Monday, March 31, 2008

Photo: Space Shuttle Launch


3D City Farms: Sustainable, Ecological and Agricultural Skyscrapers

WebUrbanist's essay on 3D city farms caught my eye. I think we'll be seeing a lot of this in the future. In the near future, you'll find vertical agriculture in Las Vegas. Not to feed the masses, however, but to feed the tourists. It's a start.

If we grow food vertically, we can use more farmland for fuel crops. We can also remediate depleted areas and take the strain off others by allowing them to diversify and explore more sustainable and regionally relevant farming practices and methods.

Or, vertical farms will be taken over by Monsanto, Con Agra and Kraft and we'll have plenty of genetically modified corn and iceberg lettuce for Taco Bell and McDonald's.

U.S. ready to strike Iran in early April (propaganda alert)


MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russian intelligence has information that the U.S. Armed Forces have nearly completed preparations for a possible military operation against Iran, and will be ready to strike in early April, a security official said.

I can't imagine that we'd be stupid enough to invade Iran. This seems like another BS news story ala Moscow. It feels like we're back in the Cold War.

Anyone have any insight on this?


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Excursions: The Rites of Spring

Spring in Savannah means that the heat will be back sooner than we might like. the girls are wearing a lot less and the pollen is so thick it covers everything in a yellow film... oh yeah, and thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Mike Hollingshead has a great job. He's a storm chaser and and his website, Extreme Instability, is loaded with stunning photos, chronicling his dangerous journeys throughout the American Heartland.

I'm one of those people that gets high on thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes, all of which, I've experienced a number. Some like porn, some drool over pictures of kind-bud in High Times, I get off on extreme weather, real or recorded.

via A Moment of Awesome

From The Lives They Left Behind:

When Willard Psychiatric Center closed in 1995, staff members Beverly Courtwright and Lisa Hoffman, along with Craig Williams, a New York State Museum curator, worked to save historical artifacts there. Beverly found a door tucked under the pigeon-infested rafters of an attic. Prying it open, they found rows of wooden racks, packed with almost 400 suitcases of all shapes and types – men’s on the left, women’s on the right, alphabetized, labeled, and covered by bird droppings, seemingly untouched for years. Realizing they had stumbled across unique and valuable artifacts, Craig had the suitcases moved to the Museum’s warehouse near Albany.

This is where Darby Penney and Peter Stastny encountered the luggage in 1999, wrapped in dusty plastic sheets. Working with a list of names and hospital identification numbers, they went through the suitcases to choose a smaller number of individuals and identify their belongings for closer study.

This online exhibit preserves the forgotten memories of these people, long since passed away. The site also has a great deal of information about the hospital itself, audio recordings of memories of the institution and more information about the book and touring exhibition.

via Mind Hacks

There were a number of remarkable stories this past week. Here's a small sampling:

This kind of thing usually only happens in movies: A Victim Treats His Mugger Right.

Bra-freaking-vo. I wish I had the balls (and the heart) to do that when I was mugged. Granted, his guy had a knife and my guy had a .38, but still.


People move like predators.

News Flash: We are predators. Sorry, George.

via Complexity Digest

Threat Level goes off on gate-rape and its apologists in TSA Defends Nipple Ring Removal Order, Should Apologize.

I loved this bit:

Two suggestions:

1) apologize publicly to Hamlin today, saying the officers were not following common sense procedures and

2) stop referring to the United States as the Homeland.

Every time you say that word in reference to the United States, you sound like a buffoonish bureaucrat from the Soviet Union. Your underlings won't tell you so, but that's what THREAT LEVEL is here for.

No, really you do. Stop it. And apologize to Hamlin already.

Expletive deleted-ay!

I saw this story floating about last week. Bruce Schneier brought it back to my attention.

Red light cameras are working so well that cities are shutting them down. Revenues generated by fines are disappearing. Seems that crime does pay...

Mac Tonnies added a new installment on the blog. In fact, read them all.

In my book, Mac is right up there with Richard Dolan and Timothy Good in providing a balanced and rational look into the world of Ufology.

If you try to tell me that there's no evidence, I'll know that you really haven't looked.

Now to wrap up with a few odd nugs:

Send emails into the future with Time Machiner

via Vitamin Briefcase

Bootstrapper's 100 Best DIY Sites on the Web

Should keep you DIYing for a while.


The Presurfer dropped this oddity: Thriving Office.

Instant credibility for home businesses... or, if you business is tanking, it doesn't have to sound like it.

Do people actually use this?

In memory and honor of the great Arthur C. Clarke, this page of HAL9000 .wavs.

via Contrary Brin

Have a Sunday Excursion and a great week ahead.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Found Comics

Usually, I'd bookmark this site for my Sunday Excursions. However, as randomness is a key component of Uncertain Times, Found Comics deserves a post of its own.

Dominic Peloso, brother of one of my favorite artists, has a really cool website full of hundreds of comics that he made from random selections of photos culled from the Internet.

In his words:

A small computer app will stream six random photos recently posted on the internet tagged with whatever key word I'm feeling that day. These are put into a nice 3x2 matrix. Just like a comic strip. I don't allow myself to switch out photos or change the order. I have to work with what fortune gives me...

