Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
I've been posting under a pseudonym pretty much since I started taking an interest in the interbutt and Google just held a gun to my head and forced me to use my Google profile if I wanted to have access to my blog.
Fuck you Google.
I've been largely tolerant of lots of bullshit out of you for the last year, that ended today. I'm seriously considering a fucking iPhone to spite you (not really I still hate Steve Jobs rotten corpse worse than you), but Wordpress is making way more sense to me right now than it ever has.
Posted by Josh Dennis at 8:51 AM
So yeah, reaching for it again. Xanth is the fictional land that is the setting for Piers Anthony's eponymous pun filled fantasy series by the same name. I read about 15 or so of these book back in Middle and High school when I had time to waste and was really into the fantasy genre. It would be easy to dismiss this series as a silly farce, but it keeps it interesting by following the bloodline of the main character of the first novel in a land of magic.
In looking up info for this post I was surprised to see that it started in 1977, and is still being written on with books due out this year and next! I specifically can remember things from books 1 -6, but the rest seem a little vague in my mind. The trouble is my younger brother and best friend at the time where also reading the series, so we all read quickly so the others could get to read them. Apparently I read a few of them too quickly.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
So I typically schedule posts at into the future so I'm not on the hook to be creative every day (it can be challenging I find), but this week not of the scheduled posts have posted on their own.
That is not acceptable!
Scheduled posts are my life line here, I am guilty of not checking my blog every single day so I need to know that time I did use was productive. I've been with blogger since 2005 and for the most part I'm happy with it as a platform, but the push to modernize things seems to be breaking shit around here. For the longest time I couldn't see the sections under posts where it said all posts, scheduled and draft posts. I figured out the url and manually typed it in there to get to the various sections when I needed to, but I don't appreciate a wonky interface. I'm not running blogger in draft stop fucking the mainline up, some people actually use this shit.
Also as a side note, I think the new interface for reader, and gmail are piss. I use Reeder for Chrome to fix the interface on google reader and read my gmail on my phone to stop from being pissed off at you. If you're going to update interfaces stop filling the page with so much white space my eyes bleed. Ditto on the plus.google overhaul. I don't give a flying fuck about the trending topics, stop trying to be twitter. Twitter is it own shitty little nest I don't need you to try and fail at being a bad interpretation of Twitter.
Rawr, go back to executing well god damn it Google, I'm gonna jump to wordpress or tumblr so help me
Gizmodo shared this link from Watermelon.org on how to make a very (very, very) fancy spodie they call the watermelon keg. In addition to a fancy cut watermelon filled with booze you need a Chrome Spigot[?] ($27 + shipping!!) to pull this off, but I feel like we can all agree that this is the coolest party drink you will ever have made so it may be worth the money.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Not sure where to start on this, but it's been kicking around in the back of my head for way to long to not put it out there. There is a staggering amount of video depicting violence against women in the world. The trouble is I'm not sure what to do with that thought.
It is a part of our human condition, it does need to be discussed and sometimes the best way to start a discussion is to graphically portray it such as the movie The Accused, but the images I'm talking about don't examine the cultural significance of this violence but rather just display the violence for consumption. The type of thing presented in the movie Irréversible which has the most disturbing and disturbingly long rape and murder scene I'm aware of in mainstream cinema. Really don't go watch it, it is awful. Even worse, is they did 3 takes of the scene all as one continuous shot. It's disturbing the frequency this type of imagery is repeated again and again in cinema and music videos.
I'm not sure if I have a point, it's more a direction at this juncture. I'm going to work on making sure that I don't give money to anything that promotes or glorifies inflicting harm on women.
As a closing thought I'll offer you this video of The Cults, the ending to me suggests that director believes we choose the suffering we endure, and have as much a hand in it as those that inflict it on us do.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
I thought long and hard about U's and came up with nothing, I couldn't come up with anything clever or new or original. This is worse than K. U, I bow before your mighty vowel self and just want to note that I did update the the S post with a picture of the painting I did.
In case it's too hard to click the link here it is:
Monday, April 23, 2012
So I lost my mind and decided to destroy my backyard planter (that I apparently never uploaded a photo of). The thing is my "backyard" is more of a 15'x20' place where the sun don't shine. In 3 years I managed to grow lettuce, and that is about it. In the picture below you can see my 3 strawberry plants (I have at least 12 now) that I have yet to grow a more than 1 berry a year on, and an onion gone to bloom.
Once I finished destroying I used the lumber to create this beauty!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
If you haven't seen the video for this app it's kind of amazing. Not so amazing that you need to own an ipad, but I would like to have a digital art frame that played these types of animations in my house. I painted a version of Starry Night in High school, if I'm not retarded I will get to posting a picture of it below the video.
Here is my painting from High school
Friday, April 20, 2012
So if you've never heard of Chumby (or the Sony Dash for that mater) it's fine, neither has anybody else. The Verge just let me know that they are going the way of the Dodo bird and have no longer have any employees. It's sad in a way, the device as envisioned was really a neat idea, and I wanted one in theory I just wanted everything about it to be different. I heard about the device because of my interest and admiration of Andrew "bunny" Huang, MIT PHD that wrote Hacking the XBOX. You can keep up with bunnie on his blog, dude does really interesting security research and just general messing with commercial products.
The gist of the device was an wifi connected alarm clock that can interact with different widgets. Sounds cool right?
Well it wasn't.
It was slow, the touch screen was of a bygone era and cardinal sin of sins it only supported flash widgets you had to load on their servers. In short it sucked. I wanted to love you, and I hope someone tries again in this category of devices because it was really a cool idea. I currently use a discarded HTC EVO 4G i resurrected from the grave (it got run over) and to a lesser extent my Nook Color tablet for this type of a device. If you want something that's fun and connected to the internet and does tons of stuff and doesn't make you into an iDouche, I love Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). It appears the android devs finally listened and support advanced network setups and proxies so I can actually use these devices in my workplace now!
In the continuing a-z theme and the vast levels of introspection started earlier in the week, we come to rejection. This lifehacker article outlines the importance of staying true to yourself in the face of rejection. What we don't know if the motivation of others, and this imperfect information will inevitably lead us to draw the wrong conclusions about why we where rejected.
