January, 2015: 62 posts.
New Year’s Resolution
It’s 2015 today. It’s been this for a few hours now. It’s now three years I’ve worked for the same company. It’s ten years I’ve been married to the same woman. It’s been another year since my Mom died. I am happy to be moving forward in time with the typical amount of uncertainty and pain attendant to human life in this 21st century.
I am bothered by a lot of what is happening this century. The entities that have been forces for good in the world are turning rather more negative. The forces that have provided valuable protection now surveil citizens without the degree of self-skepticism I would expect of forces with great power. If you’re going to tap my phones and computers please have the decency to it with some checks and balances. If you’re going to kill human beings from a great height do it with some due process. If you’re going to police my streets do it as though you were protectIng and serving the people being policed no matter their age or skin color. And it people point out that there ought to be accountability when things go poorly don’t act offended. Your job is hard and criticism from the public is built into it.
There’s a Woody Guthrie song called “All You Fascists” I like. I like the cover by Billy Bragg & Wilco. The song is from the 1940s but the words still apply.
Race hatred cannot stop us
This one thing we know
Your poll tax and Jim Crow
And greed has got to go
We’re still dealing with what the U.S. means. How does it run? What does it mean?
WE THE PEOPLE
What people? All people? And are all the people accounted for in that number? And how doe we harness everyone’s ideas about what being United States is and move that ENTITY to reflect those ideas? It’s voting, right? Poll taxes are gone as such but the voting process is folded, spindled and mutilated in ways that need change. We must all change. That includes you U.S. Citizens out there. You are the “WE” in “WE THE PEOPLE.”
I’m deep in thought about this and expect change in this area. From myself. And from you.
Thanks for reading this.
Current musical obsession for me is Frostbite by ♡kitty♡. I first became aware of her with OK Cupid a few years ago.
That was low-fi hip-hop done at an unexpected angle – young, white, female and with a voice that reminded me of hip-hop that came from somewhere other than mainstream. Acts like De La Soul, Arrested Development, Jurassic 5, Digable Planets that came with other kinds of gravity than New York or West Coast B-Boy.
Frostbite comes from yet a different angle and puts me in the mind of techno and rave culture. I’m reminded of 808 State or The Orb but I’m not well-versed enough in music to even know what other similar acts there might be. The addition of lyrical density to that kind of music kills me. I love wordplay even if I can’t exactly hear what the words are. Frostbite knocks out with the way it seems like total piffle but is more than just “let’s dance” and “meet cutes” and “hey dj.” It has anger and longing and sadness and totally works on me. Dance music that has a brain I’m a sucker for.
Pleistocene, 2001, jwz has been using the tag “grim meathook future” on his LiveJournal blog. I’ve always liked that. I don’t remember him really defining the term. In a comment today he sums up, in discussing which PKD film adaptation is worthwhile I think he summed up “grim meathook” pretty well:
That said, the interesting thing about adaptations is that sometimes the worst one is the best. For example, New Rose Hotel is a pretty faithful adaptation, but it’s an absolutely shit movie unless your fetish is hours of watching Harvey Keitel cry. Whereas, the best Gibson adaptation is unquestionably Strange Days, even though he didn’t write any of it. It captured the essence of his “sprawl” books in a way nothing else ever approached. So maybe The Matrix was the best Dick movie. Or maybe it was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Sometimes I’ll argue that Dick and Lovecraft were the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century (though when I’m in that mood I’m more likely to argue that The Pixies have been far more influential than The Beatles, but that’s neither here nor there) because even though their actual, you know, writing and stories were kind of crap, their ideas defined, predicted, categorized and possibly invented the fucked up world we live in: that the world is vastly larger and more complicated than you can possibly comprehend, and that you are surrounded by conspiracies — real, existing ones — that desperately want to hide from you who you are and what is really pressing in around you. That’s basically the human condition from the Cold War through Y2K and beyond. Pre-Millenium Tension: a phrase that is now quaint.
