I kind of love this.
More on that new pentagon tiling.
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The puppies are indeed so fucking sad. via TPO
I tell you, it has been seriously amusing to watch the narrative take shape around this.
Background: George R. R. Martin has been attending WorldCon since 1971, I believe when he was up for a Campbell (new writer award). He did not win, but as no more than six people are considered finalists for this honor each year and each writer has at most two years of eligibility, he recognizes this as such a signal honor that he lists it on his website alongside his awards and other honors.
(Contrast this with Larry Correia, who seems to feel like his own Campbell nomination constituted a contract that was broken when he didn’t win it.)
A few years after that, Martin, being a frequent flyer on the Hugo ballot, instituted what he called the Losers’ Party, for all the nominees who don’t win. There are alcohol, and ribbons. It sounds like a lot of fun, and of course, it’s all in good spirit… it is an honor to be nominated, and the Losers’ Party just reinforces what rarefied air one breathes in making it to the ballot.
This year, Mr. Martin decided to hand out his own award, which he calls the Alfies, after Alfred Bester (the author, not the Babylon 5 character named after the author).
He apparently made them out of hood ornaments, which award trophies are often mockingly compared to. That right there should tell you how serious this business was.
Now, Mr. Martin is not the president of science fiction and fantasy. He does not occupy a position of leadership or authority with WorldCon. He is not affiliated with the Hugos except insofar as they are occasionally affiliated with him. This party that he instituted is a Hugo tradition, but it’s not a Hugo institution. In short, the party is no more an official ceremony than a guy who looks like Drunk Scary Santa Claus is an official presenter, which he is no more than the hood ornaments he’s passing out are official trophies.
George R. R. Martin, in his private capacity as an individual human being, thought he would have some fun and recognize some individuals he thought could use some recognition/a laugh.
And a few Puppies “caught him” doing it, and immediately started casting around for “evidence” and wringing their hands with glee over the thought that they’d found proof that the Hugo award ceremony was a scam, that the fix was in, that the real awards were being handed out by Drunk Scary Santa Claus to the people ordained by the hive mind…
It’s funny, but you know, this is the difference between the Sad Puppies and everybody else.
All along, people have been telling the Sad Puppies that if they don’t like the tastes of the broader fandom that selects the Hugo Awards or they don’t like how the awards are administered, they’re welcome to go make and give out their own awards.
The Puppies, meanwhile, not only demand complete control over these awards right here, they’re outraged at the idea that someone they disagree with can just up and decide to give out an award they don’t have any influence over.
If you want proof positive that the Puppies won’t be happy until everything is under their control, if you want the ultimate refutation of their cherished PR myth that they are anti-authoritarian, look no further than this: the epic tantrum they threw over a private individual taking it upon himself to hand out trophies he made as he saw fit.
I am definitely a misophoniac, and it has definitely caused me problems. Not super severe, but yeah. via A.Kachmar.
When I first read a description of misophonia, my reaction was: Other people have this?! This intense, angry reaction to everyday sounds like chewing, lip-smacking, sniffing, and pen-clicking—sounds that other people can ignore?
My second reaction was: Damn. I just diagnosed myself off the Internet.
And my third reaction was: Wait. I’m a science writer and a scientist. So I’ll do the (moderately) rational thing: corner some scientists who study misophonia and ask them some questions. Like, what do we know about misophonia? Can we treat it? And should we actually be calling it a disorder, on par with major depression and bipolar disorders?
I started at PubMed, the massive database of peer-reviewed scientific articles maintained by the National Library of Medicine. But compared to the hundred thousand hits I got for searching on major depression disorder, a search for misophonia pulled up only 26 articles. Most were published in the past few years.
One of the few labs that have published on the subject is run by author, TED talker, and neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran. When people from an Internet support group for misophonia first contacted the lab, “we were kind of skeptical,” says doctoral student Miren Edelstein of the University of California, San Diego. “Nobody had heard of this disorder” back in 2011, and people often asked to have their unusual ailments studied by Ramachandran.
But when Edelstein and her colleagues interviewed 11 volunteers from the support group, they were struck by the common patterns. Each volunteer reacted intensely to what Edelstein describes as “chewing, mouthy sounds” made by adults. When she exposed people with and without misophonia to trigger sounds like loud chewing, sniffing, and lip-smacking (urgh), both sets of people reacted negatively. The people with misophonia just reacted more—indicating, perhaps, that misophonia might just be at the extreme end of a normal distribution. Perhaps the people with misophonia had unusually strong neural connections between sound-processing parts of their brains and their limbic systems, which help regulate emotion.
The volunteers knew their aggressive reactions were inappropriate and outsized. They told Edelstein how they’d developed coping mechanisms, such as leaving the room, avoiding certain situations, using headphones, and even mimicking their trigger sounds to mask the noise. Some of these coping mechanisms negatively affected their work and home lives.
The strong distaste for “chewing, mouthy sounds” and coping mechanisms sounded eerily familiar to me, although my coping strategies weren’t seriously affecting me. But this study only looked at 11 self-selected volunteers. What about misophonia among the rest of us?
One team has examined how common misophonia is in a general population. In 2014, clinical psychology doctoral student Monica Wu, psychologist Eric Storch, and their colleagues at the University of South Florida surveyed 483 undergraduate students about misophonia symptoms.* That’s not to say that these 483 students perfectly represented the world: Almost 60 percent were white, more than 80 percent were women, and 100 percent were participating in the study to get extra credit for their psych classes.
Wu and her colleagues found that a full 20 percent of the students reported what the researchers considered clinically significant misophonia symptoms. The Florida students with significant symptoms had “this extreme reaction to really selective sound stimuli,” says Wu—stimuli like the mouthy noises described in Edelstein’s study. They also used similar coping mechanisms. Sadly, half of those with clinical symptoms—about 10 percent of all the students—reported that they had significant trouble functioning at school and work. That high of a number surprised me at first, but then again, I can totally understand why people don’t talk about what feels like a crazy, aggressive overreaction to lip-smacking (urgh).
