Saturday, December 26, 2015

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming...

Some new music to check out: Orion Tango, Marco Minnemann's Above the Roses, Ilimaq.

PLUG is a very good sci-fi short film. Watch it.

More of that? How about The Looking Planet.

Random? Yes. Useless? Maybe, maybe not:

Callum Innes, Untitled, from the Cento series, 2011. source
The National Security Archive presents recently declassified (and supposedly the first declassification ever) Cold War nuclear targeting data. Sobering, yes. But not necessarily surprising.

Northrop Grumman's LRS-B winning design (i.e. the "B-3") has its own web page now, probably in response to the Lockheed Martin/Boeing lawsuit against the award.

If you prefer your bombers vintage, here's a tour through a B-17.

The NY Times covered the winning video's from APS DFD's gallery of fluid motion.

Interesting idea for a business: deliver gasoline and fill up peoples' cars wherever they are. Booster Fuels

...that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, December 19, 2015

We always love people who admire us...

Here's a football-based math teaser quoted directly: "In a special football game, a team scores 7 points for a touchdown and 3 points for a field goal. What’s the largest mathematically unreachable number of points that a team can score (in an infinitely long game)?" Click for answer

As I say each year, if you're only going to listen to one mashup per year, make it this one: DJ Earworm's United State of Pop.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1953. Soon.
On Christmas afternoon, don't forget to register your new drone. It's the law now.

Buzzfeed's top sci fi books of 2015 tell me I need to read more sci fi.

Whether or not you believe that 2050 is "just around the corner," this planet's human demographics are changing. More old folks (except in Africa). But did you know that 70% of the population will live in urban centers? Read more in the WSJ's essay on our demographic destiny.

How well does Google know you? Let us count the ways. To 7.

Trivia: the first presidential campaign TV commercial was for Eisenhower in 1952. And it was an animated piece. Made by Disney.

Believe it or not, new movies are coming that don't involve light sabers.
Planet X - is it out there past Neptune?

Like Uber, but for gasoline. Startup Booster Fuels will fill up your car's gas tank while it's parked at work. Read more here.

In this video, drones are like statistics: what they reveal is interesting, but they conceal what's really important.

The BB-8 Builder's Club is pretty much just like it sounds.

If it's not snowing where you are, sit back, relax, and watch this.

...but we don’t always love those whom we admire. ~La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, December 12, 2015

So Much Bookmarked Art

For some reason, I have a lot of newly bookmarked art. Don't know why.

Michelle Marie Murphy, Business Casual. source
Daniel Libeskind, Vanke Pavilion. source
Gabriel Schama, Mandala 4. source
Anne Truitt, 1 April '65. source
Mary Corse, Untitled (Black and White with Blue Outer Bands, Beveled). source
Sara Carter, Grid Twenty Two. source
Aydin Hamami, 2 Green Grid. source
Thornton Willis, Co-Chief. source
Mack McInnis, City Streets. source
Thaddeus Wolfe, Patterned Reliefs. source
Holly Miller, Twist #2. source

All empty souls...

From the "I didn't know you could do that" department, listen to Wikipedia.

Nominations for the 43rd Annie Awards (for animated films) have been posted and Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep, and The Good Dinosaur are up for best feature film. Pixar has record 25 nominations. And you can see clips from the Sundance film festival's animated short nominees.

Fan of ambient guitar soundscapes? Check out wajobu's Searching for Sound.

Barbara Hepworth, Small One, Two, Three (Vertical), 1975. I've finally been seduced by a sculptor.
Run to your attic (or your mom's attic) and start searching for a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card because one just sold for over a quarter million dollars.

Tom Peters shares with us The Works, his 14 chapter, 250 page, 50,000 word book (in PowerPoint format) on excellence. (I'd like to hear Edward Tufte's thoughts on this document and Tom's rebuttals.)

Disney + B-17 = nose art
We've all written scholarly articles. But we're apparently not reading any. A study shows that half of all "academic" papers are read by only 3 people and 90% of journal papers never get cited.

The same appears to be true for the infamous white paper.

For the first time, the folks at Pantone give us TWO colors of the year for 2016: rose quartz and serenity (i.e. pink and blue) that they call a "soothing sense of order and peace."

