A Sanguine Neurastheniac

Entries from September 2011

The Truthiness About Red Wine

September 26, 2011 · Leave a Comment

Naomi Most, a contributor at Noisebridge, has post about the gap between the perceived and proven health benefits of red wine.  She puts it in context by pointing out that the quickest way to get press for anything resembling science is to publish results that seem to vindicate a human vice.  The resulting press-bob-bomb is seldom commensurate with the significance of the finding.  My pet peeve is nature/nurture research that “explains” gender gaps, but that’s a different story, told beautifully by Terri Oda.

Anyway, here is my favorite line from Naomi’s post:

Red wine is being used to “sell” scientific research about a phytochemical (resveratrol) which just happens to appear in a minute concentration in the beverage, much the way images of scantily clad young women are used to sell beer, especially in places where such women appear in minute concentrations.

Love, love, love.

Also, Noisebridge is having a nerd prom.  Props to Rubin and crew for organizing.



Categories: Uncategorized

Chaos Communication Camp reportback Friday, 7-8:30pm

September 19, 2011 · 4 Comments

Salutations to Comrade Disco Lenin

This Friday evening, BernieS, Far McKon and I will be at The Hacktory at 1524 Brandywine St. to share pictures, short videos, and stories from the absolutely awesome Chaos Communication Camp in Berlin last month.  Come join us!  It’s BYOB, The Hacktory will provide popcorn.

Announcement on The Hacktory blog

Write-up in Technically Philly

Previously on this here blog

E-waste slides, e-waste video

Open data slides, open data video

Thanks to my favorite Shiva for reminding me to include links to the slides and videos.  :-)


Categories: Geekery
Tagged: ,

Maker Faire Redux, or I Love Meeting Philadelphians in NYC

September 19, 2011 · 2 Comments

This weekend, Maker Faire touched down in New York.  Sponsored by O’Reilly publishing’s Make and Craft magazines, Maker Faire is a craft and tech expo that happens in several cities throughout the year.  Exhibitioners included robot makers, tee shirt makers, garden makers, radio makers…seeing the trend?

Sculpture by John Belardo made from laser cut perforated metal, inspired by Bucky Fuller's geodesic domes. Got me thinking about the potential for decorative solar concentrators.

It happened at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.  It was definitely a welcome recharge, and by the end of the bus ride back to Philly I discovered that I’d filled nine pages of a notebook with new sketches and notes.  Here are some of my favorite participants that are making me re-think my stance on working alone.

Reboot clothing

Green lace hoodie from Reboot

I had a blast talking to Brie and Michael about their Philadelphia area slow-fashion clothing company, Reboot.  They make simple, beautiful sweaters and jackets from the ends of industrial bolts of wool that would otherwise be discarded by large clothing manufacturers.  They are clearly very thoughtful about their work, describing their hesitance to use the word “sustainable” because it’s impossible to know what’s truly sustainable.  But their garment construction is unambiguously solid and well thought-out.  I walked away with a gorgeous hooded sweatshirt and plans to collaborate on a wool-based workshop sometime soon.  We had a great conversation that flitted from the ups and downs of small-scale manufacturing, to technology education for girls.  I can’t wait to watch them grow.

Crystal Radios


Categories: Geekery
Tagged: ,

In defense of Solo-working: Because working with certain people sucks

September 16, 2011 · Leave a Comment

Co-working and shared workspaces are all the rage, but every time I hear a hackerspace advocate talk about that sense of community and how it’s better than working alone in your dark basement, I shudder a little.  It’s wonderful that people are finding ways to team up and have more than any of them could on their own, and I love hearing about the serendipitous moments of genius that arise because the right people were in the same room at the right time.

But to me, “sense of community” often means “lots of people I’m not that attached to but spend unjustifiable amounts of time with, and a social contract that I don’t necessarily agree with”.  I feel like hackerspaces and co-working joints come with an expectation that you’re looking for new buddies, but I already struggle to find time to spend with the most important people in my life, and these spaces can feel like a social time-suck.

By contrast, my basement, desk, back yard, etc, are oases of creativity for me.  I have all my stuff, all my ideas, my own kitchen with my favorite teas and snacks, the commute can’t be beat, and most of all, there is quiet space to concentrate and unwind with no social distractions.  This is important because when I’m at my most creative, I’m often very non-verbal.  To be fair, I own my house so if I want to paint a room green, or use a battery of chemicals to clean vintage tile, or take over the kitchen to make hand lotion, by golly, I just do it.

Contrary to, say, the Indy Hall mantra that goes “Because working alone sucks”, the dirty secret is this: I love working alone.  More often than not, I hate working with other people, and that dates back to nursery school. Organizing with other people, teaching, getting past a problem I can’t solve on my own, all great. But when it comes down to making something, whether it’s a sewing project or a server configuration, I’m usually much more comfortable in a room by myself.

So while I like the basic idea of shared resources, I can’t drink the Kool-Aid that working alone sucks or that finding my local co-working/hackerspace/makerspace is the best way to get stuff done. What if my local space is full of people I can’t stand? What if their values are way different from mine?  What if I hate the chairs or forgot my French press?

I guess what I’m getting at here is that working with others is great if 1) you like that kind of thing and 2) you fit in with the clique. But in my experience I usually spend my time at hackerspaces talking to people, introducing visitors, giving tours, organizing and planning, cleaning, etc, and I always get way, way more done by myself at home. You know, hell is other people and so forth.

So this is in defense of those of us who just really love the placid, no-social-overhead, free-form-discovery approach to going it alone.

Categories: Making stuff
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