Intriguingly, Wu also found that misophonia symptoms tracked with symptoms of the psychiatric conditions anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I could understand people feeling anxious and depressed because of misophonia. But I was surprised by the connection to OCD, an anxiety disorder involving intrusive thoughts and the overwhelming need to soothe them with coping behaviors. However, Wu’s study wasn’t the first to suggest a connection between mental illness and misophonia.
In 2013, psychiatrist Arjan Schröder and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam proposed that misophonia should be classified as a new psychiatric disorder. They suggested categorizing it on the spectrum with OCD. They had examined 42 patients who self-referred with misophonia, and found a consistent syndrome: Specific sounds triggered an aggressive response and socially isolating coping mechanisms. Schröder told me that almost half of these patients also met the criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
So if misophonia is a psychiatric disorder, I wondered, could it be treated with medication or therapy?
Not necessarily. Wu has reservations about prescribing medication before we know more. But when it comes to therapy, she has some qualified hope. Her team reported successfully treating two young patients using cognitive behavioral therapy—a well-established form of psychotherapy that helps patients recognize distressing thoughts and develop healthier behaviors in response to those thoughts.
However, not all misophonia researchers agree that misophonia should be regarded as a psychiatric condition.
It’s an “extreme, inaccurate, and improper approach” to treat misophonia as a psychiatric disorder like OCD, says Emory University otolaryngology professor Pawel Jastreboff. He and his collaborator and spouse, Margaret Jastreboff, coined the term misophonia in 2001. They argue that misophonia is a form of decreased sound tolerance. He says they have seen hundreds of misophonia patients and that very, very few had any sort of psychiatric condition. Indeed, Jastreboff believes that the Dutch psychiatrists incorrectly linked misophonia to OCD because, he says, they were studying “psychiatric patients to start with, and some of them have misophonia.”
The Jastreboffs propose that misophonia is actually a learned response. They suggest that people with misophonia have learned to associate a negative reaction to something they originally considered just annoying—such as the culturally inappropriate sounds of bad table manners. Based on this idea, the Jastreboffs have been treating patients with a form of desensitization therapy. In this therapy, the person with misophonia is gradually retrained to associate positive experiences with formerly negative triggers—for example, by smelling and eating delicious cookies while in the presence of a noisy eater.
“Misophonia definitely can be treated successfully,” says Pawel Jastreboff, “but it is important to know how to do it.” In 2014, the Jastreboffs reported that 152 out of 184 misophonia patients—83 percent—had significant improvement after going through the desensitization therapy.
I still had reservations after I read their paper. Their study was observational, instead of the gold standard: the randomized control trial. All of the Jastreboffs’ patients were treated with the same therapy, so we can’t compare their improvement with what might happen naturally over time in untreated people or what would happen in people treated with other therapies. Plus, the study seemed ripe for a placebo effect because the scientists were asking people to self-report how they’re doing when they knew they’d just gone through months of desensitization therapy.
Not to say that Pawel Jastreboff is unaware of these limitations. “It would be a good idea” to evaluate therapies through controlled trials, he says, adding that “somebody hopefully will do that in the future.” For now, the Jastreboffs are both stymied by the “ten million dollars” he says it would take.
To be honest, this debate about the treatments and nature of misophonia didn’t surprise me. It’s a pretty new disorder, and not much research has been done on it. When there’s still so much uncertainty in the tiny community of misophonia researchers, is it actually helpful to refer to misophonia as its own separate disorder?
The scientists studying misophonia believe so, because of the terrible effects they see in their patients. The University of Amsterdam’s Schröder says that his patients “experience severe symptoms and frequently cannot function anymore.” They can’t eat dinner with their families, work effectively in big offices, or live happily with their spouses. Wu also sees significant impairment among kids with misophonia. In a previous case she worked on, the young patient couldn’t go to school and couldn’t even talk with the child’s mother, who made trigger sounds. And Edelstein reported that at least one of the 11 volunteers she interviewed had contemplated suicide.
In his 2013 study, Schröder and his colleagues wrote that they were proposing diagnostic criteria and psychiatric classification to “improve recognition by health carers and encourage scientific research” into misophonia. Getting misophonia recognized in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as some researchers are advocating, would certainly help in other ways, including the practical. “It helps with insurance,” says Wu. Furthermore, naming and identifying a disabling behavior as misophonia, she says, “does help in terms of giving it a face” and legitimacy to skeptical family and friends.
So what’s an Internet-self-diagnosed misophonic with a healthy dose of skepticism supposed to do?
Personally, as someone who doesn’t have much impairment beyond the occasional spike of extreme irritation, I plan to wait out the years of scientific discussion and debate. But after hearing about patients who are isolated, depressed, and even contemplating suicide, I definitely want to say this: There is help out there for people who are suffering and need someone to talk with.
And I hope that knowing about misophonia helps others who didn’t know there are other people who really can’t stand chewing, sniffing, and lip-smacking (urgh).
*Correction, Aug. 19, 2015: This article originally misidentified Eric Storch as a pediatrician. He is a psychologist who works in a pediatrics department.
This is a little over wordy, but still.
|Sunn O))) @ Lx Factory, Lisbon, Portugal 2010 by Pedro Roque.|
|Sunn O))) @ Lx Factory, Lisbon, Portugal 2010 by Pedro Roque.|
|Sunn O))) @ Lx Factory, Lisbon, Portugal 2010 by Pedro Roque.|
One of Brad's better posts, I think.
The interesting thing here points to why I have a tough time with sitting meditation as opposed to other things like taiji (and why meditation can often make things much worse before they get better) is that it can produce a sort of close, unmediated contact with your own mental garbage that can be incredibly overwhelming. In the long run it can help you find the processes producing that garbage, and help you get rid of it, and them... but you can also sometimes just get buried in a mountain of your own crap.
I just finished my first European gig of 2015, a three-day non-residential zazen retreat in Munich. The question that kept coming up in different forms during the Q&A sessions and dokusans (private meetings) was “Is Zen enough?”
At first the question confused me. Enough for what?
It seems that a lot of people expect some kind of transformation to occur as a result of whatever sort of self-improvement thing they’re involved in. If you’re neurotic, you go to an analyst, pay him money and expect some kind of cure or at least some advice and help dealing with your neurosis. If you feel like you’ve sinned, you go to a priest and he says some magic words to convince God to forgive you and you’re absolved.
