Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Kern Your Enthusiasm (22)

ComicSans copyJessamyn West on COMIC SANS

The Unconquerable (8)


The 1979 Houston Astros hit only 49 home runs

49 home runs! That’s nuts. They hit more triples than home runs. Their home run leader was Jose Cruz, who hit 9. In September they went 20 straight games without hitting a home run, the longest such streak in modern baseball. And that was after they went 15 games without hitting a rome run in July!

Must have been a pretty bad team, right? But no! They won 89 games and finished second, just a game and a half behind the Reds. That 15 game homerless streak in July? They went 11-4 in those games.

Joseph Beuys, The Silence [Das Schweigen], 1973 Five reels of…

Joseph Beuys, The Silence [Das Schweigen], 1973

Five reels of Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name (1963), galvanized; 4 cm x 38 cm dia.; Edition: 50 plus 10 h.c., ‘Beuys,’ numbering and title punch-stamped on metal plaques on reels.; Titles of reels: 1. COUGHING FIT – GLACIER +  2. DWARVES – ANIMALIZATION  3. PAST – VEGETALIZATION  4. TANK – MECHANIZATION  5. We are free GEYSER +; Publisher: Edition René Block, Berlin, and Multiples, New York; Catalogue Raisonné No.: 80

These five stacked reels of celluloid contain a full print of Ingmar Bergman’s film The Silence from 1963. Beuys had the reels galvanised in baths of zinc and copper, sealing in and ‘silencing’ their contents beneath a gleaming metal shell. Each bears a small metal tag, embossed with a pair of words. The first word refers to an event within the film, while the second conveys Beuys’s response to this occurrence.1

In stacking the five reels on top of one another, Beuys assembled one of his many sculptural batteries, which appear in a range of formats throughout his oeuvre. He conceived these structures as devices for storing and transmitting spiritual energy. The Silence is likely modelled on an early electrical battery, known as a voltaic pile, to which he had referred a year earlier, in a performance called Vitex agnus castus.2 Invented at the end of the 18th century by Alexander Volta, this device conducted current through a stacked pile of zinc and copper discs—the same materials with which this multiple is coated.3 Though the two metals preclude access to the images of Bergman’s film, their capacity to transmit energy suggests that they may pass on its contents in another, more abstract form.

Ich bin ein Sender. Ich strahle aus! | I am

“But I had immersed myself fully into House, totally absorbed by what was and wasn’t…”

But I had immersed myself fully into House, totally absorbed by what was and wasn’t Addison’s disease and porphyria and sarcoidosis (oh, the sarcoidosis!), and I didn’t think to make a less hilarious life choice.

And it happened.

I heard something outside the gym window and turned to see a pack of hipster boys laughing their asses off, with their cellphones out, taking pictures of me, recording video. I jumped up to try to stop them, but they were long gone by the time I reached the door. And I thought to myself, “Fuck. Shit. This is going to end up all over the Internet.”

I didn’t know that I was right until those two emails, three years later, asking “Is this you?!”

- I am the woman you laughed at on the Internet

August 21, 2014

August 21, 2014

“To you that have grown rich from the sweat of my brow while keeping myself and my family in misery, I ask only that from those profits you find the funds to pay for my funeral.  I salute you while I break my pen.” - Emilio Salgari.

After writing that note to his publisher, he committed seppuku, which is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment.   It’s a fascinating end of a writer who dedicated his life to writing “exotic” adventure stories.  All of his books were written in Italian, and were then the basis for such genre as the “Italian Western,” which I guess means it’s all fake.  He had commented throughout his life that he traveled widely, but the fact is Salgari rarely steps outside of his native country of Italy.  What he should be noted for is using his imagination, and how that broke through various walls and boundaries, either set by borders or the wall that we all adhere to.  It wasn’t a mere chance or a fluke in time that Che Guevara read 62 of his books, with such titles as “The Mystery of The Black Jungle” and “The Son of the Red Corsair” among others.

Salgari, for whatever reasons, lived from hand to mouth for most of his life.  His father committed suicide. His wife was committed to a mental ward, and he had to support four young children as well as paying for his wife’s medical bills.   His imagination didn’t save him, and sadly it didn’t pay well.  Sometimes one is born under a black cloud, and there is nothing we can do to break that cloud’s grasp of everything underneath it.  

Some years ago I read a really dark novel called “The Bad Seed,” (published in the year of my birth) which is about a little girl, who is truly evil, and it deals with a mother who realizes that her little cute daughter is a murderer.  The only way she can address this situation is by giving the daughter a whole bottle of sleeping pills, while mother kills herself with a gun.  Of course, the daughter survives, and it is implied that she will eventually kill more people.  A bad seed, due that the mother’s real mom was a serial killer.  So she had no doubt that somehow there is a “bad seed” and she transformed it to her daughter.  I think one can gather that there is no justice in the world, because if you look at the emotional landscape objectively, one notice that shit happens all the time.

