Monday, September 26, 2011

What Centrism Really Means

There is a third party already, and it is the Democrats.

Paul Krugman:

Greg Sargent touches on a point I’ve been meaning to make; he does it in the context of third-party fantasies, but it’s true more broadly of calls for “centrism”. Namely, the hypothetical position self-proclaimed centrists want somebody to take — Michael Bloomberg, a chastened Obama, whatever — is almost always the position actually held by the Democratic party. But to seem “balanced”, the pundits involved have to ignore that inconvenient fact.

Links for Later

  1. Brad DeLong on Suskind & good economic policy

  2. The search for the orang pendek

  3. Topological Isomorphisms of the Human Brain and Financial Markets (via marginal revolution)

  4. Firefly's Sean Maher comes out


"Dreams are Gone" (demo)

The Millennium Dish

The beautiful enamel- and silver-work of Jane Short.

John Lilly Interviewed

Not only a fascinating discussion, this is also a rare implementation of the coonskin hat as adult headwear. Top shelf thinking.

Lost Books

Along with the never written books and the utterly forgotten, there are the lost books that reach us only as shadows, reflections and fragments in other books, rumors and legends and hand-me-down tales. Megan Gambino talks about ten of these at Smithsonian:

4. Inventio Fortunata

In the 14th century, a Franciscan monk from Oxford, whose name is unknown, traveled the North Atlantic. He described the geography of the Arctic, including what he presumed was the North Pole, in a book called Inventio Fortunata, or “The Discovery of the Fortunate Islands.” He gave King Edward III a copy of his travelogue around 1360, and some say an additional five copies floated around Europe before the book was lost.

What followed next was a game of telephone that stretched across centuries. In 1364, another Franciscan described the contents of Inventio Fortunata to Flemish author Jacob Cnoyen, who, in turn, published a summary in his own book, Itinerarium.

Unfortunately, Itinerarium also went missing—but not before Gerard Mercator, one of the most prestigious cartographers of the 16th century, read it.

Mercator, writing to an English scientist named John Dee in 1577, cribbed word for word from Itinerarium’s description of the North Pole: “In the midst of the four countries is a Whirl-pool, into which there empty these four indrawing Seas which divide the North. And the water rushes round and descends into the Earth just as if one were pouring it through a filter funnel. It is four degrees wide on every side of the Pole, that is to say eight degrees altogether. Except that right under the Pole there lies a bare Rock in the midst of the Sea. Its circumference is almost 33 French miles, and it is all of magnetic Stone.”

When Mercator published a world map in 1569, he used this description as the source for his illustration of the Arctic—based upon the third-hand summary of a lost book written by an unknown monk 200 years earlier.
(via boingboing)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren talks clearly about taxation and the social contract. "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

REM Calls it a Day

I'll miss them. Several years of my life were fully upholstered in REM's music. After 31 years, REM retires as a band. From their website:

"A wise man once said--'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it.

"I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.

"We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It's been amazing."
Play us out, guys:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goodbye, DADT

A soldier comes out to his father on the day of repeal of DADT.

Hard to watch. Good to see.

Links for Later

1. Notes toward an understanding of Obama's economic policy decisions
2. Germanic neopagan denominations
3. A soldier comes out to his father on the day of repeal of DADT. Hard to watch. Good to see.
4. Dave Staley: ways to become Renaissance Florence today
5. A member of the House of Representatives so poor that he cannot feed his family on $200k/year (or maybe $600k)
6. Tennis union may go on strike over too-long season
7. Ryan Gosling

Crystal Baschet

As many of you know, I have a fondness for unusual musical instruments. While listening to Cliff Martinez's excellent 80's-inflected soundtrack to excellent Ryan Gosling-containing action movie Drive, I heard many things that were a joy to my ears. Not only did the soundtrack make use of tasty, tasty modular analog synthesizers, it was also made liberal use of the crystal baschet, an instrument invented in 1952 by Bernard and Francois Baschet. It's a sculptural instrument played by stroking glass rods which are bound to metal bars, and which resonate through a set of plexiglass and metal resonators. According to the Baschet website, only 67 of the instruments have been made since the 1950's.

Martinez saw it first as a child, and has used it in a number of movies, where it “works marvelously during crime scenes, especially those featuring huge plumes of blood on the walls.”

