Saturday, December 19, 2020

Prefer to be defeated in the presence of the wise than...

Put this on as your background music while reading. It's a one hour loop of holiday music from Magic Kingdom's Main Street USA.

I look forward to my next opportunity to visit Houston and go see the MFAH's new Kinder Building.

This photograph of the sun isn't really all that great until you realize it was taken using neutrinos passing through the earth's surface.

Like most lists, the 30 best comedy movies of all time make me a) aware of ones I haven't seen like Blazing Saddles and b) curious about the ones they omitted like Spinal Tap (or my personal favorite, Kung Pow). 

Another case - the ranking of breakfast sandwiches - disappoints because the Egg McMuffin landed at #4. 

And again: Goodreads' 200 most difficult novels. I can't for the life of my understand why Crime and Punishment is on this list. It's excellent but I wouldn't call it difficult. I first read it when I was 18. And Lolita? It might make some readers uncomfortable if they can't get past the sexual bit but IMO it doesn't come close to being difficult. My tally of the 200? 35.

I should probably not mention all the things I'm keeping on the list of 54 things nobody should be keeping.

Given my fixation with the Disney animated WWII film Victory Through Airpower, I'd love to be able to see the exhibition The Walt Disney Studios and World War II at the Disney Family Museum but I don't think that's gonna happen.

You can watch clips from the highly-praised documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi beginning here.

For my baseball friends is this video exploration of what it takes to catch a 1,000 mph fastball.


Google's plan for avoiding employee burnout? No meetings weeks.

A proposed new formulation for a periodic table of the elements.

Here's an article that briefly explores the possibility for unauthorized use of nuclear weapons after an authorized, limited strike. Clearly I am not an expert in this field but I find the scenarios a bit on the fringe give what I do know about military command and control structures.

Here are some of the things envisioned for future versions of the XB-70 before it was cancelled. 

"What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?" One of 36 questions developed by a psychology student that are intended to develop closeness within a peer group.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1967 sold at auction for $31.3 million yet it was only the 9th highest price paid for art during 2020

Ze Frank does it again with True Facts: Army Ant Riders.

Nine of the weirdest penises (how many weird ones are there total) in the animal kingdom reveals - in addition to the obvious - that animal penises are much more studied than animal vaginas. 

Bees protect themselves against murder hornets using poop. excel among the fools. ~Dogen

Sunday, November 29, 2020

He who has the most...

Mark Bradford is interviewed for Art in America about his exhibition, End Papers, currently on display at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. (See image below.)

For your listening pleasure, Behind Closed Doors 2 by Thorsten Quaeschning (Tangerine Dream), Markus Reuter, and Shawn Crowder.

Saxophone. Classical saxophone.

The Hood Internet summarizes 1990 with 60 songs in 3.5 minutes.

Music in various stages of evaluation.

  • Gary Husband and Chick Corea in conversation (not music)
  • Bumerang by Richard Hallebeek, Lorenzo Feliciati, & Niels Voskuil (ordered, waiting for CD to arrive in the mail)
  • Canoe by Taylor Deupree (still deciding whether to buy this single, 20-minute track)
  • Genesis performs a medley of "old" songs live in 1992 (on YouTube, just gotta find the time)
  • Lab 2020, the annual album of UNT's One O'Clock Lab Band (a YouTube playlist, but I'm waiting for my CD to arrive in the mail)
  • Neuzeit by J. Peter Schwalm and Arve Henriksen (have it, playing it, enjoying it)
  • Another Flower by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd (waiting for the CD to arrive)
  • Another World by Colin Edwin & Robert Jurjendal (previewing, trying to decide)
  • Mujo by Eraldo Bernocchi & Hoshiko Yamane (ordered, waiting on CD to arrive)
In case you're wondering, I did just order an additional CD shelf with capacity for nearly 300 discs.

Mark Bradford, Q1, 2020. See link above.

An article in the WSJ presents the renovated Rothko Chapel in Houston. Along with the updated Museum of Fine Arts and renovated Menil Collection, it's time for a trip south. I'd love to see the chapel's paintings with the enhanced natural lighting.

WSJ also writes about Brian Eno and his new album, a compilation of film music.

But before heading to Houston, I need to go to the Blanton in Austin. Here's what they're up to.

Take 8 minutes to watch this video about the 12 principles of animation.

If this freely available, 164 page ebook on Elementary Quantum Mechanics for 3rd year university students is truly elementary, I'd hate to see the advanced version.