The “black cloud” that follows me around, is something that I just accept.  I can put up with it, because instead of focusing on that one tree, I look at the forest for encouragement.   If there is one school of thought that I belong to with all my heart and mind it is Aestheticism.  I’m a firm believer in an art movement that emphasizes aesthetic values more than social-political themes for fine art, music and especially literature.  Hell, even ‘real life’ has no source of inspiration or passion for me.  I prefer the illusionary powers of art, by such artists as Aubrey Beardsley.   He said: "I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque, I am nothing."   I find that inspirational, because how one reflects their will or vision on the world, is a great deal the role of the artist.

As a writer, I pretty much distance myself from the horrors of the world, or I use my imagination.  More likely I take real life and make a détournement (hijack) and therefore I use it for my own needs and desire.  Like Salgari who traveled the world within his own boundaries, such as his imagination, I have a tendency to avoid the evil that is born under that black cloud.  What I do is squeeze the darkness out of the cloud till it becomes a white puff of liquid droplets.  I do this because I can, and I desire to do so.

opticallyaroused: Mars’ Olympus Mons, The Tallest Mountain in…


Mars’ Olympus Mons, The Tallest Mountain in our Solar System, as Seen From Orbit.

jozefsquare: Rascals on Holidays Czechoslovakia, 1976 title:…


Rascals on Holidays

Czechoslovakia, 1976

title: Rascals on Holidays | Ballagó idö | Uličníci na prázdninách | Hungary, 1976
director: Tamás Fejér
with: Sándor Tóth, Nóra Káldi, Klári Tolnay

artwork: Unknown Artist

(via Rascals on Holidays - Unknown Artist, Vintage Movie Poster, 1976)

Kern Your Enthusiasm (21)

ShatterTim Spencer on SHATTER

Melvin Van Peebles

peebles thumbIn 1968, a year of riots, he reached his ascendancy.

Lun*na Menoh: A Ring Around The Collar (with 2-song flex-disk) Purchase now at D.A.P. website

Lun*na Menoh: A Ring Around The Collar

Published by TamTam Books
Introduction by Leslie Dick.

For 14 years, Los Angeles–based artist, fashion designer and musician Lun*na Menoh has been exploring the many unexpected possibilities of the dirty shirt collar, producing paintings, sculptures, music, DVDs, performance art and fashion shows inspired by this lowly, ubiquitous aspect of clothing. The collar is a fashion boundary--the dividing line between what is hidden by clothing and the body that emerges from the cloth--and the stains commonly found there often confound sartorial panache, a fact which Menoh takes as the mischievous starting point for her work. Lun*na Menoh: A Ring Around the Collardocuments the paintings included in this series, as well as Menoh’s performance art and fashion shows. Included with this book is a flexi-disc with two songs by the artist’s band, Les Sewing Sisters, and an introduction by acclaimed author Leslie Dick.

Now one can purchase this online at :

“So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches…”

“So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.

And people like this ultimately fail. They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

- From Obama’s statement on the killing of James Foley. (via shortformblog)

ageofdestruction: tenuous: Clouds over Mars, photographed by…


tenuous: Clouds over Mars, photographed by Mars Express, 6th June 2008.

81°N 248°E to about 24°N 270°E, on the Vastitas Boralis just south of the Rupes Tenuis, a cliff forming part of the edge of the north polar plateau. The dark region in the 2nd image is a small dune sea, and the clouds seen may be high-altitude water-ice clouds. 

Drawn from the martian Classical melange, tenuis is a Latin word meaning thin or fine, from whence the English tenuous.

Composite of 5 frames.

Image credit: ESA. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

“And I was rescued from this dilemma by remembering that, about six years earlier, black women in the…”

“And I was rescued from this dilemma by remembering that, about six years earlier, black women in the Boston area had written essays to the effect that white women were oppressive to work with. I remember back to what it had been like to read those essays. My first response was to say, “I don’t see how they can say that about us—I think we’re nice!” And my second response was deeply racist, but this is where I was in 1980. I thought, I especially think we’re nice if we work with them.”

