In a Walt Whitman Novel, Lost for 165 Years, Clues to ‘Leaves of Grass’
Jennifer Schuessler. NYTimes. February 20, 2017

beautifully told.


Today, we think of the radically expansive free verse of “Leaves of Grass,” with its wandering “I” who “contains multitudes,” as one of the fixed signposts in American literary history. But in his notebooks from the early 1850s, Mr. Turpin noted, Whitman was toying with other forms for his great work.

“You see him asking, Should it be a novel? Or a play, with thousands of people onstage, chanting in unison?” he said. “It’s amazing to think that ‘Leaves of Grass’ could have taken a different form entirely.”
She Spent her Life Hunting for Lost Wallpaper
messynessy. February 3, 2017

I found another thing I wish I’d been born a few decades earlier for: vintage wallpaper hunting. Suzanne Lipschutz got there before everyone else. She was the first, the original crazy bohemian lady from New York who scoured the earth, from Paris flea market stalls to hardware stores in small town middle America, in search of forgotten wall coverings that nobody else wanted.
2 days ago
What lies beneath the ice of our fascination with the North? | Aeon Essays
E R Truitt
is a medieval historian at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Her latest book is Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature, and Art (2015).
10 days ago
Unbuilt Los Angeles: the city that might have been – in pictures | Cities | The Guardian
Unbuilt Los Angeles: the city that might have been – in pictures

From the offshore Santa Monica freeway to a mini Las Vegas with pyramids and the Parthenon, Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell look at the LA that never happened
Never Built Los Angeles is published by Metropolis Books
Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin
The Guardian. Cities / Unbuilt Cities. 9 February 2017
12 days ago
Total recall: the people who never forget | Science | The Guardian
The long read
Total recall: the people who never forget
An extremely rare condition may transform our understanding of memory
Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
8 February 2017

highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM


Now 51, Price remembers the day of the week for every date since 1980; she remembers what she was doing, who she was with, where she was on each of these days. She can actively recall a memory of 20 years ago as easily as a memory of two days ago, but her memories are also triggered involuntarily.

It is, she says, like living with a split screen: on the left side is the present, on the right is a constantly rolling reel of memories, each one sparked by the appearance of present-day stimuli. With so many memories always at the ready, Price says, it can be maddening: virtually anything she sees or hears can be a potential trigger.
memory  HSAM 
14 days ago
The ginseng web
Kevin Hartnett. The Boston Globe. August 25, 2016

Harvard historian Shigehisa Kuriyama tells ginseng’s story in an essay collected in a new book “The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century.” The book examines how the growing global traffic in plants — for medical, economic, and scientific purposes — shaped colonial expansion in the 1700s.


At the time Joseph-François Lafitau discovered ginseng in Canada, the North American colonialists had a trade problem. They were hooked on tea from China and were hemorrhaging money to import it. Ginseng, which turned out to grow as far south as the present-day Carolinas, was the perfect solution.

“For Americans, [ginseng] funds their addiction to tea,” says Kuriyama. “It’s the one commodity Americans have that the Chinese really wanted.”

This trade dynamic flourished as the 18th century went on: When the first American ship sailed to China under the US flag, its hold was full of ginseng and it brought back mainly tea.

Things weren’t so easy for another tea-addicted country, however: Britain. The British loved tea even more than the Americans and sent huge sums of silver to China to fund their habit. They didn’t have ginseng, so they went looking for another crop to swap and settled perniciously on opium.
ginseng  botany  opium 
14 days ago
Long-lost continent found submerged deep under Indian Ocean | New Scientist
Mauritius sits on part of an ancient continent
Alice Klein. The New Scientist. 31 January 2017
21 days ago
Ephemera Society of America / ESA 37
ESA 37 – American Ingenuity: What’s the Big Idea?
Please join us for our 37th annual conference on March 16–19, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.


