The Vigilant Robot

a watchful eye of creative complexity

Monthly Archives: August 2013

I Think These Thoughts; Do You Think These Thoughts, Too?

I sit here and have these thoughts, and I wonder, “Do others have the same thoughts as I do?” Thinking these things which are quite unpleasant yet gives me satisfaction to think about. Do others feel satisfaction, too? Satisfied, no. I am not satisfied; that is why I think these thoughts that I do even though unpleasant. I get satisfaction from thinking the unpleasant thoughts, but I am not satisfied. Do others feel unsatisfied, too, even though satisfied thinking these thoughts that I do? If you do not think these thoughts that I do are you satisfied by thinking the thoughts that you do? What if you are unsatisfied? Do you think pleasant thoughts to keep you unsatisfied or pleasant thoughts for satisfaction? Do you think unpleasant thoughts for dissatisfaction and not think like I do or think like I do and feel satisfied? I think we think the same, but do not think the same and are unsatisfied yet receive satisfaction, too. We relish in our dissatisfaction until we are satisfied with our dissatisfaction so we keep thinking these unpleasant thoughts in hopes they will be pleasant some day so that we may receive satisfaction and be satisfied by thinking these pleasant thoughts for satisfaction. What do you think? Do you think these thoughts that I do? Do you think these thoughts that I do not? Do you not think thoughts that I do not think or think all thoughts? I sit here and think these thoughts and wonder if you think these thoughts, too.

 

thinking

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In Perspective: Viewing Chicago Homicides through Maps

I recently completed my very first MOOC, massive open online course, called Maps and the Geospatial Revolution where I learned quite a bit about geospatial data and technology and how to use ArcGIS, an online platform for building data and creating maps. We had to create a map for our final assignment so I thought I would do something useful, relevant, and related to a place with which I am connected and familiar: Chicago and its violence. Using ArcGIS, I have created a map showing the locations of all Chicago homicides that occurred in 2013 up until August 21st, which was when I created the map. The points of murder overly different layers including either median income, diversity level, and/or “race” predominance of neighborhoods, depending on which layer you select. You can view the map here: 2013 Chicago Homicides in Perspective. Under “content” on the left-hand side panel, you can toggle the different layers on and off. View the “legend” to see what the different colors indicate. I have included screenshots below so that you can get a sense of the findings without using ArcGIS.

 

Chicago homicides overlying median income. The highest income areas are shaded in green and the lowest income areas are a very light yellow. As we can see, there are very few homicides in any of the green areas and an abundance in the lightest, poorest, areas on the map.

Chicago homicides overlying median income. The highest income areas are shaded in green and the lowest income areas are a very light yellow. As we can see, there are very few homicides in any of the green areas and an abundance in the lightest, poorest, areas on the map.

 

Chicago homicides overlying diversity index. The most diverse areas are dark blue, while the least diverse areas are light yellow. As we can see, Chicago looks fairly segregated as there are not really many diverse areas of Chicago, and it is in the least diverse areas where most of the murders seem to occur.

Chicago homicides overlying diversity index. The most diverse areas are dark blue, while the least diverse areas are light yellow. As we can see, Chicago looks fairly segregated as there are not really many diverse areas of Chicago, and it is in the least diverse areas where most of the murders seem to occur.

 

Chicago homicides overlying "race" population predominance. African American predominant populations are red, Hispanic populations are green, Asian populations are purple, white populations are gray, etc. As we can see, a majority of the murders occur in predominately African American neighborhoods of Chicago, as well as some Latino neighborhoods.

Chicago homicides overlying “race” population predominance. African American predominant populations are red, Hispanic populations are green, Asian populations are purple, white populations are gray, etc. As we can see, a majority of the murders occur in predominately African American neighborhoods of Chicago, as well as some Latino neighborhoods.

 

When we take a look at all of the maps we see that the poorest areas and least diverse areas of Chicago are where most of the murders take place. These areas of Chicago are where a majority of people of color live, mainly black people and Latinos. Chicago is not simply segregated in terms of people, but resources, as well. It is no mistake that the people on the south side and west side have little opportunities in life, whether it is education, jobs, or a place for children to play. People on both sides of the political spectrum call on gun control laws as the reason for the violence in Chicago; some say that gun laws are too strict and that if they were not other people would be able to defend themselves and there would be less incentive to pull a trigger; others say that the city needs to do more to limit the access of guns because if all of the guns were not so easily available people would not be murdered left and right. The availability of guns is an issue, but a lot of these folks do not even buy their guns from places that legally sell guns. The most logical reasons—and what I think are the primary reasons—for the excessive violence is poverty and lack of opportunities available to the people living on the south and west sides of the city, as well as unjust laws embedded into our criminal “justice” system. Yes, institutional racism is a thing. No, we are not beyond that. It has merely been disguised. Yes, there are certain, cleverly written laws that disproportionately affect specific populations (read The New Jim Crow). One look into a prison should tell you everything, but that is another topic.