- The Origins of “Privilege” - The New Yorker

(via Twitter / ABCNews24: The family of photojournalist …)

(via Twitter / ABCNews24: The family of photojournalist …)

Benson Farb’s ICM talk

One of the things I’ve been spending a lot of time on mathematically is problems around representation stability and “FI-modules,” joint with Tom Church, Benson Farb, and Rohit Nagpal.  Benson just talked about this stuff at the ICM, and here it is:

In the latest stable representation theory news, Andy Putman and (new Wisconsin assistant professor!) Steven Sam have just posted an exciting new preprint about the theory of representations of GL_n(F_p) as n goes to infinity; this is kind of like the linear group version of what FI-modules does for symmetric groups.  (Or, if you like, our thing is their thing over the field with one element….!)  This is something we had hoped to understand but got very confused about, so I’m looking forward to delving into what Andy and Steven did here — expect more blogging!  In particular, they prove the Artinian conjecture of Lionel Schwartz.  Like I said, more on this later.

August 20, 2014

August 20, 2014

Sadness.  Sadness all around me.  No, no that is not quite true.  It is me that is sad. I think the rest of the world is doing OK.  For the past five years, I have been trying to write my memoir, but the truth is my life is totally lived in as an interior world.  I don’t have any friends, and the only person I need to speak to on a regular basis is Mary my post office delivery girl.   I mostly purchase things from the Internet, so I don’t go out that much.  Due to the restrictions of writing words on a blank screen, I decided to go on YouTube and give little or brief accounts of my life over the years.   Each episode is five-to-ten minutes long, and I just try to focus each program on a specific incident or time.  But mostly it is very impressionistic view of the world.  Dates and definite time are not that interesting to me, due that I have a hard time remembering them.  I often see faces while I take my walk in the neighborhood, but I can’t recall where I have seen them or if I even know them.  When I walk, I dream, and when I dream, I do my YouTube programming.

I don’t have that much money left, due to the fact that I don’t work for a living. I live to document myself, because I think it's important to be able to communicate with someone, and hopefully these people are watching my show.   I often skip meals so I can pay for my internet service.  I do go to the library time-to-time, but I find the internet connection at the library, at its very best, sort of works on a B- grade, and I need to make sure I get full coverage, because I don’t do anything else except remain online and organize my thoughts before I shoot myself on YouTube.

For awhile now, I have this feeling that I’m living with others, that can’t be seen or heard.  Yet, I feel their presence in a profound manner.  It could be a reflection off a mirror or even from my computer screen, where I see “something” behind me.  I never know what it is, but I just feel its presence.  Ever since I was a child I have experienced what is currently called “night terrors.” As I try to fall asleep, and right before I go under, I have this vision that startles me, and I wake up either about to scream, or I’m in a sweat.  I sort of recall a face - but not a human’s face.  It took me years, but I finally drew the image of what I see (enclosed here), and it is a figure that looks like a giant reptile body, but clearly has legs and arms.  Also maybe a pair of wings as well, but not sure if they work or not.  I never saw this figure fly or anything like that.  I mostly remember seeing the face close up, because that is what startles me.  I can at times feel the breath on my face.  I think what it looks like is a roundish shaped head with tentacles either coming from its jawline or maybe even mouth.  It took repeated times of this occurring before I could even remember details like that.

So I feel emotionally alone, but I know that this is not the case. Whatever I see in the nighttime, or what enters into my dreams -or to be more exact, the bridge between the awaken and the sleeping world, I know I just have to accept things as they are, and not what I want it to be.  The sad thing is when I die, I will only have the YouTube footage, but one wonders if there will be a YouTube in the near future.  Paper and pen have been preserved, but will the digital images of me be on this planet for long?   And when I do pass into the night for good, will the horrible face I see be by consistent companion?

“A recent study completed at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) at Stanford University,…”

“A recent study completed at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) at Stanford University, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking, tested this hypothesis by assigning 160 subjects avatars with genders opposite to their own and pitting them against variously gendered bots in math tests. They found that subjects performed significantly better if their avatar was male, competing against female avatars, regardless of their actual gender or math skills.”

- How Gender Stereotypes Persist, Even in Virtual Worlds | Motherboard

olafbreuningdrawing: GOAT (QUEEN MARY I)



olafbreuningdrawing: I AM WHAT I SEE (QUEEN MARY I)




Kern Your Enthusiasm (20)

silverman chinese spponHelene Silverman on CHINESE SHIPPING BOX

The Fugitives (15)

fugitives thumbChapter XV: The Veldt

“The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding” Poems by Tosh Berman (Published by Penny Ante Editions) out in November

Cover image by Alex Chaves

Proud to be re-publishing a poetry collection by our dear friend — TamTam Books publisher and writer — Tosh Berman. Originally published in 1990 by “Cole Swift & Sons” (Japan) as a small hardcover edition of two hundred copies, this new edition of The Plum in Mr. Blum's Pudding acts to preserve this work and features an introduction by art critic and curator Kristine McKenna and an afterword by Ruth Bernstein.

