Mending Reality Released

Today I delivered many copies of the literary / art journal that has taken me several months to produce. But it’s finally here: Mending Reality: creativity towards change. The process of making a new journal has been highly educational for me. Aside from understanding the editorial and layout processes better, I’ve learned quite a bit from the contributors in seeing how they address issues I care deeply about.

In starting this journal, I really didn’t know what sort of response I’d get. I was surprised but happy to get submissions for this first issue from some folks I’ve never met. And many people supported this process who I’ve thanked in the journal’s introduction. As always, I do nothing alone.

I’m planning the next issue to be released in the fall and hopefully the journey continues!

Mending Reality  Spring 2013

Mending Reality

Mending RealityI’m planning a new publication called Mending Reality: Creativity Towards Change to be released online and in print. “Mending” evokes the act of fixing or healing. “Reality” refers to our cultural, political, and economic systems. Humans create the status quo of violence and injustice. I want to have a conversation about changing and healing these systems.

Here’s an incomplete list of symptoms. In the United States, we have terrible instances of mass violence by lone shooters. Abroad, we make unceasing war that our citizens seem completely sheltered from, lately featuring drone planes — actions the UN has vowed to investigate. We had hurricane Sandy that battered the northeast which scientists (and also insurance companies) believe was made larger by climate change. We have a Congress that intentionally and repeatedly takes the country to the brink of financial ruin. We have a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and many others around the world, where nothing lives due to agricultural runoff.

Since humans have made this reality, I believe we can fix it, make it better, heal it, mend it. We need to mend this reality, if not for ourselves, then for the generations to come. Many people are working on this. We do not mend alone. Here in this journal we list the symptoms, describe the diagnosis, prescribe treatments, and document mending in action.

In putting this journal together, I reach out to people for their words and images that show reality on the mend, inviting them to think more about what we must do, how we must act to heal ourselves, how we can live with justice and love.

If you need more inspiration, here are some further prompts. How specifically do we heal the world around us? There are many phases of healing – diagnosis, acceptance, treatment. What portion of the healing can we contribute to? In what ways do we play the roles of both doctor and patient?

Send your submissions, with Mending Reality in the subject to jaycer [at] gmail.com

Analog Curve Sets

As a continuation of my Curve Set art series, I’ve begun manually drawing some curve sets using ink and paper. I believe this new working method will end up reinforcing and refreshing the digital work (I’m researching fuzzy logic to incorporate into the computer program).

But in the meantime, I’ve rediscovered the love of manual marking using some new tools – Copic markers (which are evidently popular with manga artists and fashion designers). I like them because they always make a consistent mark. And because they have a flexible, brush-like nib that can be used to make delicate lines, bold strokes, and everything in between. I discovered the limits of this fancy marker though – I was drawing so vigorously that I broke the tip on one of them. Now I know.

Anyways, after some initial drawings were complete, I started photographing them using various techniques to make whole new images. An extreme angle and a shallow depth of field throws parts of the drawing out of focus. Intentional camera movement leaves one area mostly true-to-life, while multiplying other areas more and more.

New Drupal Site

JayceTechnology.com screen shot

JayceTechnology.com

For the Kent Community TimeBank, I’ve been working with the content management system (CMS) called Drupal, and I’ve decided to use it more – on my new business-focused website JayceTechnology.com. Not a lot there right now, but I plan to continue experimenting to build up my Drupal experience.

Although they market Drupal by saying things like “you don’t have to write any HTML”, I find it much less user-friendly than WordPress (therefore requiring a more tech-savvy user who can probably figure out HTML anyways). However, it also seems more formal – and I like this. With WordPress, there are as many ways to organize content as there are developers that can author plugins, and it seems to have grown organically out of the blogging functionality. Drupal seems more like a framework with standard plugins that can be used to define specific content types. As I said, I’m still getting my feet wet. Once I get totally immersed in both, I plan to write a comparison post.

Delta Drawing Pre-Alpha Released

Delta Drawing

Delta Drawing 0.1 Screenshot

The 0.1 version of the Delta Drawing tool used to create my curve set images is now available for download for people running Windows. Since this is a pre-alpha release, the user interface is spartan, and users will need to edit input files in a text editor like Notepad. The functionality can be used to make large images using lines.

If you feel like getting your hands dirty, the source code is also available. I’m open to collaboration and this project is just getting started, so there is a lot of “opportunity for growth”. Just respond to this post if you’re interested.

Strawberry Jam

Strawberries - Taken by Connie, edited by Jayce In June, Connie made jam out of the strawberries she grows at the front of the house. The strawberries themselves have an intense flavor and sweetness – quite unlike the bland half-fist-sized white-in-the-middle mutants they sell in stores under the label “strawberries”.

Connie’s strawberries grow into a variety of shapes. Some of them have little green nodes at the bottom, even when fully ripe. Sometimes the seeds have a green hue, as if mold has attached, but I think that’s just the color of those seeds.

If one happens to look like a smaller version of a store-bought strawberry, if it is a bright red heart an inch and a half tall, usually I find a little gray slug has found it first, carving the sweet flesh inside out, embedding itself in a cocoon of delicious food – how could I be upset with it?

