Sunday Spectacle: Out of Obscurity

OBSCURE FLORIDA: Atlas Obscura has quite a Florida presence. They have the two-headed gator that’s in front of (one of) my favorite drinking establishments.

They have recent (and not so recent) posts about Jack Kerouac’s St. Petersburg house being for sale (to the right buyer), St. Augustine’s Treasury Street (built to foil thieves), our local Hindu temple (weirdly out-of-place in suburban neighborhood), the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, and lots of other Florida weirdness.

NOTE: The sculpture of the two-headed alligator was installed by Urban Art Attack.


FEARLESS BACKSTORY: Fearless Girl is a provocative symbol of women taking public space AND a cheesy PR campaign. Charging Bull is a symbol of Wall Street AND guerrilla art. Greg Fallis adds some history and context to the Fearless Girl/Charging Bull debate sparked by the bull’s creator, Arturo Di Modica.

“In effect, Fearless Girl has appropriated the strength and power of Charging Bull. Of course Di Modica is outraged by that. A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.”


BIG EEL: I had no idea there was such a thing as illegal eel distribution. Apparently there are nefarious eel distribution rings at work in our nation. Fortunately, the Justice Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are on top of it.

“This plea was the result of “Operation Broken Glass,” a multi-jurisdiction U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) investigation into the illegal trafficking of American eels. To date, the investigation has resulted in guilty pleas for eleven individuals whose combined conduct resulted in the illegal trafficking of more than $2.75 million worth of elvers [juvenile eels].”


FREE WATER: Huh. A apparatus that pulls water right out of the air. And already a functioning prototype.

“…a water harvester that uses only ambient sunlight to pull liters of water out of the air each day in conditions as low as 20 percent humidity…”


WORK: I recently re-listened to ‘Broken English’. Don’t know why it’s been so long since I listened to it last. Here’s Marianne Faithfull covering ‘Working Class Hero’ by John Lennon.

Working Class Hero
John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Sunday Spectacle: Brain Music

BRAIN MUSIC: 51 years ago Alvin Lucier strapped some electrodes to his head and made music with his brain waves.

More recently, researchers at the University of Washington have created the encephalophone, a synthesizer you manipulate with brain waves.

“Other musicians and scientists have used EEG technology to make sound before, Deuel said, but only ‘passively generated sound’ based on brain activity. The encephalophone, he explained, is ‘an EEG-controlled musical instrument.'”

WRITING UPDATE: Haven’t moved forward much on the word count, but I’m editing and re-writing what I’ve already written. I’m not making as much progress as I hoped, but I’m still making progress. Some is better than none. When I planned out my writing schedule I forgot that my work schedule changes over the summer. Starting in May I’ll have 3-day weekends (and longer work days over a shorter work week). Starting in May I’ll make Friday a whole writing day. I believe that will help me get back on schedule.

LAST WEEK’S SPECTACLE: I probably should have said yes. Many people knocked on my door asking me if I wanted them to rake the leaves off my front lawn, and I consistently said “No. I’ll do it. I need the exercise.” Last Sunday I raked. This Sunday I’ll rake. The brief reprieve from yard care has ended. Spring has sprung and there is raking to be done. Soon the rains will start and the lawn will want mowing. Maybe I’ll plant a bunch of okra this year. Last Sunday was all yard, no blog. This Sunday I’m up early enough to do a little bit of each.

OUR CREEPY PRESENT: 3D print biological machines in your home! Now you can ‘build your own’ bio-bot.

“…researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been developing a class of walking “bio-bots” powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical and optical pulses. Now, Rashid Bashir’s research group is sharing the recipe for the current generation of bio-bots. Their how-to paper is the cover article in Nature Protocols.

“‘The protocol teaches every step of building a bio-bot, from 3D printing the skeleton to tissue engineering the skeletal muscle actuator, including manufacturers and part numbers for every single thing we use in the lab,’…”

Maybe I’ll soak my bio-bot in a self-propelling liquid.

RICH LAW POOR LAW: There’s literally one set of laws for the rich and a different set of laws for the poor in Georgia. An anomaly or a glimpse of the future?