The girl you asked out that said no, may have said no because someone dear to her passed away last night and she is in no mood. The trouble is you will may never know that, with that in mind I offer this also relevant bit of research that indicates that rejection particularly intense and personal rejection stimulates similar areas of the brain to when we are feeling physical pain.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
I've be on a vain quest to do all of the things lately and it's slowly killing me. I want to play with my son and play video games, goodbye sleep. I want to grow my own food but have no space to do it, goodbye dreams. I want to finish projects and hang out with friends, goodbye money.
I'm starting to realize I have to say no to somethings, or maybe to a lot of things. I'm not sure on my limits yet, but something has got to give. My reading list is growing longer than I have life left, and my project book keeps getting thrown away because I'll never get it done.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Okay so this is going to be another really long post, feel free to click past if you aren't up for some existentialism, musings on time and the value of childhood.
For quite some time I have been making the argument for the relative velocity of time, wherein we percieve time to pass more quickly as we age because of the incrementally smaller percentage of our life each unit of time represents to our continuum of experience. More simply as we age every second is a smaller fraction of our total existence and therefore less notable and perceived as less valuable, we notice it less and less because it is a smaller fraction of our total life span. To me this explained why time used to drag on forever as a child, at age 6 each second was 1/189,216,000th of my life, but age 30 it is 1/946080000th of my life from roughly 1/190 million-th to nearly 1/ trillion-th. That is a huge shift in percentage and it is always becoming fractionally less and less. I've been trying to explain this to people since High school, and still get eye rolls from most people that I try to tell about it. There is a dearth of critical thinking minds in the world, and those that do think critically seem to discount the value of upstart minds. Consider that the bulk of great science attributed to Einstein was done at the age of 24.
This time as perception idea that I've been dragging around with me has framed how I see the world for some time, but a few things of late have shifted my mind to believing that this velocity of time is just one filter on the lens of life, and there are other things that might temper how we perceive the passage of time in given moment. Most people are aware of the concept of a body clock and how it affects us through out the day and the general statement that the exposure to pervasive digital/artificial lighting is shifting our natural phases and affecting our general wake sleep cycle. These wakeful periods are affected by how rested we are. This affect I'm sure has been experienced by most everybody at some point (seriously when you are tired the day can drag on forever).
Another potential way to affect it is engagement. The saying "Time flys when you are having fun" is grounded in perceived reality, but I think it is more likely that time flys when you are mentally engaged. Your mind is distracted from the perception of time because such a high percentage of your metal capacity is being focused on what you are doing. Many of us have experienced this at work, where the day goes by quickly when you are busy but slowly when nothing is going on. It also passes when you are having fun, but again I think fun always implies engagement. I believe that this can be explained because time only exists as a metal construct, in that we perceive it, we measure it and ascribe it meaning it is a cerebral notion that we are moving through time. By engaging fully in what you are doing, that part of the brain that would otherwise be acknowledged the passage of time in occupied. Related would be the actual functions of hydration and nutrition. If your body is not nourished the ability of the mind to perceive time time could be altered, thus affecting our perception (hows that for quantum state)
I have always wanted to participate in a wake sleep study where they measure your average or natural day. The problem with this is original studies where criticized for access to artificial light saying that skewed the results longer. My counter argument is that, if it where dark and I literally where unable to do anything else I would sleep too, but the access to a way to change my environment so that I could continue to do things enables me to shift my natural day. If I could choose so, my natural day would be closer to 30 total hours 22 waking and 8 sleeping. The conclusion that our "natural day" is approximately 24hrs is basically concession to natural constraints and doesn't factor that we are no longer bound by those constraints. The day doesn't have to be 24 hours, it can be as long or short as we will it to be!
So where is this going? The title was about the adolescent state of mind, and I thought that the framework of time and how it is perceived was important groundwork for how children experience the world. What I am proposing is that access to the childish mode of operating is the gateway to youth and vitality. This difference is not just innocence but in frame of reference, and the willingness to explore. Often as adults we come to the conclusion that I have matured enough now I don't need to explore new avenues, or gain new experience. I know what I like, or can apply what I have already learned to the challenges that come up; rather the frame with which I view the world is now set, I can get on living. Lifehacker had a post about new experiences, and how they affect our perception of time. The short version is that new experiences require more time to process than familiar one's there by elongating time. I'm suggesting that those that seem young around you are the ones that see the world with fresh eyes, that seek the new and different for the sake of it.
One of the hallmarks of youth is risk taking, not just the end your life kind either. The attempting things that you may not succeed at, trying new approaches to things (different ingredients or styles of doing something). This sense of adventure and discovery are essential elements of that which we identify as youth, and the value to your mind and personhood might extend. In that sense it could be youthful frame of mind could be considered the open mode of operating. As John Cleese was pointing out in my recent transcription post, the childlike state is open to combining ideas and searching for meaning. To this end, the adolescent mind open to combining ideas, playing with them with no fear of right or wrong ideas only interesting and fun. This is where adults can look for rebirth.
The value of childlike thinking hasn't always been recognized, traditionally they only one that was allowed to be creative where the oldest and most important people, while the younger people where supposed to pay attention and learn from their elders. While I won't discount the value of experience in most fields, it is interesting how much new ground is uncovered by looking at the world with fresh eyes, and a young mind.
I'll leave you with an interesting video on the value of being young and how the baby boomers paved the way for the current generation to capitalize on the realization of the value of thinking young.
We All Want to Be Young from box1824 on Vimeo.
Monday, April 16, 2012
I had a fairly productive little weekend on my CNC project, and I wanted to give an update before I forgot. My Dad and I didn't get time to work on it together the other weekend (my younger brother is buying a house so most of the attention for the weekend was on him.)
But here is a picture of my progress.
So the things you cannot tell by the picture, Those rods are cut down from 3 foot long rods with a hack saw, and filed flat. Prior to this weekend I had all the parts cut, but none of them where assembled so I drilled the holes for the rods as well as glued, clamped and screwed all the side pieces together. The cutting stage and the sacrificial base are co-drilled and and screwed together.