But Zen practice doesn’t offer anything like that. Even so, people tend to expect something like that to happen. They’re disappointed when it doesn’t.
There are studies that claim meditation is no better at fixing your problems than ordinary relaxation or drugs. Those studies are looking at the wrong things.
I’ve participated in some of these studies myself. What they’ve done is hooked up a bunch of wires and blood pressure cuffs and things to me or put me in an MRI machine and said, “All right. Now meditate!”
I suppose they expect some kind of supernatural effect to happen. Like my blood pressure will suddenly drop or my brainwaves will move into the alpha zone or whatever. When that doesn’t happen, or when it happens but it’s only as much of a change as someone else gets when they take anti-depressants or a nap, they conclude that meditation has the same effect as those things.
But that isn’t how meditation works. Not the way I do it, at least.
In Zen meditation, we sit down and be with ourselves. We make no attempt to change anything. We just try to sit very still and very quietly with whatever is there. We’re not even trying to observe it. We’re just trying to remain with it.
When you do that, your blood pressure doesn’t necessarily drop and your brainwaves don’t necessarily switch to a different state. But you may become aware that your blood pressure is too high – probably not directly, but you’ll feel something is off. Or you notice that your mental state is uncomfortably overactive. Seeing how that feels over and over again as you continue working with the practice, you’ll gradually start to notice how you are behaving in ways that make those things happen. You’ll start to see how to stop doing that stuff.
Or maybe people who ask if Zen is enough think that Zen practice is too self-centered. You sit there meditating and maybe you feel better, but what does that do for the world? It’s still a big mess. Shouldn’t we go out there and do something about it?
But if you’re like me, unless you’re on a retreat or something, you only spend an hour or less a day doing zazen. That leaves you eight hours to sleep and fifteen hours each day to do whatever you want to solve the world’s ills. No problem so far.
As for saving the planet and all that, though, I get it. It doesn’t seem like you’re doing much to prevent global warming or nuclear proliferation by sitting and staring at a blank wall. But maybe you are.
My friend Rob Robbins was troubled by the First Bodhisattva Vow, which says, “I vow to save all beings.” It sounds impossible. And it is. If by “saving all beings” you’re imagining you have to be Superman and rescue everybody from whatever trouble they’re in.
Rob found a brilliant way to rephrase that vow. He said, “I vow to save all beings… from myself.”
We can’t do all that much as individuals to solve everything that’s wrong with the world. But we can learn not to add to those problems unnecessarily. We do that by sitting with ourselves and seeing how we personally contribute to the very problems we hope to solve. I don’t mean that we get a magic download during our big transcendent moments about which kinds of plastic are recyclable and which are not. We learn how, moment-by-moment in each of our interactions we very often create problems that don’t really need to be there.
We see it because we sit with ourselves watching it happen in real time.
To me, the question of whether Zen is enough has never seemed problematic. I can do all the things anyone else does to save the world or improve myself psychologically. Nobody has ever suggested I shouldn’t do that kind of stuff. In fact, my daily zazen practice has brought me more in tune with the sorts of things I can do when I’m not on my cushion to help with those matters.
Often it’s not what I expected.
For example, before I moved to Japan I had a very altruistic save-the-world type job. I worked for an organization dedicated to helping mentally handicapped adults function outside of institutions. It was the kind of job anyone who wanted to do good in the world could feel proud of. But I hated it.
Fast forward a few years and I’m living in Japan working for people who make cheezy monster movies. I loved that job. But I felt terribly guilty about it. I’d gone from saving the planet to making trashy movies.
But Nishijima Roshi, my Zen teacher, set me straight. He showed me how to do the job I was doing with the attitude of doing service for the world. It’s like the scene at the end of Woody Allen’s movie Stardust Memories. Woody plays a comedian and filmmaker who feels guilty because he’s not doing something important. He’s just making funny movies. He meets some aliens who tell him, “If you want to do a real service for mankind, tell funnier jokes.”
Nishijima Roshi told me to continue working for Tsuburaya Productions and to do the small things I was able to make the programs we made more helpful. “Just do a little,” he said.
I think a little is often enough.
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 SCREENING OF HARDCORE ZEN MOVIE WITH TALK
September 6, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY
September 8t, 2015 Helsinki, Finland LECTURE Mannerheimintie 5, 5th floor Mannerheim hall 5:30pm
September 9, 2015 Malmi, Finland
September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT
September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT
September 20, 2015 London, England THE ART OF SITTING DOWN & SHUTTING UP (sold out, but there is a waiting list in case people cancel.)
September 21-25, 2015 Belfast, Northern Ireland SPECIFIC DATES TO BE DETERMINED
September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT
October 26-27 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova
November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT
April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”
All of these events will still happen each week while I’m away.
Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!
* * *
This is so great. Stuff like this is why I follow Core77.
The longest-running single-artist comic strip in the world was not "Peanuts." It was "Wordless Workshop," a DIY strip begun in 1954 by comics artist Roy Doty. It's the closest thing there's ever been to an ID-based comic strip, in that each installment shows a problem, and how one physically solves it using design.
Published in Popular Science beginning in 1954, the strip started out as a product of its times, with clearly defined gender roles that seem quaint today; the strips typically depicted the housewife experiencing a domestic problem or minor accident, and the handy-with-a-saw husband solving it in his toolshed. (As the times changed, problems evolved from unreturned glass soda bottles to iPad stands, and the female protagonist contributed more evenly.)
As per the title there were no words or text, with each idea being presented only in illustrations. The viewer was still expected to do the math, and it was assumed that every family had saws, hammers and a drill press in the garage. Perhaps most brilliantly, the solutions were all crowdsourced; this allowed readers around the country, folks who might be clever builders but couldn't necessarily draw, to send in descriptions of their problems/solutions for Doty to illustrate. This ensured no shortage of ideas and led to roughly six decades' worth of installments.
"Wordless Workshop" ran from '54 to 1990 in Popular Science, and was then picked up by the Home & Garden Group's Family Handyman magazine without missing a month. The last installment I saw was several issues ago, then they abruptly ended; sadly Doty, a Columbus College of Art & Design graduate who worked into his 90s, passed away earlier this year.
