Grace Slick

grace slickSpooky intelligence and challenging eroticism.

dinosaurspen: Univac DCT 2000


Univac DCT 2000


October 29, 2014

October 29, 2014

There were many films shown on my flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles. I have a hard time sleeping, so instead I treat myself to a film orgy of sorts.  The flight has interesting film programming.  For instance, they had a tribute to Eddie Constantine, which I think was kind of obscure but really great at the same time.  I of course have seen “Alphaville,” but people forget his other films, such as “La môme vert-de-gris” and “Ça va harder.” It is a nine-hour flight, so I could watch those two films, but also they had the oddest programming ever on a plane: a Joseph Goebbels film retrospective.  They screened “The Eternal Jew” and “Jud Süß” (“Süss the Jew”) both of course being highly controversial films - and especially showing them in-flight.   The other odd film they showed was just footage of Akiko Kojima winning the Miss Universe crown in 1959.  That event took place in Long Beach, California.  A city that is not far off from my home in Los Angeles.

There was an uproar at the time, because many didn’t believe Kojima had measurements of 37-23-38 inches (94-58-96cm).  Some were convinced Kojima had undergone breast surgery, but she strongly denied taking such actions to win the Miss Universe contest.  She was also the first woman from Asia to win such a prize in the Miss Universe pageant.  The combination of watching the films and not being able to sleep had a profound effect on me.  Especially watching such a hateful film like “Süss the Jew.” Nevertheless I find myself back in Los Angeles, feeling woozy and not sure where my culture is heading.

La môme vert-de-gris” was the first Eddie Constantine film, that also featured a character that he was famous for, by the name of Lemmy Caution. It is said that his character always approached a beautiful woman with a glass of whisky in one hand and a cigarette in the other.   I had thought of myself in that mold, while dreaming away in front of my small screen on someone’s backseat.  In the end of the flight, I was for sure taken by Eddie’s approach to the detective life, but felt quite alienated by the Goebbels’ retrospective.  Nevertheless I find myself back in Los Angeles, feeling woozy and not sure where my culture is heading towards.  Perhaps it marks the end of one era, and the start of another.

La nuit américaine (François Truffaut, 1973)

La nuit américaine (François Truffaut, 1973)


shihlun: R.I.P. Donatas Banionis (28 April, 1924 – 4 September,…


R.I.P. Donatas Banionis (28 April, 1924 – 4 September, 2014)




scorpiondagger: if you like this GIF, check out the Augemented…


if you like this GIF, check out the Augemented Reality book full of them!


oldloves: Barry & Glodean White just can’t get…


Barry & Glodean White

just can’t get enough of your love…


@Matt_Macklin7: “The latest in live cross technology. Pic via…

@Matt_Macklin7: “The latest in live cross technology. Pic via Instagram.”


The Unconquerable (18)

macinnesAnna Braun



pjgoring: LUV ANGLE




Pacific Standard Time starting October 30, 2014 (with post number 302)

Quick note. I'm leaving Tokyo and be in Los Angeles tomorrow. That means post number 302 will be up Pacific Standard Time (PST) around 11:00 A.M. and in the East 2:00, and in Asia 16 hours later. I want to thank everyone in Tokyo for making me feel like this is my real home. From the future, I go back to the drought, the harsh sunlight, and uncertain future. In other words, traveling back to the past. arigato Shimada and Meguro-ku, Tokyo, Japan  - Tosh Berman.


October 28, 2014

October 28, 2014

Before I start writing I have a slightly ambiguous feeling: happiness is a special excitement because unhappiness is always possible a moment later.” I pick up the pen, knowing I’m going to go down in that rabbit’s hole and god knows how I’ll get out of here.  Dead.   I’ll open my eyes and find myself in Soho London, and I’m sitting in a private member’s drinking club called “The Colony Room, ” not far from Francis Bacon’s table.  I have always been fearful about approaching his table, because that gentleman has a tongue.  A tongue that can strip the varnish off my soul, and therefore I would stand there naked.  Within seconds, he will know that I’m a fraud.   Most people I know would take a lifetime to sniff out my charlatan soul - but Francis, can smell deceit as if he was dining in a Bank of America board meeting.  Here in The Colony Room, I for sure stand out, compared to the regular clientele.  

The music they play here is mostly The Shadows, and I for one, always enjoy a good foot-tapper without hearing someone singing.  I briefly met Hank Marvin (the lead guitarist for The Shadows) here, and it seems he was friendly with Francis, but then again, a lot of people were… except me.  I'm a member of this drinking club, due not to money, but influence.  I bring customers who will eventually become long-term (financial) members of this club.  That, and that alone is the only reason why Francis Bacon will tolerate me.  As a favor to the master of the club, Muriel Belcher, Bacon kept his claws off my flesh and ego - but I can see through his eyes, to his very soul, that he would like to insult me in public.  I wear my vulnerability as one wears a coat in the winter season.  I don’t want to take it off for fear of being criticised by the master.  