I appreciate the point of view of people who can see the present as dystopia. Cyberpunk foreshadowed our world.
I have been wondering about my audience for this blog for a long time. As a reminder, I’ve been posting material here since 2001. 2015 marks 14 years of postings. Lately it seems it’s mostly a republishing platform for my Instagram photos because of my distrust of providers of internet services.
Here’s a header I made in 2001, back when the blog part was still hosted on blogger, wondering if anyone is reading this.
So at least I’m consistent.
The other day I tweeted to avocadoh8 in response to her blog posting: DOES ANYBODY BLOG ANYMORE?. Here’s a small excerpt.
It was only when I saw the caption on an Instagram photo of one of my contacts, recently—a person whose blog I used to read regularly—mentioning that she’d blogged for the first time in a long time, and then a follow-up comment that said, “It’s rare that I go check out blogs anymore…” that I realized that a tipping point had been reached, and non-blogging might be A Thing now. Not even a thing we all complain about, as we used to (“I’m way behind on my blogging,” yadda yadda), but just A Thing. It reminds me of that scene in When Harry Met Sally when Sally says something about her friend who complains that now that she has kids she and her husband never have sex anymore, and then she says, actually, now that I think about it, she didn’t even complain about it.
In reply I said:
— Joe Crawford (@artlung) January 5, 2015
I place a good deal of the blame for the lack of blog interaction on the death of mainstream RSS reading, which is to say, many people became reliant on Google Reader and when it shut down, we no longer had that connection to a wider network. I could follow the RSS of friends, of enemies, of things I was vaguely curious about, without the hassle of “friending” or “liking” them.
These exogenous entities: sometimes people, sometimes companies, aggressively solicit me to “FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK.” And that’s all well and good. But what if I’m only mildly curious? What if I only want to dip my toe in? If I like your page or follow you on twitter, am I not signaling something?
There’s a thing that I hear people complain about on tumblr and Instagram. Basically a person starts getting notifications that a certain account starts liking things of theirs. They like lots of the complainers things. There’s that button with a heart on it, and they click it like mad. They are signaling their appreciation, or something. But because of the notification systems on these applications, it looks like obsessive interest. It reads as stalking. Which is creepy. People sometimes call this “creeping.”
I do a quick search for “instagram creeping” and I see a question that reads like this:
I was creeping my teachers instagram and accidentally liked something HELP? He has an iPhone and I was creeping his instagram and I accidentally liked a photo of him and I changed my instagram name and EVERYTHING if he gets the push notification that I liked it would it be under my old name or the new one.
This is a strange culture, isn’t it? We’ve created such a highly engaged and interactive array of systems that we are now afraid to use them. We’re afraid because we don’t have the option, usually, to “secretly” like something. When I’m reading your instagram I’m conducting surveillance. I’m gathering sensitive information about you. Even when I’m posting to instagram I’m conducting surveillance. If you reply or like my photo I know you’re on your phone. Same thing on Facebook. There’s no latency to take time and think.
My tweet to avocadoh8 was in response to a few-days-old blog posting. It was not immediate. It’s the same as the instagram-surveillance panopticon really, just a bit slower and more manual. But I had time to think about it.
I’ve been working on this blog a bit in the past month. I’ve been altering the code. Improving it incrementally. Yesterday I added improvements to how it looks if you’re reading it on a phone. I’m trying to make it better for me. Readability. Usability. I do this for me because I view artlung.com as a representation of my creative output and it’s gone fallow for about 5 years. I also do it because it helps me learn things. It tunes my skills. SASS and as usual WordPress are things worth getting better at.
But it is in service to surveillance? Is all my internet work about that now? The gathering of information about users in order to sell to them, to monitor them, to control them? I’m being grandiose of course: I LOVE seeing photos of my godson on Instagram. It gives me great joy. But there are things very rotten about how we deploy these systems. And as I lamented about surveillance by the US government in post on New Year’s: so too I begin to wonder about what information we allow to disseminate inside private entities and to our friends and not-friends.
