For your amusement…

A Wrinkle in Time is so much more amusing when you mentally replace “IT” (the name of the big bad monster thing) with “I.T.” (as in “the I.T. department”). Try for yourself:

“Calvin’s voice again. ‘Anyhow you got her away from IT. You got us both away and we couldn’t have gone on holding out. IT’s so much more powerful and strong than—How did we stay out, sir? How did we manage as long as we did?’

“Her father: ‘Because IT’s completely unused to being refused. That’s the only reason I could keep from being absorbed, too. No mind has tried to hold out against IT for so many thousands of centuries that certain centers have become soft and atrophied through lack of use. If you hadn’t come to me when you did I’m not sure how much longer I would have lasted. I was on the point of giving in.'”

What I’m up to (part whatever)…

So much to do, so little time.  But it’s all good, so I’m not feeling overwhelmed.  Just the right amount of whelm, I suppose.  Anyways, on tap for this week is paper writing (due tomorrow!), art project materials gathering (the name of the project is “Your own, personal Jesus” and I’m still keeping the rest a secret), Arduino development (also a secret), a big LabVIEW project that is to serve as a proof-of-concept for future work, some Android programming (yep, also secret), a new web site (secret), and journal article reviews.

In and around all of this is some financial/business crap that needs taking care of.  That one seems to be never-ending, probably because it is actually never-ending.  Someday, I’ll be making enough to hire an business manger to foist all of that on to.  Until then, I just have to deal.

So yeah, a lot of secret stuff still happening.  At least I’m dropping a hint for the art project.  It’s going to be a busy week!

Science v. Art — the final word

I’ve had pretty much enough of two aspects of the science v. art arguments. The first argument is that they have been, are now, and forever shall be, at odds with each other. Bullshit. Those who make such arguments tend to have no knowledge of either science or art. I am a scientist who dabbles in a variety of artistic endeavors. My girlfriend and my best friend are both artists who are very scientifically-minded. There are no differences in our philosophical outlooks. More on this in a moment.

The next common aspect of the argument is that science and art need each other: science to improve the quality of art, and art to enable visualization of science. Well, yeah, maybe. But that misses the point. At least those who put forth that argument are not perpetuating some mythical war between the two.

Here’s how it really is, folks: They are the very same thing!

We are puny humans with very small minds and a very limited capacity to describe and define the universe. Reality around us is so much grander than we can ever know, let alone describe. To paraphrase Oliver Sacks, not only do we not live in reality, we’ve never even visited the place. And so, in an attempt to capture its beauty, we create metaphor.

Science does so by using a variety of descriptive languages (various mathematical systems, and words as precisely defined as the language allows). But science goes in knowing full well that all of these constructs are nothing more than metaphor for something that may never be fully understood, except in limited context.

Art does so by using a variety of descriptive languages (visual symbols, forms, musical notes, and words as the language allows). But art goes in knowing full well that all of these constructs are nothing more than metaphor for something that may never fully captured, except in limited aspect.

Both rely on the same tools and insights and reasoning; indeed, the very same parts of the soul. Because in all cases, the sciartist is attempting to express an aspect of the universe that they see, in order to better understand it, and maybe even present it to a wider audience.

So enough of the arguments. Science is art. Art is science. Both are nothing but metaphor for the vast, the sublime, the beautiful, and the unknowable. End of rant.

Beautiful Failure

I fail at things.  A lot.  Almost everything, really.  And the only reason that I have actually succeeded at the few things that I have is because I’m either too stubborn or too stupid to know when to quit.  I suspect a little of both.

I’m working on a side-project (yes, another one) that is a sort of combined art-science-interaction piece to celebrate all of the ways in which we fail.  I’ll probably be posting a link to this in the next couple of months or so.  Stay tuned.

What I am up to (part 3 of N)…

And now for art projects.  Again, I cannot say much.  Not because of any particular non-disclosure agreement this time, but because I am loathe to discuss half-formed notions.  So in vaguebooking tradition, here’s some of the things that I’m researching.  You can draw your own conclusions from them (and no, they do not necessarily reflect a single project):

  • Low-temperature enameling
  • Working stone with a CNC milling machine
  • Electrochromic and thermochromic chemicals
  • Photoresist etching of various materials
  • Laser-induced surface plasmons (yes, for arts’ sake)
  • Cellular automata (also for arts’ sake)
  • Quasicrystals (yeah, my art has a lot of science to it)

At some point, I’ll post pictures. But not yet. I have a few more pressing projects to work on.

What I am up to (part 2 of N)… Arduino!

So let me expound upon the virtues of the Arduino platform for a minute. In case you are not familiar, this is a family of hobbyist microcontrollers with minimal memory, no OS to speak of, and a lot of I/O. Very useful for making things that read information from, or control things in, the real world. Right now, I’m making good use of the Adafruit Feather line. Useful (to me) features:

  • Support for single Li-ion battery use, charging, and monitoring
  • Built-in micro-SD card reader (on my model, at least)
  • Really, really tiny

Anyways, my favorite part about it is the programming environment.  Being so resource constrained, and with such a simple programming model, it feel a lot like coding in the early 1980’s.  Yes, I’m old.

I cannot (yet) go in to detail about the project, but I will put something up on the “Projects” page when I am able.  As soon as I’m no longer sworn to secrecy.

What I am up to (part 1 of N)…

This is part “1 of N” simply because I don’t know how many of these I’ll end up with. You see, I’m up to quite a lot, actually. It all started a couple of months ago, when I lost my previous job (no one’s fault — just one of those things). Anyway, that got me thinking a lot about what I want Life version 3.0 (beta-1) to look like. In these first few months, I’ve determined to create a viable “meta-life”, meaning that I am working on things to get me the life that I want to have.

First up was a new job, and for this I decided against a regular 9-to-5 sort. I’ve had quite enough of that, thank you very much, and I’m well past the point where I can be happy with ten days of vacation per year and dealing with abusive HR departments. And so I’m now a happy member of the “gig economy”, working on a number of small projects that kinda-sorta add up to a job. No more stupid HR departments or having to ask permission to use the bathroom (yes, I really had to do this at a job once).

Second: learning. I’m teaching myself Android programming and that is going swimmingly. I do have a specific project in mind and will be sharing the details at some nebulous point in the future. Arduino is in there as well, and I am happy to report that I got the hang of that really quickly. I’m working on a couple of nicely complicated Arduino projects and, again, details to follow at some undetermined time.

And while we’re discussing learning, I’ve discovered EdX. Kid, meet candy store. Enough said on that one.

I’ve always thought that a good balance between mind, body, and soul is something to strive for. So in order to not neglect the other two, I’ve been hiking every day and will be trying to get to the gym at least a couple of times per week. On the last, it’s time for art! A couple of conversations have put it into my head that I’m well overdue in getting back to this one. I can no longer use the “no room” excuse (for a while, I was living in a storage shed and so that became more valid), so… it’s time.

More soon!