Rejiquar Works 2019-12-09T16:01:50-05:00 copyright 2019 Sylvus Tarn Sylvus Tarn 2019-12-09T00:00:00-05:00 year old linkies & rants... 09dec2019

cropSorry I caught a cold and was more-or-less out sick with it last week. I never got around to posting this from the 2018 holiday season. So this is a week year behind, and I guess I'll just collect the various links I've encountered over the last several days (from assorted sources)...stand.

I get kind of frustrated by articles like this one from Wapo that attempt to cast our current political polarization as economics, because I don't really think a lotta poor PoC voters went for Trump, do you?

The author tries to dress this up with a bit of identity politics—folks in, say, the Midwest (where I live, so I figure I can diss...) have added gun ownership/religion/republicanism as their identity now that the jobs, union, and economic security that went with it has left. Meanwhile lefties have a surfeit of fluid identities that makes them more open to change.

The fact of the matter is that when threatened, people do tolerate greater levels of authoritarianism, and economic insecurity is certainly threatening! Education—either formal, as embodied in the universities that tend to be based in more densely populated areas, or simply rubbing shoulders with a wider variety of folks, which also happens in cities—has always been my go-to solution for making people more tolerant.

I get that change is hard, and leaving some place where your people and community is rooted over generations (let alone the centuries some people in Europe claim) is tough. But people have always had to move for opportunities—I wouldn't be alive, let alone living here, if my Deutsch and Brit and Dutch ancestors hadn't left in search of a better life. That's hard, and I'm all for programs that support making those transitions. But I haven't a lot of patience for people who want to be supported while they mine coal make buggy whips the world no longer needs.

The teal deer version is that, frankly, this New Republic article on identity politics seems to describe—and, more importantly prescribe—the phenomenon more accurately. But its answers are not easy or satisfying to implement.

  • book designers discuss their favourite 2018 covers. I found many of them striking, but few actually attractive. Of course, that's not the point—the point is to get you to buy the book. But I want the cover to look good, too. I do however, really like the cover design for Educated, because it so perfectly represents the text.
  • Donald Knuth, author of The Art of Computing, and not incidentally the creator of the typesetting program I used for many years, TeX, gets a shout-out from The Times.
  • The comic The Stone King, looks interesting. (Like the drawing style & understated palette of the art, especially.)
  • Flexible phones would lend themselves to the finger-drawing equiv for art apps to playing musical instruments I suspect.

Or, if stale, year-old linkies aren't your thing, you can have a stale, slightly-out-of-focus gift pic instead.

2019-12-06T00:00:00-05:00 Hey it's Friday =Fugly= Fail! There must be something perverse about me, cuz I sure find these messes *amusing*. If =failure= fugly isn't your cup of tea, you could listen to the _Citation Needed_ podcast instead---I tried it on a recommendation by Marcus Ranum (he's freethoughtblogs under `stder...

cropHey it's Friday Fugly Fail!

There must be something perverse about me, cuz I sure find these messes amusing.

If failure fugly isn't your cup of tea, you could listen to the Citation Needed podcast instead—I tried it on a recommendation by Marcus Ranum (he's freethoughtblogs under ‘stderr’) starting with episode 1, about charter schools, and was quite impressed. Did you know they really got going because there was a big tax break for businesses that invested in charter schools in poor districts? Oh ho ho ho! No wonder Betsy DeVos is such a fan!

Just about the only thing for which all billionaires, of all financial persuasions, seem to agree, is their support of charter schools. Man oh man, did that bring the whole business into sharp focus—politics always, always always seems to be: “follow the money”. Le sigh. Anyway—listen to a fascinating discussion about the ways we as the public have failed poor kids, or check out my fail of a unicorn sculpture. It may be ugly, but at least it's not hurting anyone else...

2019-12-05T00:00:00-05:00 intro, xmas earrings 05dec2019

cropHere we go, Christmas earrings from a couple of years ago. (I don't think I actually made any up 2018, and currently don't have plans for this year, as I can think of only one other person besides me with pierced ears that's gonna be at our holidays for 2019. And both she and I have several styles of christmassey earrings. (IOW, I'm too busy.)

Even more awesome, a fun animation featuring Fred Rogers and Bob Ross that is just as cute and sweet as it sounds.

Or you can check out some holiday earrings.

2019-12-04T00:00:00-05:00 2019 UFS horn intro 04dec2019

cropToday's item is not only current work, it's currently available! This signed limited edition holiday ornament in the shape of a unicorn horn is available at Unicorn Feed and Supply and it's my understanding they ship:)

Of course, if christmas ornaments aren't your thing, they also work perfectly well as window suncatchers.

Do hope you enjoy.

