Future crafts

December 4th, 2020

Traditionally it takes a lot of work to craft things. This is well known by hobbyists who weave quilts, assemble miniature ships or carve figurines.

But we are soon going to be entering an era in which we can simply move our hands in the air to create the objects we want. The object we create will appear fully dimensional.

We will be able to walk around such a creation and look at it from all angles. At the press of a button a 3D printer will be able to then give us that object as something tangible in the physical world.

What effect will this have on crafting? Will the field transform as the number of people who craft things goes up exponentionally, just as the invention of personal cameras transformed photography and turned it into a hobby for the masses?

Will crafting end up splitting into two distinct art forms — one that uses strictly traditional methods and the other embracing new technologies? Or will these various techniques simply be embraced and merge together with older forms of creation?

Time will tell.

Schoenberg

December 3rd, 2020

There is something about Schoenberg’s music for solo piano. When I need to clear my head it’s my go-to life soundtrack.

Most music, whether classical, pop, jazz, blues, country or other, forces me to follow a melody or a beat. It pulls me in and demands my attention.

But Schoenberg gives you room to let your mind wander. You are free to focus on whatever you are doing, in a sonically enriched environment.

Schoenberg’s solo piano music simply flows into my subconscious, while leaving my conscious mind unfettered. I don’t know of any other music that does this.

Madness

December 2nd, 2020

Today, to the surprise of nobody, our dear president released a video in which he spent 46 minutes claiming that the election had been stolen. In context I guess it was pretty funny.

Given that William Barr — of all people — just yesterday declared that the election results were legitimate. And that Mitch McConnell has already been talking about transitioning to the new administration.

It’s all a bit like watching The Madness of King George, except it’s happening in real life. Or what apparently passes for real life these days in our nation’s White House.

More likely the man is mad like a fox. My guess is he is setting up his next media gig.

So maybe not exactly a fox. Maybe more like fox network.

Toy store

December 1st, 2020

Today I went into a toy store. I was wondering whether I would want to buy anything I saw there.

Toy stores are one of those place that we keep in a special place in our hearts. When we were children they were places of power and mystery. You never knew when you might find just the right toy, the one you had never realized until that moment that you’d always wanted.

So today I went up and down the isles, looking at the dinosaur toys, the Star Wars lego toys, the little Hot Wheels sets. I walked past puzzles and games, and all sorts of things.

But it just wasn’t the same. It all seemed so commercial, so calculated. I could practically see the marketing team working out their sales strategy.

I walked out empty handed. Sigh.

Gosh, at times like these, I wish I were a kid again, before I could see anything in a toy store except toys.

Xmas filter

November 30th, 2020

It generally starts right after Thanksgiving. You go into any store — a retail outlet, a restaurant, a Korean deli — and there is Christmas music.

Lots and lots of Christmas music. All The Time.

I like to hear the occasional Christmas song. They can bring joy and uplift during these dark times, and occasionally some much needed humor.

But not all the time, one after another. And another. And another.

So here is what I would like: I wish somebody would invent an Xmas filter.

It would allow you to hear nearly everything going on around you. You could hearall conversations, traffic, the sound of the wind through the trees, barking of dogs, the hum of household appliances.

The only thing you couldn’t hear is Christmas songs. They would simply be filtered out.

Maybe there should be a switch somewhere on the thing, in case you want to hear just a little Christmas music once in a while. But whenever you want, you could reach for that trusty switch and turn them all off again.

I hope somebody will invent one of those soon. Is that asking too much?

Little random notes

November 29th, 2020

I like writing little random notes. This is particularly true if I am working on a large project, and have not yet figured out how to organize it.

The notes come to me at odd hours. I might jot down a phrase or two with pencil on paper, and then below that jot down another seemingly disconnected thought.

Eventually I transfer all of those little gnomic scribbles to a computer, and expand on them, maybe turning a phrase into a paragraph. That last part is very helpful, because I often don’t really know why I’ve written a note until later.

After enough of these expanded notes, I usually start to see how they all fit together into a coherent whole. It’s as though the entire picture was there in the back of my mind all the time, but required reassembly to be accessed.

It would be great if one day I could somehow directly access that complete picture, rather than needing to take such an indirect and piecemeal route to see it. That would be a fine day indeed.

Until then, I guess I’ll keep writing little random notes.

Watching old movies

November 28th, 2020

One consequence of the pandemic is that I’ve been seeing a lot of old movies. I am having a lot of fun, and I suspect many people are having a similar experience.

Seeing so many offerings from different decades provides an opportunity to think about the vastness of the cinematic arts. You start to see the ways in which each film is a reflection of a very particular time in cultural history.

In a sense, cinema constitutes a parallel reality that moves alongside our evolving culture. It is a reflection of our culture, but it also influences our culture.

So in an important sense, the reflection goes both ways. Cinema not only contains a record of how culture continues to evolve, but also helps to cause that evolution.

Maybe that’s one reason I’m having so much fun watching old movies.

If people were animals

November 27th, 2020

If everyone you know were a species of animal, what animal would they be? I sometimes find myself mapping people to animals in my head.

This person is clearly a tabby cat, that one a dachshund. Another is a sea otter. One person is so obviously a rhinoceros that I almost expect him to have a giant horn on his face.

Do you find yourself thinking this way, or am I alone in this? Personally I find it very illuminating, and you might want to try it.

Just be sure never to tell someone what animal they remind you of. :-)

Misgivings on Thanksgivings

November 26th, 2020

Just around now, near the end of November,
As I am enjoying the Thanksgiving cheer
I take a few moments and try to remember
Seventy five million who used to live here

We feel that our story’s important and mythic
A reason for pride and for great celebrations
But dating on back to the Paleolithic
We’re only the latest among many nations

History’s fickle, and keeps moving on
And one day this land will have somebody new
In the future, my friends, when we are all gone
Will anyone notice that we were here too?

Future educational assets

November 25th, 2020

Every time I teach now, there is a Zoom recording. This is a fundamental shift from the former status quo, in which each lecture was something of an ephemeral thing.

It is clear that all across the world, educational content is being recorded and archived, in quantities never before seen. That is potentially a wonderful global-wide asset.

Shouldn’t there be a complementary effort to aggregate and organize all of these new-found intellectual riches? We are sitting on top of an educational opportunity that the world has never before seen.

I, for one, am excited by the possibilities.