Technique, 2015

Art, Technology

Women Singers in Country Music: The Gregarious Patsy Cline

December 18, 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...

The Day Vehicles Started Driving Themselves

September 29, 2015

Behind By 2020, it has been estimated, as many as 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road. Though optimistic, the prediction seems plausible enough: Google is making amazing strides in its self-driving prototype, and BMW, Mercedes, and Tesla are already adding self-driving features into their autos.

Remember, if you will, that not all that long ago the very idea of a self-navigating vehicle was mostly the stuff of SciFi. It certainly seemed fairly preposterous in 2004, when I had the opportunity to witness the first-ever autonomous vehicle race, held in the Mojave Desert, by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA). So it was remarkable then that the winning vehicle had managed to travel was 7.4 miles on its own, just as it is remarkable today how quickly these robot vehicles have evolved since then. Here is my account of that day. Click to Read More...

Routine and Rebellion in Software Versioning

September 26, 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

September 23, 2015

How One problem humans have 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. Read More!

The Dark Music of 9/11

September 11, 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...

The Portraits of John Sargent

August 26, 2015

The We have grown so accustomed to the idea of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, who remained young while his portrait aged in an attic, that its opposite now seems striking. But the portraits that John Sargent (1856-1925) painted maintain such a freshness that it is somewhat jarring to think that all of his subjects have long since passed on. Click to Read More...

The Surprisingly Short History of Women Singers in Country Music

July 10, 2015

A A few months back, a country radio consultant remarked that "If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out." The comment ignited a brief wave of indignation. This is 2015, after all! But the comment was just the latest example of how country music marginalizes women, a tradition as old as the genre itself, and one that singers from Kitty Wells to Miranda Lambert have fought against through song and their presence, I've learned. Click to Read More...

Gravity, Not Entropy, May Propel Time Forward

June 23, 2015

How Time, as we experience it, moves only in one direction, forward, by our vantage. Eggs break, we get old, etc. Conventional wisdom says time is the measure of decay, or entropy, or the Second Law of Thermodynamics, to get progressively STEM-y about the matter.

But what is peculiar about time's pointy forward momentum is that there is no reason why time's arrow just as easily couldn't point back in the other direction, creating a reverse-time world where we only grow younger, more beautiful, dumber.

Now here's a fella, Flavio Mercati, askin' what if entropy didn't drive time forward after all -- what if gravity did? Click to Read More...

Bushwick Open Studios 2015: A Truckload of Art

June 12, 2015

A "Bushwick Christmas" is how my pal Tania describes Bushwick Open Studios, which takes place in early June each year (June 6-7 this year). Visitors throng the 'hood, seeking out art, drink, and camaraderie. The artists get their work noticed, the locals see a shit-ton of eye candy, and the bar staff pull their largest paychecks for the season. Everyone hits a roof-top party to watch the sun set on Manhattan. Celebrate!

Like any holiday, participants make elaborate plans in the months before to display their latest bit of artistic brilliance, only to rush around in the hours prior assembling something, anything, for their soon-to-arrive visitors. This year especially so, it seemed. BOS2015 could have been called the "seat-of-our-pants" year, to hear a few artists describe their last-minute frantic preparations. Still there was a lot of cool art to check out. After all, something is new if you haven't seen it before... Click to Read More...

Photo: Waiting For The Sun

May 30, 2015

Onlookers Even during the apocalypse, people will still check their smart phones, I bet.

Here, westward-facing onlookers wait for the sun to descend between the two columns of New York City skyscrapers along 42nd Street, Friday, May 29, 2015, 8:10 PM. The urban equinox. ManhattanHenge. You can blame Neil deGrasse Tyson. Click to See The Photo...


Photo: Call This Number, Buy This Car

May 27, 2015

A Go on and call on your telephone. The number is right there on the For-Sale sign under the windshield 350-9801 all seven digits ask the guy who answers how much for the blue Chevy Impala with the 400 ci V8. He will tell you its a Historic Car. I bet he tries to sell it for $800 but you could talk him down to $600. It runs too. Do not believe him when he tells you it gets more than 8 mpg. Click to See The Photo...


The Limits of Physics -- 1962 and Today

May 25, 2015

Richard The Uncertainty Principle is not difficult to understand. It is not weirdly spooky and beyond explanation. It does not involve electrons copying themselves, appearing in two locations at once, or somehow sensing our presence.

The Uncertainty Principle simply states that, at quantum levels, you can not measure something without disturbing what you are measuring.

