Shared posts

19 Apr 15:32

amusingabe: Homogeneity series closeups.T.S Abe


Homogeneity series closeups.

T.S Abe

20 Apr 17:50

Leda and Zeus, redrawn for the bookgoogle image those two names...

Leda and Zeus, redrawn for the book

google image those two names IF YOU DARE (it’s hella raunch)


20 Apr 18:56

Person of No Rank

by Brad

What does being equal really mean?

rank comicOne day Zen Master Rinzai (Ch. Lin-chi) said, “There is a true man of no rank (無位眞人) in the mass of naked flesh , who goes in and out from your facial features. Those who have not yet testified, look, look!”

A monk came forward and said, “Who is this true man of no rank?”

Master Rinzai came down from his seat, grabbed the monk by the throat and said, “Speak! Speak!”

The monk hesitated.

Master Rinzai let go and said, “What a worthless shit-stick this true man of no rank is!”

I first started to grasp the idea of the person of no rank (the above is a standard translation in which the genderless word 人 — pronounced “hito” or “nin” in Japanese — has been translated as “man”) when I was in a Tokyo park watching some pigeons.

As I watched those birds gather around my bench hoping I’d drop some rice from my onigiri I noticed that the differences between me and those birds were fairly superficial. Up until then I hadn’t thought much about my rank in relation to birds. If anyone had asked, I imagine I would have said that I was superior to birds in terms of intelligence and and inferior in terms of flying abilities.

More significantly, I would have assumed that my internal experience was more sophisticated and nuanced than that of a bird, since, for example, I can name the entire cast of Gilligan’s Island whereas a bird couldn’t be expected to do much more than whistle the theme song with no real understanding of the story the lyrics tell.

That day I noticed with a very sharp clarity that there really is no big difference between the various internal experiences of any being in the universe. Any rank I could assign to another person or creature was imaginary. This, when I was working in the extraordinarily rank-conscious world of Japanese business.

That doesn’t mean everybody is equal in every way. Some people really are experts at certain things and we can learn a lot from them about the areas that they have studied and practiced. But that’s not quite the same as the idea of rank.

To have no rank means you not only don’t regard anyone as your superior, but you don’t regard anyone as your inferior either. It’s easy not to regard anyone as your superior. I used to do that so much I got to be an expert. I was superior to everybody. Including you! So there!

That’s just arrogance and defensiveness. It’s a coping strategy and it can work pretty well in lots of situations — again I can attest to its efficacy from lots of experience.

It was an eye-opener to see that while no one was my superior, no one was my inferior either. Little children, dogs, pigeons, hateful religious fanatics, rich dipshits in stupidly expensive cars who cut you off on the freeway, both of the guys from Hanson… none of them are in any way inferior to me or to you.

Take note. Although I described those guys in stupidly expensive cars as dipshits, this does not mean I am superior to them, nor does it mean they aren’t still dipshits or that the excessive money they spent on their cars is any less stupid.

What I mean is that I can still have an opinion. So can you. More important I still do have an opinion and so do you.

A lot of times people hear stuff about being a person with no rank and try to envision what that would mean, then they train to themselves to act like the person-of-no-rank character they’ve created. What sort of dialogue would you write for your person-of-no-rank? Well, he has no rank, right? So he would simply looooooove everybody regardless of what they did or said. He would be just the fluffiest, most cuddly thing ever! He would only say lovey things and never call anyone a “dipshit” or, indeed, have any opinion about anyone anywhere ever!

I’ve run into a lot of people who strive for this and they are annoying as… hell, I don’t know. Something really, super annoying. Is that the way Master Rinzai behaves in the example?

Having no rank doesn’t mean having no opinion, no personality, no position on anything. It’s more of an understanding of how things actually work.

This is not an easy understanding to come to or accept. Last Saturday I watched a movie called ROAR! It’s an insane film about a family who try to share their home with dozens of gigantic killer lions, tigers, panthers, cheetahs and other big cats. The family is portrayed by a group of actors — including Melanie Griffith — actually sharing a real house in California with dozens of huge, un-tamed killer cats. It’s the most amazingly deranged movie you will ever see.

Anyway, one of the plot lines in the film involves a struggle for dominance by two large male lions. Animal trainers warned the director that you could never use two male lions in a film because they’d spend the whole time trying to kill each other. This movie features something like seven male lions living in a house together. And they fight constantly.

The point is, our tendency to try to figure out where we rank in terms of others is not something that we invented when we started to form armies and assign some people to be sergeants and others to be corporals. It goes way back to our prehuman ancestors. It’s not something you can think your way out of. This is because it’s an inclination that operates at a much more basic level than that of thought. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re better than the other guy or not. By the time it has reached the level wherein you can think consciously about it, it’s already established.

What you can learn to do, though, is to notice what’s happening. Watch yourself slip into ranking mode. Don’t try to stop it because by the time you’ve consciously noticed it, you’re already doing it. Just recognize that it’s meaningless the same way you recognize that just because that itch on the back of your head feels like there’s a tarantula under your bonnet does not mean there really is a tarantula under your bonnet.

When you have no rank at all, you are free from comparison.

GarfieldThis is not a once-and-forever deal. It’s not like you realize this once and then, forever after you are free from rank. In fact it’s quite the opposite. You notice that the tendency to accord a rank to yourself and others is always there and always will be there. You notice that this is something you will always have to remind yourself about.

It’s not necessary to play the person-of-no-rank role straight out of Central Casting either. In the moment that you need to modify your relationship to the ranks you assign to self and others, you’ll see what you need to do. It won’t always be what you want to do. You may, in fact, choose not to do what you clearly see you ought to. You’ll also see what happens when you do that.



TONIGHT, just like every Monday at 8pm I lead zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

Every Saturday at 9:30 am I lead zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!

