May 01

Not of this world

And now for something old, a band I used to listen to nearly-obsessively — and the singer most chronically in need of a hug, Hope Sandoval.

If that doesn’t make you bring out the pills, razors and look for a high cliff to jump from, you have a harder heart than I do.

Can’t someone, anyone, just give Hope a hug? Please? I mean, come on.

Mazzy Star is the first band I recall hearing that blended blues, country and goth like that. And I love the small ribbons braided through a bit of her absolute mass of hair.

My then- and still-favorite Mazzy Star song is the one below. I saw the performance below live (on TV) when it aired, way back in 1994.

Hope seemed always not of this world. As haunting as her voice is and as obviously beautiful as she is, even as a young man I never had a crush on her – that’d be like having a crush on the air, or on a half-remembered dream. She seems elemental and at the same time completely removed, someone visiting from a fey land, and soon to return there. She could blow away like the wind, disappear when you turn your back, converge once again with the chthonian realm that lays its eternal true claim on her.

I watched about a dozen covers of “Into Dust” tonight. It’s a simple song. I could probably figure out how to play it on piano in about half an hour if I still played. All of the covers are terrible. Amazing how much that voice of hers matters.

The “happiest” Mazzy Star song.

I’ve never once seen Hope Sandoval smile, or talk to the audience. Not ever. Not that I mind – she still has huge stage presence, and it adds to her mystery. Sometimes mysteries should stay mysteries, as J.J. Abrams knows.

May 01


The custom banjo Sarah Jarosz uses sounds unfuckingbelievable.

Know how many hours you have to practice to be able to play like that?

Apr 30


I have a good instinct about idiots. I always seem to despise them before the cool people start to hate them. Like Matt Yglesias. And Jonah Lehrer.

The first time I read a Jonah Lehrer piece I said, “This sounds like complete horseshit” and I vowed never to read anything by Lehrer again.

On my previous blog several years ago, I posted something about how I’d never read Yglesias again, and I haven’t.

Yglesias is the epitome of the Ivy League-educated idiot. College makes some people smarter and is necessary in some fields, mostly STEM ones. For most people it is worthless other than as a piece of paper to get a job. It could be different, but it’s not.

To quote Good Will Hunting, “You blew 150k on an education you could have gotten in $1.50 in late fees from the library.” Always been my philosophy. I read more textbooks in a year than most college students do their whole lives.

And now I’m rambling – this really should be two posts. But I am also lazy, so it won’t be.

Yglesias seems to have embodied the opposite of the GWH quote – education, as with Obama, seems to have made him dumber as it overlaid his mind with neo-liberal swill.

Glad there is a backlash now, though.

Apr 27


The economy – contrary to popular belief and even the belief of some economists – is absolutely not zero sum.

Many people want you to believe that as it is in their best interests that you do so. That would be mostly members of the 1%, large banks, etc. Certain parts of the economy are indeed zero sum, but these parts are very small and are shrinking more every day.

I don’t really feel like going into long explanations here, but this is the most common misconception I see out there about how a large economy works – that value creation always by necessity causes value destruction elsewhere.

However, if I write a computer program for which you pay me, both of us are objectively better off.

If a famer creates a better method for rotating crops for which people pay him to consult on for their own farms, he is better off and so is everyone else. No one loses anything – and this is true if the farmer never personally profits monetarily from the work.

If a researcher creates a clever algorithm to optimize encoding of digital information for which she receives the Fields Medal, again, everyone is better off.

That the economy is a zero sum game is actually completely the opposite of how economies work. An economy can’t work that way and function. Just can not. In an economy that is in fact a zero sum game, everyone would do only the bare minimum to obtain food and water and that’s about all.

I realize that as one my teachers once put it that I am jumping from mountaintop to mountaintop here and not exploring the valleys below, but smart people read this blog. I am sure you can handle it.

Apr 26

Won’t be going that way again

Not that we should expect every woman to do this, but damn, this is awesome.

The bus driver tried to kiss her, then when she spurned his advances he allegedly said he would rape her. She knocked a knife from his grasp, broke it in two, bit his hand, wrestled him to the ground and put him in a stranglehold between her thighs, before leaving the bus and reporting the attack.

Funny what a little military training can do for you.

Apr 25


What in the hell.

I JUST noticed something strange on Wikipedia. It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one, alphabetically, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. So far, female authors whose last names begin with A or B have been most affected, although many others have, too.

I think if I were a woman writer, I’d still use a male pseudonym to attempt to avoid this sort of BS. Sad to say that – and to see the above – in 2013, but the evidence is what it is.

Apr 25

All of them

I’ve never seen anything like this before:

That’s pretty badass. I don’t even like the song, but how do you even begin to practice something like that?

Apr 25


When your hair looks like this while standing outside, you are about to die or be grievously injured.

Only people from non-lightning-prone states or areas could look so happy to be in such a situation.

When your hair is standing up like that, a lightning strike is mere seconds away.

I don’t recall the complete back story behind this photo, but I believe one of the brothers died a few minutes afterward.

Apr 24


Every time I have a lucid dream, I practice and attempt to perfect my telekinesis.image

At first, I could only move a small object – a coin or matchbook – in the palm of my hand.

Now, I can push a full-grown adult woman back thirty feet across a floor without knocking her down (control, people!).

It’s almost time to use it on the werewolves.

For anyone who has watched Inception and has practiced lucid dreaming, we lucid dreamers know that the real world has inertia. Most people can’t stroll into a lucid dream and start making things appear and disappear at will, or teleport, or radically alter the surroundings.

That takes practice, for most people.

incepSo in Inception when Ariadne steps into a lucid dream and does absolutely insane things with such haste, any lucid dreamer goes, “Holy shit, she’s a natural.”

For those who have never practiced lucid dreaming the scene probably has little impact at all, and certainly not the same depth of characterization.

I don’t know why the real world has inertia in dreams; it just does. My telekinesis in dreams is now a useful skill but when I battle my arch-nemesis clade of werewolves it cannot fail or I will quickly become lunch. I have some more practicing to do but soon I will be much less likely to get eaten by the wolves.

Apr 19


About the below, about all the time spent understanding QM, some people ask, “Why bother? What does that gain you?”

Well, ignoring even the simple joy of understanding something for its own sake, I know why the sun shines. Not just some vague guess – I know exactly why. I know why photons are emitted, and under what conditions, and how a star keeps from collapsing under its own mass.

I know why my hand doesn’t pass through the desk when I “touch” it, even though it’s mostly just empty space.

I understand why an element is an element, and why there are elements in the first place.

Knowing QM enough to reason in its counterintuitive way won’t help you make more money at work, or to repair your car, but when you look out at the universe or even at your own hand, you’ll understand more about the world than most people who have ever lived.

If that isn’t cool or worth doing, I don’t know what is. I know how the sun shines. How many people in recorded history can say that?