June 3

My attempt at the Trans Am Bike Race
I am competing in the Trans Am Bike Race and will be posting updates from the road to my blog. [more inside]


June 2

Penrose tiling quilt  
My 2021 pandemic project was learning to quilt, and I started out with a fussy geometrical monstrosity. Penrose tilings are aperiodic tilings (i.e. they can cover the plane infinitely without repeating) that exhibit fivefold symmetry (so no right angles anywhere). My brother nerd-sniped me by wondering what it would be like to quilt one, which launched me on a four-month long journey that I documented on twitter. Here's the first tweet in the series describing the project, and a thread comparing to previous Penrose quilts by other folks.


A Cast Of Characters (for a story not yet written)
A Cast Of Characters (for a story not yet written) is a collection of 60 short illustrated descriptions of strange people, pets, places, and portents. A sort of sequel to last year's A Book Of Beasts (previously on projects; metafilter), this was initially intended as a stand alone thing (hence the subtitle), but since then I've been writing Tales From The Town, which is a series of (very) short stories using the above cast of characters, set in a Moomins meets Twin Peaks sort of world, and with new episodes being published weekly (it's up to tale #7 at the moment). [more inside]


May 29

The Marvelous Money Machine! A Fable of Finance
The Marvelous Money Machine could make the whole town rich! But…how does it work? A pay-what-you-want picture book for children and immature adults.


May 23

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else
My new book, Shape, comes out this coming Tuesday, May 25! This book is about geometry: in it you'll find gerrymandering, pandemics, the foundations of AI, poetry, math/theology beefs of late-czarist Russia, championship-level checkers, the Talmud, why you are your own negative-1st cousin, wrinkles in time, and a lot more. It's not just about triangles (though there are some triangles in it.) The New York Times calls it "unreasonably entertaining," and there's an excerpt in this weekend's Wall Street Journal (paywalled.) Shape is available for preorder now at Bookshop and Amazon, and of course it will be at your local bookstore on Tuesday!


May 21

Good Moon: Still Delightful
A little indie pop/folk/rock album release! My friend Molly & I have founded a little quarantine band called Good Moon, and just released our pandemic project - an EP album of original songs, called Still Delightful. A little bit Lake Street Dive meets a little bit Sara Bareilles, maybe? Would love for you to check it out!


May 20

Student Digitalus - Critical Optimism Weblog
I research and read a great deal of texts on a consistent basis - here I share a collection of resources with thought provoking and or significant issues and news on a wide array of vital topics. Within the site are subsite-megaposts on a variety of topics. Largely posts without comment. Comments variously interspersed.


May 14

Preserving Worlds
Preserving Worlds is a documentary travelogue through aging but beloved virtual worlds. Join us as we explore dated chat environments, appreciate player-created art, and meet people working against obsolescence to keep the communities they care about alive and accessible. [more inside]


May 10

Art by Josh Millard
I've been making a lot of art over the last four years—oil painting, watercolor, stained glass, linocut blockprints, recently plotter drawings as well—and I've updated and revamped my art site to collect and organize the bulk of that existing work to be a central depot for ongoing work. [more inside]


May 7

An electro cover of Laurie Anderson's "From The Air"
During the horror show that was 2020, I sometimes felt like a passenger on a plane flown by a madman. Then it hit me... I'd heard that story before. I ended up doing a cover of a classic, prescient song by my ultimate art hero Laurie Anderson. It's the first song I've recorded under my Maxx Klaxon moniker in some years. (Longtime MeFites might remember my contribution to the MeFiComp back in 2006... but I can't find a link to it.) Check it out on Bandcamp... and remember, it's Bandcamp Friday today (May 7), so for all purchases before midnight, 100% of the money goes directly to the artists.


May 5

peaKO
We have created a new method to find transcription factor motifs in ChIP-seq data using knockout controls. Available on PyPI and GitHub.