Unfortunately, Doty's website disappeared into the ether after his passing, and the "Wordless Workshop" series will not be handed over to another artist. Amazon, however, has a couple of WW collections in book form, here and here.
I'm impressed the massive coating failure didn't sink them. Considering picking up some of the R3 for doing paper negs.
I'm pretty sure someone must have thrown this orgy.
(via Impact - YouTube)
Saw these guys last night, and they were solid. Played super hard and went for it. American black metal has given birth to bands doing a lot of interesting things, I reckon.
This is a pretty damn good record. It’s simultaneous heavy, dirty, and rough with something verging on a black metal sort of style of production, but it’s still pretty in the right places, and verges on poppy at moments. Overall it’s kind of sort of about space exploration, and possible futures for humanity, most of which are appropriately grim. This particular song appears to be about the Challenger mission, (altered) depictions of which make up the entirety of the album art. This track features some of my favorite lyrics on the record.
I STOOD UPON THE GROUND WITH LEGS OF FIRE
AND I LEAPT INTO THE SKY
So stupid. via A.Kachmar
Scotland is going to formally ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops. Apparently, this was an easy step for them to take, because it’s the scientists who are explaining that this is a foolish move, and everyone knows you can just ignore the scientists.
I also think it’s a matter of fearing the unknown. Scotland doesn’t have any GM crops! It’s easy to ban what you already don’t have, and when activists have successfully nailed the phrase “genetically modified” with the stigma of being sciencey and wicked. It’s absurd.
If you’re going to ban everything that has been genetically modified, the Scots are going to have to go back to harvesting wild grains and hunting wild animals — every single commercial crop plant has been extensively modified by human intervention, to the point that they’re often completely unrecognizable in comparison to the ancestral stock. What they’re really complaining about is that modern genetically modified plants are more precisely engineered than the old scattershot style of random genetic modification.
As far back as I can remember, I've loved watching scary movies. I was the kid at the video store who wandered into the horror section and obsessed over the covers of the VHS tapes, while his parents sat patiently waiting in the Disney section, hoping for a more appropriate selection. You might say that, in addition to the consumption of wine and spirits, the ingestion of cinematic terror and gore makes up what's left of my free time. That's why, when our New Zealand wine buyer Ryan Woodhouse told me that we might getting a tiny allocation of Sam Neill's pinot noir, I did a double-take. "You mean the actor Sam Neill?" I asked, my eyes ablaze in response. This was a dream come true. While most people know Sam from his world-famous appearances in Jurassic Park and The Piano, horror-fanatics like myself relish his roles in genre classics like The Omen: Final Conflict, In the Mouth of Madness, and Event Horizon. I must have watched In the Mouth of Madness, an eerie John Carpenter classic from the mid-90s that ran completely under the radar, at least fifty times during high school. "You're telling me Sam Neill makes pinot noir?" I asked Ryan in shock.
"Not just pinot noir; really good pinot noir," he answered.
Ryan reached under his desk and grabbed me a sample of the Two Paddocks pinot noir and poured me a glass. Apparently Sam and his local importer had just dropped by the store to taste the staff on the wines while I was away, and Ryan had saved a bit of the bottle for future tasting. It turns out that when Sam returned home to New Zealand to live in Central Otago, he had brought the Burgundy bug back with him. Living in London for many years, drinking the fine wines of the Cote d'Or had taken its toll on the actor, and he wound up moving right smack in the middle of the most distinctive pinot noir soil in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1993, he planted a few acres of vines nearby and founded Two Paddocks Winery, hoping to create a few hundred cases of delicious red wine for his own consumption. Over twenty years later, he's parcelling out small allocations of his coveted cuvee to fine wine retailers like K&L all over the world.
"So you're telling me that I could talk to Sam Neill about Burgundy and horror movies?" I asked Ryan with a huge smile.
"I think he'd be game," he replied with a grin.
In this edition of Drinking to Drink, we talk about the powerful effects of great Burgundy on the human psyche, being recognized as the antichrist by horror buffs, and how John Carpenter never eats anything but breakfast food from the diner. Previous editions of the D2D series can be found by clicking here, or by visiting the archive in the right hand margin of this page.
David: Have you always been into wine, or was this an interest that took hold later in life?
Sam: My family actually had a wine and spirits business for 150 years, so my roots are in alcohol. When I grew up there was always wine on the table at dinner. As far as my interest in good wine, that probably didn’t start until I was around thirty. Before that it was just plain alcohol, I think (laughs). Pretty much any alcohol would do. I think it coincided with me becoming more successful in my career as an actor, which meant I had a little more money in my pocket and I could afford to drink things that were less damaging, and more rewarding.
David: I didn’t realize you came from a family booze business. What did your parents do exactly?
Sam: Neill and Company imported wines and spirits from overseas to New Zealand; primarily from France and from Scotland. It was primarily whisky, brandy, and table wine. They were also general merchants, but their principle business was wine and spirits. They had very good connections in Bordeaux, and they had very a good-selling whisky. But people in those days weren’t particularly interested in wine in New Zealand, so it was pretty unusual to see a bottle of wine on the table.
David: But that was normal for you.
Sam: It was normal in our house, yes.
David: Did you reject that growing up, or did you embrace it? Did you see enjoying alcohol as something your parents did that you wanted to get away from possibly, or were you learning about it from a young age?
Sam: By the time I left home—which was as soon as I possibly could because I wanted to be independent—I was impoverished. At that point, I drank whatever I could afford mostly.
David: How old were you when you left?
Sam: I was about nine or ten. I went to boarding school, and then the university. The last time I really lived at home I was quite young, so when I started drinking I was at school, I’m ashamed to say (laughs). But I’ve never been a heavy drinker. I’ve never been in danger of being an alcoholic, I don’t think.
David: Where were you in your acting career when you started taking more of an appreciation in wine?
Sam: It was probably about the time I got to London. I did the third of The Omen films and I was beginning to earn some decent money. James Mason, who was a great friend and a mentor to me and who loved good food and wine, took me to some excellent restaurants where I ate like I had never eaten before; and drank wines that I had never ever imagined. One of those dinners was extremely memorable because we had Burgundy, and I had never heard of it. I didn’t know what it was, but it was one of those light bulb moments, you know? I was on the road to Damascus.
