Mandala system
Maṇḍala is a Sanskrit word meaning 'circle'. The mandala is a model for describing the patterns of diffuse political power distributed among Mueang or Kedatuan (principalities) in medieval Southeast Asian history, when local power was more important than the central leadership ... the overlord-tributary relationship was not necessarily exclusive. A state in border areas might pay tribute to two or three stronger powers. The tributary ruler could then play the stronger powers against one another to minimize interference by either one, while for the major powers the tributaries served as a buffer zone to prevent direct conflict between them.
Mandala (political model)

Technical/scientific progress is linear, not exponential

If this is right, innovation hasn't slowed, it just looks like it.

Timeline of the human condition

Pre-industrial workers had a shorter workweek than today's

Life of King Alfred
Asser's Life of King Alfred
"... he was so harassed by daily and nightly sadness that he complained and made moan to the Lord, and to all who were admitted to his familiarity and affection, that Almighty God had made him ignorant of divine wisdom and of the liberal arts ..."

In Asser's account Alfred is obsessed with learning, despite (?) not learning to read until after being crowned. Interesting given Alfred's position in English history, and with this essay on oral vs written culture banging around my head.

The wildfires didn't have to be this bad
  • Cities founded in the fire-prone frontier by anti-government types that didn't want to be told how to build (proper infrastructure, firebreaks etc.)
  • Real estate has been the main wealth generator for a while, "Selling out to a developer was the only retirement plan most farmers knew."
  • "What was once sparse is now densely packed with pine, fir, cedar, and manzanita. A forest that supported 64 trees an acre in pre-settlement times now boasted 160 trees an acre ... 'I don't think we could have managed the forests any worse.'"
  • "as Wilson and his staff studied the fires more closely, he could see that their oddly linear pattern of ignition clusters corresponded to major electrical power lines."
  • “These weren’t outlier events,” Wilson said. “These same spots had a history of fire. They had burned before and were destined to burn again. If you charted it out, we weren’t having far more wildfires than in the past. But the wildfires we were experiencing were far more deadly and destructive, and that had to do with mismanaging the forest and building communities in the wildland-urban interface. The state’s population was exploding in the very areas most susceptible to wildfires.”
  • Forestry management and fire prevention - prescribed burns, reducing fuel load - curtailed in favor of military-style firefighting.
  • "To justify its high costs, [Cal Fire] had to figure out a way to make itself essential throughout the year. This was how it evolved into a 24/7 provider of emergency services to the sprawling mountain communities ... instead of trying to slow down the suburbanization of forestlands, Wilson said, the department served the growth — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in funding."
  • "In their filings, each attorney traced the historic blazes to a culture of mismanagement, corruption, and cover-up that had taken hold inside PG&E decades before. A pattern of venality, they argued, began in the company’s early years and became more recalcitrant in the 1980s and 1990s, when PG&E, with the connivance of the California Public Utilities Commission, its watchdog, made a decision to place profits and bonuses to top executives — and dividends to shareholders — over safety."
  • "It was fiction that the California Public Utilities Commission exercised any watchdog role over PG&E, he said. “They don’t have the resources, they don’t have the trained personnel or mindset, to monitor and audit PG&E’s compliance with safety regulations. PG&E can literally get away with murder.”"

The Great Pan is Dead
EVERYONE HAS ONCE READ, for it comes up many times in literature, of that pilot in the reign of Tiberius, who, as he was sailing along in the Aegean on a quiet evening, heard a loud voice announcing that "Great Pan was dead." This engaging myth was interpreted in two contradictory ways.

Part of a larger work that locates creation myths with a change about 6,500 years ago when the position of the sun during the equinoxes stopped lining up with the Milky Way.

The rest of the site ... lotta wild stuff there.

The Merchant Fleet of Late Medieval and Tudor England, 1400-1580

When infrastructure was cheap to build

Early Nazi Propaganda
Including a number of Goebbels essays from Der Angriff

1. Your fatherland is Germany. Love it more than anything else, and more in deed than in word.

2. Germany’s enemies are your enemies; hate them with your whole heart.

Slothrop's assignations

Mersey Beats
I'm going to try something new in 2015: I'm going to write at least a little about every book that I read. (Ok, I'm going to try. This isn't a job.) I just finished "Tune In", the first volume of a projected three-volume history of the Beatles by Mark Lewisohn. It was really surprisingly fascinating and I want to try to explain why before all the images and impressions the book created fade from my memory.