Every LEGO color ever produced. source
Science answers the questions you only dare consider in the dark of night such as why have men been shown to eat nearly twice as much as normal when in the presence of women?

Is your alma mater on Forbes' list of America's top 50 colleges? Mine is not.

Why can't we have highway underpasses that look like these from The Netherlands?
Keep forgetting how your 3rd cousin twice removed is related to you? Check out this handy relationship chart.

And now, 10 hours of musical, marching, animated cats.

Or for something R-rated, a supercut from the cinema of actors saying "shove it up your ass."

As an apology for that last link, play with these fractal gears.

...tend toward extreme opinions. ~Yeats

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Lots of New Music Out There

There's lots of new music out there or, if not already out, coming soon. Here are a few that have caught my attention (in no particular order).

Colin Edwin is posting on Facebook and Twitter that he and Jon Durant have started working on their next album as Burnt Belief (link is to website for previous album). Status = waiting patiently

I just discovered Trey Gunn's 2-disc "best of" album called I'll Tell What I Saw. Status = just ordered.

A fan (presumably) compiled all of the free tracks released on King Crimson's website into what looks like 34 albums (volumes they're called) sorted by performer. The site is called The Forbidden Files. Status = have started downloading. (Warning: lots of ad crap.)

TU, the duo of Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto, have a live recording called Official Bootleg that I just discovered. Their Live in Russia album is a favorite of mine. Status = just ordered.

The duo of Colin Edwin and Alessandro Pedretti (aka Endless Tapes) have a debut album up for pre-order. Brilliant Waves is due for release in January. Status = bookmarked

Ilimaq is a collaboration between composer John Luther Adams and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche. Percussive and ambient? Status = thinking

The latest album from progressive fusion band Naked Truth was recently released. Status = listening and enjoying.

And to round it out, I'm currently enjoying my annual purchase of this year's album, Lab 2015, from the University of North Texas' One O'Clock Lab Band. Status = enjoying

Gratitude turns what we have...

A new short film about the adventures of Scat, that squirrel from Ice Age.

The quantum energy states of a hydrogen atom contains the formula for pi. Pause to consider.

One reason why the engineer-turned-marketer can be the hardest person to work for: stop being such a perfectionist.

If you're in the DFW area, take time to visit the Dallas Museum of Art for Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, the only U.S. stop for this exhibit of Pollock's black drip paintings.

If you're in Tehran (?), an almost literally hidden treasure is the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. (If you think about it, it's surprising that these works haven't been destroyed by now by the nut-jobs who run that country.)

And while I'm not one to judge, Russia may be a bit out of the way to go see Sly Stallone's paintings.

Adolph Gottlieb, Burst, 1973. source
If you have two hours to spare, watch this 1976 interview with art critique extraordinaire Clement Greenberg in which he says Adolph Gottlieb is a vastly under-appreciated painter (better than De Kooning, Klein, and maybe even Still).

(Lots of art today.) The Jones family's latest addition to the art on display at AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) is Ellsworth Kelly's White Form 2012. If you are not aware of it, the stadium has an impressive collection of artworks that you can enjoy in person (they're on display in public areas that everyone can see during games) or online via their own Facebook page.

Ridley Scott says that Alien: Covenant will be the sequel to Prometheus. And it's nothing like Neill Blomkamp's proposed Alien film in which a grown-up Newt would've starred.

Ever wonder why airplane propellers look funny when photographed? Here's why.

ICYMI, the Raspberry Pi Zero sells for $5; a computer for a fiver. (Yes, I know. It bothers me too. Why not call it the Pi Five?)

...into enough. ~anonymous

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Reality leaves a lot...

Star Trek predicted the future: researchers have developed transparent aluminum.

Mystery Science Theater is one of the two funniest TV shows I've even seen, the other being Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. There's a Kickstarter campaign to bring MST back and it's already exceeded its goal of $2 million.

A new gene here, a new gene there and soon you have a blue strawberry.
Aviation nerds: watch time-lapse video of a Spitfire being reassembled.

History buffs should enjoy this high-resolution 3D photo tour of Ellis Island.

College majors with the highest starting salaries. Yes, comp sci and engineering are #1 and #2. But check out #6.

