Technique

Art, Technology

Out From Under Their Feet

Sun, 27 Sep 2020

How U.S. Native Americans viewed the lands they lived from in a vastly different perspective than the English. When the English happed upon these shores and rapidly infested the areas, they brought with them the idea that land is a set of fixed boundaries, regardless of how it would be used. The Indians were mobile. They did not view land as something that could be owned, but rather as a shared resource, an ecological cornucopia for all. They moved to the best food supply for that season, be it a fishing lake or fruitful fields for planting. Having no concept of money, the Indians were neither rich nor poor. That the English saw the land as something that could be purchased literally undermined their entire way of life. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Airbnb: End of a New York City Era

Wed, 26 Aug 2020

My Been a few years since we hung out, but news of my Airbnb mentor departing the city for greener pastures made me realize that NYC, the vibrant one I knew anyway, is fading into the past. The day I met Ginger is the day I learned how New York operated. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

James Rumsey, the True Inventor of the Steamboat

Wed, 19 Aug 2020

James More than two centuries on, James Rumsey still can not get credit for inventing the steamboat. That after hundreds of years, this West Virginian is still the victim of politics, piled under by the sediment of history, a centuries-old victim of cancel culture. And why would anyone care? The Rumsey story was such as wild ride that you get hooked in, if not for the shady lineage of steamboat, then the sheer improbability of it all. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

What the Hell Happened to Harry?

Fri, 31 Jul 2020

A In the doc "Who is Harry Nilsson and Why Is Everyone Talking About Him?", 1970s superstar-producer Richard Perry bemoaned that he never got to produce more than one album for Harry Nilsson. 1971's "Nilsson Schmilsson" turned out to be Harry's most successful, in fact. Had Nilsson not let his demons overtake him shortly thereafter, Perry argued, he would have been up there right alongside Elton John or James Taylor.

I think Perry is wrong in his assessment of Nilsson as a lost cause, though. Nilsson's talents were quirkier than could be easily contained within the top 40 format, even though his songs could be pop music at its most sublime. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Female Liberation and the Birth of the Bicycle

Sat, 27 Jun 2020

The It was men who first adopted the first bikes, dangerous and perhaps-alluringly impractical high wheel "penny-farthings," but it was subsequent wide-demand from women for a more practical model, the "safety bike," that made this new form of transportation a household item. The rise of the bicycle is a perfect example of how a successful technology starts off as a novelty, is then adopted by a niche group of users before, finally, becoming an essential component of modern day life. It is also another technology that has been driven forward (literally) by our relentless push to make more efficient use of time. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Gear, the Machines That Made People Dance

Sun, 17 May 2020

Music Notes: I started a music diary. TF else am I going to do these days? This week! I discovered, about 40 years too late, about Buffy Sainte-Marie's incredible run in music. I learned that Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, like Stevie Nicks, is quite popular amongst the younger set for some mysterious reason, and, by accident, how drummer Nick Mason drove that band. I took umbrage (again) at the player of the green tambourine. My friend Enne has a new single! Also, below is an in-car tribute to how WFMU is getting me through this bleak pandemic. I'm not crying; it's just raining. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Week No One Knew Where I Was (Saugerties)

Sat, 02 May 2020

A To be fair, people routinely had no idea where I would be on any given week (those were the days). But for the lovely month of September 2019, I had intentionally double-booked myself out of my own Brooklyn Airbnb apartment. I could go some place different. As long as it did not cost more than $250 for a week. I am a bold introvert. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Color Without Symbolism

Thu, 23 Apr 2020

The Ominous storm clouds rolled in the Saturday afternoon, March 7, when I went to the 2020 Armory Show, a NYC trade show-like gathering of galleries to display their artists. Here is some of the art that caught my eye, along with some more info about the artists I found, from around the Web. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Ill Communication