Why do you care about those old men anyway?
I feel like an apologia for Beatles fandom is kind of required at this point. They're so central to the rockist canon, such a touchstone for the type of reactionaries who would dismiss hip-hop, techno and everything living and vital that I care about in music, that caring about them enough to read a book on them (three books!) seems suspect.

First, a generic defense of the study of history:it's not only not opposed to a progressive outlook, it's an important part of any understanding of the present. I say this as foundation-laying, I doubt any of the three people reading this would disagree.

Second, a more specific understanding of the Beatles - actually grokking their context, their rise, their loves, hates and ambitions - helps in understanding them as a specific group of people operating in a specific context, reacting to the music around them, expressing a particular Liverpool sensibility. All the talk about them as "timeless, central to rock history, giants" just obscures who they actually were and why they did what they did.

Finally, their rise coincided with - helped bring about - the rise of a new kind of music, a new youth culture, a new music industry ... every stage of their story so far involves people doing things no one had ever done before. Even if you think rock would have reached more or less the same place without them, a lot of things changed in the Sixties and the history of the Beatles is a fantastic lens for viewing it.

I'm pretty sure you were going to tell us about a book
It's engagingly written, a tiny bit amateurish in the best sense of the word, astoundingly well researched but wearing that lightly, and packed with memorable quotes and scenes. Lewisohn does well sketching milieu, and this is the foundation of the book.

Say something about the Beatles? anything
They weren't fantastic musicians, Paul maybe excepted. Fantastic singers and songwriters, yeah. But it's funny to think about how many people yearning tiresomely for "musicianship" put the Beatles at the top of their list.

They wanted to make black music. They had other influences, but when Little Richard told them they had that "authentic Negro sound" I can't imagine how happy they must have felt.

They were direct, funny, often assholes. Lewisohn keeps emphasizing how they refused to do anything that felt fake, that they were always true to themselves. He maybe hits that point too hard but you do finish the book feeling that part of their success came from aggressive disregard for what other people wanted or expected. I'm not sure that I would have been friends with John, but I would love to have spent time in his company. Even just reading the book you get inspired by how original his behavior - all of their behavior - was. You start to feel it's possible to live life less by rote.

Finally, when the group starts producing great work (they definitely didn't always) there starts to be a steady stream of little eruptions in the book, the Beatles doing something new and amazing. I'm not sure how much of this is their musical originality. Maybe Lewisohn could have done more to show how novelty comes from recombination - but he already does quite a bit of that. Maybe they had something.

17th century social media
Commonplace books as prototypes of Tumblr and Pinterest
Commonplace books that survive from the Tudor period contain a huge variety of texts, including letters, poems, medical remedies, prose, jokes, ciphers, riddles, quotations and drawings. Sonnets, ballads and epigrams jostle with diary entries, recipes, lists of ships or Cambridge colleges and transcriptions of speeches. Collecting useful snippets of information so that they could be easily retrieved when needed, or re-read to spark new ideas and connections, was one of the functions of a commonplace book. But the practice of maintaining a commonplace book and exchanging texts with others also served as a form of self-definition: which poems or aphorisms you chose to copy into your book or to pass on to your correspondents said a lot about you, and the book as a whole was a reflection of your character and personality.

The first website

System D
RB: In The Polish Officer, you introduce the word "debroullier"...

AF: Yes, system D. Getting it done. It means to improvise. Life is so impossible, so confusing, everybody does everything wrong all the time. Somehow we are going to manage. The source was from the First World War with regard to railroad transport of troops and goods. To 'debroullier,' to muddle through. But it became known almost immediately as system D. And everybody in Paris says system D, "How am I gonna get this done, how are we going to find it, how are we going to buy it. Oh, don't worry about it, system D."
- from an interview with Alan Furst.

