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More thoughts on art …and science

I spent these past two weeks in Beijing, and among other things did a lot of art museum and gallery browsing. I can strongly recommend the 798 Art Zone to anyone who passes through here, I had a fantastic day browsing there.

One thing that browsing a lot of art does to me is trigger my art-and-philosophy brain that has been waking up more and more lately. I am absolutely convinced that someone has already thought many of the things I am about to discuss here, and I would love to get literature pointers if you have them.

Art and Science are kinda the same thingCollapse )

I can like or dislike artistic expressions to my heart's content. But we, as a society, should encourage expression without insisting on beauty or wide likeability as fundamental criteria: because that is what makes us civilized. And that way we get wider spectra of expression, that eventually spit out things we do like.

Shanghai pen-and-paper-tweets

So today I had a 10h layover in Shanghai on my way from Vancouver to Fukuoka. Perfect for using the 72h transit visa option to get out of the airport and do some touristing.

Since I don't have internet on my phone, and even if I did would've needed a VPN setup to penetrate The Great Firewall, no tweets were written while on foot - so instead I had to record them some other way. The other way turned out to be pen and paper, and so here: my day trip to Shanghai.

Took me 4h to shower and exit airport.
See, first I arrive at before 5am. So it turns out that we have to wait about 1h before the personnel that can security check any transit passengers even show up. I belong in this group since I wanted to hit the showers in the frequent flyer lounges.
Once inside, it takes until 8am before they bother open the lounge that has the showers.
8.30am or so, I'm showered and ready to take on the world. Only: this is a departure terminal. There is no way out of here that people will actually let me take. (I tried; security personnel directed me back inside kindly but firmly)
The solution turned out to be to wait until about 9am when the Information Desk got manned and someone could (eventually) walk me through a locked door back out to the arrival sluice so I could hit customs and border control.

Maglev in 430km/h smooth and fun
The Shanghai Airport Shuttle train is a maglev demonstration track. It was a really nice ride. More tweets about this one as I go back to the airport.

Keypads on ATMs inverted; almost locked my card.
So much of entering PIN codes is muscle memory by now, so that when the 123- and 789-rows suddenly change places, I get thrown off and confused. I finally figured out why my card kept getting rejected, and got some CNY out.

Security scans EVERYWHERE!
Everywhere you go, there's a scanner for your bags. Subways, trains, even some parks. Far more often than I'd've expected.

TV in metro shows surveillance footage of car crashes.
TV in frequent flyer lounge shows a TV-crew provoking cobras with sticks, frogs, and cameras.

I'm sure both of these have a good reason… to me these were both inscrutable shows.

The only caucasians in this packed metro car are me, a cartoon figure for some information display, and the Wrangler ad models.
Mind you, this car was PLASTERED with these Wrangler ads, and Every Single One of the many many many dangling hand holds sported the cartoon blonde/blue-eyed girl.

Renminbi? Yuan? What's up with that?
I can not quite figure out what the chinese currency is actually named, and what that other name is supposed to be all about.

Walked out in the rain in People's Park. Immeditely got marked for the Tea Ceremony scam I had read about on WikiTravel before going.
A very nice young man with his also nice cousin approached me and first asked me to take their photo. In the subsequent chat, they talked at length about how tricky it'd be to navigate the streets where noone could speak any english, and had several suggestions for special exhibitions, shows and events to go to. The plans I had already made were dismissed as too much walking, too strange areas, and nobody'd speak with me there. Much better to aim for the tourist traps with them...
According to WikiTravel, going with them would have landed me an interesting experience, but I'd then be on the hook for the full payment - which could range up to CNY 1k according to the descriptions I read.
I thanked them, and set off in my own direction.

People's Park was filled with umbrellas that had laminated signs on them. I couldn't read, but they contained numbers that led me to believe they described vanished or lost relatives: 175cm, 1982, 76kg, stuff like that...
They were mostly my age too. Between maybe 1978 and 1985 almost all I saw.

