Merry Christmas from Myself and the Great Sergio Bompard

Welcome to an Art Deco Christmas! May your gifts be friends and family. Or at least the memories of them.

I pushed this image in post using Photoshop 2020. I have too much aquamarine in the sky and the brown in her handbags and stole are poorly represented. Needs some selective color replacement. The original file is below, possibly an aging postcard. I doubt Bompard painted snow the color of old manilla folders. Art Deco colors to me are bight, vibrant, jewel like. I would love to see the original.

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To All The Bands Corporate Radio Never Played

Sci-Fi Caper (internal link), a power trio who has a chance at success with the rise of the internet. I can’t express how suffocating it was to go through the 70s and 80s with radio playlists controlling which bands got on the air. The Captain & Tennille’s version of “Muskrat Love” in 1976 might have been the low point but there were so many low points.

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An Alien Plays Chess

Chess has a point system and all players know their place in it during a game. Everything else being equal, a pawn is worth one point, a bishop three, a rook five and so on. Am I up two? Down three? That’s always on one’s mind. What, though, if you never worried about this? What if you never thought of evening up the board? Computer programs may show a way out of centuries old thinking about chess.


“Google’s DeepMind has just released a new academic paper on AlphaZero — the general purpose artificial intelligence system that mastered chess through self-play and went on to defeat the world champion of chess engines, Stockfish. In this video chess International Master Anna Rudolf takes a look at a never-before-seen game from a match played in January 2018, and discusses how the playing style and attacking chess of AlphaZero compare to computers and humans.”

AlphaZero was programmed with only rules, nothing else. No database of classic openings, no memorable middle games, no knowledge of Spassky and Fischer at Reykjavik in 1972. Just rules. In four hours AlphaZero’s eclipsed Stockfish, the most powerful open source chess program in the world. AlphaZero concentrated on making its pieces active while at the same time making its opponent’s pieces inactive.

Some of IM Rudolf’s comments from a random point in the game.

“After sacrificing two pawns AlphaZero goes with the very strong King to B1. It doesn’t mind that that it is two pawns down. It doesn’t need to compensate for the sacrificed material with initiative and some brilliant attack.”

“AlphaZero thinks about chess in a completely different way since the only input that was programmed into are the rules and how the pieces move. It doesn’t have a value system that we stick to. It doesn’t count pawns as one point or a bishop as three. It doesn’t give a numeric value to the pieces; it values chess and sees chess in a completely different way and that’s why these games are brilliant because suddenly we can also start seeing this ancient board game from a completely different perspective – from an alien like or superhuman like perspective.”

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Modern Art Deco?

NB: All links unsponsored. No monetizing here!

Modern Art Deco?

In my last post I looked at some watches ascribed to modern Bauhaus design. (internal link) Which got me to thinking. Are there any watches inspired by Art Deco? A few seem possible.

This is another NOMOS, the same company producing a Bauhaus design that we saw in my last post. This didn’t seem like Deco to me at first but the more I look at it, the more it seems. This is the NOMOS Glashütte Lambda Weißgold. An enthusiastic reviewer says, “This is most probably my favourite watch of the minimalist series, albeit the most expensive. NOMOS are renowned and well recognised as a brand that does things a bit different, but still produce pieces that are well designed movement wise. The Lambda Weißgold takes inspiration from modern art-deco, and combines that with minimalist chic. CHF14,800


Panerai. This lands solidly in the Deco camp. “The dial of a pendulum clock displayed on the first floor of Panerai’s Florentine shop on the Piazza San Giovanni is re-created in two distinct dial versions, both in 47-mm cases made of polished stainless steel – ivory (Ref. PAM00791) and black (PAM00790). Both retro-look dials are notable for their large, Art Deco hour numerals; peripheral railway minute track and additional interior ring; and lacquered, spear-shaped hour and minute hands, a style used for the first time on a Panerai wristwatch. Price for both models: $9,200.”

A Bradley. This hits the mark, employing a sculptural element that good Art Deco pieces had. Note the ball that marks the time. I think this is very well done. “Modern design meets timeless character in the Bradley Classic. We pair the iconic, minimalist face of the Bradley timepiece with a tried-and-true Italian leather band.” $285

I lost the name and information for this modern watch. The radiating sun has a nice deco-like feel.

For future discussion. This is the Capitol Bank of Commerce Center in downtown Sacramento, California. I used to work around the building. Back in the 1980s there was a movement called The New Ornamentalism of which this was part. It always struck me as deco influenced. I don’t know what happened to the New Ornamentalism but I will do some reading.

Update: I have read up on New Ornamentalism. Click here to go there. (internal link)

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Styling Today in the Bauhaus Way

NB: Links are unsponsored and developed on my own.

Bauhaus design lives on. These two German watches show it off. And a third might qualify with imagination.

This first is a Nomos Orion which retails for between $1,800 and $4,000 US. I like the colors.

The second is a Sternglas Zirkel which retails from $300 to $500. No color. True minimalism.

Watch authority Teddy Baldassarre said in a recent YouTube video (external link) that he is constantly asked about what company makes an affordable Bauhaus style watch. I didn’t know Bauhaus was still alive.