May 3

Violent Penguin (Series One)
Violent Penguin was a shortlived educational European children's cartoon from the recent past (although the country of origin and original date of broadcast are unknown). Long thought lost, the complete first series has recently re-surfaced on youtube. Created by the popular children's author (and multi-instrumentalist) Toby Vok (best known for the children's classic Spiders Are Wonderful), Violent Penguin ran for seven very similar episodes (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), in which the papercraft penguin interacted with plasticine people and taught them all various lessons in less than 30 seconds an episode. Alongside the seven episodes, there are two helpful compilation videos: The Complete Violent Penguin (all seven episodes all in a row), and The Concurrent Violent Penguin (all seven episodes all at once). [more inside]


April 29

Blaseball is a Horror Game
A short free zine inspired by the cultural event of blaseball. A group of friends and I have been chatting about the splort and decided to explore more of blaseball's horrific aspects, which sometimes get elided by fanworks in favor of pure weird or optimistic reads.


April 28

xkcd's "Map Projections", animated  
For reasons I don't fully understand, I set xkcd's "Map Projections" comic to ragtime music.


April 21

Workshop 88 Maker Meetings - Remote Makerspace in a pandemic
When the pandemic closed our makerspace to public events, most of our members were also not comfortable meeting in person with each other. It took a while to hit our groove, but we've recorded many great conversations related to 3D printing, electronics, home automation, and all sorts of DIY crafts, tools, and projects. We're always looking for more people to join our community, but just having the YouTube channel has helped us stay creative and together as a community.


Music Video and Vinyl!
I'm excited to share my first music video and vinyl release, featuring incredible puppets and miniatures by my talented friend Jon David Russell (who also recorded and produced the album). The vinyl can be pre-ordered at seththomas.bandcamp.com. [more inside]


April 9

Hawking Hawking: A new biography of Stephen Hawking
In Hawking Hawking, I explore how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity’s greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn’t rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him—and use them for his own purposes. [more inside]


April 6

Imaginary Friends Reunited
I asked people about their childhood imaginary friends, then brought them back in their own social network that’s full of funny, poignant and creepy stories (you can add your own via the link at the bottom of the page). [more inside]


April 3

The Chaoyang Trap - A Newsletter about Everyday Life on the Chinese Internet  
A group-chat-as-newsletter about online culture in China. CT is a regular (usually fortnightly) exploration of contemporary China, one important niche at a time. We’re interested in marginal subcultures, tiny obsessions, and unexpected connections. [more inside]


April 2

Essex, England, May 2003
"On May 3rd, 2003, I got a digital camera as a present from my parents. I was 24, living at home, and in the middle of doing my degree. We had two cats, and were soon to get a third. Like everyone else with their first digital camera, I immediately spent the next month taking pictures of all the incredibly mundane things you were never really allowed to take pictures of before. Bookshelves and bathrooms and carpets and curtains. Desktops, cupboards, TV screens. Cats. So many cats. Then I forgot all about ever taking them, and never looked at any of them again until now. So here are nearly a thousand pictures of Essex, England, in May 2003. Almost all of them are extremely boring. A significant proportion of them are either of myself or my cats. 99% of them are in 640*480 format. 23% of them are extremely blurry."


Covid Project: Grocery Bags
Before covid I wanted bags I could take into the grocery and then strap to my bike's rear rack to travel the five long blocks home. Covid made that need more pressing, and now as it winds down I've finally got the solution. It's been enormously satisfying to make something so entirely for myself and a great excuse to practice sewing, a new skill for me. [more inside]


Doing Standup Comedy in Pre-COVID New York City Taught Me How To Live
I wrote this first-person story about what it was like to do my last weekend of shows in New York City before my album recording just prior to the COVID shutdown. I'm trying to do for unrepped bar show standup what Anthony Bourdain did for line cooks while chronicling the last days of a fertile scene that may never return.


