Monday, August 31, 2009

getcher argonne

Spent Saturday at the Argonne National Laboratories Open House. They throw the event every few years and truck out their display posters to try to make sense out of things like material sciences and accelerators and nanoparticle design and nuclear and high energy physics.

I'd be lying if I said I understood half of what I saw.

But I did get to crawl the massive bucolic grounds of Argonne (which is surrounded by the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve); touch part of the University of Chicago's original pile (trusting that was no longer radioactive -- although, come to think of it, that was probably naive); ooh and aah over the Gammasphere which detects gamma rays and played a bit part in Ang Lee's the Hulk; gaze in awe at cosmic particles in a cloud chamber; and came away with a deeper understanding of the physics of the yo-yo.

So there's that.

Flickr slideshow of Argonne National Lab by suttonhoo »

Saturday, August 29, 2009

magic (with magnets)

Posting by cameraphone from the
Argonne Nat'l Labs Open House

Physics Building

Friday, August 28, 2009

flip me the bird

I've developed a dangerous crush on Chicago musician Andrew Bird. It started when I caught his Eugene tethered to a Chris Ware animation. It grew when I downloaded his Armchair Apocrypha and Noble Beast CDs.

His tracks have titles like Heretics and Plasticities and Scythian Empires.

I know, right?

This one's Imitosis. I invite you to bop your head with me.

it's good to be king

causing an accident that puts human life at risk because you're drunk is horrible.

leaving a woman to die submerged in a locked car in 8 feet of water; going home to bed while she's still alive and calling the police only after her lifeless asphyxiated body is found? that is pure gothic horror.

I left the above comment on b1-66er's blog after he posted a text message from an exchange we had earlier in the day. He had poked me about Kennedy, assuming I’d be a Teddy defender, given my strong liberal biases. I texted back that I had almost tweeted an unkind remark when I heard the news at the ungodly hour of 3.30, while climbing out of bed to head to the airport (I didn’t mention that I refrained because I had no interest in enduring the firestorm it might set off). That remark was: “a lifetime of service & only one corpse. guess he finished ahead.”

Let me explain.

Do I think Ted Kennedy was a great man? I think he was a man of power and privilege who used that privilege to help others. On that he has my endorsement.

I also think he was keenly aware of his power and privilege -- which came to him as a result of his family name -- and used it to his own gain. It’s that factor that, in my opinion, means he’s a notch shy of greatness.

Kennedy was 36 when he drove his car off the road at Chappaquiddick, which means the decisions he made next can’t be ascribed to the foolish indiscretions of youth. He left a friend (a mistress?) to drown, trapped in his car, some say over hours, while he went home to sleep in his bed (how did he get there? I presume he walked, and all that distance home didn’t her silent scream haunt him? Didn’t it urge him to turn back, to find a phone, to call for help?).

He told the police he wasn’t drunk, which if true amplifies the horror of his decision to simply walk away. He was the only individual who had insight into the urgency of the situation -- she is trapped, she is drowning, she will die -- and he chose to ignore it.

I can’t quite get my arms around the thought process required to support that kind of action. Privilege is the only thing that makes sense out of it: the idea that this individual is exempt from core tenets that should govern us all; the indisputable notion that you don’t leave people to die when you can do something about it.

Once Kopechne's body was found by a fisherman Kennedy gave a statement to the police. He was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident and sentenced to two months probation.

Mary Jo Kopechne was buried.

Kennedy deployed that same bias later in life when he defended a nephew and a cousin -- one of whom was on trial for rape, another whom, in his own gothic tale, was convicted in 2002 for the murder of a woman in 1975 who was found buried under a tree on her parents’ property.

I don’t mean to disparage the dead. That Kennedy used his privilege to help the under served and the underprivileged during a life of public service makes good penance.

I think the Ted Kennedy story, and our lauding reaction to his death, with very little commentary or reflection upon a core incident that calls his character into question, says more about the American character than anything else.

We need our kings.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

give me a kiss

Photo: Jet Magazine 23 July 1964
Mamie Till Mobley and her son Emmett

Emmett just barely got on that train to Mississippi. We could hear the whistle blowing. As he was running up the steps, I said, "Bo," -- that's what I called him -- "you didn't kiss me. How do I know I'll ever see you again?" He turned around and said, "Oh, Mama." Gently scolding me.

He ran down those steps and gave me a kiss.