I spent a good deal of time on the rods and the bushings making sure there where not catch points on the rods, so I had a small file and spent about an hour sliding the bushings and filing all the rough patches down. The Z axis is drilled out, but I had a bad drill spot that I am shimming and wood gluing to fill back in. After drilling the holes I put the rods in and realized one hole was closer to 80° than 90° so I had to clamp the holy hell out of it to get the holes to match up and correct for the poor drilling. I have the hole shimmed with paper as filler and the wood glue is drying, but I may do a second application of glue before I epoxy it for a little more strength. If there is a problem with torsion I will drill holes for metal bracing pins with a drill press I have access to at work. The Z access sort of floats and is the weakest link in the setup so I may choose to make a bracing pin.
Not strictly speaking the most useful thing in the world for everyone, but sometimes you got a wired connection and wish that shit was wireless. Here is your solution Via IOGear.
If it doesn't mean anything to you move along, just flushing out weird old drafts and working this damn A-Z posting.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Rise of the Meritocracy is a sociological satire written in post WWII England it pokes holes in the notion that IQ+Effort=Merit and was supposed to be a general take down of the notion that aptitude could be tested for. This work forms the basis of the following Article on Measurement Myths from the New Inquiry. I would really encourage you to read the article it is one of the best reasoned examinations of the current drill, kill, test regime we have adopted in the US in the wake of the well intentioned No Child Left Behind act signed into law by our good friend and former President Dubya Bush.
I'll try to summarize some of the main take aways from the article, but the article is quite long and it's case built well; I fear thumbnail sketches don't really do justice to the original content. The first criticism of the current power structure is it fundamentally overlooks the cumulative bonuses of already being elite, the children of the elite are no more meritous than those of those currently on the bottom of the power structure. They are however afforded more stable home lives that give them the opportunities to excel, but more over they have hands guiding them to success with positive reinforcement and active support. This makes the children of the less powerful effectively running a race against teams rather than other individuals. Without this support network (and the cumulative bonuses associated with it) the elites children would likely perform similarly to other unsupported children.
There is also a myopia in the elite class that fails to recognize these cumulative benefits that causes them to perceive that they have earned the benefits they currently receive, and assume that if others applied themselves the benefits would be available to them as well. By discounting the value of the assistance they have revived and the cumulative advantages afforded them the elite effectively feel justified in not advancing or assisting the disenfranchised and retreat to intellectual enclaves that assure them they are correct in their assumptions (Ayn Rand's Fountainhead is mentioned as an example and to satirize their position of authority). My personl feeling is that examples of this abound, but the general fall of charity and near complete dissolution of service organizations is truly indicative of this myopia and a danger of the entitlement mindset.
Another and more troubling outgrowth of the test for merit is the testing inherently undervalues that which it doesn't measure. How do you test for artistic intelligence, or the ability to render the profound into prose? There are few tests to measure creativity (an inherently unstructured way of thinking) and the focus on testing, and the passing along the standard knowledge is a destructive force on free thinking and ultimately dangerous. I'll leave you with my favorite line from the last paragraph of that article.
More and better testing, regardless of how it is conducted, won’t make for better people, despite what educational reformers seem to believe, because tests always impose reductive goals that invalidate some ineffable amount of real aptitude among those tested.
For a completely different take on education here's the New Turks Discussion on Education in Finland. This is the world I want my son to have access to, learn and pursue what you want.
Friday, April 13, 2012
"Psychedelics probably work in addiction by making the brain function more chaotically for a period - a bit like shaking up a snow globe - weakening reinforced brain connections and dynamics."
Taking LSD (or other hallucinogens) is to your brain like shaking is to a snow globe.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Saveur those bastards have been posting cake recipes left and right and its all I can do not to make them all and wallow in them like fat kid heaven. Everyone looks amazing, and the ingredients let me know that they will be over the top.
First up: Black Forest Cake
Next as a special treat for my best childhood friend: Lemon Cake
And finally for me, my favorite flavor on the whole planet Coconut Cake
I'm sorry for the drool and other bodily fluids you have on and around your keyboard now, but wait! I give you the finale!
Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches, Profoundly V lead me to yourcupofcake.com, and well for the Real V in my life Carrot Cake cookie sandwiches would pretty much fit the bill.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Binary bonsai posted this video of a talk by John Clease, that is very relevant to something I'm writing for O (the 17th). I'm posting it for reference linkage, but also I transcribed it for the inevitable time when it gets a take down notice.(Vimeo was taken down the day after I found it so here is a youtube until it gets taken down too.)
john cleese creativity in managment, transcriptions done by me.
You know when video arts asked me if I'd like to talk about creativity I said no problem. No Problem! Because telling people how to be creative is easy. It's only being it that's difficult. And I knew it would be particularly easy for me because I spent the 25 years watching how various creative people produce their stuff, and being fascinated to see if I could figure out what makes folk, including me, more creative. What is more, a couple of years ago I got very excited because a friend of mine that runs the psychology department at Sussex University Brian Bates showed me some research on creativity done at Berkley in the 1970's by a brilliant psychologist called Donald Mackinnon which seemed to confirm in the impressively scientific way all the vague observations and intuitions I'd had over the years. So the prospect of setting down for quite serious study of creativity for the purpose of tonight’s gossip was delightful and having spent several weeks on it I can state categorically that what I have to tell you about what.. how you can all become more creative is a complete waste of time. So I think it will be much better if I just told jokes instead (laughter)
You know the light bulb jokes, you know... How many Poles does it take to screw in a Light bulb? 5, 1 to hold the bulb 4 to turn the table. Uhm, how many folksingers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer 5. 1 to change the bulb and 4 to sing about how much better the old one was. How many socialists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer we're not going to change it we think it works. (laughter). How many creative arts ... Well you see the reason why it is futile for me to talk it about creativity is that is simple cannot be explained. It's like Mozart’s music or Van Gough's painting, or Saddam Hussein’s propaganda, it is literally inexplicable. Freud who analyzed practically everything else repeatedly denied psychoanalysis could shed any light whatsoever on the mysteries of creativity, and Brian Bates wrote to me recently most of the best research on creativity was done in the 60's and 70's with a quite dramatic drop of in quantity after then largely I suspect because researchers began to feel that they had reached the limits of what science could discover about it. In fact the only thing from the research I could tell you about how to be creative is the sort of a childhood that you should have had, which is of limited help to you at this point of your lives.