Registration is now open for our 3-day Zen & Yoga Retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center April 24-26, 2015. CLICK HERE for more info! YOU ONLY HAVE A FEW DAYS LEFT TO REGISTER! DO IT!!


April 24-26, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY ZEN & YOGA RETREAT


July 8-12, 2015 Vancouver, BC Canada 5-DAY RETREAT at HOLLYHOCK RETREAT CENTER

August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT

August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE

August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR 

August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE

September 5, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY

September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT


Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website,

*   *   *

Your donations to this blog help out more than you think. Thank you!

17 Apr 17:16

The Kanna Finish: How to Get Glass-Smooth Surfaces in Wood Without Sandpaper or Varnish


tool porn via A. Kachmar

Sandpaper has to be the number one consumable in the modern-day furniture shop. But a subset of craftspeople, like Toshio Tokunaga and his four apprentices, don't use any of the stuff—yet are still able to achieve a glass-like finish on their furniture pieces, even absent varnish.

Anti-sandpaper furniture builders achieve this with handplanes and spokeshaves, or what are collectively called kanna in Japanese. While Western planes are made with cast-iron or bronze bodies, kanna are made with wooden bodies supporting the iron cutter.

While sandpaper and kanna might seem to produce the same results to the untrained eye—or hand rubbing the surface—it's simply not true, particularly when seen at a microscopic level, or touched with sensitive fingertips.

As you can see, blades cut. Sandpaper tears. Thus, as Tokunaga Furniture Studio explains,

We use no sandpaper at all when crafting our furniture. Sandpaper rubs away the natural pattern of the wood, leaving behind a smoothness that is artificial and which obscures the tree's innate characteristics. In contrast to this, the kanna cuts away successive layers of wood in a way that preserves the wood's natural appearance.

Tokunaga, by the way, makes his own kanna, from the ones that do the roughing work to the ones that take the final fine shavings.

As you can see, he's designed a staggering range of shapes. Collectively these tools can cope with every type of contour required in his work, whether flat, concave or convex.

Here's the team putting in the elbow grease:

And here's Tokunaga discussing the benefits of the kanna finish:

The blades of course require regular maintenance. Here an apprentice sharpens an iron on a waterstone.

Speaking of the irons, take a closer look:

Those look store-bought to you? Nope, Tokunaga has them made locally. And while I hate to write this hacky, clickbaitey sentence, you really won't believe where they came from! Stay tuned.

20 Apr 05:01

Real Estate

by Ian


Real Estate

19 Apr 19:55

Bread and Roses


more subtle now, but still true

An internet rabbithole, as they go.

Not long ago I watched the film Pride (set largely in 1984 Wales), and there was a scene where the community hall broke into the song Bread and Roses.  I was on a plane, otherwise I’d probably have googled it.

I was looking at some labor history links today after looking at some titles on Scribd and came across this by the Labor Education Service from the University of Minnesota: there again, Bread and Roses (1912, far from Wales).

So now, reading the lyrics and looking up the strike and the song both, this is how we get the name Rose Schneiderman - who coined the phrase that was turned into a slogan, poem and song.

All of this to say that I was moved by a speech from Rose herself, in the wake of the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  Thank you wikipedia for that.  And now perhaps I ought to find more to read of hers, but that is the beauty of internet rabbitholes, there is always more to read:

“I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting. The old Inquisition had its rack and its thumbscrews and its instruments of torture with iron teeth. We know what these things are today; the iron teeth are our necessities, the thumbscrews are the high-powered and swift machinery close to which we must work, and the rack is here in the firetrap structures that will destroy us the minute they catch on fire.
This is not the first time girls have been burned alive in the city. Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers. Every year thousands of us are maimed. The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred. There are so many of us for one job it matters little if 146 of us are burned to death.
We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.
Public officials have only words of warning to us – warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into the conditions that make life unbearable.
I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement.”

—Rose Schneiderman
17 Apr 18:44

How and Why of Aluminum Cans

by Will Smith

This is pretty damn good.

18 Apr 23:31

(Im)mortal Men: Kendrick Lamar, Tupac Shakur, And The Pimping of Butterflies


Finally made the time to listen to this record with minimal distraction. It is so brilliant, so sharp.

Dissecting the Tupac Shakur allusions in Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly."

"I want to be somewhat of an ambassador, internationally, for my generation. Not just for young black males, but for my generation as a whole." - Tupac Shakur

Few Hip Hop artists have aspired to be the kind of spokesman Tupac Shakur was becoming when he was murdered in September 1996. It is easy to understand why. The ambitions and adversities of millions are a heavy burden for anyone to carry, let alone someone as young as the typical rap superstar. For nearly 20 years, listeners have waited in vain for someone to pick up the baton Tupac left behind in Las Vegas. On March 15, 2015, one member of Hip Hop’s vanguard not only grabbed that baton, he took off running with it when he released what may become the most important rap album of this decade. The artist? Kendrick Lamar. The album? To Pimp a Butterfly.

As fans and journalists have discovered in the days following its release, To Pimp a Butterfly is an emotionally exhausting and thought-provoking concept album that only reveals itself fully after detailed and repeated listening sessions. Its structure is complex and is founded upon three sources. The first is a story entitled “Another Nigga” which is told, one new line at a time, over the course of the album and sets forth Kendrick’s post-fame transformation from disillusioned star to self-assured messenger. The second source is a poem, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” which tells a similar tale but does so in metaphorical, rather than literal, fashion. The third source ends the album and is an interview focused on the future. This interview’s prophetical bent is ironic because the person being questioned by Kendrick is none other than Tupac Shakur, who, as most are now willing to admit, has been dead for almost nineteen years.

