Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

gifopera: saving space



gifopera:

saving space

polychroniadis: ‘Dead channel morning in the countryside’ by…



polychroniadis:

'Dead channel morning in the countryside' by The Gif Opera Cabinet.

Radium Age: Context (23)

roller skates"Young Man on Bicycle Roller Skates (1905)"

December 21, 2014


December 21, 2014

“Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.” The thought of growing old doesn’t bother me, but I’m feeling very vain about my looks changing.   Not long ago I took a self-portrait of myself, with direct sunlight hitting my face.  It was just like looking at the future, or what I would look like in ten years.  I didn’t like it.



Then and there I decided never again will I take a photograph of myself, or allow anyone to do so.  I have a wrist watch, and that very day I threw it on the ground and stepped on it.   A dead watch represents time being stopped.   Yet, even with that, I can feel the energy being sucked out of me.  The only thing that still lives within my system, is anxiety.   It is just like a leaky faucet that drips consistently.  No one else can hear the sound, except me, and I feel cut off from my fellow citizens.  I’m sure there is a pill to make it go away, but I don’t want to cut off the only thing that I can feel.  Even though it’s misery, it is still, essentially, a feeling.   When one doesn’t have that many choices, you have to roll with the dice.



I have read that today is the winter solstice, which means the daylight will be short, and the darkness longer.  The temperature has dropped, but for the life of me, I just don’t want to turn on the heater.   Once I do that, it is admitting to oneself that things have changed, and although I like to think of myself fading into darkness, it is more like time standing still. You can’t go forward or backward.  My editor Diana told me this: “I’m not sure that digging in our past guilts is a useful occupation for the very old, given that one can do so little about them.  I have reached a stage in which one hopes to be forgiven for concentrating on how to get through the present.” At the moment I feel like a wrapped present, covered by ugly Christmas wrapping and a string with a bow that is too tight.  I just want to do away with all that packaging, and just become my natural state.  In my normal skin.   The skin of a ventriloquist’s dummy.



It would be an interesting experience to sit on one’s lap, and not have a thought in my head.  I’m just responding to the ventriloquist - it’s an one-sided conversation, where I ‘m pretending to respond, but in fact, I’m nothing but wood and pieces of plastic.  Not exactly alive, but neither am I dead - more like ‘living a life’ that’s imagined.

wholesalemoney: Soul Train Dancers c1970



wholesalemoney:

Soul Train Dancers c1970

Radium Age: Context (22)

car radio 1924Car Radio (1924)

“Edward Snowden opened a door on state-sponsored snooping on private lives, but also, more subtly, he…”

Edward Snowden opened a door on state-sponsored snooping on private lives, but also, more subtly, he revealed the many ways private life has given itself over to the dark arts of fabrication. A dirty tricks document produced by a secret unit at GCHQ called JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group) was called ‘The Art of Deception: Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations’. JTRIG described itself as ‘using online techniques to make something happen in the real or the cyber world’. Making ‘something happen’ very often means invading someone’s Facebook account and changing the photographs, or mobilising the social network to ridicule them. A ‘fake flag operation’ for example involves posting material on the internet under a false identity with the aim of damaging a reputation. The damage comes under one of two headings: ‘Dissimulation – Hide the Real’ and ‘Simulation – Show the False’. In other words, exploit the porousness of the border between the real and the imagined, as if some Borgesian nightmare had taken over, feasting on a general uncertainty about who exists and who doesn’t. The world, according to GCHQ (and not only GCHQ), is now a zone of conjuring. ‘We want to build Cyber Magicians,’ the secret report tells its secret readers.

Stories of people pretending to be other people, of people feeling impelled to confect, imitate or perform themselves, describe a change not just in the technological basis of our lives but in the narrative strategies now available to us. You could say that every ambitious person needs a legend to deepen their own.



- Andrew O’Hagan · The Lives of Ronald Pinn · LRB 8 January 2015

nitratediva: Marlene Dietrich in Stage Fright (1950).



nitratediva:

Marlene Dietrich in Stage Fright (1950).

December 20, 2014



December 20, 2014

“I am going to make everything around me beautiful - that will be my life.”   I don’t have any money, but over the years, avoiding situations where I need to pay some cash, I instead,  focused on building an inner life of beauty  - and as everyone knows, the first step to inner-beauty is to make sure your home is beautiful.  At one time I had money, and I was fortunate enough to hire Else De Wolfe to design my home, here in Silverlake.   All my punk rock friends thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care what they said.  When you get down to it, I don’t care what anyone says.   Fuck them.

