Categories: art, books, movies, music, television

It's art.

posted by ben on 06.05.05 at 14:42, null, art, music, art, music, Leave a comment Permalink
-Hamster MIDI

thoughts from my morning walk... I should carry a camera instead.

posted by ben on 06.03.03 at 16:42, art, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Art is a means of communicating beauty. Artists communicate beauty.

Art which is not beautiful is not art... and not everything is beautiful. Art which is willfully obscure isn't art either.

Functioning Transformers!!!

posted by graham on 06.02.18 at 21:10, Raves, art, technology, Toys, Leave a comment Permalink
This is about the coolest thing evar, or at least since the last time I said that about something.
Via Make by way of Vestal Design.

Comment from: Brian [Visitor] ·
Implausible but entertaining.
Permalink 01/21/06 @ 17:42
Comment from: ben [Member] ·

"I say implausible because the narrator commits at least two glaring errors building a space elevator. One hopes the real deal would have had such errors excised by sanity check."

-Brian Dunbar

Since engineers never make hilariously disastrous mistakes ... I thought the unrealistic part was Blue Origin building a viable interplanetary space ship.

Permalink 01/21/06 @ 18:09
Comment from: Brian [Visitor] ·
I didn't say that engineers never make mistakes, only that your character made some that would not make their way into a finished design.
Permalink 01/21/06 @ 22:50
Comment from: ben [Member] ·
you seem like a nice fellow, but this is the part where I chant "Tacoma Narrows Tacoma Narrows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows Tacoma Narows..."

or maybe that stuff about Oppenheimer and friends wondering if the first atomic bomb would start the Earth's atmosphere on fire... yeah, engineers are characteristally moral sorts...
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 02:25
Comment from: graham [Member] ·
I can't really find the designers of the Tacoma Narrows at fault for not checking the bridge's natural frequency in a crosswind. It always seemed like such a freak occurrence to me.
If we're talking about hilariously disastrous, I'm sure the French deserve at least an honorable mention.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 05:15
Comment from: ben [Member] ·

Here you go:

Honorable Mention: The French for the Maginot Line, possibly the most inept military structure ever devised (Which I guess is in many ways a good thing. Hooray for a culture that's better at getting drunk and making baguettes and art than killing people).

Permalink 01/22/06 @ 05:55
Comment from: collin [Member] ·
Oppenheimer an engineer? I wouldn't call Oppenheimer an engineer. Not to disparage the work engineers do, but fundamental research isn't engineering even if it does result in a "device." And you mention the "igniting the atomosphere" possibility. From wikipedia:
When Teller put forward the remote possibility that the bomb would generate enough heat to ignite the atmosphere (an event that was soon shown to be impossible by Bethe), Oppenheimer nevertheless was concerned enough to meet up with Arthur Compton in Michigan to discuss the situation.

Which really isn't a case of "Let's build this thing and not think about the consiquences." Case in point is the famous Vishnu [I always thought it was Shiva] quote [same wikipedia article]:
"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that one way or another."

A little less poetic than if he just said it...
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 09:44
Comment from: Brian [Visitor] ·
you seem like a nice fellow

I think I am. I have my days.

but this is the part where I chant "Tacoma Narrows

Duly noted. Things happen and stuff breaks - we know this. The trick is to not get so full of yourself (from an institutional perspective).

engineers are characteristally moral sorts.

What does morality have to do with making sure your bridge doesn't fall down? You might be confusing technical competence with morality. Or are you saying that people have a moral obligation to prevent their creations from harming others? I'll agree with that.

The French for the Maginot Line, possibly the most inept military structure ever devised

The Maginot Line wasn't a structure but a series of border forts and redoubts; a way of thinking if you will. The French did a wonderful job of preparing to re-fight WW I. Note that the line did it's job - it wasn't defeated in battle, but had to be abandond when those wily Germans prepared to fight WW II and drove around it.

(Which I guess is in many ways a good thing. Hooray for a culture that's better at getting drunk and making baguettes and art than killing people).

Well yes - until a culture that is good at applying force shows up. Creating art and making wine is important - so is having the ability to protect your wine makers and artists from those who would kill them. Takes all kinds.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 10:58
Comment from: Joe Julian [Visitor] ·
Let's give the french some credit. They didn't just roll over and die during WWII. They fought fiercely and were even given credit in letters to Berlin by the Germans. Their leadership and strategists were to blame, not the men on the ground.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 11:25
Comment from: ben [Member] ·
With regard to Tacoma Narrows... Anticipating things like your bridge becoming a wing and attempting to take off is exactly what engineering is about. If you don't do that, you aren't really doing engineering, but just kind of building stuff.