"Sparking the Imagination" Social & Cultural Antecedents of the Electromagnetic Telegraph
Ephemera unabashedly addresses the dynamics of change, anticipating and shaping innovation. Examining ephemera
such as letters, printed circulars, advertising prints, etc. from the 1830s helps set the stage for Samuel Finley Breese
Morse, called the "American Leonardo," who was not the sole inventor of the electromagnetic telegraph, but who
retains a central place in U.S. telegraph history. Ephemera shows the cultural readiness for electrical communication
- the annihilation of space and time first expressed as icon, metaphor and satire before becoming a reality.
Diane DeBlois & Robert Dalton Harris, proprietors of aGatherin', are charter members of The Ephemera Society of America. They were awarded the Maurice Rickards medal in 2008, and the American Philatelic Society's
Luff Award for Research in 2016. They wrote the section on telegraph history for volume 3 of the
American Stampless Cover Catalogue in 1993 (that mapped the development of all telegraph lines to the Western Union amalgamation). In 1994, The Ephemera Society published their monograph:
An Atlantic Telegraph, The Transcendental Cable.
telegraphy  ephemera  conferences 
21 days ago
Making a splash: cold water swimming | Life and style | The Guardian
The swimming blog
Making a splash: cold water swimming
There’s something for everyone at the cold water swimming championships at the lido in Tooting, south London: medals for the fastest, an award for the best hat and a mass jump-in in aid of Crisis, the homelessness charity
by Teri Pengilley (photos) and Jenny Landreth (words)
The Guardian. 30 January 2017
21 days ago
'I was weak, despairing, confused': did writing a novel make me ill?
'I was weak, despairing, confused': did writing a novel make me ill?
It started with a bottomless tiredness, and soon novelist Sarah Perry was unable to function. Had she brought it all on herself?

Sarah Perry
The Guardian. 28 January 2017
Sarah.Perry  illness  kindness 
24 days ago
Some memories of my grandmother
Some memories of my grandmother
Slightly adapted from a newsletter at the end of 2015. —@vruba, November 2016.

was going backwards. What matters first about the Weimar times is what they were like to live inside. That’s not all that matters, but nothing else matters if that doesn’t. We can’t see into a person’s life through copula sentences: “The Weimar period was materially difficult but intellectually productive”, “Some Allied bombings were ethically troubling”, “The midcentury Hollywood animation establishment was sexist”. Those don’t begin. But maybe: Feeding the goat with dandelions picked from the sidewalks of Lichterfelde. The way the raining city-ashes smelled. That Betty Brenon hired only women at her studio so they could get work done. I can only see Grandma starting with what she saw.
From there, it’s obvious that she did not let go, was not subsumed into the history textbook subheds of the century; she was always moving under her own power, in catastrophies and in merely imperfect systems. And so was everyone. Grandma was special in many ways, but point to anyone and so are they. Some of us are lucky enough to get to a place where our work can accrete, where we can build a piece of the world we want. Many of us are not. War is only one of the forces that can destroy a person’s chances, or a generation’s work, or a generation. The weight of history is intolerable, an ocean-trench pressure, if we try to take it as a weight. Talking with Grandma helped me take it as a liquid, something that we can equalize against without being crushed, something whose unintelligible mass we can, with luck, push through and move within.
4 weeks ago
Listening as Activism: The “Sonic Meditations” of Pauline Oliveros - The New Yorker
“I began to retreat. I didn’t want to play concerts. I began to turn inward.” She started singing and playing long, extended drones on her accordion, spending nearly a year on a single note, an A."

Kerry O'Brien. The New Yorker. December 9. 2016
4 weeks ago
‘I’m Nobody’? Not a Chance, Emily Dickinson
Holland Cotter. NYTimes. January 19-20, 2017
exhibit at The Morgan, today through May 21.
4 weeks ago
Listen with your eyes: one in five of us may 'hear' flashes of light | Science | The Guardian
Listen with your eyes: one in five of us may 'hear' flashes of light
A surprising number of people experience a form of sensory cross wiring in which light flashes and visual movements are ‘heard’, research finds

Hannah Devlin. The Guardian. Neuroscience. 17 January 2017

several links to guardian articles on synaesthesia.


More florid forms of synaesthesia, in which disparate sensory experiences are blended, are found in only about 2–4% of the population. To a synaesthete, the number seven might appear red, or the name Wesley might “taste” like boiled cabbage, for instance.

The latest work – only the second published on the phenomenon – suggests that many more of us experience a less intrusive version of the condition in which visual movements or flashes are accompanied by an internal soundtrack of hums, buzzes or swooshes. Since movements are very frequently accompanied by sounds in everyday life, the effect is likely to be barely discernible.
ae  synaesthesia  neuroscience 
5 weeks ago
Harvard Design Magazine: Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Hui Wang, Yuko Tsunetsugu, Julia Kane Africa
Harvard Design Magazine No. 40 (S/S 2015) / Well, Well, Well / Artifact

In Japan, strands of historical silviculture and more recent scientific inquiry—along with traditions of painting, poetry, and landscape design—are visible in the modern practice of shinrin-yoku, “forest bathing,” wherein walking in natural landscapes is thought to improve health. Today, shinrin-yoku is practiced at 52 Forest Therapy Bases, with as many as 100 ultimately envisioned across the archipelago.
shinrin-yoku  trees  silva  japan 
5 weeks ago
Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama | Cornel West | Opinion | The Guardian
Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama
Cornel West
The Guardian. 9 January 2017