Tupac As Hip Hop's Patron Saint

Why would Kendrick Lamar choose Tupac of all rap legends to converse with at the end of this masterpiece? The reasons are numerous. Tupac was the type of artist who naturally combined the most important elements of Hip Hop, indeed of life itself. His music could be celebratory, depressing, personal, political, hard, sensitive, or insightful, often all at the same time. As Public Enemy’s Chuck D recently told Rolling Stone, Tupac “was able to touch souls like no other MC.” He was a provocateur both inside and outside the recording booth: Always in the mix, inflaming the media, and expounding on issues that were important to his community. Just days before being murdered, Tupac was at a rally in Los Angeles, speaking out against a California proposition intended to prohibit affirmative action. Tupac was dangerous to the establishment because he used the power of his voice, both on wax and in reality, to fight the injustices he observed around him. As Kendrick opines at the album’s conclusion, Tupac could therefore “relate to” Butterfly’s underlying story.

The use of Tupac’s disembodied voice at the conclusion of To Pimp a Butterfly was also dictated by reasons personal to Kendrick, who has been inspired by Tupac since he was a child. When Kendrick was just eight years old, he and his father saw Tupac and Dr. Dre filming the “California Love (Remix)” music video at the Compton Fashion Center (where Kendrick recently shot a video for “King Kunta”). At that shoot, a motorcycle officer nearly struck Tupac’s black Rolls-Royce Corniche, leading Tupac to lash out, “Yo, what is you doing? This is a $100,000 car. You in front of my people.” Tupac’s confidence made a powerful impression on Kendrick. It was then that Kendrick decided he too wanted to be an artist. Tupac’s guidance did not cease upon his death. Years later, on the night after Kendrick’s mother told him that his and Tupac’s birthdays were days apart, Tupac appeared to Kendrick in a dream, commanding Kendrick to keep his music alive. Shortly thereafter, Kendrick recorded Section.80, his most socially conscious album until To Pimp a Butterfly.

One year after Section.80, Kendrick released his critically-acclaimed major label debut, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City. An Illmatic for the millennial generation, Good Kid is a birds-eye view of Kendrick’s adolescence on the streets of Compton. In contrast to Tupac’s seminal albums, Good Kid casts Kendrick more as an observer than as a protagonist. Like Nas, Kendrick paints a beautifully detailed portrait of life in his hood. After eleven tracks of masterful emceeing, Good Kid ends with “Compton,” an ode to the Hub City, the birthplace of N.W.A, DJ Quik, et al. On that song, Kendrick enters the world stage alongside his musical mentor, Dr. Dre, as a talk box harkens back to Roger Troutman’s timeless contribution to “California Love,” the song which began Kendrick’s musical journey.

To Pimp a Butterfly opens three years later with “Wesley’s Theory,” a track that once again features Dr. Dre, who brings along George Clinton, the g-funk era’s greatest influence. Kendrick is a different person at the opening of Butterfly than he was at the end of Good Kid. He is a caterpillar: Consuming everything in sight, egocentric enough to compare himself to Alex Haley’s Kunta Kinte, and destined to bring the West Coast back to Hip Hop prominence. Fortune and fame are not all that they are cracked up to be, however. On the album’s opening tracks, Kendrick sounds lost, beset on all sides by the evils of Uncle Sam and Lucifer: Drugs, alcohol, empty sex, depression, and self-doubt (all of which are common themes running through Tupac’s catalogue). Kendrick hits bottom on “u,” one of the most emotionally naked songs heard in Hip Hop since the release of “Dear Mama” twenty years ago.

After "U" And Moving Toward The Light

Kendrick begins following his path toward enlightenment on the Pharrell Williams and Sounwave produced song, “Alright.” Though tempted by Satan, he learns to “keep [his] head up high” and realizes he needs to “write ‘til I’m right with God.” He refuses to sell his soul and understands that he must heed the advice his mother gave him on the Good Kid song, “Real,” by returning home to Compton (the chrysalis).

Kendrick’s arrival brings a shift in perspective. While the tracks in this section of the album (“Momma” through “i”) evidence much self-discovery, Kendrick’s subject matter is more worldly than it is on the rest of To Pimp a Butterfly. He promises “to advocate for” a youth he meets on “Momma,” navigates “Hood Politics,” receives advice from Tupac through his mother (“You ain’t gotta lie to kick it”), and turns a symbol of oppression into a symbol of beauty on “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” (“I made a flower for you outta cotton just to chill with you,” reminding Tupac fans of “the rose that grew through a crack in the concrete”). Kendrick also confronts an accusation frequently tossed at Tupac during his lifetime, the charge of hypocrisy, on the fiery “The Blacker the Berry” (track 13, a number that is meaningful to the abolition of slavery and Tupac lore). He even travels thousands of miles and into the past, a la Marlow in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, to Africa, the home of Nelson Mandela and the original home of African-American (and human) ancestry.

It is not until the penultimate song that Kendrick actualizes all that he has learned over the course of the album and realizes that the butterfly he has become and the caterpillar he once was are one and the same being. A live version of “i” replaces the studio single, permitting a riveting conclusion where Kendrick uses the power of the spoken word to quell a fight brewing in the audience. Kendrick stops the music and asks the crowd, “how many niggas we done lost?” before imploring the people to stop being victims and make time rather than waste time. He also substitutes the word Negus (a word used to describe royalty in Ethiopia) for nigga, taking Tupac’s Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished definition of “N.I.G.G.A.” a step further.

