Epiphanies

Art, Technology

Photos: A Decade on Suydam Street, Bushwick

Sun, 31 Jul 2022

What Bushwick is like purgatory. You can have as much fun as you want, but you can not leave until you learn something important about yourself. I planted myself there as a tax dodge, when my new job would not let me use Maryland as a permanent address. But my first Brooklyn Airbnb host, Ginger, taught me the Airbnb racket so well (check those ratings!) that, in the decade that followed, I ended up making friends with people who stayed at my place from the world over. And one afternoon at Pearls, I randomly met Tania, who taught me how to love NYC, and all the mad people there. What a weird decade that was. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

A Compendium of Python Commands

Tue, 10 May 2022

A I love the Python programming language. It is the most intuitive of all the languages, I feel. After you use it awhile, you can pretty much guess the proper syntax for an operation, and you would probably be right. Still I need a handy reference guide from time to time. So here is a collection of basic Python operations, presented not so much as a form of instruction, but as a guide for quick consultation. I also cover the creation of lists and dictionaries, functions and file input and output. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

How to Spot a Revolution

Sat, 16 Apr 2022

A The first thing you notice is the anxiety, the growing frustration of small things not fitting together like they should, an unease that the things taught to you are not entirely true. Things are pretty well laid-out these days. But once there was a time when everything was possible, with different people trying out wildly different things. Over time, however, they converged on what is now known as The Way. For us here today, it is really just working out all the messy little details and edge cases around supporting The Way, with specialists talking to other specialists. But then someone discovers something. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Who is Up for Some Grinding? 19th Century Tennessee AgTech

Tue, 15 Mar 2022

The Just south of Nashville, the Tennessee Agriculture Museum is housed, understandably enough, in a barn. The main level is well-stocked with AgTech wonders from years gone by: mills, mechanical harvesters, a covered wagon and even a sheep treadmill. But like any barn, the upper level is the place for the best rummaging. Here, they stashed the gear they have not gotten around to fully displaying or even figuring out what to do yet, a bric-a-brac of primitive, discarded agricultural technology. The showcases of plows and cultivators alone are worth the climb. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

A Visit to the Home of William Faulkner

Tue, 22 Feb 2022

A Here are some photos from the Oxford Mississippi home of William Faulkner. He purchased this 1848 primitive Greek revival house in 1930, right before writing Light in August, a Southern Gothic novel that cemented his reputation as a literary writer. He named the home Rowan Oak, after the rowan tree, long a symbol of security and peace, and this place definitely has a calming feel about it. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Stage Dresses of Patsy Cline

Fri, 18 Feb 2022

The On stage, country music legend Patsy Cline often wore beautiful and uniquely-designed dresses sewed together by her mother, Hilda Hensley. The family grew up poor, in Winchester, Virginia, and her mom was a seamstress for the rich and elite of Winchester. So when Patsy started performing, it was natural for Hilda to assemble these dresses, often from designs by Patti herself, which were rich in fringes and rhinestones. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

E.O. Wilson and the Fight for Evolutionary Biology

Mon, 14 Feb 2022

A At the age of 13, Wilson was the first person to discover the presence of invasive fire ants within the U.S., by surveying a vacant lot near his home in Mobile Alabama. The pesky creatures had come, via cargo ship, from Brazil by the way of Argentina. In short, he was a naturalist, someone who observes the natural world, watching for all the changes there. So when Wilson first came to Harvard, it was as an outsider, a specimen-collecting prodigy who still needed education in some basics of biology. He arrived just in time to counter a revolution. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Low Cut Connie: The Last Great Rock n Roll Band in America?

Mon, 31 Jan 2022

Low Rode out a snowstorm last weekend to see this band and it was so worth it. The Philadelphia-based Low Cut Connie has my vote for best Rock n Roll band in America, a rightful heir to the gritty likes of the Iron City Houserockers or the J. Geils Band. Front man Adam Weiner is a hyperactive force of nature, a barroom Elton John and a friend to no piano. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

David Byrne: American Utopia

Sun, 09 Jan 2022

A No microphone stands, no drum riser, no video montages, no amp stacks: The American Utopia show from David Byrne is a very high tech and beautifully staged show that totally rethinks how live music should be presented. Everything had been stripped away from the stage except the necessary performers themselves, who had the room to physically express their music. At times, this percussive-heavy roving assemblage resembled a fractal marching band Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Powerful Grip Of Robert Gordon

Tue, 21 Dec 2021

Rockabilly I shook the hand of rockabilly legend Robert Gordon, after he played the Jesse Malin Christmas Show in the Bowery Ballroom in the Lower East Side, New York. Despite being well into his 70s, he still had a powerful grip, the grip of a farmer. I would not want to get into a ballroom brawl with him, even in his sunset years. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Magical Thinking and the Enlightenment

Sun, 19 Dec 2021

How Science wins out, if barely, and only because it actually works. By the 1500s, most people knew of the stars, if only because they were the basis of time-keeping and the calendar. They lost interest when the astronomy turned to the talk of numbers and formula. But this did not dim their view of what the movement of the stars could foretell, in their minds. And as long as the astrologers kept predicting dire outcomes, they would be proven right often enough in those turbulent times. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Restore a MySQL Database from a DigitalOcean Backup

Sun, 28 Nov 2021

How One limitation of using MySQL for home use is the lack of an undo button. One sloppy MySQL statement can wipe out an entire column of data, or so I found recently. And while MySQL has a variety of backup and restore mechanisms, they do not work if you do not actually use them. Fortunately, if you are using DigitalOcean droplets, I found that you can still restore a corrupted database, by this crude but nonetheless effective hack. Here is how. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Transcribed Greek Classics Begot Renaissance

