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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn

14jan2022

cropHeh, maaaaaaybe I will make beads today! (Nope. It's now the day after. Also, apologies for the broken link last time. Forgot to put in titles, which are my visual cue to lemme know whether the link is live. Whoops! Fixed now:) In the meantime, some more digital imaging related stuff—here's an essay nominally on why Marvel films are so de-saturated (even though the superhero comics on which they're based are eye-poppingly bright), but really is more a rumination on color grading since it went digital with the Coen brothers’ classic (& classically based, upon Odysseus) film. I quite enjoyed it, not least because it includes a number of mini-video essays (by various makers, iirc) that gave it a more varied feeling.

Other linkies, since it's the end of the week:

  • Vaccination may not protect against long covid, which makes anti vax all the more frustrating; this link, sent by a friend, is a preprint, not peer reviewed, but fascinating to me as a reasonable explanation; if I'm understanding correctly, COVID (along with other conditions the team has been treating) causes microclots, which in turn are responsible for the fatigue, brain fog and the like. There's been suggestions from the beginning that COVID is a vascular disease, and their treatment (blood thinners) seams reasonable: I hope this pans out. (And if not, well, that's the way science works.)
  • Why are people being so stubborn? Who knows, but Some More News presents Life in the fash lane
  • since food prices are rising, an interesting (to me) way to feed a (small) family on a bag of beans for a week
  • Here are 15 trees to learn to help you survive after the collapse of civilization—or just to make your next hike more interesting:)
  • I've always enjoyed the Beatle's Eleanor Rigby, and here's a very nice instrumental versoin on a custom 11 string guitar;

Or you can take a gander at this melancholy rose.

12jan2022

cropWell, I see Independent voter Mr Scalzi has even more withering things to say about Jan 6 than I did, so just read him. Or listen to this hour long report (NYT) on the aftermaths of it on the Capitol Police who suffered far too much.

Also, though I have been stringing, we're back to photography:)

On a slightly more cheerful note, I'm slowly making my way through Howard Markel's The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Frances Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix, which so far can more or less be summed up as, Watson and Crick were fortunate enough to hit it off really well and synergize their thinking; whereas Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins clashed very nearly from the beginning: their incompatible personalities (& possibly cultural backgrounds) exacerbated by—it seems pretty clear to me, though none of those chill-girl scientists from that era were much willing to flatly claim it—sexism. Plus, of course, those dudes stole her data, then trashed her reputation in a mean-spirited book. (One devastating comment [by C.P. Snow!] was ‘ “The interest of Jim Watson's book lies very largely in the fact that he is not at all a nice man.” ’ –p. 395.) Given that Watson—in 2019!—is claiming that Blacks have inferior IQs to whites, that's not only a devastating, but still very true characterizaton.

The author's writing just flows and he seems to have a real knack for conveying the various personalities of these scientists. Not only is the history beautifully written, it's also handsomely designed, with black and white photographs elegantly sprinkled throughout, as if the designer were attempting to reinforce the writing's rhythm.

About the only complaint I can make is that like so, so so many (and I only just learnt this today, via FTB the DNA helix on the cover is drawn wrong.

The thing is, the western world is so left-to-right (and top to bottom) dominant that designers automatically draw a left (S) handed, rather than (Z) right handed spiral, because it starts at the upper left and goes down to the lower right, which is how we read. I certainly didn't notice the mistake! (I wonder if Japanese artists tend to get it right, since manga are read from top right to bottom left...?)

Well, this image, with that giant railing in the foreground cutting it off, surely reads left to right.

6jan2022

cropToday is Epiphany, the Twelth Day of Christmas: one reason I like to tune out the pre-Dec 25 celebrations is so I can enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas, which I mostly celebrate by a) leaving the tree up and b) catching up on all the handmade gifts I failed to get done by the Winter Solstice (and there are always some....)