Brownian motion of graphene has been shown to be capable of generating electric current

Explore 100,000 stars.

Do something similar with Project Orion.

Take some time to review the 100 most influential bits of animation. And no, it doesn't start with Gertie the Dinosaur.

The song that's sweeping the nation: Library Takeout.

Studio Ghibli has made available images from most (all?) of their films. Here's one from The Wind Rises, a film I've yet to have the chance to see.

While we're talking about planes, here's a summary of the state of U.S. bomber forces.

Marconi Union's 2015 album Departures has been rereleased in digital format. 

What does a Raspberry Pi and hundreds of drinking straws make? You'll be surprised.

What can you do with a tool that's the size of a penny? Seems quite a bit. Introducing the Claw.

So you like tiny things? How about a Rubik's Cube that's less than 1/2 inch per side. But it's price isn't tiny.

Sixty Minutes talked about Walt Disney World in 1972.

An over 2-hour interview with Trey Gunn.

When you retire an F-117 stealth fighter and send it to a museum you first have to remove the outer coating of radar absorbent material.

If any video has ever qualified as aviation porn, it's this one: F-22 Raptor Hype.

Virginia Jaramillo, Genesis, 1969, from the artist's curvilinear series. Some day, hopefully soon, I'll be able to visit the Menil Collection.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is hosting a retrospective of Joan Mitchell beginning in March 2021 and I would love to see it too.

Also want to get down to Austin soon to see Expanding Abstraction at the Blanton.

It may sound dull, but this video about how traditional French butter is made is quite interesting.

The good news: room-temp superconductivity. The bad news: requires pressures approaching those at the earth's core.

Robert Harris has a new novel set in WWII called V2.  

I have a mild case of tinnitus so this non-invasive treatment that zaps your tongue looks promising.

How brief is a zeptosecond?

All Van Gogh.

Why does a pepper grinder on Kickstarter get nearly $1 million in pledges? Maybe it's because the video is pretty funny. Or maybe people really like pepper. 

Penguin poop and nitrous oxide.

When was BOGO first used in print? Use Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler to find out or choose a year and see all the words.

I'm a fan of black licorice. But like most things, moderation is important.

A new edit of Godfather 3. But it's only on BluRay and I don't got that.

More of Ze Frank's funny True Facts: Snake and Lizard Tongues and Cat's Killer Senses. content with the least. ~Diogenes

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Trump Promotes Sedition

In an evening full of disturbing comments, the most egregious was Donald Trump's nod toward sedition during the debate of presidential candidates on 29 Sep 2020.

It began when moderator Chris Wallace gave Trump a direct and explicit opportunity to condemn white supremacists and militia groups.

Trump refused to do so and instead asked "Give me a name, give me a name, go ahead, who do you want me to condemn?" Wallace's reply repeated his previous request to condemn "white supremacist and right-wing militia."

Trump's reply was astonishing. "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."

When pushed to come up with a white supremacist militia, the first and only group he addressed was the Proud Boys. Therefore, it's clear that Trump knows that the Proud Boys are a white nationalist militia. Trump should also know that the Dept. of Homeland Security has reported that white supremacists present the gravest terror threat to the U.S.

But Trump doesn't condemn them as asked. Instead he issues them orders as their de facto leader, "Stand back and stand by." 

Why is the President of the United States, with all the powers afforded to that office for upholding and enforcing the law, ordering a white nationalist militia to "stand by"? Stand by for what? Presumably to stand by and prepare to take violent action against citizens of this country when called upon by him (in other words, to commit crimes).

Sedition is defined as "conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state."

I would say that ordering a white nationalist militia to "stand by" to take violent action borders on "speech inciting people to rebel against authority."

Members of all three branches of the federal government and members of all branches of the military have a constitutional duty to protect this country from all enemies, including domestic seditionists.

Also, by failing to condemn white supremacists Trump has made it clear that he at at least condones them, condones the gravest terror threat to this country.

Update, 06 Jan 2021: I told you so.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

A fool sees himself as another...

The Bell Fort Worth Alliance Air Show was named best in the country.

Do rocks get your rocks off? Then you'll love this huge, early 19th century drawing of minerals.

Mark Bradford, Q2, 2020. source

Not too surprising, but a study has confirmed that people don't react uniformly to abstract paintings. Like is black about death or life?

