Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Funny Twitter Tweets

"Why doesn't coffee come out of faucets yet? This is America." -- @curlycomedy (Abbi Crutchfield)

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"Chris Bosh sent his wife to Paris for her birthday and a pre-playoff journey. Not to be outdone, I vacuumed without being asked. " -- @ByTimReynolds (Tim Reynolds)


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"Would a resurrected Jesus have a chance in a "Stand Your Ground" society?" -- @fittedsweats (Jeff Johnson)

 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Statistical Analysis


Bob Ross was a consummate teacher. He guided fans along as he painted “happy trees,” “almighty mountains” and “fluffy clouds” over the course of his 11-year television career on his PBS show, “The Joy of Painting.” In total, Ross painted 381 works on the show, relying on a distinct set of elements, scenes and themes, and thereby providing thousands of data points. I decided to use that data to teach something myself: the important statistical concepts of conditional probability and clustering, as well as a lesson on the limitations of data.

So let’s perm out our hair and get ready to create some happy spreadsheets!

-- Walt Hickey


Note: Click Title Link For Complete FiveThirtyEight.com Article

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Salon Excerpt: Art Criticism

"Anyone with the heretical gall to ask an ironist what he actually stands for ends up looking like an hysteric or a prig. And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It [uses] the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself." -- David Foster Wallace

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For the generation that came of age during Vietnam, irony was the response to a growing distrust toward anything and everything. In the 1980s, academics such as Mark Jefferson attacked sentimentality, and Neo-Expressionists gave sincerity a bad name through their sophomoric attempts at heroic paintings. Irony was becoming a protective carapace, as Wallace pointed out, a defense mechanism against the possibility of seeming naïve. By the 1990s, television had co-opted irony, and the networks were inundated with commercials using “rebel” in the tagline. Take Andre Agassi’s Canon camera endorsement from that period. In the commercial, the hard-hitting, wiseass Agassi smashed tennis balls loaded with paint to advertise Canon’s “Rebel” brand camera. The ad wraps with Agassi standing in front of a Pollockesque canvas saying “Image is everything.” For all the world, it seemed rebellion had been usurped by commercialism.

This environment gave artists few choices: sentimentality, nihilism, or irony. Or, put another way, critical ridicule as experienced by the Neo-Expressionist (see Sandro Chia), critical acceptance through nihilism like Gerhard Richter, or critical abdication through ironic Pop Art such as Jeff Koons. For a while, it seemed no new ideas were possible, progress was an illusion, and success could be measured only by popularity. Hot trends such as painted pornography; fluorescent paint; sculpture with mirrors, spray foam, and yarn were mistaken for art because artists believed blind pleasure-seeking could be made to seem insightful when described ironically.

At one time, irony served to reveal hypocrisies, but now it simply acknowledges one’s cultural compliance and familiarity with pop trends. The art of irony has lost its vision and its edge. The rebellious posture of the past has been annexed by the very commercialism it sought to defy.

Early postmodernists such as Robert Rauschenberg broke the modernist structure of medium-specificity by combining painting and sculpture. The sheer level of his innovation made the work hopeful. However, renegade accomplishments like Rauschenberg’s gave way to an attitude of anything-goes pluralism. No rules governed the distinction of good and bad. Rather than opening doors, pluralism sanctioned all manner of vapid creation and the acceptance of commercial design as art. Jeff Koons could be seen as a hero in this environment. Artists became disillusioned, and by the end of the 1980s, so much work, both good and bad, had been considered art that nothing new seemed possible and authenticity appeared hopeless.

In the same period, a generation of academics came of age and made it their mission to justify pluralism with a critical theory of relativism. Currently, the aging stewards of pluralism and relativism have influenced a new population of painters, leaving them confused by the ambitions of Rauschenberg. Today’s painters understand the challenging work of the early postmodernists only as a hip aesthetic. They cannibalize the past only to spit up mad-cow renderings of “art for no sake,” “art for any sake,” “art for my sake” and “art for money.” So much art makes fun of sincerity, merely referring to rebellion without being rebellious. The paintings of Sarah Morris, Sue Williams, Dan Colen, Fiona Rae, Barry McGee and Richard Phillips fit all too comfortably inside an Urban Outfitters. Their paintings disguise banality with fashionable postmodern aesthetic and irony.