2019-12-03T00:00:00-05:00 Christmas shoes vid... 03dec2019

cropAnd here's our second page in the series!

By the way, evidently once upon a time, Christmas, rather than Hallowe'en, used to be the time for ghost stories, of which Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is pretty much the lone relict.

Of course, then there are sorta-accidentally scary (not to mention a tad on the raunchy side(1) stories. I like the super-sappy as much as anyone, but sometimes you just need a palette cleanser (probably also why I like Santa Baby...)

But here's some sweet to go with the sour.

2019-12-02T00:00:00-05:00 intro to UFS horns 02dec2019

cropOh hai all. We're now officially past Thanksgiving, which in the US means: Christmas! (Or whatever winter equivalents you celebrate—for me, it's xmas, because it's three days later than the Solstice, meaning, I have three extra days to make last minute gifts:)

This is also my typical window for posting giftwrapping, even though I do that year round, because wrapped gifts are so strongly associated with Christmas. —However, before doing endless pages of that, I thought I'd bring back some pages related to a holiday themed project I did about this time last year.

I hope you enjoy ’em.

2019-11-29T00:00:00-05:00 Are scooters equivalent to 19ca bikes? 29nov2019

cropWell, Friday has become my de facto link roundup day, but the desktop was overheating from all the [ads in the] many open tabs, so I closed the whole mess in disgust—we'll see how many I rescue for today's intro.

Ever since I read the futurist Sarah Robinson on Orcinus I have—with perhaps just enough knowledge to be dangerous—been observing parallels from the Victorian age to now: strictly speaking, that would mean running the 90s (which are now 20-30 years ago, or a generation) but, as I said, dangerous: so now I can add bikes then, scooters now to the list of comparisons. —Much of the info in there (about bikes, at least) isn't new to me, though there are links to several books about early cycling and its impacts on society that look worth checking out; and I'm seeing the squabbles over the scooters playing out, not so much in my town, but the big university town next door.

Personally, e-bikes are more of an issue on my personal horizon, because the scooters top out at 16 mph or so—plenty fast enough to hurt someone, but not outside the bounds of a regular cyclist's sprinting speeds; ebikes, however, are (or can be) significantly more heavy, and get up to 25mph, plenty fast enough to really hurt, should one hit you. Yet every non-car type vehicle on the road makes it safer for everyone from pedestrians through motorcyclists, so I'm inclined to support ’em all, annoying as some can be.

Oh yeah, art. Here's a beadcurtain strand. Enjoy.

2019-11-28T00:00:00-05:00 Why are airport gates so far apart? 28nov2019

cropHappy Thanksgiving (for those of you who celebrate it... Evidently a lot of elementary teachers are still teaching that Indians saved the settlers malarkey because of their own ‘fond childhood memories of being taught’ about the holiday that way. In fact, Thanksgiving is mostly a 19ca creation, as so many of the holidays celebrating our ‘noble’ history seem to be. Pffffft.)

And for those of you traveling around this time, an explanation as to why airport gates are so far apart. The video is fairly interesting, and I was surprised to see how much the gate scheduling still relies upon folks sitting at computers making decisions. Couldn't help noticing, either, that the various managers were all slim white men, some surprisingly young, whereas the operators they supervised were often PoC who not surprisingly reflected the sedentary nature of their work.

I have no doubt that all of the statements in the video are true; also that politics and money play a huge and mostly unspoken role: airports vary in their functionality, and at least some of that comes down to political influence unwilling to sacrifice cash for customer convenience—not just getting gate to gate, but from car to building, which is a mess at my local airport because, evidently of the various taxi companies.

How about an appropriately orange beadcurtain strand instead?

2019-11-27T00:00:00-05:00 I don't like orange-chocolate kitkats 27nov2019

cropThere are many things I like about Japan, but orange-chocolate flavoured kitkats is not one of them.

To be fair, a) I'm not a fan of regular kitkats b) katkats, even the Japanese kind, are manufactured by an american company (Nestle) but c) those dark chocolate oranges that are wrapped as slices are oishii! (Delicious)

Actually, I've always felt shard beads are delicious too, like a sort of visual hard candy in glass:) So, enjoy.

2019-11-26T00:00:00-05:00 Economics makes the world go 'round: a review by David Graeber _Debt_ 26nov2019

cropI'm no great shakes as a business person, but macroeconomics fascinates me, because I really do think money makes the (human) world go ’round. Or rather, not [enough] having money makes for a great deal of misery, and I find it more than a little fascinating that there's an excellent argument to be made that money is a creation—like poetry, or digital photography or a perfectly executed dance/sport move.