What I had to do, was live in a hotel for a year - and since I had to save all my money for the decorator and the furniture she picked out for me, I stayed at the cheapest hotel I can find.   I got a hotel on Western, and it should have been called “Fucked-Ville.” On the left-side of the hotel room, there was consistent banging on the wall thru some girl getting nailed by a guy or something, and the other side was pounding like a machine fucking a girl.  The ceiling was cracking’ due to the pounding up there as well.  Day and night, and I couldn’t think how much sperm is being produced on almost a factory level of production.  I never saw these people, but I just have to presume that it is all not the same characters.



“I was not ugly.  I might never be anything for women to lose their heads about, but I need never again be ugly.  This knowledge was like a song within me.  Suddenly it all came together. If you were healthy, fit, and well-dressed, you could be attractive.” On the other hand, as one can clearly see, I’m not healthy, or fit, but I’m well-dressed.  So there is hope, as there is hope that you yell down the old water well for your missing kitty, and hearing a “meow” come back.   Nevertheless, I came back after a year, to a beautiful home.  It was mine, but alas, I couldn’t afford it.  Still, the few months that I had, I enjoyed it immensely.

“Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you.” The first thing I noticed when I moved back to my newly decorated home, was my writing changed.   The initial material was brutish, but now I am finding my work becoming more refine.   It is if the furniture in the room were writing and not me.  Over a short period of time, I realized that I have become someone else, and surely a better person.  But then it became obvious to me that it wasn’t me that changed, but me being here at home.  I have been redefined by the interior designs, and for instance at one time, I would normally throw my clothing to the floor before taking a bath or heading towards the bed.  Now, I carefully take off my clothing in a formal manner where I start from top to the bottom.  The last thing I take off is the socks.  Once everything is off, I gently fold all my clothing and place it in a bag to be picked-up and cleaned.  The truth is I don’t have enough money to take my clothing to the cleaners.  So I basically depend on buying new clothing and I can do so- as long as the credit card is good.



Over months of just doing nothing except working on my book, I realize that I don’t really belong here.  All of this is not mine. Nor does it convey a world that I really believe in.   Yet, I’m defined by space, and this space is pretty much my new world.   Yet, one thing I do know, is to “never complain, never explain.” I now can only afford soup, but as you know ‘you can’t build a meal on a lake. ”

dennis3dots: Mwila hairstyle, Angola – by Eric Lafforgue_



dennis3dots:

Mwila hairstyle, Angola - by Eric Lafforgue_

delightfulderelict: Vogue – May 1955, photographed by John…



delightfulderelict:

Vogue - May 1955, photographed by John Rawlings

easy like Sunday morning at sunrise on the Winter’s Solstice

The High Wire (8)

the-high-wire"Don’t stretch the rope too far."

Code-X (45)

lancomeRetouching the Paint

Mike Watt

watt-shot-used-for-throbbleheadBoth a singular artist and a mensch.

December 19, 2014



December 19, 2014

Life is not hard, but the air is pretty thin.  I can’t see the sunshine due to the clouds, but I know it is up there somewhere.   And I know she’s around as well, I just… well, can’t see her at the moment.   Nevertheless I wrote her a letter, but damn, I remember I don’t have the address.  Being silly, I just mailed it out and put my address on it.   Sometimes I feel like I’m playing a role, but without a script and no clear direction.  “Acting is the ability to dream on cue.” I’m just looking for that sign to start performing.



  I'm kind of nervous being on stage, because I can’t see the audience or the floorboards.   I do things blindly.  “Singing is a way of escaping.  It’s another world. I’m no longer on earth.” Often I don’t feel I belong here.  Nothing is familiar, nothing is there, because she’s not here.   Therefore where am I?

I want to peel the orange, but the juices run down my chin.  I bite the skin, and tear it off gently, to make sure I get at the very least its nutrients.  “To achieve harmony in bad taste is the height of elegance.” Whenever I eat anything messy, I always put on my best suit on.   I’m honest in that sense.  A performance is honesty at work.  “The most precious things in speech are pauses.” It is what she doesn’t say, that rings so loudly in my ears and heart.   Therefore in honesty, she just not being here, speaks volumes to me.  



My head is the place where my home is.  Because this physical existence is not happening right now.  When I walk the streets, everyone looks at me like I’m past-tense.   I avoid the reflections, because it’s too painful, to watch my demise.  It is better to walk through a glass door, then opening it.   I have seen the flowers that are offered by the street vendor, and I know they were pulled out of the earth quite violently.  I can’t give those flowers as a gift, with that much tension attached to it.  It doesn’t seem right.  But then, when you’re at the end of the street, what does it matter anymore?