When I was 10 years old my parents took me to the Museum of Modern Art to see an exhibit entitled Structures for sound. It was a collection of "musical sculptures" created by Francois and Bernard Baschet and it permanently reupholstered my brain. From that moment on, I knew that I not only wanted to be a musician, but a weird musician.
I love that. I've always wanted to be a weird musician, too.

Now, listen to this:

and this:

and this, which also features the glass armonica and the Ondes Martinot, as played by Thomas Bloch:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anna Meredith

Anna Meredith starts her Black Prince Fury EP with a fanfare and goes on from there.

(As recommended by Warren Ellis)

Black Prince Fury by Anna Meredith

Ohimè ch'io cado

Musical genres you never knew existed.

Monteverdi done cool on period instruments, with a bit of jazz, pizzaz and a countertenor.

More: The whole concert can be viewed here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Supercongress Meets the Cold Hard Facts

Doug Elmendorf, head of the CBO, laid out the simple truths of the budget situation for the Supercommittee members: 1) Austerity has produced poor results in other economies, and should be avoided if at all possible. 2) Either taxes must go up to pay for the social safety net, or the net must be radically cut to support tax cuts. 3) Spending now is a good idea, even if it produces larger deficits. 4) Obama's job plan is a good and popular proposal for helping the economy.

The Republicans on the committee are buying none of this.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quote of the Day

“You were free to choose and you did. Now lie in it.”

-Mark Twight

Links for Later

1. Paul Krugman on the post-9/11 shame
2. Gym Jones, where the 300 actors went to train
3. Frank Netter
4. Agent trys to de-gay YA lit
5. Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) dies at 39 of lymphoma
6. Fr. Mychal Judge a remembrance
7. Economics doubles match: Barro/Cowen vs. Krugman/DeLong

The Laughing Heart

by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.


Eugene Gendlin developed a set of techniques called Focusing in collaboration with Carl Rogers and others which are used for dealing with implicit knowledge, knowledge viewed in terms of preconceptual experiences stemming from the body itself as a living process. Now, I've used something like this technique for years without knowing about his work or the formal system he's built around it. I recognize it without being able to precisely describe it, which is a very Focusing thing itself.

In this month's Tricycle, he discussed the method and uses of the Focusing techniques. It is a difficult interview to get through, because it is clear that a lot of the information Gendlin conveys happens via non-verbal channels.

One useful passage, relating to embodied consciousness:

The body includes behavior possibilities. It has the sense of space in which you can do things, not just move around. The possibilities of “what we can do from here” is the space that we really live in; we don’t live in empty, abstract, geometric space.

And then on top of that, you have your thinking capacity. The thinking that you are doing varies your behavior possibilities. You might think of something and then see that you can do such and such, which you hadn’t seen before. So the thinking changes the behavior possibilities, and that in turn is reconstituting your body in various ways.

Your body takes everything you learn with you. But your body understanding is more than what you learned. It absorbs what you learn, and then it still implies further. A body isn’t only an is; it is an is and implies further.
A further explication of the body feeling concept can be found here.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Star Wars Cast

Merlin Mann:


The cast of the original Star Wars trilogy
“ARB,” I believe the parlance goes.

Thing is: we should store copies of this photo in every library and every time capsule.
Because, I think this may be very important.

And Now...

A message from five years ago from Ze Frank talking about ten years ago (or another five years from his perspective). Oh, how I miss The Show.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Friday, September 02, 2011

Links for Later

  1. David Hockney returns to the multiple, but this time adds movement

  2. Sven Marquardt, photographer and bouncer (and candidate for Most Interesting Man in the World)

  3. The disconnect between the White House and everybody else

  4. Magic in the Greco-Roman world

  5. College student joins Libyan rebels for his summer vacation

East 10th Street

Edgar Oliver discusses one of his former roommates, a short-statured psychopathic Kabbalist, as part of Oliver's one-man show put on for Spoleto USA.

Watch your step.

Steve Burns

The former Blues Clues host talks about the peculiarities of a certain sort of celebrity.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tea at the Palaz of Hoon

by Wallace Stevens

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.

What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?

Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.

David Foster Wallace Interviewed

(via biblioklept)
I had not seen these ZDF Mediatech interview segments with DFW before.

The outtakes are priceless: