Wind Whips Up Las Vegas

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Beautiful pool at the Bellagio, but for a time this morning it was vacant.  A sign in the lobby announced that the pool was closed due to “inclement weather”.  It did strike us as odd, being conditioned by the types of storms that we’ve endured on the East Coast, to see this sign on the patios surrounding the pools here.  As they say, it’s all relative …

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The dust storm did make us wonder why the visibility was so poor this afternoon – almost like LA smog – and we knew it was serious when the Bellgio decided not to run in its fountains because the water would have sprayed all over the place  Local TV stations carried stories about the desert storm of a unique variety.

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Bellagio Part 2

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Bellogin’ from the Bellagio

Here for the Annual Meeting of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.  The Bellagio is beautiful, inside and out.

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The Individual in an Age of Distraction

 

 

CrawfordLet me simply say that The World Beyond Your Head  is among the best books I’ve ever read – and I’m enamored with it after only the first 68 pages.  Its author,  Matthew B. Crawford majored in physics as undergraduate at UCSB, then decided to obtain his Ph.D. in political philosophy at the University of Chicago.  He is one of a rare breed who combines the art of erudite presenting with lucid writing, as evident in this clip based on his previous book, Shop Class As Soulcraft.  As you listen to his presentation, keep in mind that in his spare time he fabricates parts for custom motorcycles.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-world-beyond-your-head-matthew-b-crawford/1119556239?ean=9780374292980

Crawford’s new book, subtitled On Becoming An Individual In An Age Of Distraction, addresses the problem of attention as a cultural resource and phenomenon.  You can get a flavor of this topic form Crawford’s insightful article in last summer’s Hedgehog Review, as well as in this Opinion piece last month in the New York Times.  But there is so much more.  Take for example the chapter on embodied perception, in which Crawford uses the physics of motorcycle racing to bring home his points:

Countersteering

At higher speeds, to make  motorcycle initiate a turn to the left, you apply pressure as though you were trying to turn the handlebars to the right.  Motorcyclists call this counter-steering, and it is indeed counterintuitive.  Turning the handlebars briefly to the right makes the bike lean to the left because of gyroscopic precession, and it is the leaning that accomplishes the turning … In cornering a motorcycle there is a series of motions and exertions that get instilled in muscle memory through practice, and these are integrated with the visual fuses of cornering.  Once the integration is fairly secure, it is the visual cues that the motorcyclist attends to, not the muscular exertions … The next time you see such a photo, look for the rider’s eyes.  If they are visible through the helmet’s visor, you will see them nearly perpendicular to the bike”s direction of travel, as the rider looks all the way through the corner … You have to learn to unlock your eyes as quickly as possible from every hazard, and instead look where you want to go.  This visual demand is absolutely counterintuitive … In addition to gyroscopic precession, a further “unnatural” challenge in motorcycling is the categorically different rate at which you are moving toward the things in your visual field, compared with our usual bipedal locomotion.  This makes it imperative to keep one’s eyes fluid.

Gyroscopic precession is an example of ecological optics in terms of how we visually adapt to specific environmental demands.  Crawford adds in a footnote that although much credit is directed toward J.J. Gibson for the field of embodied/embedded/grounded/extended cognition, the move toward “enactivism” can be attributed to suggestions offered by Mearleau-Ponty and others in the school of phenomenology.  Of course one could offer another footnote that enactivisim is encapsulated in the concept of “vision is motor“, part and parcel of behavioral optometry.

 

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The End of An Era

His grandfather was a Soloveitchik, but his father anglicized the name to Soloff.  His early life was spent in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but he grew up in Lakewood, NJ.  His universe was inside the music clubs there, far afield from Talmudic texts that permeated those towns.  It’s unlikely that you knew he played the trumpet for the studio version of this Paul Simon classic.

His fame stemmed mostly from a trumpet solo he did with Blood, Sweat and Tears on Spinning Wheel in 1968.  Lew Soloff left the band in 1973, to enjoy a long career doing what he loved, and during which he worked every day to remain at the top of his craft.  Lew dropped dead on the sidewalk from a massive heart attack after dinner on March 8 at the age of 71.  Some say that’s the way to go …

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April Phools

Paps as Ruiz

There he was on the mound this afternoon, a day late for April Fools, making a relief appearance in the wrong jersey.  It was Jonathan Papelbon in to work the bottom of the 9th of the Phinal Phlorida spring training game, pitching more like he was Carlos Ruiz than his #58 self.  As I recall, Papelbon did the same thing at the end of last year’s spring training schedule, though with better results than today.  Cinco Uno gave up the cycle together with a walk, pitching more like Chooch than Paps, but nobody’s worried because “it’s only spring training”.  After all, how seriously can you take a game in which the Rays had their own #51 on the mound and a #51 at shortstop at the same time?  I miss spring training already …

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Get-Away Wednesday

From today’s Tampa Bay Times:

1) Record crowds for Spring Break on Clearwater Beach 2015, possibly due to the protracted harsh weather elsewhere.

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2) Travolta gets ready to roll out his new movie on April 18 at the Capitol Theater in the Land of Scientology.

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3) Phillies play last two Spring Training games enjoying the warmth of the crowd before hearing the boos that will rein down in Citizens Bank Park if they play the way they have down the stretch in Florida.

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4) Only in Spring Training baseball would you find a 21 year-old prospect who doesn’t know he’s starting a game until he hears his name called out by the PA announcer!   Of course, as relaxed as he was, he hit two home runs!

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