Walked out of People's Park onto Jiangyin Road. Every other door sold turtles. The rest of them sold rocks, aquaria, fishes, corals, and other related stuff. I had a Taiwanese pancake in a tiny hole-in-the-wall.
It really is odd how intensely these little shops and vendors cluster here; one street with only turtles. Another with only cicadas in tiny wicker baskets. Yet another with only crayfish vendors. Market microclimates taken to the extreme.

Found a dumpling shack. Order xiao long bao. Hilarity ensued.
This was one of these tiled hole-in-the-walls that mainly cater to the local workers. Three old ladies in kitchen costumes burst out laughing when I asked for these soup dumplings that are supposed to be extra good in Shanghai. Then I broke a chair while sitting there.

Things in this country REALLY are not made to my size.
From the 12h airplane ride from Vancouver (neck support even at full extension barely graces the bottom of my head) to the metro where my head kept banging into the pole that the handholds were hanging from, to me crushing a chair by just sitting, to my always being at least a head taller than everyone… I'm a bloody giant here.

MC drivers are utterly insane: no interest in traffic signals.
More than once, I've had to jump back onto the curb because an MC driver figured that merely me having a green light and him having a red light wouldn't keep him from getting where he needed to go…

Unable all day to find sheng jian bao. Oh well.
These are the pan-fried version of the soup dumplings from above. Still filled with broth and meat, these are panfried with a rising dumpling dough. Supposed to be amazing, and as opposed to xiao long bao, can't usually be found abroad. But I couldn't find any in Shanghai either, so they'll have to wait.

Found a gorgeous cute Taoist temple. Peaceful.
This was the <> Taoist temple, housed in remnants of the old city walls from Shanghai's venerable Old Town. Very sweet.

Found the Old Town tourist trap temple complex.
In the Shanghai Old Town, a huge old and famous temple has grown into a bustling cluster of city blocks all built in the same, ornate temple shape and crammed full with a large and loud market selling trinkets, pirate copied fashion, food, souvenirs and art all together. The temple has admissions in one corner, and an old well-kept garden in another. I skipped both.

Bought art. Felt validated. Caught in downpour.
Diving out from the suddenly much much stronger rain into a random shop, I found the entire shop was dedicated to art by a local artist whose preferred medium was “Fountain Pen Painting” — basically following in the same aesthetic footsteps of the classic chinese brush and ink art, but with fountain pen instead of brush. The results are textured, compelling cityscapes built from layers and layers of apparently haphazard lines that coalesce into the scenes they paint.
This is not THAT far from where my own current sketching/drawing hobby draws me. I tend towards a similar style of almost tremor-driven scrawls and lines building the shapes I draw.

Decided against the Science and Technology museum at last moment. My schedule was just too tight.
As it was, I would have had about 30m — if I was speedy — to look through the museum. Didn't seem fair to anyone, so I went for dinner instead.

Dumplings for dinner at the Maglev station.
For dinner, I did my last brave attempt at finding sheng jain bao. It failed. I almost went for Kuala Lumpur cuisine; but nothing on that menu was sufficiently inspiring. So I had dumplings. They claimed these included xiao long bao, but I couldn't quite see it…

Too much rain to ever stop and draw. Hauled around too much art supplies all day for nothing.
I also got quite wet in turns, but I don't mind me getting wet nearly as much as I'd've minded my artwork getting smudged and blotched by (unwanted) rain interference.

Surprise! McDonalds actually makes decent macarons.
Sure, the box had a steep gradient from very stale to very fresh, but the fresh macarons from McCafe really hit the mark when it comes to quality macarons.


Maglev might be setting a new record for how fast I have travelled. Key issue: does maglev count as ground transport (new record!) or as flying (not a new record)???
If maglev counts as ground transport, these trips in 430km/h certainly tops my previous personal speed records.
If it counts as extremely low altitude flying, however, I'm in much less luck: airtrips routinely jump up to at least 550km/h

Curves in 300 km/h: wheeeeeeeeeee!!
Don't need no amusement park! Just need to go on the airport shuttle train!