It feels good to reflect and write.
It feels less good to reflect and see things that are worrisome.
But I can change, and we can change.
And we can change these systems to serve us.
“…but I hope the idea sticks, because more veterans, from Iraq and Afghanistan this time, as well as another generation of mothers, single parents and workers who have been out of the job market, need lower obstacles between now and the next chapter of their lives.”
I came out of high school utterly and completely adrift. I took courses in a bit of everything at Mesa Community College and San Diego City College. Great teachers for a great price. Those courses shaped me. Why just the other day I used my Drafting skills to draw up plans based on our kitchen for a contractor. I think about Professor Pidgeon at Mesa who inspired in Philosophy.
Many years later in life I took inspirational Java and C++ courses from Larry Forman at City College. The knowledge gained and programming habits learned remain a layer of bedrock for my programming life. (10 years ago! here and here)
I think of how my world view was expanded. I was a kid, really, but took classes alongside people younger than me (16 if I remember) to people in their 50s. That shaped me as much as the learning itself, maybe.
So, I agree with Tom Hanks. By all means, PLEASE use my tax dollars to give people a chance to improve themselves. The job world is changing. Education is the thing to help people change with it.
I posted this to Facebook and not here last year. But it’s worth reposting. Originally from June 15, 2014. i posted it with this photo.
This week I got to see 2001: a space odyssey on a big screen for a third time. I got to see Kier Dullea in person talk about having worked on it. I’ve loved that amazing, difficult film a long time. The second time I saw it was at the Ken Cinema in the 80s. The FIRST time I saw it was 1981 or so. I saw it with my Dad. His enthusiasm for that film was infectious. We went to see it at a revival house somewhere in the Gretna/New Orleans area. We lived in Gretna, and my Dad was going to school at LSU. It is hard to understand for younger people now that you could not see any movie anytime by pulling it up online or renting it at a video store. Back then if you wanted to see an old movie you had to watch for it to appear on TV or check the movie listings in the newspaper. I remember him seeing “2001” listed and saying “we’ve got to see it!” I was only 11 but he was determined. So we went. It was still light out. We saw it. It was amazing. On the drive home, we discussed the movie and what the monolith might have meant to those neanderthals; what the implications were for thinking computers, and what the heck might have been happening at the end. He ALWAYS talked to me as an intellectual peer. Happy Father’s Day Dad, Thanks for everything!
I don’t often post about work. If at all. Well, I’m a longtime fan of Christina Aguilera, appallingly documented by a search of this here blog. So here’s a post with a radio station from where I work (Slacker Radio). Enjoy!
Fifteen years ago this week, Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants” became the first number one song of the 2000s. Since then, Aguilera’s career has grown exponentially, from winning four Grammys to a starring role in “Burlesque” to her work on “The Voice.” In tribute to her amazing career, we’ve created a station that features your favorite Christina Aguilera songs. We used our E.Q. system or “engagement quotient” to add up your plays, skips, hearts and bans, and came up with this definitive list.
If you’re in the US or Canada, check out Christina Aguilera Top 33 on Slacker
To me ((I reserve the right to add many more memories to this post in the future.)):
- James Ellroy
- The Black Dahlia
- Militant Angeleno’s ramblings get at the wild enthusiasm many have for L.A. ((See Militant Angeleno))
- No traffic on the 110 at 3 in the morning blasting the radio
- 5 years old and going to Phillippe’s while my Dad was on a break from working as a Nurse at L.A. County
- Flying a kite on the beach in Santa Monica
- Driving up the coast for lunch at Neptune’s Net
- Having lunch along the fountain in front of the downtown public library
- Greenpeace climbing up the ARCO building while I was contracting at ARCO
- Scoping out the Art Center Gallery with my pal when I was 16 years old
- The Pantry
- Coffee bean muffin from The Pantry that made me so so wired
- The L.A. Auto show with my pal Chris
- World Book & News on Cahuenga and buying the L.A. Times, New York Times, Film Comment, Cinefex, Spy Magazine, and Serif after a night shift
- Hearing nurses tell their stories of the riots
- Dave Segovia talking about the aftermath of the Northridge Quake — rolling around in office chairs on the 4th floor getting ready for the day shift
- Little Tokyo AAA guy kidding with stupid teenage me that he would have to break my window to get my car open and keys out. Then him swiping that slim jim so easy it was spooky.