I’m at the edge of the world, and I haven’t even left the bedroom.   The heavy curtains are drawn.  No light and no safety lights to lead me to an exit.   I hear the echo of my voice as I scream down the hallway, and there is nothing more profound when nothing is there.   I go back to bed.  I go back to that world.  “A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness. ”  As I understand it, "you see things less clearly when you open your eyes too wide."

skunkbear: There’s a giant, stable hexagon on the north pole of…







skunkbear:

There’s a giant, stable hexagon on the north pole of Saturn with a huge hurricane at its center (and we don’t know exactly why).

Happy Saturnalia!

Images: NASA

fyblackwomenart: Afrodiva by ButtyandDipper



fyblackwomenart:

Afrodiva by ButtyandDipper

laurawarman: route9litmag: Drone Poems by Laura Warman. sum…

















laurawarman:

route9litmag:

Drone Poems by Laura Warman.

sum of my drone gifs up at Route 9

foreignmovieposters: Piranha (1978). Japanese poster.



foreignmovieposters:

Piranha (1978). Japanese poster.

Radium Age: Context (21)

buchholzPlaneten­bahnen (1920)

colepierce: Originally conceived as an extension of the…









colepierce:

Originally conceived as an extension of the architecture curriculum at the Catholic University at Valparaíso, the Ciudad Abierta was intended to be a radical experiment in communal living, architecture and education. Students and teachers worked outside of any hierarchy on projects in which planning and improvisation were equal parts of the design process. This, alongside the principle of collective authorship and the preference for scrap or locally sourced material, has determined the seemingly haphazard, irregular look of many of the Ciudad Abierta’s structures. Each building is inspired – and often determined – by the peculiarities of its site, with some designed in order to prolong a dune’s gentle curve or with their columns aligned in order to avoid blocking the ocean breeze.

In total, the structures of the Ciudad Abierta number a few dozen, usually sited far apart from each other a couple of hundred metres back from the shore. Many of them seem as if they are still in the process of being built – either because they are, or because at some point in their construction someone decided their unfinished look fitted their location. They range from dwellings – with multiple doors and passageways, so as to blend the private and public spaces – to sculptural installations and common spaces, such as the Sala de música, a concert hall that has been hosting a communal lunch every week since its construction.

Vincenzo Latronico

Frieze

December 18, 2014



December 18, 2014

“Though I walk in the shadow of the valley of evil, I have no fear, as I am the biggest bastard in the valley.” Since I loved music ever since I was a kid, I decided to go into the music business.   I was a musician, but I often felt I was in the hands of those who don’t care about me or my music.  When I was with the band, “we toured non-stop for three years, doing 300 gigs a year and we hardly got a penny.” Therefore I have made the decision to never let another hand touch my music or my career.   On the other hand, I will clearly touch other’s in the same manner that I was abused - and why not, what comes around goes around.   I don’t mind the fucking, by the way, I was just don’t want to get fucked anymore.



What’s imperative is to own properties.  The difference between a loser and a winner, is one who obtains an object instead of borrowing that item.   Therefore it is preferable to own an “artist” than work for him or her.  I made sure I purchased the publishing rights, and this is the gray area, be beneficial to your artists, because they tend to bite back.  For instance, I have never met a grateful “artist,” but surely have dealt with dissatisfied ones' on a regular basis.  Also you have to continue to watch out for them, meaning to make sure they don’t find a better deal out there on their own.  



The best one’s that I have worked with are usually paranoid (rightfully so) and greedy.   The combination of those two ingredients is like the perfect mixed cocktail for me.  I just step in and offer them power (or whatever that word means to them) and an ego-boost.   I never interfere with the music-making, because that is what they do - I just take care of their world around them so they can fully concentrate on doing their art.  Which in turn fills my little piggy bank on my desk.



I’m not a huge film fan, because I feel it’s a waste of time sitting in a dark movie theater or screening room - I can almost count the missing dollars I would be making if I wasn’t in that room.  Nevertheless John, one of my ‘artists, ’ suggested that I buy the rights to a film made by Chilean director - and it was a wise investment move.  I came up with the idea of him directing a film version of “The Story of O,” but at the last minute he pulls out of the project.  After purchasing the film rights, which are now useless to me, I decided to pull every print of his first and most important, film out of circulation.  I get a lot of requests for permission to show his film, but happily I have turned them all down.   It will cost me money, but revenge is the second-best reward I can get.