If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright and lose

“Now, the case has concluded with US District Judge Richard Story having published an opinion (PDF) that sides with the state of Georgia. The judge disagreed with Malamud’s argument that the OCGA can’t be copyrighted and also said Malamud’s copying of the laws is not fair use.”

WORD OF THE DAY: Aubade — “A dawn song expressing the regret of parting lovers at daybreak.”


by Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
– The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused – nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear – no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Sunday Spectacle: Home Again

HOME: It’s good to be back. Went away to a professional conference in Baltimore, and came back feeling cranky and hypercritical. I go to this conference because it usually reminds me there are a lot of smart people doing interesting things in my tiny little professional world. This year… not so much. Here’s the non-political stuff that caught my attention this last week.


RIPPLES ON AN EVAPORATED LAKE: I’ve been listening to a lot of Raymond Scott lately.


OUR CREEPY PRESENT: This is… different.

Lice-Hunting Underwater Drone Protects Salmon With Lasers

“The latest of many attempts to rein in sea lice involves a software-and-camera-controlled underwater laser drone. Along with colleagues at his Oslo-based company, Beck Engineering, Esben Beck, a young Norwegian designer and engineer, developed the system that’s turning fish hatcheries into laser light shows. A couple of stereo cameras zero in on an individual louse attached to a fish in the pen; a thin laser beam shoots the bug, killing it but leaving the fish unharmed.”


AI TWITTER ASSISTANT: Hey! I suck at Twitter. Should I be using an “intelligent social media assistant”? (Actually, something like this might be useful at work.)

How Post Intelligence Uses AI And Deep Learning To Help You Not Suck On Social Media

“Post Intelligence isn’t just some janky app that dumps a bunch of trending topics in your lap for you to tweet about. Instead, Post Intelligence analyzes your tweets (if you’ve got any to analyze) through deep learning artificial intelligence. Over time it recognizes your tone, quirks and suggests topics and themes to tweet about.”

Post Intelligence


THIEMEYER: To close, a bit of fantasy.

Sunday Spectacle: What Should Humans Do?

THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE: I’m always interested in what Bruce has to say. His closing talk at SXSW this year is a real stemwinder. After warming up with a review of this year’s hot topics at South-by he takes a look at some possible UBI (Universal Basic Income) scenarios before entering into a full-on critique of our current moral cowardice and waning humanity. While Bruce thinks and writes a lot about things and ideas, these talks are always deeply about the human experience and what we can learn from history.

The Future: History That Hasn’t Happened Yet: Bruce Sterling Speech at SXSW 2017


OUR CREEPY PRESENT: I’m old enough to remember when every toddler didn’t carry around their own black mirror (i.e. smartphone or computer-gadget pacifier). It looks like the black mirror generation will be followed by the AI generation. How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants.

“Toy giant Mattel recently announced the birth of Aristotle, a home baby monitor launching this summer that ‘comforts, teaches and entertains’ using AI from Microsoft. As children get older, they can ask or answer questions. The company says, ‘Aristotle was specifically designed to grow up with a child.'”


REAL PEOPLE: AV Club pointed me to these re-edited ads. Go to the link and watch all three!

“Chevy’s latest ad campaign relies on “real people, not actors” being absolutely flabbergasted at just how amazing the company’s cars are. So the folks at Zebra Corner decided to inject some actual reality into the campaign with a little help from no-nonsense Boston consumer “Mahk.” Unlike his fellow real people, who are blown away by every new reveal about Chevy, Mahk is skeptical about just why he’s supposed to be impressed by some giant doors and an award he’s never heard of.”

SHOULD I BE READING INDEPENDENT COMICS?: I don’t (think) I know anyone who reads comics, or at least I never have conversations with anyone well-versed in the current independent comic scene. Comics Alliance series “Should I Be Reading…?” is a tremendous resource when it comes to locating high-quality, independent comics online and in print. So much good stuff here, and so much of it is available to check out online. There’s a year and a half of regular reviews here. Bookmark it and check back often.