In the visual arts, an analogous form to recursive irony emerged with non-painting. Magnus Plessen had been the most adept innovator of the style. Four years ago, his work included paintings such as “Ladder,” which was composed of a largely white canvas and an image of a ladder created using blue and brown tape. The few brushstrokes that had been applied were scraped away by a palette knife. His thoughtful pictures of vapidity and antipainting permeated the painting culture until every MFA program included a painter using tape as decoration rather than tool. But instead of resting on the motif and style of a new convention, he now makes paintings that describe creation rather than destruction. His recent work is, dare I say, beautiful. Magnus Plessen moves against the reductive provisional trend he helped create by making increasingly intricate paintings of richer color, form and complexity. His 2013 painting, also titled “Ladder,” is now a top-to-bottom color spectacular of blues, blacks, yellows and purples. Now, the only areas of white are the ladder, rather than vice versa. Feet and hands are now rendered with a sensitive touch rather than being wiped away. He has turned from tiny steps toward nothingness and begun leaping toward eternity.

Great art must be achieved through the integrity of its own internal principles. Irony alone has no principles and no inherent purpose beyond mockery and destruction. The best examples of irony artfully expose lies, yet irony in itself has no aspiration to honesty, or anything else for that matter.

So, where does art rise above ironic ridicule and aspire to greatness, in terms of challenging convention and elevating the human spirit?

Artists must take responsibility for finding the form to make our dreams real. They must assess a work as honestly as possible, seeking integrity. At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion. But we can remake the world. In poetry, in music, in painting, we can reimagine and plot coordinates into the unknown. We can take an honest look, rework and try again. The work will tell us if it has arrived or not. We have to listen closely.


-- Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll


Note: Click Title Link For Complete Article

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Silent Saturday

 “Now pay attention to this. God is nameless for no one can either speak of him or know him. Therefore a master says that what we can know or say of the First Cause reflects ourselves more than it does the First Cause, for this transcends all speech and all understanding . . . He is being beyond being: he is a nothingness beyond being. Therefore St. Augustine says: ‘The finest thing that we can say of God is to be silent concerning him from the wisdom of inner riches.’ Be silent therefore, and do not chatter about God, for by chattering about him, you tell lies and commit a sin. If you wish to be perfect and without sin, then do not prattle about God.”

Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings


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He Descended into Hell
Apostles' Creed Series, Sermon 7
 
 
In the Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

“He descended into hell.” We have to proceed with extreme caution when we dare to speak of divine things, and with all the more fear and trembling when we delve into mysteries about things like places of the dead, “that undiscovered country,” as Hamlet called it; and how much more about that mystifying time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Meister Eckhart was a 13th century mystical theologian, and in a sermon one time said, “Don’t chatter about God; for when you chatter about him, you’re telling lies and sinning…”[i] Just by opening your mouth. He knew that there are certain mysteries that are unable to be uttered, and trying to was a sure path to error. He knew that his soul was in jeopardy every time he stepped into the pulpit—it was an occupational hazard; it still is. We speak of the inner life of God at great risk and must proceed with great humility.

“He descended into hell.” When this series of sermons began, the Rector mentioned how creedal affirmations – “I believe in” – are different than affirmations of propositions – “I believe that…” To believe in, is to trust, to have faith—typically, faith in a person. I believe in my brother; I know him deeply, I know how he thinks, I know his life. I don’t know what he’s going to do with his life—and apparently he doesn’t either—but I believe in him. Not because I added up all the evidence, and decided that believing in him was the most rational course of action; that’s certainly not the case. I believe in him, at root, because I love him. That might not have been clear from the way I treated him the first decade or so of his life, but it is true.