My masterpiece stroke was when a British band sampled one of the songs I own, and after it became a hit, I sued them.  They eventually had to give 100% of the royalties to my company, and then I took their recording and sold it to Nike, who used that song over and over again in a series of commercials.  It was the flawless series of moments for me.  I know people say bad things about me in front of my back (and sometimes to my face) but you know, my piggy bank is getting fatter, in fact it is overflowing with coins - coming out of its mouth - I’m OK with the world.   “Don’t talk to me about ethics.  Every man makes his own.   It’s like a war. ”

Closing tabs

Twin talk.

Building the fictional bridges on Euro notes in the Netherlands.

Henry Blodget interviews Jeff Bezos.

An interview with my high-school classmate (and scriptwriter for The Interview) Dan Sterling about the response the film provoked from North Korea (and the Washington Post on the Sony hack).

What are MOOCs good for?

The uncomfortable desire to be writing books

I am having a very nice quiet week in Cayman: not completely off from work, but there wasn't any single obvious thing that I needed to motor ahead on, so I'm just taking care of bits and bobs as they come up.

It is always sort of awful to have to write a title and description for a future talk that is as yet not even begun, and this one has the typical flaws of vagueness and grandiosity, but I did enjoy contemplating it this morning and getting some sentences down on paper for the draft program:
“Talking Pages: The Eighteenth-Century Variorum Page”

Jenny Davidson will consider the form and function of the variorum page in Johnson’s Shakespeare editions in the context not just of eighteenth-century scholarly editing but of Scriblerian takes on the edited page. She will look closely at the workings of several specific pages of Johnson’s Shakespeare, but her larger concern is to consider Johnson’s literary career in the light of a late-stage revisiting of the quarrel of ancients and moderns. After telling a sort of prequel story about Swift, Bentley, Theobald and Pope, she will turn to Johnson’s editorial work as an effort of reconciliation and resolution in response to still unresolved tensions between the Scriblerian critical project and the reading techniques of a triumphalist modernity. Johnson’s reclamation of a “conversational” and relatively civil variorum page for what is in some ways a conservative literary project seems to represent a critical turning point in eighteenth-century literary history, and Davidson will conclude by considering analogies between Johnson’s use of the variorum page and the theme of generosity in present-day relationships with the past elsewhere in his writing, with brief excursions to Gibbon and Burke as points of comparison.
This made me think about how there are now three projects I am urgently desiring to work on (four if you count the "Gibbon's Rome" offshoot of the ancients-and-moderns project as a separate book), and how that feeling of desire is so satisfying and yet also so uncomfortable, almost so much so as to make me feel out of breath with anxiety and dissatisfaction that I am not doing anything towards any of 'em RIGHT NOW! I think getting new books started is my single highest priority for 2015, though calm and freedom from anxiety are always the highest thing on the list (time spent on my own work is good for this, so the two goals are not inherently incompatible).

I am still really excited about the Clarissa book, and as I'm teaching that seminar in the spring (and no other course - course release for the Tenure Review Advisory Committee, which keeps me very busy, but it's nice to imagine having the mental space free for doing some bits of actual work on this), it seems not implausible to think I might get some actual pages drafted. But higher priorities for January are to put in some of the groundwork for the Johnson's Shakespeare talk and to draft a proposal for a book that would be something like this only titled "Reading Jane Austen"!

If I'm not miscalculating, I have a full year of sabbatical coming up for 2016-2017: I've been considering taking it as two separate semesters (teach fall and take spring off for two years in a row), as in certain respects you get more bang for the buck that way (two very decent stretches of writing time rather than just one long one, and the fall-semester load of letters of recommendation and job market candidates is heavy enough that it doesn't always feel like leave if you're not teaching), but really if I have all these different books on the go, I should just take both at once, make as much progress as I can and then perhaps apply for a year of fellowship somewhere in the couple years following to finish up what remains undone. A project has to be pretty far forward before I can write a really good fellowship application for it, I think; this is not true for everyone, but seems to be for me....

what-the-hell-is-steampunk: source



what-the-hell-is-steampunk:

source

Photo



The Unconquerable (25)

macinnesHostage

Sighted: stickers in SE Portland

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I often post photos captioned only with the word “Sighted.”

I thought about posting these that way, but I think they have greater impact when viewed as a group. They were all posted on a wooden security fence around one of the many buildings under construction in the neighborhood, close-in southeast Portland, on Division Street.

There were more stickers than I photographed, but we were on our way to (Re)Writing The Future: Social Justice and Science Fiction, and thought, correctly, that there’d be a packed house.

