Thread Catalog 2013-05-31

movieincolor-kubrick-2001
Thread Catalog is a new weekly feature rounding up links pertaining to the issues most relevant to Thoughts Involuntary: science, music, art, creativity, technology, etc.

Thread Catalog for the week ending May 31st, 2013.

Movies in Color [film, design] – “A blog featuring stills from films and their corresponding color palettes. A tool to promote learning and inspiration. Updated daily.” Above is a great example from the site, deconstructing a classic shot from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Chicago’s last film processing company shuts down [film, technology] – “After 45 years of processing major films, from ‘The Blues Brothers’ to ‘The Dark Knight’, Chicago’s Astro Labs has shut down.” Sad news, but understandable. Analog formats just don’t make sense anymore in terms of price and workflow. High definition video offers the path of least resistance with great results, and eventually it will truly be able to replicate film’s aesthetic qualities, which is the main reason people like Christopher Nolan care about it (that and nostalgia). (Btw, the only people who should really be upset about the medium are avant-garde filmmakers like Ernie Gehr or Peter Kubelka, who actually required discrete, physical frames to properly do their work; but even people like Gehr and Ken Jacobs have happily taken up digital video.)

Vatican corrects Pope: Atheists are still going to hell [religion, atheism] – Amusing. Related to the story I featured in last week’s TC.

Popcorn Noises [music, criticism] – Cool music blog I found recently that features the author’s very personalized listening journal. I like his writing because it often incorporates his perception of the band, which I think is a more realistic representation of the way we experience music. It might be ideal to meet each song on its own terms, as if we had never heard of the band before, but more often than not part of why we like or don’t like a band’s new record is based heavily on what they’ve done before, and what we are aware they can or cannot do well.

Studio Science: Four Tet On His Live Set [music, music technology, video] – Red Bull Music Academy kills it again with this video of the amiable Kieran Hebden discussing the ins and outs of his live set.

quincunx [language, geometry, design] – “a geometric pattern consisting of five points, four in a square with one more in the middle of the square.” From Latin, literally ‘five twelfths,’ from quinque ‘five’ + uncia ‘twelfth.’ Had honestly never heard that term before, but I’m a big fan of simple words that describe very specific things. Nice vocab addition.

Curators Code [internet, writing] – A method for attributing content using special unicode symbols. ᔥ is used to mean via, thereby attributing a direct discovery. ↬ is used as a symbol for hat tip, indicating “a link of indirect discovery, story lead, or inspiration.”

Australia ranked ‘happiest’ developed nation again [sociology, psychology] – “Australia has been ranked the world’s happiest nation among developed economies for the third year running.”

Facebook bows to campaign groups over ‘hate speech’ [internet, ethics] – I had no idea about this, but apparently Facebook has faced criticism after not removing a graphic video depicting the decapitation of a woman in Mexico.

India’s ancient university returns to life [education, history] – “Nalanda University in northern India drew scholars from all over Asia, surviving for hundreds of years before being destroyed by invaders in 1193. The idea of Nalanda as an international centre of learning is being revived by a group of statesmen and scholars led by the Nobel prize winning economist, Amartya Sen.”

California Obamacare Insurance Exchange Announces Premium Rates, Lower Than Expected [healthcare, economics] – “I was indeed shocked by the proposed premium rates—but not in the way you might expect. I was experiencing the shock of rates far lower than what I expected — even at the lowest end of the age scale.”

Vintage Synth Explorer [music technology] – “Since 1996, the Vintage Synth Explorer has been providing a fast and easy way to learn about vintage synthesizers. We have grown to include modern digital synthesizers, analog emulators, soft-synths, plug-ins, and other forms of electronic musical instruments.” An amazing resource that I’ve come to many times for isolated reasons, but you could definitely get lost in here.

Synthmania [music technology] – Another amazing synth resource. Has tons of mp3 samples of many synths’ presets. Very useful, especially if you’re on the lookout for picking up some new hardware.

And for good measure, I’ll include one more Movies in Color image. From the Coen Brothers’ excellent film A Serious Man, we have a true visual representation of threads of involuntary thought:

moviesincolor-coen-aseriousman

Thread Catalog 2013-05-17

fly

I didn’t get around to do a proper post this week, but here’s this week’s edition of Thread Catalog. Lots of good stuff in here. The ole alma mater always delivers interesting content, so the first three links are courtesy of NU.

Bug’s Eye Inspires Hemispherical Digital Camera [technology] – “Humans capture pictures using the two lenses of our relatively flat eyes, while a top-of-the-line SLR camera has just one flat lens. The new camera — a rounded half bubble, similar to a bulging fly eye — has 180 microlenses mounted on it, allowing it to take pictures across nearly 180 degrees. Only a camera shaped like a bug’s eye can do this.”

Northwestern University Will Research Women’s Reproductive-Related Depression [psychology, medicine, science] – This is really great news – a boon for the field and society in general. “Northwestern’s newly opened Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders will be focused on treating and studying women with depression.

What Is the Cost of Over-Parenting? [psychology, sociology] “The more money parents spend on their child’s college education, the worse grades the child earns. … The more parents are involved in schoolwork and selection of college majors — that is, the more helicopter parenting they do — the less satisfied college students feel with their lives.”

