The Community Weblog. In byte-sized chunks.

For Today, But Really Every Day, Hundreds of Women Sheila O'Malley Loves

Do you honestly feel like this is a FINAL list? Or that such a list could EVER be finalized?

"Seriously?! It's like cutting your dick to prevent pregnancy!"

Mehdi Sadaghdar [painful attempt at singing] of ElectroBOOM devises a way to power your stuff when there's a power outage [zapping and beeping]. (Previously) [h/t Miss Cellania]

YouTube Channel
Best of Mehdi 2016 [more zapping and beeping]

Pictures From Women's Marches on Every Continent

Crowds in hundreds of cities around the world gathered Satuday in conjunction with the Women's March on Washington. New York Times compiles photos from a LOT of marches into a single page illustrating the vast numbers and global reach of the sea of pink hats.

Last I saw, this was still being expanded with new photos added overnight.

That's just how you negotiate with a Nazi. Ask your grandfather.

On Friday a white man wearing black punched American white nationalist Richard Spencer in the face on camera. While discussions of ethics and history have been springing up, the Internet has also decided that this needed to be set to music. Tim & Eric have also composed a piano ballad about the events.

In an interesting meme-style ethics discussion, many twitter users are responding to the events by posting not just historical photos but also comic book panels and stills from movies showing famous characters including Wonder Woman, Captain America, Indiana Jones, and even the Joker.

Spencer has stated that he wanted an alt-right vigilante defense force.

For further discussion, more remixes, and many links to panels of old comics #PunchANazi and #PunchingNazis are now trending on twitter.

How a dispute at Harvard led to a grad student's forced mental exam...

At 1 a.m. on 4 June 2016, Gustavo German, a doctoral student in biomedicine at Harvard University, heard a knock at his door. It was three police officers. A doctoral student at Harvard is forced to take an in-patient psychiatric evaluation. Concern for the student or a reprisal for blowing the whistle on his advisor? "The judge issued an order that has created an extraordinary situation: Rubin must allow German to work in his laboratory, but stay at least 30.5 meters away from him, and have no direct or indirect contact. Rubin must also provide German with all of the lab resources he had before the problems began."

Maggie Roche (1951-2017)

Maggie Roche, co-founder of the idiosyncratic and influential sister trio The Roches, passed away on Saturday, January 21. Her sister and bandmate Suzzy Roche announced the death on Facebook and said the cause was breast cancer. NYT Obituary.

Prior to forming the Roches, Maggie and sister Terre performed as a duo before Paul Simon asked them to contribute vocals to "Was A Sunny Day" on his 1973 album, There Goes Rhymin' Simon (YT) (Spotify).

Maggie and Terre subsequently released Seductive Reasoning (Spotify) (YT) in 1975, with contributions from Simon and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section. Maggie's outstanding compositions include "Down the Dream" (lyrics), "West Virginia" (lyrics), and "Malachy's" (lyrics).

Adding youngest sister Suzzy in 1977, they properly re-christened themselves as The Roches, releasing a stunning self-titled debut album (YT) (Spotify) two years later. The album was produced ("in audio verité") by Robert Fripp, and included the equally stellar talents of Tony Levin, Larry Fast, and Jim Maelen. It opened with "We", a statement of purpose whose sardonic lyrics and avant-folksy vocals would come to define the group's sound, although Maggie's "Hammond Song" is a far better example of their incomparable vocal alchemy. Her song "The Married Men" was later recorded to much greater commercial effect by singer Phoebe Snow (and performed with Linda Ronstadt on Saturday Night Live in 1979). The album went on to become a cult classic, and remains their most popular and influential work.

The group's sophomore effort, Nurds (1980) (YT) (Spotify), couldn't help but pale in comparison, featuring as it did only three of Maggie's compositions, but Rolling Stone (in a discomfitingly sexist review) argued for them as the album's cornerstones: "The Boat Family", "One Season", and "This Feminine Position". Continuing the Paul Simon association, the album was produced by Simon's longtime producer, Roy Halee, and featured the Patti Smith Group's rhythm section, Jay Dee Daugherty and Fred Smith.