To Pimp a Butterfly concludes with “Mortal Man,” a contemplative track reminiscent of “Testify,” a Nas song off of the similarly themed Untitled album (which was released shortly before Barack Obama’s historic 2008 election and closes with a song that samples Tupac’s oft-quoted bars, “and though it seems heaven sent / we ain’t ready, to have a black President”). After “Mortal Man” fades away, Kendrick finishes reading “Another Nigga” and it is revealed that he has been speaking to his musical father, the ghost of Tupac Shakur, all along. At that point, Kendrick reprises his Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City role of a Hip Hop journalist, probing Tupac for a glimpse into America’s future. “The poor people is gonna open up this whole world and swallow up the rich people ‘cause the rich people gonna be so fat, they gonna be so appetizing... there might be some cannibalism out this mutha,” Tupac explains. Their conversation returns to various themes Kendrick illustrates throughout the album: The importance of honesty, the need to resist oppression, and, finally, a warning from Tupac that “it’s gonna be like Nat Turner, 1831, up in this motherfucker” if African-American lives are not respected. Finally, Kendrick reads the “Butterfly” poem to Tupac and seeks his perspective. Tupac does not respond, cannot respond. He is gone; the album ends with Kendrick calling out, “‘Pac. ‘Pac. ‘Pac.” Kendrick is on his own.

What is next for Kendrick Lamar? Will he remain introverted and revert back to the chrysalis? Or will he fly further than his peers, baton firmly grasped in hand, and become the ambassador Tupac envisioned so long ago? Such questions, like the last Kendrick posed to Tupac, remain unanswered. One thing is certain: Kendrick Lamar is one of, if not the, most important artists working in Hip Hop music today.

Michael Namikas is a writer and longtime Hip Hop listener who practiced law in a past life and is currently writing a listener’s guide devoted to the music of Tupac Shakur, the first volume of which will be published in the first quarter of 2016. He frequently posts on Reddit as /u/Mikeaveli2682 and can be followed on Twitter @Mikeaveli2682.

18 Apr 15:30

Bee-u-tify flower seeds for bees

by Rusty

I should look around for these.

Here in Washington State, the Noxious Weed Control Board is distributing packets of non-invasive flower seeds for bees and butterflies. The program is co-sponsored by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the Washington Invasive Species Council, and Lincoln, Skamania, Pierce, and Thurston counties. Landowners are being encouraged to eradicate invasive weeds and replace them with […]
18 Apr 02:18

"If he messes this up we get to call the dude JarJar Abrams for the rest of his life."


Share this far and wide.

““If he messes this up we get to call the dude JarJar Abrams for the rest of his life.””

- someone on facebook discussing the new Star Wars trailer (via dbvictoria)
11 Apr 19:47

April, 11th


Seems like someone is Star Warsing.

April, 11th

13 Apr 22:38

Why Everyone's Saying 'YAAAAAASSSSSS' Now


Mother. Fucking. Bread crumbs.

Why Everyone's Saying 'YAAAAAASSSSSS' Now:
From “yeah” to “yaaaaas” to “yiss,” we’re rejecting the clinical “yes” and finding more nuanced ways to give our approval—and to hedge our bets.

Aw Yiss, my friends.

aw yiss.

Thanks for the shout out, the Atlantic!

15 Apr 05:59

coelasquid: tastefullyoffensive: by AxbyMag This was a wild...



by AxbyMag

This was a wild ride

17 Apr 00:00

Code Quality


And this is why no one wants to join your software movement.

I honestly didn't think you could even USE emoji in variable names. Or that there were so many different crying ones.
15 Apr 16:30

OP Wonders About the Poor and Gets Told. This is Why We CAN Have Nice Things.


Sometimes, tumblr is very useful. via Arnvidr

14 Apr 20:25

Let’s Build a Field Kit

by Mike Bell

paging bl00. Via Lev.

piano rebuilding toolboxThe Twin Cities metro area, my home for the past 20 years, is also home to the worst racial disparities in the nation – not only in unemployment, but also in health, education, and criminal justice.

If my life as a middle-class white male had rolled out differently – if I’d had different parents or friends or other role models, lived elsewhere or moved less, gone to different schools, been somewhat less introspective or shy, read different books, held different jobs, developed a different sense of my place in the universe – I can imagine being a person who never quite gets around to thinking much about Racial Disparity in the Metropolitan Region, let alone feeling my place in it or trying to do much of anything in response to it.

As it is, Racial Disparity in the Metropolitan Region seems like a problem.

A problem that seems worth responding to, in fact.

A problem that I’ve started to think that ordinary people like you and me can actually respond to – directly, right now, in a host of ways that are not only interesting and challenging and useful and collaborative and fear-squashing and life-changing, but might even possibly be sort of fun, in fact.

Or at least, that assumption is the price of admission for this blog.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re in.

Fortunately, there are more than a few other people who have already devoted a great deal of time and thought and money and energy responding to this problem. Many of these people have been in the trenches on this issue longer than I’ve been a resident here – long before the Economic Policy Institute held up this stark mirror for our examination, and even before the goal of their work was commonly known as Social Equity. Many of these people are in government and the nonprofit sector; some are formal members of community associations or faith-based organizations; many are educators and student activists; a precious handful are business owners; most have at least some knowledge of the wealth of online references such as this one and this one that can help them in their work, as well as the support of other Actively Engaged Persons in their network; all have had whatever combination of role models, education, life experiences, confidence, grit, gumption, brains, humility, and luck was necessary to move them along the rugged trail to action in the first place.

And, I am willing to bet that for every one of these Actively Engaged Persons, there are a hundred more – all very well-meaning, highly effective people with nearly identical qualities and experiences and relative fortunes – who are somehow just under the threshold of putting their book learnin’ and their well-meaning concerns to work – or who want to do more but are not sure where to start, or what to do, or where to turn for support when they screw up or run into dead ends or feel stupid or defensive or overwhelmed or otherwise on the verge of checking out and doing other, much easier things instead.