Mamie Till Mobley speaking to Studs Terkel about the last time she saw her son Emmett Till alive, as related in Will the Circle be Unbroken.

That moving account, which includes how she identified his body when he returned to her, brutalized by a racial killing, is excerpted here »

The Chicago History Museum has posted the full audio interview here »

Till's coffin, which was buried with him and then disinterred in 2005 for an investigation into his death (he was reburied in a new coffin) was recently found "rotting in a garbage-strewn shed" -- one of only many gruesome discoveries at the Burr Oak Cemetery South of Chicago.

Photos published by Jet Magazine of what a quarter million people saw through Emmett's glass-lidded coffin are here (warning: disturbing content) »

The New York Times reported today that the coffin has been donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C., which is scheduled to open in 2015.

dissolving like a dream

Regret is the piece of grief that won’t let me sleep. It’s the moving far from her during the years when she most needed a friend right there. It’s not being close enough for her to see my nod and smile as she told me her stories. It’s losing the courage the call when she no longer knew me. It’s leaving on Saturday with plans to come back on Thursday and her dying on Tuesday.

It’s Odysseus’ trench of milk and honey on the banks of the River Styx, coaxing the shades to speak. It’s Thornton Wilder’s Emily returned for her 12th birthday and begging her mother to look at her.

It’s never enough.

And I, my mind in turmoil, how I longed
to embrace my mother’s spirit, dead as she was!
Three times I rushed toward her, desperate to hold her,
three times she fluttered through my fingers, sifting away
like a shadow, dissolving like a dream, and each time
the grief cut to the heart, sharper, yes...

The Odyssey, II: 233-238

I loved her to the last with everything I had, as I know she loved me. But losing her means counting all the things I never did; all the ways I might have loved her better.

It means to regret the moments that passed unnoticed. The chances I had to give more, to love more, that sifted away like a shadow because I failed to make them real.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

soul of the new south

soul of the new south
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone from the Atlanta International Airport


Atlanta International
Posting by cameraphone

Monday, August 24, 2009


In a month, I’ve sold almost seven times what I sell, typically, in a year of ‘Mastering,’ and it’s going to get even higher. It’s amazing.

Lee Stern, cookbook buyer for Barnes & Noble, in After 48 Years, Julia Child Has a Big Best Seller, Butter and All in this morning's New York Times.

The New York Times reports that Child's iconic cookbook "will make its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list of Aug. 30 in the advice and how-to category," and that the 22,000 copies that sold in the last week tracked were "more copies than were sold in any full year since the book’s appearance."

All good, and Yay, Julia, and yes the movie is a delight. What strikes me about this success however is the contrast to earlier sales figures. Julia Child is an icon. Her kitchen is entombed in the Smithsonian. She changed how Americans cook.

Somehow she did all this without ever before reaching Number One on the New York Times bestseller list.

With those previous sales figures would she have become the icon that she is in today's America? Would her television viewing numbers rank her among the also ran chefs of the Food Network?

Given today's media saturation, would any of us know Julia Child today?

Video: The Omlette Show (The French Chef)

me & my bompa

Getting baptized.
And loved.

I've never seen this shot before -- my little brother (right. too old to be little. but he's still my little brother.) just posted it to Facebook.

See that grin on my Bompa's face? That's how you know you're with family.

Happy Birthday to me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

lapidary pterodactyl

lapidary pterodactyl
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Made of Jasper. Just because.

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art
Elmhurst, IL

Posting by cameraphone.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

a series of interpretations

Illus: Hugo Weber, Mies van der Rohe, 1961

It turned out to be a series of interpretations. But what else has a portrait ever been?

Hugo Weber speaking of his charcoal series of the architect Mies van der Rohe on 29 October 1961, as cited in a contemporary issue of Arts and Architecture.

A handful of Weber's sublime portraits (he called Mies "a conservative revolutionary") are on display at the Elmhurst Art Museum as a part of their Glass and Steel show which runs through the 13th of September. Weber's iconic bust of Mies is on display as well (a photo of which has been hard to come by).

We visited this afternoon and had the place to ourselves -- a shame on a Saturday when it should have been overrun with fans of mid-century modernism. The exhibit opens with a room full of Eames pieces -- mostly chairs -- and a couple of molded plywood leg splints.