Our hope and change candidate fell short time and time again. Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility
politics  Cornell.West 
6 weeks ago
The holy mountain: monks of Mount Athos
The holy mountain: monks of Mount Athos – photo essay
Mount Athos is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world, consisting of 20 monasteries and approximately 2,000 monks. Photographer Rick Findler visited the oldest surviving monastic community in the world
by Rick Findler and Matt Fidler
Thursday 5 January 2017
Mount.Athos  monasticism 
6 weeks ago
I’m on the same page as the ‘bookseller from hell’. Here’s why | Stephen Moss | Opinion | The Guardian
I’m on the same page as the ‘bookseller from hell’. Here’s why
By charging customers to browse in his shop, Steve Bloom is fighting back against online shopping with the traditional weapon of his trade – misanthropy
Stephen Moss. The Guardian. 5 January 2017
The book dealer Driff Field (aka Drif, Driffield and Dryfield) used to publish a marvellous guide to secondhand bookshops – when they were numerous across the UK. Most of those bookshops have now disappeared – and Driff’s guide ceased publication in the mid-1990s after six treasurable editions. All killed by the wretched internet. Driff understood secondhand booksellers exactly: they were generally men of a certain age who had been disappointed in life. Books were their only solace – friends who never let you down.

The abbreviations Drif uses in his guides are inspired. FARTS: “Follows around recommending the stock.” GOB: “Grand old bore.” WYLAH: “Watches you like a hawk.” “WEBCOC: “Was expecting a better class of customer.” His summings up are magisterial: “V. erratic but will answer if you ring bell. FARTS. Rumoured to be closing down.” He is especially good on booksellers who don’t actually want to part with their stock. The books are their friends, remember. Why should they sell them to an oik like you?

Mr Bloom is one of the last, honourable remnants of this dying breed.
book.selling  book.sellers  Drif 
6 weeks ago
The Canada experiment: is this the world's first 'postnational' country? | Charles Foran | World news | The Guardian
The Canada experiment: is this the world's first 'postnational' country?
When Justin Trudeau said ‘there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada’, he was articulating a uniquely Canadian philosophy that some find bewildering, even reckless – but could represent a radical new model of nationhood

Charles Foran. The Guardian. 4 January 2017
6 weeks ago
How Technology Helped Emilie Gossiaux Overcome Blindness to Rediscover Her Process :: Tech :: Features :: Paste
An Artist: How Technology Helped Emilie Gossiaux Overcome Blindness to Rediscover Her Process
Daniel Lumpkin. Paste Magazine. September 3, 2015
AR  XL  brainport  Emilie.Gossiaux 
7 weeks ago
folds - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
Alan Jacobs on Pynchon's Mason and Dixon (and V).
beautiful and rich essay.
3 January 2017
thomas.pynchon  topology  fold  ayjay 
7 weeks ago
Survival of the … Noblest? | Literary Review of Canada
Lev Bratishenko, review of Peter Dauvergne. Environmentalism of the Rich.

Dauvergne does not pay sufficient attention to the political dimension or its history. Western environmentalism originated in 19th-century nature conservation movements linked to aristocratic pleasures of (owning) the land. It smelled luxurious from the beginning, and it was always a political tool. The first Canadian national park, Banff, was created to support a burgeoning railway tourism industry, and First Nations were banned. The idea that you might live in a place by engaging its ecosystem without claiming dominance over it has never been central to western environmentalism. It is only more recently, as part of a global resurgence in indigenous cultures, that such ideas are being more widely discussed and experimentally applied. A former national park in New Zealand, Te Urewera, was recently given legal status as a person, and although such strategies have potential to transform our relationships with nature, they do not appear in this book.


Any criticism of mainstream environmentalism, but especially one that looks for other ways forward, has to consider the existing ecology of alternatives and antagonists. Opposition to environmentalism in North America, for example, reflects the movement’s history by clustering around poles of “the government can’t tell me what to do” and “jobs are more important,” neither of which are traditional concerns of the upper classes. Recently, Nathaniel Rich wrote on Arlie Russell Hochschild in the New York Review of Books, and I was struck by her metaphor for the political problem. Imagine the American Dream as a long line of people (with the Tea Partiers-Trumpers somewhere in the middle) trudging toward success and dignity just beyond the hill; the decline of blue-collar employment brings the line to a halt, and then, in Rich’s ­paraphrase:
An even greater indignity follows: people begin cutting them in line. Many are those who had long stood behind them—blacks, women, immigrants, even Syrian refugees, all now aided by the federal government. Next an even more astonishing figure jumps ahead of them: a brown pelican … Thanks to environmental protections, it is granted higher social status than, say, an oil rig worker.