My parents’ generation is dying off, but I still wonder how the couple whose marriage nearly reached three-score and ten felt about their special day being obliterated by the de facto national designation of ‘never forget’ mourning (or—and why yes, I'm still feeling rather cynical) at least public breast-beating.

Or another set, now also dead, whose greatest gift was surely that of the birth of their only child, which now instead of a celebration, is merely known as the Capitol 6th riots. I expect those larger designations were, or in the case of 9/11, already are fading. But it's galling.

(Not to mention the fact that, despite clear and present video evidence taken by the perpetrators themselves, that these yahoos were, indeed, terrorists, and traitors, and this whole denial is infuriating. Sure, some of them were on an (admittedly illegal) lark, but the core of that attack was coordinated, deadly and very definitely an effort at a coup. How anyone who saw that policeman screaming as the mob crushed his arm in a door can deny this is beyond me ...well, I guess the same folks also deny the earth is round and living [or in the case of viruses, semi-living] organisms evolve, so what do I know?)

I just don't know how to speak to these folks, or really, even understand them. Kudos to Fred at Slacktivist for making the effort and I note, since I'm back to that doodle-while-listening|watching my computer, I could take in his thoughtful collection of links, particularly the 4 part podcast on Kristin Kobes Du Mez’ book, Jesus and John Wayne, which Fred notes “ focus mostly on the subject of its subtitle: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.”

What I really want, though, is for red, white and blue patriotism to celebrate this country's diversity. Its joy. Its creations.

5jan2022

cropOkay, trying to be just a touch more upbeat (or upbeet, as the case may be) today. Photography is indeed an art, but at the level I do it, it seems like cheating—probably because my failure rate is so high: something like...99%?

There's a lot to hate about youtube (& the internet in general) but one thing I do appreciate is that it's brought criticism back into fashion. C.S. Lewis, in The Last Battle, (I think, cuz I can't find it on the intertubes & am too lazy to dig my copy out of my freezing attic) joked in an authorial aside of a character about to tell a story, that people of his (fantasy-based-upon-Middle-Eastern) culture were taught to tell stories the way English children were taught to write essays, except that, ‘people like to hear stories, whereas I never met anybody who wanted to read the essays’.

But actually, I now ofttimes would rather read critical essays/deconstructions/fanfic than the work itself (cough, cough, Harry Potter) and evidently that applies to Star Trek, because while I grew up with—and therefore adored—TOS in reruns (& James Blish's adaptations), I've never managed any of the new series in the franchise, which is now half a century old and man, does that ever drive home my grey hairs.

Via boingboing is a video essay tracking Star Trek's narrative engagement with terrorism over the years (spoiler alert, TOS mostly doesn't: the one ep noted is one I don't remember ever seeing); not surprisingly for a US product, it changed considerably after 9/11. The ways in which (ahem) the assorted series evolved over time made for what I found to be a fascinating cultural lens of (liberal—ST has always, from inception, been deliberately so) US attitudes towards terrorism.

(The general response to 9/11 is just one of the many ways I didn't feel “American”. Like everyone else, I remember exactly where I was when my bestie called to let me know the towers had fallen: I can picture my little 1950s kitchen, the beige wall phone with its long, ratty, curly cord that let me pace, the sunshine pouring in the window over the sink... But, while I was deeply grieved for the New Yorkers who lost their lives, and how horrific it was—imagine, jumping to your death because that's a less awful alternative that burning alive—I couldn't really understand the national fury. What did we expect, after decades of de-stabilizing and bombing and otherwise treating the people of the Middle East like dirt merely because we wanted their oil? What amazed me was not the attack, but that we'd escaped such retribution for so long!

Don't get me wrong: if I had personally lost someone from the Twin Towers, I imagine I'd be furiously angry and wanting vengeance, and I wouldn't blame any of the victims’ families or friends (or even the firefighters who developed long term health conditions from the pollution) for their righteous anger. But why did the rest of the country have to lose its collective mind? It was, what, 2000 people? We lose far more than that every year to traffic accidents, not to mention gun violence, and afict the collective response to either is a shoulder shrug.)

