Blur Circle

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Of Paradise and Power : America and Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan

The American Soul by Jacob Needleman. From the Amazon description: "The critically acclaimed work that asks: What was the spiritual vision of the founding fathers-and how can we reclaim it today?"

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shuryu Suzuki

The Joy of Drumming by Tom Klower

Meister Eckhart translated by Raymond B. Blakney

The Red Queen : Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand

The Spirit of Zen by Alan Watts

Theory & Harmony for the Contemporary Musician
by Arnie Berle. Excellent music theory basics!


Joe Henderson - The Milestone Years Trippy and endlessly inventive. Monster box set.

Cornelius - Point
Masterful studio crunch and purest space

Rachel McCartney again. Saw her not long ago headlining a packed Saturday night show at Passim, at the top of her form. Why she's not yet signed is a music biz mystery.

fIREHOSE - Flyin' the Flannel my current top pick on Launch. Elemental!

Bettie Serveert

Daniel Lanois - Shine First heard of him on an Eno album. Produced much U2 among other big things. Sweet music, not big.

my Launch station Looks like you have to sign in to see much of anything.
April 30, 2009
Coworking in Gloucester, Massachusetts

I work from home when I'm in Gloucester, and I often want a place to collaboarate with others, or have an online meeting in a more professional space. Seeking around, I found others in the same situation. Now I'm part of an advisory board for CoWork Gloucester, and things are starting to happen! I'm excited for the day, soon to come, when Gloucester, Mass will have its own co-working space that conveys its own unique Gloucester vibe and helps to build a community of collaboration and energy.

November 17, 2015
Relativity and gravity

I've been reading Einstein's little book on relativity, and it's helping me to gel some thoughts I've had for awhile regarding a way to think about it. This is very rough. I'll just try to get it down here as a basis for development as I learn more (given time). I don't claim to fully understand any of this, nor have I worked through any of the mathematics.

The universe is a three-dimensional membrane traveling at the speed of light. Actually to say "at the speed of light" gives too much emphasis to light. The universe is moving at a given speed "outward" (for now, let's say outward from the Big Bang), and photons are massless particles that can travel through the universe's membrane at that same speed, as can all massless particles. It's easier to visualize a two-dimensional universe -- a flatland -- existing on an ever-growing sphere. (The sphere is very large with respect to our everyday world, such that its surface is nearly flat in our region, excepting gravitational effects, about which see below).

Einstein's special theory relates to the nature of an observation with respect to the above model. An observation of an "event" is merely the coincidence of photons, or other particles that can be measured, with a measuring instrument (such as our eyes).

Everything always moves through the space-time continuum at the speed of the universe. If something moves through the space dimensions of the continuum at a significant fraction of the universe's speed relative to an observer, it moves through the time continuum at a proportionally lower speed relative to the observer. Because photons always travel at universe speed through the space dimension, we think of arrival of photons simutaneously to us as "representing" simultaneous events to us. That is, the fastest arrival of any information about an event is the speed of these massless particles.

Now, for general relativity. Ah, never mind. The New York Times does it much better than I could. But that's pretty much what I was thinking. No really, my thought, in line with the above, is about gravity as the space-time bending that results from the drag factor of mass in light-speed space-time "travel".

Now, groping naively further, does collision with Higgs bosons constitute this drag? And given E=mc**2, does that equation describe the curvatture of space-time within this larger description?

July 28, 2012
New band is Baltic Sun

Jeff Dower, bass player Christian Collins, and I formed our new band Baltic Sun late last year, re-working many of Jeff's songs for a three-piece arrangement, and adding new songs. The sparser instrumentation demanded that we each step up with more intricate work, and I really like the result. Jeff's guitar has gone way beyond strumming to add fine fingerpicking and runs (I'm always amazed that someone can sing and do that), and Christian developed bass parts that strike that demanding balance of melodic counterpoint and solid groove. I'm working the toms more and bringing in found percussion (like the giant pandeiro-like thing someone gave me from a trip to Ghana). The sound is spacious and unique.

We're also experimenting with the musical collective approach, bringing in other musicians for a few songs in each show. Our premier gig at O'Brien's last week (great fun) featured Stephanie Wieseler on tenor sax. After only two live practices with us, she brought thoughtful textures and a gorgeous tone to the mix.

March 9, 2012
Nature Connection

What a great idea: bringing nature to people with limited access to the natural world -- people with disabilities, at-risk youth, and elders.

August 14, 2011
Dreams as an end

From Whisky River: Schopenhauer, in his splendid essay called "On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual," points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot? Schopenhauer suggests that just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you will have met apparently by mere chance became leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too, will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others. The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. And Schopenhauer concludes that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature."
- Joseph Campbell
The Power of Myth

Reminds me of my long-ago post on dreams as the evolutionary goal.

