Saturday, October 18, 2014

A developing story


Dear readership,

Your humble hostess has taken on the duties of development news editor for Fresh Water Cleveland. Hence for the past couple of weeks, I've been churning out a lot of copy.

It's an interesting time to have such a gig in this town. I've been in CLE my whole life, so I truly understand the transformation that's going on here. I'm at the street level and I have a healthy dose of historic perspective.

Make no mistake: the renaissance is upon us. That I get to be the Girl Reporter delivering all the details is a pretty serendipitous development of its own.

Now for what I've been writing, with some side notes and images.

I rounded up what's next for Waterloo Road in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood for this article. Took a little road trip down there as well and stopped at Raddel's and picked up Slovenian sausage, smokies and jerky. HELL YEAH

Waterloo Road, Cleveland

Waterloo Road, Cleveland
Now it's Downtown to the 5th Street Arcades. Talk about your transformations. I remember going in this place 22 years ago to get my nails done for my wedding. It was downright creepy.

Not any more.

5th Street Arcades, Cleveland

5th Street Arcades, Cleveland
Cleveland Public Library's downtown branch is one of those magical places that inflates me with breath every time I step into it.

Now dig this: pretty soon you'll be able to amble on in there and scan stuff to your heart's content, including items that are 35- by 50-inches (you read that right), for FREE.

Cleveland Public Library, main branch

Cleveland Public Library, main branch
I've also covered new eats coming to the Uptown neighborhood, apartments and homes that are selling out before they're built in Battery Park and a new charter school where grade school tots are immersed in either Mandarin or Spanish.

¿QuĂ© pasa?

Cleveland's Uptown neighborhood, Nov. 2013

I will not tip my hand on what I'm working on for next week, but know this: one of the interviews included a boat ride (!!).

This will still be the place for my errant commentary and essay, but I must admit that I interact quite a bit on Evil Overlord Facebook, iffin' you're in a mind to friend me over there. I will probably post most of my stories here, particularly if I have an interesting photo or side note to add.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading. It means more to me than you know.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don't worry, baby, we're both evens


Photo by Herb Ascherman

When I was 28 I was awesome. Everyone knew it.

When you're 28 and you step into the set, everything stops. I mean just LOOK at that smirking two tickling that beauteous eight. Anyone can see that party's going on all night long. I was sittin' pretty at 28.

Then four rolls onto the scene.

Your squares are totally down, jamming with their roots, hanging around the Pythagorean theorem and that. But four? He's the smoothest square around. So when he started with his It's an integer thing and Don't worry, baby, we're both evens and Your beauteous eight is a cube of your sexy two. I was toast. Goddamn four. Just let me be your denominator. Don't you want to be my numerator?

I let him divide me.

I know, I know. I know. But COME ON. It was FOUR.

So that's how I ended up as seven, a miserable goddamn prime—only divisible by one and myself. I might as well have been shackled next to pi and the rest of the irrationals. No one hangs with your primes except your other primes, which are worse than your fractions, if you can believe that.

But seven has its advantages. You've got a little luck in your pocket. So after I'd been seven for three years one night, what happens? Another seven comes sauntering over pretty as you please and gives me that look. I didn't even have to think about it. We got squared.

Hello forty-nine.

And I thought 28 was so fly. Twenty-eight's got nothing on 49. I'll rock this square for as long as I can: flirting with 50, counting with the cubes, adding with the odds.

At least until he comes along.

Because while this game may feel infinite while you're playing it, every number on the board knows it ain't. Whether you're a couple of slinky nines spooning inside 99 or poor ol' one-third, he's coming for you. Every one of us looks the same to his giant dead eye.

Just one tangential glance off of zero and it's the end of the line. You become nothing.

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Text by humble hostess.

Art by Liz Maugans, "When I Was 28 I Was Awesome," 2014, screen print collage, 26" x 40", now showing through Dec. 19, 2014 as part of SCREEN PLAYS by Liz Maugans at 1point618 gallery.

Press: Cleveland Scene.  

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

When I was 28 I was awesome


Art by Liz Maugans

Yo Clevos:

Local arts maven Liz Maugans approached a number of Cleveland-area writers (myself included) a few weeks back with some unusual prompts. She asked each of us to create accompanying prose, up to one page. She gave me the one you see here.

The original art along with our responses will debut in Liz's show SCREENPLAYS this Friday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at 1point618 gallery.

Other contributing writers include Michael Heaton, Ra Washington, Lyz Bly, Andrea Levy, Josh Usmani, Eric Anderson, Jeff Hagan, Marc Lefkowitz and Joseph Clark.

