Monthly Archives: October 2021

On intelligence: in cells, in A.I., in us


This article on cells – yes, cells! – navigating mazes is fascinating and worth a read: Seeing around corners: Cells solve mazes and respond at a distance using attractant breakdown

After reading I thought: I need to rethink “intelligence”. Navigating mazes is something that was considered an intelligent act. Indeed one of the early experiments in A.I. was in the 1950s, when Marvin Minsky developed a smart “rat” (see above) to make its way through a maze. (That’s worth reading about as well.)

Seeing the cell navigate the maze, I thought: if the qualities we associate with intelligence are found at a cellular level, then I don’t really understand intelligence at all. It’s as if intelligence has an atomic level. As if intelligence is at all levels of life, not just the more complex levels.

Maybe the concept of intelligence is next to meaningless and needs to be replaced by something better. Read those pieces and think for yourself. After all, you are intelligent. 🙂

The best example of why we need to regulate the social media industry? The auto industry


Wired magazine makes the case, here: Facebook’s Fall From Grace Looks a Lot Like Ford’s.

Worth considering. Social media is struggling to govern itself and Facebook is often downright defiant.

P.S. In Facebook’s defense, you may seem them play the “we are weak” card. The New York Times makes the case for their weakening, here.

(Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash )

If you use Chrome as your regular browser, read this and make it better

If you use Chrome as your main browser, you owe it to yourself to read this:  11 of the Best Free Extensions for Google Chrome.

I’ve used a number of them and continue to use Momentum and Grammarly. They make it a better tool.

P.S. And speaking of making tools work better, if you want to have better search results from Google in Chrome, read this: 20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

In praise of monochrome coloured clothing

After reading these two pieces:

I want to pile on and recommend monochrome. As they say, monochrome dressing (i.e. wearing only one colour at a time) is a good way to simplify your dressing. It’s also a good way to travel too: having only one colour to wear means you need to take less and everything goes together.

You don’t have to be as bold as to wear lime or violet: black, blue and gray all work nicely. And if you are wearing summer clothes, all white or all beige is excellent.

If you kind of like the idea but find it too much, mix in some neutral colours: blue and a bit of gray, black and a touch of white, brown and beige combined. Easy!

However you do it, monochrome dressing makes it easy to get dressed and make a statement at the same time. What’s not to like?

The stunning wall hanging artistry of Alyssa Ki

Over at Colossal they have the brilliant artistry of Alyssa Ki which combines weaving, macramé, and crochet to create such beautiful bouquets such as the one pictured above. Ki selects

yarn and rovings of raw wool dyed in natural pigments, (and she) crafts fiber-based wall hangings reminiscent of bouquets and overgrown patches of wildflowers. The perpetually blooming pieces blend multiple textile techniques and are teeming with macramé, needle-felted, and crocheted botanicals that sprout from a thick, woven foundation. Hanging from a knotty branch or bound by a ribbon, the floral works are ripe with color and texture.

Fabulous. For more on this, go to Colllosal and read up on it.

(Image via the story and the artist)

On the creator economy, access, and monetization


The following quote from an Axios piece struck me as odd:

The creator economy was supposed to democratize media, but it turns out that a small portion of creators still reap the most revenue for their work across multiple platforms.

I wonder how they came up with their assumptions. The creator economy has been going on since blogging and other Web 2.0 technologies, and while it has given creators equal access to platforms, it has never spread the wealth. Ever. There is a reason why books like The Long Tail were successful: they accurately described how things worked. Platforms come and go, from Blogger to Twitch, and no doubt more will come in the future. Everyone will have equal access to them. Likewise, a few will reap the lion’s share and the rest will get crumbs. That’s how it works.

For more on it, see: The creator economy is failing to spread the wealth – Axios

A clock that use literary quotes to tell you the time

I love this Author Clock show above. It…

…uses passages from literature that have mentions of the time in them… so at 9 o’clock, the clock shows a passage from The Great Gatsby that has the phrase “9 o’clock” in it, and at 12, it displays verses from Hamlet when the clock strikes 12. Ultimately, the Author Clock turns something as mechanical as the ticking of hands into something much more whimsical and joyful… especially if you’re a bookworm or a lover of literature.

