Feb 22, 2017

White nationalism is a problem everywhere in America, including Bloomington, Indiana, where I went to school.

But for a nation lurching rightward, Bloomington, Indiana, is a bellwether. The current narrative of the blue-red divide in the US holds that big cities and college towns are oases of liberalism, hemmed in by conservative towns and rural areas where the economic troubles of the white working class have given rise to racism, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry. In this formulation, Bloomington is a Democratic idyll, and those posters plastered on campus are unwanted imports from the surrounding sea of red. But the careful, coordinated targeting of faculty of color at Indiana University suggests otherwise. The truth is that white nationalism courses through every city, town, and county in the US—and so, too, does its burgeoning resistance.

Feb 10, 2017

Today is the 20th anniversary of the release of Blur, Blur’s fifth album. 1997. I’m not kidding when I say this record changed the trajectory of my life. It means a lot to me. It speaks to me deeply, in a way no other art had done before. Even today, when I listen to it I feel centered in myself, like it’s some kind of emotional mirror soothing to peer into. I hope everyone has a record they can say the same thing about.

Jan 22, 2017

George Lakoff has written a long update to his book Moral Politics in the form of a blog post: A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do. If you haven’t read Moral Politics, or it’s been over a decade (as it was for me) since you last picked it up, I’d place this in your Must Read list.

Yesterday, between 3 and 4 million people gathered for the Women’s March protests all over the country and the world. It felt like Lakoff’s theory given life. We’re reframing the narrative. The march was about inclusion and equality — with female empowerment as a base. America is about inclusion and equality. Let’s keep this the story of America.

Jan 19, 2017

Yes, Science is Political

[S]cience and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics.
The scientific method consists of generating a hypothesis, attempting to disprove the hypothesis through testing, and accumulating those tests to come up with shared knowledge. And that method also contains ideology: our observed, shared world is the real world. This ideology even has a name: empiricism. An incoming president who clearly picks and chooses facts to suit his own version of the world changes the relationship between science and culture, in potentially destructive ways.

Another way of stating Stephen Colbert’s joke, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

It never ceases to amaze me that so many people ignore reality for political points. It’s perfectly childish.

Jan 18, 2017

Why is Mid-Century Modern Furniture So Damn Popular?

Kelsey Campbell-Dologhan, writing for Co.Design, suggested that mid-century furniture has become so ubiquitous as to be synonymous with design itself: “All of this suggests that mid-century design is less a ‘style’ or era of design as it is a byword for ‘design’ itself, as opposed to spaces and products that were not ‘designed’ at all.”

If you’ve studied the work of Henry Dreyfuss or Charles and Ray Eames, you shouldn’t be surpised at the longevity of midcentury modern design. They, and hundreds of others, went to great lengths to design and construct objects which were as well-suited to human beings as possible. Size, shape, weight, color. These are all qualities which can have objectively correct (-ish) attributes for their purspose — at the very least, correct for the general person. Midcentury modern design will last as long as human beings remain shaped the way we are. In other words, it’s never going away. It may fall out of style for some people for some time. But it’s here to stay.

Jan 18, 2017

I’ve never been a fan of American football. The game never made sense to me, neither aesthetically nor intellectually. I’ve given it many chances, though. It’s hard to be an American and avoid ever seeing a game. Many of my friends are real fans, and I respect that. But this article in GQ about a young man who suffered the effects of CTE which he developed while playing high school football — not even in college, or the NFL, but in high school — makes me hope that sport quietly fades away. Why should we continue to support a game which can too often result in the death for those who play it.

Jan 18, 2017

There is a new note app, Standard Notes, which looks remarkably similar to the notes app I’ve designed. The biggest difference is that the note list only shows note titles. It needs to display the full note, like a blog, untruncated. But this app also allows for extentions, which means it’s theoretically possible to build an add-on which could alter the look of the app to do what I want.

Going to keep an eye on this.

Jan 16, 2017

My take on the meme-of-the-day: Top Ten Records of your Teen Years.

  • Blur - Blur
  • Suede - Suede
  • Belle & Sebastian - If You’re Feeling Sinister
  • Luna - Penthouse
  • David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  • Pulp - Different Class
  • The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
  • Radiohead - The Bends
  • Fountains of Wayne - Fountains of Wayne
  • The Beatles - The Blue Album

I’m not sure if that last one is supposed to count, but I listened to those two Beatles compilation records, the red and the blue, for a long long time before I got my hands on the original albums.

I believe I discovered 6 out of the 10 of these after my 16th birthday, a few years after I first started buying records. Before these albums, I was listening to Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Matchbox 20, and not at all inspired by the music. My music tastes had been dictated by time, place, and peer pressure. Everything changed when I heard Blur’s album Blur in the spring of 1997. I even remember where I was when I first heard it: on a bus, heading to an away track meet, when a friend handed me his cd player and headphones and had me give it a listen. My entire concept of what music could be expanded infinitely outwards, practically instantly. I spent the next ten years of my life either in and out of record stores. Everything changed for me. Everything.

Jan 15, 2017

A couple great passages from a Wall Street Journal article, The Need to Read.

The technology of a book is genius: The order of the words is fixed, whether on the page or on the screen, but the speed at which you read them is entirely up to you. Sure, this allows you to skip ahead and jump around. But it also allows you to slow down, savor and ponder.

True.

So I’m on a search—and have been, I now realize, all my life—to find books to help me make sense of the world, to help me become a better person, to help me get my head around the big questions that I have and answer some of the small ones while I’m at it.

This is me, too.

I’m forcing myself to read physical books again. For most of my life, I would read 30 or more books a year. The last couple of years? Maybe 2. Social media and blogs/news has a stranglehold on my attention. I very much want to change the balance of my reading diet and consume fiction, again, and classic literature. I’m hoping this will be easier now that my addiction to Twitter has been quelled, and social media in general has lost its luster.

Jan 15, 2017

The Music Donald Trump Can’t Hear, from the New Yorker.

[T]he inability, so far, of Donald Trump to get any significant musicians from any of those traditions, rock or country or blues or Broadway, to sing at his Inauguration is not a small comic detail but a significant reflection of this moment in history. It reminds us of just how aberrant Trump and Trumpism is. When the Rockettes have to be coerced to appear at your show—or you’re left to boast of the military bands, directly under your orders, who are playing—one is witnessing not just some snobbish hostility on the part of “Hollywood” entertainers but a deeper abyss between the man about to assume power and the shared traditions of the country he represents. There is no music in this man.

There is something fundamentally wrong with your philosophy if it repulses virtually every popular artist it reaches.