Distance to the nearest grocery store. Longer lines identify food deserts.
Fourteen more maps. And a video history of counties in the U.S.A.

Writing a novel or screenplay? You're in luck. The 37 basic plots were documented back in 1919 for your reference. #13 Disastrous situation precipitated without criminal intent: fatal indiscretion.

Or you can just consult the Writer's Guild of America's list of the 101 funniest screenplays. #4 is Airplane!

NASA's Voyager spacecraft includes 116 images to introduce humans to extraterrestrials. But I bet there are a lot of humans who'd benefit from understanding them too.

The periodic table of  jack o' lanterns. (Only a month late.)
Neuroscience explains why bass instruments are fundamental to music.

UCSB has made available recordings made from old cylinders.

Color photos from America in 1910.

Brice Marden, Uphill 4, 2014. From his exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery in NYC.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from a long-lost 1928 film, Sleigh Bells.

And in other "lost things" news, does anyone know how to assemble a whale skeleton?

Just in time for holiday shopping comes the history of electronic music in poster form - Electric Love Blueprint (detail shown above).
From the rumor mill: Chrome OS is going to be rolled into Android.

Average marriage age worldwide. source (This map's data legend can use a little Tufte-esque improvement to make it more legible cuz I can't tell what age is indicated by the color for the U.S.)
Have you ever wondered where you can touch another person on their body? Well worry no more. Science has mapped that out for you.

Nutscaping. Think about what that might be, then click the link. On a related note, there's still time to fund the Scrote'n'Tote.

And now, a dance party. the imagination. ~John Lennon

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It takes patience to appreciate domestic bliss...

From the Things You Didn't Think Could Be Seen Department comes film of  a person born in the 1700s.

Check out the video for Fish Bowl from Lorenzo Feliciati's album KOI.

Animations from Monty Python's Holy Grail that didn't make the cut.

A page from one of Richard Diebenkorn's sketchbooks hosted online at Stanford.
Lest you think graphic presentation of data is an entirely new Tufte thing, Brinton's Graphic Presentation, a classic book from 1939, is available online and for download in a variety of formats.

Best aviation pr0n video I've seen all year: Hornet Ball 2015.

If scientists had logos. source
Soundbytes from Brian Eno's John Peel Lecture include the realization that the arts expose you to certain joys in a false world so that you can seek them out in the real world.

Forbes' list of top the top 25 public colleges includes Georgia Tech (#15), Univ. of Texas (#13), Univ. of Wisconsin Madision (#11), and the Air Force Academy (#5).

Property tax rate by state. It's nice that Texas doesn't have an income tax, but as this map shows, they're gonna get your money one way or the other.
Know where yer satellites are with SatelliteSurfer.

The History of Cartography, now online in PDF format thanks to the U of Chicago.

What does your zipper have to do with quantum field theory?

For typography geeks: math and puzzle fonts. And a super hero alphabet.

This is Hwy 80 coming in to Fort Worth from the west in 1942. It's from a nationwide collection of photos 1935-1945 hosted by Yale.
How about an HD video of the Mars Curiosity Rover's descent to the planet's surface?

Over 14,000 photos from NASA's Apollo missions are on Flickr.

Explore the musical career of the great Miles Davis on this interactive timeline.
Reads like an encyclopedia of football.

How many years do you have left to live? I'm told with a 40% probability that I've got about 30-39 years left (and 0% that I've got 50+ years left).

Quotations are the Hallmark of teh interwebs. I get it, I'm guilty. Hence, Absurd Life Quotes. This one is true.

Need some background white noise? Try A Soft Murmur.

The absolute best video about unicorns and pooping.

Just click it.

...volatile spirits prefer unhappiness. ~George Santayana

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ignorance is the primary source of...

Mundo Nuevo is Markus Reuter's free downloadable album. It is good. You should download it. You should pay for it (even though he offers it for free). And you can also pre-order autographed CDs of it.

You can pre-order Marillion's upcoming 18th album on Pledge Music.

A master of ambient drone, Nicholas Szczepanik, has a "name your price" album for you called Ra.

There's a new kid on the block: wajobu with searching for sound (think Robin Guthrie).