I happened to find both David Graeber's Debt and Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century fascinating; this review by Graeber of Robert Skidelsky's Money and Government: the past and future of Economics looks interesting.) —the boingboing link has the teal deer version, which basically that money does no good sitting in a hole in the ground (or squatting in the wealthy's giant funds) but rather is of use only when it circulates, that is, gets spent: this is what ordinary people do with their money.

Our library has an older title by Skidelsky, which I figured I could sample before deciding whether to encourage them to a) buy the new book or at least b) order it through interlibrary loan. In the meantime, another (relatively) recently completed project, a disk braid.

2019-11-25T00:00:00-05:00 I promised a break from those everlasting mice, so here 'tis: kumihimo. Also, I found the uber cool link on the chopstick piano which is actually sort of hand-made cross between a piano and a koto (Japanese zither) ---which I guess is entirely appropriate. Here's another vid, this time calli...

cropI promised a break from those everlasting mice, so here ’tis: kumihimo.

Also, I found the uber cool link on the chopstick piano which is actually sort of hand-made cross between a piano and a koto (Japanese zither) —which I guess is entirely appropriate. Here's another vid, this time calling it an earpick? piano that shows the mechanism a little more clearly.

Interestingly enough, the maker of the chopstick piano is Western, (as is the maker of this braid...) which I guess is why it's a chopstick piano instead of an ohashi-piano...

2019-11-22T00:00:00-05:00 The Hong Kong protesters do so because they must 22nov2019

cropToday's Friday, my traditional day to post fuglies. (I'm sure I have some lying around, just need to track'em down...) Well, today's mouse isn't so ugly, but the news—sheesh!

Cory Doctorow excerpts a Hong Kong protester, who says ever more of that country's residents do so because they must: the alternative is worse, and so though protesting terrifies them,

Aren’t you afraid? I [Zeynep Tufekci] asked, gingerly. “We are afraid,” they quickly admitted. They even giggled, but it got serious quickly. This is our last chance, they said very matter-of-factly. If we stand down, nothing will stand between us and mainland China, they said. They talked about Xinjiang, and what China had done to the Uighur minority. I’ve heard about the fate of the Uighurs from so many protesters over the months. China may have wanted to make an example out of the region, but the lesson Hong Kongers took was in the other direction—resist with all your might, because if you lose once, there will be a catastrophe for your people, and the world will ignore it.

The two women weren’t sure whether they would win. That’s also something I’ve heard often—these protesters aren’t the most optimistic group. No rose-colored glasses here. “But we cannot give up,” one insisted, “because if we do, there will be no future for us anyway. We might as well go down fighting.”

Two—no three—observations: F2tY's Japanese otousan has been following these protests in Japan, as I have (to a lesser extent) here, excepting we can't seem even to run our own dumpster fire of a country, and when we do intervene on the world stage, it only makes things worse; and, all of the folks above are women. We tend to think only men protest, but protesters are usually marginalized, and female more often that you might think. I need to remember that.

Love, courage and hope to them.

Ah, you're still here? Ok, a link to today's mouse, then.

2019-11-21T00:00:00-05:00 That _Wired_ article about empathy. 21nov2019

cropI do not consider myself a particularly clear thinker or especially well-informed person (at best, I'm like the residents of that Garrison Keillor town, where everyone is ‘a bit above average’) ; but I do wonder about some of these articles I stumble across on the web. (Firefox's ‘pocket’ is better than Facebook, I guess, but, like my kid, I mourn the old internet.) There seem to be way too many of the genre of ‘pick an obvious truism’ and then refute it—‘The American Dream’ is Killing Us ; Don't save like your parents told you to; Too much empathy leads to political polarization–all in the name of getting those clicks.

Blergh. The American Dream is about having ‘the good life’ which back during the Great Depression meant food on the table, a roof overhead, and the hope that one's kids would do better. No decent parent doesn't wish for their children to have better lives, but how we define that shifts with time; but in all cases, it comes down to happiness, and afact, it actually is scientifically documented that good health (and therefore the conditions to support it) and fulfilling relationships top the list for achieving that. Neither, I do believe, require ever greater physical resources.

The US savings rate is abysmal, and could stand to be better. Now then, is buying a home (or college education) the rock solid investment it was back in the ‘Golden Era’ (aka the 50s, when sexism & racism were rampant, and little kids were taught to be terrified of nuclear bombs)? Mebbe not. Typically, however, having money to act as cushion (a cushion, not a shield) against the slings and arrows is generally a good idea, if it can be achieved, despite the fact spending it might involve different priorities nowadays. But the article in question doesn't really dig into how much harder it is for young people to save—only why their parents’ advice is ‘wrong’. —There are those perfectly willing to blame the boomers on the spiralling costs of a college education, or stagnating wages that make home ownership so much more difficult. While some number of them certainly didn't help matters, I feel the blame lays squarely upon those responsible for the fact that the state only pays 10% of its universities’ budgets and for the flat wages—to wit, the 1% who've sucked up all the growth.