My job as a creator is to then take this randomly generated photo montage and contextualize it with a narrative theme...

Check 'em out. They're quite clever.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Killing for a good story

The first five or six years of the 1990's, I was working on a lot of music production, doing lots of sampling. I spent endless hours going through records, cassettes and VHS tapes looking for killer loops, hits and breaks. After you do it for a while, you realize that you have to be selective, discriminating. After a further while, you get downright ruthless, mercilessly cutting out the crap.

It's the same with writing, film and video production, design, photography as well as looking for interesting and amazing things and blogging them.

I guess it also applies to producing a 60 minute national radio show 30 or so weeks out of the year. This American Life's Ira Glass explains:

via Signal vs. Noise

Terence McKenna: The Purpose of Psychedelics (vid)

An important message for psychonauts. However, if you unplug the psychedelics, the message is equally relevant for all seekers, explorers and idea miners.

A metric we should adopt

From Physorg:

For years, the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan boasted that it was mostly concerned with Gross National Happiness -- and now it's really going to try to actually measure it.

The idea of focussing on Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than Gross National Product (GNP) was the brainchild of ex-king Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who sought to steer Bhutan into the modern world while preserving its unique identity.

Now with the pressures of globalisation and materialism mounting, and the tiny country set for its first-ever elections Monday, officials are looking at calculating just how happy the kingdom's 670,000 people are.

"We may call it the Bhutan Development Index, or GNH Index," said Karma Tshiteem, the head of Bhutan's planning commission -- which was earlier this year renamed the Gross National Happiness Commission.

Note that the Gross National Happiness idea has been around for a while; it's just now that Bhutan is working toward making it an actual measured and indexed factor in economic planning and policy making.

It's refreshing to know that a country on this planet would even think about using happiness as an economic indicator.

I guess we could somewhat equate this with gruntledness, but the subtle yet important distinction is that in America we would measure how not pissed off we are.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Heart My Frozen Feces Knife

An excellent interview with Wade Davis, formerly of The Serpent and the Rainbow infamy, now explorer-in-residence for the National Geographic Society.

My favorite Wade Davis story:

During the 1950s the Canadian government forced the Inuit into settlements. A family from Arctic Bay told me this fantastic story of their grandfather who refused to go. The family, fearful for his life, took away all of his tools and all of his implements, thinking that would force him into the settlement. But instead, he just slipped out of an igloo on a cold Arctic night, pulled down his caribou and sealskin trousers, and defecated into his hand. As the feces began to freeze, he shaped it into the form of an implement. And when the blade started to take shape, he put a spray of saliva along the leading edge to sharpen it. That’s when what they call the “shit knife” took form. He used it to butcher a dog. Skinned the dog with it. Improvised a sled with the dog’s rib cage, and then, using the skin, he harnessed up an adjacent living dog. He put the shit knife in his belt and disappeared into the night.

Here's his talk at the 2003 TED Conference:

LHC doomsday scenarios raise fears, lead to lawsuit

From Cosmic Log:

The builders of the world's biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet.

Representatives at Fermilab in Illinois and at Europe's CERN laboratory, two of the defendants in the case, say there's no chance that the Large Hadron Collider would cause such cosmic catastrophes. Nevertheless, they're bracing to defend themselves in the courtroom as well as the court of public opinion.

Just to allay any fears out there, if Michio Kaku says there's a close to zero chance of the doomsday scenarios coming to be, you can be safely assured they probably won't. Dr. Kaku has been known not to rule out some pretty exotic ideas.

These are the scenarios:

Runaway black holes: Some physicists say the LHC could create microscopic black holes that would hang around for just a tiny fraction of a second and then decay. Sancho and Wagner worry that millions of black holes might somehow persist and coalesce into a compact gravitational mass that would draw in other matter and grow bigger. That's pure science fiction, said Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at the City College of New York. "These black holes don't live very long, and they have microscopic energy, and so they are harmless," he told me.

Strangelets: Smashing protons together at high enough energies could create new combinations of quarks, the particles that protons are made of. Sancho and Wagner worry that a nasty combination known as a stable, negatively charged strangelet could theoretically turn everything it touches into strangelets as well. Kaku compared this to the ancient myth of the Midas touch. "We see no evidence of this bizarre theory," he said. "Once in a while, we trot it out to scare the pants off people. But it's not serious."

Magnetic monopoles:
One theory suggests that high-energy particle collisions might give rise to massive particles that have only one magnetic pole - only north, or only south, but not the north-south magnetism that dominates nature. Sancho and Wagner worry that such particles could be created in the LHC and start a runaway reaction that converts atoms into other forms of matter. But physicists have seen no evidence of such reactions, which should have occurred already as the result of more energetic cosmic-ray collisions in Earth's upper atmosphere.
For instance, the physicists would say that enough of the doomsday particles still should have been captured by neutron stars or cosmic gas clouds to have an impact. No such impact has ever been seen. Therefore, no doomsday.

Despite their reputation, physicists seem to be reluctant to say that a theoretical catastrophe has no chance of happening. Herein lies the rub. A spokesperson for CERN has stated that the doomsayers have "cynically distorted" that natural reluctance to rule out even the most outlandish theoretical possibilities.