Wabi, sabi, awari, and furiu. Learning about these Zen aesthetics was eye-opening.

  • sabi - The necessity and pleasure of solitude. 
  • wabi - An appreciation of the commonplace.


Someone mashed up Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with Teletubbies and while that's interesting I prefer several others. Just go to YouTube and search for Teletubbies mashup and enjoy.

The lucky 13 behaviors of high trust leaders. #7 Get better.

Working from home hurts young people?

The case for the 6-hour workday.

The history of vinyl records - the LP.

A subway map version of the periodic table of elements.

Music in various stages of contemplation.

And then there's Predator, The Musical.

Bad news: lock picking by sound.

All the Night Stalkers' aircraft in poster form.

Background radiation is now limiting the performance of quantum computers.

Science has computed how long before the universe suffers "heat death" and every star is burned out. Before you click through, guess how many year. 10 to the power what?

Too hard? Try to guess the temperature of the last ice age.

This year's fall foliage map.

More pandemic resources:

More funny True Facts from Ze Frank: The Hummingbird Warrior.

Ever wondered how your butt got to look that way? Time for some butt evolution.

...but a wise man sees others as himself. ~Dogen

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Man suffers only because he takes seriously...

This is the world's worst blog post. It's a cleaning-out of a backlog of bookmarks that was making it difficult for me to find the ones for work. And with that guilt out of the way...

Who else watched the 1973 TV series The World At War? It's now on YouTube. The theme music brings back memories. Narrated by Laurence Olivier. This series was instrumental in developing my young understanding of conflict.

I'm told the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes sense if you watch this chronological viewing guide.

Someone should make Miles Davis' chili and tell me how good it is.

A live webcam from Ellsworth Kelly's Austin.

Irene Rice Pereira, The One, 1960. source

Another teaser for the upcoming film about Harold Budd's and Brian Eno's collaborations.

Someone created a website for John Wetton's legacy.

An interview with Markus Reuter about music and psychology.

The 50 best ambient albums of all time. And I have precisely two.

You can buy an autographed pair of Bill Bruford's drumsticks.

Gary Larson has a website: The Far Side. (Honestly, I still prefer B. Kliban.)

Your tune menu:
Joan MItchell, Noel, 1961-62. Expected to go for up to $12.5 million at auction in July.

A 110 million year old fossilized dinosaur has given up the contents of its stomach.

Fort Worth is now the 13th largest city in the U.S.

Here's one of those animated bar charts showing the most popular TV shows 1951-2019.

A cool image slider that blends photos from D-Day and today.

A periodic table comprised of books with elements in their title.

Watch this video that details all the cockpit controls of an F-15.

Some exoplanets may be covered in oceans of supercritical water. Which sounds dull until you realize supercritical water can be used to break down toxic waste here on earth.

Don't like wet planets? How about the ring of fire on Venus?

Disneyland: The First 65 Years is an auction coming up next weekend.

Angular embroidery plus twigs by Natalie Ciccoricco.

Ze Frank's True Facts. Still funny. 
Pandemic resources:
You can stop looking. That treasure hidden in the Rockies has been found.


Every self-help book can be reduced to 11 simple rules. #6 Be playful.

Stonehenge gets the shafts.

Oh, and they found where all those Stonehenge stones came from.

Take a 3D virtual tour of the tomb of Ramsesses VI. Stuff like this is why in high school I wanted to be an archaeologist specializing in ancient Egypt.

Ultra-high resolution photo of The Last Supper.

Watch the earth's human population grow over time.

A Mind Sang. Animation, music. Just watch it.

The Fort Worth Zoo was named #1 in the U.S.

Felipe Pantone, Subtractive Variability Manipulable 3. This is a kinetic work so go watch the video.

The 5th state of matter, a Bose-Einstein Condensate, has been observed in space for the first time.

You can observe a decade of the sun in only an hour.

Science discovered rocks in the center of the earth.

Did your uni make the list of the 50 most beautiful campuses

WindowSwap lets you look out someone else's window.

Science solves the top problems of our age. Is it better to fold or wad your TP before use?

Water beetles can be slurped up by a frog only to be pooped out alive. Proving why mother said to chew your food.

And for your enjoyment, do some macaroni drawing.

...what the gods made for fun. ~Alan Watts

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A frog in a well...

When Robert Fripp promised a year's worth of weekly Music for Quiet Moments, you listen.