I’d love to properly credit the origin/creators of the stickers; if anyone who sees this knows the story, let me know.

stickers reading "Hello I wish I could:" escape debt, have collective resources, feel safe, get three meals a day stickers reading "Hello I wish I could:" retain long term residents, change city policies, get affordable groceries without getting on a bus, protect my children from being shot Stickers reading "Hello I wish I could:" respected by WHITES, afford to live in my own neighborhood, not be profiled when I walk into a store, trust my neighbors

(Stickers are all the same design; they look like the traditional “HELLO my name is” style, but instead say “HELLO I wish I could…” People have filled them out expressing the following wishes: escape debt, have collective resources, feel safe, eat three meals a day, retain long term residents, change city policies, get affordable groceries without getting on a bus, protect my children from being shot, respected by whites, afford to live in my own neighborhood, not be profiled when I walk in a store, trust my neighbors.)

 

ufansius: LeRoy Stevens



ufansius:

LeRoy Stevens

Photo



December 17, 2014



December 17, 2014


Being separated from my true love, is a harsh existence.  I came upon a passage by the Goncourt brothers that put it in perspective: “Today I begin to understand what love must be, if it exists.  When we are parted, we each feel the lack of the other half of ourselves. We are incomplete like a book in two volumes of which the first has been lost.  That is what I imagine love to be: incompleteness in absence.” After reading this passage by the brothers, I read a touch more about them.   Not only did they write books together, but they also didn’t spend more than a day apart from each other.  Even in death, the brothers are buried together, and in the same grave in Montmartre Cemetery.



My wish is intended to be buried with my wife. I have no desire to be separated from her, either in life or death.  As of now, I’m facing a house that is full of items, but lacking the presence of her, and I go to bed in an empty right side, where I sort of made a pillow to resemble a human form.  I wake up realizing that I’m still alone, and I face every room in the house, and just count the echo of my steps I hear when I walk down the hallway.   The only way I can work around this is to make it into a theater piece.  At first, I wanted it to fill the void that I’m feeling now, but alas, it will expose the void, and as its author, I want the audience to be aware that they are watching the play.  I want to make something so I can watch it as well.



To project myself onto a wall, or on a piece of paper - to go out and explore … to avoid the void.   When I was a younger man I had a job as a model for the artist Paul Cadmus.  He would have me naked, and I remember the feeling of his eyes approaching me.  It wasn’t instant, but more in a series of moments as I can feel his eyes looking from my toes to my knees, to my genitals, and eventually my face.  I had a good body, and I even had a job as a lifeguard at the beach.  That is where Paul first saw me, and approached me to be his model.   Although the drawings and paintings were quite sexual, I never felt he was trying to seduce me personally.  Then again, like the theater up above, when I took my clothes off in front of him, I felt like my soul or consciousness was somewhere in that room.   I was watching him watching me, as he focused on the piece of canvas or drawing paper in front of him.



I think back to those times, because it was before I fell in love, and eventually becoming a husband.  I took my marriage vowels seriously, and the fact that I never wanted to stand apart from her.  Before she recently left, I gave my wife a print by Paul, that he drew of me.  I just wanted to show her that I had another life before I met and married her.    We are often shocked that we had a “life” before we met.  We are shocked that there was even a “life.” Alas, therefore a theater of loneliness.  I will write it, perform in it, and of course, watch it.

itscolossal: Heirloom: A Tablecloth Created with Lace-like…











itscolossal:

Heirloom: A Tablecloth Created with Lace-like Patterns of Collected Seeds

neourbian: Twig…



neourbian:

Twig Heaven

 ART-WWW.NEOURBIAN.TUMBLR.COM

FASHION-@TALLAWANYC

secretcinema1: Subway Passanger, New York, 1938, Walker Evans



secretcinema1:

Subway Passanger, New York, 1938, Walker Evans

Code-X (44)

iced tea thumbIced Tea Zen

Light reading catch-up

I hate it when I leave it too long between logging one tranche of reading and the next, it becomes a nuisance rather than a pleasure to write it up here. But since I am now genuinely enjoying a quiet day in Cayman, I thought I would get a grip on it and clear the backlog....

Kiese Laymon's essay "My Vassar Faculty ID Makes Everything OK" caught my attention for obvious reasons, and I immediately got hold of his two books (I've been hearing great things about his YA novel from Sara Ryan and others for a while): How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Long Division. Both are superb, and I am buying copies for my mother and several others for Xmas; the essays are reminiscent of James Baldwin, in the best possible way (it is a strain I miss from the neurasthenic subdivision of contemporary essay-writing: I want to hear much stronger and more widespread crypto-preacherly rage!), and the novel is absolutely a delight.