However, there is one negative thing that I can say. And it's negative because it's easier to say what creativity isn't. A bit like the sculptor who when asked how he had sculpted a very fine elephant said that he had taken a big block of marble and then knocked away all the bits that didn't look like and elephant. (laughter) Now here's the negative thing. Creativity is not a talent, it is not a talent. A talent it is a way of operating. So, How many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer, thousands. Only one to do it, but thousands to say I could have done that. How many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer, don't mind me I'll just sit here in the dark nobody cares about... (laughter). How many surgeons... you see when I say a way of operating you see what I mean is this. Creativity is a not an ability that you either have or do not have. It is for example, and this may surprise you, absolutely unrelated to IQ. Provided you are intelligent above a certain minimal level that is. But Mackinnon showed in investigating the scientists, architects, engineers and writers that those regarded by their peers as the most creative where in no way whatsoever different in IQ from their less creative colleagues.
So in what way where they different? Well Mackinnon showed that the most creative had simply acquired a facility for getting themselves in a particular mood. A way of operating, which allowed their natural creativity to function. In fact Kinnon, Mackinnon described this particular facility as an ability to play. Indeed he described the most creative when in this mood as being childlike, for they where able to play with ideas, to explore them not for any immediate practical purpose but just for enjoyment. Play for its own sake. Now, about this mood. I'm working at the moment with Dr. Robin Skynner on a successor to our psychiatry book “Families and how to survive them” and we're comparing the ways in which psychologically healthy families function and then the ways in which such families function and with the ways in which the most successful corporations and organizations function. We've become fascinated by the fact that we can usefully describe the way in which people function at work in terms of two modes. Open and, closed. So what I can just add now is that creativity is not possible in the closed mode. Okay? So how many American Network TV Executives does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer does it have to be a light bulb? (laughter) How many doorkee.... well let me explain a little bit, by the closed mode I mean the mode that we are in most of the time when we are at work. We have inside us a feeling that there's lots to be done and we have to get on with it if we're going to get through it all, it's an active probably slightly anxious mode. Although the anxiety can be exciting and pleasurable; it's a mode in which we're probably a little impatient, if only with ourselves. It has a little tension in it. Not much humor, its a mode in which we're very purposeful and it's a mode in which we can get very stressed and even a bit manic, but not creative.
By contrast, the open mode is relaxed, expansive, less purposeful mode in which we're probably more contemplative, more inclined to humor which always accompanies a wider perspective; and consequently more playful. It's a mode in which curiosity for it's own sake can operate, because we're not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. We can play, and that is what allows our natural creativity to surface. Let me give you an example of what I mean. When Alexander Fleming had the thought that lead to Penicillin, he must have been in the open mode. The previous day he had arranged a number of dishes so that culture would grow upon them. On the day of the discovery he glanced at them and he discovered that on one of them no culture had not appeared. Now if had he been in a closed mode he would have been so focused on his need for dishes with cultures grown upon them that when he saw that one dish was quite useless to him for that purpose he would have quite simply thrown it away. Thank goodness he was in the open mode, so he became curious about why the culture had not grown on this particular dish. And that curiosity, as the world knows lead him to the light bulb, (laughter) I'm sorry penicillin.
Now in the closed mode an uncultured dish is an irrelevance in the open mode it's a clue. Now one more example. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s regular co-writers has described working with him on screen plays. When we came upon a block and our discussions became very heated and intense Hitchcock would suddenly stop and tell a story that had nothing to do with the work at hand. At first I was almost outraged, and then I discovered that he did this intentionally. He mistrusted working under pressure, he would say "we're pressing, we're pressing. We're working too hard, relax it will come" and says the writer of course if finally always did.
But let me make one thing one thing quite clear. We need to be in the open mode when we're pondering something, but once we come up with the solution we must then switch to the closed mode to implement it. Because once we've made a discussion, we are efficient only if we go through with it decisively, undistracted by doubts about its correctness. For example, if you decide to leap a ravine the moment before take off is a bad time to start reviewing alternative strategies. When you're attacking a machine gunner position you should not make a particular effort to see the funny side of what you are doing. Humor is a natural component of the open mode, but it is a luxury in the closed one. No, once we've taken a decision we should narrow our focus while we're implementing it, and then after it's been carried out we should once again switch back to the open mode to review the feedback arising from our action in order to decide whether the course we have taken is successful, or weather we should continue with the next stage of our plan. Weather we should create an alternative plan to correct any error we perceive. And then back into the closed mode to implement that next stage and so on. In other words to be at our most efficient we need to be able to switch backwards and forwards between the two modes, but here's the problem we too often get stuck in the closed mode. Under the pressures which are all too familiar to us we tend to remain tunnel vision at time when we really need to step back and contemplate the wider view. This is particularly true example of politicians. The main complaint from their non-political colleges is that they've become so addicted to the adrenaline that they get from reacting to the events on an hour by hour basis, that they almost completely loose the desire or the ability to ponder problems in the open mode. So as I say creativity is not possible in the closed mode, and that's it.
Well 20 minutes to go, so how many women’s livers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer 37. 1 to screw it in and 36 to make a documentary about it. How many psychiatrists does it take to screw in a light bulb? The answer only one but the light bulb has really got to want to change.(laughter) Oh, there is one, just one other thing I can say about creativity. There are certain conditions that do make it more likely that you'll get into the open mode and that some thing creative will occur. More likely , you cannot guarantee anything will occur, you might sit around for hours as I did last Tuesday, and nothing zilch, bupkiss, not a sausage. Never the less I can at least tell you how to get yourselves into the open mode, you need 5 things. 1, space. 2, time. 3, time. 4, confidence. 5, a 22 inch waist. Sorry my mind was wondering (laughter) I was getting into the open mode too quickly. Instead of a 22 inch waist read humor, I do beg your pardon.