Tranceportation Vol. 2 by Sonar w David Torn is coming soon. Here's a teaser.

When you evolve for 20 million years while isolated on an island it's no wonder that you'll be called a crazy beast when they find your fossilized skeleton.

imgflip, which I use for making memes, now has an AI meme mode which produces... interesting results.

LUNAR, a short film about the Apollo program.

Art museum visitors often seem oblivious to the rules about touching or even getting close to the artworks. This won't change that but it will shed a little light on what's at risk: humidity from the breath of museum goers is fading the colors of Munch's Scream.

What is it with long lists this week? 250 things an architect should know. 34 Jane Jacobs. 85 The smell of concrete after rain.  120 The fire code. 168 How to patch leaks. 222 The diameter of the earth.

Can you find yourself in the Faces of Facebook?

The new, unified, geologic map of the moon
Music for your consideration (and mine).
Where in the world is... Jackson Pollock's Mural? In 2022 it'll be back home in Iowa.
You'll be able to get a Spaceship Earth desktop wallpaper (from Disney's Epcot) at this site.

When NASA returns to the moon it'll be on a vehicle from Blue Origin, Dynetics, or Space X.

I consider Brian Eno to be the father of the ambient music genre. The NYT lists his 15 essential works. 1980's Ambient 2 album with Harold Budd is one of my personal favorites. Small Craft on a Milk Sea is one of his more recent albums. (15 seems like too many. Couldn't they have limited it to less than 10?)

Want 68 bits of advice? Seems like a long list. "Art is in what you leave out."

From a set of photos of Donald Judd's retrospective at the MoMA. There's something lyrical about his use of color, material, and the most subtle use of shadow.
A jukebox based on AI.

Tom Peters always has something good to say about leadership and business. Check out his 27 Number 1s for the age of COVID-19. Excellence is not an aspiration - #25 Excellence is the next five minutes.

Jackdaws love by big sphinx of quartz pales in comparison to this: Angel Adept Blind Bodice Clique Coast Dunce Docile Enact Eosin Furlong Focal Gnome Gondola Human Hoist Inlet Iodine Justin Jocose Knoll Koala Linden Loads Milliner Modal Number Nodule Onset Oddball Pneumo Poncho Quanta Qophs Rhone Roman Snout Sodium Tundra Tocsin Uncle Udder Vulcan Vocal Whale Woman Xmas Xenon Yunnan Young Zloty Zodiac. Read more about pangrams and proofing fonts.

How countries map onto Pangea.
For a trip down memory lane, check out The Hood Internet's Fifty Songs in 3 Minutes from 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 19861987, and 1988. Are more coming?

Have you read Moby Dick? Did you notice all the colors? If not, be reminded.

Disney movies have only 18 types of songs.

Just gonna leave this here. source
I've recently praised the film Koyaanisqatsi. Here's a tribute for today: Quarantineqatsi.

I want to make Skyline Chili dip.

I've had the pleasure of seeing Rembrandt's The Night Watch in person. But I don't think my view was as good as this 44.8 gigapixel image.

A map of current unemployment rate by state.

Venom paint scheme on an F-16. source
You've probably heard of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies (for ex, "Honor thy error as a hidden intention.") But maybe not Passive-Aggresive Oblique Strategies (for ex, "Yell at an egg.").

Ze Frank, he funny. For ex, True Facts: BatFishes.

...cannot conceive of the ocean. ~Zhuangzi

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Why the "new normal" isn't.

Our COVID-19 pandemic introduced a vernacular that includes "PPE," "social distancing," and "new normal" among other phrases.

"New normal" may be the phrase I find most sadly infuriating.

There's nothing "normal" about our current state of affairs. There's absolutely no reason to believe any of these pandemic-induced behaviors need to become normalized.

Diane Vaughn, in her book The Challenger Decision, introduced the phrase "normalization of deviance" to describe becoming desensitized to abnormal behavior. While COVID-19 behaviors like social distancing aren't abnormal in a harmful way, they are atypical relative to previous human social behaviors. C-19 coping behaviors aren't bad, just irregular.

Economist Alan Beaulieu recently advised that we think of the COVID-19 as a natural disaster. In his context, the point was that in natural disasters - and the pandemic is one on steroids - the economy returns to the prevailing state prior to the event. Normal returns to normal.

In my context, no one during a natural disaster starts adopting new behavioral norms. During Hurricane Katrina, no roof-bound New Orleans resident was thinking that boating was the new normal. The Moore tornado in 2013 didn't result in a lot of underground construction.