Another lad who comes by here is Wayne Fontana, who had a band called The Mindbenders, and they had a hit “Game of Love.” Of all the citizens who land here, Wayne is the one I can chat with, and not being worried about my self.   Perhaps because he was even lower than me, in Bacon’s eyes.  Wayne tends to a nut job.  He once filed bankruptcy and somehow got himself arrested for pouring gasoline in a bailiff’s car, while the bailiff was still in his vehicle.  He had to serve some time in a nuthouse, but now it seems everything is OK.   Wayne is a reader, and he is aware of my books - especially the one I wrote on Sparks.   I think he is very interested in the thought that maybe I would be willing to write a book about him and his music career.  Which is so far from my interest at this point, but I never told him that.  I find it best that when one wants something from you, your duty is to be able to delay it as long as possible.  The best technique is not to say no, and allow a strong “maybe.” That way, they won’t give up on you, thinking you will come through in some fashion.  He just released a record, as single I think, called “Pamela Pamela.” I don’t like it. In fact no one in the club here likes it.  But I just acknowledge that he has that record, and I never comment on it. 

“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.” I travel these parts of Soho, well, mostly at The Colony Room, and I know I need to keep my own time, my own world, and not claim this world for myself, because it is really not mine.  “If you asked me who I am, the only answer I could give with any certainty would be my name.  For the rest: my loves, my hates, down even to my deepest desires, I can no longer say whether these emotions are my own, or stolen from those I once so desperately wished to be. ”

At that minute I looked around the bar, and I caught Francis’ eyes, and he looks at me with no thought or emotion behind it.  I knew at that point that this will be the last time that I’ll be here in the club.  So I headed for the stairs, and before I went down, I did a quick look around, and thought to myself “Goodbye.” 


The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your…

The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed | WIRED

Baybayan is part of a massive labor force that handles “content moderation”—the removal of offensive material—for US social-networking sites. As social media connects more people more intimately than ever before, companies have been confronted with the Grandma Problem: Now that grandparents routinely use services like Facebook to connect with their kids and grandkids, they are potentially exposed to the Internet’s panoply of jerks, racists, creeps, criminals, and bullies. They won’t continue to log on if they find their family photos sandwiched between a gruesome Russian highway accident and a hardcore porn video. Social media’s growth into a multibillion-dollar industry, and its lasting mainstream appeal, has depended in large part on companies’ ability to police the borders of their user-generated content—to ensure that Grandma never has to see images like the one Baybayan just nuked.
So companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on an army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us. And there are legions of them—a vast, invisible pool of human labor. Hemanshu Nigam, the former chief security officer of MySpace who now runs online safety consultancy SSP Blue, estimates that the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook.

Get Primed!

PrimerLogoJoe Alterio's great new story-telling project.

Toto Koopman

toto thumbA gamine beauty with a fearless personality.

oldloves: Tanya Tucker & Glen Campbell, 1980


Tanya Tucker & Glen Campbell, 1980


Teaching edition

Posting around here has been sparse due to excessive other demands, so I thought I'd just give a glimpse into what I've been up to. Yesterday taught a favorite novel, Amelia Alderson Opie's Adeline Mowbray: or The Mother and Daughter. Today, another really wonderful and underrated novel, William Wells Brown's Clotel: Or, The President's Daughter. (Titling coincidence merely serendipitous - but see Franco Moretti's argument about direct and indirect articles in "Style, Inc."!)

Here's the critical reading assigned in addition to the novel for tonight's lecture (which I am still in the process of writing):

#Ann duCille, “Where in the World is William Wells Brown? Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the DNA of African-American Literary History,” American Literary History 12:3 (2000): 443-462
#Jonathan Senchyne, “Bottles of Ink and Reams of Paper: Clotel, Racialization, and the Material Culture of Print,” in Early African American Print Culture, ed. Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 140-158
#Saidiya Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts,” Small Axe 26 (2008): 1-14

And here's the assignment students will write for seminar this week. It is the last of four short assignments that they write as they build up to working on a final essay that will include both close reading and critical argument; it is designed to let students practice skills as well as coming to a deeper understanding of the novel itself.

Please write answers to the following questions.

1. One of the critical essays you read for this week offers this overview of critical assessments and interpretations of Clotel:

The runaway slave’s mastery of neoclassical diction, which some see as little more than a flaunting of his educational attainments, is for other readers a subversive deployment of the King’s English to tell the slave’s story. What one critic views as structural chaos, another sees as a creative appropriation of multiple forms – from the oral tradition of the slave narrative to the sentimental emplotments of women’s fiction. Where one sees only the bourgeois pretensions of the black middle class, another finds an “informed use of folklore” that offers an insider’s view of the plantation system[.] (Ann duCille, “Where in the World Is William Wells Brown? Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the DNA of African-American Literary History,” American Literary History 12:3 [2000]: 443-462; 456)

a. Make a list of three to five of the novel’s most conspicuous formal or stylistic traits (you can include the three that duCille isolates here, only I would like you to describe them in your own words and in as factual or descriptive a manner as possible).

b. Then offer at least two possible arguments concerning the way each particular trait works in the novel. Make sure that these arguments are formulated so as to satisfy the implicit expectations we have of interpretation: not just what the trait involves or how it works, but also what it’s for or why it matters.

