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.

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