Brilliant! You might think it’s not possible that there would be a quote for each minute of each day, but apparently it is.  For more on it, see this piece: This absolutely genius clock uses actual quotes from literature to tell the time! from  Yanko Design

If you are thinking of taking an Uber to the airport, take a limo instead

At least if you are in Toronto and are thinking of taking an Uber to Toronto, take a limo instead. I have been to the airport twice in the last month or so. And my daughter went as well. In all cases the Ubers were in the $80-100 range. Not only that, but they were unreliable.

If you get a limo, you get the following

  1. a cheaper rate. Seriously. The same fare for a limo was around $55.
  2. a reliable pickup. I use Airline limo. If you tell them to pick you up at a given time, they will actually be there and waiting 10-15 minutes before hand. It’s great.
  3. a much better ride. Seriously! The cars I were in were all high end cars. They were immaculate and very comfortable.
  4. Also most of the drivers I had were older gentlemen who drive carefully and well.

So skip the Ubers and get a limo instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Likewise, instead of waiting for an Uber at the airport, walk over to the limo line.

Maybe this won’t be the case in a few weeks or months, but right now it is true, regardless of articles like this: Uber wants to make airport trips less messy.

(Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash )

 

How to go vegan gradually (or at least become a reducetarian)

The irony is not lost upon me that yesterday I was blogging about Thanksgiving and now I am blogging about this topic.** But hear me out! This is a good piece on transitioning to being a vegan. I know two things: it’s not easy for some people (like me) to become vegan, but becoming more so is a good thing in many ways. At the very least you become a reducetarian and that’s not bad.

For more on reducetarianism, see this piece.

Good eating and good health to you.

(** In my defense, there was a vegetarian menu in that piece, and there was a wealth of meat and dairy free recipes in there. :))

(Photo by Dose Juice on Unsplash )

It’s Canadian thanksgiving. If you have no idea what to cook, Chatelaine has your back

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers celebrating. If you are wondering what to make, not only does Chatelaine have a ton of recipes for you, but they have some great menus for you too. All here ==> 8 Easy Thanksgiving Menus, Including An Under-4-Hour Feast | Chatelaine.

They have a menu for everyone:

  1. A Thanksgiving dinner in under 4 hours
  2. Their All-Time Favourite Thanksgiving Recipes
  3. a Vegetarian Thanksgiving
  4. a Rustic Thanksgiving
  5. a Modern Thanksgiving
  6. a 1-hour Thanksgiving for 4
  7. a Roast chicken Thanksgiving
  8. and a Classic Thanksgiving

So if you have always wanted to do a full on proper Thanksgiving meal, now you have lots of options to choose from.

This year I’m going to do their turkey recipe with gravy (with a dry brine), their brown butter green beans, their yukon gold mashed potatoes, the fig and radicchio salad, chestnut and sausage stuffing, and the chocolate-bourbon pecan pie. (I’m also sliding Alison Roman’s Harissa and maple roast carrots in there too because why not. And canned cranberries because I just love them! 🙂 Eat what you love.)

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

(Photo is not my meal but close! I took this from Chatelaine).

For people who love art and need inspiration to make it. (What I find interesting in art, October 2021)


I am a gently frustrated artist. I collect links and study them and try to use them to get me to make art, not always successfully.

Here are 29 art related links that I have found lately to be interesting and helpful to me. I hope they do the same for you:

  1. I liked this:  A Closer Look at Frank Gehry’s House.
  2. This is beautiful: Mysterious and Deserted City at Night.
  3. This was cool I thought:  Candid Murals by Street Artist Escif Cleverly Respond to Political Issues and Current Events.
  4. The wooden sculpture of  Richard Scherr are amazing and worth a look.
  5. This was a really good piece on Norman Rockwell.
  6. Also great:  the eyeless girls.
  7. Thank you David Bowie for this: on making art.
  8. Does art make a difference? Here’s a good essay on it: Why Art Fails to Make a Difference on Its Own: More Thoughts on Hans Haackes Urgently Relevant Survey at the New Museum .
  9. The endless debate:  Is art dead? Nope.
  10. Agree with this: Why collage making is great.
  11. Yes to this:  Make bad art. It’s a good thing.
  12. A good reminder:  Why make art.
  13. In case you need it:  More art making encouragement.
  14. Good stuff here:  Advice for young artists.
  15. In case you need more encouragement:  Make art even if you don’t like your output.
  16. Art making during the pandemic. Not surprising, some artists have been productive while others struggled.
  17. What Makes An Artist? David Hockney explains as only he can.
  18. One of my favorite artists:  Gerhart Richter.
  19. This piece thinks Titian is controversial. I dunno. I think this argument is anachronistic.
  20. A Collector of Antiques Asks: Can Something Be Racist and Also Be Beautiful? Of course. Also somewhat anachronistic as an argument but less so, I think.
  21. Want to watercolor? Read this:  Watercolors Made Simple.
  22. A cool way to make art:  The Lyrical and Funny Art of Erasing Words From Books.
  23. MoMA’s Online Courses Let You Study Modern & Contemporary Art and Earn a Certificate. Worth considering.
  24. Got Poetry? Memorize it!
  25. Cartoonist Lynda Barry Teaches You How to Make a Visual Daily Diary . Lynda Barry is an inspirational teacher of art.
  26. Great advice:  Keep calm and make ugly art.
  27. The goodness of Sickert. An artist you should get to know.
  28. Awesome:  Behold the Newly-Discovered Sketch by Vincent van Gogh Sketch.
  29. I am a fan of  Tom Gauld. Here’s a tweet that shows how to make a NewYorker cover. At least if you are Tom Gauld.

(Photo by dusan jovic on Unsplash )

How to get rid of those things you can’t seem to part with? Use the Box and Banish method

If you are trying to declutter and you are struggling, why not grabs some boxes and practice the Box and Banish Method? Essentially what you do is take all those things you consider “maybes”* and put them in a box and…

 â€¦ close it up. Yep, close it, and put it somewhere out of the way, like the back of a closet. Then set a reminder on your phone or in your calendar for a date about six weeks from now.

And after six weeks (or six months, but not six years), take those boxes and either trash them or give them away.

If you don’t trust yourself, recruit someone to do it for you. You’ll be glad you did.

(* Maybes are all those things you aren’t sure of that you may want to keep but aren’t sure.  )

Friday Night Music: Paris Match (Style Council with Tracey Thorn vocals)

If you are a fan of the Style Council, as I am, I highly recommend this: Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council (2020) | SHOWTIME

It’s an excellent review of the career of the musicians that made up the band, and a fine reminder of how great they were.

While there were many people interviewed for it, Tracey Thorn didn’t appear, sadly. I would have loved to hear more about how she crossed paths and became a Councillor for a time.

Watch the documentary: you’ll be glad you did. Meanwhile, check this out:

Great films you can watch in 90 minutes or less!

Last week I wrote about really great long films. Those are great, Bernie, you say, but what about those times when you don’t have much time? In that case, you need this list of films you can watch in under 90 minutes!  Yes, Rashomon is on the list. And so many more great films. Proof that longer isn’t always better.

Fun fact: Spike Lee has a film on this list (“She’s Gotta Have It”) and on the long list (“Malcolm X”). Check out both of them!

The wonderful collages of Jim Jarmusch

I’ve always been a fan of Jim Jarmusch’s films. Now I have a new thing to be a fan of: his collages. The New York Times has a series of them here as well as good article talking to him about them. Go check it out. It’s a visual treat! Enjoy! Maybe go and make some of your own.

It’s 2021. Why are you still using spreadsheets to manage your project plans? Use this instead

It’s 2021 and I still see people managing projects using Excel spreadsheets. Sure you CAN do it, but you can do better. I am a fan of OpenProj and I use it often. If that is not for you, consider this online version: Build Gantt Charts Online.

What I like about these tools is you can tie tasks together which have dependencies (as shown in the image). This is very helpful and something not easy to do with spreadsheets.

Speadsheets are great for many things: for managing projects, use a better tool.

BBQ is over! :) It’s time for autumn cooking. (My cooking interests for early Fall, 2021 )


If you are thinking: Bernie, I could really use some good recipes to cook this fall, can you help me? Why yes, I think I can. (I even have some grilling recipes because hey, keep BBQing if it makes you happy.) Here’s my fall list of food links (mostly recipes) I’ve found interesting and that I think you will find interesting too!