Come to find out the Eames shipped over 150,000 of the splints during WWII, beautiful forms, the prototype of which was shaped around Charles Eames' leg, replacing the bulky and ill-fitting metal splints that the U.S. Military had been using for their soldiers.

It was the slow cessation of legs that needed splinting after the war that led Charles and Ray Eames into the design and manufacturing of their molded plywood furnishings after the war.

The exhibit moves through stellar examples of modernism -- the art glass of Michael and Frances Higgins, dinnerware by Russel Wright, furnishings by Knoll and McCobb, lighting by Isamu Noguchi, drawings by Richard Koppe -- before it spills out into a hallway that leads to the administrative arm of the museum where I found Mr. Hoo poking around the shuttered staff offices.

Surprised by his presumption (he is a not a presumptuous man) I suggested we should head in the opposite direction -- before he pointed out to me that we were standing in Mies van der Rohe's McCormick House, which was under threat of demolition in a nearby neighborhood around the same time the museum was under construction, and was purchased and relocated by a band of believers in 1994.

The house merges into the museum without pretense or pronouncement. If it hadn't been pointed out to me I would have walked by without realizing that I was in the presence of "the most significant piece in the museum’s permanent collection." Once you search them out Mies' lines peer through the clutter, but the clutter -- the folding tables that serve as a conference table, the office cubicles piled high with workday detritus -- feels like the messy inattention of a grandchild dashing through the living room with mud on his shoes, oblivious to grandpa's work and mastery.

Glass and Steel
August 2-September 13, 2009
Elmhurst Art Museum
150 Cottage Hill Ave.
Elmhurst, Illinois 60126


Supercoder keyboard via @dazjones

The #songsincode Twitter meme is three days old and just now declining as a trending topic, but I suspect it will remain interesting for a little while longer, even for boneheads like me whose coding skills extend no farther than rudimentary Java. (nimble html scripting doesn't count, does it?) (fair enough. not my day job.)

It's a slow parse for me to make out most of them, but that's half the fun. That, and watching geeks at play.

If you've got a thing for geeks.

Or for watching the sociology of a pissing match unfold.

@asmitter has planted his flag in establishing how the meme came to be if you'd like to read his account, and @jerub just threw together a database for voting up your faves.

blip retweet via @stevecooperorg

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Muji no Ie

The Muji house offers buyers the chance to have a custom-designed home at a fraction of the usual cost. Each house is built to fit the clients' plot of land and their individual requirements. There are three templates on offer, all with changeable layouts:

Ki no ie (Wooden House), an open-plan design with no partitions and painted exterior walls;

Mado no ie (Window House), a plaster wall house with vaulted ceiling and windows whereever the customer chooses to put them; and

Asa no ie (Morning House), a flexible design ideal for a family with growing children.

From the July/August 09 issue of Monocle.

If you can clear the kanji (which I cannot) you may find that Muji no le has a lovely website and a blog »

and home.

and home.
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Rooftop parking
O'hare Int'l

Coming off a circle route to LA.
Posting by cameraphone.

Monday, August 17, 2009



The emptiness began for me, as I think it does for most of us, with the visual. Where I live, in Murray Hill, stores on Third Avenue became bare windows overnight. You walked below 34th and... wait, wasn't there a store over here? The owner had just shut it down and was standing on the sidewalk looking at it. He saw me staring, processing the void. "Wanna see?" he asked. Stripped walls, wiring hanging like the Gorgon's hair from the ceiling. That's when the smell of the recession kicked in: old plaster dust first, then concrete (Gaultier's Puissance Deux without the vanilla). Then emptiness: the absence of people, of circulated air, of the layers of plastic, fiberboard and carpeting with which we surround ourselves.

Text from Eau de Woe: What does the recessions smell like? by Chandler Burr in the latest New York Times T Magazine (which is poorly indexed and barely searchable -- please pardon the absence of a permalink). Image from Midtown Manhattan not too long ago, a storefront that has stood empty for several months now.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

please make a note of it

People who have recently lost someone have a certain look, recognizable maybe only to those who have seen that look on their own faces. I have noticed it on my face and I notice it now on others.

The look is one of extreme vulnerability, nakedness, openness. It is the look of someone who walks from the ophthalmologist's office into the bright daylight with dilated eyes, or of someone who wears glasses and is suddenly made to take them off.

These people who have lost someone look naked because they think themselves invisible.

From Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking.