King Crimson fans should run - not walk - to The Forbidden Files. A fan (?) took the effort to compile and organize all tunes freely distributed from the King Crimson site. It'll take weeks to download and burn CDs. (Yes, I do that.)

And by the way, do not contribute to the devaluation of recorded music. Support artists. Stop using streaming services.
Gerhard Richter, Six Yellows, 1966. If you're in London between now and 16 January you should see Gerhard Richter: Colour Charts
You suck at Excel. Do something about it by watching Joel Spolsky's video.

Here's probably more than you ever wanted to know about Super Mario level 1.

They say a sequel to Kung Pow - perhaps the funniest movie ever made - is in the works.

Do you prefer your films more sci fi? Well, Ridley Scott plans three more Prometheus films, all sequential prequels to Alien.
Make and print grid/graph paper of all kinds with Gridzzly.

The fundamental theories of physics and their relative overlaps are mapped for your better understanding.

This is well after the fact but Ken Burns' The Civil War was remastered in HD and broadcast on PBS back in September. I wonder when they'll run it again?

Settle back with the CIA's release of the President's Daily Brief from 1961-1969. One of the later one has a tantalizing completely blacked-out paragraph about Canada.

A page from the recently scanned Chinese 17th century book called "the most beautiful set of prints ever made." 
There's only one flying B-29 in the world and this video gives you an up close look.

And there's only one June Foray, called the female Mel Blanc.

Yummy.  120 yards of bratwurst.

...all misery and vice. ~Victor Cousin

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Blood Trust by Eric Van Lustbader

Talking to a ghost
isn't really what I want
in an action tale.

Blood Trust is the third in Lustbader's series centered on protagonist Jack McClure, ATF/Homeland Security agent. Unfortunately, the book did nothing to make me read the fourth.

You're dropped into a multi-story arc that requires so much backstory, they're still giving backstory in the last chapter.

The novel's broad reach includes terrorism, white slavery, political intrigue, and the supernatural. Too much for me to handle.

The characters - and there are a lot of them - have names that I couldn't keep straight. Halfway through I'm still wondering "who does he work for again?"

There are minor editing errors like repeating a phrase too frequently within a short span (e.g. "blew the top of his head off).

Was hoping for more.

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

Too many have dispensed with generosity...

Make music using the planets with SolarBeat.

If you don't think astronomy can make music, you probably don't agree with Keats' "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." So the search for elegance in science probably isn't for you either.

How well do you know your airport 3-letter codes? Take a brief quiz to find out. I apparently do not know them well at all.

Have you ever wondered how big a state or country is compared to another state or country? You can find out using Here we see that Texas is big enough to encompass Prague, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Florence while coming really close to Paris, Rome, and Zagreb. Big.
Craft pr0n: handmade Japanese paper.

What might Google have looked like had it been around in the days of the TV show Mad Men? See for yourself at Google60.

Computers can make your photos look like paintings by the great masters.

Git yer science on. A movie of a rotating nitrogen molecule that illustrates quantum wave nature.
Tell a dog what to do.

You are amazing. You are an incredible human being capable of true greatness. Wake up each day and believe in that greatness. Know that you are the best person to make decisions about your life, your body, and your happiness. Embrace your emotions, but don't let them control you. Document your life. This amazing woman sitting here in front of me has so many incredible stories to tell and sharing those stories makes the world a better place for us babes. Find a way to tell your stories — through art, words, crafts, selfies, whatever speaks to your soul. You are amazing. This paragraph brought to you by the pep talk generator.

Things taken for granted: elements. We may run out of some in the next 100 years. Like zinc.
Science has revealed another of life's mysteries. ALL mammals take 21 seconds to pee. (Plus or minus 13 seconds which is a kinda large error band but whatever.) Take a stopwatch with you next time.

All good humor is based on a nugget of truth. source order to practice charity. ~Albert Camus

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Habit, if not resisted...

This is the only link you need to click. A 15 minute documentary: Spitfire 944. HIGHLY RECOMMEND

"How much more black could this be? And the answer is none, none more black." With apologies to Spinal Tap and my friend Chris, here's an essay on the color black in painting over the centuries. As it turns out, there are indeed degrees of black as Nigel said.