Okay Let's take space first, you can't become playful and therefore creative if you're under your usual pressures, because to cope with them you've got to be in the closed mode. Right? So you have to create some space for yourself away from those demands, and that means sealing yourself off. You must make a quiet space for yourself where you will be undisturbed. Next time, it's not enough to create space you have to create space for a specific period of time. You have to know that your space will last exactly until say 3:30 and at that moment your normal life with start again. It's only by having a specific moment when your space starts and an equally specific moment when your space stops that you can seal yourself off from the everyday closed mode we all habitually operate. I never realized how vital this was until I read a historical study of play by a Dutch historian called Johan Huizinga and in it he says play is distinct from ordinary life both in locality and duration. This is it's main characteristic, it's secludedness, it's limitedness. Play begins and then at a certain moment it is over, otherwise it's not play. So combining the first two factors we create an oasis of quiet for ourselves by setting boundaries of space and of time.
Now creativity can happen, because play can happen when we're separate from everyday life. So, you've arranged to take no calls, you've sat down somewhere comfortable you've taken a couple of deep breaths and if your anything like me after you've pondered some problem you want to turn into an opportunity for about 90 seconds you find yourself thinking "Oh, I forgot I've gotta call Jim oh and I must tell Tina I need the report on Wednesday and not Thursday which means I must move my lunch with Joe and Damn I haven't called St Paul’s about getting Joe's daughter about getting an interview and I must pop out to get Will's birthday present and those plants need watering and none of my pencils are sharpened, and I've got too much to do so I'm going to start by sorting out my paperclips and then I shall make 27 phone calls and I'll do some thinking tomorrow when I've gotten everything out of the way" (laughter) Because as we all know, it is easier to do trivial things that are urgent then it is to do important things that are not urgent. Like thinking; and it's also easier to do little things we know we can do than to start on big things we're not so sure about.
So when I say create an oasis of quiet, know when you have that your mind will pretty soon start racing again but you're not going to take that very seriously. You're going to site there for a bit, tolerating the racing the slight anxiety that comes along with it and after awhile your mind will quieten[natch] down again. Now, because it takes some time for your mind to quieten[natch] down it's of absolutely no use arranging a space-time oasis lasting 30 minutes, because just as your getting quieter and getting into the open mode you'll have to stop and that is very deeply frustrating. So you must allow yourself a good chunk of time. I'd suggest about and hour and a half, then when you've gotten to the open mode you'll have about an hour left for something to happen. If your lucky, but don't put a whole morning aside. My experience is after about an hour and a half you need a break. So it's far better to do an hour and a half now and an hour and a half next Thursday and maybe an hour and a half a week after that then to fix one 4 and a half hour session now. And there’s another reason for that and that's factor number 3.
Time, yes I know we just did time, but that was half of creating our oasis now I'm gonna tell you about how to use the oasis you've created. Why do you still need time? Well let me tell you a story. I was always intrigued that one of my Monty Python colleagues who seemed to be, to me, more talented than I was did never produce scripts as original as mine. And I watched for sometime, and then I began to see why. If he was faced with a problem and fairly soon saw a solution, he was inclined to take it. Even though he knew, I think, the solution was not very original where when I was faced with a similar situation although I sorely was tempted to take the easy way out and finish by 5 o'clock I just couldn't. I'd sit there with the problem for another hour and a quarter and by sticking at it would in the end almost always come up with something more original. It's that simple, my work was more creative than his simply because I was prepared to stick with a problem longer. So imagine my excitement when I found that this is exactly what Mackinnon found in his research. He discovered that the most creative professionals always played with a problem for much longer before they tried to resolve it. Because they where prepared to tolerate that slight discomfort, and this is anxiety, that we all experience when we haven't solved a problem. You know what I mean, if we have a problem and we need to solve it, until we do we feel inside us a kind of internal agitation, a tension or uncertainty that makes us just plain uncomfortable. And we want to get rid of that discomfort, so in order to do that we take a decision. Not because we're sure it’s the best decision but because taking it will make us feel better. Well the most creative people have learned to tolerate that discomfort for much longer. So just because they put in more pondering time their solutions are more creative. Now the people that I find it hardest to be creative with are the people that need all the time to project an image of themselves as decisive. And who feel to create this image they need to decide everything very quickly and with a great show of confidence. Well this behavior I suggest sincerely is the most effective way of strangling creativity at birth. But please note I'm not arguing against real decisiveness, I'm 100% in favor of taking a decision when it has to be taken, and then sticking to it while it's being implemented. What I'm suggesting to you is that before you take a decision you should always ask yourself the question “when does this decision have to be taken?” And having answered that, you defer that decision until then. In order to give yourself maximum pondering time with will lead you to the most creative solution. And if while you're pondering someone accuses you of indecision say “Look baby cakes I don't have to decide till Tuesday, and I'm not chickening out of my creative discomfort taking a snap decision before then, that's too easy.” So to summarize the third factor that facilitates creativity is time, giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original.
Now the next factor 4 is confidence. When you're in your space time oasis getting into the open mode nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake. Now if you think about play you'll see why. To play is experiment, what would happens if I do this? What would happen if we did that? What if the very essence of playfulness is an openness to anything that may happen. A feeling that whatever happens it's okay. So you cannot be playful if you're frightened that moving in some direction will be wrong. Something you shouldn't have done. You are either free to play or your not. As Alan Watts puts it, you cannot be spontaneous within reason! So you've got to risk saying things that are silly, illogical or wrong. And the best way to get the confidence to do that is to know that while you're being creative nothing is wrong. There is no such thing as a mistake and any drivel may lead to the breakthrough.