“When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With ‘Should I Be Reading… ?’, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.”


MODERN HERMITING: Excerpt from The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel about a modern-day hermit who lived in the wilds of Maine for 27 years avoiding human contact.

“He perched at the edge of the woods and meticulously observed the habits of the families with cabins along the ponds. He watched their quiet breakfasts and dinner parties, their visitors and vacancies, the cars moving up and down the road. Nothing Knight saw tempted him to return to his former life. His surveillance was clinical, informational, mathematical. He did not learn anyone’s name. All he sought was to understand migration patterns – when people went shopping, when a cabin was unoccupied. After that, he said, everything in his life became a matter of timing. The ideal time to steal was deep in the night, midweek, preferably when it was overcast, best in the rain. A heavy downpour was prime. People stayed out of the woods when it was wet.”



Sunday Spectacle: Books and Stories to Check Out

WRITING UPDATE: The new Full Moon Story is up. An Unhaunted House is a comedic tale about Miliwata, Florida, the most haunted city in the USA.

Check out the previous stories, The Conscience Switch, a peek behind the curtains of power that explains how the world can be so horrible sometimes, and Blissful Skies, about a little boy that hates his grandmother and loves falling stars.

I am now officially behind on the novel writing. I wrote exactly zero of the three thousand words I had targeted this week. I’ll be traveling later in March and my dream is I will be able to make up some wordage as I sit in airports and on the airplane. We’ll see. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.


BOOKS TO CHECK OUT: I note the books I’m currently reading in the right-hand column, and I have a page for books I’ve read in 2017 with a brief comment. This new feature Books to Check out will be an irregular post pointing to books that have caught my attention and made it to my to-read list. These are not books I’ve read, but books I might check out of the library. My personal inclinations and my day job combine to make me think about books. A lot. If you click through the links you can purchase the books at Powell’s. Or, my recommendation, visit your library. If they don’t have the book ask them if they have an interlibrary loan program.

I love Richard Kadrey. His Sandman Slim series is pure entertainment. And now he’s added a new comedic series.

“Coop, a master thief sort of gone legit, saved the world from an ancient doomsday device—heroism that earned him a gig working for the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome top secret government agency that polices the odd and strange. Now Woolrich, Coop’s boss at the DOPS, has Coop breaking into a traveling antiquities show to steal a sarcophagus containing the mummy of a powerful Egyptian wizard named Harkhuf. With the help of his pals Morty, Giselle, and a professor that’s half-cat, half-robotic octopus, Coop pulls off the heist without a hitch.

“It’s not Coop’s fault that when DOPS opened the sarcophagus they didn’t find the mummy they were expecting. Well, it was the right mummy, but it wasn’t exactly dead—and now it’s escaped, using a type of magic the organization hasn’t encountered before. Being a boss, Woolrich blames his underling for the screw up and wants Coop to find the missing Harkhuf and make it right, pronto.”

The Wrong Dead Guy (Another Coop Heist) by Richard Kadrey


“From the 1970s through the 1990s more than one hundred feminist bookstores built a transnational network that helped shape some of feminism’s most complex conversations. Kristen Hogan traces the feminist bookstore movement’s rise and eventual fall, restoring its radical work to public feminist memory. The bookwomen at the heart of this story—mostly lesbians and including women of color—measured their success not by profit, but by developing theories and practices of lesbian antiracism and feminist accountability. At bookstores like BookWoman in Austin, the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, and Old Wives’ Tales in San Francisco, and in the essential Feminist Bookstore News, bookwomen changed people’s lives and the world. In retelling their stories, Hogan not only shares the movement’s tools with contemporary queer antiracist feminist activists and theorists, she gives us a vocabulary, strategy, and legacy for thinking through today’s feminisms.”

The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability by Kristen Hogan


I was recently introduced to the concept of the nepantla, which prompted me to add The Gloria Anzaldua Reader by Gloria Anzaldua to my reading list.

“Nepantla is a concept used often in Chicano and Latino anthropology, social commentary, criticism, literature and art. It represents a concept of “in-between-ness.” Nepantla is a Nahuatl word which means ‘in the middle of it’ or ‘middle.'”

“Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa (September 26, 1942 – May 15, 2004) was an American scholar of Chicana cultural theory, feminist theory, and queer theory. She loosely based her best-known book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, on her life growing up on the Mexican-Texas border and incorporated her lifelong feelings of social and cultural marginalization into her work.”


“The definitive history of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon agency that has quietly shaped war and technology for nearly sixty years.

“Founded in 1958 in response to the launch of Sputnik, the agency’s original mission was to create “the unimagined weapons of the future.” Over the decades, DARPA has been responsible for countless inventions and technologies that extend well beyond military technology. Sharon Weinberger gives us a riveting account of DARPA’s successes and failures, its remarkable innovations, and its wild-eyed schemes.”

Imagineers of War The Untold Story of Darpa the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World by Sharon Weinberger


Out at the end of April. I’ve already pre-ordered it.

“In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company―a biotech firm now derelict―and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech.

“One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump―plant or animal?―but exudes a strange charisma. Borne reminds Rachel of the marine life from the island nation of her birth, now lost to rising seas. There is an attachment she resents: in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet, against her instincts―and definitely against Wick’s wishes―Rachel keeps Borne. She cannot help herself. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. For Borne makes Rachel see beauty in the desolation around her. She begins to feel a protectiveness she can ill afford.”

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Sunday Spectacle: Some Respite From the Storm

READ ALL THE LAURIE PENNY: I’m glad to see Uber getting some well-deserved bad press. The gig economy is a scam. Every time we take an Uber we’re spreading its social poison

And not just Uber. All gig economy contributes to job precarity. Ask any musicians in your life about their retirement plan. If we want something like a gig economy to be successful (and I get there are aspects of it that are attractive) we need something like universal health care, and a government-funded universal basic income. If we can bail out the banksters, why can’t we bail out the workers?


NOURISHMENT: If you’re looking for short stories to distract you from our national clusterfuck, here are some good suggestions. The Best Websites to Read Free (and Good) Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror


BOOKS TO CHECK OUT: A fascinating list from Ann VanderMeer of books she’s blurbed so far in 2017. Ann is a fantastic editor of weird/fantasy/science fiction. I already had the Leonora Carrington book, and the Carmen Machado book on my to-buy list.


MATILDA EFFECT: “The Matilda effect is the common bias against acknowledging the contribution of woman scientists in research, whose work is often attributed to their male colleagues.”


BUG DINING: We should be feeding insects to our livestock.

“Grant has produced hundreds of kilos of dried maggots in the last few months as part of an E.U.-funded research project called PROteINSECT. They are now being fed to fish, pigs, and chickens in large trials designed to answer an increasingly urgent question: Are insects the animal feed of the future?”


THE MOON: Time’s run out for this morning’s post. I’ll wrap up with this image from Van Gogh because it has the moon in the corner.

Sunday Spectacle: Trappist-1 or Bust!

THE MAGICAL WAR HEATS UP: Witch spells vs. Christian prayer. Buzzfeed continues its efforts to become a legitimate news source by reporting on the magical conflict outside Trump Tower Friday night/Saturday morning.

Binding spells will be cast with every new moon. Find out more here.

Witchery, I’m happy to say, has seen a bit of a resurgence lately. A Brief History Of The Tumblr Witch

“‘Tumblr Witch’ is not an identity, but the Tumblr witch is concerned with identities. Unlike the Wicca bloggers, the Tumblr witch is unlikely to define herself seriously as a witch. But undeniably the concept of the Tumblr witch is tied up in intersectional feminism, in a desire to reclaim power, and to laugh as she does so.”


FUTURE WATCH: MIT Technology Review predicts technology advances we’ll see this year. They see major advances in paralysis reversal, the trucking industry’s embrace of self-driving trucks, and major leaps in quantum computing, among others.


TRAPPIST-1 OR BUST!:, of all places, has a nice summary of the NASA announcement about finding a cluster of exoplanets around Trappist-1.

