December 1

Volunteer Responsibility Amnesty Day
Lots of important things depend on volunteer labor - local civic groups, open source software projects, and more. But maybe you are getting exhausted, burned out, from trying to volunteer too much. So: every solstice (the next one is December 21st), it might make sense to take a look at your volunteer responsibilities, and see if it's time to pause, rotate, or sunset one of them. Feel free to point to the Volunteer Responsibility Amnesty Day page as a way of saying: I need to put a few things down. I hope other people pick them up and carry this work forward. But even if no one does, I need to stop, or at least pause for a while. [more inside]


Cha-Chinga Hotel Nor Casino!
Conan writer/performer Andrés DuBouchet is best known for his many characters on the show including Tony the Cameraman, the President of Boliviguay and gold iPhone designer Raffi Jaharian. His latest album, Poseidon’s Retreat, is a series of dark and absurd monologues recorded without an audience and set to a musical score. (I edited the album and also composed and performed the music to several tracks.) If you listen to just one track, make it the 10 minute and 43 second commercial parody “Cha-Chinga”, which fellow writer Rob Kutner calls “one of the most joke-dense, nonstop laugh machine bits ever recorded -- as solidly high-concept-funny as every great SNL fake ad combined into one.”


November 24

Formula Non (2009 - 2019) An Alternative F1 Photo Project
This project began in 2009 and took me to twenty five Formula 1 race weekends in seventeen countries over ten years. The photos are all shot from the edges of the circuits, where little can be seen other than some clues that you might be at a Formula 1 race. [more inside]


November 20

"How to Sous Vide," a helpful cookbook
Looking to explore sous-vide cooking? My latest cookbook, "How to Sous Vide," will help you get the most out of it. [more inside]


November 17

Skittish, a playful space for online events
For the last year, I've worked on Skittish, a weird space for virtual events and gatherings of all kinds, where everyone's a goofy-looking animal and you talk to others with spatial audio in a customizable browser-based 3D world. It's now open to everyone with a demo that doesn't require registering, and it's free to create a world of your own. [more inside]


November 9

Princess Unlimited
Ten years ago, when my daughter was little, I read too many picture books about princesses who sit around waiting to be rescued. In response, I wrote my own tale about a princess who faces a dragon, starts a business, and saves the kingdom. Today, it finally hits the shelves, with wonderful art from Raissa Figueroa. It got a great review from School Library Journal: "This essential purchase smashes societal barriers erected against gender"! [more inside]


I finally got my Murder Ballads book back into print!
Unprepared to Die's 2015 Soundcheck Books' edition dropped out of print when its publisher closed up shop. That was frustrating because Soundcheck's demise happened to coincide with the book's appearance in Dolly Parton's America, which prompted quite a bit of interest in it just as there were no longer any copies to sell. Now the rights have reverted to me and I've put out a new self-published edition using the original text (with a brand-new cover). Here's a collection of the book's reviews, plus a YouTube video explaining the project's genesis and some bonus material from Billy Bragg, Mick Harvey and the other musicians I interviewed about these fascinating songs. [more inside]


November 8

The Stick Princess
The third book in the Ways of Magic series is finally available, a mere twenty years late. [more inside]


November 7

The Fucking Bible (warning: 7.5 MB)
It's the Bible — with added swearing! [more inside]


November 3

Saturday Afternoon Ikea Trip Simulator  
Saturday Afternoon Ikea Trip Simulator is a (one joke) text adventure designed to simulate the experience of going to Ikea on a Saturday afternoon (other times of day and/or days of the week are available upon request). [more inside]


November 1

Halloween is dead, long live Halloween…
It’s my 20th Annual Halloween Cartoon and it’s packed with bone-chilling bon mots and spine-tingling satire. It may be a tad bit behind schedule, but it is Dias de las Muertas… somewhere. And if you like this, be sure to visit the bowels (eyeeeeew) of my blog for departed versions from years past. Happy (late) Halloween!


October 29

Mini-Project: Convert exported Metafilter comments to HTML, JSON, or MBOX
I wrote a little utility to convert the massive text file one obtains from the Export Your Comments page into a variety of other formats suitable for various purposes. Currently converts to HTML, JSON, or Unix-style MBOX (mailbox) format. [more inside]


October 25

The Worst House On The Internet  
Remember when you went trick-or-treating and there was always that one house on the block that gave out the worst treats? Now everyone on the Internet can re-experience that same feeling of Halloween disappointment. You’re welcome! [more inside]


Ha-Ha-Haunted House... of Comedy  
Gothtober is an annual Halloween "advent calendar" with a different participant providing media or digital art for each day. My contribution dropped today, Gothtober 24 (there's no way for me to link directly to my piece, you have to scroll down and tap /click "24"). It's a silly animation of classic monsters performing at a comedy open mic night. Totally SFW. [more inside]


October 20

Trunk Show  
Please enjoy two of my trunk stories, horror and gothic and historical. I've posted them for fun over at Medium. Roughly 24 min. reads each.
The Little Lady of the Way
The Invocation of Miss Helen Demmler
(cw: violence, child death)


October 19

Mystic Paths - A new word board game!
A deduction through word association party board game my friend and I co-designed has made it to stores! [more inside]


October 15

Are You a Clickbait Genius?
I took headline A/B tests from Upworthy’s real data and turned them into a challenging quiz. [more inside]


October 14

Fix My Code: Engineering alone can't fix what's wrong with the internet
"Fix My Code" uses the eponymous 2021 book as a launching off point to talk about internet history, the allocation of capital, and the artificial barriers created by traditional notions of intellectual property.


