Art, Technology

The Night Tanya Tucker Came to Hopewell

July 28, 2017

A We saw Tanya Tucker play in Hopewell, Virginia, about a 30-minute drive out of Richmond. What was in Hopewell? Not a lot, it looked from the town as we drove in as the sun was going down. It is one of those many small towns in the U.S. that were vibrant a century ago, but whose picturesque storefront shops look sadly empty these days, their main streets quiet of the activity they so richly deserve. Click to Read More...

All Kinds of Time

July 04, 2017

A Our understanding of time has always been closely intertwined within culture. This is the basic premise of Frank Adam's book "About Time." The idea requires a close reading of both history and our understanding of time, which has changed and grown more exacting through the centuries. Adam follows this very closely through the centuries, though loses focus somewhat as he enters into the modern era. Click to Read More...

I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler: Favorite Songs From 2016

January 02, 2017

My #1: "Light of Day," Aubie Sellers (New City Blues) I didn't really think of this as the song from 2016 that would define the year for me, but it ended up being the one I played the most in my spare moments. And it does fit the year's events, both personally and politically. It's a midnight ride through the swamps, the insistent beat urging you to push forward, because that way is the only way... Click to Read More...

Women Singers in Country Music: The Gregarious Patsy Cline

December 18, 2015

An Patsy Cline, in today's parlance, gave zero fucks.

I feel a certain kinship to Cline, if only because I attended the same school she did, Gore Elementary, 12 miles west of Winchester, Virginia (though I attended 30 years after she did). Back up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, Gore is a tiny unincorporated town, mostly a few buildings coalescing around a single road breaking off Route 50.

Many of the refined folk in the nearby metropolis of sorts, Winchester, had looked down on Patsy Cline, as being from the wrong side of the tracks, even after she became famous. Click to Read More...

Grand Funk: "We're an American Band"

October 24, 2015

Grand For three minutes in 1973, Grand Funk Railroad were the smartest kids in the room, with their hit song "We're an American Band."

GFR got its start in Flint Michigan, just up Route 75 from Detroit,a city where, at the time, a band couldn't BUT to learn rock n' roll. The prog-rockers could wallow in the studios and confabulate imaginary musical worlds, but GFR would slog from town to town and boogie HARD every night so everyone across the land can party down. They were lousy songwriters, but for whatever reason, the Flint lunkheads hit this one out of the park. Amurika!

Bet Freddie King still them at poker though. Click to See the Video!

The Day Vehicles Started Driving Themselves

September 29, 2015

Behind By 2020, it has been estimated, as many as 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road. Though optimistic, the prediction seems plausible enough: Google is making amazing strides in its self-driving prototype, and BMW, Mercedes, and Tesla are already adding self-driving features into their autos.

Remember, if you will, that not all that long ago the very idea of a self-navigating vehicle was mostly the stuff of SciFi. It certainly seemed fairly preposterous in 2004, when I had the opportunity to witness the first-ever autonomous vehicle race, held in the Mojave Desert, by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA). So it was remarkable then that the winning vehicle had managed to travel was 7.4 miles on its own, just as it is remarkable today how quickly these robot vehicles have evolved since then. Here is my account of that day. Click to Read More...

Routine and Rebellion in Software Versioning

September 26, 2015

How While everyone probably agrees a consistent numbering scheme for software releases is a Good Thing, there are those software and package managers who flout the largely agreed-upon conventions of numerical versioning, either out of ignorance or of a willful disregard. This is the subject of Sentimental Versioning where Dominic Tarr seems to both hold in awe and at the same time subtly mock the singularly odd versioning schemes of a few software packages, such as Node.js and Tex.

Draw inspiration from the way their version numbers express intangible aspects of the project, and are a work of art on their own, Tarr writes, maybe in jest, maybe not. Click to Read More...

There is no Now, Universally Speaking

September 23, 2015

How One problem humans have is that they are only hard-wired for local time. For hundreds of thousands of years, we have carried around with us the notion that it is the same time wherever we go--Noon is when the sun is directly overhead.

This was not a problem until about a hundred years ago, when the railroads started ferrying people between different cities, each of which had a slightly different definition of what time it was. It proved to be such a dilemma that it spurred Albert Einstein to start thinking about the problem. His solution? The Theory of Relativity. Read More!

The Dark Music of 9/11

September 11, 2015

How The gradual but inevitable dissolution of William Basinski's Disintegration Loop 1.1 -- a brief, ancient tape loop is literally falling to pieces with each repeated play -- is heartbreakingly beautiful. And the hour-long single-shot video of the smoke that just continued to billow up so many hours after the WTC collapses captures, for me, the dark undercurrent of what September 11, 2001 felt like. Click to Read More...

The Portraits of John Sargent

August 26, 2015

The We have grown so accustomed to the idea of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, who remained young while his portrait aged in an attic, that its opposite now seems striking. But the portraits that John Sargent (1856-1925) painted maintain such a freshness that it is somewhat jarring to think that all of his subjects have long since passed on. Click to Read More...

The Surprisingly Short History of Women Singers in Country Music

July 10, 2015

A A few months back, a country radio consultant remarked that "If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out." The comment ignited a brief wave of indignation. This is 2015, after all! But the comment was just the latest example of how country music marginalizes women, a tradition as old as the genre itself, and one that singers from Kitty Wells to Miranda Lambert have fought against through song and their presence, I've learned. Click to Read More...

Gravity, Not Entropy, May Propel Time Forward

June 23, 2015

How Time, as we experience it, moves only in one direction, forward, by our vantage. Eggs break, we get old, etc. Conventional wisdom says time is the measure of decay, or entropy, or the Second Law of Thermodynamics, to get progressively STEM-y about the matter.

But what is peculiar about time's pointy forward momentum is that there is no reason why time's arrow just as easily couldn't point back in the other direction, creating a reverse-time world where we only grow younger, more beautiful, dumber.

Now here's a fella, Flavio Mercati, askin' what if entropy didn't drive time forward after all -- what if gravity did? Click to Read More...

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