Heh. So much for upbeet...Try again next time, I guess.

4jan2022

cropHey, another sunny day! I crimped off (what I hope will be) a cool necklace! And made beads with my former student! Life is good—

Oh, crap, Lindsey Ellis got hounded off youtube. So many creators lost (most of ’em women, and why would that be...?) from whom I've learned so much. I can't even find references to Little Light any more... I watched a lot of youtube, especially during the pandemic (before vaccines) and Ellis was a favourite. While I can critique film, usually in terms of either dialog and/or plot, and occasionally lighting, I don't have the framework for it that I do for written works, and so I really appreciated Ellis’ breaking it down for me.

Using Michael Bay Transformer movies, no less. If ever there was permission to enjoy pop culture trash (& I do wonder whether Shakespeare was so considered back in his day...) that series was it.

What a bummer. It really sounds to me that she's joined that most awful of clubs, creators who have developed PTSD; I hope she finds healing and peace. She will be missed.

Oh, yeah, more melancholy looking photography.

3jan2022

cropLike so many, I didn't do much on the posting front last year; and honestly, I have no idea whether this year will be any better. But, hey, let's at least try.

So it's not terribly surprising that I missed posting the last day of 2021 (I guess that's a thing) aka New Year's Eve, because, frankly 2021 sucked, not only because we had vaccines and good N95 masks and people refused them, prolonging the agony but also and especially because one of my family members was one of those “invisible” deaths—people who didn't die of covid, but had other untreated conditions that killed them instead because of pandemic isolation, lack of care, etc. Though my relative had diabetes and heart disease, kidney dialysis patients are a tranche that's been getting hammered. Besides, of course countless medical staff burning out from covid exhaustion. Yeah, let's thank them for their service with PTSD, long covid and actual death.... Huzzah!

No, we never got to see her again after she went into the hospital, let alone say goodbye. Yeah, I'm a touch bitter about that.

Also missed New Year's Day, which, in addition to other things, is Public Domain Day, and the basis for Dizzy's biggest cash cow, Winnie-the-Pooh, is among the books that has entered the public domain. So, I guess you can now ask your local bakery to put the book version of the hunny lovin’ bear on your kid's birthday cake without having to worry about Dizzy suing them into oblivion.

And why no, I'm not annoyed with the ridiculous length of US copyright laws at all!

But New Year Spirit! Ok, ok, ok...

  • Scalzi and Commenters link their fave 2021 music —frex, the new Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, by the same composer as the original (and, man, watching the new version really pointed up how much the original anime both came out of, and relied upon, the soundtrack for its atmospheric mood and storytelling quality, whereas in the new...it's just the soundtrack in the background. Oh, well.
  • This dude may be exaggerating a wee bit of how much Gary Numan's “Cars” changed music but I sure loved that song back in the day, and there's plenty of info in the comments for other, competing influences.
  • Depression sucks, but listening to Robert Sapolsky (he of the Zebras Don't get Ulcers fame) is not. Teal deer: this disease has measurable physical effects on physiology: it's not all in your head, it is a body-damaging illness, like COVID.
  • Despite a myriad of moving parts to go wrong (& some controversy over the gay-hating namesake) the James Webb telescope seems to be on track. All that unfolding is pretty cool and, honestly, reminds me a bit of how ladybugs fold their wings under their wingcases.
  • The Grauniad has a hundred small ways to make your life just a bit better. That's pretty much my speed right now, and I'm happy to see I've tried a lot of ’em over the years: a recommendation as to do-ability.
  • Like the author of this piece, I don't really get spirituality either, but I realize that some people do, and that's truly lovely.

At least the sun is shining today. Unlike in today's photographic effort. Take care &, er, Happy New Year.