If you're in the Gordon Square neighborhood, please drop in and say hello. I'd love to see you.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The dreaded thought piece: on artificial intelligence


Just stick with me on this.

The encephalitic quotient (EQ) quantifies the brain-to-body mass ratio. My pet bunny's EQ is about 0.4. For we humans, it hovers around 7.5. Theorists have mused over whether a small EQ contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs and if the massive human EQ--the highest of any species--would be the end of us.

Junk science? Perhaps, but it's an interesting assertion, particularly in today's silicon landscape.

Aside: I wonder if anyone ever calculated the EQ of an Intel processor. The whole damn chip is a brain.

Whenever some nerd with a German accent comes on my iPod and starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI) and how ve must be very diligent in zee development of zis phenomenon ... my eyes glaze over. Matt Miller was talking to just such a fellow the other day on To The Point, one Nick Bostrom, author of Superintelligence.

Therein Miller posed a question regarding super AI that piqued my interest, "Will we end up being their pets?"

Admittedly pretty hackish, but evocative nonetheless.

We've been the smartest guy on the block since ... forever. Our hubris is so great, many people believe we are fashioned after God. But think about how we treat those on the lower end of the EQ spectrum.

I keep my pet bunny in a cage. I eat the eggs of chickens. Some guys corral animals into a pen, shoot them and call it hunting. Other guys do it on the free range. Either way, we kill for sport without much ethical dilemma.

While few among us feel guilty about squashing a bug, that spider is running away from you for a reason. Plenty of people avoid consuming animal products, but even the virtuous are impacting the earth and all of its creatures by our collective noxious ways.

As for AI, we've already assimilated it. The obvious examples are Watson of Jeopardy! fame and Siri purring from your iPhone. In the fictional realm, Spike Jonz delivered unto us a seductive operating system in Her that was all too believable.



But think of the AI we take for granted--the Google search bar for instance. Ever feel irritated when it failed to predict your request? Or perhaps victorious when it didn't?

I'm smarter than you, ya miserable Google bastard!

Then pull the camera back and think about how much power our precious devices have over us. They record nearly everything we do, including our thoughts. And we believe them. Consider the Justin Ross Harris story this summer: But he did a Google search about children dying in hot cars!

So did I just now to find that link.

No one knows what the upper end of the spectrum will look like. Perhaps such entities already exist and we don't even see them: I doubt your average amoeba worries about the goings-on of those pesky humans.

Or maybe not. Maybe they will eat our eggs and wear our skin, put us in cages and hunt us for sport. That all sounds silly; more realistically, it will depend on what value we have to them and what ethics we instil upon them.

"They'll need to maintain a power grid," said the Goat as we discussed this on a weekend walk.

"They already have one," I countered. Surely a super AI would never replicate our idiotic reliance on fossil fuels. Don't believe me? This solar keyboard goes three weeks on a full charge. That there fire ball in the sky is the AI power grid.

Last week in the news, a story raged over a man kicking a cat and whether or not he should go to jail. In this CNN clip, an animal rights lawyer asserts that anyone consuming animal products is essentially kicking a cat. While I see his point, I disagree with it. We don't blame a coyote for eating a raccoon because he has to do it to survive. Hence, when we consume animal products to live, it more or less speaks to our hunter/gatherer orgins. If a person is attacked by a feral dog, no one expects him to lie there and get torn apart.

Call it the Darwin card. How will super AI play it?

I do not have a pithy conclusion to this essay, and so it will end like the business end of a blunderbuss. All I can do is hope that whatever super AI blooms, it has a prime directive to take pity on us poor bastards.

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Second hand, first rate


My latest effort for Fresh Water is full up with all things new-to-you in Cleveland, from where to find vintage stereo equipment to the end-all-be-all shop for antique tableware and entertaining finery.

As usual, I had a blast with this one and along the way, I ran into some surprises--like where the movie people go when they need furniture for sets and production offices here in Cleveland or the tale of one eastern European family's harrowing tale of immigration.

Here's the article.

And now for a few snaps from some of the places covered therein.

Fleet Bike Shop, circa 1971

Miniature Toby Jugs from Royal Doultan. WANT

James Dean hanging at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore

Stoic soldiers at HGR Industrial Supply

SpongeBob and friends at RAM Electronics

What the cork? Figure it out for yourself at Upcycle Parts Shop

Snazzy sign at Discount Desk and Office Supply

Unique boots for a unique Erin from Unique Thrift

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