“Seven worlds orbit the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, a mere 40 light-years away. In May 2016 astronomers using the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) announced the discovery of three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Just announced, additional confirmations and discoveries by the Spitzer Space Telescope and supporting ESO ground-based telescopes have increased the number of known planets to seven. The TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely all rocky and similar in size to Earth, the largest treasure trove of terrestrial planets ever detected around a single star. Because they orbit very close to their faint, tiny star they could also have regions where surface temperatures allow for the presence of liquid water, a key ingredient for life.”


BOT EXPLAINER: O’Reilly has a provides a brief introduction to our bot-filled future. And, by future, I mean present.


SPEAKING OF BOTS: The release date of the new MST3K has been announced. In the not-too-distant-future, next April 14 AD, the bots and a new cast will launch on Netflix.


READING IRAN: Some Iranian authors worth checking out.

“Things We Left Unsaid is set in Abadan—a city built around a major old refinery—in the early 1960s during the era of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Pirzad, who was born and raised in Abadan, writes with great precision and detail about a woman’s everyday experiences and emotions. Her style is casual, natural, and subtle, which was new for Iranian novels. The narrator, Clarice Ayvzaian, is an unfulfilled Armenian housewife whose life changes when Emile and her family move next door. Clarice slowly finds herself falling in love with Emile as the families’ lives get entangled. She also gets involved with the women’s movement. Although the book does provide a sense of the place, and references to social events such as women’s suffrage and the Armenian genocide, it is not a political or social realist novel.”


READING HORROR: Nominees for Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker awards are announced.

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Hand, Elizabeth – Hard Light: A Cass Neary Crime Novel (Minotaur Books)
Jones, Stephen Graham – Mongrels (William Morrow)
Langan, John – The Fisherman (Word Horde)
MacLeod, Bracken – Stranded: A Novel (Tor Books)
Tremblay, Paul – Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (William Morrow)


FREE MONEY: The NYT looks at an effort to provide a Universal Basic Income to villagers in Kenya. The Future of Not Working.

“GiveDirectly wants to show the world that a basic income is a cheap, scalable way to aid the poorest people on the planet. “We have the resources to eliminate extreme poverty this year,” Michael Faye, a founder of GiveDirectly, told me. But these resources are often misallocated or wasted. His nonprofit wants to upend incumbent charities, offering major donors a platform to push money to the world’s neediest immediately and practically without cost.”


SK8: Girls in India take up skateboarding.

“In 2013, Atita and her friends built a skate park in Bengaluru with the help of the HolyStoked Collective, and began teaching skateboarding to underprivileged children. She eventually launched Girl Skate India — an initiative to teach girls how to skate, promote gender equality in skating and highlight up-and-coming female skaters in India. Girl Skate India works with Holystoked to host classes for young girls and aims to make skate parks open to skaters of all genders.”



Sunday Spectacle: The Big Here and the Long Now (19Feb2017)

BE big HERE long NOW: The onslaught is meant to induce exhaustion. Exhaustion leads to capitulation. Lift your eyes. Get outside. Put the screen away. Cultivate your garden. The title of this week’s Sunday Spectacle comes from a Brian Eno essay. In this essay Eno muses on different cultural attitudes about neighborhood. Those constrained to just their apartment or condo or house live in the ‘small here.’ Those who walk around their neighborhood and use its parks and walk or bike to the local pub or grocery store, live in a larger here. Similarly, the short now is today, tomorrow, this week. The long now is this century, this millennium. Don’t forget to step away from the small here and short now and into the big here and long now occasionally. You might even want to set a timer to remind yourself. What do you know about where you are? Take this quiz to find out.


PRETTY PICTURES: I love my screen saver. Every time I see an image I like I copy it into a folder and those images rotate randomly as my screen saver. I’m going to be pulling a lot off the Metropolitan Museum of Art since they just dropped 375,000 of their public domain works onto the internet. You can search their collection with this link.

Figure in Hammock, Florida by John Singer Sargent


STORY: My story is moving along. I haven’t fallen behind yet, but I also haven’t been editing as much as I need to. I don’t know if learning how to tell stories the Pixar way will influence what I’m working on right now, but it won’t hurt to hear what they have to say. I’ll at least look through the storytelling segment.