Out in November

Ordering available now:
 — with Tosh Berman.

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.

Review copies are available from Penny-Ante (

marinaabramopug: Marina engages with a member of her public…


Marina engages with a member of her public outside the Serpentine Gallery today.

hot-tea-nanako: high-megan: redefinedrose: tayelchapo: this…





this why they killed him

JFK will forever be one of the best presidents this nation ever had.

Look at how old this broadcast looks.
Our technology has come so far and our social skills are still in the toilet.
This is why Skynet wins. This shit right here.

I would like to see an entire “child’s…

I would like to see an entire “child’s drawing”-based Wikipedia. (via Twitter / JFriedhoff: I would like to see an entire …)

August 19, 2014

August 19, 2014

I don’t drive motorized cars.  What I do drive is a soapbox derby car, that was made by a child that lives on my block.  It resembles the car driven by Fred Flintstone in the animated TV series “The Flintstones.” I live very close to Farewell Drive in Silverlake, and what I do is get in the car, and little William pushes my car down the hill.  Only a few times have I hit a parked car to stop myself from going into the traffic on Glendale Boulevard.   What I do is I pretend to write a note from myself, and I put it on the car’s window wiper.  It usually reads "Sorry," signed little William.   I don’t want to give little William a bad example.  The fact that we do this when it is nighttime, gives me an extra thrill.  Because there is always the danger that a ‘real’ car will come upon and hit me.  I wouldn’t say that I am brave, but more suicidal as I get older.  A sensible person would wear a helmet, but I refuse to wear one, because I actually like the feeling of the air hitting my face.  I never timed myself, so I haven’t the foggiest idea how fast the soapbox derby car goes down the hill, but it feels magnificent.

To give myself a dashing look while driving the ‘car, ’ I usually find jewelry from the Coco Chanel collection.  For years, I have consistently had an obsession about her life.  What interested me is her relationship with the Nazis during the occupation.  She was highly right wing, and basically a racist.  Oddly enough she wasn’t that fond of the homosexual.  She was quoted by her friend Paul Morand when she stated “"Homosexuals? … I have seen young women ruined by these awful queers: drugs, divorce, scandal. They will use any means to destroy a competitor and to wreak vengeance on a woman. The queers want to be women—, but they are lousy women. They are charming!"

 That type of political philosophy goes well with her career at the time.  I personally don’t follow those traits, but for some idiosyncratic reason I do think of her when I’m racing down the hill.   A lot of times it is the skill or vision of the Creator, but often it is just plain ‘very’ dumb luck that one gets in a position to do what they want to do.  Also the fact that she was a drug addict till the day she died has some appeal to me as well.

I never asked why, but it seems little William comes out to play only in the nighttime.  I never met his parents, or even know if he a pair of adults that look over him.  When I take my walks during the night, I can see him on his driveway working on his soapbox derby car.   It looked pretty impressive, and I loved the fact that he added the number “12” to the side of his car.   “12” is an interesting number off-hand.  For instance a dozen means 12 of something as a sales unit and there is “12” zodiac signs in astrology, and there are 12 basic hues in the color wheel.  Also there are 12 people who are designated to sit on a jury for felony trials. On top of that, I also collect 12” albums.  I thought Little William was very clever using that number, and when I asked him why “12?” He said that he just turned “12” the other day.

Over a short period of time I asked if he could make me a car that fits my size.  He said yes, and within a week or so, he finished the project. I felt a tinge of embarrassment in my relationship with little William, because there were no other adults (besides yours truly) around us, and I didn’t want to be seen as exploiting the dear child.  For his work, I gave him a vintage 45 rpm single by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas called “Little Children.” It was a song that haunted me as a child, because I have the impression that the singer, clearly an adult, was giving me sweets to keep a secret.   A secret for a child is a scary and precious promise.  So I think giving Little William this record was in a sense, my way of communicating with him that this car he built for me should be a secret among the two of us.

We meet up on an occasional basis, but as soon as I started to work on my book regarding Coco Chanel, I started to focus on not only my relations, but also how friendship or even “casual relationships” can cause such damage outside of that partnership.  My little car represents freedom that I had, but now as it sits on my driveway, it is more of a museum piece.

nevver: Basket Star


Basket Star

the medium is the message eskaibo: garugueux: Björk talking…

the medium is the message



Björk talking about her TV.

Moral of the story is: You shouldn’t let poets lie to you.


