Two strange feelings


Ken McLeod at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August...

Ken MacLeod: “Ineffable encounters and moments of ego-transcendence can be quite matter-of-fact. What’s really going on?” (Aeon).

Living with Cancer

My friend, the artist Lola Baltzell, is living with metastatic breast cancer. And I daresay she does much more living than most of us, who conveniently forget that we are not going to get out of this alive. I thought I would share with you this articulate and succinct statement of How to Build a Support Network she was recently invited to contribute to the weblog at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute, where she receives her care.

The twin child of the Big Bang

“Matter is not the Big Bang’s only child. It was born with a long-lost twin: Antimatter.” Here’s what we know about it, and the mystery of how matter, rather than antimatter, came to dominate our universe. (Prospect).

America’s Hippest Neighborhoods

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 08:  A Zagat sign is see...

Believe it or not, rated by Forbes magazine: “The San Francisco-based startup helped us dig through data on more than 250 neighborhoods in the biggest U.S. cities. We assessed each area’s walkability according to; the number of neighborhood coffee shops per capita (with some help from NPD Group’s report); the assortment of local food trucks (and their ranking according to Zagat’s); the number and frequency of farmers markets; the selection of locally owned bars and restaurants; and the percentage of residents who work in artistic occupations. We also factored in Nextdoor’s Neighborhood “Hipness” Index, which is based on how often words associated with hipness (for example art, gallery, designer, musician) appeared on each Nextdoor neighborhood’s site pages, and Nextdoor conducted a survey in which members sounded off on their communities.” Here is the list. Is you neighborhood there? What do you thin of the criteria used? For instance, I noticed that bookstores don’t factor in (what am I, stuck in the 20th century?). I mean, what do you do after you’ve eaten and imbibed well and looked at some art?
But, here’s a nice roundup from acb at the null device on why the notion of a geographically localized cultural style may be entirely passe.

Images of America: Forest Hills

Forthcoming book with photos of my hometown Forest Hills, a neighborhood in Queens, NY. Some of its notable residents,  some of whom attended my alma mater, Forest Hills HS, have included:

Alan King, Art Buchwald, Art Garfunkel, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), Branch Rickey, Burt Bacharach, Carroll O’Connor, Dale Carnegie, David Caruso, David Krumholtz, Ed Cassidy and Randy California (Spirit), Ernie Grunfeld, Geraldine Ferraro and John Zaccaro, Hank Azaria, Helen Keller, , Jacob Lew, Jerry Springer, Jimmy Breslin, Michael Landon, Paul Simon, Peter Parker (Spiderman), Pia Zadora, Ray Romano, Ronnie Earl, The Ramones, The Vagrants including Leslie West (Mountain), Walter Becker (Steely Dan), and Wilhelm Reich.

Is it dirty

Is it dirty
does it look dirty
that’s what you think of in the city

does it just seem dirty
that’s what you think of in the city
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

someone comes along with a very bad character
he seems attractive. is he really. yes. very
he’s attractive as his character is bad. is it. yes

that’s what you think of in the city
run your finger along your no-moss mind
that’s not a thought that’s soot

and you take a lot of dirt off someone
is the character less bad. no. it improves constantly
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

–Frank O Hara

Cliffnotes to the iPhone reviews

iPhone party

Very useful and properly succinct, in case you are interested.

“The reviews for the iPhone 5 are out. They’re unnecessarily long, in my opinion. Here’s everything you didn’t already learn from the marketing materials, sorted by publication. I read them and if there was something not covered in the marketing materials (tests, informed impressions) I put it in here. If it has been heard before or was hyperbole, I left it out.” (The Wirecutter).

Abandoned Places & Urban Exploring

Urban exploring, abandoned house

“This popular DRB series features the most fascinating abandoned environments around the world, best “urban exploration” adventures and artifacts of technology, left in the most unlikely places. Send us tips and pictures of the places you discovered, we will be happy to add to this collection.” (Dark Roasted Blend)

Kingsley Hall: RD Laing’s experiment in anti-psychiatry

“In 1965, the psychiatrist opened a residential treatment centre that aimed to revolutionise the treatment of mental illness. Five decades on, those who lived and spent time there look back on an era of drama and discovery.”  (

‘Three people, one baby’

“A public consultation has been launched to discuss the ethics of using three people to create one baby. The technique could be used to prevent debilitating and fatal “mitochondrial” diseases, which are passed down only from mother to child.

However, the resulting baby would contain genetic information from three people – two parents and a donor woman.

Ministers could change the law to make the technique legal after the results of the consultation are known.

