Blog 1996

21 Dec 1996

Read “Skinny Legs and All” by Tom Robbins (not as good as Another Roadside Attraction) but it does have some great english, including:

The invitation to [his] show [she] ripped into tiny pieces … half of the pieces in the pile turned into snowflakes, half turned into sparks. The sparks melted the snowflakes, the snowflakes extinguished the sparks”


… leaving [him] on the verge of composing one of those trite romantic lyrics that … stay with a person forever, like a scar, a tattoo, or third grade arithmetic.

16 Dec 1996

Read “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1929, Eric maria Remarque). A classic anti-war novel, up there with Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo) or maybe The Red Badge of Courage. What puzzles me is how WW II got started: WW I was so gruesome, so devastating, how could those in their 20s during WW I, who grew older and became leaders in the 1930s could start WW II? Did they forget the lessons of WW I?

9 Dec 1996

Read “The Most Beautiful Molecule – the Discovery of the BuckyBall” by Aldersey (1995). it refers to a “classic” design book “On Growth and Form” by D’arcy Thompson 1917. I need to get that.

This “classic” designation makes me wonder what other fundamental, seminal non-fiction works are so basic that everyone should know them:

  • The Origin of Species (Darwin)
  • A Pattern Language (Alexander)
  • Pincipia Mathematica ( Russel)
  • The Elements (Euler)
  • The Double Helix (Watson/Crick)
  • Goto Statement considered Harmful (Dijkstra)
  • Plate Tektonics (Wegener “The Origin of Continents and Oceans” 1915)
  • The Art of Computer Programming (Knuth)
  • RSA public-key encryption
  • The Wealth of Nations (Smith)
  • Linnaeus’ classification system (is there a book?)
  • Das Kapital (Marx)
  • Modern English Usage (Fowler)
  • Freud (unfortunately, he does not have one special work)
  • Principles of Geology (Lyell)
  • On War (Clauswitz)
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Gibbons)
  • On Growth and Form (Thompson)

… every discipline must have its bible, I suppose.

8 Dec 1996

Read The Haunts of the Black Masseur by Charles Spawson (1992). Stunning, hypnotic non-fiction book about swimming: its history and allure.

The book includes a provocative Japanese woodcut: “Diving Girl and Octopuses” by Katsushika Hokusai (1814) (in the Gerhard Pulverer Collection). A very erotic picture involving, well, a girl and two octopuses. Apparently this print scandalized Europe in the 1800s.

Hokusai is most famous for his “Wave over Mt Fuji” print, which has been reproduced millions of times.

18 Nov 1996

Ive completed my first piece of furniture: a small mahogany end table. I got a book on Art Nouveau furniture (Erte and Mucha were some poster/painters in that movement). Art Nouveau furniture is difficult … lots of flowing curves: hardly a flat surface or straight line. Many roots, vines, trunks (not so many flowers). Really, a carving that serves a furniture-purpose. One really stunning set of furniture (table, chairs, china hutch, fireplace mantle) is by Eugene Vallin (French, 1903-1906); currently in a museum in Nancy (Musee d’Ecole D’Nancy). I ought to go see it someday. In german, art nouveau is Jugendstil.

14 Nov 1996

Listening to Bow Wow Wow’s “I Like Candy”. Snappy tune, and the intro measures are astounding.

11 Nov 1996

Bought some prints today: a set of four Muchas: The four muses: music, poetry, dancing, and painting.

16 Oct 1996

Watched On The Waterfront. Great Quotes: “I coulda been a contender … I coulda been somebody … Now Im just a bum from Palookaville”.

24 Sep 1996

Bought a poster: Spring Party by Janet Fish (born 1948; painted 1981). Very cheerful. Original is 55″ x 131″ ! Sold by Boston Museum of Fine Arts in their catalog, so it must be popular.

San Diego Zoo did something unethical: They wanted some Pandas to boost attendance and increase revenue; but Pandas are endangered; so the zoo paid $5M to China as a “conservation fee” (ostensibly to protect Panda environment) and in return the zoo got two Pandas.

18 Aug 1996

Shredded Wheat cereal costs $3.21 for a 1-lb box. That is more than some steaks!

10 Aug 1996

Saw an ad for a gorgeous watch (timepiece:-) Juvenia “Mystere” collection. A see-thru watch with beautiful gold workings and ruby jewels.

Jeans and Dockers (brand pants) cannot be let-out. What a rip-off.

22 July 1996

Funny haiku:

Open your present…; No, you open your present…; Kacinski Christmas [ the unabomber]

Spam volcano blows; Stratosphere laden with pork; Gorgeous pink sunsets

Proctor and Gamble; make Olestra and Pampers; odd coincidence

The Jesuits (a relatively young order, < 500 years) were founded by Ignatius Loyola.

Read Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. Strange novel: The entirety is a story recounted by a man, and so every paragraph is in quotes. Very distracting.

