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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn

magic window

27jul2021

cropHi all.

I see I totally missed the boat on Pride Month. Well, trusting you had a happy Pride Month! I can't help admitting a certain appreciation for a holiday—and movement—that celebrates with rainbows:)

My library has opened back up for browsing, huzzah, and I recently went over there to pick up a reserve, Shape, which I'd ordered some time ago on the basis of some recce or other online. I'm not sure what I was expecting—possibly some deep delve into social justice concerns from a mathematical perspective, I suppose—but much of the book is simply the author exploring the joys of math in general and geometry in particular.

Geometry, he explains, is “the cilantro of math” —you either love it or hate it; because it was (as the title of this book implies) more about pictures than symbols, it came (a bit) easier to me, putting me firmly in the ... not hating it camp. I haven't got much to say about this book, because it's the sort of thing where, to get the maximum enjoyment out of it, you have to do the work and I haven't the mental energy to take even the simplest problems on.

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26jul2021

cropOoooh, linkies.

Everyone likes linkies, right?

  • The Revival of Stocism...besides, perhaps, its audience, which (stereotypically) are rich atheist technodudes of the silicon valley sort (or hopefuls wishing to become such), there's nothing wrong with stoicism; in fact, its appeal distinctly reminded me of people getting into yoga and transcendental meditation back in the day, except yoga became too girly and old-fashioned as its popularity transformed it from an exotic pursuit of a few, determined (male) hiker-travellers going to India to (mostly women attended) studios found on every US street corner moderately well-to-do city/suburb...the thing is, dig into yoga, or stocism, or buddhism, (or whatever the spiritual-answer-du-jour is) past the sound-bites and memes of ‘follow this path and become healthy-wealthy-and-wise’ and all of these disciplines tend to emphasize those pesky ethics & concern for neighbor (especially marginalized neighbors) that get stripped from the popular packaging.
  • Cool (women) makers making engineering cool stuff!
  • Via the NYT's puzzle page featuring math fonts, I figured this glass cane font would be, I dunno, like pictures made of shorts, all different colours, mebbe, but it's not: it's a recipe for making (if you used white and clear, at any rate) latticino that reads as letters in cross section. Pretty cool, and utterly beyond my technique to create, though I expect it would be child's play for the average Italian cane maker.
  • This trans blogger's searing reaction to (admittedly) a horrifying experience of a trans person's effort to explore that part of herself via fiction is the sort of reason I have difficulty claiming trans-ness: sure I was enraged by a relative's effort to undermine my gender presentation but have never undergone the agony cited here: Twitter has a lot to answer for.
  • Murders of Crows and other fun collective nouns (the comments are especially fun, and I won't spoil them;)

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12jul2021

cropWell, since CRT (which, cuz I'm old makes me think of Cathode Ray Tubes, instead of ‘Critical Race Theory’) seems to be the current bogey[wo?]man du jour, some linkies associated with that...

  • To start, a SJW's primer, or at least touching-upon, of CRT with some commentary. The second link is only about 5–6 minutes, by a prof working in the discipline and can be summed up with, ‘CRT wanted to explore why the Civil Rights/Voting Rights (etc) laws of the 1960s didn't fix racism (as we hoped they would)—see, not scary at all!’
  • the first video by some dude named T1J, who is not a CRT theorist (but is promoting anti-racism) is longer, in the 20–30 minute range, and a good place to begin, I think, for people who want a bit more nuanced take from someone who's adjacent but has criticisms to make.
  • For those of you wishing to discuss the controversy at a more advanced level (well beyond my pay grade—any time I suspect people are being disingenuous but I can't tell for sure is pretty clear evidence I'm in over my head) Crooked Timber has an essay, Not CRT but critical thinking about race which has some lively, interesting comments.
  • Some of those comments wandered into interesting territory, such as the one reccing a pair of essays about hiring orchestra musicians —I thought I'd read the NYT essay so I skipped to the rebuttal which had kind of an interesting effect on my feelings (evidently I tend to sympathize with the folks who get their opinion in first? Kinda like being in the beginning of the slide caroulsel for juries, I guess) but eventually I sided with the dude wanting more explicit efforts to hire PoC for orchestras. I don't, however, like his suggestion for fixing the problem, which was to get rid of blind auditions. As a female bodied person I frankly think is a mistake; the real problem, as a number of people pointed out—in both essays—is the lack nurturing musicians of colour further down, that is, focusing on the beginning of the pipeline...

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19jun2021

cropHappy Juneteenth, all. I haven't been posting much, because nothing seems quite good enough; and so decided simply to throw up an assortment of pix I like, however imperfect, out-of-focus/fuzzy-from-high-ISOs (or better yet, both) at full resolution they may be.

Enjoy, and wishing you a delightful Juneteenth (& if I don't get my act together, Summer Solstice as well).

18jun2021

cropOh look, pages two days in a row. (Aka procrastinating over something else I should be doing...) but first, a brief rant about tiktok: It's not the wiggly logo, wretchedly short attention spans, kids these days—no, I can deal with all that. But making it impossible to turn down the volume before the damn thing starts playing? That's just rude. Boo, hiss.

It boggles the mind that people still in this day and age say things like you sound white (but only to Black people) as if it's a complement (which it isn't—no-one has ever complemented me on my pretty-close-to-broadcast-standard speech[1] any more than they have on my having a head on my shoulders) because, hello

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16jun2021

cropI was gonna post this one the 6th. Then the 12th. Now, the 16th. Whoops. Well, I have links, at least...

  • First up, via FTB, an absolutely appalling police tactic that sends their victims’ autos into an uncontrollable skid & then flips them onto their roofs. I can—just barely—imagine considering this horrific tactic on a driver who is endangering huge numbers of people; but the idea that any cop should persecute a speeder simply because she merely put on her flashers, slowed down, & moved to the right lane until she could exit (as recommended by her state) but didn't pull over to satisfy the cop's impatience is beyond heinous. (& I say this as someone who loathes speeders, especially ones that weave in and out of traffic.)
  • As a unicorn chaser, some outdoorsy type suggests that spending time outside every day 3x/week (say, a walk in your neighborhood), in a semi-natural environment...unh 5 hours a month in a park or hiking, and three days of off-the-grid type camping once a year to get that mental-calm from nature:) This sort of thing certainly improves my outlook on life, but I'm healthy, don't suffer from asthma or other conditions that would make rustic camping problematic; also on the debit side of the leger SAD responds really well to outdoor therapy. Appalling allergies, though, would kill the desire of anyone so afflicted during pollen season to be outdoors. Even so I do think most people like spending some time outside, and the more people who treasure those experiences, the greater the momentum for cherishing such spaces.
  • Well, this citizen scientist gets his outdoor time cataloging the 1200 and counting species in his yard; he was (justifiably) pretty chuffed to document one of those fancy peacock jumping spiders amongst his finds, which has become an all-consuming passion.
  • And why not? Nature is fascinating. Frex: turns out baby birds in the shell are listening to their parents’ incubation calls. And that it has an impact on their survival. (Dunno why anyone who's a parent would be surprised by this—our first, born in a hospital cried when anyone except her dad held her: if human babies recognize familiar voices, then why not birds, for whom calls are vitally important...?)
  • NYT has a list of 10 YA novels that looks pretty enticing.

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