2. Near the end of the essay, duCille writes: “When all is said, done, and disposed of—the borrowing, overplotting, preaching, and propagandizing—the real problem with Clotel lies in the particular slippery nature of Brown’s brand of realism, which both deploys and denies the documentary impulse that drives the reading, if not the writing, of African-American literature” (458).

a. Write a paragraph or two that first paraphrases and then amplifies or illuminates this critical assertion. What does duCille have in mind when she lists borrowing, overplotting, preaching, and propagandizing as crucial elements of Clotel? Give specific examples; you can refer back to your answer to question 1 if you feel you’ve already touched on some of the relevant details.

b. What does it mean to say that this novel’s “brand of realism . . . both deploys and denies the documentary impulse”? Pick that statement apart by explaining what duCille means by “the documentary impulse” and identifying where it can be seen in Brown’s novel – three or four examples will do. Then consider what it means to make a distinction between deployment and denial in this context.

3. One obvious oddity of Brown’s novel is that though it regularly invokes real historical incidents, the timeline/chronology is distorted: there are a number of internal contradictions as well as departures from real historical chronology. What are the effects of these contradictions and anomalies? What do they tell us about the novel’s mode of representation? Offer a thesis and support it with specific examples.

4. Jonathan Senchyne uses the phrase “strategically edits” to describe what one chapter in Clotel does to and with Lydia Maria Child’s story “The Quadroons” (“Bottles of Ink and Reams of Paper: Clotel, Racialization, and the Material Culture of Print,” in Early African American Print Culture, ed. Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, 140-158; 157). That phrase itself represents a kind of argument about Brown’s fictional practice. Use the phrase “strategically edits” as the jumping-off point for a fuller description of what it means and why it matters when Clotel borrows and adapts another literary text.

5. When I lecture on Clotel on Tuesday evening, I will consider some questions about the advantages and limitations of close reading as a method for getting a grasp on novels. In some ways, Clotel is very different from, say, Emma (it’s more like Paradise Lost in the sense that it would be perverse to read it without considering questions of history and politics). But it remains important, I would say, to attend closely to the novel’s narrative voice. Find a two- to four-sentence stretch that you think can fairly stand in for the novel’s narrative voice more generally. Then write a paragraph characterizing that narrative voice. What do we know about the narrator? What are the predominant traits of the narrative voice? Make sure to consider intellectual, affective (emotional) and political dimensions as well as more narrowly stylistic ones.

Radium Age: Context (12)

6701036627_f5d88127f4_zOrange, Mass. — in the future. Dammit.

Why I’m voting no on the Wisconsin transportation referendum

All attention is focused on Mary Burke and Scott Walker, so I didn’t even realize there’s a state ballot proposition in next week’s election.  And it’s not a trivial one, either.

Question 1: “Creation of a Transportation Fund. Shall section 9 (2) of article IV and section 11 of article VIII of the constitution be created to require that revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a transportation fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin’s transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund?”

Mary Burke supports this.  So does Governor Walker.  The bill to put the referendum on the ballot was passed by large majorities of both houses.  “Yes on 1″ has an organized campaign and a snappy website; as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as “No on 1.”

But I’m voting no.  I don’t expect every dime of people’s property taxes to support upkeep of residential infrastructure.  I don’t think the sales tax should be restricted to promoting Wisconsin retail.  I think money is money and it’s the job of the legislature, not the constitution, to decide how money can best be raised and where in the state it’s most needed.

The amendment prevents gas taxes and vehicle registration fees from being used to fund schools and hospitals and police, but it doesn’t prevent other revenue sources from being raided to fund our highways and bridges.  And that’s what’s actually happening right now; the current administration takes $133 billion from the general fund to fund transportation in the current budget.  I’m not sure why transportation, out of all state projects, ought to enjoy a special status:  allowed to draw money from the general fund, but constitutionally prohibited from releasing any back.

The Yes on 1 FAQ points out that many states around the country have constitutional language enforcing segregation of the the transportation fund.  I looked at a few of these, and it’s true!  But those provisions are of a rather different nature.  California’s constitutional provision requires that 25% of the money go to public transportation.  In Minnesota, it’s 40%.  Our referendum has no such restriction, requiring only that the money go to things funded by the DoT.  The Yes on 1 FAQ points out, correctly, that “Wisconsin’s segregated transportation fund is the sole source of state funding for the entire transportation system – highways, air, rail, transit, harbors, bicycle and pedestrian facilities.”  Pretty weak sauce — the fund will not be prohibited from funding other forms of transportation.  Unless an enterprising governor splits off transit into a separate department, that is.  (Ohio’s Constitution, by the way, already forbids gas taxes and license fees from aiding mass transit.)