Computer Grading Feedback [humor, artificial intelligence, technology] – Hysterical results from EdX’s new grading software, profiled last month in the New York Times. It’s certainly amusing to look at artificial intelligence’s failures, but it’s perhaps equally amusing to watch as people reject it on the grounds that computers don’t know how to comprehend writing and presume they never will. Humans are of course just complex machines, running complex algorithms that nature wrote over the course of many millions of years, but at some point in the future, probably sooner than we can predict, machines will easily be able to execute these same algorithms with ease. Then again, at that point, the “analytical essay” will be pretty pointless, as those can be auto-generated in seconds too. It’s like a spam and anti-spam generator, always locked in a battle of wits and superiority. “How well and uniquely can your biomachine deconstruct and write about this pre-existing text?” “Very well, thanks. Here’s my 10-page essay, it took me .39 seconds to seconds to write.” “A-. Your English essay-writing algorithm could use an update to the latest version.”

James Benning & Richard Linklater Documentary Kickstarter [film] – Apparently experimental filmmaker James Benning and indie-turned-mainstream director Richard Linklater are good friends. This documentary, directed by a friend of a friend, is about their long-standing relationship, and their love of film and baseball.

Is Eye Tracking a Privacy-Invading Technology? [technology] – Using eye-tracking technology, we will begin to be shown ads and content based on what we’ve taken second looks at. Things that interest us involuntarily and cause this physical action will become usable data for ad companies, and allow them to learn very personal things about our genetic and behavioral makeup.

Two-Inch Feather Emerges From Baby’s Neck [miscellaneous] – Self-explanatory medical bizarreness.

Warning: slightly graphicDead Bodies on Mount Everest [miscellaneous] – About 200 people have died while climbing Mount Everest, and a good number of their bodies still remain there.

Hello, mind

phrenology and thoughts

If you pay strict attention to your mind you may begin to realize that your thoughts are not chosen by you. The thought process is so effortless and seamless that you’re rarely aware of the kind of turbulent ride your mind takes you on, perhaps other than an occasional sense of its unpredictable oscillation between various emotions: for instance, moments, however long or pronounced, of happiness or dissatisfaction with life.

We may feel as we are in control of our life and the life of our minds, but this website is predicated on the notion that you are not. And neither am I. Free will is an illusion. Thoughts are not chosen by us, they arise from physical, chemical processes that occur in the mind, over which we have no control.

My name’s Arturo and I’m a musician and artist based in Chicago. Thoughts Involuntary collects writings I’ve been amassing on art, music, film, writing, creativity, productivity, free will, neuroscience, meditation, technology, artificial intelligence, evolution, psychology, politics, education, atheism, religion, linguistics, astronomy, physics, humor, dreams, and puzzles.

I have no deep authorship of these writings, as they have passed through the powerful processing computer nature has bestowed upon me (my mind) and been connected in ways I’ll likely never understand. The thoughts that comprise these writings have simply arisen, and I’ve allowed them to organize themselves as clearly as possible.

I make no claims to being an expert on any of these topics. All I can say is that I have a curious mind, and as a musician and artist who thought he would end up becoming a physicist, I have a sustained interest in the realms of science and reason.

The end goal of this blog is to develop and collect enough material to publish a book. It’s tentatively titled Threads: Essays on Thoughts That Have Arisen in the Mind of an Artist and Musician, Which He Has No Time to Fully Explore. The book will cover topics as diverse as the blog. In this context the word “threads” has multiple meanings, but the simplest refers to the different threads of thought I’m pursuing. I’ll explain the other meanings in upcoming posts. The subtitle refers to the fact that I’m first and foremost a musician and artist; most of my time is spent producing and performing music, and creating visual art. As such, I don’t have the kind of time to delve so deeply into the topics as to give professional-level research and provide the appropriate extended annotations and footnoting required of scholarly work. This is more a place to assemble my varied and scattered thoughts on subjects I find fascinating.

Some prominent thinkers and creators I’m sure to reference with some frequency are The Buddha, Lao Tzu, Seneca, Thich Nhat Hanh, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil, Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Hollis Frampton, John Smith, Ken Jacobs, Owen Land, Michael Snow, Peter Greenaway, Ernie Gehr, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, John Allen Paulos, H.P. Lovecraft, J.G. Ballard, M.R. James, Donald Barthelme, and Brian Eno. I’ve recently become interested in Terence McKenna and Timothy Leary, as well as various writers working in the realms of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and behavioral economics and sociology.

The point of the blog is not necessarily meant to persuade anyone to adopt my beliefs, and it’s certainly not meant to offend or irritate. It’s not written with a shred of anger towards anyone who believes different things than me. It’s honestly more of a way to collect thoughts for myself, and to present them to others as food for thought.

This site will give me a place to address my logorrheic tendencies and apply them where they’re most appropriate. Music and art tend to thrive on concision, but writing, provided it is skillfully composed, can really give one the space to develop ideas. Writing allows the mind to construct and navigate its way through vast seas of thought.

With this post, I’ve set sail.