I haven't blogged much (at all, not since it happened) about the only thing I'm thinking about, because this blog has been so often crowded with death and dying and grieving and loss and haven't we all had enough already?

But it occupies my every thought, when I'm not chasing it to some dark corner with work or travel or chores (my house? so tidy you wouldn't believe.).

A friend said today "you should tell people that: that she was more than most grandmothers; that she was more to you," and she was. My mother left me and my stepmother didn't like me much. There was no one to mother me.

Except Grama.

She said "tell them" like it would make it hurt less; or maybe make people care more.

But people caring more will not make me feel any less alone.

"That's a lonely feeling," another friend said, when he sent condolences, and they were the truest words I've received.

Which is a long way of saying that reading Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking this weekend is the first time I haven't felt so crazy or so terribly alone since the ceiling caved in.

Highly recommended if you are grieving, or have grieved, or will grieve.

Which pretty much makes it mandatory reading for everyone on the planet.


Photo: Museum of Arts and Design

After Saddam Hussein’s press referred to her as a serpent, Secretary Albright wore a golden snake brooch pinned to her suit for her next meeting on Iraq.

The Museum of Arts and Design, promoting Read My Pins, an exhibition of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's brooches that "explores jewelry as a diplomatic, political and social tool."

The exhibition runs at New York's Museum of Arts and Design from September 30 through January 31, 2010.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

speaking of art (or: the transubstantiation of tacos)

I’m sure I don’t understand this.

I’m fairly convinced it’s an homage to Obama and, perhaps, tacos. Or are those celestial orbs doubling as sacred halos? No (scans the bottom of the frame) tacos: with meat, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream. No (scans the upper left corner; notes the rays emanating from the sun; notes the transmutation of rays to... lettuce? in the halo behind our President’s sainted head): these are celestial tacos; holy sacraments.

I think.

That our cast of characters, outside Obama in his staid blue suit, are all clad in underwear that, not incidentally I believe, shines the same bright white as the White House behind it, further baffles me. And the tighty whitey balanced precariously on point in Obama’s outstretched hand? Please. Help me understand.

The Mexican flag flying standard from the crown of the White House is the one visual reference that makes we wonder whether this is something less than an homage -- an image worked through with the fear of foreign incursion rather than cooperation. A what might be if Obama comes to be (I don’t know when this was painted but suspect, given the campaign sign, that it was during the campaign season).

But the exuberance calls me back. This is a celebration. The chorus is clad in their underwear not to seduce, but to call attention to their patchwork of ethnicity, each individual a many colored rainbow of skin tones.
 A fiesta of promised pluralism.

I think.

But I’m sure I don’t understand.

Found at via @heatherlorin.

Friday, August 14, 2009


just another roadside attraction

There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.

American Artist and Educator Robert Henri in his collection of lectures and thoughts: The Art Spirit.

@karigee is asking for favorite books to stock up her cache. I was reminded of this one and pulled it up on Google Books -- and was startled and reassured to be reminded of why I love it so much.

(I wrote briefly of how I came by it here »)

daddy of reverb

I wouldn’t have been the inventor of anything except that, well, it’s not there. And if it’s not in the store then you just have to make it.

Les Paul in a documentary that Gibson Guitar put together to celebrate his 90th birthday.

By now you've heard that the musician and inventor Les Paul passed away yesterday at 94.

When Paul wasn't cobbling together a musical revolution on a broomstick and pitching it to Gibson Guitars, he was inventing reverb and multi-track recording.

His imagination changed our aural landscape; the music that he made possible changed our world.

Found this rough home video of Les Paul playing at the Iridium in 1997 -- that would make him somewhere in his 80s at the time. If you don’t want to hear him opine on hearing aids skip ahead to the 1.21 minute mark where he opens up and wails.

Video: Les Paul plays.

Thank you, sir, for a magnificent run. Because of you, somewhere there's music.

Monday, August 10, 2009


She learned not to speak of it: Her unhealthy compulsion to handle the dusty remainders of the long dead.

Saturday, August 08, 2009



Shot this last year at the Sandwich County Fair (using a Soviet Horizon 202 panoramic -- this is a partial frame) but was reminded of it today at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Not telling you anything you don't already know, but our farms are dying. You can really see it in the attrition at these fairs year after year. Hopefully the slow food movement will turn things around.

'Cause otherwise, I'm not entirely sure what we're gonna eat.

champion cabbage, b*tches

champion cabbage, b*tches
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone from the
Wisconsin State Fair.
In the rain.