Some of the strawberries take a blood-like color, scarlet. These are the ripest, and these must be plucked the gentlest – they might burst seemingly under the force of joy.

To pick a strawberry, I tug on the fruit, and either the stem comes with it or not – either the berry’s headdress of little green leaves stays attached or falls off. It takes a small amount of force, and the squeezing should be slight. Finally, there’s a little snap, and a rustling of plant leaves as everything moves back into place.

I find the pale white ghost strawberries have growing to do. But eventually they get an an orangish rust color. If this covers them fully, they will be ready to pick in about a day. The berries as a group do not ripen all at once, but over a few weeks.

~*~*~*~

On my toast, Connie’s jam is a shimmering orange-red like a stop sign in late afternoon sun. It retains all the strawberriness of the fresh fruit, but now we can have it for months not weeks. And now when I eat toast, I think of mixed oil paints cadmium red and cadmium yellow, small beating hearts hot in the afternoon, and Connie feeding the slugs berry trimmings.

Neil deGrasse Tyson On US Science

Neil deGrasse Tyson - Las Vegas, 2008 Last night we saw astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speak at the Ohio Theatre on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland. Connie won tickets from the library, one of the sponsors of the event. It was about 2 hours, including Q&A. I saw a more erasable side of his personality than comes across on Nova scienceNow. For one, he was very firm in his opinions on terraforming – it seems he thinks the Mars terraforming advocates have some form of mental illness, because we can’t predict climate changes a week out on Earth, but they want to manipulate the climate of a whole planet. He thinks it will take too long to be relevant right now.

Surprisingly to me, the main theme of his talk was not black holes, cosmology, or string theory. Instead, he had a point to make: the United States is on a serious scientific decline, leaning into a slide towards global irrelevancy. He said that today the US publishes fewer scientific papers than we did 10 years ago, while our global competitors have increased their output. He likened the current state of affairs to the decline of Arabic science around 1100 which he says occurs after an influential Islamic scholar codified what it meant to be a member of the Islamic religion by saying in part that manipulating numbers was the work of the devil. (I haven’t verified this, I’m just reporting what he said.)

He attempts to make a patriotic argument that goes something like this: the United States discovered plutonium, and a few years later dropped a bomb made of it on Nagasaki. We then proceeded to isolate the rest of those high-numbered elements on that bottom row of the periodic table of elements. Those were the golden days of American scientific and military prowess, and it’s not a coincidence those are linked. People in the military are always interested in science, because being able to manipulate matter is powerful.

Making this link between hard science and military power is nothing new – Galileo did as much on his cover letters to the regional powers of his day. I haven’t heard it applied with contemporary US patriotism however. And is this the message it takes to get US citizens to support science funding education? With his specific military examples, I interpret Tyson as saying that if only we could have more science in the US we could blow things up and conquer the world!

One of the very things Tyson complains about current Islamic culture is its closed nature compared to the openness of its scientific heyday. But he advances some level of xenophobia with a plea for our continued world dominance. Why do we need to dominate if not out of fear?

It seems pretty clear to me that lately power has been skewed heavily toward the “American island” compared to the rest of the world. We have had (and still have) a very high standard of living, and we consume an enormous amount of energy to sustain it without much thought to what this does to the rest of the planet. Why is science being presented as a competition between nations? It would go much further to promote global stability to advocate developing scientific prowess that we could use to help people all over the world, not just ourselves, linked to every citizen on the planet.

Oracle Warehouse Builder

If you are looking for information about the Warehouse Builder tool from the database company Oracle, you may want to check out our team blog on OWB. OWB is one of Oracle’s main tools for getting data out of and into various data stores. We’ve been working with the latest version of OWB – 11g R2. Because it is so new, and Oracle’s customers tend to be fairly conservative, it seems not many people are using the tool at the moment (relatively speaking). We wanted to create a blog to build knowledge of the current release to the OWB community – to document errors and solutions we find that may not be documented elsewhere.

As users adopt this version of the tool, I hope our blog will be a valued knowledge resource.

The Aliens Can Be Machines Too

Alien life – but not as we know it

NGC 4522 - NASA / ESA

NGC 4522 - NASA / ESA

This article on The Guardian by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer with SETI, is worth reading. It combines the concepts of the search for extraterrestrials and transhumanism (though the latter isn’t labeled as such). The author¬†does leave open the possibility that machines will never outstrip human intelligence, but only apocalyptic scenarios can prevent it since “if any species reaches the point of inventing radio, it is only a handful of centuries from inventing its intellectual successors”. (Kurzweil says it will happen in 2045.)

Shostak points out how movie aliens usually have faces like we do, which is just convenient movie-making. He also sets apart biological and machine intelligence. But just as it’s not very realistic to assume aliens have faces, isn’t it also folly to think we can imagine what form intelligence will take after millions or billions of years of development? If sentient beings obtain a fine degree of control over their evolution, whether the “hardware” is biological or not becomes moot. Certainly our most advanced computers would seem more primitive to them than stone tools do to us.

Shostak says that we shouldn’t be looking for intelligent signals just from Earth-like planets – and given his job title, I assume he can broaden the search. If you have the time, some nice counterpoints made in the article’s comments.