About one in 200 children are born with faulty mitochondria – the tiny power stations which provide energy to every cell in the body. Most show little or no symptoms, but in the severest cases the cells of the body are starved of energy. It can lead to muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and in some cases can be fatal. Mitochondria are passed on from the mother’s egg to the child – the father does not pass on mitochondria through his sperm. The idea to prevent this is to add a healthy woman’s mitochondria into the mix.

Two main techniques have been shown to work in the laboratory, by using a donor embryo or a donor egg…” (BBC News)

Here It Is: The Best Word Ever

Best Word Ever

“What is the best word ever? Not the funniest word or the most erudite word or the most whimsical word … but The Best Word, full stop. What if, you know, the scallawag could eke out a thingamajig that would help him select the least milquetoast morsel from our linguistic smorgasbord?” (The Atlantic)

Google Adds Another Cool Tool to Search: The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

“Forget using

Kevin Bacon

Google’s more powerful search operators, the best ones are the most fun ones. We’ve seen ’tilt’ and ‘do a barrel roll’, but over the past day or so, the company has added another cool new search operator: Bacon number.No, it’s not a label that meatpacking companies assign to their pork products. It’s actually a new tool that calculates the connection between actors and actresses and the most famous actor never to have been nominated for an Academy Award.Or as we know it: the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.To use it, type in the words ‘Bacon number’ without quotes, followed by an actor or actresses name. Google will come back with how closely he/she has been to Kevin Bacon.” (Google).

R.I.P. Thomas Szasz



Thomas Szasz 0951

“…[P]sychiatrist whose 1961 book “The Myth of Mental Illness” questioned the legitimacy of his field and provided the intellectual grounding for generations of critics, patient advocates and antipsychiatry activists, making enemies of many fellow doctors, died Saturday…” (NYTimes obituary)




New App Lets You Aim a World-Class Telescope From Your iPad

NOAA solar flare 2005-09-07

“…[S]oon, a free iPad app could bring the heavens to your fingertips. Developed by the Slooh Space Camera collaboration, the MYSky app will let anyone tap on an object in the night sky and order a powerful telescope to take a high-quality image. The aim is to let anyone shoot their own world-class images of celestial events – such as a solar flare, asteroid flyby, or distant supernova explosion – with ease.” (

Explosion on Jupiter

“Apparently, something hit Jupiter during the early hours of Sept. 10th (11:35 UT), igniting a ferocious fireball in the giant planet’s cloudtops. Amateur astronomer Dan Peterson Racine, Wisconsin, saw it first through his Meade 12” LX200 telescope. “It was a bright white flash that lasted only 1.5 – 2 seconds,” he reports. Another amateur astronomer, George Hall of Dallas, Texas, was video-recording Jupiter at the time, and he confirmed the fireball with this video screenshot.

Impact site coordinates: longitude 335o (system 1) and latitude +12o, inside the North Equatorial Belt’s southern section.

The fireball was probably caused by a small asteroid or comet hitting Jupiter. Similar impacts were observed in June and August 2010. An analysis of those earlier events suggests that Jupiter is frequently struck by 10 meter-class asteroids–one of the hazards of orbiting near the asteroid belt and having such a strong gravitational pull.”  (SpaceWeather)

How Google Builds Its Maps…

…and What It Means for the Future of Everything: “In 50 years, Google will be the self-driving car company (powered by this deep map of the world) and, oh, P.S. they still have a search engine somewhere.”  (The Atlantic)

Impossible roof defies gravity

Two famous undecidable figures, the Penrose tr...
Two famous undecidable figures, the Penrose triangle and devil’s tuning fork. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Impossible objects, like those drawn by artist M. C. Escher, don’t seem like they could exist in the real world. But Kokichi Sugihara from Meiji University in Kawasaki, Japan, is well known for building 3D versions of these structures.

Now a new video shows his latest construction: a gravity-defying roof that seems to attract and balance balls on its edge. When the house is rotated, its true form is revealed.

According to Sugihara, this type of ambiguous shape is interesting because we perceive the illusion again even after we have seen what the object really looks like. After studying a variety of these objects, he concludes that our brain seems to choose the most rectangular configuration when it tries to make sense of features that can have different interpretations.

The brain trick was presented this week at the European Conference on Visual Perception in Alghero, Italy.

If you would like to build your own impossible objects, check out printable copies of Sugihara’s designs.” (New Scientist)

Evolution could explain the placebo effect

Leukemia treatment - immune system T-cells (ce...
Leukemia treatment – immune system T-cells (center) binding to beads which cause the cells to divide (Photo credit: Microbe World)

“New evidence from a computer model offers a possible evolutionary explanation, and suggests that the immune system has an on-off switch controlled by the mind.” (New Scientist)