The amendment establishes one class of spending and taxing as privileged above all the rest.  It shouldn’t be part of our state constitution.












October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” The world I live in, can only be bearable if you are polite to others.  Politeness should be the rule of every home and structure, where you show consideration and encouragement to others.  One can express an opinion, but only if you state it with facts and present your idea in such a manner that won’t offend the other.   One can argue for an atrocity, but be kind to those who may disagree with you.  I may disagree with you, but I will with the last breath of my life, defend your right to say what you know.  On the other hand, if you don’t “know, ” then I have the right to shove my fist down your diseased throat.

“A gentleman does not boast about his junk.” If you are going to praise yourself, be careful in how you proceed in doing so.  One can’t take over a house with their work, because perhaps one’s work is not worth the space that is taken.  As one knows, space is limited.  We have to respect the limitations of actual footage and space in a room, as well as having a healthy respect for limits.  If one goes beyond the limit, then that can be regarded as bad manners.    In that case, I have the right to pour gasoline over your work, and throw in a match as one leaves that space.

“In popular houses where visitors like to go again and again, there is always a happy combination of some attention on the part of the hostess and the perfect freedom of the guests to occupy their time as they choose.” When I go to your home, as a guest, I expect politeness and kindness.  In return, I won’t slash your couch with a blade, or throw paint on the walls.  Nor will I tie up and torture your children.  I won’t rape your wife, or take the dog for a walk in the park, and only return with a leash.  I promise to be considerate when you show your pride in your work.  I won’t demean you and your time that you spent on making that piece of shit.

“The letter we all love to receive is one that carries so much of the writer’s personality that she seems to be sitting beside us, looking at us directly and talking just as she really would, could she have come on a magic carpet, instead of sending her proxy in ink-made characters on mere paper.” This I promise you my dear talentless friend, I’ll write about your failures as if it's honey directly from a bee.  This letter is unsigned, but you know who it is from.  Even though you’ll never admit it, because you can’t understand how one can hate so much, yet get so much pleasure from it. I’m a happy man, and I’m happy because you’re a total idiot.  Your failure is my whip cream on top of a chocolate milk shake.

“Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette.” And that is why I choose to destroy you. Inch-by-inch, and then yard-by-yard. I’ll make sure that you started off with nothing, given something, and then taken away - which will leave you with nothing.  I want to give you the taste of the greatest gratification, so I can remove that pleasure and watch you suffer.  You’re such a child.  Not the well-behaved intelligent sweet beautiful child, but totally the opposite.  You smell of and breed shit.  My version of porn is watching you approach failure again and again, and enjoying your frustration, fears and your need for therapy.   But the cherry on the top is when you even fail your therapy session.  The doctor gave up on you.  Your dog gave up on you.  Your worthlessness is my perfume.  My pleasure is your depression.  The angels on your shoulder are not what you think they are. When you walk, you walk alone.

Remember “we are making war for civilization, are we not? Very well, we are. Therefore, we eat in a civilized way.” and therefore you’ll never eat at our table.  Bye-bye my little useless piece of dishonorable shit.

icancauseaconstellation: unknown author


unknown author





ufansius: Niagara Falls – Valerie Hegarty


Niagara Falls - Valerie Hegarty



The saddest sight I ever saw was in a Montmartre boîte at about 5 o’clock of an autumn morning. At a table in the corner of a hall sat three young American girls, quite unattended, adventurously seeing life for themselves. In front of them, on the table, stood the regulation bottle of champagne;…


Code-X (39)

ore-idaStraight Off the Farm

October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” I knew if I waited, I’ll lose the opportunity.   The one thing I can’t afford right now is to lose that opportunity.  I see there was a beautiful girl on the street, and she’s wearing a short skirt, where you can see the top of her stockings and the bare thigh before the dress trim.  Some think that the most erotic woman is a naked one, but for me that one part of the leg being shown is truly the essence of eros.  The sweet science is not a boxing match, but the sight of such desire as one roams the streets of Shinjuku looking for an inexpensive meal.  And I can’t find the right restaurant, mostly due to my lack of Japanese, but clearly I can find my desire, because I will it to be done.   I just have to keep in mind that “every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” So I went up to her to strike up a conversation.

