Archive for the ‘Friday stuff’ category

Friday Eye Candy/Cool Toys

October 15, 2010

This, from Polish time lapse cinematographer Patryk Kizny:

The mini dolly/crane being shown off here isn’t cheap as far as anyone’s personal pocket goes — about $2,000 for the longest track — but, boy does Kizny make the case that it is cheap in film-terms for the production values it produces.

Below the jump, find the link to another of Kizny’s works

Premature Friday Stuff Post on The Latest Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us

September 23, 2010

Journalism Barbie.

See Amanda Hess for commentary, Xeni Jardin for pile-on snark, and a tip 0′ da chapeau to twitter feeds frinMIT SciWrite alumna @EmilyAnthes, @JenLucPiquant and @alexwitze for the heads up.

Curse You Carl Zimmer: Vicious Distraction Edition

August 27, 2010

So, a day or so ago Carl Zimmer tweets the existence of the Netflix iPhone app, boasting of the loss of his productivity.

A Trojan horse if there ever was one.

What a way to clear out potential writing competition.

Downloaded the app today.

Found myself watching episode one of the first season of Miami Vice.

I am fail.

Curse you, Carl Zimmer!

May the mosquito of vengeance hum in your ear from now to the time of the first better than break even human made fusion reactor. (Twenty years off since 1960 and counting.)

Image:  Robert Duncanson, “Blue Hole, Little Miami River” 1851 — and yeah, I know about which Miami it is.  Sometimes you gotta stretch.

Quote of the Day: Cosma Shalizi, or why mathematicians are delightfully different from other people

August 27, 2010

Presented without comment, from a stray announcement on Cosma’s invaluable, slow-cooked blog, Three Toed Sloth.

Every human relationship is a unique and precious snowflake, but do we treat them that way when we model them mathematically? No.

Image:  Hiroshige, “Kambara,” number 16 from The Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido, 1831-4 (Hoeido edition). And yes, sometimes I do post so I can put up (and look at) pix I love.

Short Friday Reading Notes/List

February 26, 2010

Amidst the ruins of the day (and it’s only 10:24 a.m. as I start this!) just a quick note to highlight some stuff I hope to blog at greater length about soon.

First:  Just this early a.m. finished Masha Gessen’s Perfect Rigor, about Grigory Perelman, the Poincare Conjecture, the nature of mathematics and mathematicians, and the last days of the Soviet empire.

Readers of this blog from back a year or so ago will know that I am serious fan of Masha’s, and have recommended her previous book, Blood Matters as the best account I’ve seen of the science, personal and social implications of genomics as applied to human health and well being.

Perfect Rigor is a very different book, of course, but it captures such a range of human experience:  passion and/or obsession, the cost of purity, the vicious absurdities of Soviet history, utopianism within mathematics, greed, envy, desire:   the whole shooting match, all centered on a deceptively simple-seeming statement about the nature of a shape we almost — but can’t, really — see in our mind’s eye.  It’s great historical writing; it’s a test of the limits of biography (what do you do when your living central character will not talk, not to you, not, anymore, to anyone?); it’s subtle blend of memoir, history, and contemporary conflict evokes a comparison with another book I’ve recently read and admired, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of HEnrietta LAcksand I want to write about all this with a bit more depth soon.  But for now, take my word for it:  Masha is a fine, fine writer, with an economy and elegance of style to match the intelligence and — her word applies here — the rigor her subjects demand.

Another book I’ve just begun and have not yet fully digested, but am loving, is just out:  Timothy Ferris’s The Science of Liberty.  Tim and I are old friends, and I’ve been hearing about this book for years; it’s the product of years of thought and reading.  I’m just getting started, so I don’t have a detailed comment yet, but it is as beautifully written as the best of Tim’s prior work, and it is smart as hell.  I’m going to be curious when I get to Chapter Ten, “Totalitarian Antiscience,” to place Tim’s thinking in the context of Loren Graham’s very nuanced studies of Soviet science — the disasters (see The Ghost of the Executed Engineer) and the surprising moments of accomplishment, (see What have we learned about science and technology from the Russian Experience?).  But that’s the pull of this book for me: Tim’s not trying merely to write descriptive history.  He wants to argue with his reader, to persuade, and I am interested in both his subject and the structure of his thinking.

