assorted links and news

More on self-plagiarizing.

This looks like an interersting book on the homeless, especially given all the time I spent in the Bay Area.

Tyler Perry has shortened the title of his film adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.

Evaluating Fredric Jameson.

Max really digs in to directed information.

In other news, after ITW I went to Paris to hang out and work with Michele Wigger on a small story related to the multiaccess channel with user cooperation. While I was there saw some fun art by Detanico/Lain and caught a show by Fever Ray at L’Olympia. In fact, I’ll be headlining there soon:

ADS Headlines at L'Olympia

Have a good Sunday, everyone!

Racist “Wild West Tribute” at Ocean Beach

American “artist” Thom Ross has recreated a tableaux of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. This show was the equivalent of blackface minstrel shows of the 19th century but for Native Americans, yet is lauded in the press as a “tribute.” He himself is quoted as calling it a “Valentine to my hometown.” Of course, since Native Americans are such a marginalized population in the US, he can get away with it — life-size plywood figures of Sambo eating his watermelon with the head cut out so you can take a photo would never have made it off the drawing board. So much for cultural sensitivity, San Francisco.

It boggles the mind that such an astoundingly uncritical recreation is put up as a public art project in an ostensibly progressive major city. I’m used to dull things like giant arrows coming out of the ground. But is this art? Does it invite us to think about the image and it context? Does it intend to implicate us by inviting us to take the cutout photo-op because it should leave a dirty taste in our mouths? No. It’s simply a paean to a degrading, exploitative, and racist past. Valentine, indeed.

Here is some more information (pdf), courtesy of mark27. Hat tip to Jen for pointing out the article and the link to the flyer.

p.s. The comments on the Chronicle’s website are equally horrific.

p.p.s. There is some reaction from a show on KPFA.

SSP 2007 : aftermath

I just finished up attending the 2007 Statistical Signal Processing Workshop in Madison. Normally I would have blogged about all the talks I saw, but (a) the only “talks” were tutorials and plenaries, and (b) I’m a little burned out to write much. Despite the fact that I applied to grad schools for signal processing and took the DSP prelim exam at Berkeley, I’m not really much of a signal processing guy these days. All of the submitted papers were given as posters, and despite being organized into “sessions,” all the posters were in the same room, so there were about 30-40 talks going on at the same time in parallel for 2 hours. I was a bit dubious at first, since my experience with poster presentations is that they have a large effort-to-value ratio, but this format worked for me. I was unfamiliar with about 80% of the problems that people were trying to solve, so going to talks would have made me confused. Instead, I could at least talk to someone and get the point of what they were trying to do, if not the scale of their contribution.

The one downside to the conference for me was that several of the posters that I wanted to see were in the same session as me, so I ended up missing them! Luckily I was next to “Distributed Average Consensus using Probabilistic Quantization,” which is right up my alley (from my work on gossip algorithms), but I could only listen in every once in a while. If only we could encode our talks using an erasure code — then if I listen to 7 minutes our of 10 I could interpolate the other 3…

dadaism month in Lawrence, KS

This is apparently not a joke:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Dennis “Boog” Highberger, Mayor of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, do hereby proclaim the days of February 4, April 1, March 28, July 15, August 2, August 7, August 16, August 26, September 18, September 22, October 1, October 17, and October 26, 2006 as “INTERNATIONAL DADAISM MONTH.”

I fully approve of these developments in Kansas. Via Metafilter.

day 2 report

I started out (ha) by going Lange’s Delicatessen in Bronxville, which was packed and had more people behind the counter than I’ve ever seen in a deli that size. It was ridiculous. Adam and I met up with the inimitable Geeta Dayal, journalist extraordinaire, for a trip to the Whitney Museum.

We went specifically to see the Tim Wilkinson exhibit, which was awesome. Huge sculptures with whirring motors generating strange clicking noises, tiny sculptures of feathers, eggs, webs, and skeletons made of human nails and hair, a geared machine that writes his signature, a skeleton with a slide whistle that goes up and down, and all sorts of other disturbing and wonderful creations. It was nerd-tastic. Other highlights were a number of self-portraits where the artist drew only the parts of him that he could see, or created a topographic map of his body by taking photographs of himself submerged in various depths of black paint and then drawing the level curves.