Toogoo disposable razor review

I promised a number of friends a review after I tested this one. Similar to shavettes and such razors, this is a single blade, cutthroat style razor, with the edge from a normal razor blade snapped in half and locked in a holding arm.

It gives you the shaving style of a cutthroat razor, and some of the same benefits, while still being dead easy to keep sharp (just change blades) and sterile (just change blades).

I have now shaved exactly once using this razor. It's trickier to use than my safety razor, and requires a whole lot more time investment. But the shave ends up being very close and clean. It's more meditative to use, and an interesting experience in its own right.

I cut myself exactly twice. This may well be a decently low count for a first time with a cutthroat razor. One cut was from trying to figure out how to load the blade in the razor to begin with. The other cut was from trying to shave left-handed. Once I swapped back to the right hand for the left side too, I avoided more cuts.

I'm looking forward to increasing my skill using this razor.

Elle Dolores av Sam J. Sundwall

För att jag vill kunna läsa texten, och inte hittar den nedskriven.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVlf_qPzmew

Elle Dolores i ditt fönster glimmar det som stjärneljus
Sista stjärnan glimmar hånfullt klar och sval
Nattens armar drar sig undan in i skuggan vid ditt hus
Och det ekar när den sista hanen gal

Elle Dolores öppna fönstret, jag hör gryningsklockan slå.
Jag har sprungit hela natten. Jag är trött.
Låt mig gömma mig där inne, dit kan natten aldrig nå.
Låt mig vila där, där allt som dött är dött.

Elle Dolores låt mig vila. Jag är mätt på livet, mätt
På mitt livs berusning. Låt mig vila still.
Låt mig skölja minnet rent från allting som jag hört och sett
Låt mig vila drömlös, det är allt jag vill.

Elle Dolores, Elle Dolores, i mitt tysta morgonrum
Knäpp händerna om min nacke, ge mig frid
Låt mig vila i din grynings slut en tyst och andfådd stund
Låt mig tro att det för en gångs skull finns tid.

End of year review

Well, 2012 apparently is the year I drifted off of LJ. The ENTIRE year has 7 posts. First paragraph of each month that even has contents was:

My year in reviewCollapse )

How was your year?

The rhyming of gifts is a difficult matter,
Trickiest of all the holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you a gift must have THREE different rhymes.

First of all there's the rhyme for the family
A stanza or two, short, full of wit
Finish it off with something silly
Giving a nod to the contents of it.

Next, there is the rhyme for the giver
Something pithy, technically sublime
Keeping a rhyme, a rhythm, and a meter
To really show off your poetry line by line

Finally, there is the rhyme for the porridge
To be spoken should you find the almond this year
Tradition-laden, and meant to be horrid
With rhymes that are stretched and stanzas quite frayed.

When you notice your kin in profound meditation
The reason, I tell you, is always the same
Eir mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of eir rhyme
Eir ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular rhyme.

Swedish jurisprudence: sources and quotes

One of the very most frustrating aspects of the Assange debacle is the regular waves of disinformation aimed at the Swedish state, judicial system and jurisprudence. As one point to refer to, I'll put up links to sources and quotes from same sources here to debunk some of the myths being perpetrated about what is and is not part of Swedish law or legal procedure.

Cut for massive text blocksCollapse )

Topologist humour

I might be too proud of this exchange:

‏@michiexile
The three species are chimp, gorilla, and mathematician. - sullivant ‪#siaman12‬

‏@puellavulnerata
@michiexile Heh, three species of what genus?

‏@michiexile
@puellavulnerata Let's see… Gastrointestinal canal, 2x nostril-to-mouth, I'd say genus 3 unless the mathematician has piercings.

‏@puellavulnerata
@michiexile I should have seen that coming... :)

Arriving for SoCG

Oh hai North Carolina; you are a lot warmer than last time I was here.

Admittedly, last time I was here, I was here on an interview, and the roads were slick with freezing rain…

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