7 weeks ago
Excerpt: Strike/Slip

Eventually water,
having been possessed by every verb —
been rush been drip been
geyser eddy fountain rapid drunk
evaporated frozen pissed
transpired — will fall
into itself and sit.
Pond. Things touch
or splash down and it
takes them in — pollen, heron, leaves, larvae, greater
and lesser scaup — nothing declined,
nothing carried briskly off to form
alluvium somewhere else. Pond gazes
into sky religiously but also
gathers in its edge, reflecting cattails, alders,
reed beds and behind them, ranged
like taller children in the grade four photo,
conifers and birch. All of them inverted, carried
deeper into sepia, we might as well say
pondered. For pond is not pool,
whose clarity is edgeless and whose emptiness,
beloved by poets and the moon, permits us
to imagine life without the accident-
prone plumbing of its ecosystems. No,
the pause of pond is gravid and its wealth
a naturally occurring soup. It thickens up
with spawn and algae, while,
on its surface, stirred by every
whim of wind, it translates air as texture —
mottled, moiré, pleated, shirred or
seersuckered in that momentary ecstasy from which
impressionism, like a bridesmaid, steps. When it rains
it winks, then puckers up all over, then,
moving two more inches into metamorphosis,
shudders into pelt.
Suppose Narcissus
were to find a nice brown pond
to gaze in: would the course of self-love
run so smooth with that exquisite face
rendered in bruin undertone,
shaken, and floated in the murk
between the deep sky and the ooze?
Dan.McKay  pond 
7 weeks ago
Art That’s Disposable, but by No Means Throwaway
James Barron. NYTimes/Region. December 27-28, 2016

Ron Barron, 78, creates art out of trash that he plucks from the streets of New York City. He mails his finds home to Ohio, where he places them on a scanner in his studio and makes what are essentially large-scale prints., 78, creates art out of trash that he plucks from the streets of New York City. He mails his finds home to Ohio, where he places them on a scanner in his studio and makes what are essentially large-scale prints.
7 weeks ago
Eye Magazine | Blog | Ghosts of designbots yet to come
Ghosts of designbots yet to come

Automated graphic design and the rise of robot creatives – Francisco Laranjo files a critical report from the perspective of Christmas 2025

Eye. 21 December 2016
design.futures  design.bots  216S17 
8 weeks ago
Bionic legs and smart slacks: exoskeletons that could enhance us all
Half full: solutions, innovations, answers
Bionic legs and smart slacks: exoskeletons that could enhance us all
There are tantalising signs that as well as aiding rehabilitation, devices could soon help humans run faster and jump higher

Nicola Davis. The Guardian. 25 December 2016
assistive.technology  adaptive.technology 
8 weeks ago
Becoming Invisible: An Interview with Mary Ruefle
Caitlin Youngquist. The Paris Review. December 12, 2016
10 weeks ago
‘I’m Prejudiced,’ He Said. Then We Kept Talking.
Heather C. McGhee. NYTimes. December 10-11, 2016

“I’m a white male,” said the caller, who identified himself as Garry from North Carolina. “And I’m prejudiced.”

As a black leader often in the media, I have withstood my share of racist rants, so I braced myself. But what I heard was fear — of black people and the crime he sees on the news — not anger.

“What can I do to change?” he asked. “To be a better American?”
10 weeks ago
Inside the 21st-Century Craze for Redesigning Everything
Rob Walker
"Make-over Mania : Inside the tech-inspired 21st-century craze for redesigning everything"
NYTimes Magazine (13 November 2016).
design  re.design  Rob.Walker  405F16 
12 weeks ago
How Xerox Invented the Copier and Artists Pushed It To Its Limits | Atlas Obscura
Ernie Smith. Atlas Obscura. November 21, 2016

xerography (electrically-charged toner, and heat)
carbon paper
hectographs (gelatin)
ditto machines (spirit duplicators)
mimeo  405F16 
12 weeks ago
About - Voyant Tools Help
Voyant Tools is a web-based text reading and analysis environment. It is a scholarly project that is designed to facilitate reading and interpretive practices for digital humanities students and scholars as well as for the general public.