Rocket science, for example.a-7-rocket-engine

And here’s the thing: If the Twin Cities is going to become a more equitable place for everyone to live, it is indeed going to take policy changes and school reform and vocational training of various sorts and a host of other critical investments in our equity infrastructure at the systems level – AND it’s going to take something much simpler and more complicated than all of that, too.

It is going to take ordinary people, including those currently just under the threshold of walking the equity talk, to examine and update a habit or two.

And by ordinary people, I mean all of us: You and me, whoever we are, and everyone we know, whoever they are, and everyone else we decide to go out and meet, today and tomorrow and the next day, whoever they are, and so on and so forth.

What’s more, it’s going to take all of us whether or not we know what to do – which of course nobody does until they’ve up and jumped in and started to do the hard work of figuring it out for themselves, on the ground, in the real world of their own life.

That’s what I’ve decided it’s time to get serious about doing, at least.


Anyway: A few weeks ago I quit my job at a local workforce development nonprofit to focus full-time on reading, writing, and talking with as many people as I can, including those already in the Equity trenches, about how ordinary people outside the Policy and Planning communities can help to make the Twin Cities a better place for everyone to live.

Lab EquipmentAnd, out of necessity, I’m starting with myself. My goal is to put together a Field Kit of applied theory and a set of practical Field Experiments that I can use to work through a host of my own assumptions and privileges and blindspots, gradually push several boundaries, increase self-confidence and awareness and empathy, reduce defensiveness, expand my capacity to be Productively Uncomfortable in charged social situations, and change my own self-talk and other habits around race in ways that lead to more and better cross-racial relationships, a deeper sense of who I am, and a truer expression of my beliefs and values.

So basically, I want to confront my deepest fears about myself and others and become the person I truly want to be.

I expect this might take a couple weeks.

So why have I decided to do a part of this very difficult and humbling and potentially embarrassing work publicly?

Because: If my efforts are going to amount to anything of any worth to myself or others, I am going to need a thousand perspectives and a ton of help.

AND because: If my efforts DO end up amounting to anything of any worth to myself or others, then I want to share what there is to share.

So that’s the work at hand.

Sound like a good time?

Want to come along?

What do you think?

16 Apr 04:05

Torpor Not Trust Iron Tony's Tiny Reddit Beard


Torpor is pretty great.

sleep is dumb

Tonight’s comic is about Torpor's favorite Avenger.

14 Apr 15:17

Awesome Words You Didn’t Know You Needed

by Strange Beaver

Amusin. via A.Kachmar

UrbanDictionary is packed full of words for today’s slang, but it also has a ton of hidden gems like these. Some of these are so perfect they need to be more commonly used

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

13 Apr 17:57

Milling Time: Testing the Roland MDX-540 4-Axis CNC

by Ben Light

Super hot.

Previously, I've talked about testing the Othermill--an out-of-the-box work horse--and the Shapeoko 2--a CNC kit ripe for re-invention. Today, I'm going to talk about a big boy, examining a CNC mill that's bigger, pricier, and commands a steeper learning curve. That's because we're adding another axis!

This is the MDX-540 with a rotary axis made by the Roland DGA Corporation. A 4-axis mill can do everything an X, Y, Z machine can do, but it can also rotate the cutting material around an 'A' axis. Essentially, this mill combines the functionality of a typical CNC and a lathe. With that additional axis, you're able to create complex double-sided objects and components with undercuts.

Three cork "bottles" milled using different settings.

I'm fortunate enough to work at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program , where we have a bunch of incredible tools and machines. The MDX-540 is our latest addition to the shop and we're just beginning to experiment with it.

For all of my testing I mounted material in the rotary axis exclusively.


The Roland has an extensive list of material pre-sets to choose from, for my testing I stuck to primarily walnut, Delrin, and aluminum (my favorites). But what was new for me is how the material is secured to the mill.

Wooden dowel secured to the rotary axis.

When using the rotary axis, material is mounted in a way that is very similar to a lathe. One side is clamped down at the motorized end, the other is secured by a live center--a free spinning support. The material can be rotated while a spinning end mill cuts from above.

Flat stock secured in the rotary axis.
Double side walnut part with tabs

The other novel thing for me, you can use either flat or round (dowel) stock.

Double sided parts--any object that has a detailed top and bottom or an in and outside--can be milled from flat stock. All of the roughing and finishing is done to one surface, the stock is rotated 180 degrees, and then the other side is roughed and finished. Oh the possibilities, I forsee a lot of custom project enclosures in my future.

Tabs remain to secure the part to the remaining material and there is a faint seam line left after machining, but the surface finish is phenomenal. Post milling work will be necessary to remove any trace of the tabs, but no sanding needed for the rest of it.

Cutting an aluminum rod.

Round stock mounts in a similar fashion, but the material is rotated for each pass and the part is milled all the way around. Want to make lightsabers, anyone?

Precision and Finish

As I mentioned, the surface finish of wooden pieces is incredible--it's incredibly precise to a point that there's no sanding needed for some materials. Delrin parts looked like they were cast or even injection molded. I didn't have as much luck with the finish on aluminum. There was a little chatter during milling and I don't think I was using the most ideal tool paths. I think with a little more CAM finagling I can get the results I want.

We needed some new Delrin foosball players, CAD model by David Rios.

Setting Origin

There is no other way to say it: the process of setting origin on this machine is nuts. The Roland comes with a calibration bar that you secure in the rotary axis and an electrode is plugged in. A calibration pin is chucked into the cutting spindle, and then the calibration cycle is run. At a very fast pace, the pin moves towards the bar (I think it's going to destroy itself everytime), right before a collision it slows to just barely make contact, and an electrical connection is made. The pin then moves to a number of other key locations along the bar, repeating the process. And all of this is just to set the origin of the Y axis!