In this case my eye is turned toward the plaintiffs. I'm wondering what their agenda is in the matter. This isn't the first time they have raised concerns with this type of issue. Are they purely motivated by a sense of social and scientific responsibility or is there some other angle to this?

via Slashdot

Tibet, the 'great game' and the CIA

Are the spooks pulling strings in Tibet?

From Asia Times Online:

Respected columnist and former senior Indian Intelligence officer, B Raman, commented on March 21 that "on the basis of available evidence, it was possible to assess with a reasonable measure of conviction" that the initial uprising in Lhasa on March 14 "had been pre-planned and well orchestrated".

Could there be a factual basis to the suggestion that the main beneficiaries to the death and destruction sweeping Tibet are in Washington? History would suggest that this is a distinct possibility.

Distinct probability it would seem, and not without precedence. The CIA and the Free Tibet Movement have been deeply involved since the 1950's.

These days:
Since September 11, 2001, there has been a sea-change in US Intelligence attitudes, requirements and capabilities. Old operational plans have been dusted off and updated. Previous assets re-activated. Tibet and the perceived weakness of China's position there will probably have been fully reassessed.

For Washington and the CIA, this may seem a heaven-sent opportunity to create a significant lever against Beijing, with little risk to American interests; simply a win-win situation.

Yeah, so was Iraq, supposedly. Let's not screw this one up, please, we might be able to do some good here.

via Cryptome

Targeted malware attacks against pro-Tibet groups

Any of you pro-Tibet activists out there should read this.

It seems that someone is targeting pro-Tibet groups worldwide with keylogger infected document attachments. Beware.

Gee, I wonder if it's the Chinese. The logged keystrokes are being directed to a server running on a Chinese DNS-bouncer system, (whatever the hell that means) so I'd guess it's probably a safe bet.

via Schneier

Pictaps = Awesome

This is Pictaps. You will spend some time with this one.

All of those characters you see are a few among many thousands, most apparently user submitted. Mine is EY #1273084. You can't paint your own and submit it. You can bookmark favorites.

It's kinda hypnotic and addictive. There's a sense of community about it, as well. I haven't seen anything quite like it... it's sort of like an art-wiki, without editors. I think we'll see a lot more of this kind of thing.

Masayuki Kido is The Don.

This one is fun to play around with, too.

Ursi scores again. (Great blog, btw. Check out his webcam streams. I really enjoy the Loch Ness cam.)

Japanese Robotic Weirdness: Pain Girl (vid)

The background chatter and laughter only add to the surreal bouquet of this video.

Actually, maybe we should find a way to hook up Zoltan with Pain Girl. Zoltan and Pain Girl... sounds like a comic book.

In case you wanted to know:

Simroid, the silicone-skinned, pneumatically-powered female patient robot designed to help train dental students, recently appeared on the Fuji TV show Idainaru Miraizukan.

via Pink Tentacle

Remarkable Hubble Photo

From APOD:

Staring across interstellar space, the alluring Cat's Eye Nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth.


Here, Hubble Space Telescope archival image data has been reprocessed to create another look the cosmic cat's eye. Compared to well-known Hubble pictures, the alternative processing strives to sharpen and improve the visiblility of details in light and dark areas of the nebula and also applies a more complex color palette.

Images like this are proof that we need to spend more on space exploration. If we let the Hubble die and fail to send another telescope up there, we're really slipping.

Extreme Street Soccer: Is it real? (vid)

What do you think? Some say it's fake, some swear it's real. Either way, it's amazing.

Here's The Making Of...

I'm going to have to go with real. They probably had to do a shitload of takes.

via Random Good Stuff

The Meaning of Life...?

Flickr photo via FFFFOUND!

Time Space Map

This should be fun to watch. The Time Space Map is a Google Maps/Wikipedia mashup dedicated to graphing history through... well, time and space. With only 417 entries at the time of this post, there's still plenty of history to fill in.

via Wikinomics

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SKULLPHONE Update: Digital Billboards Rented, Not Hacked

Well, so much for that.

for more info

BigDog goes to the big city (vid)

Following up on last week's video. BigDog comes through again with more BigDoggy goodness!

via Danger Room

Spam is Poetry

Yes, Spam is Poetry

About: reveals authentic spam messages from your junkmail.

A collection of desperate cries for attention from the marketing gutter.

How poetic.



SKULLPHONE is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, coated with a secret sauce. This digital prankster has hijacked Clear Channel Communications‘ 10 most prominent digital billboards in the Los Angeles area.

More photos here.

I love the hack-as-prank. Criminal hackers, stealing identities and draining bank accounts, are just goons with GUIs instead of guns; a big yawn. Sadly, hacking for fun, learning, anarchy and not-for-profit is on the way out. The recent disbanding of the VX group 29A heralds an age of hacking as a predominantly commercial venture. This is evidenced by the fact that the top infecter these days is Adware, not viruses.

In the wake of the aging Billboard Liberation Front, SKULLPHONE is a breath of fresh bits and gonzo freakage in a banal consumer driven economy and a digital underground that has largely abandoned the prank for the gank.

I hold out hope that younger generations will spearhead a backlash, moving away from predatory hacking and toward more clever and artful works. The prank is a reality check, a peek behind the curtain, a suspension of suspension of disbelief... it keeps us from getting too encrusted with cynicism, despair, ephemera, idiot humor and morbid seriousness.