Kusama, like Salvador Dali and others, is even named on the…

Kusama, like Salvador Dali and others, is even named on the Migraine Aura Foundation’s website as an artist inspired by migraines. It is quite common to draw or sketch these visions. Now in message boards and online forums, people employ digital tools to illustrate their auras. These fractals, quilts, stained glass-like patterns, and checkerboards are Photoshopped in to the everyday environments where they are seen like backyards, markets, and the Google homepage. In gifs and videos, details like depth of field shifts and static noise are more accurately represented. (via In Aura — The Message — Medium)

Random thoughts

The cumulative effect of Clarissa involves an unabashed sublimity, at least for me, and yet one of the interesting things about the novel is that it is full of stretches of embarrassingly bad writing, especially in the letters of Lovelace. Context for this would be not just the caviling of some of Richardson's contemporaries about his failure to create a plausibly upper-class male rake's voice, but an older critique of similar in something like the record playwright Thomas Shadwell left of Dryden attempting and failing to capture the obscene wittiness of Rochester et al.: supposedly at Windsor one day, while Dryden was working on Marriage-a-la-Mode and spending time with the wits of the court circle, somebody asked how they would spend the afternoon and Dryden said “Let’s Bugger one another now, by God."

Good example of the sort of passage I have in mind - it makes me laugh and cringe, it's amazingly over-the-top in a way that I think is not tonally within Richardson's control or comprehension, though that is of course debatable:
Let me perish, Belford, if I would not forgo the brightest diadem in the world for the pleasure of seeing a twin Lovelace at each charming breast, drawing from it his first sustenance; the pious task continued for one month, and no more!

I now, methinks, behold this most charming of women in this sweet office, pressing with her fine fingers the generous flood into the purple mouths of each eager hunter by turns: her conscious eye now dropped on one, now on the other, with a sigh of maternal tenderness; and then raised up to my delighted eye, full of wishes, for the sake of the pretty varlets, and for her own sake, that I would deign to legitimate; that I would condescend to put on the nuptial fetters. (706)
In other news, the minor woe of the last few days: the amazingly named seabather's eruption!

Kern Your Enthusiasm (19)

chicago typeface walkerAlissa Walker on CHICAGO

gurafiku: Japanese Exhibition Poster: Design Minus Art….


Japanese Exhibition Poster: Design Minus Art. Shinnoske Sugisaki. 2008


King Goshawk (34)

cuchulain thumbHow they celebrated the Shaw Centenary

August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014

There are numerous ways of looking at one’s life, and it can be measured by the objects one owns, or their sexuality.  For instance, I’m a pussy hound.  Why? That is the million dollar question that I simply don’t have an answer for.  I think the main reason is either a life where one sleeps through the day, and just function whatever is in front of them.  For instance, you wake-up and make a cup of coffee without thinking of it.  I say 90% of my life is on that zone.  The sexual aspect of one’s life are mere moments when you see a woman, and it jabs one into another existence.  An inner-life comes out of you and all of a sudden you’re in a world full of color, and it has absolutely no meaning.  It’s a zone you’re in that has no rules and it is all about the sensuality of the moment.  Each woman is different.  There is no such being where one is exactly like the other.  So if you’re having sex with one, it is totally different from the other.  The truth is that no individual is like the other.  And that becomes obvious when you’re fucking a series of women.

The great thing about a book like “Lolita” is that the intellect is there, but here the British professor of French literature, who has a guideline in life is totally disrupted by the presence of Charlotte’s flirtatious daughter.  All logic is launched out the window, and there lies the problem for our hero of the novel.  Or is the true hero Clare Quilty, the drunk and sometimes incoherent shadow figure that floats into the narrative like Satan looking for a lost soul.  Nevertheless one has to disguise their desires nowadays.  When I was a teenager, all my girlfriends were mostly going out with much older men, and to me, it was more common to know a beautiful girl in school, is clearly dating the questionable male that is waiting outside the campus with his car running.

Sex is passion, but it is also about details.  As they say, the devil resides in the details.   I recently read Alain Robbe-Grillet’s last book, “A Sentimental Novel, ” which is about a professor having a S&M affair with his daughter.  It struck me as being ‘sick, ’ but also I found it attractive because it is ‘sick. ' Usually the older man, who is obviously a pervert - is also a very educated and well-read person.  To dwell into such depraved sexual practices, does one need to be an educated and smart person?  Being a filmmaker and writer, one can easily go into the darkness of one’s sexuality and address those issues.  The problem is the case that the reader or audience member may have trouble either in dealing with those issues, or at the very least, being very judgmental in such an obvious fashion.   I have always been attached to a specific photograph of Robbe-Grillet’s wife Catherine.   It looks like she is a little girl. Yet her expression is totally adult-like, and I feel I’m being pulled into a very precarious position.  Roman Polanski is such a man who has dealt with a bad hand, where he suffered greatly through the loss of his wife and childhood (due to war). Yet his work comes alive with the sensual aspect of living.  In fact to live is the ability to accept and further one’s adventure into the world of sex.