Calibration Bar in place on the rotary axis.

This process is very well documented in the Roland manuals, it's just an involved process and nerve racking every time. Luckily, the mill "remembers" origin (even after powering down) and this makes running a job a little less terrifying.


Simple 3D CAD Model in Vectorworks

This is the first mill I've covered that uses 3D models exclusively. Any CAD software that outputs to an .igs or .stl file can be used. I've had a lot of luck with Vectorworks.


The Roland comes with its own CAM software, the SRP Player, a wizard that takes you step by step through the process. Asking simple questions like material size and type, round vs flat stock, tabs/no tabs, bit selection, etc. This software makes what would typically be very difficult toolpaths easy to understand and execute.

Model in SRP Player to be cut from flat stock with tabs.

Time to Mill

These jobs take a long time, hours, lots and lots of hours. We have a policy in our shop of never leaving a running CNC unattended. For one or two hour jobs, this isbearable, but I've seen some jobs estimated at 20-plus hours. Maybe I'll start reading Game of Thrones.

Noise and Mess

The noise the mill makes isn't bad at all, when cutting aluminum I didn't even need ear protection. Technically, the MDX-540 could sit on a desktop (overall dimensions 29.3" x 37.6" x 33.8"), but due to the uncontained mess, this is a shop only tool. I don't think anyone would be happy running this in an office.

Walnut parts with milled plastic inserts.

So who's this for?

Someone with deep pockets to start. With a starting price of $20,000, I can't imagine the typical maker buying one of these for their home shop. This would most likely be in a school, a design company's prototyping shop, or a well-equipped makerspace.

That said, the Roland 4-axis CNC mill works incredibly well and is fairly easy to use. Now that I have the 4th axis, I'm creating parts I never dreamed I could produce. It's the kind of machine you definitely want to try at your local makerspace or tech shop.

Photos by Ben Light. Find more of Ben's projectson his website.

10 Apr 17:00

Tiny bee loses her pollen

by Rusty

Really great picture.

You think pollen collecting is simple, right? But no, like everything else in life it has discouraging moments. Here a little Lasioglossum bee decides to take a rest. She alights on a flat leaf and promptly loses her load. Bummer. Apparently, collecting pollen from a slippery leaf isn’t as easy as rubbing it from a […]
11 Apr 23:39

Are we raising extra-large mason bees?

by Rusty

Very interesting. I look forward to seeing the results of Rusty's experiment. I should also find a place to set up something along these lines.

Except for natural bamboo tubes, it seems that most commercial tunnels sold for pollinator housing have an inside diameter of about 7 to 8 mm for orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria), 6 mm for blueberry bees (Osmia ribifloris), and 5 mm for both alfalfa leafcutting bees (Megachile rotundata) and raspberry bees (Osmia aglaia). I don’t […]
14 Apr 22:09


The power of this show knows no bounds.

11 Apr 21:52

We’re no better than a lettuce.

We’re no better than a lettuce.

13 Apr 18:01

Gendering Nemo.

by Peter Watts
Hey, at least I'm among really good company...

Hey, at least I’m in really good company…

With Special Opening Act, Tony Smith!

What do Dune, The Road, Blindsight, Anathem, and I Am Legend all have in common? Together, they comprise The Five Worst SF Books EVER, as compiled by my buddy, Tony Smith over at Starship Sofa. Of course, this is hardly the first time Blindsight has been so honored— but when a winner of both the Hugo and whatever award is represented by that weird forties-era-Popular-Mechanics-airplane-thingy-in-front-of-his-fridge-at-the-lower-left-there weighs in, well, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.

Thanks a lot, Tony. You owe me a brewery.



The BUG and I were hanging out the other day with a friend I’ve known for thirty years. Debbie and I attended grad school together; but while I devolved into an SF writer, Debbie jumped onto the tenure track and rode it to the University of Toronto, where she’s been doing odd things with fish for a couple of decades now. One thing I always take away from my time with her is a harsh reminder of how far past my best-before date I am, as any kind of biologist (she pointed out a couple of pretty significant flaws in that genetic-recoding paper I was salivating over a while back, for example).

So Friday. Over wine and cheese and salmon (and a horde of cats who’d once again hit the jackpot), the subject turned to this nifty little piece of research in which an anatomically-female rat was reprogrammed into behaving like a male, thanks to the injection of a certain hormone. (This is unlikely to come as welcome news to those on the whole defense-of-traditional-binary-marriage side of things, but that’s reality’s well-known leftist bias for you.) It was Debbie, typically, who saw the immediate potential for kids’ movies.

“There’s this question I put on my exams,” she said. “I ask my students what would have really happened in Finding Nemo, after Nemo’s mom got eaten by the barracuda.”

Let me just take a moment here to admit how much I loved Finding Nemo. I think I saw it at least three times in the theater— years before I even had step-pones as an excuse— once with an honest-to-God rocket scientist who also loved it. (I belted out “The Zones of the Sea” in the shower for weeks afterward.) Plus I used to be an actual marine biologist. And yet it wasn’t until Debbie brought up her question that the obvious answer hit me in the nose:



Nemo’s dad would’ve turned female.

That’s what clownfish do, after all. (Also wrasses. Also a bunch of others I’ve forgotten.) When the dominant female disappears from the scene, the next male in line switches sexes and fills the vacancy, becoming a fully reproductive female in her own right. So Marlin would’ve become Marlene— and while that might mean no more than a couple of bonus points to some UT undergrad (you can see why Debbie has a fistful of teaching awards), the ramifications reach all the way down to Hollywood.