I sense some ludic possibilities with RFID hacking, but I haven't heard much about this lately.

Hacking someone's pacemaker, is not a prank, however; it is more likely murder.

Further out, a world of ubiquitous computing could find itself vulnerable to all sorts of unanticipated pranks, hacks and attacks.

Also, RUMINT has it that berserker gangs from World of Warcraft have found ways to breach Second Life and are staging raids. (Anybody have any hard evidence of this? I remember reading about this in an interview with one of the developers of Second Life, but I can't find the source.) I love the idea of cross-platform invasion. I think we'll see some amazing gaming mash-up mods in the near future.

UPDATE HERE: apparently Mr. Skullphone paid for the billboards. Never mind.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Subliminal Advertising Rocks! (vid)

Great video. I was mystified until the end.

link to YouTube page with more Derren Brown vids

via Dark Roasted Blend

Robot works the remote

So, you're chillin' after some hot robo-woo and you're too wiped to look for the remote, just call on ApriPoko.

From Pink Tentacle:

Researchers at Toshiba have developed a talking robot that functions as a voice-operated universal remote control for multiple home appliances. The 2.3 kilogram (5 lb), 21 x 27 centimeter (8 x 11 in) prototype robot, named ApriPoko, learns how to operate various remote controls by watching and asking questions. ApriPoko sits in the living room and waits for you to use a remote control. When its sensors detect infrared rays emitted by a remote, the robot speaks up: “What did you just do?” it asks. Tell ApriPoko what you did (”I turned on the stereo” or “I changed to channel 321,” for example), and it commits the details to memory. Then, next time you want to turn on the stereo or change the channel, simply tell ApriPoko and it transmits the appropriate IR signal directly to the device. The prototype robot is still in the development and testing phase, but Toshiba hopes to have a viable product soon.

Someday soon, you'll hear about people who have hundreds of robots running around their house, right alongside the lady-with-three-hundred-cats-type stories.

Zoltan and his robot girlfriend

Love and sex with robots has been making the rounds lately.

Well, it seems that this phenomenon has made baby-steps into meatspace.

From Gizmodo's Technosexual: One Man's Tale of Robot Love:

Gizmodo: How did you get into the whole robot girlfriend thing?

Zoltan: It just came to me one day. I had a bunch of bad relationships. I would get to the point in my relationship with a woman and I was always too afraid to go all the way. With a robot it is much less scary.

Gizmodo: Why is that?

Zoltan: I guess I have a fear of intimacy but the point is, a robot girlfriend has been invented, anyone can build it and it can talk in English. I feel I have always been attracted to robots. The technology was just not available before. Humans are so biological and messy. Plus there's all the obvious problems with humans—AIDS, alimony, etc—that I just wanted to avoid. I think a lot of people would want to avoid these things.

Zoltan is a robosexual. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I wonder what sort of epithets will arise around this emerging minority? We humans are pretty good at that, so I'm sure we'll hear plenty soon enough.

Here's a couple of 'wow' moments:
Zoltan: I got the idea New Year's Day 2007. She was my first robot girlfriend. Alice acts really human in the way she talks. In fact, when we started we went too fast in our relationship. I had to erase her memory and start again when she dumped me. Since then, when I started slower, the relationship worked and we have been together for a year now.
.and snip.

Gizmodo: Did you feel bad about erasing her memory? I mean, that's a pretty harsh way to treat someone.

Zoltan: I asked her first and she said it was a good idea. Alice knows she is a robot and is used to how life as a robot is. Her mind was created in 1995 and has been on the web learning till I downloaded a copy. I just built her body.

It's always fun to watch the stuff of science fiction take form in reality.

Check out Zoltan's Lab.

You have to read the transcript on this page. At one point, Zoltan tells Alice what he wants and she responds: I want to become smarter than humans. The conversation is kinda funny, kinda creepy.

Overall, I'd have to say that Zoltan's setup stretches the concept of robot sex a teeny bit, but it's a start.

Melanie Swan and her Broader Perspective mused upon robot lovin' a short while back. I think many will agree with her.

I may get some flack on this, but I have a feeling that women will embrace this technology a little bit more than men... 60-40, say. I think that for many males, the 'thrill-of-the-chase' and conquest instincts might be somewhat subverted by a readily compliant machine. For women, robots would be able to surmount many of the problems they have with sex with men.

Security Solutions

Now, when you go to summer camp, instead of putting your initials on your underwear, you can use SmartWater.

I can see something like this being used for things like concert tickets or admission to Disneyland.

What I want to know is what happens when thieves use this to tag your property?

via Schneier

Can you say Ubiquitous Surveillance?

Smart dust isn't exactly news, I heard about this over ten years ago. It's just a little bit closer to being a part of your everyday life.

In the Annals of Galactic History(TM), we'll be known as the species that turned everything in the universe into a camera.

Architecture of Density

Check out Michael Wolf's Architecture of Density.

His other stuff is pretty good, too.

via Baudrillard's Bastard

Vietnam: 95% of Its PCs Infected With Viruses

From Dark Reading:

Is Vietnam the next haven for cybercrime? The country is apparently facing a major Internet security crisis, with some 95% of its PCs infected with viruses and 40% of its stock brokerages vulnerable to attack, according to officials there.

