Wednesday, May 31, 2023

How AI Mis-read My "Visionary Dylan" Painting

"Visionary Dylan"
I have been playing with an AI app called Dream by Wombo. My approach has been to upload various paintings and drawings, of my own making, and to select styles for the AI to use to create new original images.

In so doing, I have observed a limitation in the program. This particular painting will illustrate that limitation.

The painting was intended to be an optical illusion. Most people read it correctly, as an eye coming through a hand, while being on the face itself. But when I run it through various permutations using the AI, you can see that it only reads this as a flat batch of colors.  Here are seven variations.

Oh well. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Sorites Paradox and the National Debt

I recently read about a phenomenon called the Sorities Paradox. It's something that has fascinated me for years, but I never had a label for it.

According to, "The Sorites Paradox is the name given to a class of paradoxical arguments, also known as little-by-little arguments, which arise as a result of the indeterminacy surrounding limits of application of the predicates involved. "

That's a lot of big words there. Here's a better way to put it. Call it the paradox of the heap, which is essentially about vagueness.

For example, take a pile of sand. If you remove a single grain of sand, is it still a pile? If you remove another grain, is it still a pile? And so on. If you continue removing grains of sand one at a time, at what point does this heap of sand stop being a pile? 

Another example might be the bald man illustration. Suppose you have a man with one hair on his head. Is he bald? Most would agree that that is pretty bald. But if you add another hair, is he still bald? And so on. If you continue adding hairs one at a time, at what point does this man stop being bald?

In short, the Sorites Paradox emerges when there is a lack of sharp boundaries. Take, for example, a haystack. If you keep removing hay one strand at a time, when is it really no longer a haystack? As one who has had goats and geese, I would suggest that this occurs before you get down to one, but the line of demarcation isn't specific.

WHAT GOT ME TO THINKING ABOUT THIS was our current debate about the debt ceiling. How much national debt is too much national debt? One of the reasons our decision makers can quibble over these things is because debt is a given, but too much is too undefined.

This vagueness applies to a lot of areas of governance. Take homelessness, for example. How much homelessness is too much homelessness. 

What about crime? As long as we have a degree of freedom, there will be some crime. Can we ever eliminate crime altogether? Yes, by eliminating our freedoms we can make our streets safer. Is that what we want? How far do you really want to. go with that?

* * * 

Now going back to the pile of sand, start with one single grain and add one, is that a pile? If you add another, is that suddenly a pile? The paradox is that there is no single moment with the sand heap is officially a pile.

Which incorrectly leads to the belief that adding an additional trillion dollars to the national is still not "too much" debt. By this fallacious thinking, it would be impossible to have too much debt, which is nonsense.

* * * 

For what it's worth, the word "sorites" is derived from a Greek word meaning "heap" which is another word for pile. 

Unlike the Pythagorian Theorem, which is named after the Greek philosopher/mathematician who proposed it, there is no person named Sorites.

* * *

If interested further see:,application%20of%20the%20predicates%20involved.

Or Wikipedia:

It was in this article about Kylie Minogue where I first saw reference to this concept.[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=bf9a3b17ea&mc_eid=4056b47041

It’s a modern day sorites paradox: how many grains of sand make a heap? There’s no obvious cut-off point. Likewise, no one can say at what point precisely all the injections and incisions start making you look like a startled alien. Over several iterations, surgeons seem to gradually lose track of what the visual baseline ever was for a person. They start off replacing the timbers in Theseus’s ship but end up building a hovercraft.

reductio ad absurdum of all such procedures is Madonna, who now resembles a living cartoon character. It was recently reported that she is looking for a surgeon to “return her to a more natural look”. This presents the intriguing possibility of a new market for the distressing of overworked celebrity faces, a bit like the deliberate antiquing of sideboards.

Monday, May 29, 2023

More Photos from the Last Days of 2023 Duluth Dylan Fest

Paul Metsa (R) & Sonny Earl opened Thursday eve's 
concert at sacred heart featuring Jeff Slate and Mark Bosch
It was a nine day whirlwind with many wonderful moments as Dylan fans and friends gathered to celebrate the music of Duluth's native son. Thank you to everyone who shared music and generous portions of their hearts. Special thanks for the volunteers who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this another great event, and to Michael Anderson, for the Singer/Songwriter photos and all the best images on the rest of this page. 

Here are some photos from events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Jeff Slate (R) with Mark Bosch demonstrated their virtuosity

(L to R) Sonny Earl, Mark Bosch, Jeff Slate, Paul Metsa

Friday evening the Singer/Songwriter competition 
was yet another talent spectacle.