What you can do with Voyant:

Use it to learn how computers-assisted analysis works. Check out our examples that show you how to do real academic tasks with Voyant.
Use it to study texts that you find on the web or texts that you have carefully edited and have on your computer.
Use it to add functionality to your online collections, journals, blogs or web sites so others can see through your texts with analytical tools.
Use it to add interactive evidence to your essays that you publish online. Add interactive panels right into your research essays (if they can be published online) so your readers can recapitulate your results.
Use it to develop your own tools using our functionality and code.
tools  voyant 
12 weeks ago
$40bn to save Jakarta: the story of the Great Garuda | Cities | The Guardian
Guardian Jakarta live
$40bn to save Jakarta: the story of the Great Garuda
Forget Venice. The fastest-sinking city is the Indonesian capital, parts of which are dropping at 25cm a year. Can an outlandish plan for a giant seawall and luxury waterworld city in the shape of a mythical bird save Jakarta from drowning?

Philip Sherwell. The Guardian. 22 November 2016
Indonesia  Jakarta 
november 2016
Anni Albers: Connections | Wellesley College
Anni Albers: Connections
Sep 28 2016 - Dec 18 2016

In 1984, textile designer and printmaker Anni Albers published Connections—a set of nine silkscreens that evoke pivotal moments in her prolific career, by then spanning nearly six decades. Reflecting on her life as a designer, she chose motifs for the prints based on her work from particular years: two from the 1920s, when Albers was at the Bauhaus and met her life-long partner and later husband Josef; two from the 1940s, when the couple taught at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina after having fled Nazi Germany; three from the late 1950s to the early ‘70s, after they resettled in Orange, Connecticut and Josef served as Yale University’s Chair of the Department of Design; and two from the early 1980s, after Josef’s death. This exhibition pairs the Davis Museum’s exquisite example of this silkscreen portfolio—an acquisition made in the past year—with Albers’ work from each era, tracing the development of her patterns from sketches on graph paper to gouache maquettes. Preparatory works on paper are paired with fabric swatches and remnants manufactured by commercial textile producers,
Anni.Albers  exhibitions 
november 2016
Metamaterial (wikipedia)
a material engineered to have a property that is not found in nature.[3] They are made from assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from composite materials such as metals or plastics. The materials are usually arranged in repeating patterns, at scales that are smaller than the wavelengths of the phenomena they influence. Metamaterials derive their properties not from the properties of the base materials, but from their newly designed structures.
november 2016
Eve Babitz: return of the LA woman
Andrew Male. The Guardian (of all places). 8 November 2016
eve.babitz  los.angeles 
november 2016
Spiritual blackout in America: Election 2016
Cornel West. The Boston Globe. November 3, 2016

THE MOST FRIGHTENING feature of the civic melancholia in present-day America is the relative collapse of integrity, honesty, and decency — an undeniable spiritual blackout of grand proportions. The sad spectacle of the presidential election is no surprise. Rather, the neofascist catastrophe called Donald Trump and the neoliberal disaster named Hillary Clinton are predictable symbols of our spiritual blackout. Trump dislodged an inert conservative establishment by unleashing an ugly contempt for liberal elites and vulnerable citizens of color — and the mainstream media followed every performance (even his tweets!) for financial gain. Clinton laid bare a dishonest liberal establishment that was unfair to Bernie Sanders and obsessed with winning at any cost — and the mainstream media selectively weighed in for pecuniary ends.

In short, the rule of Big Money and its attendant culture of cupidity and mendacity have led to our grand moment of spiritual blackout. The founder of Western philosophy, Plato, foresaw this scenario.…

The same self-righteous neoliberal soulcraft of smartness, dollars, and bombs lands us even deeper in our spiritual blackout. Instead we need a democratic soulcraft of wisdom, justice, and peace — the dreams of courageous freedom fighters like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, Edward Said, and Dorothy Day. These dreams now lie dormant at this bleak moment, but spiritual and democratic awakenings are afoot among the ripe ones, especially those in the younger generation.
Cornel.West  civic.melancholia  politics 
november 2016
Anne Boyer. The Miserablist
Anne Boyer. The Miserablist
The White Review. November 2016
november 2016
Anne Carson: ‘I do not believe in art as therapy’
Anne Carson: ‘I do not believe in art as therapy’
The poet and classics professor talks about her new collection, Float, her love of volcanoes and the power of brevity

‘I preferred drawing, but wasn’t very good at it.’
Kate Kellaway
The Guardian. 30 October 2016
november 2016
CRISPR (wikipedia)
Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats are segments of prokaryotic DNA containing short repetitions of base sequences. Each repetition is followed by short segments of "spacer DNA" from previous exposures to a bacteriophage virus or plasmid.
405F16  CRISPR  collage  editing  genome 
october 2016
Zadie Smith: what Beyoncé taught me
What a writer can learn from a dancer. (as titled on p1)
Zadie Smith.
The Guardian. 29 October 2016
dance  writing 
october 2016
Why Iceland is the best place in the world to be a woman | Life and style | The Guardian
Since 1975, the Nordic country has blazed the trail in gender equality and now, from infancy to maternity, women and girls enjoy a progressive lifestyle. But how did they achieve it?