If I had one role-model in my life, it would be Jack Pickford.  He was the younger brother of Mary, and it seemed his life was spent on drink, drugs and a passionate addiction to sex with women.  His first wife was a wild number named Olive Thomas, who had a thirst for the carnal life just like her husband.  Both were talented actors, but according to a source close to both of them “they were more interested in playing the roulette of life than in concentrating on their careers.” She died under mysterious circumstances, and he had two further marriages, that of course, ended up as a failure. I was taken by him, because I wanted to expose myself to all the harm he has done to himself.  The loser is always more romantic than the winner, and it is usually those who lose, that we remember their presence more.  The taboo is what keeps us in line, and to go against the grain is the thrill some look for.  I have fallen for the passion of my times, but I now walk in various shopping centers and imagine what the girl tastes like, and in that small world, in my imagination, I find a certain amount of peace.

Lacing toy in leaf litter

Lacing toy in leaf litter

cosplayingwhileblack: Character: Aqualad / Kaldur’ahm Series:…


Character: Aqualad / Kaldur’ahm

Series: Young Justice

By Jeremiah Thompson


Boyhood: one more note

I thought of one more small thing, concerning the last scene.

People made fun of that last scene where they take shrooms and go hiking in Big Bend.  But I liked this last scene.  It captures that feeling that, on the one hand, the past is past, but on the other hand, the past is always present, all of it, all layered on top of each other.  As if the whole movie actually takes place over the course of about a second or two, in 18-year-old Mason’s mind, and we’re seeing the images that exist there in that span of time.  I think all adults constantly have that feeling, right?  That your entire adult life is sort of a mask, and you’re really 20-year-old you who’s traveled forward in time to see how it all turned out, and also you’re 15-year-old you, and 6-year-old you, and etc., all at once?  You don’t actually even need shrooms for this!

Question:  is it impossible to talk about a Richard Linklater movie without feeling like you’re executing a Linklater monologue pastiche?


Kern Your Enthusiasm (18)

ScreamQueen copySteve Price on SCREAM QUEEN

Lilli Carré

lillicarreIt’s the make-believe that we keep living in.


Breuillard’s ICM talk: uniform expansion, Lehmer’s conjecture, tauhat

Emmanuel Breuillard is in Korea talking at the ICM; here’s his paper, a very beautiful survey of uniformity results for growth in groups, by himself and others, and of the many open questions that remain.

He starts with the following lovely observation, which was apparently in a 2007 paper of his but which I was unaware of.  Suppose you make a maximalist conjecture about uniform growth of finitely generated linear groups.  That is, you postulate the existence of a constant c(d) such that, for any finite subset S of GL_d(C),  you have a lower bound for the growth rate

\lim |S^n|^{1/n} > c(d).

It turns out this implies Lehmer’s conjecture!  Which in case you forgot what that is is a kind of “gap conjecture” for heights of algebraic numbers.  There are algebraic integers of height 0, which is to say that all their conjugates lie on the unit circle; those are the roots of unity.  Lehmer’s conjecture says that if x is an algebraic integer of degree n which is {\em not} a root of unity, it’s height is bounded below by some absolute constant (in fact, most people believe this constant to be about 1.176…, realized by Lehmer’s number.)

What does this question in algebraic number theory have to do with growth in groups?  Here’s the trick; let w be an algebraic integer and consider the subgroup G of the group of affine linear transformations of C (which embeds in GL_2(C)) generated by the two transformations

x -> wx


x -> x+1.

If the group G grows very quickly, then there are a lot of different values of g*1 for g in the word ball S^n.  But g*1 is going to be a complex number z expressible as a polynomial in w of bounded degree and bounded coefficients.  If w were actually a root of unity, you can see that this number is sitting in a ball of size growing linearly in n, so the number of possibilities for z grows polynomially in n.  Once w has some larger absolute values, though, the size of the ball containing all possible z grows exponentially with n, and Breuillard shows that the height of z is an upper bound for the number of different z in S^n * 1.  Thus a Lehmer-violating sequence of algebraic numbers gives a uniformity-violating sequence of finitely generated linear groups.

These groups are all solvable, even metabelian; and as Breuillard explains, this is actually the hardest case!  He and his collaborators can prove the uniform growth results for f.g. linear groups without a finite-index solvable subgroup.  Very cool!

