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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Ok, so all the (somewhat) upbeat stuff I've been collecting—a really cool (and organic) image of adobe houses, with the same sort-of-square beauty of fields on rolling land; a really nice drawstring bag tut (that nevertheless doesn't help me cuz I can't figure out how to make it small enough) —Guess I'll just have to (horrors!) shell $8 for the pattern to learn.
Also, while trolling the bbc site for more news on Boston, I stumbled upon this interesting article/podcast about the political protest origins of flameco, which are being revived as flameco flashmobs in banks. —Turns out, the pretty, sanitized flameco (that I didn't much care for) was originally the music of the marginalized Roma living in the Andalusian region, and their songs (in the original, undiluted form) have more than a passing similarity in feeling to my beloved delta blues.
Plus, I really like the idea of joyous, local (and creative!) protest in the form of dance.
And something weird's going on with Patheos, so I checked out Fred's old haunts to see if there was any info...there wasn't, but I followed the link to a couple of interesting looking vegan cookbooks which frankly is probably as far as I'll get with either, cuz I'm kinda lazy (and fooded out, for the moment—I gots beads to make!) but I absolutely agree, these earrings are adorable —Really, I never ceased to be amazed with all the cool stuff you can do with fimo, and I find miniature fruit tart beads far more interesting than as accents for dollhouses. Lovely canes, there.
There's just so many interesting byways on the internet...
Oh, yeah, the page. Sewn wire-edged ribbon bags.
Via boingboing, a blog post and accompanying video. I think the author was trying to predictive, but I found the lecture, in particular, profoundly depressing: he decided to recast a famous jazz album in video-game chiptune format. Unlike sampling, which is nearly financially impossible in today's climate, this was technically a cover; you pay a reasonable fee, and you're good to go. His little kickstarter was successful, and his labor of love (I mean, Miles Davis as a video chiptune? I'm not a jazz purist, so I rather like the idea, but it's not the sort of thing you could ever imagine MegaCorporateRecordLabel coming up with) was successful enough that it covered its costs—possibly with a bit extra.
But wait! He hired a designer to render the album's cover image in 8bit format. This would be a parodic (or artistic) interpretation? Nope—he was sued for copyright infringement, and, though the lawyers told him he had a solid case, it would take...oh, about 16 years, probably to grind through the courts. That doesn't sound like much, but do recall just recently Aaron Scwartz committed suicide over a similar disagreement. Though copyright violations are probably second only to speeding violations, a ticket will just ruin your day, says Baio; but a copyright infringement, at up to 175K per infringement, can ruin your entire life.
Who needs it? So, of course he settled. Which is just about what everyone does, and because of non-disclosure agreements, the public seldom hears about it. And, now those clever lawyers are figuring out how to auto-generate lawsuits—at $2–5k, a pop, they could be veritable cash cows.
Eventually, of course, this modern ‘Prohibition’ will be overturned; laws, like governments, ultimately only work with the consent of the governed. —But in the meantime, Big$ interests are stomping on the commons.
Baio started his talk by explaining that most—mebbe all—art is in effect a remix (something that became painfully obvious in the survey class for my art history minor). Certainly that's all I ever do. Making stuff is what people do—so often, folks claim they ‘can't make art’ or ‘don't have any talent’ —well, the world is bursting with talent, and it's taking pretty draconian measures to keep stomping it down.
Of which the latest is that fscking zombie law to slice and dice the internet to ribbons, Cispa. I'm so tired of fighting this, and the moneyed, powerful interests just keep bringing it back and back and back...
Larry Lessig has a new version of his corruption talk —it's snappier, I guess, but the message hasn't really changed, and all this sometimes makes me despair for humanity in general and the US in particular.
When are we gonna do things right?
On a slightly brighter note, here's a rare project that worked out easily, just as I intended—just right, in fact.