Recipes

Fish: first up, here’s a feast of fish recipes. I love clams, and I want to make this: Clams with chili and limes. Speaking of fish with citrus, try this: Citrus Shrimp Rice Bowls. If you are still grilling: This Fish Is Sustainable Cheap and Delicious on the Grill. Or maybe you want to roast: Roast Fish with Cannellini Beans and Green Olives. Do you like cod? If so, here are two for you: Rice Bowls with Flaky Cod and Green Seasoning Baked Cod. Back to shellfish with Quick Calamari With Garlic Mayonnaise  and Spicy Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp with Parmesan Corn Polenta. Finally, this sounds fun if you want something sushi-like: DIY Hand Rolls Are My Last-Minute Dinner Party Savior. And this is worth a look: The Best Fish Cakes.

Vegetables: when you want carbs and veg: Greens and Beans with Fried Bread. This sound delicious: Vietnamese Tomato Salad. How about some dishes with emulsions? Here’s Carrot and Beet Salad with Scallion Emulsion or Roasted Red Pepper Emulsion. Or how about soups? This sounds amazing: This Lentil Soup Is So Good One Nurse Has Eaten It for Lunch Every Workday for 17 Years  and this sounds classic: make Any Vegetable Soup. If you need dips: Make a Ton of Impressive Dips With This Simple Formula. Or chickpeas: Warm Chickpea Bowls with Lemony Yogurt. Feeling like beans? Here’s 12 Easy Ways to Cook a Can of Cannellini Beans. If you are still grilling: Grilled Mushrooms and Carrots with Sesame. Maybe you are using the oven again…then make Sheet-Pan Ratatouille.  Or bake a pie: Golden Root Vegetable Potpie close. Put your kimchi to work with Kimchi-Fried Grains. Or your last summer tomatoes: rice-stuffed tomatoes.

Chicken: sticking with the lighter items, let’s move to chicken. Here’s a fantastic and varied list of chicken dishes: Chicken Braised in Lime and Peanut Sauce,  Chicken Schnitzel with Crunchy Salad (read this too:  The BA Sandwich Primer: Saltie), Stir-Fried Noodles With Chicken, Coq au Riesling, Curry-Poached Chicken with Rice and Scallions and finally Peperoncini Chicken.

Pasta/Noodles/Grains: are an excellent trio. Let’s start with gnocchi…I highly recommend this: Five Delicious Reasons to Always Have Gnocchi in Your Pantry. I also keep wanting to make these noodles, so I want to try one of these: Dan Dan Noodles, or this (it’s different) Dan Dan Noodles. Pasta Aglio e Olio Gets a Plus One is good for fans of it. Here’s a simple pasta dish: Macaroni and Peas Is the Desperation Meal That Always Satisfies. As is this: Pasta with Sausage and Arugula. Maybe you want to make your own pasta: Make Pasta From Scratch with Two Ingredients. Kudos to you!

What else? If none of those catch your fancy, what about you try this: Make This Pork Roast on Sunday Eat Well All Week Long. Or make this and have them on standby: 4 Homemade Spice Blends That’ll Level-Up Your Meals. This sounds amazing: Burnt Orange and Coriander Roast Pork. Same with this:  Maple Chicken ‘N’ Ribs. Finally there’s Lamb Meatballs With Pecan Romesco and .the Absolute Best Way to Cook French Fries According to So Many Tests.