18 July 1996

Read a book on movies, and picked up some interesting factoids:

  • Starbucks coffee houses got their name from a character in Moby Dick.
  • Captain Queeg is a character in The Caine Mutiny, which was written by Herman Wouk who went on to write The Winds of War
  • Double Indemnity was written by James Cain, who wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy is a character in a novel by F. H. Burnett
  • Anna And the King of Siam is an autobiography by Margaret Landon
  • Captain Courageous is a book by R. Kipling
  • The Ghost and Mrs Muir is a book by R. A. Dick
  • Lost Horizon is a novel by James Hilton

6 July 1996

Read a book Skyscraper chronicling the construction of an actual sckyscraper in New York 1986 – 1989. Quote “Architecture is that which gets built”. Pipe dreams dont go down in history.

Neat title: “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”. A 1960s soap opera (sans hyphen), based on a 1955 movie, based on a 1952 autobiography by Han Suyin. The movie had a theme song that became very famous.

23 June 1996

Perused a book “Bookbinding in Ancient Egypt” (sp?)… 30 pages of outstanding, fanciful art (a bit on the drafting side) with lots of imaginative illustrations and nonsense text. Reminds me of Griffin and Sabine or Animalia. [or Codex Seriphinianus].

Looking to buy a pickup truck: Visually attracted to the classic late 1950s El Camino or Ranchero, but they have no safety features and the gas mileage would be horrible. But what style!

Thought of buying a poster by Klimt, but it was a female nude, and I figured that would alienate any female visitor 🙂 They also had “The Kiss”, his big hit. Saw some posters by Geiger: sci-fi/fantasy; in fact he was the designer for the Alien movie sets! His posters are all distressing, chilling, dismal, horrific, haunting.

I just discovered that the famous Lacoon marble sculpture (in St Peters?) was carved in the 1st century BC! I always assumed that, because it was so accurate and detailed, and so emotional, it was from the time of Michelangelo.

A great art mystery: During WW II the Germans dismantled “The Amber Room” from some St Petersburg palace and shipped it over the Baltic to Germany, but it was lost.

Read “The Rape of the Nile” about the export of antiquities from Egypt, from Napoleons invasion (1890) thru 1930. But the Egyptians were collaborators, and did most of the grave robbing; and Ill never forgive them for stripping the limestone facing off the great pyramids.

22 June 1996

Read “The Thirteen Gun Salute” .. another OBrien Aubrey/Maturin book. Fantastic: the ship is wrecked on a reef, and the entire crew is stranded on an island.

Perused a book/catalog “Amok” at Tower Records this evening. Strange assortment of bizarre goods and books. Bondage, horror, whatever.

Bought a Kandinsky poster: “Riding Couple” .. absolutely fantastic … an early work (1905) done while he was still in Russia.

13 June 1996

Read a biography of Will Rogers: great empathy for the working class. One downside to his character was that he was overly ambitious and spent virtually no time with his family. Reminds me of other great men that ignored their wives or kids: Woody Guthrie, Albert Einstein, Frank L Wright. This is Neals Rule #23: You cannot be both a great family man and be outstanding in your career. Something women have been wrestling with for centuries.

Reminded me of the Will Rogers Follies musical, and that wonderful tune “I Never Met a Man I Didnt Like”.

Read an article in WSJ about some guy that has a program to generate jingle tunes: he feeds in good tunes and it somehow grabs snatches and looks for patterns. Will we ever have a program that generates great music? Is it possible to write a program that will generate all songs we know of? That question reminds me of the debate (Knuth) as to whether it is possible to write a program that can generate all type fonts.

The word “plaid” is often misused: It means a cape or shawl. The word “tartan” means a woven fabric pattern that represents a certain clan.

22 May 1996

Neat quote from “Intruder in the Dust” by William Faulkner: “… thinking with the frantic niggling patience of a man in a burning house trying to gather up a broken string of beads”.

17 May 1996

Read an interview with Kiefer Sutherland. He says he is a socialist, which he defines as “an institutionalized way of helping those less fortunate than yourself”.

10 May 1996

An advertisement for an evening adult-ed class caught my eye: “Exploring and creating personal rituals to ease transitions and celebrate life”. I’ve often thought the same thing: Wouldn’t it be nice to have rituals? Think of the significance of ancient rituals like fall harvest, may day, winter solstice, coming-of-age. What do we have now? Superbowl? School starting? Labor Day?

2 May 1996

In spite of all the recent progress, there is one old-time service that was superlative: Mail was delivered twice a day in London in the 1800s. Of course, that was just London.

26 Apr 1996

In college I read a quote, something along the lines of “God: I have no reason to fear your, or thank you for creating me, because – in fact – I created you”. Thinking I read it in An Evolutionary and Ecological Ethic by Kozlovsky (1974) , I perused that book, but no joy. Thinking the quote was by Goethe, I got a book of his poetry and epigrams: no joy. Who is the quote by?

28 Feb 1996

Consider the words “sort” and “strain” – they are synonyms in two different meanings (1) to group or filter; and (2) kind or type.



Blog 1996

Math Skills

Sign of the Seahorse

Ten Commandments

Tree of Life

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