(L to R) Pat Eliason, Jeff Slate, Amy Grillo, Zane Bail, Gene LaFond
Singer/Songwriter contest winners.
(L to R) Skarlet Woods, Misisipi Mike Wolf, Nikki Lemire

Second place: Nikki Lemire
Winner Misisipi Mike, who also designed this year's poster art.

Judges: (L to R) Jeff Slate, Gene LaFond, Jamie Ness,
Wendy Ruhnke, Miriam Hansen

Saturday night was a romp delivered to us by The Infidels, 
a supergroup from the Twin Cities.

Safe travels to all who joined us from afar.
Let the music live in your hearts 
and stay forever young.

To the locals: For more detailed coverage of many of these events
read Jill Fisher's upcoming review in the Reader.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Day 8 of Duluth Dylan Fest 2023, Plus Google Bard and ChatGPT Weigh In On Why Bob Dylan Was Labeled the "Voice of His Generation"

Danny Fox stands and delivers.
Today is the 9th and last day of Duluth Dylan Fest 2023.  In a week filled with numerous highlights, yesterday was an especially rich one. It began with 2-time singer/songwriter winner Danny Fox channeling Dylan the folk artist. Then it was followed by an information-packed talk by Matt Steichen as part of our John Bushey Memorial Lecture Series. Steichen's presentation detailed Dylan's significance as experienced by his fans. The title of his presentation: Bob Dylan and his Fans: Searching for Love and Inspiration

Not only did he expand our understanding of why and how Dylan has been so influential, Matt demonstrated in no uncertain terms how much Minnesota has been in Dylan's DNA and the values that formed the foundation of his career--and has never forgotten his roots. 

Saturday evening a good crowd gathered once more at Sacred Heart to be swept away by The Infidels, a Minneapolis supergroup that put on one heckuva show. Here are some photos from Saturday's events followed by an interview with ChatGPT and Google Bard.

Danny Fox

Matt Steichen hits a grand slam.

Dan Israel and the Infidels

Why did many people in the 1960's consider Bob Dylan the "voice of his generation"?


The Infidels, Streaming Live
OpenAI ChatGPT: Bob Dylan is often referred to as the "voice of his generation" because his music and lyrics resonated deeply with many people in the 1960s, particularly those who were part of the counterculture and protest movements of the time. Several factors contributed to Dylan's status as an influential figure and a representative of his generation:

  1. Protest and Social Consciousness: During the 1960s, there was significant social and political upheaval in the United States and around the world. Dylan's songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'," became anthems for the civil rights movement, anti-war movement, and other social justice causes. His lyrics addressed pressing issues like racial inequality, war, and the struggle for individual freedom, capturing the spirit of activism and resistance that defined the era.
  2. Authenticity and Emotional Depth: Dylan's music was characterized by its raw, honest, and deeply personal nature. His distinctive voice and passionate delivery conveyed a sense of authenticity and emotional depth that resonated with listeners. Many people felt that Dylan's songs reflected their own experiences, frustrations, and aspirations, making him a relatable figure and an embodiment of the struggles and dreams of the generation.
  3. Artistic Evolution and Cultural Influence: Dylan's music evolved throughout the 1960s, and he continually pushed the boundaries of folk music by incorporating elements of rock and other genres. His willingness to experiment and his ability to adapt his sound to reflect the changing times demonstrated his artistic growth and versatility. This evolution made him a cultural icon and influenced countless musicians who followed, shaping the direction of popular music.
  4. Intellectual and Poetic Lyrics: Dylan's lyrics were known for their poetic quality and intellectual depth. His ability to craft thought-provoking and introspective verses distinguished him from many other songwriters of the time. His lyrics often contained rich symbolism, vivid imagery, and social commentary, challenging listeners to engage with the messages and themes embedded in his songs.

Overall, Bob Dylan's unique blend of social consciousness, emotional depth, authenticity, artistic evolution, and poetic lyrics made him a significant voice for the generation of the 1960s. His music spoke directly to the hopes, frustrations, and aspirations of his audience, earning him the title of the "voice of his generation."

EN: Why did many people in the 1960's consider Bob Dylan the "voice of his generation"

Malibu Bob (See footnote*)
Google Bard: Bob Dylan was a singer-songwriter who emerged in the early 1960s. His music was a mix of folk, blues, and rock, and his lyrics were often poetic and political. Dylan was seen as a voice for the counterculture movement, and his music was often used to protest against the Vietnam War and other social injustices.

