Epiphanies

Art, Technology

What America is Made From (Geologically)

Tue, 11 May 2021

How It is surprising to think that large swaths of the United States were not fully mapped out even as little as 200 years ago. At first a scientific oddity, the geologic map, invented by scientific hobbyist William Maclure, proved to be essential reading for rugged frontier entrepreneurs of the early 19th century. It paved the way, literally, for the industrial age. But it was not Maclure alone who popularized this map, but rather New Harmony, a repurposed failed-Utopian community built in part by Maclure himself in order to bring science to the people. It is a crazy story. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Machine Learning Basics: Rules of the Game

Sun, 11 Apr 2021

The What makes for human intelligence? Decision making -- to decide based on both past experiences, as well as the ability to decide about novel situations, those with no precedent. And this is how machines can learn as well, so the reasoning goes. To characterizing personal motivation, one always acts in the desire of a positive outcome. Games, such as checkers, are a simple example of this drive. Every move a player makes has the same objective, to win. Not surprisingly, the first work around artificial intelligence, from the 1950s, taught computers how to play checkers. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

HARRY: Not For a Long Time, Just a Good Time

Sun, 04 Apr 2021

My I started my journalism/writing career 30 years ago with HARRY,the original underground hippie newspaper of Baltimore. Of course, HARRY was around way before I came along in 1991. First rolling off the presses in 1969, HARRY was serious hippie stuff. It was the newspaper of the streets, of the revolution. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Tech Notes February 2021: Euphoric Concentration

Mon, 22 Mar 2021

My This month: A machine learning hack for corrupting AI models; the last strand breaking is not the cause of failure, how analog computers work; some tips about game theory; Linux Seccomp Notify extends out to file management; How software updates can be hijacked to infiltrate software supply chains; Monorepo or Multi Repo? The Scunthorpe Problem. And more! Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Nepantla: Esteban Cabeza de Baca

Sun, 07 Mar 2021

Esteban The Nahuatl (Mexicano) word Nepantla means the thresholds between worlds. This Garth Greenan (NYC) exhibit explores the complex spiritual potential of this space with the paintings (and sculpture) of Esteban Cabeza de Baca. Cabeza de Baca grew up in San Ysidro, the border town between San Diego and Tijuana. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Op Art Messes with Your Head

Thu, 04 Mar 2021

The Op Art from the 1960s was not what a painting was about, but how the painting could fuck with your head, using sly tricks of perception. The new Mary Dill Henry exhibit, Love Jazz, at Berry Campbell Gallery, collects paintings this Op Art pioneer completed between 1965-70. In her 50s by this time, she had reached her signature style, one of oscillating shapes that formed kinetic patterns and optical illusions. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

AI Doesn't Want to See the Big Picture

Mon, 01 Mar 2021

Without Everybody knows Google collects a lot of personal data. And we are all more or less OK with that. But as all this info gets fed into the mighty Google machinery for creating artificial intelligence (AI), a lot of bad human instincts get mixed in with the results. Trace elements of racism, hatred, and violence which are all embedded in the models Google uses to appeal to our sympathies, i.e. to influence our behavior. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

We Shall Live Again

Sat, 20 Feb 2021

Patti Fifty years ago this month, Patti Smith read her poetry for the first time in public, at St. Mark's Church New York City (near Astor Place), inviting friend and record store clerk Lenny Kaye to add some biting guitar. Thus was born the Patti Smith Band and, to a certain extent, punk rock itself. Robert Mapplethorpe, Sam Shepherd, Allen Ginsberg, Todd Rundgren, Lou Reed, Sandy Pearlman and others attended. This 50th anniversary virtual show kept the low key intimacy of a poetry reading, honoring those in attendance that night who have since passed, but also offering hope for the future: we will live again, we will live. It was a powerful performance for a challenging time. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Tech Notes January 2021: Maximum Insights-Per-Minute!

Wed, 17 Feb 2021

My Measures that become targets cease to be measures; AI confused by jumbled sentences but can make avocado chairs. Why Optimization is forever at odds with efficiency; Configuration-as-code is better than Infrastructure-as-Code; The dangers of equating emotion with weakness; Strange spatial dimensions and time-striped event horizons; Genetic Assertive Mating... Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Solved! iTunes Play Date Tag Numeric Mystery

Tue, 16 Feb 2021

The About 10 years ago, I embarked on a project to parse the contents of the hulking XML file that iTunes creates to hold all the metadata about the music I listen to. There is a ton of interesting info buried in there about my listening habits. Interesting to me, at any rate. And this project is where I learned how to decode the nine-digit Play Date tag, and how the format follows a tradition that goes all the way back to the birth of the Apple Macintosh itself. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Fix the iTunes Album Ratings Bug (& Decry the Current State of Digital Music)

Tue, 09 Feb 2021

Fix First of all, Fuck Apple, for what it did to the music business. For those of you wondering how to fix the problem of the proliferating shadow album ratings (which has been a problem in iTunes for a decade), Imma get to that in a minute. But first I want to say Fuck Apple for promising to save the recorded music industry in 2001 with its iPod, only to relegate music to just another neglected feature on the iPhone two decade later. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Apache Server-Side Includes: The Lost Guide

Mon, 01 Feb 2021

Apache In many ways, picking through the documentation for the Apache HTTP Server is a bit like wandering around an advanced and slick, though recently-neglected, spaceship. There are great capabilities buried underneath the dusty control panel, but there is not much immediate guidance on how to make it all work. So you copy and paste your way to a working runtime, fingers crossed. Or, at least this is what it feels like for Apache Server-Side Includes (SSI), an ostensibly handy feature to embed bits of logic or text files within a web page. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Tutorial: Launch a Linux-based Web Server on DigitalOcean