MOON: I’ve been pretty good in my ongoing effort to be more in tune with the moon. I grab images of the moon when I’m out and it’s visible. But, nothing I can do compares to these playful images by Laurent Laveder.


A POEM: That’s it for this week. Not much, and nothing in my head that prompts an editorial, so I’ll close with this from Matthew Arnold.

Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Sunday Spectacle: We’re Going Feral

FERAL FEMINISM: I’m a sucker for manifestos, so finding “The Poltergeist Manifesto” at Feral Feminisms was like finding a missing jigsaw puzzle piece for my brain.

“Feral Feminisms takes the feral as a provocative call to untaming, queering, and radicalizing feminist thought and practice today.”

While I’m on-board conceptually with resisting the domestication of feminism and queer theory, there’s a lot of language that’s unfamiliar to me. Nonetheless, I love it!


FLIP YOUR FEED: I mentioned last week I read the conservative press and that in Twitter you can create lists without actually following the accounts. Since then I’ve added FlipFeed from MIT Media Lab researchers.

“FlipFeed is a Google Chrome Extension that enables Twitter users to replace their own feed with that of another real Twitter user. Powered by deep learning and social network analysis, feeds are selected based on inferred political ideology (“left” or “right”) and served to users of the extension. For example, a right-leaning user who uses FlipFeed may load and navigate a left-leaning user’s feed, observing the news stories, commentary, and other content they consume. The user can then decide to flip back to their own feed or repeat the process with another feed.”


THERE’S A LAW FOR THAT: Newsletters are a thing again. I started adding some to my email feed about six months ago. Laws of the Universe by Chris Spurgeon is one I can happily recommend.

“The universe is unimaginably vast and mysterious — unfathomably unfathomable. For millennia we humans have been trying to make sense of it all. But every once in a while — very rarely in the grand scheme of things — someone figures out how a tiny, tiny bit of the universe works. Through this newsletter I celebrate these discoveries, and the people they’re named after.”

Here’s an example of the type of content in the newsletter – Maillard reaction. And the archive for more examples.


PERIODICALLY: The American Society of Magazine Editors announced their best-of-the-year finalists here. Categories include best feature writing, best reporting, best websites, best photography, best design, as well as general excellence. The winners are here. Congratulations to Mother Jones for winning Magazine of the Year!


GOOD NEWS FOR YERTLE?: A Florida Everglades full of giant pythons is the new reality. At this point it is unlikely the invasive species can be removed. However, that may mean a resurgence of turtles.

“Where pythons prevailed, the nests were less-disturbed, as would be expected in the near-absence of egg-loving raccoons and opossums. This suggests a possibly turtle-rich future for the Everglades, and is also emblematic of the indirect, cascading consequences of the pythons’ rise.”


OUR CREEPY PRESENT: Should we grow human organs inside pigs?

“Still, the scientists call the work a first step toward “human organ generation” in barnyard animals. Tens of thousands of people die each year awaiting organ transplants.”


WORD OF THE DAY: Algocracy — Rule by algorithm. See The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation by John Danaher and Technologically Coded Authority: The Post-Industrial Decline in Bureaucratic Hierarchies by Aneesh Aneesh.

via Danaher: “…we may be on the cusp of creating a governance system which severely constrains and limits the opportunities for human engagement, without any readily available solution.”

This substantive PEW Research Center report (Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age) paints a grim future scenario of a world governed by algorithms. It’s already here, it’s just not widely distributed. But, the pace is accelerating. Grab the .pdf of the whole report here.


KILLER APP: Of course, algorithms aren’t all bad. They may help catch serial killers.

“What Hargrove has managed to do goes a few orders of magnitude beyond that. His innovation was to teach a computer to spot trends in unsolved murders, using publicly available information that no one, including anyone in law enforcement, had used before.”


KIND WOMEN: I love this meditation on the difference between ‘nice girls’ and ‘kind women’. Nice Girls vs. Kind Women


THE ELUSIVE ABBIE: Abbie the dog hates having her picture taken. Here’s a rare candid shot.