Here are some of the reasons why many people in the 1960s considered Bob Dylan the "voice of his generation":

  • His music was relatable: Dylan's music spoke to the experiences and emotions of young people in the 1960s. His songs about love, loss, and social injustice resonated with a generation that was coming of age during a time of great social and political upheaval.
  • His lyrics were poetic and insightful: Dylan's lyrics were often poetic and insightful, and they offered a unique perspective on the world. His songs were not just about the here and now, but also about the past and the future.
  • He was a cultural icon: Dylan was not just a musician, but also a cultural icon. He was known for his rebellious attitude and his willingness to challenge the status quo. He was a role model for young people who were looking for a way to express themselves and to make a difference in the world.

Dylan's music continues to be relevant today, and he is still considered one of the most important and influential musicians of all time. He is a true icon of the 1960s, and his music helped to shape the culture of that era.

Balcony shot: The Infidels @ Sacred Heart 

*There's always a bit of fun here that doesn't get captured. This is Karyn Wilder arrayed in Dylan attire. Karyn also helped close the week of events, performing at our goodbye brunch.

To borrow a phrase from Miriam, who has been hosting Highway 61 Revisited on The North these past several years, "We'll catch you on the flip side."

Friday, May 26, 2023

More Thoughts from Cicero: On Life, Death and Philosophy

I've been reading Ross King's The Bookseller of Florence, which details the influence of ancient writings and the manuscripts that helped spawn the Renaissance. One of the details that jumped out at me was the literacy rate in Florence at that time. 75 percent of the Florentines were literate, which was three times greater than peoples in other cities. Books and reading resulted in great advances in all fields of study.

One of those influential writers from Roman times was the statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, writer and academic skeptic Marcus Tullius Cicero. During the political crisis that led to the establishment of the Roman Empire he was striving to uphold high and noble ideals as regards the community we want to live in. His extensive writings include treatises on rhetoric, philosophy and politics.

He was also considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists and the innovator of what became known as Ciceronian rhetoric. Cicero was educated in Rome and in Greece and served as consul in 63 BC.

Cicero was a prolific writer and his works cover a wide range of topics, including politics, philosophy, rhetoric, and law. He is best known for his speeches, which are considered some of the greatest examples of oration in the history of Western civilization. He didn't speak just to hear himself talk, though. His aim was to make a difference, especially in the realm of making a better society.

He was also a gifted writer and his works are still read today for their insights. I am currently reading his book On Old Age. It is 2000 years old and still relevant.

What follows are some quotes from this an who influenced both Augustine of Hippo (Saint Augustine) and George Washington. The best way to enjoy good quotes is similar to the best way to enjoy art, poetry or a good meal: go slow and savor.

* * * * 

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."

"There is nothing so absurd that it has not been said by some philosopher."


"No one is so old as to think that he cannot live one more year." (I've used this quote several times recently)

"Injustice often arises also through chicanery, that is, through an over-subtle and even fraudulent construction of the law. This it is that gave rise to the now familiar saw, 'More law, less justice.'"

"We are not born for ourselves alone; a part of us is claimed by our nation, another part by our friends."


"Let your desires be ruled by reason."


    "For the habit of arguing in support of atheism, whether it be done from conviction or in pretense, is a wicked and impious practice." 


      "I should prefer ineloquent good sense to loquacious folly."


          "Speaking of the 'Law of Nature,' what could be more "in accord" with it than for the old to die--an event that happens to young men only against all the opposition that nature can muster. Yes, indeed! It seems to me that the death of a young man is like the drowning of a blazing flame by a flood of water, whereas the death of the old is like the gradual, utterly gentle and spontaneous flickering out of a fire that has used up its fuel. Fruits, too, if they are green, must be forcefully pulled from the bough, but if they are ripe and mellow, they drop off. So it is with the life of man: from the young, it is taken by violence, from the old, by the fullness of time. This is a thought that gives me great comfort; as I come closer and closer to death, I seem, so to speak, to see the land and to be at last about to come into harbor after a long sea-journey."


          Thursday, May 25, 2023

          Throwback Thursday: A Visit with Danny Fox: 2-Time Winner of the Hibbing Dylan Fest Singer/Songwriter Contest

          Danny Fox at Sir Ben's.
          30 July 2017

          "You gotta hear this kid," I was told. "He's got Dylan down," meaning he'd captured the inflections, the attitude, and the other trademarks of Dylan's style, blues harp hung around the neck, even the patter between songs. So I went to hear what the buzz was about and sure enough that winner of the 2008 Dylan Days Singer/Songwriter Contest did indeed reflect the persona of the Nobel Prize-winning troubadour when the Bard was in his youth.