October 11

Bringing the International Mars Society Convention into VR
The 24th Annual International Mars Society Convention is Thursday-Sunday, October 14-17, 2021. AltspaceVR allows large groups to meet in a shared world. I will be streaming 52 of the 130+ talks from Zoom into AltspaceVR events, and have set it up so that people in VR can talk to the speakers on Zoom. Additionally I made a persistent world where people can meet outside of the talks, code PDK958 [more inside]


October 4

The Islands Of The World
"An artefact from another world, The Islands Of The World is a guidebook to the many strange and wonderful places that exist out there across the endless immensity of the seas. Here among these hundred islands you will find wonders and whales, mountains and mermaids, sorrow and silence, forever frozen fields and ever-burning flames, alongside a treasure trove of carefully curated illustrations from around the world." The Islands Of The World is a series of 90-odd short, poetic descriptions of mythical islands, paired with wonderful old public domain illustrations of faraway places. Alongside the website, a fully-illustrated print version is also available for £9.99/$12.99 (it's quite nice). [more inside]


October 3

1,228,178 genetic variants, 2 million years
I have mapped, graphed, and sonified all of the single nucleotide genetic variants which were found in more than one person from human chromosome 22. Genomes were collected and sequenced by the Human Genome Diversity Project, the Simons Genome Diversity Project, and the 1,000 Genomes Project, and were dated by Wohns et al. in A unified genealogy of modern and ancient genomes. The end result is a 5 part, 42 hour video series. [more inside]


September 28

Wildcard Bicycle Novelties
Stickers and t-shirts with designs that tweak the nose of cycling tradition. [more inside]


September 26

Invisible Sun
Invisible Sun, the third book in my Empire Games trilogy, is published on September 28th, 2021. [more inside]


September 22

Copying a mid-century stool….mid-14th century BCE  
There's a Theban lattice stool in the British Museum that I find to be shockingly modern looking. The construction looks so light and minimal that I decided to build an accurate replica for myself and see how it well it stands up to daily use. This blog documents that build but also tries to explain some of the procedures and reasoning of the ancient Egyptian craftspeople who developed the design - from the point of view of a hobbyist woodworker in pandemic era Toronto 3500 years later.


September 17

I published my escapist cozy fantasy book
I've just published Ray and the Cat Thing, the book I wrote during the hard lockdown when I desperately yearned for a light, escapist, happy story. [more inside]


September 14

Datasette Desktop (macOS application)
This is the new Mac desktop version of my Datasette application, which helps people explore SQLite databases and CSV files and install plugins to visualize them, clean them up and more. [more inside]


September 13

Metafilter Usage Graphs 2018-2021
I figured it was time to update these.


September 12

Scarlatti on the Gadgetina
Link goes to 3 min. YouTube video of me playing Scarlatti (K159) on the gadgetina, a homebrew MIDI keyboard. The gadgetina is actually an old project, but the video is new. [more inside]


September 7

A fictional band + real music
I've been writing about a fictional band for nearly two years. I've written up fake song names, put the band on a made-up tour around the world, and I've written stories about their time on the road. But I don't have any music to go along with the stories, and I'd like to change that. [more inside]


September 6

A channel vocoder walkthrough
It's an interactive explanation of a channel vocoder. (Homer Dudley's original vocoder from the 1930s was channel vocoder.) It let you perform all of the steps that the vocoder goes through to analyze a music signal and a voice signal and synthesize them together.


September 4

Armoured Commander II
I just released my game, Armoured Commander II, out of Steam Early Access. It's a sequel to a project I posted here nearly six years ago now. The game is a turn-based roguelike where you command a tank and its crew in world war II. Combat is brutal and unforgiving, and survival is the goal. [more inside]


Female Kill Machine
Female Kill Machine is a lightning-paced absurdist quantum explosion of ever-escalating cyberpunk insanity, set in a near-future world of almost total corporate control, where the world's richest men amuse themselves by attempting to build the most deadly female killing machine possible. But what if you have no interest in fulfilling the purpose for which you've been built? What if instead of fighting all you want to do is think? Warning: this book contains despicable villians, occasional bouts of hyperviolence, and also a penguin. Female Kill Machine is available as an ebook on ko-fi (free/pay what you want); amazon (£3/$4, or free on kindle unlimited); itunes (£3/$4) and patreon (free for subscribers). [more inside]


August 31

thoughts.page  
thoughts.page is a website for people to post their thoughts. It's basically like twitter, but no one can @ you or follow you — it's trying to contribute to making a quieter, more cozy internet. [more inside]


August 30

The Kraken Busters  
The Kraken Busters is a 1000% true history podcast telling the somehow-mostly-forgotten story of the United States' existential conflict with sea monsters immediately after World War 2. The first three episodes are up, with plenty more to come. Can be streamed directly from the site, or found at the usual podcast outlets.