Social distancing is an oxymoron that is counter to the most basic element of human relationships - the simple act of touch. There's nothing normal about banning handshakes and hugs.

Think about the most fundamental bits of C-19 advice: stay home if sick, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing, wash your hands. That's the "old normal" or "normal normal." If it isn't, a generation or two of parents should be ashamed (as well as their filthy, sputum spewing offspring).

C-19 is the temporary abnormal.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The goal in life is to die young...

I recently watched Koyaanisqatsi for the first time. My interest in this 1982 film centered mostly on Phillip Glass' soundtrack. I was quite captivated by the entire film and the soundtrack was fantastic. Subtitled Life Out of Balance it seems a propos for where we are right now. Highly recommend.

I can't wait until The Modern re-opens so I can spend time with Mark Bradford: End Papers. "The grid did save my life."

The Smithsonian has made millions of 2D images and 3D models available for free through the Smithsonian Open Access portal. What can you find? Here are two examples.

H. Lyman Sa├┐en, Daughter in a Rocker, 1917-18.
3D scan of the crew hatch from the Apollo 11 command module.
Take a tour of Fascap's lean manufacturing setup. I don't know much (i.e. anything) about manufacturing but this place looks awesome.

If you'd rather not tour a factory, how about a virtual ride on "it's a small world"?

The next time you come visit the office we'll go together to the Best Maid Pickle Museum and Emporium.

Whomever photoshopped giant dildos over the guns carried by these stay-home protestors in Michigan is a genius. If you want to turn gun ownership into a fetish and a phallic display of manliness, this is what you get.
If you want to mix your own drone try Drown the Virus.

Ze Frank is on a roll. Here are some of his recent, hilarious videos.
Who does Nick Beggs cite as the most influential bass players of all time? I can't say there any surprises. #4 John Paul Jones

Michael (Corrine) West, White Heat Vibrations, 1982. A female painter who used a man's name professionally to find acceptance for her work.
I've purchased more music during #stayhome than the during the prior year. Offered for your consideration:
  • A VIP subscription to guitarist David Kollar gives you everything he releases. 
  • eisprung, a free compilation of music from Markus Reuter
  • Here's a video for Across the Azure Blue from the new album from Markus Reuter and Gary Husband, Music of our Times.
  • Peter Gabriel released Live in Verona, concert videos of him in performance.
  • Tony Levin performs On the Drums, a musical tribute to all the drummers he's played with.
  • The Met is streaming opera in the evenings. Tomorrow is Borodin's Prince Igor.
  • On YouTube you'll find Pink Floyd's 90 minute concert performance, PULSE.
  • Marco Minneman's album, My Sister
  • A blogger writes in detail about the Sylvian/Fripp live album, Damage. This album is one of my favorites but this guy REALLY loves it.
Jupiter as seen by NASA's Juno spacecraft. More here.
Do Zoom meetings suck the life out of you? Maybe because social cues are less clear among other things.

A list of C-19 stuff.
Paint a wall inside your house to look like Spaceship Earth.

If you have not seen a little kid performing her original song "I Wonder What's Inside Your Butthole" and its remixes, you're missing a lot.

I still haven't figured out Color Push. Maybe you'll have more luck.

Learn about what's happened while you've been alive with Life Stats.

...but to do so as late as possible. ~anonymous

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Now begins a torrent of words...

How about Genesis in concert from 1976?

Or how about the new album Mixing Colours from Roger Eno and Brian Eno?

Or take some time for Gaudi's chill out mix.

Marcus Cederberg, Look the ocean!. This guy's minimalist photography has my attention.
Frank Stella is featured in a nice NY Times article.

Who knows when and where I'll actually be able to see the new Clyfford Still documentary, Lifeline. Here's the trailer.

So painter Mark Bradford and I were recently hanging out together at The Modern. Click the link and watch the video for more. BTW, that's Beyonce's mom on the left.
Seriously, Mark Bradford is one of this country's greatest living artists. Here's a preview of his current exhibition at The Modern.

And here's an interview with Mark Bradford.

Ze Frank does it again with the true facts of the Freaky Nudibranchs.

Beautiful video of an F-22 being put through its paces.