"No one can explain any more than we have just explained," famed physicist Richard Feynman told his students in a 1962 CalTech lecture. Click to Read More...


Caterpilla: Walk Don't Run 2015

May 24, 2015

Short I love how Instagram forces me to be in the now, if only for a few seconds. You can plan for an Instagram moment, but the freshest ones are those off-the-cuff. Observation takes the place of preparation.

So, that said, Click Here! for an Instagram video of a caterpillar haulin' ass across the backyard picnic table to the transistorized sounds of The Ventures.

The Technolithic Mayans

May 23, 2015

The As giant piles of rocks go, the Mayans did a phenomenal job building El Castillo at Chichen Itza, in Yucatan Mexico. The pyramid, built sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries, has 91 steps on each side, adding to a total of 364 steps. An additional single step at the top brought the temple in align with the modern yearly calendar of 365, one trip, more or less, around the giant ball of fire in the sky. Was this design intentional? Click to Read More...


B.B. King, Back in the Day

May 15, 2015

The passing of B.B. King People forget, but BB King used to make the young women holler and swoon back in the day. He had some good advice for the menfolk too.

1965's "Live at the Regal" was one of the most electrifying live albums I've ever encountered. Anyone who only vaguely knows of King as some majestic older blues guitarist should give this album a spin. It'll be a revelation, I promise. He drives the audience to the throes of ecstasy... Click to Read More...


Bo Knows Records

April 19, 2015

Bo In honor of Record Store day, which was, umm, yesterday, I pulled out an old record player, which had tiny built-in speakers, and spun some Bo Diddley.

Bo Diddley's booming voice sounded so solid on these tiny, crappy speakers, able to cut through the din of any rent party or jukejoint. Chess Records knew what was what. Click to Read More...

Three Dylan Songs That Spoke To Me, Personally

April 18, 2015

Life Something that I can (probably) safely cop to, now that I'm on the senior side of 50, is getting my drink on and listening to Bob Dylan.

I mean, I've never been a Dylanologist, per se. But the man's music has been with me for pretty much my entire life, in one form or another. Some of it is pleasant; A lot of it is crap. I can't really defend Dylan to anyone otherwise uninclined. He's creaky, cranky and makes a snarled racket.

That said, at three distinct times a Dylan song has crashed into my life, speaking to me directly with a lucidity I never thought possible from a pop song.

These times, and from these times alone, I see why Dylan could be one of those rarest of artists, one of an Olympian stature. Click to Read More...

Choice Royce! From Monsters to Ghosts (Gallery Opening)

March 21, 2015

The Street art is like television for urban perambulators. A secret channel open to anyone who just tunes in, it tells stories and captures your attention with brash spectacles of color and form.

When I first started walking about New York City five years ago, Roycer700 was one of the first street artists whose works I'd come to recognize. I'd see his monsters about town, everywhere. On neglected walls, hidden into industrial crevices, on anonymous post boxes, on the Williamsburg Bridge. The man clearly got around.

Click to

Bleak, Beautiful Roadwork

March 15, 2015

Margaret America is a vast country. Even today, there is probably too much land for the people who inhabit the place, and we lay a lot of it to waste. The land itself can be breathtaking, though the tangles of roadway connecting our homes and points of interest are rarely scenic; they are littered on each side with hastily erected fast food joints, strip malls, scrub land.

Which is why Margaret Morrison's latest series of oils, shown by the Woodward Gallery in NYC, are so fascinating. She draws beauty from these ravaged wastelands, using not only the colors they exude, but also the promises they hold. Click to See the Art...

Welcome to the Machine: Pulse 2015 (Photo Gallery)

March 05, 2015

The 2015 Pulse Contemporary Art  Fair, NYC I don't know much about art, but one thing I do know a little bit about is LP covers. I grew up before MTV, which is to say before music came with visual accompaniment. Those days, when you bought an album, you took it home, put it on the record player and just listened. If you wanted visuals, you scanned the LP cover.

Which is why, at this year's Pulse NYC Contemporary Art Fair, I gravitated to the oil paintings of J.P. Roy. His work reminded me of those album covers from progressive rock-era British bands of the 1970s, especially those from Roger Dean and the Hipgnosis studio. Click to Read More...

The Reckoning of Sun Kil Moon

March 01, 2015

A review of Sun Kil Moon's 2014 album Benji "Beard oil," I thought when I first heard this latest album from Sun Kil Moon. From a remove, it rang out from a similarly rarefied level of attention, a fussy rough-hewn acoustic guitar churning along at a somber pace of introspection, accompanied by vocals of unrelenting gravitas.