And now the last factor, the 5th, humor. Well I happen to think that the main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to open mode quicker than anything else. I think we all know that laughter brings relaxation and that humor makes us playful, yet how many times have important discussions been held where really original and creative ideas where desperately needed to solve important problems, but where humor was taboo because the subject being discussed was so serious. This attitude seems to me to stem from a very basic misunderstanding of the difference between serious and solemn. Now I suggest to you that a group of us could be sitting around after dinner, discussing matters that are extremely serious like the education of our children, or our marriages or the meaning of life and I'm not talking abut the film. And that we could be laughing and that would not make what we where discussing one bit less serious. Solemnity on the other hand I mean I don't know what it's for. What is the point of it? The two most beautiful memorial services I've attended both had a lot of humor. And it somehow freed us all and made the services inspiring and cathartic. But solemnity it serves pomposity, and the self important always know at some level of their consciousness that their egotism is going to be punctured by humor and that's why they see it as a threat. So dishonesty and pretends that their deficiency makes their views more substantial when it only makes them feel bigger. (mouth fart, laughter)
No humor is an essential part of spontaneity and playfulness, an essential part of the creativity that we need to solve problems no matter how “serious” they may be. So when you set up a space time oasis giggle all you want. And there ladies and gentlemen are the 5 factors that you can arrange to make your lives more creative. Space, time, time, confidence and Lord Jeffery Archer. (laughter) So now you know how to get into the open mode, the only other requirement is you keep your mind gently round the subject your pondering. You'll daydream of course, but just keep bringing your mind back just like with meditation. Because this is the extraordinary thing about creativity if you just keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious. Probably in the shower later, or breakfast the next morning suddenly you are rewarded out of the blue a new thought mysteriously appears, if you put in the pondering time first. So how many Cecil Parkinsons does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer 2 one to screw it in on to screw it up.
Oh one thing, looking at you all reminds me. I think it’s easier to be creative if you've got people to play with. I always find if two or more of use throw ideas backwards and forwards I get to more interesting and original places than I could have ever got to on my own. But there is a danger, a real danger if there is one person around you who makes you feel defensive, you loose the confidence to play and then its goodbye creativity so always make sure your play friends are people you like and trust. And never say anything to squash them. Never say, no or wrong or I don't like that. Always build and play on what's been said.
Would it be even better if?
I don't quite understand that could you just explain it again?
Go on, what if?
Try to establish as free an atmosphere as possible, and you know if sometimes I wonder if some of the success of the Japanese isn't due to their instinctive understanding of how to use groups creatively. You know westerners are often amazed at the unstructured nature of Japanese meetings. But maybe it just that very lack of structure that absence of time pressure that frees them to solve problems so creatively. And how clever of the Japanese to plan that unstructuredness[natch] by for example insisting that the first people to give their views are the most junior so that they can speak freely without the possibility of contradicting something that has already been said by someone that more important. 4 minutes left... Ah, how many Irishmen... Sorry, sorry.
Well look the very last thing I can say about creativity is this. It's like humor. In a joke the laugh comes at a moment when you connect two different frameworks of reference in a new way. Example, there's the old story about a woman doing a survey into sexual attitudes who stops an airline pilot and asks amongst other things when he last had sexual intercourse, he replies 1958. Now knowing airline pilots the researcher is surprised and queries this well the airline pilots replies well it's only 2110 now. (laughter)
We laugh eventually at the moment of contact of two frameworks of reference, the way we express what year it is and the 24 hour clock. Now having an idea, a new idea is exactly the same thing. It's connecting two hereto separate ideas in a way that generates new meaning. Now connecting different ideas isn't difficult, you can connect cheese with motorcycles or moral courage with light green or bananas with international cooperation. You can get any computer to make a billion random connections for you, but these new connections or juxtapositions are significant only if they generate new meaning. So as you play you can deliberately try creating these random juxtopositions and then use your intuition to tell whether any of them seem to have significance for you. That's the bit that the computer can't do. It can produce millions of new connections, but it cannot tell you which one of them smells interesting. And of course you'll produce some juxtapositions which are absolutely ridiculous, absurd. Good for you! Because Edward de Bono who invented the notion of lateral thinking, specifically suggests in his book “Po, beyond yes and no” you can try loosening up your assumptions by playing with deliberately crazy connections. He calls them such absurd ideas intermediate impossibles. And he points out that the use of an intermediate impossible is completely contrary to ordinary logical thinking in which you have to be right at each stage. It doesn't matter if the intermediate impossible is right or absurd, it can never the less be used as a stepping stone to another idea that is right. Another example of how when you're playing nothing is wrong. So to summarize, if you really don't know how to start or you've got stuck, start generating random connections and allow your intuition to tell you if one might lead somewhere interesting. Well that really is all I can tell you that won't help you to be creative. Everything. And now in the two minutes left I can come to the important part and that is how to stop your subordinates becoming creative too; which is the real threat. (laughter)
Because believe me no one appreciates better than I do what trouble creative people are and how they stop decisive hardnosed bastards like us from running businesses efficiently.
I mean we all know we encourage someone to be creative the next thing is their rocking the boat coming up with ideas and asking us questions. Now, if we don't nip this kind of thing in the bud, we'll have to start justifying our decisions by reasoned argument, and sharing information the concealment of which gives us considerable advantages in our power struggles. So here's how to stamp out creativity in the rest of the organization and get a bit of respect going. 1, allow subordinates no humor, it threatens your self-importance and especially your omniscience. Treat all humor as frivolous and subversive, but humor will be subversive in your setup as it’s the only way people can express their oppositions since if they express it openly you're down on them like a ton of bricks. So let’s get this clear, blame humor for the resistance your way of working creates then you don't have to blame your way of working. This is important, and I mean that solemnly, your dignity is no laughing matter.
Second, keeping ourselves feeling irreplaceable involves cutting everyone else down to size. So don't miss an opportunity to undermine your employees’ confidence. A perfect opportunity comes when you're reviewing work that they've done. Use your authority to zero in immediately on all the things you can find wrong. Never, never balance the negatives with positives. Only criticize just as your school teachers did. Always remember praise makes people uppity. 3rd, demand that people should always be actively doing things. If you catch anybody pondering accuses them of laziness and or indecision. This is to starve employees of thinking time because that leads to creativity and insurrections. So demand urgency at all times and use lots of fighting talk and war analogies and establish a permanent environment of stress and breathless anxiety and crisis. In a phrase, keep that mode closed. In this way we no nonsense folks can ensure that the tiny, tiny microscopic, quantity of creativity in our organization will all be ours. But, let your vigilance slip for one moment and you find yourself surrounded by happy enthusiastic and creative people who you might never be able to completely control ever again. So be careful. Thank you and good night. (applause)(laughter)
By way of Lifehacker comes a post that is fairly pertinent to my life at large Just Finish It.