Probably my other favorites were another pair of books that (BECAUSE I AM AN IDIOT) I read in the wrong order: however, third installment in trilogy will come soon and I expect I will read again from the start at that point, I liked 'em that much. I blame Adam Roberts, whose best SF round-up was where I got the recommendation and which didn't mention the fact of the book in question being a sequel; BUT I also blame my own voracious and forgetful nature as a reader - I could tell something wasn't quite right about the opening, but wasn't willing to put the book down to figure it out. When I finished and went to find whether there was yet a sequel (it's coming in May 2015), I realized that in fact I had already bought volume one the year before, only it wasn't on my current Kindle - it must have been on the one I left in the pocket of a plane that took me to Portland, ME when I was travelling for The Magic Circle. Anyway, these books are PERFECT - it's massive Soviet-era alternate history of a fantastical stamp, more on the Ballard-Pynchon axis in terms of style than the Pullman-Aiken-Explosionist one but still pretty much exactly the sort of thing I most enjoy reading. Hungry for vol. 3! Here's the author's site; the books are by Peter Higgins and are titled Wolfhound Century and Truth and Fear.

Many novels by Patricia Briggs, very convenient for purposes of travel (I wish she was still writing fantasy as opposed to werewolf, but I suspect market pressures drive one pretty strongly towards the latter), some Eva Ibbotson rereading for comfort, Michael Connelly's new novel (these are always readable but increasingly thin, confirming my sad conviction that 90% of bestselling fiction will be much less good than the 5% of genuinely brilliant genre fiction that is too violent or troubling to be enjoyed by all); a couple other good recommendations from the Adam Roberts piece (other pet peeve: when will we have a world of simultaneous publication in all English-language markets?!?), Dave Hutchinson's rather delightful Europe in Autumn and Joe Abercrombie's Half a King.

Oh, and one other one I really loved, though I can't remember now where I got the recommendation: Terry Hayes' I am Pilgrim.

I have a bit of a breather this week at B.'s, then home Sunday for a few days of maniacal end-of-semester grading, brief holiday interlude and then three weeks of INSANE WORK AND FITS OF EXERCISE! I am excited about the latter - I have two different book proposals I want to work on, and two talks I need to get some kind of a handle on (one for a general audience at a liberal arts college, one for a plenary address at a conference I really want to have something good for). Various other things churning around at the back of my mind, but time is finite, I must reconcile myself to that in advance.

I ran a 10K on Saturday and got back to hot yoga today for the first time since August, both of which bode well for exercise prospects in upcoming weeks, but it is certainly still possible that I have one more major respiratory ailment in me for 2014, so I'm trying not to count my chickens....

Light reading catch-up

I hate it when I leave it too long between logging one tranche of reading and the next, it becomes a nuisance rather than a pleasure to write it up here. But since I am now genuinely enjoying a quiet day in Cayman, I thought I would get a grip on it and clear the backlog....

Kiese Laymon's essay "My Vassar Faculty ID Makes Everything OK" caught my attention for obvious reasons, and I immediately got hold of his two books (I've been hearing great things about his YA novel from Sara Ryan and others for a while): How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Long Division. Both are superb, and I am buying copies for my mother and several others for Xmas; the essays are reminiscent of James Baldwin, in the best possible way (it is a strain I miss from the neurasthenic subdivision of contemporary essay-writing: I want to hear much stronger and more widespread crypto-preacherly rage!), and the novel is absolutely a delight.

Probably my other favorites were another pair of books that (BECAUSE I AM AN IDIOT) I read in the wrong order: however, third installment in trilogy will come soon and I expect I will read again from the start at that point, I liked 'em that much. I blame Adam Roberts, whose best SF round-up was where I got the recommendation and which didn't mention the fact of the book in question being a sequel; BUT I also blame my own voracious and forgetful nature as a reader - I could tell something wasn't quite right about the opening, but wasn't willing to put the book down to figure it out. When I finished and went to find whether there was yet a sequel (it's coming in May 2015), I realized that in fact I had already bought volume one the year before, only it wasn't on my current Kindle - it must have been on the one I left in the pocket of a plane that took me to Portland, ME when I was travelling for The Magic Circle. Anyway, these books are PERFECT - it's massive Soviet-era alternate history of a fantastical stamp, more on the Ballard-Pynchon axis in terms of style than the Pullman-Aiken-Explosionist one but still pretty much exactly the sort of thing I most enjoy reading. Hungry for vol. 3! Here's the author's site; the books are by Peter Higgins and are titled Wolfhound Century and Truth and Fear.