Noreena Hertz. Guardian. 24 October 2016
Iceland  gender  women 
october 2016
Women In Astronomy: The Normalcy Curve
March 10, 2015

Today’s guest blogger is Wanda Diaz Merced. Wanda is a space scientist who lost her sight when she was a student studying physics at the University of Puerto Rico. Rather than give up the subject she loved, Wanda began to investigate techniques for analyzing astronomical signals using sound rather than visual information.

I love to walk every morning to CfA, a very pleasant walk (on sunny days), using my white cane. Sometimes drivers offer me rides, which I either accept or politely reject. In either case, I am always vigilant, responding to infrequent changes, such as those in voices or pathways, and I maintain a state of alertness to identify those changes. At all times my journey to work is full of items with high or low salience, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Those responses are the certainties I use to persist to my destination. My sight loss has spurred me to develop other ways to observe and study the world – using my hands, my ears, and what some people would call "physics intuition," but which I call the heart.
As a computer scientist and astrophysicist, I use the same non-biased sensitivity to auditorily identify events in my observational data … sounds that have brought to life a world that seemed to be vanishing 16 years ago. Now I do science by translating satellite measurements into sound (mapped in rhythms, volumes, and pitches). This humble approach begun as an attempt to familiarize myself with astronomical measurements. I worked 24/7 with my first sonified data set to get beyond mere “familiarization.” The results lead to the notion that sonification could benefit sighted astrophysicists as well. My evidence suggests that when sound is used as an adjunct to visualization for analyzing astronomical data, it increases our ability to spot events or trends of interest that may otherwise be missed.
Wanda.Diaz-Merced  sonification  astronomy 
october 2016
Studying the Building Blocks of Life in Stereo Sound
Joanna Klein. NYTimes. October 21, 2016

Dr. Bywater had been interested in assigning sounds to proteins since the 1990s. After hearing a song Dr. Middleton had composed called “Redwood Symphony,” which opens with sounds derived from the tree’s DNA, he asked for his help.

Using a process called sonification (which is the same thing used to assign different ringtones to texts, emails or calls on your cellphone) the team took three proteins and turned their folding shapes — a coil, a turn and a strand — into musical melodies. Each shape was represented by a bunch of numbers, and those numbers were converted into a musical code. A combination of musical sounds represented each shape, resulting in a song of simple patterns that changed with the folds of the protein. Later they played those songs to a group of 38 people together with visuals of the proteins, and asked them to identify similarities and differences between them. The two were surprised that people didn’t really need the visuals to detect changes in the proteins.

“I think they have an interesting approach, since people are better at ‘getting’ certain patterns using sound than vision,” Melissa Saenz, a neuroscientist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, wrote in an email.

She says, for instance, that we’re often better at detecting morse code, which can be a flash of light or a beep, for example, with sound rather than sight.
music  visualization  sonification 
october 2016
Off-Ramp | Commemorating LA's Chinese Massacre, possibly the worst lynching in US history | 89.3 KPCC
Commemorating LA's Chinese Massacre, possibly the worst lynching in US history
by Robert Petersen | Off-Ramp October 21, 2016

Monday evening, L.A.'s Chinese American Museum will commemorate the 145th anniversary of possibly the worst lynching in American history, the Chinese Massacre, which happened near the present-day museum. Robert Petersen tells the story in his podcast, The Hidden History of Los Angeles, which he shares with Off-Ramp.
october 2016
Microsoft researchers reach human parity in conversational speech recognition
Allison Linn. October 18, 2016

Microsoft has made a major breakthrough in speech recognition, creating a technology that recognizes the words in a conversation as well as a person does.

In a paper published Monday, a team of researchers and engineers in Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research reported a speech recognition system that makes the same or fewer errors than professional transcriptionists.  The researchers reported a word  error rate (WER) of 5.9 percent, down from the 6.3 percent WER the team reported just last month.

The 5.9 percent error rate is about equal to that of people who were asked to transcribe the same conversation, and it’s the lowest ever recorded against the industry standard Switchboard speech recognition task.

“We’ve reached human parity,” said Xuedong Huang, the company’s chief speech scientist. “This is an historic achievement.”
405F16  NLP  conversation 
october 2016
Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Reith lecturer | Society | The Guardian
Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Reith lecturer
Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah says race and nationality are social inventions being used to cause deadly divisions

Hannah Ellis-Peterson. The Guardian. Identity politics. 18 October 2016


Appiah’s lecture explores the notion that two black-skinned people may share similar genes for skin colour, but a white-skinned person and a black-skinned person may share a similar gene that makes them brilliant at playing the piano. So why, he asks, have we decided that one is the core of our identity and the other is a lesser trait?