When I approached her, she was reading her cell phone.  I said “excuse me, I’m not from here, and I am looking for a place to have dinner.”  I said this in English, because one, I wanted to let her know that I’m of course a foreigner and was desperately looking for a place to eat, and two, not knowing if she speaks English or not, I would know right away by my direct question.  She answered me directly “what kind of food do you like.” I told her anything Japanese, but also it was the one type of food I know nothing about.   I suffer extreme shyness, but when I approach someone from another part of the world, or culture, I feel brave.  “Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind’s eye, and you will be drawn toward it.” With that helpful quote in mind, I continued: “If you have the time, can you lead me to a place and help me with the menu.” She said yes.  That was a surprise, and even though I first saw her as an object of my sexual needs, she suddenly became someone else.  A nice person.  A nice smiling person.  One of the things I like about Japanese people is that they don’t smile, unless they feel like smiling.  In the United States, especially Los Angeles, people smile at you all the time, even if they hate you.  But here in Japan, they don’t smile automatically, so once you do get the smile on their faces, you know it's genuine.

She started walking and I followed.  The streets were so crowded, and the neon was so bright, that the combination could make me lose her in the crowd. Nevertheless, being behind her, I focused my eyes on her thighs so not to lose her.  I think of the Jean Cocteau film “Orpheus” where the poet follows death through a maze.  It seemed that everyone was moving in slow motion, but she and I were moving in a regular fashion almost against the slow moving crowd.  For a moment, I was scared.  I didn’t know her, and she doesn’t know me. Yet here I’m following her to a destination knowing nothing of.  “We refuse to believe that which we don’t understand. ”

“When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity - regardless of what others may do - you are destined for greatness.” I just had to trust her, and think of her as a nice person, who by chance, also has lovely thighs.   But yes, when I walk through this sleepy city, I need to be open to new things, new possibilities, and in the night, everything looks so pretty.  I’m so tired to walk alone, and Shinjuku looks so pretty when you’re with someone.   She turns left to an alley, and I follow her up to a small staircase…

Andrei Bely

Bely-websiteThe mind and lived experience, interleaved!



 : : submission : :


Closing tabs

Rather grumpy about ongoing minor respiratory ailment. Had hoped I might be able to run for a bit today, but really I'm still hawking up huge gobs of disgusting phlegm, it will not do lungs any good to strain them with exercise! Behind on various work stuff, generally feeling rather low. (About to dig in on clearing some of these overdue tasks, which with any luck will lead to a feeling of considerable relief .)

Nice writeup of last week's Swift symposium. I had a very funny conversation afterwards with an elderly Irishman who was peculiarly vivid of conversation. He was excited to tell me that I was "a BORN LECTURER: BORN TO THE PODIUM" - also I used two words he was unfamiliar with, paratactic and hypotactic, which let him tell me a wonderfully complex multi-part anecdote about an alcoholic friend of his, now deceased, who was a great lover of language and once told this gentleman, when he used the word "creature" to describe a lady, "to refer himself to the discipline of the dictionary"! This is now a good new phrase in my repertoire. Said friend died in hospital of complications due to alcoholism, but on his deathbed sung this gentleman two songs which I promised I would go and hear online: one I think was "The Parting Glass," if I am remembering correctly, and the other was a Gaelic song whose title loosely translated into "Nobody knows her name" (various versions here). Some reciting of Yeats was also involved....

Fun to see this profile of an old friend in my Digg feed!

Jane Goodall's jungle.

The link B. sent me yesterday really did bring a smile to my face: the Shetland Pony Grand National!

Hasbrow (2)

hp photosmart 720"The scruffier your beard, the sharper you need to dress."

October 25, 2014

October 25, 2014

I was wandering around Iidabashi in Tokyo when I came upon a small movie theater.  They were showing “La Roue, ” which is a French silent film made in 1923.  It appears that they only show silent films in this theater, and the auditorium fits only six or seven people. I was the sole customer there.  You can hear the projector behind you, and as for sound, the projectionist actually hums various melodies through an ancient sound system in the theater.   The film is very long.  I lost count, but I think it lasted over nine hours, and I went there in the afternoon, and came out in the very late evening.  Yet, I couldn’t remove myself from my seat. I was struck by how odd it was to see this film here in Iidabashi, off a popular street, Kagurazaka-dori, that seems to lead to a Shinto shrine.

As I sat there, and losing track of time (and space) I was amazed with myself in that I could make a narrative out of this picture. The titles were all in French, a language that I don’t speak or read, and even that was odd since I was in Tokyo.   I was drawn here, due that it started to rain, and I wasn’t wearing proper clothing.  So for about ¥1000, I thought it was worth it, just to avoid the weather.  What appeared in front of my eyes changed my life forever.

It wasn’t the film itself, but more of my mental state, which to be honest, is not so good.  I’m on a track that is losing ground quickly. In fact, I even considered suicide.   But I haven’t the foggiest idea how one does that.  That point when you want to do it, yet I lack the proper skills in completing such a drastic act.  I even wrote a suicide note, and after finished writing it, I re-read it, and it made me laugh hysterically.  So, even that, I don’t really have the talent for the ‘death’ angle.   Iidabashi is a great neighborhood to wander, due to the shops and restaurants.   So many happy people here, maybe due that it’s Halloween and some are dressed in their favorite manga character.  My costume and role is someone in misery, but no one could tell my outfit whatsoever.  So yes, going into a movie theater with only that in my thoughts, send me to a world not of my making, but almost like Buster Keaton in “Sherlock Junior” I’m finding myself in the oddest landscapes, here in Tokyo.