March 26

A make-believe band
For about a year I've sent a fake band around the world on a fake tour with fake songs. Each performance gets a score, which leads to some songs being more popular than others. Now I'm looking for help from people who love Taylor Swift, The Grateful Dead, or King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard so I can map my fake songs to their real ones. People like you, maybe! [more inside]


March 22

Painted pine linen press
A personal furniture project that kept my sanity during the COVID lockdowns. I'm in an apartment, with several sheets of thick rubber and isolation pads under my work bench. I only use hand tools, I avoid any sort of mallet work and limit my work hours to the noisier parts of my neighbourhood's day. I received no complaints but it made for slow progress - picture a man quietly tunnelling his way out of prison. [more inside]


March 18

Full featured, extensible enumerations for javascript.
It seems like my pandemic super-power is starting a project, getting side-tracked by some aspect of that project, turning that into its own project and then forgetting about the thing I was originally working on. In that spirit, I give you enumerated types (not just constants!) for javascript. [more inside]


March 16

Recent work at USGS Water
This is a link to a blog, which is itself a project that I have worked on, along with other teammates. It highlights work that I and my coworkers at U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area have been working on over the past few years. [more inside]


March 15

UnRoman Romans: texts on outgroups in ancient Rome
UnRoman Romans is a collection of texts with notes on various outgroups in ancient Rome (actors, athletes, dancers, sex workers, sexual non-conformists and others). [more inside]


Fogleworms: a series of modular linocut prints
I spent the last half of January fixated on a simple mathematical proposition about arranging short twisting lines on a square grid, which I nicknamed "Fogleworms"; the terminus (so far) of that particular obsession is this series of 96 modular linocut prints and their four derived "ghost" prints, each mathematically unique. [more inside]


March 10

Women and Other Monsters book
My essay collection about feminism and mythological monsters is out! It's a combination of personal writing and cultural analysis, looking at how myths about monstrous women still influence us and how we can reclaim those images. Of specific interest to Metafilter: it includes a chapter expanded from the essay linked in this FPP, and some discussion of the emotional labor thread including a few quotes from Mefites. (Also mentioned the emotional labor thread on this week's Longform Podcast.)


March 5

L10: Bootcamp
I wrote about becoming a coder after a decade of scraping by off the proceeds of writing, even after essays gone viral, publishing a book, landing a creative writing "Professor" gig, & well-compensated and prestigious grants. Ironically, this letter, the 10th in my memoir-y newsletter, has been unusually well-received. I got a lot of "this struck a chord" from other artists and writers who've been trying to make it work. Maybe it will resonate if you're an artist/writer, or for non-artists, it might be of interest to see how the sausage is made--I discuss exact $ amounts of what my books, grants, jobs, contracts paid me. [more inside]


March 4

The Kilobyte’s Gambit 1k chess game  
I adapted an impressive 1.25KB chess engine to remove display code and get it down to 1024 bytes, then created a separate interface using pixel art of The Queen’s Gambit. It won’t win any tournaments, but if you’re a chess novice brace yourself for a challenge. [more inside]


March 3

A video for our quarantine style song recording
Hi! This is a cover my over-60 amateur musician buddies and I (The Busted Bones) created using a small Zoom recorder... sent between us - quarantine style! [more inside]


Needledrop
Needledrop is a skeuomorphic vinyl turntable interface for listening to music on YouTube. Use it with your favorite albums and share with friends. Try it out for good vibes.


The Lifecycle Of A Singular Organism (and other short animations)  
I've recently been trying to make a short piece of animation a day. Most are under a minute, but a few are a little longer. The Lifecycle Of A Singular Organism (stopmotion, 3m3s); Who Of Ourselves Should Be Ashamed (stopmotion, 58 seconds); Risk Reward (stopmotion, 1m8s); A Circle And A Square (text animation, 30 seconds); The Collusion Of Artifice (stopmotion, 41 seconds); Manipulations of Perspective (stopmotion, 1m13s). There's also (many more) inside: [more inside]


February 26

The Juris Lab
The Juris Lab is a collaborative empirical legal research blog covering a wide range of subjects, including judicial behavior, regulatory activity, computational linguistics, and litigation analytics. New posts most weekdays.



February 21

PLEDGE: The Musical
A tiny public radio station is run by a conservative college in Eastern Arkansas. The show follows the station over a nine day period as it goes through the daily trials and tribulations of broadcasting the news, managing employees, navigating politics, wrestling with diversity, dealing with technical problems, and interacting with donors, all while trying to have a successful pledge drive it needs to meet its goal and stay on the air. All of this craziness is just out earshot of the audience and just below the surface of the staid and controlled exterior of public radio. The situations are based things that have individually or collectively happened, are happening or most assuredly will happen in the public radio. [more inside]


Quarantine Collage Series
These original collages, were made during winter 2020-2021 in response to feelings of hibernation, isolation, and loneliness of quarantine during the COVID19 pandemic. They are made of book pages stained with India ink.