David: I’ve been there. What was the wine, do you remember? Do you remember what stood out for you?
Sam: I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it at the time, but I had never drank anything like it. I wanted to understand it and to know more about it. I’d like to think it was a Gevrey-Chambertin, but I couldn’t swear to it. It had all these things that I had never tasted in life before. It had integration, depth, complexity, and a long finish—all things that I take as required these days! But I had never experienced them before that.
David: And what happened from there? You started looking for more wines like that?
Sam aboard the spaceship Event Horizon
Sam: Then I found myself living in London and there was a great wine shop down the road where they knew I was interested in Burgundy, so they would recommend things each time I came in. I started to learn my way around the region. I wasn’t on to it right away, however, I was sort of confused by the Côte d’Or. I thought it might be a place where you’d put your Bordeaux on a beach. It sounded like somewhere a lot sunnier than Burgundy. So it took me a while, and I still have quite a lot to learn about Burgundy, to be honest.
David: I think we all do. How did it work out for you, living in London, while working in the American film industry? Did that make it more difficult?
Sam: My career became more Euro-centric rather than American-centric, I guess. I think looking back the majority of my career has been either in Europe or Australia. I might have done more work in the states if I had been based out of Los Angeles, but I ended up in London and enjoyed myself; met a girl, all that usual stuff (laughs).
David: That’s great you were able to do it that way. I often wish I could live in London and still keep my job at K&L. That would be my dream! Maybe that’s why as an actor you have one of the most interesting and eclectic careers. You’ve been in huge blockbusters like Jurassic Park—which is now big again—and you’ve also made quite a career in horror. You’re in two of my all-time favorite horror movies: In the Mouth of Madness and Event Horizon. At the time, for me, those were movies I watched on repeat, over and over. In fact, the original name of my band in high school was “Sutter Cane” after Jürgen Prochnow’s character in that film. I was obsessed with John Carpenter back then. What was it like working with him, by the way?
Sam: I like John a lot. I actually did another film with him as well: Memoirs of an Invisible Man. We got on very well. There’s something about people who make horror films and films that are rather violent: they’re always the mildest, kindest, quietest people you could meet. John’s a bit like that. He’s the last person you would expect to be the horror master.
David: Did you ever get to have a drink with him?
Sam: I honestly can’t remember John drinking at all. He only eats breakfast; that’s all he eats. He will not go to fancy restaurants; he hates them. He just likes diner food, basically. He likes bacon, eggs, and muffins—that kind of stuff. That’s all he eats. He doesn’t have any interest in good food (laughs).
David: Would you say that most actors like to drink though?
Sam: Pretty much most people I’ve worked with are interested in both food and wine. One thing we can say fairly about actors is that—as a generalization—they’re really good company, they’re usually very funny people, and they like to go out and have a good time. In both things that I do—acting and making wine—the most important thing is the people you’re with. The people who are involved with you in the same crazy project. Wine has certainly been like that for me. All these things like terroir, root stock, climate, and viticulture—all these things are important—but the most important component to the making of wine is the people. The most important component of a film or television project is the people. In both, I think I’m very lucky to have found myself with some of the best people you can imagine.
David: You’ve been involved with Two Paddocks—your wine project—since 1993. This is around Jurassic Park time. How did you get involved with growing pinot noir in Central Otago? What was the motivation?
Sam: As I was saying earlier, I had become more interested in pinot noir, and then I found that it could be grown successfully in Central Otago, which is where I live. It seemed too crazy of a coincidence that not only was it possible to live in the best place in the world, but also to produce the best wine in the world there. It seemed like a no-brainer. I had a little spare cash in my back pocket and I started with only a few humble acres in a very unlikely spot. Four years later we had our first vintage—in 1997—and we realized that this unlikely spot was the sweet spot. I thought this is probably enough, I’ll just leave it at that. I think we were producing in those days something like 600 cases a year, and that seemed to be plenty; more than I could drink.
David: Were you selling it outside of New Zealand, or was this a local thing with friends and family?
Sam: We got up to about 800 cases before we started going strong. After that it was like I had been bitten by a big bug. In 1998, having seen those results, I found another sweet spot at the other end of the region, and I thought, “I want to double production,” so I planted another five acres. Now it’s four vineyards, so what started as a very tiny project has become a little less tiny. We’re always going to be very limited in our production, and we allocate our wine very sparingly. I think we’re probably up to about 8,000 cases a year, and—of that—there’s probably only 1500 that are from our premium wines. Those are the ones we direct towards you guys—towards K&L.
Sam being restrained from the mouth of madness.
David: Other than the fact that it’s your project, what’s your favorite part about your wine? What’s most enthralling?
Sam: I don’t pretend to be in any way some kind of an expert. I know a lot more than I used to—when we started I knew nothing at all about winemaking. But my principle directive to the people who work with me is: I’m interested in restraint. I’m not at all interested in big, loud-mouthed, new world styles. While we don’t suppress that exuberance in the fruit, we do use restraint in the vineyard, as well as in the winery. What’s been very pleasing to me is that we produce what I think is subtle, profound, and beautiful wine, and it’s nice when other people agree with me on that (laughs). That gives me great pleasure.
David: It’s clear from talking to you, and having tasted the wines, that you have a real passion for wine and for wines of real delicacy and nuance—like Burgundian wines, for example. Do you find that being a celebrity ever hinders that message? Like wine retailers don’t take the project as seriously because you’re a famous actor?
Sam: I think that’s always going to happen, so that’s the first elephant I shoot when I walk into the room. It’s also easily done because—first of all—I’ve never really been a celebrity. You don’t see me in magazines, my life is private, my family lives an obscure and private life, and I think it’s evident to people in the wine world that I’m not just putting my name on a label. This is something that I’ve been committed to for twenty-three years; that I started from scratch. I’m still the lieutenant at the head of my own little army.