Pierre Soulage, Painting, 2009.
The CEO: overpaid empty suit or charming genius? Popular opinion seems divided between those poles. From HBR comes this article on what only the CEO can do.

  1. Interpret what's going on outside the company that's meaningful.
  2. Define what business we're in and what business we're not in.
  3. Balance current profit and future investment.
  4. Create company culture.

Speaking of overpaid, take a gander at this list of 4 reasons why [income] inequality is bad for society and think about whether you think these reasons are valid. I personally find #2 (Economic inequality can undermine the fairness of political institutions) to be a red herring. Their point is the extreme expense of political campaigns requires candidates to seek donations from the wealthy leaving them beholden to the wealthy (and only the wealthy). I call it a red herring because the best solution to this dilemma isn't taxing the shit out of the wealthy (i.e. income redistribution) but campaign finance reform up to and including funding campaigns entirely and equally with federal funds.

Web design is dead. Long live discoverable content.
The useless bird identification chart. My favorite: unkempt snatch.
...soon becomes necessity. Saint Augustine

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Twelve Days by Alex Berenson

My frustration with Berenson's The Counterfeit Agent (see what I wrote here) has been lifted now that I've been able to read Twelve Days, the follow-on to the former.

For the record, the two books should've been a single long book. Tom Clancy can pull it off. Berenson's publisher needs to let him.

Anyway, Berenson's protagonist is John Wells, a CIA operative who's an interesting head case. Being deep inside al Qaeda for a decade will do that to you. Now that he's out of the agency he still gets dragged into stuff by his former boss who's now a senator. And by stuff I mean knowing that someone is trying to trick the U.S. into invading Iran but not having the proof to get anyone to listen.

Good story, good character. Will continue to read Berenson's stuff.

But I had an "oh shit" moment on the next to last CD of the Twelve Days audio book. Due to a production error, after the "This is the end of disc 10." they mistakenly inserted the "The end. This has been a blah blah production of Alex Berenson's..." I thought they were gonna string this thing out for a third book. Fortunately, disc 11 truly was the last.

You can find Alex Berenson online at

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

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Not Hiring Computer Scientists?

The CEO of Dittach wrote an opinion piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal with the title Why I'm Not Looking to Hire Computer Science Majors. (Behind paywall.)

Let's look at a few of his statements.

"Finding [software developers] is the toughest task." Not really. Finding good ones is.

"Startups have to compete with hegemons like Google and Facebook that offer extraordinary salaries for the best talent." Yes, and it's not just the money; it's the name recognition. They could work for Google or they could work for... what's your company's name again?

"Computer science departments prepare their students for academic or research careers and spurn jobs that actually pay money." Then where are Google and Facebook finding all the people you complain they hire?

"There isn't a single course in iPhone or Android development in the computer science departments of Yale or Princeton." Repeat after me: college is not a trade school. You don't go to college to learn a skill, a language, a tool. Skills can be learned. Skills can be taught (by you, the employer). You go to college to learn to learn the science of programming. Also, I have nothing against our Ivy League friends, but are Yale and Princeton really the first place you're looking for CS grads?

"Today we insist on higher education for everything." Yes, college isn't for everyone. Let's get kids into the trades when appropriate. Have you read in the WSJ about how much welders are getting paid these days?

"A serious alternative to the $100,000 four-year college degree wouldn't even need to be accredited - it would merely need to teach students the skills that startups are desperate for." Didn't you just poo-poo the 12- and 19-week programs for cranking out people only interested in career transition and not the "love of coding for its own sake"? Maybe this is the business opportunity: a 2-year, for-profit institute of programming practice. Hell, make it for women only and you'll kill two birds with one stone (i.e. attracting women to the STEM fields.)

To view this from another perspective, think about the legitimacy of the following statements. I'm not looking to hire Ivy Leaguers. Mathematicians. People with graduate degrees. Men.

So I guess in the end I don't really grok Mr. Gelernter's bias. Some of the best programmers I know are CS majors. Others are engineers. And others are mathematicians. All have college degrees. All love what they do. None are Ivy league.

But, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong. All I've done is co-founded and boot-strapped a 20-year-old 30-person software company.