Ha, more eloquent voices than mine are starting to emerge: Bruce Schneier said everything I was attempting to express a couple of days ago, but much, much better; a participant in the marathon expressed much the same sentiments (via Pharyngula); and while the lefty blogs I read tended (because of the April 15 date) to homegrown anti-taxers, Crommie noted that suspicion inevitably (and in my view, very unjustly) gravitated to those others and wonder of wonders, even Ross Drouthat (who is not beloved at all in feminist circles) had something sensible to say —which is kind of reassuring: it's never a good thing when all those you identify with seem to universally have good ideas, and those you oppose have bad ones. Reality suggests that just about everyone has a good idea some time.
And, perhaps, however slowly, we're learning to deal with this sort of criminal; the good ideas are penetrating. —That gives me hope for my country.
Thus, to celebrate that hope, today we have more patriotic beads.
So today I have to give the library back Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style (v. 3.1) so I guess if'n I'm gonna rant about it, now's the time. I loved this book. I mean, it's beautifully designed (the author is a book designer and poet, both of which are generally very concerned about how type sits on a page, not to mention a typographer.) The lovely translucent laid paper (ye good gods, where does one see laid paper in a book anymore?) the charming sidenotes (I have a side note in one of my novels, nyah, nyah, nyah...also footnotes and endnotes, yay latex), not to mention the lovely examples of ligatures (I adore ligatures). If I had a (Western) man-sized hand, its narrow pages would fit comfortably within it; I presume that was the author's intention.
It is a book as beautiful physical object, without being a picture/coffee table book—subtle. I appreciate that.
Plus, you know, being a poet, the man actually knows how to write coherently.
And, I learned some more stuff about page density (printers like the text to be a smooth even value, without emergent patterns spoiling the beauty of their pages, and distracting the reader from the content) and layout scheme. I knew that ‘rivers’ were to be deprecated in text; also some basics about kerning and the like, picked up, of course, from Donald Knuth's books on TeX and Metaphont. I appreciated that Elements took my understanding to yet another level.
And there, Dear Reader, is where I got so very annoyed with Mr Bringhurst. LaTeX still dominates scientific publishing today. I've mentioned, more than once, that the wizard had to hand in his math homework in ink—and since writing is such a chore for him, we typeset it. In TeX. —The equations were beautiful, and much better looking than the textbook. So far as I know, if you want to typeset mathematics, TeX (or more commonly LaTeX) is still the gold standard.
So here's Mr Bringhurst, blithering on about a font called Beowulf (pp. 189–190):
The computer is, on the face of it, an ideal device for reviving the old luxury of random variations at the threshold of perception (quite a dfferent thing from chaos). But conventional typesetting software and hardware focuses instead on the unsustainable ideal of absolute control...There have been several recent attempts to introduce a layer of random variation, but all have had to work against the grain of technological development.
An early example was...Beowulf. In its first experimental version (1990), this face relied on the output device to create truly random perturbations from a single set of letterforms...evolving hardware and software quickly passed it by, [but] it remains an important landmark in the effort to teach computers what typography really entails.
(There follows an image of the letter ‘e’ at three levels of randomization.)
Hello, The TeXbook—whose actual title is Computers & Typesetting /A—came out in ’84. The METAFONT book (Computers & Typesetting/C) in ’86. TeX itself was written in the late 70s; chapter 21 of the Metafont book discusses randomness, for example. Knuth discusses a number of ways to shape fonts, indeed that's the whole point of Metafont, to set up parameters to design whole font families at once (because scaling them up and down doesn't actually look that good.) —But there is no mention of Knuth anywhere in Bringhurst's book, despite the fact that Knuth created a language specifically to typeset beautiful (mathematics) books.
Though I've fiddled with calligraphy for years, and was vaguely aware of fonts and book design as an art (to the point of collecting font catalogs), it was Knuth's books that really ignited my interest. Knuth was the reason I bothered to check this book out of the library. If I had a million dollars to fund an Open Source project, it would be to write a more intuitive, artist-friendly front end for Metafont (or, perhaps, an interface between Metafont and a vector program like Inkscape) —cuz it would be so cool to design typefaces that way! And then we could have really cool, properly designed ones...