Much like the author of the post I don't struggle with ambition to start things, or lack vision to design a more grand universe. What I do lack is the wherewithal to finish or carry out these dreams that live in my head. My project list is ever growing in both my personal and work life; the sensation is overwhelming in someways. A real commitment in the form of my son is robbing me of my late night productivity and lack of interest is having further negative impact on my ever increasing project list at work.
The short list includes migrate from exchange 2003 to 2010, continue Windows7 rollout, update backup exec from disk to tape to disk to disk to tape (de-duplication for the win!) and hopefully making my backup windows shorter than 22 hours, upgrade the last NT server and the software that it is running (sometimes legacy just won't die, it has in the neighborhood of 80+k reasons why it's been kicking around on the really old version of the software) Mobile device strategy (people really think tablets are going to be some form of productivity boost, I think they are smoking that funny tobacco) completing the office 2010 deployment, some server automation scripts to make the co-workers lives easier. Then I have a backlog of documentation, and future network planning to complete (really should be certified Cisco to run the network I have, let alone the network I need).
So yeah. Sometimes my work sits on my mind a lot, but I have almost no interest in doing about half of that shit I just wrote down.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Well the day has come, and it's time to put those fake synths down for a second and listen to some organic real life music. So you beat junkies hold off on your next mdma infused hit and hear what music is supposed to sound like.
Bass Drums of Death - I wanna be forgotten
Wye Oak - Civillian
Jack White - Love Interruption
Monday, April 09, 2012
Google catches so much shit lately, I just don't understand how a company that dares to dream about shit like the following can catch so much hate.
Augmented cyborg reality (also that guy's a tiny bit of a douche), yes please! Also self driving cars?
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Those bastards at Saveur are always pushing my buttons, and pushing my cooking ability. This time the posted about Graham Crackers that look amazing. So amazing that I actually bought some despite the fact that PayPal is their payment processor and I Hate (with a capital H) PayPal. I really bought them so I would have something to compare against when I try to make these, I feel like you have to have a flavor firmly fixed in your mind to help you when you create something delightful.
Friday, April 06, 2012
Lifehacker by way of Deliberatism.com posted an article about focusing on the small as a methodology for completing the large. If you read the comments back and forth on the post (not lifehackers) you see quite a range of responses attacking the underlying dogma that you should enjoy the steps you are taking not just the outcome. There is a focus on outcomes, and the accolades of having completed something (run a marathon, wrote a book, ect.) that undermines the joy in the small steps to get there. A runner that actually enjoyed running (for themselves no other reward needed) and wanted to run a marathon as an extension of that. A person that loved word play and used a novel as a vehicle for that. Now enjoying the small doesn't mean that you might not suffer in these small steps, but rather you enjoyed the struggle as well as the outcome.
I realize this is a stretch for F, but this stupid thing has been in my drafts for longer than I like and I feel like there is some meat to this idea. I'm not sure if there is a simple set of concrete steps for people to follow but it strongly reminds me of the sensation I walked away from when someone gave me a book about the 8 fold path. I wish I could remember the name of the book, I sort of disregarded it at the time (I was a college kid handed a book by what I think was a Hare Krishna in an airport). Any how I think the author's point was about right intention, and perusing things that will make you happy not impress others.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Gizmodo pointed me to a happy thought piece on Wired called no solution to the energy crisis until we run out. The article is really worth a read if you have any vague interest in energy policy and how it will shape our lives, but the real meat of this article is an example of how government mandates can make companies do the impossible.
Short version of his allegory, is that there used to be a real problem with old refrigerators trapping and killing children. Thing is, for some reason it is really fun to crawl into refrigerators and close the door, which would trap them and cause them to suffocate. When they where told that this was a problem they blamed the victims, and said it wasn't a problem, or if it was a problem it wasn't theirs to fix, ect, ect. Any of this sound familiar (we're an oil company why do we have to come up with the next fuel source. We should focus on producing what we started as...) Any way the refrigerator lobby tried to convince Congress it was a problem that couldn't be solved, well when the Refrigerator safety act passed they started making fridges that weren't little death traps. Go figure, and they say Government cannot do anything right. I'm starting to think, businesses cannot do anything right without a little sharp pointing stick pocking their bollocks to get them moving.
As an aside I only 31 but my parents totally had an old refrigerator and I most certainly did crawl into it and close myself in it so I can relate. Not to worry it was antique and the motor had been removed so I had an air hole, scary but true story.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
So if you haven't lived under a rock you have likely heard of dropbox. It's kind of sweet, but the free version starts at a rather piddly 2.5gb of space. I've worked my way up to 3.5 with various connect a social media this and do some other task for that but I'm at a wall. I like that dropbox lets you put huge (unlimited as near as I can tell) files in your box for transferring so I thought I'd beg a few of the following faithful if they would be so very kind... The following link is my referral link, sign up an account and I get 500mb of free sweet space.
Your help is greatly appreciated, and if you do let me know!
So technically this is probably brandied grapefruit, but Gizmodo has a video post (with no way to embed sorry) for how to make a sweet brandied baked grapefruit. Short story is below
-Cut grapefruit in half, and segment the... uh... segments, with a grapefruit knife (awesome gadget).
-Cover with 1 ounce (two tablespoons) of brown sugar.
-Pour some brandy on top until it's full and let it sit for 30 minutes.
-Put the grapefruit in a pre-heated 350-degree (F) oven for 20 minutes.
-Remove them and add enough sugar to cover.
-Turn your oven to Broil and put the pan in the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the sugar caramelizes.
-Remove from oven. Let it cool a little, and enjoy.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
This comes by way of there I fixed it (white trash repairs), but I find this to be awesome and perfect for summer. When I own a farm (notice not if but when) we will do outdoor feeds on tables with these in them. Whites paired with farm fresh fair, fuck yes.