One more note:  I am also of course pleased to see that Emmanuel found my slightly out-there speculations about “property tau hat” interesting enough to mention in his paper!  His formulation is more general and nicer than mine, though; I was only thinking about profinite groups, and Emmanuel is surely right to set it up as a question about topologically finitely generated compact groups in general.







August 17, 2014

August 17, 2014

I have consistently been emotionally drawn to men like Monty Woolley, who was a close associate of Cole Porter’s, but was also a well-known actor - but for me, the very vision of the man is strictly through a series of photographs.   If I was going to grow a beard, it would be like Monty’s facial hair.   The thing is one has to pass through a lot of time and trouble to keep the beard trimmed and neat.  The one thing that I don’t like about my body is the hair.  Too much hair on my legs, arms, torso and worst of all, the back.   Also I have a thick beard.  Technically I probably need to shave twice a day, but that’s too much work for me. I tend to shave every two or three days, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t like how I look with a three-day beard.  In fact, I don’t like how I look period.

I’m approaching 60, which is old.  People say 60 is the new 40, but that is a lie.   The first thing I noticed is my neck.  My neck looks old, but my face continues being youthful.  Lately I have been using a lot of cream on my neck area, including my hairy shoulders, hoping to stop the aging that is taking place in that part of the body.  As time marches on, I find myself losing my self in step, and it is hard for me to go back in line to march for a better world for me.   On the other hand, Monty Woolley looks old, but I suspect that he was born looking old.  I tried to find images of Woolley without a beard, and it was impossible.  I assume that he was born with a full beard.  Nevertheless, I do have at least three men that I look up to in a physical fashion sense, and besides Monty, there is the pop singer Kevin Rowland and the Jazz singer, writer, and Surrealist art collector, George Melly.  I’m struck by them because they are not technically handsome (such as yours truly) but have a strong sense of style, that overcomes ugliness or any human defectively traits.   So though I do have an aging neck as well as a hairy body (with the additional middle-aged fat as well) I figure I need to bring more personality to my appearance.  The thing is all throughout my life, people always compared me to celebrities.  In fact, I was often mistaken for certain public figures.

When I was 21, I went to see “Taxi Driver” at 20 times in a movie theater.  I even adopted his look, not shaving my head mind you, but the checkered button-up shirt, Levis, and the beat-up jacket he wore through the film.  It was my uniform that year, and I pretty much wore that on a regular basis.  The thing is people began to mention that I look like Robert De Niro, which was complimentary at the time, but then people began to approach me like I was the actor.  Not only that, but famous actors who actually worked or knew him.  They would come towards me and say “HI Bobby.” They always had a weird look on their face when I told them that they are mistaken.  Also I remember going to the Whiskey to see The Screamers, and someone behind me said “that’s Robert De Niro!” I looked around to see where De Niro was, and then realized that this guy was just talking about me.  I had to leave the area because he was sort of creepy and his friends were about to approach me.

As I got older, I was compared on a regular daily basis to Martin Scorsese (I think due to the eyebrows) and the now late Robin Williams.  Which I didn’t like to be compared to, due that he had a hairy body like mine.   A lot of homeless and street people approached me on the public walkways, saying that I looked like those two guys.  It was strange, because I couldn’t see the resemblance at all when I looked at myself in the mirror. Especially for Scorsese. However, on the other hand, so many people have commented on what they think is the resemblance between me and the great film director.  It is like they are willing themselves into thinking I look like this figure.  

Lately it is now Peter Sellers.  Here I can actually see the resemblance, I think due to the glasses I wear, as well as the facial shape of our mouths and eyes.  Time-to-time, I have been called upon to send a photo of me for maybe an article or a need for a bio of some sort.  Since I don’t like any of my own photos or portraits I usually now send a photograph of Peter Sellers.  The funny thing, is that very rarely do I get anyone turning down the photo - even those who know me quite well.   I never felt I was losing my identity, probably because I have spent my whole life thinking about being someone else.  For instance, Kevin Rowland, Melly, or Wooley.  No one ever mentions that I look like those gentlemen.  Which, at the end of the day, brings me a sense of sadness.

beautiesofafrique: African ethnic group of the week: The Fulani…


African ethnic group of the week: The Fulani people

Fulani people are one of the largest ethnolinguistic groups in Africa, numbering approximately 40 million people in total. They form one of the most widely dispersed and culturally diverse of the peoples of Africa. The Fulani are bound together by the common language of Fulfulde, as well as by some basic elements of Fulbe culture, such as The pulaaku , a code of conduct common to all Fulani groups. The Wodaabe (Fula: Woɗaaɓe) or Bororo and Toroobe are small subgroups of the Fulani ethnic group.