But Knuth doesn't even get a passing reference. I know, cuz I checked the index, the list of font designers, the Further Reading (i.e. bibliography), the List of Type Designers, and Foundaries (Knuth is famous for his ‘Computer Modern Roman’ family). Three times. Or more. Cuz I just couldn't believe he wouldn't get mentioned.
Bringhurst mentions mathematics typesetting on several occasions (as well issues coming out of typesetting various non-Roman alphabets and particularly all the special diacritics that, say, Vietnamese require). He notes his own book uses word spacing, letter spacing and glyph spacing (TeX doesn't, so far as I know, do that, probably because it's so old: there probably wasn't the computation al power/memory back then)...but, I was given to understand, that, until Adobe and others swiped it, TeX's hyphenation protocols were the best. Since Elements is now on version 3.1, I can't believe that no-one amongst its legions of fans hasn't pointed out the omission. So it's gotta be deliberate.
Why? It seems a sad flaw in an otherwise fabulous manual.
Ok, rant over. Have a stars'n’stripey bag.
It's not just the people killed or maimed, though they are first, most obvious, and cruelly hurt victims; it's everybody.
My usual response to most sports ranges from irritation to outright contempt; but I always rather liked the Boston marathon—mebbe because regular people compete in these things, and there's not much besides acclaim to come out of winning (or at least, that was my perception.)
Several of the news sources I've read have emphasized two things: don't jump to conclusions as to the perps (wise) and, best case scenario, security theatre will increase.
Even those who only suffer relatively “minor” injuries could easily be years recovering: it's been three years since I suffered a broken collarbone and cracked incisor, and though I've probably recovered as much as I'm going to, I'm not the same. And that was an accident, without malicious intent.
But, awful as the immediate aftermath is, I can't help thinking about longer term consequences.
I hated the changes after 9/11. They did little to increase our safety, while giving a corrupt administration a longed-for excuse to wage a heinous (and incompetent) war, for which our nation's hands are still bloody. I would like to think that cooler heads will prevail this time around; and maybe they will —ironically enough, I was reading a fascinating interview with Rebecca Solnit in which she argued—I think correctly—that most people are essentially good-hearted (but that the very wealthy tended to be fearful during the sorts of calamities, political or otherwise, that pull ordinary folks together, because they're afraid—of losing the status quo, I think, as much as anything else).
So perhaps we're finally realizing that giving up our civil liberties is a kind of death of a thousand cuts, a slow draining of cultural lifeblood: gradual, but still profoundly discouraging for all that.
But, hey. It was warm today. Spring is coming. Robins are harbingers of hope, too.
Hideho, I've been pretty busy last week, attempting to prep for my guild's meeting. I managed to fail utterly to clear all the sewing crap off the dining room table, not to mention screw up the bead exchange, and the only reason the kitchen floor wasn't filthy (and I do mean filthy, as in not mopped in months) was because the wizard took pity and did it for me.
See, I was figuring no one would show up, like last meeting.
But alas, the sun came out, the day warmed, and we actually had a pretty decent turnout. No-one managed to get hit by popping glass, or kick over the numerous containers of dirty mandrel water, or drop precariously balanced plants on their toes, so I guess it wasn't a total failure of housekeeping skills—though I think that was more luck than anything else. (People still froze, of course, even though I turned up the heat. 980 cubic feet a minute of 45–50 degree air is still pretty chilly.)
Anyway. I demoed leaf (mustard, mosaic & 022) and a basic EDP/gold ruby–periwinkle/ink-blue striped floral cane and how to apply them. My flowers sucked, but fortunately, most people couldn't really see what I was doing, so it didn't matter. (Here is a very useful approach for demoing: even if you drop the glass on the floor, it doesn't really matter, as long as you can talk a good story while you do it—most people won't realize you're screwing up unless you're stupid enough to tell them:)
I've already discussed cane, florals and the like at length, so the post is actually gonna be a cute little trillium drawstring bag. But I promise some beady goodness tomorrow, or at the very least by the end of the week;)
Unless otherwise noted, text, image and objects depicted therein copyright 1996--present sylvus tarn.Sylvus Tarn