Robert Fripp returned to the producer's chair for their third album, 1982's Keep On Doing (YT) (Spotify). Maggie's presence as a songwriter was diminished even further, with only two (admittedly gorgeous) contributions, "Losing True" and "The Scorpion Lament". Fripp, Levin, and drummer Bill Bruford provided backing.

The group's final album for Warner Bros., Another World (YT) (Spotify), contained no songs written exclusively by Maggie. The album's credits indicate a jumble of covers, songs written by other family members, and extensive co-writing. Up to five producers were enlisted across the album's ten songs.

The following year, the Roches appeared on Philip Glass's Songs from Liquid Days (YT) (Spotify), singing lead vocals on the (quasi-)title track and backing Laurie Anderson on "Forgetting."

The Roches' music during the next two decades continued down an increasingly smooth and quirk-free path, settling into an agreeable form of harmony-driven AOR rather than the charmingly rootsy strangeness of their initial releases. They released one more full-length album, Speak (YT) (Spotify), in the 1980s. The 1990s were a mixed bag, beginning with a Christmas album, We Three Kings (YT) (Spotify), in 1990. A Dove followed in 1992, as did an album of children's songs, Will You Be My Friend?, in 1994. The Roches landed on revered indie label Rykodisc for 1995's Can We Go Home Now (YT) (Spotify).

Suzzy and Maggie made two charming and unvarnished albums as a duo in the 2000s: Zero Church (2002) (YT) (Spotify) and Why The Long Face? (2004) (YT) (Spotify).

Their final studio album was 2007's Moonswept (YT) (Spotify), whose production by Stewart Lerman took a page from the clean, modern folk-pop of spiritual descendants like the Weepies.

The Roches stopped touring in 2007, after the release of Moonswept.

The group's various other musical activities, collaborations, and guest appearances can be found in their extensive Discography.

Misc. YouTube live ephemera:
- A full concert from the Capitol Theatre (Passaic, NJ, 10/21/1978)
- "Hammond Song" (Rockpalast, 11/3/1982)
- "Mr. Sellack" (1980)
- "One Season" (1983)
- The Roches on Night Music (1989)

Maggie is survived by her sisters, Suzzy and Terre, as well as her mother, Jude Roche; her brother, Dave; her son, Ed McTeigue; and her partner, Michael McCarthy.

To the lighthouse!

Do you need to get away from it all? How about spending six months in Australia's southernmost lighthouse, ten kilometres off the southern coast of Tasmania, the country's southernmost state? Maatsuyker Island is looking for its next caretakers - although the light is automatic and no longer needs an actual lighthouse keeper, a pair of volunteers spends six months at a time on the isolated 0.72sq mi island, rising early for weather observations (it rains 250 days of the year), managing the land, and maintaining the lighthouse buildings and grounds.

Access is by helicopter and you must bring in all supplies - but don't worry, there's a resupply helicopter three months in. It is theoretically possible to land by boat - as long as the seals aren't breeding, and if you don't mind a 50-metre climb up a sheer cliff face. Aside from the occasional contractor or artist in residence, it's just you and the seabirds.

Applications are open until 30th January!

What is Probability?

The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics - "The introduction of probability into the principles of physics was disturbing to past physicists, but the trouble with quantum mechanics is not that it involves probabilities. We can live with that. The trouble is that in quantum mechanics the way that wave functions change with time is governed by an equation, the Schrödinger equation, that does not involve probabilities. It is just as deterministic as Newton's equations of motion and gravitation. That is, given the wave function at any moment, the Schrödinger equation will tell you precisely what the wave function will be at any future time. There is not even the possibility of chaos, the extreme sensitivity to initial conditions that is possible in Newtonian mechanics. So if we regard the whole process of measurement as being governed by the equations of quantum mechanics, and these equations are perfectly deterministic, how do probabilities get into quantum mechanics?" (via)