January 1, 2011
Big thanks, By Jupiter Band

Thinking about the best things going in 2011, one of them is definitely my new band By Jupiter band. I've read that what makes a great startup company is a diversity of talent and backgrounds, and I think it's the same for a band. There's the freshness of new, incredibly driven learning and "seasoned" (read "old" -- talking about me) experience, all with amazingly ego-minimal (anyone saying "egoless" is talking about a dead person) collaboration. And band leader and main songwriter Jeff Dower is incredibly talented.

April 30, 2009
Alter Ego Band

I've been having a blast playing in the Alter Ego band for what, almost two years now? My role as a drummer is to provide solid support for the great vocal talent, which is very different from my earlier experience as a sax player in a funk band where I was a front man with solos. I like the drums because of that foundational feeling: I have to be on all the time, carefully listening and playing dynamically, yet with solid timing and feel. It's a craft that can be deepened endlessly with a result that's only intuitively noticed by your average listener, but on a good night it'll show up as the number of people on the dance floor.

July 23, 2008
Stumbling onstage

Wait, am I blogging again? No, really, I was just about to throw away those 3x5 cards on which I write my morning drivel (helps you be creative they say), and I wanted a place to stash that work of genius down below. Good thing nobody will ever see it here.

Just had some fun re-reading my old Exerblog stuff. Let's get it going again! What say ye, me hearties! Me hearties? Me hearties? Where is everyone?

Dawn scrawl

Why is it so hard to get up in the morning? My head feels like sludge poured through concrete. The beehive of my identity is scattered and listless. All its directions are confused. The hive can't reorganize. I write this with one eye fluttering open/closed and aside from the pencil my body is entirely asleep. Covered doesn't mean covered. Do historians stay home from funerals? The feature of swimming - I'm not ready for it. Concept of R____ the feature can be cut in half to focus on the swimming. The bee cloud is gathering. Slowly, the hum. OK, alarm rings. The bees, rather than gathering on their own, are gassed, frozen, and fall into wooden slots made by someone else. Oh if they could drift, the shapes they might make. Unobservable. A cold shower this morning? Throttling to cold at the end. The life where all can be discovered, all is discovery. Slow discovery or headlong crashing through underbrush and stumbling into elegant dining rooms.

January 28, 2006
Chris Dave, amazing drummer

Been wanting to post this for several months but never got around to it. If you ever get the chance to see drummer Chris Dave, do it! I saw him with Meshell Ndegeocello a few months ago and had my face melted by his playing. The most musical, creative, groove-generating, technically accomplished drummer I think I've ever seen. I read later that he's often compared to Tony Williams though his center may be closer to hip-hop than jazz, though there's no reason to pin him down anywhere.

Looks like he's most recently with a group called Jabane Ensemble, playing at the Blue Note Jan 24-5.

January 09, 2006
Dangerous Ideas

Dangerous ideas at Via A&L Daily.

U.S. hovers close to its debt ceiling (again)

Once again it's time to raise the national debt ceiling to avoid a crisis. Truly scary stuff. What's an average U.S. citizen to do? Buy U.S. Savings Bonds? Or buy gold?

"The scary part is that there doesn't seem to be any prospects for getting the deficit under control,'' Rivlin said, adding that in this light, "raising the debt ceiling is a sort of red flag that says, 'You've got a real problem here.' "

But political leaders have become adept at keeping that red flag from attracting too much attention. When Snow wrote Congress before the new year, there were few on Capitol Hill to read his letter or the retort by Rep. James Spratt, D-S.C., the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, who blamed the Republican-run White House and Congress for "a 50 percent increase in the statutory debt, all accumulated on the Bush administration's watch."

National debt clock

April 03, 2005

It seems that languages must evolve to conform to optimal Shannon information-theory configurations. Even complex things, if commonly expressed, are encoded in short forms.

This morning (Sunday) I had a toothbrushing thought about something our pastor said to me once: "if you're in town, you should go to church". That word "should" is one of those highly information-packed words. In one word it lets someone express a personal opinion as a notion of broader expectations or something that's concretely good for you. Do all languages have it? In French "you should go to church" is "vous devriez aller à l'église". In Spanish it's "usted debe ir a la iglesia".

In any case, I went to church, and it was good. For me.

February 18, 2005
Center of the U.S.

According to Google Maps, the Coffeyville Country Club in Kansas is at the very center of the United States. Just drag the slider at the left upward until you see it. Pretty cool.

February 10, 2005
ATT Wireless refill: down or out?

Ever since ATT Wireless merged with Cingular, their page for adding minutes to a prepaid phone has said "The AT&T Wireless eMinutessm refill system is having technical issues . Please be patient as we work to correct these issues. We are sorry for the inconvenience." It's been two or three months now. Is this disingenuous or just lazy?

January 24, 2005
Library books

kierk.jpgI love old library books. Marked up in pen and pencil by ten different people, one sitting in his underwear under a bare lightbulb, another on her lunch break at the record store. Truth be told, I'm procrastinating reading this. We're covering it in Sunday School (and what nostalgiac cotton candy that term evokes, Sunday School. All paper foldouts and crosses made with popsicle sticks).

January 11, 2005
Insidious Myhrvold?