Oppenheimer starting the world on fire... so, yeah, he was a physicist doing engineering. I'd say that makes him an engineer. The point is that they knew the world starting on fire was a possibility and they set the damn thing off anyway. Doesn't that astound you?

What does morality have with making sure your bridge doesn't fall down? This is where that miserable ethics in engineering class comes in... The O rings and the shuttle... they knew they were leaky. But, the engineers working on the part of the project didn't think it was a problem if they leaked some. So, instead of fixing their problem they ignored it. Yes, there was some paperwork filed, but nothing came of it until pieces of Challenger were falling from the sky. So morality is very important. To be a good engineer, you must tirelessly eliminate any mistakes from your work and try to anticipate how it might interact with the work of others to cause other problems.

About the killing... it does not take all kinds. If there were none of the killing kind then there wouldn't have been a world war.

But, assuming that killing people with guns is a laudable thing, a moment for the brave French resistance of WWII... the brave French resistance who waited until the Americans had landing at Normandy, and then waited a little longer to make sure the Americans were staying in France before emerging from their Paris sewers to fight bravely in a war that was already won. Ah, let's remember the noble Vichy regime and their tireless human rights work. And if all that doesn't warm your heart, remember warmly that at least the French didn't string up a bunch of concentration camp escapees... possibly because they never had the opportunity.

People aren't evil exactly, but they are cowards... and continental europe during the 30s and 40s is a largely undiluted example of that. People were very good at not seeing the evil things going on around them and not speaking out against them. I only hope we haven't developed that same skill here and now.

The solution to the problems then and the problems now is not death, but the exercise of free speech. Speak out against those things you consider wrong and steadfastly refuse to participate in any act which you consider wrong.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 15:03
Comment from: collin [Member] ·
So is engineering any time you create a physical device? Or does it only have to have a use outside the lab? Or is it defined by the intent of the builder/designer [more generic terms]? Is it engineering if the device is created with an intended use outside of the lab? Is it determined by economics? After writing these nonrhetorical questions [come on somebody, give me an answer] I'm less sure of which definition I would support. Which one are you using?

My point about Oppenheimer was that he seems to have been acutely aware of the consequences of his actions, or at least the ones he could imagine. You mention "burning the world" as you have before, which really begs the question: When do you trust that your model of the physical world is accurate enough for the application to place your faith in the cold hard purity of mathematical proof? Or when is the model not trustworthy?

I know that wikipedia isn't the greatest source but, "showing it was impossible" says to me: "Given this well-tested model of thermodynamics, the energy densities produced by an uncontrolled fission reaction and other conditions are not sufficient to ignite the atmosphere." I freely admit that my argument isn't well supported by good sources, but yours isn't either. Show me a paper, maybe I'll understand it though probably not.

And for those that don't know Ben [I should start charging you for PR work], he is some what of a francophile. So his viewpoint is a little more complicated than "teh French 5uX0r." For whatever that's worth.

Does anyone find it amusing that this fairly long discussion started with a little piece of science fiction? And come on, grey goo? Not that it's not an entertaining story.
Permalink 01/22/06 @ 22:55
Comment from: ben [Member] ·
He thought the world might start on fire. He might not have believed it likely, but he though it possible and lit the bomb up anyway. And people say I'm sociopathic.
Permalink 01/23/06 @ 00:29
Comment from: Brian [Visitor] ·
Oppenheimer starting the world on fire... so, yeah, he was a physicist doing engineering. I'd say that makes him an engineer

No - it make Oppenheimer was what he was - the director. The head cheese. The guy in charge. But not an engineer.

The point is that they knew the world starting on fire was a possibility and they set the damn thing off anyway. Doesn't that astound you?

Did you read the bit that said "an event that was soon shown to be impossible by Bethe" ?

But, assuming that killing people with guns is a laudable thing

The situation is rather more complex than that, of course. But yes - killing people with guns (or swords, slingshots or arrows) is a laudable thing if the alternative is extinction of your race, culture or country.
Permalink 01/23/06 @ 06:42
Comment from: marco [Member] ·
Ben wrote:

People were very good at not seeing the evil things going on around them and not speaking out against them. I only hope we haven't developed that same skill here and now.

Some possibly evil things:
1) Torturing people to try to get information out of them.
2) Laying waste to an entire city to try to clear it of insurgents.
3) Secretly listening in on conversations of innocent people in the hopes that they might be talking to terrorists, without any regard for its legality or independent oversight.
4) Bombing houses with civilians in them in the hopes of also killing a high-level terrorist.
5) Detaining a person indefinitely and denying him/her the right to defend himself/herself in a trial.
Permalink 01/25/06 @ 12:18

touch you touch you

posted by ben on 06.01.18 at 23:23, art, art, Leave a comment Permalink
-Henry Miller, "Bubu"

Star Trek: The Great Society

posted by ben on 06.01.10 at 03:59, art, television, television, Leave a comment Permalink

I am contemplating the death of an old friend.