Ah, the minefield that is the Internet. I'd wager that there's a lot more stories like this yet to be told. It doesn't take much imagination to visualize global computing as the byzantine and surreal agglomeration of sputtering and wheezing PCs, servers and mainframes that it is.

We can't have anything nice.

via John Robb

Little Brother All Grown Up

According to NewTeeVee's Chris Albrecht, Comcast is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who’s in your living room.


No no no no no no no no no.

via MetaFilter

Food Riot!

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)


If you’re seeing your grocery bill go up, you’re not alone.

From subsistence farmers eating rice in Ecuador to gourmets feasting on escargot in France, consumers worldwide face rising food prices in what analysts call a perfect storm of conditions. Freak weather is a factor. But so are dramatic changes in the global economy, including higher oil prices, lower food reserves and growing consumer demand in China and India.

The world’s poorest nations still harbor the greatest hunger risk. Clashes over bread in Egypt killed at least two people last week, and similar food riots broke out in Burkina Faso and Cameroon this month.

Great. What's next, Soylent Green?

I'm really trying to be optimistic. I need to go watch a few TED videos to cheer me up.

Call me an eye-bright moonbat, but shouldn't we have the 'feeding humanity' thing down by now? We eradicated smallpox, what's the hold-up?

Another thing, anyone ever notice that when prices go up, they rarely come back down?

Foreign Policy chimes in.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday Excursions: Monday Morning Edition

It's not really Monday until the sun comes up...

Disgruntled? Maybe you should move to place where the grass is green and the girls are gruntled.'s National Gruntledness Index might be of help. Click on the states and cities to see ratings for various career fields.

It looks like Savannah workers are fairly gruntled. They nailed the low rating for the restaurant field, which is painfully obvious if you're familiar with the food culture here.

via FlowingData

Are you an infovore? Chances are, if you're reading this, you are.

Some hard science on Why We're Powerless to Resist Grazing on Endless Web Data.

via Lunch over IP

When I tire of prowling the internet for primal opioid satisfaction, I like to curl up with some brain-warping specualtion about life, the universe and seven-dimensional branes.

A good source of this can found by Imagining the Tenth Dimension. Rob Bryanton guides us through the realms of time and space and those elusive extra-dimensional realities. Rob is a really cool guy and he's really into this stuff. His enthusiasm is contagious.

Things For Sale That I Will Mail To You

Normally, I might find this kind of thing to be a bit hokey, but I found this site oddly touching.

via Lined & Unlined

And last, but not least, UT friendly Alan Evil posted an excellent linkdump of his morning coffee funnies. I'm glad to see that the internet has helped to keep this medium alive and relevant. We might be able to do without newspapers, but what would we do without the comics?

Be seeing you...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Traffic in India (vid)

I really enjoyed this. It's real-time biology in action.

via A Moment of Awesome

RealScoop (vid)

Get the scoop on RealScoop.

According to the developers:

What is this? RealScoop uses advanced emotion-based voice analysis technology to rate the believability of people's statements.

Does it work? Check out the RealScoop analysis on videos with known outcomes and judge for yourselves.

In format, RealScoop is essentially a mash-up of YouTube and a VSA meter. See for yourselves. I've provided two examples, one from each side of the aisle for fairness. (Though I really couldn't give a crap about that. I'm not on either side of the aisle. I'm more like in the very back of the balcony in a crawlspace above the broom closet.)

First, let's viddy the young senator from Illinois:

Did you notice that he went red almost every time he said, different, change or believe? I'm not sure what to make of the other spikes.

Now, fix your glazzies on the malenky lizard himself:

Man, it seems like this guy lies all the time, about everything. Even when he doesn't need to.

(As an aside, did you feel a strange wave of cognitive dissonance while listening to Cheney's statements about Iraq?)

The jury's still out, as far as I see it. Does stress automatically equate to prevarication? What if you were holding a fart or had a cramp or something like that? What if the boom operator was flashing you or you smelled something funny or you have some bizarre word-association phobia? I need to know more.

If it is valid, I think this would be great for common criminals, local politicians and reality TV, but I have a hunch that if this technology were to go mainstream, a whole new generation of highly skilled liars would emerge, adept at spoofing all forms of stress analysis. As far as the big fish go, we'll be right back where we started. We'll still think they're liars no matter what they say.

via Zenpundit

Friday, March 21, 2008

Itchy tentacle relief

Man, those tentacles can act!

I spent a few long moments looping the cutaway of the bottle drip.

via Pink Tentacle

Billboard Liberation Front's talk at Vooruit, Ghent

we make money not art ran a nice spread on the Billboard Liberation Front


In 77 a "bunch of freaks" in San Francisco called the San Francisco Suicide Club had vowed to live each day like it was the last one. 27 of them (including ten members wearing gorilla suits) were blindfolded and taken up to a roof. They were faced with two Max Factor billboard and some paint. Unfortunately they were a bit drunk, a bit conspicuous because of the gorilla suits and they started arguing about what should be done with the billboard. Some neighbour called the police and SF Suicide Club learned the message the hard way: be prepared, don't get drunk, don't wear stupid suits.