But while "Benji" comes in the husk of hipsterism, there's something much more going on here. I've never heard an album quite like this, an intensely personal musical novella where each song is a chapter that builds on the others, that, all totaled, offers an almost uncomfortable intimacy of one man's life at 50, both the wisdom and the warts. Click to Read More...

Get Smart! Deep Learning Networks

February 22, 2015

Deep Machine learning models can solve any problem at hand, given infinite data and time for training. With infinite resources, you could simply map into memory every possible answer, and then every possible path to every answer.

The challenge in making deep learning practical is to find a way to get the desired result with only a finite amount of resources, namely, what you have on hand. Click to Read More...


Long Tall Glasses With Wine Up to Yar...

February 14, 2015

Leo Sayer, If you're over, say, 45, and lived in the states, "Long Tall Glasses" is pretty much in your DNA, even tho you probably don't remember it now. And when you hear it again, you'll probably recalled that you hated it. But, really, back then, whenever it floated over from some nearby radio, you dug it (maybe secretly). That'd be my guess, anyway.

The young uns, all unencumbered w/ such cultural baggage, are free to enjoy this kinda bad-ass song from Leo Sayer


Janet Bohman's Final Flights

February 7, 2015

Janet Bohman Some nights words do not describe how cold New York can get. Last Thursday was one of those evenings. Gallery hopping through Chelsea, we called it early, but before heading back to the E, we stumbled into an exhibit of Janet Bohman's linen wall sculptures.

I don't know why exactly, maybe I was finally warming up from the frigid temp, but walking into the room of Bohman's works, I felt a surprising and somewhat unexpected sense of joy. Life seemed to pour into the wet, drab hallway. Perhaps, for starts, the acrylic colors of the sculpture within subtly festive. Click To See The Art!

Street art banned by Instagram!

January 30, 2015

Street art banned by Instagram

I'm not entirely sure how many cultures this image could piss off, really. It's a quick camera phone capture of some rain-washed paste-up street art in Williamsburg. A veiled, topless woman, rife with religious symbols, gives the viewer a heavily tattooed finger, with what appears to be "thug" tatt'ed across her stomach.

But it was probably the nips that got it taken down from Instagram.

So, ya, let me kick some Upworthy teaser here: Click to See What Instagram Won't Show You!!

Homer's Odyssey Abbr.

January 20, 2015

The Odyssey by Homer An odyssey is a long-ass voyage...

Young prince Telemachus was hanging around the fam's castle, increasingly fed up with all these sycophantic suitors sucking up to Mom, wearing down his long-lost father's riches with all their feasting, dancing and having their hands washed by his family's servants.

The suitors are all like "Telemachus, you old man be dead. Get over it."

True, Odysseus had been gone for 10 years. He left to plunder Troy, but was waylaid on the return voyage, by Poseidon blowing fierce winds in his path, and by the affections of a bewitching calypso who held him back "deep in her arching caverns." Nymph be "craving him for a husband." Read More...

Babel: Confusio Linguarum

January 10, 2015

Frightening Babel nameplate from the movie

The Tower of Babel, for me, was always a cautionary tale about the limits of technology: The more sweeping your vision, the more complex to build, and once its gets too complex, it will collapse entirely because no one working on the thing will understand what anyone else on the project is actually doing..

Confusion of tongues (confusio linguarum) is how Book of Genesis11:1–9 witnessed it.

Anyway, those were the contours of the Babel Palace as I roughly envisioned. But like any great myth that aids in human understanding, Babel be preggers with multitudes.

For the first time, I recently saw the Fritz Lang's 1927 silent movie masterpiece "Metropolis," the Giorgio Moroder remixed version that was all the stoner's rage in 1984, and its take on what went down on Babel surprised me. Click here for a slideshow tour of Metropolis' Babel...

Photo: Country Karaoke Queen, West Virginia

January 1, 2015

street art of Jeffrey Gamblero

This is Cassie, Karoaking in Laddie's, a neighborhood bar in Hedgesville, a small West Virginia town just outside of Martinsburg.

When I came in, on New Year's Eve, Cas was singing Dolly Parton's frisky “Romeo.” She was the best singer in the place. In between bouts of Karaoke, Cas ran the pool table in the back of the small room, handily besting a series of male opponents.

I didn't know Cas, but nonetheless I couldn't help to ask if she knew any Tanya Tucker, perhaps presumptively assuming that any woman rocking a cowboy hat would be familiar with the first Bad Girl of country music. Read More

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