Syracuse University's domed stadium is getting a new roof and you can watch on live webcam. (I attended the first football game played in the Dome in 1980, just walked across the street from my dorm.)
Artist Charis Tsevis salutes the (now postponed) 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a series of works that employs the Japanese technique of kintsugi, repairing broken ceramics with gold.
More COVID-19 resources:

Not your typical sand castles.
True facts: the Wacky Giraffe

...and a trickling of sense. ~Theocritus

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The mind is a beautiful servant...

An animal that doesn't breath. It exists.

First Viet Nam and now this. We're losing the toilet war to Japan.

Fort Worth got featured in the NY Times in an article about the city's cowboy culture, the new Dickies Arena, and plans to remodel the Stockyards.

Clyfford Still, 1947-Y-No.1, 1947. This IMO fabulous painting is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in May. It can be yours for an estimated $30 million. 
The Genesis reunion tour (Collins, Banks, Rutherford) is still limited to UK dates.

Time for the mating dance of the peacock spider.

I found the online photo editor called Photopea but haven't tried using it yet.

If you're a fan of sauerkraut, check out Cleveland Kraut. Should be available in your local grocery store. Not only is it from my hometown, it's really tasty especially with bratwurst. Update: Thanks to alert reader Joel for introducing me to this product.

Music I'm thinking about:
Still have vinyl LPs? Need a new turntable? Here are the 7 best.
More Mickey in contemporary art, this one by Joyce Pensato.
Hey, I know someone who works here: Epic Systems.

Dammit, science. If 80% of the universe's mass is dark matter why can't you even agree whether it really exists. Lo and behold, maybe the culprit is the d-star hexaquark.

Formula 1 for n00bs.

There was a time as a young man that I wanted to be an archeologist who worked on Egyptian pyramids. Therefore, I applaud Egypt's restoration of Djoser's Step Pyramid, the first one ever built.

More SARS-CoV-2 websites than you probably want to look at.
If you haven't seen the 1965 Academy Award winning animated short file The Dot and the Line, I recommend you spend 10 minutes with it.

And another childhood film that I love is 1956's Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon).

Let's make it three with Paddle to the Sea.

When the MoMA reopens, go see Judd.

Tree font.

If you got the DVR or the on-demand, check out Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool on PBS' American Masters.

I leave you with the virtual Zamboni. Get to work.

...and a dangerous master. ~Osho

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The composer opens the cage door for arithmetic...

Welcome to this all-text posting.

It's Valentine's Day so while you're in the mood...

When I read that Obama and Trump tied for first place in a recent Gallup poll for the most admired man, I was disgusted, but not for the reason you might think. (That reason being that I think Trump is a most despicable person.) No, it's the shallow thinking of those polled. If the only name you can come up with for someone you admire is the current or former president you probably don't understand what admire means or you have a really weak social group.

Do you know a boy who wears shorts all year 'round including the depth of winter? Not surprisingly, it's said to be an overt display of maturity and independence coupled with a bit of attention seeking. It has NOTHING to do with comfort or being warm-blooded.

How old is the oldest thing on earth? Scientists have discovered a grain of dust on a meteorite that's 7.5 billion years old.

Quantum entanglement at large scale was observed in electrons flowing through a strange metal.

Can you guess someone's name based on the first letter? This website can. (At least some of the time. Got me with one letter. Took five letters for my lovely wife.)

I have mentioned before how much I enjoy the videos coming from Oats Studios. Here's a new one: Migrants.

You're twice as likely to die from a fall than from gunshots. (And that fall would likely be in the bathroom.)

But if you're going to be murdered, here's where in the U.S. it's most likely to happen.

Got a couple of hours? Watch this video of 10-years of weather radar for the U.S.

Got even more time? Here are 1,000 free audiobooks.

Clayton Christensen, author of the classic business book The Innovator's Dilemma, has passed away. HBR lists several of his articles they deem essential reading.

Just some handy Excel formulas to know.

Can your love of Disney be a divisive force in your marriage?

Here's a dashboard for tracking Covid-19.

Artist Sol Lewitt pioneered conceptual art. Here are some of his lessons.

xkcd is an example of a good tech cartoon. Here's one for marketing: Marketoonist. (Scroll down to the one about the "island of misfit innovation.")

Trying to make a buy decision on these albums.

More paperwork will be required in 2021 if you want to travel to Europe.

With the exception of English and Spanish, do you know what language is most common in each state? I would not have guessed that Arabic was most common in Tennessee. Michigan, yes. But not Tennessee.

