Data Anxiety

Tempus fugit

Vortice Futurista Blu I and II| Original pencil drawings circa 1930 via thirdorgan:

Giacomo Balla, Italian, 1871-1958

Indigo blue whorls evoke fluid dynamics. Graceful arcs drawn in bold strokes on heavily textured ecru paper are almost tactile.

Navier-Stokes : partial differential equations strong enough to guide two tons of aircraft steel into the stratosphere, yet sufficiently elegant to outline delicate vortex curvature that is undeniably feminine.

Al dinamismo della vita moderna 1920

The artist himself had something rather different, and more culturally sophisticated in mind. Giacomo Balla wrote this passage, Vortice di rose - Motivo in 1920, at a time of great optimism. The Great War was over, European arts and sciences were flourishing, and Black Tuesday was still a decade in the future.

The following, from what I can infer, is a sweeping commentary on the contrast between luminous modern design versus the ponderous stuffiness of the anciene régime.

L’uomo moderno è portato verso il colore. E cosa è stata la pittura futurista dal suo inizio sino ad oggi se non una ricerca di decorativismo cromatico astratto? Ed è perché la nostra arte è essenzialmente decorativa che noi oggi ci orizzontiamo verso l’arte applicata all’industria. Questa forma di arte ci avvicina molto alle masse e può essere compresa e sentita da tutti. Infatti in Inghilterra vi sono già salotti arredati futuristicamente. In Italia no.

Non riesco a comprendere come persone del cosiddetto mondo intellettuale possano ancora vivere in appartamenti arredati nell’antiigenico stile rococò o le antipatiche dorature dei stili Louis e possano ancora ammirare e deliziarsi degli arazzi che beavano gli sguardi delle belle castellane e dei trovatori del ‘400. È l’ambiente che plasma l’uomo. Alle sale vecchie e polverose, risuonanti il rosicchio dei tarli, e invitanti al dolce far niente, noi sostituiremo ambienti vivificatori, pieni di luci, colori, di forme adeguati alla intensità, alla praticità ed al dinamismo della vita moderna.

Emphasis mine, on the remarkable characterization of English design sensibility as superior to traditionalist Italy, still mired in the style of 18th century rococo, Louis Quinze and lol, unicorn hunt tapestries!

Biodiversity offsets under fire »

Offsets involve protecting certain areas as compensation for development in others. Offsets are now allowing developments that would previously have been refused due to the environmental damage they cause.

Offsets should be a very last resort for those attempting to conserve biodiversity…some areas — notably, those listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites — should never be developed in return for offsets…One example raised repeatedly is the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which conservation groups fear is under threat from oil extraction. For this, there are no offsets… “It is becoming what we feared — a licence to trash.”
Advertising brochure
for the cruise company Rotterdam Lloyd. Circa 1935.

Advertising brochure

for the cruise company Rotterdam Lloyd. Circa 1935.

Dark enlightenment

via antistigma:

warrenellis: But he captures the fundamental problem with these mouthbreathers’ dreams of monarchy. They’ve never role-played the part of the peasant.

Moldbug calls it the Dark Enlightenment, and welcomes it

Machiavellian Dream Of A Silicon Reich

At a Silicon Valley “startup school”…former Stanford professor and Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan’s presentation…was suffused with neo-reactionary rhetoric. He used the phrase “the paper belt” to describe his enemies, namely the government, the publishing industries and universities. The formulation mirrored Moldbug’s Cathedral.

ESR’s cathedral and the bazaar metaphor has outlived its usefulness. I don’t blame ESR. He isn’t the problem! I see another, more frightening historical analogy. Upset the apple cart. Go fast and break the few things that did work really well, while the old bad things are merely disguised. Books, institutions of higher learning and rule of law: that’s the evil troika, the supposedly villainous “Cathedral” of government, the publishing industries and universities.

Srinivasan’s central theme was the notion of “exit”—as in, exit from democratic society, and entry into any number of corporate mini-states whose arrival will leave the world looking like a patchwork map of feudal Europe. 

Forget human rights, let alone universal rights.

Increasing gender disparity

Has anyone else noticed that it is less common to see women working in the sciences and mathematics? 20+ years ago, when I was in school, I didn’t experience what I hear about now. I had friends who were electrical engineers in academia and industry. Material science, pure math, mechanical engineering, computer science at IBM, aeronautical engineering at NASA Ames; We lived in Cupertino, Mountain View and Menlo Park. Gender ratios were typically 30 to 40% female. What happened? Why is it worse now? I don’t know. Obviously, we were doing something right then that we aren’t doing now.

“Without secrecy, people may not discuss public affairs with those they choose. Anonymity is necessary for the conduct of democratic politics…privacy is a requirement…we must also be able to protect ourselves against retaliation for our expressions of political ideas.”

Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats to democracy | The Guardian via paulbradshaw

This is true. Substitute religion or social issues for politics. The statement remains valid. All must be protected, political, societal/ behavioral and religious discussion, without fear of retaliation. There is a great hue and cry regarding political thought and the NSA. I worry that everything else is being overlooked though.

“I think 1000 words is the right limit for post length…Twitter’s 140 character limit actually has surprising benefits; it forces one to get straight to the point and cut out all the unnecessary crud…You’d think that putting a restriction on your writing could not possibly make it better, but it does seem to.”

via That’s So Default: 1000 Words

Yes! That’s why it is is so much more difficult to write a good short story than a novel. I won’t even mention poetry. I agreed with most of the rest of nyan-sandwich’s post:

To express a concept or argument on Twitter required stringing together multiple tweets, at which point we’re abusing the medium…Social posturing and banter are just right sized for twitter, but are not what we want out of a medium for thinking.

1000 words is big enough to express a single serious novel concept…and small enough to be produced in one sitting. Any longer and I find myself taking 3 or more sittings, which easily turns into weeks per post.

How well I know that situation, of a post that requires multiple sittings, and dragging out for weeks. More often than not, the currency, and motivation, are lost along the way. Go visit nyan, if you want to see how he goes from the 1000 word maximum to a 5k byte limit.