We live in an age of reboots and sequels, you see. And In A World where even the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers get a dark and gritty (albeit unauthorized) update, what possible excuse could there be for not slipping a little real-world biology into a Nemo reboot? You wouldn’t even have to change the story significantly (although you’d need a new voice actor for Marlene— I nominate Amy Poehler). And talk about a positive sympathetic role model for transgender kids! Aren’t we long overdue for one of those? (Can’t you just imagine the drives home after Sunday school? “But Dad, if Marlin can change…”)

You listening, Disney?

14 Apr 02:41

Fartbarf - Master Of The Five Count (Redwood Bar, Los Angeles CA 1/2/15)


FartBarf describes themselves thusly: "A mere handful of ape-like orderlies resisting a touchscreen future. Give us knobs or give us death!"

Enjoy and Subscribe! Please contact if any any questions or video needs to be removed. Thanks! Fartbarf - Master Of The Five Count (Redw...
13 Apr 20:12

Racism and Letting Go

by Brad

This is one of those things that signals to me if a religious/spiritual/mystical practice is "true" and thus valuable, or not.

Akron, Ohio centennial parade 1925

Akron, Ohio centennial parade 1925

There’s an old Buddhist poem called Shin Jin Mei (信心銘), which means “Faith Mind Inscription.” It starts off, 至道無難 唯嫌揀択. This means, “To follow (至) the Way (道) is not (無) difficult (難). Just (唯) avoid (嫌) picking (揀) and choosing (択).”

The “picking and choosing” the author of this poem is referring to isn’t choosing what tie to wear or what kind of ice cream to eat. It’s the kind of picking and choosing we do moment by moment within our minds to decide which thoughts we allow as parts of that mental construct we call “self.”

To stop doing this sounds like it would be terribly dangerous. My worry when I first encountered this idea was that if I did not carefully select my thoughts as good and bad, encouraging the good ones and suppressing the bad, I might end up becoming a horrible person. But I tried it anyway because I felt like the people who taught me this thing were trustworthy and decent (though far from anyone’s notion of perfect).

It was a long, slow process. I found that I had to allow a lot of stuff through the filter that I had trained myself throughout my entire life to disallow. Some of it was just random noise, which was annoying but not necessarily disturbing. But some of it was thoughts I had learned to label as bad.

Let me give you one example. I was raised by very socially conscious parents who did not allow racism in their house. I grew up partly in Africa. Why, then, were there racist thoughts in my brain? That was certainly not me! If I did not force those thoughts to cease and desist, wouldn’t I be in danger of becoming just like the racist assholes I lived among when we returned from Nairobi to the nearly all-white Akron suburb of Wadsworth?

I was committed to this practice of allowing everything, so I tried it. And nothing bad happened. I had to face the fact that a propensity for racism was part of who I actually was. But allowing those thoughts to be there didn’t make me turn into a Klansman.

The only way you’re going to get anything even close to peace of mind, is to learn to be at peace with your own mind. You have to learn to be OK with what’s really in there.

Learning to be OK with the fact that you have racist thoughts does not mean you are OK with racism. Instead, it allows you to stop having to prop up the false image that you are good and those racist guys over there are bad. Your approach to racism radically changes. It’s no longer out there. It’s you.

What you define as “evil” and what you define as “you” are not really two different things.

This is not easy. You can consider this as an idea, or you can even decide to believe it because maybe you like it as a notion. But that’s not at all the same as doing the work necessary to fully and completely embrace it.

For me, allowing such thoughts (and more, believe me!) through was terrifying. I no longer felt like I was in control anymore. There was no telling what kind of thing might pop up next. I would sit on my little cushion and not even be me any longer. It felt like everything I ever stood for might vanish. It felt like the ground I stood on was torn out from under my feet.

Yet I survived to tell the tale.

I think this may be the only way to really address these kinds of issues. I’m not saying that Affirmative Action and education and so forth are useless. They certainly make a tremendous difference. It’s just that if we continue to wrongly define the root problem as out there and not within ourselves, we’ll never see what to do about it. If we merely understand intellectually the concept but refuse to look deeply into how we embody these things, we may never actually learn what to do.


April 16, 2015 Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA HUMAN LIBRARY EVENT

April 24-26, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY ZEN & YOGA RETREAT


July 8-12, 2015 Vancouver, BC Canada 5-DAY RETREAT at HOLLYHOCK RETREAT CENTER

August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT

August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE

August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR 

August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE

September 5, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY

September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT


Every Monday at 8pm I lead zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

Every Saturday at 9:30 am I lead zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!

Registration is now open for our 3-day Zen & Yoga Retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center April 24-26, 2015. CLICK HERE for more info!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website,

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Your donations to this blog help out more than you think. Thank you!


10 Apr 03:25

I'm a redneck and I love America


Y'all need to watch this.

A call for white folks to take responsibility racially.
12 Apr 16:58

Pay Me, Bug! is in the Immerse-Or-Die StoryBundle

by Christopher Wright

Update: The ImmerseOrDie bundle is now live!

The 15th of April is a day of woe and suffering here in the United States. That's our deadline for filing Federal Income Taxes, you see, and that's when a lot of us watch sadly as we stuff envelopes full of money and watch that money fly away, never to return. It's a time of change: specifically, a time when change is really all we have left, jingling uselessly in our pockets.

It's a perfect time for a StoryBundle. And if you're going to buy a StoryBundle, why not buy one with Pay Me, Bug! in it?

On April 15, StoryBundle will launch a new collection of eight indie Fantasy and Science Fiction titles. It's the ImmerseOrDie StoryBundle, eight books (including mine) that passed the ImmerseOrDie Report.

08 Apr 19:31

The Crucifixion Was Only the Beginning!

by Brad

The interesting bit here is his denouncement of the possibility of spiritual experiences in large groups. This isn't surprising to hear from a punk rock Zen dude. But it doesn't agree with the experience of a lot of people, I think.