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I am on the advisory board of my alma mater's engineering department. My oldest son has a masters degree in CS and is gainfully employed. My youngest son is an undergraduate CS major. Furthermore, I recognize that the title of Mr. Gelernter's piece is click-bait for an article that's really a jab at higher education (misplaced IMO) and not a revelation of his hiring practices.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The greatest weariness...

My architect friends should enjoy this poster illustrating the history of the Architecture of American Houses from Pop Chart Labs.

If you enjoy good music and if you have 5 euros to spare how about giving Markus Reuter's compilation album Kopfmensch a try?

An introduction to quantum field theory - for 5 year olds.

Have you heard? The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth will host a retrospective of Frank Stella's paintings beginning in April 2016.
You can't fly to Mars but your name can aboard NASA's InSight spacecraft. Register today for your boarding pass.

Take a 3D virtual tour of a WWII Avro Lancaster bomber.

Cat people: crank up this cat purr noise generator.

Bloxers are underwear for men with built-in erection concealing technology. (It's just boxers with built in compression shorts. Which makes you wonder why you don't just wear boxes over compression shorts. Which makes you wonder why you need the boxers at all. And then there's the issue of why you'd ever want to conceal your erection.)

...comes from work not done. ~Eric Hoffer

Saturday, August 22, 2015

It is what we know already that...

Word on the street is that Markus Reuter and David Cross are spending time in the studio. What comes out of the studio from this pair could be very cool.

In other music news, Moonbound's album Uncomfortable News from the Moon is available for preorder on Bandcamp where you can stream one track, Cheetah Conquers the Moon, Pt 1. The band is Fabio Trentini, Pat Mastelotto, Markus Reuter and a cast of guests.

A very long but well-worth reading essay on the solicitousness of art and what it's asking of us.

ESA put a 3D model of comet 67P/C-G online for use to pan, zoom, and rotate.

The Red Bull Air Race is coming to Fort Worth next month, 26-27 September.

If you think this image is cool, you should read more about fractals. I like to think about fractals this way. A line is one-dimensional. A plane is two-dimensional. But think about a kid with a crayon scribbling all over a piece of paper. Even though the kid is only drawing lines (1D), eventually the entire paper (a 2D plane) starts to fill. How full the plane is of lines is a fractional dimension between 1D and 2D.
Game changing weapons, the top 19 of the 21st century. (Couldn't they come up with two more to make it 21 from the 21st century?) It's kinda lame but the photo of the X-47B is cool.

In movie news, another Predator sequel is coming. Please don't suck.

Every job has its own unique ways to suck. Here's some suckage from the animation biz.

Free software don't suck. Pixar's giving more of its animation software away.

Bad smells suck. Good thing this live webcam on a blooming corpse flower doesn't have smellovision.

This has been all over Facebook but just in case you missed it here's Newsweeks' Top 500 public high schools. Notable: #156 Colleyville Heritage (the other HS in the district my boys attended), #163 Madeira OH (where my nieces and nephews did or will attend), #281 Rocky River OH (where I attended).
Likelihood of an earthquake, high (red) to low (blue). Phew. One less thing to be paranoid about.
Alert reader Carolyn found that one of my seemingly crazy ideas is now real: crocheted men's shorts.

Haters gonna hate but here's why butter doesn't belong in the fridge.

According to this article from HBR, most of us don't understand what being happy is truly about and, therefore, we end up chasing the wrong things and becoming frustrated. Maybe life really is about the journey and not the achievement of some permanent state of mind. Read the meaning's behind Dr. Seligman's PERMA acronym. Hint: the "E" is engagement.

If one examines Sartreist absurdity, one is faced with a choice: either reject the cultural paradigm of expression or conclude that academe is capable of truth. Several materialisms concerning Sontagist camp may be found. Therefore, if the textual paradigm of consensus holds, the works of Joyce are postmodern. This gibberish is courtesy of the postmodern generator.

My brain gets all fuzzy whenever I watch Alabama Alpha Phi. And trust me - I've watched it a lot.

...prevents us from learning. ~Claude Bernard

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect by Mark Greaney

How many decades
will Tom Clancy's Ryan-verse
remain fun to read?