What we missed was the Überorgan, a large installation in a lobby of a building on 59th and Madison. It is a huge construction of baloons and tubes, like a tentacled brain gone amok. The music is read off of a gigantic roll of plastic, 2 feet or so wide, painted with dots and dashes of black. A light sensor reads the sheet like a player piano and plays it out of the pipes of the organ. It plays every hour on the hour though, and we arrived too late for the performance. It’s on until May though, and I might try and swing by tomorrow to see it.

We then went to Madras Mahal, which was somewhere on Lexington (26th I think). It’s one of a number of South Indian restaurants in that part of Manhattan. I had iddlies and a third of Geeta’s utthappam, which was tasty albeit not amazing. The dosas looked pretty good, but I didn’t think I was hungry enough for that. The place is around $10, but like I said, there looked like other equally good places nearby.

Adam and I returned to Bronxville, had dinner, and decided to go see Garaj Mahal at the Knitting Factory. It was pretty good, but we had to duck out near the end of the last set since it was around 3:30, and the show started at 11:30. Insert rant about Bay Area’s lack of late-night events here. The band was good, a sort of tepid Indian-jazz fusion (tepid meaning the fusion, not the playing). If you want more real Indian music, go with something like Natraj. But the show was good — I had only heard one song of theirs before and was pretty impressed. Fans of Charlie Hunter and John McLaughlin would appreciate it, I think.

And then, sleep.

day 1 report

Woke up, got out of bed, realized I left my comb at home, so my hair was huge.

I always forget that bagels are really better here. I’m sure that in a few weeks I’ll have re-deluded myself into thinking the Posh Bagel is a good enough approximation, but the difference in quality is definitely marked.

I meandered over to the MOMA, where I saw an interesting exhibit by Thomas Demand, who is a German photographer. He takes found photographs of places and then reconstructs the whole scene, life-size, using cardboard and colored paper. The result is a lot like those fake cardboard model computers you see in office supply stores, but more cartoony. He then takes huge photographs of his scenes. A lot of attention is paid to detail, but it is still clearly fake. The pictures were by and large of banal places — office copy rooms, classrooms, a desk with coffee mug and papers strewn about. The flatness of everything reflected the flatness of corporate life.

From there to TKTS, where I stood in line to get somewhat mediocre seats to see Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. I’ve been a big fan of Bill Irwin since my parents taped his show The Regard of Flight off of PBS (onto Beta cassette, no less). His interpretation of George was intriguing — I question whether his mode of living with Martha in the play was an ultimately sustainable one in the world outside the play. Turner, for her part, was also good — less greedily domineering than one might expect from the script, which only worked to the play’s advantage. The first act was a bit slow, and Adam pointed out that the play needed to be more merciless to the audience. The way it played out in the theater made it too easy to laugh and then forget about the real brutality of the lines (e.g. “I’d divorce you if you existed”). The blocking felt like blocking a little too often. Sometimes I felt the tension justified the separation, other times I felt they were calling to each other from across the room for no reason at all. All in all though, definitely worth seeing, and it was nice to see it on stage instead of in the film, where your views are so constrained by the director.

Before the play though, I hit up a little Japanese hole-in-the-wall place recommended by Winnie called Otafuku. They serve okonomiyaki and takoyaki, which are both Kansai (West-central) specialities. I had the former, which is a sort of omelette-like concoction with cabbage and other veggies, meat, and some sort of sauce with Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, and other tastiness. Messy, but good. I want to try the takoyaki sometime, which are fried battered balls of octopus or other tasty fillings. The place is on 10th near 3rd and well worth it, especially for the $5-$10 range.

From there I went to the Strand and bought too many books. ‘Nuff said. Mmmm, plays.

Post-play we meandered down to the Yaffa Cafe, where my incipient headache made it impossible for me to finish my somewhat over-sauced pasta. Adam had a salmon thing with potatoes and brown rice that look ed a lot better. It made me wish there were more 24 hour places in the Bay Area, dammit.