          Since that time, Danny Fox has made several trips to the Northland, most recently in early July, performing a few songs live on KUMD and putting on a show for local Dylan Fest fans and friends at Sir Ben's. A few years ago even the Chicago Tribune gave one of his visits some ink.

          Now in his mid-twenties, Fox is a seasoned performer. Like many musicians his creative energies have also found other outlets. Dany Fox has taken up painting. Emulating Bob? Could be.

          EN: How did you come to take an interest in Bob Dylan?

          Danny Fox: My Bob Dylan story... When I was ten years old, My father and his brother, my Uncle Jim, would get together every Sunday at my uncle's house to watch the football game. My brother and I had NO interest in this whatsoever, so we would wander off and draw, play with toys, and partake in all the food that comes with football games. Uncle Jim had several towers of albums. I liked flipping through them to admire the album art. I randomly flipped to Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume One. I had never heard of Bob Dylan, never listened to any of his music, etc. I just liked the dark blue cover with a man's silhouette surrounded by a halo of light and hair. I asked if I could borrow it. On the way home, I put it in my CD player. I don't think I got passed the first track, "Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35." I played it over and over and over and over. I was hooked. Musical heroin.

          EN: You've won the Dylan Days singer/songwriter contest twice. How many times did you try and what was your plan the first time?

          On the stage in Armory... a Dylan Days rarity.
          DF: I heard about the Zimmy's songwriter contest in Hibbing in 2007. I was a junior in high school at the time. Dad and I were going to go, but it was already full. Instead, we had to wait until the summer of 2008. So we went and I was amazed. That's a whole other story, though. So I sang "Mr. Tambourine Man" and my original, "(May Be) The Truth About Love." I had no plan. Just sung what I was comfortable with. Lo and behold, I won! Seventeen-year-old me was ecstatic! And for the next two years of winning, I just came back and gave it my all again. Go in with no expectations. Sing from your heart, with passion. Let Dylan bleed right out of you.

          EN: How long have you been painting? What led you in this creative direction?

          DF: I have been painting for just about a year. Although art, mainly pencil drawing, I have been doing for over twenty years. Not being able to go to college has sort of stagnated my creativity. I've always admired the old masters and their oil paintings ever since I could remember. So, about a year ago, I just decided, DO IT. On a whim, I picked up some oils and, in the paraphrased words of Dylan, never looked back. I highly suspect this will develop into exploring more artistic mediums and that greatly excites me.

          As a follow-up to that, I hope my art propels me into infinite possibilities. I'm currently working on a third album. In that respect, I hope to keep making music, designing album covers, making illuminated Bibles, and maybe dabbling in some sculpture or found object art. I don't quite have a plan. I'm at the mercy of where the art wants to take me and that's a-okay.

          EN: How many times have you seen Dylan perform? What was your favorite memory?

          DF: I have seen Dylan approximately eight or nine times, my first being Halloween of 2004 when I was 14 years old and my latest in June of 2016.

          My favourite concert memory was in the mid 2000s where I saw him at a baseball stadium in Alexian Field. Our "seats" were general admission. We arrived incredibly early and ended up standing about five feet from the stage, ten feet from the man himself. During one of the songs, Dylan and I made eye contact. For a good solid ten seconds. I was crying uncontrollably. He sort of gave me a crooked grin. It felt like I was being rebaptized, that the torch was being passed on. Intimate, magical, and profoundly beautiful.

          EN: Do you have a favorite album? Favorite song?

          DF: My favorite Dylan album, hands down, is Desire. As for a favorite song, you're better off asking me to count every grain of sand on all the world's beaches! But I've always had an affinity for "Changing of the Guards," "Series of Dreams," and all of his early, early folk circa 1961-1963.

          EN: What was the moment when you realized that Dylan wasn't just another performer like other performers?

          DF: My most memorable instance where Dylan solidified himself as a god for me was when I was around eleven or twelve years old. I was riding in the back of my family's car on our way to the Countyline Orchard in Indiana to pick apples. I had "Masters of War" playing on my CD player. It froze me to the bone. The marrow curdled into a thick soup of astounding fright. This man spoke of grit and grime, of reality and triumph. I knew he was otherworldly and modern simultaneously. What can you say about Dylan that hasn't been said before, yet describes him perfectly? You can't really say anything. He's rough and soft, old and young, mysterious and perfect. The Shakespeare of my lifetime and in countless eons to come.

