Art, Technology

Stir a Cauldron, Point a Bone, Paint a Throne, Crown a King: Prog Rock in the 1970s

Sun, 14 Jan 2018

Book Like so many artifacts of the 1970s, progressive rock was something that seemed perfectly normal at the time, but in hindsight was pretty much another batshit crazy relic of that era, alongside leisure suits, shag carpeting, and waterbeds. Dave Weigel's "The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock" does an excellent job of capturing both the madness and the occasional shimmers of brilliance from this curious genre of music. Click to Read More...


Venice Beach in Three Songs

Sat, 30 Dec 2017

A My three favorite days this year spanned the Labor Day weekend I was in Venice Beach. I didn't do much of anything. I napped on the beach, ate Cheerios, got my Zen on. I procured and then sun-and-surf faded a baby-blue Venice Beach tee. I knew no one there; I was completely anonymous. Click to Read More...


The Happiness Delusion

Mon, 11 Dec 2017

A We may think we see the world around us clearly, but our view is distorted by the powerfully magnetic influence of natural selection, our genes' insistent push to see everything in terms of passing themselves on to a new generation. "Natural selection didn't design your mind to see the world clearly. It designed your mind to have perceptions and beliefs that would help take care of your genes," Wright writes in his new book, "Why Buddhism is True." Click to Read More...


The Night Tanya Tucker Came to Hopewell

Fri, 28 Jul 2017

A We saw Tanya Tucker play in Hopewell, Virginia, about a 30-minute drive out of Richmond. What was in Hopewell? Not a lot, it looked from the town as we drove in as the sun was going down. It is one of those many small towns in the U.S. that were vibrant a century ago, but whose picturesque storefront shops look sadly empty these days, their main streets quiet of the activity they so richly deserve. Click to Read More...


All Kinds of Time

Tue, 04 Jul 2017

A Our understanding of time has always been closely intertwined within culture. This is the basic premise of Frank Adam's book "About Time." The idea requires a close reading of both history and our understanding of time, which has changed and grown more exacting through the centuries. Adam follows this very closely through the centuries, though loses focus somewhat as he enters into the modern era. Click to Read More...


Women Singers in Country Music: The Gregarious Patsy Cline

Fri, 18 Dec 2015

An Patsy Cline, in today's parlance, gave zero fucks.

I feel a certain kinship to Cline, if only because I attended the same school she did, Gore Elementary, 12 miles west of Winchester, Virginia (though I attended 30 years after she did). Back up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, Gore is a tiny unincorporated town, mostly a few buildings coalescing around a single road breaking off Route 50.

Many of the refined folk in the nearby metropolis of sorts, Winchester, had looked down on Patsy Cline, as being from the wrong side of the tracks, even after she became famous. Click to Read More...


Grand Funk: "We're an American Band"

Sat, 24 Oct 2015

Grand For these three minutes in 1973, Grand Funk Railroad were the smartest kids in the room (cribbing no doubt from Todd Rundgren, who produced the track, "We're an American Band"). Bet Freddie King still beat them at poker though.

GFR got its start in Flint Michigan, just up Route 75 from Detroit, a city where, at the time, a band couldn't BUT to learn rock n' roll. The prog-rockers could wallow in the studios and confabulate delicate imaginary musical worlds, but GFR would slog from town to town and boogie HARD every night so everyone across the land can party down. Click to Read More...


Routine and Rebellion in Software Versioning

Sat, 26 Sep 2015

How While everyone probably agrees a consistent numbering scheme for software releases is a Good Thing, there are those software and package managers who flout the largely agreed-upon conventions of numerical versioning, either out of ignorance or of a willful disregard. This is the subject of Sentimental Versioning where Dominic Tarr seems to both hold in awe and at the same time subtly mock the singularly odd versioning schemes of a few software packages, such as Node.js and Tex.

Draw inspiration from the way their version numbers express intangible aspects of the project, and are a work of art on their own, Tarr writes, maybe in jest, maybe not. Click to Read More...


There Is No Now, Universally Speaking

Wed, 23 Sep 2015

How The problem with humans is that they are only hard-wired for local time. For hundreds of thousands of years, we have carried around with us the notion that it is the same time wherever we go--Noon is when the sun is directly overhead.

This was not a problem until about a hundred years ago, when the railroads started ferrying people between different cities, each of which had a slightly different definition of what time it was. It proved to be such a dilemma that it spurred Albert Einstein to start thinking about the problem. His solution? The Theory of Relativity. Click to Read More...


The Dark Music of 9/11

Fri, 11 Sep 2015

How The gradual but inevitable dissolution of William Basinski's Disintegration Loop 1.1 -- a brief, ancient tape loop is literally falling to pieces with each repeated play -- is heartbreakingly beautiful. And the hour-long single-shot video of the smoke that just continued to billow up so many hours after the WTC collapses captures, for me, the dark undercurrent of what September 11, 2001 felt like. Click to Read More...


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