Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dream Journal

Monumental dream sequence requiring me to break into the Smithsonian, collaborate with Harry Dean Stanton against that character actor who played the villain in about 30 episodes of early 80's TV series, bump into George W Bush who showed me the new stealth bomber with onboard television studio, eat a frittata with grape nuts, and survive an assasination attempt from someone trying to throw acid in my face.

Thanks, Charlie Stross, for that last one. (Comments to his post are worth reading separately.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Athulf's Death Song

A cypress-bough, and a rose-wreath sweet
A wedding-robe, and a winding-sheet,
A bridal-bed and a bier.
Thine be the kisses, maid,
And smiling Love's alarms;
And thou, pale youth, be laid
In the grave's cold arms.
Each in his own charms,
Death and Hymen both are here;
So up with scythe and torch,
And to the old church porch,
While all the bells ring clear:
And rosy, rosy the bed shall bloom,
And earthy, earthy heap up the tomb.

Now tremble dimples on your cheek,
Sweet be your lips to taste and speak,
For he who kisses is near:
By her the bridegod fair,
In youthful power and force;
By him the grizard bare,
Pale knight on a pale horse,
To woo him to a corpse.
Death and Hymen both are here;
So up with scythe and torch,
And to the old church porch,
While all the bells ring clear:
And rosy, rosy the bed shall bloom,
And earthy, earthy heap up the tomb.

Songs from Death's Jest-Book
Thomas Lovell Beddoes
A little something for Halloween.
(via BPAL)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Helix in the House

Is the Public Option Dead?

Let's check with Fox.

File under: reliable counterindicators.

Shrimp That See in 12 Colors

...and can detect polarized light across an entire spectrum.
Just why the mantis shrimp needs such a rarefied level of vision is unclear, although researchers suspect it is to do with food and sex.

Food and sex? Big surprise. Everything in evolution is about food and sex. Also, scientists don't usually get enough of either, so those topics are always front-of-mind.

(via @Templesmith)

Monday, October 26, 2009


Chap Hop History with Mr. B on the Banjolele

Yeah, buddy.

(via boingboing)

Visualizing the Brain

A survey of the last 100 years, from Ramon y Cajal to the present.

Visualizing the Brain

A survey of the last 100 years, from Ramon y Cajal to the present.


Peter Mayle on the holiday that invaded France and spoiled all the pumpkin recipes.

My Question on the Teabaggers

Can they stay crazy longer than we can stay in charge?

It's an issue of who controls the clock. Either the energy among the crazies fades in some reasonable amount of time, or we have another period of running off the rails ahead of us.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Movies I Need to Rent

Executive Koala is a Japanese movie from 2006 which stars a typical salaryman… typical in every way except that he is actually a giant koala. After a girlfriend is murdered, he descends into a world of psychosis marked by increasingly violent fantasies where his koala-rage is given full expression, and in which his only hope are a giant frog and a giant rabbit.

-Dangerous Minds

Made in Japan, possibly with the help of mescaline. Click through for the trailer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I love xkcd

Animated xkcd "I love the Internet" strip. Nice work, Noam.

I Love xkcd from NoamR on Vimeo.

(via boingboing)

A Hero for Marriage Equality

"What do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?"

Good morning, Committee. My name is Phillip Spooner and I live at 5 Graham Street in Biddeford. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican and an active VFW chaplain. I still serve three hospitals and two nursing homes and I also serve Meals on Wheels for 28 years. My wife of 54 years, Jenny, died in 1997. Together we had four children, including the one gay son. All four of our boys were in the service. I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou and Perham, where I was raised to believe that all men are created equal and I've never forgotten that. I served in the U.S. Army, 1942-1945, in the First Army, as a medic and an ambulance driver. I worked with every outfit over there, including Patton's Third Army. I saw action in all five major battles in Europe, and including the Battle of the Bulge. My unit was awarded Presidential Citations for transporting more patients with fewer accidents than any other [inaudible] I was in the liberation of Paris. After the war I carried POW's back from Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, and also hauled hundreds of injured Germans back to Germany.

I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman at my polling place asked me, "Do you believe in equal, equality for gay and lesbian people?" I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, "What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?" I haven't seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice. For what? For freedom and equality. These are the values that give America a great nation, one worth dying for.

I give talks to eighth grade teachers about World War II, and I don't tell them about the horror. Maybe [inaudible] ovens of Buchenwald and Dachau. I've seen with my own eyes the consequences of caste systems and it make some people less than others, or second class. Never again. We must have equal rights for everyone. It's what this country was started for. It takes all kinds of people to make a world war. It does make no sense that some people who love each other can marry and others can't just because of who they are. This is what we fought for in World War II. That idea that we can be different and still be equal.

My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that three of them would have a certain set of rights, but our gay child would be left out. We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good. I think it's too bad [inaudible] want to get married, they should be able to. Everybody's supposed to be equal in equality in this country. Let gay people have the right to marry. Thank you.

Transcript via DailyKos

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The White Hot Spark

Make a painting, make a dress, make music, make a novella, make love to the camera, make a new flavor of beer, make a wild rumpus in the middle of the woods. Make a mess! Make something merely for the sake of making it. Make without any thought to an audience. Make without any anticipation of validation or gratification from an outside source. Make for no reason at all except the sheer bliss of the process itself.

Make something beautiful by yourself, for yourself, and then, for fuck’s sake, don’t blog about it.

Just this once.

Myopic, sure. But also a lesson in self-sustenance. Because if we all turn away from this big, hot communal hall of scrying mirrors for a bit, and focus inward instead, upon the true, white spark that sits in everyone’s belly, maybe we won’t feel so hollow and lonely and dependent on energy from outside sources. Perhaps, in tapping back into that source, we won’t resort to the most base and vestigial pecking order instincts, or feel the need to cling, white-knuckled, to the exclusive, ego-tainted ownership of something that could never possibly be owned by any one person, or group of people:


(via Siege)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oh. My. Gosh.

Boondock Saints II is coming out at the end of this month. This will either be the greatest sequel ever, or a beautiful disaster. Either way, I'm going to need a bucket of popcorn.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stefan Sagmeister's Sabbatical

Stefan Sagmeister takes off one year in seven to refresh himself in his work. A TED talk.

(via moleskinerie)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tales from the Meltdown 20: The Lower Third, The Smart Guys and Wall Street

Felix Salmon on Calvin Trillin on why Wall Street blew up.
“Don’t get me wrong: the guys from the lower third of the class who went to Wall Street had a lot of nice qualities. Most of them were pleasant enough. They made a good impression. And now we realize that by the standards that came later, they weren’t really greedy. They just wanted a nice house in Greenwich and maybe a sailboat. A lot of them were from families that had always been on Wall Street, so they were accustomed to nice houses in Greenwich. They didn’t feel the need to leverage the entire business so they could make the sort of money that easily supports the second oceangoing yacht.”

“So what happened?”

“I told you what happened. Smart guys started going to Wall Street.”

Trillin’s right. Bankers have made money for centuries, by doing essentially what their fathers and grandfathers did before them. (They’ve lost money, too, but nearly always in the same way: by lending money to people who can’t or won’t pay it back.)

So, smart people, go back to making rockets and surging brains, before we all go broke.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Airlines Crashed and Burned Watch

Two years ago, when airline consultants and accountants proposed the raft of ancillary fees they've been tacking on to everything from checked baggage to aisle seats, a lot of us warned them that if they did this, they'd poison the well with their best customers, and profits would go through the effing floor.

Wow, look, we were right.

(via kottke)

Return of Polaroid

The Polaroid camera returns. The people at the Impossible Project sent out an email today announcing that Summit Global Group will be manufacturing new Polaroid One Step cameras.

Previously: Reviving Polaroid, Elegy for the Polaroid

"Conan, What is Best in Life?"


(via Weird Universe. Respect to Warren Ellis for the post title.)

The Continuing Fall of Newspapers

[M]ost bizarrely, no one has forced folks to create a star system of punditry, despite the fact that the only unique advantage major media possesses over the digital wild west is a knowledge of journalistic craft and the institutional infrastructure that supports sustained inquiry and local and or investigative reporting.

But that’s a disastrous miscalculation. Training up an institution to do real reporting well is hard — and would provide one distinctive competitive advantage over independent knights of the keyboard. Opinion writing does not. Anyone, even yours truly, can take a whack at it; over time big, fixed cost dinosaurs can compete on neither quality nor quantity (or, as we say in my house — both Rock and Roll.)

-Inverse Square Blog (via DeLong)

"Rock and Roll." I like that as a descriptor of two general strategies, and I'm going to start using that with clients.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Death brushed by twice in fifteen seconds last Friday, on Rt. 70. A minivan in the right lane got squeezed between a semi and an onramping car, lost control and swerved across my lane just in front of me and went into the central berm. Then, in braking to avoid them, I slowed down enough that the semi behind me nearly ran me over. Could have been a quick end, but no one was hurt either time. Still, it felt like a near thing.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Quote of the Day

Huntington Cairns remarked, as we were lunching that day, that there wasa club in Baltimore--his hometown--so exclusive that the only person he knew who was in it was David Bruce, who had been put up for it the day he was born. It was called the River Club. Does the River Club still exist? Did it ever?

-Larry McMurtry
Books, p.196

100 Best Things on YouTube

Altogether better than the new TV season.

(Via linkmachinego)

Monday, October 05, 2009

That Jesus was a Hippie

The conservatives decide it's time to rewrite the Bible without all that libral stuff in it, like Love Your Neighbor and such.

The Medium and the Message

Paul Graham grasps the fact that the publishing business model is not about charging for content. Most publishing income comes from two main sources: people willing to pay for the medium (you pay for the paper) and people trying to make money off of the information (e.g., businesses trying to reach you).

There's a third way to make money of off media: ancillary income from experiential goods (you buy a ticket to a concert, plus a t-shirt and a beer while you're there).

Everything else is just fighting with your customers, who are quite happy to go somewhere else.

It's interesting to note that this strategy for the media industry revolves around two maxims: better embodiment makes for more valuble content (so concentrate on upgrading user experience) and Don't Be Evil. The alternative strategy is to make cheaper stuff and try to grab all of the user surplus for the producers. Which do you think will get tried first? Which do you think will ultimately win?

After the Revolution

Taking a look back at Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which provoked something of a paradigm shift in the history & philosophy of science.
The main threads of Kuhn's approach to science are well known. Science really gets underway when a scientific tradition has succeeded on formulating a paradigm. A paradigm includes a diverse set of elements -- conceptual schemes, research techniques, bodies of accepted data and theory, and embedded criteria and processes for the validation of results. Paradigms are not subject to testing or justification; in fact, empirical procedures are embedded within paradigms. Paradigms are in some ways incommensurable -- Kuhn alluded to gestalt psychology to capture the idea that a paradigm structures our perceptions of the world. There are no crucial experiments -- instead, anomalies accumulate and eventually the advocates of an old paradigm die out and leave the field to practitioners of a new paradigm. Like Polanyi, Kuhn emphasizes the concrete practical knowledge that is a fundamental component of scientific education. By learning to use the instruments and perform the experiments, the budding scientist learns to see the world in a paradigm-specific way. (Alexander Bird provides a good essay on Kuhn in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

A couple of questions are particularly interesting today, approaching fifty years after the writing of the book. One is the question of origins: where did Kuhn's basic intuitions come from? Was the idea of a paradigm a bolt from the blue, or was there a comprehensible line of intellectual development that led to it? There certainly was a strong tradition of study of the history of science from the late nineteenth to the twentieth century; but Kuhn was the first to bring this tradition into explicit dialogue with the philosophy of science.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Coup Plotters

Michaelangelo Signorile gets some verrry strange calls, including flakes who think they're going to overthrow the government with 200 loons from Oklahoma.

...and this poor woman.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Finished marathon True Blood season 1 box set session last night. The supporting roles really make that show hum--that and the opening credits.