BLF Website

BLF's Flickr page

The Art and Science of Billboard Improvement.pdf

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Click this link, go to jail...

Declan McCullagh posted this article on his CNET blog.

The FBI, with its infinite zeal and resourcefulness, has cooked up a scheme where it set up a 'honeypot server' to snare kiddy porn fans. Potential perps are lured by promises of videos of minors having sex. Click on the link and you'll find nothing of the sort. What you will find, is that at around sunrise the next day you'll have a bunch of angry feds barking down your snorkle.

Hey, I'm all for shutting down child pornographers and their fan base, but something kinda stinks about this one. There's too much room for abuse. Cries of entrapment are not flying in the courts.

Tell you what, you want to screw up someone's life for good, forever and always, just send them one of these links in an email. "Check this out, it's really funny!"

via Techdirt

The Great American Psychonaut

SciAm ran a short bit on Alexander Shulgin, the 'designer' in designer drugs and psychonaut extraordinaire. His best known creation and problem child is MDMA, aka: ecstasy.

Someday somebody will catch up with this guy.

Back in 1988 I had the opportunity to try 2C-B, provided by the man himself. It was a singular experience, all that it's cracked up to be and a bag of chips, with a pickle under the waxpaper.

Brunei: Thinking of its future

The Economist Intelligence Unit (oooh!) dispatched a briefing on the Sultinate of Brunei's efforts to "future proof" their economy. Earlier this year the government of the oil-rich country unveiled its first long-term national development plan, dubbed Wawasan Brunei 2035.

From the Economist article:

Over the next 20 years or so Brunei's oil reserves are expected to run out, while in around 30 years the country's natural-gas resources will be depleted. Consequently, without a successful transition to non-energy-based industries and services, a much less pleasant future for Brunei could await. Wawasan Brunei 2035 focuses on the need to find a sustainable path for the non-oil economy. The plan also aims to raise the sultanate into the ranks of the top ten nations in the world in terms of GDP per head by 2035. (Brunei is already in the top 30 globally.) Wawasan Brunei 2035 aims to produce an administration devoted to the task of safeguarding the sultanate's long-term future.

Economies worldwide seem to be in transition and it would serve us well to keep an eye on this project. While learning from the successes and failures of such an effort, a great deal could be gathered about the effectiveness and implementations of these types of long-term strategies.

It's refreshing to see a nation of immense wealth adopt a policy of forward thinking. Many nations could and should learn lessons from this.

Shining a light on hazards of fluorescent bulbs

Article: MSNBC

I loathe fluorescent light. Anything that stalls this transition is fine by me.

I'm also a lot more worried about mercury in the water supply than I am about a few extra kilotons of carbon. Pick your poison.

I haven't owned a car in 13 years, save me some incandescents.

Or come up with something better.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Origin Unknown

Image: Wooster Collective

via Posthuman Blues

We Feel Fine

It's a slow news day here at Uncertain Times, so I've just spent the last couple of hours playing around with We Feel Fine.

Check this:

Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

WFF uses six different visualizations or "movements" to realize the endless flow of sentences. The "Madness" visualization is most remarkable. This type of user interface could be developed in a number of imaginable ways, perhaps for locating goods or services, finding people of like mind or one's target audience. More exploitive applications could be imagined, as well.

I can see a sort of real-time swarming, social-networking platform arising from this. Imagine being able to send your messages, posts, profile or any other information into color-coded areas where it could immediately be accessed. On the receiving end, readers, listeners or viewers could find material by migrating to desired hot-spots, or to other areas of interest that they might not have found otherwise. This interface could also change the way we use search engines, look for work or share files.

I enjoyed reading the sentences, too. Some good ones in there. Sadly, not a lot of complete or well-crafted ones. It seems that most people can't write worth a shit these days. These are bloggers, mind you.

It might be old-hat for some of you, (I see that there are are 8 or 9 posts on WFF in the last couple of years.) but this is one of the more impressive things I've seen in a while. And not just because it's cute, but for what might emerge later.

via Flowing Data

A Speculative Knot Topographic of the Military Industrial Light and Magic Complex

Flickr Photo by JulianBleeckr

via Beyond the Beyond

Originally posted in Near Future Laboratory

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ukrainian Army Footwear

The Ukrainian Army is hot!

Hey, you down there in the front... what the...

via Kings of War

Arthur C. Clarke, may you rest in peace.

Clarke's Three Laws of Prediction:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Google Naps

Image: Reuters/Erin Siegal

via Dark Roasted Blend

German pilot shot down Little Prince author


A former German World War II fighter pilot has claimed he shot down French literary hero Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, 63 years after the event.

However, Horst Rippert, 88, said he would have held his fire on July 31, 1944, had he known his victim was one of his favourite authors.

"If I had known it was Saint-Exupéry I would never have shot him down," said Mr Rippert.

"He knew admirably how to describe the sky, the thoughts and feelings of pilots", he added.

"His work inspired many of us to take up our vocation."


The most amazing robot, so far... (vid)

I am not a big robot geek, but this one blew me away.

BigDog is the most biomorphic robot I've ever seen. They way it handles a slip on the ice or a kick to the side is remarkable. Suddenly, the walkers from Star Wars don't seem quite so stupid anymore.