Many novels by Patricia Briggs, very convenient for purposes of travel (I wish she was still writing fantasy as opposed to werewolf, but I suspect market pressures drive one pretty strongly towards the latter), some Eva Ibbotson rereading for comfort, Michael Connelly's new novel (these are always readable but increasingly thin, confirming my sad conviction that 90% of bestselling fiction will be much less good than the 5% of genuinely brilliant genre fiction that is too violent or troubling to be enjoyed by all); a couple other good recommendations from the Adam Roberts piece (other pet peeve: when will we have a world of simultaneous publication in all English-language markets?!?), Dave Hutchinson's rather delightful Europe in Autumn and Joe Abercrombie's Half a King.

Oh, and one other one I really loved, though I can't remember now where I got the recommendation: Terry Hayes' I am Pilgrim.

I have a bit of a breather this week at B.'s, then home Sunday for a few days of maniacal end-of-semester grading, brief holiday interlude and then three weeks of INSANE WORK AND FITS OF EXERCISE! I am excited about the latter - I have two different book proposals I want to work on, and two talks I need to get some kind of a handle on (one for a general audience at a liberal arts college, one for a plenary address at a conference I really want to have something good for). Various other things churning around at the back of my mind, but time is finite, I must reconcile myself to that in advance.

I ran a 10K on Saturday and got back to hot yoga today for the first time since August, both of which bode well for exercise prospects in upcoming weeks, but it is certainly still possible that I have one more major respiratory ailment in me for 2014, so I'm trying not to count my chickens....

WORLDCAT

Edinburgh University gives a library card to a cat.

December 16, 2014



December 16, 2014

I have such a sad face, and I ‘m not sure if I was placed on this world to laugh or cry.   Somewhere in my past, I did get to the fork in the road, and I chose laughter over crying.  I don’t see the point of wasting tears, when it can be utilized for watering a devalued forest.  The truth is, at one time, I had a great deal of money.  I spent it all, mostly on pleasure of all sorts, than practical uses.  Or I should say my practical uses were women, wine, and vinyl collecting.   I have this odd collection of every recording possible of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.  The conductor Thomas Beecham made this comment about the third movement of this symphony: “What can you do with it?  It’s like a lot of yaks jumping about.” Still, the second movement is surely the greatest piece of music ever.  The movement being so popular also gives it a sense of sin, so it’s “strange how potent cheap music is.”



With the 7th Symphony as my personal soundtrack, I wander through my life from one disaster to another - yet with my chin up, I just try to stay true to my roots.  I often develop intense crushes on girls that I can’t afford.  The scent of promise that is them as they walk by, is too much of an allure for me.    I remember being fixated on one, that was extremely beautiful and young, and all I could think of is the possibility of her giving me a hand-job, while she’s wearing her finest dress.  I would also require that she wore no underwear as well.   I have this obsessive set of rules when it concerns my sexual practices.  I can imagine it is very difficult for the female in question to follow through my specific acts of desire.  I eventually have to go out and pay for these services.  It’s very dispiriting, but at the same time, I know when I do pay for the service, I get what I need.  Supply and demand.   Surely I’m not the only one in the world that has specific needs?



Yet, I can’t wait till the world comes to me, alas I must come to the world. "To create a work of art is to create the world."  I used to have anxiety attacks about losing all my money, but now that it is gone, I feel lightheaded and free.   I can no longer afford a woman like I'm accustomed to, and I have to pretty much depend on Trader Joe’s wine supply for my thirst, but I’m still standing and writing.  “Everything starts from a dot.” After that my imagination runs free on whatever landscape I choose for my narrative.  The thing is I have to use the same determination of wanting pleasure from a woman and transforming it into a desire for writing or creation.  “What I adore is supreme professionalism.  I’m bored by writers who can write only when it’s raining.”



I dress up as much as possible, even though I don’t see people any more.  But it’s imperative to make an appearance in front of my work-space, in other words, my laptop.  All I have in this world is my laptop, and that is not by choice, but by my new-found poverty.   I lived fully, expensively, and now I'm left with a head full of memories that will lead me on to hopefully, a future of some sort.  Although thinking that a series of “memories” will lead me to a future, seems to me to be an absurd joke of some sort.  “I have a memory like an elephant.  In fact, elephants often consult with me.”