Make chocolate mousse in a blender.

Check out the YouTube channel of the Japanese Bob Ross.

Rising sea levels will displace 13 million Americans by 2100. Where will they go?

A Russian spy satellite is stalking a U.S. spy satellite.

...the draftsman gives geometry its freedom. ~Cocteau

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My Favorite Books of 2019

I arbitrarily set 52 books as 2019's goal on Goodreads and ended up reading 50. That's a mix of paper books and ebooks, short stories and novels, fiction and non-fiction. Overall I'm happy with how that all turned out. Here are the books I liked the most, presented in the order in which I read them throughout the year.

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

This third book in Cronin's Passage trilogy closes what ranks as one of my favorite series of novels of all time. Although I would consider the trilogy to be science fiction I think it's officially labelled as fantasy fiction. Whatever. For lack of a better word, it's a post-apocalyptic zombie tale. Did you see the movie World War Z with Brad Pitt? Neither did I. Regardless, that movie was based on a zombie tale of the same name. By way of comparison, World War Z is to The Passage as McDonalds is to fine dining IMO. The World War Z book barely qualifies as notes for a screenplay let alone a novel. They did try to make The Passage into a TV series but it only lasted one season. But enough about movies and TV. 
The three novels in Cronin's trilogy (The Passage, The Twelve, The City of Mirrors) involve surviving in North America after a plague of some sort has wiped out well over 95% of the human population. Fresh in its premise, vivid in its portrayals, deep in its characters. The kind of book that, after you've turned the last page, fills you with both a deep satisfaction for having experienced the story and a bittersweet melancholy because you have to leave the characters behind.
See more info on the author's website

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Scott's book (subtitled Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity) distilled personnel management in the workplace into a simple to understand 2x2 matrix along two axes: your willingness to challenge someone directly and your degree of caring personally.
Of course, radical candor is the sweet spot where you both care and are willing to challenge someone. The other quadrants are labelled ruinous empathy (you care but won't challenge), manipulative insincerity (you neither care nor are willing to challenge), and obnoxious aggression where assholes live (they're very willing to challenge you without caring a bit).
Recommended for everyone who leads other people. See the book's website

High Output Management by Andy Grove

It was Ben Horowitz's mention of this book in his The Hard Thing About Hard Things that made me buy and read it. Glad I'm did and kinda sorry I hadn't read it years ago. Grove covers so many topics that are covered by other books and wraps them into an overall management philosophy.
I couldn't find a website for Grove or the book so here's a link to the book on Amazon.

The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I should read more science fiction. In The Cruel Stars Birmingham presents future humanity with a great threat. In a world where humans are thick with cybernetics, an enemy of purists threatens our race with destruction. A group of reluctant and flawed heroes are key to humanity's survival. OK, enough with the dust jacket notes. The novel's setting was completely new and unique to me and the true nature of the threat caught me completely off guard. I'm hoping he turns this into a series. 
For the record, I was introduced to Birmingham year's ago by Parade magazine from the Sunday paper which I habitually read with my Sunday lunch. Back then it was his After America trilogy in which virtually every living being in the continental U.S. was killed by an energy field that arrived and departed inexplicably. How do you think the rest of the world would act based on that void?

Red Metal by Mark Greaney

Reminiscent of Larry Bond's Red Storm Rising (co-authored with Tom Clancy who seems to be given all the author credit these days) and from an author of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Jr. novels, Red Metal is everything I want in military fiction: the Russians are up to no good, catch the U.S. off-guard and get in some good licks, then we see how the U.S. will respond. Good characters and kick-ass action. Like Clancy when Clancy was at his peak.
Learn more at the author's website.

Honorable Mentions

  1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This post-apocalyptic scenario won't leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
  2. Colonization: Down to Earth by Harry Turtledove. This is part 2 of an alternate history in which aliens arrive at earth in the middle of WWII. (I'm frustrated by the fact that my library doesn't have the first or third novels in this trilogy. Shame on them.)
  3. Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card. This first installment in a trilogy begins the so-called First Formic War, the prequel to Card's Ender's Game. (Again, I choose a novel for which my library lacks the other two. Shame on me.)
  4. The Second Sleep by Robert Harris. From the author of the fantastic alternate history novel Fatherland, a sleepy English village in the 1400s is shaken by a discovery that hints at a prior civilization.

Looking Forward to 2020

Here's my full list of 2019's reading

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