Tuesday 26 November 2019

Innovation is a controlled chain reaction (2019)

Innovation is a never ending cycle which started deep in our pre-history. It proceeds in a controlled chain reaction. The  fuel for this reaction is our instinctive need to tinker with what we find, and to share with others what we know. There are also factors which slow down this chain reaction. These include the energy needed to translate an idea or invention into an innovation, and the morass of human tradition.

(a) A simple chain reaction, where each yellow box spontaneously gives rise to two new boxes. Very rapidly, the number of new boxes completely fills the space. This is an uncontrolled, or explosive, chain reaction. (b) Here the same chain reaction interacts with a set of control factors. Where a reaction is inhibited (when an arrow crosses a blue circle) the chain of reactions on that path stops and is shown greyed out. The degree of control on the chain reaction can be altered by varying the spacing between the blue control circles.   

Saturday 23 November 2019

“It ain’t the melodies that’re important, man, it’s the words.” (1971)

Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2016 for "... having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." 

In 2007 the journal Oral Tradition dedicated an issue to the performance artistry of Bob Dylan. The issue is available free online - and the article by Gordon Ball called Dylan and the Nobel is a wonderful read (HERE). 

It is a clear and persuasive argument that Dylan fully deserves a Nobel prize in literature. Although it took nine more years for him to get the award, it seems right that there were people like Gordon Ball, and Allen Ginsberg, arguing passionately and cogently for the Nobel foundation to do what they thought was the right thing.  


Wednesday 20 November 2019

Head Hunters (1973)

Herbie Hancock (b. 1940), is an outstanding jazz piano player. In 1973 he created a new direction for jazz, influenced by James Brown and Sly Stone. The album was Head Hunters. It had four long, outstanding tracks, Chameleon, Sly, Vein Melter and a re-working of Watermelon Man. I discovered Head Hunters in about 1976 and fell in love with it. In particular I loved the full 15 minute Chameleon - the bass line remains my favourite non-reggae bassline. Easily found and great to listen to. 

Some nice write-ups HERE, HERE and HERE.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Monday 18 November 2019

Late autumn evening (2019)

Image Copyright M.G. Reed 2019

Thursday 14 November 2019

Newfoundland is at the end of the line...

The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould famously made three one hour long "documentaries" for canadian radio  station CBC, which were then collected as the Solitude Trilogy

The Inner Eye is a series of collages created by the Vancouver-based artist Joan McCrimmon Hebb as attempts to "...visually portray or interpret various underlying themes", explored by Gould in the Solitude Trilogy. 

This image is associated with a short phrase from the second documentary, known as The Latecomers. Gould made this in 1969, and it described life in Newfoundland outports.

More HERE.

Monday 11 November 2019

Milestones in the development of symbolic behaviour (2009)

HERE is an excellent paper by two archeaologists, Michael Chazan & Liora Kolska Horwitz, which describes a large and complex cave structure called Wonderwerk Cave, in Northern Cape Province, South Africa. The cave has thick deposits which have built up over about 2 million years, and it has clear evidence of human symbolic activity dating from about 180,000 years ago up until the present day. 

The 3D image is from a comprehensive 3D mapping made of the cave in 2005 (HERE).

Wednesday 6 November 2019

In the presence of ancient living beings...

Last weekend I spent a few hours with my wife at Croft Castle in Herefordshire. This is a unique fortified house that has been occupied since 1066 by the Croft family. The views out from the house are over wooded hills and valleys towards the Brecon beacons. 

At the castle is a long avenue of ancient sweet chesnut trees, at least four hundred years old. It is humbling to walk down the avenue past living beings which were planted about the same time that a leading renaissance explorer, mathematician and natural philosopher was observing the surface of the moon at Syon Park in West London (this observer was the Englishman Thomas Harriot who drew what he saw of the moon through his telescope a few months before Galileo used his telescope to look at the surface of the moon and record what he saw). 

Image copyright Henk van Boeschoten from HERE.