So if saying “I believe in” is different than saying “I believe that” – if it is, in fact, at root about love, what is it that we’re believing in, in this unpleasant clause in the Apostles’ Creed? What was it that the early Church found, what was it they experienced, that caused them to believe in Christ’s descent into hell?

There are multiple traditions, multiple ways of approaching this question. There is one school of thought in which Christ’s time in hell was a time of intense and glorious activity. In this telling, Jesus descended into hell with a sword, slew the devil, ending his reign, and unlocked the chains that kept the dead in hell. It was a victorious Christ, in other words, who descended into hell, bringing hope to the land of the dead, bringing light to the darkness, which could not overcome it. This is the heroic model of Christ, and it has its justifications in Scripture and tradition.

I want to suggest a slightly different reading, also affirmed in Scripture and tradition, though again I mention it only with the greatest hesitation and humility.[ii] The issue seems to me to turn on the question of whether Jesus was alive in hell; alive, and thus heroic. I submit that we take very seriously, that we take literally, last week’s creedal affirmation – Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried – and look at this week’s “descent” in light of it.

And it seems to me that, if we do that, and if next week’s clause is true—if what happened next was a true resurrection—then when Jesus went to the dead, he went as one of them. Those “spirits in prison” inhabiting hell had one thing in common: their being dead. And if Jesus was there in solidarity with them, if he was going to take on their nature, human nature, then he must have been there, with them, as one of them: which is to say, he must have been dead: crucified, dead, and buried.

The darkness of that Holy Saturday, then, that silent day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, comes from, it seems to me, this: that the Son of God was dead. If there was no death, there could be no resurrection. But if that’s the case—if the Son of God was dead—then along with the death of Christ on that Holy Saturday went the death of hope. The disciples watched the stone being rolled in front of the tomb with a devastating finality. After those years of ministry, his preaching of the good news—preaching that drew out “all of Jerusalem,” the Scriptures say, attracted crowds in the hundreds, in the thousands—after these words of life had been proclaimed, and community upon community filled with the expectation that this would change the world, that this would change everything—after this, then…nothing. The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did overcome it.

If he was not dead, if he did not suffer that fate, that would mean that in the human experience there are places to which Christ has not gone. If he has not shared in death, then he has not seen true desolation, true human desolation.

If, however, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, as Isaiah says, and if on him was laid the iniquity of us all,[iii] then Christ went to the dead as a citizen of hell. Not as an ambassador from the land of the living; he did not visit the dead, but was dead. Jesus went to the dead as their brother; he went as one of them; he became one with their state one with their alienation from the Father. He was there as guilty as they were; guilty, and dead of sin. Not sin of his own: he was made sin who knew no sin[iv]: he was guilty without transgression; guilty because he stood in front of the judge and cried:

 Here am I; send me.
And sent he was.
And he descended.

We believe in Christ’s descent into hell because we trust. It is, at root, about love. We trust that in the broad and exhaustive overflow of God’s love for us there is not one single place that is too far, too dark, too sinful, too barren of hope, that God himself does not reside there. We trust that he is “Lord … of the living” and “of the dead.”[v] For the resurrection to mean anything besides spring time and flowers, we must have this: that Jesus went into the darkness, into the far country, the territory well beyond hope. So that there is no place we can ever go where he has not already been. Because he descended.

It wasn’t a victorious Jesus that descended into hell, but a defeated Jesus. Not an active Jesus, with a sword, but a passive one, slain. Not a spotless lamb, but one heaped with the stain of sin, the sin of the whole world. Jesus Christ, the only Son of the Father, having been utterly abandoned by the Father, was dead: and he descended into hell.

Thanks be to God.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Amen.


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Saint Thomas Church
Fifth Avenue - New York City
Sermon Archive
Sunday March 13, 2011
4:00 pm       
Preacher: Fr Daniels


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt: Cascarones (*)




Carefully break a dozen eggs (keep carton for egg storage until Easter hunt) preserving at least 3/4 of the shell (good time to make a large omelette or something)

Wash/clean interior of shell. Let dry.