This latest article is even more irritating: empathy, so the author claims, is responsible for our increasing political polarization. To which I say, in the finest tradition of an old person shaking my fist at clouds, “Poppycock!”

It seems pretty obvious that the author is conflating two sets of behaviours: empathy—the ability to put oneself into another's shoes; and in-group versus out-group preferences. The way I was taught empathy (by a parent determined to instill it into my tactless, hard-hearted, six-year-old self-absorbed self) was to try to imagine how a very different person would feel in a given situation. The more different from me, the better the empathy.

Tremendous technological change, the cultural uncertainties that accompany such, not to mention the problems stoked up by the greedy—climate change denial, the pitting of various groups at cross-purposes to protect their interests—seem to me to be far more the cause of polarization than ‘empathy’. Empathy is one of the tools we use to find common ground, not reject that it exists.

Look, I get that op-ed writers need to survive the gig economy too, and that we can't all be Laurie Pennys or Rebecca Solnits; but this is just tiresome. Love and empathy are always to be desired. Empathy and compassion don't necessarily confer a free pass—after all, I have some empathy and compassion for the terrible expectations 45’s father put on him, and clear understanding of how his wealth shielded him from having some home truths delivered after having his growing-up years horrifically twisted. That is both my right and duty as a human being, and I treasure what understanding I can derive from other people's actions, good or evil. —That doesn't mean they get a free pass, whether in or out-group. Our current president may deserve our empathy for the ways his upbringing turned him into a bottomless void desperate for approval, but he is still culpable for the crimes he's committed. What, exactly, am I missing here?

(In fact, the author talks about ‘rational compassion’ —which sounds to me like a gussied up version of what I learnt at my parents’ knees something like half a century ago. Welp, once again, so much easier to sell books/get funding/sound cool if one can dress up old stuff with a fancy new title & claim it's your very own shiny new idea...)

Ok, that's enough ranting, I hope, for this week. Have a seven year old mouse, instead.

2019-11-20T00:00:00-05:00 Playing *big* bells (i.e. a carillion) 20nov2019

cropContinuing with yesterday's theme, Wintergarten has dozens of videos documenting the various improvements he's made to the marble machine, which, if I wanted to build my own musical instrument would be fascinating; grateful as I am that he's sharing all this learning process, I tended to watch the ones featuring actual music, which soon led down some interesting rabbit holes, such as the marble machine theme song played on a clock tower —part of a series on the museum of mechanical instruments that in fact inspired his own efforts. Pretty sweet: playing an organ is impressive enough, but a multi-story clock tower? Amazing!

Well, today's mouse is from the archives (though I believe the current incarnation is still working—pretty amazing if so, because that would make it three years old!)

2019-11-19T00:00:00-05:00 Marble Machine and hobo nickels, reprised. 19nov2019

cropI know I've featured the marble machine (musical instrument) before, but its creator has been busy since the original post came out, and is busy doing a major upgrade that involves a lot of metal parts. What particularly struck me was the similarity (to my extremely untrained eyes) of the metal components this maker is incorporating in his piece to the ones that Roman Booteen (whom I've also featured before) is making.

One is learning clockworks to make a musical instrument with many moving parts; the other is learning clockworks to make ...small, jewel-sized engraved metal art—hobo nickels—with moving parts. Both, it seems to me, started with more modern sensibilities in design and execution (Booteen did a lot of Disney figures to start, frex) and as they become more in tune with their mediums’ history, are harking back to a Victorian aesthetic—curved spokes in flywheels, acanthas leaf engraving—that truly warms the cockles of my heart.

Friend of mine sent me an article about the poisonous influence of “The American Dream” —the author of the piece, Mark Manson, derides the focus on ever bigger houses and cars and status; but that was never my American Dream, nor, I think is it necessarily the average American of, say, the f2 generation. My American Dream was to be sure to have a house (though I wouldn't’ve wanted one as big as my parents’ —I didn't have half a dozen kids, after all) and we're still at the point that we need a car (but only one, a small one, compared to my parents’ two) but rather the opportunity to learn wonderful new things and go cool places and have a satisfying life. That, I am convinced, is within the reach of everybody, if we work together and strive.

Well, today, I'm striving to have a post. (It may not be earth-shattering or, ahem, “The American Dream” —but you know what? I enjoyed stringing those little dead mice yesterday. Little pleasures, I think, are underrated.