Sun, 22 Mar 2020

John It was a very cold Saturday night, the weekend that the first U.S. death from COVID-19 was reported: No one was going to be touching anyone else that night. I was at the Knockdown Center, a new-ish arts space just across the Brooklyn border in Queens, to see John Maus play. Turned out, it was not so much John Maus "playing" the show as much as playing his favorite tracks for us in some basement while humming, screaming, and cavorting along in inarticulate primal ecstasy to songs indistinctly echoing of 80s gothpop, and synthpop. Even the light show was devoid of specifics, directing attention anywhere but to Maus himself. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Fortune Favours the Brave

Thu, 12 Mar 2020

Wire, "Fortune favours the brave" Wire bassist-co-vocalist Graham Lewis promised the virus-wary audience in NYC's Music Hall of Williamsburg, March 11, 2020, days before the city would formally go into lockdown for COVID-19. The show reminded me that this English band was post-punk pretty much from the beginning of punk rock itself. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Robots Will Kill

Fri, 06 Mar 2020

A For street artist ChrisRWK himself, the phrase "Robots Will Kill" is a reminder not to get into a rut, not to let routine kill creativity, not to be owned by your own processes. Robots Will Kill. Here is his latest at the 212 Gallery in the Lower East Side of New York City. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Sexism in Silicon Valley

Thu, 27 Feb 2020

The Susan Fowler's "Whistleblower" should be required reading for any Silicon Valley start-up founder, or any company exec for that matter. The sexism/misogyny Fowler experienced at Uber and elsewhere derailed her career, multiple times. But it also damaged these organizations as well, in terms of lost talent and, later on, public goodwill. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Books I Read in 2019

Tue, 18 Feb 2020

Books In 2019, I learned that everyone falls in love with the daughter of the shoemaker, even if they fear her a bit. That the technological advancement depends of a civilization on its ability to control microdimensions. I learned what automobiles the members Pink Floyd drove and about the English houses in which they lived, circa 1968. That people who bond in youth can stay friends in the ensuing decades of adulthood, even as they grow apart. That the success of music depends a great deal on where it is played, and that the Beastie Boys really were in the center of things during the birth of Hip-Hop in the early 1980s New York. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Electric Body

Sun, 16 Feb 2020

The The human body is moved by electricity, both emotionally and physically. Cells spark electrical pulses, which align to form movements, thoughts, behaviors, in a way that is not fully understood. And just as people are moved by internal electricity, they are also affected by external sources of energy as well. In his latest exhibit at the Perrotin NYC gallery, Danish artist Jesper Just looked how the electricity of the individual intersects with that generated from the outside. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Teknik, January 2020: News To Me

Sat, 01 Feb 2020

Technology I have been using Twitter for the past several years as a note-taker of sorts, a place to squirrel away all the tidbits I have learned from the Internet about computer science, information technology and such. Epiphanies, observations, or factoids from blogs, podcasts, or video technical sessions are all captured there. Most of the information would not necessarily be considered news but in each case it is news to me. Sometimes, I can put together these random factoids into stories for my day job. Sometimes they are useful for personal projects. Sometimes they just end up as dead ends, albeit interesting ones. This column will serve as a compendium to all of them. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Character, Not Age

Wed, 22 Jan 2020

Advice Old age is bullshit, Cicero said, sorta. Growing old is inevitable. How you live out your senior years is entirely up to you, Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero argued in his Jesus-era self-help booklet, How to Grow Old. There are many who grow old without complaint. Those who are good-tempered in youth and middle age will take that with them into their senior years. And those who are irritable now will continue to be so into their own golden years. Age has little with any of that. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Our Venmo History

Wed, 15 Jan 2020

My Life in New York City: My friend Jess and I have basically been trading the same $100 back and forth across Venmo for the past three years now. Here is a visual accounting...



Click to Read More...
		