- Macromedia Flash launch party that was like a big party scene from Swingers
- Golden Apple Comics
- Seeing a midnight show of the Stallone version of Judge Dredd at the Rialto in Alhambra
- Playing Red Planet at Virtual World in Pasadena
- Web405 & Goodtimes mailing lists
- Film crews every which place all around at any hour
- I saw Puck ((Puck of The Real World)) at Pink’s
- Star sightings too numerous to mention
- Getting groceries at 2am
- “You’ve Got Bad Taste” store by Exene in Silverlake
- Taking the Train up and Greyhound Bus back from San Diego to see Stew in The Cover Problem ((These Changes, 2003))
- C’mon, the city can be just beautiful: Downtown L.A. as seen from Griffith Park (2003)
- Getting lost at Cinco de Mayo celebrations downtown when I was way too young to be los in Downtown Los Angeles
- My dad getting all nostalgic for Tacos at El Tepeyac in the 90s, remembering tacos he had there in the 70s
- Seeing my dad graduate as a Physician Assistant from USC
- Philip K. Dick. Blade Runner. LA15. Snow Crash. “That gibberish he talked was city speak, gutter talk. A mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you. I didn’t really need a translator, I knew the lingo, every good cop did. But I wasn’t going to make it easier for him.”
- Los Lobos. Always.
- “Drive west on Sunset, to the sea…”
- SIGGRAPH blew my mind in 1995
- Opamp Books. Tower on Sunset. Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica. Hennessey+Ingalls. The Last Bookstore. Golden Apple Comics. I still haven’t been to Meltdown Comics or Nerdmelt. ((But I will.))
- Tools of the Trade Show in Pasadena where I got Syd Mead’s autograph
- Wasteland by Warrior Soul & How To Survive in South Central by Ice Cube & Screenwriter’s Blues by Soul Coughing
- Little old lady protesters in Alhambra with picket signs in front of an adult theater when I was a kid
- Home movies of Rose Bowl Parades I went to and don’t remember when I was 3 and 4 years old
- Digital Coast Magazine events in the 1990s hosted Jason Calacanis
- Going to Canter’s on New Year’s Day after a night shift and getting a cheesecake to celebrate with
- I never fell in love with anyone from Los Angeles, but I did fall in love with the city
Robby (I always want to type “Robbie” instead) is a straight-up classic. He was a heck of an actor too. I love him in Forbidden Planet. The fellow who fabricated (if not designed?) him, Robert Kinoshita recently died at age 100. ((Thank you Scott Andrew for pointing this out the other day)) Wikipedia cites a few different folks involved in his creation:
The illusion of a real robot was created by a suit operated from inside by an uncredited Frankie Darro; his voice was provided in post-production by actor Marvin Miller. Robby was created by MGM’s prop department; the initial design was sketched by Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, refined by production illustrator Mentor Huebner, and then turned into reality under the direction of mechanical designer Robert Kinoshita.
I love that Robby was repurposed back in the old days! He would appear on TV shows including on Twilight Zone. This guy is part of a Funko mystery box set that includes some other classic sci-fi characters from many different eras in a cute style.
He is a proud addition to my robot collection.
Oh my stars but Grace Hopper I love. Here’s a new documentary: The Queen Of Code.
As a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Hopper worked on the first computer, the Harvard Mark 1. And she headed the team that created the first compiler, which led to the creation of COBOL, a programming language that by the year 2000 accounted for 70 percent of all actively used code. Passing away in 1992, she left behind an inimitable legacy as a brilliant programmer and pioneering woman in male-dominated fields.