David: Right, you were involved with Two Paddocks before people even knew wine was being made in New Zealand, let alone world-class wine. I think with the work that Ryan (Woodhouse) is doing, and the work that growers like yourself are doing, to bring these wines to a new audience, for the first time ever you’re seeing Burgundy drinkers crossover and accept what’s going on down there. I know that’s been the case for me—personally speaking. And it’s a clear answer: it’s because it tastes better. As a wine geek you know these heralded vineyard names—Richebourg, Echezeaux, Chassagne-Montrachet—that have so much romanticism to them. But when I do side-by-side tastings these days and I evaluate purely on flavor, I’m finding that some of the best pinot noirs in our store are coming from New Zealand. Not just good wines, but some of the best wines in the world.
Sam: And put the price-points up against each other. It’s interesting how that works out (laughs).
David: Right! The prices are almost too good to be believed sometimes. It’s almost difficult to explain to customers because they think you’re under-selling them; like the wines can’t be world-class if they only cost $20 or $30. But we convert them eventually. All they need to do is try a bottle.
Sam: Well, we appreciate the missionary work.
David: It’s hard fought! (laughs)
Sam: You’re bringing light to somewhere where there was only darkness before.
David: Speaking of darkness, does everyone who meets you have to make an Omen reference, or a joke about you being the antichrist?
Sam: No, this is probably the first one I’ve had in about three months.
David: (laughs) That’s still pretty recent! It’s funny because you’re in all kinds of other great movies that are not scary and that are serious and well-acted films—like The Piano or The Hunt for Red October—all these critically-acclaimed movies where your acting is on full display.
The Two Paddocks estate in Central Otago
Sam: I’m in a show on Netflix right now called Peaky Blinders, have you seen that?
David: I just started yesterday! With Cillian Murphy. Although I only got about fifteen minutes in before I had to turn it off and run a quick errand.
Sam: I’m pretty scary in that.
David: I haven’t made it to you yet. I just saw him trot into town on the horse, and then my phone rang.
Sam: Persist for another couple of minutes and then I turn up. I think you’ll be very afraid.
David: I’m still afraid of Event Horizon! My wife can’t even look at that film anymore because it had such an impact on us. I was high school when that came out and I’ll always remember the scene when they get the black hole footage to work and you see what happened on board this ship as they went through the porthole. We all screamed and closed our eyes. Your horror roles were so impressionable for me in my youth. It’s been really cool to be able to talk with you about two of my biggest interests.
Sam: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen those movies, but I think you’ll definitely enjoy Peaky Blinders. It’s a very cool show.
David: Who’s someone you would want to have a drink with if you could choose anyone—living or deceased?
Sam: I think Robert Mitchum was the coolest man who was ever in the movies. I’d like to have met him.
David: How appropriate as he was also in two very scary films: Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter. Which one do you think he was scarier in?
Sam: I liked him in everything that he did. There was something about him that was just beyond cool. I would have liked to have looked at that cool up close and seen what it was.
If you are indeed interested in obtaining some of Sam's incredible Two Paddocks wines, we have a very limited supply available on special order below. Less than 50 cases of each wine came into the United States this year, so we're talking extremely limited:
2013 Two Paddocks "The First Paddock" Pinot Noir Central Otago $74.99 - Winemaker's Notes: Sourced from the first twenty-five rows of Clone 5, which was planted in Gibbston at The First Paddock vineyard in 1993. Hand harvested and sorted then a 50% whole bunch indigenous ferment in a dedicated First Paddock French oak cuve. Matured in 30% new French oak with the balance in older wood for an extended 14 months of barrel maturation. Bramble, underbrush, black fruit and spicy aromatics, followed by a mineral infused palate. Ethereal in nature with great mid palate density and drive.
2012 Two Paddocks Estate Pinot Noir Central Otago $49.99 - Two Paddocks flagship Pinot Noir - an estate grown, barrel selection from the three small Neill family vineyards in Central Otago. These vineyards are high-density planted in a range of clonal material and intensively "man-handled" with most vineyard practices carried out by hand. In 2012, this wine was 100% Alexandra fruit from the Redbank and Alex Paddocks sites. Again, each block and clone was picked and fermented separately, with the final blending taking place prior to bottling. Redcurrant, spice and wild black exotic fruit aromatics followed by a strongly driven wine showing great texture and elegance."
2014 Two Paddocks Estate Riesling Central Otago $34.99 - Winemaker's Notes: Two Paddocks Riesling is an estate grown single block selection made from fruit grown at Two Paddocks’ Redbank Vineyard situated in Earnscleugh, Central Otago. As in the vineyard, this wine was handcrafted using traditional methods and bottled early to ensure all the integrity and vitality of the wine was preserved. The soils in this block are well draining schist loam and the vines tend to thrive. Additionally the typically extreme diurnal temperatures experienced in Alexandra (Earnscleugh) between day and night are responsible for both metabolising acidity and retaining an intense flavour profile - all this really means is that we feel a drier wine style is both possible and appropriate. This wine displays pink grapefruit, freshly squeezed limes and spicy loquat aromatics. There is a taut mineral tension feel on the palate, elegant textural weight and very long persistence.
To learn more about Two Paddocks Winery click here.
This is also very tempting.
Batch three is here. Outside of Nebraska, you'll only find it at K&L.
My notes: When I first tasted the Cut Spike whiskey, I thought it was simply the best American single malt out there; a true revelation for the domestic category. However, as I'm now tasting the newest batch from the Nebraskan producer, I'm realizing that the whiskey is starting to morph into something very particular and unique to the brand. That classic creaminess is still very pervasive, but for the second time in a row there's a pronounced note of pine that soon mutates into ginger and Asian spices before quickly turning back into rich vanilla and oak on the finish; smoothly seeping its way into my taste buds as that last little sip goes down. What we're starting to witness here is the development of a house style--a flavor that defines this distillery. It's very exciting, and it's becoming infectious.
Kyle’s notes: With this being only their third release, the anticipation of what is in the bottle was very high: a chance to try and flesh out exactly what is the house style that the good distillers at Cut Spike bring to the table. This bottling does a great job of solidifying them in my mind as one of the highest quality single malt producers in the States. This whisky is incredibly vibrant and fresh without tasting young or harsh. The nose is lifted with bright notes of candied ginger and Douglas fir, a sense of promised vanilla sweetness wafts in at the end. In the mouth there is sweetness, orange marmalade, a hint of clove for spice, and then the same vanilla cream from last batch that really adds roundness to the palate.