Nonetheless, now, looking outside my window, and watching the rain, I know that I just have to overcome that.  A moment of sadness when I’m writing a comedy.  My life cannot possibly be regarded as anything else but a series of comedic moments, played out by the biggest fool on this planet.   What I do remember are past pleasures that appear to be nothing but  a flicker on a 16mm projection.  Wealth cannot only be measured by currency.  The taste of women, and I remember every taste, every unique scent - which rolls around my tongue even as I write at this moment.  I know I leave myself open to ridicule, but this is all I can offer at the moment.  “I’ll go and see anything so long as it amuses me, or moves me.  If it doesn’t do either I want to go home.”   Home being the 7th Symphony and my laptop.   So dear reader, do read and remember, “I love criticism just so long as its unqualified praise. ”

fairy-wren: (via Hello i’m here! by Frank Vroom /…



fairy-wren:

(via Hello i’m here! by Frank Vroom / 500px)

*Lilac-Breasted Roller

How many points does a random curve over F_q have?

So asks a charming preprint by Achter, Erman, Kedlaya, Wood, and Zureick-Brown.  (2/5 Wisconsin, 1/5 ex-Wisconsin!)  The paper, I’m happy to say, is a result of discussions at an AIM workshop on arithmetic statistics I organized with Alina Bucur and Chantal David earlier this year.

Here’s how they think of this.  By a random curve we might mean a curve drawn uniformly from M_g(F_q).  Let X be the number of points on a random curve.  Then the average number of points on a random curve also has a geometric interpretation: it is

|M_{g,1}(\mathbf{F}_q)|/|M_{g}(\mathbf{F}_q)|

What about

|M_{g,2}(\mathbf{F}_q)|/|M_{g}(\mathbf{F}_q)|?

That’s just the average number of ordered pairs of distinct points on a random curve; the expected value of X(X-1).

If we can compute all these expected values, we have all the moments of X, which should give us a good idea as to its distribution.  Now if life were as easy as possible, the moduli spaces of curves would have no cohomology past degree 0, and by Grothendieck-Lefschetz, the number of points on M_{g,n} would be q^{3g-3+n}.  In that case, we’d have that the expected value of X(X-1)…(X-n) was q^n.  Hey, I know what distribution that is!  It’s Poisson with mean q.

Now M_g does have cohomology past degree 0.  The good news is, thanks to the Madsen-Weiss theorem (née the Mumford conjecture) we know what that cohomology is, at least stably.  Yes, there are a lot of unstable classes, too, but the authors propose that heuristically these shouldn’t contribute anything.  (The point is that the contribution from the unstable range should look like traces of gigantic random unitary matrices, which, I learn from this paper, are bounded with probability 1 — I didn’t know this, actually!)  And you can even make this heuristic into a fact, if you want, by letting q grow pretty quickly relative to g.

So something quite nice happens:  if you apply Grothendieck-Lefschetz (actually, you’d better throw in Kai Behrend’s name, too, because M_g is a Deligne-Mumford stack, not an honest scheme) you find that the moments of X still agree with those of a Poisson distribution!  But the contribution of the tautological cohomology shifts the mean from q to q+1+1/(q-1).

This is cool in many directions!

  • It satisfies one’s feeling that a “random set,” if it carries no extra structure, should have cardinality obeying a Poisson distribution — the “uniform distribution” on the groupoid of sets.  (Though actually that uniform distribution is Poisson(1); I wonder what tweak is necessary to be able to tune the mean?)
  • I once blogged about an interesting result of Bucur and Kedlaya which showed that a random smooth complete intersection curve in P^3 of fixed degree had slightly fewer than q+1 points; in fact, about q+1 – 1/q + o(q^2).  Here the deviation is negative, rather than positive, as the new paper suggests is the case for general curves; what’s going on?
  • I have blogged about the question of average number of points on a random curve before.  I’d be very interested to know whether the new heuristic agrees with the answer to the question proposed at the end of that post; if g is a large random matrix in GSp(Z_ell) with algebraic eigenvalues, and which multiplies the symplectic form by q, and you condition on Tr(g^k) > (-q^k-1) so that the “curve” has nonnegatively many points over each extension of F_q, does this give something like the distribution the five authors predict for Tr(g)?  (Note:  I don’t think this question is exactly well-formed as stated.)

 


cue theme to Hawaii 5-0



cue theme to Hawaii 5-0

thecultureengine: 1923 Gerin Aerodyne Prototype Saloon



thecultureengine:

1923 Gerin Aerodyne Prototype Saloon

Arthur C. Clarke

arthur-c-clarkeHis was a nuts-and-bolts science fiction.

Jane Austen

1804 watercolor of Jane Austen by her sister CassandraWho is your Jane Austen?

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Photo



equinecirrhosis: Utopia



equinecirrhosis:

Utopia

itscolossal: Old Paintbrush Handles Sculpted Into Heads of…











itscolossal:

Old Paintbrush Handles Sculpted Into Heads of Women by Rebecca Szeto

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