I was talking it over with a friend again recently, and I still have the same reaction I had when I first heard of it (what, three years ago?): Is Nathan Myhrvold's company really an incredibly insidious impediment to commercial creativity? As I understand it, Intellectual Ventures' mode of operating is to study ongoing public research, brainstorm and extrapolate its eventual commercial uses, and patent them. They have no plans to actually build anything, only to take a piece of the pie from whomever does. This strikes me as a formula for squashing innovation outright. It also sounds like a great way for a group of smart posteconomic people to have fun.

As a Silicon Valley VC in this article worries "We're concerned that these giant pools of patent rights are going to prevent entrepreneurs from entering markets, as opposed to being used to promote innovation".

Bugatti vs child

Coincidentally as I was cleaning up old bookmarks I ran across Peter Singer's (is it necessary to say "controversial philosopher Peter Singer"?) old article on the ethics of philanthropy, which ties in a bit with my previous post and Joe's critique of a journalist's statement that our care about a disaster is inversely proportional to its distance from us. (See "On Persephone's Nickel". Joe, where are your permalinks? Good to see you blogging again.)

December 28, 2004

It's the time of year for donations and I'm finding CharityNavigator helpful as usual (without letting their star ratings overshadow other considerations) and also the Network for Good tsunami relief site linked from CN's front page.

I recently heard a public radio report that Massachusetts is one of the lowest states in the country for chartible donations as a percentage of income. Ugh.

December 17, 2004
Year in Ideas

Hey, cool. The NYT Magazine's Year In Ideas is here again. That oughta hold you over until the next post here.

November 14, 2004
the difference between democracy and a tyrant

After reading Bush's badly misguided "we'll hold their feet to the fire" quote from the Blair/Bush news conference in so many news sources, I had to find the full text to see the full context. And it's not much better -- in fact it's worse. Here's a longer excerpt of Bush's comment (my emphasis):

But if you're true to democracy you'll listen to the people, not to your own desires. If you're true to democracy, you'll do what the people want you to do. That's the difference between democracy and a tyrant.

And the Palestinians may decide to elect a real strong personality, but we'll hold their feet to the fire to make sure that democracy prevails, that there are free elections. And if they don't - the people of the Palestinian territory don't like the way this person is responding to their needs, they will vote him or her out.

So, at first I imagined Bush merely suffered a badly executed chain of associative language:
"hold elections" => "we'll hold [them to it]" (hmm, too bluntly coercive, better use a colorful 'Texas' phrase here) => "we'll hold their feet to the fire"
resulting in an evocation of Cortez's torture of the Aztec priest to extract from him the location of treasure. It could be that the origin of that idiomatic phrase is more obscure than I think, but in any case it's a terrible choice of image in such a volatile situation. But when Bush follows that with what sounds like the beginning of a threat "And if they don't" , then corrects with an image of democracy in action, it's confirmed for me. Even given the best possible interepretation of motives -- and the image of worldwide democracy eliminating war is a nice one, if unrealistic -- at best, this kind of horrendously undiplomatic speechmaking is a huge problem.

November 12, 2004

Drat. My little corner of the web just got less interesting. But I understand. I had a dream the other day: a Great Master of some sort made a gesture to me that revealed the ultimate truth. I thought "Awesome, I'll have to blog this" and lost my only chance for enlightenment.

November 11, 2004
Best election map

Here are the most informative set of election maps I've seen. And here's a simple one that defuses the "red vs. blue states" thinking a bit. Thanks to Peter Broadwell.

November 06, 2004
President Nixon. Now more than ever.

Here's an old bumper sticker I have that I'm seriously thinking about putting on my car.


A better election map

Election maps like these might help keep us from making broad generalizations about the south, etc. The Democratic swath on the southern Mississippi River is insteresting, but even more interesting is the east-west line of Democratic concentration running through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, which doesn't seem correlate with population centers or even a major river. But here's another political map and discussion.

November 05, 2004

My wife tells me that a friend of hers who worked hard on the Kerry campaign relayed the following statistic. Before the election the "waiting list" for moving to Canda from the US was 2 months long; now it's a year and a half. [Update - debunked: "There is no unusual activity occurring at our visa missions (in the US). Having someone who intends to come to Canada is not the same as someone actually putting in an application".]

But wait, people! Instead, I propose the following two-part plan for victory in 2008.

First, everyone who wants to move to Canada should move instead to Ohio (statistic to watch: housing prices in Oberlin).

Second, take a large portion of the DNC budget and use it to fund trips to Europe for the entire southern population of Ohio, to add a touch of the global perspective that might be useful to many of our interior state residents (yeah, I'm assuming they get out of the country less because flights are longer, and that their location exhibits or reinforces a lower propensity for exposure to the bigger world).

Seriously, though. This is a huge country, and the strain of division could become more serious. We need to mix more.

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recent entries
Alter Ego Band
Stumbling onstage
Dawn scrawl
Chris Dave, amazing drummer
Dangerous Ideas
U.S. hovers close to its debt ceiling (again)
Center of the U.S.
ATT Wireless refill: down or out?
Library books
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