          * * * * 
          Danny Fox will be performing this coming Saturday, May 27, from 11:30 till 1:00 at Wussow's Concert Cafe on Central Avenue in West Duluth, followed by another John Bushey Memorial Lecture by Matt Steichen, Bobcats podcaster and contributor to the newly released Bob Dylan in Minnesota.

          * * * *
          EdNote: For the record, Desire is one of my own fave Dylan records. Thanks, Danny, for sharing your music this summer and your paintings here.

          Wednesday, May 24, 2023

          More Photos from Duluth Dylan Fest. Happy Birthday, Bob

          Almost Wordless Wednesday: DDF 2023 

          Photos from Monday night's jam at Carmody's and
          the Basement Tapes Band at Bent Paddle
          and today's Birthday Celebration on the front lawn
          of Dylan's birth home here in Duluth.

          TODAY'S EVENTS
          Bob Dylan Front Porch Birthday Party 
          with live music by Greg Tiburzi
          Dylan childhood home
          519 N. 3rd Ave. East, Duluth 
          12:00-1:30 PM | Free

          Bob Dylan Birthday Bash
          with Cowboy Angel Blue and Gartman Does Dead
          Cedar Lounge
          1617 N. 3rd St., Superior WI
          5:00-9:30 PM | $5 to $40 Eventbrite

          L to R: Paul Metsa, "Bob", Pam, Ed Newman, Bill Pagel
          Paul and Ed were contributors to the Troubadour Series 
          book Bob Dylan in Minnesota
          Available here on Amazon as well as select bookstore 
          across the country.

          Monday, May 22, 2023

          2023 Duluth Dylan Fest... Days Two and One are Done

          Arranging the initial design.
          Duluth Dylan Fest commenced shortly after dawn on Saturday, May 20th. There were two happenings at the Historic Duluth Armory and the Armory Annex. Mark Poirier led us on a tour of the Armory, with a smattering of details about its history and the vision for the future. Outside the entrance to the Annex one could participate in a collaborative creative effort to produce a welded gate.

          As many know well, gates have been the most recent iteration of Bob Dylan's foray in the development of his skills as a visual artist. (EdNote: This activity is completely unrelated to the controversial billionaire Bill Gates.) It's well known Dylan has been drawing and painting for more than half a century. Fewer are aware, however, that he has been creating welded works in iron for three decades now. It's just one more example of Dylan's connections to his Iron Range roots. 

          In 2022 our local Dylan Fest, in conjunction with the Duluth Forging Community, created a Dylangate Event. Visitors were invited to bring various items to be incorporated into the overall design, much like the gates Bob Dylan has produced at his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio. The project was such a success that it looks like it's becoming a tradition. One attendee brought a piece of metal from Maryland to contribute.

          The big draw, for many Saturday morning, was the opportunity to tour the Historic Duluth Armory where a young Bobby Zimmerman experienced a zeitgeist moment while watching Buddy Holly perform in January 1959. Armory Arts director Mark Poirier led the tour, offering visitors a glimpse of the future for this historical place.

          From one to four in the afternoon, the public was invited to sip samples of Heaven's Door whiskey and bourbon, another business that Dylan has spawned late in his career. At five o'clock, Miriam Hanson hosted a special edition of Highway 61 Revisited on KUMD The North radio station, and at 7:00 Hard Rain, the band from St. Louis, provided entertainment for the Duluth Dylan Fest Kickoff Party. Spirits were lifted and dancers danced at the Earth Rider Festival Grounds.  

          Samples of Heaven's Door at CashWise
          On Sunday, the action moved to Hibbing with a tour of places where Dylan spent his growing up years and a party on the front lawn of the Zimmerman homestead where "Bobby" came of age. In the evening had the first of two John Bushey Memorial Lectures with Seth Rogovoy, Author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet.

          A week of events still lies ahead of us though. Here's the full schedule of what's to come, beginning tonight with more Heaven's Door bourbon and whiskey sampling and a live jam at Carmody's Irish Pub, followed by the Basement Tapes Band concert at Bent Paddle Brewery in the Lincoln Park District. It's all free and all good. 

          Will we see you there?

          * * * 

          These guys no how to put on a Dylan show.

          A former upstairs ballroom at the Armory?
          And a vision for the future for the drill hall where
          young Robert Zimmerman saw Buddy Holly.

          Photo credits: Ed Newman, Michael Anderson and Jill Fisher (top right)

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