Last, for this Friday at least, some pure fun:  Elif Batuman’s The Possesssed, a memoir/polemic/picaresque of reading and thinking and graduate school (not always conducive to either) and Russian literature.  Batuman is a craftsman of sentences (and she would loathe hearing herself described so, given her brutal dismissal of what she rather inaccurately terms a specifically New England tradition of writing instruction), and as craft does in the hands of artists, those sentences become beautiful, singly and in combination.

She’s also a viciously, hilariously acute observer, of herself and of anyone or anything in range.  It’s a serious hoot, with equal emphasis on both adjective and noun.  Plus the one thing taken deadly (but not humorlessly) seriously throughout is great fiction by dead Russians, works which accumulate into one of the mother lodes of investigation of the human condition.

Worth your time, in other words…have fun.

Image: Nicolas Neufchâtel, “Bildnis des Nürnberger Schreibmeisters Johann Neudörffer und eines Schülers,” 1561.


December 11, 2009

In the spirt of both Fridays and ends-of-term, this:

(via Fallows, last summer.)

(So I’m a little slow.)

(Sue me.)

The scariest thing about this short?  It proves what was long suspected: There is only one thriller in the universe; Michael Mann is a construct processing its variations.

Friday Quote + Bonus Audio/Video: Jimi and Muddy edition

November 20, 2009

From August Kleinzahler’s truly addictive book of essays on music (and obsession…) Music I-LXXIV:

Jimi Hendrix once told Rolling Stone: ” The first guitarist I was aware of was Muddy Waters.  I heard one of his records when I was a little boy and it scared me to death.”

not to mention…

Friday Stuff: Why I Love the English Language, no. 2

August 7, 2009

Second in a very occasional series (first here) on the joy to be taken in this magnificent instrument we call the English language.

I remember long ago reading in Winston Churchill’s memoir of his youth, My Early Life, of his reaction to the familiar curriculum he faced in school. For Latin he had no patience, with its declensions and rote memorization.  Ah, but English, and especially the glorious structure of the English sentence!

From memory of a book read more than three decades ago I recall that Churchill reported reveling in his failure to pass out into the upper forms, thus preserving his access to an English master who instilled in him a sense of the music of his language and of the voice that he would come to possess.

Some years later, in my last year of college, I was looking for a text to use in the annual competition for recitation, and I reached for the first volume of my parents’ set of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.*  I ended up choosing a different passage than the one I half remembered in Gibbon — a bit of the epilogue of Robert Graves’ Goodbye To All That, and I still cringe at the thought of myself as a 22 year old child reaching for the right tone of memory and loss and rejection that it takes years and much loss to earn.

But I’ve not forgot what drew me to the Gibbon passage in the first place, which was the shock of recognition I felt a few months before the competition when I read its first lines and suddenly understood what Churchill had been talking about.   Here they are:

In the second century of the Christian Aera, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valor. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government. During a happy period of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this, and of the two succeeding chapters, to describe the prosperous condition of their empire; and after wards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall; a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth.

That’s got rhythm.  That’s music.

*Properly History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but I like many remember it in the shorthand, and universalizing version of the title

Image:  Raphael, “School of Athens,” 1505.

Friday Fun: Photographs for the demented 9 year old image nut

July 31, 2009

Check this image out….

And then this one

And then go play with the entire set….

And by the way, you’re welcome. 😉

P.S.:  For the politically minded among you…start here.

Friday Fun: Nudity, Sex, Beaches (SFW)

July 24, 2009

I actually found this clip because of an actual professional interest. (yeah: and you get magazine X for the articles, right? — ed.) Several higher end still cameras are turning themselves into HD video cameras, and generally with much better optics than the basic consumer camcorders. With an interest in low-budget and more importantly, low profile documentary production, the quality of this video shot on a sub-$3,000 body and a seriously wonderful long lens impressed the hell out of me. Plus it gave me the opportunity for a classic headline bait-and-switch. Heh.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Friday Fun: Live, Nude, Chicks (SFW)“, posted with vodpod

Video of least terns mating at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, California. Taken with Canon 5D Mark II with Leica 800/5.6 lens mounted on it. It was quite windy on that day, as it commonly is over there, and you can hear the wind.