The class of Lindblad equations contains the Schrödinger equation of ordinary quantum mechanics as a special case, but in general these equations involve a variety of new quantities that represent a departure from quantum mechanics. These are quantities whose details of course we now don't know. Though it has been scarcely noticed outside the theoretical community, there already is a line of interesting papers, going back to an influential 1986 article by Gian Carlo Ghirardi, Alberto Rimini, and Tullio Weber at Trieste, that use the Lindblad equations to generalize quantum mechanics in various ways.
also btw...
  • What is Probability? - "Probabilities may be subjective or objective; we are concerned with both kinds of probability, and the relationship between them."
  • [On] the origin of probability in quantum mechanics - "I give a brief introduction to many worlds or 'no wavefunction collapse' quantum mechanics, suitable for non-specialists. I then discuss the origin of probability in such formulations, distinguishing between objective and subjective notions of probability."
  • Decoherence does not resolve the collapse question, contrary to what many physicists think. Rather, it illuminates the process of measurement and reveals that pure Schrodinger evolution (without collapse) can produce the quantum phenomena we observe. This of course raises the question: do we need collapse? If the conventional interpretation was always ill-defined (again, see Bell for an honest appraisal [1]; Everett referred to it as a "philosophical monstrosity''), why not remove the collapse or von Neumann projection postulates entirely from quantum mechanics? The origin of probability is the real difficulty within many worlds interpretations. The problem is subtle and experts are divided as to whether it has been resolved satisfactorily. Because the wave function evolves entirely deterministically in many worlds, all probabilities are necessarily subjective and the interpretation does not require true randomness, thereby preserving Einstein's requirement that outcomes have causes.
  • 50 years of Many Worlds (Some recommended reading) - "Personally, I prefer to call it No Collapse instead of Many Worlds -- why not emphasize the advantageous rather than the confusing part of the interpretation?"
  • Feynman and Everett (Quantum correspondence) - "I believe that Zeh would agree with me that decoherence is merely the mechanism by which the different Everett worlds lose contact with each other! (And, clearly, this was already understood by Everett to some degree.) Incidentally, if you read the whole paper you can see how confused people -- including Feynman -- were about the nature of irreversibility, and the difference between effective (statistical) irreversibility and true (quantum) irreversibility."
  • Let's suppose you live in a deterministic world and are about to flip a coin. You assign a probability to the outcome because you don't know what it will be. In secret, the outcome is already determined. To you, the process appears probabilistic, but really it is not. That is actually how MW works, but this is not widely appreciated.
  • Is the wavefunction real? - "Quantum theorem shakes foundations: The wavefunction is a real physical object after all, say researchers."
  • The measure problem in many worlds quantum mechanics - "We explain the measure problem (cf. origin of the Born probability rule) in no-collapse quantum mechanics. Everett defined maverick branches of the state vector as those on which the usual Born probability rule fails to hold -- these branches exhibit highly improbable behaviors, including possibly the breakdown of decoherence or even the absence of an emergent semi-classical reality. An ab initio probability measure is necessary to explain why we do not occupy a maverick branch. Derivations of the Born rule which originate in decision theory or subjective probability do not resolve this problem, because they are circular: they assume, a priori, that we reside on a non-maverick branch."
  • To put it very succinctly: subjective probability or decision theoretic arguments can justify the Born rule to someone living on a non-maverick branch. But they don't explain why that someone isn't on a maverick branch in the first place. It seems to me absurd that many tens of thousands of papers have been written about the hierarchy problem in particle physics, but only a small number of theorists realize we don't have a proper (logically complete) quantum theory at the fundamental level."
  • Weinberg on quantum foundations - "Considerable progress has been made in recent years toward the resolution of the problem, which I cannot go into here."
oh and :P
When They Came from Another World - "What if the future is as real as the past? Physicists have been suggesting as much since Einstein. It's all just the space-time continuum. 'So in the future, the sister of the past', thinks young Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses, 'I may see myself as I sit here now but by reflection from that which then I shall be'. Twisty! What if you received knowledge of your own tragic future—as a gift, or perhaps a curse? What if your all-too-vivid sensation of free will is merely an illusion?"