Tom Clancy deserves credit for many things and the most deserving may be his creation of the characters centered around Jack Ryan. To this day, well past Clancy's death, and well beyond when the books were being co-authored, and even past some bad editing (e.g. Rainbow Six), I still love reading about these characters. To use Clancy's own word (from an interview I saw him give here in Fort Worth years ago), verisimilitude is the key.

The plot of Full Force and Effect is typical Clancy techno-thriller and really not relevant to my enjoyment of the book. It contains all the requisite elements: cool spy stuff, North Koreans, nukes, Mexican drug gangs. What important is seeing how the characters react to those scenarios in a way that makes you root for them, feel for them.

Pet peeve about the writing. It's not necessary to repeat a secondary character's title multiple times. Once is enough - I can remember who "Steve" is for a full novel. Same for spelling out acronyms; once is enough.

Nice performance, as always, by Scott Brick on the audiobook.

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

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

From Worlds Unseen A Light Yet Streams A Sound Replete by Markus Reuter & Zero Ohms

Vast musical space
warms with illumination
we ourselves carry.

The new album of exquisite ambient music from the duo of Markus Reuter and Zero Ohms (aka Richard Roberts) may have the longest title (From Worlds Unseen A Light Yet Streams A Sound Replete) of any album in my collection and may also be the most beautiful new music I've heard thus far this year.

The album consists of five tracks, the shortest of which clocks in at slightly over 12 minutes: Unseen, Boundless, Pinnacle, Recondite, Indescribable.

Just yesterday I was able to participate in a live online streaming of the album and chat session with the two musicians and hosted by Relaxed Machinery. The album's origin story involves a quote from Stanley Kubrick ("However vast the darkness we must supply our own light.") that got the two thinking about the origins of music and how sound creates a new world that we, the listeners, must illuminate. You can read an interview that covers this topic here.

During the chat the two discussed briefly the making of the album - another remote collaboration made possible by technology. Markus' contributions were complete, finished works - the results of composed improvisation. Those were sent to Richard who added his contributions on top of Markus'.

The album's title, the reference to Kubrick (which makes me think of the movie 2001) and the music all give me a strong sense of Eno's Apollo. The music has that same ethereal spaciousness. But Worlds Unseen is a grander, more dynamic vista.

And now comes the time when I stop writing and just let you listen.

If you're a fan of ambient music, From Worlds Unseen A Light Yet Streams a Sound Replete, is a must-have.

Read more online here:
"I don't know much about music, but I sure like the sound it makes."

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Truth emerges more readily from error...

This recently posted video of a King Crimson (Fripp, Belew, Gunn, Mastelotto) live performance from 2000 includes a great improvisation that I've cued up for you here.

Something to keep an eye (ear?) on: The Mute Gods are a new band formed by Nick Beggs (bass) with Roger King (keyboards) and Marco Minneman (drums). Their debut album is said to be due in early 2016.

It was fun (and a bit awkward for me) to join a live streaming and chat session for the new album from Markus Reuter and Zero Ohms, From World's Unseen A Light Yet Streams A Sound Replete. It was fun because how often do you get to interact with artists whose work you greatly enjoy. It was awkward because I tried hard not to ask questions that came off as those of a raging fan boi. Here's a brief interview with the duo.

Mark Rothko, No. 14 (Horizontals, White Over Darks), 1961. source
Take four minutes for this video, The Case for Mark Rothko.

Alert reader Curtis brought this series of swearing maps to my attention. It maps the frequency of several swear words as they appear on Twitter. 
My oldest son mocks what he calls my fetish for small computers but this recently announced Dell Chromebook 13 (available in September) looks pretty nice and is reasonably priced from $400 (up to $900 with the bells and whistles including a touch screen). I write this on my laptop with my iPhone, Acer Chromebook, HP tablet, Kindle, and Android tablet all within arm's reach.

Of the top nine employee complaints about company leaders, my self-assessment says I'm only violating one. Unfortunately, it's #1: not recognizing employee achievements. Doh.

Hungry? You will be after checking out these 30 sandwiches.

Real time lightning map. Sit back and enjoy the show.
iRobot had to get FCC approval for their robot lawnmower because of its use of wireless for coordinating the mower with stakes that map out the lawn. But I'm still trying to pull the trigger on their floor mopping robot.