My original intention was to do a stop and frisk map where, instead of points of each homicide, there would be  points of each stop and frisk, but there really is no specific data available for this in order to make a map. If anyone would like to work on such a project, please let me know. I am fairly certain that the results would be the same: stop and frisks occur in areas where a majority of poor and people of color live. When you funnel money into fancy condos, venues, already healthy areas of a city, politicians pockets, etc. and completely abandon the people who live in less desirable areas of a city, leaving them with no access to jobs, proper education, functional facilities, or even grocery stores and treat them as criminals from the beginning, what do you expect? When you have nothing else, not even some hope, the power of pulling a trigger and playing executioner might fill that void. How much longer are we willing to leave that void open to violence?

Chill Tunes: Two Tracks Worth Listening To

If you like electronic hip hop, “trip hop,” chill, ambient, downtemp music or anything of the kind, you may enjoy these two tracks just as much as I do. It’s really hard not to bob your head and move your shoulders.

The first song is a Flying Lotus mix of Massive Attack (Vibeangel mix). FlyLo mixes “Girl, I Love You,” by Massive Attack in a way that sounds completely like his own style and it becomes a very experimental hip hop beat. He removes the guitars and it becomes straight-up electronic music. It’s hard to give the replay button a rest.

Vibeangel Mix 1 / Massive AttackFlying Lotus

 

The second song is the first song released from Blue Sky Black Death’s new album “Glaciers,” which won’t be out until October. I can’t wait. BSBD’s entire discography is definitely worth listening to if you haven’t already, and even if you have, listen some more. I have had a hard time finding anything comparable to their last album, “Noir,” and I am quite excited for the upcoming “Glaciers.”

II, Blue Sky Black Death ft. Child Actor

Aged, but not Lost: The Art & Power of Sign Painting

“You can make that brush do anything that you wanted to. That’s power. That’s real power.”

Released this year is “Sign Painters,” a new documentary about sign painters and their aged, but yet not completely lost, art. Sign painting is much more fascinating and beautiful than some think; it is a highly underrated skill, always taken for granted. Think about how many signs you have seen in your lifetime. How many of those signs did you think were printed versus how many you thought were hand-painted? Many signs you have probably seen and did not know that someone actually painted those lines and curves so perfectly, near flawlessly, and so beautifully; you probably thought the sign was printed. Now, doesn’t that take skill or talent to paint letters that are so smooth and well-aligned that it appears to be printed with ink through a machine?

I have not seen the documentary, yet, but as you can see from the trailer below, those who have specialized in making signs for years can always tell a well-made sign from a mediocre sign; a well-made sign, even if from vinyl, can be made only by someone with the experience and background as a sign painter. Technology does not really teach craft. Craft is something one learns by hand. Chances are that someone who has bad craft will produce bad work even with the aid of technology. A trained eye will always be able to tell the difference, and so will some untrained eyes, as well. Even though modern printing has, for the most part, displaced handmade text-based work, sign painting is still alive (even if not completely well or apparent). Thankfully, young people are studying sign painting from the older, well-experienced painters, and keeping the trade alive. The next time you go for a walk, just look around you in an area where there are a lot of signs. Look for a hand-painted sign and a sign made from vinyl lettering. What is more aesthetically pleasing to view? Or, if you can barely see the hand-painted sign any more, what would be more aesthetically pleasing to view? Seriously, how can vinyl possibly be more beautiful or even worth a glance compared to something handmade? It’s vinyl! As one of the sign painters says in the trailer below, “Old signs become art. I want to make signs that turn into art.” Besides, watching a painter fill in the sketched letters of a sign is very relaxing…or maybe that is just the typography nerd in me.

Take a look at the official trailer for “Sign Painters” below:

You can check to see if it will be playing in your area this summer at signpaintermovie.com.

I hope to see it soon!