		
		

Energy, the Movement of Energy

Thu, 26 Dec 2019

How In his famed Caltech lectures of the early 1960s, physicist Richard Feynman explained how energy, and the movement of energy, worked, through a pair of simple metaphors: A set of toy blocks, and a series of weight moving perfectly-reversible machines. We still do not understand what energy is precisely, just that we have a way of mathematically measuring it, as well as the mathematical mechanism behind its movements. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Murmur Trestle

Mon, 09 Dec 2019

Photos The city of Athens, Georgia, USA is at a loss as to what to do with this decrepit wooden railroad trestle, as it is sort of famous for being on the back cover of the 1983 R.E.M debut album Murmur, a murkily haunting album that has elegantly and stubbornly outlived its era -- much like the bridge itself. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Forlorn Folks in Hotel Rooms

Sun, 01 Dec 2019

Edward American painter Edward Hopper was a painter of light, the real painter of light. He was also a painter of loneliness. In many of his paintings, there are few people milling about. Or if they are present, they appear solitaire, not communicating with one another. They look sad, wistful, or they look away. Both themes play heavily in the current exhibit his his work at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which focuses on his career-spanning focus of people in hotels and travel lodges. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Infinity Makes Everything Easier

Sat, 30 Nov 2019

An The big idea behind calculus is that everything becomes simpler at the scale of infinity, writes Steven Strogatz in his new book on the subject. Calculus is a set of reasoning that harnesses the power -- and all the headaches -- of infinity, a concept that has been a struggle for humankind to master over the past 2,500 years. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

You Will Be Fine by Friday

Fri, 15 Nov 2019

Wisdom Herein lies a collection of random quotes and bits of wisdom I gathered from my fellow patrons of the local bar in Hedgesville, W.V. I offer them without context, nor attribution, nor judgement. Also there are photos, from those evenings I found the wherewithal to visually document the ambiance. This compendium will be periodically updated with fresh material, so check back every so often. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

In Peru Without a Passport

Thu, 14 Nov 2019

Notes Appropriately enough, I picked up a worn paperback copy of Robert A. Heinlein's 1951 science fiction novel "Between Planets" in a book flea market while traveling around, undocumented, in Lima, Peru. Published in 1951, this slim volume, presumably aimed at the young adult market, grappled with serious questions that one can have about loyalty and freedom. It is still timely, or, rather to say, timeless. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Find Your Angle

Sun, 20 Oct 2019

Some The Storm King Art Center is all about finding your angle. Not THE angle, because so much of the sculpture there has no ONE angle that gets the whole picture, just a perspective that makes sense to you. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Being a Genius Was Only the Start of Hank's Problems

Sat, 19 Oct 2019

A Hank Williams was a naturally gifted entertainer. Even with only modest singing skills, he had songwriting chops, confidence and stage presence to spare. Winning over an audience was not a problem for ole Hank. Everything else was the problem. Through the late 1940s, and early 1950s, Williams charted dozens of top 10 songs on the country chart. He did this without sacrificing his country persona, crafting simple three-chord songs that celebrated "God, beer, a good woman and a blessed break from loneliness." The ideas culled from comic books or his own troublesome marriages. "He was hard to deify him during his lifetime, so proudly unrefined was he," Mark Ribowsky wrote. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Back in the Hollow

Sun, 06 Oct 2019

Sleepy I saw a mess of good live music in 2019, but the biggest surprise for me was Sleepy Creek Harfest, with a bill of fine bands I had not heard before, who played on a old hippie campground in mountainous and scenic West Virginia nowhere. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Face on a Pie Box

Sun, 08 Sep 2019

Live My summer kicked off with prog-rockers Yes playing a lonely Atlantic City casino and ended with current country music queen Miranda Lambert holding court before a rowdy throng at the Allentown Pennsylvania Fairgrounds. In between, Bruce Springsteen popped in on the Southside Johnny iconic 4th of July Asbury Park NJ show, Willie Nelson serenaded a soupy Merriweather Post Pavilion crowd, and I went back into the hometown woods some deep, deep country Lynyrd jams. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Information Theory and the War on Noise

Fri, 23 Aug 2019

A With a 1948 research paper, Claude Shannon pretty much single handedly invented the idea of information. Before then, engineers would design logical circuits, or work to reduce noise in telephone transmission lines, on a case-by-case basis, not realizing their separate efforts would be unified under a single theory, around which an entire body of scientific body would be built. Shannon was the first to realize all information had the same fundamental characteristics, no matter the sender, receiver, or content, according to a recent biography. Fortuitously, his work was instrumental to the then-emerging science of building computational machines. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

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