After exiting the movie theater, I needed some food.  But no place was open. It was around 3 in the morning.  The subways and the JR train was closed down, so I walked towards the camel that runs through the area.  It is as at that point I thought I could throw myself into the water. I don’t swim, so I thought the combination of my lack of skills and nature itself will be perfectly compatible with each other.  Of course, I walked among the camel by practically falling down the hill to get there.   My initial thought, do I need stones to fill my pockets so I would be dragged down to the bottom of the canal?  I took my shoes off, and dipped my big toe in the water. It was cold!   Then I had the thought in my head of having my clothes wet, and how uncomfortable that would be as I’m drowning in the canal.  So I took my clothes off, and since I was in Tokyo, I decided to fold the clothing up very neatly.   There were no rocks around, just pavement.  Nevertheless I walked up to the canal and dived in. When I did that, I hit my head on the bottom, and immediately got up on my feet.  The water was just three feet.  It was cold as … I was about say hell, but that doesn’t seem appropriate for this sentence.   I got out, and put my clothes back on, and began to walk back to the movie theater.

The funny thing is I couldn’t find the theater.  It was gone! Then I started wondering if I somehow made this up in my sick mind.  More likely I couldn’t find it due to the combination of my despair and the winding streets of Iidabashi.  The amusing thing, at that very moment, I felt my life as being complete, and it didn’t matter if I killed myself or not.  What mattered to me is to find the film “La Roue” and somehow enter that world again.  But one can never go back home or their dream state.  We live only once, and the art of living is capturing that moment for one to come back to.   I did that, and now I can go on.

myjetpack: My book of cartoons ‘You’re All Just Jealous of my…


My book of cartoons ‘You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack’ is available now:
Other stockists and info at
(you can also buy prints there).


oldshowbiz: WABC tries to make you feel old and irrelevant


WABC tries to make you feel old and irrelevant


1. Produce defective cars 2. ? 3. Double profit!

“Profit Doubles at G.M., as It Strives to Move Past Its Litany of Recalls”:

General Motors’ quarterly earnings report on Thursday was noteworthy mostly for what it lacked: another big financial charge for safety recalls.

After running up special charges of nearly $3 billion in the first half of the year for safety problems, G.M., the nation’s biggest automaker, avoided additional charges for recalls in the third quarter.

While G.M. did incur $700 million in costs for fixing recalled vehicles during the quarter, the company had already booked those charges in previous periods….

By accounting for the bulk of its recall costs in the first half of the year, G.M. has turned a corner — at least financially — in its struggle to move beyond the worst safety crisis in its history.

So let me make sure I understand this:  GM is still blowing trainloads of cash fixing its mistakes, but they decided to declare that the money they’re spending now was actually spent earlier in the year, so that their official profit in the first half is below the real figure, and their official profit for the third quarter is above the real figure, and then they get a sunny headline in the New York Times saying they “doubled their profit?”

My grandfather the CPA would not approve.




The Fugitives (22)

fugitives thumbChapter XXII: Cape Town

October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

I often dream of having an identical twin brother.  As a child I used to play in front of a full-length mirror and pretended that the image was my twin.  It wasn’t out of loneliness, but more fascinated with my image being reproduced, and therefore a double image of me.   And now as an adult, I still have the same fascination with my image - especially when I walk by a mirror or a reflection off a store window.  I never told anyone this, because this type of behavior is usually not looked upon as something healthy.  Nevertheless it is something important to me at the very core of my being.   The only twins I have ever met were two beautiful women, who often appear in numerous stage shows in Los Angeles and beyond.  I once showed up at a meet-and-greet, at a comic book store, where they were promoting a video they made.  I approached one believing it was the one that I knew quite well, but I was wrong, it was her sister.  She caught my mistake and told me that "you got the wrong girl here."  She was sweet about it, but I was embarrassed about my mistake. For some reason, I wanted to be above of such a common error, but I failed miserably.

I was bullied a lot of times in school, both in elementary and high school, and I try to imagine my twin brother there, fighting off the goons and saving me from disgrace, and knowing that he looked like me, I could feel stronger.   This of course was a fantasy, but as the punches and hair-pulling happened, I imagine this throughout my beating.  It made me feel better, and the thought of that image, I never cried.  No matter how hard they hit me, or yelled insults.   With my imagination, I felt stronger than them.  It is probably why I’m a writer.  It is probably why I’m obsessed with the Kray twins.