Monday, April 02, 2012
You didn't think this could slip by right?
So over the weekend we celebrated my birthday (a touch late but who's counting anyway). I had people over and was going to make Cougar gold Mac and Cheese. If you don't know what Cougar Gold is, you're probably not from Washington State and never heard of WSU (the cougars). They are the butt of most Jokes in Seattle (see Ryan Leaf), with the phrase "don't coug it" a colloquialism for don't screw up. Thing is the school also runs a creamery, and they make damn fine cheese, like $30 for a can of it (it's weird, but they sell it in cans whatever it's change your life cheese). So I had joked about making Lobster Mac n Cheese, but at 3 for the damn cheese and another $12 for the gruyere it was already getting to be spendy Mac n Cheese. Well I went to the store to get the gruyere and they had fresh from the sound lobster for $10.99/lb cooked. So yeah I bought a sea bug and made $70 mac and cheese for 7 people. Why do I tell that story to get to the beer part of this story? So I decided to spring for myself a $12 bottle of 22ozs of chocolate gold. Full Sail Bourbon Barrel aged Imperial Porter, 9.5%abv of roasty perfection. If you see this beer in your local store I know $12 seems steep for a 22oz, and it is but I vouch for the experience. Don't just take my word for it, check it out on ratebeer.
Bottom line no apologies, this is the best beer I have payed someone else to make for me ever.
So I don't make many bones about it, but I don't watch much on tv. By in large its fluff, filler and wasted human existence. The stories are driven forward by drama, but never compelled to complete themselves, make the experience complete or really even make sense in and of itself. The stuff I do tend to watch is Fan-subbed anime. I watch it with the original narration, and subtitles for a few reasons.
First, the voice actors chosen for America are typically terrible. Not always, but most often voice acting and particularly voice acting for import animation is done at cut rate and leaves a lot to desired in expressiveness and overall interpretation. Second, Fan-Subbing is typically very informative on Japanese culture and belief systems which can help you to appreciate the significance of the characters actions as well as get some of the wordplay jokes that are often present in Japanese culture. You would miss these in dubbed versions because the wordplay would likely not make sense in a another language. Third and this is key, it forces engagement. I literally cannot do anything else if I want to watch the anime, because I have to read the whole story line. I cannot read facebook while "watching" the show and I need for single tasking in my life.
This was sort of prompted by this techcruch article on engagement and he is lamenting twitter and facebook integration and interactive viewing as preventing you from escaping. I find in particular when my wife tries to watch tv she cannot stop multi-tasking and misses plot queues, and subtle humor. It could be that distracted viewers are really the reason tv has to be dumbed down, just so those only paying partial attention can get the jokes.
Just an idea. I'm trying Satirical blogs idea and doing the alphabet challenge for April so there is my A post for yesterday....or whatever. By counting June would have really been a better month to do it (30-4) instead of 30-5 with a Sunday as a soft start. Whatever this is blogging not rocket science. Just blog b-z Monday - Saturday for the rest of the month and take Sundays off.
Right so we should do this again in June just for the sake of it makes more sense.
That last bit was some depressing shit show here is a trailer for a movie that I actually have some hope for. I don't love Colin or anything, but I think that Total Recall would be better with updated special effects. Most sci-fi movies need the slick visuals CGI can give now.
That was the lest productive weekend I fairly sure ever. My dad and I managed to get my tv mounted onto the wall, and after a few hours of looking at Ikea's website and measuring and remeasuring the living room we managed to get a decent idea of how the room should/will be laid out when it comes time for the living room upgrade. No CNC work however.
I also got windows 7 onto my mom's computer and transferred all of her docs and pictures plus the nearly 4 gigs of legacy pictures that I recovered from the last time her computer died. I've given her these pictures on cd's or a dvd to load into her computer several times and she has failed to remember to do it so she finally has an uninterrupted chain of digital photos since she started taking digital photos. I also new have a snapshot on hand of all of her data as of yesterday. I keep bare drives dedicated to keeping my family and in-laws data alive in the event of, well whatever. I recovered from crashed laptops and failed desktops enough that it sits in folders on a external 500gb disk, each family has a folder. I should setup a dedicated crashplan server for my family so I don't have to worry about it in the future.
The rest of the weekend was spent helping my brother and his wife get ready for their new house. They bought a new construction (that I'm not a huge fan of either the location or the layout of the neighborhood) and are excited and nervous for the outcome. My parents have built and sold more houses than any sane individuals should have (gotta love middle class upward mobility). That is to say, they are good people to tell you about how the whole process works, and what you need and don't need in the process of buying a house. My Sister-in-law is a little bit of a know it all (in her head) and was very nasty to my mother all weekend as she tried to give them some wisdom on various things about the process. My mother also has a really good eye for design, and decorating (honestly not just because she is my mother) so I tend to listen to her about color palettes and pairing. Her catching shit from her daughter-in-law is the back drop for this next bit of story. Mom tolerates bullshit poorly and is not shy about an argument, but has really made an effort to not be on bad terms with my brothers wife who has a tendency to be a bit of a bitch. Contrast S-I-L with my wife how goes the extra mile to make my mother feel welcome and included, and tries hard to not let mother's pushy nature get the best of her. That is the dynamic we are working with here.
Mix in a lot of tired from all parties last night, and while the parents where waiting for me to finish the computer mother says to father some kind of snarky bs about having to be up early otherwise their Daughter-in-law won't let them see their grandchild and my wife lost it. It was a minor snipe and really petty of my mother, but not out of line her general nature. It just happened to be the last straw for my wife, she walked out of the room and wouldn't speak with my mother which unleashed some fucking tidal wave of crazy from mother about everyone is so mean to her and all she wants to do is steal some baby so she can see it whenever she wants and not have to see her (my Mother-in-law aka the other grandma that is doing the heavy lifting of childcare 5 out of the 6 week rotation we are on right now). Followed by some incomprehensible sobbing about wanting her boys back and threatening to drive home (like 6 hours that night it was 9pm or so).
So yeah, I went to bed angry and still apparently am.