Here’s another contemporary example, a self-labeled “bauhaus watch” by the E Watch Factory of New York and sold by Zazzle.

Zazzle’s product page mentions the surrealism of Joan Miró. This watch does have colors Miró might have used. The claimed Bauhaus association must rest from arranging the irregularly colored shapes of abstract art into a clean edged geometric design. $57 US. That page also has ten other designs the E Watch Factory calls Bauhaus.

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Good Clip Art Goes A Long Way

While searching my paper files and folders I came across this graphic I did in the mid-1990’s. I had gone to Def Con II the previous summer and I was getting ready to go again. Dark Tangent called for poster ideas and I thought this would be fun. Or as we used to write it, pHun.

Good clip art was freely available through many zines and all I had to do was to mashup two images and type in some stencil font lettering. I never did submit it. Poorly representing hacking I thought. Still, I liked it.

Click image to enlarge. Those are dollar signs in the eyes of that corporate greedhead.

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Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized video

A Hint of Sparkle in Still Photography

I’ve written on how still photography can’t capture sparkle. (internal link) Rolf Luetke comes close (external link) , though, in this slightly blurry photo of crystals showing striations.

There are also swirls in the photo as light plays off varied crystal faces. I’ve noticed in my photography that a sparkle diminishes as the lens focuses. A pleasing spot of light changes into a single, sharp point. The blur shown above helps depict movement, still the key element to letting sparkles shine.

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Shun “tion” in Revising

I recently worked on this paragraph from one of our writers. Mentioning the state name repeatedly is for SEO purposes.


“Assets and debts division is frequently a major point of contention for divorcing couples in Arkansas. As a rule, a spouse filing for a divorce must divide their marital assets and debts. If they could not reach an agreement, a Virginia court judge must determine how to divide their assets and debts”

First try at revising:

“A major point of contention with divorcing couples in Virginia is dividing marital assets and debts. If the couple cannot agree on the matter, a Virginia court judge will decide it for them.”


Shortening helped. Opening paragraphs on the web must be quick. But I don’t like the word contention, I would much prefer contending. “tion” makes words dull and stupid. “tion” words don’t move, they aren’t active.

Second try:

“Divorcing couples in Arkansas frequently clash over dividing marital assets and debts. If the couple cannot agree on the matter amongst themselves, an Arkansas court judge will decide it for them.”


Introduced the aggressive word clash, eliminating contending or contention. Put in “amongst themselves” to be more complete. I’m bothered that the problem for the judge is not identified. There’s no need identify the dividing debts and assets matter for the couple since the problem was described before the comma. The judge’s problem, however, is several words removed. Will naming the judge’s problem make the writing better?

Third try:

“Divorcing couples in Arkansas frequently clash over dividing marital assets and debts. If the couple cannot agree on the matter amongst themselves, an Arkansas court judge will decide the problem for them.”


This last sentence now seems complete but redundant. I decided to use the second try, leaving readers to make the common sense conclusion that both parties are dealing with the same problem.

Concluding remarks

This paragraph could be reworked endlessly, I’m sure there are better choices. This paragraph, though, is just one of a dozen or more paragraphs needing editing and revising in a 1,000 word post.

Any business like the one I work for needs to get writing out the door; no one will suffer a writer trying to perfect a post over hours and hours to make something 10% better. When time crunched, concentrate on the opening. Revising a thousand words means nothing if a reader doesn’t go past the first fifty.

Notice how slow these words are compared to their more active counterparts:

division, dividing
multiplication, multiplying
addition, adding
revision, revising
motivation, motivating
contention, contending
summation, summary

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A Book Contract Example

This is the contract a national guidebook publisher uses who has over 100 titles in print.

It’s the contract I signed with the publisher with whom I am no longer doing business with (internal link) The publisher originally offered me 10% of net with a $500 dollar advance. I asked for 12% of net, no advance. That was quickly agreed to. I should have asked for 15%.

I signed without legal review because lawyers make contracts and lawyers break contracts. I’m not intimidated by language deliberately favoring the other side and you should always ask if things can be changed. If you’re unsure about anything you sign, however, have an attorney look it over.

This contract, which they sneakily call an agreement, is mostly boilerplate but you may find it interesting, particularly if you are a small publisher and uncertain about what your contracts should include. It’s here in .pdf and in an easily editable Word document.














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Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized video

Drool Over Jewels Take II

Sotheby’s produces some wonderful videos which are easily accessed on YouTube:

A nice video capturing sparkling as only a moving camera can. Sparkles don’t show in still photography, they need movement. Still photos of diamonds use a special lens filter or work in post to mimic a sparkle.

Noteworthy, too, are the extreme closeups of many jewels. These closeups are fine enough to reveal inclusions within the stones, a testimony to high-end lenses and the photographer’s skill. Such details usually demands a still photograph, however, this video producer managed.

Techniques aside, the jewels are just plain beautiful.

p.s. Prices are listed as CHF which is the Swiss Franc, right now about the same exchange rate as the American dollar.

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