Reginald and Ronald were from East London, and they started off as amateur boxers, and I have read that they often boxed against each other.  One can wonder if when they threw a punch onto the other, were they thinking they are brothers, or was it a punch toward their self-image.  I can imagine throwing a punch at the mirror image of me, but I would just end up with a cut-up bloody hand.   But here, you are infecting pain on one another.  It must have been an intense boxing moment or two.  Later on, they became the twin kings of London’s crime world.   It has been reported that they could communicate without speaking to each other.   Whatever this is quite true or not, it seemed to cause fear among their henchmen as well as their enemies.

Around the same time, Paul and Barry Ryan were making an appearance in the music world.  Paul wrote the songs and him and Barry performed them.  To my ears they sound like a weaker version of The Walker Brothers, but nevertheless seeing Barry and Paul on the same stage or even in photographs, unnerved me.  I think due to the fantasy I had to become a singer.  I couldn’t carry a tune if my (or your) life depended on it.  But if I was a singer, I of course would want to have an identical twin brother on the stage with me.   To look at each other while singing appears to be heaven.  Nevertheless, I’m torn between the two twin brothers.  I imagine that the Krays met the Barry twins, but I just wonder what their reaction would be like?   They could go out socially, with Ronnie ganging up with Barry, and Paul can be with Reg.  That, I think, would cause a spontaneous disturbance whenever they enter a nightclub or restaurant.  But the truth in the matter, is that if I had a choice, I would prefer the Krays.

When I’m alone, I feel powerless.   Yet, with an identical image with me, floating around yours truly, can be enticing and I imagine one would feel more powerful.  The Krays are all about power.  It’s not money or even a life of riches, but more of a show, or a theater performance.   The Krays, even though they’re criminals, they are more of a performer than say the Ryan boys.  They had a good understanding of “theater, ” and what it means to the people outside and inside their social circle.  The fact that both of them were reportedly brutal, adds a certain amount of shine to their image.   So being alone, bullied, and often feeling stupid. The Krays are immensely important to me.   Reg, Tosh, and Ron having a night out.

TOSH BERMAN reads and discusses his book of poetry THE PLUM IN MR BLUM’S PUDDING, with special guest RUTH BERNSTEIN

TOSH BERMAN reads and discusses his book of poetry THE PLUM IN MR BLUM'S PUDDING, with special guest RUTH BERNSTEIN

The Plum in Mr Blum's Pudding (Penny Ante Editions)
“My hours of leisure I spent in reading the best authors, ancient and modern, being always provided with a good number of books; and when I was ashore, in observing the manners and dispositions of the people, as well as learning their language; wherein I had a great facility, by the strength of my memory.”

- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding is Los Angeles native Tosh Berman’s first printed collection of poetry. In 1989, Berman left the United States behind, moving to Japan after learning his wife's (artist Lun*na Menoh) mother was ill in Kitakyushu. The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding was penned while both rapt and lost by this transition. Gracefully toiling between the quirky and earnest, these poems describe the liminal space of the foreigner caught between the strange and the familiar. The result is surreal and unclassifiable, a book of love poems overshadowed by isolation and underscored with curiosity and lust.

Originally published in 1990 by “Cole Swift & Sons” (Japan) as a small hardcover edition of two hundred copies, this new edition acts to preserve this work and features an introduction by art critic and curator Kristine McKenna and an afterword by Ruth Bernstein.

Tosh Berman is a publisher and writer. His press, TamTam Books, has published works by Boris Vian, Guy Debord, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Mesrine, artist Lun*na Menoh, and Ron Mael & Russell Mael (Sparks). He is the author of Sparks-tastic: 21 Nights with Sparks in London. As the son of artist Wallace Berman, Tosh has delivered talks and various essays toward furthering his late father’s artistic legacy including his influential folio series, Semina (1955–1964). He resides in Los Angeles.
Ruth Bernstein lives in Highland Park where she writes postcards and collects books.
Event date: 
Friday, November 21, 2014 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los AngelesCA 90027

Silas Johnson on weighted discriminants with mass formulas

My Ph.D. student Silas Johnson just posted his thesis paper to the arXiv, and it’s cool, and I’m going to blog about it!

How should you count number fields?  The most natural way is by discriminant; you count all degree-n number fields K with a given Galois group G in S_n and discriminant bounded in absolute value by B.  This gives you a value N_G(B) whose asymptotic behavior in B you might want to study.  The classical results and exciting new ones you’ve heard about — Davenport-Heilbron, Bhargava, and all that — generally concern counts of this kind.

But there are reasons to consider other kinds of counts.  I once had a bunch of undergrads investigate the behavior of N_3(X,Y), the number of cubic fields whose discriminant had squarefree part at most X and maximal square divisor at most Y.  This gives a more refined picture of the ramification behavior of the fields.  Asymptotics for this are still unknown!  (I would expect the main term to be on order X Y^{1/2}, but I don’t know what the secondary terms should be.)