-Gary Mitchell, Star Trek Episode 2, Season 1

posted by ben on 05.12.31 at 22:41, null, politics, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Did the workers like Woody Guthrie or was he as much beloved as the hippies?

I suppose Arlo wasn't terribly popular.

Damn it.

posted by collin on 05.10.29 at 16:28, nonsense, art, visual, random, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Artists get to have all the fun.

darling of new york

posted by ben on 05.10.01 at 02:35, books, art, books, Leave a comment Permalink

"I know I might suffer a lot in later life. So in the meantime I try to avoid art having to do with suffering. Or the human condition."

Benjamin Kunkel, Indecision, pg. 162

I found some art...

posted by collin on 05.09.25 at 16:21, nonsense, art, visual, random, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Seriously, two four by six foot paintings on canvas in the dumpster. I even like them.

Your knife block sucks

posted by graham on 05.09.02 at 04:46, Raves, null, random, art, Leave a comment Permalink


posted by ben on 05.07.07 at 21:58, art, books, art, books, Leave a comment Permalink

I am thinking of moving my commune to Siberia. We will invite Wallace and his new girlfriend, Delia. She is from Alaska and probably knows everything about wild cold and wilderness situations. Wallace and Delia could figure out how to make iced coffee igloos for us to live in. We'll call them "coffeegloos." Everbody might have a hard time sleeping because the coffeegloos' walls give of a ceffeine-laced aura, so we could tell ghost stories. We'd listen to the wind whir and the coyotes howl and wear those cool fur hats with the flaps on the ears. Probably Wallace and Shrimp will have to learn to ice fish even though they're vegetarians. Survival is key. They will sit at the hole in the ice for hours and hours, not talking but most likely communicating telepathically. Delia and I will dance around the coffeegloos while they are gone and listen to our voices echo at the crests of the plains. I'm fairly sure no one else I know will want to visit my commune in Siberia, but that will give us a chance to get to know the natives better. They will teach us how to make borscht and tell us about the olden days, when Siberia housed Stalin's prison camps. We won't be scared.

-Rachel Cohn, Gingerbread, pg. 36

read more books

posted by ben on 05.06.30 at 23:05, art, art, 1 comment Permalink

I think even I'd be better at fetish photography than whoever is responsible for this dehumanizing anti-erotic catastrophe.

stolen from boingboing

Has anyone else noticed how Xeni does all the sex posts? I wonder how all the boingboing people are related. I remember reading it back when it was Mark and Cory, thinking how much it sucked, and then not looking at it again for a few years... until about the time of Down and Out. I think the golden age of boingboing may have passed 6 months ago or so. We're going to be big (or small). The important thing is we're going.

Comment from: Malady [Visitor] ·
haha thats me. And yep the lighting sucked and stuff but it was a joke that went a little out of control on the web and now I'm all over the place because my friend posted me on boingboing. but yes thought I would say hello:)

Permalink 01/28/06 @ 18:47

Don't Buy a Vanagon

posted by graham on 05.06.22 at 00:32, Photos, art, Leave a comment Permalink

Last Sunday night in one of the two worst places in Seattle for it to happen, the middle of the Seattle-side I-90 tunnel, my friend Rob's VW Vanagon burst into flame. Several minutes after Austin (who was borrowing the Van to move his snake tank) pulled to the shoulder, exited, and placed a safe distance between himself and the crapwagaon, it exploded.

Luckily I had the forsight to insist on taking another, safer, vehicle, and so the two pythons, the boa and I were spared certain incineration. Or at least a fair amount of smoke inhalation.

Here are some pictures Austin snapped with his camera phone during and after the blaze. Note in the last pictures how the tiles were blown off the wall of the tunnel.

Too lazy to make thumbnails:

how metaphor ought to be, the way she leans

posted by ben on 05.06.03 at 23:21, art, books, art, books, Leave a comment Permalink

The sun was like a huge fifty-cent piece that someone had poured kerosene on and then had lit with a match and said, "Here, hold this while I go get a newspaper," and put the coin in my hand, but never came back.

-Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America, pg. 6

He already underlined the words so I wouldn't have to.
This could have been a metaphor. Also:

A process is hung in the closet, pressed and ready.

-Alexandra Kleeman, Some Things Reluctant and Soft, pg. 20

There was something else. I didn't underline and it disappeared.