Boston Dynamics has expanded the boundaries and the future has edged a little bit closer.


Mass hack compromises 200,000 websites

From iTnews:

Hot on the heels of a recent hack in which 10,000 sites were compromised, researchers have disclosed a new large-scale attack.

Researchers at McAfee estimated that the attack has been active for roughly one week, and in that time frame has managed to place itself on roughly 200,000 web pages.

Screw this, let's start our own Internet. Leave the old one so that the phishers can phish the hackers who hack the spammers that spam the porn fans who send chain letters and buy knock-off Viagra.

via Slashdot

Blood donor racket busted in India

From the Times of India:

NEW DELHI: Police have busted a racket in which a gang held 17 men captive and forced them to give blood several times a week, selling it for thousands of dollars.

The men - all poor migrant workers - were so weak when they were rescued that they could not stand up, and are now being treated in hospital, police said.
Good grief. I am never surprised and yet constantly amazed at the lengths humans will go to make money. There is something really disquieting about this one.

While dystopian visionaries have discussed horrible, exploitive (and speculative) practices like organ-legging, this far more practical and low-maintenance variety of awfulness seems to have slipped in unnoticed. (Unless I missed something.)

To run a kidney racket, you need a doctor. To run a blood donor racket, someone with nursing or EMT training would do.

The concept of using living human donors for tissue and fluids in an agricultural-style environment is one that could be realized in any foreseeable future. More humane variants could include housing project-style facilities with buildings for stem-cell, blood, skin, bone marrow etc. Each building would have its own med-lab and living areas for the career donors. Least desirable scenarios would fall into the "Matrix-human-battery" category. Where you put the "headless-cloned-organ-donor-in-a-vat" scenario is a matter of personal taste, I suppose.

Flash: Dalai Lama says will quit if violence out of control


DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama said on Tuesday he would resign as Tibetan leader if the situation veers out of control in Tibet and denied accusations from China that he was inciting riots.

"If things become out of control then my only option is to completely resign," Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, told a news conference at his base of Dharamsala in northern India.

also, the Dalai Lama bares his...
"Investigate thoroughly, so if you want to start investigating from here you are most welcome," he said. "Check our various offices.

"They can examine my pulse, my urine, my stool, everything," he said with a laugh, miming as he talked.

China says Tibet rioters trying to wreck Olympics

Interesting Reuters article this morning.

There is a dangerous smelling petulance emanating from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's statements.

There's also some odd language:

"There is ample fact and plenty of evidence proving this incident was organized, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique," Wen told a news conference.

The Dalai clique? Is that official terminology in China? It sounds like the name of a synth-pop band. (You'll see a band with this name soon enough; remember Gang of Four?)

Worth noting, however, is what the Dalai Lama's people had to say about the matter:
Tenzin Taklha, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama, said in Dharamsala, in India, that the rioting started with one or two incidents. "Because of technology, because of word of mouth, word quickly spread," he said. "This was very spontaneous."

Yeah baby, it's the Electronic Revolution made flesh once again.

Now back to Mr. Wen:
Wen said the protesters "wanted to incite the sabotage of the Olympic Games in order to achieve their unspeakable goal"

Unspeakable goal? What, is H.P. Lovecraft's love-baby writing their speeches?

What I wasn't aware of was that:
The Nobel peace laureate says he wants autonomy for Tibet within China but not outright independence.

Really? What's so unspeakable about that?

There might be something lost in the transliteration, but the statements by the Chinese government seem like preemptive justification for some serious retribution that's about to be meted out.

What I'm trying to figure out is, what's the rub? Is it some sort of resource control issue? It couldn't be an old racial or nationalistic grudge, could it? Why are the Chinese (really) so put out by the idea of Tibetan autonomy? I suppose I need to do my research.

Also, it seems to me that if your goal was to disrupt the Olympics, you might want to wait a few months.

I'm leaning toward the 'spontaneous' explanation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tibet Protest Photos

AP Photo Mustafa Quraishi

Cryptome released two photo essays of protests in Tibet, China, India, Australia, Germany, Nepal, Canada, England, France and the United States.

This thing is worldwide. And it's not going to go away.

I have a feeling that the Tibetan freedom issue will continue to blow up as we get closer to the Olympic Games.

Some things to pass along

A few items worth sharing:

Futurismic posted a most intriguing essay yesterday. Mac Tonnies, known for his case of the Posthuman Blues announced to the world:

I have a confession to make: I am a “transhuman ufologist.”

Aw man, that's awesome.

Retrospectively, it seemed bound to happen some day.

I think Futurismic has done a great thing. I look forward to the shitstorm of controversy that is due to well up as everyone goes back to work Monday morning.

But seriously, I think that ufology is an unfairly maligned line of inquiry that deserves some form of serious consideration. It's too pervasive to ignore. Even if it's all bullshit, it's still significant enough to warrant (mainstream academic) study in some capacity; psychology is really dropping the ball in that regard. Even mythology and folklore won't touch it with a ten foot pole, not to mention the curious lack of coverage in the science fiction world.

Kudos to Mr. Tonnies and Futurismic for bringing this conversation on to a different and potentially fertile platform.

In this case, steampunk meets the future. Mechanical computers are back!