African countries where they are present include Mauritania, Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Chad, Togo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan the Central African Republic, Liberia, and as far East as the Red Sea in Sudan and Egypt. With the exception of Guinea, where the Fula make up an ethnic plurality (largest single ethnic group) or approximately 40%+ of the population, Fulas are minorities in every country they live in. So, most also speak other dominant languages of the countries they inhabit, making many Fulani bilingual or even trilingual in nature. Such languages include Hausa, Bambara, Wolof, Arabic, 

Historically, the Fulani played a significant role in the rise and fall of ancient African empires such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai and the Mossi states. They greatly contributed to the spread of Islam throughout Western Africa. More recently, slavery and colonialism dispersed Fulani throughout the Middle East, the Americas and Europe. 

Fulani people were among the first Africans to convert to Islam. Between the eighth and the fourteenth century, Fulbe-speaking people of Takrur had produced a class of Muslim clerics, the Torodbe, who would take on proselytizing activities across the entire western Sudan. Increasingly, the memory of their previous pastoral religion was lost, except in some sub-groups such as the Bororo or Wodaabe (i.e., “Isolated”), who remained animists and nomads. Between the eleventh and the seventeenth century, the Fulbe gradually extended their grazing territory from over much of the West African savanna up to Borno. They usually took no part in the political life of the surrounding entities, and were sometimes subjected to heavy taxes.

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Alexander Theroux

therouxA proponent and practitioner of amplificatio and limerence.

onthestrand: These are some seriously nerdy nails, courtesy of…


These are some seriously nerdy nails, courtesy of One Nail To Rule Them All. We very much approve!

Notes on Boyhood

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is certainly the best movie I’ve seen this year, likely the best movie I’ll see this year.  But I don’t see a lot of movies.  After the spoiler bar, some notes on this one.  I meant to write this right after I saw it, but got busy, so no doubt I’ve forgotten some of what I meant to say and gotten other things wrong.

Here’s one thing I liked about this movie.  Every adult man in the movie talks to Mason about responsibility.  Following up.  Thinking about consequences of actions.  It’s the verbal glue that holds all the men in the movie together.

But here’s the thing.  Responsibility is a virtue, sure.  But it turns out that good men and bad men believe in it just the same.  You can’t tell who’s good by what they say.  Mason’s abusive alcoholic stepdad tells him to live up to the commitments he makes.  That’s good advice.  Mason’s photography teacher, presented as someone who basically cares about him and means him well, tells him he can’t just do what he pleases if he wants to make art; he has to apply himself and learn technique.  Also good advice.  Not-necessarily-alcohol-abusing-but-drunk-and-checked-out stepdad #2 tells him he should call his mother if he’s going to be out all night because she worries.  Also good advice!  The manager at the cruddy restaurant where Mason works tells him he shouldn’t screw around chatting in the back when there are families waiting for their food.  That’s good advice too!  And the movie cleverly sets up the manager as a figure of fun (giving him a dorky polo shirt and a receding hairline) but then brings him back, in a sympathetic role, at Mason’s party, forcing the audience to say, yeah, the dorky guy was right, big ups for the dorky guy.  Ethan Hawke’s second wife’s dad (following me here?) works similarly; the movie sets you up to see his gift of a gun to Mason as a piece of yokelism, but Mason visibly appreciates it, and what is the older man’s main piece of dialogue in the scene?  A reminder that a gun is a serious thing and you have to use it with safety foremost in your mind.  Great advice.

Responsibility talk isn’t really about being a good man or a bad man; it’s just about being a man.  Mason’s biological father gives him a talk about birth control (at this point, Mason is about 13, and hasn’t had a girlfriend yet, I think) which is a fine model of the “This is serious, but I’m gonna be funny, but also, remember, I’m serious” approach.  I’m sure a lot of dads of younger kids were taking notes.

But of course the context of this talk is that Mason Sr. himself didn’t use birth control, whence Mason!  Who he then — contra all the responsibility talk — ran out on, before the movie even starts.

So it’s unfair, right, that I’m giving him credit for this speech?  And for that matter, isn’t it unfair and kind of creepily patriarchal that I’m casting responsibility as part of being a man, as opposed to part of being an adult?

So the movie is working exactly to bring that into the light and then oppose it, I think.  Because who actually lives up to commitments and acts responsible is Mason’s mother.  He hears about responsibility from his dad, and every other man in the world.  But he learns it from his mom.



Kern Your Enthusiasm (17)

Amanda French PhD Diploma typeface tattooAmanda French on DIPLOMA REGULAR

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