"'Political jokes weren't a form of active resistance but valves for pent-up public anger.'" And the understanding that inspired such humor makes the inaction that accompanied it all the more unforgiveable: "...the country wasn't possessed by 'evil spirits' nor was it hypnotised by the Nazis' brilliant propaganda, he says. Hypnotized people don't crack jokes."

Before you make the understandable misinterpretation, I think the Daily Show et al provide a valuable service in exposing the vapidity of current political discourse. But if it's a narcotic (it is) let it be an amphetamine, not an anaesthetic.

a brief correspondence between Mahatma Ghandi and Count Leo Tolstoy on non-violence

A U.S. Marine and sailor hug loved ones aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard during a deployment at Naval Station San Diego December 6, 2004
A U.S. Marine (L) and sailor (R) hug loved ones aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard during a deployment at Naval Station San Diego December 6, 2004 in San Diego, California. About 6,000 U.S. Marines and sailors are deploying to Iraq aboard 6 ships and a submarine as part of a massive troop rotation. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

I wonder what happened to the building materials salvaged from the World Trade Center site. They should send them around the country to be used in other buildings.

Common ancestors of all humans
mefi discussion

"It would seem possible that, even with a lot of geographical separation, the MRCA of the entire world is still within historical times, 3000 BC - 1000 AD. Quite likely the entire world is descended from the Ancient Egyptian royal house, c. 1600 BC...

Quite likely almost every Jew in the world today descends from the Prophet Muhammad, c. 600 AD ... it is interesting to think that every Palestinian suicide bombing attack on Israel is almost certainly some descendants of the Prophet killing other descendants of the Prophet."

player of the century

Broadside - Home of Nelson's Navy
British naval history for Aubrey / Maturin readers.

whoa blogs are badass
That's a New Yorker columnist (since when have they had such a thing?) and bestselling author duking it out in the comments section, there. CRAZINESS.

Yeah, I know the New Yorker ain't all that. Still.

(No, I didn't pay any attention to the discussion of EMT.)

wooo rock and roll

This is Lukas Bergstrom's weblog. You can also find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

RSS, Android, Medical, Net, Collaboration, Data, Crowdsourcing, Audio, Open, MacOS, barcamp, Mobile, Javascript, Social, Web analytics, Development, s60, Security, PIM, Visual, Automobile, AI, OS, Product Management, Energy, Web, Wearables, Hardware, Storage, WRX, Business, a11y, Shopping

History, Geography, NYC, Transportation, Food & Drink, Bicycling, Personal care, Clothes, Toys, Housing, Podcasts, Politik, Feminism, Activism, Surfing, L.A., Boston, CrowdFlower, Video, Agriculture, Minnesota, Quizzes, Travel, Life hacks, California, Statistics, Friday, Law, Berlin, Games, San Francisco, Sports

House, Hip-hop, Mixes, Business, Shopping, Boston, Events, Booking, Mailing lists, Labels, Streams, Musicians, Good tracks, Videos, Mp3s, Reviews, Making, History, Lyrics, L.A.

Languages, Weblogs, Vocations, Life hacks, Exercise, Gossip, Me, Meditation, Health, MOTAS, Friends, Subcultures, Stories, Enemies, Working with, ADD, Buddhism, Heroes, Family

Personal finance, Management consulting, Marketing and CRM, Shopping, IP Law, Non-profit, Investing, Real Estate, Macroeconomics, International Development, Insurance, Web, Personal services, Taxes, Microfinance

Events, Sculpture, Comix, Desktop wallpaper bait, Visual, Outlets, iPad bait, Spoken Word, Animation, Movies, Rhetoric, Poetry, Burning Man, Humor, Literature

Architecture, IA, Process, Tools, Data visualization, Algorithmic, Presentations, Type, Cool, Furniture, User experience, Web

Statistics and Data, Networks, Zoology, Physics, Cognition, Environment, Psychology

Kingdom of Siam, Uganda, Vagabond '08, Kenya

Photos I Wish I'd Taken, Friends, Moblog


Internet classic

One Acre Fund


Subscribe to this site's rss feed

I'm also on Mastodon