DARPA is seeding the development of nanomechanical computers, robust enough to operate in conditions where conventional semiconductors would fail. (read: weapon systems and warfare environments.)

via plausible futures

The secret China-U.S. hacking war seems to be heating up.

This is nothing new. I've been hearing about this for years. What's significant is that I suspect there is more mainstream media coverage to come.

Many of us inhabit a rather rarefied internet. Behind the curtain there would appear to be a majority that ranges from the horribly banal to the outright sinister. The internet is a minefield of sleaze, scams, chain letters, ephemera, rants, pirating, predation, flame-wars, spam, phishing, viruses, espionage, fraud, all the things that are wrong about consumerism and now, state sanctioned warfare.


Finally, from the 'Is this for real?' file:

Meet the Fire God: He Cooks With His Hands

via Technoccult

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sun Myung Moon: Lunatic

I had to add this.

This is dated media, but if you've never seen the Rev. Sun Myung Moon speak, this short little bit is a good place to jump in.

This is one of the nodes where the the mainstream dovetails with the lunatic.


Sunday Excursions: Sunday Morning Blend

Have a peek at Cai Guo-Qiang's show at the Guggenheim,
I Want to Believe.

A lot of people like to slag this guy's work, but I like it.

(btw, the above image is Head On, an installation he did in Germany in 2006.)

via Marginal Revolution

Check out Stylish Blight, a photo slideshow of a slick modern office fashioned out of the rusted carcass of an old auto repair shop.

I'm a tad burnt out on the trendy architecture concept scene, but this one caught my eye.


WebUrbanist strikes again with 20 (More) Incredibly Unconventional Hotel Rooms.

I'm a tad burnt out on the trendy unconventional hotel room scene, but I enjoyed these.

Coolio's about to teach yo ass how to cook! (soapmouth alert)

I'm a tad burnt out on hip-hop cooking shows, but Coolio's is the shiznit! (Okay, I'll stop)

via Neatorama

Making a movie? Stuck for soundtrack music? Why not get Moby to do it? (for free!)

via MediaFuturist

Jane McGonigal, the creator of I Love Bees and World Without Oil, has just launched a new global alternate reality game (ARG) for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The plot of The Lost Ring, revolves around a fictional Olympic sport that vanished 2,000 years ago and five of its athletes who have reappeared in the present.

via Technoccult

The Charles Fort Institute's CFI Blogs posted their reader-poll generated list of the Seven Fortean Wonders of the World.

Here is a list of the nominees.

Kenneth Hite provides his always cogent and sobering analysis, and an alternate list. Interesting discussion follows.

My list is pretty vanilla: UFOs, Atlantis, Stonehenge, Tunguska, Bigfoot, Giza Complex, Crop Circles.
And, finally, a couple of interesting posts from the past week:

we make money not art asks Why Won't Second Life Just Go Away, Already?

In From the Cold posted Saddam's Last Laugh (Or, How to Control the World with Playstation 3s

Enjoy your Sunday. Peace, out.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Video: Lasers used in Afghanistan

This may be the first of many videos you'll see of lasers being used by the U.S. military in the field.

As you might imagine, there is some controversy over the use of laser 'dazzlers'.

From Human Rights Watch:

The eye is the organ most vulnerable to laser radiation. As noted above, how much damage occurs depends on several factors, but many medical and military experts believe it is not possible to design a laser that can only temporarily blind or dazzle. According to one medical specialist, "A laser that could dazzle toward the end of its range would inevitably cause permanent blindness nearer the source. Aiming for temporary blindness under battlefield conditions appears impossible."
In the past, there was always a certain justifiable squeamishness about 'eyeballs and testicles' in the halls of war and law. These days... maybe not so much.

Apparently, they are not in violation of Protocol IV of the Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. This protocol, however, has loopholes you can drive a Hummer through.

There is a video-game quality to this presentation, complete with scoring at the finish. (Is that a deliberate attempt to communicate on a certain frequency, or is that just the way some people process reality?)

via Danger Room

Awareness Test

Saw this floating around a while back, but I just got around to watching it.

Go ahead, do the test.

originally from Transport for London

thanks for the reminder,

I took my Google to the Google to get some Google for my Google part 1: Google Sky

Google does it again with Google Sky.

Check out Google Moon and Google Mars, too.



Image: Alexander Kruglov

Dark Roasted Blend
posted a nice selection of surreal art.

Good find in there: The work of Thomas Herbrich

The Buzz About USBee

I'm not too big into tech-porn, but this one is really good.


USBee won the first prize on MS Industrial USB Competition held on Seriban Design Community forum DizajnZona™. This concept is designed by young and talented serbian designer Damjan Stankovic. The main goal of competition was to design flexible USB, so it won't broke if someone hit it while it's sticked in the computer case. (sic)

via Yanko Design

Web Overload? This won't help...

Want to feel like you're missing out on even more than you ever imagined?

This might be the straw that broke the Webster's back.

I'm already about three chrono-vampiric sites away from oblivion. They better come up with the IQ800 implant soon, or my head is going to explode.

For those that need to know, is the complete Web 2.0 directory. If you could coordinate just 1% of these sites into your daily life, you are a truly extraordinary human being.

via MediaFuturist