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Classical Duke

'Listening to Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington play a spot of classical on the CBC, whilst sipping a dram of sake by the sparse Autumn moonlight after a flash storm of depression. That cleared up a mite after sending an e-mail off to the Senate, GSA, and CUPE4600 regarding the ongoing Carleton finances scandal. It can be uplifting to get a wee something done that needs to be done.

Yesterday, software developer John Brooks released what is clearly a work of pure love: the first update to an operating system for the Apple II computer family since 1993. ProDOS 2.4, released on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II GS, brings the enhanced operating system to even older Apple II systems, including the original Apple ][ and ][+.

Which is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters.

You can test-drive ProDOS 2.4 in a Web-based emulator set up by computer historian Jason Scott on the Internet Archive. The release includes Bitsy Bye, a menu-driven program launcher that allows for navigation through files on multiple floppy (or hacked USB) drives. Bitsy Bye is an example of highly efficient code: it runs in less than 1 kilobyte of RAM. There's also a boot utility that is under 400 bytes—taking up a single block of storage on a disk...

After 23 years, the Apple II gets another OS update | Ars Technica
Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of what we think of as traditional Japanese beauty. It occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideas of beauty and perfection in the West. Wabi-sabi can in its fullest expression be a way of life. At the very least, it is a particular type of beauty.

The closest English word to wabi-sabi is probably “rustic.” Webster’s defines “rustic” as “simple, artless, or unsophisticated… [with] surfaces rough or irregular.” While “rustic” represents only a limited dimension of the wabi-sabi aesthetic, it is the initial impression many people have when they first see a wabi-sabi expression. Wabi-sabi does share some characteristics with what we commonly call “primitive art,” that is, objects that are earthy, simple, unpretentious and fashioned out of natural materials. Unlike primitive art, though, wabi-sabi almost never is used representationally or symbolically.

Originally, the Japanese words “wabi” and “sabi” had quite different meanings. “Sabi” originally meant “chill,” “lean,” or “withered.” “Wabi” originally meant the misery of living alone in nature, away from society, and suggested a discouraged, dispirited, cheerless emotional state. Around the fourteenth century, the meanings of both words began to evolve in the direction of more positive aesthetic values. The self-imposed isolation and voluntary poverty of the hermit and ascetic came to be considered opportunities for spiritual richness. For the poetically inclined, this kind of life fostered art appreciation of the minor details of everyday life and insights into the beauty of the inconspicuous and overlooked aspects of nature. In turn, unprepossessing simplicity took on new meaning as the basis for a new, pure beauty...

Wabi-Sabi For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers - Lion's Roar
Does he get the linguistics right? That’s the question many may expect a linguist to answer about Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech, a chronicle in high Wolfean about — to put it narrowly — a debate between linguists about sentence structure.

Sound dull? On one level, it’s an intermural academic catfight — one that I confess I never expected to see cast in the behind-the-music format of Wolfe’s classics Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. But the debate is considered by some linguists to be one of the most important in the social sciences — with implications for evolutionary theory, neuroscience, and "human nature" itself.

To put it slightly more broadly, Wolfe’s topic is Noam Chomsky’s proposal that all humans are born with a sentence structure blueprint programmed in their brains, invariant across the species, and that each language is but a variation upon this "Universal Grammar" generated by an as-yet unidentified "language organ." In other words, we are born already knowing language.

Wolfe mounts a grand debunking — attempting to take down not just Chomsky-the-linguist but, as collateral damage, Chomsky-the-left-intellectual. Unfortunately, while Wolfe, as always, certainly keeps you reading, he barely scratches the surface of the rich topic of linguistics, and winds up caricaturing both the man he wants to knock off the pedestal as well as the insurgent academics who have questioned the very premises of his approach to language...

The bonfire of Noam Chomsky: journalist Tom Wolfe targets the acclaimed linguist - Vox
The first meeting with oneself, with aloneness, is meeting one’s real ego without clothing—naked ego, assertive, distinct, clear, definite ego. The experience of loneliness is from ego’s perspective: ego has no one to comfort itself, no one to act as moral support. This kind of aloneness is simply the feeling of being nowhere, lost. There is tremendous sadness that there’s nothing around you that you can hang onto. But it is your own ego acting as the voice of sadness, loneliness, so you cannot blame anybody or even get angry. That starting point is very useful and valuable. It was the inspiration to go into retreat in Milarepa’s case, and in our case as well.