MOLLY: No editorial today, instead this from Molly Ivins.

“So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.”

Sunday Spectacle: This Machine Reads Your Mind Edition (5Feb2017)

Here’s all the non-political that caught my attention last week. The political round-up will be posted Wednesday.

STORY UPDATE: I reached my goal of 3,000 words this week. The sentences still need a lot of help, and I don’t quite have the voice yet, but by yesterday I was starting to hear it better. Today I’m editing the sections I wrote this past week. Writing during the week is going to a challenge, but I anticipated that, which means weekend writing will become even more important. The outline is working great so far and making it easy to meet my word count.


FEWER GARDENS, MORE SHIPWRECKS: Since I moved to Florida humanity’s relationship to seas, oceans, and rivers has become much more meaningful. Geoff Manaugh points out that for most of human history we have been a maritime culture, but this has been omitted from our myths and religions.

“But what strange, aquatic world of gods and monsters might we still be in thrall of today had these pre-Edenic myths been preserved—as if, before the Bible, there had been some sprawling Lovecraftian world of coral reefs, lost ships, and distant archipelagoes, from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia?

“Seen this way, even if only for the purpose of a thought experiment, human history becomes a story of the storm, the wreck, the crash—the distant island, the unseen reef, the undertow—not the farm or even the garden, which would come to resemble merely a temporary domestic twist in this much more ancient human engagement with the sea.”


HUMOR: You should probably be reading Reductress.

Sexy Outfits That Will Tell Your Boyfriend, ‘I’m Tired of Going to Breweries’

“So you’re in a relationship with a man. Good for you! But every relationship comes with its own set of problems, and for you it’s that your boyfriend is dragging you to breweries every weekend. You could tell him directly that breweries are only fun sometimes and you’d rather do something a little more fun and fanciful, but why not show him instead? Here are five of the sexiest, most seductive outfits that will communicate, ‘I’m overdressing for this occasion because I’d rather be somewhere else.'”


CANCER APP: An app for detecting skin cancer may be closer than you think.

“Although this algorithm currently exists on a computer, the team would like to make it smartphone compatible in the near future, bringing reliable skin cancer diagnoses to our fingertips.”


UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGY 3D PRINTABLE DRONES: You can 3D print your own underwater drone. The design was developed for archaeologists, but anyone who needs a roving camera underwater will soon be able to get their own.

“One of the most pertinent features of the ArcheoRov is that the design is open source, so anyone with a 3D printer and a love for things under the sea is able to access it and build their own ArcheoRov.”


MOON DAYDREAM: Speaking of drones, in my fantasy world there are thousands of remote-control robots on the moon that anyone with an internet connection can remote control. Tune in and drive the robot around the moon and look through its eyes and pick up rocks with its little arms. Play moon games with the other remote controlled robots.


MY WIFE THE HATER: A new dating app launching this week matches people based on hating the same stuff.

The app—which officially launches February 8—presents users with 2,000 topics that they can say they love, hate, like, dislike, or feel totally neutral on, then matches people up by grouping them by their mutual dislikes.

They point to work by “some psychologists” to support their idea that this will work. One of the psychologists is Dr. Jennifer Bosson who is sitting beside me now. (Interpersonal chemistry through negativity:Bonding by sharing negative attitudes about others.)


ELECTRONIC TELEPATHY: Great news for people with locked-in syndrome, a way to communicate. Wait, computers read minds now? Reached Via a Mind-Reading Device, Deeply Paralyzed Patients Say They Want to Live


HEAVENS TO MURGATROYD: Great interview with Mark Russell, the creator of the re-booted Flintstones. In the course of the interview he mentions that he will also be rebooting Snagglepuss as a “gay Southern Gothic playwright.”

“I envision him like a tragic Tennessee Williams figure; Huckleberry Hound is sort of a William Faulkner guy, they’re in New York in the 1950s, Marlon Brando shows up, Dorothy Parker, these socialites of New York from that era come and go.”