Technique

Art, Technology

Music Finds: Ace of Cups, Neko Case, Pink Floyd Tribute Bands

Tue, 29 Jan 2019

Music I guess by now, most Pink Floyd tribute bands are probably better than Pink Floyd itself. Except for the light show, which can be recreated on a phone. Sort of. Also: Ace of Cups, the greatest late-1960s psychedelic all-female proto-punk band you have never heard of... Click to Read More...

		
		
		

PhoebeNewYork: Vision Boards for the Street

Wed, 16 Jan 2019

Opening City street art offers free entertainment for those who wander about a lot by foot. Having spent a fair amount of time walking around New York City, I could not help but start to notice all the work of the street and graffiti artists -- who they are, what their styles are, and even how they evolve over time. Street art enlivens dull spaces, uniting communities in the process.Perambulation is how I have gotten to know PhoebeNewYork, who is the mixed-media alter-ego of street artist Libby Schoettle. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

What Art is Trying to Tell You: George Santayana

Wed, 09 Jan 2019

Notes What is art good for? And what art is good art? These are the questions philosopher George Santayana sought out to address more than a century ago. Art is born from the need to humanize and rationalize objects, an attempt to better the conditions of existence. But at the same time, art is hopelessly fickle, inward-focused, and has no concern whatsoever in improving the outside world. And yet what those scornful miss about art is that it can possess a spiritual dignity, not found elsewhere, something that becomes representative and expresses an ideal. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Democratic Technology and the Human Machine

Sun, 16 Dec 2018

Democratic Long before humans created machines they learned how to make machines from themselves.

The neolithic era was one of small democratic communities, where technology was born of practical innovation. Certain projects had to be done that could not be done by the villages themselves, however, and they required a larger organizing entity. This was born the need for a King. The King used a combination of secret scientific know-how, an enforcing bureaucracy, and perhaps an endorsement from the local deity, to get these large projects completed. The pyramids were built this way, with a precision rivaling that of today, so argued Lewis Mumford in his 1966 book Technics and Human Development.

The organization of the throne, however, came not without a fair amount of human suffering and alienation, as you might guess. And over time, resentment grew within the people. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Banality, and Terror, of Evil

Tue, 04 Dec 2018

The Here is what I learned about how evil encroaches on society, from the Topography of Terror, a Berlin documentation center located on the grounds that, during the Third Reich, headquartered the Secret State Police, and the SS (Schutzstaffel). In photograph after photograph, and story after story, I saw how a country turned to the dark side, not all of a sudden, but gradually, with the help of indifference and forced allegiance. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Liquor in the Front, Poker in the Rear: Business Models for Newspapers

Tue, 20 Nov 2018

The Some dirty truths about running a newspaper.

I am sorry to hear of the passing of the Village Voice, and for, my own kindred, the Baltimore City Paper, both of which folded last year. But I am pretty cynical about attempts to revive them. Quarter-page ads from the local coffee shops were not what drove those newspapers. My advice for anyone foolhardy to try to start an actual print newspaper or magazine these days? Find a source of dirty money to keep the books healthy.

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The Practical Tao

Wed, 31 Oct 2018

A The Tao has two halves, it would seem. The chapters in Tao Te Ching, of the Book of the Way, alternate between those describing the internal workings of the Tao itself - the unseeable, unknowable - and those describing how the external world works. The Tao Te Ching, which appeared in the 6th Century B.C., could have been authored by Laozi or it could be the work of many hands. Either way, the principles it offers about the world feel lucid and universally applicable. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Canonical Kilogram Dethroned by Invisible Forces

Sun, 30 Sep 2018

NIST Today, there is the kilogram, which is THE kilogram, against which all other kilograms measure themselves in terms of their accuracy. Across political divides, languages, cultures, beliefs, we all agree on how much a kilogram weighs. But progress marches on and, as our tools sharpen, and as questions fester in scientist heads, we find ourselves, occasionally, doubting the veracity of our Canonical Kilogram. King Kilogram, the Kilogram Man, the Kilogram Mass Unit, ma'am. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Time: The Bell and the Monastery