“How race works is actually pretty local and specific; what it means to be black in New York is completely different from what it means to be black in Accra, or even in London,” he explains. “And yet people believe it means roughly the same thing everywhere. Race does nothing for us.
405F16  race  identity  essentiality  Kwame.Anthony.Appiah 
october 2016
Maya Lin Unveils Redesign of Smith College Library
Joshua Barone. NYTimes. Art & Design. October 16, 2016


The renovation will retain the original building of the Neilson Library from 1909 while removing bulky additions from over the years that Ms. Lin said created a “telescoping” effect and bisected the campus’s lawns with what amounted to a wall. Her proposal also introduces two “jewel box” wings designed with curves to let in natural light from different angles throughout the day.

“We basically get to give the heart of the campus back to Smith,” Ms. Lin said. “It was a reductivist scheme. Less is more.”

She added that restoring the open green space harks back to the original 1893 campus plan of Frederick Law Olmsted, the chief architect of Central Park. His design called for Smith’s small campus in Northampton, Mass., to double as a botanic garden.

In addition, Ms. Lin’s proposal includes a “skyline room” atop the library, with views of the campus, nearby Paradise Pond and the Holyoke Mountain Range. Also on the top level is an outdoor patio. Inside, the central atrium will be lit by an oculus, whose curves were calculated to capture and magnify sunlight.
Maya.Lin  libraries 
october 2016
G-AAAH on Vimeo
Lizzy Hobbs' uses a typewriter to animate the adventures of Amy Johnson.
via @derekbeaulieu
october 2016
Remaking Optophones: An Exercise in Maintenance Studies
Remaking Optophones: An Exercise in Maintenance Studies
Tiffany Chan, Victoria Murawski, and Jentery Sayers
March 14, 2016
maintenance.studies  optophone 
october 2016
Zazamatix — Néle Azevedo - In 2009, she carved these...
Néle Azevedo - In 2009, she carved these incredible tiny ice sculptures of men and placed them on the steps of Gendermenmarkt Square in Berlin.
néle azevedo melting ice men berlin global warming
11 notes Oct 6th, 2016
Néle.Azevedo  ice  sculpture  melt 
october 2016
prostheticknowledge: Asemic Languages ...
Asemic Languages
Installation by So KANNO, Takahiro YAMAGUCHI and Hironori SAKAMOTO features a plotter drawing machine writing in scripts from machine learned analysis of handwriting from around the world:
asemic  writing  writing.technologies 
october 2016
So. Algorithms Are Designing Chairs Now | WIRED
Margaret Rhodes. Wired. 3 October 2016

In the case of the Elbo, Harsuvanakit and Presten collaborated with Dreamcatcher, Autodesk’s generative design CAD system. They fed the software a digital, 3-D model of a chair inspired by Hans Wegner’s iconic Round Chair and the Lambda Chair, from the design studio Berkeley Mills. Then, they stipulated how much weight the chair must support and insisted that the arms clear a human body. With that, Dreamcatcher started iterating.

The software churned out hundreds of designs, optimizing as it went. It shaved dead weight and adjusted joint placement to improve load-bearing abilities, creating thinner, more intricate structures. “It just gets bonier as the iterations go higher,” Harsuvanakit says.
chairs  algorithms  generative.design 
october 2016
What’s Clogging Jakarta’s Waterways? You Name It
What’s Clogging Jakarta’s Waterways? You Name It
Joe Cochrane. NYTimes. October 3/4, 2016

photo caption :
Workers collecting and separating trash at a floodgate in the Manggarai neighborhood. The waterways were 70 percent blocked when Jakarta began its dredging program in 2012.
october 2016
A polyphonic dawn chorus in the Essex edgelands / Caroline Bergvall
Caroline Bergvall’s Raga Dawn is a mash-up of English, Punjabi and Romansh, poetry, music and performance art. She explains why she’s opposing ‘isolationist pride’ on the spot where the Empire Windrush docked in 1948

Nancy Groves. The Guardian. Art and Design. 20 September 2016
Caroline.Bergvall  poetry 
october 2016
the description and poem were transcribed verbatim from emmett williams's 1968 publication sweethearts
digitized by mindy seu
sweethearts  Emmett.Williams  concrete.poetry 
september 2016
Cambridge Coding on Twitter: "Deep Learning system can correctly guess people’s identities from blurred or pixelated redactions with 83% accuracy https://t.co/1hqf97GUBZ https://t.co/ylcG8H1zWJ"
Deep Learning system can correctly guess people’s identities from blurred or pixelated redactions with 83% accuracy
ªªhttp://buff.ly/2d4pEDv ºº
september 2016
Foundation stone: leading architects on the homes that shaped them | Life and style | The Guardian
Nell Card. The Guardian. 24 September 2016