Paint eggs, let dry, then fill with confetti and glue/top the eggshell opening with colored tissue, "cone-head shaped", over opening. Hide eggs in yard. Let kids find, then break or smash the confetti eggs on each other's heads.

Fun... But as my Mother always said, "Only Outdoors. Not Inside The House!"

(*) Cascarone

\Cas`ca*ron"\, n. [Sp. cascar['o]n.] Lit., an eggshell; hence, an eggshell filled with confetti to be thrown during balls, carnivals, etc. [Western U. S.]

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

Monday, April 14, 2014

#Sibling Selfie with Lady Gaga

March 21st - The Today Show - NYC


Niece & Nephew with Lady Gaga
 

video

Saturday, April 12, 2014

37 Days: Daily Rock

 
 
Artist: Kim de Broin Mailhot

Note: Click Title Link For Today's D.R.
 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Redraw The Lines

Why Every World Map You're Looking At Is Wrong
 

Africa, China, & India are distorted despite access to accurate satellite data. The distortion is the result of the Mercator projection, the map most commonly seen hanging in classrooms and in text books, which was created in 1596 to help sailors navigate the world. The familiar 'Mercator' projection gives the right shapes of land masses, but at the cost of distorting their sizes.


Note: Click Link For More Maps & Daily Mail Article by Ellie Zolfagharifard
 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Getting The Math of The Universe To Cancel Out

New Modification To Gravity May Explain The Cosmological Constant

The vacuum of space isn't actually "empty"; it teems with particles that pop in and out of existence, giving the vacuum an energy of its own. But here's an embarrassing fact about that energy: it predicts that the cosmological constant (which provides a measure of the rate of the expansion of the Universe) should be 10120 times larger than we think it actually is.

Most scientists prefer things to be a bit more accurate than this. Still, the main question on cosmologists' minds is not why the predicted and real values appear to be so different, but how it is that the vacuum energy does so little. An answer of sorts recently appeared in Physical Review Letters...


-- Note: Click Title Link For Complete ArsTechnica Article by Chris Lee

Friday, April 4, 2014

Time Lapse Video - The Sun Rotating - January 2014


 Video Credit: SDO, NASA; Digital Composition: Kevin Gill (Apoapsys)

Note: Click Title Link For More Info At APOD-NASA

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Intro: The Phillies New Phenom

The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch by George Plimpton (Sports Illustrated)
 
He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd Finch is deciding about yoga—and his future in baseball.

The phenomenon  is a 28-year-old, somewhat eccentric mystic named Hayden (Sidd) Finch. He may well change the course of baseball history. On St. Patrick's Day, to make sure they were not all victims of a crazy hallucination, the Philadelphia Phillies brought in a radar gun to measure the speed of Finch's fastball. The model used was a JUGS Supergun II. It looks like a black space gun with a big snout, weighs about five pounds and is usually pointed at the pitcher from behind the catcher.

A glass plate in the back of the gun shows the pitch's velocity—accurate, so the manufacturer claims, to within plus or minus 1 mph. The figure at the top of the gauge is 200 mph. The fastest projectile ever measured by the JUGS (which is named after the oldtimer's descriptive—the "jug-handled" curveball) was a Roscoe Tanner serve that registered 153 mph. The highest number that the JUGS had ever turned for a baseball was 103 mph, which it did, curiously, twice on one day, July 11, at the 1978 All-Star game when both Goose Gossage and Nolan Ryan threw the ball at that speed.

On March 17, the gun was handled by Phillies Pitching Coach Bob McClure. He heard the pop of the ball in Carlos Ruiz's mitt and the little squak of pain from the catcher. Then the astonishing figure 168 appeared on the glass plate. McClure remembers whistling in amazement, and then heard Ruiz say, "Don't tell me, Bob, I don't want to know..."

The Phillies front office is reluctant to talk about Finch. The fact is, they know very little about him. He has had no baseball career. Most of his life has been spent abroad, except for a short period at Harvard University.


Note: Click Title Link for Complete Sports Illustrated Article