April 16th, 2009


Bacterial communication

Major point:Your bacteria have you outnumbered and they're talking to each other.

Interesting biology: Detailed description of squid/bacteria symbiosis.

My speculation:On the principle that biology is more complicated, I bet it will turn out that there are multi-species subcommunities of bacteria with their own codes.

Life lessons from very curly hair

From Tightly Curly, a website about taking care of very curly hair:
Because I felt that my hair was my enemy, I punished it viciously. I relaxed it frequently, and had scabs all over my head. At one point I managed to dissolve it. I’ve had my hair in every color and about every style, including straight, very short, weaves, braids, extensions and texturized. Still, nothing I did would get it to grow, and it was always unpredictable and broken.

I felt I’d tried everything and nothing had worked. Then one day I found Lonnice Brittinum Bonners book: Good Hair. If she could grow out her hair (though she still used a texturizer), I knew I should give it a try. And I did. It finally grew long, but was still unpredictable. In wind, rain and humidity, it turned into a large dark cloud. But I was encouraged by the length, and I loved how it felt. It was soft instead of crunchy. So I kept experimenting, and found the techniques I want to share with any other very curly person.

Now I love my hair. People come up to me all the time to tell me they haven’t seen hair like mine. I finally got my long hair to throw over my shoulders.

Not everyone has hair which forms ringlets tighter than a pencil, but a lot of people think punishment is a good strategy, and that the consequences of punishment are just proof that more punishment is needed.

Getting to thought and experiment is an emotional journey for a lot of people-- it isn't simply an intellectual effort. One of the things which convinced me I had a bad problem with self hatred was when it hit me that if my calligraphy strokes weren't going well, I needed to check whether there was something wrong with my ink and/or paper and/or pen point instead of assuming the problem was a defect in me that would get better if I just kept trying without changing the physical factors.

I've liked to think that I'm not crazier than most people, I'm just paying more attention to what's going on in my head. At this point, I'm not sure whether I'm crazier than most people or not, but I'm less concerned with the question.

For more about self-experimentation, see Seth Roberts:

1. Something is better than nothing. You learn more from doing something than from thinking about what to do.
2. When you do something, do the smallest easiest thing that will help, that will tell you something you don’t know.

I don't have my copy of Dion Fortune's The Winged Lion handy, but there's a lovely bit about how putting a little extra effort and money into making good porridge gives a large increase in quality of life.

Curly hair link thanks to haikujaguar and browngirl.

My favorite contemporary artist

There's a Bruce Pollack exhibit at the Fleisher-Olman gallery at 1610 Walnut St. in Philadelphia till May 9-- about 20 paintings, mostly fractal circle patterns like the one above, but also a few networks more or less like this:

about 30 little studies, some of them representational, and an amazing twenty foot pen and ink drawing which an abstract geometrical take on Escher's Metamorphasis. I had no idea tracking finely details (but not extremely polished) changes in lively geometrical patterns could make me so cheerful.

Actually, Bruce Pollack isn't just my favorite contemporary artist, he's the only contemporary artist I follow. It seems like the majority prefer a rough finish which bores me. Any recommendations for contemporary artists that put a lot of craft into their work?

The gallery hours are Monday - Friday: 10:30 - 5:30 and Saturday: 12 - 5, (closed Saturdays in June and July, and open by appointment in August).