Daniel Libeskind
Julia Barfield
John Pawson
Adam Willis
Sarah Wigglesworth
Sunand Prasad
Terry Farrell
september 2016

Shapereader is a repertoire of forms and patterns that constitute an attempt to translate words and meanings into tactile formations. It was designed from scratch with the goal to transpose works of graphic literature to a blind and visually impaired readership, Shapereader advocates for new publishing grounds and challenges visual predominance of graphic storytelling. While it is mainly addressed to people with visual disabilities it can also be experienced by the acquainted regular user. Through circumvention of the visual sensorimotor stimuli, it activates the reader’s repressed tactile-sensory realm and helps foster a new diegetic experience.


reminded me of shapewriter
tactile  haptic  shape.reader 
september 2016
My paintings translate words into visual language. These panels with texts and accompanying abstract structures might be called illuminated manuscripts of the everyday.

Written in these recent paintings are collections of ambient found language: fragments from street signs, junk mail, end user licensing agreements, email, labels, subway ads, receipts, newspapers, and instruction manuals. Transcripts of fine print from the relentless flow of information surrounding us are used to derive a personal abstract vernacular.

Each panel is a slate on which penciled and inked text and notations accompany resulting geometric configurations of acrylic gouache paint. I print columns of letters and code them into corresponding columns and rows of painted geometry. In some paintings the same text is coded in more than one way. Different systems and layerings of visual elements--color, mark, shape, division—yield crystalline structures, linear networks, and other abstract dialects.

These works originated with small studies on graph paper in my datebook, made while riding the subway. To escape my habits of composition, I played games with numbers, randomness, and, finally, words. The results led to work with a crazy logic, part text and part visual intensity, that I'm still pursuing after more than a decade.

About the paintings' texts:

Some texts document a journey or a particular place. Others are rosters of related fragments from disparate sources: instructions, guarantees, regulations, warnings. There are lists of acronyms, rules, book titles, artists, names of streets, and names of trees. These collected scraps from our language environment may be banal, poetic, nostalgic, ominous, or ironic.

It takes close looking to make out words from the lettered stacks. The paintings can be seen without being read. The texts are a kind of deep background, "fine print," like some of their actual sources. There is resonance for me in these texts. But I hope the works as a whole, with their regimented tangles of notation and paint, have a visual presence requiring no glossary.

Leslie Roberts, 2016


Pratt Institute. Currently Professor, Foundation Department, and Coordinator of Foundation Light, Color and Design
Leslie.Roberts  coding 
september 2016
Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth, DNA study confirms | Australia news | The Guardian
Hannah Devlin. The Guardian. 21 September 2016

Claims that Indigenous Australians are the most ancient continuous civilisation on Earth have been backed by the first extensive study of their DNA, which dates their origins to more than 50,000 years ago.

Scientists were able to trace the remarkable journey made by intrepid ancient humans by sifting through clues left in the DNA of modern populations in Australia and Papua New Guinea. The analysis shows that their ancestors were probably the first humans to cross an ocean, and reveals evidence of prehistoric liaisons with an unknown hominin cousin.

Evidence of 9,000-year-old stone houses found on Australian island
Read more
september 2016
Collections as Data 2016
Collections as Data:
Stewardship and Use Models to Enhance Access
September 27, 2016
The Library of Congress
collections  curating  archives  Maciej.Ceglowski 
september 2016
The Quiet Power of Maya Lin by Martin Filler
Martin Filler. NYRB. 29 September 2016

review of
Creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Inside Story
by Robert W. Doubek
McFarland, 311 pp., $35.00 (paper)
Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11
by Harriet F. Senie
Oxford University Press, 261 pp., $99.00; $29.95 (paper)
Maya Lin: Topologies
with a foreword by John McPhee and essays by Michael Brenson, William L. Fox, Paul Goldberger, Philip Jodidio, Maya Lin, Lisa Phillips, and Dava Sobel
Rizzoli, 400 pp., $75.00

see ajay

"…curious that neither he nor his editors know that the primary reference of church-as-navis is to Noah’s ark. The Church is the ship of salvation, the instrument of God’s rescue of His people, as the Ark had been earlier."
maya.lin  ajay 
september 2016
Ralph Lauren Stops Traffic
another fine Vanessa Friedman piece, on Ralph Lauren and spectacle and reality…
NYTimes, 15-16 September 2016
ralph.lauren  fashion  beauty 
september 2016
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