Fri, 12 Nov 2021

A The 15th century humanists, as they came to be known, were obsessed with restoring, editing and evaluating ancient Greek texts. They rebelled against medieval schooling, which hammered on logic and theology, and instead sought the more exalted thinking of the Ancients. This work proved to be groundbreaking, for it led to serious contemplation of what Aristotle, Hippocrates and Ptolemy were actually saying, and how much of it was true. In effect, these evaluations were the seeds of original thought. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Inside the Museum of Jurassic Technology

Sun, 07 Nov 2021

A Photography in not permitted inside the Museum of Jurassic Technology, but in a sense it does not matter. Photos of the exhibits would be meaningless, if not a harmful source of information once escaped into the outside world. The proprietor, David Hildebrand Wilson, has little insight to offer regarding the contents of his museum, which occupies an unassuming Venice Boulevard townhouse in Culver City California, deep in the heart of Los Angeles. And even the most thorough of note taking -- The gift shop helpfully sells notebooks and heavyweight pens -- will still leave you wondering what you just saw, and what you thought you learned. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Habits: The Building Blocks of Success

Sun, 10 Oct 2021

A From small things, big things one day come, so argues James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits. Making major changes in your life require not so much great upheavals to the daily routine, but rather lots of small, concrete steps in the desired direction. Small changes in daily habits may not seem significant, but they are the compound interest of self-improvement -- or of self-destruction. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

When Duke Played Carnegie Hall

Mon, 06 Sep 2021

The The reviews that came in from the press on the debut of Duke Ellington's planned magnum opus were mixed at best. The highbrow classical music critics were less than impressed. Even the jazz critics skirted around the question of how much delight they took in the evening's signature piece, "Black, Brown, and Beige: A Tone Parallel to the History of the American Negro." The night, January 23, 1943 could not have provided a more well-articulated juncture between two worlds, the European-dominated "serious" classical music and the jazz sensibilities emerging from the dance floor with an entirely new set of aesthetics. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Railroads of My Youth

Mon, 09 Aug 2021

Photos If you were trainwatching in the late 1970s, especially in the northeast U.S., you never knew quite what you would see, thanks to the all bankruptcy-related railroad mergers at the time. It was an exciting time to be a railfan, it turns out, truly the twilight of the railroads as a major force in the country. The U.S. industrial era was drawing to a close. The great amounts of coal mined from the mountains were no longer needed to serve the factories in the Midwest. And the railroads were shrinking, fast. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Bushwick Friday Dinner: Birria Tacos and an Elote

Sat, 07 Aug 2021

Birria Friday night, I made dinner ($18) with a couple of offerings from Bushwick street vendors. The Red Tacos, or Birria Tacos, are a Mexican dish that seem to be catching on quickly in NYC, or at least in my neighborhood of Bushwick. The red tortillas for the fried birria tacos, quesabirrias and mulitas get their flavor from the drippings of the barbecued carnitas prepared for the dish. The accompanying consomme, into which you can dip your tacos, is also made from the drippings. So good. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Mako, the Templating Library for Python

Sat, 24 Jul 2021

Mako Mako is a template engine for Python. A Python program built to generate a HTML-formatted page can use Mako to populate data on that Web page, with the custom data added in that was generated or imported by Python itself. Here is how to use Mako to insert data, imported by Python, to a customized Web page. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

White Boy Summer 63

Thu, 22 Jul 2021

The Jan Berry, the mastermind behind Jan & Dean, was never an easy guy to lionize. He was the opposite of Brian Wilson, the shy mastermind behind the Beach Boys. Jan was ruthlessly ambitious, brash, outgoing high school jock, even bullying at times. He certainly enjoyed his share of white privilege, right up until he plowed his Vette into the back of a parked truck. And while The Beach Boys have become an institution of popular music, and even a part of the California mythos itself, Jan & Dean never could make the transition to more serious, sophisticated pop music. The fame of Jan & Dean took some weirdly dark turns, before shrinking unceremoniously from public view in the late 1960s. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Go with the Flow, Be Careful of the Water

Sat, 05 Jun 2021

Curious When you are supposed to go up, climb to the top of the highest tower. When you are supposed to go down, go down to the bottom of the deepest well. That was the advice offered by Mr. Honda, the deaf war veteran prophet in The Windup-Bird Chronicle published in 1998 by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. Do not resist the flow, but do not move when the flow is not there. And always, always be very aware of water. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Scotch and Fig Newtons

Sat, 22 May 2021

A I got a tip, from the checkout cashier at the Queens Trader Joes, that Fig Newtons go really, really well with Scotch, of all things. Who would have guessed? I vowed to try this, but I do not drink Scotch. I mean, who drinks Scotch? This rattled around in my head for a bit, until I ended up in a favorite Bushwick watering hole, with a favorite Bushwick bartender, Lucille, who put it to the empirical test. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

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...

		
		
		

Computers Can Never Be Held Accountable (Tech Notes, April 2021)

Fri, 30 Apr 2021

Tech This Month: The inherent complexity of asynchronous design; Why GitOps is not a good match for Kubernetes, The three constraints needed for algorithmic randomness; do we need HTTPS for everything? Prophets vs. scientists; Monkeys decomposing a monolith; The rate of change and the accumulation of change; And More! 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...

		
		
		

Starship Captains of Ecosystem Complexity (Tech Notes, March 2021)

Wed, 31 Mar 2021

Computer This Month: Starting a hyperscale hardware company for the enterprise; The indiscriminate data harvesting of Google; machine learning vs. reinforcement learning; what are feature stores; Netflix moves to a GraphQL Federation gateway; The unintended consequences of monitoring; CSS and Tailwind complexity; 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...

		
		
		

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