One nice thing about the discriminant, though, is that it has a mass formula.  In brief:  a map f from Gal(Q_p) to S_n corresponds to a degree-n extension of Q_p, which has a discriminant (a power of p) which we call Disc(f).  Averaging Disc(f)^{-1} over all homomorphisms f gives you a polynomial in p^{-1}, which we call the local mass.  Now here’s the remarkable fact (shown by Bhargava, deriving from a formula of Serre) — there is a universal polynomial P(x) such that the local mass at p is equal to P(p^{-1}) for every P.  This is not hard to show for the tame primes p (you can see this point discussed in Silas’s paper or in the paper by Kedlaya I linked above) but that it holds for the wild primes is rather mysterious and strange.  And it certainly seems to ratify the idea that there’s something especially nice about the discriminant.  What’s more, this polynomial P is not just some random thing; it’s the product over p of P(p^{-1}) that gives the constant in Bhargava’s conjectural asymptotic for the number of number fields for degree n.

But here’s the thing.  If we replace G by a subgroup of S_n, there need not be a universal mass formula anymore.  Kedlaya (and Daniel Gulotta, in the appendix) show lots of examples.  The simplest example is the dihedral group of order 8.

All is not lost, though!  Wood showed in 2008 that you could fix this problem by replacing the discriminant of a D_4-extension with a different invariant.  Namely:  a D_4 quartic field M has a quadratic subextension L.  If you replace Disc(L/Q) with Disc(L/Q) times the norm to Q of Disc(L/M), you get a different invariant of M — an example of what Silas calls a “weighted discriminant” — and when you compute the local mass according to {\em this} invariant, you get a polynomial in p^{-1} again!

So maybe Wood’s modified discriminant, not the usual discriminant, is the “right” way to count dihedral quartics?  Does the product of her local masses give the right asymptotic for the number of D_4 extensions with Woodscriminant at most B?

It’s not at all clear to me how, if at all, you can cook up a modified discriminant for an arbitrary group G that has a universal mass formula.  What Silas shows is that having a mass formula is indeed special; when G is a p-group, there are only finitely many weighted discriminants that have one.  Silas thinks, and so do I, that this is actually true for every finite group G, and that some version of his approach will eventually prove this.  And he classifies all such weighted discriminants for groups of size up to 12; for any individual G, it’s a computation which can be made nicely algorithmic.  Very cool!






secretcinema1: Edith and Moth Flight, 2002, Emmet Gowin


Edith and Moth Flight, 2002, Emmet Gowin


installator: “Before opening, electrician Jaime Govea rides a…


"Before opening, electrician Jaime Govea rides a scissor-lift Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 through the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, looking for light bulbs to replace. At right is ‘Mao, 1973’ by Andy Warhol." (Chicago Tribune)





onecloudoftheroof: | Grouper |


| Grouper |


installator: “Hans Haacke, who dislikes having his face…


"Hans Haacke, who dislikes having his face photographed, at his show at the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea." (NYTimes)


fairy-wren: The sword-billed hummingbird, whose beak is longer…


The sword-billed hummingbird, whose beak is longer than its body (excluding its tail), makes a statement with its bill. Jan van der Greef, of the Netherlands, came across this standoff during a trip to Ecuador. The bird’s beak can reach nectar from long, tube-like flowers. This particular hummingbird (right) defended its favored red angel trumpet flowers and bird feeders, near the photographer’s lodge, from a territorial collared inca. (Photo credit: Jan van der Greef / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014.)


Josh’s Weekend

metalab-fixMaking appearances in Boston and Brooklyn

erdalinci: …detail from the piece Berliners .


…detail from the piece Berliners .


Hasbrow (1)

gijoe1JFK doppelganger

Is the two-Burke ballot the new butterfly ballot?

Scott Walker’s opponent takes on the WEDC:

BURKE:  One other area outside of that that people really should take a look at is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which was a nonprofit, public-private corporation created in 2011 which Governor Walker used to make himself the chair of. What’s most interesting is that Governor Walker’s experience in private business is in selling warranties for IBM and doing blood drives and fund-raising for the American Red Cross. While these are both worthy positions and individuals who do them obviously are working to build a life, that doesn’t give someone the experience necessary to make themselves a chair of a venture capital firm. Because that’s what it is. They’re giving away private taxpayer dollars to public businesses. We would end that practice.

Except that’s not Mary Burke; it’s Robert Burke, a lifelong Republican from Hudson who switched to the Libertarian party to run for governor.  Burke talks in the interview about how he hopes the “name recognition” — misrecognition? — he draws from the Mary Burke campaign will help him get votes.  The question is:  will he get votes from people who like libertarianism, or miscast votes that are actually meant for her?

Are you wondering whether Burke the Libertarian is running precisely in order to siphon votes from Burke the Democrat in this way?  I was, too, but I have to admit that the linked interview really does make him sound like a sincere libertarian dude who just found out Republicans dig market distortions as much as Democrats do.


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