David OG just got his bottle today, so he’ll chime in later. You’re going to want one, so you might as well just get it out of the way now.
Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt Whisky $59.99 - At first we couldn't believe our mouths. We knew that Cut Spike single malt had just taken Double Gold honors at the 2014 San Francisco Spirits competition (the highest possible honor), so obviously other people thought it was good, too. But after tasting so many mediocre American attempts at single malt whisky, we had become accustomed to the idea that the Scottish style of distillation would never be recreated here at home. There would be spin-offs, and experimental grasps at greatness, but that supple, malty profile would simply be something we needed to import from abroad. Then the folks at Cut Spike sent us a sample of their two year old Nebraskan single malt whisky made from 100% malted barley on a pot still crafted in Rothes, Scotland. Fermented at the brewery next door to Cut Spike in La Vista, the malt was matured for two years in new American oak with varying levels of char. The result is an incredible hybrid: soft, barley and vanilla-laden whisky that tastes somewhat like your standard Scottish single malt, but has its own unique character simultaneously. It's the kind of whisky that you taste once and enjoy, but then the next day suddenly crave intensely. It impresses you instantly, yet doesn't really reveal its full character until weeks later. The new oak blurs seamlessly into the malty mouthfeel, adding a richness on the finish normally not tasted in standard Scottish selections. Cut Spike is a major accomplishment for American distillation, pure and simple.
Also, the second time through, this reminded me that Elric used to wake me up if I was having a nightmare.
You never know what your beloved fur buddy might be getting up to when you’re not looking.
I do like the aeropress, but it uses a lot of coffee.
Adults who play role playing games have money, and are willing to spend it on good design. That was the conclusion I came to after seeing Geek Chic's beautiful gaming tables, which carry five-figure price tags and year-long waiting lists. And something I found outstanding about their approach was beyond their design work (which I also liked, by the way); it was that they really paid attention to the customer experience, carefully designing not just the furniture, but the process of how the end user orders one of their products and essentially has their hands held through much of the waiting process during fabrication.
Now another company producing wood products for gamers, this one called Wyrmwood, has again combined good design with clever business sense. First off let's look at their product, which sounds simple, but does something surprising:
I'm not showing you that video to pump up their crowdfunding campaign; it's already over, and they netted $246,719 over a tiny $10,000 goal. No, I'm showing it to you to as an illustration of how designing something relatively simple, but clever, and targeted at a highly specific audience can lead to great success.
If it's not obvious from the video, the guys and gals at Wyrmwood had already designed, and were already selling, their successful dice tower system. What's notable here is that they dreamt of offering it in a much wider variety of wood species—I'm talking 70 and including exotics—that they could not possibly afford to pre-buy the lumber for.
So they turned to Kickstarter to get precise information. By learning exactly how many people wanted exactly how many units in exactly what species of wood, they could order only what they needed. Wyrmwood designer and co-founder Edward Maranville explained their approach to Polygon:
Our Kickstarter is a bit unorthodox, in that the main reason we're running it is to expand our variety of options, not the product itself. While we'd love to offer that kind of variety all the time, we just can't do it from a logistical perspective — we don't have the space for all the lumber, or the inventory.Keep in mind we offer different sizes and surface options, so if we stocked our 15 product variations in 70 different woods ... it quickly gets very out of hand. But, in the context of a Kickstarter, we can get all the pledges, order exactly what we need and make them in a series of large runs we can manage.
The really clever bit they've pulled off is the part that's easy for Kickstarter novices to overlook: Accurately managing customer expectations. Because Wyrmwood was already tooled up, was already experienced with production times for the existing product and employs enough experienced woodworkers to know that Bubinga and Wenge are a lot trickier to work with than Pine and Walnut, they were able to create a precise system of timelines.
We took our time with the development of the Dice Tower System, refining the production process and figuring out what it takes to make them and how many we can make over a given period. We've set limits on our reward tiers based on this, and so we're staggering out the delivery estimates in batches. The first tier was for 100 backers who would get early delivery a month away. The next is 3 months, the next 5, and we'll simply add on new delivery windows as these fill to ensure we can always deliver on time, as promised.
In other words, these guys didn't...roll the dice with their delivery times. [Cue rim shot.]
Okay, this is hot.
Cast iron is a known Good. Its even cooking surface, versatility and durability have made cast-iron pans into vital kitchen staples all around the world for hundreds of years. To usefully update such an old technology usually comes down to the details, and Iwachu skillets are a prime example.
Nambu tekki (or nanbu tekki, depending on which part of the Internet you ask) is a traditional form of ironware, made in Morioka, Japan, for over 400 years. It is still used in simple, high-heat kitchen tools like kettles, griddles and bakeware. This type of ironware is made in a proprietary process resulting in a higher quality material, thinner wall thickness and a satisfying, slightly pebbled non-stick surface. That means you get a lighter weight cast-iron pan without sacrificing even heat or durability. Past their use of this credentialed construction, the key design feature in Iwachu skillets is subtle: their gentle sloping sides and unusually long cut-out handle dramatically improve ergonomics.
Though they're called "omelette" pans, the graceful shallow shape is good for all kinds of sautes, sauces and bakes. That longer, subtly-curved handle allows better grip, cools faster than traditional handles, and is well angled for fancy wrist-flipping. Pre-seasoned and now available in two sizes, over at Hand-Eye Supply.
The art in this series is pretty neat, but the writing is fucking awful.
As fears of overpopulation took hold in the 1970s, NASA began giving serious thought to building space colonies. In the years since, they managed to solve Earth's population problem by sending everyone to live in my neighborhood in Manhattan so that my landlord can keep raising my goddamn rent. But before finding that solution, there were a variety of space colony design renderings produced.
The first question they faced: What should a space colony be shaped like, what should the overall form factor be? I'm not talking about a colony built into the side of an asteroid or on the moon, because we already know the answer to that: You just build a city and put a big glass dome over it, duh. Bor-ing.