ADOn Easter Sunday I watched the first episode of A.D.: The Bible Continues. I’d been seeing posters and billboards for it all over Los Angeles. The slogan “the crucifixion was only the beginning” was too hilarious to resist.

As many of you must know by now, I’m a bit of an amateur scholar of the historical Jesus. I’m a big fan of well-researched books on the subject. I was particularly fond of Zealot by Reza Aslan and I like most of Bart Ehrman’s books on the subject, such as How Jesus Became God.

Although most of what you can find in books like these has been known to scholars for a century or more, it’s only recently that books about the historical research on Jesus have been published for mass audiences. It’s good to see these kinds of books gaining popularity.

But riding on the success of these books, there have been a number of very popular fake historic books on Jesus. The most popular and perhaps the worst of the lot is Killing Jesus, allegedly “written” by Bill O’Reilly. For those of you outside the USA, Bill O’Reilly is a loudmouth conservative fake news guy with a show on late-night TV. O’Reilly does not write the books that are published under his name, but pays real writers to write them for him. Lots of books on the “Eastern Religions” shelf at your local Book Barn are also written in a similar fashion.

I was particularly disappointed when I saw billboards and ads on the sides of busses announcing that National Geographic — of all companies — was making a TV movie based on Killing Jesus. It makes me wonder if I can trust anything in National Geographic. I only read bits and pieces of “O’Reilly’s” Jesus book, but it’s abundantly clear from even the most cursory examination that it’s a poorly researched piece of fundamentalist Christian propaganda that has very little to do with real history. Still, I would’ve watched the movie if I had cable. Maybe I will once it becomes available on DVD or streaming.

But back to A.D., which I did watch. Prior to showing the first episode of the 12-part series, NBC ran an hour-long special about the making of it. I tuned in late, so I missed the beginning. Most of what I did see consisted of long interviews with the husband and wife team behind the series, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

They were clearly Bible-believing fundamentalist Christians. So I knew that I couldn’t expect their show to be very historically accurate. They also seem very into the burgeoning “mega-church” phenomenon in the USA. From a business standpoint that makes perfect sense. The folks who attend these massive, high-tech pseudo-churches are obviously going to be their core audience.

But mega-churches are not churches. They’re far too big and impersonal to provide anything more than spectacle and flash. Nothing the least bit “spiritual” is possible in the carnival atmosphere they provide. It’s like the difference between seeing Bruce Springsteen at a bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey in the early 70s when you could still have some kind of real contact with him and seeing him now from half a mile away as a member of an anonymous crowd at the back of some massive stadium. Buddhist centers that grow too damn big will eventually end up the same way. The day is coming when we’ll have our own mega-Buddhist centers. You mark my words, whipper-snappers!

One of the things Burnett and Downey said in their interview really struck me. They were asked about movies like Noah and Exodus and why those films didn’t do as well as their makers hoped. They said that Christians don’t like it when filmmakers change or reinterpret the Bible as the makers of those movies did. Their series, they said, adheres strictly to what is written in Scripture.

Well, not really. A.D. is hardly any truer to Scripture than those other films. For example, in the Gospel of Matthew we get a single line about Pontius Pilate’s wife, who is unnamed in the Gospel, having a dream about Jesus. In Matthew 27:19 it says, “When he (Pilate) was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” In the first episode of A.D. this is expanded into a large subplot concerning Pilate’s wife who is named Claudia in the series. Pilate’s wife did not gain the name Claudia until 1619 from a writer we now know as “pseudo-Dexter,” to differentiate him from the real Dexter, the serial killer who tracks down serial killers.

Furthermore we get a crucifixion scene that follows more or less Mark’s account followed by a resurrection scene that follows Matthew’s account. It’s commonplace these days for fundamentalist Christians to make mash-ups of the Gospels, ignoring their disagreements and simply including whatever parts they happen to like better.

These are just two of the most obvious examples of scriptural embellishment engaged in by these “fundamentalist” producers. Someone who was geekier than me about the story of Jesus could have spotted dozens more.

So what we get in A.D. is no more accurate than anything else we’ve seen on screen, even if you happen to hold the view that the New Testament is historically factual. It’s just more like what folks who go to mega-churches have been told is in the New Testament.

During the program NBC ran a commercial for Focus on the Family with adorable children quoting and embellishing John 3:16. According to Wikipedia, Focus on the Family, “promotes abstinence-only sexual education; adoption by married, opposite-sex parents; creationism; school prayer; and traditional gender roles. It opposes abortion; divorce; gambling; LGBT rights, particularly LGBT adoption and same-sex marriage; pornography; pre-marital sex; and substance abuse.” No comment there.

At the very least A.D. was entertaining. I’ll give it that much. The story of Jesus Christ and his early ministry is a damn good story. I’d have been interested in something more historical and real. But I suppose that’s asking too much from a company like NBC and executive producers like Burnett and Downey.


April 16, 2015 Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA HUMAN LIBRARY EVENT

April 24-26, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY ZEN & YOGA RETREAT


July 8-12, 2015 Vancouver, BC Canada 5-DAY RETREAT at HOLLYHOCK RETREAT CENTER

August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT

August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE

August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR 

August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE

September 5, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY

September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 2015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT


Every Monday at 8pm I lead zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

Every Saturday at 9:30 am I lead zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!

Registration is now open for our 3-day Zen & Yoga Retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center April 24-26, 2015. CLICK HERE for more info!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website,

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I truly appreciate your kind donations! Thank you very much!

10 Apr 07:00

Family Man Page 366

by Dylan

Yeah, schtuppin' the bosses daughter can cause problems.

Family Man Page 366