Lists: I always come across lists of food more and more each month. These are some good ones:

  1. 45 Healthy Dinner Recipes for Low-Stress Weeknights.
  2. 9 Martha Stewart Recipes We Can’t Stop Making from One-Pan Pasta to Slab Pie.
  3. 30 Refreshing Slaw Recipes for Summer.
  4. 29 Healthyish Chickpea Recipes Here for Your Weeknight Dinners.
  5. These 81 Easy Pasta Recipes Are Your Weeknight-Dinner Saviors.
  6. Our 11 Best Summer Sangrias Including One With Rose.
  7. 30 Juicy Pork Chop Recipes for Easy Weeknight Dinners.
  8. 18 Classic French Appetizers.
  9. 9 Ways To Use Up Overripe Fruit.
  10. Arugula Salad With Shaved Parmesan Three Ways

Not recipes, but interesting: 

For steak lovers, here’s:  Cuts Of Steak Ranked From Worst To Best. For fans of budget cooking like me:  The Healthyish Guide to Low-Waste Cooking. You might ask: Why Do American Grocery Stores Still Have an Ethnic Aisle? Why indeed. Is American BBQ ethnic. I dunno, but here are two good pieces on American barbeque:  The Evolution of American Barbecue and  The media has erased the long history of Black barbecue skewing our understanding. As you know, fermented food is hot:  How Fermented Foods May Alter Your Microbiome and Improve Your Health. Finally, this was excellent:  Chez Panisse reimagined the way we eat. After 50 years is that enough?.

Happy cooking!

When it makes sense to eat your lunch while you work

It’s easy to find articles condemning the act of eating lunch at your desk (for example, this one ). I get it. That said, I believe there are three times when eating at your desk is ok:

  1. You have too much to do and even a 15 minute lunch break seems too much.
  2. You want to downplay lunch.
  3. Your work is not good but your lunch is.

Now #1 is not a good situation, but sometimes that just the way it is.

#2 makes sense if you are trying to decenter or downplay food. If you are in a place where you find it tempting to overeat and are trying to avoid temptation, this strategy can work. (I can vouch for it.)

#3 is often overlooked and is often tied to #1. Sometimes your work is just awful but you have to get it done. At least eating something you like while you do it makes it bearable and even a bit enjoyable.

These three reasons to eat lunch while you work are not ideal, for sure. But not unreasonable either.

(Written while eating my lunch :))

(Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash )

On not forgetting George W Bush

I was reading this analysis of a recent speech by George W. Bush (‘The Nation I Know,’ by George W. Bush – by James Fallows – Breaking the News) and it got me thinking about him again.

It’s easy to forget about Bush. Most Republicans act like they have. Many Democrats too. While reviled towards the end of his presidency — so much so that he was shunned by his party at their conventions — there are people who still think positively of him (For example, Michelle Obama Explains Her and George W. Bush’s Candy Exchange and Friendship).

But no one should forget about Bush and all  the terrible things done during his presidency, from torture to war. To see what I mean, read this: The Legacy of America’s Post-9/11 Turn to Torture – The New York Times. While some in America would like to forget all that and think better of him, much of the world likely thinks like this: George W Bush should shut up and go away | US & Canada | Al Jazeera. Even there, the idea is to dismiss him and forget about him.

Perhaps Bush is a genial and charming man. But he will also be the man that brought the United States and the World to a worse place. That should not be forgotten.

(Image above: Official White House photo by Pete Souza – https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/4291602492/ (direct link))

Yep, it’s the weekend. Time to clean. Here’s how to do it better.

If you are like me and somewhat dread cleaning on the weekend, perhaps you need an alternative approach. One approach to consider is to spread it throughout the week so when the weekend comes it’s not so bad. The problem with that approach I have found is that the week speeds by and you are left with all the cleaning piling up into Saturday and Sunday.

One way to deal with that is having a cleaning schedule. If that sounds good tto you, read this: How to Create a Cleaning Schedule You Can Stick to | Apartment Therapy. Lots of good tips there, such as “throw things out as you go”. After all, why keep moving things around you don’t want or dust things you no longer like. Trash them, or better still, give them to someone who could use them.

May your (laundry) loads feel lighter after you put that article into practice!

 

It’s an autumn weekend: a good time to watch a long movie

 

While short movies are fun, sometimes one wants to settle in and watch a good long movie. The problem with that, though, is many of them draggggggggg. No one wants that. We want to settle, not fidget. We need help.

Help is here in the form of this: 20 of the Best Long Movies That Are Actually Worth Their Runtime. “Lawrence of Arabia” is an obvious choice, but there are many others on the list that are great too, such as “Hamlet” and “Malcolm X”. Check out the list, then block of some time this weekend or next and get some quality screen time in. Snacks are optional, but recommended. 🙂