No, I'm talking about an unattached colony that can, like, drift around and stuff. So the first problem to solve for is gravity. Because if space colonists were just floating around all the time, the reduced wear and tear on our footwear would make sneaker companies go bankrupt, and we'd need to have some kind of economy up there.
So to create gravity, a design called the Bernal Sphere was proposed. This was actually an older idea, first conceived of in 1929 by scientist John Bernal. You may recognize Bernal's name as he is not only still alive, but recently gained additional fame for portraying crowd-favorite Shane on "The Walking Dead."
The gigantic Bernal Sphere—designs ranged from two miles to 10 miles in diameter—was meant to be hollow and filled with air, along with 30,000 people that presumably didn't have outstanding debts on Earth. The sphere would be attached at its two "poles" to massive motors that would rotate the thing like a rotisserie.
This would generate gravity-simulating centrifugal force along the internal "equator" of the sphere, along which people could build houses, have picnics and wear out Nikes.
On either side of that equatorial zone would be huge windows, and mirrors positioned outside of the sphere would direct sunlight in through them. In the photo below we're looking into one bank of windows, through which you can see the ring of the opposite bank.
The polar areas of the sphere would presumably be uninhabitable, as you'd get really dizzy there. In the renderings we can see that the polar area is covered in forest, but we could also probably use that area to like, dump old air conditioners and stuff.
So why a sphere, with all that wasted space? The shape was proposed as being optimal for containing pressurized air, which seems like kind of a silly trade-off; can't we just make it whatever shape we want and, like, buy better O-rings somewhere?
Others agreed with me, maybe not about the O-rings, but that the shape was decidedly not optimal. Next we'll look at some better solutions.
No mention of Ringworld in this? Shameful.
So far we've seen two space colony form factors that arose from a 1975 NASA-backed study. The Bernal Sphere was round, the O'Neill Cylinders cylindrical. This third concept, proposed as part of the same study, is a sort of combination of the two that takes the cylinder and bends it into a circle.
Known as a Stanford Torus, it's named after the university where the study took place. The torus shape—I'm guessing "torus" is either Greek or Latin for donut or bagel—provides its gravity by rotating around its hub, and at a suggested 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) in diameter could theoretically support some 10,000 people inside. Sunlight would be bounced from mirrors in the hub into the living space, providing the effect of "overhead" sunlight.
I find the visual effect of being within a large torus more interesting than that of the Bernal Sphere or O'Neill Cylinders; it kind of looks like you're in a valley that slopes up and out-of-view on either side. An additional benefit versus the O'Neill Cylinders is that with the latter, there is a feeling of finite space; jogging along it, you would eventually reach the end and have to turn around. The torus on the other hand provides infinite scroll, which would make chase scenes more entertaining.
Here's a fly-through of what a Stanford Torus might look like:
Design god Syd Mead famously produced renderings of a Stanford Torus in his concept work for the space habitat in the 2013 sci-fi film "Elysium."
However, space geeks are quick to point out that that's not technically a Stanford Torus, because as depicted in the movie, the habitat features no "roof;" the inside of the torus is absent and open-air, allowing ships to fly in and out of it.
That would make it what's known as a Bishop's Ring:
A Bishop's Ring is essentially a gi-normous Stanford Torus, with the theory being that if it were made from carbon nanotubes rather than steel, a much larger structure could be built: Some 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles, roughly the driving distance from New York City to Miami) in diameter and 500 kilometers (310 miles) wide, providing a livable surface area roughly the size of India. Towering sidewalls stretching 200 kilometers (120 miles) in height would actually obviate the need for a "roof" and the design could be left open-air; science eggheads say the gravity generated would be enough to hold the atmosphere in place, and the open-air design would allow TIE Fighters and such to fly in and out.
Sci-fi author Iain M. Banks has taken the concept of the Bishop's Ring and run with it. In his Culture series of novels, Banks envisions something called Orbitals: huge Bishop's Rings that stretch to 3,000,000 kilometers (1.9 million miles) in diameter, up to 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) wide, containing landmasses the size of proper continents.
In Banks' fictional world, these Orbitals are tilted towards a nearby star, and thus their rotation not only provides gravity, but a proper day/night cycle. The theoretical surface area would be up to 120 times more than what we've got on Earth.
While nothing like an Orbital will ever be constructed in our lifetime, Banks' fictional creations did inspire a real-life object that many of you may own: A little video game called Halo. That game and its sequels have netted $3.4 billion in sales since 2001. It's strange to think that a sci-fi author's imagination unwittingly helped propel the Xbox console to success.
Really tiny watchmaker moties.
“Please slow down and explain what you’re talking about” is basically the tagline for this comic
Election seasons make me really hate this country. It's just like "Here's everything that is terrible about the US and it's people for you to enjoy! BEHOLD THE SMALL-MINDEDNESS, THE DISDAIN FOR TRUTH, THE DESIRE ONLY TO WIN AND DESTROY AND GAIN POWER!"
via the ThePrettiestOne
One of the things I love about my males sharebros is that they don't buy into this stuff.
But I still think a lot of us have probably been injured and made insular, defensive, and turned-inwards due to our refusal to perform toxic masculinity.
The Mask You Live In, a follow-up to to the 2011 documentary Miss Representation, was created by The Representation Project to dissect modern masculinity as the universally destructive force that it is. The film combines personal stories from boys and men about the expectation to “be a man” and to never be vulnerable with conversations with experts in psychology, gender, and media. There are too many touching and insightful moments throughout the film to list them all here, but the message is clear: the mask of invulnerability boys are expected to wear every day ultimately hurts us all.
We are so thrilled to add The Mask You Live In to our list of resources when people ask us how men and masculinity fit into feminism. Be sure to watch the trailer above, host a screening yourself, and read our full review here.
This was not at all what I expected. via A.Kachmar
The red hot nickel ball (RHNB) has been tested on a variety of materials. This video, which shows the RHNB causing a weird reaction in floral foam (which, incidentally, is a lot of fun to jab with your thumb), is the best RHNB video yet.
Run it back to the first track.
Seeing these guys next week. They are currently working on a full length, which I hope comes out soon.
Metal is in such an amazing place right now. For serious.