February 17

bad screen: a Firefox extension to block distracting websites
Constantly refreshing twitter has been very bad for my mental health, so I made an extension to set a period of time when I'm allowed to look at distracting websites, and block them at all other times. [more inside]


Scenes from the Quarantrain
When COVID lockdown began in March of 2020 I knew I’d be spending a lot of time at home. I had begun and abandoned an HO scale train layout a few years previously and figured the time was right to re-start it. The result is The Quarantrain. Childhood memories, pop culture references, fantasy scenes, images from my warped imagination. A work in progress. [more inside]


The Bomb dot LOL  
Feeling low? Need a quick pick-me-up? Get a shot of validation and visit thebomb.lol! A randomly generated text and image lets you know you're the Bomb (dot lol). Remember: "You're the finest individual!!" [more inside]


February 16

PicPack - Easy photo and video sharing for groups
I needed a way to share photos and videos for my son's Lacrosse tournaments with other parents. Most solutions require an app download or make it harder than it needs to be. I built PicPack to make the process of collecting and viewing photos and videos super easy. [more inside]


February 13

Ticklish - Declarative style GUI programming in Python
I was fiddling with a little personal project and needed to start writing some GUI code. GUI code is a pain in the butt to write and I really just wanted to get on with my project. So, obviously, I spent over a week writing a whole package to wrap Python's default GUI package, tkinter. As you do. [more inside]


Helix Mirabilix: Ball-lifter for marble machines
A new ball-lifting mechanism for rolling-ball sculptures (AKA marble machines, marble runs, or whatever you like to call them) in which the ball magically ascends a helical track in apparent defiance of gravity. Link goes to 3 min. YouTube video.


February 9

Animal Bastards: An Inquiry Into Anthropomorphism  
In this game, you will be shown some animals and asked to judge them: bastard or not a bastard.


February 2

"Axe Feather 2021" - recreating a 16-year-old ad [probably SFW, depending on your work]
In 2004, Axe/Lynx (the deodorant brand) released an interactive advertisement that used then-new video features of the Flash platform. This was a year before YouTube, and the Internet went crazy about their new found ability to virtually tickle a woman lying on a bed. It fell off the Internet in 2009 and with the death of Flash you can't even (easily) see it on archive.org any more... so I recreated it for the modern web. [more inside]


The Manual, by The KLF, cleaned up and proofread
There’s a cult band from the late 80s onward called the KLF (and other names); they made a step-by-step guide to achieving a number one single with no money or musical skills. Legitimate copies of the book are hard to find, or priced for collectors. Released in 1988, though copies are around on the internet; based on the same source version, there are many typos and OCR artifacts. I decided to clean it up and share. [more inside]


January 31

Explaining Gritty to the French (in Lang Belta)
During the existential crisis that was 2020 @NicoleConlan made a video explaining Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers, to an uncomprehending French populace who were seeing him in the American news in his role as anti-fascist icon. Herein is Nicole’s explanation translated into Lang Belta. Lang Belta is a creole conlang created by Nick Farmer for the TV Show “The Expanse”, based on the novels by James S.A. Corey.


The Man Who Left
The Man Who Left is a short fairy tale about a man sent to war, forced to fight incomprehensible battles in unknowable places for increasingly unclear reasons, who has become so weary and distraught by this life of constant toil and terror that it is only his dreams of returning to his wife and child that keep him sane. It's the 150th (and final) tale in my Thousand And One Tales project (previously on projects: 1, 2, 3, 4), which I originally planned to keep up for another 851 stories, but in the end failed spectacularly to do so. But still I tried... [more inside]


January 27

Finger.Farm: Advanced Finger Hosting  
Originally conceived as a way to get a status report on someone or something, the Finger Protocol aka RFC-742, has been around since the late 70s. Even today, the capability to finger lies dormant in every major OS. [more inside]


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