August 27

Africans in France in the late 19th century
In the past few months, I've been providing answers for the r/askhistorians subreddit, mostly (but not only) to questions about French history. A question about the presence of Africans in France in the late 19th century prompted me to investigate this topic, which has been little studied by academia: there are works on Africans before and after the 19th century, and, for that century, works on Afro-Caribbean people, but not so much on Africa-born residents. So I did a little bit of research and wrote this 8000-word essay which includes a few stories (found in newspapers) about some African people who lived in France in last quarter of the century, decades before African immigration began. [more inside]


August 24

GO/NO-GO
I’ve made a simple page that brings together third-party tools I find useful when launching web projects. Enter a URL once then check its metadata, links, headers, etc.


New England Carnegies
A website that honors the libraries that Andrew Carnegie helped to fund. [more inside]


The Camera Offset Project: Hide your face. Save the world.
Did you know that going camera-off reduces the environmental impact of a video call by 96%? Did you know that, if you use one of the Camera Offset Project graphics as your profile picture in video calls, nobody will question why or ever expect you to turn video on again? You are welcome :)


August 13

Procedural bit-pattern art
Inspired by this post (and following through on this comment), I've written a Mastodon bot that creates procedural bitmap art. It works by first creating a simple function consisting of randomly chosen integer operations. This is applied to each pair of pixel coordinates and used to colour them. The bot then toots both the picture and the function. Source code for the renderer is here; the bot code will likely get released as well when I get around to it.


August 3

Antarctic survival manual: art for the pandemic and other disasters
During the pandemic I finally stuck most of my art into a website. I make my living as a scientist and medical specialist, so despite having some gallery representation and sales over the years I haven't had the time or energy to self-promote. But I would like to share the series called "Postcards from the Hedge" (stolen poems for survival and healing). There are times in many artists' lives in which they develop a temporarily strained relationship with their preferred medium, which in my case is paint. This set of 50 small 4"x6" collage postcards are my response to a recent paint-problematic episode in my own life, which has coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and a dramatic reduction in physical studio space. [more inside]


August 2

Avoidance Procedures
Avoidance Procedures is a short comic about persevering in the face of the immensity and eternity of everything. It's also the 60th (and last) episode in the lo-fi sci-fi comic series Places In Space, an episodic journey across the universe and back again spread out across two different 30 episode series (previously on projects). [more inside]


magic science: meditation
magic science is an animated radio show. I am your host, Garlic the elephant. In this episode, we're chatting about meditation. [more inside]


August 1

Pattern Explorer
A little math/bit operation pattern explorer, inspired by a thread on the Blue about Bit-field patterns. [more inside]


July 30

Hot Dad Summer
My high school band is now my middle-aged band, and we’ve just written the jam of the summer (to be modest). Now streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and anywhere you stream music!


July 23

The Sound of the Far Future
This is an ambient concept album that tells you about events that will happen in the far future. You can listen to the recording, or you can have your browser play it "live" with accompanying visualization. [more inside]


July 14

Quarantine Happy Hour concert archive
Between April of 2000 and July of 2021, the Quarantine Happy Hour Facebook group hosted a livestreamed concert of mostly roots/acoustic/americana/bluegrass/folk music nearly every single night. Hundreds of artists gave concerts, and around 20,000 people joined the group. Facebook's interface for finding and watching the concerts after they were over is terrible, so I built a searchable and (hopefully) easier to use page linking to all of them. [more inside]


July 2

Recollections Of A Summer
Recollections Of A Summer is a short story about siblings during some long ago summer, told through a series of six short (nostalgic, poignant, bittersweet) vignettes. [more inside]


June 29

NPR's Joy Generator
After a couple of months of work, we've finally launched this! It's a collection of short stories about the things that bring us joy, and the science behind them. Pairs well with headphones.


object: murder is a hand-drawn comic about objects with murderous intent
object: murder is a light-hearted view of the dark secrets hidden in the hearts of the objects around us. Hand-drawn in five minutes or less; no take-backs. I've been doodling for as long as I can remember, alongside more serious pursuits — and sillier ones. I'm committed to maintaining some sort of hand craft in the digital age, and so object: murder is my attempt to keep my doodling muscles limber while bringing a little bit of lightness to other people's days. [more inside]


June 19

Harry Pace & Black Swan Records - new book
Exactly 100 years ago, Harry Pace founded America's first Black-owned record label. Black Swan Blues, my 2014 book telling his extraordinary story, inspired Jad Abumrad & Shima Oliaee’s new Radiolab series The Vanishing of Harry Pace. Over the past 12 months, we've been able to gather a lot of fresh information about Pace and Black Swan, so I've produced a expanded edition of my book which you can buy here. As a little bonus for PlanetSlade readers, I've also posted a new website essay called A Georgia Lynching, which tells the full story behind an incident Black Swan's Ethel Waters mentions in her autobiography.


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