution as scientific fact and instead delude themselves into believing that "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

A new batch of IBM's 5 in 5 (5 things that will change our lives in 5 years) is here.
  1. "The rapid digitization of educational institutions will allow unprecedented instrumentation of the learning process." Sounds scary to me.
  2. "Buying local will beat buying online." I could go for that.
  3. Doctors will use your DNA to make treatment decisions.
  4. Goodbye passwords, hello digital guardian.
  5. Augmented reality for city living.
In The Widening Gap Between High School and College Math we see illuminated three problems with high school math instruction.
  1. Confusing difficulty with rigor.
  2. Mistaking process for understanding.
  3. Teaching concepts that are developmentally inappropriate.
And the happiest college in the country is... Texas A&M.

This is my favorite picture from Code One Magazine's best photos of 2013.
Have you ever thought about how mazes are designed?

Be aware when dining out - new IRS rules means restaurants can't automatically add a gratuity to your check.

Who are the worst NFL TV announcers? I don't know about the worst, but I always liked Mike Patrick.

If you already know what "the day the eagle shits" means, you don't need this booklet of military slang.

The festive junk machine - robotic Christmas musicians you control. make new things familiar and familiar things new. ~Charles Makepeace Thackerary