Friday, August 07, 2009

also on my list

Movie Trailer: Cold Souls

the wine dark sea

Illus: Pamela Jane Rogers

First came soft measured strokes like the pounding of a distant drum. Then two distinct sounds gradually emerged within each stroke: a deep percussive blow of wood striking water, followed by a dashing surge. Whumpff! Whroosh! These sounds were so much a part of their world that Greeks had names for them. They called the splash pitylos, the rush rhothios.

John R. Hale, writing of the Ancient Greek naval trireme of Athens in Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy, reviewed in this morning's New York Times.

Ancient Greeks + rowing? Added to my list.

Illustration by the artist Pamela Jane Rogers, who accompanied the Trireme Trust in 1992 with her easel in tow. The Trireme Trust is a group of rowers who have reconstructed the Ancient Greek Trireme and put it to a speed test.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

happy trails

happy trails
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
I-94 W near Kalamazoo, MI, pointed towards home.
Posting by cameraphone.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009



The Fenelon Place elevator is described as the world's shortest, steepest scenic railway, 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. Where you will see a magnificent view of the historic Dubuque business district, the Mississippi River and three states.

From the Fenelon Place Elevator Co. website re the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque, Iowa. Which is what this is.

Shortest and steepest. Because every tourist attraction needs to be able to claim an "-est" or two.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

csa pickup

Lining up for my veggies at

Posting by cameraphone.

Os Gêmeos

The sky is grey... I've wings and I know I could reach it... And change it's color... But I sold my wings, and prefered to buy blues glasses...

Os Gêmeos, translated by Joαnα Joαnα and featured in a photograph by cowe.

The New York Times ran a piece this morning on the Brazilian brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who call themselves Os Gêmeos. Their first public piece in Manhattan was unveiled on July 17 at the northwest corner of Houston Street and the Bowery.

It's lovely, and it prompted me to search out shots of Os Gêmeos' work on Flickr.

Enjoy »

Os Gemeos
Originally uploaded by trashisfesch

the point

Harry Nilsson’s The Point is the soundtrack of my childhood. Its acid-tripping kaleidoscope colored liner notes and long playing vinyl spun out the story of a misfit round headed boy named Oblio banished from a pointed headed world with his little dog Arrow to the Land of Point where everybody was just as different as he was. The Point gave me all the fuel I needed to disappear for as many hours as it took to lift the needle and play it again; disappear from everything going wrong around me into a world where justice won every time and adventure paid off in spades (when it didn’t nearly kill you) and at the end everyone got to come home again.

When we were kids we named our dog Arrow. My brother got me the vinyl one year not too long ago for Christmas. He found a copy for all four of us kids. I also procured the CD and the Video.

I sang Think About Your Troubles to my grandmother when I sat by her bedside and my internal songbook ran dry.

Very few folks seem to know about The Point; for a while I ran a sole proprietorship in Seattle that derived its name from the story -- only once did anyone say “hey! The Point!” when they heard the name. At Grama's funeral my college aged cousin told me he’s turned all his friends onto it -- after I turned him onto it over a decade ago. They’d never heard of it either.

I’ve been meaning to do a macro photo series of the animated book that came with the album forever, but I always stop short because I know I can’t capture everything that’s miraculous about it.

I’m blogging this in a gush because I just tripped across a link from Devotchka, my favorite Indie band of the last little while, who has covered one of the tracks on the Point as part of a larger cover album released by Amano Recordings.

Just starting to listen to it now. Over the moon that anyone would take the trouble to do this. Even if it’s only halfway good I’ll be all the way in.

Although the original will always have my heart.

Video: Think about your troubles from The Point

Monday, August 03, 2009



Sunday, August 02, 2009

mad dogs & englishmen

woody outcropping

Some rich men go in for art collections, gay times on the Riviera, or extravagant living. But they all get satiated. That’s why I stick to scientific experiments, spending money to discover valuable things that universities can’t afford. You never get sick of too much knowledge. -- Colonel Fabyan

Biked up to Batavia along the Fox River Trail this afternoon, home to Fermi Lab and the last great supercollider (before CERN ate our shorts) which was also home, at the beginning of the 20th century, to a rich man named Colonel George Fabyan and his wife Nelle, who spent a lot of money on science and scientists and scientific experimentation.

Some of it crazy -- in the fine tradition of Tesla and Marconi.