Taking part in a retreat is a way to express aloneness, loneliness, desolation. We might experience fear in retreat, but that fear is purely an expression of that loneliness. We are trying to entertain ourselves, so we manufacture fear. We might go back to our mental notes of the past, or our scrap books, but that becomes boring. We are back to square one constantly. Cooking, sleeping or walking might become a source of entertainment. There is so little to do, we are thankful there is something to do. But even that comes back to square one. We tend to get disillusioned with that, too.

Such experiences of being in retreat are not exactly wretched. There is a very faint, subtle sense that you are falling in love with something. You begin to appreciate the desolation. A subtle romanticism is happening completely. Because there is nothing to entertain you, everything comes back to you. The songs of Milarepa, at the early stage of his being in retreat, are love songs. They praise the terrain, the mountains, his cave, his desolateness, his solitude, and the memory of his guru. Those are his love songs...

Find Your Heart in Loneliness - Lion's Roar
Ice sheets are large and complex things. Figuring out how quickly—and where—they’ll melt as the world warms is a monumental task. We worry about some portions (like the vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet) collapsing entirely, but we know some other parts will be disappearing in the foreseeable future. Records from past periods of climate change are important guides here. What better way to figure out what will happen than to see what has happened before?

For the Greenland Ice Sheet, there has been some debate about how small it has gotten in past warm periods where we know sea level was higher than it is today. The problem is that Greenland's ice doesn’t go nearly so far back in time as Antarctica’s. Snowfall is greater here, and ice flows more quickly to the edges of the continent where it disappears from the pages of the history we read from ice cores. Few Greenland cores go back more than about 110,000 years, failing to tell us about the last interglacial warm period.

But at the bottom of a couple of ice cores from the thickest parts of the ice sheet, there is some messed up ice we know could be a lot older. Figuring out how old is another matter. Without an orderly stack of annual layers to count back through, there aren’t many reference points preserved in the ice. To make things worse, water can refreeze to the underside of glaciers, so it might not have even been glacial ice in the first place...

How old is mystery ice from the base of Greenland’s ice sheet? | Ars Technica
Although tiny, a proton takes up a finite amount of space, enough to fit three quarks, a host of virtual particles, and their associated gluons. The size of a proton's radius is determined by these particles and their interactions, and so is fundamentally tied in to theories like the Standard Model and quantum chromodynamics.

We can measure the radius because the proton's charge is spread across it, which influences the orbit of any electrons that might be circling it. Measurements with electrons produce a value that's easily in agreement with existing theories. But a few years back, researchers put a heavier version of the electron, called a muon, in orbit around a proton. This formed an exotic, heavier version of the hydrogen atom. And here, measuring the proton's radius produced an entirely different value—something that shouldn't have happened.

This “proton radius puzzle” suggests there may be something fundamentally wrong with our physics models. And the researchers who discovered it have now moved on to put a muon in orbit around deuterium, a heavier isotope of hydrogen. They confirm that the problem still exists, and there's no way of solving it with existing theories...

Researchers orbit a muon around an atom, confirm physics is broken | Ars Technica

Carleton In-Equity

So, yeah, Carleton's Equity Services are pretty useless, as it turns out. 'Could have offered to provide mediation two years ago, before things were escalated; didn't. 'Could have done so a second time, after the first major incident and I approached them; 'didn't. 'Could have done so a third time, after the second major incident and I approached them... etcetera, etcetera.

Instead, the problem alternately got kicked to my department chair (without asking for my consent to disclose the information, and who couldn't do anything anyhow) or to Security, who can only offer to forward on the file to the Ottawa City Police. So instead of helping to de-escalate a situation, Equity has left it to me to either turn the other cheek (again), or to land someone with an unnecessary police record that could permanently damage their careers.

If that isn't Distinctly Carleton, I don't know what is, really...

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