Sat, 29 Sep 2018

How The clock, not the steam-engine, was the the prime mover of the modern industrial age, technology history philosopher Lewis Mumford wrote in 1933. The keeping of hours and minutes would establish regularity for mass production, synchronizing the actions of men. Everything would be divisible by time, and this time, in ever-smaller increments, would drive forward progress. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Endless Slumber

Wed, 19 Sep 2018

Summary I see the appeal of taking a year off to sleep, just to sleep. Nothing but slumber. As many hours of the day as possible. When I was a kid, I asked my Dad what his favorite thing to do was. "Sleep," he replied. Perhaps he was just tired that day, who knows? But 40 years later, I feel this. Tremendously.

If the deep slumber of a single night (and perhaps much of the following day) offers both peace and renewal, then certainly a year's worth of solid (chemically-assisted) sleep would constitute a complete rebirth of sorts, right? So goes the line of reasoning that propels the protagonist in Ottessa Moshfegh's "My Year of Rest and Relaxation." She quits her job, barricades herself in her NYC apartment, finds herself a prescription-happy shrink, all with the full intent of sleeping through an entire year and emerging as an entirely new person. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Role of Dissociation in Technology Innovation

Mon, 03 Sep 2018

The Innovation arrives from seeing something for what it could do, rather than, as most people do, seeing it for what it is supposed to do. Technology philosopher Lewis Mumford calls such divination acts of dissociation.

The huge burst in innovation around the 16th century arose from a decoupling of the animate and the mechanical, he wrote in his 1934 book Technics and Civilization.

To dissociate, in psychological terms, means to separate oneself from feelings, memories and other bits of your identity. But Mumford means it culturally, to see something outside the context culture ascribes to it. This separation leaves the viewer free to see the capabilities of whatever object is at hand... Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Tao of Biology

Sat, 04 Aug 2018

The Lattices, funnels, spirals and cobwebs: Why do these patterns reoccur so frequently in nature? And why, when people hallucinate, do they so often report these particular geometries? Like Alice herself, I inadvertently fell down a rabbit hole following these questions for way too many hours this weekend in a fascinating Quanta article, "A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate."

These patterns are called "form constants." The visual cortex is wired in such a way that these patterns emerge. "What we see when we hallucinate reflects the architecture of the brain's neural network," article author Jennifer Ouellette wrote. These patterns also occur very frequently in nature (The tiger's stripes, the bees' honeycomb, the spider's web), something that has been called "Turing Patterns," named after, yes, early computer pioneer, Alan Turing, who developed, in the years following the war, a mathematical formula describing these repeating biological patterns. And why these spatial p Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Configure SSH for the Cloud

Sun, 29 Jul 2018

How The Sitch: You just spun up a virtual machine (VM) on a cloud service. Now you want terminal access. So, you got to understand how Secure Shell (SSH) works. And how it works for your particular cloud provider, which is not always the same thing.

If you want to connect to an Internet-facing VM from an external program (ssh from the command line or Putty for Windows), you must have your own set of SSH keys, both a private key and a matching public key. The cloud provider can set this up. But for long-time usage, you should understand how to set it up yourself. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Processes and Threads (In Windows)

Mon, 18 Jun 2018

How In the Windows operating system, threads are different than processes, though every process contains at least one thread.

"A process is a container for a set of resources used to execute a program," writes Mark Russinovich and Aaron Margosis, in the 2012 book "Windows Sysinternals Adminstrators' Reference."

A Windows process has a unique identifier called a process ID (PID) and at least one thread of execution. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Everything You Know About James Brown is Probably Wrong

Fri, 08 Jun 2018

A James McBride's "Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul" is not the definitive biography of James Brown, nor was it intended that way. But McBride makes a good argument here that the definitive James Brown biography perhaps could never be written, so rich was Brown's legacy, but also so maligned his public persona, so opportunistic his handlers, and so profound (and largely undocumented) his influence on America as a whole from the late 1960s.

For this book, McBride focuses in on a handful interviews from close personal and professional associates of Mr. Brown, each one telling their story illustrating a different aspect of JB - his hardscrabble Georgia upbringing, his relentlessly touring band, his family, his - sometimes quirky - affairs with money. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

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