(Also worth noting: The colonel and his wife slept in beds suspended from the ceiling by hooks, for what I'm sure were perfectly rational reasons.)

We stopped for a tour of the Fabyan Villa because of word that Frank Lloyd Wright had a hand in the renovation of the home in 1907, and so he did: Compression and release was in evidence; the stairwell had been opened and the hallway slatted to breathe better; and Wright did that inverted wainscoting thing he loved to do with variable hues of color on the wall and a running horizontal oak trim dropped to just about eye level.

Photo by karla kaulfluss

Not on the tour was the Colonel's Riverbank Laboratories, right across the street, where the scientists and academics came to play then, and still work today.

One of Fabyan’s academics in residence was Elizabeth Wells Gallop, who moved onto the property with her sister, and under Fabyan’s patronage deciphered Shakespeare’s First Folio and published her theory that the Bard was actually the scientist, Sir Francis Bacon, who encoded secret scientific discoveries and inventions into his plays. [1]

One message that Gallop uncovered in Shakespeare’s First Folio read:

Queen Elizabeth is my true mother, and I am the lawful heir to the throne. Find the Cypher storie my books contain; it tells great secrets, every one of which, if imparted openly, would forfeit my life. F. Bacon [2]

Further decipherment produced the plans for the Baconian Acoustical Levitation Device, which Fabyan and his army managed to build. It was:

A wooden tube with metal strings attached to it, around which fit another wooden tube with metal strings attached to the inside of it. The center tube was supposed to spin and by sympathetic vibration cause the strings on the outer tube to vibrate. The resonance from the striking would create a force field, which would levitate the outer tube off of the ground.

They never did manage to make it work, and it’s now rumored to reside at the Geneva History Center.

Fabyan continued to attract scientists to his laboratory by the riverbank. William Sabine from Harvard joined him when Fabyan promised him a nearly silent location for his acoustic experiments. Together with Bert Eisenhour the Colonel built Sabine an Acoustical Laboratory between 1917 and 1918, which is still deployed for private industry today, and included a reverberation chamber, which remains:

An outstanding example of such a facility, and is still regarded as one of the best in the world. The chamber is completely insulated from the outer walls so far as sound transmission is concerned. Separate foundations are used for the inner and outer buildings, and felt insulation was employed wherever the walls came close together to form a connecting doorway. Sounds produced in the reverberation chamber can be tested with the utmost precision. Here Sabine calculated the Sabine Formula, universally used today to determine sound absorption coefficients.

Wallace Sabine is today considered to be the father of the science of architectural acoustics. His formula for sound absorption is still used in many standard acoustical tests, and the unit of absorption now bears his name, "sabin."

Also attracted to Riverbank Laboratories was William Friedman, who arrived as a geneticist and, in assisting Gallop, discovered that he had a penchant for cryptology -- and for Professor Gallop’s assistant Elizabeth Smith, whom he married in 1917.

During World War I the Colonel [3] volunteered his labs to the war effort and Riverbank became the “first unofficial cryptologic organization”. Friedman and Elizabeth provided cryptological training to reserve military officers and published a series of broadsides regarding decipherment that are “regarded as the prerequisite for a higher education in cryptology.” Friedman continued with his work through World War II and in 1952 was named a chief technical consultant in the nascent National Security Agency.

In his retirement he was awarded a cash settlement for nine cipher machines that he developed during the war years for the U.S. government (six of which remain classified); and together with his wife wrote a book debunking the Baconian Shakespeare Theory that first brought them together.

A first edition of which can be had for cheap on Abebooks »

I think it's interesting that, like Lavoisier shattering Becher's theory of phlogiston, Fabyan's Riverbank produced more than its share of whack science and theory, but from the cinders of crazy (stoked by the dollars of private enterprise) rose solid incarnations of soaring technology -- unless, of course, you consider supporting the war effort crazy.

If that's the case, then crazy birthed crazy.

Video: Diana Krall, Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello perform Crazy

[1] Folks are still promoting this theory on the Internet, of course »

[2] Many of the details excerpted here as blockquotes were extracted from the Riverbank Labs history written up by the City of Geneva, IL »

[3] And the Colonel? Not really a Colonel. (It was an honorary title, bestowed by the Governor.)

long lazy bike ride up the river to Fabyan's place

Renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright. Tour starts in ten.

Posting by cameraphone.
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