Mon, 25 Jan 2021

Build Once you have set up some infrastructure, which is to say you have a virtual machine (or even a real one) running a Linux OS of some sort, the next step is to identify this machine as your own on the Internet. You need to connect your domain name to the server Internet address (IP number). And you need to have software to serve up your pages when visitors call -- the job of the Apache Web server in this tutorial. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Audrey Stone, Marking Time

Wed, 20 Jan 2021

Audrey Painter Audrey Stone uses color gradients to mark time, each color signifying a slow, methodical labor. According to the gallery, Stone would sometimes devote an entire day to painting a single color band. She worked on this series of 18 paintings following the death of her mother. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Tech Notes, December 2020: Dark Energy Pulls Us All Apart

Thu, 31 Dec 2020

My Lambda Calculus and the birth of computer science; computer science != algorithmic science; The limits of artificial intelligence; why learn and adapt is better than prevent and fix; Google clamps down on unflattering AI research; the Astley Paradox; the surprise end of CentOS; Why SecOps does not get invited to the holiday parties; and More! Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Beverly Fishman, I Dream of Sleep

Sat, 26 Dec 2020

The The clean geometric abstractions of Beverly Fishman are a brightly-colored, high-finish attack on the system, the pharmaceutical industry in particular. She borrows all the marketing from this field -- the colors, forms, materials, even the way surfaces are handled. It is a subtle form of cultural subversion that has been taking place at least since the 1980s. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Jo Yeh, a Rainy Day

Sat, 19 Dec 2020

The Here are few pages taken from the NYC zines of Jo Yeh. Yeh is an illustrator currently living in Taipei. We met her when she moved to New York. In series of spare but poignant byte-sized books, she captured all the confusion, loneliness and moments of compassion that everybody experiences living in NYC as a newcomer. My friend Jess and I interviewed her a few years back for Bushwick Nation. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

TechNotes Nov 2020: Epiphanies DuJour

Tue, 01 Dec 2020

TechNotes, Most days I go running. Podcasts and video lectures help me pass the time. And to goose my dawdling mind, I try to remember one useful bit of information from each presentation. And by later Tweeting this micro-epiphany, I can properly understand the idea, in 280 characters or fewer, so as to recall it at social gatherings (when we have those again) and whatnot. So, here are my notes on information technology, technology, science and other matters, as taken from these podcasts and videos as well as from various other forms of online flotsam. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Ghost Cinema

Thu, 19 Nov 2020

Korakrit Before phones, the internet and television even, people stared into the fire, endlessly examining the shape-shifting flames, searching for meaning. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military beamed swaths of light into the jungle, hoping nearby villagers would be frightened off by the appearance of ghosts. Monks in Thailand repurposed this technique to give people a way to communicate with their dead, a practice now known as Ghost Cinema. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Tutorial: Launch a Linux-based Web Server on DigitalOcean

Wed, 18 Nov 2020

Launch In this tutorial, I set up a virtual Linux server on DigitalOcean. This installment is part of a longer series on setting up a Web server in the cloud. Here, I review the hardware and software server options offered by DigitalOcean, and then go through the process of setting up a public-private key for securely accessing the server, by way of ssh. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

...And a Rug to Tie the Whole Thing Together

Tue, 17 Nov 2020

A So my friend Steve had this freakishly good idea of bringing a blow-up couch to the Dark Star Orchestra Halloween show at the Frederick (MD) fairground. Keeping with social distancing guidelines for the pandemic, the organizations sold tickets by the car. Each car got two spaces in a field facing the stage, the second of which the car's group occupy in some form. In addition to the couch, Steve also brought a fold-up table, an LED lamp and a $30 rug from Amazon to tie it all together. I can not explain how surreal it felt watching the show from this vantage. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

TechNotes Oct 2020: Share Communications Not Memory

Sun, 01 Nov 2020

TechNotes, This month: eBPF makes the Linux kernel programmable; feature flags can speed development; Darwin and the Origin of Species as technical writing; RSA vs. DSA for SSH; the challenges of spacing Web pages; share communications, not memory. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Out From Under Their Feet

Thu, 29 Oct 2020

How U.S. Native Americans regarded the lands they lived upon from a vastly different perspective than the English who would appropriate these lands for themselves. When they arrived, the English brought with them the idea of land being a set of fixed boundaries, regardless of how it was used. The Indians saw the land only in how it could be useful, be it for hunting, gardening or gathering.That the English saw land as something that could be purchased literally undermined the entire Indian way of life. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Harvey Fite's Quarry

Mon, 26 Oct 2020

The Opus 40, a sculpture garden located between Saugerties and Woodstock, NY, was created from an abandoned bluestone quarry that was purchased by a popular actor of the day, actor Harvey Fite. Originally, Fite purchased the land just for the stone, which he wanted to use for his sculpture. After visiting some Mayan ruins in Honduras, however, he returned resolved to learn to work with the bluestone, adopting the techniques of the Mayans. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Optical Abstract Expression of the 1960s

Sun, 27 Sep 2020

A In the 1960s, Edward Avedisian was one of a number of abstract artists who moved beyond the tactility of abstract expressionism to focus instead on the optical experience of the painting, according to the Barry Campbell gallery, Soho, New York, which recently presented an exhibit of Avedisian works from that period. His style mixed freshness of pop art with the more measured properties of color field painting. 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...

		
		
		

Not That You Should Care, But James Rumsey Invented 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 Nilsson?

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...

		
		
		

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