Now spend the rest of the day driving Curiosity around Mars.

...than from confusion. ~Francis Bacon

Saturday, August 8, 2015

KoMaRa by KoMaRa

A skinless creature
has nothing to hide behind,
sensitive to touch.

KoMaRa, the self-titled debut album from progressive fusion trio KoMaRa, is the second of three Pat Mastelotto projects currently getting some serious listening on my home stereo. KoMaRa is David Kollar (guitar), Pat Mastelotto (drums), and Paolo Raineri (trumpet).

There's a conceptual heaviness on KoMaRa that doesn't get bogged down in simple, lumbering weight. Instead, the album comes off as a well-balanced mystery that never quite gives up all its secrets. Mastelotto's drumming takes center stage on this highly percussive album, providing not just rhythm but structure, framework and tone. Each track seems centered on his intricate performances with Kollar and Raineri filling the open spaces with texture. That's not to diminish their performances or that of the group as a whole but I can't help but feel Mastelotto's strong influence throughout.

It's simplistic on my part, but Raineri's trumpet reminds me a lot of Naked Truth - another Mastelotto project with a new album due later this year. But where Naked Truth veers more to the jazz/ambient side of progressive fusion (a la Jon Hassell), KoMaRa is firmly camped in the rock side. With Raineri giving KoMaRa its mysterious voice, Kollar's guitar completes the growling narrative.

Why not just give this a listen (and you'll find more vids there on David Kollar's channel).

Rereading that, I make it sound like KoMaRa is a soundtrack. But it's not; it doesn't need to be. It's inventive, explorative, powerful, instrumental, musical. It's "What did I just hear?" and "Can I hear it again?"

The album's sleeve design deserves honorable mention. The graphics are certainly eye-catching but the printing and varnish treatment is top-notch and really gives the design some punch. Credit goes to Adam Jones (from Tool) for the "creature art."

Great cover art from Adam Jones for KoMaRa's debut.
You learn more on KoMaRa's website, The band members' individual sites are:

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

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

There is no pain so great as...

Trey Gunn has released the mellifluous Live at Hugo House, a performance from last month. Only $5 - no brainer. Get it.

Wow. The umbratilous dark side seen as the moon passes between the Earth and the DISCOVR spacecraft. Go to NASA's site to see the animation as the moon transits across the earth.
As mentioned previously, recordings exist of XYZ, a band of "eX Yes and Zeppelin" musicians including Jimmy Page and Chris Squire. This "demo session" is pretty darn rough. So I wonder how Jimmy Page's desire to clean it up and release it will turn out.

I couldn't write this better myself: "In the post-LEGO Movie stampede to turn plastic waste into animated entertainment, Envision Media Arts has partnered with Pez Candy to create an animated feature based on its candy."

This reportedly secret NSA map shows Chinese cyberattacks during the past 5 years. source
With the 70th anniversary of the use of atomic weapons in Japan during WWII upon us, the Nuclear Secrecy blog delves into the false dichotomy of the use it or don't use it argument. My father, an Army PFC in the Pacific theater, believed that had they not been used he likely wouldn't have survived an invasion of the Japanese main islands.

The New Yorker has published on-line John Hersey's classic piece Hiroshima from their 31 Aug 1946 issue.

For aviation geeks, enjoy this labarynthine video of Airshow Budapest 2014.

Stephen Orlando's motion photography captures musical ripples. 
Think you've got rhythm? Drum along on your computer and test your score. I got 765 out of 1,000 on my first attempt.

Cornell University has the world's largest archive of wildlife sounds and they're all online.

Electricity generation by source. Color code can be found at the link but orange is natural gas, black is coal, and purple is nuclear.
This academic treatise on scatological references in 18th century English literature reveals that we are much more prudish than they were.

You may consider this untoward, but these 9 facts about breasts from IFL Science are neither surprising nor previously unknown to me.

Racer-S is an OpenGL demo that puts you in the cockpit of a Formula-1 car.

Vocabulary in today's post brought to you by 100 Beautiful Words That You Need to Use More.

...the memory of joy in present grief. ~Aeschylus